Monday, August 27, 2012

Is this really Mitt Romney talking about China? I don't know. Certainly sounds like him. What matters is that no one will deny the grim reality of the Chinese factories being described.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Julian C. Dunn » Blog Archive » Should we feel bad about working conditions at FoxConn?:

In the intervening years, we in America have decided that such harsh conditions are no longer acceptable. We’ve enacted laws to ensure that such conditions will no longer be inflicted on Americans. That’s why it will take over a quarter century to build the full Second Avenue subway: because we now believe in safety, reasonable working conditions, and, of course, consultative urban planning. But back to the case of Apple products: if we, as an “developed” nation have the power to choose how our products — products that we invented — are manufactured, why would we instead export the harsh working conditions instead of that standard of life?

I think I know the answer, and it’s an uncomfortable one. We’re happy to exploit others when we don’t see them as ourselves. Whether that be Chinese migrant workers, or Lower East Side immigrants slaving away on the subways at the turn of the 20th century, it’s easier to justify turning a blind eye when you can reap the rewards without being the one getting your hands dirty.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rebecca Greenfield racks up an impressive body count of errors, omissions, and glossing-overs in a single paragraph of her ridiculous post, whose point is to tally up a scorecard on whether Tim Cook is AWESOME, or SUPER-MEGA-AWESOME.

No, really. That's what she's assessing.

From the piece's one paragraph on Apple's labor:

For the first time, Apple worked with the Fair Labor Associated for factory audits.

False. Apple worked with Verite in 2006 when it authorized outside auditing, after the Daily Mail and many others exposed horrible labor practices at Foxconn. The fact that Apple ignored Verite's reports and paid only lip service to making any changes for six years is routinely ignored by tech press.

Greenfield's defense might be that this is technically true—after all, they had never worked with the FLA before…just another company who did exactly the same thing six years earlier, in a PR effort that was largely successful at silencing coverage.

It put out a report of its suppliers for the first time, too.

Actually, what it did was supply a list of its suppliers, but then hide which suppliers had committed which infractions, making the list useless for actually trying to hold the suppliers to account. But as a PR move it was successful, as evidenced by how it gets repeated by Ms. Greenfield and her colleagues in posts like this one.

But, not all of it made Apple look that great -- the suppliers report showed some unfortunate child labor.

Only in tech writing can child labor be demoted to "unfortunate", rather than barbaric, inhumane, or ghastly. "Unfortunate" is how I feel about Ms Greenfield's analysis—child labor should be on a higher level of outrage, though perhaps this is just a tech writer allowing her biases to show.

The report from the FLA, which Ms. Greenfield completely omits in this summing up, indicting Foxconn for severe overtime issues, dangerous work conditions, management colluding to prevent workers from having representation. Mysteriously, none of these more comprehensive findings make their way into this summary—she instead cribs from Apple's own reports months earlier.

And, it had some positive effects for Foxconn workers, who got raises.

Except that, per the latest SACOM reports and Rob Schmitz's reporting, independent signs of workers getting those raises on the ground have been nonexistent.

This is, sadly, typical in tech coverage.

Some have been asking me when I'm going to address the FLA report that came out this week assessing Foxconn. The answer is soon—unlike most of the press, I am reading the report and working through it, and this takes a little while.
Sipping on Fire
Rounding up the variety series contenders - Entertainment News, Emmy Features, Media - Variety:

"Real Time With Bill Maher"


• Mike Daisey appears to discuss his one-man show about the harsh conditions in which Apple products are made. Granted, this is before "This American Life" debunked parts of Daisey's story, but the chat is still iOpening.

Fear of a Black President - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic:

While Beck and Limbaugh have chosen direct racial assault, others choose simply to deny that a black president actually exists. One in four Americans (and more than half of all Republicans) believe Obama was not born in this country, and thus is an illegitimate president. More than a dozen state legislatures have introduced “birther bills” demanding proof of Obama’s citizenship as a condition for putting him on the 2012 ballot. Eighteen percent of Republicans believe Obama to be a Muslim. The goal of all this is to delegitimize Obama’s presidency. If Obama is not truly American, then America has still never had a black president.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A portal for two [Explore]
Is Apple Supplier Foxconn Finally Giving Its Workers a Fair Shake?:

Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, which monitors worker conditions in factories overseas, said that it is unlikely that Foxconn could have solved its institutional problems in so short a time.

