Faux Soy Sauce
Dec 31st, 2006 by Ken Hagler

A letter I wrote to the Yoshinoya company:

Today I visited the Yoshinoya on Wilshire in Los Angeles, which is located near my apartment. To my dismay, I discovered that all of the soy sauce at that location had been replaced by “lite” soy sauce which advertised “50% less sodium.” I can believe the claim, because it didn’t taste very good. Soy sauce is supposed to be salty!

If you wish to offer this faux soy sauce as an option for those health food fanatics who think they can live forever through dietary self-flagellation, that’s fine. But please continue to offer real soy sauce for the rest of us!

Calling Simon Jester
Dec 20th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Hybrid Marijuana Plant Found in Mexico.

Mark Stevenson at Associated Press – there’s a new strain of Cannabis hemp being cultivated in Mexico. It’s herbicide resistant, and perennial. Hemp has always been annual before, meaning you need to grow it from seeds. Now it will grow back from the roots if you cut it off at ground level. Yay! May hemp cover the earth. [clairefiles]

[End the War on Freedom]

Sounds like it would be really hard to get rid of, especially if the roots go very deep. Now, if I were the producer of this strain or had access to a supply of seeds for it, I would find it pretty amusing to spread the seeds around at every government building and government employee’s home that I could find–especially those involved in some way with the legal system.

Amusing quiz
Dec 19th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Do you deserve your high school diploma?

What gaps in knowledge do college professors notice that their incoming freshman have? Can you answer these questions better than the average seventeen to eighteen year old?

What was your high school education worth? Answer these simple questions that the average high school graduate should know and see if you can pass.

I saw a couple of substantial problems with this quiz, both relating to the way scores are given.

My result was, “You paid attention during 97% of high school!” In point of fact, the correct percentage was probably closer to 3%. But more importantly, I’m pretty sure that a significant number of the questions are not covered at all in American high schools.

Save your pennies and nickels
Dec 18th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

U.S. Mint bans melting pennies, nickels. Given rising metal prices, the pennies and nickels in your pocket are worth more melted down than their face value — and that has the government worried.

U.S. Mint officials said Wednesday they were putting into place rules prohibiting the melting down of 1-cent and 5-cent coins. The rules also limit the number of coins that can be shipped out of the country.


A nickel is 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper. The metal in one coin costs 6.99 cents for each 5-cent coin. When the Mint’s cost of producing the coins is added, the total cost for each nickel is 8.34 cents.

Modern pennies have 2.5 percent copper content with zinc making up the rest of the coin. The current copper and zinc in a penny are worth 1.12 cents. The cost of production drives the cost of each penny up to 1.73 cents.

Pennies made before 1982, which are still in circulation, would be even more lucrative to melt down because they contain 95 percent copper and only 5 percent zinc. The metal value in those coins is 2.13 cents per coin, Mint officials said. [Business Week]

At this point the profit on each individual coin is so low that you’d have to melt tons of them for it to be worthwhile. For ordinary people, this should be considered a warning to hold onto all the nickels and pennies you can get for the future, because they’ll only be getting more valuable. For example, a 1964 quarter is now worth over $2, because it was made of silver.

Removing the euphemisms
Dec 11th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

The Gun in the Room. One of the most difficult – and essential – challenges faced by libertarians is the constant need to point out “the gun in the room.” In political debates, it can be very hard to cut through the endless windy abstractions that are used to cover up the basic fact that the government uses guns to force people to do what they do not want to do, or prevent them from doing what they do want to do. Listening to non-libertarians, I often wish I had a “euphemism umbrella” to ward off the continual oily drizzle of words and phrases designed to obscure the simple reality of state violence. We hear nonstop nonsense about the “social good,” the “redistribution of income,” the “education of children” and so on – endless attempts to bury the naked barrel of the state in a mountain of syrupy metaphors.


