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Camden Tent City, 2009

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Indoctrinated for decades by relativism, we’re supposed to consider all life styles equal and never pass judgments. There must be legitimate reasons for a culture to embrace, for example, child marriage, bride kidnapping, female circumcision, Oprah Winfrey, or universal, all day long access to pornography.

Shit, though, is a hard sell, thus open sewers or public defecation don’t have too many fans. In An Area of Darkness (1964), however, V.S. Naipaul describes one, “Indians were a poetic people, he said. He himself always sought the open because he was a poet, a lover of Nature, which was the matter of his Urdu verses; and nothing was as poetic as squatting on a river bank at dawn.” The subject is a young, handsome and elegantly dressed Muslim student at “a laughable institute of education.”

With such an attitude not rare, apparently, Naipaul found “Indians defecating everywhere, on floors, in urinals for men (as a result of yogic contortions that can only be conjectured). Fearing contamination, they squat rather than sit, and every lavatory cubicle carries marks of their misses. No one notices.”

In 1990, 75.1% of Indians were defecating in the open, but by 2015, only 44.4% were, so there is progress (or regression, if you’re into venting your root chakra in the morning sun, with the birds singing, as a freight train comes into view). Counting also Indians who must use a pit, body of water or shared latrine, then it’s 56%. In 1925, Mahatma Gandhi wrote:

I learnt 35 years ago that a lavatory must be as clean as a drawing-room. I learnt this in the West. I believe that many rules about cleanliness in lavatories are observed more scrupulously in the West than in the East. There are some defects in their rules in this matter, which can be easily remedied. The cause of many of our diseases is the condition of our lavatories and our bad habit of disposing of excreta anywhere and everywhere.

In 2007, poet Vivek Narayanan wrote me from India:

The rows of shitters I pass on my morning run by the sea here in Madras (yes, not far at all from the very same marina where once Naipaul ogled, unflinching, a certain G-string) are all surly men, some with little cigarettes or joints hanging from their mouths.

I understand well the happiness and relief they must feel in being able to take their morning shits right by the waves, facing the rising sun—although I don’t enjoy coming back from the run with the inevitable bits of human excreta sticking to my shoe.

The West itself has come a long way in regard to cleanliness. In The Road to Wigan Pier (1935), George Orwell talks about the undeniable stench of poor Englishmen:

Of course, as a whole, they are dirtier than the upper classes. They are bound to be, considering the circumstances in which they live, for even at this late date less than half the houses in England have bathrooms. Besides, the habit of washing yourself all over every day is a very recent one in Europe […] But the English are growing visibly cleaner, and we may hope that in a hundred years they will be almost as clean as the Japanese.

Always paying attention to details, Orwell describes one working class arrangement:

The lavatories are in the yard at the back, so that if you live on the side facing the street, to get to the lavatory or the dust-bin you have to go out of the front door and walk round the end of the block—a distance that may be as much as two hundred yards; if you live at the back, on the other hand, your outlook is on to a row of lavatories.

Imagine having to routinely run the length of two football fields just to take a dump! So 83 years ago, most Englishmen had no toilet in their home, just like contemporary India, and Orwell gave them a century to be nearly as clean as the Japanese.

Spoiled by modern plumbing and sewerage, most Americans would find Jonathan Swift’s “A Description of a City Shower” hardly believable:

Now from all parts the swelling kennels flow,
And bear their trophies with them as they go:
Filth of all hues and odors seem to tell
What street they sailed from, by their sight and smell.
They, as each torrent drives with rapid force,
From Smithfield or St. Pulchre’s shape their course,
And in huge confluence joined at Snow Hill ridge,
Fall from the conduit prone to Holborn Bridge.
Sweepings from butchers’ stalls, dung, guts, and blood,
Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud,
Dead cats, and turnip tops, come tumbling down the flood.

But that’s London in 1710. By 1855, the River Thames was roiling with shit, as testified by scientist Michael Farraday, “Near the bridges the feculence rolled up in clouds so dense that they were visible at the surface, even in water of this kind […] The smell was very bad, and common to the whole of the water; it was the same as that which now comes up from the gully-holes in the streets; the whole river was for the time a real sewer.” With three million people, London was the largest city ever, so it faced unprecedented problems.

The sanitation crisis culminated in the Great Stink of 1858, but from it, the English did manage to think and muscle into being a comprehensive sewer system that functioned well from 1875 onward, a feat that eludes many nations today.

