We See You

A traditional indicator that one’s consumption of methamphetamine and/or cocaine has proceeded beyond the bounds of reason is determinedly marching out of the house at three o’clock in the morning to tinker in the innards of an automobile. Another is the glass jar containing the accumulated invisible spiders and mites plucked from one’s pores, recurrently flourished before various friends, acquaintances, we see youand medical personnel. Then there is the conviction that down at the neighborhood church, seemingly respectable burghers maintain in the basement a satanic child-sex ring. And finally, there is the Knowledge that there on the top of the television, somewhere in the cable box, They are Looking at you.

Seems now we’re going to have to strike this last one off the list. Because it is about to become Real.

Verizon, Comcast, Google TV, and Microsoft have all submitted patent applications for televisions and/or DVRs designed to Look and Listen, whether cocaine is drooling out of your nostrils, methamphetamine is gibbering in your veins, or no.

More and more in this world, it is no longer possible to make shit up. No matter how Wrong or Weird it may be, chances are that, somewhere, it is Real.

Take Verizon’s proposed Watch Box, bristling with cameras and microphones, and traveling under the terrifying rubric “Detection Facility 104.” Here is some of what the company told the gub’mint boys the device will Do.

—If your DVR hears you getting frisky on the couch, it will input terms like “romance, love, cuddle” into the system and play “a commercial for a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive, a commercial for flowers, a commercial including a trailer for an upcoming romantic comedy movie.”

—”Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects that a couple is arguing/fighting with each other, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated marriage/relationship counseling.”

—Your DVR will be able to know what kind of beer you’re drinking: “If detection facility 104 detects a particular object (e.g., a Budweiser can) within a user’s surroundings, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated with the detected object (e.g., a Budweiser commercial).”

—If you seem stressed, to be considerate the DVR will show you an ad for “aromatherapy candles.”

The mind reels. It pictures law-enforcement officers arriving at the scene of the latest domestic murder-suicide, wading through buckets of sad blood, as over there in the “entertainment center” Detection Facility 104 serenely cycles through sunny blooms of flowers, cheery seas of beer cans, a clutch of smell-powered flame objects, and the Kind and Concerned visage of Dr. Feelgood, renowned relationship adept.

Do we need Detection Facility 104? No. What should be done with it? Hunter S. Thompson knows: it should be “hurled out to sea and stomped down like a dwarf in a shitrain.”

So let it be written. So let it be done.

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20 Responses to “We See You”


  1. 1 possum December 12, 2012 at 10:23 am

    There is no such thing as privacy any more. Our cars keep track of our driving habits. Cell phones track our every movement. And now our TV sets want to watch us in our homes. What is left? Hurled out to sea is far too good for this bad idea on the heap of invasive ideas.

    • 2 bluenred December 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Somewhere I have bookmarked a piece that says those Minority Report billboards are here: as you stroll by, the thing Knows Who You Are, and begins screaming for you to buy things, its demands tailored to you alone.

      There is a former French intelligence agent who these days consults on this and that. He does not say anything Real on the phone. He does not write or do anything Real on any computer or similar device. He sends nothing Real through the mail. If you want to talk to him, you go out to his house, and he takes you for a stroll through his vineyards.

      There is a guy in these parts who was born outside the system—no birth certificate, hospital registry, etc.—and has managed for 60-some years to remain wholly outside it. Nowhere, does he officially exist. When he passes, he should be placed in the Smithsonian. Alongside all the other vanished species.

      • 3 possum December 12, 2012 at 11:27 am

        The billboard report strikes a chord in the marsupial memory. Scary, that.

        Good for the invisible man. That should be the goal of every intelligent person alive today. Avoiding the system is a very fine goal.

  2. 4 mieprowan December 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    And they will charge you extra to have TVs that don’t do this. Or there will be a burgeoning black market in blocking devices. Kudos to the man with no ID.

    • 5 bluenred December 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      That’s if they even tell you that the machines are Looking and Listening.

      I am currently running an E-meter over my recently purchased electronic devices, in an attempt to detect any hidden cameras and microphones.

      • 6 mieprowan December 12, 2012 at 5:37 pm

        Always a good idea. And if you find anything, leave it in a room with your cat.

      • 7 possum December 13, 2012 at 4:27 am

        My wife was distressed at the recent news of her car spying on driving habits. She was living in the dream world where privacy was the rule. Sad stuff in Possum Valley these days. No new TV’s on our horizon for sure.

        • 8 bluenred December 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

          In my experience, cars began going Wrong when they started talking to you. A former lover had a machine that would intone “the door is a jar” whenever you climbed in or out of the thing. And I would reply, “no, the door is not a jar, it’s a door.” Drove me nuts.

          I’m sure that They will find a way to compel everyone to buy new TVs. Like when they switched all the broadcast stations over to whatever it was, so that you either had to get a new TV, or some Radio Shack box. Said box no doubt equipped with cameras and microphones so it can Look and Listen. ; 0

          • 9 possum December 13, 2012 at 9:51 am

            The car story reminds me of a neighbor who purchased one of those talking vehicles. Took about two weeks for him to decide to either shoot the car or have the darned thing turned off. Those talkie machines make me crazy. No machine should have a voice that imitates a real human being.

            • 10 bluenred December 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

              Do they still talk, the cars? Or did the manufacturers finally figure out that We Don’t Want that?

              • 11 possum December 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

                One of the staff got a new car delivered yesterday. It talks. At least some manufacturers have missed the boat.

                • 12 bluenred December 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

                  Well, I hope the things have at least advanced from “the door is a jar.” The jar-car rolled off the assembly line a couple decades ago. I would think that today’s vehicles should be able to engage in conversation, perhaps even offer investment advice, or psychological counseling.

                  • 13 possum December 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

                    From what I am told the car in question (a luxury model above my limits) has progress not one iota. There are options for the accent and the sex of the speaker, but the messages are just as dull as before. Investment advice is not part of the deal. “Smart cars” are just as dumb as ever.

                    • 14 bluenred December 13, 2012 at 11:17 am

                      I would want a vehicle that speaks in an extraterrestrial accent, of a sex not found on this planet.

                      I will put in a request.

                      ; )

                    • 15 possum December 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm

                      Good luck with that one. I believe the Star Trek Enterprise may have a monopoly on those voice segments.

                    • 16 bluenred December 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm

                      In which Captain Kirk prevails in a logic battle with the dazed and confused space probe Nomad, and convinces it to bugger off. In Italian. ; )

                    • 17 possum December 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

                      Kirk is a true hero of the human kind. :)

                      Except when he sang “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

                    • 18 bluenred December 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

                      But the unselfconsciousness—or unselfawareness—to do that.

                      Here it is, below, in all its extremely bent glory.

                      I trust that all red readers have at hand sufficient medications, to enable them to survive the experience.

                    • 19 possum December 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

                      To be able to perform in that way is an indication of absolute obliviousness. Complete self-unawareness is the only rational explanation. Or else complete insanity.

  3. 20 bluenred December 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    There has always been something deeply, deeply Strange, about Mr. Shatner.

    Because we know that in this universe there are no coincidences, it appears indeed right and meet that this being—whatever his dubious provenance—helmed the first worldwide mass-embraced representation of earthlings venturing into the great wide open. To there meet creatures even stranger than he.


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