The Village Voice has an interesting article about New York's anti-dancing laws: The Safety Dance. Apparently the guy who runs NYC's only nightlife-industry organization also owns several large clubs, and is fully in support of the anti-dancing laws, because it causes less competition for him! What a weasel. He goes on to argue:

[...] that he and other club owners have -- in some cases -- poured millions of dollars into spaces that are zoned for a cabaret, and to allow a free-for-all is unfair: "The immediate eradication of the cabaret laws would be the same as if the city overnight announced that there was no longer a ceiling on the number of taxi medallions. [...] Can you imagine the outrage from people who had invested their life savings in a medallion only to find it rendered worthless in one fell swoop?"

Apparently protection of existing business models is more important than Constitutional rights: it doesn't matter whether a law is just, so long as corporations are making money from it. Hey, that line of thought is working for the RIAA and MPAA, why not this jackass.

The sidebar article, A Crash Course in Cabarets, enumerates the history of the anti-dancing laws in New York:

1926   The cabaret law is created to crack down on multiracial Harlem jazz clubs. "Most of the jazz in 1926 was being played in clubs in Harlem where there were mixed groups. And a lot of people considered jazz to be a mongrelized, degenerate music," says Paul Chevigny, author of Gigs: Jazz and the Cabaret Laws in New York City. The law defines a cabaret as "any room, place or space in the city in which any musical entertainment, singing, dancing or other form of amusement is permitted in connection with ... selling to the public food or drink, except eating or drinking places, which provide incidental musical entertainment, without dancing, either by mechanical devices, or by not more than three persons." In other words, a venue can't have dancing without a license.

I assume that San Francisco's club laws have similar racist and puritanical beginnings, especially given this city's early history, but I've never seen a history of the revisions to the law. I wonder if there's a changelog to the SF Police Code online somewhere...

Did everyone watch Big Dave, Sam, and Matt on Full Metal Challenge last night? You must see this! It's absolutely hilarious! I never really got into Battlebots or Robot Wars (the pacing is too slow and the machines are all the same) but it's a lot more exciting when there's a person inside. The Death Guild episode ( episode 7) will be on again on Wednesday at 10PM and 1AM, and on Sunday at 3PM. We had a post-event viewing of it at the club last night, with color commentary and trivia from Dave. For example, when they needed a new axle, they cannibalized it from the corpse of Humungus from episode 6...

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I've posted an assload of new pictures to the gallery, and boy is my ass tired.

Those pictures:

This took forever, because we've been having a total nightmare of a time getting photos scanned in any reasonable way. When you're sitting there with 18 or 19 undeveloped rolls of film in your lap, you find yourself really not looking forward to manually loading prints into a flatbet scanner...

We had been getting photo CDs from Wolf Photo. Their prints always look great: they do a fine job with color, which is where 1-hour places generally screw up. But their photo CDs have, on the whole, sucked ass. The most common problem is that the images on the CD are mis-cropped! Like, on the print (the print that they made) the image looks fine, but on the CD, what got scanned was 2/3 of one picture, and 1/3 of the next picture, plus the black stripe between them. Apparently whatever negative scanner they use is just awful at figuring out where the pictures begin and end, though their photo printer does a fine job of it.

This seems to only happen on pictures that are really dark, or have a lot of black in them around the edges. But guess what, these are photos taken in a nightclub: that's like. All of them.

So, about a month ago, Angela bought herself a film scanner, a Kodak RFS 3600. It sounded pretty nice: it can batch-scan whole rolls of negatives, sucking them in the slot and spitting them out on USB. It can also scan individual slides.

Well, it sucks ass too.

She's got a Mac, and to use this thing she had to downgrade to OS9, since it doesn't work with OSX. Well, she tried to run it under OSX in the OS9 emulator dingus, and it scorched her computer bad: like, kernel panics at boot, time to reinstall. So she downgraded to OS9. There are apparently only two pieces of software in the world that can talk to this thing (it's not just the predictable TWAIN pain): the package that came with it, which is awful, and Silverfast, which is also awful. In fact, both are completely incomprehensible garbage. Even figuring out how to set the scan resolution took days. This was not helped by the Silverfast manual, which is written in Deutchlish (3rd grade English written by a German.)

Sometimes it would stretch the scanned images (repeating a scanline, as if the slide had moved.) This sounds like a hardware problem, except that it only happened with one of the software packages and not the other! Sometimes it would decide to only scan the first picture on the strip, and pretend the rest of the strip didn't exist. Sometimes it would decide to scan everything as if through a blue filter. Sometimes it would roll through the whole strip, sounding like it was scanning, but not writing any files.

Then on top of that, sometimes it would dig a long scratch along the negatives as they passed through. Joy.

So after Angela finally gave up on trying to get the scanner to work, we took the negatives back in and had photo CDs made. They were asstacular, as usual, plus this time the black levels were too high on lots of images. Plus, due to their repeated trips through the scanner, the negatives were kind of dirty by now (plus the aforementioned scratching) so there was lots of manual de-speckling to be done on the scans. It so would have been faster to have just scanned the prints by hand (not to mention about $100 cheaper...)

Things are a lot easier when just using a digital camera from the start, but to get a digital camera of comparable quality to a film camera costs more than $3000. I've got a Nikon CoolPix 990, and it's pretty good as digital cameras go, but it's just not fast enough. The biggest problem is that it takes forever to get a focus lock in low light (sometimes you press the button, and it decides to actually take the picture a full three seconds later.) Plus the delay after you've shot when it transfers the image to the card. It's also not high enough resolution for print work, which we occasionally need.