According to “Out of Order, the State of the World’s Toilets 2017,” 2.3 billion people, or 32% of mankind, still don’t have a toilet at home, and of the 25 saddest countries in this regard, 23 are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the others being Haiti and Papua New Guinea, also black nations. Here are the ten most toilet-deprived: Ethiopia (92.9%), Chad (90.5%), Madagascar (90.3%), South Sudan (89.6%), Eritrea (88.7%), Niger (87.1%), Benin (86.1%), Togo (86.1%), Ghana (85.7%) and Sierra Leone (85.5%).

Without a toilet, your whole life is a mess. “Out of Order”:

Girls who don’t have decent toilets at school or near home have to defecate in the open or use unsafe, unhygienic toilets, often shared with boys. Aside from the health risks, this is uncomfortable, embarrassing and puts them at risk of verbal or even physical abuse. To avoid the experience, they will often avoid eating and drinking during the day, making it hard to concentrate at school. Once they start their periods, girls are more likely to miss classes or drop out if there is not a decent toilet at school. In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in ten girls miss school during their period.

With such poor sanitation, Sub-Saharan Africa also leads the world in deaths by communicable diseases, which also shows up as having the shortest life spans. Of the 25 worst countries by this measurement, 24 are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the lone exception war-torn Afghanistan.


The oldest living people are those of Hong Kong, who live 84.11 years on average, then Japan (83.56), San Marino (83.56), Italy (83.20), Singapore (83.09), Switzerland (83.02), Iceland (82.68), Spain (82.66), Australia (82.50) and Israel (82.46), all places with proper, clean toilets and no open defecation. At the bottom, you have Swaziland (48.87), Lesotho (49.96), Sierra Leone (51.31), Central African Republic (51.42), Chad (51.87), Côte d’Ivoire (51.92), Angola (52.67), Nigeria (53.05), Mozambique (55.37) and Guinea-Bissau (55.47).

An American can expect to go underground at age 79.16, just before a Cuban (79.55), Puerto Rican (79.57), Costa Rican (79.59) and Lebanese (79.63).

In 1900, global life expectancy was just 31 years, and 48.5 for citizens of the most powerful empire, British, so everyone is living longer, as well as having more cars, cellphones and toilets, etc., but don’t expect these trends to continue. With resource depletion and population overshoot, there will be fewer pots to piss in as this fornicating, defecating boat lurches forward.

Man Eating Out of Dumpster, Center City, Philadelphia
Man Eating Out of Dumpster, Center City, Philadelphia

All over the US, destitution and squalor are encroaching, with tent cities sprouting all over. In Philly, there are encampments on Kensington sidewalks, and across the river in Camden, there are several tent clusters. Visiting one repeatedly several years ago, I saw just one honey bucket for over a hundred people. It stank so much, I suspected many were just using the bush, so yes, many Americans also lack proper toilets, and if you have passed through Los Angeles’ Skid Row or San Francisco’s Tenderloin, just to cite two famous examples, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Coming to the States as an 11-year-old, I gradually learnt that “shit” is much more common in American English than Vietnamese, as in “dumb shit,” “I must get my shit together” or “you’re shitting me.” Though common in daily life, shit is hidden, so it must seep out in language, and since Americans rarely see excreta, they make it nearly ubiquitous in conversations. Vietnamese don’t have this compulsion and, soon enough, neither will Americans.

With shit banished, many Americans have become fascinated by its ghost, thus you have rimming aficionados, and my friend Felix can wax about a stripper’s asshole “fluctuating,” as well as his ex-wife’s intention of having her buttcheeks tattooed with “W,” “so if she bent over, it would read WOW!”

In the landscapes of science fiction dystopias, you’ll find many broken, smoldering skyscrapers that are still picturesque, but few hints of the staggering filth awaiting us. In Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, however, there’s a Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505. I’m certain, though, the shit storms will hit us much sooner.

Idiocracy’s premise is that society will become ever crasser and more dysfunctional since stupid people are outbreeding the smart. It’s not very progressive, this vision, since each child, we’re repeatedly told, is a blank slate, with roughly equal potentials. Genes count for next to nothing. Only the environment matters. Likewise, there are no smart or stupid populations. If you agree with Judge, however, the fact that the most assbackward societies are outbreeding advanced ones can only mean this entire world will be flushed down the toilet.

