Today, apparently, is World Toilet Day. And lest you forget about what that means, science writer Margaret Wertheim lays it out in an opinion column in today’s Los Angeles Times.

A question of the day:

Though the word “toilet” is often considered declasse and even rude to utter aloud, much of modern life would not be possible without the commode. Ask yourself this: If you had to live without toilets or electricity, which would you choose?

On toilets and skyscrapers:

Toilets became a key factor in metropolitan growth both laterally and vertically. In order to build up, you have to be able to flush down. (Imagine carrying a chamber pot down the 102 stories of the Empire State Building.)

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Jane Kim is a writer in New York.