August 29th, 2013

A Purple Straw Hat

What I Did Last Summer: Movies

Earlier this summer, B. started taking A. to see movies. They went to nice movie theaters, at malls, and saw things like Monsters University (kinda jealous, there -- have to wait for video at this point) and Despicable Me 2 (less jealous there, but of course minions are always adorable). I was reluctant to attempt to take T. to a movie, even tho he _really likes going to iMax_ at the Aquarium. I mean _really_ likes. I thought it was just the popcorn at first. Anyway. We did in fact take the kids to see the Sharks 3D movie at the Aquarium this summer, which was sufficiently scary that when I took the kids back to the Aquarium (by myself) on Monday to look at penguins in real life and on iMax in 3D, A. asked specifically about whether there would be sharks. And it wasn't an ooh, cool! sort of ask about sharks, either. All that voice commentary on the Sharks movie about understanding and getting along with sharks is a load of crap; they just wanted to make the audience jump.

Anyway. B. and I took both kids to see Smurfs 2 at the Maynard Fine Arts theater. Wow, was that a stupid movie. Basically, action movie for toddlers, and with Neil Patrick Harris as the married-to-a-woman dad, super weird, especially since the mom has this unbelievably high pitched baby voice and is Very, Very Thin. Also, there's a bit where step-grand-pa turns into a duck. Maynard Fine Arts theater is a triplex and it is Sticky, Cash Only [eta: did I mention it is cheap? That should be a duh thing, but it is Cheap], but still plays first run movies. It was exactly what I was hoping for: an opportunity to take the kids somewhere and not have to worry too much about people freaking out if they were occasionally inappropriately loud.

Since school has nominally started, they don't seem to be running an early show; first show is around 4 p.m. currently. Yesterday, since A. only had an hour and a half of orientation and T. had his Wednesday half day, we went to see Planes. Not _as_ bad as Smurfs 2, but wow, sitting around watching Monsters, Inc. over and over again has really spoiled me. I expect more from a kids film, which I really should not. [eta: Seriously, it was $27 bucks the three of us, 2 small popcorns, ginger ale and a box of junior mints. Given what everyone keeps telling me it costs to go see a movie These Days, it seems like a screaming deal.]

Obvs, the release schedule is going to be a little thin for the next month or so. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a possibility, as is Frozen, altho I'm a little worried about Frozen because I Loathe the story it is based on. Here's hoping it is only _very_ loosely based on The Snow Queen; the trailers are all about Funny Bits unrelated to the main plotline, which is a little terrifying.

The good news is, it's 2013. If I get really bored sitting in the theater, I can always read news on my iPhone. Or bring my kindle, which might be a little less disruptive from a light perspective. Altho given the theater (we were the _only_ people in the room for Planes), I'm not too worried.
A Purple Straw Hat

Government Limits on Paying in Cash

My not-brother-in-law is a tough guy to read: it can be almost impossible to tell if he's serious about something, or just stringing you along. I mostly don't care, because I kind of like exploring ideas anyway, and if someone's willing to play, I don't mind if they go laugh about it later.

In any event, he was pushing pretty hard a get-rid-of-cash idea, replacing cash with government accounts so all payments would be account-to-account transfers (I would call these giros) and thus trackable, subject to traffic analysis, pattern recognition and so forth. He was talking from a drug dealing detecting perspective, which I argued with on the basis that if all payments are within this system, it shouldn't be that hard to make one kind of activity look like a different kind of activity, if you put your mind to it (really, what exactly is the difference between selling legal versus illegal agricultural products? I don't think this is as obvious as he was arguing, and by the time you got done pissing people off for engaging in legit business and failing to make the case stick against the ones who really were engaging in shenanigans but could weasel out of it somehow, you would wonder why you were even bothering, then the electorate would just legalize everything anyway so what's the point?).

I was prepared to accept a thesis that make-everything-giros-to-support-tax-collection, but he wasn't going there, which is a pity, because it is a great example of how once you did it, you'd just be legislated out of doing what you intended anyway.

So that's where that was when I came home, but I continue to be fascinated by the idea that someone who would like to pretend that he's right-of-center can go walking around advocating such a designed-to-set-off-the-black-helicopter-crowd argument. I'm assuming he was joking. But check this out. Italy has _already_ put limits on the size of transactions you can conclude with cash.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/italys-cap-on-cash-payments-12082011.html

I knew from the Cyprus coverage that paying the rent in cash is kinda common in Southern Europe and related areas (and for the record, I think paying the rent in cash is nuts in so many ways I just don't even want to get started). This is part of why I figured that making everything be account-to-account (which is basically what a check is, after all, when you don't let people get cash for the check unless they have an account at the bank in question, which is increasingly common, especially now that third party and other weird things to do with checks are effectively impossible) would be done in support of tax collection.

Spain seems to have a E 2500 limit.

France has a E 3000 limit (altho that's a little complicated):

http://www.europeanpaymentscouncil.eu/article.cfm?articles_uuid=C9EAD88D-93E7-4671-5CCC09428816FC87

That link is actually the one worth reading, because it gets into the cost of payments systems and who bears them. The costs of cash are borne by the government. The costs of payment cards are borne by issues, merchants, and end-users, depending on the legal environment and contractual agreements. Etc.

But while that article mentions the issue of trust in passing, what is missing from virtually all payment systems discussions is the potential for universal account-to-account payments to _increase_ trust. While the right worries about the Guvmint spying on us and/or taxing us to death and the left worries about poor people being left out of modern payment systems and/or the elderly being unable to keep up with All These Changes, no one is pointing out that in a world in which every single payment can be tracked all the way back, no one can Get Away With Shenaningans Ever Again. There will always be a trade-off between the hassle of Getting What's Coming To You vs. just Sucking It Up and Moving On, but it won't ever be a matter of not being able to prove the chain of transactions.

Also, the cost of cash to the poor is tremendously _high_ in our mixed system; they get charged to go to cash from every other kind of payment, so it's really no favor to them.