OK, enough of this shit. I’m going across the street to get shit faced and talk shit. I’ve earned my shit for the day.

Linh Dinh’s latest books are Postcards from the End of America (non-fiction) and A Mere Rica (poetry). He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Poverty, Third World 
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  1. tim s says:

    That’s some heavy shit, Linh….

  2. Michelle says:

    Remember, “There are other words for shit, Doo Doo, caca, poo poo and good old number 2”.

  3. no shit,from linh,just the real poop.

  4. I’ve heard that in the early days of the Naval yards, sailors called Philadelphia “shit city” because of the raw sewage that was dumped into the river upstream from the shipyards. The riverfront walks must have been unromantic to young couples who probably preferred another pastime besides sitting by the river watching the turds float by.

  5. unit472 says:

    I remember a company safety event in which the speaker asked ‘what is the first thing people do when they hurt themselves’ I blurted out ‘curse’ which wasn’t the answer she was looking for but she conceded I was correct! The why of this I don’t begin to know but as to the overuse of the term ‘shit’ in vulgar conversation may have something do with toilet training. An infant in America is expected to master use of the toilet as soon as possible and the disgust parents exhibit when a child fails in his/her ‘duty’ is palpable.

    • Replies: @Alden
  6. That’s some good shit.

  7. I recall reading somewhere that the quickest way to measure the level of civilization in a city is to note how sewage and trash is disposed. This not only requires clean habits, but city planning, taxation, investment, codes, and enforcement.

    For example, recent news measuring the rapid decline of Los Angeles.

    • Replies: @jilles dykstra
    , @Alden
  8. Jim says:

    Cholera was a serious problem in Europe in the mid-19th century. As modern sewage systems became increasingly common throughout Europe and North America in the latter part of the 19th century cholera morbidity plummeted to almost zero.

  9. W. C. Fields expressed our dilemma well when he said, “I never drink water — fish shit in it.”

    Stick with the booze.

  10. I think we have enough of this.
    We should progress to toilet paper!!!!

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Biff
  11. renfro says:

    Evidently its spreading to America.

    Driver delivering Amazon packages caught on camera pooping in

    Driver caught pooping in homeowner’s driveway (KTRK). Friday, December 01, 2017. SACRAMENTO, California –. A contracted Amazon driver in a marked U-Haul van was caught on camera making an unwanted delivery – human waste. The deposit happened on a suburban Sacramento street in a quiet cul-de-sac.

    VIDEO: Driver delivering Amazon package caught pooping on driveway…/video-driver-delivering-amazon-package-caught-pooping-on-driveway/

    Dec 2, 2017 – The video shows a contracted driver delivering an Amazon package defecating on the curb, right next to a homeowners driveway. The woman then runs back into the marked U-Haul van and eventually drives off. KCRA learned that the driver was making a delivery for Amazon but worked independently

  12. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    What a fantastic article. I really enjoyed the historical portraits of Orwell’s England.

    Feel free to write more of this ilk, Linh Dinh. We will certainly read!

  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Au contraire, mon ami! After using both ways for many years, I can conclusively state that the squat water toilet is vastly superior to the Western method.

    1. You get a genuinely clean bum. No need to worry about butt sweat induced leakages, no need to scratch your bumhole, and no danger of finding a stinky brown circle even if you did.
    2. It’s faster. You can go from unclean to pristine in a few seconds. No need to keep checking for faint brown stains, and no need to wet your toilet paper to help the process.
    3. It’s much much gentler on your butthole. No abrasion, no sore sphincter, no danger of bleeding. This is a benefit during normal pooping, but an absolute godsend during diarrhea.
    4. Running costs are effectively zero
    5. Less strain on the sewer system, no danger of blockages due to toilet paper buildup
    6. Environmentally benign
    7. No need to sit on dirty toilet seats
    8. No need to let your meat and two veg hang down into some disgusting toilet bowl.

    The only disadvantage is that it’s unsuitable for sub-zero climates and care must be taken in cold climates to not wet your trousers/shoes in the process. Also, some people apparently have trouble squatting for long enough to finish the process.

    • Replies: @Ilyana_Rozumova
    , @prusmc
  14. helena says:

    Really interesting. I love the opening paragraph!

    A soil scientist told me that the biggest mistake we made was to mix liquid and solid excreta. Liquid is easy to purify but by adding the solid, the mixture becomes hard to purify. But, if the solid is separated it can be easily dessicated. So the flushing toilet created a huge problem as well as solving one. But, he said, the existing system is too widespread to change.

