Why I dislike the cashless society

More and more people are carrying less and less cash, that is a huge mistake

Corporate America is making it easier and easier to walk around with only a card in your pocket. For customers, it is convenient: no trips to the ATM to get a coffee, no worries about getting mugged. For Corporate America (and the Government as well), it means that you are a much richer data-mining target and more likely to spend more. For thieves it means that it is ever easier to steal your identity. For the rest of us, it means waiting for ages while you write your check or swipe your card to pay for a $.25 newspaper.

I’m not advocating that everyone carry around $1000 in cash all the time, that would be stupid. Credit cards have their purposes. However, I think that Americans are getting far too dependent on them for the little things. I think that this is part of the reason why our consumer debt is at record levels. If you have cash in your pocket, you are aware of how much money you are spending on a very visceral level. If spending $100 or $5 involves the exact same transaction, It is doubtful that you think so much about how the amounts you are spending are adding up.

Every time you use a credit card, or club card, or any cash substitute, you create a record in a database. This record will let someone know what you spent, when you spent it and what you spent it on. As these records pile up, corporations (and government) can create a fairly accurate profile of you and your interests. Corporations want this information so that they can more directly sell to you (I’m open-minded enough to acknowledge that this may not be a bad thing, ie: Amazon’s recommendations). Government wants this information so that they can track their citizens and maybe look for evil-doers (depending on your level of trust in the government, this may or may not be a bad thing, I think it is a scary thing given this government). Each one of these records also makes it easier for someone to steal your identity. These records are stored and replicated all over the place. A thief only has to find a single unsecured database to get your personal information.

Now you can ignore my warnings and do whatever the heck you want. This is a free country. Here is my final argument: sometimes it is just plain rude. When you write a check or use a card, you waste time. It is slower than cash. It is always slower than cash. Making a line of people wait while you write out a check and then fill in your register is just rude. Ditto for swiping your card and waiting while the card reader connects to the system and prints out the receipt. Again, I understand this in a grocery line where you are spending a lot of money. I can’t stand this at my local coffee shop, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it.

Of course, the government is planning to add RFID tags to cash soon so a lot of the privacy arguments for cash will go away…

Gang o’ DVD reviews…

A sick weekend prompts a slew of rentals, here is the quick and dirty

The Motorcycle Diaries – A very well shot and acted account of the early days of Che Guevara
My Architect – An excellent documentary from the son of Louis Kahn
The Newsroom Complete Series – An awesomely funny short-lived series from the CBC in the spirit, but predating, the BBC series “The Office”
Cellular – Big hollywood thriller that bugged me at first, but then I got into enough to finish watching it.

Nice article on Microsoft

This reporter notices some stuff that most don’t see.

I came across this article from ABC News, and I thought it was really interesting. I worked at Microsoft for a number of years and was increasingly frustrated by just how bad Microsoft treats its employees. I always thought that when employees (like myself) didn’t feel valued, they didn’t do good work and the company was bound to suffer. While I’ve seen lots of articles talking about Microsoft cutting back on employee benefits and while it has been dropping in the “Best Places To Work For” survey by fortune magazine, I haven’t seen anything that talks about a link between this and possible problems for Microsoft. I’m not ever going to write off that company, but I thought the article was especially insightful.

More illegal government propoganda?

The White House gave credentials for a news organization that had existed for less than a week

Jeff Gannon was a reporter for Talon News, a web site owned by a GOP activist. He was given White House press room credentials less than a week after the Talon News website was registered. He had no history of news reporting. He did not have a journalism degree. Once in the room, he asked questions that sounded more like GOP talking points than actually queries. Now he has been exposed by MSNBC. Here is the transcript.

Now, the question is, will the administration take responsibility for this obvious attempt at propaganda? Propaganda by our government against its own citizens is illegal. Will we see anyone prosecuted for this? I doubt it. It is once again time to write your congressman to demand hearings on the White House attempts to manipulate its own people.

Witold Rybczynski’s Celebration slideshow

One of my favorite architecture and city planning writers has a slideshow on Disney’s planned town

Like many city planning geeks, I’ve got a weird fascination with Celebration, Florida. It is a town designed, built and controlled by the Disney corporation. On Slate.com, Witold Rybczynski has an interesting little slideshow about the town which is now 10 years old.

Matt Richter kicked out of Consolidated Works

If you know the Seattle arts community at all, you’ll realize that this is pretty serious

When Matt Richter made Consolidated Works happen, the Seattle art scene was in decline. There were fewer and fewer exhibition spaces for up and coming visual artists. He created an ambitious and amazing and huge space for visual art, theater, film and music. Over time, with good curators, it became an anchor and important part of the modern art scene in the Northwest. When Paul Allen reclaimed the building that Consolidated Works lived in, Matt oversaw the move to a new, even larger, space and made that venue just as vital. On Tuesday, this week, the ConWorks board removed Richter for reasons that are currently unknown. I hope that this won’t mean the end of Consolidated Works or Matt or Northwest modern art.

New Tiny Mitsubishi DLP projector

Perfect for impromptu or guerilla theater

(via Chait Gear)

Using tri-LEDs for it’s new DLP project, Mitsubishi has been able to make a TINY, super-light device with instant on and 10,000 life-span (since there is no bulb for replacing). The press release talks about having the project close to the surface, 1-3 feet of throw products 20″-40″ diagonal projections. There will also be a battery pack available. So with this retail priced at $699, for way under a thousand dollars, you could have a portable DVD player and projector that would let you create your own movie theater anywhere! All we need now are tiny power speakers! One detail that is noticeably missing is the brightness and detail of the images. The projector is 800×600, but I’m wondering if it isn’t very bright given that it is using LEDs and they are talking about projection distances of under a yard.