Speculation over Apple making $1billion investment in Vietnam

I was reading through an article where there is speculation around the rumour of Apple investing $1bilion in an R&D facility in Vietnam ( link ). I wonder whether this is a big investment to offset their reliance on China which is becoming increasingly hostile to Apple with the latest, to use a technical term, ‘fucking around’ to give local brands a ‘chance’ by subjecting Apple to the sort of scrutiny that no local brand is subjected to. I sometimes wonder whether Apple should even bother trying to win over consumers in China – sell it in Hong Kong and tell the mainland to go ‘piss up a rope’. China ends up throwing a wobbly and Chinese mainlanders go over the border on mass to purchase iPhones anyway.

It will also be interesting to see what happens in the light of the TPP and when/if it eventually is passed and adopted by those involved especially when one throws India into the mix given that they have shown interest. It’ll be interesting to see whether we’re seeing a strategy by the United States to use trade as a tool against China as it becomes increasingly isolated as Apple focuses outside of China and American businesses look outside of China for growth opportunities. America has fed the beast and now it is trying to find a way to tame it – I doubt they’ll have much success.

Democratic convention vs. Republican convention

Although I had created a video I decided to mothball my idea of regulate videos in favour of writing out what I saw when following the two conventions – following both the ‘Democracy Now!” coverage along with the ‘Washington Week’ from PBS/NPR along with many other outlets that have been covering both sides. When it came to the Republican Party what i saw was a convention of cringe worthy old white people waving flags with funny hats trying to convince themselves that they’re the ‘true Americans’ aka ‘real Americans’ from the ‘fly over states’ whilst ignoring that they’re a dying demographic. The Republican Party ultimately has hitched itself to a dying demographic which is quickly turning into a protest party rather than a viable party that can actually win. Whilst the conservative movement in UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have adjusted to the new reality of a pluralistic and socially liberal society thus able to be a viable party to win elections, the Republicans seem to be like King Canute trying to stop the unstoppable force of change and slowly becoming an irrelevant party if it weren’t for the gerrymandering that takes place.

What is even depressing are the speeches themselves which was nothing short of ‘doom and gloom’ and ‘the county is going to hell in a hand basket’ so gone from the days of the Ronald Reagan ‘morning in America’:

In favour of the ‘we’re all completely fucked’ and ‘they’re coming to get you’. Every speaker was doom and gloom, there was no positive vision, there was no outreach independent and swinging voters, there was no policies being announced with the only rise in enthusiasm came from what appeared to be as the unified hatred that the Republican base have of Hillary Clinton. It is a sad situation when the Republican Party, rather than being unified around a set of policies and a positive vision, the party is unified around a single minded hatred of Hillary Clinton which, quite frankly, is an unhealthy basis on which a party can maintain unity just as it is toxic when a party is unified around the cult of personality associated with a leader.

The Democrats on the other side had a campaign that had all the feeling of Reagan’s ‘It’s morning in America’ with great speeches, a positive outlook, a ‘yes we know there are challenges but we’re going to work on those challenges with these ideas…..”. In other words, as noted by commentators on Democracy Now! it sounded like the Republican Party of the 1980’s – optimistic, aspirational and looking forward to the future with positive policies that benefit everyone. Then there was the ‘fly over’ of the event centre and every race, colour, creed and orientation is represented which heavily contrasted to the angry middle aged white people who dominated the Republic convention. One party represents the America of 50 years ago and the other party represents the America of the future because in the end it’ll be demographics coupled with an intransigent party structure that’ll ultimately undermine the Republicans ability to adapt to the new political reality. It does make me wonder whether long term we’ll see the more centre right candidates of the Democrats end up working with the moderate Republicans to ultimately form either a party or Libertarian Party merge with these moderates to create a centre right party to ultimately replace the Republicans long term.

Don’t blame others for your misfortune

In reply to a post I saw on E2NZ.org (god knows why I went there, it’s like a car crash in slow motion) where I made two replies, the first was a reply to the following post:

Thank you for posting that. Your post really resonated with me.

I feel your pain – that is pretty much my story as well. My parents immigrated to NZ 18 years ago and I have grew up here. Like you I went to high school and university here, got a well paid job (thanks to having a couple of open minded UK immigrants as my bosses), bought a house on my own and doing my best to settle in.

But lately the anti-immigration sentiment is really starting to make me feel uneasy. All I hear is Asian getting blamed for all sorts of problems – rising house prices, pushing Kiwi out of jobs, causing traffic accidents to even the declining popularity of rugby (sigh…).

I guess unlike you I don’t have any families here. My parents went back home years ago, finding it too hard to settle in. And to Kiwi women, an Asian man is not seen as a desirable partner, no matter who successful I am. So I am isolated and staring down the prospect of dying alone here.

