From Fear and Loathing in Georgetown: FLG’s classmate was looking at the construction site of the new science building. His gaze was fixed on some big pipes.
FLG: You alright?
Classmate: Huh? Hey FLG. Yeah, I’m fine. Just looking at the plumbing.
FLG: Know anything about plumbing?
Classmate: A little. Not much. But water and shit are pretty much what defines civilization.
FLG: Water and shit?
Classmate: When people say the words advanced civilization, they usually think about art, literature, architecture, culture…but what really defines advanced civilization is providing water and getting rid of shit cleanly. That’s what made Rome great, not the roads or the legions or the buildings. It was the aqueducts and sewers.
FLG: Funny, years ago, I did a presentation on the Paris sewers. It was one of the first orders of business for Napoleon once he became emperor. Perhaps that set the stage for the subsequent artistic explosion there later that century.
Classmate: Can’t discount the relationship. It’s not just the foundation of advanced civilization, but the very definition of advanced civilization itself.
FLG: I’m not sure, but I don’t think that Classical Athens had a great water or sewage system. Yet, it certainly had advanced civilization.
Classmate: If there was an advanced civilization, then they had an effective way of getting clean water and rid of shit. If experts don’t know of one, then they merely haven’t discovered it. Water and shit are the hallmarks of advanced civilization. Dark Ages? Little water, lots of shit.