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, and 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.