Moved

•July 5, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hi all,

I’m now blogging with the Skeptic Ink network.  You can find my new blog at:

http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat

Fallacies of Evolution

•September 21, 2010 • 9 Comments

I was given this list of fallacies that were claimed to be used by science to defend evolution. I responded. All of the quote boxes are the original comments and ‘fallacies’.

Hasty Generalization basing a general statement on too small a sample; building general rules from accidental or exceptional situations. (Microevolution is evidence of macroevolution; origin of life experiments in the laboratory can be extrapolated to the actual evolution of life in the primitive oceans, alleged transitionary forms [Archaeopteryx, Semouria, etc.] prove evolution.)

There is only one book that supports creationist suppositions of the global flood and the 6 day creation.

Since science produces about 15,000 peer-reviewed papers per year over the last 40 years are so (and, in fact) produced hundreds if not thousands of papers per year for the preceding 120 years, this fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

Begging the Question (petitio principii) reasoning in a circle, using your conclusion as a premise, assuming the very thing to be proved as proof of itself. (Natural selection; paleoanthropology; geologic record.)

God created the universe, therefore god created the animals. Got it, thanks.

In fact, science does not use evolution to support evolution. I listed some 20 odd pieces of evidence, none of which use evolutionary theory as a prerequisite, for common descent. Yes, anyone piece in isolation, isn’t enough, but all of them together paint a pretty good picture.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

Misuse of Authority attempting to prove a conclusion by appealing to a real or alleged authority in such a way that the conclusion does not necessarily follow. (All competent scientists declare evolution is a fact!)

God.

In science, all work is subject to revision, double-checking and critique. Work in ID and creationism is not. For example, Mendel didn’t know about codominance. Doesn’t mean that Mendelian genetics is wrong. It also doesn’t mean that we couldn’t change Mendelian genetics to encompass new information.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

Misuse of Analogy trying to prove something by improper use of a parallel case. (Hominid fossils prove evolution.)

Intelligent design supposes a designer because things ‘look’ designed. The attempt to use anthropology, where we can identify the designers, is misuse of analogy.

Homonid fossils do prove that evolution has occurred. It can easily be shown that certain changes to brain volume and various structures (hips, knees, jaw, etc) can be shown to change over time… therefore evolution.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

Chronological Snobbery (argumentum ad futuris) attempting to refute an idea merely by dating it, usually dating it very old. (Creationism was refuted long ago.)

Creationists always attack Darwin (150 years ago) when the modern evolutionary theory is much more advanced that Darwin could have possibly imagined.

Science ignores ‘hypotheses’ that have no testable properties, no falsifiable statements, and no way of measuring or determining differences between competing theories. Also, creationism has NOT changed, since Paley. Even Behe and Meyer’s argument boils down to ‘I don’t know how it happened, therefore God’.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

Argument to Future trying to prove something by appealing to evidence that might be turned up in the (unknown) future. (As science progresses, proof of evolution will eventually be forthcoming.)

Creationism and ID always look to the future when such and such will be proven and Darwin will fall. The 5 year wedge strategy, Nelson’s book ‘in a few years’ almost a decade ago.

Science is perfectly happy with the volume of information currently at hand. That does not mean that science does not continue to experiment and work towards more information. Indeed, part of the point of science is its predictive power. That must be considered a future experiment. Einstein’s work couldn’t have been tested until many years after it was shown mathematically.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

Poisoning the Wells attempting to refute an argument by discrediting in advance the source of the evidence for the argument. (Creationists are “know-nothings” opposed to modern science; they get their arguments mostly from the book of Genesis.)

Creationists and ID proponentists, do not publish their hypothesis and experiments in peer-reviewed journals for critique. Their books have been found to ignore relevant information in order to present information with a certain bias. It has been shown that IBIG (for example) knows very little about science.

Science does ignore people who have continually shown that they do not have the requisite knowledge to play in the big leagues. However, the creationist argument is NOT discredited because the proponents don’t know science. There are thousands of reasons that creationism is discredited.

Appeal to Force (argumentum ad baculum) substituting force or the threat of force for reason and evidence. (Evolutionists’ intimidation of creationist students and professors.)

Galileo and the church. Director of Education (Collins was it?) in Texas lost her job because she forwarded an e-mail about evolution.

