How the US Postal Service works
offers a glimpse into the massive automation behind the AFCS (Advanced Facer Canceller System) which helps deliver 150 million of pieces of mail daily
...yesterday a new government report detailed an innovation that would preserve one of the largest job creators in the country, save billions of dollars specifically for the poor, and develop the very ladders of opportunity that Obama has championed as of late. What’s more, this could apparently be accomplished without Congressional action, but merely through existing executive prerogatives.
What’s the policy? Letting the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offer basic banking services to customers, like savings accounts, debit cards and even simple loans... a way to deliver needed amenities to the nearly 68 million Americans—over one-quarter of U.S. households—who have limited or no access to financial services. Instead of banks, these mostly low-income individuals use check-cashing stores, pawnshops, payday lenders, and other unscrupulous financial services providers who gouged their customers to the tune of $89 billion in interest and fees in 2012.
- The Post Office Should Just Become a Bank
Between 1897 and 1953, the New York City post office used a system of pneumatic tubes to move up to 30% of its mail around the city. Among the first things sent whizzing across Manhattan during the inauguration of the system: a black cat.
Via the links in that Atlantic
article, you can find other strange aspects to the story. For example, there was a pneumatic subway in use in NYC by 1870 — The Beach Pneumatic Transit covered an entire block for three years!
The Secret History of Privacy.
"Something creepy happened when mystery became secular, secrecy became a technology, and privacy became a right..." [Via]
On July 1, 1963, The US Post Office introduced
the five-digit ZIP
Code with a series of PSAs broadcast on national TV
. The Atlantic looks at a new report [PDF]
that details the history of the now $9.5 billion a year product and its current state of affairs.
Be wary of talk about privatizing the post office.
'A recent default by the U.S. Postal Service has revived talk about privatizing the post office, but the U.S. mail hasn't come close to outliving its usefulness.' The Constitution, Article I, Section 8
, gives the federal government responsibility for postal service. 'Yet, in some quarters, talk of privatizing the post office never seems to ebb. That talk is experiencing another surge just now, because the U.S. Postal Service is in the process of defaulting on a payment of more than $5 billion owed to the Treasury.' [more inside]
As he travels the highways of America, courthouselover stops in every county and parish along the way to snap a photo of its courthouse
. "From the Prairie-style courthouses in the Dakotas to the antebellum beauties of Alabama, and from the Romanesque masterpieces of Central Texas and Indiana to the Mission style structures of New Mexico, they are all national treasures." [more inside]
of 'The World's Smallest Postal Service'
. In CA she sets up
her tiny shop
and sends miniature versions of transcribed letters, complete with little wax seals.
The US Postal Service announces a series of Simpsons stamps
to be released on May 7. [more inside]
Owney the Postal Dog
was the unofficial mascot of the U.S. postal service in the 1890s, riding the rails with the mails and accumulating an impressive collection of dog tags on a specially designed vest. He even made it as far as Japan
, being issued a special postal class (Registered Dog Package) and an official Japanese passport. After an illustrious career, however, Owney met a sticky end -- shot by the police under dubious circumstances in Toledo in 1897. [more inside]
Comic Strip Classics Stamps.
Related :- A nice collection of exhibits at the National Postal Museum
, part of the Smithsonian (such as this exhibit
of Cuban stamps and this one
on FDR's stamp collecting); the Bath Postal Museum
of British postal history; stamps of Greenland
; stamps of Tibet.
Ever Try Getting Wine Shipped in the U.S.?
Looks like Montana had set up a "wine connoisseur" rule that allowed for some shipping into the state if you filled out some paperwork, blah blah blah. PAIN!
As someone who enjoys a good wine and wanted to order a bunch of it earlier in '02 when I was in Sonoma, CA and have it shipped home, only to be crushed when I couldn't have it done, I'm looking for a way to get this to work.
Anyone else come across these various laws? Anyone else live in a state where they CAN get wine shipped in to them? 13 states allow reciprocal shipping from other partner states, and 14 others have some strict rules about it. Will opening these rules up allow minors an easy way to get alcohol?
Some great links at the bottom of the article, too.
Two sworn enemies
that have been battling for a hundred years, each with their own agenda. Neither side has the moral high ground, and you would think that one side would know better than to use the tactics they do. Another mid-east post? Nope. Mail-carriers versus dogs.
Anthrax Appears To Be Home Grown.
Something more than sensationalist anchor people reading off tele-prompters. A low key approach to questions I think a lot of people have
YES! You can help save the US Postal Service!
With the USPS raising rates every month, it seems, and continuing to run with a $2 billion deficit, it's beginning to look like this quasi-public agency is going to lose the battle to those other overnight delivery companies. But since there are some people who can't afford the luxury of email or the high prices of FedEx, there must be something the common man can do to help keep Ben Franklin's baby afloat. There is!
via Pigs & Fishes
Post Office May End Saturday Delivery...
One day I'll be may be able to tell my children, "When I was your age mail was delivered six days a week." My children will respond in awe.
Had this idea
about a year ago over beer, when netthings were a-cookin', fleshed it out with some geek-comrades, pitched it under an NDA to a VC, got the green light, and then chickened out and went back to the day job. Once you really thought it through and calculated the wired populace as a percentage of the unwired, we figured, the idea was fabulous, a service to The People and
a MoneyMaker. Now someone else
seems to have had the same idea, more or less. I wish them luck. If it takes off, I'm gonna feel mighty dumb, and if it tanks, mighty lucky.
Now I can finally ask the MeFi jury...Silly thing or smart?
Post Office expedites delivery of military ballots
. "...such a procedure cannot be done with civilian overseas absentee ballots because they arrive at numerous air mail centers throughout the country, not just in Florida."
How can this be fair? Republicans have been smugly contending that the military vote will seal the election for them, while the Democrats are hoping for votes from Floridians in Israel. I smell a conspiracy.