Friday, June 29, 2012

Atlantic's Anne-Marie Slaughter is right: mothers should talk about kids at work:

I interviewed Slaughter for the Atlantic video that runs with the story. I was 10 minutes late to the shooting because, exactly like Slaughter describes at the start of the story, I’d been called into school by my son’s teacher. (No, the teachers don’t call my husband.) But did I tell anyone that? Of course not. I didn’t even tell Slaughter. I work at a women’s site for God’s sake, and I still only tell the truth about half the time when I have to take off time for a midday recorder performance or a field trip. My husband routinely sends officewide e-mail that say something along the lines of: “Out of pocket in the a.m. Kids doc appt.” I would never do that. A vague mention of “appointment” or “meeting” or something like that but not kid’s doctor!

But that’s one habit I’ve changed after reading Slaughter’s story. I try now to be honest about what I have to do during the day. I try to be honest with female and male colleagues. I’ve also done another thing Slaughter suggests—when I am speaking on a panel, I ask to have listed among my accomplishments "mother of three children." After so many decades of mothers working, maybe it’s time to end the collective American fiction that toddlers take themselves to the doctor or that they get sick only on weekends.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rights group says Apple suppliers in China breaking labor laws | Reuters:

Apple Inc's suppliers in China have violated local labor laws when they imposed excessive overtime and skimped on insurance, a New York-based labor rights group said.

Apple and its suppliers such as Taiwanese tycoon Terry Gou's Foxconn Technology Group have been the target of labor rights groups, which say the world's most valuable technology company are making iPhones and iPads in massive sweat shops.

"From our investigations we found that the labor rights violations at Foxconn also exist in virtually all other Apple supplier factories, and in many cases, are actually significantly more dire than at Foxconn," China Labor Watch said in a 133-page report released on Thursday.

A four-month investigation through April showed workers work up to 180 hours of overtime a month during peak periods, exceeding the legal limit of 36 hours per month, the group said, citing Riteng, a unit of Taiwan's Pegatron Corp, as an example.

Some factories also omit medical insurance as required by the law while workers are exposed to hazardous conditions, according to the report.

Train of Thought...
Who Was First? Who Cares? | American Journalism Review:

This morning, a Bloomberg News public relations staffer sent along this helpful tip to media news blogger/aggregator Jim Romenesko:

"Just wanted to reach out about your post about the coverage of today's Supreme Court health care ruling. You reference an email that notes that the AP first reported the decision – by our records, Bloomberg moved the story first at 10:07:31; the AP moved the story at 10:07:55. I've attached screen shots of both headlines with timestamps for your reference."

So Bloomberg was crowing that it beat the Associated Press by 24 seconds? 24 seconds? Really?

Give me a break.

(Off topic: And the flack also felt compelled to use the incredibly annoying and ubiquitous phrase "reach out." Nobody ever "seeks comment" anymore. They "reach out." Make it stop. Like "it is what it is," this one really stretches the limits of the First Amendment.)

a lover lost

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Capitalism Has No Endpoint, Ctd - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

Nicholas Carr chimes in:

I've long suspected, based on observations of myself as well as observations of society, that, beyond the psychological and cognitive strains produced by what we call information overload, there is a point in intellectual inquiry when adding more information decreases understanding rather than increasing it. ... Because we humans seem to be natural-born signal hunters, we're terrible at regulating our intake of information. We'll consume a ton of noise if we sense we may discover an added ounce of signal. So our instinct is at war with our capacity for making sense.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

‘I Just Want to Feel Everything’: Hiding Out With Fiona Apple, Musical Hermit -- Vulture:

She believed that sharing her story — all of her story — would also make herself feel better. It did not. When reporters asked if the lyrics to the song “Sullen Girl”—Is that why they call mea sullen girl/Sullen girl/They don’t know/I used to sail/The deep and tranquil sea/But he washed me ashore/And he took my pearl/And left an empty shell of me—were about a boy leaving her, she did not want to be ashamed. She told them the truth. She told them she had been raped.
‘I Just Want to Feel Everything’: Hiding Out With Fiona Apple, Musical Hermit -- Vulture:

A week later, my phone beeped. It was a heavily pixelated video. She was wearing glasses, looking straight at me:

“Hi, Dan. It’s Fiona. [She moves the camera to her dog.] This is Janet. [She moves it back.] Um, are you coming out here tomorrow? Um, I, I, I don’t know—I’m baffled at this thing that I just got, this e-mail shit, I don’t know what these people—are they trying to antagonize me so that I do shit like this, so that I start fights with them? I don’t understand why there are pictures of models on a page about me. Who the fuck are they? What? What?”

The text attached read: “And are you western-bound? And hi there! F”

I had no idea what she was talking about. Two days later, I landed at LAX.
‘I Just Want to Feel Everything’: Hiding Out With Fiona Apple, Musical Hermit -- Vulture:

Which is to say, she would teach her kid not how to avoid trouble but how to get out of it. She’d had a therapist, she said, who believed in revisiting trauma to destigmatize it, and the more she’s learned about the brain, “that shit is not the thing to do.”

It was like phantom pain. There was that New Yorker story about the woman whose head itched so badly that her fingertips eventually breached her skull. She recalled, from it, the “mirror box,” a simple device that duplicates the reflection of the remaining limb when the other’s been lost, so that the phantom pain goes away, and this made her cry when she read it, she’d had “years and years of pain, and it’s this simple little trick, the brain is so stupid.” Her OCD, still with her, is better now, and she’s realized, over time, that “the brain is just a machine that sometimes gets a little glitch, and this is just something that got into a loop, and it’s getting reinforced.”

She said: “This is why it’s so fun, by the way, to go put the TV in your hotel room on and, like, put on New Jersey Housewives or something.”
LA through a London Lens
Daring Fireball Linked List: Apple Should Eat Some Sandbox Dog Food:

Maybe Apple could make the same case for Mac OS X’s built-in apps: Address Book, iCal, and Mail don’t need to be sandboxed because they are part of the operating system. But that argument doesn’t work for Keynote or iMovie. Those apps should play by the same rules that all productivity and video software in the store does.

