Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Because Some Things Should Die When You Do
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The Destruct-O-Chron is a a safe-deposit box or vault that destroys it's contents when a timer expires. For example, you have old love-letters or naked photos or a joint that you are saving for a special occasion. You enjoy browsing these items from time to time, but in the event of your incapacitation or death, you would want to spare your surviving family members the pain of your dirty little secrets.

Destruct-O-Chrons could be installed at home or in a place of business with private access booths. As long as you are still alive and are able to pay the bill and extend the timer, the contents will be safe. The timer can be extended through a secure website or a touch-tone phone. Once the timer expires, the Destruct-O-Chron will crush/vaporize/de-magnetize/disintegrate it's contents.

There are a few messy issues to deal with, however. Currency, securities, ransoms, contracts and evidence could create interesting moral and legal problems if they found their way into the Destruct-O-Chron. Court orders and search warrants could create headaches for the owner/operator of the Destruct-O-Chron as well. Other items could create safety and environmental hazards as a result of their destruction. Explosives, hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials must not be placed in the Destruct-O-Chron.

An interesting variation of this idea is the Send-A-Chron which ejects a pre-paid mailer and it's contents upon expiration of a timer. This would be useful for informants, double agents, revenge seekers, etc.

FireMop, Apr 07 2001

Orb2069's link, in the proper place http://iq.org/~proff/rubberhose.org/
"Rubberhose transparently and deniably encrypts disk data, minimising the effectiveness of warrants, coersive interrogations and other compulsive mechanims, such as U.K RIP legislation . . ." [bristolz, Mar 19 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       can you get an anonymous safe-deposit box? How about a bus station locker? File the box number off the key and the contents remain unconnected with the owner, if not actually destroyed.
djymm, Apr 07 2001

       I've wondered how to get my computer to erase everything personal if, say, I don't log on for three days..... could be a problem if a horse cracked me on the head and I was in a coma for a week and then woke up. Still, I'd like my diaries to self-destruct if and when I do meet the end.
Susen, Apr 07 2001

       I can't remember which show, Saturday Night Live or something, but they ran a skit for a company that does that same thing when you die. Plus they'd leave a bible and some other stuff around.
AfroAssault, Apr 07 2001

       Why not make these things digital (IE: scan them, OCR them, whatever have you), then just encrypt them with something secure? You might want to even go the ultra-paranoid route and use something like Rubberhose... [admin: URL moved to 'links.' --bristolz] As far as mailing objects upon your death, isen't that sort of thing what wills and lawyers are for?
Orb2069, Mar 19 2002

       You can have a lawyer do the destruct-o-chron part, too. A crappy lawyer, for a small one-time fee.
yabba do yabba dabba, Mar 17 2004

       I wouldn't want to encourage this. I think too much stuff is being destroyed already. The stuff that YOU consider too personal or embarrassing is just what future scholars might want to know about.   

       Sir Richard Francis Burton's wife Isabel burned many of his unpublished manuscripts after his death (because they were too erotic), and her action was much condemned by his fans. Mark Twain left manuscripts that his family would not allow to be published until many years after his death (because they satirized Christian beliefs); some of these became "Letters from the Earth" in 1962. Thank goodness they weren't destroyed.
Jim Bob of Merriam Park, Jul 02 2009

       Luckily Kafka didn't have one of these.
swimswim, Jul 02 2009


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