News in weird places

Okay, at work I sometimes have to buy printing for brochures, newsletters, logo doohickies, and stuff like that. What that ultimately means is that every commercial printer in Des Moines has me on their mailing list to receive their “house organ” (ha!)… er, customer newsletter. So today instead of throwing one of these wastes of resources directly into the trash, I decided to read it. Here’s something that caught my attention:

“Sales of commemorative postage stamps provide a commentary about social values. The U.S. Postal Service has sold more than 800 million stamps featuring breast cancer research. A portion of the sales proceeds go to that cause. Sales of the Elvis Presley stamp totaled 517 million. A stamp featuring a “spay and neuter pets” message sold 250 million copies. Sales of the stamp honoring 9/11 victims: 133 million.”

A few thoughts come to mind:

1. As of 2002, some $23 million had been raised through folks purchasing breast cancer research stamps. My guess is that if the stamp featured an image of an actual breast, rather than the ethereal looking woman pictured here, that dollar figure would have been much higher. In fact, I think I just hit upon the strategy to simultaneously cure breast cancer, revive the greeting card industry, and save the post office from death by email. Here it is: First, Hallmark should come up with a line of cards that men would be willing to send to their buddies. (For the sake of breast cancer, let’s say they’re aimed at straight men. Gay guys probably wouldn’t buy a lot of breast stamps. Unless they were mailing a card to their transgendered, “female impersonator” friends… but that’s another campaign.) Then, the USPS should issue a stamp featuring a big ol’ boobie. Or two of ‘em, smooshed together Wonder-Bra style. The men would then buy the cards AND the stamps, reviving the greeting card industry as well as keeping the post office busy, AND generating enough funds to finally find a cure for breast cancer.

2. I find it hard to believe that with all those impersonators out there, Elvis Presley is less popular than breast cancer. And – if America indeed chose the “young Elvis” stamp 3-to-1 over the “old Elvis” stamp, how come we never see any “young Elvis” impersonators? Is Elvis impersonation all about the jumpsuit??

3. On the flip side, I’m not at all surprised that the spay/neuter message outsold the 9/11 memorial; I’ve seen time and again how people turn out for “poor animal” causes over human victim ones. A sick-o lights a cat on fire and gets national tv and talk-radio coverage; but the Girls Gone Wild bus kills an Iowa bicyclist and you don’t hear a peep out of Jon Stewart.

Here’s a great little headline from the American Red Cross website:
Red Cross Responds to Second Tsunami in Less Than Two Years

I can’t help but think that responding in less than two years is hardly something to crow about.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on my very first blog, “A Blogger Looks at Forty,” in 2002. I’m now 50, and I’m still getting news from weird places.

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