If Apple were to sandbox a few of these it would go a long way toward convincing developers to do the same. And it would also shake out bugs and missing APIs in the whole sandbox environment.

It’s not-eating-their-own-dogfood hypocrisy, pure and simple. Apple has a bunch of Mac apps in the App Store, and none of them, to my knowledge, are sandboxed. This includes new versions of Aperture and iPhoto that were released this month, after the June 1 sandboxing deadline.

The Jerusalem Syndrome: Why Some Religious Tourists Believe They Are the Messiah | Wired Magazine |

There’s a joke in psychiatry: If you talk to God, it’s called praying; if God talks to you, you’re nuts. In Jerusalem, God seems to be particularly chatty around Easter, Passover, and Christmas—the peak seasons for the syndrome. It affects an estimated 50 to 100 tourists each year, the overwhelming majority of whom are evangelical Christians. Some of these cases simply involve tourists becoming momentarily overwhelmed by the religious history of the Holy City, finding themselves discombobulated after an afternoon at the Wailing Wall or experiencing a tsunami of obsessive thoughts after walking the Stations of the Cross. But more severe cases can lead otherwise normal housewives from Dallas or healthy tool-and-die manufacturers from Toledo to hear the voices of angels or fashion the bedsheets of their hotel rooms into makeshift togas and disappear into the Old City babbling prophecy.
But memoir is neither testament nor fable nor analytic transcription. A memoir is a work of sustained narrative prose controlled by an idea of the self under obligation to lift from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver wisdom. Truth in a memoir is achieved not through a recital of actual events; it is achieved when the reader comes to believe that the writer is working hard to engage with the experience at hand. What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the large sense that the writer is able to make of what happened. For that the power of a writing imagination is required. As V. S. Pritchett once said of the genre, “It’s all in the art. You get no credit for living.”

Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dead New York Times Reporter Anthony Shadid Allegedly Told His Wife: "The Times Killed Me" [UPDATE]:

In an interview, Ed Shadid—an Oklahoma City physician and city councilman—told Gawker that his cousin didn't want to go to Syria in February, didn't feel like he had the support of his editors, and had been previously warned off a Syria trip by a Times security consultant.

"Did he want to go at that time?" Shadid said. "Did he feel like he had the logistical support necessary? The answer is no." According to Ed, a Times security consultant reviewed a plan to infiltrate Anthony and his photographer Tyler Hicks across the border between Turkey and Syria in December 2011, but rejected it as too dangerous. "There was a security advisor who said, in no uncertain terms, 'You are forbidden to enter Syria,'" Ed says. "So Anthony wrote an email to Tyler Hicks and says, 'Hey man, it's off. We're not allowed to go.'" But roughly six weeks later, Ed says, Anthony's editors reversed course and asked him to go anyway.

"The situation was worse on the ground than it had been in December," Ed says. "The only thing that had changed was that CNN had gained access to [the rebel stronghold] Idlid. My understanding is that CNN gaining access bothered his editors."

The night before Anthony left his home in Beirut for Turkey to begin the journey into Syria, Ed says, he was overheard on the phone with his editors "screaming at them and saying, 'This is horseshit,' and slamming down the phone." He doesn't know the specifics of what the arguments were about, but claims that Anthony felt he wasn't supported by the Times. He asked for camping equipment to bring along on the journey through the mountainous border, Ed says, but his editors said no. When the 43-year-old reporter complained about the physical demands of the journey, Ed says, Times foreign editor Joseph Kahn responded, "It sounds like you're going to get a lot of exercise on this assignment."

St Helens Solstice: 2:45 am
This morning I woke up to honor of being included in a list of artists that include Jackie Gleason, Axl Rose, the Beastie Boys, and Eminem. It's a list called, "All Apologies: 15 creators who apologized for their art and entertainment" and you can read it here.

I get how I ended up in this list, and it's an honor to be next to some fascinating artists, but I want to reiterate something I was crystal clear about three months ago, and remain clear about now:

I've apologized for my behavior within my work. I am not apologizing for the work itself.

It's a subtle but vital distinction. As a piece of theater, as a story that illuminates the human relationships that go into our electronics, I am still enormously proud of TATESJ—the versions I told in 2010, the versions I told in 2011, the versions after Steve Jobs' passing, the versions through the spring, and today's version, after the TAL retraction.

Theater has tremendous power to connect our hearts and minds, and it is precisely that connection that was missing in the almost-silent civic discourse on Chinese labor when I began performing this monologue. TATESJ was my very first piece of openly activist theater, and the fact that today the issues it discusses have dominated the first six months of this year is tremendously gratifying.

I've apologized for my behavior, and I'm doing what I think can best set things right—with those I've hurt, with my audiences, and with myself. That's part of why TATESJ needed to be rebuilt without any of the contested material—I needed to see that it could be done, and I needed to tell that story in a new way that got back to the heart of what this was always about: shining a human light through our relationship with our devices.

The "new" version of the show has been getting rave reviews, just as the old one did, because fundamentally it is the same show and the same story. That doesn't make light of the importance of me making amends and recognizing where I've gone wrong—but it does highlight that the conditions within the SEZ are not fictions woven from whole cloth. They are real, and if one is looking for journalism on that subject, there are many places to read about it. There always were. When I started working on this show, I read years of reports from reputable NGOs detailing horrific conditions. All of these were in the public eye. None of this was news. Yet we didn't hear about it, and we didn't hear about it because we didn't want to hear.

Still, it is a particular honor to be the only theater artist on this list, and I am endeavoring going forward to continue breaking rules—though I am trying to break more of the ones between myself and people in power, and less of the ones that exist in the intangible contract between myself and my audiences.
The Newsroom: Another Awful Avalanche of Aaron Sorkin Words | Slog:

Of course the show is drowning in Sorkin's faux-sparkly patter-speak, suggesting a world where every single person is a crappy playwright. The sound of Sorkin speak makes my skin crawl—it's like nails on a chalkboard combined with the smell of burning hair.
Memphis Blues Again
Apple mulling Pathways, a career path program for new retail hires:

Instead of choosing to be proactive and institute supply chain and retail changes for others to follow, Apple was content with sitting on the sidelines and reaping the benefits of cheap labor. This all changed when the media exposed the company’s business operations that usually are of no interest to readers.

