Over or Under? An Example of Fair-Minded Problem-Solving (and Allegorical Technique)

In the house where I spent my most formative years, we always put the toilet paper roll on the holder in an “over” position: where the sheets of paper would dispense from the top of the roll and not the bottom. Not surprisingly, I held strong convictions that “over” was the only correct way to hang toilet paper.

Toilet paper roll in both configurations: over and under. [Formatted]

When I would visit friends’ homes in my youth, I found that some of them put their toilet paper in the “over” position and others put it in the “under” position. This was confusing to me, because “over” was so obviously right and “under” was so obviously wrong. For my friends’ families who did it this other way, I started to wonder what else might be off about them: hanging their toilet paper the “wrong” way made me suspect other flaws in their character.

As I matured, lived in different houses, and had roommates, I became more tolerant of toilet paper being hung in the “under” orientation. It was still an odd feeling, but I came to accept that the preference people have for hanging toilet paper is just one of the many ways we are all unique from one another. Maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with the “under” people after all?

Some time later, I rented a house with an extremely small bathroom, and the toilet paper holder was placed surprisingly close to the toilet. After a few months of being angry at the suboptimal use of space in this bathroom, I had an epiphany: if I oriented the toilet paper in the “under” orientation, the end-sheet would be farther away from me which would create more space between the toilet and would thus be easier to grab! To my astonishment, from that point forward I found myself putting toilet paper on the “wrong” way in my own house!

These days, it doesn’t really matter to me what orientation is being used: I’m comfortable with both. I have found, however, that if the holder is too far away then the “over” method wins, and that if it is too close then the “under” method wins. In both cases, the objective is utilizing the available space as effectively as possible.
(I just checked both of my current bathrooms, neither of which have space issues, and the toilet paper is unsurprisingly in the “over” orientation.) I also would expect that a person’s dominant hand and the side of the toilet the holder is located could be another factor. There are different sized toilets too, which is something I never bothered to notice until recently!

Perhaps in the case of toilet paper roll orientation preferences, subtle practicalities establish lifelong habits. Also, one person’s toilet paper habits can easily transfer to impressionable youth in a shared living space, and when they grow up they will most likely continue to do what is familiar without ever really understanding the reasons why.

Oh… and there is a third option that not very many people know about: spear the toilet paper through the secondary axis and make it as difficult as possible to use. This is particularly effective when somebody gives you a hard time icon-external-link-12x12 for putting the roll on the “wrong” way.

Toilet paper roll speared by the bar of the holder. [Formatted]

Triggers, and the Death of Romance

Like a lot of people, I watched the movie The Princess Bride icon-external-link-12x12 quite a bit while growing up. It’s a very charming production that appeals strongly to both children and adults. The story takes place in medieval times with a young man and woman finding a perfect love, but the woman is kidnapped by the local prince and is ordered to marry him. The man then embarks on an adventure to save the woman he loves and restore her rightful place by his side. The film uses concepts of romance, chivalry, and true love to weave a compelling and satisfying entertainment experience.

Wesley and Buttercup holding hands and staring into one another's eyes in an idyllic countryside. [Formatted]

Last summer, I was visiting one of my close friends and his family in a rural part of Oregon where they still have video stores. We decided to rent a flick for the night and agreed it should be The Princess Bride. All of us had not seen the movie for quite some time, and one person in our party was not familiar with it. I was looking forward to this because the last time I saw it was when I was an older teenager. I was also pleased that I was in the company of someone who would be watching it for the first time.

In one of the early scenes, the woman makes a series of requests of the man to perform menial chores, and it is conveyed to the viewer that she is testing the strength of his love for her. With each request, she becomes more and more emboldened. This eventually culminates with her saying, “Farm boy, fetch me that pail of water,” where the pail is only a short distance away from her and she easily could have gotten it herself. As a child and teenager, I found this romantic, but now as an adult who has had some rather severe life experiences at the hands of the opposite sex, I involuntarily exclaimed “Fetch your own damn water!” in front of everyone there. This was no small outburst on my part and I immediately apologized for the sudden interruption.

