Torpedo juice:

First mixed in World War II, it is made from pineapple juice and the 180-proof grain alcohol fuel used in United States Navy torpedo motors. Various poisonous additives were mixed into the fuel alcohol by Navy authorities to render the alcohol undrinkable, and various methods were employed by the U.S. sailors to separate the alcohol from the poison. Aside from the expected alcohol intoxication and subsequent hangover, the effects of drinking torpedo juice sometimes included mild or severe reactions to the poison, and the drink's reputation developed an early element of risk.

In the first part of the Pacific War, U.S. torpedoes were powered by a miniature steam engine burning 180- or higher-proof ethyl alcohol as fuel. The ethyl alcohol was denatured by the addition of 5 -- 10% "pink lady", a blend of dye, methanol and possibly other ingredients. Methanol causes blindness when ingested, and cannot be made non-poisonous. The methanol was said to be (largely) removed by filtering the fuel mix through a compressed loaf of bread.

Later, a small amount of Croton oil was added to the neutral grain spirits which powered U.S. torpedoes. Drinking alcohol with the oil additive caused painful cramps, internal bleeding and a violent emptying of the bowels. It was intended as a replacement for methanol which had caused blindness in some sailors. To avoid the Croton oil, sailors devised crude stills to slowly separate the alcohol from the poison, as alcohol evaporated at a lower temperature than Croton oil.

Survey time!

Let's say you had a device that used sugar for fuel. And you found that your employees were putting some of that sugar in their coffee instead. Would you:

  1. Implement better inventory control; or
  2. Cut the sugar with rat poison?

And if you chose B -- and you were not the government of a country descended from religious fundamentalists and run by moralistic prohibitionists -- how many consecutive life sentences do you think you would serve in prison for attempted murder?

Prior art:

The Chemist's War: The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences:

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

Although mostly forgotten today, the "chemist's war of Prohibition" remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was "our national experiment in extermination." [...]

Industrial alcohol is basically grain alcohol with some unpleasant chemicals mixed in to render it undrinkable. The U.S. government started requiring this "denaturing" process in 1906 for manufacturers who wanted to avoid the taxes levied on potable spirits. [...] By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons -- kerosene and brucine (closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added -- up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly.


Posted Sat Aug 27 20:37:39 2016 Tags:
We lived in this brief, multi-decade state of grace, that ran roughly from the demise of the cassette tape to about three years ago, when you could be out and about in the world and be blissfully unaware of the shitty musical taste of passing strangers. Pedestrians, bicyclists, commuters on public transit: they were all aware of this amazing invention called "headphones". Sure, there was the occasional gangsta in a car impressing all the ladies with the phlegmatic buzzing snare of his door panels, but mostly you could go days without hearing something terrible squirted out of the tinniest excuses for speakers in the world.

What went wrong?

Now, every junkie and every fixie hipster is assaulting the world with battery powered external speakers, and headphones are apparently no longer a thing that exists. Did the manufacturers of these things even consider the evil they were unleashing?

In summary, your music sucks, and your speakers suck too.


Posted Sat Aug 27 20:17:21 2016 Tags:
Posted Sat Aug 27 06:50:27 2016 Tags:

Anthropogenic global heating can be detected in measurements from 1830.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

Bangladesh's proposed "cyber-security" law is actually a sweeping censorship bill which would imprison people for stating certain unwanted views and opinions.

This resembles what France and Turkey have already done.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

Al-Baghdadi, now the leader of PISSI, was a prisoner in Abu Ghraib. He was likely tortured by the Bush forces.

It's the clearest possible demonstration of how Dubya's crimes have come back to haunt the US. We Americans should prosecute Dubya (and his henchmen) for these crimes, not only because that will encourage Iraqis to forgive the US for them, but because justice and our country's honor demand it.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

Why it is a mistake to worry about the US national debt.

The problem the US faces is that government spending is too low. We need the Green New Deal, which would boost the economy by funding renewable energy. We could pay for the money through debt, but we could also do it with less deficit if we make rich people and businesses pay their fair share of taxes.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

In Honduras, reporter Ariel Armando D'Vicente has been sentenced to years in prison for accusing a thug commander of taking bribes.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

US Needs to Lead By Example on International Drones Agreements.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

Pakistani Law Could Enable Sweeping Internet Censorship.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

Investigators accuse Assad's men and PISSI of using chemical weapons in Syria.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

Neil Woods, retired undercover narc, found that the only long term result of imprisoning drug dealers was that they murdered many junkies they thought had informed on them. Meanwhile, corruption spread in the narc squad and was constantly covered up.

He advocates prescribing heroin for addicts, and legalizing all the other illegal drugs.

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:

Worker-owned co-ops are an alternative way of running a business that does small service jobs for lots of people.

However, in order to be ethical, it needs to offer anonymity to its customers. Massive surveillance of the public can't be excused just because the business treats its own workers well. I will never use Juno, any more than I would use Uber, if I have to run a nonfree program to call for a ride and/or let them know who I am.

Would anyone like to check whether Juno requires either of those things?

Posted Sat Aug 27 00:00:00 2016 Tags:
DNA Lounge update, wherein you may now resume puking.
Posted Wed Aug 24 07:27:11 2016 Tags:
Dear Lazyweb,

I need to detect the average volume of the left and right channels of an MP3, considered separately (e.g., to detect when one channel is louder than the other).

The ffmpeg volumedetect filter really, really wants to work on both channels at once. I thought maybe something like this would work, but it is still averaging the two of them, and producing the same output twice:

ffmpeg -hide_banner -i IN.mp3 -filter_complex 'channelsplit=channel_layout=stereo; [0:0:0]volumedetect; [0:0:1]volumedetect' -f null /dev/null

Any suggestions?

I can do it by writing a temporary file with each channel and then examining them again, but that's a lot slower because these are really big files. So I'd rather do it in one pass.

Posted Tue Aug 23 21:28:16 2016 Tags:
This is what we have to deal with, you guys. This is what the world has come to.

From: Someone whose email address contains both the words "expert" and "support"
Subject: Cannot order tickets online - missing buttons?

Hi there, I'm on a desktop browser to order 2 tix for tomorrow's Odd Salon. I don't see any button for "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart" or similar.

All the DNA phone numbers are non working or lead to voice mails.

Here's what I see for that ticket ordering. Apparently my friend can complete the purchase but can't you fix this? I'm on desktop browser: Chrome Version 49.0.2623.112 (64-bit) on Mac, can't upgrade browser any further than what it is now. Don't have ordering apps on mobile, only desktop.

I could describe that NASCAR nightmare as a lot of things, but "insufficient buttons" is not one of them.

Also note the cherry on top: this person called all of the DNA phone numbers. Because that's how that works.

Update: Christ on a pogo stick, people. If you think this was me asking you geniuses for your web design advice, let me assure you that I was not.

Posted Mon Aug 22 20:11:11 2016 Tags:

Planet Debian upstream is hosted by Branchable.