“The FLA’s position, as we understand it, is that it’s fine for Foxconn to continue violating overtime labor laws if they promise to clean it up by some time next year,” Nova told ReadWriteWeb. “And we don’t think that’s reasonable. Apple and Foxconn should obey the law, now.”

Nova also said that the reforms proposed by the FLA omit “the long track record of harsh, psychologically abusive management practices at the factories. There are no meaningful recommendations in that regard, and very likely no progress.” Nova also said he also doubted that allowing the workers the freedom to associate, form worker groups or unions and collectively bargain would occur in any meaningful sense.

“It’s hard not to be skeptical of a report that says that Foxconn has hit every single one of its commitments and done so ahead of schedule,” Nova said. “That is a radical departure of a decade-long track record at Foxconn.”
Crete - Agia Triada Tsangarlon Monastery
GROGNARDIA: Pulp Fantasy Library: Quest of the Starstone:

While C.L. Moore created numerous characters over the course of her decades-long writing career, her two most popular creations are the medieval French warrior Jirel of Joiry and the futuristic ne'er-do-well Northwest Smith. I've written about both of them before in this space and with good reason. I consider both Jirel and N.W. to be among the most memorable characters of pulp fantasy, right up there with John Carter and Conan. These characters are not only interesting in their own rights, but very influential to boot, becoming prototypes for later fantasy and science fiction characters (It's pretty clear, for example, that Northwest Smith served as a significant inspiration for George Lucas's Han Solo).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
John Biggs, our old friend, writing for TechCrunch:

Apple has done more to change the face of Asian manufacturing than any hardware company. The constant refrain of “Cheaper, faster, less regulation” was completely upset by Apple’s power and the subsequent criticism that their role in the industry forced them to accept. Apple, by dint of being the largest and most lucrative customer for many of these factories, forced the factories to change.

Hold your horses!

I love how tech journalists accuse me of being dramatic—I do work in the theater, after all—but then go on to make hyperbolic statements unsupported by what we know.

I'd love for the above statement to be true, but I'd also love it if tech journalists did some journalism to confirm the blanket assertion that Apple has changed everything.

In fact, at this point what we have is a lot of great PR efforts from Apple, but we simply don't know how Apple's efforts are faring, or how sincerely Foxconn is implementing those measures.

The only independent reports are SACOM saying that there has been
no significant change on the ground with regard to Foxconn's practices, and the only piece of new information Rob Schmitz's time in Foxconn brought us is that workers he was speaking to saw nothing changing with their wages.

Two negatives and a great silence don't add up to a transformed workplace.

Love them or hate them, Apple changed manufacturing for the better.

More accurately: Apple promised, as it did years ago in 2006, to change manufacturing for the better.

Six years later we are still waiting for them to finally fulfill that original promise.

Making a default assumption from reading Apple's PR and assuming that Foxconn's manufacturing has reformed, especially when the only information independently coming back says the opposite, is at best naive.

Tech journalists are exactly the people who can hold this company to account and discover these answers.
I hope they will.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Flying High
The Oatmeal's Latest Fundraiser To Save The Tesla Tower - Forbes:

Wardenclyffe Tower is rich in history, a symbolic landmark of Nikola Tesla’s last great piece of scientific research that was in Tesla’s mind, destined to change the world.

I sat down with The Oatmeal for this Forbes exclusive to discuss his Tesla passion, ambitious campaign plans, and his motivation to attempt to execute such a massive fundraising goal.

Edinburgh festival: day 11 on the fringe | Stage |

So it's all the more intriguing to see the piece (Daisey has made it available to be performed for free and there have been around 30 productions worldwide) when it's being performed by an actor – Grant O'Rouke, very good – as it is at the Gilded Balloon during the festival. The strange thing is that seeing it acted in no way detracts from its considerable power. As Joyce Macmillian comments here , it remains a frighteningly timely piece of work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


There can be little debate at this point that tech journalists dropped the ball on Foxconn. The NYTimes walked in and ran
an incredible story in January after years and years of clear signs that there were incredible stories that needed telling throughout China’s SEZs, stories about our tools and how they are made, and tech journalists were at best gormlessly ignorant, and at worst, calculatedly self-interested in not rocking the boat.

The few pieces of tech journalism that even touched on Chinese labor issues before the NYT expose were laughable. The largest by far was WIRED, running
a full cover story specifically on labor issues at Foxconn.


