Sunday, May 10, 2015

I Make Fun of State Quarters: Florida

Florida, the intellectual and cultural pinnacle of these United States. Nowhere will you find such an esteemed peninsula, filled with storied learning institutions and the latest in scientific breakthroughs. Not since the Library of Alexandria has the world experienced a region so renowned for its scholarly progress.

Or, you know, that might refer to some other place since Florida is so full of crazy shit that it gets its own category on Fark. And because the state is also known as that place that couldn't make a simple ballot in the 2000 election. Or, more charitably, the refuge for Yankee retirees who are willing to risk skin cancer for the chance to escape the snow and cold of a proper winter. It's that kooky low-lying peninsula which we're all waiting to be submerged by the climate change which its governor won't let state employees talk about.

So what does Florida feature on its state quarter? A crazed face eater, perhaps? Or maybe an underwhelming "good" serial killer who was apparently whisked away via hurricane to start working as a lumberjack?

Ah, Florida instead opts to show a Spanish galleon coming across an unspoiled tropical paradise in the 16th century. And then demonstrate how far technology has advanced by showing the space shuttle coming in for a landing on a quarter released one year after a space shuttle was destroyed while re-entering the atmosphere to land in Florida.

The Florida quarter, designed by Ralph Butler and engraved by T. James Farrell, commemorates the arrival of explorers such as Hernando de Soto and Ponce de Leon in the peninsula. The latter was searching for the legendary Fountain of Youth, reputed to grant the power to forever metabolize fatty foods and perpetually sneer about how one's elders are so lame. It didn't pan out, of course, what with Florida having the highest percentage of senior citizens and all.

The other part of the quarter pays tribute to Florida's part in the space program. Cape Canaveral has had a crucial role in sending astronauts into orbit, sending monkeys into orbit, sending men to the Moon, sending men to go golf on the Moon, and studying whether ants can be trained to sort tiny screws in space.

I would have thought they would go with one of those options instead of the shuttle, which had already started to dull excitement about space exploration by downgrading missions from "Let's go check out Earth's satellite in person" to "Let's run some groceries up to the space station." Sadly, the shuttle missions were already on their way out by the time the quarter was released, following the destruction of the Columbia in 2003. The program officially ended in 2011, which means the thing Floridians chose to illustrate the state's modernity is now as obsolete as that Spanish galleon.

So what else did Florida have to choose from? Well, there were 1,500 designs submitted for consideration and five finalists chosen by Governor Jeb Bush. Then these five were sent out for a vote by Florida residents. Because if there's anything you can trust it's letting Jeb Bush arrange an election and leaving it to the Floridian electoral system to get it right.

"Eh, they clearly punched in a binary code for 'Let the governor's brother win'" (Source)

Perhaps one of those other finalists should have been the victor. Maybe one of the candidates was a capable if boring design, with a strong environmentalist inclination, offering a temperate alternative to the zip and zazz of the design that promotes sending out costly expeditions to take over other parts of the world.

Who knows, maybe the state would have been happier if they'd gone with the swamp full of alligators and herons and plane crash debris. If nothing else, I congratulate the elderly men and women of Florida for deciding against the design which seems to celebrate ancient phallic objects.

Ew... (Source)