Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm inundated with media requests, which is great. But it has to be said--none of the requests coming in are from technology journalists. None. The silence is still defeaning...when they do cover any of this, they do as little as possible as quickly as possible. These are, ostensibly, journalists who should be covering stories in technology. I find it incredibly sad.

Wrestling With Gravity
Brad Pitt, Actor - Parabasis:

Opacity in performance—an acting style in which the subtext of a character is present but kept secret—is made possible by film. Without the close-up, the reaction shot, the bit of closely observed business, keeping secrets from the audience is difficult. I know of only two actors who regularly pulled this off on stage (James Urbaniak and T. Ryder Smith). Film enables it, but our preference as audiences is always for revelation, to be embraced (or at least charmed) by a performance rather than held at a distance by a man presenting an unsolvable mystery.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My appearance on CBS Sunday Morning:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Becca Blackwell, Performer, On Being Naked in the Untitled Feminist Show - New York News - Runnin' Scared:

​First off, what is it like being naked on stage?

I think everybody in the ensemble would agree that baby wipes are essential. This isn't my first time being naked on stage, but being naked in Untitled Feminist Show feels different. I have no props or words to draw attention away from the loadedness of my junk while I'm trying to be myself, which is a pretty masculine. So it's really the most naked I could possibly be. I never have identified as female, but I'm sure I read that way to an audience on a bare white floor and five other vaginas (or what-have-you) dancing with me.

It's hard knowing people won't necessarily decide that I am a masculine person right away. It magnifies something a little more subtle that happens to me daily. It's really challenging, sometimes crushing. I worked through a lot of my own gender issues in the process of developing the piece.

Dear MSNBC and CBS visitors—

If you'd like to see THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS, you can click
here for tickets.

Ae Web

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mike Daisey loved the New York Times Apple investigation | JIMROMENESKO.COM:

I’ve been telling this story nightly for eighteen months, and I’m absolutely thrilled that the NYT is doing this reporting. It’s what I’ve been hoping for — that journalists would dig in and pull this story out by its roots, and the NYT has done that here.

I’m a monologist, and not a journalist in any traditional sense. I see our roles as utterly complementary –journalism reports the facts that fill our world, and I tell stories that create connections that make audiences engage in a human way.

I know that reporters who have worked on this series saw my monologue in the fall, and I spoke with Charles Duhigg then about my experiences. If my work helped them in any way I am very glad.

As a monologist, I’m passionate about stories told fully and deeply, so there can be a way for us to see the truth in a human way. The NYT’s work on this series does that magnificently, and they deserve all the credit for their hard work. I think it’s a great day when a work of art and a piece of journalism can both be in the public sphere affecting change in their own ways. More than anything else, I am grateful to the reporters who are telling this story because when I speak from the stage I feel less alone.

NYT Tech Columnist David Pogue’s Silence on Foxconn Persists, Even After the Times‘s Damning Expose | Betabeat — News, gossip and intel from Silicon Alley 2.0.:

Mike Daisey—the critically-lauded monologist whose one-man show about these very problems with Apple, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which played at New York’s Public Theater to critical acclaim last year—actually singled out David Pogue for failing to investigate Apple’s practices.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Mr. Daisey, whose show ran for a number of weeks, and who actually ran an Op-Ed in the Times, was shocked at Mr. Pogue’s silence on his show, let alone Foxconn, who he covers for the Times and writes users manuals for.

“David Pogue—I’ll call him out—hasn’t actually been in to see the show. What I know of David Pogue, David Pogue would travel on his hands and knees, over broken glass, to see anything about the Mac or Steve Jobs, but…he hasn’t been here.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tomorrow's Roundtable: Could Apple build iPhones in U.S.? | Apple - CNET News:

Two great pieces of journalism on Apple and its place in the manufacturing economy appeared recently: First, there's a series developing in the New York Times that kicked off in the Sunday, Jan 22 edition: How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work. A follow-on piece, In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad, ran yesterday.

You must read these stories.