  15. Alden says:

    You’ve been reading Dr Fraud and some 1880 to 1930 baby care books.

    Early toilet training was out of style by 1940. Now days they have cute little cartoon dvds that the babies love. They enjoy doing what the cartoon babies do and mastering toilet training.

    Ask parents of babies and toddlers about it.

  16. Just a few random points.
    I recall reading about King Charles I, & his military enterage, during the Civil war, staying in one of the University Towns (Cambridge, Oxford ??). These aristocrates shat and pissed everywhere/anywhere; behind curtains, in fire places, in cupboards….Much the same situation occured at Versailles during the reign of the “Sun King”.
    Of course there was a logic behind such behaviour – adequate toileting facilities simply didnt exist.
    Interestingly, Rome was almost fanatical about proper sewage, cleanliness etc. Going to the baths was a fundamental part of Roman culture. Bathes were subsidised by govenment and ALL classes used them routinely.

  17. Germans toss the Scheiße around quite a bit in conversation. I once had two German middle executives in a financial institution go on a real Scheiße exchange during a meeting, and after the exchange of the tenth pair of Scheiße, I said something to the effect of “I’m not f***ing impressed by this shit,” which might have flown on The Street without much notice, but apparently dropping the F-Bomb was a step too far in a German financial institution.

  18. Come to Boston and get some shit. It’s legal shit now. It’s good shit, too! Here it is NOW!:

  19. Biff says:

    We should progress to toilet paper!!!!

    Never use the stuff. I use a commander throne Japanese toilet that washes and dries.
    Comes in handy here in Bangkok where it’s a big no-no to flush any kind of paper into the sewer system.

    Bangkok’s system does struggle, and once in a while in certain areas you’ll get a good ole “whiff”, but a hardcore ammonia cloud throat cinching gasp is found in San Francisco’s Civic center park(where they feed the homeless)(why they feed the homeless in the middle of a crowded city is beyond me, and another topic).

    Another interesting note on the subject, and why there is little “raw ammonia stench” here in Thailand, and that is because you don’t have to be a paying customer to use the toilet. If walk into most any business or even sometimes a residential home and ask(and they don’t think it’s weird to ask) to use the John they will most likely say yes. A cultural thing I guess.

  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Yup. Most of South East Asia is like this. In Indonesia, ‘ibu.. saya boleh mandi disini?’ (auntie, can I bathe here?) is even acceptable. IMHO a far superior way of life!

  21. eah says:

    So another contribution to the debate about whether there really are “shithole” countries or not — thanks for that.

    The lavatories are in the yard at the back,…So 83 years ago, most Englishmen had no toilet in their home,…

    My mother used an outhouse in the American south when growing up in the 1930s and early 1940s — there is a difference between using an outhouse and defecating anywhere and everywhere.

  22. wayfarer says:

    Get up every morning at 0330, having slept well within a $500 used fifth-wheel in a lonely trailer-park some 20-miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border. Take a solitary walk under a crystal clear sky of stars, planets, and moods of the moon; to a public bath-house for a hot hotel-shower.

    Swing by the “magic dumpsters” on my way back, which can be a man’s best friend as transient travelers often place unwanted treasure there. Sometimes the universe has exactly what a soul needs, or even doesn’t really need like a framed picture of some distant south-pacific island paradise.

    Always make a quick stop at the “slot-machine” a local newspaper dispenser, which at times has loose coins in its return, just waiting for life’s lucky gambler.

    Then it’s a pot of coffee, a pastel desert sunrise, and another new day in coyote country.

  23. @Anonymous

    You have forgot breathing in the pleasant aroma walking by the seashore.

