November 19, 2010

World Toilet Day is today... and it's no joke.

"Haiti is in the throes of a cholera epidemic. The disease is easily treated, and can be prevented outright if people have access to good sanitation and purified water, health experts say. But the country, debilitated by the earthquake, poverty and hurricanes, lacks access to clean water, toilets or health care. Lack of sanitation is the leading cause of infection in the world...."

This reminds me of a passage in the truly engrossing Bill Bryson book "At Home: A Short History of Private Life," describing the sanitary conditions in England in the 19th century:
[C]esspits in poorer districts were seldom emptied and frequently overflowed... In St. Giles... 54,000 people crowded into just a few streets. By one count, 1100 people lived in 27 houses along one alley; that is more than 40 people per dwelling. In Spitalfields, farther east, inspectors found 63 people living in a single house. The house had 9 beds — one for every 7 occupants....

Such masses of humanity naturally produced enormous volumes of waste — far more than any system of cesspits could cope with. In one fairly typical report an inspector recorded visiting 2 houses in St. Giles where the cellars were filled with human waste to a depth of 3 feet. Outside the inspector continued, the yard was 6 inches deep in excrement. Bricks had been stacked like stepping-stones to let the occupants cross the yard.

At Leeds in the 1830s, a survey of the poorer districts found that many streets were "floating with sewage"; one street, housing 176 families, had not been cleaned for 15 years. In Liverpool, as many as one-sixth of the populace lived in dark cellars, where wastes could all too easily seep in.

25 comments:

BarryD said...

Toilets RULE! I love having a toilet. Seriously. I wish my dogs would use it, too.

traditionalguy said...

OK, the theme of the Day is shit removal, both private and public. Rangel was flushed. Feingold was too, along with the ideology of the TSA andthe possibility of a Menza President. I blame this on the Full Moon.

Coketown said...

Is this an example of Dorothy Parker's observation that if you take care of the luxuries the necessities will take care of themselves? The first world seems to think showering the third world with cheap laptops, soccer balls, and now porcelain will make a difference. How about giving them a functioning government and chemical fertilizers? That might make a difference. Yes, Haiti lacks access to clean water. But has anyone asked why they lack clean water?

stevenehrbar said...

Haiti need full-on colonial rule by a single administrating power and no pretense of local political participation, for about twenty years, followed by a gradual twenty-year period of increasing home rule.

There are, however, no volunteers to do this, so Haiti will remain a quite literal shithole.

Doug Wright said...

We have a healthy society becuase of modern plumbing and sanitary services! Something the world forgot about with the fall of the Romans way back when.

Just think about walking about and having a chamberpot emptied onto your head. Or having the stench of a sewer backing up onto your street.

Cheers, and think only good thoughts!

Trooper York said...

I thought Haiti is basically a toilet?

What’s the problem?

edutcher said...

During the battle for Arnhem in 1944, a British Airborne officer risked his life for a chance to ease his burden in a real loo.

PS Coketown, don't forget Haiti was a French colony. The only ones who made of bigger mess of their empire were the Spaniards.

Trooper York said...

If Wyclef Jean was awake he would say that was racist.

ken in sc said...

The U.S. controlled Haiti from WW I to the end of WW II. It was the only time they had good government, but it did not result in their learning self-government. Haiti is not capable of self-government.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Ann mentioned the cesspits. The cesspits, as bad as they were, were a vast improvement on putting raw sewage in the river, which was done because they thought that bad air and smells caused disease--nobody knew about germs yet. And so a reformist campaign to eliminate cesspits ended up killing far more people.

It was an anesthesiologist (the first one) who discovered the connection between cholera and water. He knew that bad air DIDN'T cause disease because he could stand right over an anesthetized patient and not be affected by the gas. Likewise the people who worked in the sewers didn't get sick.

He singlehandedly ended a cholera epidemic by having a pump handle removed.

Gene said...

When I visited Pompeii many years ago I asked our guide why there were stone blocks across the streets at intersections. They were there, he said, so the residents didn't have to step in sewage to cross the street.

The real precursors to civilized life are aren't so much laws and judges as they are tile bathrooms and flush toilets. When people talk about the great inventions of the ages they always mention steam engines, the cotton gin, telegraph, computer and internet. No one mentions the great equalizer--the porcelain crapper.

Cedarford said...

Gene - "The real precursors to civilized life are aren't so much laws and judges as they are tile bathrooms and flush toilets."

No, in the proper context, public health meant evil gummint people telling God-fearin Pompeiians and 19th Century Londoners that True Freedom Lovers had to heel to evil gummint at least in context of having no "precious individual right" to dump sewage into streets or waste into drinking water supplies. (The Pompeiians had sewers planned as the summer resort town rapidly built up, Vesuvius ruined those plans - elsewhere, the Roman sewer systems and piped in water are among their greatest engineering marvels, still in use, in parts, in Spain, Rome, Paris, etc.)