Don't we live in the future yet? What's taking so long?

We get a fair amount of this sort of thing:

Subject: D.N.A. Testing
Date: Thu, 05 Dec 2002 19:27:48 -0800
From: Roger Epp <...@sk.sympatico.ca>
To: <manager@dnalounge.com>

Can you tell me if the D.N.A. test will tell the short and long term efects of living in a home that was very badly contaminated with Stachybotrys molds and many bacterias. Both my wife and myself and six of our eight childeren lived in the mess for nearly three years. I spoke with Dr.David Anderson from Seatel and he said that it would tell if I was more or less suseptable to the long term efects that can be caused by the TOXINS and mabe even more.
Thankyou Roger and Cher and family

Name: fAMILY_LOOSES_THEIR_HOME.doc
Type: Microsoft Word (application/msword)

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Incredibly Strange Wrestling photos are up. This time, Angela had photo CDs made at PhotoWorks instead. The downside is that it takes a week to get them back, but all the scans came out really well this time. Of course, the event was more brightly lit than most live shows are, so Wolf probably would have done a passable job anyway; I guess we'll see how it goes. (They also put all the rolls of film on one CD, instead of one CD per roll, which was a lot more convenient.)

Anyway, it was an amazing show. If you haven't heard of ISW before, they have a few punk bands, alternating with Lucha Libre-style wrestling. They set up a full sized wrestling ring in the middle of the dance floor, right in front of the stage. It's absolutely hilarious! A long-standing custom is that the audience members bring tortillas with them, and spend the whole evening pelting the wrestlers, performers, and each other with them. It is, as you can imagine, a mess. We swaddled everything we could with clear plastic, and even took down some of the lights. The club had a very interesting scent for the next few days. But it was so worth it.

Notable incidents that either were not immortalized in the photo archive, or might be overlooked:

  • One of the wrestlers (I think Frankie "Destruction" D, but I'm not totally sure) actually jumping off the balcony and into the ring. Kids, don't even think of trying this at home.

  • The Sheik of Physique spraying whipped cream on his voluminous chest and belly, then scooping fistfuls into his mouth;

  • The Snackmaster's assistants, The Snackettes, drinking from bottles of gravy, and spraying it over the body of The Sheik's defeated opponent Rasputin;

  • Mextacy, ``The Mexican Raver'', trying to give his opponent a big hug instead of fighting;

  • 69 Degrees, the wrestling Scientologist boy-band tag-team, getting the crowd going with ``when I say L. Ron! You say Hubbard!'' ``L. Ron!'' ``Hubbard!'' ``L. Ron!'' ``Hubbard!''

  • The Three Wise Men (played by furries of some kind) sucker-punching Jesus Cross;

  • People trying to mosh on top of the incredibly slippy tortilla debris covering the entire floor.

A good time was had by all.

We've been having some weird webcast trouble lately; the audio is screwing up in a confusing way. Every now and then, the volume will way, way down (to like 10% of normal) then ramp back up to normal over the course of about four seconds. Then it'll do it again a while later: maybe 30 seconds later, maybe ten minutes later.

The audio signal for the webcast comes from (basically) a line split off just before the amps, then goes into a compressor, then into the computer. I've watched it while it was happening, and the signal that is coming out of the compressor has this drop-out artifact in it; however, the lights on the compressor don't change when it happens. I haven't listened to the signal going in to the compressor, so I don't know if it's happening upstream of it, or if the compressor is failing in this weird way. Of course, it's not reproducible on demand: the only way I was able to catch it in the act was to sit here in the office and listen to the webcast for six hours on friday until it started happening. It happened last friday and saturday, then did not happen on thursday, then did happen on friday, and is happening again tonight. I was wondering whether it was a heat-related problem, but it was actually uncharacteristically cool in the office on friday night, so I don't think that's it.

I tried listening to the pre-compressor audio for a while tonight, and I didn't hear it happen, but that's not very conclusive. Plus, I only listened for around ten minutes, because I don't have enough of the necessary adapters, so I had to actually take the webcast offline while I was listening to that part of the path. Blah.

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23-Dec-2002 (Mon)
Wherein a new kiosk debuts.

We rented a new compressor for a little while, and the webcast problem doesn't seem to have recurred, so I guess the old compressor is flaking out.

Jonathan replaced one of the kiosks (the one by the main door) with a new model. Thanks to the wonders of Moore's Law, this kiosk is now the fastest machine in the club. It's a 1200MHz Athlon, and even though it doesn't have a real video card in it (it's using the SVGA/VESA driver) it still runs the screensavers fast enough to look reasonable, and it boots really fast. This is the prototype, so it took a while, but we'll be upgrading the others as they break, or as funds materialize. It cost about $400 total; the other kiosks (which are ~200MHz) cost about $250 total when we bought them two and a half years ago. Jonathan didn't like any of the case options he could find (they were either too large, insufficiently ventilated, or too expensive) so he built a custom case out of plexiglass. And, since the case is transparent, I insisted he put a blacklight inside it! Now it's all tricked out, like a Honda Civic with a rear spoiler and neon ground-effects. All it's missing is a bunch of stickers with ``performance parts'' manufacturers on it, or perhaps Calvin peeing on a Raiders helmet.

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Today is Silly Perl Tricks day: I hacked up the script that generates the HTML in the flyers archive so that now there are two sets of previous/next links: the ones that were there before, that point to the chronologically previous and next flyers; and a new pair, that point to the previous and next flyer for this event. So now, for example, you can go to one of the Code flyers and click on << prev code to walk back through all of the other Code flyers.

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