  24. prusmc says:

    When I was in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq I noted there was some advantages to using this type of arrangement. The disadvantage was if you were wearing a flack vest, pistol belt and 9 MM, load bearing suspenders, two or three canteens, first aid packet, compass and signaling gear you found out quickly that what was natural and covenient for the local guys (they wore something like a white dress) was a pain in the ass for an American fighting man. The US forces overburdend local facilities and initially chemical latrinen were not available so wooden privies were built (just like we had when I was a young kid on the farm in upstate New York). There were two types the four hole type with no shield, privacy walls and the privacy walled three holers. General Gus Pagonis rationed the three holers to SA forces.
    Disposal initially, when force structure was being built up in the eastern province of SA was by contract with a local entrepreur who had a shit-sucking truck. Three times a week the crew would arrive, pull out the half 55 gallon drums, suck out the shit and then rinse out the containers. Flies were always a problem but after the disposal team arrived they were unbelievable. Later we moved to desert tactical assembly areas in the north by the Iraq border.We started from scratch, first entrenching tool made individual holes, then the 4 hole laterns. We pulled the half drums out every moring and burned the contents with deisel fuel. There never was a fly problem. Some folks had a problem adjusting to the laterine centered hygiene regime. Particularly staff officers, in one instance a field grade refused to use the field sanitation facilities and would wait days until he could get to a place with a sit down comode. He later was evacuated and given disabilty for extreme hemeroids..

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  25. Joe Hide says:

    To the Author,
    WOW! Another over the top brilliant article. When authors write in ways we don’t emotionally relate to, we don’t absorb their meaning well. In Your article though, it really hit the fan.

  26. Mr. Hack says:

    Oops, what’s that I spot just yonder beyond that magnificent looking saguaro that’s pointing straight up to heaven? Another fellow traveler’s corpse from Mexico whose spirit is waiting to meet its Maker. Just another happy camper that has lost his way to Paradise…

  27. jack ryan says: • Website

    Really bad sanitation, with mentally ill homeless people pissing and shitting on public streets – that will kill the worst forms of liberalism.

    Liberal Leftists can always blame “racism” for the worst crimes, but public defecation – no.

    This Monty Python comedy sketch ‘What have the Romans Ever Done for Us?” from the Life of Brian pretty much sums up my view about the positive benefits of White civilization – if some high Asians can do better roads, cleaning water than the Romans or other European colonialists – sure, give them the nod.

  28. Nomadic Indians indeed surrounded their temporary residences with shit.
    Cannot see the problem.
    Suppose in permanent residences as I saw them at Walnut Creek they behaved otherwise.

  29. @The Alarmist

    Just a common German expression for ‘mess’.
    In France the word ‘merde’ is used, also shit.
    Judging from USA tv ‘fuck’ is in every third sentence.
    With us in the Netherlands the word ‘kut’ alas has become common usage for mess or so, ‘kut’ is vagina.

  30. @animalogic

    The French aristocracy was not interested.
    When, during a meeting, a toilet was needed, a servant brought in a portable one, and, during the bodily function, conversation was continued from behind a screen.
    Aristocratic births were in public, I suppose to make sure that the newborn baby really was the heir.
    Romans fanatical, as fanatical as we are now, using toilets and daily showers.
    This ‘fanaticism’ disappeared through christianity, the body was not important, and a cause of sin.
    In the Dutch city of Dordrecht the street level came up seven metres through trowing anything in the streets.

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @animalogic
  31. @eah

    Outhouses were still in use in the Netherlands end of fifties.
    The city of Leeuwarden got sewers even later, the last city were faeces were collected weekly, barrels.

  32. @Carlton Meyer

    I fear civilisation is as difficult to define as intelligence.
    In my opinion there was an Aboriginal civilisation in Australia.
    Mudrooroo, ‘Aboriginal Mythology, An A-Z spanning the history of aboriginal mythology from the earliest legends to the present day’, London 1994
    Good descriptions of Indian civilisations one finds in
    Paul Kane, ‘Wanderings of an artist among the Indians of America’, 1859, 1996, New York
    and in
    Francis Parkman, ‘The Oregon trail’, New York, 2002, Boston, 1883, 1847

  33. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    More defense spending!

  34. n230099 says:

    That pic is a lot further north than “20-miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border”.

    • Replies: @wayfarer
  35. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “I always give myself Sundays as a spiritual base of renewal —a day when I do absolutely nothing. I sit in my jammies or take a walk, and I allow myself time to BE —capital B-E— with myself.” – Oprah Winfrey

  36. @Biff

    Thank you for advice. I do not have a problem at home. I do have a bidet.
    Never tried the Japanese system. So I cannot compare. But I am generally satisfied with old backward
    french system.

  37. For those who are interested, here is a list of % of population practicing open defecation, by country (2000 & 2015), according to the World Bank. If you click on the column “2015” it will rank the countries for you.

