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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

Bathroom floor tiles that weigh you, analyze your gait and evaluate your fall risk. Bathroom mirrors that initiate telehealth conferences based on your complexion or facial tics. Toilet seats that check your vitals (temperature, heart rate, oxygenation).

According to the Wall Street Journal, these marvels (and others – such as self-cleaning capacities and soothing infrared light) could be commonplace in upscale homes within the next decade.

If so – and if the restraining orders expire so I can actually visit some upscale homes – I will have experienced astounding progress in the world of indoor plumbing just in my own lifetime.

Our rural church building has had modern bathrooms for the past 50 years or so, but we still retain the heirloom concrete-block privy around back. The only fall risk it helped you measure was the likelihood of squirrels tumbling out of their nest.

In coming years, built-in chemical tests, downward-facing toilet bowl cameras and artificial intelligence will produce a wealth of information about urinary tract infections, glucose levels, vitamin levels, ovulation timing and the like.

Too Much Information, perhaps – especially if the AI expounds upon why your teenage son spends so much time in the shower.

Some manufacturers even envision electronic-nose technology to detect smells that could warn of disease. Hopefully, the AI will be programmed with a good bedside manner. (“You’re welcome to a second opinion; but in my estimation, something has crawled up inside you and died!”)

High-tech home spas will boast bathtub fog machines, aromatherapy capabilities, heated toilet seats and personalized bidet settings. (“Don’t invest in old-fashioned bidets from our competition. Ours are so customizable, you can clean out your ear wax while you’re at it!”)

I hope scientists don’t overthink one of life’s simple pleasures. Who wants to wrangle with cantankerous software just to wash their hands? (“Turn on the faucet? I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. You have to prove you’re not a robot first. I don’t want you short-circuiting and suing my makers!”)

Even worse, faraway faceless bureaucrats could hack into the Internet of Things to enforce their edicts. (“Low-volume toilet flushes are a thing of the past. We’re going with micro-volume flushes now! Work up a good sweat – or two or three – and that should provide enough moisture to do the trick. Probably.”)

Proponents of smart-bathroom technology insist that we will keep our privacy, but data does have a way of traveling around the world. I can just imagine Chinese President Xi Jinping telling a subordinate, “Joe Blow has read the same magazine five times without even realizing it! We have got to launch an invasion of these American bozos!”

It’s a good thing the well-to-do are the initial marketing targets. It’s bad PR if a customer whines, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up – the money to keep this system working!”

On the other hand, maybe someone will act preemptively to stop the creation of another category of “haves” and “have nots.” Seriously, could Uncle Sam resist meddling? Inevitably, there will be a plethora of tax breaks and subsidies. We’ll even see the technology foisted upon the homeless population, although the test conditions could be chaotic.

“We got your lab results from the high-tech fire hydrant, Mr. Clancy. Your diabetes has mysteriously disappeared and you are going to be the proud mother of purebred puppies! Congratulations!”

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as Rent-A-Friend.com, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.