The commutative law for postage and its limitations

The college professor who carried on a letter exchange with a kind pensioner who proved that the speed of light could be exceeded told me of another letter exchange, this time with another professional mathematician.

The letter came from England, and it accompanied some sort of document or artifact that the correspondent wanted the college professor to look over and return. The mathematician took the effort of including a stamped return envelope with the remark, "By the commutative law for postage, I have placed the same amount of postage on the return envelope as I have on the outgoing envelope."

The professor, however, could not use the return envelope the correspondent provided. He explained, "Unfortunately, the commutative law for postage does not apply to correspondence between the United States and the United Kingdom due to events of slightly more than 200 years ago."

Comments (9)
  1. Marquess says:

    One more reason for the UK and the USA to join the Eurozone.

    … What?

  2. Judago says:

    I hate it when they just spring new laws on people without an adequate grace period. It boils the blood.

  3. Samuel says:

    There actually is a way to do this called an "international reply coupon" (…/International_reply_coupon ).

    It just does not let you apply the postage beforehand.

  4. Joshua says:

    Breaking the speed of light:

    I once gathered data with traceroute and ping. traceroute said the machine was in Africa and ping said 20ms ping time.

    I had the good sense to know something was afoot.

  5. tracerT says:

    Indeed that only meant that your connection was better than the conection of the computer currently viewing google, 1 of the 9 or so. Had that not been the case you would not have been able to use tracer T to identify the the ip of the other google connections.

  6. David Walker says:

    Tracer T?

  7. John M says:

    Well, I can't reply to to post you linked from 2006, but on the general topic of mental illness…

    I have a friend who alternatly sufferers/enjoys bi-polar disorder, and a common theme in paranoid rants is large numbers. In a book he has about angels it says things like there are 374,487,140,228 angels, including 12,873,402 serafim, 45,092,839 cherubs…

    Precision without Accuracy sums it up.

  8. Marquess says:

    @David Walker

    This should clear things up. Bring the Brain Bleach:

  9. Worf says:

    @David Walker –


    Raymond was kind enough to point us to other OS tools to do the same thing, too.

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