Oil: You’re Addicted and You Don’t Even Know It.


As you can see, oil dependency has been an issue for America for over 3 decades. Yet we continue to increase our consumption and dependency on oil every year. Just think how different our American lives would be without oil? People use and consume oil every day, yet rarely think about how important this natural resource is to our everyday lives. If America were to one day go without oil, all hell would break loose.

With this in mind, you need to understand what the future looks like as of now. China, a rising global power, is continuing to grow at an exponential rate. However, this growth demands oil to keep their economy functioning. Currently, America is the largest consumer of oil in the world. This position gives America purchasing power because we buy the most. However, if China is to surpass the US in the future, America loses much of its’ purchasing power to China. Now, we would still be able to get oil, but this oil prices would start sky rocketing. Even more importantly, oil is depleting fast. As I mentioned earlier, growing developed countries are starting to demand more oil. With this increase in competition of a diminishing resource, prices will once again, sky rocket.

Since our economy depends on oil to function, the rise in oil prices in the future is going to impact America exponentially if we keep our oil consuming habits.  Of the 6.7 billion barrels a year America consumes, 75% goes to our transportation sector. There lies the answer! We can find ways to reduce our consumption every day through transportation. Americans are in love with their cars more than any other nation. We have the lowest gas tax, drive the most, hell, we even invented the damn things. But our car culture has a price. We are currently seeing it now with the rising gas prices and depleting oil reserves. Wars are already being fought over this valuable resource. But we can change and I can show you how…


HUMAN TRAFFICKING | China (teaser)

Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, is a grim reality of the 21st century global landscape in both developed as well as developing countries. The human trafficking industry represents a $32 billion industry in today’s market. Plaguing 161 countries, millions of women, men and children are smuggled across international borders where they are exploited by their traffickers to turn a profit. More specifically, sex trafficking occurs throughout the world, and holds to be a growing issue in China. Women and children are the key targets for sex trafficking, and are exploited when they are in susceptible states.

Remember, we are not simply talking about the price of buying and selling milk. These victims will bear the scars of their past for as long as they live. This White Paper offers enlightening information and insightful recommendations to help put an end to this horrible industry, and save countless lives.

Sina’s Story

“Kidnapped at 13 from her home country of Vietnam, Sina was drugged, taken to Cambodia, and raped by a white customer who had purchased her virginity. After that, she was held captive and her sexual services sold to wealthy clients. When Sina was too ill and demoralized to pretend to be enjoying the daily forced sexual encounters, she was beaten and brutally tortured. Sina was doused with water and prodded with electric shocks. She was confined in a coffin with biting ants for days at a time. After years of such abuse, she was rescued in a police raid and has gone on to be an anti-trafficking activist”


Wang Bangyin breaks down as he hugs his rescued son in Guiyang, southwest China on October 29, 2009. His son was among 60 children rescued from human traffickers. The Epoch Times

Go To China!

I can not imagine a country and society more dynamic and relevant to the future of the USA and the world than China.’
Were I a sophomore in college, I would jump at the opportunity to go beyond headlines and stereotypes and see, touch, breathe, and hear China for myself.
The application is here.
Will you pass this on to ANYONE you think who may be interested.  Please let me know if you do pass it on so I can gauge the distribution.
Bucknell sophomores Maxy Xiao (left) and Sean Xu created the University's first-ever service-learning trip to China.
 That is thank you in Mandarin Chinese…

“The Narrative Doesn’t End:” Mike Daisey, Truth, Art, and a Phone Call

Almost no one calls me in my office.  90% of the calls are my wife or a textbooks ales representative (poor souls- they are ever-optimistic.).

So, when the phone rang two weeks ago, I answered it very informally.  “Unh, hello?”

“Is this Jordi?”  I didn’t have time to realize I should have recognized the voice.  “This is Mike Daisey.”

Mike Daisey Performing

Now, some of my students doubted this phone call happened.  I can assure you it did.  Maybe Mike (Mr.Daisey?  Etiquette fails me) is even reading this as he assured me he read all 64 blog posts by 32 of you over two weeks.  And 100 last semester, I presume.  I wished he would have commented for their sake, but I also understand that engaging in 164 individualized exchanges in 2 semesters is a lot to sign up for (I get paid for it!).

The highlights of the conversation.

1) He wanted me to let my students know he did read their posts.  And he liked Gil’s use of a picture of Mike to “prove’ he is a “big, fat liar.”  I think Mike was sincere in being amused.

2) He wanted me to make it clearer that he issue an apology to his audiences and other stakeholders (theater people, journalists and human rights activists, especially).  You can read it here.  The LA Times, at least. noticed it.

He writes about “loosing his grounding.”

Here is the end of it:

I speak about truth because it is what I aspire to. All my stories, even when I’ve fallen short, have been attempts to experience the truth with my audiences.

I am sorry for where I have failed. I will look closer, be more patient, and listen more clearly.

I will be humble before the work.

I think some of you wanted more of a mea culpa from him then he offered (or was included) in the “Retraction” podcast.

