I bought some trousers last week at The Gap at the Oak Ridge Mall. Nothing unusual there, other than the fact that it has been a while (perhaps 3 or 4 months) since I bought any, not counting the 2 or 3 pairs of trousers at Costco the last time we were visiting family in Seattle.
Before anyone takes me to task for supporting child labour in some country to the east, I wanted to point something else out, that was kind of interesting, and if you are prone to tinfoil-hat paranoia, stop reading now.
When I get new clothes, if they are washable, the first thing I do is go home and wash them. I just never liked the smell of ‘sizing’ or whatever other chemicals they spray on fabrics that gives clothes that smell they only have in the changing rooms. In these pants, along with the usual tags and stapled on labels, etc. there was an odd looking one that said ‘Remove before Washing or Wearing’, with a ‘cut here/ coupez ici’ line at the top of the label. Not only that, it had an odd, thick feel to it, a little bit like those lead aprons you wear at the dentist when they take an X‑Ray (although nowhere that heavy or thick, but the same feeling of something that is definitely not fabric sewn into the cloth. Pam cut off the labels and gave them to me (there was one on every pair of pants). I was curious about these labels and what was in them, so I pulled one apart. Clearly, the heavy substance was some sort of silicon or some sort of light metal. I scanned the tag to show what it looked like:
The top is the ‘before’ picture, and the bottom is the back of the tag, after I removed the cloth from the ‘bottom’. Sandwiched inside is the coiled flat chip-like center. This clearly what they’ve been talking about for some time in the Hi-tech Press: a Radio Frequency Identity tag (or RFID). It’s put in the clothing so that each piece can be tracked as a unique item during manufacture and shipment. With the right system set up, you can walk through a door with a stack of RFID tagged clothing and someone can see on their screen all of the database entries for the items that have passed through the door. Some people are rightly worried that these RFIDs could be used not only to track the clothing while they are being made and shipped (and also prevent shoplifting), but also could be used to track where the buyers of said merchandise go and what else they buy, etc. So much for privacy. For the time being, I’m pretty sure these particular tags are just being used for these items up until the time we pay our bill at the register. After that they are, as the instructions on them say, to be removed before washing or wearing. Nevertheless, the affixed is in.
I still, from time to time, read some liberal blogs and sites. You can take the lefty out of the country, but you can’t… whatever. I came upon one of those great ‘list’-style rants contributed by someone going by the login name of NanceGreggs, a fellow resident of Canada (perchance another expat?). It is really a collection of Remember when’s, including some really good ones I quote here:
Remember when you displayed your flag on the front porch on the 4th of July, and you didn’t have to worry about whether it would be misinterpreted as support for a corrupt president and his administration?
Remember when ‘Support the Troops’ meant equipping our military with everything necessary for battle, instead of just being a catchy phrase that looked good on a bumper sticker?
Remember when you actually thought that the people in charge of running your country were smarter than you were?
Remember when your parents worked all their lives to ensure you a better life, instead of worrying about how bad the life they’d be leaving their children might be?
Remember when the importance of clean drinking water and breathable air were unquestionable mandates, and not some crazy hippie agenda to be weighed against corporate profits?
(and one of my favourites, due to our current location:)
Remember when you hitchhiked through Europe as a teenager, and you didn’t have to replace the American flag on your knapsack with a Canadian flag in order to be a welcomed guest in a foreign country?
You find the whole thing here. At the end of the list, Greggs suggests that you print out the list and give it to your children… “It could be worth a fair buck on ‘Antiques Roadshow’ someday; an odd document that can’t be verified as authentic, because the memories it conjures up are just too bizarre to be accepted as ever having been fact.”