Friday, September 9, 2011

What do U Think about the Founders? and Venti's Geekery

Whether you want to learn about beer or The Founders, there's two great beer-ducation opportunities in the next few days!

U Think on the Founders

One of the things we think about is stamps when we think of the Founders.

The postal service has been in the news - and not in a good way. We don't write many letters, but as a fan of the 19th century, we value them. And sometimes, for certain things, no amount of email, video, twitter, no amount of e-mediated word will do. Pen must strike paper and record a gesture. The hand written letter offers intimacy and immediacy - even with the time delay of delivery! - the other media cannot match.

Just consider the Burggraf letters from the Civil War.

Ben Franklin has appeared on lots of stamps, including the very first US stamp from 1847, which was denominated five cents. Ben Franklin was, of course, the first Postmaster General.

This one is the 1851 one cent issue. As the Smithsonian notes,
America’s first 1-cent stamp was pre-pay certain categories of mail, including circulars, which today might be called 'junk mail'.
Although there are certainly economies of scale in mass mailings, it's also the case that we use first class mail - the good stuff - to subsidize crap. Why should a 44 cent letter of condolence or congratulation or love subsidize the coupon circular that mails for a fraction of that? It's all backwards. Big sigh.

With fall U Think, the multi-disciplinary successor to Science Pub, moves to a new day.

On Wednesday, September 14th,
History professor Seth Cotlar will discuss the historical accuracy of Tea Party claims about America’s founders.

While the Tea Party tends to favor state over federal power, “the men who wrote the Constitution were the centralizers of their day, and almost all of them distrusted the states,” says Cotlar. “James Madison, the ‘father of the Constitution,’ went so far as to suggest that the federal government should have the right to veto any state law it found unacceptable.

“This talk will suggest some new ways to think about what the founding era can – and cannot – teach us about contemporary politics,” says Cotlar.
Cotlar probably won't talk much about Ben Franklin, and will spend more time on the authors of the Federalist Papers.

But when you think about privatising the mails, when you think about the proper scope for the Federal government, think about how great it was to have a single entity that could reliably deliver a letter anywhere in the country.

The post office today is manifestly unsustainable, and must change. But boy is this a loss we will mourn.

U Think is 6:30pm at Brown's Towne.

Beer Geekery 101

Tomorrow at 12:30pm, the Taphouse starts a new beer education and tasting series!

Don't know much about it, but there's sure to be lively conversation, a tutorial with the Beer Czar, and direct tasting! Go check it out.

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