Random | A Continuous Lean.

An American Made Apple iPhone?

Jan 21st, 2012 | Categories: Made in the USA, Random, Technology | by Michael Williams

The New York Times today published a startling article discussing the manufacturing of the Apple iPhone and the economic impact of the company’s production decisions over the past several years. The crux of the piece centers on Apple’s global supply chain and the dominance of Asia when it comes to electronic manufacturing. The article also questions whether it would be possible to make the iPhone in the United States and how the shift of manufacturing by U.S. companies has impacted the American economy and the middle class. As an American, the article is utterly terrifying.

Some excerpts from How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work:

For over two years, the Apple had been working on a project — code-named Purple 2 — that presented the same questions at every turn: how do you completely reimagine the cellphone? And how do you design it at the highest quality — with an unscratchable screen, for instance — while also ensuring that millions can be manufactured quickly and inexpensively enough to earn a significant profit?

The answers, almost every time, were found outside the United States. Though components differ between versions, all iPhones contain hundreds of parts, an estimated 90 percent of which are manufactured abroad. Advanced semiconductors have come from Germany and Taiwan, memory from Korea and Japan, display panels and circuitry from Korea and Taiwan, chipsets from Europe and rare metals from Africa and Asia. And all of it is put together in China.

In its early days, Apple usually didn’t look beyond its own backyard for manufacturing solutions. A few years after Apple began building the Macintosh in 1983, for instance, Mr. Jobs bragged that it was “a machine that is made in America.” In 1990, while Mr. Jobs was running NeXT, which was eventually bought by Apple, the executive told a reporter that“I’m as proud of the factory as I am of the computer.” As late as 2002, top Apple executives occasionally drove two hours northeast of their headquarters to visit the company’s iMacplant in Elk Grove, Calif.

But in the last two decades, something more fundamental has changed, economists say. Midwage jobs started disappearing. Particularly among Americans without college degrees, today’s new jobs are disproportionately in service occupations — at restaurants or call centers, or as hospital attendants or temporary workers — that offer fewer opportunities for reaching the middle class.

“We shouldn’t be criticized for using Chinese workers,” a current Apple executive said. “The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need.”

I hear a lot of Americans say that we don’t need manufacturing anymore, but the truth of the matter is: jobs at Wal-Mart rarely turn into anything better than low wage retail jobs. And they certainly don’t hold much promise of economic advancement. As the Times points out, it’s all about job multipliers.

Read the full article here.

One more thing while I am on my soap box. Reporting and news like this is the reason why The New York Times is worth supporting through digital subscriptions, or better yet, through traditional subscriptions. Just my two cents.

GQ’s Oral History of Menswear Blogging

Dec 13th, 2011 | Categories: Random | by Michael Williams

Today one of those things you never thought would (or maybe should) be documented was documented. Today GQ published the Oral History of Menswear Blogging and I have to say it is pretty interesting. Somehow I managed to harass my dad and make fun of Lawrence Schlossman all in the same article — sorry guys. And if you can’t tell, I was only (mostly) joking.

Some choice quotes below and full article here.

Michael Williams: Maybe I’m out of touch, but I never liked the whole double monk thing. I think a lot of this stuff has gotten out of control. At the Pop Up Flea [in 2009], some dude showed up in a henley and Carhartt overalls, seriously, with like a bandana in his back pocket. That shit looks weird at a truck stop in rural Pennsylvania. You can’t be wearing that shit in SoHo. Now it’s all these Italian unstructured garment-washed jackets.

Lawrence is like the leader of all these little things. He’s the one that gets on bracelets and shit. I never subscribed to that either, the whole bracelet thing. I’ll leave that to Man Repeller, I’m good on wearing 10 bracelets. I’m not at fucking summer camp.

Lawrence Schlossman: I think the age difference in bloggers determines how susceptible they are to experimenting style-wise. An older guy, such as Michael, has had more time behind the wheel and knows pretty quickly when he has absolutely no interest in something. I wear them because I saw Kanye West wear them at Coachella.

Otherwise, no salad.

May 31st, 2011 | Categories: Random | by Michael Williams

A rare personal note from your humble steward about how people from the midwest interpret salad.

Yesterday at about 11am I went for a walk along the Hudson River and decided to give my mother a ring to see what the folks we up to on their Memorial day down in Florida. First of all, my mother starts off the conversation with, “Happy Memorial Day.” To which I reply, “Mom, I don’t think Memorial Day is a holiday in which you extend well wishes to people. It’s not New Year’s Day or anything.” (Which is part of what inspired the previous post.)

What can you say, mom’s got a good Midwestern heart. (Did I mention their place in Florida is on the gulf side? Or maybe you guessed that, because the gulf side is where the midwesterners go. That’s just how they roll.) Once all of the “Happy Memorial Days,” were out of the way, I asked what she was up too? “Making potato salad” she said. My next thought was instantly to the below video. Then I immediately missed my folks and the Memorial Days of my youth in the Middle West — even if it means that these days I’ll need to go to the gulf side of Florida to get some “salad.”

It is amazing how much this series hit home with me and how ahead of their time they were. Here’s an extra helping of potato salad for you Mr. Morris. Otherwise, no salad.

Sugar’s Perspective

Mar 12th, 2011 | Categories: Random, Video | by Michael Williams

Probably my favorite use of the GoPro camera to date. Prepare to live the happy life of a duck hunting dog. I’m consistently enamored with the results from these cameras, they produce high quality video and some pretty amazing perspectives. Hats off to the guys that came up with the idea to strap the camera on the dog, field marketing at its finest. Pun intended. [via SUGAR via Gizmodo]

Into the Abyss

Feb 27th, 2011 | Categories: Random | by Michael Williams

“Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.”

Clearly, Bud Fox didn’t take Lou Mannheim’s advice back in 1987. We’ve been monitoring the current Charlie Sheen meltdown very closely. Our interest in Wild Thing’s current adventures started with pornstar Kacey Jordan’s amazing tell-all interview on Howard Stern (part I, part II, part III, part IV & part V / depending on where you work, those are likely NSFW). The best part of the Kacey Jordan Howard Stern chat is definitely the bit when Charlie writes her a $30,000 check (made out to Cash no less) for her services. Riveting stuff here people. And then came the very quotable phone call to Alex Jones, which while completely perplexing and ridiculous, is utterly amazing for its comedic value. It is also utterly sad to see a person as talented as Sheen self destruct publicly yet again.

Different but the same…

Jan 30th, 2011 | Categories: Music, Random | by Michael Williams

First this…

Then this…

Chan Marshall Revisited

Feb 28th, 2010 | Categories: Music, Random | by Michael Williams

Just because. Photos by Mr. David Black. Respect.