I remember when hearing that this was happening that I was elated—finally, someone in tech journalism was going to stand up, in arguably one of tech journalism’s premiere outlets, and give an accounting.

I was naive.

WIRED ran a cover story in which a journalist visited Foxconn, a company with an appalling record on labor, and never interviewed a single actual worker.

Think on that for a moment—they went all the way there, expressly to tell a story about labor, and no workers are in the story who perform that labor.

Not a quote. Not a voice. Nothing.


Amazingly, other tech journalists swallowed that hook, line and sinker—when the story appeared in early 2011, it raised no flags with anyone in tech journalism. It told a story they wanted to hear—there may be problems, but hey, what are you going to do? It gave them the excuse that they never needed to care, a narrative that has been carefully massaged and defended, because it makes for good business.

In light of everything that has followed, from the
NYTimes pieces on Foxconn’s manufacturing chain, to the FLA audits from just a few months ago, it should be clear just how wrong this article was. It’s a great example of printing something that is eminently factcheckable, but absolutely fails to tell the truth.

Today we are at a crossroads. Tech journalists can no longer pretend that they don’t know about the state of Chinese manufacturing—the last eight months have destroyed that illusion, which was *always* an illusion—I read the NGO reports, which existed years before, and so could all the other tech journalists.

This story has always been in their court. Always.

Today Apple has paid for audits that showed horrible conditions in its supply lines, which it then
pledged to reform. As of late May, SACOM’s reports indicate that nothing has substantially changed for workers on the ground in that supply chain.

That is a story.

Last week China Labor Watch released
an extensive report about child labor in Samsung’s supply chain. It included interviews with child workers, accounts of incredibly excessive hours and terrible conditions.

That is a story.

The hard work of these NGOs on the ground have given tech journalists a chance to prove that they can do the right thing.

Look—I know a little something about this.

It’s hard to admit when you’ve fallen short. It’s hard to face that you need to apologize, and then stand up, dust yourself off, and get to work telling the stories that need telling.

It’s not easy. It would be easier to not do it, I know that. But you are journalists, and if I’ve had one thing pounded into me, again and again over these months it's how sacred and special and important your profession is.

Prove it. Admit to yourselves that you missed that story, understand why you missed it, see that it’s an even bigger story now, and start digging.

I dug. You can laugh and jeer at me, but I paid my way and went to China and I tried. I reached out to tech journalists and foreign correspondents and they all ignored me. And so I made my own path.

You have more resources than I have ever had. Show us all how it is done.

Please go do your jobs.

It’s possible I didn’t need to write this—perhaps there are tech journalists that are on the case, right now, investigating Samsung. Maybe tech journalists are looking askance at Apple’s reforms, and pulling together plans to deeply assess them. Hopefully others are doing longer pieces about the whole landscape of Chinese tech manufacturing.

I hope that is true. I really do.

But I’m publishing this today so that you know you are on the clock. Investigations take time and resources—you think I don’t know that, but I do. You’ll need to organize, seek out sources, do the careful, painstaking, often-boring work of real journalism.

But between the Apple story and its aftermath, and the Samsung story, there’s no excuses left. If tech journalism, as a field, refuses to cover this story—the world is going to know it. And each and every one of you is going to know it, too.

I want to be wrong about this.

I sincerely wish you good luck.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ran across this on a blog talking about solo performance:

The other thing about this article that struck me is how as solo performers we may self-cannibalize our material (think Mike Daisey referencing his Maine childhood in every piece...). As solo performers this can happen easily, since we often draw on personal stories for our content. The troubles of Jonah Lehrer, whatever you may think of his situation, serve as a sort of cautionary tale.

I disagree. Strongly.

In classic tech parlance, this is a feature of storytelling—not a bug.

It can be hard when the dominant tropes of our time are journalism in all its forms, but storytelling is supposed to tell and retell stories—which is the proper term for it, as opposed to "self-plagarization" or "self-cannibalism" or any other hideous phrases that come laden with shame, judgment, and finger-wagging.

When I bring up Maine in my pieces, it isn't an accident or a terrible flaw that I'm mysteriously unaware of—it's a choice. It's a musical phrase that gets repeated, with different light casting across it in different directions. I have told the same story from my life in three or four different pieces, some only performed once, and in each case the story is totally different, depending on context, what elements are shaded and heightened, what is told and untold.

