Burberry Caps and Newcastle Cans

From the Guardian:

“Tony Blair's ministers distanced themselves yesterday from a scheme to prevent passengers drinking alcohol on trains, buses and planes after police, train companies and rival politicians poured scorn on the proposal.
Faced with a leaked paper from last month's brainstorming session with No 10's "respect" team at Chequers, the Home Office confirmed that a ban - which could include domestic flights - was one of a range of proposals being considered. "Nothing has been ruled in or out at this stage. A paper will be published shortly outlining our proposals," a statement said.
In reality the proposal, opposed by John Prescott, is highly unlikely to feature in the forthcoming safer communities bill, which seeks to nurture better behaviour on troubled estates and the wider public space, threatened by yobbery especially at weekends.” [emphasis added]

The British make me laugh – really, yobbery? That’s hilarious.
But I’m glad for the apparently cool reception for this idea, as I do enjoy being a scumbag and drinking a can or three on the train when in London.


DorkOut v.4.2: New Software That is Exremely Exciting to JKD

And so it is decreed: use Flock for all of your Internetty goodness. Now.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some Firefox. It’s just that Flock is, well…Firefox, plus even more neat stuff (e.g., integrated RSS, better in-browser blogging, integrated del.icio.us functionality, half a dozen other things). This is going to keep happening, and happening more and more and more, with all these open-source apps: good code gets improved upon in weeks and months, and sometimes it’s a new release (1.06, 1.2, etc.) of an existing program, and sometimes it’s a new app, and then you switch back to another, etc. Swap bookmarks, spend the 20 seconds setting up the new interfaces with del.icio.us and Blogger and WordPress and Flickr and you’re good to go. Highly exciting – or, as the kids say – w00t!



“Without entering your home, I can know what you are eating, drinking, smoking, wearing, or not wearing.”

Read the whole thing.


I Approve Highly of Beer-Making Monks

An excellent story from a few weeks back on one of the world’s great breweries from…wait for it…wait for it…yes, USA Today. I went through and looked for things to cut, but really there aren’t any, so the article in whole appears below. I’ll take it down if USA Today’s lawyers get up in my craw. Everything is interesting, including and especially the author’s incredulity that there’s anyone who wouldn’t want to squeeze every possible cent of profit out of their business. Have a read:

BRUSSELS — Inside the sanctuary of the abbey of St. Sixtus of Westvleteren is a beer lover's dream and a businessman's nightmare.
Piety, not profit, is what these monks seek. The St. Sixtus monks break every rule in Business 101 except attention to quality. And therein may lie the secret of their success in brewing a beer that some rank among the world's best and that is so hard to get there's a black market for it.
St. Sixtus brews three beers. The Westvleteren 12 is a strong, dark beer with a 12% alcohol content. It is consistently ranked among the top five beers in the world by RateBeer.com, a website for beer enthusiasts with 26,500 members. In the latest survey, it reclaimed the No. 1 spot from AleSmith Barrel Aged Speedway Stout.
The Westvleteren monks also make a dark beer with an 8% alcohol content (ranked ninth by RateBeer.com), and a blond beer with a 6% alcohol content. This is heady stuff compared with a can of Coors, which has 4% alcohol.

No reason to change

The doorbell sounds with a loud chime. Brother Joris, head of the brewery, answers, dressed in the Cistercian habit of white robe with a black, hooded outer robe, gray socks and leather sandals. His dark hair is cropped short. He wears a plain watch with a black band.
It's one of the 72 brewing days of the year, but the abbey is still quiet and peaceful. Brother Joris leads the way past aluminum tanks and the bottling room, where a team of five monks is at work.
During the next five to eight weeks, as the beer ages in tanks and then in bottles, potential customers will call the abbey's "beer phone," which has a recorded message that tells them when the beer will go on sale (36 times a year, for as long as stock lasts).
On the first day the beer goes on sale, cars start lining up at the abbey at 5:15 a.m., says Brother Joris. The gates open at 10 a.m., and buyers are limited to two cases per car. "Not to be resold" is stamped on the receipts, but customers regularly disregard the monks' wish, and the coveted beer is exported, unlabeled and without permission, to America and elsewhere.
While the machinery is more modern today — it was last updated in 1989 — the philosophy is the same.
"As monks, the rule is pray and work. These are the two pillars of a Trappist life," Brother Joris explains. "If you prayed 24 hours a day you'd go nuts. So there has to be a balance between work and monastic life. So that balance is there. We earn our living. There's no reason to change that, or make more money."
St. Sixtus brews just 60,000 cases of beer a year. The famous Westvleteren 12 sells for about $33 a case, the blond 6 is the cheapest at $23 for 24 bottles. That makes enough money to cover the costs of maintaining the abbey, where 28 monks work. There's also a little extra to help the needy.
The brewery currently is running at maximum capacity. And the monks are not interested in raising prices or production, because that would require hiring more outside workers (they have three) and working with distributors.
"At that moment it would cease to be what it is now, an integrated part of our existence," he explains.
Brother Joris, 45, joined St. Sixtus 12 years ago. Before that, he was a captain in the Belgian police force. "We are separated from the world, but we encounter the world in ourselves," he says. "You do not become a saint by entering a monastery."

