Political Animal


THE WONDERS OF THE INTERNET….I was rummaging around some old boxes the other day and found a bunch of the old aluminum thingies (that’s a technical term) shown at right. They are inscribed “Utah Sales Tax Token” and, judging from the age of the other stuff in the box, they date from around the 1930s or so.

In days past I would have idly wondered what these were and never worked up the energy to find out, but today all I have to do is Google on “Utah Sales Tax Token” and I instantly come up with this, which tells me that these are indeed tokens for paying sales tax. Starting in 1933 the sales tax rate in Utah was 2% and each token was worth one mill, or a tenth of a cent. Thus, a one mill token was the exact sales tax on a purchase of a nickel. Aluminum was in short supply during World War II, so they were replaced by plastic tokens, and then finally discarded in 1951.

Isn’t the internet remarkable?


SMACKDOWN IN TEXAS….Out in Texas the tort reform folks have a problem: the anti-abortion crowd is afraid that by lowering potential liability it would increase the number of doctors willing to perform abortions. Isn’t that a shame? Charles Kuffner has the details.

And while you’re there, read this post about a company that has figured out a way for telemarketers to defeat privacy tools like the TeleZapper. As Charles says, remember this the next time the telemarketing folks solemnly swear that they don’t want to call people who don’t want to hear from them.

(Sarcasm aside, why do they want to defeat devices like the TeleZapper? Surely anyone willing to spend $40 and expend the effort to install such a thing is pissed off enough about telemarketing calls that they are genuinely unlikely to respond to a call. Why would you want to contact such a person?)


TIPS FOR ASPIRING BUSKERS….Via AtlanticBlog comes this very funny article in the Guardian about busking. Apparently Badly Drawn Boy, a British pop star, spent 90 minutes playing his music in front of a tube station and was able to collect only ?1.60. The Guardian thought it could do better, so they sent seven of their reporters out to try their hand at it. The bongo player seemed to have the hardest time:

It’s hard to pinpoint the lowest moment of my busking experience. It may have been when a kindly, gold-toothed man selling the Big Issue looked down, threw me fivepence, smiled, and said: “What happened?” Otherwise it was probably when a passer-by asked, “Do you do requests?” Grateful for a modicum of interest, I agreed. “How about Fuck Off?” he said.

The most lucrative instrument was the harp, which brought in ?17.73 for its owner ? not bad! The worst off was the singer backed up by the harmonica player at ?1.73, though they lost by only a hair to the euphonium player.

If you need a brief respite from all the serious (and mostly bad) news these days, click on over and check it out.