By Brian Tracey Associate editor
msnbc.com
COMMENTARY

Here's the latest innovation in inebriation: Dutch students have developed powdered alcohol which they say can be sold legally to minors.

The punch-packing powder, called Booz2Go, is available in 7-ounce packets that cost about $2 each.

Just add water and you have a bubbly, green, lime-flavored drink with a 3 percent alcohol content.

"We are aiming for the youth market. They are really more into it because you can compare it with Bacardi-mixed drinks," said 20-year-old Harm van Elderen.

Van Elderen and four classmates at Helicon Vocational Institute, about an hour's drive from Amsterdam, came up with the idea as part of their final-year project.

"Because the alcohol is not in liquid form, we can sell it to people below 16," said project member Martyn van Nierop, referring the legal age for drinking liquid alcohol in the Netherlands.

The students said companies interested in making the product commercially could avoid taxes because the alcohol was in powder form. A number of companies are interested, they said.

So parents, if your high-school senior asks for trip to the Netherlands as a graduation present, now you know why.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • Last week's column highlighted a pet-breeding company selling a genetically engineered, 30-pound cat that cost $22,000 . This week, at the risk of further enraging feline aficionados everywhere, we have found an inventor who has created something far less expensive, but almost as quirky: The CatCam, a tiny digital camera your kitty wears around its neck so it can snap photos of its daily routine for your enjoyment.  

Mr. Lee wearing CatCam
mr-lee-catcam.de
Watch out Paris Hilton, here's comes the catparazzi.
According to London's Daily Mail, Jürgen Perthold, originally from Germany but who now lives in America, attached the lightweight camera to the collar of his tomcat, Mr. Lee.

"I wanted to find out what he gets up to, where he spends his days," Perthold was quoted as saying. "He goes out the whole day, sometimes he returns hungry sometimes not, sometimes with traces of fights, sometimes he also stays out all night. It gave me the idea to equip the cat with a camera."

The camera takes one photo a minute for 48 hours and has revealed that the chubby tabby has shown a love interest in a local feline, although another cat also appears to be in contention.

The camera weighs only 2.5 ounces including batteries and Perthold said Mr. Lee doesn't mind wearing it.

He wrote his own software to control the camera and perfected the design. He is now selling his invention for $30, although the "Buy a CatCam" link on his Web site was not working at last check.

That's too bad, because we'd have bought one just to obtain photos like "Kitty Litter Cover-Up" and "Mortified Mouse."

  • A triumph for travelers? A Milan court handed out suspended jail sentences to two managers and a pilot at Italian airline AirOne for redirecting a flight without telling passengers until they were on board.

In a first for Italy, the workers were found guilty of aggravated fraud for not alerting passengers about the change of destination. The airline's lawyers said they would appeal the ruling.

In July 2004, passengers on a late-night plane from Milan to the Sardinian city of Cagliari were told midflight they would land in Alghero instead, on the other side of the island.

The reason given was that because the flight had been delayed, it could not land in Cagliari where the runway was closed at night for maintenance.

The next day, some passengers decided to sue the airline.

"Passengers are thinking human beings and not merchandise," prosecutor Marco Ghezzi told the court. "They are people whose rights have to be respected."

Right on, counsel, but the sentences were still way too light.

On time or hard time, we say.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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