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Guest Blog: Response to This American Life’s Retraction of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”

*This guest blog by David Daedalus is a follow up to David’s 1/20/12 entry about a now-retracted This American Life Episode by Mike Daisey.

Guest Blog: Response to This American Life’s Retraction of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”

By David Daedalus

Today, I received an email from Ira Glass of the radio program This American Life. It turns out that a recent episode featuring monologuist Mike Daisey, who traveled to China to learn more about the workers and working conditions under which Apple products are made, was largely fabricated. Below is a portion of the email from Glass: 

During fact checking before the broadcast of Daisey’s story, I and This American Life producer Brian Reed asked Daisey for this interpreter’s contact information, so we could confirm with her that Daisey actually witnessed what he claims. Daisey told us her real name was Anna, not Cathy as he says in his monologue, and he said that the cell phone number he had for her didn’t work anymore. He said he had no way to reach her.

 At that point, we should’ve killed the story. But other things Daisey told us about Apple’s operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him. We didn’t think that he was lying to us. That was a mistake.

As those of you who have been following the story already know, the result of the original broadcast of Daisey’s story increased scrutiny on Apple’s labor practices and, in response, Apple improved its auditing practices of its third party suppliers.  

Daisey’s response to the retraction is posted on the Washington Post, found here.

What Daisey’s response amounts to is him saying is: I’m not a journalist, I never claimed to be, the story is a dramatization designed to raise awareness of an important issue, and it did that. In fact, the New York Times ran a story shortly after Daisey’s episode aired that also detailed that working conditions in some of the factories were deplorable.

Until more details come out on this week’s podcast of This American Life, we have no way of knowing to what degree Daisey lied to the producers about the facts in his story. Obviously if he lied to them, he shouldn’t have.

However, the inescapable irony here is that Daisey’s point about the ease with which we ignore the immoral is exemplified by the producers of This American Life in their willingness to ignore their own concerns about the truthfulness of Daisey’s story.

Just as we, the consumers of Apple products, willfully turn a blind eye to the manner in which those products are made, so it seems that Ira Glass and his staff also turned a blind eye to the warning signs that there were issues of factual accuracy in Daisey’s story because the story was so damn good.

Kudos to Glass for taking his lumps and owning up to his mistake. It just goes to show you how readily even the best of us will ignore our conscience if what we get in return is shiny, impressive, and makes us look cool.


Photo by rpongsaj via Flickr.

Forever’s lasting impact

I heard this book review on NPR last month and it was the kind of thing that made me sit in the car after I parked so I could hear the end.

Courtney Sullivan talks about the effect Judy Blume’s Forever had on her as a teenage girl and as an adult. She says that when she first picked up Forever, she had no idea it would have such a lasting impact on her feminism and her identity.
Do you have a book that you read as a young adult that you think helped shape you into who you are today? Let us know in the comments.
photo of Forever cover, via NPR.org

I was Betty Draper

“…too lazy or stupid or unlucky to be the president of the United States”?

I read an article on Salon today called I was Betty Draper and I wanted to share it and a couple of thoughts with the adulthood world.

The author talks about how girls of her (and my) generation were taught to grow up to be Peggy Olson, not Betty Draper but she identifies more with Betty. In case you don’t watch Mad Men, (how can you not watch Mad Men?) Peggy Olson’s character is a secretary turned copywriter, the first woman in her office to do it in a long time. She is seen as a successful go getter who is going to make it in a man’s world. Betty Draper, is a stay at home wife and mother. And she is unhappy.

The author’s assertion is so interesting to me: she says we were pushed more in the direction of, “brain surgeon, judge, astronaut”… anything we wanted (or maybe anything our mother’s wanted us to be) and definitely not in the direction of a housewife, which is for someone, “too lazy or stupid or unlucky to be the president of the United States”.

I totally agree.
Read the article and let me know what you think. Discuss in the comments.


