The little bits and pieces of my internal life.

From the Mosaic
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Identifying Newspeak: A True Story

When the fifty-ish gentleman from Dresden on your right hears a speaker utter a phrase and then rolls his eyes and mutters under his breath "Deutsche Demokratische Republik"....

that means the speaker might be indulging in Newspeak!

Or, possibly, marketing.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Less Unhealthy Colas: An Unreliable Taste Test

I don't know quite what possessed me -- undoubtedly an unwholesome cocktail of thirst, boredom, and unbridled scientific curiosity. But after first encountering Coke C2 in the hand of a co-worker, I've been on the lookout for it. But what good would it do to try it in isolaton? No, to truly appreciate whether this sorta-healthy Coke was up to the job, I found it necessary to buy not only a bottle of C2, but also actual Coke, Diet Coke, Diet Vanilla Coke (which I also had some questions about), and Pepsi Edge, which is apparently their answer to C2, or something.

It was just me, so the test was wholly and in all ways unreliable. I could see what I was drinking. I also make no bones about preferring Coke to Pepsi. I am a regular drinker of Diet Coke; I can taste artificial sweetness but it doesn't bother me.

Best: The real Coke. Duh. I think it was even better before the switch away from sugar, but I'm just whining because I can't really drink it anymore and I'd forgotten how much I missed it. I swear, the experiment was not an elaborate justification to sneak a non-diet soda into today's menu.

Second: Pepsi Edge. I know, I couldn't believe it either. If I'd realized in advance that it wasn't going to suck, I would have bought a bottle of Pepsi to compare it to. To the best of my ability to tell, Pepsi Edge takes pretty much exactly like regular Pepsi -- a little more citrusy where Coke is a little more vanilla, but the same kind of sweetness. While I do prefer Coke to Pepsi, I think I can honestly and consistently say that regular Pepsi tastes better than Diet Coke. The only thing I really disliked about Pepsi Edge is that the name is really stupid.

Third: Diet Coke. I have long maintained that Diet Coke tastes more like regular Pepsi than like regular Coke. This experiment reminded me of the truth of that, although to be fair I should remind you that I did not, in fact, have any Pepsi in the house. My commitment to science only goes so far. The bottom line, though, is that it does have a clear artificial-sweetener taste, whereas Pepsi Edge doesn't.

Fourth: Diet Vanilla Coke. Since Diet Coke tastes like regular Pepsi to me, I thought that maybe Diet Vanilla Coke would have a formulation more reminiscent of regular Coke (if I were extremely lucky) or Vanilla Coke (as I expected). Unfortunately, the cure is worse than the disease. It turns out that the more-citrusy taste of Diet Coke has a point, that being to make the artificial taste more integrated into the rest of the soda. It has, to me, kind of a sour-bitter thing going, and with a bit of citrus, it's not so bad. I think the Diet Vanilla Coke flavor (as opposed to the sweetener) is very similar to the regular Vanilla Coke flavor (which is artificial in its own right because of the enhanced vanilla -- I was oddly reminded of movie theater "butter"). But the sweetener stands out more than it does in regular Diet Coke, so it's just a totally chemical party in your mouth. There may be more sweetener in Diet Vanilla Coke in the first place. Note, though, that I'd still drink it, possibly even if I had a choice.

Last: Coke C2. After tasting, my initial reaction was "You're kidding -- doesn't Coke actually taste its products before marketing them?" The sweetening process itself is fine, I think; it didn't have that Diet Coke artificial taste. It's just that, incredibly, they've managed to screw up the flavoring! Coke C2 is smoky. Yes, really. Like you left your regular Coke in a campfire. I don't object to a smoky flavor a lot of the time; I drink bourbon and Scotch and whatnot. But in a cola? Maybe I'm strange, but no. Unless the whole point, I suppose, is to drink it solely with Jack Daniel's. If only I had some on hand. In any case, I'd never drink this again unless it was a matter of life and death. For someone I'd personally miss.

In summary, Pepsi Edge is surprisingly good, and Coke C2 is worse than regular Diet Coke, for crying out loud. Now I just have to decide whether to keep C2 around until I can go to the liquor store... all in the spirit of inquiry, of course!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Morning in America

After Saturday's death of President Reagan, I was surprised to discover that I actually cared about it. After all, he had been out of the limelight for years, and he wasn't getting any younger. But I watched the coverage anyway, and briefly, with a friend, even flirted with the idea of playing hooky today to road trip to Simi Valley.

I'm not a conservative; I don't believe that "less government" is the solution to every ill (though it is to many). On many areas of policy, I think he made wrong decisions. But I nonetheless feel a certain affection for the man whose election first awakened me to politics.

I was seven in the fall of 1980. There were yellow ribbons on seemingly every tree at Fort Leonard Wood in southern Missouri for the Iranian hostages. The evening news came on just after my father, an Army officer, came home from work, and I would sit with him and watch and learn about the Ayatollah and Democrats and Republicans.

I asked my parents, eventually, whether our family were Republicans or Democrats. We were Republicans, as it turned out. I asked what the difference was, and they said, "Ronald Reagan and the Republicans believe in a strong military so we can stay free." That's oversimplified, but I was seven, so I think it was fair.

If nothing else, Reagan provided inspiration and optimism to many. He has been widely quoted this week as saying he hoped that history will record that he appealed to our best hopes, not our worst fears. He succeeded in this, I think, and for that achievement itself he deserves honor.

Saturday, June 05, 2004
Thinking in Style

For those of you who don't read, check out this interesting quiz on thinking styles.

It turns out that I'm an existential thinker, which apparently means I ought to be a "Philosopher, Religious Leader, Head of state, Artist, [or] Writer". Geez, no pressure!

I wish they had a test to determine accurately what your *weakest* point was. I think that would inspire a nice modicum of humility to counterbalance being compared to Shakespeare, Mozart, or Newton.

In my case, the relevant entry might read:

Kinaesthetic Idiots:
- Don't think through the physical consequences of moving any portion of their bodies
- Occasionally manage to reproduce without injury
- Barely have a cerebellum

That ought to keep my ego at a manageable level.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Truth Stranger Than The Onion

So, I got to thinking, while watching today's National Spelling Bee, that technology is a marvelous thing, and that according to my friend Skif's Internet Theorem, there was probably a former spelling bee champions' site somewhere, its only distinguishing characteristics being (a) it's only really busy once a year after the ESPN broadcast, because people who like to argue about things will want a place to discuss whether the pronouncer screwed up and (b) it will have a refreshingly low amount of verbiage such as "OMG LOL".

So, in spite of my better judgment, I went searching for such a site, being a former spelling bee kid and kind of a junkie. I didn't find one, or at least I got tired of paging through Google looking.

Instead, I found this news article, which I was convinced, surely had to be satire, right?


Gods above, can't you people argue about why you like Miller Lite instead?
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  • Index of Current Titles

    Identifying Newspeak: A True Story

    Less Unhealthy Colas: An Unreliable Taste Test

    Morning in America

    Thinking in Style

    Truth Stranger Than The Onion

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