Stories aren't a limited resource that need to be conserved. That path leads to psychic hoarding, and the sick idea that our lives are "material". Our lives are life itself, and we retell stories every day. If there's anything that requires a cautionary tale in solo performance, it's the idea that we will run out of stories. That idea is incredibly dangerous, because it cuts us off from our roots.

Repeating a story in new ways, resaying a line from a past show, using something that resonates again and again should be weighed on the same scales that those "crimes" are weighed in the arena of jazz…namely, that they aren't crimes at all, and the idea that they are is so ludicrous that you'd laugh someone out of the room for bringing it up.

The real crime for storytelling is to fail our imaginations. And any orthodoxy—including one where one is beholden to not "using up" stories, or unnaturally fears running out of "material"—is the real enemy of great storytelling.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

It’s Paul Ryan’s Party -- Daily Intel:

In this sense, Ryan’s nomination represents an important historical marker and the completion of a 50-year struggle. Starting in the early sixties, conservative activists set out to seize control of the Republican Party. At the time the party was firmly in the hands of Establishmentarians who had made their peace with the New Deal, but the activists regarded the entire development of the modern regulatory and welfare states as a horrific assault on freedom bound to lead to imminent societal collapse. In fits and starts, the conservatives slowly advanced – nominating Goldwater, retreating under Nixon, nominating Reagan, retreating as Reagan sought to govern, and on and on through Gingrich, Bush, and his successors.

Over time the movement and the party have grown synonymous, and Ryan’s nominations represents a moment when the conservative movement ceased to control the politicians from behind the scenes and openly assumed the mantle of power.

Ryan's Record | Slog:

One last mammoth post from me and then I'm done for the morning. In sifting through the 290-page Ryan file I linked to last night, I saw that Paul Ryan has a highly consistent legislative record. He has voted against regulations of all kinds—environmental protections, work safety laws, controls on the banking, credit card, and health care industries—and against spending on things like food stamps, arts funding, Medicare, and infrastructure. He wants to decimate Pell Grants and he votes against education funding almost every time. He's strongly anti-abortion. He votes against protecting minorities and women—against The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, for example—but he votes for religion, arguing against the separation of church and state whenever possible. He claims to be for small government, but he votes for military spending a whole lot. He was against drawing down in Afghanistan, and he's for government wiretapping and the PATRIOT Act. The only real divergence from that record comes from his votes to bail out GM and his support for TARP, when the entire country was teetering on the edge of a Bush-inspired collapse.

Something that worries me, though, is Ryan has a disconcerting habit of completely denying the reality of his record, in a very convincing way. If a senior citizen asks Ryan about privatizing Medicare, he will toss a word salad that leaves the senior disoriented and convinced that he's actually for a stronger Medicare. He will force his interns to read Ayn Rand novels, tell everyone we're "living in an Ayn Rand novel," and even credit his entire life of public service to Ayn Rand, and then he will tell a crowded room with a straight face that his love for Ayn Rand is an "urban legend." Both of these contradictory truths are on the record.

John Carter (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

In 1931 Looney Tunes director Bob Clampett approached Edgar Rice Burroughs with the idea of adapting A Princess of Mars into a feature-length animated film. Burroughs responded enthusiastically, recognizing that a regular live-action feature would face various limitations to adapt accurately, so he advised Clampett to write an original animated adventure for John Carter. Working with Burroughs' son John Coleman Burroughs in 1935, Clampett used rotoscope and other hand-drawn techniques to capture the action, tracing the motions of an athlete who performed John Carter's powerful movements in the reduced Martian gravity, and designed the green-skinned, 4-armed Tharks to give them a believable appearance. He then produced footage of them riding their eight-legged Thoats at a gallop, which had all of their eight legs moving in coordinated motion; he also produced footage of a fleet of rocketships emerging from a Martian volcano. MGM was to release the cartoons, and the studio heads were enthusiastic about the series.

The test footage, produced by 1936, received negative reactions from film exhibitors across the U.S., especially in small towns; many gave their opinion that the concept of an Earthman on Mars was just too outlandish an idea for midwestern American audiences to accept. The series was not given the go-ahead, and Clampett was instead encouraged to produce an animated Tarzan series, an offer which he later declined. Clampett recognized the irony in MGM's decision, as the Flash Gordon movie serial, released in the same year by Universal Studios, was highly successful. He speculated that MGM believed that serials were only played to children during Saturday matinees, whereas the John Carter tales were intended to be seen by adults during the evening. The footage that Clampett produced was believed lost for many years, until Burroughs' grandson, Danton Burroughs, in the early 1970s found some of the film tests in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. archives.[19] Had A Princess of Mars been released, it may have preceded Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to become the first American feature-length animated film.