==============
As for Haitians, IMO, it has nothing to do with France - look at their other colonies like Quebec, Tahiti, Indochina - It has to do with 200 years of black self-rule.

Cedarford said...

stevenehrbar said...
Haiti need full-on colonial rule by a single administrating power and no pretense of local political participation, for about twenty years, followed by a gradual twenty-year period of increasing home rule.

There are, however, no volunteers to do this, so Haiti will remain a quite literal shithole.

===============
We tried that for 20 years. America's first attempt at nation building and promulating love of our Sacred Parchment, the Constitution.
Didn't make a whit of difference after we left. The Haitians went back to their moronic dysfunctional ways and the only thing that changed was that free food and medicine courtesy of 200 "do-gooder" charities now resident in Haiti - meant they now could breed many multiples of the size of the failed society the US tried to fix in the 1st part of the 20th Century.

Pity Bush had not read the story of the failed noble Haitian uplift experience when he tried emulating Wilson and nation-build the noble, ever grateful Iraqis and Afghans.

Moose said...

"...3 feet of human waste in the basement."

Ah, an early attempt at the clivus multrum.

The Crack Emcee said...

From the very first piece of mine you ever linked to:

I found I'd do almost anything - anything - but take the chance of another debilitating night of the vomits or the shits - experiencing the depressing reality of, once again, suffering terrible stomach cramps - while inhaling the full-strength odor of my own insides because I was usually stuck, using an ancient toilet with no water in it. (France hasn't figured out standardized plumbing either,...)

We are so vastly superior to France, and standardized plumbing is but one reason why.

And that's no joke, either.

Belkys said...

In The UK, cholera epidemic hit harder the high class . The low classes live up Tames so the rich people received the feces from the poor with the cholera agent. cholera was avoided by years by the UK "thanks" to Napoleon´s blockade

PatHMV said...

What's amazing to me is that people living in those conditions still manage to procreate, and regularly.

Belkys said...

It was Koch who discovered the agent of cholera while he was in exile in Africa for making experiments with rats( a felony in Germany)

Belkys said...

Some historians thought that plumbing was the cause of roman demise. The used lead to gave flavor to their wine but still they thought the lead in plumbing( plumbus) lowered their iq and killed them

Ralph L said...

Perversely, it was clean drinking water that caused the polio epidemic in the last century. Before that, babies were exposed to the virus when they still had their mothers' immunity.

Doug Wright said...

Sam Pepys talked about how the Black Plague ended in London when the great fire of 1666 swept away the hovels. Not certain when rats and plague connection was made but that fire helped.

Also, gwhile lead pipes were an IQ issue for Romans, their water works and sanitary system helped it grow to huge size.

Using an iPad and it's editing not quite what an laptop has!!!!!!


Cheers.

Doug Wright said...

Sam Pepys talked about how the Black Plague ended in London when the great fire of 1666 swept away the hovels. Not certain when rats and plague connection was made but that fire helped.

Also, gwhile lead pipes were an IQ issue for Romans, their water works and sanitary system helped it grow to huge size.

Using an iPad and it's editing not quite what an laptop has!!!!!!


Cheers.

Ralph L said...

The low classes live up Tames
No, the Thames flows west to east. The rich lived (and live) in the West End. But Bill Ayers says there was some tidal action bringing crud up river, plus all the crap from the northern suburbs.

Methadras said...

Isn't this what leftards want? Their messages are so confusing. No toilets means no unnecessary usage of the precious resource of water that they say we simply don't have enough of the world. Furthermore, if they are worried about Haitans floating around in their own sewage should be something that the eco-Gaiaist-envirokooks should be applauding. Afterall, they want a return to 'nature' and if a few haitans go by the wayside, well, then it's less people on earth which would fulfill another of their wishes of depopulation at the cost of mommy worth. In this case, they should be rejecting world toilet day since they are literally wrecking the planet with every flush.

stevenehrbar said...

Yeah, see, what the US did in Haiti 1915-1934 is not, in fact, what I suggested Haiti needs. For example, Haiti still had a semblance of a domestic government 1915-1934, subject to American orders and vetoes though it was. It had a President, it had government ministers, it had legislators, et cetera, et cetera.

I said "full-on colonial rule by a single administrating power and no pretense of local political participation, for about twenty years". I meant just that. No elections, no Haitian town councils, no Haitian postmasters, no Haitian school superintendents, no Haitians with officer ranks in the military, nada. No Haitian in government would have any power to make policy whatsoever, nor would they be consulted on policy.

Twenty years of the only opportunity for an ambitious Haitian being in the private sector, because no Haitians would be employed by the government as anything but grunts.

Then, afterward, gradual, staged democratization and Haitianization over twenty years, starting at only the most local levels.

It would be difficult, it would be expensive, it probably would wind up bloody, and it certainly would not be acceptable modern sensibilities. Which is why nobody's going to do it. But no, it hasn't been tried already.