Inside the Glitter Factory

After reading this, I'm going to be shitting rainbows for a week.

He did not want me to visit his glitter factory. The jovial Mr. Shetty told me over the phone that people have no idea of the scientific knowledge required to produce glitter, that Glitterex's glitter-making technology is some of the most advanced in the world, that people don't believe how complicated it is, that he would not allow me to see glitter being made, that he would not allow me to hear glitter being made, that I could not even be in the same wing of the building as the room in which glitter was being made under any circumstance, that even Glitterex's clients are not permitted to see their glitter being made, that he would not reveal the identities of Glitterex's clients, and that, fine, I was welcome to come down to Glitterex headquarters to learn more about what I could not learn about in person. [...]

That is, until one entered the bottling warehouse itself, which looked like an industrial manufacturing plant colonized by pixies. The concrete floor was finely coated with what appeared to be crushed moonbeams. The forklift winked with shiny crimson flecks. The metal coils of the conveyor belt shone with a rainbow crust. And yet, the space gave the impression of being tidy and well-swept, not unlike a Dust Bowl kitchen if the prairie topsoil had been Technicolor.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein our Patreon subscribers can now get in free!

We're trying something new, as a thank you to our awesome Patreon sponsors: we're now offering membership cards! If you kick in $15 or more per month, you get in free. Here are the options:

THE GREEN CARD -- $15 or more month.

Entitles the card holder to:
  • Free admission for 2 to any event before 10pm.
  • Skip to the front of the line (all night).

THE BLUE CARD -- $30 or more per month.

Entitles the card holder to:
  • Free admission for 2 to any event, all night.
  • Skip to the front of the line.

THE GOLD CARD -- $60 or more month.

Entitles the card holder to:
  • Free admission for 2 to any event, all night.
  • Includes 2 drink tickets.
  • Skip to the front of the line.

THE BLACK CARD -- $200 or more month.

Entitles the card holder to:
  • Free admission for 4 to any event, all night.
  • Includes 4 drink tickets.
  • $50 off purchase of any VIP table.
  • Skip to the front of the line.

The fine print, for all cards:

  • Cards are non-transferrable: you must be present.
  • Standing room only (general admission, not reserved seating).
  • Charity events and private parties are excluded.

So head on over to our Patreon and sign up!

The cards are valid for as long as you continue to be a monthly contributor at that level.

Many of you are already eligible for a card if you've been contributing $15 or more per month, but you may need to also go and select the proper "tier" to get the card. Patreon doesn't automatically subscribe you to newly-added benefits.

It was very difficult to decide on the pricing for these; too high and nobody will be interested in them, but too low and we might end up losing money on the deal. But since the nature of Patreon makes them be essentially a monthly subscription, we can change the pricing or benefits down the road if necessary. ("Winging it" being a time-honored DNA tradition.)

I just ordered a credit card printer, so hopefully we'll be mailing out the first batch of cards before the new year!

By the way, if have any experience with a card embosser that has Mac drivers, let me know. I'd love to figure out a way for the names on the cards to have raised letters, but right now that doesn't seem practical.

Also, I tried to think of more clever names for the four card levels, but I didn't come up with anything good. Any suggestions? (Adenine and the other nucleobases have already been considered and rejected.)


Thank You For Smoking

In just a few years, vaping has wiped out two decades of work getting teens to quit (or never start) cigarette smoking.

Nearly all of the increase comes from an increase in vaping nicotine. [...] Juul reported a monster revenue increase of nearly 800 percent between 2017 and 2018 (from $107 million to $942 million), and they control about 75 percent of the market. That's enough all by itself to account for a huge single-year increase in vaping. [...]

Vaping in general, and Juul in particular, have wiped out years of hard work to get teens off of cigarettes. And since most of the increase is in vaping nicotine, it means we're raising yet another generation of addicts, sucked in by the same kind of marketing that was originally used to suck them into cigarette smoking. What a crime this is.

"Siri, show me a business that is more evil than Facebook."

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Paul Ryan, Prince of Dust

If one of the sons of Shub-Niggurath ever walks the Earth,

he will look something like soon-to-be ex-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan: handsome, but in a non-threatening, corn-pone Midwestern way; a painfully earnest affect; constant professions of deep concern about poverty and the downtrodden; and veins pumping boiling black goo that writhes and smokes if exposed to air. [...]

He started pretending to be a Very Serious policy guy, walking around with documents and presentations, with brows firmly furrowed over America's long-term debt situation. He did this with the active connivance of "nonpartisan" political reporters, who were astoundingly receptive to this brazenly duplicitous shtick. [...]

Mainstream reporters are not supposed to be "biased" towards either left or right (an a priori impossible notion, but never mind), but the plain fact of American politics is that the Republican Party is wrong in virtually every circumstance. Instead of reckoning with this reality, many political reporters instead became deeply neurotic about appearing biased towards liberals and developed a compulsive need to boost up any conservative who wasn't obviously a drooling maniac. Paul Ryan saw that opportunity and exploited it to the hilt.

As Hunter S. Thompson once wrote about the press's coverage of Nixon:

It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful. [...]