Second, listen to the This American Life episode, Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory. In this gripping program, playwright and performer Mike Daisey tells of his trip to the Foxconn plant in China, where iPhones are made.

You must also listen to this podcast.

After you've done your homework, you will have questions. About Apple and all other electronics companies, about your ethical responsibility when it comes to buying gadgets, and about America's place in the world economy and whether or not it will ever be possible to bring modern manufacturing jobs back home.

On Reporters' Roundtable tomorrow, at 10am Pacific Time (live link), we'll be talking with Charles Duhigg, one of the authors of the New York Times series, and Mike Daisey as well. I'm excited to get these two journalists together to discuss the ongoing issues that their stories reported on. I'm sure this is going to be a fascinating discussion.

Apple in China: The New York Times goes for the Pulitzer - Apple 2.0 - Fortune Tech:

When monologist Mike Daisey flew to China to find out why the workers who assemble electronic devices for Apple (AAPL) -- and every other major U.S. manufacturer -- were jumping from the roofs of their factory-city dormitories, he was shocked to discover that most of the American reporters writing about the suicides had never visited the plants or talked to any of the workers.

Well that's changed. A few months ago, the New York Times assigned a team of reporters led by Charles Duhigg, Keith Bradsher and David Barboza to investigate the hundreds of Chinese companies that make our iPads and iPhones -- starting with Foxconn, the world's largest manufacturer of electronics components.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Globalization, Capitalism, and China at Reports from the Economic Front:

In fact, China’s growth has generated few decent employment opportunities for urban workers, regardless of their employment sector. The International Labor Organization did an extensive study of urban employment over the period 1990 to 2002. Although total urban employment increased slightly, almost all the growth was in irregular employment, meaning casual-wage or self-employment—typically in construction, cleaning and maintenance of premises, retail trade, street vending, repair services, or domestic services. More specifically, while total urban employment over this thirteen-year period grew by 81.7 million, 80 million of that growth was in irregular employment. As a result, irregular workers in China now comprise the largest single urban employment category.

The issue here isn’t even one of China versus the United States. It also isn’t one of dictatorship versus democracy. Rather it is one of capitalism’s logic. Said simply, large multinational corporations and their allies in both the United States and China have successfully created a global system of production and consumption that gives them maximum freedom of operation. It is this logic that keeps pushing more free trade agreements, attempts to create more flexible labor markets, and more attractive conditions for business investment, both here and in China. And it is this logic that needs to be challenged on both sides of the Pacific.

Corbin Hiar: Laurene Powell Jobs: Obama's Awkward State Of The Union Guest:

That's what makes the invitation given to Laurene Powell Jobs so unusual. Most well-known as wife of recently deceased Apple founder Steve Jobs, the bio sent out to reporters by the White House Press Office only mentions education reform work and the boards she sits on. Her late husband doesn't even get a mention. That may be because the Obama administration hopes to mention Powell Jobs' education foundations while ignoring the new attention being paid to how Apple and other high tech companies have benefited enormously from lax Chinese labor standards and the outsourcing manufacturing jobs.

The White House did not respond to questions about the omission. Powell Jobs could not be reached for comment.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and GOP Forget Iraq Mistake in Push for Iran War - The Daily Beast:

The extraordinary thing about today’s Iran debate is that being wrong about Iraq has barely undermined the hawks’ influence at all. In 2012, as in 2002, Republicans are driving the political discussion, and in 2012, as in 2002, Democrats are petrified about being seen as too soft. Once again the media, which did not cover itself with glory in the run-up to Iraq, bears part of the blame. To allow Gingrich, Santorum and Romney to saber-rattle on Iran, as they have in debate after debate, without forcing them to confront the consequences of their saber-rattling on Iraq, is professional malpractice.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hello All,

I can't tell you how excited I am to write this.

First, if you haven't heard, during this break in the run at the Public we spent a month collaborating with Ira Glass and THIS AMERICAN LIFE to adapt THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS for the radio.

