Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Random Thoughts

If I've learned anything from Twitter and Facebook, I have learned to communicate ideas in a condensed form.  So, I will eschew the long-form essay in exchange for some Facebook-suitable paragraphs:

It's baseball Winter Meeting season.  That means it's free agent signing season.  The salary numbers being reported for guys like Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols and Jonathan Papelbon would run a small country for several years.  In a time when state governments, our Postal Service, banks and many U.S. citizens are struggling to stay afloat, throwing millions of dollars after athletes seems to be a bit misguided.  But then, philanthropy is a lost art.  One wonders what these millionaire team owners could do if they decided to sell their team and actually do something that furthered society.  I suppose merely considering that makes me old and cranky?

I saw Jerry Sandusky being escorted out of his home in handcuffs this afternoon, after two more adults came forward to say that he molested them as children.  I thought about how we have all done things for which we are ashamed - some morally odd and others merely socially awkward.  But, never could I think of anything as low on the ladder of society as being arrested for molesting a child.  I'd guess that, at that stage of ones life that you would have to throw up your hands and thank God that you didn't have much longer to live, because the life you had left would be of such a low quality as to make it merely eating, sleeping and breathing.  And that's probably all you would be entitled to.

The new Kindle Fire has irked some parents, who say that it makes ordering from Amazon's web site too easy for their children.  To those parents I say, "Welcome to the world."  Did they think that Amazon would market a device that would make it more difficult to order from their web site?  And why do they think it's so inexpensive?  Seriously - put down your iPhone and pay attention.  These are probably the same people who complained that Facebook's free games allowed hackers to steal their personal information.  Get with the program.

The U.S. Postal Service has decided that the best way to save itself from doom is to close down distribution centers, shorten the delivery week and slow down first class mail.  I know that Civil Service jobs require an exam, but I didn't know that they did not require an education.  The braintrust over there has decided that providing less service in a slower fashion will make them successful.  I didn't read that chapter of the marketing book when I was at Widener.  You have heard that theory that an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters will eventually write all the great books?  This proves that the same number of monkeys will eventually run the Postal Service into the ground.  Get the monkeys back on their typewriters and put some businessmen in charge of the postal service.  UPS and FedEx have done quite well for themselves.  What is it that they know that the USPS does not?  How to run a business, for one thing.

I read that Sinead O'Connor is getting married - for the fourth time.  That puts her three times ahead of me and four times ahead of me on the "I can't believe somebody would marry her" scale.  After one failed marriage, I figured that it could happen to anybody and that the failure could be either mine or hers or both of ours.  If I had failed a second time, I'd start to have self-doubts about the type of person I was and/or the type of person I chose to marry.  After three times, I'd think about checking into some sort of clinic to try to rid myself of the lingering longing for companionship.  At marriage number four ...


howard said...

As a long-term UPS employee, I'm going to step out of character and give the USPS a little credit.

The one service they are required provide, basic mail delivery, is one that no other U.S. delivery carrier has the infrastructure to provide at a comparable cost. The lowest price UPS or Fedex could dream of giving you on delivery service is about 8 or 9 times the cost of a first-class stamp -- and just try getting them to deliver to every address on a regular basis. It would probably take a doubling of the workforce for a company like UPS, and for most people relying on UPS or Fedex for mail, the price structure would be an expensively rude awakening.

Of course, the USPS is cheaper for reasons other than infrastructure alone. It has to clear every first-class price increase with Congress because it's not legally allowed to profit from its core business. And it's been forced to fund its pension liabilities at a higher rate than any other employer.

Given the paradox of having to operate under onerous statutory limitations even though it's not actually funded by tax dollars, I wonder if anyone could make it profitable.

PS - I actually had a huge crush on Sinead O'Connor back in the day, but that was before I figured out that being unique added no intrinsic value to women (ah, the days of dysfunctional dating) ;)

Anthony said...

I was reading recently that no private company wants to take over the USPS service because they couldn't do it for a profit.
It's pathetic that the USPS can't even break even with it.
How did they manage to go from breaking even to losing $5 billion?


Anthony said...

Or, maybe the reason the USPS has lost all that money is from delivering those free kids' letters to Santa every Christmas?
That's got to be a bitch, getting those things up to the North Pole for free.


junior alien said...

Why, think of Elizabeth Taylor and HER number of marriages...

As for me, I think that marrying once and getting divorced is enough experience of that sort for a lifetime.

But for the romantic and white-bread, it's the thing to do - the more often, the better.