The Streisand Effect -- when efforts to shut down or ban something merely call more attention to it and make it far more popular -- is alive and well: The Wall Street Journal has the story of a company that makes alcohol inhalers, some sort of device that lets people breathe in alcoholic drinks rather than, uh, drink them. The devices weren't selling at all, and the company had no money to market them -- until a Kentucky legislator tried to get the devices banned, sending sales through the roof. There's little evidence that the machines are any more harmful than just drinking alcoholic beverages, nor is there any evidence that anybody in Kentucky had actually bought one, but no matter. The legislator somehow determined these things were a threat to public health and safety, causing a firestorm of media attention, which led to efforts by people in other states to have them banned, resulting in... more sales of the device. The kicker is that nobody really seems to like the machines: one of the people in the company making them even says "Most people try it once and then go back to drinking." But thanks to the one legislator's overreaction, they're selling pretty well. However, in a slight twist on the other side of the world, it looks like one government is starting to understand, and even leverage, the Streisand Effect. After getting their collective panties in a wad for what they saw as the fictional character Borat making fun of Kazakhstan (even when it seemed pretty clear the joke was on people that believed his representation of the country could be true) and yanking his web domain, the government there is singing a new tune. Its prime minister says the film has made people more curious about the country, and he hopes they'll come visit -- and searches for Kazakh hotels on one travel site have jumped 300%.
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