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Time to Take Back the Toilet

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(photo: Giuseppe Milo)

(photo: Giuseppe Milo)

Season 5, Episode 7

On this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio, first: we’re not asking that using a public restroom be a pleasant experience, but are there ways to make it less miserable? And then: how did the belt, an organ-squeezing belly tourniquet, become part of our everyday wardrobe and what other suboptimal solutions do we routinely put up with?

The gist: public bathrooms — when you can find one — are often noisy and poorly designed. In this episode, we explore the history of the public restroom, the taboos that accompany it, and the public-health risks of paying too little attention to the lowly toilet.

We also look into how wearing suspenders fell out of favor — and the health, economic, and aesthetic implications of wearing a belt.

To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “Time to Take Back the Toilet” and “How Did the Belt Win?

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The toilet segment was a fun question, not gross. For me music would be preferable to the loud booming at some clothing stores. I would have liked a discussion about the real issue. Why is it that our culture is so uptight about the natural sound our body just needs to make when digestion isn't optimal.

At the end show you asked what else do we find stupid. Here's mine that bothers me nonstop. LOUD noise in machines that don't seem to have to be so loud. Who invented leaf blowers anyway, and why?! And then make them so freaking loud! Lawn mowers, motorcycles, drills, etc. Noise pollution (given the noise level increasing by adding music to public restrooms) is a serious addition to stress in our modern lives.

We have finally made cars that are so quiet, why not the invasive noise that machines make to the public atmosphere.

Silent machines. My wish for a future of less stupid inventions!



2 stupid things: In California, where drinking water and water in general is so controversial in conservation, why do we flush toilets with pristine potable water?

Why does said drinking water/flushing water have fluoride added? So my toilet doesn't get cavities?