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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 2, 2005

subsidizing your spam-ma mater

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:23 pm

We might not like the name (“law porn“) that law professors gave

to the avalanche of slick brochures they receive from horn-tooting

law schools.  But, we sure can relate to the general queasiness

that comes from finding a mailbox stuffed with glossy solicitations

from every educational institution you — or an offspring of yours —

have every attended. 


mailBoxG  This topic became topical for me, with yesterday’s

announcement that the Post Rate Commission has approved

a rate hike request of approximately 5.4% for most kinds of mail

delivered by the United States Postal Service.  (See AP/Boston

Globe article).  The news coincided with a dumpster-ful of

brochures and catalogues being stuffed into my home mailbox

this afternoon — many of them from schools or alumni associ-

ations, and all of them receiving discounted rates under the USPS


Let’s be clear: I do not begrudge the USPS getting two cents more

for first class postage starting in January 2006, and am not one of

those who bash USPS for poor service — necessitating this great

PR letter from USPS.  What I do wonder about is the special

break — the recommendation of a smaller rate increase — for

non-profit entities.  According to the Associated Press/Globe:

“The rate commission said its decision reduced proposed

increases for nonprofit organizations and small local news-

papers, but would raise the post office’s planned charges

for mailing books and media materials.”

Nice priorities!  It’ll cost more for me to send books, so that schools  emptyPocketsS

can continue to mail me costly presentations imploring me to endow

a chair or two, or honoring alumni for their donations, and enticing me

to travel to exotic places with famous educators for $20,000 or more

per person (double occupancy). 


One of the pieces in today’s mail proudly announced that “In fiscal

year 2005, more than 135 alumni took Travel Society trips to such

destinations as Costa Rica, Alaska and the Antietam National

Battlefield.”  That’s right: thousands upon thousands of glossies

were mailed to alumni several times during the year — at discount

mailing rates — so that “more than 135” of those with substantial

disposable income could take an Alumni-affiliated trip.  What a


tiny check Hey, Harvard: You’re the most prolific of the Travel-

Guide spammers.  It seems like two or three a month,

sometimes more. Save the money, I’m never going.

“mailboxN”   I don’t know if UPS and FedEx are right that the United States 

Postal Service is “using profits from its first-class mail monopoly

to fund Priority Mail and Express Mail, which compete with their small

package deliveries.”  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Snail Mail Costs

scheduled to rise,” Nov. 2, 2005.)  But, I do know that the Postal Rate

Commission wants to make it easier for ACLU and CATO Institute,

Harvard, Georgetown, McQuaid Jesuit High, and all sorts of political

action committees to send me stuff.   And, I don’t like it.


Maybe I can’t stop my spamma maters from overwhelming my poor

mail carrier, and undermining my faith in higher education.  But, I’d

like to suggest one requirement for all mailers who want to send

discounted or junk-mail, and especially non-profits who get an even

bigger break:  On each piece of mail state “It cost us $_____ to send

you this item.”   Members of the public might be moved by such

information to ask for new priorities at the Postal Rate Commission.

Alumni might let their schools know that they should save that fee,

plus the expensive production costs, and put us on a “Do Not Mail

List.”   Then, maybe, there’s a chance of a bequest from me down

the line.

tiny check What ever happened to the category “third-class mail”?

Was somebody afraid of hurting the feelings of the senders? 

The recipients?  The Postally Correct crowd strikes again.

Enough said — and more than enough received.


p.s. To GEICO and AARP: I do not need to hear from

you every single week. 



postal chess–

he moves me

from his cell



  • by dagosan                                         

special delivery –

a smile from

the pregnant mailman



                             [Nov. 2, 2005]






poesia di un alito?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:41 pm

Since discovering that “alito” means “breath” in Italian,

I’ve wondered how you say “one-breath poetry” in that

language.  As I have never studied the language of my

ancestors, I can only guess: “poesia di un alito.”  Help

from readers would be appreciated. 


leaves flying  Meanwhile, enjoy a few one-breath poems

from Lee Gurga:



morning calm . . .

heavy with frost the leaves

continue to fall








darkness before dawn–

the way your legs sleep

not closed    not open









first snow–

the little boy laughing

in his sleep








television light

flickers on my children’s faces —

autumn sunset



(Brooks Books, 1998) 



  • by dagosan                                         


from last November:


even lovelier


backyard elm


leaves falling potluck

tiny check  Easy choice: Right now, there is a blue sky outside the

bay-window of my home office, with bright sunshine  

illuminating the remaining golden leaves on surrounding

trees.  I could write a few blurbs on lawyerly or political

issues, or I could go outside right now, and enjoy this

aumtumn day before the early sunset arrives.  Well?

While strolling along the Mohawk River, I’ll  perhaps

have a haiku inspiration to bring home for dagosan.


If you really need some commentary to keep you busy

until you can leave your office, check out the RiskProf‘s

discussion of terror torts, and the list of questions about

abortion law shoud Roe v, Wade be overturned, presented

at Mirror of Justice, and written by Prof. Steve Shiffrin.




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