Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Something to aim for.

Ask any guy who was around and was a guy in the 2000s about the flies in the Amsterdam airport and he will probably tell you that these were pictures of flies etched into the back of the urinals in the men's room. Men "shot at" the flies and "spillage" was reduced by 80%. Why? Because the men who used the facilities now had a target for their micturition. I don't know a guy who didn't find this news A) fascinating and B) obvious.

We'd been shooting at the little urinal cakes for decades. We wondered how many pees a urinal cake could take before a hole got worn through one. Bars where they threw old ice into the urinals as an auto-flush measure were always of great interest. How many cubes could one whiz melt? So this fly experiment seemed like one of those ideas that was so obvious that we were surprised no one had thought of it before.

It seems to be really catching on. The other day I was in one of those outlet shopping centers, like Disneyland for shopping (if that's not redundant), a place that had been remodeled extensively since the last time I'd been there. The men's room had gone from being "clean stadium" style to "fairly upscale restaurant." And check out the urinal:

The blue dot is little blue seashell, perfectly placed for target practice, courtesy of Sloan Valve Company.

It's a pretty good idea. For a generation that grew up on video games and staring at phones, there's a need for constant stimulation and activity, however dumb. Here's a game you can play while urinating, and it actually has a benefit for society at large! (Society is always benefited by having less pee all over it.)

Unfortunately the guys who promoted the Amsterdam fly experiment are also promoting something called "Nudge Economics" or "Behavioral Economics," using little manipulations (like the flies) to nudge people into the behavior their betters want them to demonstrate (such as urinating in the urinal and not on the floor). Now the jig is up, though, and we can be sure we'll start peeing on the floor again, metaphorically speaking -- humans being notoriously contrarian. Also, we don't like passive aggression from those who consider themselves superior. Anytime you think government is trying to "nudge" you to do what they want you to do, I suggest you do something completely opposite, just to confuse and frustrate them. To hell with them.

But I hope we don't actually start peeing on the floor again. Really, boys, the less pee all around the better.

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