Greetings, Citizen!

I think it's hilarious that this orange truck — CA license plate 4Y84599* — is going to be parked in front of Google's notional DNA Lounge for (possibly) years, based on how infrequently they update the satellite imagery!

See also:

* I'm not 100% sure I read the plate right, since DMV says it's never had a smog check. I can't find a site that will do a registration lookup without charging money.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein you look at photos, mourn clowns, and buy tickets.

Some new photo galleries are up: Meat, Bohemian Carnival, See Colin Slash, and Little Yellow Perfect.

And, with that, Bohemian Carnival is no more. Apparently they were tired of losing money on the event every month, so they called it quits. I can symphathize, but unfortunately, they decided to tell us after this month's event, "oh, by the way, we won't be here next month", thus leaving us a bit over three weeks to find and promote a replacement, or else be dark on a Saturday. So, that was, what's the word I'm looking for? It's the opposite of awesome.

Next month we're doing a Big Payback; let's hope a couple weeks of promotion is enough to get people to actually show up.

In better news, the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes show this Thursday is almost sold out! Buy your tickets now if you plan on coming. (Please note, despite what the flyer says, Groovie Ghoulies won't be playing, as they just broke up!)

Current Music: Nirvana -- Milk It ♬

databases and spreadsheets (or, every nail looks like a thumb)

Dear Lazyweb,

At the club, we keep most of our records in a Filemaker Pro 6 database: stuff like attendance and cash register totals for each night.

(And when I say "most" I mean "except that a bunch of our data lives in QuickBooks instead, for some reason that none of my employees has ever been able to explain to me in a way that I understand.")

Anyway, something about this Filemaker situation is so hellaciously complicated that it's like pulling teeth to get any kind of sensible reporting out of it. I don't know if this is a property of Filemaker itself, or the database schema we are using, or just that nobody here knows how to use the damned thing.

It strikes me that all we need here is a spreadsheet: one axis is "date", and the other axis is a bunch of keywords and values associated with that date (e.g., "register-1", "box-office".) Then some simple computed fields (e.g., "total=A+B+C"), and a bunch of different views onto that grid (e.g., show a report of all dates where "event-name" is "Foo", with some columns totaled or averaged or whatnot.)

Surely the sensible thing to do here is for me to extract this data into some kind of tab-delimited text file; import that into a simple spreadsheet; and throw Filemaker away, right?

So my questions are:

  • Is this, in fact, a sane line of thought?
  • How do I extract this shit?
  • What's a simple, free-or-very-cheap spreadsheet for OSX that will suck less than Filemaker?

I don't even know if I'm asking the right questions here, because I don't actually use this software; my employees do. But when I ask them for different kinds of reporting, it takes way too much work for them to deliver it, and when I ask questions like "if this is so hard, why are we using Filemaker instead of something else?", I just get blank stares.

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is next: eveningwear.

Translation: "Rub me against women!"

"If you ever wanted to connect your head to your penis like some insane Escher drawing, this Halloween, consider the Mobius Giraffe."
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can't sleep, poodle-girls will get me

Nagi Noda:

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I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

"Club It Up". I really want to know -- or maybe I don't -- why these pictures are titled "Club DNA".

Franky Stylez Catch Phrase: "I am about to Get Sick Wit It" and "Touch It"

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today in "zapping your brain-meats" news

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

In VNS a two-inch diameter, .25 inch thick disk is surgically tucked under the skin near the left collarbone, then wired upward to the vagus nerve in the neck. The battery-operated disk delivers intermittent, rhythmic pulses to the nerve -- whose name means "wandering" in Latin -- that reaches a half dozen areas of the brain critical to treating depression, according to Dr. Darin Dougherty of Massachusetts General Hospital.

The implanted disc is programmed and reprogrammed with a wand held over the skin. Data on each patient about the intensity and frequency of the pulse and device settings is stored in individual memory cards slotted into in a handheld computer linked to the wand.

Researchers know the treatment stimulates norepinephrine and serotonin centers, now treated with pharma at a tepid success rate, and increases blood flow and neuron activity. But they candidly say they don't fully understand why VNS works.

Previously, previously.
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DNA Lounge: Wherein we toast chromosome four.

I just finished reading The Ghost Map, a book about London's 1854 cholera epidemic. It's really fascinating. Anyway, I thought you folks might be interested in this bit on how booze made cities possible. He says:

The search for unpolluted drinking water is as old as civilization itself. As soon as there were mass human settlements, waterborne diseases like dysentery became a crucial population bottleneck. For much of human history, the solution to this chronic public-health issue was not purifying the water supply. The solution was to drink alcohol. In a community lacking pure-water supplies, the closest thing to "pure" fluid was alcohol. Whatever health risks were posed by beer (and later wine) in the early days of agrarian settlements were more than offset by alcohol's antibacterial properties. Dying of cirrhosis of the liver in your forties was better than dying of dysentery in your twenties.

Many genetically minded historians believe that the confluence of urban living and the discovery of alcohol created a massive selection pressure on the genes of all humans who abandoned the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Alcohol, after all, is a deadly poison and notoriously addictive. To digest large quantities of it, you need to be able to boost production of enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases, a trait regulated by a set of genes on chromosome four in human DNA. Many early agrarians lacked that trait, and thus were genetically incapable of "holding their liquor". Consequently, many of them died childless at an early age, either from alcohol abuse or from waterborne diseases.

Over generations, the gene pool or the first farmers became increasingly dominated by individuals who could drink beer on a regular basis. Most of the world's population today is made up of descendants of those early beer drinkers, and we have largely inherited their genetic tolerance for alcohol. (The same is true of lactose tolerance, which went from a rare genetic trait to the mainstream among the descendants of the herders, thanks to the domestication of livestock.)

The descendants of hunter-gatherers -- like many Native Americans or Australian Aborigines -- were never forced through this genetic bottleneck, and so today they show disproportionate rates of alcoholism. The chronic drinking problem in Native American populations has been blamed on everything from the weak "Indian constitution" to the humiliating abuses of the U.S. reservation system. But their alcohol intolerance most likely has another explanation: their ancestors didn't live in towns.

Or, as W.C. Fields put it, "Water? Never touch the stuff. Fish fuck in it."



"I've got something I wanna play for you."

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, a technique for treating clinical depression, works by creating an electromagnetic pulse that doesn't disturb the skull or scalp, but can reach two to three centimeters into the brain to stimulate the prefrontal cortex and paralimbic blood flow, increasing the serotonin output and the dopamine and norepinephrine functions.

"In older patients where the brain has shrunk, we have to be very careful to get any results."

Side effects include post-application headaches, muscle twitches and pain at the application site. The risk of seizure remains, but researchers worked very hard to avoid them, and they occurred very rarely.


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The mystery of the daytime idle

The mystery of the daytime idle: Why aren't you working?
Because look out your window. Who are these people? At any given hour on any given workday, well, it turns out it's not a workday at all. Not for these hordes roaming free, anyway. By rights our parks and movie theaters and stores should be minor ghost towns between 9 and 5 -- chanced upon by the occasional tourist or late-night bartender but otherwise peaceful. Instead, they're inexplicably packed. I didn't doubt that the packers had sound explanations. I just wanted to hear them.

BY THE WAY, I am not interested in how you spend your day. Sheesh.

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