A world without jobs

This article is way too long for anyone with a job to read. So here are a few nuggets:

“Work is … how we give our lives meaning when religion, party politics and community fall away.”

Whether you look at a screen all day, or sell other underpaid people goods they can’t afford, more and more work feels pointless or even socially damaging – what the American anthropologist David Graeber called “bullshit jobs”

“I do think there is a fear of freedom – a fear among the powerful that people might find something better to do than create profits for capitalism.”

As all such articles do, this one mentioned UBI (Universal Basic Income). I don’t know if that’s a good idea or not. But I can almost imagine a world in which — for whatever reasons — there are just a whole bunch of people without jobs. And I can only see two options for dealing with them: Let them starve or provide them with food and shelter. Some way, somehow. I’m counting on smarter people to come up with more options.


UPDATE: While it was easy enough on my end (sender), it was a pain in the ass for one of the people I attempted to send money to. His bank was not one of the Zelle banks so he had to download an app and blah, blah, blah. Too much trouble. Use Apple Pay.

I’ve never used Venmo but I did send a few bucks with Apple Pay Cash a couple of weeks ago. But that only works if they recipient is using Apple Pay. I had never heard of Zelle until I read this article.

Zelle is currently offered by over 30 banks, including Chase, Bank of America, and Capital One. It can also be downloaded as a standalone app, like Venmo. To use Zelle, you will need to have a US bank account. […] Transferring money with Zelle goes straight from your bank to the recipients’ bank, unlike sending money with Venmo, which is processed through the third-party app.

I opened the Ally app on my phone and, sure enough, Ally supports Zelle. Took about 10 seconds to send $20 to Barb’s account. Zelle already reaches over 85 million users, thanks to its integration with major banks.

Ally Card Controls app

I’ve mentioned my fondness for Ally, the online bank. Been using it for a few years and do virtually all my banking with them. As one might expect, their mobile apps are damned good. This week they sent me an email about their Card Controls app. (Not sure if this is new or I’m just becoming aware of it) And for all I know, other credit cards have had these features for a while. Pretty sure my Chase VISA card does not.

Short version: the app “lets you take control of your Ally Bank debit card, so you can define when, where and how your card is used. You can: View transactions, establish spending limits, manage notifications and more.”

You can turn the card off and on. If I misplace my wallet I can disable the card until I find it and then turn it back on.

Use to be a pain in the ass to cancel a lost card only to find it 10 minutes later.

Establish spending limits and merchant categories. Transactions can also be controlled and monitored for specific merchant categories like gas stations, department stores, restaurants, entertainment, travel and supermarkets.

Not really clear on when one would want to do this. The jury is still out on titty bars.

Location-based controls. Using your phone’s GPS, the My Location feature can limit transactions to merchants located within a certain range of your phone’s location. You can also restrict purchases made in a specific region and deny international transactions.

I disabled international transactions. Like I said, this might be old stuff and I just noticed but I really like have this kind of control.

Credit Freeze

A couple of years ago UnitedHealthcare was hacked and customer data was compromised. The company paid for credit monitoring and fraud alert and a bunch of other (probably) worthless stuff. That was my first encounter with a “credit freeze” which I put in place with all three of the credit reporting agencies. The freeze stays in place until I lift it.

I was thinking about this in light of the Equifax cluster fuck and came across a story explaining how these work:

“Credit freezes, also known as security freezes, place a lock on access to a borrower’s credit report. With a credit freeze in place, lenders and other companies cannot view the borrower’s credit. As a result, freezes prevent the consumer from gaining access to new loans, such as credit cards and mortgages, but they also keep fraudsters from opening new accounts in that person’s name. […] Credit freezes go further than either credit monitoring or alert by making credit reports inaccessible to lenders and others who might have an interest in viewing a consumer’s credit history.”

Here’s my favorite line from the article:

“Those who sell credit freezes don’t like them much. “Freezing your credit file is an extreme step that removes you from the credit marketplace,” says Rod Griffin, director of public education with the credit bureau Experian.”

Hey, Roger? Tough titty. I can say that because I’m well past the age where credit is important. (Yes, lucky me) And a credit freeze doesn’t protect you from everything. It’s probably like The Club… the crooks just move on to an easier target.

