Don’t use your debit card at the gas station.

pinzWell you can, but don’t put in your PIN; insist on doing it as a credit transaction. Why? Because people love to steal the PIN. It’s way easier to empty your bank account that way than it is with regular credit card fraud.

Retailers will do just about anything to force you into using the PIN instead of a credit card type transaction, because credit cards cost them money and PIN/Debit transactions don’t. So you have to say it’s credit, punch the credit button, decline to use your pin, and then tell the checker again that’s credit. Or they just automatically present you with the PIN entry screen with no other options.

So, what happens when you use your PIN? Usually nothing, because supermarkets and other big retailers are secure environments. But if you use one of those rollaway ATM droids, or the ATM at some nightclub, not so good. And if you go to a gas station that only takes PIN transactions, like the ARCO here, you might just get royally and electronically screwed.

Modest Proposals: Spam and the Music Industry

The old “music industry” in the United States is dead. This has been clear for a decade now. Parts of it fall off occasionally, e.g., the entire retail store establishment. Those in charge cannot acknowledge that things have fundamentally changed to their disadvantage. Instead they’re driven into ridiculous extremes: suing children, crippling computers and their own CDs and DVDs, attempting to dock the tuition accounts of college students, and buying risible legislation.

They have no choice. The music industry distributes its product via trucks through warehouses, and there is cash involved. Therefore they are in part controlled by organized crime. In the golden years of the 70s and 80s, so-called “cutout” or remaindered discount records were a cash equivalent, and everyone had some good times with the resulting piles of $50’s. Lew Wasserman helped out his old buddy Ronald Reagan with slush money, and later there was a polite to-do about the Mafia and MCA.

Now imagine the reaction of the wise guys to the elimination of trucking and cash, the elimination of warehouses, and the elimination of networks of middlemen. The made man in the corner office isn’t happy.

It’s clear we need to get these guys out of the picture. They’re trying to make money off something dead, and they aren’t going to let it go. But they’re armed, and wealthy, and very good at using legislation and muscle to keep a good thing going. What to do?

Another problem has been getting worse the last ten years: spam. Annoying email, most of it for illegal or fraudulent businesses, is gumming up the works badly. The spammers are winning the arms race, too: it gets harder and harder to filter their crap without losing legitimate communication. Worst of all, it can’t be legislated out of existence because it originates offshore and is transmitted by zombie armies of compromised computers controlled by crafty Russians. So now we have another organized crime problem: the damn Russians won’t stop spamming us and we can’t do a thing about it.

I propose that we solve both problems simultaneously.

A mission of music executives, internet portal and technology managers, and suitably anonymous government figures will be sent to a Godfather-like summit with the Russian mob’s top leaders. And we will say this to them:

“We know you’re businessmen. And we respect that. We’re businessmen too. And we have a problem for us that’s an opportunity for you. If you want to come in and wipe out the guys who are holding back our music industry, the business is yours. Clearly you know how to sell on the Internet, and how to sell music for that matter. You’re digitally sophisticated and you know how to get paid without trucks and wads of cash. Come on in and enjoy, and we’ll overlook the crime wave as you whack all these bastards.

“In return we ask only one thing: stop the spam. It’s bad for business for us, and it can’t be a long-term business for you either. Technology changes, you know that. If you walk away from spam we’ll hand you the key to digital music, and that’s not going away. Deal?”

The result in my utopia would be a short, exciting series of gangland murders, followed by the emergence of slightly too expensive but totally functional music download services. And spam will go to about 5% what it is now; the government and tech people can take credit for this.

I for one am willing to pay 10% more on my music downloads for this deal.

Welcome, Jemifer.

I have received this communication from “Jemifer” or “Jenifer” (spelled both ways) on myspace. It looks like Jem (Jen) has had a whole lot of coffee, because this all obviously came out in a rush. It’s rare for someone in a calm state of mind to misspell her own name. There’s a lot to chew on here, and I will have to consider my response to her very carefully. Clearly she’s a passionate person and a serious thinker, and someone who is thinking outside of her box.

I have met “net-friends” many times but haven’t had her experience of feeling nervous, or wondering what they’ll look like in person. And I did let go of my expectations years ago, about damn near anything. But she’s probably a lot younger.

She does bring up a good point about dishonesty, particularly where size is concerned. I have a refined and quite serious fetish that requires my girlfriends to be at least three meters tall and not less than 20 cm in diameter, and I can’t tell you how many times some hopeful bachelorette has insisted that she meets these requirements only to disappoint — INSTANTLY — on first meeting.

I’m not sure what Jem/Jen asks of me, or any of us really. The call to adventure is clear, and she’s an encouraging person with a touching faith in the victory of love over the petty barriers of distance, appearance, and language. However, the language itself becomes a problem and it’s hard to say how we should respond to her.

Anyway I’m at a loss. Maybe one of you can help her out, or at least find out how she spells her name.

Hello am Jemifer……………
In meeting net-friends for the first time, just remember that they are probably as nervous as you are! Its always a shock for me to finally SEE someone Ive known “o nline” for ages, but it will pass quickly.
Let go of your expectations – the expectation that i will like you (and the corresponding fear that i wont), and the expectation that you will like me (and the fear that you wont). The beauty of the net is that there are no looks, no accents, no physical barriers to filter through….
Just the essence of ones soul. You look on the net for women that would bring out the beauty of their hearts, and yet you bring in the same expectations that might have caused you to fail in finding a mate in the real world. If women lie to you about their size and their looks, then that is because you expect them to lie to you. If you could see my inner beauty without tainting it with your physical expectations, you would be amazed at how many Gems you could find on the net.
On the NET, you have the chance to behold the beauty of ones spirit.
Accept people for who they are, and stop expecting them to be who you want them to be, and you would be surprised how many beauties will break your doors down. Try it, and you will have the same success both on the net, and on the real world.So cyber relationships that turns into real time relationships can and do work.If you go into it with the right attitude then you wont be disappointed. For me, look s didnt matter. I fell in love with the way person opened up to me.
And if u care for a private chat also u want to know more about me u can contact me with this e-mail address….hope to hear from u soon……….