Geek Chic

March 16, 2010

It’s no big surprise that nerds are taking over the universe.

This, of course, is something that has been a long time coming. Most of us knew, deep in our hearts, that eventually the smart folks would be in charge. However, a lot of us assumed that Type A personality salesmen and that high school quarterback who still pumps gas at the hometown Citgo station and still does whippits in the Denny’s parking lot during shift change would be able to hold off the full-scale invasion for at least a few more decades. But it looks like their time has come.

Now, don’t get me wrong. When Percy McPocketprotector asks Molly Sue Easypants to the junior prom, he’s still getting the floor mopped with his braces. But nerds have come a long way since the slide-rule stereotyping of years gone by.

But a word of warning to many of you self-described geeks out there: Just because you’re a video-game-playing, science-fiction reading, Pokemon-loving dork doesn’t mean you’re something special.

There are plenty of ways of determining exactly when it was that being a geek became cool. Nerds have wallowed in the lower depths of the social scale for a long time, and there are plenty of items to point at as a turning point as to when this shifted. Most people would peg it to the ascent of Bill Gates as the world’s richest person, because–let’s face it–he probably still showers with his underwear on, and all the money in the world apparently doesn’t stop one from using a cereal bowl as a hairstyling product.

I’m sympathetic to that thought, but making gobs of money and being awesome on the social scale aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. I peg it to the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King winning the Best Picture Academy Award. It’s fair to say that Hollywood hasn’t necessarily been hostile to geeks, but they certainly haven’t helped–for every Grade-Z science fiction flick and grating performance by Jerry Lewis perpetuating nerdiness as a valid lifestyle choice, there’s a thousand Ryan O’Neals, Tom Cruises, and Sean Connerys slamming the ladies and being the hit of the party. But having the movie industry actually recognize the epitome of the best representation of what it means to be a geek…well, let’s just say the World of Warcarft servers fell silent for whole minutes after it won, and no doubt attributed to all the half-orcs and dwarves that got born about nine months later.

The problem, of course, is once there are enough geeks out there, the mere act of being a geek means less and less. And there is always a segment of the population that strives to not be like everyone else, and many folks become quite conflicted when a once-obscure space opera only dozens of people obsessed over becomes a major motion picture and years of devoted fandom become useless when every bonehead and their brother can just look it up on the Internet Movie Database’s trivia section. Most of these poor kids don’t have any other avenues of interest to go to, and simply become geeks without all the awesome geek parts. Also See: Emo.

I’m lucky. I’ve been a geek for quite some time. If you were to go back in a time machine and ask me what my life goal was, here would be the results:

Age 4: I want to be a pirate.
Age 6: I want to be a stage magician.
Age 10: I want to build my own computer from random bits I bought at Radio Shack.
Age 12: I want to beat Sid Meier’s Civilization on Deity.
Age 16: I want to work for the National Security Agency.
Age 18: I want to be the world’s foremost expert on the Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
Age 21: I want to write and star in my own steampunk version of Dune.
Age 32: I want to beat Sid Meier’s Civilization on Deity.

However, I didn’t embrace geekiness whole-heartedly. I never got into anime–I mean, the Japanese are just…weird. And I never really got into role-playing beyond the most basic level. And I didn’t own any console games between the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Wii, so I apparently missed out on such wonderful products as the Nintendo 64 version of Goldeneye as one of the greatest cultural milestones of the century.

Now, I’m not going to say anything about my lovely wife about his, though I would like to point out that our first date involved a book store and at one point in our marriage I’m pretty sure she once played Super Smash Brothers Brawl for 36 hours straight. I’m just sayin’.

While we are celebrating the cerebral, it might be prudent to point out what is NOT within the realm of the geek:
1. Just because you are a female, you cannot become a “sexy geek girl” just by putting on a pair of glasses. Tina Fey and Olivia Munn can pull it off because they are real-world capital-N Nerds. Some random hottie on the internet looking for attention and thinks she classifies as a nerd because she has an iPod, glasses, and an unbuttoned white men’s dress shirt and nothing else are not.
2. Number of Call of Duty units sold: 55 Million. Number of American soldiers in the actual World War II: 16.1 million.
3. Just because you picked up the Foundation series at the used book store or once watched forty-five minutes of magna at two in the morning in your dorm room via dial-up doesn’t mean you get a free punch on your geek card. It involves a more drastic change in your lifestyle to be a geek, such as pissing in empty Mountain Dew bottles so you don’t miss a minute of that EverQuest campaign you’re playing, or actually reading any of those Harry Turtledove books your odd aunt gave you one Christmas when you were eight.

