Reminder: Fourth quarterly estimated income tax due today!

HAITI

Even before the disaster, Mark Bent was pushing his “bogo” lights and lighthaiti.org. Now, of course, the need is a thousand times greater.

“The entire metropolitan area will be a huge virtual refugee camp for a very long time,” Mark writes, “and the 2000 Marines coming are not going to be able to patrol everywhere. What was barely concealed violence in much of the city, controlled by the presence of the UN forces, runs the risk of devolving into a scene of incredible anarchy. Without individually controlled lighting, the night will pose an almost unimaginable area of danger, akin to a Mad Max movie. There will be no essential services and the inability to talk, share food, etc., will be sociologically stressful and make a very, very bad situation much worse. The fuel costs of generators will be incredible – our lights will be cheaper by hundreds of percent. . . . Everyone is asking us to donate lights and we simply do not have the financial resources to do so. I am doing everything I can – I had one TV interview at my office yesterday focusing on this matter with the local Fox affiliate and another this morning, asking people to contribute. I have another this afternoon with the local ABC affiliate. . . . I have two factories operational and a third mothballed but ready to come back on line.”

☞ All he needs are people wanting to help.

DRIVE SAFELY

But if you don’t – or encounter someone else who doesn’t – be thankful you’re driving a 2009 Chevy Malibu and not a 1959 Chevy Malibu, as demonstrated when the two crash, here.

BACKUPS

Richard Theriault: “Stephen Gilbert’s comments on Carbon Copy Cloner are well put, and CCC is a great backup application that (this is SO important) creates a BOOTABLE clone. Though it’s free to the one-off user or the user of no conscience, the regular user really should donate significantly. But the super backup application for Macs is SuperDuper!, which does all that CCC does AND allows you to create a ‘sandbox’ where you can test upgrades or new applications to be sure they cause no problems before actually installing them. That feature alone has saved my bacon several times, and is well worth the $27.95 price. Your Mac-using readers would do well to check it out. All who’ve commented on this topic are spot-on: backup is essential, however it’s done!”

FRANKLIN MINT COLLECTIBLES

You know why I’m not a superstar? Because in 1978, when I was on the “Tonight Show” trying to warn viewers off Franklin Mint collectibles as an investment – in a humorous way that I felt sure would amuse Johnny Carson and America – it went horribly wrong, and they kept playing the exit music louder and louder to prevent my saying something negative they thought might get NBC sued. So for that reason (and other, better ones) I was never invited back and never, therefore, became the Carl Sagan of my particular niche. It’s a longer story than that (it could have helped to unbutton my jacket when I sat down or to learn to wear contact lenses or, at the very least, not to have experimented with hair gel an hour before show time), but suffice it to say I have never been a fan of manufactured collectible medallions.

Well, here we are 32 years later and one of you emailed asking how to sell her beautiful Franklin Mint collection.

I suggested “Google it and let me know what you find out.” (I am nothing if not helpful.)

She let me know she could find no market for this stuff.

Google produced this from Scott Travers’ One-Minute Coin Expert:

Q. I have a collection of medallions struck by The Franklin Mint They’re attractive silver pieces portraying various United States presidents. I understand that very few were struck, and I have certificates from The Franklin Mint which guarantee they’re made of sterling silver. Are these medallions valuable?

A. Chances are, the items you have are worth no more than “melt value”-the value of the silver they contain. Thousands of Franklin Mint issues were struck and sold for substantial premiums, but a significant resale market never materialized. Your “medallions” may be beautiful, but they’re not negotiable; you can’t spend them. And since there isn’t a strong secondary market for these pieces as collectibles, the only real value they have is their precious metal.

Remember, three factors determine the value of a coin or medallion: (1) the level of preservation, which these medallions probably have in their favor because they are undoubtedly well preserved; (2) the number struck, and many Franklin Mint items have relatively low mintages; and (3) the collector base.

Even though your medallions may do well in two of these three areas, they’re seriously hurt in the third area – the collector base. And this is extremely important. Most collectors simply aren’t interested in Franklin Mint medallions. It’s a classic case of supply dramatically outstripping demand. Thousands are available and almost no one wants them.

If each of your medallions contains an ounce of silver, then each one is worth more or less the same as an ounce of silver. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

☞ But even getting fair melt value for your precious metal ain’t easy. One Wall Street Journal reporter was offered $600 and $750 in person for her stash – but ultimately got $1,570 without having to leave home to do it – as recounted here.

THE HARRY REID / TRENT LOTT THING

Oh, please. If anyone actually thinks Harry Reid’s tone-deaf comment praising Obama was even vaguely similar to Trent Lott’s wistfulness for the segregationist South (and I don’t think anyone actually does), Bill Press does a nice job of noting the difference here.

 

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