  38. If you agree with Judge, however, the fact that the most assbackward societies are outbreeding advanced ones can only mean this entire world will be flushed down the toilet.

    this is true even in the usa :))) the only cont that is experiencing population explosion is africa. if EU doesn’t get it’s borders together, it will be taken over.

  39. wayfarer says:

    Ya, think?

    Thank god, for rocket scientists.

    Here’s another view of the Sonoran Desert.

    Is this one accurate enough, for you?

    • Replies: @republic
  40. Alden says:

    When Catherine of Braganza married English King Charles 2 her Portuguese ladies had many complaints about the gentlemen of the court peeing all over the place.

  41. Alden says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    Read the LATimes article. Right across the courtyard from Bonin’s office is a big encampment behind the library. They use the bathrooms in the library and community center.

    So far, so good

    A few blocks away is a lovely apartment conplex. It has 3 and 4 bedroom 2 bath spacious apartments. It is very attractive with nice Landscaping, day care center, playground and an on site welfare office.
    Those apartments have the exact same layout and size as the million to million .3 condos in the neighborhood. They have more grounds and the on site playground and day care center

    There is even a bus stop right in front so they don’t have to waddle down to the corner to get the bus.

    And who lives in that lovely complex? Illegal alien 4 ft 10 200 pd Central American Indians and their anchor babies.

    Who lives in the courtyard behind the library? Americans, most of whom were brought here in slave ships hundreds of years ago.

  42. Alden says:
    @jilles dykstra

    It was more the total destruction of the aqueducts and sewer systems by the Germans goths etc. Then along cane the Justinian plague that depopulated S Europe.

    The entire Roman water and sewage system had been built by massive amounts of slave labor. When Rome fell slavery on that scale disappeared.

    The Christian monasteries however kept a form of the Roman toilet system. They built ditches lines with tile, concrete or lead pipes. The ditches had a slant of above 5 ft. The outhouses were built above the ditch. At one end was a water supply. At the other a reed bed and receptacle. The solids were carted away to the compost heap The liquid was somewhat sanitized as it flowed through the reed bed.

    Prince Charles advocates reed beds.

    But then along cane the reformation the monasteries were destroyed and the last of the Roman system disappeared.

  43. A poop outside each day
    Helps keep the coyote away
    The same alas I cannot say
    For my POS HOA

  44. Sean says:

    The homeless may be going back in time, but with people of the higher social classes who make the running it is going in the opposite direction. US female porn performers have their anal region bleached now (such is becoming as common as a Brazilian for fashionable women). Anal sex has supplanted vag in porn and seems to be closing in on doing the same in real life (despite the fact that orgasm dulls the pain of intercourse, which presumably won’t work with butt sex).

    I suppose vaginal delivery being supplanted by cesarean among the higher social classes is partly due to a desire to compete with the tighter orifice. Weird, weird West.

    • Replies: @Anon
  45. @eah

    My Grandmother still had an outhouse (US midwest) until the late ’60s; it was a two-holer, though, so she lived high on the hog.

  46. @prusmc

    You came late to the game … in 1980 we were put up in a compound with modern facilities.The guys I deployed with had never seen a bidet, and used it to clean their feet.

  47. @The Alarmist

    So, what happened? Did they fuck you up?

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  48. @wayfarer

    Well, that was totally off topic. You forgot to mention where you took a shit.

    • Replies: @wayfarer
  49. @jilles dykstra

    “This ‘fanaticism’ disappeared through christianity, the body was not important, and a cause of sin.”
    Yes, I think you are spot on: Christianity has (following the old testament) always had …problems with our physical reality. Getting for so long was usually a secondary issue. Recall even by time of Dickens London was traversed by open sewers — the Fleet, I think, was actually a river until it was reduced to an open sewer, not only full of odour but dead things of all descriptions: you could write a PhD on the relationship between filth & Christian societies.

    • Replies: @Alden
  50. @animalogic

    Interestingly, Rome was almost fanatical about proper sewage, cleanliness etc

    They even had a goddess of the sewers, Cloacina, and Sterquilinus was a god of the compost heap.

    Why are composting toilets such a rarity in the US?

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  51. wayfarer says:
    @Twodees Partain

    Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one. – Anonymous

    It’s a toss-up as to which is of less value, human shit or human opinion.

    world population:

  52. Druid says:

    I have bidets in all the toilets!