Romney/Ryan 2012 Means We'll Ignore The Biggest Issue of Our Time:

But attention is to an extent a zero-sum game. And focusing attention on the big-picture disagreement between Democrats and Republicans about long-term fiscal policy means we won't be focusing attention on what ought to be the most pressing economic policy issue of our time—mass unemployment and the tragic waste of human and economic potential it represents. To be sure, politicians will still talk about this. But obviously Obama would prefer at this point to talk about long-term vision and the contrast between his "balanced approach" and the GOP's cut-cut-cut approach. With Ryan on the ticket, he more and more gets his way. Which means conservatives also get their way. Romney doesn't just run as "Mr Fix-It" who'll clean up the mess, he's running as an ideological candidate with a major vision for changing the country. But that means the terrible economic performance since 2009 and the large jobs deficit built up during that period are going to receed further into the rearview mirror. Romney is essentially conceding that the past 18 months of 150,000 jobs per month are good enough to get Obama re-elected, and he needs to wage a campaign about something bigger.

Which means that, a bit weirdly, the issue that ought to dominate the campaign is going to fade into obscurity.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Howard Zinn With A Guitar? - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

The Remnick essay - imperfect and too uncritical - makes clear that whatever "message" Springsteen hopes to convey in his songs, he labors mightily not just to be serious, but to provide those moments of connection between artist and audience that allow us to slip out of the burdens of everydayness and enjoy glimpses of meaning and fullness. What else could Springsteen have meant, as he once sang, that he learned more from a three minute record than he ever learned in school?

All this reminds me of a line from the great N+1 essay about TNR's back of the magazine: "It confuses censoriousness with a faculty of judgment that links the aesthetic to the moral sense." That essay was titled "Designated Haters." This ultimately is what Wieseltier finds so detestable about Springsteen; he clings to hope rather than hate. The Boss is earnest. In an age of irony and near total skepticism, the perils of hope coming across as naive, un-serious, an empty form of consolation abound. If Springsteen proffers this hope, at times, in less than convincing ways, I will still choose it over a pose of condescension and contrived contrarianism.

NYPD, Microsoft Launch All-Seeing "Domain Awareness System" With Real-Time CCTV, License Plate Monitoring [Updated] | Fast Company:

Although NYPD documents indicate that the system is specifically designed for anti-terrorism operations, any incidental data it collects “for a legitimate law enforcement or public safety purpose” by DAS can be utilized by the police department. The NYPD will also share data and video with third parties not limited to law enforcement if either a subpoena or memorandum of understanding exists. The DAS system is headquartered in a lower Manhattan office tower in a command-and-control center staffed around the clock by both New York police and "private stakeholders." When this reporter visited, seats were clearly designated with signs for organizations such as the Federal Reserve, the Bank of New York, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, and CitiGroup.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Five Things to do at the Edinburgh Fringe: Wednesday August 8 - Edinburgh -

THE AGONY AND ECSTACY OF STEVE JOBS: Mike Daisey’s monologue will make you question what you thought you knew about one of the world’s greatest brands, Apple. One of the most talked about pieces of theatre from the United States. Gilded Balloon Teviot, 2.15pm £11 (£9), 0131-623 3030

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Rants News, Videos, Reviews and Gossip - Jalopnik:

There's also the very valid point that if humanity really wants to survive, space exploration is absolutely necessary. It's not just me saying this — a very respected wheeled scientist agrees. There's seven billion people on Earth now. Things are going to get pretty damn crowded soon, and it's going to be time to find some new real estate.

Colonization of space seems like a very pie-in-the-sky, sci-fi idea. I agree, it does. I was just thinking how it seems that way as I accessed a global knowledge network from a tiny device in my hand about a robot we just sent to Mars. Other people did this same thing while flying through the air, or cradling an infant who's embryo was implanted. With science. Things that seem sci-fi just aren't here yet.