Even with all of this information, there isn’t any particular well-defined determination of whether one is a geek or not. However, if you are already in the process of writing me a scathing e-mail about how the gestation period of a half-orc is not, in fact, nine months, then we may have a pretty good idea of where to start.

The Last Joys of Summer

June 7, 2008

Summer is soon arriving. The season brings out plenty of anticipated memories involving the sun, sandy beaches, and three full months before the kids go back to school so you have to make them do yard work to settle them down or at least send them to their grandmothers so you can get some peace and quiet for once in your life, or, more than likely, they will end up a the mall hanging out in front of the Sam Goody’s menacing the help and making the mall walkers touch their wallets out of a subconscious sense of ageism. Viva summer!

Of course, many people have plenty of plans for their summer. I am not one of those individuals. I tend to dislike the summer for no better reason than I’m lazy, and the summer is just one big guilt trip mother nature has bestowed upon this earth that is both constant and relentless.

Summer is a season for outdoor activities such as softball, an organized activity I despise with a passion unparalleled. If it’s your thing, no problem, but I hate playing it and I’m not so keen on watching it. Suffice it to say my hand-eye coordination is not something that would make the Marines quiver with envy, and watching me run is much like watching a eighteen-wheeler chug up a hill from a dead stop being pulled by out-of-shape pack animals that have to stop every twenty feet to catch their breath. The only advantage I would bring to a softball game would be the lack of energy by the other team from doubling over in laugher too hard, an advantage that would quickly disappear since my own team would be doing the same. And I just can’t bring myself to watch a game unless something or someone made it interesting, such as accepting money line bets at the concession stand.

I do golf, however. More accurately, I used to golf. I was never particularly good and usually an embarrassment to anyone I was with. Then things such as time, work, money, education, and a subscription to Atlantic Monthly interfered with my golfing schedule and as such I haven’t touched a course for years. I hit golf balls in my yard, at least, although my participation has decreased ever since I hit the leg of a plastic table and shattered it not unlike the Death Star destruction scene in Star Wars, causing the entire table and its contents of Fiestaware and candle holders to crash brilliantly on the cement. I found this to be charmingly amusing until I realized how much the table retails for at Lowe’s.

I do love playing petanque, a rather pussyish lawn game. It is very similar to bocce, although, unlike bocce, you do not have to be Italian or 120 years old to play. The object, to throw balls at a target, is exactly the kind of combination of simplicity and mindless activity to keep yourself busy so you don’t have to make conversation with your mother-in-law at the family picnic. It is played with heavy steel balls that will easily harm animals such as dogs that tend to run after anything that is thrown. Not that this has ever happened when I have played, of course. Ahem.

Many people go camping during the summer, another activity I fail to see the desire to do. I’m certain there’s a remarkable amount of relaxation and solace found in removing yourself from all cell phones, televisions, and other distractions, although to be fair the Detroit Red Wings made sure there were a lot less of that in my life anyway. But while I’m actually kind of sympathetic with spending time in nature, all of the hassle involved fending off ticks, sealing food to ward off errant bears, and the propensity of all U.S. Park Service Employees to look at me and assume that I am a courier for various plants and chemicals just don’t make it worth the trouble.

I’m also not a big fan of beaches. Mostly this is because I don’t particularly want to spend all day laying around doing nothing. OK, it’s a fair cop, that’s pretty much what I enjoy doing every single day of my life. I just don’t see the appeal of doing that outside in the blistering sun. I don’t tan well, I hate beach volleyball (though love watching it, pending the youth, gender, and size of the bathing suits involved) and I hate smelling like greasy fake coconuts all day long. Though the one activity plenty of people do on the beach—the notorious “summer reading”—at least has some appeal. Although the books involved usually involved espionage or murder, often having titles such as “Deadly Murder,” “Deadly Line of Sight,” “Trendy City Confidential,” “The Hunt For An Escaped Nazi And/Or Former KGB Agent,” “More Tom Clancy Military Vehicle Auto-Fellation,” “John Grisham Really Just Isn’t Trying Anymore. I Mean, Seriously,” “That Dream Guy You Just Married Is Actually Kind Of An Asshole,” and “I Highly Doubt This Is Proust.”

So this summer, go out and have fun doing whatever it is that normal people do in the summer. I’ll be here, waiting patiently for the fall, when I can go to the mall to get Dippin’ Dots with minimal interference from the local hooligans. Or at least redirect their efforts on the nearest game of bocce.

