Tag Archives: poop

Viking buses are full of crap

Pax Arcana

busIf you’re like me, you’ve often thought to yourself “Man, I wish there were some way to make urban public transportation remind me EVEN MORE of clogged toilet bowls.”

Well, our good friends the Vikings have got your answer — in the form of buses powered by human feces. And by feces I mean dookie. And by dookie I mean a havana omelet. And by havana omelet I mean a spinal tap. And by a spinal tap I mean an ass apple. A bologna stick. A sphincter gnome. A monkey tail.

Beginning in September, the two sewage treatment plants in Norway’s capital will collect methane, a byproduct of the microbial process that breaks down sewage, and pump it into city buses. City officials say the switch will cut fuel costs and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by both the treatment plants and the buses.

“Oslo aims to be one of the most environmentally sustainable capitals in the world,” project manager Ole Jakob Johansen told the Guardian. “Using biomethane makes sense. Not only would the biomethane otherwise be wasted, but the reduction in emissions per bus will go a long way to achieving our carbon-neutral target.”

While the environmental benefits of the dookie bus are laudable, I can’t help but wonder if this technology has been adequately tested for safety. Norwegians are famous for ingesting a diet consisting almost entirely of pickled herring and old cheese. Even a relatively small leak in the apparatus could make Three Mile Island look like a day at Disneyland.

Norway or the Highway: Poo Powers Oslo Buses [Wired]

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Our fertilizer is now less explodey

Pax Arcana

Scientists at chemical corporation Honeywell say they’ve found a way to treat ammonium nitrate — commonly known as fertilizer — in order to render it non-explosive.

Finally our tomatoes can enjoy a bit of peace of mind. Oh, and the rest of us too:

Ammonium nitrate can be soaked in diesel fuel to produce a powerful bomb and is a favorite of terrorists, but when chemically tied to the ammonium sulfate, its chemical structure is changed so that it is no longer explosive.

Chemists had been looking for ways to render ammonium nitrate nonexplosive since the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by a truck bomb in 1995, killing 168.

The flaming bag of poop — the original fertilizer bomb

While “safeguarding the livelihood of America and its citizens” might be the most obvious benefit of this discovery, it wasn’t the incentive:

An agriculture expert not affiliated with Honeywell, Jack Rabin, associate director for farm programs at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, said many companies were looking for ways to render ammonium nitrate inert, because the Department of Homeland Security requires that farmers safeguard their stockpiles of the widely used fertilizer and report their inventories to the government.

In other words, the multinational agricultural conglomerates that grow, process, package, and ship our corn nuggets had to do an awful lot of padlocking and paperwork in the wake of Oklahoma City, and Lord knows we can’t have that.

New Process Eliminates a Fertilizer’s Blast Threat [NYT]

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Does a goose poop in the sky?

Pax Arcana

The answer, apparently, is “not usually.”

Geese, famous for their copious defecation, are less likely to defecate when they are flying than when they are grazing and walking on the ground, and they tend to empty their cloacas upon takeoff, cutting down on the risk to bystanders, said Laura Erickson, science editor at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Also, she said, geese tend to take off in a direction away from people, and the droppings quickly break up into small packets in the air.

Oh man. My friends in the Society for the Study of Goose Defecation are gonna be sooooo into this.

Aerial Peril [NY Times]


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LOL Mets

Pax Arcana

So less than a week after taking over for fired manager Willie Randolph, interim Mets boss Jerry Manuel calls the Shea Stadium crowd “fertilizer.”

This should go over well:

When asked how Heilman was holding up to the constant streams of boos showered on him at home, Manuel took a not-so-thinly veiled shot at displeased Mets fans.

“It’s very, very fertile ground for growth in Shea Stadium,” Manuel said.

“It’s fertile ground for a team’s growth and development. Sometimes, fertile ground has fertilizer.”

You heard it here first: The New York Mets will win the National League pennant this year. Or they won’t and Jerry Manuel will find his mailbox stuffed with stromboli.


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Space travel is shitty

Pax Arcana

You may have heard last week that the potty on the International Space Station had broken, and no amount of jiggling of the handle or kicking the bowl would fix it. (Not to worry, the Space Shuttle Discovery is on the way up with replacement parts as we speak).

Via Boing Boing, Scientific American has an awesome rundown of how the lack of gravity and atmosphere in space make it difficult for astronauts to relieve themselves in a manner approximating normalcy.

For one thing, without gravity, rogue pee streams that ordinarily would drop harmlessly on the New York Times Book Review on the floor of your bathroom ball up and float endlessly about the cabin. So NASA invented little sucking tubes that you stick your weiner (or girl parts) in for quick evacuation.

Then there’s the problem of jettisoning the pee from the spacecraft:

Ejecting liquid waste has caused problems in the past. In 1984 the urine collection system on Discovery had to be shut down when a urine icicle formed that threatened to damage the craft’s protective heat tiles if it stuck around and broke free on reentry.

However, the difficulty of going number one is number two behind the difficulty of going number two. Let me explain why with some science learnin:

One cannot drop a deuce in an environment where things cannot be dropped

Here’s how former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart explains the process to Sci Am:

“You just float around for awhile doing things with a bag on your butt,” Schweickart tells ScientificAmerican.com. Then came the task of dislodging the excrement (no gravity, remember?) without spreading it everywhere. All told, Schweickart said, the process took about an hour.

