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Archive for September, 2007

All the Pirates in the House say, “iPhone Ahoy!”

September 18, 2007 2 comments

Do you think Red Beard the Pirate ever envisioned the day when he could communicate with fellow pirates via a handheld device that you could navigate with just your fingers (or the tip of a hook, hmmmm)? Well it can happen now as the pirates have firm grasp of Apple’s latest and greatest – the iPhone.

These pirates though don’t wield blades of steel or pillage and rape. They wield dynamic intellect and cunning nerve. They don’t employ drunken mercenaries whose only goal is to kill and have a good time. No they employ sophisticated factories with thousands of employees whose sole purpose is to hack technology, rewrite code, copy hardware and eventually make lots of money. Same mercenary nature only you will live to see another day if you were to pass them on a dark street.

If this all sounds like a fairly tale molesting reality well it isn’t, sort of. The reality is that Apple has applied for (last I heard) some 200+ patents to “protect” the technology within iPhone, and if you really wanted you could have gotten that same technology 6 months before the grand debut of iPhone. You could have gotten a phone that does the same thing, maybe even more, than the U.S. version of iPhone, and for a lot less. Okay — who waited in line for an iPhone? You could have been on some sunny but polluted beach in China enjoying the refreshing scent of the Gobi Dessert as it causes your Pina Colada to taste a bit gritty while wiping the dust off your new iPhone – Made in China – 100%. Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, did a wise thing by lowering the price so drastically.

Of course Apple will not respond to this stuff but to only say, “We are going to fight this malevolent and digusting behaviour the best we can. Please contact Apple with any information about pirated Apple merchandise. We will give you store credit that you can only use at an Apple Store, in the United States, within 30 days of issuance, and oh, you cannot redeem this voucher for cash at anytime. Thank you for supporting ethical business practices.” What can they do? You have to pay the piper some day. You want to build your phones and computers in China then be prepared for the lax supervision and misplaced business ethics of Chinese firms. The government does little oversight to really enforce international patent protections and copyrights. And why would they be strict, the economy of China stands to make a lot of money by letting pirates run free within the society. In a booming city like Shanghai where everyone is looking to make some money and gain fortune, turning a deaf ear is a calculated risk that could make the difference between a 6% and 7% GNP rise.

In the end, if Apple, as well as other foreign electronics companies, want to stop this situation they need to remove their factories and operations from China and places with lax oversight, and set-up shop in places like the United States, or the European Union where oversight is much stronger. I think all those jobs would be welcome. Of course Apple might have to pay a bit more for the labor, but pick your poison because I’m thinking of trying to snag one of these “phony” iPhones just to have one (Of course I don’t get all the warranties and protections that Apple offer. If my Chinese made phone breaks and I’m in Pennsylvania I doubt I can just walk into an Apple store and get it fixed, or any other electronics store for that matter, including the one I bought it at). In the end, like I said, it is “simple” – bring your operation back to the U.S. or suffer the consequences.

Just FYI, I don’t condone pirating technology of any kind really. I myself can’t bring myself to download movies from the internet for free (yes, I still pay to go to the movies). I only just recently got some free movies from some mates. It was easy. Damn easy. I can see the allure. Still, I’m into it. That said, if huge companies like Apple (and I am an Apple and supporter) continue to use operational facilities in countries with poor oversight that don’t enforce ethical business practices what do they expect? I can’t cry for them. Jobs and his cronies make a lot of money, both personally and company-wide. I don’t think they or other Apple employees are struggling to put food on the table, nor are those who can afford to buy an original Apple iPhone.

If you want to check out the original article that this commentary is based on click this link –
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20070917n1.html.

Peace ya’ll

A China For Me and You and Them?

September 12, 2007 Leave a comment

Check out this link to the New York Times online series about “Choking on China.” http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/world/asia/26china.html?ex=1189742400&en=92e93b2a3b6f53b5&ei=5070

Again I wonder what kind of message are we sending by holding the Olympics in China? Not only that but what are we saying to the Chinese people who are suffering and dying that we condone such environmental neglect thus promoting humanitarian neglect. A very messy situation both figuratively and literally.

