December 25, 2005

Caffeine and the Economy

On the way to a Christmas Eve get-together, I was asked what I'd been up to. I said I'd started a blog, but I'd hardly put anything on it, except about naming the blog, and having a problem with putting up links, then a message that there wasn't a problem, it was my fault. Someone was curious what the name was anyway, so I said since I'd hardly put anything on it, I might as well say: Return of the Sasquatch. I also answered about the links that they were a choice collection of the most pessimistic and paranoid websites.

For dessert, we had tiramisu with espresso in it and chocolate pie made from espresso chocolate, and some had coffee too.

This led to conversational comments from several there that they seem to be getting more sensitive to caffeine. They have a little chocolate and feel zooming for a couple of hours, or they have a cup of coffee and feel their hearts racing. Some have had to cut down because it's kind of scary. I thought of when I ate a bar of chocolate over a couple of days recently and it kept me up more than I'd noticed chocolate doing before.

I said, "Maybe there's a secret conspiracy to put more caffeine in coffee and chocolate to keep the economy going."

Over the laughter, the one who'd been asking about my blog said, "You should put that on your blog."

The recent news on the size of a lethal dose of coffee could have been pushed by the conspirators, to prevent indirectly causing more deaths by caffeine poisoning and also to calm coffee drinkers' fears that they're close to giving themselves a heart attack. On the other hand, the Internet flap about caffeine could have been purely a side effect of more caffeine being present in caffeinated foods and drinks, the resulting nervousness and racing hearts causing a general interest in the subject of its danger that reached critical mass.

Similarly, the hypothetical increase in caffeine could have been a result of the process of capitalism: An accidentally higher-caffeine blend of coffee or chocolate would cause consumers of that brand to keep busier, which would result in them buying more of that brand while they're in a phase of using that brand. Any company, especially modern corporations using computerized sales tracking, would detect that change in sales, but without necessarily detecting the reason for it. For all they know, it's a better tasting coffee or chocolate or something they changed about the packaging or advertising that caused the change in sales, but they tend to keep the set of changes that caused that increase in caffeine, whether it is a different blend, variety, or recipe. Thus the amount of caffeine in capitalistic civilization ratchets up to where the stimulus to purchases is in balance with the danger that scares consumers away from it.

It's like I'm debunking myself and at the same time making my point more credible.

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