Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"Oh, yeah? Well how has the War On A Noun inconvenienced...

...you?"

I'm sure we're all safer for Marko hand-carrying the baby clothes to the post office. Achmed could never figure that one out.


Security theater for the microcephalic masses...

19 comments:

comatus said...

Tell you what. It inconvenienced the living shit out of the postal workers who got killed by mail bombs and anthrax. Don't they have UPS where Marko lives? Bet they don't have any rules at all.

Don Gwinn said...

You are too cute for words.

They're the "Post Office." POST Office. Post means mail.

If they aren't willing to pick up an envelope from my mailbox and deliver it to the mailbox I have helpfully specified on the outside of the envelope, what use are they?

Ben said...

I hear the US Air Force has a special going on Same Day Coast to Coast Express Service on weapons of mass destruction. Have USPS give the baby clothes to them next time. Just don't forget to arm them first.

Anonymous said...

It inconveniences me every time I just think of going on a commercial airplane. Don't get me started on the national ID card or SEA.

Joe

Merl said...

Explain to me how a ten ounce limit would prevent someone from mailing anthrax. I beilieve they used standard 1 oz. first class mail last time. And the bomb only weighing ten ounces isn't going to mean much to the poor sap holding it. Besides Abdul Mohammad al-Jihadi isn't going to be all that inconvenienced by taking his package of love to the post office.

comatus said...

What use are they? Well, how about a handy way to shut down commerce, anonymously maim your mother-in-law, or trigger incendiaries in cargo holds? Continual readers of speculative fiction will have run across those ideas before. It isn't an envelope--it's a small parcel. Small parcels are like crack for infernal-device hobbyists. Every one of them mailed gets some level of scrutiny. USPS found they were unable to do this reliably for residential collection mail. So they made a rule--before Homeland Security even existed. So far, they've been volunteered to spend about a billion (of what would have been their operating capital) on devices to detect explosives and poisons, and in some cases to neutralize them on the fly. Maybe it works, and maybe they'll get orders to shrug and give up. But they figured they ought to at least try. The last bomb that killed a postal worker was in this same size category. In e-messaging, you usually don't accept every package you're offered without scrutinizing it first. In the world of blood and guts this is trickier, and the stakes aren't a cookie virus that might slow down your WoW session.

Guess what: you can't mail snakes, either.

Zendo Deb said...

It is like having to show a picture ID at the airport a million times.

Terrorists are bad people, but they aren't vampires. They can get their picture taken. (That is a paraphrase, because I can't remember the quote from Tammy Bruce.) Showing a picture ID more than once does not keep terrorists off the planes.

Billy Beck said...

Zendo Deb --

I had a scene at the airport in Ithaca, New York, a while back. The whole terminal building is about as big as a large drug store. At one point, the TSA clown turned to the sheriff's deputy standing right there and said, "I don't understand this outburst; Mr. Beck comes through my line all the time and we've never had a problem."

Of course, there was no way the absurdity of it was going to break in on the stoopid bastard, but one of my friends from Atlanta later said in incredulous tones: "Jesus fucking Christ, nobody knows my name at Hartsfield!"

Imbeciles.

comatus said...

When they know your name at Hartsfield, baby, you've *arrived.*

Billy Beck said...

That's the truth. My boss is in that class, and it's something to watch.

Of course, he's the only double Oscar winner I've ever worked with.

And even then; the Stoopid Bastards shake his hand and ask for his autograph and then still make him take his shoes off going through the magnetometer.

Gregg said...

Comatus,
Last time I checked incendiaries were not allowed in the cargo holds of civilian aircraft. Thus, that's non-issue.

Just how does one "shut down commerce" with a device in a 10 ounce parcel? The only material I am aware of that MIGHT incomvenience commerce in a limited area is so expensive/ complicated to acquire, that it is better employed in other ways.

Yes, it can be used to anonymously injure your mother in law, but with current forensics and a monkey as an investigator you are not likely to get away with it.

Which leaves us with potential injury to postal workers. The threat just does not appear to justify the response.

Oh, and as for the anthrax hoopla, please note that we had more deaths due to natural occurences of anthrax annually up until recently than we had from the "anthrax terror attacks".

Lots of flash not much bang, or in the immortal words of Billy "...full of sound and fury signifying nothing...".

(That's Billy the Bard and I'm sure it was a praphrase rather than a direct quote.)

comatus said...

Incendiaries are not allowed in the cargo holds of civilian aircraft. Well, there's a non-issue for you. What if you're the guy charged with not letting any in, given that someone may not have politely followed your request? That's where this rule came from.

Just how does one "shut down commerce" with a device in a 10 ounce parcel? Easy: Do a bunch of them, over time, so that people no longer feel safe in committing commercial paper to the mails. Just like a cyber attack, without the cyber.

The current forensics and monkey investigators have to keep on doing monkey forensics, or mothers-in-law start dropping. Just because it seems easy to you doesn't mean everyone will quit trying it. They come back.

"Up until recently." Until USPS bought that billion dollars worth of death-rays. Up until recently, when an airplane hit a skyscraper, I blamed the ATC.

"I pray you all, tell me what they deserve that do conspire my death with devilish plots?"-Richard III

7.62x54r said...

People that decide to kill their M-in-L are going to do it regardless of the monkeys with DNA kits. People that don't kill their M-in-L aren't suddenly going to decide to if the monkey's with DNA kits go away.

