An encounter with the future while dining out

Here is an interesting (to me) part of going out to dinner on Saturday, for the first time in 14 months: When it came time to pay the check, the waitress brought over a paper receipt with a QR code on it. There was a single line of instruction on the receipt, to just scan it with my phone camera.

So I did and my phone gave me a screen with an itemized receipt, including a calculated tip. I tapped the OK button and I was done.

I’m pretty sure the phone was using “app clips,” a new feature from iOS 14 in the fall, where you can download a slim version of an app for one-time use. The app clip was branded “Toast Take-Out.”

The experience underscored how we’ve been hermetically sealed in a bomb shelter and we’re emerging into T!H!E F!U!TU!R!E.

Also, the experience cut out my least favorite part of going out to eat, where we sit and wait for the waitress to process the credit card. Once I’m done eating and have sat for a bit, I’m done, ready to go, not wanting to sit around more and wait for someone to give me back my plastic. So this part of the future is entirely welcome to me.

Lithium Mining Projects May Not Be Green Friendly, by Ivan Penn and Eric Lipton at The New York Times—“Blowing up a mountain isn’t green, no matter how much marketing spin people put on it…. Electric cars and renewable energy may not be as green as they appear. Production of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel that are essential to these technologies are often ruinous to land, water, wildlife and people.”

“Oh my God, they’re in Southern Jersey. These are North Jersey guys, so that in itself is hilarious. They may as well be on Mars.”

“Pine Barrens” is a classic episode of “The Sopranos:” Nobody learns anything. Paulie and Christopher are a couple of morons who don’t like each other when they start the episode, and they don’t change. They survive because of sheer, extraordinary luck, rather than any skill or woodcraft on their part—they really should be dead. And we never find out what happens to the Eastern European gangster.

Two Assholes Lost in the Woods: An Oral History of the ‘Pine Barrens’ episode of The Sopranos, by Alan Siegel at The Ringer

Yesterday, Julie and I went out to dinner, to celebrate both of us achieving full immunity. This was my first time eating inside at a restaurant in 14 months.

Restaurant was limited to 50% capacity, with tables spaced accordingly. No masking while sitting at table, but masking required when walking around in the restaurant. And walking around in the restaurant was discouraged.

First time I drove anywhere with Julie since December.

First time since early March I wore pants that were not cargo pants or sweatpants.

First time I wore a button-down shirt since the spring, when I got in the habit of having a “Zoom shirt” in my office, to throw on for metings with clients and job interviews. I was self-employed then. Now I just wear polo shirts.

The restaurant experience was not great. This was formerly a favorite restaurant of ours. I’ll give them another try in a few months, to see if they’re just having temporary Covid problems.

Overall, however, it was a great night.

Wednesday I’m getting together with a co-worker for coffee. He graciously welcomed me to the company when I joined in June and I made a mental note to get together with him for coffee when it’s time. Now it’s time. Week-end Wrap—Political Economy—By the 1920s, the French had the most powerful military in Europe, and yet they crumbled under the Nazis not long afterward. The collapse of French democracy preceded the German invasion. “… the French upper classes openly opposed new Socialist Prime Minister Leon Blum with the slogan, ‘Better Hitler than Blum.’ The United States today appears on a similar course of decline.”

How many Americans would have shrugged off an enemy attack under Trump? How many would do the same under Biden? Hard-core MAGAs at times seem to view the Democratic Party as an enemy threat to the US, and Russia as an ally.

Businesses that find it hard to hire need to raise their wages. Companies that do that have job applicants lined up out the door. That’s how free markets work.

Covid benefits may serve as a de facto increase to the minimum wage. I’m OK with that.

Benjamin Franklin: “….To desire to keep down the rate of wages… is to seek to render the citizens of a state miserable… “

Henry Ford: Paying good wages is good for business. “If we can distribute high wages, then that money is going to be spent and it will serve to make storekeepers and distributors and manufacturers and workers in other lines more prosperous and their prosperity will be reflected in our sales. Country-wide high wages spell country-wide prosperity, provided, however, the higher wages are paid for higher production…. “

Ford: “There is nothing to running a business by custom—to saying: ‘I pay the going rate of wages.’ The same man would not so easily say: ‘I have nothing better or cheaper to sell than any one has.’ No manufacturer in his right mind would contend that buying only the cheapest materials is the way to make certain of manufacturing the best article. Then why do we hear so much talk about the ‘liquidation of labour’ and the benefits that will flow to the country from cutting wages—which means only the cutting of buying power and the curtailing of the home market? What good is industry if it be so unskillfully managed as not to return a living to everyone concerned? No question is more important than that of wages—most of the people of the country live on wages. The scale of their living—the rate of their wages—determines the prosperity of the country.”

How copyright filters lead to wage-theft, by Cory Doctorow—YouTube content filters enable grifters to issue phony takedown notices as a form of extortion, driving legitimate creators off YouTube. These grifters include major corporations such as Sony and Warners, as well as the Beverly Hills Police Department and Chinese Communist Party. Monopolists like Facebook love automated filters because they cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement, making them excellent barriers to competition.