There's No Reason to Be Afraid of Lena Dunham - Entertainment - The Atlantic Wire:

We bring Lena Dunham up at all because yesterday The New Yorker published an essay that Dunham wrote about an ex-boyfriend, and the sight of a personal, Thought Catalog-esque piece written by Lena freakin' Dunham in the hallowed pages of The New Yorker certainly outraged some. She's back in the conversation right now, so let's once and for all deal with her. Well, not "deal with her," that sounds kind of sinister. What I mean to say is, let's just all accept the fact that Lena Dunham is part of a particular kind of establishment now so we can all stop trying to figure out what Lena Dunham says about the way we live now.

Yes. Lena Dunham, a smart and talented white woman who grew up in New York City with substantial privilege, has become part of the rarefied world of the literati and the taste-makers and that's where she will stay. Or maybe she always existed in that world — she was sort of born into it after all — and the past six months has just been her official induction ceremony. So we should not bother ourselves trying to mold her to shape the narratives of our more alarmist arguments. She is not ours to debate anymore. They, big bespoke They, have got her.

Meaning, Lena Dunham is now the spokesperson for The New Yorker. She's making Tim and Eric-esque shorts with the likes of Jon Hamm and is likely doing it less for the money and more for the fact that The New Yorker asked her to. Because she's Lena Dunham. And that's what Lena Dunham does now. She's shilling, but it's for a good cause.

And whether she's shilling or not, for money or not, is kind of a moot point. Why are we griping on and on about the perceived Lena Dunham economy? We didn't complain about characters on Friends sometimes being broke, like the girls on Girls, even though everyone who worked on Friends was doing pretty darn well in real life. Sure Girls may have slightly higher intellectual ambitions than Friends and thus gets held to a stricter standard of, well, let's call it honesty, but come on. Lena Dunham makes a well-reviewed television show for an expensive premium network with the guy who did Knocked Up. We're not talking about Marina Abramović here.
Ancient Pillars
Samsung China Assembler Employs Child Workers, Group Says - Bloomberg:

A Chinese company that assembles devices for Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) hired children at its production facilities and forced employees to work excessive hours, violating labor laws, China Labor Watch said in a report.

Seven children younger than 16 were working in the factory of HEG Electronics (Huizhou) Co. that makes phones and DVD players for Samsung, according to the report issued today. Child workers faced the “same harsh conditions” as adults and were paid only 70 percent of the wages of other workers, according to the New York-based group, which said it conducted investigations in June and July.

MacNN | Apple responds to Honan iCloud hacking incident:

Apple has issued an official response to reports about Wired writer Mat Honan having his iCloud account broken into via AppleCare. "Apple takes customer privacy seriously and requires multiple forms of verification before resetting an Apple ID password," the company tells Wired. "In this particular case, the customer’s data was compromised by a person who had acquired personal information about the customer. In addition, we found that our own internal policies were not followed completely. We are reviewing all of our processes for resetting account passwords to ensure our customers’ data is protected."

Wired adds, though, that on Monday it successfully tried the same scheme on a different iCloud account. "This means, ultimately, all you need in addition to someone’s e-mail address are those two easily acquired pieces of information: a billing address and the last four digits of a credit card on file," the magazine explains. The person who cracked Honan's account did so by simply calling AppleCare and convincing a staffer to bypass security questions and ultimately reset Honan's iCloud login. Honan notes that the hacker destroyed a tremendous amount of his digital existence, although he takes some of the blame. "First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.
Review: Here Lies Henry/Interrobang Theatre Project | Newcity Stage:

Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor wrote “Here Lies Henry” in 1996, fifteen years prior to all of the Mike Daisey hoopla, yet the topical parallels are striking. Currently being performed in Chicago by Interrobang Theatre Project in a remount of their 2011 production, MacIvor’s play is an idiosyncratic rumination on the nature of the truth onstage. Is it even possible to tell the truth onstage? The fourth wall, that great dissembler of reality, is entirely removed by the playwright, though the piece, itself, is wholly fictional. With that invisible barrier shattered, Henry lies right in the face of the audience. Despite this obvious breach of trust, the audience sticks by his side. In part, this is because of the resonance of actor Michael Moran’s flawed likability, and also because of the unexpected profundity that escapes Henry’s mouth amidst the ceaseless babbling.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Apple co-founder Wozniak predicts ‘horrible problems’ with cloud computing | The Raw Story:

Wozniak, 61, was the star turn at the penultimate performance in Washington of “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” monologist Mike Daisey’s controversial two-hour expose of Apple’s labor conditions in China.

