Viridian Note 00266: Viridian Commentary

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts: Viridian couture series, bioactive fabrics, vitamin fabrics, new fabric applications

Attention Conservation Notice: It's well-informed and thoughtful commentary from various people on Viridian List, and, like, who cares.

Fabulously decorated gas masks for the summit-hoppers at the upcoming IMF/World Bank riots.

From:** (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

Teresa Nielsen Hayden remarks:

"About that bio-active fabric swarming with microbes. I'm sure it's a very green idea, but as a textile junkie, my immediate reaction was that it would create real problems if you were trying to dye, re-dye, or otherwise chemically interact with the fabric. Conventional food stains are bad enough, magically reappearing years later as soon as the shirt hits the dyepot. Bacteria colonies are sure to show up as mottled blobs, most likely concentrated in the crotch and underarm areas. They'd show up darker when you dyed them. Not attractive. If you switched off the light out of pure embarrassment they'd still be there, bioluminescing away.

    "This is not what was meant by women 'glowing' when they sweat.

    "You're going to have to wash the clothing anyway == bacteria can't eat everything, and they can't eat it fast enough. An organism that can't deal with an overturned platter of barbecue is fated to meet lots of soapy water. An organism that can eat barbecue is going to make you think twice about picking up your cat.

    "What about bacterial varieties? Must I worry about the bandaid on my finger spreading the gospel of protective waterproof coatings to my favorite sweater? What happens when my clothes shed food-antagonistic bacteria in my kitchen? What happens when my clothes shed them onto me?

    "And do you truly expect me to swap silk, linen, cotton, hemp, ramie, merino, mohair, cashmere, alpaca, angora, qiviut, rayon, tencel, lyocell, et cetera et al., for some poly-laminate fabric, for nothing more than the promise that it'll be easier to clean? The last time I heard that line it was polyester doubleknit, and look how that turned out.

    "If you want to cultivate odor-eating, stain-eating bacteria, then make them a maintainable culture. Keep them alive in your clothes hamper by feeding them grubby items, like a jar of sourdough starter kept alive in your fridge. Just be sure they're weak outside of that environment."


"p.s. If you're interested in the way traditional pursuits can calmly absorb new technology, try the Textura Trading Company's catalog listings. Their yarn listings are a descent into techno-weirdness. Their fibers, too."


From:^^^^^** (Dave Landry)

    "I predict that these vitamin T-shirts will become an instant fad here in Japan. Whether they become a mainstay of the Japanese textile and nutritional industries remains to be seen. I've been in country two weeks, and it is already obvious to me that Japan is a disposable society. Sucking vitamins out of a T-shirt and then quickly throwing it away is not much of a stretch here. There are scads of products and commercials for vitamin supplements, with limitless marketing niches. Ginseng boxers for salarymen, caffeine-laced handkerchiefs for students during national exam week. Fact: It took 20 years to legalize the birth-control pill in Japan. Viagra took 6 months. Anything catered towards businessmen, their conservative wives, etc., will sell like sandbags during a monsoon.

    "My village is named Fujimi-Mura, so called because it is traditionally possible to see Mt. Fuji from here. I have been here two weeks and the haze has been so thick that I can barely see the city at the base of the mountain, much less Fuji-San. Locals who have lived here for five years can count the times they have seen Fuji-San on the fingers of one hand. Imagine Celsius 40, 80% humidity (104 Fahrenheit). That has been this summer. This is the warmest summer that Japan has had in over 100 years. Even in the country which hosted the Kyoto protocol, people are unaware of what is happening."

From:^^^^^^^^^** (Christian E.)

"Vitamin fabrics are my favorite in the V-Fashion series. Why not vaccine shirts? Antibacterial blankets (for times when worry about supergerms is outweighed by fears of epidemic)? Armies would be interested in fungus- killing socks. How about designer drugs in your favorite band's t-shirt? Viagra in your jockeys? Caffeine and nicotine in your hipster-required black shirt?

    "A thin bodysuit that mixes a quick evaporating substance with your sweat for faster cooling? Government 'giveaway' school uniforms that provide a full RDA of every vitamin and mineral? Sedative prison togs? Prozac panties? And why not include test kit technology in the clothes, to see if anyone becomes sick, and with what disease?

    "Perhaps there could be a strain of cotton developed that carries trace minerals to be absorbed, like those strains of colored cotton they developed a few years ago. Will there be a little packet of vitamins or drugs for the washer or dryer to recharge the clothes, or an impregnated spray (with a few drops of cologne in it perhaps)? Could your personal vitamin recharge spray be keyed to your own body chemistry and nutrient uptake?

    "The relief-work application for vitamin fabric is brilliant. But will there be shirt theft in famine areas, just like there are rice convoy hijacks now? I suppose so.

    "It makes me giddy to think my clothes could do so much more for me, and for humanity. But eat your greens anyway."


From:^^^^*** (Michael H Goldhaber)

"Bruce, It is vitamin C, not D that prevents scurvy. D helps prevent rickets. Best, Michael"

(((Absolutely. All you Viridians out there with scurvy and rickets, take careful note of this.)))

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