Wired highlights a new gizmo: a patch that broadcasts the wearer's blood alcohol content via radio signal continuously. Doubtless some benificial applications here—I can't get too worked up if a company wants to require that its school bus drivers wear one of these on the job—but also some obviously creepy potential.

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  1. When do I get to start enhancing myself with various cyber gadgets what will give me super-human strength, or allow me to “jack” into the net? Can’t they think of something more interesting than this patch?

    BTW, why can’t you complain about a private employer? Is the scummy or otherwise repulsive behavior of a private entity beyond criticism simply because its “private?”

  2. I’m not necessarily sure that this behavior is scummy. As stated, should a school bus driver be required to wear one, I have no complaint. Sure it’s creepy, but is it that much creepier than if your employer requires a physical? Or the fact that I can’t show up with alcohol on my breath? On the bright side, perhaps we could get Ted Kennedy to wear one.

  3. Who said anything about private employers? Not I. The point of the school bus example was just that there are contexts in which I wouldn’t consider it per se beyond the pale for an entity (public or private) to monitor someone’s sobriety… especially when it’s a condition of the job stated in advance.

  4. Jualian Sanchez,

    That’s a remotely fair answer; I’m still awaiting my cyber enhancements.

  5. It’d be cool to have one that only broadcasts to a personal monitor…such as a wristwatch-type device…for nights out on the town. Same idea as the keychain breathalyzer, but perhaps more discreet?

    As to cyber enhancements…I’ll be more excited about that idea when I can go for at least a week without my computer crashing or freezing up on me…

  6. If you have a pace-maker, are you a cyborg?

  7. Yall alreadly are cyborgs. That’s why I can shoot you from the trunk the car and it’s ok. Free your mind!

  8. Merovingian-

    Although Julian’s comments don’t really fit this mold, you highlighted a good point when you ask why libertarians are often reluctant to criticize private actions. One could come up with two types of libertarians: The first adamantly believes that the right of private entities to do whatever they want includes the right to criticize other private entities for what they do. (Note that criticism isn’t the same as coercion, it’s just one person speaking his mind while another either says “Hmm, he has a point” or “screw you, I’ll do what I want!”).

    The other type seems to think that criticizing another person’s choices is at the very least an anti-freedom attitude, and may even be an indirect call for regulations. So if somebody says “I think it’s bad when a business does such-and-such” the second type of libertarian will start saying “They have the right to do what they want! Let the market decide!” And my response is “Yeah, and I’m part of the market, and they sure won’t get my money. If somebody else wants to spend money at this place then fine, but I sure won’t, and I’ll be telling other people why it’s a bad idea to spend money there. And those other people, being parts of the market, will decide whether they take my side or that business’s side.”

    I think Kevin Carson recently opined on this forum that some leftists think any criticism of an action (e.g. some types of offensive speech, homosexuality, etc.) must be tantamount to calls for laws against that action. They simply can’t conceive of a world where people might criticize something without wanting to regulate it. Some of the libertarians on this forum seem to be the same way at times. Not in this particular thread, just a general observation.

  9. Good point, Thoreau. I suppose it is rather sad that many a libertarian has such a hard time envisioning a world where-in criticism does not necessitate regulation. I tend to fall in that trap myself. It is definately something to be mindful of. As rational actors, let us not salivate everytime the bell rings.

  10. Of course, even if one maintains that private employers should have the right to set whatever rules they want, that still ignores the human rights of the employees. The pat answer here is that the employees can get work elsewhere if their jobs are so dreadful, but in reality jobs are not as easy to find as that.

  11. Couldn’t one be configured to work in reverse, to show when you aren’t drinking enough? It could be a hit at frat parties.

  12. My criminal law professor wants to criminalize sex while intoxicated similar to DUI. Apparently, she’s horribly offended by the practice of picking up drunk people in a bar. This technology and that philosophy could be a very dangerous combination.

  13. “Apparently, she’s horribly offended by the practice of picking up drunk people in a bar.”

    Strange. Is this rooted in the idea that people are somehow controlled by booze and completely incapable of making decisions when drunk? The confusing thing for me is that I’ve never felt like I’d lost my moral conscience when drunk… do some people really lose their ability to judge right from wrong when they’re intoxicated?

  14. Since you’ve summoned me from the vasty deep, thoreau, I’ve got to say, “Right on!”

    And I’d add that a market presupposes an unregulated flow of information on the qualities of firms, goods and services; otherwise, how can participants in the market maximize their preferences?

  15. Andy,
    Nope, just fat from thin. All kidding aside, I feel a tad bit more impulsive and adventurous, but I still know the difference from right and wrong.

    Back in my college days, (96-00) we considered getting a breathalyzer at my fraternity house. We ended up balking at the idea because a) only 4 people had cars and 3 didn’t drink and b) we knew it would lead to idiotic drinking contests. At least with these patches you could get updates on the internet if you left the bar room.

    I fall into the first group of libertarians, but I still feel wierd about a lot of boycotts. I didn’t like the boycotts against the Dixie Chicks for their dumb comments, but I still felt Cumulus had the right to boycott whomever they wanted to. I guess freedom is being able to freely criticize someone for criticizing someone for what they did.

  16. This product will undoubtedly find someone who wants to use it on people under 21.

    I can envision some too-busy-to-deal-with-real-issues high school admin suggesting students be forced to use these.
    I can also see someone pushing the use of these patches for people under 18 who have a D/L.

    I’m not crazy, I’ve just got head injuries from all those falls down slippery slopes…

  17. Drunken school bus drivers are a blessing. This “for the children” exception has to be stamped out. It’s not as if there’s nothing funny about drunken school bus drivers, at least if they’re really smashed, none of that .10 stuff.

    You could read Joseph Gusfield’s _The Culture of Public Problems_ on drunk driving and how it came to be a public problem, a study of the rhetoric of such things. He reports busybody hostility to his project, even in the 80s. (Drunken driving used to be a moral failing, something for eg. the church to attend to.) He has a later book broadening things.

  18. This could be some kind of new mood ring. Be a big hit at the bars in Scottsdale, I’d say.

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