Postal Service shit hits the fan

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 17, 2020 at 11:10 pm.
  2. September 18, 7:44 am:
    • I have received a generous offer for new hosting. It will still be WordPress but without the WordPress.com cruft that might well be at the root of my problems. If you see this update without a further update indicating completion, you are still seeing the WordPress.com version of The Irregular Bullshit. This transition will take a bit of time including the site move itself and time for DNS propagation. I will not be making further updates until this is complete.

Housekeeping

As previously announced, the Not Housebroken and Irregular Bullshit sites may be going down permanently. My patience with changes WordPress.com has made is blown. The deadlines to either find new hosting or shut down the sites or for WordPress.com to take corrective action will be based on the expiration of the plan I am running them under. For each site, these are:

  1. Not Housebroken – July 3, 2021
  2. Irregular Bullshit – November 19, 2020

As a practical matter, I will need to act prior to these dates. Should I fail to find an adequate solution, my plan is to convert Not Housebroken to book in PDF format which I can make public from my Google Drive. Because I’ve been using The Irregular Bullshit to archive stories, I can convert it to a book in PDF format and store it on Google Drive, but I probably cannot make it public without infringing copyrights and that’s a battle I just don’t need.

Unless WordPress.com makes changes to restore functionality to something tolerable before I find a suitable alternative or I feel I can wait no longer, I will be removing my content from their site. I do not intend to let them derive advertising revenue from it. I will be considering further what changes I may want to make in the meantime: It’s possible I will move some pages from The Irregular Bullshit to Not Housebroken as there is some stuff there that can and should be kept public.


U.S. Postal Service

Jacob Bogage, “DeJoy’s Postal Service policies delayed 7 percent of nation’s first-class mail, Senate Democrat’s report says,” Washington Post, September 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/16/dejoy-usps-delays-senate-report/

Elise Viebeck and Jacob Bogage, “Federal judge temporarily blocks USPS operational changes amid concerns about mail slowdowns, election,” Washington Post, September 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-judge-issues-temporary-injunction-against-usps-operational-changes-amid-concerns-about-mail-slowdowns/2020/09/17/34fb85a0-f91e-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html


The University of Michigan and the validity of ‘shared governance’

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 17, 2020, at 10:32 am.
  2. September 17, 11:19 am:

Higher Education

At one point I had heard that even if faculty resolutions of no confidence were non-binding, they nonetheless invariably led to university presidents stepping down, usually within a year, that is, just long enough to plausibly deny that it was those resolutions that lay behind those resignations.

Such a resolution might have passed—the question of how abstentions count makes the outcome uncertain—at the University of Michigan over President Mark S. Schlissel’s decision to reopen the school for in-person instruction despite the pandemic.[1]

I don’t know if what I heard was correct. Even if it was, the trend in higher education has been toward greater administration autonomy, unmooring institutions from the concept of “shared governance.” Something like this happened at Saybrook: Even as President Nathan Long promised transparency and stakeholder consultations, the simple fact is that the faculty there was bored with governance and surrendered it when they accepted the merger into the TCS ES system—Saybrook’s faculty senate seems now to be a rubber stamp. Long’s rhetoric merely gave the faculty the cover they needed to choose irrelevance in the face of neoliberal exigency. Faculty at other schools, like the University of Michigan, still give a damn and, at these schools, presidential autocracy remains contested.

So the story of University of Michigan is important for two reasons. First, it is part of a saga of higher education’s struggle with the coronavirus;[2] and second, because it will weigh heavily in the longer term fight over governance.

After all, if even on a matter of life and death, which COVID-19 most certainly is, university presidents can nonetheless do whatever the fuck they want, then it is clear that “shared governance” is dead.

Vimal Patel, “A Grad Strike, a Court Fight, a No-Confidence Vote: U. of Michigan Struggles Over Its Campus Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-grad-strike-a-court-fight-a-no-confidence-vote-u-of-michigan-struggles-over-its-campus-reopening

Malcolm Gaskill, “On Quitting Academia,” London Review of Books 42, no. 18 (September 24, 2020), https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n18/malcolm-gaskill/diary


Concentration camps

The allegation, strenuously denied by both U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and by LaSalle Corrections, is that a doctor at a “detention center” (really a concentration camp[3]) in Georgia run by LaSalle for asylum-seekers has been coercing women to undergo hysterectomies.[4] Twitter has been alive with accusations of social conservative hypocrisy: How, indeed, can one claim to be “pro-life” when supporting forced sterilization? To the extent that social conservatives still have a conscience,[5] the allegation should certainly be problematic, but I haven’t actually yet seen a reaction in the social conservative media and wouldn’t actually expect to see it until later today or tomorrow.

