Bathroom talk on my blog? Well yes, maybe just this once.
Toilet talk, to be more accurate. Anyone my age is well aware that toilet flushes aren’t what they used to be, and while they definitely “save” water, they sometimes fail to get rid of solids in just one flush. That’s as delicately as I can put it.

So I’d laugh appreciatively at a stand-up comic routine that goes like this:

“Sinks, right? Showers, and what goes with a sink and a shower?”
“Toilets!” the crowd chants back.
“Ten times, right, ten times,” continues the comic, referring to the toilet flushes it can take to get the job done. “Not me, of course not me. But you,” he adds while pointing to a random audience member.

Yep, I can relate, and so can you, unless you’re under thirty and can’t remember how effectively toilets flushed before the federal government imposed water-saving regulations in the 1990s.

Now, can you imagine NBC News doing a fact-check on that stand-up routine?

Breathless reporter: Comic says it takes ten flushes! Experts say that’s not true! Sierra Club offended!

That’s pretty much what this NBC News article is doing: attempting to hold the comic to an academic standard, while failing to see the comedy or the point being made. NBC wants to be sure we’re aware nobody really has to flush ten times! And to make sure we get our minds right on water-saving, they trot out the bureaucrats and scolds who gifted us with the low-flow regulations in the first place.

In case you missed it, the comic who delivered the toilet tirade happened to be one Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States, at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan. His administration is working on making toilets and faucets great again by easing some of the regulations that dictate what the suppliers can and can’t sell here. NBC News wants no part of that! Can’t let Trump get away with saying it takes ten flushes!

All of which reaffirms my skepticism of media reports.

If NBC News were to seriously explore the pros and cons of water-saving toilets, they might follow up on this CNN story from 2011:

Low-flow toilets cause stink in San Francisco
The city of San Francisco’s push for low-flow toilets is saving water – at a smelly price.
Use of the low-flow toilets has cut city water consumption by 20 million gallons a year, Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tyrone Jue told the San Francisco Chronicle.
But the cost is both monetary and olfactory.
Because water flow isn’t pushing the waste through the system fast enough, a stinky sludge is building up in the sewers, the Chronicle reports. It’s blamed for a rotten-egg smell wafting through areas of the city, especially during summer, according to the report.
So the city is spending $14 million to buy a three-year supply of concentrated bleach to combat the sewer odor, disinfect treated water before it’s pumped into San Francisco Bay and sanitize tap water.
The plan is drawing criticism from environmental advocates.
“Using sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach, is the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack an egg; it’s the wrong tool, and it will cause irreversible collateral damage,” San Francisco chemical engineer Adam Lowry and German chemist Michael Braungart wrote in a Chronicle op-ed.
Their solution to the stink: either dumping hydrogen peroxide into the sewers or “a pro-biotic solution, that is, enzymes or bacteria that would simply ‘eat’ the smell then degrade harmlessly.”

Did that story age well?
Did the city implement either of those expensive remedies to eliminate the stink caused by low-flow toilets?
Did other cities have a similar problem?
Has the problem of sludge build-up from low water flow been addressed through innovations in the toilets manufactured in the past 10 years?
Too much work for NBC News, when it’s much easier to fact-check an animated joke by our Stand-Up-in-Chief.

On a far more serious topic, Trump’s claim that the world’s most accomplished terrorist represented an “imminent threat” to Americans, I see a similar misplaced focus on the imprecision of the president’s words, instead of on the murderous record of the Quds Force and its leader, the now dead Soleimani. It’s all, let’s catch Trump in a lie, and no thoughtful reporting to illuminate the subject.

Why did decades of US leadership fail to hold Iran accountable for Soleimani’s perpetual campaign of asymmetric warfare? And how is the game changed by his removal from the board? Skeptical minds want to know.

One thought on “Fact checks from toilets to terror

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