December 31, 1969
The Book of Revelations is not one of my favorite biblical texts, so when I hear stories about the Mark of the Beast, or the Sign of the Beast, or the Number of the Beast, I”m never quite sure whether it’s something from the Bible or something invented by the Rank Organisation for The Day of the Triffids. But given the intense interest in the EMV credit-card chip as a sign of the apocalypse”which will occur 42 months from the date of the chip’s universal adoption”I was motivated to find the appropriate references. I”m still utterly confused, but it’s all based on an interpretation of the thirteenth chapter of Revelations, in which a seven-headed beast rises up out of the sea and blasphemes and does miracles, and then a second beast in dragon form rises up out of the sea and repeats the miracles and persuades everyone to worship the first beast, and if you don”t worship the first beast you get killed. And so we come to the appropriate passage, which is how they identify who’s properly worshipping the beast and who’s apostate:
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Okay, I get this.
Pretty damn convincing. You carry the card in your right hand. The card is able to analyze your mind”hence the forehead reference. The Greek word for “mark” is charagma, which is the engraving mark you put on currency and coins. And what’s it all about? Buying and selling.
The conspiracy theories become even more convincing when we review the recent calls for a “cashless society,” and the proposals to require a “biometric global ID card.” These would sound like fanciful inventions of people who have Buckminster Fuller coffee-table books in their homes were it not for the fact that Indonesia, a nation of 250 million souls, is already introducing it, and India is talking about it as well. I”m sure all the Indonesians are being told, “You”ll enjoy greater security.”
Then there’s the fact that the little miniaturized computer known as the EMV chip is a version of the same chip that the vet puts in your cat’s neck, meaning it can someday be implanted in our necks”and in fact there’s already a company in Cincinnati that bypasses the whole employee ID issue by surgically implanting chips in everyone’s arm.
So who thinks this is a good idea? CVS executives aren”t allowed to vote. Can we have a show of hands?
Oh, okay, it’s the guy from Sweden.
Yes, Sweden is the first country in the world that is actively trying to create “the cashless society.” Instead we”ll just use EMV chips, smartphone apps, and surgically implanted biometric computer monitors.
And why would we wanna do that?
To eliminate crime. “You”ll enjoy your security.”
The most popular form of currency in the world is the American hundred-dollar bill, better known as “the Benji.” The second-most popular is the 500-euro note, nicknamed “the Bin Laden” because the European financiers hate it so much. The German finance minister has already called for the elimination of the Bin Laden even though it accounts for 29 percent of all euro cash in circulation. Former secretary of the treasury Larry Summers wants to get rid of the Benji because people hoard it, especially people trying to hide their wealth. In fact, 70 percent of the Benjis in circulation are held in foreign countries.
By the way, Larry, anybody hoarding a hundred-dollar bill anywhere in the world is giving the United States an interest-free long-term loan. Are you sure you wanna call in all that cash? The main thing that would happen is that everyone would convert to the Swiss thousand-franc note (about $1,017 U.S.), which is the most efficient bill for mattress storage available in today’s world. (The days of the $10,000 bill are long gone, which is a shame. Benny Binion, the Dallas gambler who ran the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas for decades, had a display of a hundred $10,000 bills encased in glass to let his patrons know he was able to pay off whatever bet you made, but mostly he was just showing off.)
So, in the future, we”ll be told to forget that bankroll. Get rid of that wad of twenties you”re taking to Aqueduct to put down on the second claiming race. We”re gonna force you to carry around a biometric chip, even if we have to cut open your forehead to find a place for it.
What does it all mean? When you look at the most frequently asked questions about the EMV chip, a few trends start to emerge.
(1) EMV stands for Europay Mastercard Visa. It was invented by three credit-card companies, and the first one on the list is a European credit-card company. No wonder they Brexited.
(2) There are warnings that your biometric chip might not work in Europe! Beware of “French toll roads and automatic fuel dispensers.” Which is scary because, if you”ve ever been trapped in a European tollbooth with no money, unable to back up, unable to go forward, unable to find an English-speaking person on the “emergency phone” that never works, you know what it feels like to do time at Guantanamo.
(3) We should all feel safe because the EMV chip has been in development since the 1980s and in service since 1992″in France.
The whole thing started in France.
So it came from France, it doesn”t work in France, it’s used by marketing girls in Woonsocket who leave early on Friday so they can suntan in Nantucket, and it’s designed to make sure that anyone buying Trojan Magnums is specifically identified as a candidate for jock-itch cream.
I still think there’s a guy named Jacques”yeah, that’s his name, it’s coming to me like a vision from Revelations, it’s a French guy and he smokes clove cigarettes in Woonsocket”and Jacques has my file, and he’s content right now to sell me jumbo containers of whey protein. But he’s watching me. He’s watching to see how many times I”ll use that card with the biometric computer in it, and each time I use it he”ll take note of it, and one of these days I”ll buy a bottle of SnoreStop Extinguisher Throat Spray, a Dr. Scholl’s orthotic insert, and three bottles of Listerine Cool Mint, and his computer will light up like a Nevada whorehouse on a night when the sheriff shows up, and the message will be so brief and so final:
PROFILE COMPLETE. APOCALYPSE NOW.