And I know exactly what you mean when you say your ‘newly-found aggressiveness worries me. It also makes me incredibly sad.’. I am normally a calm and caring person but I find myself getting short-fused, angry, bitter and just want to see the world burn. I guess that is what happen when one group of people is marginalized and no one cares.

If you hang around people who are the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder then it is like writing off the whole of the UK because you spent two years living on a council estate then claiming that the noisy chavs down the road apparently represent the UK over all. If you choose to hang around with people like that then whose fault is it? it is like hearing people here whine about New Zealand and all they’ve done is live in Auckland – congratulations, now you know why Auckland is given the big finger by the rest of New Zealand due the fact that it is a wannabe Sydney which has all the grittiness but none of the excitement that comes with a big city.

I’m living down in Wellington and there has been a big influx of people from the provinces into the major cities which has resulted in many of the more provincial points of view floating around in cities that are pretty cosmopolitan and accepting which colours peoples perception of New Zealand. I’m hoping New Zealand over time such views fade but all countries are going through this urbanisation process where there is greater centralisation as people go where the jobs are resulting in conflict between the existing cosmopolitan culture and the xenophobic culture of the new comers where in the provinces their views were seen as acceptable but having to contend with the fact that those living in the bigger cities don’t have such a tolerance for small mindedness.

Regarding the original poster (the original blog post) and his/her experience, once again it not only comes down where you live but also politicians looking to blame others for their inept planning and when things turn to crap they look for a group to blame; immigrants, gays, Muslims and blame all of societies woes on them. Does this happen in other countries? too damn right – just look at the United States and the number of people supporting Trump, the rise of the far right in France, the overt racism in Australia with Pauline Hanson winning a senate seat – I know this website (e2nz.org) has turned into a New Zealand bashing circle jerk and yes I do believe we should be better than those examples from other countries but lets not try to make out the argument that some how the world is this giant peaceful racially tolerant utopia and New Zealand is some disgusting racism riddle shithole in the south pacific that is beyond redemption.

Whether you enjoy living in New Zealand is based on what decisions you make; if you come to New Zealand expecting bread, circuses and tacky kitsch entertainment then you’re better off moving to the United States and living in a state like California or Nevada (specifically Los Vegas) but if you want to settle down with a family and get involved with the community/workplace then you’re welcome. If you decide to sit in the lunchroom and only talk to people from your ethnic group and then bemoan that you feel isolated then whose fault is that? it reminds me of when I was working at Pak ‘n Save and working with a group of Chinese students who had come over to study and work part time. Out of the group of Chinese work mates there was only one who ever actually came and sat down at the same table as all of us and get involved in conversations and improving her English (her English skills btw were no better or worse than the rest of her Chinese friends) – the net result? she went to parties, met new people, her English improved to the point that after a few years she almost had a New Zealand accent. If you sit in the corner, isolate yourself, and create a mini-[insert country here] then don’t be surprised that your circle of opportunities drastically shrinks for employment and meeting new people. Your life is what you make it.

The Brexit and belittling of the other side: How the divide between ‘them’ and ‘us’ was created

I’m watching the following video:

Megan Greene and her dismissive quip about populism and other talking heads doing the usual whining about xenophobia and racism simply ignore the fact that there is genuine frustration regarding immigration. To those who have this rationale that ‘immigration always adds to the economy’ the reality is that it doesn’t matter how fast the economy is growing given that there is a depressive impact on wages associated with uncontrolled migration into the country. Assuming you have an economy rocking along at 6% in the UK you still wouldn’t be growing at a fast enough rate to not only provide employment but to also have a tight enough labour market that would also push up real wages as employers are forced to compete for employees. What I think is even more appalling is the idea of labelling what Nigel Farage suggested, a points based system for immigration, as some how ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobic’ because god forbid a country decides to have a selective immigration policy that fills in areas of great demand where there is a shortage of skills in a particular area where the country isn’t training enough. The sort of attitude that Megan espouses creates the very backlash against the ‘elites’ that many have talked about, the dismissive attitude which amounts to a polite way of saying, “shut up, your opinion doesn’t matter and the issues you face don’t matter since this should be only discussed by people like me”.