Although libertarianism is generally considered a radical doctrine, the primary task of the libertarian is to continually reinforce the basic reality that almost everyone already is a libertarian. If we simply keep asking people if they are willing to shoot others in order to get their way, we can very quickly convince them that libertarianism is not an abstract, radical or fringe philosophy, but rather a simple description of the principles by which they already live their lives. If you get fired, do you think that you should hold your manager hostage until he gives you back your job? No? Then you already hold a libertarian position on unions, tariffs, and corporate subsidies. If you find your teenage son in your basement smoking marijuana, would you shoot him? No? Then you already hold a libertarian position on the drug laws. Should those who oppose war be shot for their beliefs? No? Then you already hold a libertarian position with regards to taxation. []

The author has also written a followup article.

Trackback Disabled
Dec 7th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

I decided to disable trackbacks here, as they were 100% spam (and lots of it). I get plenty of comment spam too, but there are also occasional legitimate comments, so I’m leaving that on (although with an authentication feature enabled).

Armbands and Tattoos
Dec 3rd, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Armbands and Tattoos. D.C. radio host Jerry Klein thought he’d play a hoax on his listeners by suggesting  Muslims be identified with "a crescent-shaped tattoo or armband."  He made the suggestion, then waited for the phone lines to explode with outrage.

Unfortunately, many of his listeners agreed with him.

The first caller to the station in Washington said that Klein must
be "off his rocker." The second congratulated him and added: "Not only
do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them
out of this country … they are here to kill us."

Another said
that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent
marks on driver’s licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go
far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set
up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and

Klein concluded the show by revealing the hoax, then berating his own listeners:

"I can’t believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one
second with anything I said," he told his audience on the AM station
630 WMAL (, which covers Washington, Northern
Virginia and Maryland

"For me to suggest to tattoo marks on
people’s bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their
driver’s license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting.
It’s beyond disgusting.

"Because basically what you just did was
show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to
happen … We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we
need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in
concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because
they are dangerous."

Sound like Michelle Malkin has the topic for her next book.

[Hit and Run]

I’m not at all surprised. It’s been obvious for a long time now that there are very strong similarities between the Busheviks and the Nazis of the early 1930s.

An introduction to concert photography
Dec 2nd, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Live Targets. A lover of live music since his teens, Jamie Howard began shooting concerts in Galway, Ireland over ten years ago. After honing his skills, he began selling to local clubs and acts, leading to his current positions as a house photographer at the Roisin Dubh in Galway and as regular contributor to Hot Press, Ireland’s famed music magazine. Howard also freelances in other areas of photography (portraiture, still-life, and fine art) and has had several exhibitions. In this article, he describes in detail how he tackled three very different concerts and how he made his shots at each. []

A good article on concert photography in medium-sized venues. The author’s advice also applies to shooting in the smaller venues, where there is less light and what there is seldom changes.

Government admits to cell phone spying
Dec 1st, 2006 by Ken Hagler

FBI activates cell phones’ microphones for surveillance when no call is being made?. [Politech]

The U.S. Commerce Department’s security office warns that “a cellular
telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the
purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone.” An
article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can
“remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the
owner’s knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its
owner is not making a call.”

Another reason why it’s a bad idea to own a cell phone. Not only can the government (or anyone else with access to the cell phone company’s records) track you everywhere you go, they can also spy on everything you and those around you are saying.

Simple anti-surveillance device
Dec 1st, 2006 by Ken Hagler

RFID Shield for protecting e-passports and smart cards. MORE EXPENSIVE THAN TINFOIL but also considerably more dignified, the RFID Shield will protect the data on your e-passport or smart cards when you’re carrying them around. Not to mention you’ll look less like a paranoid weirdo and more like a globe-hopping sophisticate when you slide your document out of its sleeve than when you unwrap that crinkly silver stuff while darting your eyes in all directions like Ralph in Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical. (Thank you to r. for the find.) [Wolfesblog]

This seems like a rather nice way to keep people from tracking you with RFID chips hidden in cards or passports. It wouldn’t do any good for bugged clothing, though.

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