Peace ya’ll

“Divine Intervention or Chinese Law?”

September 11, 2007 Leave a comment

So, there you are, a kid ready to be deemed the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the supreme spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhist Monks, and in walks a Chinese public office worker saying, “Sorry but this reincarnation is illegal as this person has not been approved by the Chinese Central Government. Please fill out these forms and do the proper due diligence before performing a reincarnation, in the future. Thank you.”

Okay, what up with that? Last time I checked on Tibetan Buddhist culture the whole reincarnation is supposed to be left up to the religious elders within Tibet. It is not subject to Beijing approval. If this is religious freedom within China then I have a bridge that can cross the Pacific Ocean to sell you. Regardless of the millions of people China “allow” to visit Lhasa as a pilgrimage religious freedom doesn’t exist in China, unless you 100% obey the Central Authority.

I’ve walked with Tibetan Monks, while visiting the home in exile of the 14th Dalai Lama – Dharamsala, but I just missed the 14th Dalai Lama (he was in Japan at the time). What is the Central Chinese government getting up in a tizzy about? I think if they just relaxed on the religious crackdowns and maybe fostered some kind of true freedom, transparency, and brotherhood between people they would go a long way in maintaining this One China Policy they so proudly preach. The people I met were very political and very boisterous, and really nice. The Monks spent the day in “arguments/debates” where they challenged their own religion as well as other topics. It was enlightening that people could challenge each other without violence. Religion challenging itself with the outcome being greater enlightenment – things that most religions speak about but rarely live up to.

China has bigger problems to deal with than revolting Monks in Tibet (or independent minded Taiwanese). The big bad Chinese government needs to get a handle on the environmental destruction taking place in the country, the loosely regulated manufacturing industry, and the ridiculous amount of secrecy/lack of transparency within the government. Oh, not to mention the 2008 Summer Olympics are coming to town (which I disagree with).

I don’t want to be anti-Chinese because I believe the Chinese people are like anyone else in this World – they want success and a comfortable life. I’m criticizing the management of China, and the way the Chinese Central Government oversteps its boundaries and sticks its hands into realms of life they should stay out of. If you want to check an article about this issue see – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6944750.stm

Peace ya’ll

All About the Love….Hotel

September 5, 2007 3 comments

Recently a statistic came out that said something to the effect that Japanese people weren’t having as much sex as those from other equally industrious nations, and led ridiculously stressful lives. Apparently the Japanese were low culture on the totem pole of sex (I will have to say that, gladly, around my house this statistic is not known). Anyway, I wonder how thorough the researchers did their homework? The article I just read tells me something different. Check this out – http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fb20070826dr.html – This is a book review of a book that talks about one of Japan’s biggest industries. If you haven’t used the link already, what is the industry you might ask – not Sumo, a national sport (or sports in general for that matter); not computer technology, huge in its own right; no the industry that draws in about 4 trillion yen a year (study math and do the conversion) and services over 1.3 million people daily – Love Hotels.

Yes folks, the Japanese are indeed having sex, and lots of it. The industry is making money hands over…Use your imagination for that one. Now, I have to admit in the guise of full disclosure that my wife and I have used a love hotel. And with that – it was great! Not just the sex part which was of course great, but the room itself was something we couldn’t have created in our own home, and we don’t have children (yet). Think about what it would be like to have the kids one day come home and see mom and dad’s room looking like something out of Moulin Rouge? The explanation might be worth the effort, or not. Anyway, love hotels are being used and in a country with 99% Japanese people, it’s safe to say that Japanese people are filling those lovely love hotel rooms.

Now, one might think that the good rooms are expensive, while the vast majority are cheap and crappy. Maybe in some other countries that don’t take safety in this realm seriously, but in Japan, trust me when I say, no worries mate. Anyone can afford a nice, clean room complete with complimentary protection. So throw out that notion that the Japanese don’t know things about protection and that they don’t like using condoms. Bottomline is, the choice is yours, the hotel people can’t put the fuckin’ thing on for you. If you pay to play use the equipment provided I say. Anyway, the rooms are great. There are big screen TVs, plush couches, cool paintings on the ceiliings, and of course karaoke machines (this is Japan of course). On top of all that they are accessible and inexpensive, and most of all – safe.