  53. Alden says:

    Back in 1972 when a judge closed down the nearby Napa state mental hospital because of an ACLU lawsuit, the inmates were put in a bus, given some money and dumped right there in civic center plaza

    It’s also the only park other than Union Square downtown. They need benches to sit on.

    Locals call it the outpatient clinic

  54. Alden says:

    Never been to India have you?

  55. K.A. says:


  56. @animalogic

    Stop clowning Bozo you are desecrating holy subject.


    ((( I recall reading about King Charles I, & his military enterage, during the Civil war, )))
    This sentence makes you a real court Jester.

    First; it is not “enterage” it is entourage. Second; Charles I never left his castle during civil war.
    It was his nephew who led the the Royal army.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  57. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Mike Judge was going to do Idiocracy themed campaign advertisements opposing Trump, but the man told him not to. You put Seth MacFarlane, Mike Judge and Oprah into a anthropological dissertation and you come up with some bland flapdoodle – all vetted by the Ministry of Approved Information and Entertainment. It’s a let down I know. You thought they were all creative mavericks shootin’ from the hip and usin’ both hands in a fit of creativity.

    Beavis and Butthead was called porn, remember that? King of the Hill was libertarian porn. Mike Judge has all those awards from the people that count. Plus he got started on that ground breaking cable propaganda outlet MTV. Let’s say that Judge’s work has been as popular as the real porn that so many people know and love.

    It’s always the artists, the bad ones, who probably hate their own art. They make it ever more crass, dysfunctional, mocking and accusatory. Anything to get a rise out of the customers.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  58. @Ilyana_Rozumova

    Oh, wow, thanks Miss, clowning AND a spelling mistake. I’ll bring an apple for you next time.
    On a more serious note don’t fuck me around with your “holy subject” sheiss you unmitigated prig – it won’t wash, so don’t bother.

    • Replies: @Ilyana_Rozumova
  59. @Twodees Partain

    The Scheißed all over me every chance they could get, but at that time Americans were still teflon-coated in Germany.

    • Replies: @Twodees Partain
  60. @Anonymous

    “It’s always the artists, the bad ones, who probably hate their own art. They make it ever more crass, dysfunctional, mocking and accusatory. Anything to get a rise out of the customers.”

    Say what you will about Mike Judge, but his success was mirroring back to us a lot of the characters we know in our lives. MacFarlane and Oprah aren’t as woke as Judge.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  61. @jacques sheete

    “Why are composting toilets such a rarity in the US?”

    Because they can’t afford as many Lobbyists, think tanks, fact-finding junkets, and lunches as the Flush-Toilet industry.

  62. @animalogic

    Holy subject was sarcasm You moron. I will do everything what you ask me to do if you promise me that you will stop writing historical inaccuracies.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  63. Che Guava says:

    Linh, Amusing article.

    I think that there are cultural diiferences going beyond the history of sanitation.

    One odd commonlity between post-war werstern Germany and Japan is the relative popularity of faecal porn. Not something I want to seeing.

    I am not knowing if this is having parallels elsewhere, but many Japanese children are raised by their mothers to excitedly scream ‘Unko, unko, unko’, rough translation, defecate, defecate, defeecate. There is even a series of primary school texts where the titles mean ‘Mr. Turd teaches kana’ and ‘Mr. Turd teaches basic
    Kanji.’ This is a relatively recent and puzzling thing.

    Of course, they are curricilum-graded, so several volumes, and massively popular.

  64. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    The West must be fought and preserved forever for the sake of the homosexuals, you bigot.

  65. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @The Alarmist

    If success is all that matters, who gives out the awards? MTV had that special place in our modern institutional society for how ever long they were relevant. I think Judge is a Fox man now, at least they control what he does which was one of my points.

    Take a look at MTV though. They were broadcastin’ Beavis and Butthead, warning about censorship and the right to vote with the rock stars. Meanwhile a war started in the background but the kids are alright if they see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil and remember to vote and stomp out censorship after watching Beavis and Butthead by Mike Judge. I enjoyed Office Space.

    I wonder if today’s kids can identify with some of the girls in high school who went on to modestly successful careers in the porn industry.

  66. @Ilyana_Rozumova

    “Desecrating a holy subject”. Funny, doesn’t sound like sarcasm…. mmm ?
    Oh, and King Charles ?
    its from Wiki so feel free to deny it: “He set up his (Charles)court at Oxford.”
    So, pussy cat, show some more claws…..

