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Archive for July, 2008

State Quarters

Here comes the coin nerd again. My aforementioned childhood interest in collecting coins was rekindled due to the 50 State Quarters program, which has proved to be an unprecedented success in the United States. Starting in 1999, the US mints in Denver and Philadelphia began producing a new quarter dollar coin every quintile (1/5 of a year, or 73 days in non-leap years). The program was to run for ten years, encompassing coin designs for each of the 50 states in the order of their accession to the Union.

Some collectors, in order to get a complete set, are collecting the quarters produced at both mints (with the D and P mintmarks respectively), while others are content to simply collect one for each state.

However, as of late December, the program has been expanded to 56 quarters in order to encompass the District of Columbia as well as five territories and protectorates of the United States – Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands and the Northern Marianas Islands. These final six will be released during 2009, once every two months. (It’s going to be a busy year for the mints, which will also be producing a new Lincoln penny every three months and a new Presidential dollar coin every three months.)

The US Treasury estimates that the program has generated close to five million dollars in seigniorage – since it costs the Mint less than five cents for each 25-cent piece it produces, the government makes a profit whenever someone receives a coin and chooses not to spend it. This figure may reach six million or more by its end. That’s enough to fund the Iraq war for almost half an hour! As John F. Kennedy said two years before his face adorned the half-dollar, ask not what your country can do for you, just keep collecting those state quarters.

Well, he might have said that had he foreseen this program.

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Title of the post.

Beginning of long, rambling anecdote involving either a car, a pet or a bizarre sexual accident.

Digression into discussion of one of the others of these three.

Continuation of anecdote, now with a number of emoticons. 🙂

Total tangent. angsty!whiny!Fanperson ranting about how long it’s going to be before the next movie/book/series which is their fandom’s lifeblood comes out. This paragraph is OMG!full of random ‘netspeak’ acronyms, LOL.

On the subject of fanfic, a broken link which, when fixed, points to a fanfic written by post’s author, in which we discover the startling revelation that the original creator of the characters was OBVIOUSLY wrong, and Characters A and B were simply destined to have much!much!buttsex.

Revelation of what kind of elephant the poster is! Picture of this kind of elephant. Like you’d know the difference.

Hop into brief shout-outs to a number of readers who are probably still cringing at the previous paragraphs.

Article adjective subject adverbly verbed article object, conjunction negation verb preposition.

Total failure to finish anecdote.

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A number of years ago I stood in a small park downtown, a beautiful woman at my side, filled with a childlike sense of wonder as the sky exploded with life, light and color all around me. The terrorist trauma that had scarred the nation ten months previously seemed almost forgotten, so too the dark tidings brought to us each day from Afghanistan. That night, a quarter of a billion people celebrated as one, crying into the night, “I am American! I am free!” American-ness and freedom, defined for two hundred and twenty-six years as one and the same, surged in the blood of millions – of men, women and children living with the knowledge of what it means to be free, to be American.

What does it mean to be American? While I now call this nation home, it has yet to claim me for its own. Its heritage does not run within my veins. As such, I turn to the words of others before me in defining what it means to be American. I quote here from the Declaration of Independence, wrought those two and a quarter centuries past from the hearts of individuals no greater than myself yet possessed of an indomitable Will.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

-That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is
the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new
Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers
in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and
Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established
should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all
experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are
sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are
accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably
the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is
their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide
new Guards for their future security.”

In the many days since that night in the park a number of things have changed. The beautiful woman who stood by me then is now my wife, a fact that has brought me great joy and no small amount of puzzlement. I have come to know many more Americans, to gather them close, to call them friends. I have come to appreciate the triad of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness in ways I was once too young and too naive to know. I have also seen that the United States, like all other nations, bears its scars. Some are historical, some are more recent. Indeed, some of Lady Liberty’s wounds are yet fresh.

In recent years, the people of these United States have lost much, most of it without their knowledge or permission. Acts of government committed in their name define their freedom more and more rigidly, and thus with each new edict of the powers that be a small slice is shaved from the freedoms they enjoy. While few have lost their lives or had them endangered as a direct result of a governmental act, Liberty seems scarce sometimes, and the pursuit of Happiness is beset by myriad obstacles, some of which seem insurmountable.

“… whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is
the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new
Government…”

Let me clarify things a little: I am not calling for a second Revolution, nor would I; the chaos inherent in such an event would be disastrous for most of the world. What I am calling for is for all Americans, the highest and the lowest, to stand up for what they consider right and good. That doesn’t just mean that I think you should vote for Obama, or Clinton, or McCain, or even Nader. It means that you should make yourselves a royal pain in the rear when you don’t like what’s going on, and find a way to get it changed.

Make your voices heard. Make your opinions count. Make the people in charge understand that they hold their positions with your permission and that permission can be withdrawn if they lose sight of the good of the people.

Make me proud to fly the Stars and Stripes myself someday.

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