There has never been a verifiable instance of anyone losing a job because they were a creationist. Notably, in a few cases someone has lost a job because they were harassing coworkers. If students do not learn the material being presented, then right or wrong, they fail.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

Appeal to the People (argumentum ad populum) trying to establish a position by appealing to popular sentiments instead of relevant evidence. (Everybody believes in evolution, therefore it must be true.)

Creationism constantly quotes statistical studies that show belief in evolution is low.

Science has never made this argument. However, it does poll the people who actually know about a subject (the Steve project) in an effort to show creationism how silly they are.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

The Fallacy of Extension attacking an exaggerated or caricatured version of your opponent’s position, i.e., to attack a “straw man.” (Creationism is only the religious doctrine of a small but vocal minority.)

Creationism and ID have created their own caricature of evolution then attacked it without mercy. For example, no scientist expects fossils to provide a continuous record of every organism from 4.5 billion years ago to present, yet that’s what some creationists (cough, IBIG, cough) want provided to them.

Scientists, who study this, know exactly what creationism is and have shown it as such in courts of law.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

Contrary to Fact arguing from “what might have been,” from a past hypothetical condition. (The fossil record.)

Creationists ‘create’ arguments about how certain ‘facts’ of the bible occurred. For example, the confusion about when humans were created, where the water came from in the flood, the parting of the red sea… etc.

Scientists use known examples of modern phenomenon to show that certain things COULD have occurred in the past. There is no claim that this is HOW it DID occur, only that it is possible to have occurred.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

The Ultimate Fallacy: Pigheadedness refusing to accept a proposition even when it has been established by adequate evidence. (That evolution is false is established by the law of biogenesis, probability considerations, thermodynamics, etc.)

IBIG refuses to even look at any link provided to him. In effect refusing to look at science.

Scientists here have reviewed science, theology, and biblical history with IBIG.

This fallacy only applies to creationism and intelligent design.

As you can see… creationism uses the fallacies, but science doesn’t.

The Bible: Literal, Figurative or Both

•August 23, 2010 • 1 Comment

I’ve been talking with a number of people recently about the inerrancy of the Christian Bible. This is interesting to me because I consider myself something of an amateur scholar on the subject.

Inevitably, during these discussions, I will bring up a point and the other party will say, “But that’s not what it means.” Then there will be a fairly indepth discussion of Hebrew (or Greek) and then the other party will say it’s figurative. Then I come back with, “Well, if that part is figurative, what else is?”

In the end, it all comes down to the other party effectively saying, “The parts that I say are literal are literal and the parts I say are figurative are figurative.”

To which, I ask the question that has never been answered… “How do YOU know?”

It’s fairly obvious to anyone who has read the entire bible that it’s a bunch of fairy tales. It does have some good ideas for how to live ones life, but nothing that is revolutionary and not expounded upon by every other religion and many secular groups.

Religious Mail

•August 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been getting a lot of this lately.  It’s beginning to offend me.  I get one (large) envelope a month from a Mr. Benny Hinn requesting money.  Perhaps if this man didn’t send out 24 letters to me (or anyone else) he could have kept that money for his ‘ministry’ (or mistress as the case may be).  Instead, he destroys trees with his slick, magazine quality extortion attempts.

I offended by these advertisements for several reasons:

The logic behind Judeo-Christian salvation is nothing less than extortion.  Churches are paying for the privilege of being extorted.  I have often heard “Salvation is free”, from the pulpit.  It is not free.  You have a choice (according to Christians), you can go to hell and spend eternity  being tortured or you can accept God and spend eternity singing his praises in heaven.  Seems like a no-brainer right?  This is the same as a protection racket run by the mafia… you can pay a couple hundred a month for protection or we can break your legs.

But you say, “what’s wrong with being a Christian and going to heaven”… nothing, if you approve of worshiping and singing the praises of a genocidal, psychopath who thinks you are doomed to the eternal fire for the actions of a man and a woman who lived more than 6000 years ago.  Yep, it’s almost as if you were going to be tortured forever because your ancestor was Ghengis Khan.

If the Christians are losing members so rapidly that they are asking ME for money, then that may be a bit of a hint.

Christians should follow their own bible (which the majority of them have never read).  Matthew (the book) says that “Whatever you ask in my name, it will be done.”  Interestingly, Jesus was pissed off at a tree that didn’t have any fruit and killed it… then told us this little bit.