Natalie Andrews and Michelle Hackman, “U.S. Opens Investigation Into Claims of Forced Hysterectomies on Detained Migrants,” Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawmakers-seek-investigation-into-allegations-of-mass-hysterectomies-on-detained-migrants-11600291610


  1. [1]Vimal Patel, “A Grad Strike, a Court Fight, a No-Confidence Vote: U. of Michigan Struggles Over Its Campus Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-grad-strike-a-court-fight-a-no-confidence-vote-u-of-michigan-struggles-over-its-campus-reopening
  2. [2]Nick Anderson and Susan Svrluga, “Trump administration backs off plan requiring international students to take face-to-face classes,” Washington Post, July 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/ice-rule-harvard-international-students-rescinded/2020/07/14/319fdae0-c607-11ea-a99f-3bbdffb1af38_story.html; Associated Press, “More than 200 schools, 17 states back lawsuits against Trump administration over international student rule,” CNBC, July 13, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/13/more-than-200-schools-17-states-back-lawsuits-against-trump-over-international-student-rule.html; Carl T. Bergstrom, “The CDC Is Wrong,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 14, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-CDC-Is-Wrong/249174; Bloomberg, “Harvard and MIT sue ICE to halt new student visa guidelines,” Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-07-08/harvard-and-mit-sue-ice-to-halt-new-student-visa-guidelines; Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/; Collin Binkley, “Trump administration rescinds rule on foreign students,” Associated Press, July 14, 2020, copy in possession of author; Lindsay Ellis, “Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream is Crumbling,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-hoped-for-an-in-person-fall-now-the-dream-is-crumbling; Karin Fischer, “As MIT and Harvard Sue, Colleges Scramble to Respond to New Federal Policy on International Students,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/As-MITHarvard-Sue/249142; Karin Fischer, “U.S. Rescinds Visa Policy That Could Have Forced Colleges to Hold Some Classes in Person,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 14, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/US-Rescinds-Visa-Policy-That/249182; Michelle Hackman and Melissa Korn, “ICE Says Newly Enrolling International Students Can’t Come to U.S. if Classes Fully Online,” Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ice-says-newly-enrolling-international-students-can-t-come-to-u-s-if-classes-fully-online-11595611772; Audrey Williams June, “Over 450 Colleges Are in Coronavirus Hot Spots,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 9, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Over-450-Colleges-Are-in/249156; Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803; Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money; Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening; Katherine Mangan, “Health Experts Warn Colleges Not to Send Students Home. But What if Quarantine Spaces Run Out?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 7, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/health-experts-warn-colleges-not-to-send-students-home-but-what-if-they-run-out-of-quarantine-space; John L. Micek, “Pa.’s Shapiro joins fellow AGs in lawsuit over Trump’s foreign student rule,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, July 13, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/pa-s-shapiro-joins-fellow-ags-in-lawsuit-over-trumps-foreign-student-rule/; Kery Murakami, “Fauci Urges Colleges Not to Send Students Home,” Inside Higher Ed, September 4, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/09/04/fauci-urges-colleges-not-send-students-home; Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/; Vimal Patel, “A Grad Strike, a Court Fight, a No-Confidence Vote: U. of Michigan Struggles Over Its Campus Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 16, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/a-grad-strike-a-court-fight-a-no-confidence-vote-u-of-michigan-struggles-over-its-campus-reopening; Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester
  3. [3]David Benfell, “It’s time to be clear: Migrant children are being held in concentration camps and the Trump administration is fascist,” Not Housebroken, June 24, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/06/24/its-time-to-be-clear-migrant-children-are-being-held-in-concentration-camps-and-the-trump-administration-is-fascist/
  4. [4]Natalie Andrews and Michelle Hackman, “U.S. Opens Investigation Into Claims of Forced Hysterectomies on Detained Migrants,” Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawmakers-seek-investigation-into-allegations-of-mass-hysterectomies-on-detained-migrants-11600291610
  5. [5]Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” Washington Post, December 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/after-trump-and-moore-some-evangelicals-are-finding-their-own-label-too-toxic-to-use/2017/12/14/b034034c-e020-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html

Sally makes landfall

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 16, 2020, 8:25 am.
  2. September 27, 9:38 am:

Sally

Sally appears to have come ashore in Alabama near the Florida border (figure 1).

Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the Eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, September 16, 8:01 am.


