To survive in hostile environments, cockroaches rely on their own vermin: Blattabacterium, a microbe that hitched a ride inside roaches 140 million years ago, and hasn't left since. "Blattabacterium can produce all of the essential amino acids, various vitamins, and other required compounds from a limited palette of metabolic substrates," write entomologists in a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers have known that cockroaches need the microbes to survive: Kill Blattabacterium with antibiotics, and the insects die. They also knew that roaches store excess nitrogen -- one of life's essential elements, needed to make proteins, amino acids and DNA -- inside their bodies, in tiny deposits of uric acid. But researchers didn't know exactly what became of the uric acid after it was stored, or precisely what Blattabacterium did.
Sequencing the microbe's genome made the links clear. The microbe contains genes that code for enzymes that break down urea and ammonia, the components of uric acid. Other genes instruct the microbe to take the resulting molecules and use them to make amino acids, repair cell walls and membranes, and perform other metabolic tasks.
Blattabacterium also helps free cockroaches from the need to urinate. In humans and other terrestrial animals, otherwise toxic uric acid is diluted with water, then flushed from the body as urine. Cockroaches save that water. Compared to them, the iconic stillsuits worn by the fictional Fremen of Dune would be wasteful.
The committee voted in favor of the EC legislation, and now it goes on to the full Board of Supervisors on Nov 3. That hearing will not allow any public comment. If it passes, it then goes to the Mayor to be signed into law.
One unfortunate point is that the legislation still contains the moratorium on late-night permits. This means that the number of late-night permits in existence can only increase by 15% per year, which is somewhere around 10 or 12 permits. Fortunately this doesn't include permit transfers (e.g., selling your business) so it's not terrible. But, it's a new limit where there once was none, and thus constitutes an erosion of night-life. There are people who think that serving people alcohol right up until 2AM and then kicking them all out on to the street at exactly the same time is a good idea. Those of us who actually work in this industry understand that giving people time to sober up and trickle out over an hour or two leads to less noise on the street and less drunk driving.
As I said, now the legislation goes from the committee to the full board for a vote. This means that it's important that you keep those emails coming in! The three supervisors on this sub-committee voted to send the legislation to the full board. That makes it likely that those three will vote for it, but there are eleven people on the Board of Supervisors, and we need a majority of them, too. So please email them -- particularly the supervisor of your district -- and ask them to support this legislation. For example, something like this:
Subject: Support 1060/1070 without moratorium
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Honorable Mayor and Supervisors;
I support the strengthening of the Entertainment Commission. I do not support the moratorium that will restrict the granting of late-night permits, because there is no proof that those events are any problem.
I am a ___resident / employee / patron___ and I think that the entertainment venues in the city are safe, well run and that the Entertainment Commission does a good job managing all of them. The couple of problem venues will be required to fix their problems faster if the commission gets this additional power.
I pay taxes, live, work and play in San Francisco and believe that well managed entertainment of all types is vital for a city like ours. It is one of the reasons I choose to live here and not in the suburbs.
I live in ___your neighborhood___
Oddly, even those who opposed the legislation seemed to misunderstand what the legislation actually says. We live in some kind of bizarro-world where the nightclub industry is asking for their regulatory agency to have more enforcement power to punish bad operators, and the neighbors are against that. Apparently someone told them that this legislation was going to increase the number of late-night permits, when in fact it does exactly the opposite.
Almost everyone who was there speaking against this legislation was complaining about a Pink Diamonds, a recently-closed strip club in North Beach that had been notorious for gang violence. The irony here is that, because that strip club never served food or beverages, it was not required to have any entertainment permits! Which is strange, but apparently that's the way the law works here. That meant that the Entertainment Commission had no authority over them at all, either before or after this legislation. It was entirely a police problem.
So, that was an exciting way to spend a Monday afternoon. In news more in line with the business I had hoped to be in -- that of "nightclub owner" rather than "political activist" -- some new photo galleries of DNA Lounge shows have gone up recently:
If I just let Lightroom launch when the phone is attached, it always pops up the import dialog even if there are only already-imported photos on the phone, which is annoying.
