Rewire the Postal Service: Innovate or Die

Today’s postal service has a reputation for being slow and hopelessly stuck in the old ways. The term “snail mail” doesn’t sound much like a product that Google would be rolling out anytime soon. But it hasn’t always been this way: The U.S. Postal Service has a long history of exploiting technology to offer alternate means of message transmission. At it’s inception, part of the Postal Department’s mandate was the construction of a network of post roads for mail to travel along, infrastructure with obvious secondary benefits for the young nation. From there, mail traveled by pony express, railroad and steamship, surmounting the technical problems to keep communication on pace with the country’s expansion. Soon after the development of powered flight, the USPS innovated again by delivering mail by plane. Time and time again, circumstances have driven innovation, Between 1942 and 1945, “V-Mail” (for “Victory Mail”) service was available for […]

Uncovered: The Plot Against Lucky the Leprechaun

Do you remember, friend, that magical time back when the internet was entirely porn, plagiarized term papers, and totally useless bullshit?  Oh how I miss it.  (I would seriously subscribe to a 1996 version of the internet if someone would roll that out.  It’d be what, 500 megs total?) Topher’s Breakfast Cereal Character Guide is keeping that flame alive, serving as a vital repository for such ephemera as the tale of how General Mills once tried to put the hit out on Lucky the Leprechaun, esteemed pitchman for that barely-a-cereal Lucky Charms: General Mills attempted to replace L. C. Leprechaun in the mid-1970’s. Waldo the Wizard, a man in a green wizard’s cap and gown (and black sneakers on his feet), appeared on boxes in 1975. “Ibbledebibble delicicious”. Waldo was created by Alan Snedeker, and designed by Phil Mendez. It was a test to find a replacement for the leprechaun. […]

Public Service Announcement: Bedbug Registry dot Com

Let me break character here for a second and bitch about my life like it was Facebook and you cared.  If we’ve seemed a little sporadic and uneven in the last few weeks, that’d be due to the moving of TITLE HQ and all the hassles that presents.  Landlords are funny people, eh?  Just as a public service announcement, I now offer the following pieces of advice: Get it on paper, get everything on paper.  Don’t agree to anything that can’t be put into writing. Document pre-existing damages. Check up on your landlord.  Google is your weapon.  A good site to look for anything creepy-crawly in the past (and landlord reaction) is Bedbug Registry.  Spread the word on that one far and wide.

Why Prevent an Oil Spill Salvage Cash-In?

Yesterday, Andrew Revkin over at the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog asked the sky, the ether or whatever great beyond you’re shouting into when you end a blog post with ‘what are your thoughts?’: Why is salvaged oil going to BP instead of US reserves? Taken at face value, the answer is fairly obvious: well, because that crude sucks.  While it appears that this gushing black stuff is some high-grade light sweet Louisiana crude, the fact that it’s being captured by some jury-rigged piping installed by a chainsaw-wielding robot under a tight deadline or by whoever has the Dawn soap and the scrub brush on the beach indicates that maybe this stuff just might be half seawater and beach trash. However, this does raise an interesting point: is there money to be made in gleaning tarballs and filtering slicks, then selling off what you grabbed?  To explain a bit, […]

Rewire the Postal Service: Banking Goes Postal

In many countries, it is not uncommon for the postal service to offer savings accounts. These often serve low-income populations with small savings who may not get the best deal from checking accounts geared toward salaried 9-5ers.  The U.S. Postal Service formerly had such a system, offering savings accounts from 1911 – 1966 that paid out 2% annually on deposits. This might be just the moment to reinstate a postal savings account system. Personal savings are increasing while banks are cutting down on the freebies and easy access to checking and savings accounts that proliferated before the economic downturn (free checking and savings accounts are often only for students and direct deposit users). Free and easy bank accounts could go a long ways towards reducing the poor’s reliance on check cashing services that skim off a percentage of their earnings and could increase their personal savings rate. There’s also the […]

Thanks, Internet.

And now let’s take time out for some appalling clip art. Thanks Photoxpress!  Now I can ruminate all day on the sort of diseased mind that’s thinking ‘Hmm… somewhere out there there’s a man who needs a computer generated graphic of a broken seven-armed bald woman for his PowerPoint presentation.’