Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review: State quarters - Vermont


I don't know much about Vermont, but I do know that this quarter design is about as boring as watching sap drip.

Yes, I said it.

Overall rating - 2 - Mediocre

Kentucky's next.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review: State quarters - Rhode Island


I don't hate this quarter design, but I don't particularly like it either. I know, Rhode Island (or more properly, the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations) has a lot of coastline and water, and it is probably deserving of the nickname "The Ocean State," but this design could have been so much cooler. They could have featured something that referenced the Naval War College. They could have focused on something recalling the state's history. Or they could have even used the emblem that's on the state flag, an anchor surrounded by stars. That would have looked nice.

But, instead, they chose to feature some nondescript sailboat.


Overall rating - 2 - Mediocre

Vermont's turn is coming up.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review: State quarters - North Carolina

North Carolina gets this one right. Even though the state has a lot of things going for it -- the status of being one of the the first thirteen states, a rich history, a nice sports tradition, a flag that could be as cool as the Texas flag (hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery) -- the designers for this quarter chose to pick one thing and one thing only to concentrate on. And they made sure it was one really cool thing.

The first true airplane flight.

Good job! If your state is home to something as cool as the first flight of the Wright brothers, something as historically significant as nailing the ability to get a heavy machine moving in such a way that it takes flight and forever changes the way the human race travels, you'd be a fool not to play it up! And play it up you did.

Nicely done, North Carolina.

Overall rating - 4 - Better

Next up: Rhode Island

Friday, February 19, 2010

Learning a new rhetorical device

It's all about asking a topical question and then answering it with an unrelated quote from someone relatively famous, preferably an artist. Learn more about it here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: State quarters - New York

OK, I really like this quarter design, and I'm going to tell you why.

Wait, no. I don't have to tell you. Just look at it! It's got the Statue of Liberty on it! How can you get more American than that? The designers of the New York coin could have gone all self-referential on us and featured something that focuses on New York City. But they didn't. They could have gone all urbane on us and featured something that showcased high art or theater. But they didn't. They could have gone all cosmopolitan on us and featured something international in character, like the U.N. building (shudder). But they didn't.

No. They went all American on us and showcased that most American of icons, that beautiful lady, that work of Bartholdi and gift from France, the Statue of Liberty. And I thank them for it!

Good job.

Oh, and the state outline is cool and the slogan, "Gateway to Freedom", is very American, too.

Overall rating - 5 - Best

Keep your eyes open for North Carolina.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The future is here

And it looks very, very cool.

Laser weapons aren't just the realm of science fiction. The military just completed the first airborne test of a futuristic energy weapon, simulating defense against a missile attack. This could be the answer to a rapidly arming Iran -- if the government can afford it.

In the test, a modified Boeing 747 jet took off from Edwards Air Force Base carrying a Northrop Grumman designed laser in its nose. The plane used built-in infrared sensors to find and destroy an in-flight missile.

A joint venture between Boeing and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the tests mark the first time a laser weapon has engaged and destroyed an in-flight ballistic missile, and the first time any system has accomplished it in the missile's "boost" phase of flight. It was also the highest-energy laser ever fired from an aircraft -- and the most powerful mobile laser in the world.

Now all we have to do is get the dance moves right so we can please our bikini-clad queen.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: State quarters - Virginia

Virginia opted to go way back in history for the inspiration for this quarter design. Way back over four hundred years ago to the founding of the first permanent English settlement on the shores of North America, Jamestown.

I don't know what exactly the three ships on this quarter represent -- I assume they are carrying Englishmen to settle Virginia, but they could very well be the NiƱa, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, for all I know -- but they look cool. The numbers of sails on the ships verge on a cluttered mess, and part of me doesn't want to like it, but the whole thing represents one image, that of discovery. And that's an important part of the history of any state in the Union, and I will give the designer credit for that.

Overall rating - 4 - Better

New York's turn is coming up.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Speaking of Preston Reed

After putting this together and using Preston Reed's "Instrument Landing" as an example, I found this live performance on YouTube.

Good stuff, Maynard.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Review: State quarters - New Hampshire

This is a good design because it uses only two main elements, the state motto and a state icon. New Hampshire's motto is properly patriotic -- "Live Free or Die" -- and the icon is cool-looking, a natural rock formation resembling a human face and called the "Old Man of the Mountain".

But the icon's depiction on this coin is also a little sad, nowadays. That formation, which hung on the side of Cannon Mountain, fell apart just three years after the coin was issued.

Overall rating - 3 - Good

Next up: Virginia

Friday, February 12, 2010

Shami quote

Wait a minute. I don't normally get political on this blog, but did Farouk Shami, Democratic candidate for governor, just say that Hispanics and blacks are willing to work for less money than whites? And did he just admit that he's not willing to pay them more?
Shami replied, “I find 80 percent of my employees at the factory are Hispanics. I don't find, you know, many white people really willing to work, you know, unfortunately.”

While still declining to answer the question, Shami said that at his Houston hair care products factory, Hispanics are vital to his business and the economy.

Asked to explain what he meant about not hiring many whites, he said they want special treatment. [Like a decent wage, maybe? --ed.] “A majority of the people are going to be Hispanic and African-American. You don't find white people who are willing to work in factories. And our history proves, you know, lots of time when they, you know, the white people come to work in a factory they either want to be supervisors or they want to be, you know, paid more than the average person. And unfortunately they exit.”
I say, don't vote for him.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Review: State quarters - South Carolina

Aww, South Carolina, what were you thinking? Your quarter design is a disaster.

You start off good with your state outline, and it is nice because South Carolina has a distinctive and recognizable shape. But that's about as good as it gets. The rest of the design is cluttered with way too many elements.