It aired the weekend of January 6th in a special episode of THIS AMERICAN LIFE where the only story was our excerpt of the monologue adapted for the radio, followed by a discussion featuring TAL doing extensive fact checking, interviews with Chinese labor activists, and a debate between myself and Nicholas Kristoff.

You can listen to the show

Apple was asked to be on the show or to respond in any way. They refused.

In its first week the episode was the most downloaded in THIS AMERICAN LIFE's history. The internet exploded, and the story went everywhere—I received over a thousand emails in just a few days; the response was overwhelming.

That same week news broke that hundreds of Foxconn workers had a stand-off that lasted two days, where they were all threatening mass suicide by throwing themselves off the roof of the plant over their working conditions.

This is at Foxconn, a company which Apple's own 2011 Supplier Responsibility Report said was completely up to code, and which Apple applauded for their efforts. This is the company about which Steve Jobs said the employees enjoyed a virtual paradise of movie theaters, swimming pools, and luxury.

A week after our show was broadcast, Apple made an abrupt announcement. After years of stonewalling and silence, they released the full list of their suppliers, and agreed to outside, independent monitoring of working conditions in the factories they use. It is not everything, but it is a small step down the right road.

Many news outlets are crediting THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS for being a large factor in Apple's decision. I've received a number of emails from Apple employees who have told me they believe that hearing this story on THIS AMERICAN LIFE, a program many Apple employees listen to with their families and their children, created "a morale situation" that finally compelled Apple to begin to do the right thing.

I would like to thank everyone who has heard this story and then told it on to the next person. In theater we sometimes doubt that we can effect change—I think we all doubt it, sometimes. The truth is that telling stories, person to person, is the best way we have ever had of connecting to the human—and whatever this show may or may not have achieved, it has come out of the conversations happening night after night after night.

Thank you,


PS: THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS returns to the Public Theater on January 31st. You can use the code "iFriend" for discounted tickets to the first two weeks—I hope you'll join us and see how the show has grown. Tickets and details

FAIR Blog » Blog Archive » NYT's Apple Debate Factcheck, Without Facts:

If you want to know why Apple does what it does, Steve Jobs might not be the best source. You could ask one of the company's critics, like Mike Daisey. A recent Times review of Daisey's recent Steve Jobs monologue revealed this about Daisey's research into Apple's Chinese manufacturers:

While the official Chinese workday is eight hours, the norm at Foxconn is more like 12 and even longer when the introduction of a product is at hand. One worker died after a 34-hour shift. Some of the workers he meets are as young as 13, and because of the repetitive nature of the labor, their hands often become deformed and useless within a decade, rendering them unemployable.

It doesn't sound like the substandard American educational system explains Apple's corporate philosophy. But it's apparently what the Times believes, because Steve Jobs once said so.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CEO OF APPLE PARTNER FOXCONN: 'Managing One Million Animals Gives Me A Headache':

According to WantChinaTimes, Terry Gou, the head of Hon Hai (Foxconn), the largest contract manufacturer in the world, had this to say at a recent meeting with his senior managers:
"Hon Hai has a workforce of over one million worldwide and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache," said Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou at a recent year-end party, adding that he wants to learn from Chin Shih-chien, director of Taipei Zoo, regarding how animals should be managed.

An Eighth-Grader's Letter to Apple's CEO, Tim Cook:

On the first day of class, I had the students listen to the episode themselves. Then I gave them a homework assignment to write to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas. I wanted these students to have the opportunity to use their voice to help change this unjust and inhumane system, since they couldn’t use the power of their wallets to simply choose more humane electronics.

Below is just one of their letters. I hope it will inspire you to also use your voice to create change.

Dear Mr. Cook,

I am an eighth grader from Maine, and I have recently listened to the Public Radio broadcast, “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory.” This story, which I assume you may have heard, was told by a man named Mike Daisey, who is a devotee of your company, and independently went to one of your supplier’s factories in Shenzhen, China.

