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Posts Tagged ‘Prohibition

From the Plague-On-Both-Their-Houses Department: It’s come to this…

source

The Andy Warhol banana that graced the cover of the Velvet Underground’s 1967 debut album has become the subject of litigation between the band and the artist’s estate.

In a nutshell, the estate believes that it holds the copyright, and is licensing the image (for everything from iPad covers to Absolut ads).  The band argues that there is no copyright (as the original ran without a notice), but that the image is protected as a trademark of the band– so the estate is infringing.  (There’s a more detailed recounting of situation and its background at Final Boss Form.)

One is tempted to launch into a discussion of the case as a symptom of the diseased state of intellectual property law and practice in the U.S.; but your correspondent has already burned pixels doing that, e.g., here, here, and here.  Suffice it here to quote the ever-insightful Pop Loser: “This whole story is an excellent metaphor for the world we currently live in and should probably make us all a little bit sad.”

 

As we re-up our affiliation with Creative Commons and write our Representatives to oppose SOPA, we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that “The Noble Experiment”– the national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol that was better known as “Prohibition”– was ratified (the 18th Amendment).

By the time it was repealed in 1933, organized crime had become a major feature of American city life, and the American public had adopted the invented-for-the-occasion word “scofflaw.”

Ku Klux Klan: “Defender of the 18th Amendment” (source)

Ocean’s Ten…

One can’t be too careful.  It’s something of a relief, then, to find Money Mumbo Jumbo’s “Ten Safes Capable of Protecting the World’s Riches“– from Fort Knox and the Doomsday Seed Vault to Karl Lagerfeld’s tres chic accessories cache.

Still, lest one rest easy, consider the Antwerp Diamond Center’s vault (pictured above):  It was considered the safest precious stone repository in the world, protected as it was by 10 layers of security– including Doppler radar, magnetic field locking system, seismic sensors, infrared detectors and a main door lock with over a 100 million possible combinations.  One can read here how it was that, nonetheless, a team of thieves made off with over $100 million worth of sparklers from the vault.

As we contemplate life in the Age of Schlage, we might recall that it was on this date in 1931 that the State of Nevada legalized most forms of gambling.  Anxious to cash in the the tourist boom that was expected to follow the (then-imminent) completion of Hoover (nee Boulder) Dam, the state legislature in effect simply legitimized what was an already-flourishing (albeit illegal) gaming industry.  (There was nothing that the State legislature could do about Prohibition, then in effect; but then, liquor was already flowing freely, if illicitly, in Nevada, as elsewhere in the U.S.)

Ever watchful for ways to attract more visitors, Nevada also eased the threshold for divorce– and became a “divorce haven.”  (Prior to the no-fault divorce revolution of the 1970s, divorces were quite difficult to obtain in other states.)

Nevada State Journal
March 20, 1931

Burying the lead…

source: Getty Images, via the Telegraph

Bulgarian government scientists are in communication with aliens, reports the (London) Telegraph.

Aliens from outer space are already among us on earth, say Bulgarian government scientists who claim they are already in contact with extraterrestrial life.

Work on deciphering a complex set of symbols sent to them is underway, scientists from the country’s Space Research Institute said.

They claim aliens are currently answering 30 questions posed to them.

Lachezar Filipov, deputy director of the Space Research Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, confirmed the research.

The story continues here, concluding,

The publication of the BAS researchers report concerning communicating with aliens comes in the midst of a controversy over the role, feasibility, and reform of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Last week it lead to a heated debate between Bulgaria’s Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, and President Georgi Parvanov.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall…

As consult the entry requirements for the Golden Fleece Awards, we might raise a glass to the end of one of the most costly failed experiments in enforced morality in U.S. history:  Prohibition.  On this date in 1933, Utah (!) became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, thus creating the three-fourths majority of states necessary to repeal the 18th Amendment (which had taken effect in 1920).  (Lest some perverse sort of jingoism lead us to think of Prohibition as an exclusively American phenomenon, we might note its history in other nations as well.)

A different kind of keg party: NY police dispose of bootlegged beer during Prohibition

Your correspondent is headed so far west as to be Far East, thus these missives will resume their regular rhythm on his return across the Dateline.

For the Square Pegs among us…

…the elegant science writer Ivar Peterson explains “How to Drill a Square Hole.”

As we relax into the unaccustomed feeling of fitting in, we might recall that on this date in 1639, the New World’s first– but of course by no means its last– alcohol prohibition law, outlawing the drinking of toasts, was passed in Massachusetts.  Boston’s first Brew Pub opened earlier that year; the Colony’s Fathers were apparently acting to preempt any inappropriate merriment, there or elsewhere in the area.

William’s Tavern, where toasting was not allowed

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Written by LW

September 4, 2009 at 12:01 am

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