Wednesday, October 15, 2008


"The last taboo, surely, is shit. The byproducts of digestion are so hard to mention...that symptoms of bowel cancer are often ignored until it is too late."

The Economist, "Lifting the Lid," book review of Rose George's The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters, October 11, 2008

No, this book is not about the last two weeks McCain/Palin mud-slinging. Everybody talks about the water problem; well, we also have a shit problem. And it's bad.

This became all-too-clear for me when I became a summer sewage worker for the unincorporated suburbs of DuPage County in 1968. I secured this prized job through the all-powerful Republican machine that controlled the county. My job was pretty simple -- shovel shit and move piles from one place to another.

Every so often the boss -- a rotund little man with green eyeshades and suspenders --would give me a special assignment -- like picking tomato plants for him from one of the piles rich in seeds from garbage disposals. Or sprinkle a thin layer of gravel on the entry roads to make them look pretty for inspectors and dump chemicals in the settling ponds to clear the water. I broke when ordered to plug the little holes in the dirt walls around retention ponds with clumps of clay.

There are more stories to be told but what I learned that summer was that shit was hard to get rid of -- and gets into everything.

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