Gary Gygax, RIP

March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax, co-creator of the Dungeons and Dragons line of games, failed his save roll today. He was 69.

Gygax probably isn’t particularly well known by name outside of a few pockets of specific demographics, that demographic undeniably the overlap of the “young,” “male,” and “geek” population. (Although he had a voice spot that barometer of ultimate celebrity, Futurama, was fulfilled with all the grace and dignity that talking cartoon robots drawn by twelve year old South Koreans can generate.) Sure, sure, there are middle-aged guys playing GURPS and girls who play D&D and a few inner bell curve populates who crack out the ten-sided die on occasion, but it’s difficult to not see role playing games as primarily a young adolescent male hobby. Also see: kinda creepy.

I’ve visited the town of RPG but I’ve never moved there. In my teenage years I’d play some science fiction-based role playing games—I wasn’t particularly interested in fantasy games, a weird combination of elves and spells and hellhounds and warmed-over pseudo-occult Disneyfied Alistair Crowley-style Merlins and trolls. Certainly, this was the epitome of geekdom: the ranking clearly goes playing bridge with grandma’s friends > chess player > sci-fi fan > kobold enthusiast. So by throwing dice around in a world of warp engines and alien races, I solidified my own self of self-importance by declaring that at least I wasn’t playing dungeon hockey, even though it would take only one sufficiently advanced technology to prove that we both bleed red. Ultimately, I decided that the world of RPGs was just a touch too geeky for me to tolerate, so I abandoned it to go geocaching and pursue a degree in Economics, clearly a lateral move at least. Right?

In Gygax’s world, though, there was nothing at all like it. (Actually, the first rule in Gygax’s world is that proper nouns should be allowed in Scrabble. But, later.) The best anyone could come up with were these monstrous tabletop wargames simulating such grand campaigns as the Napoleonic Wars or the Peloponnesian Conflict, “simulating” being about as accurate as Survivor being an accurate simulation of surviving. No, these wargames didn’t have much to do with dungeons or dragons, but they had plenty of complicated rules to argue about over a table full of baldy painted pewter horses in a four-year span every other Thursday night.

By creating Dungeons and Dragons, he filled a niche probably nobody in the world knew existed. The ensuing commercial success of D&D established a large, lucrative hobby that exists in almost ridiculous proportions today. (Technical note: Dungeons and Dragons and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons are two completely different products, a fact that 1) the people who should know that already knew that, and 2) the people who didn’t know that don’t really care.) Of course, as with all new, creative, and ground-breaking ideas in this world, it took only a few years for it to become a small commercial darling into a company beset with partnership drama, financial difficulties, and a Saturday morning cartoon, all clear signals that the death bell is soon to toll as soon as it can get a good +2 modifier to do so.

Still, Gygax launched what would turn out to be genre that billowed out beyond a sixteen-page bluebook filled with spreadsheets and formulas. The computer game industry makes more money than the movie industry, and there are very few games on the market that can’t point to some influence to role playing. While role players are hardly mainstream, no longer will passersby stop by a half dozen teenagers grouped around a handdrawn map with a bunch of dice and half-painted orcs and ask “What the hell are you guys doing? You guys are dorks.” They will now stop by a half dozen teenagers grouped around a handdrawn map with a bunch of dice and half-painted orcs and ask “What the hell are you guys doing? You guys are dorks. Come fix my computer.” (Aside: the response to that last statement is dependent on the gender and amount of cleavage of the asker.)

All broad, sweeping generalizations aside (cough, cough), role playing games also confer several extraordinarily important skills and benefits to its players.

1) It encourages face to face socialization, at least compared to MMORPGs and programming visual basic to display and repeat on the screen “Miss Dalton is teh hott!” along with a crude graphical representation of her most outstanding attributes.
2) It familiarizes players with mathematical equations and rational thinking, a highly prizes skill even if it’s only incorporated into a game, given how important calculating things in base eight helps out in the real world.
3) Many a role player has thanked their lucky stars they played Dungeons and Dragons as a child when the inevitable horde of armored changelings descends upon them on their thirstiest birthday.

The fantasy genre didn’t rise and set on Dungeons and Dragons, but it did a lot to legitimize itself over the ensuing decades. What A Beautiful Mind did for eccentric game theorists and Million Dollar Baby did for foxy boxing, role players can point to The Lord of The Rings and say, “ours.” Also see: kinda creepy.