Back to school in Pittsburgh

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 14, 2020, at 11:27 am.
  2. September 14, 3:36 pm:
    • A federal judge has ruled that Governor Wolf’s shutdown orders in Pennsylvania were unconstitutional, violating a first amendment right of freedom of assembly.[1] The ruling uses capitalist libertarian logic.
    • I updated the satellite photo for Sally. It appears to me to be continuing to gather strength. If I’m not mistaken, an eye is now discernible.
  3. September 15, 9:15 am:
    • I updated the satellite photo for Sally. It does seem like it’s headed straight for the Mississippi River delta, which includes New Orleans. I’m failing to discern an eye now, but it seems to be taking on more of a classic spiral shape.

Sally


Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, September 15, 2020, at 8:01 am EDT.


Higher education

So a bunch of schools ignored the advice that they needed to remain on-line only.[2] It’s pretty rapidly gone wrong, at least at some of the schools that returned to in-person instruction in August, pretty much as had been predicted.[3]

[T]he University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and East Carolina University all moved to remote instruction after just a week of classes. Michigan State University canceled most in-person instruction less than two weeks before the semester began. Many institutions may make similar decisions as the realities of [COVID-19] viral infection collide with their in-person ambitions.[4]

And, of course, that’s gonna cost the universities money but maybe not as much as you might think: In many cases, these reversals occurred too late for students to get their money back. The predictable cynicism ensues but it’s possible hubris and a desperation to maintain enrollment have as much to do with the decisions to resume in-person instruction as greed.[5]

A personal note, here: Even before I had finished my bachelor’s degree (this was late 2005), I was starting to see a lot of hubris on the campus (California State University, East Bay) I attended. Certainly, I see a lot of hubris emanating from Saybrook University now, which having destroyed its human science program, has lost its curricular grounding and—this is painful—seems to be going entirely woo woo.

Hubris is real. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

I’m seeing a lot of masked students now on the streets of Oakland, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh where (very roughly west to east) Carlow University, University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”), and Carnegie-Mellon University have their main campuses, side-by-side, and also where University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has three major hospitals. I’m also seeing that at least some K-12 schools are back in session. So far, from the notifications I’ve been getting on my phone, the bump in COVID-19 case counts in Allegheny County has been small. I’m hoping this works out but it’s still awfully early.


The car

So it’s another $1000+ going into my car in an already expensive year. Tires and front rotors, this time. The front end work earlier this year that, with an inspection and engine fan repair, came to around $1900, was due to Pittsburgh road conditions. I only got about 21,000 miles out of this last set of tires, also largely due to Pittsburgh road conditions. I’m cutting the wheel alignment check interval to 90 days (I put on about 63,000 miles per year), but basically, I’m losing my ass here and because so much of it is due to Pittsburgh road conditions, I really can’t blame the car. I can only blame the ridesharing driving. The trouble is that, even with a Ph.D., I have no choice.[6]


Pennsylvania

Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/
  2. [2]Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803; Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening
  3. [3]Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/; Lindsay Ellis, “Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream is Crumbling,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-hoped-for-an-in-person-fall-now-the-dream-is-crumbling; Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/; Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester
  4. [4]Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money
  5. [5]Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money
  6. [6]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

Louis DeJoy accused of ‘voter suppression’

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 13, 2020, at 9:52 am.
  2. September 13, 10:49 am:
    • There have been tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases and hundreds of deaths at animal flesh packing plants. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined merely two companies a mere $29,000, apparently under influence from the Trump administration. Labor representatives worry the paltry fines will function as a disincentive to safety.[1]
  3. September 13, 9:23 pm:
  4. September 14, 2:46 am:
    • I’m not sure that the horse isn’t already out of the barn, but confirming the last update (September 13, 9:23 pm), it appears the judge did indeed grant a temporary restraining order against the Postal Service.[2]
  5. September 14, 3:06 am:
    • I guess this is Sally (figure 2) in the Gulf of Mexico.

Conservatism

There is a new blog post entitled, “On ‘freedom.’


Postal Service

“In Colorado, every registered voter is sent a ballot without having to make a request and voters are urged to return ballots by mail sooner than seven days before the election. My office asked USPS officials to delay or not send the mailer in Colorado, but they refused to commit to that,” said [Colorado Secretary of State Jena] Griswold. Voters in states with similar vote-by-mail, such as California and Washington, could also be misled by the postcard’s recommendations.[3]

I had thought the card was pretty germaine, but given its obvious significance in this election, took the precaution of scanning it in (figure 1) before, as I do with nearly everything, shredding it:[4]

Fig. 1. Scan of card received by author on September 11, 2020, from the U.S. Postal Service.