  67. @animalogic

    Oh my god! That he set up court does not mean that he led the army,
    But never mind You are nice fellow. And I am sorry. I was in bad mood.

  68. @animalogic


    I do have a Cromwell’s autobiography by Lady Fraser in my library.
    It was the most fascinating period in English history. You should get it and read it.
    When I did purchase the book and I started to read it I just could not put it down.
    The most important fact was that parliament has risen against Charles first because of the taxes.
    Charles first was able to build one warship a year from taxes.
    When Cromwell de facto assumed the rule he taxed the nobility to the extent that he was able to build six to seven warships in the years.
    That is why Churchill wanted statue of Cromwell before Parliament.

  69. delmas says:

    Sounds as if the shit’s going to hit the fan pretty soon now.

  70. Maybe this is too serious, but here it is …

  71. @The Alarmist

    Ahaha. I’m glad you saw the joke in my reply. Sometimes I offend people without meaning to.

  72. Sparkon says:

    In the United States, most civilized people use a toilet connected to our sewage system, which I concede would work better if liquid and solid waste were separated. Meanwhile, our 60 or 70 million dogs are free to dump their business wherever they choose, which usually means on some neighbor’s lawn.

    I understand there are many dogs in Paris. I see too that the so-called “City of Light” is currently flooded, with the Seine rising to levels not seen in a century two years.

    Some of the dog lovers here may know that the familiar French Poodle is actually a German breed:

    The name poodle came from the German Pudelhund or Pudel (which in English means “puddle”) meaning “to splash about”, and the word Hund in German means “dog.” The poodle became standardized in France, where it was considered and worked as a water retriever. It was the poodle’s popularity in France which solidified it as the national breed.

    I suspect most pooch-loving Parisians have fled the flood. After all, who wants to be up shit creek without a poodle?

  73. Now I did read the article.
    Exhaustive research is showing and exceptionally well written article.
    We are are all privileged to read it.
    Subject ?
    But we cannot wait when she will be handling some subject closer to present political problems.

  74. theMann says:

    What would have served India better, building 600 million flush toilets connected to modern sewage treatment centers, or building a nuclear weapons program?

    India made its choice, it can wallow in the results.

    Germany and the USA are the cleanest and most modern countries on earth. They won’t stay that way considering who they are inviting in.

  75. Linh,

    I find your writing interesting, but I just had to ask this: what has been the reception towards your writings from Asians, both Asian nationals and Western Asians?

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  76. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi Kokusen’ya,

    Thanks for your interest. My Blood and Soap was translated into Japanese, and my Postcards from the End of America will come out in a Japanese edition in June. When I was in Hanoi recently, I met writers from Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong who were familiar with my writing, and two years ago, I was invited to a literary festival in Singapore. In Vietnam, I’m known among many of the poets and a few academics for my poems written in Vietnamese. A few poems have also been translated into Korean.


  77. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    As for interest in my work from Western Asia, several of my poems have been translated into Arabic, and I’ve been interviewed by Tahseen al Khateeb, a Palestinian living in Jordan, and by Abdullah Al-Zammai, a Saudi Arabian.

    For several years, I was also a regular political commentator for Iran’s Press TV. All of my Press TV commentaries were on YouTube until about two years ago. They’re all gone now.

    • Replies: @Kokusen'ya
    , @Kokusen'ya
    , @Anon
  78. @Linh Dinh


    Sorry, by ‘Western Asian” I meant Western educated East Asians. I try not to use the term “Asian-American” given that a number people that actually fit that identification do not identify as such, but I guess that’s what I mean. Yellow people whose native language is English (I’m one of them).

  79. @Linh Dinh

    I’m just asking because your writing resonates with a lot of my personal observations, but if I mentioned this to any of the Asian Americans I know, I’d get lynched.

  80. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Linh Dinh

    Thanks, that’s very interesting. What about south Asia? Indians for instance have a surprising degree of interest in English poetry.

  81. Hey, Linh Dinh.

    Have you ever traveled to Everett, WA? What were your impressions of that city?

    I’ve been there a couple times and it seems to be a lot like the other blue collar cities that you’ve written about.

  82. ohmy says:

    Shit fire! Your funny as shit Linh. I’m not shitting you either. You wouldn’t shit me? Would you?
    so I won’t shit you. Let me tell you, there’s some funny shit going on here. I shit you not. Ah, fuck this shit. It’s time for bed.

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