Unusual and interesting toilets from all around the world.

Toilets of the World

Privacy and Power
The Throne Behind the Power

Attitudes about privacy have changed through the centuries, with much of that change coming very recently when most of the western world has become prosperous enough to afford it. National rulers and others wielding great power play by a different set of rules. This includes not caring about privacy while using the toilet. This goes back to the Bronze Age and continued through medieval times, but recent leaders such as U.S. President Lyndon Johnson have practiced Bronze-Age-style toilet habits.

The one theme constant from Old Testament times to today is that one of the privileges of great power or high social station is the lack of concern for privacy. It wasn't so much about privacy as it was about power and privilege.

Actions or situations that might be distasteful or embarrassing for commoners were not to those in power. Royalty and nobility could behave however they pleased.

This same "open toilet policy" for aides and emissaries continued at least as late as the 1963-1969 administration of the U.S. president Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Read more about power and privacy »

Today's Featured Toilet
Lady Gaga got her start at Johnson's Bar on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side of New York.

Johnson's is supposed a hard-core punk sort of place, but its restrooms aren't really that different from other LES places.

See the dedicated page for the rest of Johnson's and its neighborhood!
Check back tomorrow for another featured toilet!

Keep This Book In Your Bathroom

Rose George's The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters is a fascinating description of sanitation conditions around the world. To quote from the introduction:

[....] 2.6 billion people don't have sanitation. I don't mean that they have no toilet in their house and must use a public one with queues and fees. Or that they have an outhouse, or a rickety shack that empties into a filthy drain or pigsty. All that counts as sanitation, though not a safe variety. The people who have those are the fortunate ones. Four in ten people have no access to any latrine, toilet, bucket, or box. Nothing. Instead they defecate by train tracks and in forests. They do it in plastic bags and fling them through the air in narrow slum alleyways. If they are women, they get up at 4 A.M. to be able to do their business under cover of darkness for reasons of modesty, risking rape and snakebites. Four in ten people live in situations where they are surrounded by human excrement because it is in the bushes outside the village by in their city yards, left by children outside the backdoor. It is tramped back in on their feet, carried on fingers onto clothes, food, and drinking water.

[....] Poor sanitation, bad hygiene, and unsafe water — usually unsafe because it has fecal particles in it — cause one in ten of the world's illnesses. [....] Diarrhea — nearly 90 percent of which is caused by fecally contaminated food or water — kills a child every fifteen seconds. The number of children who have died from diarrhea in the last decade [1998-2008] exceeds the total number of people killed by armed conflict since the Second World War.

Test your lavatorial knowledge with our new  toilet quizzes! 

Quiz #1: International Toilets Quiz #2: Flying Toilets
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Who is the Toilet Guru? Is he obsessed? What is it like to be the Toilet Guru? How did Yahoo describe him? Why does this site exist?
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