Pizza Beer

Actually, I can’t stand beer, so this could be an improvement.
From CBS2Chicago:

Beer and pizza are tastes that, for many of us, just seem to go together. But, beer that tastes like pizza?

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, a suburban brewer has put a new twist on tap.

Something’s brewing in a garage in St. Charles. Tom Seefurth is mixing up a concoction he’ll eventually pour out as beer – pizza beer.

“It’s pizza and beer in a bottle,” Seefurth, a self-proclaimed beer nut, says.

There are actually real pieces of pizza stirred into the mix.

(via A Welsh View)

Gonzales proposes new crime: ‘Attempted’ copyright infringement


Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pressing the U.S. Congress to enact a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including “attempts” to commit piracy.

“To meet the global challenges of IP crime, our criminal laws must be kept updated,” Gonzales said during a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington on Monday.

The Bush administration is throwing its support behind a proposal called the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007, which is likely to receive the enthusiastic support of the movie and music industries, and would represent the most dramatic rewrite of copyright law since a 2005 measure dealing with prerelease piracy.

The IPPA would, for instance:

* Criminalize “attempting” to infringe copyright. Federal law currently punishes not-for-profit copyright infringement with between 1 and 10 years in prison, but there has to be actual infringement that takes place. The IPPA would eliminate that requirement. (The Justice Department’s summary of the legislation says: “It is a general tenet of the criminal law that those who attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it are as morally culpable as those who succeed in doing so.”)

* Create a new crime of life imprisonment for using pirated software. Anyone using counterfeit products who “recklessly causes or attempts to cause death” can be imprisoned for life. During a conference call, Justice Department officials gave the example of a hospital using pirated software instead of paying for it.

* Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations. Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are “attempting” to infringe copyrights.

* Allow computers to be seized more readily. Specifically, property such as a PC “intended to be used in any manner” to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture has become popular among police agencies in drug cases as a way to gain additional revenue, and it is problematic and controversial.

* Add penalties for “intended” copyright crimes. Certain copyright crimes currently require someone to commit the “distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period of at least 10 copies” valued at more than $2,500. The IPPA would insert a new prohibition: actions that were “intended to consist of” distribution….

Pliny the Elder: Rampant Credulist, Rational Skeptic, or Both?

The Skeptical Inquirer had a wonderful article on Pliny the Elder in a 2003 issue:

Though there may be 20,000 topics in his Natural History, the simple fact is that far too many of the “facts” Pliny provides us are not facts at all, but unverified anecdotes reported as facts. If we were to swing an imaginary “B.S.” detector over Pliny’s book, the meter would read off-scale. What do we make of this? How does it affect our judgment of poor Gaius Plinius? Is he a rampant credulist, rational skeptic, or both?

The evidence he leaves in his Natural History suggests that Pliny was no different from most of us. His belief system and the structure by which he explained the world grew naturally out of the culture in which he was raised and lived, and though he might now and then reach beyond that culture, unlike either Thales or Aristotle, Pliny was neither genius nor pioneer.

Yet Pliny stood at a significant decision point of Western history, when one pathway to the future could have followed Stoic ethics towards the close study of nature and our role in it. Instead, within a few centuries of his death the dark barbarity of the Church fell over Europe, arresting the nascent rationality of pagan philosophy. The evidence we have, as we read his Natural History, suggests Pliny was a conflicted man, with a deep belief in skepticism and rational inquiry, yet unable to rise out of the magical thinking endemic around him.

Pliny the Elder’s Natural History can be found translated in English here.

Codex Seraphinianus

From Wikipedia:

The Codex Seraphinianus is a book written and illustrated by the Italian architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini during thirty months, from 1976 to 1978.[1] The book is approximately 360 pages long (depending on edition), and appears to be a visual encyclopedia of an unknown world, written in one of its languages, an incomprehensible (at least for us) alphabetic writing.

A more in depth look at the codex with more illustrations can be found here:

One day Dr. Harpold came to class visibly excited. He said he had found a very rare, delicate, and expensive book just sitting on the shelf at the university library. It was typical, he said, because the few libraries that owned a copy of this rare book didn’t know how valuable it had become, so it got shelved with the general collection and subsequently stolen by the first savvy person who came upon it. Harpold had caught our university library’s grievous error and had had it corrected, but not before pulling faculty privilege and checking it out himself. After admonishing us to make sure our hands were clean, he passed it around. “It” was a book called Codex Seraphinianus, by one Luigi Serafini, published in an extremely limited edition in Italy in 1981. The book was an oversize black hardback. The cover art was a vaguely encyclopedic depiction of a man and a woman engaged in successive stages of copulation, then melding together, and finally becoming a single alligator.