[VIDEO] How Japan’s Toilet Obsession Produced Some of the World’s Best Bathrooms

The Toto toilet company recently opened a $60 million museum for toilets in Kitakyushu. Everything from giant sumo wrestler toilets to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s humble washroom to high-tech electric thrones are on display. (Anna Fifield and Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

Toto, the beloved Japanese toilet maker, has opened a $60 million museum to celebrate its 100th anniversary. And it’s a hit.

KITA-KYUSHU, JAPAN — Anna Fifield reports: If there’s one thing Japan is passionate about, it’s toilets. Potties, loos, restrooms, john, powder room, however you say it, Japan has put a lot of thought into the smallest room of the house.

Japan loves its toilets so much they opened a museum for them

Japan is famous for its high-tech, derriere-washing, tushie-warming toilets. These are now such a valued part of Japanese culture that Toto, the beloved Japanese brand, has just built a $60 million museum devoted to its renowned product, at its home base in Kita-Kyushu, on the southern-most of Japan’s four main islands.

Toto even makes extra-wide, extra load-bearing toilets for sumo wrestling stadiums.

In Japan, there’s an app to help women find restrooms with space to fix their make-up.

Here are four things you might not know about Japan’s obsession with lavatories.

Theres an app for that

Dont take your chances going to a restroom without a little seat in the stall for your baby, or a fold-down platform for standing on while you get changed so you don’t have to put your feet on the bathroom floor.

There are a bunch of apps in Japan that can help you find the nearest public bathroom, or one with a special facility, like large stalls with facilities for people with ostomates (a relatively common issue in rapidly aging Japan).

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

Lion, a manufacturer of diarrhea medicine Stoppa (and various toiletries and detergents), provides an app @Toilet for people who need to take care of their business urgently away from the home or office. Click on the “emergency” button and it locates the closest restroom.

NPO Check operates a free app called Check a Toilet, listing over 53,000 restrooms in major cities. It shows restrooms nearby with information including whether they’re wheelchair accessible and/or have ostomate-friendly functions. Users can contribute by submitting information on the restrooms they’ve visited.

The Asahi Shimbun carried a story in August about a toilet opening ceremony in Aichi prefecture that involves drinking tea and eating rice cakes on the loo.

And for those ladies who, we now know, need clean bathrooms if they’re ever to leave the house, the well-known map publishing company Zenrin offers an app for women called Koisuru Map — A Map in Love — with information about nail salons, cafes and clean restrooms. This app includes information such as whether there’s a powder space for fixing your makeup, electrical outlets and diaper changing facilities. Zenrin’s (female) staff visits and reviews each bathroom before adding it to their list.

Theres a god of the toilet. Really.

You know how Japan’s washrooms got to be so clean and full of advanced technology? Maybe because they’re being watched over by a toilet god.

Here’s a video about a shrine to the toilet god in Tokyo.

According to the myth, Kawaya-no-kami, the Japanese toilet god, was, appropriately enough, born from the excrement of Izanami, the Japanese goddess of the Earth and darkness. Read the rest of this entry »


Repent! Pope Francis Lectures America on Immigration, Abortion, Gay Marriage and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

J. Taylor Rushing, Us Political Reporter In Washington and David Martosko, Us Political Editor For Dailymail.com report: Pope Francis delivered a stinging blow to nativist conservatives bent on keeping illegal immigrants and Middle Eastern refugees out of the United States, saying Thursday in a landmark address to Congress that Americans should show compassion to immigrants of all stripes.

“I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.”

‘When the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past,’ the Roman Catholic pontiff said. ‘We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.’

“Francis told lawmakers that the ‘Golden Rule … reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.'”

Speaking in English – a language he has learned only recently – Francis also dropped coded messages to conservatives about gay marriage and abortion, and made an impassioned plea for a left-leaning approach to capital punishment in an unprecedented visit to Capitol Hill by a sitting Pope.

[Read the full text here, at Daily Mail Online]

‘I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without,’ Francis told a packed House chamber filled with legislators, Supreme Court justices and multiple presidential candidates.

Pope Francis on Thursday morning became the first-ever pontiff to address the US Congress

Pope Francis on Thursday morning became the first-ever pontiff to address the US Congress

Francis took the opportunity to lecture lawmakers on a variety of topics ranging from social to environmental issues. Known as a forceful advocate, he did not disappoint

Francis took the opportunity to lecture lawmakers on a variety of topics ranging from social to environmental issues. Known as a forceful advocate, he did not disappoint

Francis about to be introduced at the door to the House chamber

Francis about to be introduced at the door to the House chamber

Francis's address was heard by an audience of several hundred, including lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and presidential candidates

Francis’s address was heard by an audience of several hundred, including lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and presidential candidates

“Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.”

And without mentioning abortion by name – or the name of the embattled domestic Planned Parenthood organization – Francis told lawmakers that the ‘Golden Rule … reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.’

Francis spoke calmly but emphatically, never raising his voice as presidents often do in their State of the Union addresses to joint congressional sessions.

