User:Sober Thought

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This article describes the real life motivations of the creator of Sober Thought. For gameplay relating to this country, see Sober Thought. For fictional details of the structure of the NationStates country, see Sober Thought game.

Sober Thought
Flag of Sober Thought
Motto: We are extreme in our moderation (changed to advert for flags on NS
Regional only / Carte régionale seulement / nur Regionalkarte; thanks Domnonia!
Region International Democratic Union
Capital Capital Province, bicephalous English-French beast
Official Language(s) English, français simple, schlecht Deutsch
Leader Extreme Moderate, alias RL Andrew "Anderskin" De New
Population over 1.5 billion served!
Currency Denkmark 
NS Sunset XML

Why I came here

I came to this site in real life accidentally while searching for the Grand Duchy of Fenwick. Although my specific goal was not met, the site intrigued me enough to give NationStates a try. The deciding factor was the ability to create my own flag.

I try to take it "seriously" in the sense that I respond to issues, diplomatic overtures and communications as if they were real. What follows is both my real life and game attitudes and ambitions.

Why am I still here

Good question. At times, NS has become more interesting and rewarding than RL, always a bad sign for one's mental health. 8^) My NS Wiki entry has grown from the single Nation template page I started with and expected to end with to several dozen and counting, attracting the attention (and sometimes polite wrath) of several NSWikipedians.

On a deeper level, I found a fine community in the IDU and NSWiki which extended beyond mere gameplay (and much more roleplay than I'd ever thought I'd want to engage in) and into conversations philosophical and less weighty.

I think this is a common experience, because policy wonks who stick with NS beyond the first CTE-deadline of 28 days are much more committed, interesting and communicative people than you're ever likely to meet in everyday life. North Americans, Europeans and Antipodeans can all converse likeminded deviants half way (or for the Aussies, three quarters of the way -- you figure it out 8^) ) around the world.

While from time to time I cross the pond, I never get to meet as interesting people on the plane or in country as I do here. Take a bow, Grosseschnauzer, Yuunli, Antrium, Lawtonia, Mikitivity and Groot Gouda, among many others I have had the privilege of communicating.

What are my values

I am political centrist with a slight left-wing bent. In the NS and real life worlds, I usually rank personal freedom first, political freedom second and economic freedom third. Inoffensive Centrist Democracy is my normal UN Category, but I've variously been Liberal Social Democrats, Social Democrats and even Capitalist Paradise.

I prefer to disassociate myself from anti-democratic, communist, fascist, authoritarian and anarchic regimes, policies and alliances. This has proved a useful policy which makes my earlier statements about the quality of people I meet in NS possible to make so categorically.

I am dedicated to civility and reason in all communications, and I expect no less from others. One of my regular passtimes consists of ratting out n00bs who respond to my polite and informative recruiting telegrams with illiterate insults (or would be insults, like my new baseline n00b insult: "Your gay" [sic]). Typically, they have at least several offensive nation names, flags, currencies, mottoes and national animals, so they do all my work for me.

I enjoy engaging in reasoned debate and dialectic; some of the best ideas come from the synthesis of others which would never have flown on their own. My exchanges with ALincoln (via my puppet of Hamilton Ontario) have been especially rewarding because we share neither citizenship nor political orientation, but rather mutual respect and a willingness to learn about the political culture of one another's countries.

I strongly believe in a secular state combined with wide religious freedom when it does not contradict the former. Although I am an atheist, I am not anti-religious and I can easily converse and find common ground with moderate religious believers (sometimes easier than dealing with harder core atheists). I lost a friend that way, in part because he adamantly and publicly insisted that any stripe of theist was prima facie stupid. (And in part because of an acquired brain injury. Remember, kids and parents, wear those bicycle helmets, even on bicycle paths and grassland!)

What I have done here

After debating for a couple of weeks, and based in part on entries in the NSWiki, I decided to join the International Democratic Union. You might consider this route when picking your own game region.

I joined the United Nations on March 3, 2005, after some hesitation and deliberation. I was pleased to support, promote and vote for the first proposal on the UN World Organ Donor Centre which reflected my values and will have only a moderate effect if adopted. While I have sporadically contributed to polishing UN proposals, others in the IDU are much more dedicated to it than me.

