Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Silly's Poisoned Fruit

WITHOUT A DOUBT, the most useful object in the Professor's pocket is an iPhone, which is not only a beautiful and seductively tactile device but perhaps the greatest boon technology has yet granted. Allowing that Vodafone is cooperating (a dubious proposition), there must be barely a spot on the planet within spitting distance of a paved road where this astonishing and elegant device cannot bring the entire world within easy reach. Stock prices, driving instructions, music, emails and revenue-camera warnings, the iPhone delivers all those things and many others with superb efficiency.

It was distressing therefore to be told some months ago by the Silly's technology guru, reporter Asher Moses, that the Professor's great delight was borne of Apple's indifference to the plight of the Chinese workers, including children, who assembled it in a Dickensian sweatshop. Apple has always denied this charge, but to little effect. Here is how Asher began his expose of the late Steve Jobs' exploitation of his subcontractor's workers:

... Mike Daisey has a message for Australian Apple fans: open your eyes.

For the past 15 months or so Daisey been touring the world stunning audiences with his two-hour tale of the appalling conditions and underage labour that goes into making our iPhones, iPods and iPads. The show, the Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs has been running since Saturday at the Sydney Opera House and is due to conclude on Sunday.

Nor was young Asher alone in sticking it to Jobs and Apple. Silly reviewer Jason Blake attended one of those Opera House performances and dutifully repeated all the charges Daisey dispensed from the stage. Here is a sample:

His description of his visit to the vast and secretive Foxconn factory (which hit the headlines last year after a spate of worker suicides) dovetails unnervingly with his treatise on the technological sealing of Apple's products. We've made a two-part deal with the devil, it seems; one that binds us to (and in no small way supports) a despotic regime, while cleaving us ever closer to corporations promising creative freedom and endless play, but only on their terms.

As Blake notes, audience members were so moved some spoke of wanting to fling their iPhones off the promenade at Circular Quay.

Let us hope they restrained themselves because it turns out the lionised Daisey is a liar, a fraud and a slandering scoundrel, as an investigation of his claims by America's National public Radio has established beyond doubt.

It did not take much work to uncover Daisey's deceptions. Moreover, as NPR's investigation mentions in passing, China-based journalists were dubious about his "reporting" from the very start. Shouldn't an Australian technology reporter have been similarly wary? Shouldn't Asher have cast at least a semi-sceptical eye over Daisey's more outlandish assertions?

A good newspaper would wish to publish an apology for its gullibility in printing such nonsense which, it must be said, meshed very nicely with the Silly's institutional inclination to believe big companies are evil by definition.

A good newspaper would do that, but it is the Silly we are talking about, so open the book on that proposition as no better than an even-money bet.

UPDATE: It seems young Moses invests his faith in all sorts of scams and charlatans. Such is his credulity he probably believes he is employed by a reputable newspaper. Oh, and by the way, when you click above, do make a point to visit all the other links. There is a fascinating study of how the Silly publishes nonsense and, when caught out, makes the ofending story vanish.


  1. Don't despair, the News Media Council will hold them to account.

  2. If they acknowledged one scam artist, they'd have to start acknowledging them all.

  3. The mendacious Mike Daisy (in an echo of the duplicitous Peter Gleick) says, “I’m not going to say that I didn’t take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard.”
    See, it’s all right to lie, deceive and fabricate (or just “take a few shortcuts”) when, like the propagandists of Global Warmism, it’s for a Good Cause. Also, he’s passionate which is always a Good Thing—unless, of course, evil right-wingers are being passionate.
    Professor, you make the mistake—and I too admit to this fault—of exalting masculine, Aristotelian reason over emotion. We must learn to care less about facts and more about feelings and the vibe of the thing.

    1. Yep. Been saying that too, Deadman. The right should preface their reasoning with touchy feely BS. It works on morons.

  4. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.March 17, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Why bother with facts, Prof, when you can be an inventive 'new journalist' and have other journalists of a non-inquiring frame of mind run with your 'story'?

    These beat-ups are never properly retracted, and a whole gullible section of the population then votes with a head full of invented tosh (and a few lost iPhones). The answer is not some Pinky Finkie regulation, so misapplied it wouldn't prevent tosh anyway but do other harms. The answer is in a more truthfully accountable, more analytic, freer press, where the tosh is decibelled as such.

  5. I managed to severely offend someone the other day, who had bought some HTC phone because "I couldn't buy an iphone after reports of what happens in Foxconn". He did not appreciate being told that his HTC phone was no doubt made in the same factory, but that is OK as his phone wasn't cool.


    1. Excellent put down. Well done.

  6. Asher Moses has always been credulous:

  7. Yawn.....

    Welcome to the labour Market, Chinese.

    I don't believe this is Chinese govt enforced slave labour.

    If Chinese don't want to work for Steve Jobs, they don't have to.

    Easy peecy.

    Guessing many Indians will be ecstatic for the chance.