New world order is hard to handle

Prof C Explains
4 min readApr 21, 2009

by J Scott Christianson, Columbia Daily Tribune Columnist

Do you ever feel like the entire world has changed its rules of operation and someone just forgot to inform you? Last week I went to the drive-through of a local fast-food restaurant for a large regular coffee on my way to run errands. “I want a large regular coffee,” I said to the ordering kiosk outside my car window, confident I had clearly communicated my desires.

“We don’t have large; we have medium,” replied the friendly voice on the loudspeaker.

“You’re out of large?” I asked, thinking the problem must be a lack of appropriately sized cups.

“No, medium is the large. We have small and medium,” the loudspeaker voice announced, in a much sharper tone.

“How can you have a medium without a large? Medium means in the middle,” I said.

“We have small and medium” said the loudspeaker, now in a tone that clearly indicated that the only way I was going to get any coffee was to concede that medium was the new large.

So there I am, drinking my 28-ounce “medium” coffee and trying desperately to remember Ms. Ellis’ third-grade lessons on English comparatives and superlatives from some 30 years ago: small, medium, large; short, medium, tall; good, better, best; bad, worse, worst; little, less, least.

It all made some sense back then. What would Ms. Ellis have done if I had told her I was dropping large all together and I would…



Prof C Explains

J Scott Christianson: UM Teaching Prof, Technologist & Entrepreneur. Connect with me here: