Abstraction by Quantification


A bit of bookkeeping has a marvelous effect, sometimes, on perspective. Keep track of the motion of a single dollar bill as it circulates in the world, and it becomes not just currency, but an emissary. Although the project has been running since 1998, just the other day I intercepted my first dollar bill tracked by the Where's George system. Tragically, I spent it (Breakfast bagel! Not yet awake!) before remembering to take a photograph, so you'll just have to believe that it was prominently stamped to that effect. But from now on, you can track the bill if someone happens to report seeing it.

A friend in the department is getting little toys in the mail from a thus-far-anonymous party. Including pirate-themed rubber duckies, which is so awesome, I might have to steal one. But they're numbered, and seem to be counting down. So on the one hand, it would seem somehow more wrong to take one and break up the set. And on the other, I wonder what happens upon the arrival of Toy Zero (or, perhaps more likely, #1; I guess most people don't actually count from zero).

I made an effort a few days back to quantify my Jekyll'n'Hyde routine. Unfortunately the site was badly overloaded at the time, so I didn't get many responses. Maybe a few more will try now? To review, we had Milligan who wants to save the world via electing Democrats and Milligan who wants to save the world via global conquest.

Funny the effect a little change of perspective can have. How long did it take you to realize that you're looking at a skyscraper sideways, I wonder. Dain Rauscher Plaza, to be exact. 2006:02:11 16:12:33


I find that Where'sGeorge thing terribly irritating. Stamping the money like that is: 1. illegal and 2. renders the bill unusable in vending machines. I'll trade you everyone I get for real money if you want.

I might take you up on that. But this was the first one I'd ever run across; how many have you seen? Maybe you go through more dollar bills than I do.

It's really a one-man's-treasure kind of thing. Give an ordinary dollar bill this kinda cool extra feature, and you slightly reduce its value by making it unusable in certain transactions. I don't know if that's actually illegal, though. So far as I know, federal law only prohibits marking bills such that they are unfit to be reissued. The sort of stamp this bill had was prominent, and might interfere with optical readers, but is it now unfit?

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This page contains a single entry by Milligan published on February 15, 2006 6:41 PM.

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