It was only when Apple’s supply and retail practices made headlines that had become a poster child for corporate greediness, which forced the change.

We Don't Need No Playwright: How Ensemble-Created Work Is Changing L.A. Theater - Page 1 - Stage - Los Angeles - LA Weekly:

A row of actors sitting side by side in chairs, collectively unrolling a ball of string. The character of Death stands with a pair of scissors, leaning over a seated actor on one side, snipping strands of string as it unfurls. The rope of life, some long strands, some short, snipped capriciously, falling to the floor in piles, like tiny corpses tumbling into a graveyard. The scene is from a workshop production of Nancy Keystone's An Alcestis Project, commissioned by and presented at the Getty Villa. Playwright-director Keystone didn't conjure the scene while sitting at a computer in her office. It was created in collaboration with improvisations and exercises by her acting company, Critical Mass Performance Group.

"Theaters have to face the reality that new work is being created by ensembles as well as playwrights. So we have to look at the whole spectrum of the way new work is created," says Diane Rodriguez, Center Theatre Group's associate producer and director of new play production.

"There is definitely a movement afoot," she adds.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mike Daisey Lied About Seeing Abuses at Apple Plant in China, but for the Greater Good? | Strollerderby:

Before I get your feelings about Daisey and Apple, I want to share this exchange my friend and fellow comedian Charles Star and I had on Twitter this morning. It will give you all a final bit of context about Daisey’s lies and the bias of the media in general:

Ugarles: I’d be more cool with Ira Glass being upset with Mike Daisey if he were the same level of upset after running Gladwell’s fake Moth story.

missckc: @Ugarles Can you send me a link about the Moth thing?

Ugarles: @missckc here is gladwell basically admitting that the story was fake (with a link to the story)

missckc: @Ugarles There’s a disclaimer, so maybe that’s why. With Daisey there were fact checking issues. [snipped]

Ugarles: @missckc It’s a bullshit disclaimer. I heard the story when it aired. The Moth calls itself “True stories, presented live, without notes.”

missckc: @Ugarles I see. So TAL was covering Gladwell’s ass is what you’re saying.

Ugarles: @missckc Yup. They were complicit in the deception and washed their hands of it.

It’s also interesting to note that just days before Daisey’s world fell apart, he and his director wife, Jean-Michele Gregory, agreed to make the script of “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” available for public consumption. In a press release, they wrote, “[the script] can be performed royalty-free, anywhere, anytime, by anyone.” In other words, to Daisey, the first person account isn’t what’s important; anyone can be the “I” in this monologue, as long as the information is shared.

The New Inquiry ran a piece by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian in the weeks after the TAL retraction that focused on the nature of fact checking. It's a solid piece of writing and interesting, and because it is focused on the nature of fact checking, I thought I would spend a moment fact checking a single paragraph that summarizes my role in the events around the TAL piece:

"Daisey, a monologist, gave a moving 45-minute performance about his experience at the Foxconn plant in China. He called it The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and broadcast it on This American Life to massive acclaim."

I perform a two hour theatrical monologue called The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, (note the second "the"—many miss that) which is about the life of Steve Jobs, our devices in the first world, and the circumstances under which they are made. In terms of the amount of stage time, the China storyline is actually the smallest thread.

excerpt from that monologue focusing on the China storyline was adapted with This American Life and aired by them. The monologue has never been 45 minutes long—in fact, the excerpt on TAL is 38 minutes, if we're being fact check-y.

"During the monologue, Daisey described meeting underage workers, poisoned workers, maimed workers; he claimed to have gone to a meeting of a secret worker’s union in a Chinese Starbucks."

I have never claimed to have gone to a meeting of a secret worker's union in a Chinese Starbucks. A moment in the broadcast where I speak about workers talking about how they make things work, which mentions Starbucks, has been conflated in the writing of this essay with the meeting I describe attending.

"People believed his monologue to be true, mostly because it was presented as such, and by that time, the Times and other investigations had confirmed that all these things were happening at some time or another. The problem was that Daisey hadn’t seen them himself. He was creating a composite to better draw attention to his cause."

Except it isn't that simple—I did in fact meet with workers who are organizing, and I did meet workers who have been injured on the job, and those details have been fact checked by TAL. The areas of conflict are often more specific—in this case, for instance, it was the detail that the injured worker worked specifically at Foxconn.

I'm not writing this to be snarky in the least, but it is interesting—I could dedicate the next year to writing factual corrections for stories written in the weeks after the TAL retraction, and I would never be able to get them all to agree to relate only the verified, established facts of the case.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mike Daisey Lied So What – Is It Important That Mike Daisey Lied?:

Despite the opinions of the blogosphere, we don’t look at Daisey as the new James Frey. No, when we think of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, we think less of A Million Little Pieces and more of The Jungle.

Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book famously captured Chicago’s stockyards, painting in vivid prose the lives and deaths of workers and their families as they toiled in abattoirs and rendering plants. As disgusting and sensational as the unsanitary accounts of meat preparation were, the hopelessness and death he reported was even more so (he describes factory workers falling into grinding machines alive). Based on Sinclair’s own research, The Jungle swayed public opinion so substantially that, eventually, the controversy created a blanket of laws that, for the first time, addressed questions of worker safety, food hygiene, and brought into being The Food and Drug Administration. The Jungle was also filled with big, fat lies.

True, Sinclair’s work was a novel, but — like Daisey’s play — it purported to be based on fact. Many hailed Sinclair as a public hero, but almost as many considered him a fraud and a sensationalist. History now understands that both factions were right — Sinclair was exactly the liar America needed.
From Another Point Of View..

