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 To my dis­may, I dis­cov­ered that all of the soy sauce at that loca­tion had been replaced by “lite” soy sauce which adver­tised “50% less sodi­um.”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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