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Hey, Matt:

I seem to be the only one noticing this, but it's driving me crazy! I keep seeing California license plates that follow this pattern: a few numbers followed by the letters MA. The plates always have the American flag background. They seem to be popping up more and more. They are definitely not the "normal" randomly assigned plates. I thought it was some military type of plate, but they are not "exempt" plates and seem to have regular registrations. Have you seen them, and can you tell me what they mean?

-- Ali, Hillcrest

I certainly would like to say that the "MA" means it's a special-interest plate for "Straight from the Hip" fans and that half the proceeds go to me, but no dice. It's actually a California special-interest license plate, the "9/11 Memorial" plate, $90 ($70 renewal), with proceeds going to scholarship programs for the children of California victims of 9/11. Four numbers, two letters is the pattern, random or personalized. The fact that you saw two "MA" plates just means a bunch of "MA" randomized plates were distributed to San Diego. And you must hang around in philanthropic neighborhoods. I haven't seen one at all.

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