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Amazon Is Not Going to Launch Waldenbooks for the 21st Century | Slog:

Amazon isn't especially good at coming up with new ideas—the Kindle came about because Jeff Bezos got scared by the Sony Reader and hired a team to perfect the idea of the e-reader; the Kindle Fire doesn't bring anything new to the table other than "cheap iPad"—but they are especially good at stripping what they perceive to be bullshit out of an idea. I think the culture at Amazon believes that bookstores are mostly bullshit; this store has to be a lot more ambitious than that.
Ode to the snail
From He to She: Jennifer Finney Boylan’s ‘How I Write’ Interview - Print View - The Daily Beast:

Q: At least two of your former creative-writing students have made careers in publishing (me, and my agent, Eleanor Jackson, who sat next to me in your class). Have others become professional writers?

A: The person that I’m most proud of—after you and Eleanor—is probably Mike Daisey. He was a capricious and mercurial student, hugely talented but hugely undisciplined. I would like to hope that I had some influence on him, although it’s kind of hard to claim credit for a talent that unique. I tried to impose some discipline on him, as an artist. He’ll have to tell you whether I succeeded.

Arizona - Antelope Canyon - Light Image  **Explored #120 6/15/12**

Monday, June 18, 2012

The De-Watergating of American Journalism:

"Dicey" and "high-wire" aren't really words usually ascribed to Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate reporting. The popular myth features them politely and insistently pushing their story forward, ever mindful that the reputation of the Post and of the entire newspaper business—the future of the Republic, even—rested on their actions and behavior. They were methodical paragons. "You're no Woodward and Bernstein" has become the insult of choice (believe me, I've heard it plenty) hurled at reporters who were deemed insufficiently careful, accurate, or professional.

The popularity of their heroic account helped swell enrollments at journalism schools across the nation as eager young college graduates came to view reporting not as a lowly trade but as a noble profession. Those schools, in turn, instilled a sense of rectitude and sanctimony in their young recruits, based in part on the model that young Woodward and Bernstein presented. That carefully cultivated sanctimony, in turn, helped fuel the right-wing critique of the news media—which was always based more on the hypocritical distance between journalists' public claims to abstract fairness and their actual human behaviors than on any actual transgressions—that has thoroughly poisoned politico-media culture.

So imagine, if you will, how the ombudspersons of our day would have reacted if they had learned that reporters for the Washington Post had agreed to adhere to "guidelines" and "ground rules" laid out by Ken Starr governing how and when they could interview potential witnesses in his investigation? How would Media Matters react if a Fox News reporter got caught privately advising Rep. Darrell Issa on fruitful leads to pursue in his Fast and Furious inquiry? How would Fox News react if it emerged that New York Times reporters, in pursuit of an interview with Obama for a story about his "Kill List," had agreed to submit their questions in advance?

Woodward and Bernstein, of course, did all the above and more—including burning confidential sources, illicitly accessing phone and credit card records of investigative targets, colluding with congressional and law enforcement investigators, and impersonating sources in order to trick targets into talking—in the course of their Watergate investigation. These are not secrets—they're all right there, laid out in full view in All the President's Men, which at times reads more like a confessional than a victory lap. To their credit, the reporters seemed as concerned with unburdening themselves about the corners they cut and mistakes they made as they were with soaking in the glory of their fresh kill. The "diciness" of the whole affair comes through loud and clear, even though it has subsequently been sanctified by the priesthood.

Finding the Gift and Making Theater for Everyone by Polly Carl | HowlRound:

But as the stakes were raised—the money, the players—I could see things beginning to unravel. I became privy to lies and deceit and I became obsessed with saving the integrity of the process that I had been charged to help oversee. We all say we are in it for higher purposes, but even in the theater, money trumps soul, and destroys love. I called one of the agents who was spreading particularly heinous lies (and let me clarify he wasn’t the only one lying, the lies were abundant from all camps). I was calm, trying to clarify the truth, intent on protecting what I thought were the interests of the writers. He actually said to me, “Who do you think you are calling me? I don’t give a rat’s ass about you and your version of the truth. For all I care you could die and it wouldn’t matter to me or this play.”

I walked back to the apartment where I was staying. I got a haircut along the way. I took a shower. I threw away the clothes I was wearing. I bought a new traveling hat. I thought about getting a new tattoo. I moved my flight to leave a day early, and went home. I walked away from that project for good and I walked away from making theater under those conditions.

I didn’t say I wasn’t dramatic.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

A One-Night Performance of a New Monologue:

(Or, the Value of Failure)

Created and Performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory

To escape scandal, Mike Daisey impulsively decides to recreate the infamous Orient Express by traveling from London to Istanbul by rail. From an English village out of time to the glorious minarets of Istanbul, from the ghosts of the Berlin Wall to the broken statues and secret police of Budapest's recent past, Daisey draws out the hidden heart of failure, and how stories, myths, lies, and legends are the way we tell ourselves who we are. From the end of communism to the triumph of corporatism, Daisey walks the borderlands of fact and fiction, wrestling with what failure can teach him, and us, on the long, strange road East.

"The master storyteller."
The New York Times

"Mike Daisey isn't perfect, but he is brave."
The Times of London

"The only showman in America who matters."

This special showing of Mike Daisey's new work-in-progress, presented courtesy of ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage, is for Conference attendees only. Present your Conference badge at the door for admission.
Baño de espuma
All the Girls Standing in the Line For the Rap Show: Iggy Azalea's Sudden Rise:

Iggy Azalea almost wasn't Internet-famous. Last summer, the native Australian was living in Los Angeles, and after what was supposed to be two weeks in Miami at age 16 had turned into five years spent in four cities throughout the states, she was down to the last of her savings. She had one shot left, and so she used that money to film the music video for "PU$$Y," a song off of her first mixtape.

It was a desperate act. "I thought, this is my last money, this shit better work," she recalled, sitting on a basement couch at Manhattan's SOBs nightclub before her sold-out show last month. "Because otherwise I'm gonna have to go home. I thought, this is the video, it has to work. It will work. It has to work."
The video went live on YouTube in late August. It was shot on Slauson Avenue, on the Rollin 60s Crips turf. Iggy wore a striped tube top and tight yellow pants meant to accentuate her ass, which is, objectively speaking here, pretty big for a white girl. She and her girls licked at ice pops in such a way that one does not generally lick at ice pops in public, and there was also an adorable young boy doing the Dougie. It went viral soon after.