In real life as in NationStates, I try to think the issues through and make the most informed, rational, sensible and moderate decision based on the options presented. I realise it makes game play possible, but I dislike the fact that there are typically only 2-4 options per issues, when I often have a better option in mind that is not listed. Since the UN crafts its own legislation to issues, this is a bonus. Clearly, I should draft my own issues and submit them to moderators instead of complaining. 8^) I did draft a couple, but the weren't adopted by mods.

I also became active in my region, working as quasi-self-appointed Immigration Minister for many months and elected UN Delegate for a while. I made a botch of it, because my RL was going in the crapper around the same time so I couldn't properly fulfill my functions. In addition to other worries, losing daily and sometimes weekly internet access made defending against invaders and voting for UN resolutions difficult!

Fortunately, Grosseschnauzer, with whom I had the most civilised election campaign and discussions about the possibility of this eventuality, ably took over the daily administration and left me to make such contributions as I was able in a supportive rather than leading capacity. Happily, GS has won re-election after being acting delegate for so long during my incapacity. Consider the fine leadership shown here to RL examples, and you'll see how NS can become a more attractive place to live.

Those who are looking for a customised flag can send me a telegram or use the Custom Flag Service I set up and to which I still contribute. No matter how you reach me, I'll draft one or more proposals -- subject to North American Vexillological Association guidelines, my own values listed above and my sense of style -- for your consideration. I will make it within the pixel and kilobyte range the game demands (but without animation), and send it to you as a JPEG or in some mutually agreeable manner.

What I thought I would not do here (and did)

I didn't think I'd get into role playing, but I got in much deeper than that. By some measures, e.g., NSwikimania, I am much more RP'd than my region or any region; by others, e.g., RP sports, I am much less so. Although I pay no attention to sports in RL, so perhaps that's unfair. 8^)

What I though I would not do here (and didn't)

I won't invade a region nor defend one indefinitely if barbarians are at the gates. I'm here to play, not be prevented from playing.

I will not denigrate people, engage in flamewars, nor spend too much time defending myself against these. As mentioned earlier, most barbs are rather dull and ill-aimed ones from n00bs which I can deflect rather easily. A few times I got friendly with new and (to me) unknown nations and lived to regret it, but that's the price you pay for being open. Frankly, the pay off has been enormous for the few hassles I've gotten -- better than any other online environment and most offline ones too.

Message aux francophones

J'ai trouvé le site web pour le jeu NationStates par accident quand j'ai cherché le Grand Duchy of Fenwick (une place imaginée aux romans américains des années 50 et aux films britanniques des années 60). Après j'ai lu que je pourrais faire un drapeau unique, je me suis inscrire au jeu toutesuite.

Je modèle mes politiques, choix, écrits et activités au jeu NS à ceux de ma vraie vie, c'est-à-dire: politique centre-gauche, soutien de la démocratie, la politesse et discussions logiques.

Je me suis inscrire à la région International Democratic Union qui croit et garde mes croyances dessus. Le IDU a un article (en anglais seulement) dans ce Wiki et il m'a aidé de choisir ma région. S'il y a une région vraiment francophone et tu voudrais me donner de l'information sur elle, veuilles m'envoyer un télégramme.

Du 3 mars 2005, je suis un membre des Nations-Unies. J'aime bien le premier projet de loi qu'elles ont adopté après j'ai devenu un membre, au sujet des transplantations des organes humains.

Si on a besoin d'un drapeau unique, je peux les faire en se fondant des règles du North American Vexillological Association (Société nord-américaine des drapeaux, texte anglais, mais je peux te donner un sommaire français ou une traduction par Babelfish), mes croyances et le mode. J'en ferrais en accord avec les règles du jeu et t'en envoie par courriel. J'ai créé aussi le Service des drapeaux uniques, ou` on peut lancer un demande n'importe quelle région de résidence.

Si on voudrais me battre ou insulter, n'oblie jamais que NationStates n'est qu'un jeu, pas ma vie; je ne voudrais ni donner des coups accepter ni insultes ni affronts. Il est peu probable que je fasse une région qui garderais mes croyances; ce projet demande plus du temps et travail que je voudrais lui donner, et il y a déjà quelques autres régions qui sont démocratiques comme mon pays.

"Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver." (Merci, Gilles Vigneault.) Ou, quand j'ai faim: "Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, St-Hubert." (Merci, Bowser et Blue. Pour les liseurs de cet article qui ne sont pas canadiens, St-Hubert est un resto vite des poulets qui se trouve au Québec.)

Zum Deutschesprächers

Ich kann nur ein klein bißchen schlecht Deutsch schreiben und lesen. Aber das ist richtung Deutsch, kein Babelfish Deutsch. Jeden Jahr, ich fliege nach Deutschland und besuche mein Bruder. Und diser Jahr, er und seine Söhne haben mir ersten mal in Kanada besuchen. Super!

Ich bin demokratisch, bißchen sozialdemokratisch, und ich will eine Gemeinde des andere Staaten auch demokratische. Mein Spielstaat heißt richtig "Gemeinde of Sober Thought."

Ich möchte spielen nicht kampfen, mitsprechen nicht gegengehen.

Ich kann für einmann die Fähne oder Flaggen machen. Fraggen Sie mir mit Telegram oder auf Custom Flag Service.

Bitte lesen North American Vexillological Association Sie und fragen mir. Keine Nationalsozialistische, Kommunistische oder anderes Antidemokratische Symbols, bitte.


Currency survey

This article describes the entire life cycle of a survey Sober Thought conducted on national currencies as used in the game of NationStates. Readers may use it as a guide for future surveys or as a formum for discussion about the methodology on the Discussion tab.

Based on an indicative survey of NS currencies, whose tabulated results and methods are detailed in latter sections, we now have some sketchy knowledge where none had existed before.

Not unexpectedly, dollars of one kind or another were the most popular. Somewhat unexpectedly, European-inspired currencies collectively were almost as popular. About one third of all NS currencies are based on actual, former or fictional real life currencies, in which the pound sterling and the science fiction credit also performed well.

About two thirds of all NS currencies exist only in NS and are apparently not inspired by RL currencies. Home and office terminology, no doubt encouraged by using computers on company time and dime for NS purposes, predominated, accounting for roughly a seventh of the whole total and twice as much for the NS-only main division.

The portion of naughty currency and nice names (typically relating to love or sex) was just under a tenth of the total. The true number may be higher because when classifying such things as "bone" (simultaneously a euphemism for money, penis and sexual congress; not to mention a body part), contextual cues (e.g., flag, national animal, national motto, national name) were used to give the most generous interpretation possible in the circumstances. Drug names were almost non-existent, being represented by a single example (cocaine).

About a twentieth of players chose generic names like "money," "currency" and "trinket," sometimes modified to reflect a country's interests.

Tabulated results

Approximately one hundred countries were sampled on the arbitrary date of 10 November 2005. See latter sections for a detailed list of the underlying assumptions and methods used in the survey.

REAL LIFE currencies total 34
 DOLLAR currencies total 14
  unspecified 8
  RL specified/implied 2 [Canada, Trinadad]
  NS specified 3 [God-dollar, Bama Buck, kriegsdollar]
  units/coins 1
 STERLING currencies total 5
  unspecified 4
  RL specified 0
  NS specified 1
  units/coins 3 [farthing, shilling, guinea]
 EUROPEAN (influenced) currencies total 12
  EURO total 3
   unspecified 1
   NS specified 2 [weuro (probably allusion to NS nation), French euro (RL non-sequitur)]
  MARK total 2
   unspecified 0
   RL specified 1 [Reichsmark]
   NS specified 1 [Dalmark]
  ROYALS [REALS, REIS, REAIS; Spanish/Portugese language] total 3 
   unspecified 3 [including pau, also a naughty bit nickname]
  FRANC total 1
   unspecified 1
  DINAR total 1
   unspecified 1
  DENARIUS total 1
   Unspecified 1
  NS specified 1 [yuan]
  unspecified 1 [penny, could be sterling, dollar or generic]
 REAL LIFE fanciful total 4
  unspecified 3 [han solo brick (not country name), (Molvania) strubl, credit] 
  NS specified 1 [imperial credit]
NATION STATES only total 64
 Apparent NAMES OF PEOPLE(S) 5
  Apparent player name 5 [shu-wei (also Chinese historical name), connies, rack (apparent name/nickname, not bust), ben, Vera]
  Other people(s) [genie (djinn), dali, Irish, neo-arcadion chrys] 4
 HOME & OFFICE total 16
  food & drink 4 [coffee bean, rice, (tea) bag, treat (animal food)]
  office supplies 6 [CD, calculator, pen, paper (Flat Stanley), thumbtack, (pencil) lead]
  office terminology 4 [Pica, smarmy, bribe marker, poor]
  misc. 2 [spoon, (pant) seam]
 NAUGHTY & NICE total 8
  naughty 6 [pau (Brazilian Portugese for buck and dick), sin, schlong, bone [penis or intercourse intended]]
  nice 2 [both love]
  drugs 1 [cocaine]
  love & sex 5 [2x love, schlong, bone, Trist [i.e., tryst]]
 MINERALS total 8
  stones 3 [stone, rock, flintstone]
  metals 5 [jingle, ringot + golds]
  gold(en) 3 [golden pog, golden ring, gold coin]
 ANIMALS & PARTS total 5
  whole 1 [turkey]
  part 4 [finger, (crocodile) tooth, skull, Bone (skeleton)) 
  established words 3 [gonzo, yuck, tonight]
  NS nonce words 6 [Yashoor, gutj, neutronium groat, Dolompira, Honamonapod, kyorn, quellian] 
 GENERIC total 6
  money 2 
  currency 1
  token 1
  note 1
  trinket 1
  unspecified 2 
  specified 4 [cool money, kitty note, aviatior (sic) token]
UNCLASSIFIED total 2 [anarch, ION]

