Saturday, December 7, 2019

Literary Corner: We're looking very strongly at sinks and showers

Ca. 1950, via AllThatsInteresting.

Stung at last, perhaps, at the way he's commonly treated as an ignoramus, Trump came out with a surprising virtuoso display of knowledge and passion on an unexpected subject he knows and cares a great deal about: the effects of federal regulation on hotel bathrooms.

A lot of readers, unfamiliar themselves with the issues or how seriously our emperor takes them, have reacted with confusion and even a certain bemused scorn to the piece, whose coherence escapes them, accusing him of just babbling, or even hallucinating. They're missing something pretty big, in my opinion. Of course it's true that everything he asserts is wrong, as we've come to expect from our poet, but that just contributes to the risky, giddy feel of the work, and as far as coherence goes, there's plenty of that right to the end. Or almost.

The best way to confront it is head on, just reading it for its own sake before you talk about the meaning. Enjoy the sweep and excitement of the way he walks us through it, from the first thing you see—your face in the mirror as you switch on the light—to the potential collapse of the US steel industry. Of the what? No, seriously:

Elements of Bathrooms
by Donald J. Trump

The light bulb — they got rid of the light bulb
that people got used to. The new bulb is many
times more expensive and — I hate to say it —
it doesn’t make you look as good. Of course,
being a vain person, that’s very important to me.
It’s like — it gives you an orange look. I don’t
want an orange look. Has anyone noticed that?
So we’ll have to change those bulbs in at least
a couple rooms where I am in the White House. … 
We have a situation where we’re looking very
strongly at sinks and showers. And other
elements of bathrooms — where you turn
the faucet on, in areas where there’s
tremendous amounts of water, where
the water rushes out to sea because
you could never handle it — and you
don’t get any water. You turn on the faucet
and you don’t get any water. They take
a shower and water comes dripping out,
just dripping out, very quietly, dripping out.
People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times,
as opposed to once. They end up using more water.
So EPA is looking at that very strongly,
at my suggestion. You go into a new building,
or a new house or a new home, and they have
standards where you don’t get water. You can’t
wash your hands practically, so little water
comes out of the faucet. And the end result
is you leave the faucet on and it takes you
much longer to wash your hands. .. For the
most part, you have many states where they
have so much water, it comes down — it’s called
rain. They don’t know what to do with it. … 
A lot of things we do are based on common sense. If I
didn’t get elected you wouldn’t have a steel industry. …
We weren’t going to have a steel industry.
(Text via Juanita Jean.)
Photo via Hotel Management

Trump's challenged relation to arithmetic makes it impossible for him to see, obviously, that you can save money by buying a more expensive light bulb if it lasts longer by a factor that's greater than the price differential. He's also some years behind in the technology, I think, thinking of harsh and flickering fluorescent bulbs of the kind that seemed likely to take over five or ten years ago instead of the LED lighting that hotels have been turning to more recently, according to Hotel Management:
Affordable and versatile LEDs have made traditional fluorescent lights obsolete, and any hotel renovation should include upgrading the bathroom lights. Hitting a switch and waiting several seconds for the flickering lights to come on interrupts the guest experience, which should be seamless.
Not only do fluorescent bulbs flicker, the light they cast is not exactly flattering. Guests putting on makeup will want something much softer and gentler rather than lighting that makes them look like they haven't slept in days.
On the other hand it's inexplicable that Donald should think fluorescent lighting turns his skin orange, when it is fairly well known that they do the opposite, casting a bluish-green pallor on the Caucasian face. Besides, if he looks orange, the fact that he covers his face with Boosting Hydrating Concealer from the Swiss firm Bronx Colors, Orange BHCo6 (three jars, two full and one half full, are in the bureau drawer of any bedroom he sleeps in), as we learned a day or two ago, almost certainly has something to do with it. It is probably the case, in fact, that fluorescent lights make him look less orange than he actually is once he's put his face on in the morning. Let's just say that if he's come to feel he may he too orange, there is something he can do about it.

The sink issue may be a combination of faucet aerators to reduce flow from the typical 1.5 or 2 gallons per minute to 0.5 gpm and metering faucets that only dispense a certain preset amount of water and have to be turned on again if you want more. We have them in the men's rooms where I work and I'll admit that everybody hogs the un-aerating faucet on the far left, OK, I'm not proud of that. But please note that the purpose is, in general, not to save water but to save the proprietor money (even in California, maximum faucet flow rates are restricted only to 2 gpm, eventually 1.8 gpm, and I'm pretty sure nobody is offering showers at a lower volume than that), and the people who set the price of water, which Trump should probably ask Allan Weisselberg about if he's bothered by the sinks of the Palos Verdes golf club locker rooms, are aware of the fact that water comes from rain, of which there is more in some places than others.

The toilets, which have aroused the most excitement in my Twitter feed, are also a real thing I sort of knew about since we replaced the broken Flushometer valve in our tankless Manhattan toilet earlier this year, and which we really have found ourselves needing to flush not 10 to 15 but sometimes 4 or 5 times in succession; it seems toilets in New York City (and as of January 2014 Texas, Georgia, and California) mandate a gallons per flush rate of just 1.28, as opposed to the 3 to 7 gpf of traditional water closets or the 1.6 gpf that has become normal in very recent years. Personally, I feel good to realize the plumber didn't rip me off. I'm ready to believe, given the numbers, that this is good on the whole for the co-op's water bills.

Hotel Management is convinced that technological advances have already solved the problem, in any event:
MaP testing (third-party flush performance evaluation) shows that many 1.28-GPF fixtures perform better than their 1.6-GPF counterparts. For example, the American Standard Champion Pro toilet garners the highest MaP score with a 1,000-gram flushing performance. It’s able to flush a bucket of golf balls (although we don’t recommend trying that!). This improvement in performance has infiltrated the entire industry.

If anybody in EPA or elsewhere is "looking very strongly" at any of these things, I hope they find something else to do soon.

As to the steel industry, I don't know how he got there (is it possible he thinks American toilets are being infected by foreign steel fixtures?), but it wasn't about to die when he took office and it's doing worse at the moment than it was then, as of October:
Trump came into office in 2017 promising to revive the steel industry and save jobs. His tariffs — 25% on most steel imports and 10% on most aluminum imports — initially pushed prices higher. And some steelmakers even restarted some of their shuttered mills.
But the increased steel production and prices didn't last, and some steelmakers, including US Steel, have more recently closed mills. In addition US SteelX and rivals NUE and Steel Dynamics (STLD) have warned earnings that their profits will suffer in the second half of this year.
    The tariffs, along with falling demand and prices, have helped to reduce imports, which are down about 13%, according to Moody's report.
    It's also the case that yesterday's cool-looking jobs report for November misses the fact that men 25 to 44, the traditional main component of the jobs market, are dropping out of the work force in record numbers (in a pattern that started before the Trump administration), masked by the fact that so many guys in their 70s are sticking to their jobs because they can't afford to retire. Every one of this administration's self-congratulatory statistics is poisoned.

    But hey, we have so much poetry nowadays in our public discourse, surely there's consolation in that.

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