Now, at 22, Iggy has a management deal with Grand Hustle Entertainment, the label owned by the rapper T.I., a modeling contract with Wilhelmina, and a space in that strange new precipice of fame that now exists when very young artists earn scale-tipping internet buzz nearly overnight.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Foxconn Suicide Followed by Suspicious Rumors:

Online in China, there were rumors that after this week's suicide, Chinese police officers ordered all eye witness at the Chengdu complex to delete all photos and videos. Those who did not were threatened with arrest. These rumors, however, are unconfirmed. Moreover, the Chengdu police did announce the death on its website, so if there is a cover-up, it's not a very good one.

Above is a photo that was not deleted. It supposedly shows the 23 year-old man before he jumped to his death. It's believed that this suicide is somehow connected to the recent riot in Chengdu.

American Utopias, Mike Daisey's Latest, Among Premieres in DC Woolly Mammoth's 2012-13 Season -

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, the Washington, DC, company devoted to contemporary theatre and an off-beat sensibility, will present three world premieres — including the new piece by controversial monologist Mike Daisey — in its 2012-13 season.

Daisey, whose documentary-seeming The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs was scorned for playing fast and loose with some facts, will return to Woolly Mammoth in spring 2013 to present American Utopias, created and performed by Daisey and directed by Jean-Michele Gregory.

According to Woolly Mammoth notes, "Mike Daisey shows us a distinctly American vision of utopia — how we create civic spaces for ourselves in which we act out our dreams of a better world. Daisey takes us everywhere to pursue the story: from Disney World and its theme park perfection, to the drug-fueled anarchic excesses of Burning Man, from the Masonic underpinnings of our nation's capitol, to Zuccotti Park, where in the unlikeliest place a new movement gets born. Gunplay, giant glittery dildos, police actions, and secret Freemason underwear come together to tell the history of our American dream."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When There's So Much Bullshit Online, You Forget How to Feel:

I love what I do, but after so many years spent writing/editing/managing blogs, certain parts of me have become jaded. It happens to all of us, men or women, who write online; our skins thicken. It's a survival mechanism. But I've become particularly jaded in regards to this specific sort of story — anonymous haters attacking a woman because she dares to do something online — because I've seen it so many times. I've even been on the receiving end of it. Disgusting emails, awful phone calls, pricks harassing my parents. It was a long time ago, but to keep on working and not be intimidated, I guess I just became numb. For years.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display Teardown - Page 3 - iFixit:

MacBook Pro with Retina Display 15" Mid 2012 Repairability Score: 1 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

—Proprietary pentalobe screws prevent you from gaining access to anything inside.

—As in the MacBook Air, the RAM is soldered to the logic board. Max out at 16GB now, or forever hold your peace—you can't upgrade.

—The proprietary SSD isn't upgradeable either (yet), as it is similar but not identical to the one in the Air. It is a separate daughtercard, and we’re hopeful we can offer an upgrade in the near future.

—The lithium-polymer battery is glued rather than screwed into the case, which increases the chances that it'll break during disassembly. The battery also covers the trackpad cable, which tremendously increases the chance that the user will shear the cable in the battery removal process.

—The display assembly is completely fused, and there’s no glass protecting it. If anything ever fails inside the display, you will need to replace the entire extremely expensive assembly.



That would be
Jesus Diaz of the major tech site Gizmodo.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012-2013 Texas Performing Arts Tickets Go On Sale 6/15:

From an evening with performance artist Laurie Anderson, to multi-Grammy Award winning Latin Jazz pianist Chucho Valdés, to Australia’s contemporary circus C!RCA, the 2012-2013 season boasts an eclectic mix of artists and performances. The season also includes return engagements by some of Texas Performing Arts’ most innovative artists, including master storyteller Mike Daisey, 2012 Grammy Award-winning new music sextet eighth blackbird, Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo, and The National Theatre of Scotland, who played to sold-out audiences during the past two seasons.
The doofus documentarian | Superfluities Redux:

It is a shame that Broomfield wasn’t around to document l’affaire Daisey, especially since he directed the film version of Spalding Gray’s monologue Monster in a Box. Both Broomfield and Daisey have been held to account for manipulating time and explicit fact in their non-fiction work; Broomfield, as revealed in Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, had to do so in a courtroom; Daisey, who may be charged with a tendency to self-importance, has achieved a certain status as a celebrity, which has colored the reception of his monologues. And Daisey is very much an American artist through and through in the tradition of Twain and Gray.

MacNN | Apple to developers: 'Get your apps ready for China':

App developers must focus more on the Chinese market, according to a senior figure at Apple. Craig Federighi, senior VP of software engineering, notes the sizable increase in app revenues in China, calling on developers to take advantage of the year-on-year growth in the region, according to AllThingsD.

April earnings for Apple showed $7.9 billion from Greater China, a three-fold increase on results from last year. 1H 2012 revenue has already reached $12.4 billion, which is almost the same as revenues for the region during all of last year. "The Mac has been growing fantastically well in China," Federighi comments, adding "Get your apps ready for China." Some new features in iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion have been added explicitly to support China. In iOS 6, Baidu has been added as a new search option in Safari, and the video sites Youku and Tudou are supported as well. An increased catalog of Chinese characters is available in handwriting recognition, and Siri can now understand Cantonese and Mandarin. Mountain Lion builds on these by adding Simplified Chinese support to Lookup, and popular Chinese email services such as QQ Mail to the Mail app.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mixing business and pleasure: Couples negotiate the festivals | The Post and Courier | Charleston SC, News, Sports, Entertainment:

Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey have been creating work together since 2005. Wednesday night they offered their innovative, contemporary dance piece, “A Crack in Everything,” at Spoleto.

“We met at this arts festival called Bumbershoot, in Seattle,” Scofield said. “I was there because I actually had a boyfriend at the time, who was a musician. I was sitting at this table in the front of the art show, and this force walked in the room. It was Juniper.