[Read the full text here, at Daily Mail Online]

In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.

He was greeted by polite applause at certain points – particularly when he began reciting the Golden Rule but was interrupted before he could finish – ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you.’

Also, notably, applause broke out after these words: ‘The Golden Rule reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of development.’

Voila_Capture 2015-9-24_10-55-55_am

But the applause was never raucous, a sign that members heeded party leaders’ directive not to applaud effusively or ‘glad-handle’ Francis if they got close to him.

Behind him on the raised speaker’s dais, close watchers got a different show during the speech, as both Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner – both well-known emotional men – proved to be almost as watchable.

“Francis’s speech was sprinkled with references to American history, as the pontiff repeatedly referenced and occasionally quoted from President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day and Cistercerian monk Thomas Merton.”

Throughout the speech, Biden gravely nodded his head and looked down as if in serious thought. But Boehner appeared to tear up at several points, and was openly crying later on the Speaker’s Balcony after the address.

Francis’s speech was sprinkled with references to American history, as the pontiff repeatedly referenced and occasionally quoted from President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day and Cistercerian monk Thomas Merton.

The pontiff made clear his firmness on the sanctity of human life, not only the veiled reference to abortion but also his opposition to the death penalty.

Francis and House Speaker John Boehner meet for the first time near the House of Representatives chamber

Francis and House Speaker John Boehner meet for the first time near the House of Representatives chamber

Biden, a Roman Catholic who co-presided over the Joint Session of Congress as the constitutionally appointed president of the U.S. Senate, caused a stir this week by declaring that he believes life begins at conception.

[Read the full story here, at Daily Mail Online]

But it’s Francis’ comments about immigrants that will be most sharply felt as the U.S. deals with the twin crises of Syrian refugees and an immigrant invasion from Mexico and Central America, both of which the Obama administration has taken steps to pacify by loosening America’s borders as a show of compassion. Read the rest of this entry »


Resurrection of Christ, by Dürer

Resurrection

Print: Resurrection of Christ by Dürer – 


‘Perfect: As Italy Continues to Hound Amanda Knox and Rafael Sollecito For a Brutal Murder They Didn’t Have Anything to Do With, They Release Rudy Guede, The Actual Murderer, from Prison’

MK_RudyGuede2

The DNA results from the crime scene come in. It turns out there’s lots and lots of DNA at the crime scene. Unfortunately, not a speck of it is Knox’s or her boyfriend’s. Not. A. Speck.

Incredible.

Ace of Spades HQ writes:

Let me explain what happened. Under pressure to solve a brutal murder quickly — in a sleepy college town where such things were rare — Italian prosecutors fixated early upon Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Rafael Sollecito as Meredith Kercher’s murderers. They also thought a third man, a black nightclub owner with no criminal history, was involved, because Amanda had texted “See you later” to him on the night of the murder, but in Italian. Amanda worked at this guy’s bar, and the night wasn’t busy, so he had told her not to bother coming in, and she said “See you later,” literally translating the English phrase.

They thought this literally meant “see you later,” rather than “Until next time.” Or as the Italians would say it, arriverdercci.

I say he’s black because it’s relevant. I’ll explain later.

They interrogated Knox almost nonstop for three days, telling her that the killer was this black nightclub owner and they knew it, and that she was a coconspirator so why didn’t she just admit it before she went to jail for life?

[Read the full text here, at Ace of Spades HQ]

Finally, they asked her to envision what it would have been like to see this black nightclub owner at the murder scene, and she wrote out a statement speaking of herself “having a vision” of the man at the scene.

Case closed, they say in a dramatic press conference, in which very high ranking members of the Italian prosecutor corps and police are all flanking the main prosecutor. They then drive Amanda and Rafael around the town of Perugia, doing laps with them in the back of the squad car like Achilles dragging Hector behind his chariot, as the town cheers.

And bonus, they can lock up this black nightclub owner with no possible motive to kill Kercher and no history indicating he’d be interested in killing anyone at all.

Yeah one problem with that: The black nightclub owner was at his bar all night and at least nine witnesses could put him there all night.

So, the prosecutors decide their theory is still sound, but now they just need a different third man.

See, their theory has just been completely refuted, but no sweat, it just needs to be tweaked.

Well, after a few days, the DNA results from the crime scene come in. It turns out there’s lots and lots of DNA at the crime scene. Unfortunately, not a speck of it is Knox’s or her boyfriend’s. Not. A. Speck.

However, there is a ton of DNA material identified as that of one Rudy Guede, a drifter with a prior background of breaking into homes for petty theft while armed with a knife (on a previous burglary, he merely warned the startled occupant of the home away with the knife, rather than killing him).

He only casually knew Amanda Knox because he occasionally played basketball with Knox’s downstairs neighbors, some Italian boys. They had merely been present in the same room when the girls and Guede were watching tv with the downstairs boys.