I am writing to you and Apple because of what Mike Daisey, and other sources, have witnessed in the Apple Factory, Foxconn. I learned many things in Mr. Daisey’s talk, the first being that your products are assembled manually by humans in massive Asian factories. The second fact is Foxconn’s workers, the hundreds of thousands of them, have very low wages. And the third and most distressing thing that Mike Daisey saw was the employee’s hands. Carpal tunnel at young ages, hands ruined by the continuous motions of assembling the same piece over and over again. I, at this moment, feel so lucky to live in a place where I will never have to do such a job.

I feel it is my civil duty to write to you in the hope that with a collective effort, your prestigious company can rise out of the cult of inhumane factories.

I am not suggesting that you change your whole system, for I am aware that it is important for Apple to make money, and these people to have jobs, but Apple can make small changes, like shorter work hours, rotations on the lines, and/or slightly larger wages, to deeply change many lives.

Thank you for your consideration, Mr. Cook.


Abigail Frost (age 13)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

These were sketched during ALL THE HOURS IN THE DAY, my 24 hour monologue which was performed at the T:BA Festival in Portland last fall. To see the artist's complete collection, click here.



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Report: Mass Suicide Threats at Xbox 360 Plant:

On Jan. 2, over 300 employees at a Foxconn plan in Wuhan, China threatened to throw themselves off a building in a mass suicide. Foxconn makes Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony products. These workers manufacture Xbox 360s.

According to Chinese anti-government website Watch China Times, the workers were protesting denied compensation they were promised.

On Jan. 2, the workers asked for a raise. Foxconn told them they could either keep their jobs with no pay increase or quit and get compensation. Most decided to quit with compensation. However, the agreement was supposedly terminated, and the workers never received their payments.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Hello THIS AMERICAN LIFE listeners!

If you came to this site by way of
this week’s TAL episode, I thought I’d give you a quick guide to information on my work and myself.

First, you may be interested in hearing the rest of the story: my monologue THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS. The show returns to New York City at the Public Theater on January 31st, and you can buy your tickets

I’m very proud of what Ira and I created for THIS AMERICAN LIFE, but if you’d like to experience the full story, being there live is the best way to do that. Some of the most fascinating, heartbreaking, and hilarious moments had to be cut for the radio, and it fleshes out the story fully in unexpected ways. For those of you who don’t usually go to the theater, I hope you’ll consider it.

If you’re curious about what I do,
my monologues page has extensive details on my other works. A good example is THE LAST CARGO CULT, a show about my journey to a remote South Pacific island whose people worship America and its cargo,and that narrative is then woven against a searing examination of the international financial crisis. The show became well-known for the fact that I would give away all of the money I was paid for the show in every performance, only keeping money given to me freely in a bowl on the stage at the end of the show, as part of a way of examining the abstraction of money. Over hundreds of performances we didn’t lose money—people, when free to choose, chose to see that we were paid. You can view a trailer of that show here:

Most recently I created a monologue called ALL THE HOURS IN THE DAY, which was a 24 hour performance—a single braided narrative with many strands that lasts an entire day, and which I perform the entirety of. It happened in Portland at the Time Based Art Festival, and some great pieces about what that show was like for the hundreds of people who came on the journey can be found
here, here, and here.

On the lighter side, here is a performance I gave at an Occupy Wall Street event which culminates with me disrobing and openly challenging Mike Bloomberg to a Mexican wrestling match:

This site is kept updated with where I will be performing, and you can subscribe through the sidebar to get occasional emails with updates and invitations to events the public doesn’t get to hear about. I don’t spam or sell your name or engage in any form of ass-hattery.

If you need to reach me directly, the best way is the email link at the top of the page—I don’t always respond immediately, but it does get to me.

Be seeing you,


Thursday, January 05, 2012



Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Comment: Un-American Activities : The New Yorker:

Several things are worth noting here. The first is that, in today’s Republican politics, one reliable way to reach beyond the Christian base is by whipping up nationalistic hysteria with language lifted straight from the McCarthy era. If criminalizing all abortions and nullifying all gay marriages are a little too sectarian for you, surely you’d like to try some old-fashioned traitor-hunting. (Santorum has also accused Obama of “sid[ing] with evil” in Iran, a country with which he plainly wants to go to war.)

The second is that this kind of gutter rhetoric is so routine in the Republican campaign that it’s not worth a political journalist’s time to point it out. In 2008, when Michele Bachmann suggested that Barack Obama and an unknown number of her colleagues in Congress were anti-American, there was a flurry of criticism; three years later, when a surging Presidential candidate states it flatly about a sitting President, there’s no response at all. Certain forms of deterioration—like writers using “impact” as a verb, or basketball coaches screaming about every foul—become acceptable by attrition, because critics lose the energy to call them out. Eventually, people even stop remembering that they’re wrong.

And the third, related point is that, once demagogy and falsehoods become routine, there isn’t much for the political journalist to do except handicap the race and report on the candidate’s mood.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Proposed law prohibits TSA employees from dressing like cops - Boing Boing:

The STRIP Act, proposed in the US House of Reps, would require TSA employees to stop dressing like police officers, because they aren't cops, and when they give orders to travellers, travellers assume that these are the orders of real law enforcement officers, rather than minor bureaucrats:

The bill, which has drawn 29 co-sponsors in the few weeks since it was introduced, would prohibit any TSA employee "who has not received federal law enforcement training or is not eligible for federal law enforcement benefits from using the official job title of officer, or wearing a metal badge resembling a police badge or a uniform resembling the uniform of a federal law enforcement officer."

Friedman (unit) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Friedman, or Friedman Unit (F.U.), is a tongue-in-cheek neologism coined by blogger Atrios (Duncan Black) on May 21, 2006.

A Friedman is a unit of time equal to six months in the future.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] The Huffington Post cited it as the "Best New Phrase" of 2006.

The term is in reference to a May 16, 2006 article by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) detailing columnist Thomas Friedman's repeated use of "the next six months" as the period in which, according to Friedman, "we're going to find out...whether a decent outcome is possible" in the Iraq War. As documented by FAIR, Friedman had been making such six-month predictions for a period of two and a half years, on at least fourteen different occasions, starting with a column in the November 30, 2003 edition of The New York Times, in which he stated: "The next six months in Iraq—which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there—are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time."

The term has been used in general to describe any pronouncement of a critical period for the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Such pronouncements have been made by numerous politicians and military officials involved in the war.

More generally, the concept can refer to any event or "critical period" which is repeatedly expected to happen in the near future, but repeatedly fails to occur.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


In the spirit of the holidays, here is the complete audio of last night's New Year’s Eve show,
WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES, performed for a sold out crowd at the Huntington Theatre as part of Boston’s First Night festival:

Download the audio here

This is, as the kids call it, freestyling—the monologue was woven in real time in front of the audience, and it touches on death, rebirth, the horrors of the inevitable disappointment of New Year’s Eve, an insane film director in the Ukraine, Samuel Beckett’s face, the pleasures of television, Nazi stormtroopers, theatre as a metaphor for the nature of life, and a survival guide for the coming jaegermeister zombie apocalypse. It concerns the nature of New England Puritans—their origins, feeding habits, and elaborate mating rituals. It is also a document detailing how one might attempt to have a New Year’s Eve that does not suck.

The audio isn’t perfect, and the monologue was written on the wind, but take it in the spirit it is intended—a small gift for the year ahead.

Be seeing you,

Happy contrafactual public domain day (what you've lost) - Boing Boing:

Jennifer Jenkins sez, "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2012? Under the law that existed until 1978... Works from 1955. Asimov's The End of Eternity, Nabokov's Lolita, the play Inherit the Wind, Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, Disney's Lady and the Tramp, Rebel Without a Cause, The Seven Year Itch, the music for Blue Suede Shoes and Tutti Frutti, and Laurence Olivier's film version of Richard III... What is entering the public domain today? Nothing."
BrickArms - Prototypes Batch 1