“He came and sat down and I said, ‘Hi, I’m Zoe Scofield’ — which I never do — and we just ended up talking all day long, and spent a whole day together. I was definitely smitten.”

Their collaboration, zoe | juniper, evolved naturally, a culmination of their shared artistic vernacular. In working together, they acknowledge that it’s not always smooth sailing.

“Sometimes, because of the relationship, there can be some curtness and impatience, because you take certain things for granted,” Scofield said. “It’s a balance between celebrating and deepening this intimate relationship and exploiting it inside of the creative process.”

Suicides Eclipse War Deaths for U.S. Troops -

The suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel has spiked this year, eclipsing the number of troops dying in battle and on pace to set a record annual high since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago, the Pentagon said Friday.

Suicides have increased even as the United States military has withdrawn from Iraq and stepped up efforts to provide mental health, drug and alcohol, and financial counseling services.
Near-Earth Object - The Tech Press and the Truth:

Then today I read a piece at PandoDaily by Farhad Manjoo, whose work I normally very much enjoy and find refreshing for its clarity and boldness. Manjoo has decided, long before any dialogue has been written, that the Steve Jobs biopic by Aaron Sorkin will suck. He has pre-reviewed the nonexistent film, and found it to be offensive.

Manjoo first complains that one need only look to The Social Network to see how Sorkin apparently didn’t understand what Facebook really is (a “product” and not an “idea,” which I suppose is a fair point), and took too many liberties with relationships and portrayals.

I would presume that most of you would think, well, it’s just a movie. Let him take whatever liberty he wants! You’d think that, right?

But Manjoo truly opened my eyes to the blind spot of the tech press with this section (emphasis mine):

… Sorkin has said that he was glad Mark Zucker­berg didn’t coop­er­ate with The Social Net­work, because then he’d have to had to make the char­ac­ter more life­like: “I feel like, had I met Mark, I would have felt a cer­tain oblig­a­tion to make the char­ac­ter sound like Mark, walk like Mark, all of those things,” he told New York mag­a­zine.

Sorkin also said: “I don’t want my fideli­ty to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling.”
Seri­ous­ly. Sorkin actu­al­ly said that. He doesn’t care about the truth.

Hold on, this is supposed to be some kind of scoop? Is Manjoo really, seriously under the impression that he’s somehow nailed Sorkin as a fraud with this quote?

I’m appalled to think so, but it seems to be the case.

I’m almost embarrassed to have to spell this out, but perhaps it’s necessary. Movies, theatre, television, what have you; even when these things are produced with actual historical occurrences as their bases, their end goal will almost never, ever be to merely report the facts as they happened. Rather, the prime objective of artists will always be to make the best possible art, to tell the best possible story. Sometimes that will mean sticking closely to historical fact, sometimes it will mean veering sharply away from reality. But Sorkin is 100 percent correct. His fidelity is not, and should not be, to the “truth,” the facts, but to realizing something special with that particular work, a something from which its own truth emerges.

How Apple Likes To See Journalism Practiced:

Orson Welles on the Art of Acting: ‘There is a Villain in Each of Us’ | Open Culture:

An actor, said Orson Welles, creates a truthful performance by looking into his or her own character and selectively taking things away. “There is a villain in each of us, a murderer in each of us, a fascist in each of us, a saint in each of us, and the actor is the man or woman who can eliminate from himself those things which will interfere with that truth.”
Running Spoleto Diary | Charlie:

Easily the best thing I’ve seen so far this Spoleto. There is something astounding about one man who can monologue to you for two hours straight, make you laugh to the point of tears, make you silent with grief, and leave you with profound revelations that will leave you thinking for days and more likely years to come. Kudos to Mike Daisey. From hilarious rants about Power Point and the tech-obsessed geek in all of us, to revelations about corporate suicides and poignant metaphors like blood rising up from your Mac keyboard, he perfectly balances the tale of brilliance versus evil in a way that makes you want to go home and Google the hell out of Apple. And of course, therein lies the irony.
mike clay // blog:

Do I think that Mike Daisey achieved more than any news article ever did? Yes. Will I go to watch a Mike Daisey show again? Absolutely. Great storytelling is hard to find. We should cherish those that would use their talents in the service of great art and a noble cause. It’s worth mentioning that while his account was factually inaccurate … the reality remains. Working conditions in China are awful. They will continue to be, until we demand otherwise.
Technology - Brian Fung - Apple's WWDC Keynote Was All About China - The Atlantic:

Back in the United States, products that are or aren't mentioned as part of a keynote are almost always analyzed after the fact as an indication of where Apple's headed next. iOS is integrated with Twitter and Facebook! Does that mean Apple is deliberately snubbing Google+? And that's totally fair. As befits a keynote, the products are supposed to take center stage. But this time, where Apple goes next won't be a device, or even a revolutionary app. It's a place.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Mike Daisey and the (re)Orient Express | Spoletobuzz:

If Daisey's audience had hoped for yet another mea culpa from him, they got one. As a bonus, they got a retina-burning glimpse of what it means to become a bit player in the public story of your life.

Daisey spoke for nearly two and a half hours. Approaching the 120 minute mark (we were still in Vienna), some people left the theater. There aren't many laughs in the tale of how a person whose life is all about story suddenly loses his sense of self when that story is torn away. Daisey said the scandal broke him in half. Sewing himself back together meant confronting some fiercely defining moments.


Thursday, June 07, 2012

He Ain’t No Daisy, That’s for Sure | CharlestonToday:

Lord knows we need light cast on our truth, and it is certainly entertaining when someone does it for us. It is also unsettling. Not just to see ourselves like that, but to see someone else—Mike—go through the process right in front of us. Combined audience reactions of shock, relief, consternation, and humor were all palpable even in the dark theatre. It felt at times like having group therapy while watching one person negotiate his own session of psychoanalysis, if that’s what it was.

It seemed so, but then, even as Mike said at one point: “I’m just making all this bullshit up as I go.” And then adding: “If you don’t know that all stories are fiction, you haven’t been paying attention to how the world is put together.”

