How the tech industry outsources pollution to China [Kahney’s Korner podcast]

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Death by Design documentary
The hard-hitting Death by Design documentary is a sobering look at the environmental legacy of the tech industry.
Photo: Death by Design

The tech industry appears to be nice and clean, but it has a long and toxic history of environmental damage. Silicon Valley is home to the most Superfund cleanup sites in the country.

A new film, Death by Design, takes a sobering look at the electronics industry and its toxic environmental legacy — both in the United States and in China. The film offers a behind-the-scenes look at the cost of the devices we consume in some measure of ignorance.

Apple features heavily in the film, though it’s not the only tech company implicated.

This week on Kahney’s Korner, I talk to the documentary’s director, Sue Wiliams, about Apple, pollution and Silicon Valley.

Here’s What Working Conditions At Chinese Electronics Plants Are Really Like [Exclusive Interview]

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Adapted from CC-licensed photo by Mrbill on Flicker.
Adapted from CC-licensed photo by Mrbill on Flicker.

If you own an iPhone, laptop, Kindle, Android device, electric toothbrush, baby monitor or GPS navigator, it was probably put together by a worker in a Chinese factory.

Although Apple is currently juggling the PR hot-potato over working conditions at Foxconn plants in China, a situation made more murky by the factual takedown of Mike Daisey’s monologue, dozens of other global companies make their must-have electronics there.

For a wider perspective, Cult of Mac tracked down one of the world’s leading experts on modern labor in Asia.

Dr. Boy Lüthje is a sociologist at the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research and currently a visiting scholar at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii who has spent a decade visiting factories to study working conditions at electronics manufacturers in Asia, including Foxconn.

A Campaign To Stop Stephen Fry, Who Is Otherwise Wonderful, From Being An Idiot

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stephen_fry

This is a guest post by Mike Daisey, who’s latest monologue, The Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs, is at New York’s Public Theater through March 4. We highly recommend you go see it. It made Steve Wozniak cry. The post originally appeared here.

Stephen Fry, brilliant comedian, wonderful actor, and bon vivant just posted this in his Twitter feed:

As a fellow raconteur it’s painful to have to confront Mr. Fry with this fact, but he’s being a total idiot.

He’s in good company—most of the Mac universe is in the midst of a massive propaganda campaign, trying to convince itself and the universe that the cognitive dissonance they are feeling at this moment isn’t real.

So you’re going to see some good people, like Mr. Fry, who happen to love their Apple products very much, say some horrible things because they don’t actually understand how to reconcile the beauty and grace of their wonderful Apple products with the unvarnished, verified truth of how they are produced.