Sure enough, there is specific advice there that could conflict with some states’ rules. And it really wouldn’t have taken a lot of rephrasing to mollify Jena Griswold and her colleagues from, she says, at least five other states.[5]

Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal

Colleen Flynn and Evan Kruegel, “TRO against USPS granted in lawsuit filed by Colo. Sec. of State Jena Griswold,” KDVR, September 12, 2020, https://kdvr.com/news/tro-against-usps-granted-in-lawsuit-filed-by-colo-sec-of-state-jena-griswold/


Animal flesh

Kimberly Kindy, “More than 200 meat plant workers in the U.S. have died of covid-19. Federal regulators just issued two modest fines,” Washington Post, September 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/osha-covid-meat-plant-fines/2020/09/13/1dca3e14-f395-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html


Sally


Fig. 2. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for Eastern U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico, as of September 14, 2020, at 2:02 am.


  1. [1]Kimberly Kindy, “More than 200 meat plant workers in the U.S. have died of covid-19. Federal regulators just issued two modest fines,” Washington Post, September 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/osha-covid-meat-plant-fines/2020/09/13/1dca3e14-f395-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html
  2. [2]Colleen Flynn and Evan Kruegel, “TRO against USPS granted in lawsuit filed by Colo. Sec. of State Jena Griswold,” KDVR, September 12, 2020, https://kdvr.com/news/tro-against-usps-granted-in-lawsuit-filed-by-colo-sec-of-state-jena-griswold/
  3. [3]Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal
  4. [4]The idea is that should I dispose of anything that might be used against me in this way, the motherfuckers will have to piece together a lot of junk before they find it.
  5. [5]Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal

Welcome to the apocalypse

Horse race

It’s a truly bizarre platform under the circumstances, but as is typical for neoliberals, utterly and willfully ignorant of reality:

“M4A” means Medicare For All.


White supremacist militia

I have added a note to a previous blog post:

I am remembering a previous blog post in which I witnessed a local cop (in the Pittsburgh area) allowed his dog to bark viciously and persistently at a Black man who was doing nothing more than walking across a parking lot. Instances such as these, this one that I personally witnessed,[1] the one Ryan Devereaux describes,[2] and, of course, the disproportionate killings of Blacks,[3] virtually erase the distinction between police and white supremacist militia, transforming it to a distinction between regular (official) and irregular (unofficial) white supremacist militia. I don’t know how you conclude otherwise.[4]


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/
  2. [2]Ryan Devereaux, “The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police,” Intercept, August 28, 2020, https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/kyle-rittenhouse-violent-pro-trump-militias-police/
  3. [3]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Donald Trump’s ‘brown shirts,’” Not Housebroken, September 12, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/30/donald-trumps-brown-shirts/

A note for the U.S. Postal Service

A couple years ago, I took a trip down to the Los Angeles area to be trained for my ill-fated stint with the U.S. Census Bureau.

I lost my identification at the front desk of the hotel. No credit or debit cards were involved; I kept those separately.

When I returned to the San Francisco Bay Area, I did all the appropriate stuff, moved on, and mostly forgot about it.

Today’s been one of those days. I should be out working already but there was an oil change and two grocery deliveries to deal with. At the end of it, I bought gas, got the car washed, and stopped by my mailbox to pick up some packages that had arrived yesterday.

I knew about four of them; in fact, there were six, including one from my old mailbox in Sebastopol (they forward my mail to me weekly). The latter included an envelope from the U.S. Postal Service marked, “Found Loose.”

I opened it and found the old identification wallet I’d lost in Los Angeles. The identification mostly—not entirely—had been superseded, first by replacement documents, and second, when I moved to Pittsburgh. But there is the sentimental value of that wallet.

A little over twenty years ago, I started working for Linuxcare as a contractor. Eventually they hired me on as an employee. This is the one real job I’ve ever had my life. It actually began to pay me what, for San Francisco even at that time, was a livable salary. But when they hired me, they gave me a few things—“tchotchke” in industry parlance. The tee shirt has long since worn out and disappeared. But this wallet I used for identification, embossed with “Linuxcare,” was the one I had lost in Los Angeles.

I don’t know precisely where that wallet has been all this time. I assume a mailbox someplace. But I also have to wonder what would have happened to it had it been turned into what neoliberals want to replace the Postal Service with, an outfit like FedEx or the United Parcel Service.

The Postal Service returned it to me. I doubt those other outfits would have.

So a note of appreciation is in order here for the Postal Service and whoever dropped that wallet in some Postal Service receptacle somewhere. Thanks!