What do envy, death, and toilets have in common? They have all been featured in recent articles in the New York Times. I found each of these to be fascinating, so I’m recommending them to you.
John Tierney examines recent studies on envy. His main point:
Philosophers have offered theories, but empirical evidence has been in short supply, maybe because envy is such an uncomfortable topic for everyone, including psychologists. Now, though, thanks to some experiments with envious students at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and the University of Texas at Austin, we can see an upside of coveting — along with one new reason to have a commandment against it.
Maria Tatar, the chairwoman of Harvard’s folklore and mythology program, wonders about recent changes in children’s and juvenile literature. Her main point:
Many authors of more recent books for children and teenagers have similarly crossed over to the dark side, and we applaud them for it. But the savagery we offer children today is more unforgiving than it once was, and the shadows are rarely banished by comic relief. Instead of stories about children who will not grow up, we have stories about children who struggle to survive.
Tatar is right, I believe, especially when you consider the extremely popular trio in The Hunger Games triology. I read this series of books, featuring the juvenile heroine, Katniss Everdeen, with fascination and horror. The main action in the book involved children killing children. Moreover, it blurs the lines between good and evil to an unsettling extent.
Sam Grobart features a new toilet that costs on $6,400. Yes, that’s all. The Kohler Numi isn’t the sort of toilet you buy in Home Depot. What do you get for a little extra dough? “The Numi features a touch-screen remote control. The Numi washes and dries its user.” But that’s not all. According to Grobart:
Walk up to the Numi, and location sensors will detect your presence and cause the toilet’s lid to rise, revealing the rectangular-on-the-outside, round-where-it-counts seat. If you are a man standing in front of the toilet, you will notice a blue beam of light projected on the right-side floor, adjacent to the toilet. Place your foot in the path of that beam and the toilet seat will rise; break the beam again and the toilet will flush and the seat will lower itself.
That seat, naturally, is heated, and the temperature can be adjusted from the remote. If desired, the Numi can also blow heated air from its base, warming your feet on chillier mornings. The Numi has what is referred to in the industry as “bidet features”: it can wash and dry its user (there are modes for women and men). Both functions are accomplished via a wand that extends from under the seat that can spray water or blow air. Pressure and temperature are adjustable, as is the spray pattern, which can go from a steady blast to an oscillating pattern that can only be described as invigorating.
The Numi also has not one but two flushing modes, both of which are more efficient than current federal flushing standards. “Flush-eco” resembles a standard flush, but only uses six-tenths of a gallon of water (the maximum allowed in the United States is 1.6 gallons per flush). “Flush-full” is a two-stage flush, but it still only uses 1.3 gallons each time. These flushing options can be set to take place automatically. The Numi knows if you’ve been sitting or standing, and can automatically activate full or eco flushes when you leave the toilet. It will also automatically lower the seat and close the lid when you are away — perhaps saving some marriages.
An FM radio and stereo speakers are also built in. Up to three presets can be stored on the remote, which has settings for bass, treble and balance (you can also connect an MP3 player to listen to your own music). The audio quality was quite good, considering that you are listening to a toilet.
Wow! Now that’s what I call a toilet. I checked out the Kohler website and was impressed with the photos the company is using to sell the Numi. What I’m showing you below has not been photoshopped: