Monday, April 30, 2012

The Public Reviews » WHAT’S HOT – 30th APRIL 2012:

The sixth HighTide Festival pitches up this weekend in Suffolk. The big talking point will be Mike Daisey’s controversial depiction of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but others to watch out for include Ella Hickson’s new play Boys, which is due to transfer to the Soho Theatre, and Mudlarks, a stark debut play about a lost generation. The festival is also hosting a series and Q&A’s with figures such as Juliet Stevenson and Griff Rhys Jones.
Impressive art from a Toronto production of AGONY/ECSTASY happening this May:


Artwork is by Chloe Chushman. This version of the show is called

(and the Repudiation and Redemption of Mike Daisey)

and will be performed at secret locations around Toronto by Outside the March this May.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Critics At Large: Agony over the Script, Ecstasy over the Performance: Halifax's Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of Mike Daisey’s Steve Jobs:

Discussions of metaphor are an important part of the play – phrases such as “if you control the metaphor, you control the world” and “shifting the metaphor” are frequently used to describe Steve Job’s monopolistic approach to selling Apple products. I wonder if Daisey purposefully repeats the concept of metaphor as a mimetic comment, a clue to the audience that his China trip is simply a vehicle to convey his message, not the message itself. Perhaps I give him too much credit, but it seems like Daisey’s critics are sweating the small stuff for a play that raises so many more important issues.

Friday, April 27, 2012

We used to never hear these stories. Now, we do.

Foxconn Workers Protest Wages, Threaten To Jump Off Roof:

Workers at a Chinese factory owned by Foxconn, Apple Inc's main manufacturer, threatened to jump off the roof of a building in a protest over wages just a month after the two firms announced a landmark agreement on improving working conditions.

The protest happened in the central city of Wuhan at one of Foxconn's plants. The company employ some 1.2 million workers in China assembling iPhones and iPads, among other products.

It involved some 200 workers, the Hong-Kong based activist group Information Centre for Human Rights said.

Looking For The Line Between The Truth And A Lie:

I confess to having a similarly tolerant attitude to Mike Daisey, the performance artist whose This American Life monologue about his visits to factories in China where Apple products are produced turned out to have had factual inaccuracies. Ira Glass, whose radio show This American Life works more as a story telling hour than a news show, was horrified to learn that one of his storytellers had taken factual liberties. His outrage seems inappropriate and silly to me.

There are different standards for different kinds of story telling, different kinds of nonfiction. And anyway, none of Daisey's errors have any bearing on the importance of his central assertion: that consumers should be aware of and care about the working conditions in China's high-technology factories. There's two sides to this question, of course. But they don't really turn on the sort of factual mistakes or distortions (which were they?) made by Daisey.

I saw a movie the other day; it began with a text screen: "This is based on a true story. Only the facts have been changed." Sometimes, it seems to me, that gets it about right.
Mike Daisey’s bigger point - New News | Latest News | Current Events | World News | Politics & Top Online Magazine:

Labor abuse in China is hardly confined to Apple’s supplier, Foxconn. It is widespread. In some ways, the working conditions in foreign-invested factories such as Foxconn is better than that of domestic factories. Compared with workers in large foreign-invested factories, workers in domestic factories often encounter delayed payment of wages, lack of safety measures and no health care. In an incident in 2003, Chinese Premier Wen Jiaboa helped a migrant worker reclaim her overdue wage from her employer. To date, unpaid and delayed wages remain one of the most serious problems for migrant workers.

Outside of factories, workers such as miners or construction laborers fare even worse since they forgo written employment contracts and face substandard working conditions. In the event of injuries or wages withheld, they cannot even file for legal protections.
China has about 153 million migrant workers. According to a 2006 nationwide survey conducted by the government, 86% of them work more than 8 hours every day and more than half of them cannot receive their monthly wages on time. A study from an academic group last year shows that these conditions have not improved.

Of course, Chinese workers have not suffered in silence. Wage disputes are on the rise. So has the number of distraught workers who threaten to jump from the top of factory buildings or skyscrapers that they have just built.

The plight of Chinese workers is rooted in the skewed power relations between business and labor. In the 1980s and 1990s, local governments often colluded with businesses to keep down labor costs. In the past decade under President Hu Jintao, the government has sought to improve conditions for laborers. A labor contract law was enacted and overt discrimination against migrant workers was lifted. But they are not enough.

Migrant workers with little experience or few connections are in a very weak position in large cities. They often take whatever job is available just so that they can survive. Businesses, on the other hand, incur little or no cost when they engage in unfair labor practice. Many existing laws are only good on paper, and businesses face no severe penalty for flouting them. In a country where the government often considers a partial recovery of overdue wages as a success, it’s an upward battle for workers.

Despite a more tolerant attitude by the government toward labor protests in recent years, no channel exists to translate that into political energy for change. The Chinese government outlaws independent unions so that workers cannot organize or strike collectively. Even if workers have the advantage of people power of their side, they are simply not on par with businesses in terms of political clout.

In this context, the spotlight on China’s labor problem raised by Daisey and others is important. If multinational corporations follow high standards in their home countries, they should abide by similar rules abroad. And if more of them follow Apple’s example in allowing independent groups to inspect their suppliers’ labor practice, it will go a long way to helping Chinese workers. Improving conditions in factories such as those owned by Foxconn will affect China’s labor market as a whole and help workers gain bargaining power in dealing with domestic factories.

We hope that with continued international attention on the plight of Chinese workers, the government eventually will enact meaningful reform that will guarantee workers basic labor rights.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

At 85, Robert Brustein looks back and ahead - Arts - The Boston Globe:

Q. This is kind of a sweeping question, but I know you’re capable of a sweeping answer, so I’ll just ask you to give me your appraisal of the current state of American theater.

A. I’ll give you a sweeping statement, and regret it the moment after I say it. [Laughs] I think the American theater reflects America now, as everything that happens is beginning to reflect America — one-percent America. The fact is that our values have somehow gotten very skewed, and we’ve gone back — if we ever left it — to the notion that success is the highest value in this country. Not integrity, not quality, not intelligence, not spirit, not soul. Success, financial success. And this is a heartbreaker because this country was unlike any country, with the possible exception of ancient Greece; it had the chance to approach an ideal state, and it’s gone. We’ve lost it. Success seems to be the one criterion of achievement.

Somewhere.. out there...
The Agony and The Ecstasy of Mike Daisey:

The factual revelations in the last few months about Apple's abhorrent manufacturing practices have made people incredibly uncomfortable. We do not want to believe that we have contributed directly or indirectly to the oppression of others in the creation of our gadgets. This backlash against Mr. Daisey has less to do with debating the obligations of storytellers and more to do with our desperate search for a way to force Apple's worms back into the can and pretend they never existed.

In the last few weeks, Chris Hayes has had both Mr. Daisey on his MSNBC weekend program as well as actor and playwright Wallace Shawn to discuss his play “The Fever”. This is no accident. Mr. Hayes is rightfully bringing an issue into the fore that we struggle to keep hidden away: how are our possessions made and what responsibility do we have to ensure they are done so safely and fairly?

This is a question with which I have struggled ever since reading Mr. Shawn’s play over a decade ago. And I still fail at this. Even knowing about Apple’s practices, I use an iPhone, a Macbook Pro and I’m typing this on my iMac. And that’s only one organization.

Consider how with each passing year more and more of our work is outsourced, robbing our citizens of much needed jobs and allowing us such physical distance from the locations in which our things are produced that we ignore the blood, sweat and tears of those who make them.

Whatever you think of Mr. Daisey’s cry, I can assure you that the wolf exists.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Official Map Now Shows "First Amendment Area" For OWS At Federal Hall: Gothamist:

Aw, how sweet of the National Park Service to set up a little "First Amendment Rights Area" on the steps of Federal Hall! This new map on the official website shows how the Park police are doing their best to accommodate our nation's annoying "free speech" laws. Do you have a political opinion that you want to express? Just keep your lips sealed until you are securely stationed behind the barricades, then rant to your heart's content! (Any loud free speech after nightfall, however, will not be tolerated.)

Earlier this week we reported that the NYPD had set up barricades dividing the steps into a space for tourists and a space for Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. Now, for the time being at least, the National Park Service has made it official, with a designated First Amendment Rights Zone. According to one protester, the NYPD is "preventing the public from interacting with protesters in the 'freedom cage' at Federal Hall." In order to be fair, they're now going to have to set up a Second Amendment cage for the Tea Party (preferably one with a firing range).

venice at night
What is Given: Against Knowingly Changing the Truth « BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:

Jill Talbot ends with a lyric, lovely paragraph in which she explores an evening where the shadows of trees on the snow unsettled her, and explores why she had written earlier that it was the tree branches themselves. And then she quotes Mark Slouka:

There is no map–read as you may, write what you will.

The difference here? For me, there is a map. The map can’t be drawn, but it can be expressed in words:

You work with what is given to you. You arrange the puzzle pieces taken from the nonfiction box without reaching over into the fiction box, as tempting as it may be. You do your best to pull up honest memory. Though we know memory’s weakness, at least don’t lie about what you think you remember. When you are not sure, you tell the reader. When you want to change something, explore why you want to change it. Fiction approaches a certain sort of truth, and thank goodness we have fiction, but it is not the same truth that nonfiction attempts. Know the difference. As a nonfiction writer, you will surely make mistakes, get things wrong, remember poorly, but to do it knowingly, that’s crossing the line.

Thanks for listening, Jill. Let us all discuss.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ruth Franklin: Some Works Of Art Can’t Be Labeled As Fact Or Fiction, And That’s OK | The New Republic:

But here’s where it gets tricky. Because Daisey, for the most part, isn’t actually a fabricator—one who makes up stories out of whole cloth. (Is that why they’re called fabricators?) His monologue describes a trip that he actually made to Shenzhen, the Chinese city where Foxconn and other Apple suppliers are headquartered. He did personally interview workers there, as well as gain access to the factories by pretending to be a visiting businessman. In some cases, he claims that he essentially made composites by rearranging the chronology of his trip or otherwise changing the details of characters. In others, he seems to have relied on other people’s reporting and presented it as his own. But very little—and this is important—seems actually to be untrue. Does it matter that the workers’ dormitories have cameras in the hallways, as Daisey correctly reports, but not in the workers’ bedrooms, as he also claims? Or that he visited only three factories rather than the ten he claimed to have seen? No one disputes that he got the basics of the story right: Foxconn’s deplorable treatment of its employees.

Ira Glass knows all this, which is why his “Gotcha!” attitude seems a little off. It’s clear that he feels personally aggrieved by Daisey: Not only did he suffer an embarrassment to the journalistic standards of his radio program, but he himself was taken in by Daisey’s stage show. “I thought it was literally true, seeing it in the theater,” he harangues Daisey. “I thought it was true because you were onstage saying ‘These things happened to me.’” But what Glass ignores—and Daisey is right to protest about this—is that the theater, like the novel, operates by different rules than journalism does. Glass seems to have forgotten that the character onstage called “Mike Daisey” isn’t Daisey, exactly; it’s his dramatic persona. For the most part, we don’t take it literally when a poet speaks in the first person; we know that there is a gap between the speaker of the poem and the poet as an individual. The rules are similar for a dramatic monologuist like Daisey, and Glass is being more than a little naïve in his insistence on melding Daisey’s art to Daisey’s life.

Glass concludes that “honest labeling” is what’s called for, insisting that Daisey’s monologue ought to have been marked as a work of fiction. But it’s hard to say how Daisey might have labeled his work more honestly: It was performed in a theater, after all, not recorded and presented as a documentary film or a news report. And Daisey is right to insist that “fiction” is no more accurate a label for his work than “journalism”; like John D’Agata’s essays, it contains something of each. “I’m tired of this genre being terrorized by an unsophisticated reading public that’s afraid of venturing into terrain that can’t be footnoted and verified by seventeen different sources,” D’Agata complains, and though he doesn’t specify what “this genre” is, it’s clear that he aims for a more capacious definition of non-fiction than the fact-checker’s.

First Glimpse of Swedish Summer (Explored)
The Self-Made Man: How Stephen Elliott Writes His Life - Ashwin Seshagiri - Entertainment - The Atlantic:

Critics, including his father, have drawn parallels to James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, the memoir of addiction that landed on Oprah's book club. The book later drew controversy when it was discovered to be largely fictionalized.

As long as people have been telling stories of the past, there has been a tension between what people remember and what really occurred. This American Life listeners were reminded of that after Mike Daisey's story of the Foxconn factory in China. For Elliott, who uses fiction to explore the material of his own memories, this tension is exaggerated by the shocking nature of his work and the frequency with which he so openly talks about the traumatic events of his childhood. The tension is further magnified each time his father disputes one his stories.

"I don't know the year or make of the car," Elliott responded when asked again about the time his dad taught him how to drive. "That's not important. There's a handful of facts in the world, but they are dwarfed by interpretation and memory. A lie requires intent. "

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Warren Ellis » GUEST INFORMANT: Laurie Penny:

You’ll have gathered by now that I hold no truck with the notion of ‘objective’ reporting – the idea that there is any such thing in a world where Fox News and the Daily Mail are considered serious press outlets seems to me too ridiculous to seriously countenance. To my mind the best one can ever do as a writer is be honest about your background and partialities and try to understand how they affect your outlook, to do violence to your own cliches, to practice compassion over caricature.

That’s what I’ve tried to do, whilst learning on the job, where practical skills – how to take quotes properly, how to wriggle around libel laws – count for no more or less than emotional skills, like scoring out a line between propaganda and cowardice that you can walk along in good conscience and then, whatever the insults and death threats and character assassinations thrown at you from either side, continuing to put one goddamned foot in front of the other. The best journalists I know have found a way to walk their own line. But for some of us that postion comes with a cost. My friend Natasha Lennard lost her job as a stringer at the New York times simply for being honest about her political affiliations, and responded bravely by declaring that she had no interest in producing that sort of objective journalism anyway.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 321/365 ~ I Fly Because It Releases My Mind From the Tyranny of Petty Things
‘This American Life’ retracts its exposé of Apple. But all’s still not well in China. - The Washington Post:

But how much does this kerfluffle affect what we actually know about labor conditions in China? Let’s hear what Rob Schmitz, the Marketplace reporter who first caught Daisey’s fabrications, has to say: “What makes this a little complicated is that the things Daisey lied about seeing are things that have actually happened in China: Workers making Apple products have been poisoned by Hexane. Apple’s own audits show that the company has caught underage workers at a handful of its suppliers. These things are rare, but together, they form an easy-to-understand narrative about Apple.”

Indeed, the media spotlight on companies like Foxconn has prompted Apple to hire an independent auditor for its Chinese suppliers, although, according to Schmitz, it will take some time to determine whether conditions actually improve or not.

Friday, April 13, 2012

No ’Bully’ for You :: EDGE on the Net:

In 2007, a handful of chaperones brought a group of pubic school kids visiting from California to the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to attend a monologue by Mike Daisey, who works semi-improvisationally from a set of notes and twines together diverse narrative, historical, and philosophical threads into a braided whole that informs and illuminates. Because of Daisey’s style, his shows are a little different at each performance. Most people would call that art and understand that there’s a higher intention at work when Daisey is on stage. But when Daisey used the f-word, the kids’ chaperones (who described themselves as coming from "a Christian community") promptly gathered up their youthful flock and stampeded out of the auditorium. One of them paused along the way to trespass on the stage and pour his bottle of water over Daisey’s notes, an act of vandalism that destroyed the artist’s carefully prepared source material.

The incident made the news, of course, and the statement from the group that had taken such offense was that they had felt a need to get the kids to "safety" once the word "fuck" cropped up in Daisey’s performance. Exactly how, and why, the kids were in danger (Physical? Mental? Were they going to go blind?) from hearing a vulgar, but commonplace, word was a topic not touched up in the official explanation. Nor was any clarification forthcoming as to why the sight of one of these offended guardians of the youth vandalizing Daisey’s property constituted an increase in anyone’s "safety."
Wall Street Occupation Shifts From Parks To Sidewalks Near Stock Exchange: Gothamist:

For the past four nights, protesters affiliated with Occupy Wall Street have camped out on sidewalks near the New York Stock Exchange, sleeping outside banks and handing out literature to financial district workers by day. Why hasn't the NYPD swept in and crushed this dangerous nonviolent political demonstration? It seems Bloomberg's army may be stymied (for now, at least) by a 2000 court ruling upholding protesters' right to sleep on the sidewalk for political purposes, provided they don't take up more than half the sidewalk.

Justin Wedes, a spokesperson for Occupy Wall Street, tells us, "We are bringing the truth about inequity in this country to the belly of the beast, so that the 1%—and the many 99%'ers—who live and work on Wall Street can see what Wall Street's agenda of greed and corruption has done to Main Street."

All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Christian Lorentzen · Fact-checking · LRB 5 April 2012:

I miss New York sometimes, but I don’t miss its schizophrenic obsession with facts, or the puritan hysteria that attends the discovery that a memoir should have been called a novel or that someone saying something silly in a newspaper story turns out to be as real as Huck Finn. The zealotry of the shaming has a lot to do with journalists’ anxiety about their own influence as purveyors of fact. They can try for years and fail to stir people up about a foreign warlord the way a viral video like Kony 2012 has been able to do. And they can’t get people to feel bad about Chinese working conditions the way Mike Daisey has done in his Off-Broadway show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Star Wars Modern: What Mike Daisey Did Wasn't Fair - It Was Right.:

So when I found out that one of my favorite episodes of This American Life turned out not to be true I didn't care. Not at all, not one iota. I understood that the author had presented the story as fact, had urged his listeners to check his facts, but that he had lied. It was a great story, while it cast doubt on the practices of an well regarded company, and cast doubt on the enterprise of journalism itself, it in no way made me think less of the author, TAL, or The Washington Post.

I still love Malcolm Gladwell even though I now know he lied throughout the story TAL broadcast. My lack of outrage is because when I listen to TAL I don't expect "All The News That's Fit to Print," I expect something closer to the way TAL describes itself: “It's mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always.”

So while I was surprised and disappointed to learn that Mike Daisey had lied about the narrative TAL had broadcast - I was just as surprised, that by doing so, he had somehow besmirched TAL's journalistic credibility. When did Ira Glass graduate from being a talk radio Casey Kasem to NPR's Dan Rather?
Ought You To Know? « Emily Magazine:

Taking everything super personally remains my métier. Lately, however, I have begun to doubt its effectiveness as an activist strategy. I still believe with all my heart that the personal is political, that privacy is a patriarchal construct designed to keep women from telling the truth about their circumstances, and that “when a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.” And I also think anger can be a powerful engine of action and change. But finally I’m realizing that walking around all the time feeling overwhelmed with anger and jealousy can interfere with your ability and your will to tell the entire truth, in ways than my 12 year old self could never have imagined.
MSNBC's Up With Chris Hayes Raises Level of Discussion on Cable News | The Philly Post:

The show’s shining moment may be Hayes’s response to the Mike Daisey/This American Life controversy. Daisey appeared on Up just a week or two before the scandal arose over the inaccuracies in his piece for the radio program on Chinese Apple factories.

On the following week’s show, Hayes delivered an amazing response in which he both admonished Daisey for lying and held up parts of Daisey’s monologue as powerful and important.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Now Can We Start Talking About the Real Foxconn? - Bloomberg:

From the comments~

There are many kinds of truth. Just ask a novelist, an oral historian, an artist...or a playwright. My biggest fear with the explosion of the Daisey story has come true - he wove together multiple true stories into a story with a lot of truth to it, but which was not literally true, and since the inexactitude has come to light, almost every comment on this board has used this as an excuse to downplay the daily injustices that Chinese factory workers face.

So their lives are better than if they continued to farm - does that make it ok that MOST of them do not receive legal rates for overtime work? So Apple's a scapegoat when actually EVERYTHING YOU OWN was manufactured under illegal conditions - does that make Apple an angel? (Citation: I worked in Chinese factory consulting and am fluent in Chinese.) Whatever Daisey did, at least he cares about victims of injustice. The rest of you ought to be ashamed.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Cape Cod Theatre Project Will Offer Premieres by Mike Daisey and Neil LaBute -

Neil LaBute and monologist Mike Daisey will develop new works as part of the Cape Cod Theatre Project's 18th season this summer in Falmouth, MA.

Daisey (The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, The Last Cargo Cult, How Theatre Failed America) will develop a new piece that will launch the season with public performances July 5-7.
David Sedaris' family of characters | The News Journal |

News Journal: NPR's "This American Life," a radio program to which you have contributed, recently retracted Mike Daisey's controversial report on Apple factory workers in China after it determined that some of the information was fabricated. Do you think nonfiction writers have a license to embellish?

Sedaris: There was only one time in my life when I wrote something for "Esquire" as a journalist. I went to a morgue in Phoenix and spent 10 days there. I don't want to be a journalist. It does not interest me. What are you going to do if comedian Chris Rock gets up on stage and says his father beat him until he was black and blue? Are you going to fact-check that? I don't think humor writers should be journalists. I embellish as much as I can get away with.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Angry Birds, Farmville and Other Hyperaddictive ‘Stupid Games’ -

As for my nightmare vision of a world splintered by addiction to stupid games, Lantz had a different perspective. He said that he liked to think Drop7 was not only addictive but also, on some level, about addiction. Games, he told me, are like “homebrew neuroscience” — “a little digital drug you can use to run experiments on your own brain.” Part of the point of letting them seduce you, as Lantz sees it, is to come out the other side a more interesting and self-aware person; more conscious of your habits, weaknesses, desires and strengths. “It’s like heroin that is abstracted or compressed or stylized,” he said. “It gives you a window into your brain that doesn’t crush your brain.”

I tried to think about what — if anything — I had learned from this window into my brain. Like their spiritual forefather, Tetris, most stupid games are about walls: building them, scaling them, knocking them down. Walls made of numbers, walls made of digital bricks, walls with green pigs hiding behind them. They’re like miniature boot camps of containment. Ultimately, I realized, these games are also about a more subtle and mysterious form of wall-building: the internal walls we build to compartmentalize our time, our attention, our lives. The legendary game designer Sid Meier once defined a game as, simply, “a series of interesting choices.” Maybe that’s the secret genius of stupid games: they force us to make a series of interesting choices about what matters, moment to moment, in our lives.


Saturday, April 07, 2012

Corporations Flee Right-Wing ALEC: Yet Another Win for Progressives « 2012 The Awakening:

With all the hubbub over Mike Daisey’s unfortunate embellishments in his spoken-word performance about Foxconn workers, it became easy to lose sight of the truths in Daisey’s work: namely that factory workers at Foxconn do routinely endure unacceptable conditions to make the products that we, as consumers, enjoy on a regular basis. We created the market for those workers’ jobs, and then we allowed our beloved tech companies to get away with not enforcing labor rules as strictly as they should. It’s a situation that was not okay before Daisey infamously lied to This American Life fact-checkers, and it is a situation that is not okay now.

The good news is that activists have made at least some headway in campaigns targeting Apple for its lax enforcement of labor rules in China. Both Daisey’s story and a subsequent investigation in the New York Times helped prompt a new wave of public interest in Foxconn worker conditions earlier this year (we can thank Daisey for that). supporters and other activists ran with that interest, pulling in more than 250,000 signatures for a petition targeting Apple and organizing protests around the world.

Soon after, watchdog group the Fair Labor Association released a new report on worker conditions at the plant, finding “at least 43 violations of Chinese laws and regulations, and numerous instances where Foxconn defied industry codes of conduct by having employees work more than 60 hours a week, and sometimes more than 11 days in a row,” according to the Times. In response, Foxconn said it would “work with Apple to carry out [a] remediation program, developed by both our companies.” Although there is legitimate concern about how much of an impact these changes will have, and when they will be implemented, the changes could, per the Times, “signal a new, wide-reaching change in working conditions throughout China.”

It may not be enough, but it is a significant step forward that activists (and yes, Mike Daisey) should celebrate.
Actor slits his own throat as knife switch turns fiction into reality | Stage | The Guardian:

An actor slit his throat on stage when the prop knife for his suicide scene turned out to be a real one.

Daniel Hoevels, 30, slumped over with blood pouring from his neck while the audience broke into applause at the "special effect". Police are investigating whether the knife was a mistake or a murder plot. They are questioning the rest of the cast, and backstage hands with access to props; they will also carry out DNA tests.

Things went wrong at Vienna's Burgtheater as Hoevels' character went to "kill himself" in the final scene of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart, about Mary Queen of Scots, on Saturday night

It was only when he did not get up to take a bow that anyone realised something had gone wrong.

Friday, April 06, 2012

the forbidden
I was asked earlier this year to give the commencement speech for Cornish College of the Arts graduation ceremonies. In advance of the Retraction episode of THIS AMERICAN LIFE going public, I reached out to Nancy Uscher, Cornish's president, and told her what was going to happen.

After the show aired we talked, and I agreed with her that it would be best that I withdraw from the ceremonies. I was asked for a statement, which I sent her on March 27th, and which I stand by. Here's that statement:

"A graduation is a day for the students who are stepping out into the world as artists in their own right. I would hate to see anything distract from their day, and so I respectfully withdraw from Cornish's graduation ceremonies this year. My best wishes to the young artists—I hope to see you out in our culture, making works that shake and stir us, and I hope you have a fantastic graduation."

I had been told that they would make the announcement with my statement, and that it would be a low-key, mutual parting of the ways without recriminations. This was made very clear to me by Ms. Uscher.

I have been asking Cornish often when they were going to make their statement. They've been uncommunicative and cagey—Nancy dodged my emails, and delayed until their statement was out this morning. When I called Karen Bystrom, the communications director, she passed the buck back up to Nancy, the same person who had been calling with supportive calls until her board told her not to, and who then
drafted a statement condemning me after seeking my honorable withdrawal, which I gave her willingly.

I've apologized for what I've done wrong. Cornish's choice to grandstand on my back, when they had a very open statement from me withdrawing almost two weeks ago, is their choice. I applaud their embrace of "professional integrity"—it's unfortunate that they didn't exercise that integrity in this case.

But I certainly forgive them—I know what it's like to be caught between different sets of obligations, and how the pressure of public scrutiny can help us make unfortunate choices.

There is a lesson here for the artists that are graduating, but I do not think it is the one Cornish thinks it is teaching.
A letter I received yesterday from an audience member:



I saw your show about a month ago and I want to you and thank you. The show was great, and I have a deeply personal connection to the topic of labor in China.

Mike, the reason I'm writing is that I was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in China from 2001-2003 and I witnessed the destruction and injustice of Chinese labor practices. The experiences I had have stuck with me and I am so grateful to you for addressing them in your work. I went to Bates and I studied in China three times while I was a student before joining the Peace Corps, and today I work in Chinatown. I have been intimately connected to China for 15 years now.

I am not a story teller, so I cannot convey this memory with the emotion that it still holds for me, but I will try. My Peace Corps town was not a prestigious town among Peace Corps towns in China, it was poor by comparison. Lu Zhou is its name. It's an industrial town near the border of GuiZhou. My friends there tell me it was prestigious 1,200 years ago for its alcohol industry, but not as much now.

I taught at a teachers college outside the city along the banks of the Yangtze. It was not the type of school that drew students from great distances. It was kind of a Chinese community college. Most of my students came from farm families. On holidays my students went home and picked tea leaves. Many students had siblings who were not allowed to go to college, because the families could pick only one child to go to school.

One morning I walked out of my Soviet style concrete dorm and found a bunch of students waiting to get onto busses parked in the center of my campus. The students each had bed rolls and a back pack. These represented their life's possessions. We were in Sichuan and the busses were bound for Shenzhen, a journey of over a thousand miles. The students were mostly sixteen to eighteen year old girls and they were traveling to the factories. They weren't abandoning their studies officially, but I learned later that these students wouldn't return. They had no money. They were traveling "free of charge" thanks to the companies in Shenzhen. It was a one-way ticket. What happens to a seventeen year old Chinese girl with no money a thousand miles from home?

I couldn't comprehend what was going on. Those students were my charges and they were so vulnerable and innocent. They looked like little kids. I was only twenty-one and to me they looked like babies. They were kids.

I am an English teacher now and I often give my students the poem Chicago by Carl Sandburg. There are dark references in that poem to prostitution, murder, starvation, and abuse. My Chinese students understood that poem well because industrial US America in that age isn't very different from China today.

That day when the busses took my students away has been in my memory for ages. Your performance brought some attention to this topic and I'm very grateful for it. Ira Glass seems to have missed the point if you ask me.

Thanks again,
Brian Knudsen
Hazy London
Live 2.0 » Did You Do Your Homework?:

I’m also pointing out this show because of the Mike Daisey thing from a couple weeks ago, and I want to point out something important: what Aaron is doing, though serious and reflective of reality, does not pose AS reality. He’s never going to get in trouble for saying things that aren’t true in his show because he’s not trying to make us think they ARE true. This is obvious to everyone in the world, except Mike Daisey and his defenders.

I'm not sure how I get mentioned here—I agree that this is true, that Aaron's work is clearly theater. I'd say that all theater is representational, by the act of it being theater.

If Aaron takes liberties with things that happened in real life in his show, it’s totally expected and within the “contract” of the show. We get that it’s not a literal re-telling of what he saw as a substitute teacher. Little things like comic exaggeration and funny voices are a clue to that.

This might be part of the nuance people like Jim aren't gathering—though I certainly agree I've crossed my own lines, the theatrical performance of AGONY/ECSTASY has a *lot* of comic exaggeration and vocal technique. It is abundantly clear that it is theater. This doesn't remove my obligations in any way, and I have previously talked about falling short in this work, but the idea that I sit at a table and intone like Edward R. Murrow is really not what's happening at my shows.

Mike Daisey, quite deliberately, talks like a reporter and liberally intermixes facts with fiction in a way that we have no reason to believe he’s shifting from one to the other, and because of the specificity of his accusation against certain people and institutions, we assume he’s telling the truth. And he knows it.

I do not know what "talks like a reporter" means, but I am presuming it is the THIS AMERICAN LIFE style used in the radio adaptation. And has been clear from the outset—I think that was a flawed choice, and their style, adapted into my performance, is part of that.
GRUBB STREET: Truth and Theatre:

In the weeks since the revelations there has been a great lamentation and rending of garments about this, a strange form of kabuki dance in which people a shocked, simply shocked, that a writer misrepresented himself. But the story feels more nuanced than at first blush and several of the actors involved are acting out of character.

Marketplace, the way the script it supposed to work, should have sprung this on TAL with an expose that shows up and challenges their facts. Instead, they offered what they learned to TAL and gave them the chance to break the story on their own. That's nice, but its not normal.

TAL, were it a traditional media company, could have stonewalled (we stand behind our sources), then, when overwhelmed, squeaked out innocuous retractions and then redesigned their site, so that the offending piece mysterious would go down the memory hole. They instead did ANOTHER show on their mistake.

And Daisey himself could have doubled-down in the best media tradition, and thrown his translator under the bus. Of COURSE she disagrees with me, she's in a country committing all these labor abuses! Reduce it to he said/she said, which makes the media believe things are balanced. Instead, he admits to some sins, stands by his badly-damaged word on others, and seemed to be honestly trying to figure out where things went wrong. In the end, he apologized on his own blog.

It seems almost precious in the modern media world. We have a media where daytime talkers and morning shows go off at length with obvious falsehoods, pounded into believable shape through continual repetition. Where political candidates will tell blatant lies, get called on them, then go off to their next speech to tell the same lies again. Where a lot of reporting is pressured by time constraints to little more than rewriting press releases and canned interviews filtered to the speaker's talking points and the audience's expectations. And here we have a passion for finding out the truth. In the wake of these revelations, there seems to be a lot of pearls being clutched by a lot of sensible souls.
Rysk blåstjärna...[Explore, Front Page  03.04.2012]
I live without cash – and I manage just fine | Mark Boyle | Environment |

After managing a couple of organic food companies made me realise that even "ethical business" would never be quite enough, an afternoon's philosophising with a mate changed everything. We were looking at the world's issues – environmental destruction, sweatshops, factory farms, wars over resources – and wondering which of them we should dedicate our lives to. But I realised that I was looking at the world in the same way a western medical practitioner looks at a patient, seeing symptoms and wondering how to firefight them, without any thought for their root cause. So I decided instead to become a social homeopath, a pro-activist, and to investigate the root cause of these symptoms.

One of the critical causes of those symptoms is the fact we no longer have to see the direct repercussions our purchases have on the people, environment and animals they affect. The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that we're completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the stuff we buy. The tool that has enabled this separation is money.

Revise, Revive, Recycle: A Season in Theater, So Far | The House Next Door:

Monologuist Mike Daisey's been brought low by bothersome things called facts, but his The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs featured one untarnishable sequence. Daisey described accurately the use of 430,000 workers at Foxconn, the Chinese factory where Apple products are made. "That can be a difficult number to conceptualize. Instead think about how there are twenty-five cafeterias at the plant. Now you just need to visualize a cafeteria that seats thousands and thousands of people. I'll wait."

Daisey's righteous condescension has its prickly pleasures. Sensing many, like me, had figured they'd gotten the point without bothering to visualize, he prodded, "You can do it. Try visualizing a cafeteria from your youth. Really, I'll wait." And again, sensing slackers, he reprimanded us, like daddy in the driver's seat, with "I will turn this show around." Duly warned, I got the picture in my head. "Okay. Now. What I want you to do now is push the walls outward…over and over and over until it holds thousands of people. Now, imagine 25 rooms, all that size, all next to each other."

The communal realization was a rare rush. I fear moments like this will now be even harder to come by. Leaping to a new idea requires trust. I hope the price of Daisey's theatrical fabrications is just the hiring of fact-checkers and, one can hope, a reality check on his own ego.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

"I Wish You to See Your Own House on CNN!": 15 Jokes from the Siege of Sarajevo | Slog:

Today is the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Siege of Sarajevo, the longest artillery siege—even longer than the Siege of Leningrad—and one of the most infamous in modern history. It was brutal, with a poorly equipped citizenry going into old war museums to find working rifles and ammunition.

A Stranger reader in Sarajevo, Amir Telibechirowich, wrote us a few weeks ago to ask whether he could send a series of jokes from the siege era as his form of commemoration. This is from a city where an underground radio station "celebrated" the day that the siege became the longest by playing the Queen song "We Are the Champions." (Another station, he told us, would begin broadcasts with: "'Good evening to all three of you out there who still have batteries for the radio set.' Of course, this was referring to the fact that electricity was gone in most of the city back then.")

Some of these jokes are grim—very grim. But they were the product, Amir says, of people trying to stay sane in extremely grim circumstances.

Jenny Mullins and Sarah Knobel Review, Washington, DC -

There's an element of vanitas symbolism in Mullins's show, which is called "Gold for the Price of Silver" and which the artist has described as a critique of American consumerism and excess. That old art-historical trick - seen most often in still lifes of the 16th and 17th centuries - uses pictures of live flowers and the bounty of the harvest to hint at their opposites: death and scarcity.

It's essentially the same trick that monologuist Mike Daisey used in his theatrical show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." In that show, which returns to Woolly Mammoth this summer for a brief remounting, Daisey contrasted our love for Apple's gorgeous devices with thoughts about how they're made.

Mullins's work never feels didactic or scolding. There's no tone of schoolmarmish superiority here. If she wants us to contemplate the rot that hides behind the beautiful things we crave, it's only because she craves them, too.

Alte Spiegelungen
In The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, actor Christopher Willard tries to "dig past the inaccuracies" - Denver Arts - Show and Tell:

For most people, this will be the first chance to see this show in its entirety. What should they expect?

In order to draw in elements of the controversy, I will be truncating the work to allow for discussion of what has transpired (Daisey allowed adaptation to all who wanted to present his work). It would be a very long evening if I presented the unedited piece and this other aspect of the public reaction. I will endeavor to present a balanced representation of the work and a reporting of the controversy. Daisey claims to have now trimmed six minutes from the monologue, removing all inaccuracies and elements that he is not comfortable presenting as the truth. I have asked him to share those cuts but am still awaiting a returned e-mail to learn what he has cut from the work.

How did you feel on first learning of the revelations that Daisey had misrepresented certain fictionalized elements as fact?

My first reaction was "What was fabricated?" I had been researching Steve Jobs and Foxconn, and learned that the stories of the suicides and hexane poisonings were corroborated by journalists and other reputable reporting outlets. I suspected that some of Daisey's own observations might have been fictionalized and, indeed, that turned out to be the case. I initially questioned continuing on with the presentation, but then I saw the opportunity to create a learning moment (what Daisey is experiencing now) and the chance to add another layer of conversation to the piece. What happened (is happening) at the Chinese factories needs our attention and demands to be addressed. This presentation is one way to do that, and digging past the inaccuracies to get to the heart of the piece helps us get there.
Everything About This Gary Busey Heaven Story Is My Favorite | Videogum:

We were shooting this movie—which is a horrible movie—and he was supposed to come back from the dead. And he of course, Gary Busey, supposedly had done this—he’d been in an accident and died and came back. He showed up on a set made to look like Heaven, and he looked around and said, “I can’t play this scene.” They were three days behind at this point. But Busey said, “It’s nothing like this. I’ve been to Heaven and it doesn’t look like this. That sofa’s all wrong. That mirror is ridiculous. They don’t even have mirrors!” It was ridiculous.

