Friday, October 17, 2014

Off the wagon -- for SCIENCE!

Up until tonight, I had been soda- and caffeine-free for more than three weeks. This return to the wagon, like the others, is equal parts cost-cutting and health kick. Long-time readers of this blog have heard this before, of course, but this time it's part of an attempt to bring a bit more consistency and efficacy to my efforts (see: Board of Accountability posts).

Still, I couldn't help but be curious when I saw this green-colored Coke can at the Lulu Express across the street. It was the latest variety, called Coca-Cola Life, available here in the UAE as an import after being released in the UK in August. While I wasn't in the market for a new soft drink or interested in breaking my new streak, I was inspired to spend 3.95 dirhams (about $1.10) and give it a try after hearing the good folks at Skeptics With a K mention it on a recent episode. (Discussion starts at the 5:00 mark.)

How does it measure up? Head below the fold to find out.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Board of Accountability, Week 2

Maybe I should use that last column for word count. In the last 48 hours, I've written about 800 words on Major League Baseball, 1,300 words on Asian soccer players in Europe, 1,200 words on why I can't watch college football anymore, and 800 words on US foreign policy under Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson. My fingers are spent, and it's only Tuesday.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Quitting Old State U

College football used to be my No. 1 sport. That's hardly a surprise as I grew up in Nebraska, a state that is something of a Lagrangian point for professional sports. Denver, the Twin Cities, Chicago and Kansas City are all fairly close, but none so close that they can seriously claim Nebraska as "their" territory. That leaves the University of Nebraska -- and specifically Cornhusker football -- to dominate the state's sporting attention.

I used to follow the Huskers with a passion. Going to games was a rare treat growing up -- I went to four or five games as a fan, mostly thanks to a family member who was a season-ticket holder -- but I made sure to catch every game on TV or the radio. (For younger readers, these were the days before every game was on TV and in HD. I know, I'm so old.) Wins were exhilarating and losses were crushing, especially the near-annual, seemingly inevitable defeat to a faster, more talented team from Florida in the Orange Bowl. Nebraska's run from 1993 to 1997, in which they went 60-3 and won three national championships, was spectacular and likely spoiled at least one generation of fans into believing Nebraska should always hold such pride of place in college football.

As I said, though, college football used to be my favorite sport. Now, I barely pay attention to it. What happened? In short -- time, distance, and seeing how the sausage is made.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

This is what happens when you don't vote

Election Day is a month away -- November 4, for all you Americans out there. As this is a year without a presidential election, voter turnout is expected to be more woeful than usual. This is a pity, especially considering all the potential consequences of people having better things to do than the bare minimum expected of citizens in a democracy.

Around this time of year, people start passing around lists -- some reliable, some less so -- of elections decided by small margins, even as small as one vote. The obvious intent is to encourage all eligible voters to go to the polls, lest some undesirable outcome occur. But, hey, seeing as political gridlock is all but inevitable, what's the worst that could happen by not voting?

Examples below the fold....