I have a burning, white-hot hate for the junky ads that clutter the bottoms of half the websites I visit. Examples:

"Throw away your glasses: This one simple eye-hack cures blurry vision. (It's Genius!)" There's a picture of someone with a teabag over one eye, like some mild-mannered English pirate. Yes, that's wise: Driving down the highway, and the taillights ahead look a bit indistinct? Throw your glasses out the window and slap a used sack of Earl Grey over one eye.

"Six signs of internal putrefaction (No. 5 is scary!)" There's a picture of a cartoon person with a big red arrow pointing at their shoulder. I look for those arrows all the time in the mirror; they're bad news.

Weight loss ads are the worst. "Doctors stunned: This simple trick burns 44 lbs. of jiggly belly fat! (Genius! Try it tonight)" First of all, no doctors are stunned, unless you hit them in the head with a 44-lb. sack of fat. Second, I don't want to try it tonight, because the idea of waking up surrounded by 44 pounds of excess former me is absolutely horrifying.

I don't need to lose 44 pounds, but if I did, I would not trust an ad that said I could shed excess avoirdupois simply by taking a teaspoon of quack-powder. "Eat less and move more" usually works. Also, cut down on sugar, which is added to absolutely everything. You wouldn't be surprised if they added it to newspaper ink. Reading the Sunday paper would be like consuming a foot-high stack of French toast.

The newest type of diet drink proclaims itself to be Zero Sugar. You want to ask: So, the diet version has sugar? No, it doesn't. So, it's ... also zero sugar? Yes! But different. Supposedly the difference is taste — Coke Zero Sugar tastes more like the original than Diet Coke. A lot of the difference is marketing, with Diet Coke aimed at women and Zero aimed at men. You wonder how that marketing went:

"Well, based on our surveys, the most effective name for men is Truck Guitar War Sauce. All the other proposed choices got zero votes."

"Zero it is, then."

For a while, Dr Pepper had a diet version with 10 calories. Same reason: That no-calorie stuff is for chicks. I'm a man, I can take 10 calories standin' on my head.

Anyway, I noticed something on the Zero Sugar soda can the other day: NEW IMPROVED TASTE.

I assume that if it's improved, it's new. And I assume that if it's new, it's improved, because I don't think they'd trumpet this innovation if the focus groups said it had "a zesty pigeon-poison tang with a lick-a-rusty-nail finish." But who's to say it's improved? Who tested it? Lab mice?

"Studies showed that the taste was so improved that the mice threw themselves into the vat, drowning by the thousands." If they tested it on people, I want to know if this was like the eye exam, where someone asks "Better? Worse? Better? Worse?" and you don't know! But perhaps everyone chosen for something like this will flatter themselves and act like they can discern the ineffable improvement, like they're a Cola Sommelier uncorking a rare vintage. "Ah, this one is reminiscent of the '46 Coke, with notes of Cuban cane sugar."

Perhaps you should just drink what you wish and not obsess about the ingredients. If you're tempted to look, just put tea bags over your eyes. Genius!