The musings of Mr Monkeysized


Developing toilets by monkeysized
August 13, 2010, 10:43
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Toilets are an inconvenient reminder that we’re really just a bag of guts and liquids, built around a bony structure and clever nervous system, nourished by an in-one-end-out-the-other system of pipes.

Food? Mmmm. The other stuff? Yuk.

Even the Queen and Lady Gaga go to the toilet. How very monkeysized.

Here in Posh London the whole business has been flushed away to little backrooms, scented and scrubbed out of sight and out of mind. In the less rich parts of the world, however, the whole business is tackled in a much more head-on fashion. Last week in a Romanian village I was confronted by a double-seated shed-based crap module where the main hope was that the tactially-positioned spiders were not poisonous. In the real poor world the whole business is a health problem. Where does it go?At what harm to the people and the environment?

Here’s one way in which monkeysized solutions are being found to monkeysized problems. Check out www.peepoople.com

In short, poor people poo into a bag and then the bag, once buried, disintegrates. It’s a response to the problems created by plastic-bag based toilet solutions.

In turn, I came across peepoople through Trendwatching’s look at responses to a new range of third-world consumers with small amounts of cash and a desire to improve key aspects of their lives. This is something that many established firms in the richer world are struggling to do – the new consumers with the desire to buy new cars are more your Dacia/Tata Nano customers than your Audi A4 customers. Microfinance and the internet have their own part to play, too, of course.

But that’s enough for now. Let’s be thankful that somebody out there in the world has sat down, pondered, and come up with something that could help poor people deal with the problems associated with having a really good crap.

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Progress doesn’t always allow for sensible revisions by monkeysized
June 17, 2010, 09:36
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The Sunday Times soft-shoe-shuffled into the blog yesterday on the back of a quote about the majesty of air travel from The Economist. It reminded me to revisit the newly paywalled site for a marvellously monkeysized review of a car by Jeremy Clarkson.

On Sunday he made the point that

if the motor car were invented now, in its current form, no government on earth would allow ordinary people to drive around in one.

This single monkeysized line is worth an unadorned blog post all of its own, so I won’t ramble on too much. But it tells you something about both the nature of progress and the need to step back from the banal and obvious and think about them once again in relation to our over-evolved and under-cooked apelike selves. Driving a car is an extraordinary and largely unnatural business. It requires responsibility and a sense that what you are doing is a privilege. It is not a right.

Go outside, look at the old streets near where you work, where you live, and where you grew up. Imagine them without 80% of the cars, without any of the cars. That’s often how they were designed. The car is a fantastic invention, but don’t take cars and their impact for granted.