I strongly recommend that you press play
on both of these videos simultaneously.

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Current Music: as noted.

Historical Dwarf Pie.

"Duelling had been outlawed in France and this could
be considered a transgression against hospitality."

Previously, previously.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein the War on Infusions gets some more press.

This story seems to have some legs; maybe ABC has finally done something absurd enough that the general public will take notice!

Here's a Chronicle article which finally outs Bourbon and Branch as one of the recently-harassed bars:

State warns Bay Area bars not to infuse drinks

On a recent Friday night, they entered the speakeasy-themed Tenderloin tavern and warned bartenders they were breaking California law by altering alcohol - infusing it with the flavors of fruits, vegetables and spices.

At Bourbon and Branch, where the owners declined to comment, the Clermont Affair remains on the menu. So does the Stan Lee Sour, which features gin infused with hibiscus and jasmine. But customers can't order them. Fitting with the bar's theme, the cocktails are now stamped "Prohibited."

There was a three minute segment about it on the local TV news a couple days ago. It was a fairly neutral piece, but I found their smirking attitude irritating. It's like they're saying, "Gosh, isn't this a hilarious little piece of info-tainment, isn't this quirky." Well, it's not very funny to the people who are probably going to have to fight this nonsense in court.

Their credulous and implicit acceptance that whatever ABC claims that the law says must, by definition, actually be what the law says was also irksome.

But I guess that's why I don't watch TV news.

And finally, this afternoon, John Hinman was on the radio on The Karel Show talking about this. The official archive is here, but I've clipped out just Hinman's interview and saved it here.

But enough about that. Come out to our irregularly-scheduled circus party Bohemian Carnival tonight. It is always amusing, and we haven't had one of these since July!


Don't Fuck with the Copyright Jesus.

Catholic Church, Brazil Franchise, sues Roland Emmerich for pretending to destroy a statue in his crappy diaster-porn:

Rio de Janeiro's archdiocese is demanding unspecified damages and interest from Columbia Pictures for showing the iconic landmark being destroyed in a worldwide apocalypse in a film that came out last year, the archdiocese's attorney, Claudine Dutra, said.

The archdiocese manages copyright issues related to the 40-meter (130-foot) high statue erected in 1931, which overlooks Rio with its arms outstretched.

Under Brazilian law, copyright resides in the author of a work until his death, and then is passed on to his heirs or estate or successor entity for another 70 years.


Emmerich said that he got approached by people who wanted their landmarks destroyed, such as the 101 Tower in Taipei, the world's tallest building.

But Emmerich was thinking of something even more explosive: the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building at the heart of Mecca, the focus of prayers and the Islamic pilgrimage called the Hajj; it is one of Islam's holiest sites.

"Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit," Emmerich says. "But my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. We have to all, in the Western world, think about this. You can actually let Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with an Arab symbol, you would have a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it's just something which I kind of didn't think was an important element, anyway, in the film, so I kind of left it out."

Invisible Sky Daddy was unavailable for comment.

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Current Music: Prince -- Pope ♬

It's kind of like that.


"The plaintiff gains the power to traverse multiple silos of data"

The Traceability of an Anonymous Online Comment

Suppose that I post an anonymous and potentially defamatory comment on a Boing Boing article, but Boing Boing for some reason is unable to supply the plaintiff with any hints about who I am -- not even my IP address. The plaintiff will only know that my comment was posted publicly at "9:42am on Fri. Feb 5." But as I mentioned yesterday, Boing Boing -- like almost every other site on the web -- takes advantage of a handful of useful third party web services.

For example, one of these services -- for an article that happens to feature video -- is an embedded streaming media service that hosts the video that the article refers to. The plaintiff could issue a subpoena to the video service and ask for information about any user that loaded that particular embedded video via Boing Boing around "9:42am on Fri. Feb 5." There might be one user match or a few user matches, depending on the site's traffic at the time, but for simplicity, say there is only one match -- me. Because the video service tracks each user with a unique persistent cookie, the service can and probably does keep a log of all videos that I have ever loaded from their service, whether or not I actually watched them. The subpoena could give the plaintiff a copy of this log.

