Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Using this blog to give my two-cents -- if you can ever find the ¢ mark anymore

Bloggers generally don't do first-hand reporting, according to legendary New York newsman Pete Hamill (discussed in previous post).

I was about to give my two-cents -- my opinion about that -- when I realized you can't find the "cents" mark easily these days. Like floppy drives, drive-in theaters, and standalone movie theaters (not located at the mall), the "cents" symbol has all but disappeared.

We have not benefited from its disuse. Instead of the efficiency of writing "2¢," we now must write "$0.02," a waste of time and space of two characters.

Instead of ¢, our keyboards now offers symbols I never use, like the "^," the French circumflex accent. I took French for four years in high school and college, and I don't remember how it affects pronunciation. If I were a maître d'hôtel, I guess it would matter.

You can't find the symbol for degrees on your keyboard, either; you have to look it up, and then hope people remember what it means.

I don't use the "~," the tilde, either, although for some reason, coders have revived it and the "@." A decade before email, the @ had fallen in disuse.

It took me five minutes to locate the character, ¢. Which is why I'm trying to use it a few times to make the search for it seem worthwhile. (I felt like an archaeologist digging through our typographical past, searching through the detritus of symbols no longer used.)

I'm not going to mount a campaign to revive the ¢ symbol. Every so often, Congress considers legislation to stop minting pennies because they cost more than 1¢ to produce. If that happens, there's not much hope for the ¢ itself.

If Congress does discontinue the penny, it would finally become collectible, and probably be worth at least 5¢. (I can see the auctions now on eBay, although they would stop having to claim the item is in "mint" condition.)

I wonder what that would mean for the nickel. As it is, the old five-and-dime stores have long since closed, replaced instead by dollar stores.

And there are people who claim we don't have an inflation problem .

Doesn't make much ¢, does it.

Anyway, this is the result of some first-hand reporting. Although, to Hamill's point, I didn't actually leave my desk. Except for lunch.

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