Friday, August 22, 2008

Bulgaria, Toilet Tides and the Death of Argument

I'm feeling all international because somebody from Bulgaria has looked at the Helm comic website! My Google analytics tell me so. For those of you feeling kind of creeped out by my use of Google analytics, particularly my one Bulgarian friend, don't worry--I'm using the disabled free kind of analytics that won't really tell me anything juicy about you like your credit card information or your sexual preferences. For example, I know that one person in Germany looked at the site. I don't know who it is specifically, but I think I have a pretty good guess.

And now, on to the toilet tides. On numerous occasions, I have stood before a toilet and observed small ripples or fluctuations in the water height that occur without apparent source. For those of you about to suggest that these are the after shocks of having used or flushed the toilet (and I know some of you were just about to do that) I make these observations prior to use of the toilets in question. Anyway, I have occasionally wondered what causes these disruptions. Today, I looked it up. According to my friend, the Internet, toilet tides are caused by changes in pressure in the toilet's vent stack pipe. Yes, you read that right. For those non plumbers in the massive audience of this blog, the vent stack pipe vents to the roof of the house and when wind blows across the opening of this pipe, it lowers the pressure in the pipe, causing the water to rise up the pipe and evacuate the toilet.

Apparently, you can duplicate this effect by putting a straw in a glass of water and blowing across the top so that the pressure in the straw goes down and water sucks up the straw out of the glass. Haven't tried it myself yet, but just wait until lunch rolls around!

Finding this answer so quickly led me to a thought. I used to while away countless pleasant hours in heated argument about subjects like the ripples in toilet water, but lately I've noticed that such arguments have dropped off precipitously. I think it may be because the correct answers to so many questions are now so easily, almost instantaneously, knowable. What is the point of pointlessly arguing something when you can discover the answer with the click of a mouse?

Should I worry that the art of pointless argument will fade? Should I assume that pointless argument will simply become more refined by being limited to things that are actually unknowable? In the end, it's hard to say--but at least I know how many Bulgarians are looking at my website and why my toilet water is moving.

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