Since one birth region is as good as any other, The North Pacific was chosen by flipping coins to to choose one that wasn't The East Pacific because the author sometimes hangs out at 1 Infinite Loop's EP Flag Service. Instead of an EP sample size of 50 to 100 nations as originally planned, only 25 were sampled and consequently the remainder of the sample was proprotionately reduced.

There are slight discrepancies in the tabulations. These are caused by inconsistent notetaking during the collection of raw data, simple addition errors, respondents slotted into multiple non-exclusive categories (e.g., "bone"), and faulty retabulation after unclassified respondents (e.g., "shu-wei") were classified or misclassified responents were reclassifed upon receipt of additional information (e.g., "pau"). Sample responses are listed in [] square brackets, but country names are omitted to preserve the anonymity of respondentns. Thanks to all who helped, and please add your name if you are comfortable.

If you would like to conduct your own currency survey in your own large (100+ nation) region, please contact me by telegram. By combining our efforts, we may be able to combine a series of regional studies into something useful for the whole NS world.


While writing the article for currencies, and noticing the lack of statistical data in such other gameplay articles as the one for UN Category, this survey seemed like a good project to broaden the base of NS knowledge and NSWiki value.

Unfortunately, a currency survey is not as simple and easy to execute as the one for the "UN Category" article. There are only 27 possible values in the game-generated UN Category field, such as Inoffensive Centrist Democracy or Democratic Socialists. Furthermore, while these categories appear to be subjective, they are in fact objective in the sense that the computer takes your responses to the daily issues and computes their effect on several key variables which also include economy and civil rights.

In contrast, I estimate the Currency field contains millions of potentially meaningful values (ignoring capitalisation, spelling conventions and mistakes, symbols, abbreviations, etc.) and at least (28x27x26x...x7x6x5) in theoretical absolute values.

This survey was attempted by a person whose last mathematics class attended was as a grade 8 pupil in 1981. Nevertheless, the survey is likely interesting and tolerably scientific to be useful. More qualified statisticians are encouraged to leave suggestions for improvement at the Discussion tab or by personal telegram.

Imagining a representative sample

A sample size of two and five hundred pseudo-respondents seemed manageable. In rough figures, during the last year the universe of NS nations has ranged between 100,000 and 150,000, and regions 6,000 to 7,000. This translates into a sample rate of roughly 0.1-0.5%. However, the response rate is effectively 100% since it is not an interview survey but a sample taken from publicly available documents. Thus, a rate of ~0.2% is probably adequate for the task.

In the process of designing a sample, consideration was given to some easily discernable and probably important variables. Observational data from myself and others indicated that players in each of the regions or groups of regions listed below collectively behave differently than those in other groups or regions. Furthermore, these behaviour differences might reasonably be expected to carry over into the naming of national currencies.

