Every now and then, a tenant will ask me if he can pay his rent with a credit card. My answer is No. All of my leases state that the rent must be paid by check or money order. I don’t accept credit cards. Why? It’s the bank fees. Most of the new apartment houses in Berkeley and San Francisco allow tenants to pay their rent with credit cards, but that’s because credit card fees are an insignificant expense for them. A 2 bedroom apartment in a new building in downtown Berkeley rents for $4,000 to $5,000 a month, but I’ve seen some that are over $6,000 a month. If I was getting that kind of rent, I would accept credit cards too!


A growing number of landlords are allowing their tenants to pay their rent with Bitcoin. I really, really don’t understand that. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are not currencies, they are not money, and they are not legal tender. I don’t know what they are, but I do know that I can’t pay my property taxes, garbage bills, fire insurance, etc. with Bitcoin. I can’t buy cocoa beans with Bitcoin either. I think some businessmen accept Bitcoin because they think it’s tax-free income; however, income that you don’t report on your tax return is not tax-free income. That’s called income tax evasion, not tax-free income. You don’t need to be a CPA to know there’s a difference. Supposedly, Bitcoin transactions and transfers are completely secret and untraceable, but I wonder if that’s really true. I suspect that the IRS has figured out how to crack Bitcoin’s computer codes.

Military Grade Encryption. People tell me that there is no way the U.S. government can get into Bitcoin computer records because they use military grade encryption. But what does that mean? Does ‘military grade encryption’ mean ‘unbreakable’? As you know, I teach history, and history tells me to be very suspicious of unbreakable military codes. For over 5,000 years, governments have been trying to create unbreakable military codes, but without much success. During World War 2, the Germans thought they had an unbreakable military code, but Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt got decoded copies of Hitler’s most secret coded messages to his generals before the generals to whom they were addressed got their decoded copies! That went on all through the war too. During World War 2, the U.S. also broke the Soviet diplomatic code and several Japanese codes.

The Battle of Midway. The biggest naval battle of World War 2 was the Battle of Midway. There will never be another naval battle like that again. The Japanese were hoping to win a decisive victory that would knock the U.S. out of the war. The Japanese thought they were going to catch the U.S. fleet by surprise; however, the U.S. Navy had broken the Japanese naval code, so they knew where and when the Japanese were coming. Instead of ambushing the U.S. Navy, it was the Japanese that got ambushed instead. The U.S. Navy sank all the Japanese aircraft carriers at Midway. As a result, Japan also lost hundreds of their best pilots. After all the Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk, Japanese pilots had no place to land. When they ran out of fuel, Japanese pilots crashed their planes into the sea and drowned. Midway was a disastrous defeat for Japan from which they never recovered. Prior to Midway, Japan was always on the attack. After Midway, they were always on the defense. OK you say, that was then, but what about now? Now we have military grade computer encryption. Well Yes, we do have that, but you know, Vladimir Putin didn’t seem to have much difficulty getting past U.S. computer encryption during the 2016 presidential election. I think that people who do business in Bitcoin in the belief that they are fooling the IRS may actually just be fooling themselves instead.

Can You Really Improve Your Eyesight By Eating A Lot Of Carrots?

The short answer is No. Although carrots are rich in Vitamin A and other nutrients, you can’t actually improve your eyesight by eating carrots. Although we don’t know the origin of most popular myths, we do know the origin of this story (a story that I used to believe was true.) The myth that people who eat a lot of carrots have excellent eyesight was started by the British government during World War 2 as a trick to fool the Germans. It wound up fooling everybody.

carrotsDuring World War 2, the British government didn’t want the Germans to realize just how important radar was to their national defense. Radar was the principle reason why the RAF (Royal Air Force) won the Battle of Britain. The British Air Ministry built a chain of radar stations along the southern coast of England before World War 2 began. Because the Air Ministry had these radar stations, the RAF knew exactly when German bombers were headed their way, and they knew it long before the planes arrived. Fortunately for Britain, neither Hitler nor Goering (the head of the German air force) understood how radar worked or how important it was. The British Air Ministry didn’t want Hitler to figure this out, but the RAF was shooting down a tremendous number of German airplanes, and the Air Ministry needed some sort of plausible explanation for this. They started running stories in British newspapers claiming that their aircraft spotters had exceptional eyesight because they ate a lot of carrots, which supposedly gave them the ability to see German airplanes at night, in total darkness, and at great distances. As preposterous as this story was, a lot of people believed it! The Air Ministry released stories throughout the war about British aircraft spotters, most of whom were women, along with pictures of them eating carrots while looking for German airplanes at night. This disinformation campaign was so persuasive that a lot of Englishmen started eating carrots in the belief that it would help them find their way around English city streets during the nightly blackouts. The story spread around the world and is still widely believed to be true. Even now, people everywhere with poor eyesight eat carrots in the belief that it will improve their vision. The truth is that you cannot improve your eyesight, cure eye disease, or develop the ability to see in total darkness by eating carrots. On the other hand – eating carrots won’t hurt. (Above is a World War 2 American propaganda poster claiming that eating carrots improves the night vision of American soldiers.) There are a lot of other commonly accepted myths that started off as World War 2 propaganda. Perhaps I will cover some of the others in the future.