Eventually every hacker will have every piece of personal information on every person on the planet. It will be like all baseball card collectors having every single card for every team. Nobody to trade with.

Here’s a puzzler: have you ever heard of a member of Congress having their identity hacked? I haven’t either and perhaps that’s because such a breach would be kept very quiet. I like to think that it happens. I hope it happens.

What happened when Walmart left

In West Virginia, the people of McDowell County recently lost their biggest employer – the local Walmart store. The story is bleak.

For Dan Phillips, Walmart was a way of coping with bereavement after his wife died a few years ago. “If you were lonely and had nothing to do, you’d go to Walmart to talk to folk. It was a great social network. […] Now it’s hard to keep track of people, there’s no other place like it where you can stand and chat.”

“I went to Walmart for the walk,” she says. “I went early and I got a cart and I walked all over the store. I loved walking around it. I would walk and talk, talk and walk. I could walk the store all day.”

Will demand for oil plummet?

It would be like a game of Risk that’s been going on for three days and your three-year-old comes in and gleefully turns the board over. [CNBC]

RethinkX co-founder and Stanford University economist and professor Tony Seba told CNBC’s Street Signs that the rise of self-drive cars will see oil demand plummet, the price of oil drop to $25 a barrel, and oil producers left without the political or financial capital they have today.

“He says we are not going to stop driving altogether, just switch to self-drive electric vehicles, which will become a much larger part of the sharing economy. And these electric vehicles are going to cost less to both buy and run. […] There will be no more petrol or diesel cars, buses and trucks sold anywhere in the world within 8 years. Which also means no more car dealers by 2024.”

“China wants to get electric, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars to account for 20 per cent of all auto sales by 2025, while India aims to electrify all vehicles in the country by 2032.”

ACT! and Reflex

In the late 80’s I was doing affiliate relations for about 120 radio stations (in Missouri and Iowa). I had a card for each station in a Rolodex on my desk. Using a typewriter, I packed as much information on each card as possible. Station manager, program director, news director, address, phone, fax (few if any email addresses in ’87). By my right knee was a file drawer containing manila file folders for each station. This would contain copies of all correspondence; notes from phone calls and f2f visits. It was a paper world. The portable version of the Rolodex was a page with as much of the info as could be crammed on a sheet of paper. (Columns: City, GM, PD, ND, Address, Phone, Fax, etc)

I had a computer on my desk but I don’t recall when I moved from DOS to Windows. But somewhere in here I was using Borland Reflex, a flat-file database management system for DOS. It was the first commercial PC database to use the mouse and graphics mode, and drag-and-drop capability in the report formatting module.

I used Reflex as a ‘customer relationship management’ program before there was such a thing (that I knew of). I was in heaven. I sorted and searched and generated reports. I used one field for notes (every phone call, letter and in-person visit).

Sometime around 1987 I was visiting Bill Weaver, the GM of KFRU in Columbia, MO, and I must have mentioned my little database. Bill showed me the program he used to manage all of his contacts: ACT! I was smitten! Did all the things I hacked out of Reflex but so much more. I immediately bought a copy and became insufferable to my co-workers.

While attending COMDEX in 1992 (Chicago), I saw what I believe was the first Windows version of ACT! $500 but I had to have it. Bought it on the convention floor.

I lived in ACT! for many years after. Probably well after Outlook took over the company network. Grown men were reduced to tears when they were forced to give up ACT!


I’m in the middle of another Small Histories” project. “Learfield and the Internet” is the working title. I’ll share it here when it’s as done as I can do it. But here’s a sample of the kinds of stuff we slung against the wall. ObitsOnline.

I knew from my small market radio days that people loved obituaries. Every morning the local funeral homes would call in details of funerals and visitations and we’d read them on the air. We tried to kill the feature once but people went ape shit.

The great thing about the early days of the Internet was nobody knew what might work so you could try anything. Why not let funeral homes throughout the state (Missouri) log in to an online database and post funeral announcements. The public could search by name, date, city, etc etc. We pitched the funeral home associations in Missouri and Iowa (maybe some other states, I don’t recall). Here are some screenshots:

The idea never got off the ground because in 2000 most funeral homes were still trying to figure out their fax machines and were convinced the people in their communities were not using computers and were unlikely to do so any time soon. I have no idea what the business model for this might have been. In those days we were thinking more about what would be cool or interesting.