Mike relishes in realizing this and then telling the world about it. Like a comic, he peels off layers of our mutually self-imposed illusions about life. But unlike a comic, he does it with a directness that is startling, uncompromising, and sometimes ugly. This is bold stuff and the line he tries to navigate between our illusions, the truth, and his own fabrications is so delicate—dangerous, really—that his self-made project is just as likely to fail (as it did recently with his “scandal”) as fly into marvelous territory.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Dozens arrested after riot at Foxconn plant in Chengdu|

Hundreds of Foxconn employees living in a dormitory at the company's plant in Chengdu in southwestern China clashed with security staff on Monday evening, reportedly taking advantage of a minor disturbance to address prior grievances.

The world's largest electronic contract manufacturer called in the police to calm down the crowd and dozens of those who took part in the disturbance were arrested, according to Molihua, a news website advocating democracy and human rights in China.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Town Hall's Memorial to Gloria Leonidas | Slog:

The memorial is called Only Light, and it's inspired by something said by Dr. King: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." The memorial is also inspired by Leonidas's work: she was an expert in the field of lighting.

In a statement from Town Hall, Executive Director Wier Harman says the memorial is intended "shine our light—metaphorically and literally—in commemoration of Ms. Leonidas' life... A light directed outward from our building also symbolizes our gaze, and our witness last Wednesday. It seems especially fitting since one of Ms. Leonidas' contributions to our community is the light she left behind, both literally, in her work, and in the many lives she touched.”

Town Hall is hosting a conversation about the recent spate of shootings in Seattle with Mayor Mike McGinn, council member Bruce Harrell, and others on June 18. They will "discuss issues of public safety, gun control, mental illness, gangs, community response, and especially how a city heals itself after such tragedies."
» Arts Management professor Jeanette Guinn discusses the life and works of Mike Daisey Arts Management at College of Charleston:

CofC Arts Management professor Jeanette Guinn is the co-host of ETV Radio’s Spoleto Today, produced with the help of Arts Management students in Simons room 101. This week, she had an interesting conversation with monologuist Mike Daisey regarding his work and some of the highlights and scandals of his career as an orator.

The full interview is available as a podcast here.

Monday, June 04, 2012

the other side of the glass is half empty
wynwood graffiti
(A)Waking Up to the Depressive's Fantasy - Parabasis:

Perhaps this is why, in my experience, stories are so much more engrossing when I’m depressed. Since I was a kid, narratives have worked in this way for me—imaginative play also works really well as a dissociative tool, it turns out. I don’t remember many details of my dad’s crazy alcoholic behavior, but I remember writing stories in school (much to my parents’ chagrin) about a drunk driver. When I was 22, and getting sober myself, I was so obsessed with Buffy that I would dream about Sunnydale. Part of the experience of being in the oppressively convincing closed system of depression is having another closed system into which you might be transported.
In Seattle, Cory Booker Aces His "Probation Speech" | Slog:

Booker listed President Obama's accomplishments (DADT, health care reform, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, job creation) in a fiery call-and-response that had the crowd on their feet. People were shouting for President Obama, but they were clamoring for him, too. "Hope is Barack Obama," Booker said, and "Change is..." he paused and in the silence someone in the audience shouted "Cory Booker!" "Change is us," Booker said. "l'll tell you why I’m a Democrat," he said. "Because this is the party that understands that we the people aren’t done yet. We can’t be conservative because there’s nothing to conserve yet. There’s work to do in America."

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Weekly Wrap: Tim Cook, a WWDC keynote, and a whole lot of how-to's - PC Advisor:

Also this week, Apple formally announced that a keynote of some sort will kick off its Worldwide Developers Conference later in June, but didn't provide any indication of whom will be speaking or what they might talk about. My money is on Mike Daisey leading a discussion about the Newton, but I've been wrong before.
It's gonna be a nice day

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Gertrude West has written a timeline of this kerfuffle with Swisher and Mossberg that happened this week. I addressed this on Twitter with West, but I thought I'd say a little more here.

Why did Daisey ensure he would antagonize Swisher and Mossberg by calling them hacks? Twitter made him do it.

This isn't some masterful strategy that ensures anything—I was simply pissed, for reasons that are clear in the post. And I think you can argue about whether such language is called for, etc. but if you don't know that I'm a provocative person at this point, you aren't paying attention.

And Twitter didn't "make me". But I think we all know how Twitter encourages brevity, and if you write something and want people to read it, it also encourages a degree of intensity. That's why I'm writing this here, where there's room.

Shortly before midnight AllThingsD announced that video highlights of the Cook event were posted on the AllThingsD website. One highlight was the full exchange about Apple’s involvement with manufacturing in China. This video contains significant information that wasn’t caught in the live-blog, including Cook’s reference to extensive documentation about Apple’s oversight of its suppliers posted on

And I reviewed the video once it was up, and if I had been wrong about their questioning I would have eaten crow and retracted my condemnation—I do know how to retract, after all.

The problem here is that West hasn't followed the entire Apple/Foxconn struggle, which as been going on since 2006, closely. The existence of Supplier Responsibility Reports in no way obviates the NYT investigation findings, or the NPR follow up findings where they revealed Apple inspected the iPad factory that exploded the day it exploded, and that the inspection lasted a total of ten minutes.

Nothing Cook says in that conversation changes the lack of bite in the questioning. I didn't raise issues with Cook's responses, because he's doing just what you'd expect—he's speaking up for his company, focusing on what they are doing, and spinning things positively. It's the interviewers' responsibilities to ask questions that compel, and they had ample specifics to draw from. I wasn't vague—in my post I talked specifically about the kinds of questions that could be asked, and how the opportunity had been squandered, and why this matters.

At this point something truly remarkable happened. Noam Cohen of the New York Times wrote about this conflict for the NYT’s Media Decoder blog using Daisey’s two blog posts as his primary source. Cohen ignored the video clips of Cook on the AllThingsD website and the wealth of information on the Apple website. Instead he repeated what Daisey had written, casting Daisey in the role of hero in the process.

