My Time in the USA: Democracy is overrated (or, the return of the stupid label)


You might remember that many years ago (actually, it’s just shy of four years ago) I wrote a post about a disconcerting label I found on the box of a pair of Shure earphones I got to try to sleep better during the night when noise was coming from the outside. This was a Californian notice about the danger of carcinogenic chemicals, most likely related to the PVC in the earphones’ cord — which didn’t even last six full months! I had to trash the extremely expensive pair of earphones, because the cables ruptured behind my ears; the stupid plastic was just too rigid I’m afraid.

Well, now that I’ve been in California for a while, I was expecting to see many more similar notices, but at least here in Hermosa Beach where I’m based, I haven’t seen one … until Starbucks was forced to put on. I actually did find out something more about those notices before, as Amazon has a page which is linked in your order when you’re shipping something in California that should have the label attached.

Now the title of this post is obviously inflammatory, I know that and it’s half-intended, but my problem with all of this is that when I wrote about that stupid label, I didn’t really know much about the whole thing — I’ve been told right away in those comments that the labels are extremely common in California, a few months ago I finally found that it was a popular ballot that actually put the law into place… and now I feel like something’s extremely wrong in this place.

Really I feel this is one of the most stupidest warning people can have on things, and somehow, for once, it makes me feel better thinking that in Italy, referendums are only used to vote laws off, not in…

Eh? It’s a frigging pair of earphones!

So I ordered a pair of in-ear phones last Sunday, to make sure I could sleep decently at least once in a while. Since my last pair, which was Sennheiser brand, broken in less than an year (even though I did abuse them quite a bit with the various staying at the hospital), I decided to go with a brand suggested to me by a friend, Shure.

I couldn’t find any Shure hardware in the store near me, so I ordered them through the Apple Store, which works quite well especially when it comes to rapid delivery, indeed they arrived this afternoon. I opened the package, and started inspecting the box. It’s not the usual plastic blister, which is a nice change, especially for the pricetag of the thing, but when I felt around it to check labels (it’s something I do almost without thinking nowadays), I noticed something quite scary:

Warning label

No clue about which chemical it is, if it is dangerous to be exposed to it by ingesting it, drinking it, or just using the earphones, or any other specifics. I called the Apple Store just to confirm the thing has the RoHS certification and they assured me it has. But still.