DNA Lounge: Wherein the Emperor suffers an Insult.

In the middle of our stock booking contract, we sometimes include this item:

15) Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word "Frisco," which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of six hundred seventy six dollars. As ordered by NORTON I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, 1872.

Evidence normally suggests that nobody reads these things, but we booked a film shoot here recently, and noted that when they returned the signed contract they had crossed this item out.

You monsters.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, the Wikipedia page on the Emperor is a good start. $676 is $25 adjusted for inflation. The new span of the Bay Bridge was halfway toward being named after him, until the Oakland Board of Supervisors showed that they are a bunch of boring killjoys.)


How to give away tickets

Every day on their current tour, Metric have been posting a couple of pictures like this of some place around town where they've taped up an envelope containing two tickets to that night's show.

I think that's awesome.


Repository of All Human Knowledge.

List of catgirls

This is a list of catgirls in notable fictional works.

  1. Catgirls who always have real cat ears and a tail
  2. Nekomusume
  3. Catgirls who always have real cat ears
  4. Girls who transform into catgirls
  5. Girls who are seen wearing catgirl costumes regularly
  6. Catboys
  7. Real Cats with human traits
  8. Western catgirls
  9. Live action catgirls
  10. Webcomic catgirls
  11. Others
  12. References

Previously, previously.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein I finally vent about our new ABC permit.

At last it can be told: now that we actually have our liquor license, let me tell you about some of the conditions that we dodged.

These conditions were putatively written by SFPD, but the line between "SFPD" and "ABC" is very fuzzy in this situation, since they collude and engage in finger-pointing whenever it's convenient to pass the blame on to the other side, even when they're really the same side. SFPD says, "Hey, don't blame us, it's ABC's license", and ABC says, "Hey, we're just following the recommendations of SFPD." Then they presumably cackle madly once you leave the room.

We spent months fighting these. Since, at the time, we were also in the middle of the lengthy process of getting our construction permits, we had time to have this lengthy argument with SFPD/ABC over the permits, so it didn't actually cause us a delay in opening, but it was still a pain in the ass and a huge waste of time.

There were some weird, stupid ones that they put in there, like:

During normal business hours, the premises shall be designated and used for and possess the necessary utensils, table service, and condiment dispensers with which to serve meals to the public.

We don't have waiters at the pizza restaurant; you order at the counter. They wanted to make this a violation of our liquor license, that is, if there was ever a time when someone didn't come to your table to take your order, they'd be allowed to revoke our ability to sell alcohol. This is the kind of stupid micro-management they always pull, because after all, a cop is an expert in how to serve food, right?

This one was a real hassle:

No noise shall be audible beyond the area under the control of the licensee.

And then after we objected, they tried to rephrase it as

Entertainment provided shall not be audible beyond the area under the control of the licensee.

San Francisco already has noise ordinances. There are specific rules about how loud is too loud. These rules include specific decibel measurements as compared to the ambient noise level on the street (e.g., car, bus and pedestrian traffic). But this condition, had we accepted it, would have made it a violation of our liquor license if any sound was audible -- which is to say, if you could press your ear against our front door and be able to tell there was music inside, that would be a violation.

And it would not simply be, "you get a ticket". It would be, "you lose your liquor license and are put out of business". That's one of the games ABC always plays: they try to take something that's already illegal under the civil code, and make it a condition of the liquor license so that the punishment for a violation is escalated from that which is dictated by the actual law, to "now we get to take your whole business away".

Then there was this gem:

The petitioner shall utilize electronic surveillance and recording equipment that is able to view all exit and entrance points of the exterior of the premises. This electronic surveillance/recording equipment shall be operational at all times that the premises is open to the public. Said electronic recording(s) shall be maintained for no less than 72 hours and shall be made available to the Department or Police Department upon demand.

They wanted to mandate that I surveil all of my customers, and turn that information over to the Government without a warrant. Hello, Fourth Amendment.

I told them I'd take them to court over this one, so they eventually backed down. However, this is a standard condition that SFPD is putting on all new liquor licenses! This is the underground regulation that is their usual boilerplate that they hand out to everyone now.

They tried to get this written into the law back in 2010 and got shot down, so instead they went in through the back door and are adding it as a liquor license condition for everybody. It's a complete subversion of the democratic process: when the people and their elected lawmakers unambiguously say "no" on a civil liberties issue, the unelected SFPD and ABC career bureaucrats think they can force a "yes" anyway. It's disgusting.

It's really important to realize that most people trying to open a new bar or restaurant do not have the luxury of fighting these default conditions. Fighting them normally means paying rent on an empty building for six months during the appeal process. Most people do not have the ability to do that, so they will just cave and say "yes". As a result, you can expect to be seeing a lot more surveillance cameras around town. It's a good bet that any new liquor license that was issued in the last year or two has this condition on it.

