Opening the Door to 2024; New Year Brings Resolution to Pressing Problem


[Editor's Note-- Story is being republished due to a publishing problem the other day.]

by Lesley Misko

The end of one year and the beginning of a new year is a time of reflection. Some of the reflection is personal and takes the form of “new year’s resolutions,” but there is also reflection at the societal level. Where has our nation been and where is it going? What have Americans embraced and what have Americans replaced? So, The Expression decided to take a look back and a look ahead at just a couple of things.

Part 2: A Look Ahead: What’s new in 2024?

“People moving out, people moving in/Why, because of the color of their skin.”

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth/Vote for me and I’ll set you free.”

“The only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher/ And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher / Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration/ Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation.”

“Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul/ Shooting rockets to the moon, kids growing up too soon.”

These lyrics come from a song called “Ball of Confusion.” Sung by the Motown group “The Temptations,” the song was released in 1970, However, it would be easy to have guessed that these song lyrics and title were written recently about life in America in 2024.

Without doubt, 2024 is likely to be a challenging year. There are wars to end. Covid is still killing people. Global warming is creating weather patterns that endanger citizens’ lives and properties. A presidential candidate is going on trial for varied crimes. Immigration policy must be resolved. Democracy is being threatened by dictators. Reproductive rights are under attack.

2024 brings us a Leap Year and a total solar eclipse on April 8. NASA is planning a return to the moon and Facebook celebrates its 20th birthday. Amazon’s birthday cake will have 30 candles. Guiding principles for Artificial Intelligence must be created and Virtual Reality is likely to impact people’s behavior, education, and definitions of what is real and what isn’t.

With all of these changes and needs, we might expect that research would be dedicated to these issues and questions. But apparently, there is a more pressing concern.

In an article in Slate, a digital magazine, Gregg Weaver, a senior scientist at Procter & Gamble, happily explains that after five years of research and the filing of 30 new patents, scientists have solved a major problem. They call it “the incomplete tear” – of toilet paper, that is. 

“The incomplete tear” refers to those times when, despite the perforated lines in the toilet paper, you rip off a few sections and the rip is not always clean and straight on the perforations. Weaver describes the problem this way: “You know—instead of two full squares, you get 1 ⅔, with a long strip left dangling from the roll. “Most people can’t leave that there.” “They feel frustrated. And they tell us about it.” According to Weaver, the incomplete tear “is the top complaint Charmin gets on their call-center lines.”

So, the race was on to find a solution for this pressing problem! “’ We came to the table with a lot of different options,’ Weaver said. In the R&D labs, Weaver and other scientists’ hand-punched perforations into blank rolls of paper, looking for the right shape. They tried a diagonal line, matching the angle of force of the average tear, but discovered, ‘well, it works great on one side, but not so great on the other.’”

At last, a solution was found: “the wavy line was best able to withstand the mix of downward and sideways forces in most consumers’ tearing actions. Once we tried that, the feedback we got was, ‘That tears like a hot knife through butter.’”

So, if you have been wondering if that toilet paper with wavy perforations in your bathroom was the victim of some machine gone haywire, rest assured that it is the new normal, a miraculous result of a half-decade of research, designed to solve one of America’s great problems. (Can paper towels be far behind?)

Based on my experiences, another year or two of research may be needed.

Happy 2024.

To read the complete story of this modern marvel, click here. 

If you missed the first part of this story-- looking back at 2023-- click here.

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