3) I thanked him for both the the quality and the strength of the original The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and for making that work available under a Creative Commons license.  For those who think he may have wanted somehow to get “more fame” from TAESJ to line his pockets, you need to know that he makes no money from others performing that work.

From his website:

In a groundbreaking move, after over 200 performances in 18 cities over 19 months, a transcript version of THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS was made available for free download in February 2012, and has been released under an open license so that it may be performed by anyoneanywhereroyalty free. It was a phenomenon, downloaded more than 100,000 in its first week, and to date has had over 35 productions, and been translated into six languages.

4) He offered to send me some links to other coverage of TAESJ and his apology. Still hoping to get it! 🙂

5) We discussed how Ira Glass and the other people at This American Life made their own choices about how to handle the problems with the original podcast.  I shared that I am frustrated by the attempt to equate Daisey’s problems (lies, exaggerations, or appropriation of 3rd party material as his own experiences) with the overall truth of the issues in the play, which include of course our own love affairs with Apple technology and also the lesser known history of Apple and Jobs.

6) I explained that the tech/no performance of “un/real and un/true: The agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” was a polyvocal performance.  We added various “interruptions” to the original script to bring many different viewpoints into  the performance including other reporting about Foxconn and Apple, an interview where Steve Jobs dismisses concerns at the factories (“They have swimming pools” he says, I think), a fragment from an 19th century mill girl in America with similarities to the problems in China, a Chinese scholar’s reaction, and so on.

Do I Agree with Ira Glass?

I think part of Mike’s concern was also that the way the student posts ended with “Retraction” podcast implies that it is the end of the story.  “The narrative doesn’t end there.”  I agree with him.

There are so many other issues and changes in the overall “story” of technology (all companies!), Apple, China, globalization, capitalism, consumers, and development and justice.  I won’t outline it all here, but just this week, I heard that Foxconn was going to open up its labor unions to freer elections.  Is everything “fine” now?  I don’t think so.  Progress is not an excuse for complacency.

Mike did not say directly, but I wondered if part of his concern was that the nature of the assignment (from his viewpoint, reading these blog posts) was that perhaps I sided completely with Ira Glass and the TAL producers.

Here is the short answer: no.

I was one of the people who worked hard to see the play still performed here last fall when there were understandable concerns about having it all (especially after dealing with Greg Mortensen).  But full credit to Pete Mackey, our VP of communications, who imagined that the original monologue AND the controversy around its truths and lies could be performed in a way that acknowledged it all.  Technology, justice, globalization, China, Apple in an engaging play AND the issues of truth, art, knowledge, and journalism all in one moment!  Yes, please!

Here is the longer answer:

Me, Teaching, Truth, and Social Construction

Look, when I teach, I try to be careful to leave plenty of “space” for student voices to come forth and express themselves.  I balance this with some healthy amounts of my challenging or engaging a student to develop their ideas more in speech and writing, to go deeper, to be more sophisticated, and to ask hard questions.  Sometimes, I reveal what I “really think” if I think it will provide new insight or will model a way of thinking.  Maybe I am too careful not to make my views clear.  Maybe I reveal too much of what I think.  Bucknell students like to know the right answer.  This is an ethics class after all.  Maybe I should be arguing for what is clearly ethical or unethical.

So maybe Mike thought, based on how I structure the blog posts, that I fully agree with “Retraction.”  Understandable.  But I do not.  My choices for how I structure the materials and assignments are about creating student experiences.

To have the full impact of the first podcast, followed by the impact of the retraction, followed by having to make one’s own decisions about what matters, about what is right or wrong in facts and in ethics, followed by having to grapple with who controls the narrative, followed by some uneasy reconciliation with this whole nexus of issues is a series of I think irreplaceable learning moments.

But I believe truth is situational and contextual.  This was the origin of the other poll question that many of you answered.   I am a dyed-in-the-wool social constructivist meaning that what we usually call “facts” are never universal and always have a history.  All knowledge is socially constructed.  This can perhaps make me seem like a naive relativist to some.  The Opus Dei priest who was an ethics teacher for one higher education class certainly thought so and so failed me on an ethics exam.  But I argued then and now that social constructionism does not mean “anything goes.”  Knowledge and facts still must meet criteria of accuracy or worthiness before they are accepted by that knowledge community.  The knowledge AND the criteria are themselves always a result of a social process of interested actors.  There is no position from which to step outside of our constructed existence and objectively measure facts as “true”or not.   But criteria and knowledge is the best we can do.  And we should always try to make them better, whatever our field is.

One result of this approach to epistemology is an inherent pluralism in knowledge.  Since there are many kinds of knowledge and many sets of criteria, what is good knowledge in one area may or may not be in another.  How we judge “correct” literary theory is different from “correct” civil engineering from “correct” sociology.

So did Mike lie in parts of his monologue?  Die he make mistakes or exaggerations  (yes, yes).  But did he LIE where lying is a deliberate act of  deception?  By the standards of journalism, yes.  By the standards of theater, no.  By the standards of utilitarianism, no if the amount of visibility raised far outweigh the cost of the lies.  By the standards of a social movement to humanize the global economy, no.

Is there an easy answer to the question? No.