Real life regions

Most if not all sensible persons would conclude one's real world country of residence or birth is likely to have a measurable and probably the strongest causal relationship with one's NationStates currency. Certainly, many currencies are widely known outside their (former) home countries (dollar, yen, pound, ruble) and might reasonably be adopted by foreigners and thus be over-represented in returns. However, it is a safe bet in any currency that few New Zealanders would choose the Bulgarian "lek" as their money or Eritreans the Thai "bhat."

In the absence of known reliable census or survey (or even a generally accepted speculation) of players' RL homes, the following assumptions were made:

  • 65% United States and Canada
  • 10% Continental Europe
  • 10% United Kingdom and Eire
  • 10% Australia and New Zealand
  • 4% Latin America (chiefly Mexico and Brazil)
  • 1% elsewhere

The existence of puppet nations and their probable uneven distribution in the real world (for instance, because of language difficulties, the scarcity of computers or internet connect fees) makes any RL origin survey difficult. A proxy for RL region is membership in NS regions based on RL locations.

NationState region

Pacific residents ~25%
Newly created nations are randomly assigned to one of the five birth regions: The Pacific, The North Pacific, The East Pacific, The South Pacific or The West Pacific. Such a high concentration of n00bs/newbs and people who never bothered to change the region in which they were born would seem to skew the results towards unimaginative and perhaps even offensive names.

Rejected Realms residents ~5%
The Rejected Realms is a unique region because no nation can be ejected from there since it is the destination for existing nations which have been ejected from other regions. Of course a nation may leave TRR immediately upon arrival, but some remain by default or preference, and some even arrive by a regular move rather than ejection. This tends to favour an anarchic atmosphere, in both its positive and negative connotations, which one may speculate will translate into a larger portion of unique or artistic currencies than elsewhere.

Lazarus residents ~5%
Nations which have ceased to exist but have subsequently been raised from the dead naturally appear in Lazarus. They are inactive for long periods (which is why they CTE'd) but remain emotionally attached to their nations (which is why they didn't just create a new nation from scratch). One may conjecture they will produce similar but less pronounced results than TRR.

Player created region residents ~65% cumulative
About two thirds of NS nations reside by conscious choice in player created regions. This choice may come through self-referral, recruiting telegram, ad spam or by creating one's own region. Each of these four routes represents a potentially distinct group of players, which nevertheless cannot be easily distinguished.

However, the population of a region is an objective measure and is much easier to establish. Taking the total number of nations in the NS world, subtracting the roughly one third who live in game created regions, dividing by the total number of NS regions (or if you're really picky, subtracting 7 from the divisor first), one comes up with a mean of about 8-15 nations per region. The mode is likely 1, and the median is probably lower than the mean. Bearing these factors in mind, the following tripartite division seems helpful:

  • Regions with one nation ~5%. People fly solo for diverse reasons, including sanctuary, puppet storage, raider trophy, pathological hostility, extreme introversion, unpopularity, recent creation, etc. Nevertheless, most of these seem skewed to unique currencies so they should be underrepresented.
  • Regions with 2-49 nations ~5%. Probably underrepresented, but presumed to be well-covered elsewhere in the sample.
  • Regions with 50+ nations ~55%. One forum or another includes semi-regularly compiled lists of regions ordered by number of resident nations greater than 50. Almost all of these will be same ones counted under #Real life regions (~50% of the sample), preferably coming from the most populous ones with NS names most closely reflecting the RL one, a proxy for the age and respectability of a region. The remaining ~5% comes from gaps in the list ordered by regional population.

Alphabetical order

Appearance of regions and nations in alphabetical order can significantly skew the sample. Ones with lead characters that file before "A" (such as zero, hyphen or space) are highly suggestive of a spurious, placeholding or otherwise extremely atypical region or nation, so the study will treat them as non-responses and keep all of them from the sample.

Nations beginning with "N" are substantially more likely to skew the results towards a greater frequency of RL currency adoptions since they will include names beginning with "New," "Nouveau," "Neu," "Nuevo," "Nieuw," "Nova," etc. A country called "New Queensland" is much more likely to adopt the "Australian dollar" than one called "Pleasantville" or even "Nieuwe Nederlands."

