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See Inside June 2007

Dumb Cup

Recipe for a steaming cup of something
Steve Mirsky



FRANK VERONSKY

On a chilly, late March day I was happily sipping a Starbucks half-caf when I caught a glimpse of a friend's cup and narrowly avoided performing a Danny Thomas-style spit take. On the side of the paper cup was printed:

The Way I See It #224 "Darwinism's impact on traditional social values has not been as benign as its advocates would like us to believe. Despite the efforts of its modern defenders to distance themselves from its baleful social consequences, Darwinism's connection with eugenics, abortion and racism is a matter of historical record. And the record is not pretty."--Dr. Jonathan Wells, biologist and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design

I knew that Starbucks roasted the hell out of their beans, but I didn't realize they published half-baked ideas.

A visit to the Starbucks Web site turned up an explanation: "To get people talking, 'The Way I See It' is a collection of thoughts, opinions and expressions provided by notable figures that now appear on our widely shared cups." Further, the cups are supposed to extend "the coffeehouse culture--a way to promote open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals."

Fair enough, although an open, respectful conversation initiated by a closed, disrespectful assertion is going to be a challenge, especially without any context. (To find some context, see, among myriad sources, Ernst Mayr's essay "Darwin's Influence on Modern Thought" in the July 2000 Scientific American and Michael Shermer's 2006 book Why Darwin Matters.)

Nevertheless, I'd like to suggest some other quotes for Starbucks cups in the hopes that they, too, may stimulate piping-hot conversations.

The Way I See It #13.5 billion "On one corner, there was a Starbucks. And across the street from that Starbucks ... was a Starbucks. At first I thought the sun was playing tricks on my eyes. But no. There was a Starbucks across from a Starbucks. And that, my friends, is the end of the universe."--Lewis Black, comedian and philosopher

The Way I See It #e i p + 1 "The ratio of the diameter and circumference is as five fourths to four."--Indiana House Bill No. 246, which would have legally declared the value of p to be 3.2 in 1897

The Way I See It #Venti "Would you drink a Quarter Pounder with Cheese? If you order a venti (20-oz.) Starbucks Caffé Mocha, you might as well be sipping that 500-calorie burger through a straw. And a venti Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino, with 650 calories and nearly a day's saturated fat, is a McDonald's coffee plus 11 creamers and 29 packets of sugar."--Center for Science in the Public Interest press release, September 5, 2006

The Way I See It #34 Proof "I'll quit coffee. It won't be easy drinking my Baileys straight, but I'll get used to it. It'll still be the best part of waking up."--Megan Mullally as Karen Walker on the TV series Will & Grace

The Way I See It #1962 "Mr. Kroger: two C's, two D's and an F. That's a 1.2 grade average. Congratulations, Kroger. You're at the top of the Delta pledge class."--Dean Vernon Wormer

The Way I See It #MVD "This coffee tastes like mud!" "It should--it was ground this morning."--encounter between Ricochet Rabbit and Deputy Droop-a-long in the 1960s, although no doubt in existence in some prior form

The Way I See It #Too "Popular, palatable views of the world and how it came to be do not constitute science or truth. But decent science education requires that we share the truth we find--whether or not we like it."--Lynn Margulis, Distinguished Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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