Needless to say, this once wondrous movie can no longer cast its spell on me anymore. Perhaps at some point in the future they will release an updated Blu-Ray with the Pail of Water scene removed. They could call it The Princess Bride: As You Wish* Special Edition, with the footnote for the asterisk being “Buttercup is now fetching her own pails of water.”

Fruit Uppercut

Mountain Dew recently released a new line of drinks branded Game Fuel. Clearly and unabashedly aimed at gamers, these new beverages will help rockets fly faster, guns reload more quickly, and frag grenades do more damage to opponents.

12 pack container of Mountain Dew Game Fuel drink. [Formatted]

PepsiCo icon-external-link-12x12 , the drink’s creators, designed the cans to have a re-sealable lid and a no-slip grip to prevent spills on expensive gaming hardware—this is important because nobody likes shorting-out an $800 graphics card with a $3 can of soda.

Game Fuel features a special combination of caffeine and theanine to reduce the unique kind of fatigue that is caused by zero-movement marathon gaming sessions. Intake of large amounts of theanine also increases the frequency of rare item drops.

Current flavors include Charged Cherry Burst, Charged Berry Blast, Charged Tropical Strike, and Charged Original DEW. Additional flavors are currently in development and available for preorder: Napalm Nectarine, Headshot Watermelon, Pomegranate Plasma Grenade, and Nuclear Winter Chill.

Stupid Money(ball)

A couple of weeks ago, right fielder Bryce Harper icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 scored a 13-year, $330 million dollar contract icon-external-link-12x12 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He will earn a $10 million dollar salary this season and will receive a $20 million dollar signing bonus. For the 2020 through 2028 seasons, he will earn a $26 million dollar annual salary. For the 2029 through 2031 seasons, he will earn a $22 million dollar annual salary. He also gets full no-trade protection, which means he doesn’t have to worry about waking up one morning to the phone ringing with news that he is now living and working in another random U.S. city.

He also gets bonuses:
+$50,000 for each All-Star appearance
+$50,000 each time he earns a Gold Glove award
+$50,000 each time he earns a Silver Slugger award
+$50,000 each time he earns a League Championship MVP award
+$100,000 each time he earns a World Series MVP award
+$500,000 each time he earns a league MVP award

This is the largest contract in baseball history. Also this year, Manny Machado icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 signed a 10-year $300 million dollar contract with the San Diego Padres, which is arguably an equivalent or better deal. Last year, Giancarlo Stanton icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 signed a 13-year $325 million dollar contract with the Florida Marlins. While these are the most egregious examples, there are many more of these types of contracts in Major League Baseball.

By comparison, 99 years ago—in 1919—Babe Ruth icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 signed a three-year contract with the Boston Red Sox for $25,000. When accounting for inflation, this contract would be worth just $367,870.68, which is $1,237,129.32 less than the current minimum salary for all MLB players over the same duration of time. This means that perhaps the greatest player in the history of the game would be making just $122,623.56 per year in the modern day.

Babe Ruth's 1919 baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox. [Formatted]

Also by comparison, $330 million is enough money to finance 25 man rosters for a 17 team baseball league with a median salary of $60,000… for a full 13 years! In other words, Bryce Harper’s salary would pay the salaries of 425 baseball players in a provincial baseball league for 13 seasons. Of course, there would be additional costs associated with such a league—building/leasing stadiums, hiring/paying administrative staff, team travel costs, and so on—so maybe cut the total time down to five years from 13.

The sports world is paying one baseball player’s salary instead of purchasing five years of provincial baseball with fair salaries for 425 highly capable players, many of whom would gladly go toe-to-toe with Mr. Harper on the ballfield. WHAT—THE—FUCK?!?