Welcome to the Deep Blue Sea

January 28, 2008

I never quite understood the allure of the sea. In some ways, of course, I can—you have a pure, calm, stable ocean that is effectively yours to conquer, if even just for a lazy Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, that same ocean pool will mercilessly swallow you whole with nary a moment’s thought if you look at her just a touch askance. I’m frightened of the sea much like I’m frightened of repelling and the income tax—simple in concept, incredibly dangerous if you’re not paying attention, which is all the time.

Historically, of course, the ocean has been an important cultural subject; fishing provided much-needed and easily-obtained nutrition. It also provided a trouble-free means to get away from the wife for eight to eighteen months at a stretch if you played your cards right. Massive battles were fought with oars and grapeshot, and commerce was as important to the lowly carrack transporting spices in 500 BC as it is to the Chinese factory dumping a few thousand crates of cheap dollar-store toys and suspect toothpaste today.

And no discussion of the attraction of the sea would be complete without mentioning pirates, the devil-may-care heroes of the high seas. The romanticizing of the pirate is one of the odder aspects of modern culture, since being a pirate pretty much boiled down to:

1. Getting gold. That’s the good part.
2. Having about a 1 in 3 chance of having your head split open by a wayward mast or broadsword. That’s bad.
3. Having about a 1 in 3 chance of dying from:
a. Scurvy
b. Syphilis
c. Winning at, or losing at, a game of bones
d. All of these are bad.
4. Basically being a murderer for profit. That’s either bad or good, all things considered

Granted, thievery and skullduggery have long been romanticized from Robin Hood all the way to the Societe Generale, but pirating pretty much took it about as extreme as you could without being a head of state declaring yourself Catholic. Some tried to legitimize their acts as being effectively a gun for hire, but that seems a rather fine point when you’re scooping the eyeballs out of a Hanseatic merchant like an ice cream sundae.

To me, the nautical world is filled with confusion and darkness, and shining the bright light of knowledge will most likely simply piss me off. The terminology is frightful, from the vaguely sinister gunwale to the delightfully perverted coaming. And they call sailors “old salts” for a reason, since I have a mental picture in my head of a voyage consisting of 1) getting swamped with sea water every time the wind so much as thinks about changing direction, 2) trying not to let the sea water saturate our clothes, food, and rum, 3) drowning in the brine lest my inner ear infection cause me to lose my balance for merely a few seconds, and 4) vomiting. And while salt is eating away at both the wood and my pancreas, there are actual sailors who know how to run this sort of thing trying to manage a ship larger than most Benelux nations with ropes and sails and large pieces of driftwood fashioned into masts getting tossed about in a cacophony of perfectly timed organization that only OK Go! and Martha Stewart could find sexually stimulating.

Some people, of course, have taking one of the few necessities of history and somehow distilled all the nasty, difficult parts out and converted it into an expensive hobby, something not exactly unknown to aficionados of paintball, hot rodders, and China. I’ll be honest; I’ve never really gone out to the sea except on one ill-advised rafting trip (hint: don’t wear boots with felt lining while rafting unless you’ve brought rubber bands and a fistful of Glad bags), but then again I’ve never sat around with an immense pile of hard cash I wanted to desperately piss away. I do, however, have a rather soft spot in my mind for lighthouses, the butterface sister-in-law of sailing, a spot that would be much greater if the entire lighthouse industry weren’t monopolized by old women spending money at Hallmark shops.

The best thing about the sea, though, is that it’s the cheapest way to travel. To travel by air or by land, you have to exert some effort and energy into the endeavor, this energy, by the way, currently resides in large pools under the Saudi Arabian desert. Even in centuries past, it costs money to feed and house oxen, whereas a boat, once built, just keeps on going with minimal maintenance of tar and Spaniards. Whereas, all other things being equal, the sea is the sea—free movement so long as you know how to tack, assuming that you don’t mind that it takes fourteen months to go about three thousand miles (or, in boating terms, “nautical kilometers”). The wind and the water do all the work for you, and you don’t need a catalytic converter or twenty bushels of grain a day to do it. And as much as Mother Earth has been slacking off lately, it’s about time she pulled her weight.

The Lonely Nevada Sky

September 9, 2007

Steve Fossett is one of the modern day adventurers of our time. Like adventurers of the past, he has broken countless records, pushed engineering to its limit, and, one can extrapolate, encountered new and creative ways to pour money down a rathole to increase his name recognition for anyone who feels like reading a decade-old copy of a Old Bored Rich Guy World Record Almanac.

