Cola

_20141016_214113Prompted by discovering Ubuntu Cola while I was in Paris a few weeks ago, I went on a spree of reading Wikipedia articles about cola. Here’s some of the more interesting ones I found.


Ubuntu Cola is not to be confused with OpenCola, where rather than being a closely guarded secret like Coca-Cola, the recipe is open-source.


Russian general Georgy Zhukov was a big fan of Coca-Cola, but couldn’t be seen to be drinking it as it was considered a symbol of American imperialism. He had a word with a US general, and eventually the request made it all the way up to President Truman, who urged Coke to work on the problem. They eventually developed White Coke, a special colourless version, supposedly so Zhukov could pretend he was drinking vodka.


Coke’s attempts at developing new styles haven’t always been so successful. The most infamous example is probably the 80s’ New Coke, when they changed the formula for their flagship product, only to revert to the original a short while later following public outcry. Colossal blunder, ingenious marketing trick, or cunning ruse to disguise the change from sugar to High Fructose Corn Syrup?

My favourite passage from the New Coke article:

Gay Mullins […] formed the organization Old Cola Drinkers of America on May 28 to lobby Coca-Cola to either reintroduce the old formula or sell it to someone else. His organization eventually received over 60,000 phone calls. He also filed a class action lawsuit against the company (which was quickly dismissed by a judge who said he preferred the taste of Pepsi)


Speaking of Pepsi, they were sued in what must be one of the most ridiculous lawsuits ever: Leonard v. Pepsico, Inc.  Can you redeem Pepsi reward points for a Harrier jump jet? (Spoiler alert: you can’t)

My Favourite Game

I love “My Favourite Game” by The Cardigans. Fantastic song, and I remember the video well.

Where many music videos went over the top in an effort to stand out (don’t get me wrong; there were of course some cracking ones at the time) this one stood out because of its simplicity. Just Nina Persson, looking smoking hot and cool as anything, doing nothing but singing and driving. And it was bloody brilliant. Almost like Nothing Compares 2 U in its simplicity, but this made you want to party rather than slit your wrists.

So I was very surprised when I went looking for it on YouTube today to find this video:

It turns out that the original video was a lavish, car-crash studded epic, which cost £220,000 to make. The one that was played on all the UK music channels, the one that I grew up with, the one that I thought was a masterpiece of minimalism, was actually the result of editing out all the violent and irresponsible bits to please the censors.

And yet having now seen the original, I still much prefer the “censored” version.

I miss you

It’s been years since I last saw you, and I still think of you often. At first, people said you were weird, but I found you refreshing. Soon I fell head over heels in love. You were like an addiction.

Then you went away, and ever since it’s like there’s a hole in the middle of me. I’m sure you know the feeling too.

I miss you Citrus Sharp Polos.

For you are life

Thermodynamic miracles… events with odds against so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing.

And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter… Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold… that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle…

But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget… I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take our breath away.

For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly.

– Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen

The Sound of Stations

One of the best things about working remotely is that I can get work done anywhere there’s a seat and wi-fi. In fact even the latter isn’t vital thanks to mobile tethering. It’s a great excuse to explore London a bit, and usually I’ll find a nice coffee shop, or a library.

Now forgive me for sounding old and grumpy here, but libraries are so often full of children and teenagers making an absolute racket. My local Leyton Library being a particularly bad offender, they seem to have stocked it with noisy children’s toys! It’s not all libraries by any means, but too many of them. At least I’m getting my money’s worth from my recently purchased noise cancelling headphones.

Anyway, the other day I did sit down to do some work in a rather pretty spot at St. Pancras station’s AMT Coffee (a chain that I do still retain a certain affection for):

St Pancras

Not a bad view, huh? The thing is, despite the fact that it’s a major railway station, it was surprisingly quiet. Not in terms of the number of people of course (see my earlier post) but the noise level. The only exception was when a Eurostar arrived, which they seem to have made as noisy and ostentatious as possible as if the train was announcing “HEY I CAME FROM FRANCE ARE YOU IMPRESSED?!”. But the rest of the time, surprisingly quiet.

I wandered into Cannon Street station during rush hour once and it was an almost creepy experience: huge throngs of people were standing around gazing at the screens for their platform, all in complete silence. Yes it’s a well-worn cliché that commuters never talk to each other on the tube, but to a large extent it’s true, and it seems to extend to the stations.

Admittedly the stations with more tourists and leisure travellers, rather than just City commuters, tend to be a bit more lively. Still, I find it interesting that the code of silence seems so much stronger in London’s stations than in its libraries.

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