A Happy Saturday

In a world of doom and gloom, a couple of bright spots appear:

  • Indefatigable theatre critic Terry Teachout gives us this delightful bit of wisdom

    “You were made for enjoyment, and the world was filled with things which you will enjoy, unless you are too proud to be pleased by them, or too grasping to care for what you cannot turn to other account than mere delight.”John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice

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Cyberfacsism, Canadian-Style

Big Mountie is watching you, eh?

Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces—Ontario and Saskatchewan—maintain a “Risk-driven Tracking Database” that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people’s lives. …

Information about people believed to be “at risk” of becoming criminals or victims of harm is shared between civilian agencies and police and is added to the database when a person is being evaluated for a rapid intervention intended to lower their risk levels. Interventions can range from a door knock and a chat to forced hospitalization or arrest.

Sounds faintly Orwellian, the cops using healthcare records to decide who gets a knock on their door, based on an algorithm. What could go wrong, eh?

Tip from Sarah Hoyt at the Instapundit.

Sorry, you’ve reached your social credit limit

China has blocked millions of “discredited” travellers from buying plane or train tickets as part of the country’s controversial “social credit” system aimed at improving the behaviour of citizens.

This is where ubiquitous surveillance by the state (directly or via contractors) eventually leads.  This is why you shouldn’t trust the folks who want to dispossess you of your car; their motives are not what they professs.

Tip from the Instapundit, who predicts some Chinese people will find their social credit card inoperable in the bread lines of the near future.

The Abolition of Cash, Frisco Edition

Do people not understand the words “Legal Tender?”

US_one_dollar_bill_2009

If you want a hot coffee at Blue Bottle, cold hard cash may not work anymore.

The high-end coffee company will ban cash at 12 locations across the country starting on March 11 as part of a month-long experiment that aims to speed up purchases.  (photo from this article)

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Commenting on The Instapundit, Ed Driscoll notes

On Twitter, Rob Province, aka, “Educated Hillbilly” asks, “Am I a total racist for thinking this is a way to keep poor & minority customers out of their hip San Francisco coffee shop?” Not at all. Beyond that, as Glenn noted in December, “This is mostly a stealthy way to keep homeless people out.”

It’s much more than this.  Remember, surveillance institutions–whether corporate or state–have an imperative to collect behavioral data in ever-widening scope.  No aspect of your life is immune.  The Chronicle’s Shwanika Narayan blithely swallows the pretense offered by the restaurant industry

The move reflects a growing cashless trend across the restaurant industry, which is eager to make service more efficient.

That’s the businesses fronting for the credit card folks, who would love to track every purchase made by every person, every day.  Think what a goldmine of behavioral profiling this would be to their “back end” customers in advertising, law enforcement, and more nefarious endeavors.

As for me, “Real Texans pay cash,”   (unless I working the x% cash back on my credit card).  As for places like Blue Bottle, if you don’t want my cash, I don’t want your coffee.

Update:  On further consideration, I really don’t like this; it abuses the help.  My custom is to always tip in cash, even when paying by credit card.  (Try this where you’re a regular customer; you’ll notice a boost in service.) A tip is a private transaction between me and my waiter.  It is not the business of the employer, the IRS, or some band of tip-sharing Nazis.  No cash, no tip.

Big Brother Invades the Ice House

The Surveillance Market is set to invade your local quick-stop, grocer, or ice house.

A new digital door technology from a company called Cooler Screens is now being tested in Walgreens, and it sounds absolutely awful. Rather than a basic, transparent glass door, coolers and freezers will be sealed by screens that show a sanitized image of the products behind them. Supposedly, these screens will:

  • Save energy
  • Help monitor inventory
  • Help customers with poor eyesight
  • Make products more visually appealing

That’s all nice enough, and those mild benefits might even be worth replacing a simple glass pane with a complex TV screen. However, further reading ultimately makes those benefits sound like nothing so much as an after-the-fact justification for the real motives behind this technology:

Flashing banner ads float between the digital rows of goods…in addition to the flashy ads and “smart” merchandising, these screens are equipped with sensors and cameras designed to watch and profile the appearance and actions of customers who find themselves in their path, like me. Approximate age and gender. How long my gaze lingers on the bottles of tea.

And they don’t even hide the fact that they’re watching you!  Zuboff is right when she says the corporate desire for behavioral data is insatiable.

CoolerScreensDataCapture

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think having Big Brother determine whether I’m buying milk, soda pop, or a cold beer is any of their business.  I won’t patronize Cool Screeners.

Be a dirty shame if someone banged a shopping cart into these screens and disabled them (hey, it happens to smartphones all the time).

Tip from Stephen Green writing at the Instapundit.