Thursday, November 10, 2005
ATTENTION: In case the title alone wasn't enough to tell you, I'm giving you fair warning that this should be rated R - at the very least. It contains enough offensive material to guarantee that nobody will like the whole thing. So, send the kids to the store for a pack of smokes. By the time they get back, you will have finished this ode to obscenity and then you can leave your screen on this and nobody will be any the wiser concerning your fall from grace. Thank you.
I just found out about a very interesting option now being offered by the United States Postal Service. It is called PhotoStamps. The idea is that you can design your own postage. Really. You give the Post Office a picture and they'll put it on a stamp for you.
It seems like a nifty concept, with all sorts of entertaining possibilities, but all of the ideas that immediately occur to me seem to be forbidden. Of course, most ideas that immediately occur to me in any situation are illegal and immoral (or otherwise fun) so why should this be any different?
Here's part of the agreement you have to, uh, agree to:
You agree not to use the PhotoStamps website or service:
A. To upload, order for print, or otherwise transmit or communicate any material for any unlawful purpose or that is obscene, offensive, blasphemous, pornographic, sexually suggestive, deceptive, threatening, menacing, abusive, harmful, an invasion of privacy, supportive of unlawful action, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, violent, or otherwise objectionable.
Well, that pretty much takes all the fun out of it right there. I can't have a naked slut giving the finger to Asa Hutchinson while she sports a "Legalize It" tattoo? What's the use?
But wait! There's even more you have to agree not to do:
B. To upload, order for print, or otherwise transmit or communicate any material that depicts celebrities or celebrity likenesses, regional, national or international leaders or politicians, current or former world leaders, convicted criminals, newsworthy, notorious or infamous images and individuals, or any material that is vintage in appearance or depicts images from an older era.
So I can't photoshop an image of Tipper Gore kissing Frank Zappa's ass, either? This is no fun at all.
By the way, what's the bit about "any material that is vintage in appearance or depicts images from an older era"? How much of an older era? The 12th century? Last week? Pretty nebulous stuff, if you ask me. "Vintage in appearance"? What the hell does that mean? Something that looks old, but actually isn't? That leaves me off the stamps. And, better question, why? What exactly is it that they're worried about? Somebody suing for copyright infringement if you decide you want cave etchings on your stamps? And just what in the name of Satan's ballbag is it that constitutes a "notorious or infamous" image? My dictionary defines "notorious" as "known widely and usually unfavorably", so I guess that eliminates any pictures of the Post Office itself.
Next bunch of buzzkill...
C. To upload, order for print, or otherwise transmit or communicate any material that is to be used for business advertising or notices.
So you can't try to make a buck with your stamps. The PO has a monopoly on that and they do not want you interfering. I think the government is missing a good bet here. You don't think Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo wouldn't pay a good chunk of change to have their name on most of the snail mail, too?
You agree that if Stamps.com, in its sole discretion, determines that any material you upload may not meet these content requirements, Stamps.com may reject your order without explanation. Stamps.com reserves the right to charge a processing fee of $10.00 for each image, graphic or photograph that you submit as an order in the PhotoStamps service which violates our content restrictions.
So, if you decide to try this out, but some anal-retentive clerk decrees that a picture of your pet dog humping an army helmet doesn't meet the criteria, then not only will you not get your stamps - you'll be charged ten bucks for the privilege of not being told why.
Actually, this last bit presents an interesting possibility. Got someone you really hate? Place an order under their name and include a couple hundred images that you know the Post Office will reject. Dick Cheney clubbing baby seals, while George W. sucks a crack pipe in the background - that sort of thing. Bingo! At ten bucks a pop, you can financially cripple anyone you choose! Happy hunting!
In addition, in the event you violate these Content Restrictions and you intentionally publicize such violation, you acknowledge that Stamps.com will suffer substantial damage to its reputation and goodwill and that you can be liable for causing such substantial damage.
So, if you dare to talk about your stamps that they refused to make (and for which they charged you a ten dollar penalty) they'll sue you for damages. Damn! It's a good thing I didn't order my "Barbara Streisand, Hillary Clinton, and a huge double-headed rubber dick" stamps before I wrote this. It appears I may have saved myself a whole bunch of trouble.
Of course, now I have to think up something totally different to put on my Christmas cards...