He was completely nuts about the design of Heaven.
Just the Facts | The Journal:

There is a black-or-white tone to Mr. Glass’ statements, that suggest that there isn’t a gray area here: it either all happened, as stated, or it’s a work of fiction. It’s the “strictly speaking” part of this that hangs me up, because there is some gray in creative nonfiction. I’m fine with the fact that Mr. Daisey included dialogue in his work, speaks as if he’s been in dorm rooms he has only seen from the outside, and guesses high on the number of workers he’d interviewed (since he says he doesn’t remember the exact number). And—this is where I’ll commit what some see as a mortal sin—if it made for a better narrative, I’d prefer to get the story that way, so long as he cleaved to the essential truths (not the facts) of his work.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Tech Guys Should Just Keep It Techi | Tommi Stough:

Having grown up in the land of bullshit, the one ability it ingrained in me is to think for myself - and I did exactly that the whole time Daisey made headlines with his fascinating and unconventional freakshow. I knew from the get-go Daisey was full of bullshit - in fact, I have to admit that he's much better at it than most, including moi. But that's ok. It's not as though - even for a sec or two - that I thought that he wasn't anything other than a bullshit showman. Isn't that what American't has given the world in the past (insert time frame here) years? And even though his bullshit stinks like all others, at least anything he says or does on a stage in a theater will harm no one yet might just get some to think - with or without a few things thrown in that ain't quite truth. Now get this. Can you imagine a land of bullshitters starting to actually think? Hats off to Daisey for such an achievement. An achievement, in and of itself, that is practically a miracle in the land of be-me, be-like-me or else you lose, sucker! With that in mind. The be-like-me guys on the panal of this show should have never talked about this. Seriously. You should have just ignored it, fellows. This has been out of your league since 1984 became like 1984. Or you should have provided a bit more praise. It would have been that easy - praise the bullshitter. Indeed, there is something to the adage: keep your mouth shut if you don't want people to know how … how you might be lacking in the ability to be objective.
splitting hairs
I Re-Watched Titanic So You Don't Have To. You're Welcome.:

Titanic is three hours and 14 minutes long, which—fun fact—is longer than the actual journey of the Titanic. It is sooooo ballsy to just assume people will watch your movie for three hours and 14 minutes! Especially when everyone already knows exactly what happens in the end (spoiler: the boat is Keyser Söze). Sorry, Epcot Center, I'mma let you finish, but James Cameron's balls are like the giantest balls of all time. It would take three hours and 14 minutes just to walk around the circumference of James Cameron's balls.

Anyway, here's what happens in Titanic.

pole dancer

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Union Square: Now The Very Model Of A Modern Major Police State: Gothamist:

"Ask yourselves," one young protester implored a cluster of stoic young officers, "Why are you here? There have been fights and drugs here in Union Square forever. It's never been shut down. But as soon as someone wants to stand up for a political cause there are tons of cops here." Another activist, Caleb Maupin, told us, "They make up the laws as they go along here. One night they say we can't have cardboard. Another night we can. Tonight there's fewer people here so they push us all the way off the sidewalk. But I've seen much worse than this tonight."
John Biggs is a writer for TechCrunch who penned a series of rhapsodic articles about Foxconn. His latest is an old journalist's trick—if you have nothing new to say, repackage someone else's content.

his latest, he uses me as a tool to bludgeon his way into making this assertion:

Arguably the process of making anything isn’t very glamorous, but compared to what could be in China, other parts of Asia and, in fact the rest of the developed and undeveloped world, Foxconn is a relative paradise. Workers are given room and board, a stipend to live off-campus if they want, and workers often want more work, not less. Foxconn is on par with any manufacturing center anywhere else in the world, including the U.S. The only difference, obviously, is the pittance workers are paid.

John Biggs—champion of the relative paradise!

This barely deserves refuting. The NYT series, the NPR reporting on the iPad factory explosions, SACOM reports, even the FLA report that just came out last week—none of these paint the picture Mr. Biggs is describing above. None of them describe a workplace that is on par with U.S. manufacturing.

Then Biggs reveals—there are places worse than Foxconn in China. Of course, no one doubted this—not I, nor anyone else has actually ever said that Foxconn was the worst employer in China—but it makes a nice flourish.

He links to a
really excellent series being done by Adam Matthews on conditions in factories across China, and it is great work. On this Mr. Biggs and I are in agreement.

Then Mr. Biggs says of conditions at these factories:

It happens, it will continue to happen, but it won’t happen under the bright spotlight of world attention that is being shone on Foxconn specifically.

First, I don't accept this nihilism. Things don't have to continue to happen—things can change. In fact, change is a constant in this world. It can take years, it takes hard work, it takes activists, it takes public attention, it takes economic shifts, it takes everything—but it's work worth striving toward, and worth talking about.

Second, John is upset that so much attention is on Foxconn. But he's quoting from reporting that is getting wide distribution and readership *because* of the attention on Foxconn. Far from limiting the work that's happening, greater attention has increased the amount of reporting, and it is increasing the amount of public attention that reporting receives.

I've apologized for where I've gone wrong, but the conversation that has begun in earnest in the public space about Chinese manufacturing was *unimaginable* a year ago. You can see that in the WSJ analysis of what the changes at Foxconn are going to mean to the rest of Chinese manufacturing. What's happening now, and how it is covered, how it is read and cared about by the public, matters.

Sadly, China is far from the time when workers can unite and fight back. That time is coming, and Daisey probably did more to hinder its coming than any other activist, here or abroad.

We'll see.
Well played, @mdaisey by Matthew Panzarino:

That would have been that, if not for a message from Steve a few minutes later. Daisey had not only seen his Tweet, he had retweeted it.

I think that there's something to be said for someone who owns the public opinion about them, good or bad, and faces up to it. Yes, it could just be that Daisey is happy with anything that keeps his name out there, but I don't think so. I think that there is an important lesson in this about acknowledging that there is a person behind any scandal or news story.

Sometimes people make a mistake, willful or not. In Daisey's case, probably both. An initial desperate desire to make a point about the way that western consumer culture affects Chinese workers led him to lie. That lie then took on a life of its own and he perpetuated it.

But that doesn't mean that there wasn't a life lived outside and around that lie that didn't have a positive influence. Both people who have known Daisey personally and who have merely heard him speak have said that he is a supremely gifted orator.

I still believe that what he did in speaking untruths about what he found in China did harm to the issue at large. That sucks, frankly, because it is an important one. But Daisey knew that it was important and lied to try to bring attention to it. And, even though it was very wrong, It is also very human.

And Daisey hasn't crawled into a hole. He didn't shut down his blog or his Twitter. And he's owning what people are saying about him.

For that I say, well played @mdaisey.

Has Mike Daisey Disappeared From the Internet? - Business - The Atlantic Wire:

It's odd timing for Daisey to be disappear. Whatever you think of his decisions leading up to the This American Life retraction, he deserves at least some credit for facing the storm, going on TAL, answering questions, and reworking his show accordingly. He hasn't shirked so far, so why go away now? The last thing Daisey posted on his blog, via Google's Cached version, is an excerpt from a favorable review of his show on Blurt, a blog from Vermont indie weekly Seven Days. It's almost as if a pro-Daisey backlash to the backlash has started. Seems an odd time to jump ship, which is why we're wondering if he was hacked. We've reached out to Daisey to ask what's going on, and will certainly update when and if we hear from him.
Blurt: The Seven Days Staff Blog: Mike Daisey Returns to the Stage in Burlington:

One defense Daisey has offered is that his work comes across differently in the context of journalism. This turned out to be true. The excerpt of "Agony and Ecstasy" featured on "This American Life" was a small part of Daisey's monologue. If you listen to his story about visiting China, it does sound like "journalism." But in the 90-minute-plus theatrical monologue, it's a slice of a larger work with multiple storylines — some more journalistic than others — that intertwine throughout the show.

Exaggeration happens in other parts of the piece, too — unless American business execs really do talk like Chewbacca and tech journalists really do derive sexual pleasure from Apple keynotes. (Maybe those aren't too farfetched.) But these moments of exaggeration and embellishment happen in the context of comedy, where they're excusable and perhaps necessary. But not when you're tugging your audience's heartstrings.

Those other parts of the show also endear Daisey to the audience — at least to those of us who attend as geeks and not necessarily as theater lovers. Who hasn't freaked over an Apple event that effectively relegates one of our devices to the annals of history? Or rushed out to buy a new-and-improved thing even when we're not quite sure what the improvement is? Daisey's work has been praised for exposing the conditions in overseas factories, but this part of the show seems equally important. The cycle of upgrades, trade-ins and new releases is our reality — and it's hard to see past it when you're in it. The tech blogs don't address it, not when there's a mockup of a new iPhone to speculate over.

Daisey's monologue is art, and memoir. It may not be journalism, yet it exposes truths in its own way.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Attention, Amazon Employees: | Slog:

Out of all the major corporations in Seattle, your company is the worst at giving back to the community. Check out Amy Martinez and Kristi Heim's excellent feature in the Seattle Times that adds tons of depth and detail to a deservedly snarky headline: "The world's biggest online retailer is a minor player—at best—in local charitable giving."

Your CEO, Jeff Bezos, refused interviews and "questions philanthropy," Martinez and Heim explain. Meanwhile, other local companies are leaders and Amazon has been a tax-dodger. But let's be fair: Your CEO doesn't always shy away from civic giving. For instance, when the cause was a political campaign to stop an income tax on super wealthy people (folks like him) that would fund basic education for the general public (folks like his employees) Bezos flashed the cash.

Amazon employees should be furious. You should demand that your profitable company provide meaningful support the very community that fosters Amazon's business (not just token donations here and there). You should call for an executive who isn't trying to shit on public education. You should speak out against Amazon's deplorable warehouse conditions. And you should expect your company—like so many other successful companies in Seattle—to advocate for the same basic values of its employees. Amazon is a big boy and needs to stop acting like a greedy child.

News for Youse: Kutcher to play Jobs while Hollywood honours its brightest star | Vancouver, Canada |

The timing is interesting, for one thing. Last week we learned that Apple prevailed upon manufacturer Foxconn to improve conditions for its suicide-prone factory drones, all while monologist Mike Daisey was publicly hanged for going on This American Life and presenting portions of his excellent show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs as "journalism."

Whatever grey-area Daisey might occupy between theatre and human rights advocacy—journalism doesn’t even come into it—we probably shouldn’t forget that the most successful company in the US has plenty of resources at its disposal to take a storm-in-a-teacup and turn it into an almighty smear against one of its most effective critics. Meanwhile, Foxconn is in hot water again today for its forced internship program.
Mike Check! Reading Between the Lines of the Daisey Story | Motherboard:

How is David Foster Wallace’s defense that “I’m not a journalist, and I don’t pretend to be one” (yet having his work published in Journals) different from Daisey’s “it’s not journalism… It’s theater”? Is it because Wallace was independently known as a fiction writer? Or because he was highly esteemed by the literati? Even though The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was well-received by critics before earning a This American Life treatment, Daisey was a relative unknown until now. Does that make him an easier target?

Or, is it the audience that matters, or the kind of story they’re hearing?
China: Bloody Factories, Toxic Chemicals | Pulitzer Center:

If Daisey had encountered a labor advocate I’ll call Wang Liang, he would have been able to cite real people. Wang, who asked that I use a pseudonym, is a former toy factory worker turned self-taught or “barefoot” lawyer in his early 30s. Barefoot lawyers file lawsuits on behalf of migrant workers, often their only option for recourse in China.

Wang took me on a tour that even Daisey couldn’t have dreamed up. We traveled through hardscrabble sections of Dongguan’s Tangxia Town, a factory town near the coast in Guangdong. He introduced me to a worker fired for organizing a union, a man denied overtime payments and a woman whose symptoms mirrored those of the Wintek workers. The notes about her on his printed spreadsheet were: “leg can’t move.”

That woman is Shi Yuping, a mother of two with short black hair, capris and flip-flops. Shi is in her late thirties but looks much older. We sat at a picnic table outside a convenience store as Shi told her story. Her husband Jiang Ancai stood nearby and listened.

Sunday, April 01, 2012