Just because we have ten fingers and use decimal numbers, people have a funny propensity to think of multiples of ten as important --- hence, the brouhaha surrounding one's 30th, 40th, 50th, etc. birthdays. Mathematically, those numbers are no more magical than 24, 33, 49, or any other (nonprime) count of years. It's simply an excuse to party.

But the foolishness doesn't end there, especially when money is involved. Commemorative coins have been issued to honor the sesquicentennial (say that three times fast!) of various historical events --- the passage of 150 years --- and for other multiples of 5 and 10. The real motivation? Fund-raising for a politically popular cause.

What's the all-time World Record for the Most Arbitrary Numismatic Celebration? I nominate the 38th anniversary of the Korean War's ending. In 1991 it was used as a thin excuse to mint a coin, ostensibly because the 38th parallel of latitude figured prominently in that conflict. Ignore, please, the utter lack of connection between 38 revolutions of the earth around the sun and 38/90ths of the angle between the equator and the north pole ...

TopicHumor - TopicRecreation - 2003-05-22

(correlates: TheFarthestPlace, Underappreciated Ideas, BigSecretOfProsperity, ...)