Counting the state outline, there are six total features crowded onto the back of this quarter, and none of them stand out as the primary feature. Perhaps that was the intent of the designer (or the quarter-design committee that foisted its will upon the people of the state!), to show off as much of the state as possible while giving each component equal prominence so nobody gets their feelings hurt, but it just doesn't work. The overall design is dull.

And then, there is the lameness of each individual part. First off, the state nickname is just too creepy. "The Palmetto State." Weird. I can't believe a state would name itself after a nasty insect, but, hey, it's not my quarter, so ---- Oh. Oh, wait. Palmetto refers to a tree? The state tree? Ah, that would then explain the next weak element, that HAIRY TREE! (Which is, apparently, a sabal palmetto.) Well, I guess it makes sense to South Carolinians, but I've never seen such a tree around where I grew up, and it just looks like a fuzzy blob to me.

And then, there's the bird. I understand it's the state bird, but it's a wren.

A wren.

How cool is that? Not very. Unless your state bird is some kind of eagle, hawk, or falcon, putting it on your quarter does nothing for its goodness.

And what is that foliage the bird is perched on? Some kind of pretty, pretty flower? Oh, oh wait. Let me guess. State flower, right? Lame. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and say it: State symbols on your quarter designs are always going to be lame. Their inclusion shows a lack of originality, and most people outside of your state won't recognize them. They will know the elements are birds, trees, and flowers, but they won't know which ones, and they won't care. (Yes, I know it's too late to influence the designs. But you never know, they may decide to do this program again someday with different artwork.)

OK, what's left? Oh yeah, that star. Do you think it might be some cool symbol of the state, something that means something profound? Nope. It just shows where the state capital is.

Put all that stuff together and you have an uninspiring, disorderly heap.

Overall rating - 1 - Bad

New Hampshire is coming up.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Review: State quarters - Maryland

This is another very good iconic design. Maryland uses the image of its State House in Annapolis to evoke the early days of the nation, and the image is made more powerful because it is positioned in the center of the design. The branches frame the State House dome, and the tower is flanked by Maryland's nickname, The Old Line State. A classic numismatic look that is very patriotic and very cool.

Overall rating - 4 - Better

South Carolina is in the batter's box.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Separated at birth?

So, they say Sean Payton led his team to a victory in the Super Bowl. That's a good career change to make, if you're done leading security on some space station far away.


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Speaking of harmonics

After posting this, I got to thinking about harmonics. And then I made this.

Review: State quarters - Masschusetts

Massachusetts. The Bay State. Nothing wrong with this quarter. In the foreground is a Minuteman, one of the most recognizable symbols of the American Revolution. In the background is the state outline filled in with texture, a good thing to represent the state because it is distinctive with that great big hook they call Cape Cod reaching out into the sea. In all, a good design that calls up the proper amount of patriotism and history.

Overall rating - 3 - Good

Next up: Maryland.

Friday, February 05, 2010

But can they play harmonics?

Here is some music of the aleatory kind.

Rock on, birds. Rock on.

(via Althouse)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Reveiw: State quarters - Connecticut

I like this design. A lot. I didn't even know what The Charter Oak was when this quarter came out, but apparently it is quite important to the early history of Connecticut, and I think it makes a great design for a coin. It's iconic, and it looks good -- almost like a coat of arms -- especially on a smaller scale. Like, say, quarter-sized.

And this design does one thing right that so many other quarter designs get wrong: It focuses on one main element only. Too many of the subsequent designs try to cram too much stuff onto such a little canvas with no real prominence given to one thing, and the result is most often a jumbled mess with no real meaning to anyone besides the designer (or the committee that forced the designer to include so much crap). Not so with Connecticut. Take one strong image important to your state, make it into an icon, and then put that on your coin without anything else to detract from it. That's what Connecticut did.

And that's what makes it great.

Overall rating - 5 - Best

Massachusetts is next.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Review: State quarters - Georgia

Remember when I said that all of the thirteen original states had an automatic cool factor they could use for the state quarter designs, needing only to employ Revolutionary imagery and they would have at least a good design? Well, Georgia didn't get the message.

To be fair, Georgia didn't really play a big role in the American Revolution. It was captured by the British in 1778 and remained in their hands until the end of the war. But, really, Georgia could have done something better than this.

Because there it is, smack-dab in the middle of the coin - a peach. I know. Georgia is famous for its peaches. And don't get me wrong, I love a good, fresh peach (especially from the Fredericksburg, Texas area). But the fruit just doesn't work very well as an icon of a state. I mean, just look at that visual.

Remind you of anything?

Yeah. A big plump ass.

Georgia, you could have done better. An onion would have looked better.

But, anyway, looking beyond the peach, the design uses what will become a popular element among the state quarters, the state outline. And here it's not bad. Georgia's outline is distinctive and recognizable, and it really kind of works here. It almost cancels out that big, fuzzy peach.

And then comes the state motto, "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation."


Really? Wisdom, Justice, Moderation? Wisdom -- OK, it's smart. Not exactly stirring, but wisdom is desirable. Justice -- great. It's what people strive for and crave. Then --

Moderation? As part of your state motto? That may be a perfectly laudable personality trait and something to practice in your day-to-day life, but that concept doesn't exactly whip up the patriotic fervor, does it? Moderation!!? You're proud of that as one of the three words used to represent the spirit of your state? And, Mr. State Quarter Designer, I know you couldn't help the wording of Georgia's motto, BUT YOU SURE AS HELL COULD HAVE LEFT IT OFF YOUR QUARTER DESIGN!!


Anyway, there's not much here to like.

Overall rating - 2 - Mediocre

Connecticut to follow.