So, drop the kids off with grandma and grandpa and take your mate out on a love hotel date. Get away from the rat race and slow down the pace – use a love hotel. Duck out from that meeting, meet your honeybunny down at the love hotel for a long lunch and some good times. Go back to that meeting with a smile (In Japan the meeting will still be going on and you probably wouldn’t have been missed anyway).

Lastly, as you might have guessed I am married. This isn’t a thing just for the singles. Married couples can use them as well, and I don’t mean to cheat and have affairs. I am happily married and very satisfied. If I’m going to a love hotel it’s going to be with my wife whom I love and want to get freaky with. I think if more couples went to love hotels and broke out in the safe and sensual surroundings they will find reasons not to cheat. I’ll just say that the atmosphere lends to a different sexual attitude being released, and one that you might find will follow you out of the room and into your “regular” life. Like I said, I love the love hotel deal because it allowed me and my wife a place to get really freaky (not that we had or have a problem with that anywhere else). I wish people would use them responsibly but alas I can’t control that.

So, when you hear and read that Japanese people aren’t having sex and leading these stressful lives ask the researchers of these studies, “Did you do any background data checking into sex at love hotels?” Maybe the statistic would change, who knows?

Peace ya’ll.

Categories: Business, Japan Tags: , , , , , ,

Beijin Olympics 2008 – Why?

September 4, 2007 Leave a comment

So, I was just watching the IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan (I live in Akita City, Japan), and I have to say that it was great to see such a world athletic event in a nation like Japan. From what I saw everything was well run, and from what I know about Japan I’m sure the athletes and other competitors were well taken care of. For the most part people can do what they want, say what they want, and not have to worry about the government taking action against individuals. Also, you can walk outside in Japan and not lose a lung – even in Osaka. This brings me to the issue of the day…the Beijin Olympics of 2008.

I have nothing against Chinese people, and wish them all the success that the statistics show their country is having. That being said, I hope one day more stringent requirements are actually enforced regarding a host city for the Olympics. This is not some small time event. This is the preminent athletic event in history – bar none. I will not go back and judge history and listen to, “Well, Berlin was host to this event while Hitler was in power.” Done with, gotta move on from that. I will say that we should learn from that. Why is Beijing a host city making China a host country when so much is “wrong” with China? Okay, I get that China is a world manufacturing power and is home to great amounts of investment from multinational corporations. I’m cutting to the mustard here because other stuff is nonsense to me, like the U.S. going into Iraq for weapons of mass destruction and liberating a people – ridiculous – the oil was the mission.

China has a lot of work to do regarding basic freedoms, manufacturing oversight, environmental concerns, the list goes on. The Olympics are supposed to be a celebration of openness, cultural enlightenment, cross cultural interaction and competition. China gets a nod on competition, but fall away from the rest. Certain people don’t enjoy basic freedoms in China. I’m not talking about people on people oppression. I’m talking about government instituted oppression. Say something negative against the government and you might find yourself having a very difficult day. God knows (no punn intended) that the people of Tibet are not enjoying religious freedom, and economic prosperity. The environment in China is in dissaray and needs to be addressed. Economic success is great but when I can see sand on my wifes car that comes from China, I have to wonder what is going on over there. This is where the Olympics are going to be.

I guess it’s nutty for me to judge China because there are worse places for the Olympics to be. I just want a higher standard. If this means that the Olympics are held in Antarctica every year then so be it. Build a biodome and let them happen. I wonder if the athletes will spend as much money in China knowing that the goods could be contaminated or something? I guess it should be okay because China exports the contaminated stuff to other countries.

All countries have their upsides and downsides. I guess in China’s case I think the downsides outweigh the upsides. My inner optimist says, I hope China will turn a new leaf and push forward a platform of openness, true basic human freedoms, and environmental reform as a result from this Olympic effort being put forth.

Peace ya’ll