Hard News by Russell Brown

Freaky Money

It's not often I get a courier pack from the Reserve Bank, let alone one with money in it. In fact, it's never happened before. But a nice little media pack with examples of the new 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces arrived at Dubwise Towers this week.

The new money is, as you might expect, much smaller (the bank says the present 50 cent piece, at 31.75mm in diameter and weighing a hefty 13.31 grams, is one of the largest circulating coins in the world) and made of steel, rather than cupro-nickel.

The new 50 has a perfectly smooth edge, but apart from that looks like a miniature version of the old one. As does the 10, except it's now copper plated and (from memory) somewhere between the size of the deleted one and two cent pieces. Two 20 (slightly larger than the 10) is quite different and has "Spanish flower" edging.

There's more information on the new coins website. It's all very sensible I'm sure, but I hereby predict the following: on the first Friday night after the new coins are released (July 31) some young jack-the-lad at a nightclub, having partaken liberally of the disco biscuits, will receive one of the new mini-me fifties in his bar change. It will look freakishly small, and his palm unfeasibly vast. He will squint and close one eye and then the other and it will still look that way. And it will seriously mess with his head …

Speaking of altered states, this story is a bit of a 60s flashback. It reports the belief of researchers who gave psilocybin to some religiously-inclined test subjects that "profound mystical states can be produced safely in the laboratory." Well, yeah, but it works even better at Glastonbury …

And, staying with the theme, Syd Barrett is dead. There's lots of YouTube goodness.

PS: A notional chocolate fish to Rex Widerstrom for being the only reader to point out that yesterday I had Don Brash's director of "forward reconnaissance" as the director of "forward renaissance" - twice. I take some pride in my spelling, rather less in my typing. I can only plead that I am currently somewhat deranged by the hours I have spent working at my computer in the last three days. But I'm warming to the idea of "forward renaissance".