I don't know how we know how Cohen wrote his post, but like I've said—if you have followed any of this, the "wealth of information" on the Apple site isn't a magic ticket that excludes one from hard questions in the least. And the video does not show hard questions that connect directly to the investigations that have been done—they just airily refer to "critics", which, they state, some are "fictional".

Poynter chimed in with a lament (based on the live-blog not the video) that Swisher and Mossberg hadn’t followed up on a January NYT article about conditions at Apple’s Chinese supplier’s factories. Andrew Beaujon would like to know more about them. He just doesn’t want to have to personally go to the trouble of checking to see what information is available at and

Again, I don't know why we know what Beaujon looked at, because the video and materials on Apple's site doesn't change the contention that the questions were soft. Others on Twitter, including the EIC of Ars Technica, let me know that they had been having the same conversation about the quality of the questioning. The story found some legs because its central contention resonates with people, because it's real and matters.

As an aside, SACOM just released a report at the end of the week on Foxconn's working conditions, contending that Apple's efforts are largely PR and that they aren't seeing movement on the ground in wages and improved conditions.

The one new piece of data that came out of Rob Schmidt's week-long series inside Foxconn was that workers weren't seeing the raises they had been promised.

You aren't reading about that in most tech sites, because almost no one picked it up.

These questions matter.
Upper Dentdale Valley, Yorkshire Dales (Explored)

Friday, June 01, 2012

Mike Daisey presents a bold, updated performance of his infamous work. | Charleston City Paper:

When it came to the scenes that were at the heart of the whole TAL scandal, Daisey presented them almost as they had been originally, and it was strange hearing him say those same words that had incurred the wrath of Glass in what was practically an NPR interrogation (who knew public radio was capable of such things?) As Daisey related after the show in his conversation with CBS's Martha Teichner, he and his collaborator and partner Jean-Michele Gregory cut the contested material — only about six minutes out of the two-hour show — and added in more than they removed. That added material, which addresses the controversy in a subtle, yet effective way, is some of the strongest in the monologue. "Why listen to me?" Daisey asks, after relating some of the horrendous conditions he saw at Foxconn in Shenzhen. "Maybe it's not true." Maybe, he continues, our iPhones and iPads and laptops are made by a happy bunch of Oompa Loompas who just love assembling tiny parts over and over and over again. And then he gets deadly serious. "We know it's true. It's just that we will do anything not to see it."

In that sentence is Daisey's victory, and our shame. Because he's right, isn't he? Who in America isn't aware that industrial working conditions in China seem to run the gamut from highly unfair to downright abusive? Who hasn't heard of the deadly chemical exposure, the collapses from over-work, the grimy cement-block dormitories? Hearing him speak those words with the conviction that he does forces a confrontation with the true heart of the TAL debacle. What do we think matters more: details such as the precise number of factory workers Daisey spoke to, or the working conditions that now are on their way to being improved? Daisey's passion and conviction make the obsessive fact-checking that TAL's Glass and his team undertook seem like nitpicking (especially since Teichner and CBS also independently verified many of his claims for a special in early 2012, and found no fabrications). It makes the Glass that we heard grilling Daisey for 15 excruciating minutes seem like that petty bully, oblivious to the greater questions of truth and fiction that were playing out right under his nose.

It is a testament to his skill as a monologist that Daisey is able to take the scandal, which burned red-hot for weeks, and turn it on its head. Though Daisey may not see it this way, the controversy was a real gift: it pushed both him and his audience members into thinking more deeply about the nature of truth, which seems to grow more elusive the older we get. So often, we do our best not to see it. So often, truth is more than just the facts — it's the human drama that emerges from our interactions with each other, our memories, our own intuitive knowledge.

Aiguille de Midi at Sunset (Explored)
Review: Mike Daisey’s ‘Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs’ is superb | The Post and Courier:

Mike Daisey is a force of nature. There are few performers in the world who can hold an audience captive simply by telling a story behind a desk. Someone who can work a story deep into your subconscious and invite true insight is even more rare.

The question is not, should you participate in such an event, but should you miss the opportunity. Would you miss the chance to see Muhammad Ali box? Springsteen sing? Baryshnikov dance?

The TPM Interview: Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz | TPM Idea Lab:

Q: Has Daisey’s monologue had any positive impact on understanding Apple’s manufacturing practices?

A: I think his monologue has raised awareness about factory conditions in China, but it hasn’t improved the understanding of the issue. There’s a big difference. Now that more people seem to be aware of the issue, I think the next natural step if they remain interested in this, is to inform themselves as much as they can. I recommend that they read some of the great nonfiction books out there about this topic. Leslie T. Chang’s ‘Factory Girls’ is one of them. Leslie, a former Wall Street Journal Beijing Bureau Chief, spent a couple of years with factory workers both at their factories and in their home villages. ‘Country Driving’ by New Yorker writer Peter Hessler is also a great book. The third part of that book is set in a family-owned factory in Zhejiang. Peter also spent years reporting this. It’s some of my favorite writing on China, period.
Alpine Storm over Mont Blanc (Explored)
Mobile Opportunity: Fear and Loathing and Windows 8:

Windows 8 is also designed with tablet-like tasks in mind. Productivity and information creation tasks are compromised to make the OS more attractive for content consumption. Microsoft was very explicit about this in some of its online commentary (link):

"People, not files, are the center of activity. There has been a marked change in the kinds of activities people spend time doing on the PC. In balance to “traditional” PC activities such as writing and creating, people are increasingly reading and socializing, keeping up with people and their pictures and their thoughts, and communicating with them in short, frequent bursts. Life online is moving faster and faster, and people are progressively using their PCs to keep up with and participate in that. And much of this activity and excitement is happening inside the web browser, in experiences built using HTML and other web technologies."

Let me translate that for you: "We're optimizing Windows for using Facebook and YouTube at the expense of performing productivity tasks." Which is fine; it's a design choice Microsoft is free to make. But it's going to have an impact on the large base of people trying to get work done with a PC.