Here at Cracked, we like to celebrate outside-the-box thinking: the crazy inventors, the creative solutions, the improvised weapons. So we're not saying that any of the below are necessarily good ideas. We're just saying that even the most insane problems need to be solved, and sometimes they're solved with more insanity.
#5. Zimbabwe Battles a Backed-Up Sewer With Synchronized Toilet Flushing
The Ridiculous Problem:
Please, take a moment out of your day and thank your toilet. Modern sanitation is one of those things we absolutely take for granted in the First World, despite the fact that billions live with sewer systems that are unreliable at best. Take Zimbabwe, one of the poorer countries in Africa. Their second largest city, Bulawayo, saw their sewage system back up due to a water-rationing system caused by a drought. There simply wasn't enough water left in Bulawayo's pipe system to carry away all the dumps the million-strong city was taking daily.
"We're about to be in deep shit. Like, for real, though. That's not a pun."
You can imagine the problems this causes. Dry pipes tend to contribute a liberal amount of ghost stench from the logs of yesteryear to the atmosphere. So apart from the whole "not enough water" situation, Bulawayo was now stinking to high heaven and subjecting its residents to a whole host of interesting feces-related health hazards.
What's a city to do?
Create a tidal wave with their toilets, that's what.
Faced with a seemingly impossible situation, Bulawayo's city officials decided to do something that would appear to be straight out of a cartoon: They calmly ordered everyone in the city to start flushing their toilets at the exact same time, at three-day intervals.
You'll need to imagine some inspirational music swelling while the community flushes to save the town.
The reasoning behind this strange move reads like a shit-based metaphor for social media: Although the sad trickle of water from an individual drought-toilet couldn't possibly budge the literal wall of shit that's clogging the sewers, thousands and thousands of simultaneous flushes should be able to create a massive sewage tsunami that allows the poop to ride away with the wave like the world's most horrible surfer. Synchronized flushing's other benefits included putting a stop to both the stench and future blockages by getting the pipes wet and keeping them well-lubricated with regular, periodic moistness.
The plan faced some heavy criticism -- after all, flushing your poop tunnels with tons of water doesn't seem like the ideal thing to do when there is no water. Still, synchronized flushing appears to be genuinely working.
"This town needs an enema! Again, this is a serious matter."
And while we're on the subject of toilets ...
#4. Taiwan Wages War on Toilets by Forcing Men to Pee Sitting Down
The Ridiculous Problem:
If you ever feel the need to summon an ungodly amount of hatred toward your fellow man, consider visiting the nearest public men's room. At best, you're going to get your shoes wet; at worst, the experience will play out like the toilet-diving scene in Trainspotting.
Well, that's what Taiwan thinks, anyway. That's why Stephen Shen, the country's Environmental Protection Administration minister, has embarked on a campaign that has one goal, and one goal alone: clean up men's toilets once and for all.
Most war crimes smell better than this.
Taiwanese health officials -- spearheaded by Shen -- have decided to fix everything that is wrong in the world of passing water by launching a serious-as-balls campaign for men to sit while they urinate. Seriously, that's the big thing they focus on -- drill glory holes in the stall wall all you like, as long as you remember to take a seat before pissing. They have plaques, public notices, endorsements by influential politicians, the works. Officials say that they are inspired to do this by the outstanding man-sit-pee statistics of Japan and Sweden, two countries that are no doubt thrilled by such publicity.
"Fuck urine! Long live Sweden!"
As you can probably imagine, the project is facing quite a few hurdles -- the least of which is not the fact that Taiwan's public men's rooms consist largely of urinals. When questioned about this, the unfazed officials stated that men should first train sit-peeing at home, presumably because sitting on a urinal becomes easier with training.
There's also the matter of signage. Let's say you're a guy and you see one of those "Don't pee all over the seat" signs above the toilet:
"Please use cock funnels, not cock colanders."
Man, we're not claiming to be authorities on the subject of toilet education, but we'd guess that seeing a sign where a dude is spraying all over the toilet isn't going to put too many butts on seats.
#3. Russian Drivers Fight Hellish Conditions With YouTube Fodder
The Ridiculous Problem:
The Internet's image of Russia has traditionally been dominated by three big Vs: vodka, Vladimir Putin and vile, balls-freezing winters. But with the advent of YouTube, another variable has entered the equation: freaking vicious traffic. You might have seen one of these videos:
Holy crap, just look at that. There you are, happily driving to the store for a pack of smokes, when suddenly trucks start Mario Kart jumping at you for no reason whatsoever. That's not traffic, that's Tetris with automobiles. What's worse, that video is just one of the many, many, many proofs of the madness that is everyday driving in Russia.
The reason that all Russian drivers appear to be insane is (perhaps surprisingly) not vodka, but a massive clusterfuck of societal issues. First of all, their roads suck. The main road network alone ranges from badly maintained terror-gridlocks to horrifying dystopian deathtraps, and the government's devotion to fixing the issue is limited to a hearty laugh and a shrug. The police are prone to taking bribes, and car insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with, so tough luck if your vehicle sustains damage. What's more, criminals and scammers abuse the shit out of the situation, happily staging accidents for profit or even lying on the road in hopes of getting hit and being able to sue.
Nope, totally not joking about that.
All of this has taken its toll on the drivers, to the point where they have precisely two available options: Either they embrace the insanity and become GTA characters every time they enter a vehicle ... or they drive like sane human beings and risk getting rammed into or, as often as not, getting cut off, dragged out of the vehicle and beaten by a 6-foot-7-inch tracksuit dude who embraces the Niko Bellic lifestyle.
None of those insane YouTube clips were filmed for shits and giggles. They're footage from dashboard cameras, the drivers' response to the unholy mess that is their country's road system.
This is what's known in the traffic world as a "pants filler."
The thing is, the parts of Russia that don't involve automotive activities are extremely enthusiastically governed. Their justice system is perfectly capable of delivering a heaping helping of sentences to any culprit. The problem is that deciding who said culprit actually is can be difficult when the evidence consists of smoking wreckage, a traffic cop with a suspiciously padded wallet and two guys pointing at each other.
The drivers have learned to combat this by equipping most every vehicle with dash cams, which provide perfectly good evidence for court and, given the unreliability of literally everything else on the road, have proven to be the only true way to protect themselves from the lawless wastelands of Russian asphalt.