Smoke on the Water

A freak, midday warm front descended upon the city so I went for a walk. The change in temperature was so sudden and dramatic that it caused a mist to rise off the surface of the pond in Central Park.

cp-1I want an iPhone 4s because it’s got a better camera than my iPhone 4. I certainly get a lot of use out of the camera feature and my lousy phone doesn’t sufficiently capture the drama of the scene. Clearly, it’s the phone’s fault. It can’t POSSIBLY be operator error.


I stripped out the color in this one. It makes it look Victorian and sinister. As though Professor Moriarty is about to jump out of the bushes. Speaking of iPhones and villains…


* * *

At the end of Mike Daisey’s The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, he tells the audience that we’ll never look at our Apple products the same way again. And he’s right.

I had always assumed that iPhones, iPads and the like were constructed on long, complex assembly lines by robots, as did Mr. Daisey. That is not the case. Mr. Daisey visited China. He discovered, and conveys in graphic terms, how these devices are painstakingly hand-assembled. The New York Times recently ran a lengthy exposé on how people, some no older than 13 or 14-years old, and with the full knowledge and consent of Apple (and other companies), are being worked, literally, to death. Apple isn’t as benevolent as their P.R. machine would like you to belive.

This is a tough, fascinating monologue that weaves three stories simultaneously; the history of Apple, the rise, fall, and rise of Steve Jobs, and the netherworld of disposable labor in China. By the time some of these kids reach 25, their hands are destroyed from years of repetitive motion work on assembly lines. Apple knows. They all know. But they don’t care.

I probably wasn’t the only one secretly wondering if Jobs’ early demise was some form of cosmic retribution for the people-destroying machine he created. It was recently reported that at a conference, he told President Obama that Apple manufacturing jobs were “never coming back to the U.S.” Now I know why.

22 thoughts on “Smoke on the Water

  1. Ahh! Those misty “Victorian” scenes remind me of places along the Thames in winter.Thank you.And the Apple dilemma? Those who are avowed Mac people will never switch.And, I suspect, many wont care. “It’s China’s problem” is what I hear from so many people.Perhaps China needs a Keir Hardie?

  2. You have mist, we have pea soup fog. For three days in a row now. Makes for lots of accidents. It is 4:30 p.m. and I cannot see anything out my window unless I look straight down at the ground. It’s just… white. (No, it’s not snowing. I’m going to take a photo and post it on my blog. It’s eerie.)I think your photos are pretty good, actually… for a phone. I didn’t know iPhones were made in China.My Blackberry was assembled in Mexico. I don’t know where the components were made.

  3. dinah: I’m posting this via my iPhone. One becomes addicted to these things. I feel a sadness but am utterly powerless to change things. Ponita: Thanks for the compliment. Just wait ’til I get an iPhone camera upgrade. I’ll set the blogosphere on fire. sav: As always, I offer the photos at no addition cost to you, the reader.

  4. the fog photos. not Moriarty. zombies. i see zombies in the shadows. coming out of the pond. everywhere…. but maybe i just need coffee…the truth about china is that EVERYTHING there is manufactured inhumanely. there is no such thing as workers rights. shoes, iPhones, plastic crap for our dollar stores. apple is just a juicier target – one that everyone can relate to. i think getting this story out is a good plan…

  5. Pat: We have been very, very lucky this year. No biting cold winter this time around. It makes up for the catasclymic blizzards of last year. daisy: Zombies in Manhattan! I wonder if anyone would notice? The tourists in midtown move in a zombie-like stupor.

  6. I was going to ask, ‘Knowing this would you continue using Apple products?” But then I realised that I own an iPod and I’m unwilling to part with it.

  7. Great photos. I half expect to catch a glimpse of Sherlock or Jack in the corner of one of the frames….iPhones and China: When you reach the top of the heap, there is only one way to go…and Apple will start receiving this scrutiny naturally. Daisy makes the same point I wish to: If there wasn’t such vigorous, rabid demand, maybe it would be different. Then again it might not. This is late capitalism, streamlined and maximized for the almighty quarterly return. If its not Apple, it’s Microsoft, or BP, or Monsanto or the emergent (thank you Obama for being so spineless on that issue) fracking industry. Demand, whether it be stockholders or the consumer, has the potential to create these conditions. Humans are fucking insatiable … (I think its funny that my word verification was “dingly”…)

  8. Ellie: You know, I got the idea to post black and white photos from you’re place. It’s true!Dolce: daisyfae is correct to point out that MANY companies are guilty of the same thing. Apple just makes for a nice, juicy, high profile target. Shame on the Chinese Gub-ment.JZ: None of this would have been brought to my attention if I had just picked a different play that night. I normally choose entertainment over eduction.

  9. My iPhone currently will not open any application except my phone/text app and email. I was having withdraws out of town this weekend until I was able to find a wii-fi hot spot for my Kindle Fire. It was pure hell waiting for my fellow gamblers to come find me since I was out of money and all I could do was people watch but that alone entertained me for several hours.MT

  10. I’ve read something similar about Apple somewhere else, recently.I’ve always tried hard to buy goods that are ethically produced – I’m not brilliant at it – but I do try. I even try to bank ethically.A lot of ethics go out of the window during a recession, just the nature of the game.Anyhow, come back to me and fawn some more. I am in serious need of some fawning!!!!!Sxxx

  11. Scarlet and TUB: I suppose being married to a Brit eventually takes its toll. ;)Could be my mother’s Irish that’s bleeding through all that extra flesh I’ve gained over the years too….

  12. Don’t worry, you will age much better than David Cameron… British Prime Ministers age notoriously badly… I mean look what happened to Tony Blair. A mere boy in 1997, a gibbering wreck by 2004.Sx

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