July 2011

The Soda Police are getting noisier lately, but their concern for public health is a subterfuge. When it comes down to brass tacks (and I doubt brass’s slight lead content is going to kill you when used judiciously in plumbing, by the way), the S.P. don’t care most about the public health or about overweight kids at risk for diabetes and heart disease. They’re hell-bent on demonizing soda, especially soda made by Big Food and sold by the Big Chain Store and Restaurant Corporation.

Demon or not, it probably won’t hurt Americans to drink less soda on average than we do now. It will definitely help the environment if we drink less of anything that comes in individual single-use containers — even water — if there’s an environmentally friendly alternative already in place.

Here’s a simple two-part proposal to bring back running water.

BBRW Part 1. Require public water fountains everywhere.

Schools, parks, subway stations, airports, shopping centers, offices, stores, and more. We already require a lot of things, sensible and otherwise, so the means is in place. Require enough of them so no one has to wait in line. These water fountains (bubblers in Wisconsin and parts of New England) should have good water pressure, and they should be designed so they can fill up a bottle, too — or there should be some faucets for that. Simply making it possible to fill a personal water bottle in an airport — and yes, you can carry one through security so long as it’s empty — will reduce heart disease.

No flow restrictors, either; use spring-loaded knobs to conserve. (I’m not going to say a word about those infrared hand-wavy travesties.) Restrictors belong in kitchens and showers, if anywhere. It doesn’t need to take ten minutes to deliver half a cup of water. ADA compliant, but otherwise basic and solid. Call me nostalgic, but I like porcelain-coated cast iron.

Room-temperature, pure water is already available from every municipal water system. Only a little effort makes it ubiquitous. (If you’re afraid it will give you cancer, carry your own personal PET-free container full of home-purified water.)

BBRW Part 2. Require water to be available everywhere soda is available, for less.

If a restaurant offers a meal that includes soda, require it to offer the same meal with the same size tap water for less money. Less by at least half the restaurant’s own à la carte price for the included soda. Except during water emergencies, require restaurants to offer tap water when patrons are seated.


Stop the endless debates over soda vs. fruit juice, sugar versus high-fructose corn syrup, artificially-sweetened beverages vs. sugary ones, and aspartame vs. stevia extract. Bring back running water.

While I was initially drawn to this 2008 New York Times article by the phrase “Male and female sand dollars,” I’m certain that “fish mucus split” will be what sticks.

Sand dollar, sex unknown. Click for source; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Even today, some things are worth repeating. Fish mucus split.

Sorry, you’ll have to go elsewhere for more of this.For your entertainment, a handful of the many hundreds of uncaught — one might say hairy — misspellings of public as pubic in the news over the last few weeks.


“Twenty-five environmental and pubic health groups asked Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday to abandon the state’s new plan for eradicating agricultural pests and explore a less toxic approach, such as crop rotation or planting neighboring crops that deter insects.”
California’s new pesticide plan sparks protest, Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2011.

“While he intellectualizes with the unbending intensity of an adolescent, his political sense is remarkably subtle. And he is not afraid to advocate positions most adults, even those sharing the same views, would be afraid to support in pubic.”
13-Year-Old Serb Activist Contends With Bullies and Death Threats, New York Times,
June 6, 2011.

China introduces pubic tenders to promote shale gas exploration (headline),
Xinhua English News, June 30, 2011.

“Jackson schools superintendent leaving: Jackson Pubic Schools Superintendent Lonnie Edwards talks to the media about his contract ending.” (photo caption) Contract expired, Edwards exits JPS, Clarion-Ledger, June 29, 2011.

“Beijing’s police do a remarkable job of silencing pubic displays of dissent, but occasionally the desperate find dramatic new ways of airing their grievances.” Aggrieved Chinese Face Swift Police Repression, Voice of America, July 2, 2011.

“A full 7,000 pages of The Pentagon Papers are now declassified and available for pubic viewing online.”
Evening News Online, 06.13.11, CBS News, June 13, 2011.

“The 28-year old actress surprised fans by coming out during a pubic service announcement for the Give a Damn gay rights campaign in April 2010 – four-months before she married ‘True Blood’ co-star Stephen Moyer in Malibu.”
Anna Paquin: No-one [sic] questions my sexuality, Starlounge, June 29, 2011.

“Today’s installment in people being booted off pubic transportation, this one involving saggy pants and the classic line, ‘My pants are up, sir.’”
Jet Passenger Booted Over Baggy Pants, Newser, June 18, 2011.

“The measure — which appears to be one vote away from passage if it gets to the floor — is not on the immediate agenda but could be discussed after talks on tax cap, New York City rent control and pubic college tuition increases.”
Key GOP Senators in Same-Sex Marriage Debate Meet Privately, WNYC, June 22, 2011.

“We have got to continue to elevate pubic expectation for public education in Madison County. We’re about to turn things over to the community."
Business execs seek community involvement in schools, Jackson Sun, June 18, 2011.

“The burly, silver-haired author and historian, wearing a snug suit-coat, called the prosecution’s original case against him ‘massive’ and ‘over-reaching,’ and a direct result of what he called a libelous 2004 report by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that ‘tainted the wells of pubic opinion.’”
Ex-media mogul Conrad Black ordered back to prison; wife faints, Chicago Sun-Times, June 24, 2011.

“An off-duty police officer who was working out at the facility observed the activity, said Paul McCurtain, pubic information officer for the St. Charles Police Department. Three male victims told police they were approached and inappropriately touched by Lawrence E. Adamcyzk of Rockford inside of the facility while they were either working out or playing basketball.”
Suspects caught while fleeing from Elgin home charged in burglary, The Courier-News, June 28, 2011.

Feldis, the chief criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Anchorage, declined to say what involvement the Pubic Integrity Section might still have.
Kott, Kohring get new trials, Anchorage Daily News, July 2, 2011.

Mitchel Ghiggia, 22, of 30 West Glen Ave., Port Chester, NY, was arrested Friday for two counts of third-degree assault, two counts of conspiracy to commit third-degree assault and creating a pubic disturbance.
Arrests: First-Degree Threatening, Second-Degree Burglary, Stamford Patch.com,
July 1, 2011.