After Hours

Geek Trivia: The Quibble of the Week for May 13, 2008

This week's quibble comes from the May 6, 2008 edition of Geek Trivia, "Everything old is new (Coke) again."

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from the May 6, 2008 edition of Geek Trivia, "Everything old is new (Coke) again." TechRepublic member firstaborean disputed my classification of cocaine as a narcotic:

"There is an error in the article, which describes cocaine as a 'narcotic.' It is not a narcotic, but a central nervous system stimulant. A narcotic is a drug which induces stupor or unconsciousness. Cocaine is a CNS stimulant with a half-life of about five minutes, whereas caffeine is a CNS stimulant with a half-life of about five hours."

Chemically speaking, firstaborean is correct. Legally speaking — at least in the United States — not so much. Narcotics are by pharmaceutical definition drugs that induce sleep or drowsiness, while cocaine is a stimulant. However, the legal definition of a narcotic under the United States Controlled Substances Act is any pharmacological derivative of opium or coca leaves, specifically mentioning cocaine. While pharmacists may have logic, history, and etymology on their side, the Drug Enforcement Agency has guns. I'm willing to call cocaine a narcotic if they are.

Nonetheless, thanks for the chemically induced corrections, and keep those quibbles coming!

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About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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