It seems a shame that science hasn’t figured out a better process for this yet. Especially since Dr. Octagon is already armed with seven rounds of space doo-doo pistols.

Getting a Handle on Space Toilets [Scientific American]
Space Toilets [Boing Boing]

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The girls need toilets

Pax Arcana

We’re usually reluctant to steer our multitudes of fans to charity causes, mostly because we don’t want a bunch of doo-gooders crawling all over themselves for some of that sweet, sweet scratch.

This is different. This time it’s about poop. And that’s something we can all get behind (Get it? Get it?).

Via Boing Boing, the Web site PoopReport.com is collecting donations to build pit toilets for each of the 700 girls enrolled at the Pardada Pardadi school in rural India (Uttar Pradesh). The school was founded by an Indian citizen who spent 40 years in the U.S. and then returned to India to build a school for girls — who are mostly used for manual labor and baby-making in that region.

The school was built, and has met with some success, but the girls who attend don’t have anywhere to go to bathroom, typically rising before the sun to poop in the fields. This practice is not only demeaning to the young girls, but part of a nationwide sanitation problem:

This is the practice across India, including in Karanpur. And the sanitary ramifications are staggering. Poop is a vector for bacteria and viruses, and it attracts insects and rodents that are equally unhealthy. People poop faster than Mother Nature can degrade it, which means people who poop in the same place day after day will inevitably come into contact with festering feces. A speck of poop on a shoe gets touched by a hand that passes a glass of water to a two-year-old: that’s how disease spreads.

The school’s founder, Sam Singh, says the sanitation standards of the whole community rise the more the school girls learn about it. They bring their lessons home to the family, making them healthier. The family’s influence on neighbors then improves the overall quality of public health.

All donations are accepted via major credit cards on the site, and even a donation of $1 is enough to feed the laborers working on the pot for a day. The total cost of each toilet is $250. Donate the full amount and Singh has a special bonus prize for you:

Part of Sam’s fundraising scheme is naming rights: if you sponsor a complete toilet, he’ll inscribe your name on it. Upon completion, he’ll send you photos of the toilet bearing your name, along with pictures of the students and the family whose lives will change because of your generosity.

PoopReport gives back [PoopReport]
PoopReport’s charity drive [Boing Boing]

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Someone is crapping on your garnish

Pax Arcana

lemon.jpgInvestigative forays into the microscopic-level cleanliness of public restrooms, office cubes, day care centers, fast food joints, and other easily contaminated spaces have long been a staple of shock journalism.

In many ways, these reports have long since worn out their welcome. We take it for granted that touching anything outside of a cauldron of boiling water requires a thorough Purell once-over and prayers for mercy from the germ gods.

That said, this story from MSNBC is a must-read — not because it breaks new ground,  but because someone came up with about the most gripping headline I’ve read since the infamous “One-Eyed Invader” debacle:

Stop! Is that poop on your lemon?

Turns out a local science professor in New Jersey went to a bunch of different eateries and ordered water with lemon. Then she swabbed the lemons and sent the samples to a lab for analysis.

As the headline suggests, there was all manner of doo-doo on the citrus:

One sample had six different microorganisms on it, three of which are found in fecal material.  Although some lemon slices had germs either only on the rind or only on the pulp, 29 percent had germs on both sites. In 15 instances the germs on the pulp were completely different from those on the rind, indicating that the pulp had been in contact with a contaminated surface as or after it was sliced. Sometimes when more than one lemon was sampled during a single restaurant visit, different germs were found on each.

As a former bartender, let me break this down for you, Pax style:

1. At every bar and restaurant in the country, bartenders and waitstaff spend some time before each shift slicing citrus fruits. If it’s Cinco de Mayo and you work at Chi Chi’s, you’re going through about three or four buckets of lemons and limes before the doors open.

2. Most waitstaff don’t work at Chi Chi’s, and 364 days out of the year it’s not Cinco de Mayo. Quite often lemons get sliced and not used. Know what happens next? If you guessed that they get thrown out and replaced the next day, you haven’t been paying attention. Most often, the unused slices get tossed into a plastic bucket or bowl, possibly covered in cling wrap, and shoved in the giant walk-in. Sometimes the bartender, who’s been handling money all night — in between drags on a shared Camel out by the Dumpster — does this himself. Other times a busboy, who’s been busy scraping your leftover pilaf into the trash with his bare hands, does the honors.

It could be days of rough handling before that garnish finds itself perched on your glass rim. Any way you slice it, those lemons are getting reused.

Yes, they may have trace elements of dookie on them. And yes, this may even make you sick. And no, it’s nothing you should be worried about.

Think of how many times you’ve eaten at restaurants and fast food joints. Now consider how often you’ve gotten sick from doing so. The tally for me is 0, though others have had worse luck. Still though, you’re more likely to be abused by Gary Busey  than you are to suffer from tainted food products at most places. Just be careful, and remember that Purell is not a condiment.

Stop! Is that poop on your lemon? [MSNBC]


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