Ryan trying and failing to push hideously unpopular and immoral legislation while lashing his party to Trump no doubt had a lot to do with the GOP getting stomped in the 2018 midterms. And now, Ryan's running for the exits. He will probably be collecting a gigantic paycheck at Cthulhu Fhtagn Consulting on K Street for some no-show job by close of business on the first day of the 2019 congress, as payment for his only actual accomplishment as speaker: giving every member of the top 1 percent their own personal oil tanker stuffed with cash.

But if you're walking around that neighborhood of DC and your vision starts to swim and you hear eldrich shrieking inside your mind, it might be wise to flee.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein 4AM is back from the dead again.

Once more with feeling:

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has reintroduced the Let Our Communities Adjust Late-Night Act, which would allow later alcohol sales.

The bill, filed late Monday as SB58, encompasses San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella (Riverside County), Cathedral City (Riverside County) and Palm Springs, where local officials have expressed interest in participating in a five-year pilot program.

Cities would create their own rules, including where sales extending to 4 a.m. are allowed and how often.

To be clear, this bill would not "make last call be 4AM" or even "make last call be 4AM in San Francisco". No, doing that would make San Francisco behave like world-class cities that value tourism. This bill isn't that.

This bill would allow SF the option of issuing additional permits -- expensive permits -- to a handful of venues, allowing those venues and only those venues to serve alcohol between the hours of 2AM and 4AM, as part of a 5-year-limited trial program, to begin "no earlier than Jan 1, 2022".

So it will be good for those businesses who get to be a part of that program -- and, assuming we haven't gone out of business by then, we're going to do our damnedest to be a part of that program -- but it's not really going to change the character of SF nightlife in any significant way. Almost all bars will still close at 2, and you still won't be able to get anywhere by public transit after midnight.

I mean, at this rate we might have a Central Subway or a Transit Center before you can legally have a drink at 3AM.

Here's a brief recap of this ongoing shitshow. I can't believe how long I've been blogging about this:


"Advanced" Linux Sound "Architecture"

I can't believe that this 1994 clown car has still not disgorged all of its passengers, but here we are. I'm running Raspbian 9.6 and if mpg321 is interrupted before it finished playing the file, about 10% of the time the machine gets into a state where it can't play sound any more and launching any process takes ~5 seconds. At that point, I haven't found a recourse other than rebooting.

Any suggestions, other than "get a less annoying hobby"?

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Lazyweb, help me get un-blocked by Earthlink and Dreamhost

I've convinced the A-list and B-list mail hosts to accept mail from me, but I have customers using a couple of the C-listers who still block me. Can you help?

IP is blocked by EarthLink. Go to for details. (in reply to MAIL FROM command)

That says "email". I have done so four times. Ignored.

host[] said: 550 5.7.1 Reject for policy reason blacklisted (in reply to MAIL FROM command)

I can't even figure out how to contact them. I tried Ignored.

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Control Keys

All of this:

blarg: "I spend a lot of time thinking about keyboards, and I wish more people did."

I'm not even mad about the letter layout -- you do you, Dvorak weirdos -- but that we give precious keycap real estate to antiquated arcana and pedestrian novelty at the expense of dozens of everyday interactions, and as far as I can tell we mostly don't even notice it.

  • This laptop has dedicated keys to let me select, from levels zero to three, how brightly my keyboard is backlit. If I haven't remapped control to caps I need to twist my wrist awkwardly to cut, copy or paste anything.

  • I've got two alt keys, but undo and redo are chords each half a keyboard away from each other. Redo might not exist, or the key sequence could be just about anything depending on the program; sometimes all you can do is either undo, or undo the undo?

  • On typical PC keyboards Pause/Break and Scroll Lock, vestigial remnants a serial protocol of ages past, both have premium real estate all to themselves. "Find" is a chord. Search-backwards may or may not be a thing that exists depending on the program, but getting there is an exercise. Scroll lock even gets a capslock-like LED some of the time; it's that important! [...]

  • "Ins" -- insert -- is a dedicated key for the "what if delete, but backwards and slowly" option that only exists at all because mainframes are the worst. Are there people who toggle this on purpose? Has anyone asked them if they're OK? I can't select a word, sentence or paragraph with a keystroke; control-A lets me either select everything or nothing.

    Finally, SysRq -- short for "System Request" -- gets its own button too, and it almost always does nothing because the one thing it does when it works -- "press here to talk directly to the hardware" -- is a security disaster only slightly obscured by a usability disaster. [...]

Anyway, here's a list of how you remaps capslock to control on various popular OSes, in a roughly increasing order of lunacy:

  • OSX: Open keyboard settings and click a menu.

  • Linux: setxkboptions, I think. Maybe xmodmap? Def. something in an .*rc file somewhere though. Or maybe .profile? Does gnome-tweak-tool still work, or is it called ubuntu-tweak-tool or just tweak-tool now? This seriously used to be a checkbox, not some 22nd-century CS-archaeology doctoral thesis. What an embarrassment.

  • Windows: Make a .reg file full of magic hexadecimal numbers. You'll have to figure out how on your own, because exactly none of that documentation is trustworthy. Import it as admin with regedit. Reboot probably? This is ok. This is fine.

  • iOS: Ive says that's where the keys go so that's where the keys go. Think of it as minimalism except for the number of choices you're allowed to make. Learn to like it or get bent, pleb.

  • Android: Buy an app. Give it permission to access all your keystrokes, your location, your camera and maybe your heart rate. The world's most profitable advertising company says that's fine.

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