Nations beginning with "J," "Q," "X," "Y" and "Z" (sorry Zambia!) are substantially more likely to skew the results towards a greater frequency of NS-only currency adoptions since they are more likely to begin with or consist entirely of unique, rare, bizarre or truly fictitious placenames. "Zyglor" is much more likely to adopt the "Glaxxyg" than "Beerland."

Besides these six, no other leading letter appears to consistently and significantly skew the sample and impair its validity. Provided there are equal numbers of nations from the N and high-scoring Scrabble letters, the rest can be chosen in the approximate order of their actual incidence.

Imagining a taxonomy

Based mainly on experience writing recruiting telegrams for the International Democratic Union, the following multi-tiered classification seemed reasonable.

Real world or real world-inspired

The dollar must clearly be the most popular currency. The large number of anticipated dollar responses would seem to make subdivisions helpful. The categories of unspecified, RL specified (possibly with actual percentages for each of the US$, A$, C$ and NZ$), NS specified and unambiguous nickname (e.g., Buck or Greenback but not Clam or Skins). Other currencies expected to make a strong showing (pound/punt, mark, franc, euro, yen and ruble) will warrant similar sub-categories.

This category will include currencies and coins known to the surveyor to be real world historical ones. Examples may be currencies of extinct or aspirant countries and regions (Yugoslav dinar, Hispano-American dubloon, Biafran shilling, N.E.I. guilder, etc.), obsolete currencies of still-existing countries or regions (Bolivian peso, South African krugerrand, Japanese koku, Austrian thaler, etc.), or units of any of the above. While the surveytaker's knowledge is broad, a small number of misclassifications is likely.

Real world fanciful

There are many colloquialisms or nicknames for real coins or currencies (fufi = 50 pfennige German coin, loonie = Canadian dollar coin, bob = 12 British d. or 5 n.p.). These would appear under their RL inspirations mark, dollar and pound (and as nicknames if such sub-categories existed).

However, the real world often provides a list of fanciful but widely understood and dictionary-defined words or names. Think of numbers like jillion, zillion or gazillion; places like Easy Street, Boonieville and Skid Row; forces ranks like Grofaz, Bedpan Commando and Sky Pilot; people like Joe Bloggs, John Barleycorn and Baby Jane Doe. They are not real, but they are real world.

While I am aware of many fewer equivalents in the field of currencies, I would consider ones like semoles, clams and big ones as part of this class. Of course, many supposedly fanciful money words are more archaic than truly fictional, such as piastre, two bits (two of a Spanish piece of eight) or shekels (although Israel revived the currency in modern times).

NationStates only

This seems to be a somewhat amorphous category which will likely only take shape during or after the collection of the raw data.

Precious metals, gemstones and similar items like pearls will probably make up the bulk of this section. There might even be enough to warrant two or three sub-divisions, and for gold, maybe even sub-sub-divisions.

Another likely category will likely be (formerly) living creatures, plants, edibles and other products of nature. Some of course will be accidents because of the proximity of national currency and national. Many others, however, will be intentional and perhaps inspired by unusual natural currencies used in the real world like cowrie shells, salt and giant round rocks.

Significant numbers of scatological, pharmaceutical, procreational, anatomical, risque and just plain disgusting currencies are also likely to show up. Clearly illegal names might be reported to mods, especially if they evoke or are part of a wider Nazi, Communist, totalitarian, authoritarian or similar theme in the NS country.

Small numbers of phrases rather than nouns and adjectives may also crop up. One half-forgotten currency was something like "little bits of shiny things."

There might even be a few "none" -- either using the word, leaving it blank, using invisible characters. Should one interpret " " as "Space," "Six Spaces," "Sickspaces," "Blank," "Null" or something else entirely?

A few will just defy classification because they use ambiguous symbols or characters lacking apparent literary meaning. How would I classify ")("? Is an "X," "Ex," "Brackets," "Parentheses," "Close parenthesis, open parenthesis," or just the product of crazed chimpanzee loosed on a keyboard? (In fact, despite earlier experiments which seemed to prove otherwise, these are illegal characters and could not exist.)

Even ones that appear simple on the surface could prove troublesome. Does "#" represent "Number," "Pound (avoirdupois)," "Pound (sterling)" or "Hash(mark)" -- all of which are in common circulation? (See above.) Or what about "Y": "Why," "YMCA," "YWCA, "YMHA," "Yen," or, to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes a "Y" is just a "Y."