Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Irony in the News

The Supreme Court has struck down the California law banning sale of violent video games to kids.  That's good, it's a bad law and not really supportable in what's supposed to be a free country and a free market.  But it's bad practice to make those violent images available to young kids while their impressionable young minds are still forming world views that define right and wrong.

Commenting on the successful alteration of the video game marketplace, Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer said, "I think we definitely hit the industry over the head with a two-by-four."

No word on whether a law has been passed that will censor Mr. Steyer.


The United States government is spending a lot of money making money - in the literal sense, in big coin stamping mills - that no one wants.

US Dollar coins have been a consistent flop since the Susan B. Anthony dollar.  The Susan B. was cursed with its compact shape, only two millimeters wider than a quarter and the same color. The Susie B also suffers from the fact that the portrait on the obverse side (that's "heads" to non-numismatists) shows a pretty crabby looking lady.  The Sacagawea dollar was a gold color so it was easily distinguished though its size stayed the same.

The Presidential dollars are the same size as the Sacagawea, and the same color.  But there are precious few vending machines that take them, and no retailers have ordered tills for their cash registers with an extra slot for the dollar coin.

A dollar coin makes good economic sense.  A dollar bill can survive in circulation on average up to a few years; a coin in circulation can go a couple of decades.  Even if it costs ten times as much to make the coin, that's a good return on the investment.

But people don't want coins.  There's already rumblings about dropping the increasingly worthless penny.  With more and more people never touching cash, doing all their trading with debit and credit cards, why would you bother with another coin?

Why indeed.  Like the Ark of the Covenant in the cavernous warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, there are pallets and pallets of dollar coins - over a billion dollars worth! - sitting in a warehouse, unwanted.

The Obama administration is considering demanding a 56+ mpg CAFE standard for all cars by 2025.  That's pretty funny coming from the guy whose presidential limo is in fact a heavily modified medium-duty TRUCK sometimes referred to in-house as The Beast.  And while it may be rather more than just a car, you can bet it isn't getting anywhere near even the current CAFE standard mileage.

It was pretty embarrassing when The Beast got high-centered coming out of a driveway a couple months ago. Could we maybe step back a little bit from the ostentatiousness of the gigantic limo, maybe make do with something a little more modest?

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