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Sorry, but I prefer my toilets to be unintelligent

Sunday December 30, 2012 10:09:39 AM, Nury Vittachi, IANS

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Warning: If you need to visit Japan in the near future, GO TO THE TOILET first. The fiendishly clever inhabitants have now invented the Intelligent Potty.

I don't know about you, but I greatly prefer answering the call of nature in NON-intelligent items. A receptacle of utter brainlessness, akin to a typical YouTube comment-writer, would be ideal. There are some moments of one's day when witty commentary is not required.

How have the boffins at Japanese toilet firm Inax done this? By putting a circuit in their new product, the Satis toilet, which contacts the smart-phone in your pocket. This enables the toilet to learn your personal habits, and an icon on your phone called MySatis provides you with a diary on which you jot down details of your bowel movements during your visit. This is very useful for (a) giving to doctors, and (b) posting on Facebook to go with the photos of meals you have eaten.

The Satis toilet, to be launched in February, also finds sound-files on your phone and plays them to you through hidden speakers; so you can poop along with Taylor Swift or whoever.

News website Rocketnews24 pointed out that this is the nearest thing in real life to the Japanese toilet that Homer Simpson encounters in the cartoon series. It projects a rainbow and the toilet's little voice says: "Welcome. I am honoured to accept your waste."

For me, the only thing good about this toilet is the potential mischief that deeply evil people can get up to. For example, you could stand outside the door with a smart-phone and beam sound-files which would come from the toilet while someone is using it. Perhaps an anguished voice saying: "Why are you pooping on me? What have I done to you?"

Two people arrested separately for drunk driving in the US state of Rhode Island on Friday last week turned out to be husband and wife, according to an AP crime report forwarded to me by a reader. Now that's rather romantic, don't you think? Okay, may be not.

A woman got into a bus on Wednesday last week. After a few minutes, she developed an awful tummy ache and then felt something in her underpants. She reached into her trousers and pulled out a small boy, which she stared at in sheer amazement, her mind racing. "This doesn't look like a maxi-pad."

Female passengers on the bus in Chengdu, China, raced to look after the newborn child and the shocked mother. A web commentator called The Shanghaiist said the incident was "a welcome image-change for the Chengdu bus service, previously known only for their buses' tendency to combust."

I can just imagine the conversation at her home later. HUSBAND: "How was your day?" WIFE: "Okay. Did some shopping. Had a baby."

I wonder which Christmas carol was playing on the bus's sound system? Hopefully "What Child Is This?"

Japan's leader-to-be Shinao Abe told a group on Monday that he had just had a conversation with "President Bush" although he had in fact just spoken to President Obama. Not surprising. To Asian people, all US presidents look the same: tall white guys. Wait. No.

Zoologists this week announced the discovery of a small, super-cute new primate which can kill a human - by licking its elbow. I am not making this up. The new species of loris found in the Philippines has a built-in miniature poison factory at its elbow, according to the new issue of the American Journal of Primatology.

If the creature feels threatened, it attempts to grab a slurp of poison from its elbow before biting the attacker. This fighting tactic sucks. Have you tried licking your elbow? It takes ages to get your arm high enough. The beast attacking you would have consumed half your torso while you were trying to load up.

The other day I was in an airport and my kids went through a period of sneaking up on people and licking their elbows. Why would they want to do that? They'd been told there were so few nerve endings on elbow skin that you can lick it without the person noticing.

The experiments did not produce conclusive answers, but did trigger this important thought: Anyone thinking about having children MUST be made fully aware that they will become legally responsible for the actions of the sort of people who lick other people's elbows in airports. THINK CAREFULLY.

But going back to the loris in the Philippines, the tale reminded me of a kid at school. Everyone said that he was so toxic that if he bit you, you would die horribly.

I was a nerdy little science fan at school and didn't believe a word of it. But he was small and hairy with big eyes. It could have been true.

Did you read that Kim Jong-Un may soon have a baby? This is astonishing because the North Korean leader looks like an oversized baby himself, with his huge cheeks, chubby limbs, regular tantrums, total self-centredness and aptitude to cause widespread carnage. Headline writers will no doubt call the kid Kim Jong Bun, as in Bun-in-the-oven.

A journalist friend reckons his new wife might just be getting fat, as she's now eating the same food as he does. KIM: "Mm, this whole leg of racehorse is delicious. I insist you have one for yourself."

Dogs have been banned from Catland. As there are more cats than humans, their needs come first. Why does life in Asia so often seem to come out of children's books?

Cat Island, off the east coast of Japan, has a human population of about 100 people, and a cat population many times larger. So humans are not allowed to keep dogs or bring them for visits, according to the local press.

If this sort of thinking spreads, I see big changes ahead. There are more sheep than people in New Zealand, and more kangaroos than humans in Australia. Each country should reconfigure its infrastructure to serve the needs of the majority mammalian populations. It's democracy, right?

Who says the print press is dead? A new publication was launched in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday last week. It's called The China Daily Africa Weekly. I think the slogan should be: "If you think our news reports are confusing, check out our name."

Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveler. Send comments and ideas via



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