A tradition of beermaking

There are six Trappist monasteries in Belgium making beer and one in The Netherlands. Several of them rank in RateBeer's top 50. Only the abbey of Achel brews less than St. Sixtus, while the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont, which makes the Chimay beer, is the largest.
But the monks at St. Sixtus don't see any of the Trappist beers as competition.
"The first Benedictine value, we follow the rule of St. Benedict, is humility," Brother Joris says. "Humility begins with not comparing oneself with another.
"We make one Trappist ale. There are seven Trappist breweries: Each of them has its own character, reflects its own community. They're all good. What's the point of beginning to compete?"
Nor do they care that they are again the top-ranked beer. "Being No. 1 is not news. It's a website. There are other professional beer-tasting contests and beer awards that are more valuable than being No. 1 on a website," he adds.
But they don't participate in those contests either. "It's more trouble," he says, "packing the bottles and shipping them."
No marketing, no competition, no increase in prices or production. It's enough to make a capitalist cry.
Illegally imported Westvleteren beer, for example, sells for $8 to $12 a bottle in specialty bars and restaurants in the USA.
"We bought all the rest of it we could get that was left from the distributors," says Michael Roper, owner of the Hopleaf bar in Chicago.
Roper's bar sold out of Westvleteren two weeks ago. Supply has dried up under pressure from the monks to stop illegal exports, he says.
"Westvleteren is a great beer, and I'm very saddened I don't have any more, and I didn't even save any for myself and now I'm thinking, 'What was I thinking?' "
Roper says he would love to see it in his bar again. "But I also understand they're not a brewery. It's a spiritual community," he says. "I don't think their mission is the same as Anheuser-Busch."
Brother Joris agrees. In fact, he agreed to be interviewed only because he wanted to warn Americans against buying illegally imported Westvleteren.
"My message is, people should know that the beer arrives there in a very un-Trappist-like way," he says. "It's the result of a lot of maneuvering in the dark before it actually shows up there."
Such underhanded tactics go against the Benedictine values under which the monks work. The St. Sixtus abbey also has no way of vouching for the quality of the beer, which is sensitive to temperature and light, when it arrives. Nor are they insured to export beer to the United States.
"I would advise your readers not to ask for or buy Westvleteren," he says. "You do not support the Trappist cause by buying Westvleteren in the United States. So if you want to support the Trappist cause, you drink one from the other six (breweries), which are legally imported."


Destination Nerdout

I don’t know bloggers, so nobody asks me to participate in blogmemes. That’s okay. I’m going to make one up myself and I can play with my own damn toys damnit. No, I’m not quite sure why I haven’t posted in however long it’s been. Anyways: (via BoingBoing) a new book is out that has a list entitled “The Canon: The 50 most notable science fiction films in the history of cinema.” It was my guess that, as a nerd, I’d probably seen a lot of them. I was not incorrect – here they are alphabetically, the films I’ve seen in bold. Why should you care? I dunno, for some reason you’re reading this in the first place.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!
Back to the Future
Blade Runner
Bride of Frankenstein
Brother From Another Planet
A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Damned
Destination Moon
The Day The Earth Stood Still
Escape From New York
ET: The Extraterrestrial
Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial)
The Fly (1985 version)
Forbidden Planet
Ghost in the Shell
The Incredibles
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version)
Jurassic Park
Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior
The Matrix
On the Beach
Planet of the Apes (1968 version)
Solaris (1972 version)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Stepford Wives
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The Thing From Another World
Things to Come
12 Monkeys
28 Days Later
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
2001: A Space Odyssey
La Voyage Dans la Lune
War of the Worlds (1953 version)

So, 35 out of 50. Not bad. Yes, it’s weird that I’ve never seen “Close Encounters.”


America, A-mer-i-ca...

People is funny:
"Little Shop of Whores," huffed one woman standing outside the new Victoria's Secret in Tysons Corner Center. "Slut wear," declared the father of a teenage girl, looking at a feathery-thong-clad mannequin bent over as if she were adjusting her spike heels.
"My 13-year-old daughter is going to come here and shop for a bra?" said Mary Lynne Carraway, 40, of McLean. "Come on. I'm appalled. That's like sending her to a street with a strip joint. Is this the kind of message we want to send to our children, that this is what they should look like?"
Um, what else exactly ought people look like when they're in underwear than, y'know, people in underwear?

Also - "a street with a strip joint"? Goodness, I may get the vapors, here.

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