[photo via Mad Men and WhatWouldMarilynDo]

"Say Something Interesting About Something Interesting"

One evening, a professor in my graduate program was giving a lecture about our graduate program.

(Note: I am pursuing my M.A. in Rhetoric and Writing Studies with an emphasis in Technical and Professional Communication at San Diego State University. One more semester to go! Woo hoo! Note #2: Obama is not my professor. ::sigh::)

So this professor said to the class (in a thick Polish accent), “Through the years my friends have often asked me, ‘What is this rhetoric? What exactly do you do as a rhetorician?‘ What I tell them is the same thing I tell my students: we say something interesting about something interesting.”

While I don’t plan on being a rhetorician by trade, what I took away from that lecture helps inspire me, but also challenges me, when it comes to this blog.

Here at Adulthood my goal is for us all to think about things that affect us, stir us, motivate us, enliven us. I try to examine topics that are meaningful — to say something interesting about something interesting.

And while my posts are long[*], I promise I will continue challenging myself to bring you stimulating content and food for thought[**].

And did I mention how much I value your comments and emails? That really keeps this blog alive–in a kind of collective-blogging-brain sense. And that’s what keeps it interesting. So thank you for your thoughtful words and to all those silent readers, thank you too for your vigilant companionship to the little-blog-that-could.

I felt really depressed after my kitty died, so much so that I didn’t even have the energy to write in my blog for a while. But your comments and emails trickled in: vignettes about your beloved pets, and words of strength and kindness during a time of loss and transition. I realized what a special little community is growing here.

This weekend I went to Sonoma for a bachelorette party of one my best friends. One of the girls at the party asked me, “Mara, what is your blog about?” I thought about it for a bit before replying, “I try to say something interesting about something interesting (adulthood).” No more. No less. “Hmmm,” the girl replied, “Sounds pretty cool.” I smiled.

Yeah, it is pretty cool.

[*]At Bloggy Bootcamp a speaker once said don’t write more than 250 words! Yeesh! How can you say something interesting about something interesting with such limited word count?

[**]And sometimes, not just ‘food for thought’, but just food. As in recipes. Because I love to eat. And because, as I have said before, one of the perks of being an adult is being able to use sharp knives and hot ovens and stoves without supervision. And while I have a few battle injuries (4 burns on my arms from reaching into the oven without long enough mitts), the fruits of our efforts are just delicious.

The Key to Balancing is Never Looking Down

Balancing priorities in life has to be one of the biggest challenges of adulthood for me.

For example, I want to blog every minute of every day, I want to breathe blogging, and sing blogging, and listen and learn from blogging. And yet, I have to make choices. I go to work to pay the bills (luckily I like my job too), I attend graduate school, I have homework for said graduate school, I have a bf, and friends, and two cats, and a blog. Blogging always gets pushed to the end of the list. It’s the tough choice that I have to make, and let me tell you, it is a choice based on survival and not on preference:


But that is part of being an adult I guess — putting aside dreams for pragmatism. Realizing that responsibilities trump pastimes.

Lately, I am balancing not only my responsibilities, but also my checkbook. One of my best friends is getting married in July and her wedding involves travel and is going to be very expensive for me. And I love her and adore her, but sometimes I don’t think she realizes how hard it is to balance. How I have to choose between eating, paying rent, or putting aside money for her wedding and events. Must.eat.Must.pay.rent.

Being an adult also means you can’t please everyone. You just have to do your best and hope your blog-friends and your soon-to-be-married friends like you enough to understand.

How does everyone else cope with balancing life? Do you have any advice to offer those of us who struggle every day? How do you approach your friends who may not understand your balancing act? How do you find time for doing the things you enjoy? Discuss.

A Little Push…


*This oldie-but-goodie photo from an earlier entry just seemed to fit with this theme. I couldn’t help myself.

