Three Wise Guys: Toilets, Peacocks and Uninsured Drivers

(By Danny Hellman)
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By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dear Wise Guys:

If you flush a toilet in the Northern Hemisphere, the water circles one way. In the Southern Hemisphere, it goes in the opposite direction. Suppose there is a toilet on the equator. Does such a thing exist, and if you flush it, what happens?


Dan: The space-time continuum gets sucked down with your dirty water. That's why they don't have toilets on the equator.

Joe: Not true. I've been to the equator, and there was a giant toilet there that gurgled and had steam pouring out of it. And every hour on the hour, it flushed on its own. It was amazing.

Justin: Sadly, the whole toilet-water-direction thing is a well-circulated myth. The Coriolis effect (which is usually cited as the cause of the nonexistent phenomenon) does control the cyclonic direction of large systems, such as cyclones and hurricanes, but the amount of water in your toilet is not a large enough body to be affected by this.

Oh, Wise Guys:

Can you please enlighten me and explain: What are peacocks for?

Kristy in Gaithersburg

Joe: This is an easy one. Peacocks are for clean air, affordable health care, better education, job security, high-speed Internet access. And, not surprisingly, a chicken in every pot.

Dan: The bird is like a hybrid of the best parts of Al Gore and Herbert Hoover.

Justin: I think she's asking about their purpose, not their political stance.

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