In perusing my video logs, the plaintiff may see that I loaded a different video, earlier that week, embedded into an article on TechCrunch. He may notice further that TechCrunch uses Google Analytics. With two more subpoenas -- one to TechCrunch and one to Google -- and some simple matching up of dates and times from the different logs, the plaintiff can likely rebuild a list of all the other Analytics-enabled websites that I've visited, since these will likely be noted in the records tied to my Analytics cookie.

The bottom line: From the moment I first load that video on Boing Boing, the plaintiff gains the power to traverse multiple silos of data, held by independent third party entities, to trace my activities and link my anonymous comment to my web browsing history. Given how heavily I use the web, my browsing history will tell the plaintiff a lot about me, and it will probably be enough to uniquely identify who I am.

But this is just one example of many potential paths that a plaintiff could take to identify me. Recall from yesterday that when I visit Boing Boing, the site quietly forwards my information to the servers of at least 17 other parties. Each one of these 17 is a potential subpoena target in the first round of discovery. The information culled from this first round -- most importantly, what other websites I've visited and at what times -- could inform a second round of subpoenas, targeted to these other now-relevant websites and third parties. From there, as you might already be able to tell, the plaintiff can repeat this data linking process and expand the circle of potentially identifying information.

See also EFF's Panopticlick, which shows that even with cookies turned off, just your user agent string alone contains enough information to (on average) identify you to within 1/1500 people in the world.

The most surprising thing to me was that web servers can get the list of all the fonts installed on your system -- and that that is usually even more uniquely-identifying than the user-agent string.

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Anyone with information on Happy's whereabouts can call the Ogden Police Department.

Ogden cops have out clown posse

It's not every day a clown breaks into your home, tosses a blanket over you and then scampers off with your computer.

That was the story Ogden police got when they went to investigate a burglary and theft, though. One of the suspects literally looked like a rather scary harlequin -- and detectives know who they are looking for: a career petty criminal with the street name of "Happy."

Lt. Scott Sangberg said Thursday that Happy, or rather Tony Alexander Pete, 43, is an Ogden street person sporting permanently tattooed "clown eyes" and a "clown mouth."

Sangberg said Pete now is being sought in a break-in and burglary late Wednesday in the 400 block of 21st Street. A second man, described by the witness only as Latino, also was thought involved.

The victim told police that he was asleep about 7:30 p.m. when he was awakened to find the pair standing over him. At first, the men yelled that they were cops, then threw the blanket over him.

"The guy said he could still see from under the blanket though, and he described one of them as having 'clown eyes.' "[The victim] said he knew him as 'Happy,' because he had been staying there with him until recently," Sangberg said.

Anyone with information on Pete's whereabouts can call the Ogden Police Department at 801-629-8221.

People who enjoyed this article also enjoyed Bohemian Carnival, tonight at DNA Lounge.

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"Her positive outlook on the status of my crotch
really helped the experience to be relatively pain-free."

WARNING: Watching this will make you stupider:


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Emergency shipment of condoms headed to Olympic athletes

Winter Condompocalypse 2010:

Health officials in Vancouver have already provided 100,000 free condoms to the roughly 7,000 ahtletes and officials at the Games. That's about 14 condoms per person. But as of Wednesday, those supplies started running dangerously low.

"When we heard about the condom shortage in Vancouver, we felt it important to respond immediately," said Kerry Whiteside, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS research's Executive Director. The organization assembled three large boxes of about 8,500 condoms, much to the relief of libidos at the Olympic Village. They're expected to arrive on Thursday.

Previously, previously.


DNA Lounge: Wherein the ABC decides that infusions and bitters are illegal.