However, they will not pray to heal the sick and they will not pray for money to take care of their churches.  Funny that, Jesus is married to the church, you’d think he’d arrange for her to have money.  Oh wait, Christians think that women should be in the home and not need any money.  Got it.

I’ve composed an e-mail to reply to these requests and I doubt that any of the recipients will have the intellectual or moral courage to respond.  We’ll see.

One Who Gives Up Principles for Political Correctness

•July 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So, as usual, my dad sends me a deeply conservative e-mail about how Obama is going to imprison 500,000 US citizens after he passes the Anti Domestic Terrorism bill.  Now, I get one of these types of e-mails about twice a week… and if I’m feeling particularly bored, I’ll take 2 minutes out of my life to dissect it and forward it to the people on my dad’s mailing list (because he’s never heard of Blind Carbon Copy).

Now, in this instance, it was pretty pathetic.  The original article was published in a Ukrainian newspaper and it was about a bill that the house promoted and the senate killed in committee.  Oh wait, it also was promoted in 2007!  That’s more than two years ago.  Anyway, I actually spent a few minutes and read the bill, which basically set up a division within DHS to study domestic terrorism and coordinate actions against domestic terrorists (anyone remember Timothy McVay?).  There is also a rather interesting clause that the bill promotes that no one’s constitutional rights would be infringed by actions taken under this bill.  Yep, sounds like Obama’s sending 500,000 Americans to jail (as if there were room to put them).

So, I send it out and this morning, I get an e-mail from one of Dad’s e-mail buddies.  She asked me to not include her on future e-mails because she didn’t like my tone or my language [At the end of the e-mail I wrote “For fuck’s sake people.”]

So I reply and say fine, I’ll try to remember to take her off the list if I do this again (not, she doesn’t seem to have a problem with being on my Dad’s massively conservative mailings, but with my responses).  I also ask, “just out of curiosity, what do you think of the information I provided”.

She replied, “Well, you’re probably right.” and quote a bible verse… something in I Corinthians.

I find it curious (and somewhat depressing) that a person would prefer not to hear the voice of reason when one word offended them and they didn’t like my ‘tone’ (which was never actually defined).

So my dear, whomever you are in the real.  Good luck with your future affairs and I hope that you learned something about thinking for yourself.  I doubt it, but I’m an optimist.

Christian Writer Encourages Illegal Activity

•July 10, 2010 • 1 Comment

Here’s a good one, that I’d like to see someone explain.  A billboard with the words “One Nation Indivisible” was vandalized.  That, in and of itself, is deplorable, but nearly as bad as what followed.

WND writer Chrissy Satterfield, a self professed ‘Christian’, encourages such activities.  The title of her article is “My Kind of Vandals”.  I’ll pull a couple of choice quotes from the article:

Never would I encourage vandalism, but in this case I think I’ll let it slide. Atheists have been vandalizing my beliefs for years, so it’s about time the shoe was on the other foot.

and

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the man or woman responsible for this vandalism. I appreciate the action you took. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone. It took a lot of guts to do what you did – and the fact that you haven’t stepped forward to take credit makes you a hero. It shows everyone that you are more devoted to the message than you are to the spotlight. I encourage you to keep your cover. Don’t give the secular world a reason to call your name; instead, let them call for our God.

That last bit is particularly disturbing.  Calling someone who knowingly breaks the law a hero and encouraging them to not come forth.  Of course they are hiding, they’re scared of the repercussions.  They are moral and physical cowards.

Look, if someone attacks my family, I’m going to shoot them dead.  I will have no problems doing so.  I will also take the penalties for doing so.  If a court law says that it wasn’t justified, fine.  I feel that it was and I will accept any punishment.

This guy/gal/people is different though, he’s a coward.  He/she has a message, but they are scared of the consequences of their actions.

Even Martin Lurther, who encouraged standing up against injustice, encouraged people to accept responsibility for what they did.  Not so these ‘Chrisitans’.

To quote PZ Myers: “The whole article is a self-righteous exercise in justifying vandalism and encouraging others to continue the practice. It represents a rather worrying escalation of the conflict to the incitement to violent action against property, all wrapped in cowardly weasel words to maintain implausible deniability.”

So how about it… are any ‘Christians’ willing to accept the law of the land and write this woman telling her that her writings are wrong?