Dudley is best known for his continuous and relentless crackdown on night life in North Beach, turning the Broadway corridor into a virtual police state. He is responsible for the large presence of police officers, including those with riot helmets. He was responsible for the actual closing of Broadway Street so that taxis were unable to pick up fares when the clubs closed. The environment created by Captain Dudley made North Beach and the Broadway corridor so unfriendly to night life that many of the clubs are near bankruptcy, for sale, and barely holding on. He has expanded his tactic to other neighborhoods within his district, and blames night life for all crime in the area, regardless of whether those crimes have anything to do with the clubs. He is relentless and uncompromising, and wants all alcohol sales to be stopped at midnight -- MIDNIGHT! -- especially during the week. He wants after-hours venues to be done away with completely.
On August 18, Captain Dudley was on KQED's "Forum" radio program (mentioned previously) where he made some truly outrageous claims. Dudley expressed his opinion that nightclubs and night life cost San Francisco more in police expenses than they bring in benefits. His view is that the clubs need to be shut down, and that's what he has been attempting to do. Here's the transcript of the last few minutes of that show. (Listen there or here):
Ezra: I just wanted to respond to a comment that you made about the extra cost is takes to the city to patrol the nightclubs. And I just want to point out that, not only do we pay a lot of sales tax and fees to the city and the state, but also we -- my club employs about 30 people, all of which live in San Francisco and turn around and spend their money in San Francisco and the sales tax, etc., think that the net impact of having these clubs is better for the city. And it's, in fact, a big source of income for the city, not to mention the fact that the tourisplement of sheriff's vans that helped with the -- the drunks. Officers are often asked to stay beyond their shift on overtime to stay for the unruly clubs that are letting out at 2:00. But people hang out till 3:00 and 4:00 because of the after-hours places. And when the overtime dries up, we bring in people from all over the city. Sometimes, we have 30 officers from neighborhoods that still need policing.
This is the SFPD view of SF night life: that it is a burden that has no benefit because of the police resources that have to be used for a few clubs. The entire purpose of giving the Entertainment Commision enforcement authority is to bring those clubs into line without the SFPD having to get involved.
And that's why we hope you will show up this Monday to support that legislation, and tell the SF Board of Supervisors that this War on Fun won't stand. The hearing is Monday, October 26 at 1PM, City Hall room 263. RSVP on Facebook.
Here's the press release:
Members of the San Francisco night life community including clubs, bands and customers, will be rallying their support for the Entertainment Commission on Monday Oct 26th 1PM before the Board of Supervisors.
The Entertainment Commission has come under attack of late by those groups who seek to limit the variety of entertainment venues in this world class city. The night life industry is a significant economic engine driving the San Francisco economy and that industry along with its talent and customers are rallying to show support for the Commission.
The legislation before the Board will empower the Entertainment Commission to enforce its own permits. The industry feels strongly about the Commission that regulates them and intends to demonstrate to the board of supervisors and the police that they too have a voice.
Performing on the steps of City Hall will be the Jazz Mafia, an acoustical jazz group. Performing inside City Hall will be the night life industry and their customers who too are citizens of this great urban metropolis.
For more information: supportentertainment.com
If you can't make it to the hearing, please email the Mayor and Board of Supervisors. Details on what it would be helpful for you to say are in my Oct 14 blog post.
He did it manually, though, which is kind of weird. Would have been cooler to automatically pick the control points by the first derivative of the image.
"I had heard that the security guards at 555 California were unappreciative of photography. I mentioned this to Stuart and we agreed that these types of rules were silly and served no real purpose. So we decided to check it out and within a few moments several security guards greeted us with wagging fingers and walkie-talkies.
"No photography, they stated clearly. Why, we responded. Safety, they said.
"I decided to challenge this statement and the older of the bunch (left) asked me if I wanted to be punched in the face. No, I replied, I have to go back to work and a black eye would make things awkward for me. He then asked me how I would feel if he broke my camera. I told him I would be bummed, but that I needed an upgrade and if he touched me or my camera I would seek monetary legal action to the extent of a brand new Canon 5D Mark II."
In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. [...] Five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.
"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."
Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.