Re: state names

Subject: Re: state names
From: Randall Raemon <rlr -at- HAL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 1995 13:23:39 -0600

Jan Boomsliter writes:

> Let us, as the sophomores say, define our terms: the zip code set up
> by the postal service is a 7-character code of 2 alpha and 5 numeric
> characters. The alpha characters are mnemonics.

Not quite... ZIP's are all numeric. The first 2 digits define a
mailing region uniquely within the US. The 5 digit ZIP is redundant
with the city/suburb and state. The ZIP+4 is the local routing with
the 5 digit ZIP.

> Therefore, ergo, and to wit, a proper address goes like this:

> Name
> [Number Street; box number; building ... appropriate identifier]
> San Jose, California
> CA 95125

> True, the postal service did not do zip codes to benefit people
> (except indirectly by handling mail faster), nor did they claim so.

> It is also true that after spending our money ballyhooing the system,
> they promptly ignored it and required us to use the full address
> anyway (at least, the snippy postal service around here returns mail
> that does not have the full address. They do not offer a reason.)

The redundancy allows for error correction. When the machines can't
read the ZIP, a real live person looks at the address and does the
encoding. A real case of Shannon's Information Theory in action.

A properly addressed letter should be (in theory) completely untouched by
human hands from the time it's dropped in the letter box until it gets to
the final delivery carrier. Practice is a bit different, of course...

> If they really wanted to be efficient, they would change the order of the
> address to be read from the top down:

> zip code
> number and street, or box number, or ...
> person

Actually, the most efficent addressing is:

A. Person name
12345-6789 ZIP+4

Yes, there have been some "for fun" mailing done like this, and
they have been delivered. Check out the newsgroup alt.snail-mail for
the folks who try things like this.

Also, full details on mailing are given in the USPO Domestic Mail
Manual. Available from the Government Printing Office for about
US$55. Ordering details are available at your local PO. It's a
notebook binder, about 3 inch thick, updated twice a year or so.
Everything you never wanted to know about how it all works...

Randall Raemon
rlr -at- hal -dot- com
delta1 -at- netcom -dot- com
0005650778 -at- mcimail -dot- com

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