Making his name as a commodities broker, he made his money early in life and then chose to spend the difference trying to break various records. Some of Fossett’s accomplishments are admittedly pretty impressive. He swam the English Channel, a glorious achievement many people have failed, least of not the Luftwaffe, and certainly more than I could ever accomplish—the only record I’ve ever set was spending the longest time watching Irish soap operas while simultaneously not looking for a job. Fossett has climbed the highest peak of six of the seven continents, and has records in areas relating to nonstop aircraft flights, gliders, cross country, ballooning, speed sailing, and the aptly named Ironman Triathlon, which I can only hope involves a contest of eating massive quantities of raw flesh, watching consecutive hours of rugby on a black-and-white television without a bowel movement, and going the longest amount of time without telling his wife that he loves her.

In one notorious example of his early glimpses into adventurousness, as a college student at Stanford in the mid-60’s he once swam to Alcatraz, which was at the time closed to the public, and installed a banner proclaiming the highly important political statement of “Beat Cal.” Afterwards he, along with Sean Connery, overpowered a group of domestic terrorists threatening San Francisco with biological weapons in an elaborately planned maneuver that seemed to take what seems like upwards of 1,600 hours of completely ridiculous dialogue and draggin’-ass action along with $8 of my money to resolve.

One can hardly begrudge someone from living what is no doubt a dream of many; if you’ve earned the money, why not spend it on something you enjoy and will mean something after you’re dead? Granted, you probably don’t want to become dead in pursuit of that goal, but then again if there’s no chance you’re going to die, then why not just stay home and play Yahoo! Sheepshead with some housewife in Malaysia?

Fossett has propelled many feats of engineering and endurance with help of another idle millionaire interested in pissing money away, Richard Branson. Branson is head of the Virgin empire, known for such successful and diverse offerings as an airline, mobile phone carrier, and trying to be a second-rate second-rate Donald Trump, which in the grand scheme of things is kind of a sad aspiration for a billionaire.

Fossett probably came to prominence in most people’s minds when he was in the news for repeatedly failing to complete his quest to circumnavigate the globe in his hot air balloon. I would suspect that most people couldn’t come up with a whole lot of reasons that such a voyage could not be completed. I mean, there isn’t much to a hot air balloon besides some nylon, a big ol’ fire, some sack of sands, and a desperate and child-like hope that if the winds change direction one degree differently than you expect your ludicrous choice of transportation to fly around the world with nothing more than a few cubic sheets of fabric and the sheer amount of determination which is roughly equal to, and the quality of, what the hell it was that decided to make you do this in the first place will come to an abrupt and unfortunate end. The timing of the media stories was poor from Fossett’s perspective, since they ignored all his previous successful attempts and focused on his inability to complete the quest, a move that some people felt was an elaborate marketing ploy for Cialis.

Rich people finding new and creative methods to use their money in inefficient ways to further aggrandize themselves are hardly new. Self-serving charitable organizations, egotistically named institutions, and grandly conceived plans with more emphasis on establishing a name for the annals of cultural history than any of the financial, productive, or practical considerations they relied on to become rich idle billionaires in the first place.

There are several examples of this throughout history. Howard Hughes is a perfect parallel of what happens when rich people are allowed to waste their money in a manner of their own choosing. Hughes was an extraordinary visionary and expanded his business into a diverse conglomerate of interests that included aviation, engineering, motion pictures, hotels, tax evasion, and Jane Russell’s mountainous breasts. His once excellent financial acumen soon descended into Elvis-like hedonism, such as buying up massive quantities of Banana Nut ice cream from Baskin Robbins mere moments before declaring he was sick of it and purchasing television stations so he would have something to watch in the early morning hours. (In his defense, at least he didn’t attempt to manage the construction of the Denver Airport or tried to merge AOL and Time Warner.) He eventually died of a multitude of disgusting reasons, no doubt partly because of his indulgences that fell well outside of his abilities, but mostly because he was completely batshit crazy.

Alas, Fossett has become a victim of his own success. While scouting out areas in Nevada to beat the land speed record, his aircraft disappeared. At this point his plane has been missing for quite a few days, and search parties have come up with nothing but sand and damaged flying saucers, which, according to regular reports from Coast to Coast, occur at a frequency of once every government denial of Area 51.

Regardless of his eventual fate, Fossett has proven to us one thing: that no matter what, regardless of how incredibly pointless it is, as long as you have the drive, determination, and an endless supply of wealth to piss away, you can accomplish anything.