titanicHave you ever seen the movie ‘Titanic’? No, not the 1997 movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, but the 1943 version made in Nazi Germany. I collect movies made in Nazi Germany, and this is one of the best. No expense was spared in making this lavish movie. There are spectacular sets, beautiful costumes, and amazing special effects. The producers of this movie made a detailed 20 foot long model of the Titanic for the sinking scene, and they used a large luxury liner, a real one, to film the deck scenes. The special effects in the sinking scene are truly amazing considering the technology available in 1943. Despite the movie’s tremendous cost, ‘Titanic’ was never released in Nazi Germany. Dr. Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, did not like the movie’s message. In this version of the Titanic story, the hero is a German officer named Petersen. Petersen is convinced that the ship is traveling far too fast and is heading for disaster. He tells his superiors about his concerns, but he is repeatedly told to just obey orders and stop questioning the judgement of higher-ups. Petersen reluctantly does as he is told, and this leads to disaster. Goebbels did not like that message. He wanted the German people to just do as they were told, without asking questions. In this movie, the villain is a greedy, degenerate Englishmen named Ismay. In movies made in Nazi Germany, the villain was usually either an Englishmen or a Jew. Since there are no Jews in this movie, the villain is an Englishmen. If you would like to see this movie, give me a call. I have several copies with English subtitles.

Marijuana-filled Chocolate Bars.
Exploding Chocolate Bars.
New in the Chocolate Room.


I have griped before about the tendency of newspapers and web sites in the San Francisco bay area to think that chocolate has to have marijuana in it in order to be to be considered great chocolate. It seems like every time that some newspaper gives an award for ‘best chocolate in the bay area’, it always goes to a company that makes pot-filled chocolate. In the current issue (July 12, 2012) of East Bay Express, the newspaper’s award for ‘Best Edibles Company’ in the bay area was given to Bhang Chocolate of Oakland. All Bhang chocolate bars contain marijuana. They are available at marijuana ‘dispensaries’ here in Berkeley, where they are ‘given away’, not sold, but ‘given away’ with a catch. In order to get a ‘regular strength’ Bhang chocolate bar, you have to ‘donate’ $15 to the dispensary. For a ‘double strength’ Bhang chocolate bar, you have to ‘donate’ $20. I think that this is a rather obvious hypocrisy, but I may be biased. I think that I make good chocolate, and I refuse to accept the idea that the absence of drugs in my chocolate bars somehow makes them inferior!


As I said, I don’t make chocolate bars with drugs in them. I also don’t make chocolate bars with explosives in them. Newly discovered documents reveal that Adolf Hitler tried to assassinate Winston Churchill during World War 2 with exploding chocolate bars. The Germans made time bombs disguised as 1 pound Peter’s chocolate bars. The exploding chocolate bars were smuggled into England in 1943 where German spies tried to get them into the war room. It was well-known that Churchill had a sweet tooth, and chocolate was very hard to get in England during the war. Lord Victor Rothschild, the head of MI-5, the British counter-intelligence service, found out about the plot and intercepted the exploding chocolate bars. Ironically, a similar idea occurred to Churchill at about the same time. In July, 1944; Hitler was almost killed when an English-made briefcase bomb went off in his war room. A number of people were killed by the blast, but Hitler was only wounded.

A Business Opportunity?
I know an executive at Hershey. He tells me that Hershey does not make exploding chocolate bars – at least not at this time. Peter’s chocolate is still in business, but they don’t make exploding chocolate bars either. Should I make exploding chocolate bars? I could. I have some very big chocolate bar molds, big enough to conceal a bomb inside, and black powder is easy to get. You can buy it at any gun store. I could have the whole exploding chocolate bar business for myself! But – I have a feeling that my lawyer and my insurance agent would advise me not to do it. I’m not a lawyer, but my instincts tell me that there could be some serious legal liabilities attached to making or selling exploding chocolate bars.


Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancake Mix. Some people never make pancakes at home because they feel it is too messy, time-consuming, or complicated; but my pancake mix is complete. All you have to add is water! Everything is in the bag, including miniature chocolate chips, flour, malted barley, canola oil, baking powder, and buttermilk. All you have to do is dump the contents of the bag in a bowl, stir in water, and you’re ready to make pancakes. What could be easier? Try it! You won’t be disappointed. One bag makes 12 – 4″ pancakes, enough for 3 or 4 people.

Why Buttermilk?
Buttermilk adds flavor to pancakes. It also makes them lighter and fluffier. The reason for this is simple chemistry. Buttermilk contains lactic acid, which is why it tastes sour. Lactic acid reacts chemically with baking powder, creating carbon dioxide bubbles in the batter. As the pancakes cook, the bubbles expand, making the pancakes rise.

Russian Cigarettes.  Russian Cigarettes aren’t Russian, and they aren’t cigarettes. A Russian Cigarette is a type of cookie that’s popular in Belgium. It is a thin butter cookie that is rolled up into a tube while it is still warm and soft. Once the cookie cools and becomes hard, I dip it in chocolate.

Remember – you don’t have to wait until the first of the month when the rent is due in order to get chocolate. My free chocolate room is open for business all month long! And also remember – all my chocolate is both drug-and-explosive-free!