I've been holding off on writing about this one for some time, hoping that some more facts would become public about it, but it seems that the press has gotten hold of the rumor-and-innuendo version, so I guess it's time. Michael Bauer writes in the SF Chronicle:

Are my favorite bartenders going to be sent to jail?

I recently had a beautiful cocktail at one of my favorite restaurants, lovingly crafted by the bartender using house-infused liquors. I won't tell you which one because I don't want him carted off to jail.

The above sentence is a bit of an exaggeration, maybe, but it's not far from the truth. The California Alcoholic Beverage Control is cracking down on people who "adulterate" spirits by making limoncello and infusing spirits with herbs or fruit. Reportedly, agents have been in San Francisco recently sniffing out these grievous lawbreakers.

It's ironic, the budget may be near the busting point, but the ABC still has resources to crack down on restaurants. In the last couple of weeks a team of enforcers have cited at least four restaurants in the Bay Area, making them pour out their creations.

So far they have only been attacking high-end cocktail bars who create their own infusions, bitters and limoncello, but ABC's new, absurd interpretation of the law would effectively outlaw cocktails entirely.

John Hinman, a lawyer who represents many local folks in their various battles against ABC has this to say:

The ABC's theory is that the act of making a cocktail for consumption later (like pre-mixing long island iced teas, or infusing fruit for cocktails) is the act of "rectification" as defined in the ABC Act.

Read strictly of course, this means that NO cocktails are permitted at all because almost ALL cocktails require the blending of different distilled spirits products. The ABC skated around that conclusion by finding that if a cocktail is made it must be consumed "immediately."

Try to find that definition anywhere; you won't because its made up, much like the Rule 64.2 actions against the Bottom of the Hill, Slim's, the Cafe du Nord and the Great American Music Hall were made up. Those actions were finally dismissed last November after two years of battles with the ABC.

The statutory definition of "rectification" is in Section 23016. [...] Please note that there is no exception in the 23016 definition for "immediate" consumption.

The tied house laws play a part because they (1) prohibit a retailer from obtaining a rectifiers license and (2) prohibit a rectifier from selling for consumption. A catch-22 by definition.

What this does is outlaw cocktails. Anyone ever pre-mix a batch of margaritas for a Mexican party, or a batch of Long Island Iced teas? You just broke the law.

This story has been being passed around third-hand like a game of telephone for several months now. The reason there has been little press on it is that the bars who have been a victim of this latest absurd crackdown refuse to go public with their story. They say they have a "good relationship" with the police and don't want to mess that up.

Please note that this is the kind of "good relationship" where the police come into your business, physically assault your staff, and dump your product down the drain -- sometimes with charges filed, sometimes not.

I am appalled that the businesses who have been victimized in this way refuse to go public with their stories of abuse. When will these people learn that the way you stand up to a bully is not by curling up on the floor and crying, "Please stop hitting me, I promise I won't tell mom"?

Sack up, you cowards.

In his article, Bauer goes on to say, "I understand the ABC doesn't want people making moonshine. Look where that got us in the 1920s."

Yes, well. That's not exactly how the story of Prohibition actually went down. Please have a look at this recent article from Slate:

The Chemist's War: The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

Although mostly forgotten today, the "chemist's war of Prohibition" remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was "our national experiment in extermination." [...]

Industrial alcohol is basically grain alcohol with some unpleasant chemicals mixed in to render it undrinkable. The U.S. government started requiring this "denaturing" process in 1906 for manufacturers who wanted to avoid the taxes levied on potable spirits. [...] By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons -- kerosene and brucine (closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added -- up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly.

So the "denatured" alcohol that is used for industrial purposes is not simply alcohol before it has been purified: it is alcohol that has been intentionally poisoned.

In the 1920s, this was because your government preferred that you be dead than drunk.

Today, it's because your government chooses to charge a higher "sin tax" on the kind of alcohol that one drinks, so they continue to poison the other kind in order to make that easier for them.

"We're from the Government. We're here to help."


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