February 13th, 2012

box of rocks

(no subject)

I saw this article recently, and it reminded me of a subject I've been thinking about: What should be done about the U.S. Postal Service?

http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/09/news/economy/postal_service_loss/index.htm

Collapse )

The article mentions some ideas, such as having mail service on only five days instead of six, slowing down next-day service, or closing some offices. It may help to increase postage costs, though I feel like there are always gripes when that happens, and people could just stock up on "Forever" stamps before a really major increase. I honestly don't know how competitive the mail costs are compared to private delivery services, though the article mentions at the end that both UPS and Fed Ex "reported strong increases in earnings and revenue in their most recent quarterly reports."

I'm hesitant about some of the ideas mentioned above. Slowing down service or reducing the quality of service would, in my opinion, make people even less likely to use it. It might be a downward spiral from there - less people use it, so service is reduced, so less people use it, so service is reduced, and so on. Should tax dollars be allocated towards keeping the Postal Service solvent? That may help, though it might be a tough sell, since the Postal Service says that a large chunk of the money needed is for employee retirement health benefits. More and more people are doing things online that they would previously do via the mail - send messages, send birthday/holiday cards, pay bills, receive magazines/books/music, etc. However, not everyone in the U.S. can do these things online or is comfortable with it. Still, is the decline of the postal service a sign that it's becoming obsolete? If it still needs to exist, in what form should it exist?
Godzilla, default

Well, this isn't going to help anything:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17013987

What the fuck is Ayatollah Khameini playing at here? The Iranians are the ones who keep repeatedly trying to use brinksmanship and usually try to dial *down* tension when it might harm them. Now they're not only doing ye olde brinksmanship but are escalating it with murdering Israeli ambassadors in two countries at the same time (and fairly random ones at that. Georgia and India? WTF?). Whatever one thinks of Tehran's nuclear program, I think we should all be able to agree that in a time of ferocious international tension between two wannabe regional hegemons that this is emphatically *not* the way to handle such a time of tension. Smart people do not react to a Mexican standoff by twitching in a fashion to make the other guys think they might actually shoot.

I would hope that nobody here, even critics of the Israeli-US handling of the Iranian nuclear issue, would find *this* a justifiable means for Iran to react. I mean this kind of thing can't get them anything but harsher reactions. They've no conventional means to win that war, and any escalation to assymetric war in an actual shooting conflict just worsens things not for Israel or the USA but for Iran. So.......
toon

Big brother owns your organs now?

I'm aware that organ donors are not easy to find, but how in the world does this not look like a step too far? Or is it a natural consequence of the now existing problems in health-care? Your call:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/feb/13/doctors-radical-plan-organ-shortage

"Patients could be kept alive solely so they can become organ donors, hearts could be retrieved from newborn babies for the first time, and body parts could be taken from high-risk donors as part of an urgent medical and ethical revolution to ease Britain's chronic shortage of organs, doctors' leaders say."

So the Welsh legislature is considering creating a system of organ donation that would presume consent for organ donation by default, unless the patient has explicitly opted out of it in a prior time. If adopted, the proposal would overhaul the organ donating process and turn it on its head, effectively scrapping off the practice where people can opt in for donating organs by signing in the donation register. That would change to a system where one's consent is presumed unless they explicitly indicate that they don't want to have their organs donated.

Collapse )