In a post-performance dialogue with Daisey and audience members, Wozniak held forth on topics as varied as public education (he once did a stint as a school teacher) and reality TV (having appeared on “Dancing with the Stars”).

But the engineering wizard behind the progenitor of today’s personal computer, the Apple II, was most outspoken on the shift away from hard disks towards uploading data into remote servers, known as cloud computing.

“I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” he said. “I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.”

He added: “With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away” through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.

“I want to feel that I own things,” Wozniak said. “A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.”

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Heretic - The Morning News:

In surveys administered shortly after their LSD-enhanced creativity sessions, the study volunteers, some of the best and brightest in their fields, sounded like tripped-out neopagans at a backwoods gathering. Their minds, they said, had blossomed and contracted with the universe. They’d beheld irregular but clean geometrical patterns glistening into infinity, felt a rightness before solutions manifested, and even shapeshifted into relevant formulas, concepts, and raw materials.

[The volunteers] remained firm: LSD absolutely had helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems.
But here’s the clincher. After their 5HT2A neural receptors simmered down, they remained firm: LSD absolutely had helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems. And the establishment agreed. The 26 men unleashed a slew of widely embraced innovations shortly after their LSD experiences, including a mathematical theorem for NOR gate circuits, a conceptual model of a photon, a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device, a new design for the vibratory microtome, a technical improvement of the magnetic tape recorder, blueprints for a private residency and an arts-and-crafts shopping plaza, and a space probe experiment designed to measure solar properties. Fadiman and his colleagues published these jaw-dropping results and closed shop.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Mike Daisey « Magic Time!:

Fact is, I finally realized, at some level I did feel a bit betrayed. So I was not planning to see his controversial Agony and Ecstasy when it returned modified to Woolly Mammoth. No hard feelings. I just wasn’t up to having my aficionado emotions toyed with.

Then I learned about a new piece Daisey was developing that he was going to perform free, one night only, The Orient Express (Or, the Value of Failure). Advance press said that in it he tackles the Agony and Ecstasy scandal head on. OMG. I had to be there.

I don’t want to give anything away, but with Value of Failure Daisey does something that is to my knowledge unprecedented on stage in the personal-ethical arena of honesty and accountability and in the public-political zone of belief and bamboozlement. If it comes to town again, just see it.

Why Jonah Lehrer Matters:

Correspondingly, there will be no appearance on Oprah, biopic, or protracted lawsuit following Lehrer's resignation from The New Yorker staff. Indeed, since the news broke on Monday, the issue is stabilizing and fading (though it could surely flare up again if other lies or thefts surface.) Though the recall of his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, will cost his publishing house a bit of scratch, neither they, nor The New Yorker will experience any serious fallout from these limited (if low and troubling) sins. Ultimately, Lehrer should be (and will be) the only one feeling pain here. And, yet, this revelation has sparked more sadness — within the industry and among readers — than outrage, a marked departure from how the public treated James Frey or Mike Daisey.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Pantalán frontal
On Bob Dylan And Jonah Lehrer, Two Fabulists : The Record : NPR:

This is the essence of the popular arts in America: Be a magpie, take from everywhere, but assemble the scraps and shiny things you've lifted in ways that not only seem inventive, but really do make new meanings. Fabrication is elemental to this process — not fakery, exactly, but the careful construction of a series of masks through which the artist can not only speak for himself, but channel and transform the vast and complicated past that bears him or her forward.

Integrity arises in the process of solidifying your relationship to those sources. For a journalist like Lehrer, there's a code, and he clearly violated it. An artist like Dylan shows us a different way of operating: of using insight not to shore up a myth of originality, but to connect to all the tall tales and ghost stories that establish a culture's character, to walk through a dreamscape whose atmosphere sticks to us and makes us who we are.

15 Minutes of Meaning for Jonah Lehrer - Alexis Madrigal - The Atlantic:

There's no way to escape that I, too, am fitting Lehrer into a pattern that I recognized long ago. Lehrer is a vessel for my idea, for your idea, for our ideas. And we can't help but excise, erase, or ignore the inconvenient human parts of that container: Cut down the mess, sand the rough edges, spackle the holes we don't understand or know. Which is, sadly and dumbly, what did Lehrer in.

