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
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.
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
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
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
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 www.mrjam.org