Dollar Back Girl

March 26, 2007

The dollar coin program has always been beset with drama. Well, the best that numismatists can come up with for drama, aside from the occasional pants-soiling misstamp or the centennial major coin heist that shows up in the News You Can Chuckle Silently About column in the paper. The first modern dollar coin featured a prominently bald Dwight Eisenhower, with a rather unimaginative stamp of the moon with a liberty bell superimposed on it, apparently signifying the role of liberty our founding fathers fought a died for along with the boondoggle NASA vacuuming valuable greenbacks to let a man trot about on the moon like a show dog instead of the production of bullets to shoot commies with in southeast Asia.

This Eisenhower dollar was huge, and anything more than a token supply (har!) of them sagging in your front pocket pegged you as either a professor or a pervert or, statistically most likely, both. It rarely saw circulation except in casinos, where they were used primarily as a means with which to weight down bodies in the East River.

Decades later, under the tutelage of Jimmy Carter, the Susan B. Anthony dollar was introduced. Like the election of Carter, Anthony was chosen by a specialized group of professionals who sought to associate their cause with the absolutely least appealing individual that could possibly be imagined. Granted, Tommy Jefferson and George Washington weren’t exactly runners-up in the Mr. Potomac contest, but the profile chosen to represent poor Miss Anthony made one wonder why the bald eagle was declared endangered. And some decried the choice of Anthony to represent the women’s right movement, when there were many, many more plausible candidates that encouraged more women to join the feminist movement, like Margaret Singer and Sean Connery.

The coin failed to catch on, however. One of the largest peculiarities of the entire dollar coin debate is to discover that there is actually an entity called the “vending machine and car wash lobby.” And it was precisely this comical concept that fought for the adoption of the dollar coin, since it made the manufacture of machines much, much cheaper. (As anyone who has attempted to purchase a week-old pack of stale Ding Dongs at the gas station vending machine with a greasy, ragged dollar from last year’s Labor Day bender with the long-forgotten number of that blonde chick with the ample bosom whose tube top wanting of material proudly proclaimed her allegiance to a specific women’s apparel corporation scribbled on it can attest, expensive does not necessary equal success.) The Anthony dollar, alas, was very similar in shape, size, material and color to the already-popular quarter, and so was widely dismissed by the public, who soon replaced the dollar’s main supporter, Carter, with another of a much different shape, size, and material (though, as always, the same color).

Despite the Anthony dollar’s lack of popularity, the United States Mint found itself caught off guard late in the mid-2000’s when it found it actually had a shortage. The dollar coin, while well out of circulation, still found a use in post office vending machines, the ever-perennial casino and, one presumes, the victims of inflation in schoolyard odds-and-evens tournaments. Despite the fact that another dollar coin was commissioned, they were left with the solution of minting more useless Anthony dollars after having the plates sit dormant for around fifteen years. Much, again, like Jimmy Carter. (Don’t worry. That’s never getting old.)

The next attempt at a dollar coin, the Sacagawea, was a similar disaster, though to not quite the same degree. The congressional oversight committee declared that while they would commission a new coin, it still had to be the same general size and shape of the Anthony dollar, which made no sense since all of the vending machines still needed to be converted over and therefore the biggest drawback to the Anthony dollar was kept in place. At the very least, though, the committee had at least seen fit to declare that it would be a different color, a questionably useful trait to add when you’re fishing for it in your front pocket.

Except even THAT got buggered up. The gold color, of course, was purely for show, much like the dollar coin committee, since the coin itself is a rather standard alloy of mostly copper and zinc. After only a few months in regular circulation, the gold coloring started to flake off of the coin. Since the cost savings of a coin are the fact that it lasts longer than a dollar bill, the one differentiating advantage of the coin, of course, was lost.

To restart the introduction of dollar coins into the currency once again, the mint is initiating a Presidential Dollar program modeled after the surprisingly successful State Quarters program. Four times a year, a new president’s countenance will grace another issuance. Ultimately, the success of the dollar coin will be determined by the removal of the paper bill in circulation. Much like how Canada handled it (Canada, of course, being in the forefront of the currency sciences). There are certain questions yet to be answered—How bad will they have to crop poor William Howard Taft? Will the Nixon coin have two faces? Will the Bill Clinton coin be used to make decisions, much in the same manner that he did? (The Clinton coin, by the way, will be minted approximately 2017. This joke, though, was minted circa 1993)—one question does have an answer: As long as strippers exist, so will the dollar bill. I’ve heard, anyway.