P.S.  I’ll leave with this: Romans 13:1-7 states, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

Texas SBOE – History Vote, stupid but managable

•May 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Honestly, in spite of the huge amounts of idiocy at the state level in Texas, I don’t see much happening. Textbook adoptions for History are in 2012. There’s not much chance that any textbook publishers are going to rewrite books, supplementary materials, curriculum notes, etc. in less than 18 months (the adoption process starts in Jan-Feb and books are generally chosen in May). The next adoption wouldn’t be until at least 2020 (maybe even 2021).

I know a lot of Texas history teachers and they’re going to pretty much ignore the things that aren’t correct. Unlike some subjects, there’s just not as much controversy in Social Studies (at least according to those whose opinions I respect). So, they’ll pretty much teach history as reality versus the made up reality of the SBOE ‘consultants’.  The teachers that aren’t knowledgeable about history will teach from the textbooks (see above).

Finally, I also know the people and process that write the tests that these students will take. There’s this department called ‘Fact Check’ and they are pretty serious. If there’s not a peer-reviewed scholarly article confirming a fact, then it’ll be sent back. The teachers are also involved in the process of the test questions and I don’t think they’ll let things just slide by. Also, it takes at least 24 months for test questions to go from first write to on an operational test.

So, While it makes my home state look like idiots (sigh), I really don’t think much will come of this. Hopefully, by the time, changes have a chance to be changed, we will have a new board that knows what the hell it’s talking about. If not, I’ll just move to Iowa.

BTW: I was a Texas science teacher for 5 years and involved in the Biology adoption in 2003 (I think it was ’03). Presently I work for the company that writes the TAKS, I don’t deal with the Texas project, but I am familiar with people and processes that are involved.

“No Engine Braking” Signs in Austin

•April 5, 2010 • 12 Comments

First of all… I understand that these signs are intended for semi tractors and not passenger vehicles.  However, the city ordinance (Austin, Texas City Ordinances) Title Twelve Article 3 12-1-33 indeed does not state that this is for large trucks and not passenger vehicles.

§ 12-1-33  USE OF ENGINE BRAKE OR RETARDER PROHIBITED.

(A)     This section applies to a roadway or street within the corporate limits of the City, including a state maintained roadway.

(B)     A person may not use an engine brake or engine retarder to assist in slowing or braking a motor vehicle, except for a fire truck engaged in emergency duties.

Now, this is very interesting (or ridiculously stupid depending on who you talk to).  Austin, could (theoretically) mail a fine to every vehicle owner every month forever.  Why?  Because every vehicle and driver engine brakes every day.

By definition, if you are slowing down, without the clutch of a manual transmission car being engaged or an automatic transmission vehicle in neutral, then you are engine braking.

Have you ever taken your foot off the gas slightly to slow down?  Not even all the way off, just let up a little?  That’s engine braking.  You are using some of the power of your engine to slow the vehicle instead of accelerating or maintaining speed.

Now, will this law ever get enforced against a passenger vehicle?  Of course not.  If the police are pulling you over, then they have something bigger than engine braking on you.

On the other hand, it seems really stupid to create a law that every driver will break every day.  It just makes the rest of the laws look weak.  “Oh well, they can’t enforce this law, what else won’t they enforce?”

One of the first things I learned as a teacher (and put to use as a parent) is never say you’ll do something that you won’t do.  If you say it, you’d better do it.  Otherwise, the rest of your school year (or life) will be miserable.  Don’t threaten with anything outside your ability to do.  If you say that you’re going to spank, then you better freaking spank or your kid will walk all over you and not understand why you enforce some rules and not others.  Then you have the constant battle of the kid trying to find out which rules you’ll enforce.

The same goes for law-makers, especially at the city and county level.  This law is really for heavy trucks (ten wheel and above).  Change the law to read that and amend the signs to say that.  It just looks stupid to anyone who understands anything about cars… and especially those loud ass motorcycles that are way louder than engine braking trucks.  The police don’t do anything about them.

Are the Weeds in Your Yard Your Fault?

•March 27, 2010 • 2 Comments

Are the Weeds in Your Yard Your Fault?

Of course they are.

Why?

Because of evolution. Do you know where the greatest concentration of highly antibiotic resistant bacteria live? Hospitals. Why? Because of evolution. This is one thing that many people, just don’t understand. Even, unfortunately, doctors are not immune to this.

Let me describe the bacteria situation, then describe how and why it also affects your yard and then we can explore what to do about it.