The short of it is the PO sucks, their rules suck, and their service sucks. Allow competition and stop subsidizing them and they'll last about a week tops. The free market replacements will bend over backwards to take your package in the manner most convenient for you the customer, not the manner most convenient for them. If they don't the next mail service down the block will be happy to and they'll go the way of theoretically defunct gov't mail service.

comatus said...

Well, we're certainly out of the closet now, but that's not the argument. If Marko thought the post office sucked, he would not have done business with them. He was complaining about a rule he thought was imposed by Homeland Security. It wasn't, and, as it turned out, it was probably overseas customs forms that were the hold-up. I'm pointing out that, given what they have experienced, USPS had sufficient cause to invoke the rule. And the first thing I suggested, see above, was that he avail himself of the competition's service. So we really don't have anything to argue about.

I said MAIM the mother-in-law. If the post office sucks SO BAD, you probably couldn't trust them to kill her.

7.62x54r said...

I agree, nothing truly important should be left up to the gov't.

Gregg said...

Comatus,
Actually, no the anthrax deaths decreased due to updated practices in the textile industry. The USPS had nothing to do with it. Basically the whole anthrax scare was nothing but flash with no substance. In fact there really wasn't much flash to it either.

Oh, btw I avoid the USPS whenever possible. The internet nd modern tech allows one to go years without using the USPS.

Since you seem so happy to be inconvenienced and appear to enjoy prior restraint laws, why pray tell are you living in a free country?

comatus said...

Who was mailing all that fabric? Certainly a general rise in public health must be a benefit; it was the very rarity of anthrax that gave it shock value. Careful here, though: the decrease in (non-mail)anthrax was not achieved without considerable government intrusion--a large-scale sheepherder might even call it prior restraint. Not that that's a good thing, but don't poison your well.

I don't think we're done with anthrax. Once everybody is looking the other way, some morons will start sprinkling white powder again. If it was an easy way to undermine customers' ability to use your own product, or kill your employees, you might see it differently. I admit to not being a big believer in the "lay down and spread them" defense against industrial sabotage; I have a refinery in my back yard.

This is not about whether you like mailing things or not. Marko was the one using the postal service, and apparently was happy to do so. I'd never require you to use it, but people do use it, and for many kinds of commerce, it hasn't been replaced yet. When I order something on-line, it doesn't show up in my CD drawer.

Every time I post, I have to key in a string of nonsense letters for verification. That's recent, and inconvenient. I wonder why bloggers put up with it. See my point here?

I have not gone ad hominem on you, tempting as that may be. My libertarian credentials are pretty strong. I'm going to suggest that the argument will remain more interesting if you don't resort to name-calling except in jest. If you simply want to wish literal ill on government employees (of which I am not one), there are plenty of teachers, policemen and soldiers who post here, who should be fair game.

The constitution affirmed (since the entity pre-existed) Congress' authority to establish post *offices* and post *roads*. The "post" (by English usage) was the can on the corner you dropped letters into. Mail was neither picked up nor delivered in this country until the wailing of widows in office lobbies got on Lincoln's nerves. Both city and rural delivery were "conveniences" added after the fact. Convenient as it may be, there is no constitutional mandate to call at, say, Don Gwinn's house every day. As more of us gleefully find alternatives to hard-copy, revenues will decrease (USPS has never operated on subsidies; that was the Post Office) and conveniences will gradually go away. You'll see the day when, on the rare occasion you need to actually post something, a trip to an office will be needed for both sending and receiving, the way it used to be. When that day comes, you won't forget to fill out your baby-clothes customs form.

And this is a long damn way from a free country.

Merl said...

Comatus, you still have not explained how that particular rule does anything. According to Marko it only bans sending stamped packages over a certain weight. If I was intent on causing mahen

1) I probably wouldn't mail it from my house.

2) I doubt it would be much of an inconvenience for me to drive a couple of towns over and/or hire someone to mail it.

3) You claimed that this rule has something to do with the "anthrax attacks". Exlain.


also as far as the post office is concerned, I consistently have mail, including things sent with signature confirmation, delivered to people a mile in either direction. The only time UPS, FedEx, or DHL has misdelivered a package was when I mis-typed my Rural Route Address as Box 28 instead of 29, they delivered it to my grandfather (who has the same first and last name) at Box 27.

comatus said...

"Sorry, I thought I covered this. Handing it to a clerk isolates all pieces of that size from the mail stream. Those pieces--that might not otherwise be scanned until they had gone somewhere via airplane--receive a certain level of hands-on scrutiny at the first processing plant they come to, before they go through machinery or get commingled with other mail. Not ideal, certainly, but effective in some ways. USPS found it impracticable to do this with the mail that carriers collect on residential delivery routes. It costs a ton and they just hate it, but it's worked so far."

Now you're just raging. Look, the Post Office Department was abolished in 1971. The horse you are beating is dead. It's terrible that you have misdelivery problems, and delightful that every other agent is always spot-on. I hope your luck holds. But this is not a discussion of whether or not we are satisfied with our delivery services(!). Does a business have a right to place restrictions on how or where it accepts matter, based on its (fatal) experience? Did the agency disseminate this information adequately?

And, it is hypothetical, to put it charitably: The guy didn't read the web site. He forgot to attach a form that a foreign government requires. His carrier explained it away sympathetically. And--I don't feel good about it, but I'll say it--having made an error, he decided to blame Bush.

Please, send all your baby clothes to Europe via UPS. That will certainly teach that damn mailman a lesson. But don't forget the customs form.