Guede had murdered Kercher with a frenzied attack with the knife, and had cut himself on the hand with the blade (as happens). He had a cut on his hand when arrested. Read the rest of this entry »


Thomas Seddon, 1821-1856: ‘Penelope’

penlope
THOMAS SEDDON
1821-1856
PENELOPE ‘THEN DURING THE DAY SHE WOVE THE LARGE WEB, WHICH AT NIGHT SHE UNRAVELLED’ THE ODYSSEY
signed and dated l.r.: T Seddon 18/52
oil on canvas
91.5 by 71cm., 36 by 28in.

PROVENANCE

George Wilson of Redgrave Hall, Suffolk and thence by descent to Mr P.J. Holt Wilson, by whom sold Sotheby’s, 28 November 1972, lot 49

EXHIBITED

London, Royal Academy, 1852, no. 339;
London, Society of Arts, Thomas Seddon Memorial Exhibition, 1857

LITERATURE

John P. Seddon, Memoir and Letters of the late Thomas Seddon, artist, By his Brother, 1859, pp. 16-17;
The Journal of the Society of Arts, May 1857, pp.360-362;
The Art Journal, 1857, p.198

CATALOGUE NOTE

This is the first recorded work from the hand of the short-lived and very remarkable Pre-Raphaelite artist Thomas Seddon. Thought of principally as a painter of eastern landscape subjects, the present beautiful and important work provides a fascinating clue to his artistic training and formative years. Although quite unlike the type of work for which he did become known, it reveals the instinctive creative talent and natural skill that he possessed. An unusual subject for an English painter to take in the 1850s, and therefore possibly reflecting his knowledge of contemporary French art, it shows Penelope looking out as the dawn breaks – her companions still sleeping – after a night spent undoing the previous day’s work on a woven shroud. Her reason for doing this was because – according to the story told in Homer’s Odyssey – during the long period during which her husband Odysseus was away, assumed by most to be dead, she remained faithful to him and, when pressed to give herself in marriage to another, always said she could not until the shroud was finished, a subterfuge which she maintained for ten years until a maid servant revealed how it was that the garment was never completed. Read the rest of this entry »


Was Michelangelo the First Celebrity Artist?

Museum staff at the British Museum looking up at a projection of Michelangelo's “Creation of Adam”. Photo: Getty

Museum staff at the British Museum looking up at a projection of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam”. Photo: Getty

Martin Gayford writes:  On 14 February 1564, a young Florentine living in Rome named Tiberio Calcagni heard rumours that Michelangelo Buonarroti was gravely ill. Immediately, he made his way to the great man’s home in the street of Macel de’ Corvi near Trajan’s Column and the church of Santa Maria di Loreto. When he got there he found the artist outside, wandering around in the rain. Calcagni remonstrated with him. “What do you want me to do?” Michelangelo answered. “I am ill and can find no rest anywhere.”

Somehow Calcagni persuaded him to go indoors but he was alarmed by what he saw. Later in the day, he wrote to Lionardo Buonarroti, Michelangelo’s nephew, in Florence. “The uncertainty of his speech togetherwith his look and the colour of his face makes me concerned for his life. The end may not come just now, but I fear it cannot be far away.” On that damp Monday, Michelangelo was three weeks short of his 89th birthday, a great age in any era and a remarkable one for the mid-16th century.

Later on, Michelangelo sent for other friends. He asked one of these, an artist known as Daniele da Volterra, to write a letter to Lionardo. Without quite saying that Michelangelo was dying, Daniele said it would be desirable for him to come to Rome as soon as he could. This letter was signed by Daniele and also underneath by Michelangelo himself: a weak, straggling signature, the last he ever wrote.

Read the rest of this entry »


The New York Public Library’s Uncertain Future

A proposed renovation threatens one of the world’s great research institutions
The library’s iconic Main Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK/ART RESOURCE

The library’s iconic Main Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd 

Stephen Eide writes: No place does more for more New Yorkers”—so claims the New York Public Library. Unlike most institutional boasts, this one has merit, because the library has long balanced unparalleled excellence with remarkably open access. Serving Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island—Brooklyn and Queens have their own separate library systems—the New York Public Library operates one of the world’s premier research institutions and a circulating system of 87 branches. The library’s research holdings far surpass those of any other public library in the nation and of most universities; access to the collection has been as deep a source of pride for the library as the breadth and depth of the collection itself. But now the library is on the cusp of enacting the most radical change in its 120-year history: under the Central Library Plan, as it’s been called, the library will sell two major facilities in midtown Manhattan and use the proceeds, plus city funds—$350 million in all—to renovate the iconic Main Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, which would retain its research function while also becoming the system’s central circulating branch.

Critics have attacked the plan’s design and scope and the lack of public input in formulating it. The library insists, though, that the renovation is necessary. “This is about improving services for our users—the public,” says David Offensend, the library’s chief operating officer. That claim seems dubious, at least for researchers. Even under the brightest scenario, the likely result would be an institution marginally more cost-effective but significantly downgraded from the research standard it has set during its illustrious history. Read the rest of this entry »