Bacteria
Everyone knows the doctor tells us to take all the antibiotics even if we feel better. Why is that? Well, the bacteria that are making you sick are just like humans. Even though they may be the same species of bacteria, they come in many varieties. Just like humans. Some are stronger and tougher than others, some reproduce faster, some can survive in weird situations. That variety is what we call diversity within a species.

When you take antibiotics, the weakest bacteria (those most susceptible to the antibiotic) die quickly, maybe even after one or two doses. As I mentioned, some of those bacteria are made of sterner stuff and will not die even after a dozen doses. If you stop after a dozen doses of antibiotic, then which bacteria are left in your system to reproduce? Right, the strong ones. There may not be many left, but you and your doctor have killed off the competition and these are stronger bacteria. So you will get sick again, and the antibiotics might not help this time because most of the bacteria in you are survivors of the last round and they laugh at antibiotics.

This is why hospitals have such strong bacterial populations. Some of the bacteria literally live in a soup of dozens of antibiotics. Only the bacteria can survive in those environments are left, but they survived and are now, quite comfortable in some of the most inhospitable (no pun intended) environments for bacteria. [Look up superbugs on wiki for more info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibiotic_resistance%5D

Yards and Weeds
Now, what about the weeds in your yard? Same thing… you preferentially select the weeds that are best able to survive in your yard. You kill off everything you can and the weeds that survive, reproduce.

Most people do the same thing year after year. The same chemical, the same fertilizer, the same weeding technique. You’re just making the weeds that survive stronger. If you miss even one plant, it will be back and will be tougher and tougher every year.

I got to thinking about this while mowing for the first time this year and here are a few of the scenarios I considered.

Clovers and other ground cover
First clovers and really good for your lawn, they replace nitrogen in the soil, which other plants use for growth. This prevents you having to fertilize. However, most people want pure grass in their yard and clovers are thick, hard to mow, and very short plants. And that’s the key to their survival.

If you follow the standard rules of mowing, then you should be mowing using a higher setting on your lawn mower. This gives you better grass cover, better water retention, and you have to mow less often. On the other hand, a high setting on the lawn mower means you may miss some of the shorter clover. They just get hit with a blast of air as the blade passes a quarter inch over them.

Short clovers and other ground covers preferentially survive in your yard. Soon, all the clovers are shorter than your normal mowing height and they take over.

Let me pause a second here to talk about something very important in evolution. It only matters what happens to you before you have children. Once you have had all your children, you are evolutionarily dead. So as long as the plants reproduce before you do whatever it is you do to them, they have survived. You can cut, poison, burn, whatever… as long as those seeds were made, then the weeds will be back.

So as long as the clover reproduce while they are shorter than your average mow height, you’ll have an invasion of clover.

Flowering weeds
Have you ever saved a weed from the mower? You knew it was a weed, but it had a pretty flower on it, so you saved it. Congrats, you have just preferentially selected weeds with pretty flowers. In my experience, weeds with pretty flowers generally also have spines or thorns and are very resistant to the mower. But that’s OK, you have a few pretty flowers… and you’ll have many, many more next year.

Weeds that Pop-up Quickly
Yesterday afternoon your yard was the perfect place of soft grass, this morning it’s choked with 2 foot tall weeds. How did that happen? You made it happen.

How often do you mow or fertilize or weed? Every time you mow, you are selecting weeds that reproduce faster than you mow. If you cut the plant down before it produces seed, then good job. You’ve killed that plant and all future plants that would descend from it. But if it already produced seeds, then it doesn’t matter what you do now.

If you mow every two weeks, then you are preferentially selecting for weeds that germinate, grow, and reproduce in less than two weeks. Pretty soon, you’ll have some fast growing weeds in your hard.

Poisons
Weed killers are exactly the same situation as the antibiotics. If the poison doesn’t kill every plant before it reproduces (or kill the seeds too), then you are selecting for superweeds.

Oh Crap, Now What Do I Do?
Fortunately, evolutionary principles give us some tools to help out with our problems. We can do the same things to our weeds that HIV patients do to their viral infection. Hit it hard, with many different things, then change it up after a month or two.

Consider those pop-ups I mentioned. They appear really fast and grow fast and reproduce fast. These plants must have an accelerated metabolism. They need lots of nutrients and must bring lots of water and sunlight to grow so fast. So use that against them. This is when you use the poisons. They grow so fast, that they will intake lots and lots of poison. If it’s a halfway decent chemical, then it will not only kill the plant, but interfere with its reproductive system and stop them right in their tracks.