Sadly, most people wouldn't even think to fight it in the first place. Someone who is civil liberties-minded sees this kind of power-grab as the slow march toward totalitarianism, the surveillance state and the Panopticon, and see the fighting of it as their civic goddamned duty; but I suspect that most people would just read it as, "Oh, I have to spend another thousand bucks on a security camera? Bummer. Oh, and if ABC or SFPD ask for the recordings, I have to give them to them? Ok, whatever."

But hey, if you didn't do anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about, right?


Burn victim identified by maggots on body

Pretty sure I saw this on CSI.

When Mexican police found a body in the woods it was burned beyond recognition, its DNA too damaged to be used for identification. Luckily, investigators were able to extract DNA from elsewhere - the digestive systems of maggots that had been feeding on the body. This is the first time that human DNA from a maggot gut has been analysed in this way to successfully identify a victim in a legal case.
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DNA Lounge: Wherein the upstairs beer tower is now fully operational.

The new beer lines are hooked up!

To recap: the big DNA Lounge walk-in fridge is full of kegs, and there's a mile-long series of tubes running to each bar. There's a huge tank of carbon dioxide that is used to push the beer out of the kegs and into the tubes (and because our tubes are so long, there are pumps as well). The Beer Snake has glycol (antifreeze) circulating alongside the beer lines to keep it cool so that it doesn't foam up. At the bar, each tap is just a valve. CO2 is used to push the beer instead of air because oxygen makes beer go bad. In the case of Guiness, it's nitrogen instead of CO2 or air.

Also in the back is a big rack of bags of syrup for the sodas. There's a different snake for sodas, which are pushed down the tubes warm and in syrup form. One of the tubes is CO2 instead of syrup. At the bar end, the syrup is mixed with water and circulated through another series of tubes inside a metal plate beneath the bartender's ice bin, and then a pump injects the CO2 into it. This reaction requires cold, which is why you get a flat soda if you use the soda gun at a closed bar that doesn't have ice in the bin. And then finally, the soda gun is just a valve.

These two snakes fan out from the DNA Lounge back room to our now seven bars.

And, all of our beers have changed!

The beers on tap on the DNA Pizza side of the world are now: Firestone Pale Ale, Shock Top, Bud Light, Stella Artois, Lagunitas IPA and Guiness. No cider on tap, but we have Ace Apple in bottles. Meanwhile, over on the DNA Lounge side, we've got: Ace Pear Cider, Big Daddy IPA, Widmere Hefeweizen, Stella Artois, Mirror Pond and Guiness.

So, why's that... well, for large bars and clubs, beer and soda distribution systems like the ones we have are almost always installed for free by the distributors. You're buying the product from them, so it's in their best interest for you to be able to move that product efficiently. So we said to our current distributors, "Hey guys, three new bars! Gonna be buying a lot more of your product! Hook us up!" And they said... no.

Both of them said no -- both DBI (our former beer distributor) and 7Up (our former soda distributor) were unwilling to pay for the installation of the respective new systems. (Well, DBI didn't technically say no, but they kept saying "It's all good bro" without ever committing to anything, and we couldn't wait any longer.) As a result, both of them lost all of our business, since we turned right around and switched our distribution to Coke for sodas and Matagrano for beer. Those folks were happy to have our business, and rip out the 7Up/DBI systems and install their own for free.

We are not a small account. I really can't believe the other guys really let it go this far. But, oh well. Not my problem now!

It's fortunate that there are multiple distributors (really, only the two of each) because each one has a total monopoly on the products that they distribute. E.g., you can only buy Miller from DBI, and you can only buy Budweiser from Matagrano. I'm not sure if the beer companies actually own the distributors, but the distinction is academic.

That means that we still have to buy Red Bull cans from Matagrano, because for some goofy accounting/sales-reporting reasons, it's cheaper for us to get it from them than Costco, and they have an exclusive.

And that's today's lesson in both the mechanics, and the goofy economics, of getting people drunk.


Youtube download escalation

Youtube has deployed youtubedown countermeasures. I have deployed counter-countermeasures. Grab the new version.


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Lowjack your sock drawer

New system uses RFID tech to keep track of your socks

Each individual sock comes with an RFID chip attached to the cuff. Stored on that chip is the sock's unique ID number. The Smarter Socks system also includes an RFID scanner, and a free iPhone app.

After a load of the socks have been washed, the user (or their maid, perhaps) scans the chip on each sock. The scanner sends the data by Bluetooth to the iPhone, which is running the app. That app proceeds to tell the user how old the sock is, whether it's for the left or right foot, how many times it's been washed, and which sock is its partner. Once its partner is located and scanned, the app updates the number of washings for the pair.

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Dali Clock, Four Inches Tall

To make your apps not be letterboxed on iPhone 5, you have to re-build and re-submit the app.

So to those of you with a crack-like addition to The Shiny, please enjoy Dali Clock 2.37 in the app store now.

(Yeah, I'll do a new xscreensaver release some time soon, but I've got some bugs there I want to look into first. Dali Clock didn't actually require any code changes, just a re-spin.)


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So great!

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