I think the real trick and challenge to adulthood is being able to balance priorities. I wanted to make a metaphor to adulthood being like a juggling act: balancing many balls in the air at once, hoping one doesn’t fall, lest they should all fall. That metaphor doesn’t exactly always work because it assumes that all priorities have equal weight, which is not always true. Well, in the case of Jenn, pictured above, the babies are obviously all equal priorities. But for me, for example, I have to work to pay bills so, therefore, working has to be a more weighty priority to me than some other things in my life.

Take this blog for example. I love this blog. I love the idea of it. I love that what we discuss are really important, relevant, challenging, and inspiring issues. I love the comments and feedback from everyone that helps us deconstruct themes and ideas and find collective meaning in them. I wish I could write in the blog every single day (after all, the key to having a successful blog is blogging regularly.) However, I have work + grad school + homework + boyfriend + house hunting + eating + sleep + cats + exercise to deal with. All of those things are my priorities, and they usually get a spot in my life before blogging.

It is easy to neglect things when you have so many other things to think about.

Most days I feel like my bandwidth is full — I can’t balance even one more little thing or I might just crash. Balancing life is truly overwhelming, and sometimes other parts of my life suffer as a result. The latest casualties of my competing priorities have been: my working group for one of my classes, my health, and my blog.

Sometimes though, all you need is that little push to remind you that you can refocus your energies on a part of your life that had been temporarily stalled. This morning I got that little push…

I was talking to my mom and she said, “So, your brother tells me you have a blog? I didn’t know you had a blog.” For as much as I advertise my blog online (Facebook and other blog sites via comments) I guess I had neglected the old-fashioned way of getting the word out: via telephone to tell my mom. (Note: My mom is very hip, she does have Facebook.) More striking however, was that my brother was the one that told her about it. My brother reads my blog!!

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to some, but you must understand that my brother is a very discerning fellow when it comes to his literature. He is an avid reader, and has probably read more books than anyone I have ever known. He also reads all kinds of blogs, I think mostly of a political nature. The point is: the fact that my brother reads my blog REGULARLY and thinks it is actually GOOD is a huge compliment. In fact, it was so inspiring that as soon as I got off the phone with my mom, I decided to blog immediately. That was just the little push I needed.

Balancing life is often overwhelming, and it is easy to feel we can’t devote the time we really need to certain things, whether it be eating healthy, exercising, blogging, or anything else. Sometimes we all need a little push, a catalyst to help us refresh our perspective on something and recommit to it. That catalyst can come in many different forms, and for me, it came in the form of a brother…

How do you experience random impetuses of inspiration that help you reprioritize? Is the balancing act of responsibilities as hard for everyone else as it is for me? I can’t even imagine adding other variables (like kids!) into the equation. Navigating these competing priorities with grace has to be one of the major challenges of adulthood.

So, does any of this every get easier? Or more fun? Do we get any better at this whole balancing act as we get older?

Any thoughts or ideas, let’s discuss in the comments. (Oh! Oh! And maybe even my brother will comment! Yay!)

(Photo of book from Amazon.com. Second photo courtesty of J.J.)

Defining Adulthood, a continuing discussion. And, YES! Our first GUEST BLOGGER is almost here!

I had a few conversations with some readers today about the idea of “adulthood”, and how yesterday’s posts may have not accurately captured all that is “being an adult.” My wise readers pointed out, it is not just about having a job, or being married, or having kids, or being “responsible” that makes you an adult. For example, one reader, Danna, (soon to be guest blogger, I hope) is 27 years old, successful, and just got a huge tattoo on her back. Another of my dear readers is taking 4 months off work to travel around the world with her beau. Both are embarking on exciting, fantastical, indelible adventures. Making those kinds of exhilarating choices for oneself has to be one of the greatest things about being an adult.

So, we must also include in our Manifesto about Adulthood this: wherever our “adult” path takes us, all experiences are equally valued here. Because, as adults, we have the choice to be accountable and present in our own lives — to live with intention. Adulthood is more than a word, or a cliche. Here, we will reclaim Adulthood as a movement. And that is something that is pretty cool.

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