What about the pretty flowering weeds? Simple. Kill them. Plant some perennials that do well in the local environment and have pretty flowers. Don’t give the weeds a chance. We just spread a couple pounds of various flower seeds out at the beginning of the season. Those, I mow around. Plus, they will use up some of the nutrients that the weeds like.

Also consider not investing in one of the ‘designer’ grasses. They are like heavily inbred species of cats or dogs. They look nice, but require a lot of work to keep them up. Ask someone at a local nursery what an appropriate grass type is for your yard. Bring them a soil sample, tell them how often you water. Then ask for the toughest, least maintenance grass they have that will work. You save watering, mowing, and it’s environmentally friendly. It may not be the lush, deep green of your neighbor, but you can sit inside with a beer watching the game, while he spends the whole weekend taking care of his $15 per square foot grass.

Change the fertilizer, chemicals, and plants that you plant each year. Don’t give the weeds a chance to get used to anything. Vary your mowing times. One Thursday night, just for the heck of it… mow real fast. Then you have the whole weekend to play.

Finally, encourage the local wildlife to be in your yard. Natural predators are much more effective than any chemical, poison, or even mowing. A family of bunnies can eat a lot of plants in a little time. Many fast growing weeds require a lot of light, so plant some trees. Any spots that don’t have grass, need to be planted with grass or mulched.

I hope that helps you. Remember, use science to your advantage. Evolution works, use it to your advantage.

HEB (and other off-brand / store-brand) Colas

•December 20, 2009 • 6 Comments

When HEB first appeared, I really didn’t think much of it.  Most of the reason comes from the tiny store they built in Port Arthur.  They bought a parking lot because the building wasn’t for sale, but the parking lot was owned by someone else.  It was a tiny, crappy store.

The HEB stores in the Austin area are amazing.  Like most stores these days, they off a store brand for many items.  In fact, in some cases, you can’t get what you really want because the store brands take up room that other varieties of the standard brand would take up.  Take, for example, Pop-Tarts.  If you want anything other than brown-sugar cinnamon or strawberry Pop-Tart, you’re out of luck at HEB.  Believe me, the store-brand Pop-Tart equivalents are terrible.

The trick economically, is to find as many store brand products as you can stomach.  My family has dropped our weekly grocery bill about $50 by substituting many name-brand items for store-brand items.  Especially things with guaranteed content like cold medications and shampoos.

One of the strangest substitutions like this (at least for me) is HEB Colas.  I tried them for the first time because they were 8 bucks for four 12-packs and cokes were 12 dollars for three 12-packs.  Now that’s economically sound… even if they aren’t perfect.

However, I was amazed.  The HEB cola is full-bodied, not to sweet, but sweet enough and it has that pleasant bite to it that a strong coke has (you know, like the ones from Mexico that don’t have to deal with all the FDA crap).  When cold, they do make have that satisfactory quality of being easy to chug and are generally smooth.

Plus, there are some flavors I like.  I have very rarely seen an HEB cherry coke, but not often.  The Dr. Pepper equivalent (Dr. B of all things) is excellent and really tastes better (and is smoother) than Dr. Pepper.  The HEB Orange Soda isn’t perfect.  I find it a little too sharp and tangy to be really satisfying.  The sugar content is a little high too.  My wife loves the things though.  I tolerate them so I get a case every now and again.

The story only gets better…

I’m approaching middle age (approaching like a skydiver whose chute has failed to open) and I now have a very sedentary job (welcome to the cube farm).  So I’m a little concerned about my expanding middle section.  I’ve tried diet Cokes before and found them nauseating at best.  So one day, while Lexie and Xander were out and about, I grabbed a $0.50 20-ounce HEB Diet soda.  I was amazed!

It totally lacked that bitter aftertaste from Diet Coke.  In my opinion, it is actually smoother than any regular cola.

So, I have switched entirely to HEB Diet Colas (with half of my colas being the caffeine free variety)… yes, I’m getting older dammit.

Thank you HEB.  My waist line, my family, and my pocket book appreciate the HEB Colas.  I used to spend five dollars a week on cokes (5 20-ounce).  Now between 5 and 4 dollars (depending on the sales) will get me over two weeks of drinks (24 12-ounce drinks at two a day means 12 working days of cokes for the same price).

Try store-brands, find the ones you like and stick with them.  I’ve dropped my grocery bill 33%.