Monthly Archives: April 2012


Pass Me A Cold One

Beer has shaped civilization for centuries. It’s one of the oldest alcoholic beverages, and it comes in countless varieties for just about every taste. The progress of beer is unstoppable, and here are just a few more advances in the field of beer:

  • Japan-based brewer, Kirin has developed a special tap that will chill/freeze the head of the beer at 23 degrees Fahrenheit. The frozen part acts a lid to keep the beer cold for up to 30 minutes. (
  • Otley Brewing Company in South Wales has launched a range of beer flavoured ice creams and sorbets. (
  • In a marketing deal, the iconic secret agent James Bond will ditch his trademark shaken Martini for a sip of a beer. Makers of the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, have linked a $45 million advertisement campaign that will see 007 sip a Heineken in at least one scene. (

Finally the German institute for pure beer (DIRB) is trying to get Germany’s 16th-century beer purity law listed by the UN as one of the world’s cultural treasures. UNESCO already includes activities such as flamenco dancing in Spain, traditional carpet-weaving in Iran, the chant of the Sybil in Majorca, wrestling in oil in Turkey and French food. (


European Politicans Protest ACTA with Anonymous Masks

Rent a Crowd

What do you do when you have an unpopular cause but still wish to get media attention?

Bizarrely, it appears that some in the Copyright Lobby decided to try to put on a pro-ACTA demonstration for World Intellectual Property Day. The group in Germany reportedly tried recruiting students, who are asked to attend a 2-hour demonstration in return for €100,

A Google translation of the text,


Against a background of widespread protests across Europe in opposition to the anti-democracy bill ACTA. Poland’s Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, was forced to stall his countries ratification of the legislation after politicians attend government functions wearing Anonymous masks in protest (Post Image). If Poland or any other EU member state, or the European Parliament itself, fails to ratify the document, it becomes null and void across the union.







French Tweeters Get Around Ban On Tweeting Election Results Using WWII-Era Codes

French Presidential election, 22 April 2012 sees a throwback to World War II codes broadcast to Resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France from the BBC in London. A whole new generation of French citizens used similar means of communication as the famously cryptic BBC coded terms to subvert current laws preventing anyone announcing vote predictions in the election before polls closed at 8:00 pm.

Using simple code words for each of the election candidates, French Twitter users circumvented fines up to €75,000 for making predictions on the outcome of the election before the polls closed:

  • As a result, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy became either Tokaji wine which, like his father, comes from Hungary, or Rolex because of his perceived “bling-bling” lifestyle.
  • His Socialist opponent Francois Hollande was either Gouda cheese (from Holland) or a soft, sweet “Flanby” caramel desert — an old and unforgiving nickname for the portly frontrunner.
  • Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was associated with the names of totalitarian regimes or rodents and Communist Party-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon was either a rotten tomato or something linked to the former Soviet Union.

From there, it sounds like people just had fun with it, figuring out all sorts of ways to obliquely refer to the different candidates and how well they were doing without directly referring to any of them. Once again, the internet views censorship as an obstacle, and routes around it, through a rather creative form of “encryption.”


EU Supporters Contemplate Rejecting ACTA

Last week we saw the Socialists and Democrats, the second-largest bloc in the European Parliament, turn against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The Rapporteur for ACTA, David Martin MEP (Labour / Scotland), has recommended that the European Parliament should reject the treaty, saying:

“in the end I think the hopes of ACTA are outweighed by the fears; my recommendation is that we reject ACTA”.[1]

Martin’s view was echoed by both the President of the Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament, Johannes Swoboda (Austria) , and by Sergei Stanishev (Bulgaria), Interim President of the Party of European Socialists, who said:

“The attempt to tackle infringement of intellectual property rights on the internet was done in a very short sighted way. This is a serious subject that needs to be dealt with, however ACTA is not the right place, ACTA is not the right tool and this is not the right way to deal with this issue”. [2]

This makes it practically certain that the left-wing bloc will vote against ratifying ACTA this summer. Combined with the stated position of the Green party, that means ACTA is closer to being thrown out when the vote for ratification takes place in Brussels this summer. The deciding factor is how politicians in the centre-right coalition of Liberals and Conservatives will vote. One of the key centre-right members in the European Parliament, Daniel Caspary (Christian Democrats / Germany), said that the relevant EU committees must be given enough time to make their reports before the final vote, but added, significantly:

“If we reject ACTA, we should tell the European Commission exactly why, and present them with alternative proposals”.

The fact that even the centre-right parties are now seriously thinking about rejecting ACTA, and what to do next, means that while ACTA may not be dead in Europe yet, it is looking increasingly unlikely to make into law.






The Odd Future Approach: Give Away The Music, Sell Awesome Stuff

The BBC has a great short video feature looking at Odd Future, the massively popular (and equally controversial) rap collective, and their merchandise-focused approach to the music business. Odd Future has always been an interesting case study in music: their graphic content prevents them from getting much radio play, their career was started and built online, and they give away all their music (20 albums worth, at this point) for free. But they have been making money since the beginning by selling homemade merchandise directly to fans, offering lots of limited edition shirts and one-off products. Now they’ve combined that approach with their highly successful tours, by launching pop-up merch shops in every city before the show. They do meet-and-greets at the shop where they take photos and sign autographs. The fans love it—they were in Toronto recently, and the line for the pop-up shop stretched several blocks, and according to the BBC they are moving unique hand-made t-shirts at £100 each.

Tour merchandise has always been popular, but Odd Future takes it to the next level (though they’re not the only artists to experiment with this kind of thing). Rather than just selling cheap t-shirts at a massive markup from a table in the venue, they turn it into a whole companion experience to the show, and offer merch that’s actually one-of-a-kind. The Odd Future kids are naturals at connecting with fans, and this shows how they also combine that with a bundle of different reasons to buy. Well-known for shirking the establishment in every way imaginable, Odd Future doesn’t seem to care too much about record sales, and they definitely don’t care about piracy or competing with free—they’ve found a new way of doing things, and it’s working.

Note: let’s not turn this into a debate about the morality/merits of Odd Future’s music. For that, head over to Tim Cushing’s excellent post on Lost In The Sound.

Article source:


Happy Days are Beer Again

Low standards and sensationalism in Irish journalism seem to have become the benchmark by which we receive our news. I was listening to a radio news report that sensationally informed me that I would have to “go dry for 24 hours”.

For anyone not living in Ireland, the sale of alcohol is prohibited, by law, on two days of the year, Good Friday and Christmas Day. The ban, dating back to the foundation of the Irish State is not a new one. The Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1927[1] enshrined in law that alcoholic drink could not be sold on Christmas Day, Good Friday and St Patrick’s Day. However, the law relating to St Patrick’s Day was repealed in the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1960 to cater for visitors coming to country in order to celebrate the national feast day. But sales on Christmas Day and Good Friday remain prohibited for the majority of Irish people. Some exemptions allow the sale of alcohol to those travelling by sea, air or ferry; attending a licensed theatre; those attending a race meeting or a greyhound trial; those staying in licensed premises, such as a hotel, as long as it is with a meal; also in military canteens and in clubs.

But outside of these exceptions, the ban on a tipple has stood the test of time – opposition from publicans and sensationalist media reports not withstanding. After eighty five years it is hardly breaking news.