The US Postal Service is doomed

Matt Yglesias has this nice little vignette from a mailman that shows why the USPS is already dead, it just doesn’t know it yet:

I do see myself as a sort of catalyst for the community. I meet the new people who move in first, and I can tell them if other people might be interested in meeting them, if other people have kids their age. There are some people I check in on, like this elderly gentleman who lives alone. He’s always doing his thing—on Tuesday he dusts—but I just think it’s important that someone’s looking out for him.

And the neighborhood has been so sweet to me after this surgery. I’ve been getting a lot of emails.

Meanwhile, I added a less entertaining anecdote to my arsenal this afternoon. Due to changed procedures no longer need to go to the Post Office regularly but still have to mail one or two Priority Mail envelopes a week. So I thought I’d pick up some 5.60 stamps that would allow me to mail them from home.

After waiting in line the usual 10 minutes, I handed the clerk the Priority Mail envelope that was going out today, and asked for ten 5.60 stamps. He looked at me funny, then asked a colleague if they had any 5.60 stamps. His colleague replied, “Oh, no, we aren’t going to have those yet, we only have the 5.15 stamps right now.” In other words, even though Flat Rate postage went from 5.15 to 5.60 on January 27 (over three weeks ago), they not only didn’t have the new stamps, they thought it was silly I might think they did.

Doomed.

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College degrees are the new high school diploma

The New York Times reports:

Like other employers across the country, the firm hires only people with a bachelor’s degree, even for jobs that do not require college-level skills. This prerequisite applies to everyone, including the receptionist, paralegals, administrative assistants and file clerks. Even the office “runner” — the in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and the office — went to a four-year school.

What’s it like to be one of the new breed of credentialed gofers?

“It sure beats washing cars,” said Landon Crider, 24, the firm’s soft-spoken runner.

He would know: he spent several years, while at Georgia State and in the months after graduation, scrubbing sedans at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Before joining the law firm, he was turned down for a promotion to rental agent at Enterprise — a position that also required a bachelor’s degree — because the company said he didn’t have enough sales experience.

What sort of investment does it take to land these positions?

“I am over $100,000 in student loan debt right now,” said Megan Parker, who earns $37,000 as the firm’s receptionist. She graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2011 with a degree in fashion and retail management, and spent months waiting on “bridezillas” at a couture boutique, among other stores, while churning out office-job applications.

“I will probably never see the end of that bill, but I’m not really thinking about it right now,” she said. “You know, this is a really great place to work.”

A Worthy Kickstarter Project

We got to know our friend and teacher Roy Andrade while he was part of the late, lamented Reeltime Travelers. Now he is a professor at East Tennessee State University, assistant director of the Appalachian music program there. And one of his current projects is to help produce a set of home recordings by Doc Watson, who passed on recently. Creating the 4 CD set will be expensive, and so Roy is running a Kickstarter project to fund production.

Another musician who means a lot to us, Jody Stecher, is involved with the project and has just written this very nice review of the recordings. As Jody says, “There is no aspect of "performance" in these extraordinary recordings, no embodying of what the collector recordist might be perceived to be expecting. This is the Real Deal.”

If you like Doc and want to help flesh out his legacy, and help give some homemade Appalachian music—the Real Deal—to the world, please think about contributing. Thanks.

Still a Pomplamoose fan

I wrote about the YouTube-based duo Pomplamoose three years ago, as a stellar example of an effort to build a musical audience using the internet, low-cost DIY technology, and a lot of sweat. I’m an admirer of what they’ve done and I really like their music, but not a True Fan, evidence being that I have only listened to their music occasionally since I discovered them–loved their cover of the Angry Birds theme!–and only when someone else I read has pointed to their work.

So I was glad to discover this:

It’s actually a song from Nataly Dawn’s upcoming solo album, but still …. Not only do these guys just have way too much fun, they have blazed a promising trail in presenting their music that others are starting to explore. So kudos to them.