Monday, April 16, 2012

Is That a Glowing Dinosaur Coin in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

written by Laura Salvas

Sometimes I like to read the paper at my work desk while eating lunch so I can feel smart while also feeling uncomfortable and depressed. Today, whilst glancing over the National section, I came across a fascinating little fluff piece, wedged between an article on CBC having to cut more than 25% of its original Canadian programming and a story regarding the potential loss of 100 food inspectors, both the result of Federal budget cuts. While all these cuts are happening, the Royal Canadian Mint has been busy designing a glow-in-the-dark quarter! In the light, this coin features an image of a Pachyrhinosaurus lakusta, some sort of dinosaur I’ve never heard of in my life. Turn the lights off and the quarter displays an image of a prehistoric glowing skeleton. And I know what you’re thinking – won’t this glow eventually wear off? They say no! They have invested the time and money to develop a type of glow that will never fade from your 25-cent piece. Which, for the record, retails at $29.95.

Now, I’m no economist and perhaps those of you who are more financially savvy will scoff at my twisted logic, but let me just put this out there. If Canada is so poor that we now have to force people to work until they’re 67 years old just so they can come home to watch a slew of prime time reruns of King of Queens on CBC as they eat a dinner of uninspected, spoiled meat, and if the Mint is a crown corporation that is making enough money (beyond the money they, like, make) to design an enchanted dinosaur bone quarter that will glow for all eternity, why can’t the Mint just take some of its fun times Mythbusters fund and transfer it over to other things we cherish? You know, sort of like how a federal financial system might work where wealthier people pay more in taxes to help fund services that benefit everyone.

But, seeing as I haven’t taken an economics class since high school, it’s quite possible things don’t work that way and we could hypothetically live in a nation where, in two years, the Royal Mint will be printing money on conveyor belts made of pearls while children feast on feral cats in the parking lot and there will be nothing in Harpy’s power he can do about it. The one saving grace of this potentially unstoppable dystopian scenario is that we would still have our mystical glowing dino coin to remind us of the civilization we once were. But I still am not sure why a glow-in-the-dark coin is a thing. Yes, coins are generally kept in dark places such as a wallet, pocket or couch crevice.

But if a coin glides down a vending machine pipe and no one is inside to see it does it emit a glow?

Regardless of the answer to this age-old question, the glow has gone to complete waste and will be trapped in a tiny metal box illuminating less extravagant coins as you chomp on a Twix bar. So the only times a glowing quarter would be useful would be:
a) when you want to impress friends at a really crazy party, or
b) if there is a power failure and it’s night time and you realize you have to make an emergency phone call and you happen to keep your quarters out on a desk in plain sight and luckily you purchased two dinosaur quarters as a phone call costs 50 cents these days.

But with these coins retailing at $30 a piece this would probably have to be the most important call of your life. And if you’re the type of person who still uses a pay phone, nothing in your life is probably all that important.

So now that we’ve covered the very limited uses of this glow feature, let’s get back to the cost of this thing. It’s a 25-cent piece but it costs $29.95. No wonder the government overspends on fighter jets if this is the math they’re using. If a quarter costs $30 it is not a quarter: it is an overpriced novelty item fashioned into the shape of a quarter with the words “25 cents” stamped on the side. The dollar store sells glow sticks and you know how much they cost? A dollar. Because that’s the name of the store. If Dollarama charged $30 for a glow stick people would be outraged. But $30 for a glow quarter is perfectly reasonable. The only difference is the glow sticks do not use the fade-proof glow technology developed by our government coin spies.

If this thing is a big hit with rich coin hoarders I think the Mint could easily expand the series. Though I think they would be wise to branch off from extinct animals and stamp our coins with images of extinct services. The dime could show a young cashier working the till at Sobeys. Turn off the lights to see the woman’s skeleton STILL WORKING AT SOBEYS! Perhaps the nickel would feature a child feasting on some good old Canadian beef. Flip the switch and there’s the child’s skeleton because he died after eating tainted meat that passed a shoddy self-inspection! The dollar could feature a proud image of a hospital, representing our health system. Plunge it into darkness and it shows a glowing rendition of the skeleton staff our public health system will be operating on!

Not only would this provide us with hours of wonderment and fun, but it could prove to be a useful tool thousands of years from now after the human race has gone extinct. When digging up dinosaurs such as the soon-to-be-famous Pachyrhinosaurus lakusta, archeologists used the earth and rocks around the remains as well as the bones to theorize the climate changes or diseases that may have killed the species off. After we’re gone, a team of archeologist dolphins will pull our still-glowing coins from our decaying pockets. “Oh,” the lead dolphin will click sadly to his coworkers. “The humans were killed off slowly and steadily by their own government’s cutbacks.” And then they’ll use extracts of our DNA to clone us and will open up a giant amusement part full of human clones but then we’ll rebel and scare the dolphins away and take over the world again.

So it’s fine.

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