What is it about that damned Facebook that has such a knack for stealing all media attention? Facebook is enjoying that rare groove right now in which the entirety of pop culture is paying tribute to the social site in a variety of manners, fashions, and insanities. Facebook, like the massive global-sized snowball it is, is exponentially accumulating enigmatic levels of publicity by virtue of its own growing voluminous reputation. It’s quite a sight to behold.
One such instance was a news item I read today which detailed a new software which is integrated as a browser plug-in. The software allows the user to designate a time period when they must be prompted to pass certain sobriety “tests” similar to those police officers subject you to after you’re caught weaving down the road. If the software detects your failure to pass, it shuts you down from posting on Facebook or Twitter.
“While there are no traffic tickets or confiscation of computers involved, failure to pass would result in the application posting an update stating, ‘You are too intoxicated to post right now.'”
While this is certainly an ingenious application which targets those areas online drunks are most prone to make wildly and regrettably public pronouncements of loaded insanity (and the ensuing embarrassment of living down a post they’ve made to their wall before they can wake up the next morning and hastily delete it in the midst of a splitting headache…by which time who knows how many have read it), it clearly is a patchwork band-aid remedy riddled with loopholes and workarounds that will be rendered useless in the path of a determined and clever drunk who is determined to make a cyber ass of himself.
Little-known is the presence of a severe and nearly failsafe punitive measure presently in place which prevents many from signing on to the internet, in any measure, before first passing a simple physical test attesting to one’s sobriety. As I discovered first-hand recently.
Let me first state that due to numerous instances of drunken online contributions, my drunken and boisterous presence eventually drew the attention of certain authorities. I’m convinced that spiteful and conniving complaints were made on the behalf of several cloaked enemies I have through the cyber kingdom. Enough complaints of my overstated and creepy drunken online behavior (further aided by my shameless public admissions to such online behavior) and federal legal authorities saw it in their jurisdictional meddling to intervene and clamp down on my sodden cyber-behavior. I found myself withstanding a ridiculous micro-trial in the Federal Courthouse here in Los Angeles. Due to the fact my salary surpassed certain minimal levels, I was forced to hire my own attorney, a ridiculous numbskulled law school flunky who hadn’t the slightest clue how to conduct such a novel defense as my own. He bumbled his way through the proceedings, and never once did the wet spots behind his ears dry out. The dude cost too much money and all I had to show for it were separate indictments for Public Drunkenness and Disturbing The Peace. When all was said and done, I had paid in excess of $5,000 for legal fees and fines. At least I wasn’t thrown in jail, which was a ludicrously real possibility.
In fact, the only reason I did not receive a jail sentence was due to the alternative sentence imposed by a Federal judge who shall remain nameless (but I will volunteer the fact that he is a dead ringer for an Asian Jay Leno). I had never heard of such a device, and the coldness of the intrusive horror was only dampened by the prospect of avoiding being locked in a Federal Penitentiary if I agreed to subject myself to such a renunciation of civil liberties.
The device, called a Boot Up Interlock Device (BUID), is similar in principle (and function) to the Ignition Interlock Device utilized by many traffic courts across the country to punish habitual drunk drivers by forcing them to install the device which is attached to their ignition switch and will not allow the car to start until the punished driver breathes a clean “zero” reading into the breathalyzer.
My sentence stated that I must connect the BUID to my home desktop computer for 1-1/2 years. I was responsible for installation and monthly “rent.” The installation cost was $125 and the monthly fee was $65 (for 18 months, quite a chunk of cash)! Still, I was required to install a “portal” on my computer through which I needed to log in every time I signed on to the internet. All my historical passwords, accounts, usernames, credit cards, email addresses and other personal info were collected by the Feds during their investigation and sentencing; these were fed into the Federal mainframe and used as indicators and red flags to detect internet use on my part outside the portal or BUID…ie, unauthorized computer use. Any unathorized use of another computer not hooked up to my BUID was punishable by immediate incarceration and seizure of all my computing equipment. The fuckers were all over it. In the fashion typical of punitive justice meted down on drunks, I would only be eligible for this program if my computer met certain minimum requirements involving RAM, operating system and processor speed, disk space, a webcam and a USB 2.0 port. If I had a cheap or old computer, I was not elibible to surf the internet for a year and a half. I could only use the internet if I could prove I was sober while using it.
I thought back of all those years of internet use in varying states of flagrant drunken debauchery while splayed out in my living room. Blog posts, blog comments, made amidst the deepest of inebriated stupors, rambling, insane, moronic and nonsensical words which issued from my fingers for the entire cyberworld to read. I must have pissed someone off badly and I’m bitter to this day.
She is a cruel and Orwellian mechanical marvel for the Carrie Nation incarnates roaming cyberspace.
The BUID is composed of several sections. You have the “brains,” the central unit. About the size and shape of a shoebox, black solid rubber cover hinged to an identical case and locked shut by a myserious round keyhole which will send a GPS alert to “headquarters” (wherever or whatever the fuck that is) if anything, even a toothpick, is inserted into the hole. This box is off limits, don’t think aout it. On one end of the rectangular box extends a red cable which you plug into an available USB port on your computer. The other end gives birth to a plastic and cloth hybrid stitched hose which culminates in a small horn-shaped apparatus which fits snugly over your lips. Finally, on the bottom of the box, the AC cord which must be plugged in order for the BUID to work.
Once the device is powered up and connected to the computer, and you sign on through the Federal Custodial Portal (FCP) the first time, the auto-detect process loads the government software. It asks you to blow into the mouthpiece for the first time. If you blow a clean reading, the computer is unlocked and you are “free” to surf. One of the software parameters controls and awakens your webcam. It must point at you at all times. This plays out like a security camera. You don’t know if anyone is watching, and if they aren’t, the footage is being recorded and an extensive historical archive is being compiled and stored somewhere where it is available to those who wish to peruse. Something to keep in mind in case you decide you want to drink a 40-ouncer of Steel Reserve after blowing clean so you can rock the ‘net with your drunken foolishness. Motion detection hardware built into this contraption senses if you’ve left the seat for more than a few seconds and instantly shuts down to hibernate mode. When you return, you must blow clean again in order to wake the computer up.
If you open new online accounts through the FCP, your new login and identity is automatically sent to the Feds where they add it to all the known online info compiled about you. I once tried to login to Yahoo at a cybercafe (from a non-BUID workstation) and the next day received a visit from several black-tied Federal agents and a curt warning that I would get no more chances. They just needed to flex their muscles, and I needed to test it.
Yep, never again.
I know who’s boss now.