This isn't a call to stop writing stories about what the Jonah Lehrer thing means. But I have a vision for what happens to us when we carve out the hard human parts of our stories' subjects. Attached to our scalpel is a bar that connects to a smaller scalpel poised against our own flesh. Like one of Kafka's machines, every time we slice someone, it slices us in the same place but not quite as deep and so quickly you hardly feel it. This may just be the nature of the journalism mechanism, but I worry most of us don't even know when we're bleeding.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Genre Who Caused All the Trouble: On Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine and Fabrication in Our New Media Age | HASTAC:

At the crux of the issue was that This American Life typically airs “true stories,” journalistic narratives that are “non-fiction. ” Daisey’s story was assumed to be "non-fiction" and "true" as well. Yet as a performance piece or as theater, Daisey argued, the show about Foxconn is still “true.” While it was wrong to air on This American Life Daisey responded, “…everything I have done in making this monologue for the theater has been toward that end – to make people care…” Daisey wanted people to care about the human rights violations and in order to do so he felt that he had to “fabricate.”

While both Daiseyand Lehrer’s stories are very different in scope, details, and context, they are similar not only because of the issue of fabrication but how they prompt questions on genre. I hestitate to take one side or the other and prefer to be in between camps. Because I wonder how troubling the line between fiction and nonfiction or journalism/theatre may further urge vital questions in our new media age.

Holding Up a Mirror to Journalism - The Media Equation -

But because it is the news business and the company in the sights is News Corporation, the offenders are seen as outliers. The hacking scandal has mostly been treated as a malady confined to an island, rather than a signature event in a rugged stretch for journalism worldwide. Collectively, the press in the United States put more time and effort into pulling back the blankets on the indiscretions of Herman Cain.

But journalism’s ills don’t live exclusively on Fleet Street or stop at British shores. While American newspapers don’t publish in the hypercompetitive landscape that played a role in the tabloid excesses in Britain, the growing ecosystem of Web and cable news shares many of the same characteristics and, all too often, its failings. Economic pressures have increased the urgency to make news and drive traffic, even as budgets have been cut and experienced news professionals tossed overboard.

There is no accusation here of a broad, corporate-sanctioned effort to break the law in pursuit of the news. But the pratfalls have been tough to miss, including fundamental lapses in ethics: Casey Anthony, accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, was acquitted of that offense in spite of significant evidence. When it was revealed that ABC News paid for most of her legal defense, through payments for exclusive photos, very few eyebrows were raised.

Public Theater Will Stage Wallace Shawn's The Designated Mourner And Premiere His Newest Play (FINALLY): Gothamist:

One of the most unforgettable experiences we've ever had was going to see Wallace Shawn's haunting play The Designated Mourner when it was presented in 2000 in a decaying old gentleman's club down on Wall Street. Shawn's prescient and bracing play, performed by Shawn, Larry Pine, and Shawn's longtime companion and brilliant writer Deborah Eisenberg, was spellbinding and, well, inconceivably intimate. It was staged for a laughably small audience of twenty, and as you climbed the old staircase to the second floor, Shawn himself was waiting at the top to greet you before the performance—more of an incantation, really—began.

The play, which concerns a dwindling group of liberal intellectuals struggling to endure under a brutal new regime, is widely considered Shawn's masterpiece. It's rarely performed in NYC, so we we're thrilled to report that The Public Theater, along with Theater for a New Audience, will finally revive it next June, with the original cast, under the direction of Shawn's longtime collaborator Andre Gregory. And the news gets better: the two theaters will also finally produce the NYC premiere of Shawn's first new play since The Designated Mourner, called Grasses of a Thousand Colors.

What We Monologue About When We Monologue About Monologues |:

I think the comparison between a well written monologue and a well written New Yorker article is apt. There’s a certain way in which both are often constructed, esoteric observations, descriptive metaphors, digressive anecdotes, and cold information jutting off like ribs from a central narrative spine made up of the author’s personal experiences on a trip to China or following a celebrity or researching Shakespeare or investigating the spread of Dengue fever. In some sense, it’s an ethnographical approach to storytelling; by inserting themselves into the narrative and subject matter, the author’s cultural biases and personal proclivities are made evident, making space in the narrative for matters of subjectivity and cultural relativity. But what’s so beautiful about the monologue is that, unlike just about any other narrative form, is that everything – its creation, presentation, and reception – happens at the same time, in front of the audience, in the same room, united within the single figure of the monologist.