This has been circulating around for a while, but it was new to me so perhaps it'll be new to others as well.
In one scene during 2001: A Space Odyssey, the character of Dr. Heywood Floyd uses a "zero gravity toilet" while he's on the space station. He's shown briefly examining the lengthy list of instructions on the wall next to the toilet.
Stanley Kubrick was so obsessive over details that, instead of using gobbledygook, placeholder text for the sign, he actually had someone create a list of toilet instructions. Film buffs have extracted this text, and it's available for purchase as a poster (perhaps to hang in your bathroom) or printed on a t-shirt. (I won't link to any specific retailers, but they're easy enough to find using Google).
Far Out magazine suggests the zero-gravity toilet instructions may have deeper meaning within the broader context of the film:
Perhaps, thus the ‘zero-gravity’ toilet instruction is the only intentional joke in the film. In a scene aboard the space station, Floyd is seen peering at a detailed and convoluted instruction manual on the use of the zero-gravity toilet. Kubrick’s disdain of instructions for the understanding of the film highlights the irony of a page long instructions from the zero-gravity toilets. In an interview, Kubrick’s explained the zero-gravity toilet was the only intentional joke in the film. That evolution and technological advancement would lead to convoluting of tending to basic human needs is well worth a snigger. Despite its ambiguity, Kubrick doesn’t “want to spell out a verbal roadmap for 2001”. Kubrick’s film doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but the zero-gravity toilet does.
July 1993: A pro-timber group urged consumers to stockpile toilet paper in order to deplete store supplies and thereby raise awareness of the importance of wood and paper products. "You can help by buying one or two (or twenty!) cases of toilet paper," its newsletter declared.
Little did they know that, 27 years later, a pandemic would transform America into a nation of toilet paper stockpilers!
In 1974, the Lafayette waterworks in Louisiana revealed an apparent correlation between drops in water pressure and television viewing habits. In particular, the water pressure would drop immediately after popular shows and movies had aired... presumably from viewers waiting until the end of the shows to relieve themselves:
The record drop in water pressure to date, a plunge of 26 pounds per square inch (PSI) of water pressure, came at the end of the TV showing of the movie "Airport." The movie "Patton" chalked up 22 and "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" checked in with a respectable 19.
So, the idea was floated that flush ratings might serve as a surrogate for the Nielsen ratings.
Patent #10,455,817 was granted in Oct 2019 for "animal olfactory detection of disease as control for health metrics collected by medical toilet."
In plainer language, it's a toilet that has a small door built into the side of it (the "scent dispenser"), allowing a dog to smell your poop (or other bodily fluids) in order to detect the presence of disease. From the patent:
The user deposits bodily waste into the toilet through actions which include urinating or defecting into the toilet, vomiting into the toilet, coughing up sputum into the toilet, and depositing mucus into the toilet...
An animal may be trained to sniff the scent dispenser in response to a command or signal. The user may give the animal the command or signal when the user desires the animal to assess the presence of disease in the user.
December 1969: ex-RAF pilot Guy Harris put a toilet seat up for auction that he claimed to have removed from Hitler's bunker in Berlin. He said he had found it in the private apartment used by Hitler and Eva Braun.
According to Harris, he and other British soldiers had been allowed in the bunker by the Russians, who had already removed everything they believed to be of value. But they evidently hadn't thought Hitler's toilet seat was of any value. So Harris took it.
When he got back to England, he first installed it in his 90-foot yacht on the Thames. Later he moved it to his home in Twickenham, before finally deciding to sell it.
There's no record, however, of whether he did manage sell it. At least, none that I can find.
Albany Democrat Herald - Dec 18, 1969
Los Angeles Times - Dec 17, 1969
As it turns out, Harris wasn't the only soldier to have nabbed a Hitler toilet seat. There are two more floating around out there. One was taken from Hitler's mountain retreat, the Berghof. The other from Hitler's private yacht, the Aviso Grille. This latter one is currently located in an auto repair shop in New Jeresy. More info: Anchorage News
I've heard of alligators in the sewer, but not porpoises in toilets.
I haven't been able to find out if there was ever a solution to the mystery of how a porpoise came to be in the toilet of the Glasgow train station. I'm assuming student pranksters were probably involved.
The gadget attached to bathroom doors. Whenever someone turned the handle to open the door, the gadget would spray their hand with dye. This, reasoned Davis, would encourage people to wash their hands, to remove the dye. He imagined his invention might be useful in restaurants and hospitals that have "statutory type hygiene requirements to have their staff and employees clean their hands after using restroom facilities."
Although the invention had good intentions, I can think of several problems with it.
First, I'm sure that most employees would find it incredibly obnoxious to have their hand sprayed with dye every time they went to the bathroom.
Second, wouldn't the gadget also spray dye whenever someone exited the door... spraying into empty air? In which case, half the dye would be wasted. I can imagine employees standing on the inside of the door, pumping away at the door handle until all the dye was used up.
the StandardToilet sits at a downward angle of 13 degrees. After around five minutes of sitting, this will cause strain on the legs, similar to a low level squat thrust, but “not enough to cause health issues,” reassures Mahabir Gill, founder of StandardToilet. “Anything higher than that would cause wider problems. Thirteen degrees is not too inconvenient, but you’d soon want to get off the seat quite quickly.”
It was inspired by a series of annoyances. As a consulting engineer for 40 years, Gill sometimes discover workers asleep on the toilet, and in his free time, was increasingly annoyed by queues for public toilets. The final straw came while he was shopping in a department store the morning after a particularly heavy night out, and in desperate need for a toilet, could only find locked cubicles. Thus, the idea for the StandardToilet was born.
I can imagine this would do wonders for employee morale.
Back in 1936, interior decorators predicted a popular future for velvet-lined bathtubs.
I can only imagine they would have been a nightmare to clean.
Pottsville Republican and Herald - Dec 4, 1936
Emery County Progress - Nov 27, 1936
Update: Thanks to our knowledgeable readers, Floormaster Squeeze and KDP, for pointing out that Steve Martin had a line in one of his routines about buying a fur-lined sink. I found the clip on YouTube (audio only, unfortunately). The fur-lined sink reference occurs less than a minute in.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.