“Life is Meaningless”

As we all know, Foxconn manufactures more than 40 percent of the world’s electronics for companies such as Apple, Dell, and Amazon. Moreover, they are China’s largest and most prominent private employer, with 1.2 million workers. Controlled by Terry Gou, Foxconn has become a symbol of the struggle to improve conditions for workers. In recent years, Foxconn was put in the spotlight on this issue, and pledged to decrease working hours and increase wages. I decided that I wanted to look further into this company and see what they are up to now.

As a result of all of the negative press, progress is finally being made. The working conditions are in fact changing (forbes.com), but are they changing for the better? Foxconn has indeed scaled back on the number or workers they hire, and it now is shifting instead to increasing their productivity through robotics. Liu Kon, a spokesman for Foxconn, said in a China Daily story published two weeks ago that “the company had been on a steady course for a while to replace manpower with robotic systems.” However, there have still been scandals remerging from the company. As recent as 2012, Foxconn admitted to hiring underage workers.


A Foxconn worker was quoted saying, “Life is meaningless.” I think that when people read articles about the poor labor conditions, it is hard for them to comprehend and imagine the words. We often forget that these workers are individuals, with their own lives, problems and dreams. Imagine that these workers were your family members, not just thousands of people that you will never know. What if your family members were making these products and being treated so poorly? Would you use products manufactured at Foxconn if that was the case?

Companies such as Apple use Foxconn because it is one of the few that can meet their production requirements and churn out millions of devices each month. If they abandon their partnership with Foxconn, then that means fewer products. Apple has taken few steps to improve the conditions at Foxconn. They hired internal agents within the FLA to conduct audits of their supplier factories. These agents came up with plans that they believed would be helpful in correcting the issues within the Chinese factories where these Apple products are made. However, it does not seem that these investigations helped much at all, considering all of the negative press still coming out concerning Foxconn. Finally, The New York Times also reported that although Foxconn did not reveal how much they would raise wages, they did make a commitment that by July of 2013, no worker will labor for more than 49 hours per week. Foxconn has also promised that despite cutting hours, employees’ pay will not be reduced. I guess we will just have to wait and see if Foxconn actually keeps their promise. What do you all think? Will they keep their promises?

The Fifth Domain of Warfare

Everyone knows technology becomes more and more advanced every day.  When the new Iphone or computer comes out, everyone becomes excited about its new functions and applications. Every one automatically assumes technology can only help our lives become easier and essentially safer. However, people neglect to acknowledge that technology is becoming more advanced all around the world, even in foreign countries that threaten the United States.

Shane Harris is expert on Cyber National Defense and an award-winning author and magazine journalist. His book The Watchers won the Helen Bernstien Book Award for Excellence in Journalism and was claimed top 10 books of 2010 by the Economists.   Shane earned the 2010 Gerald R. Ford Prize in for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. In addition, Shane worked for the National Journal and Government Executive magazine and currently works for The Washtonington Magazine.


The link above leads you to his February 23rd, 2013 speech entitled “The New Cold War: Hackers, Drones and Cyber Spies.” In this speech he claims that the “Global War on Terror” is over and we have shifted to a new era. This new cyber and technological war far involves new military tactics that Obama already utilizes: Drones (unmanned air-crafts). In addition, this new era added “cyber space”  to the traditional  four domains of land, water, air and space. As a result, Obama’s Administration’s responsibility involves defending America’s cyberspace, both military and civilian.

Harris starts by discussing the possibility of a cyber-attack on America’s financial industry and the horrific impacts on our economy. Most interestingly, Shane then talks about how China already penetrated the CIA Department of Defense’s contractors’ computers and stole classified information about a fighter aircraft. As a result, the Defense Industrial Base Initiative was implemented to ease collaboration between private sector and government agencies to ensure better cyber security. He explains how this represents an alliance between the business industry and government because the industry is threatened by foreign powers in which the government can only help through cyber security.

In addition, Harris tells about Obama’s November 2011 speech revealing the government’s concern for the Chinese government and Russia entities stealing information from not only the government, but US companies. Harris also discusses that the US government may have also use cyber warfare to combat Iran’s nuclear power through the ‘Struxnet virus’ that delayed their nuclear program for months and maybe even years.

Harris then discusses how this new warfare demands the use of drones. Currently, drones are becoming more and more complex and soon will be self-run and able to work in teams with other drones to accomplish missions. However, China also invests in developing more complex drones for military use. But drones will not only be used in military domains, in the near future drones will be part of our everyday lives through crop-dusters and cargo planes. This creates another issue because if terrorists pursue hacking into these drones they could alter its task and create danger.

With students and faculty becoming more and more submersed with the internet and technology, Shane Harris gives valuable insight to what our future may hold. Essentially, everyone is impacted by this cyber threat and needs to become more aware of it. Before I researched his speech, I never knew China’s threat through cyber domain. This crucial topic becomes overlooked by the media because it is relatively new and has been overlooked for the past years. Potentially, the business industry that Bucknell students will enter in the coming years has the potential to change drastically. Students not only would like to hear about this, but really need to hear his speech to learn more about what our futures will be like.  Overall, Shane offers interesting and valuable advice about the future that people rarely ever think about.