The third rule of Fight Club, as recommended by our lawyers

The third rule of Fight Club, as recommended by our lawyers.

3. In the preceding two rules, and any rules to be added at a future date, the word “talk” shall be taken to encompass any form of communication, verbal or non-verbal, including but not limited to: talking, whispering, shouting, screaming, writing, drawing, typing, singing, signing, mumbling, miming, interpretive dance, charades, semaphore, blogging, tweeting, subtweeting, Facebooking, vaguebooking, whatever it is that one does on Linkedin, skywriting, and any other form of communication currently extant or to be invented at a later date.


_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)

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.


I kept forgetting to put this up, but here’s a snippet of conversation from last weekend in Cambridge (a weekend full of amusing conversations)

X is talking about how he’s moving to America soon
Y: America’s alright. I was there this morning.
X (taken aback): Really? What were you doing in America?
Y: This morning? Getting on a plane mostly.

The Gulf War Did Not Take Place

I just stumbled across The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (Oddly I was searching for “The Golf War”, an weird little TV show with Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher, but Google insisted on correcting it to the above. It was intriguing so I clicked.)

Now Baudrillard, the author of the articles, seems very much like the stereotypical French “philosopher”. However they do make a fascinating statistical claim: “fewer US soldiers were killed in this ‘war’ than would have died in traffic accidents had they stayed at home”. For no reason I decided to investigate.

Looking into it further, there were a total of 294 US casualties in the Gulf War. However only 114 were due to enemy fire (35 were killed by friendly fire, 145 in accidents).

According to, the total number of US troops deployed in Gulf War I was about 697,000. And thankfully Wikipedia has an article for everything, including “List of motor vehicle deaths in U.S. by year” (note to self – clean this article up!). That even helpfully gives deaths as a fraction of the population per year; for 1990 it was 0.000178779. So that gives an estimated 125 deaths among the troops, had they all remained at home for a whole year.

Obviously there are a whole host of confusing factors here: different lengths and timings of deployment, soldiers being an age/sex skewed section of the U.S. population and so probably having higher traffic death rates. But although the precise statistics may be debatable, the overall point is a valid one: the Gulf War had a remarkably low fatality rate for the U.S.

Of course this is only deaths, it doesn’t count injuries, PTSD or the mysterious “Gulf War syndrome”. Ironically whilst Googling for analysis of this claim, I found a study ( apparently showing that in the years after the war, veterans suffered significantly more traffic fatalities than non-veterans.

Anyway, I should do some real work now.