I personally am divided on whether the UK should have left the European Union but that being said, the ’stay in the EU’ campaign didn’t help their situation because, as Boris Johnson noted in this video ( link ) there was no long term plans to those issues he raised during the campaign which meant the average punter was sitting there, “OK, you want us to stay, you recognise there are issues….so what is your solution”. Unfortunately rather than address those legitimate issues that Boris raised you had the ‘stay in the EU’ campaign decided that slandering the alternative view point as ‘racists’, ‘xenophobes’ and ‘little Britain types’ rather than standing back and willing to listen to the concerns. Regarding the issue of the former communist countries joining the EU – why wasn’t there a plan to build up these countries economies before allowing them full membership? if you’re going to have free migration then it only works when all the member countries are roughly at the same standard of living and economic opportunity but what has been created is a draining of former communist countries of skilled workers which has undermined those economies, a lack of investment in those countries to ensure that movement is out of choice rather than necessity and then the rise of friction between local and migrant workers over the increasingly limited number of jobs or jobs that do exist but due to an abundance of employees you have employers being able to depress wages for over a decade which ends up screwing over all except for those at the top of the class structure. Again, the ‘stay in the EU’ have no solution to these issues other than to slander those who ask questions or question conventional wisdom. In the end it was the ‘stay in the EU’ who did more to undermine their message than what Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson could ever say in public.

Regarding the recent tragedy

I was holding off making a comment on the recent tragedy in Orlando (Florida) because I really couldn’t adequately express what horror, disbelief and frustration that we’re currently living in 2016 and there are still people who hold onto socially regressive views then demand that those views are respected because “it’s my religion!” (this goes for all religious people who use religion as a shield when it comes to valid criticism). That being said though I have to put these points out there:

1) It is time for the Muslim scholarly class to take responsibility for the steady diet of hate that has circulated in the name of ‘authentic Islam’. The views held by the person in question didn’t occur in isolation but was a product of culture and then re-enforced again by those in a position of influence and responsibility within the community. The average person doesn’t have time to study the nuances of text and hermeneutics of hadiths and thus there is a professional scholarly class who is supposed to take on that responsibility as the intermediary between the sources, the interpretation and then explain it to the lay people in a way that is relevant to the contemporary challenges that take place in the community.

The role of a scholar is a massive responsibility and it is important not to downplay just how influential someone can be within a community. Remember, the average lay person has their family, work, bills to pay etc. and thus have trust in the person giving them the information about their religion is doing it truthfully. When you have the likes of scholars such as this gentleman who voices his opinions with no counter critique then what is a lay person supposed to assume? ( link ) Inflammatory language and no counter critique by the scholarly class and keep in mind that he isn’t some sort of ‘fringe lunatic’ like this guy ( link ) but a mainstream scholar akin to someone from the Vatican giving their five cents on the religion. If one were going to get riled up when the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage rant, rave and whip up hatred over talk back radio then I think it is fair that the scholars and clerics also stand up and be willing to make it abundantly clear that such views are inconsistent with the teaching of said religion rather than just standing by quiet and through their silence give those who are speaking an implied nod of approval.

Regarding Hamza Yusuf ( link ) he noted the following:

Q: There have been many statements from Muslims condemning terrorism. Why issue another one?

A: Muslims are constantly being accused of not condemning these types of attacks, even though I don’t have any control over what other people do, and they don’t represent me or my faith. Nobody associates all Seventh-day Adventists with David Koresh, who belonged to a splinter sect, or all of Judaism with Meir Kahane. But when these things happen, the whole religion of Islam is besmirched. We’re trapped in this constant cycle of: events, condemnation; events, condemnation. And then people still say, “Why don’t Muslims condemn these things?”

The issue isn’t about condemning individual acts but getting at the source of the acts, the ideology and condemning those points of view before they get out into wide spread circulation and turn otherwise indifferent people into those who are drawn towards social regressive views and violence. You cannot condemn every random act of violent but you can and should call out fellow scholars who drift off into the deep end by critiquing what they said through well written discourses. There has been well written discourses in the past – Al-Ghazali vs. Ibn Sina (associated with the Mutazillites) – if you want to stop the blood shed then you to form a cogent argument rather than speaking out against the symptom of a larger problem that exists.

The problem is that there are people like Timothy Winter (Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad) that write about “Decaffeinated Islam” but such discourses tend be relegated to the nether regions of the internet ( link ) rather something that should be spoken about in mosques and after school religious instruction. To counter the narrative put out by extremists you need to first of all openly admit that such views exist and launch a robust counter critique because in the void of silence the inevitable consequence is for that void to be filled with ideas that are less than desirable. I’m not normally fan of the Catholic Church but at least one high profile member of the clergy has spoken out at the ( link ) noting that the language used by religious leaders have fed into the dehumanisation which has led to an individual doing what he did as he no longer saw the victims as humans because he was brain washed into believing that they ceased being human the moment that they fell out of the cis-gender heterosexual mainstream.

Back to the topic that was raised in the link from where the text was quoted, the other problem is the complete lack of willingness to talk about a complete separation between religions and politics – that the complete condemnation of corporal, capital or imprisonment for those of the same sex having sex with each other. There is also a lack of addressing the issue of Muslims who are gay but want to leave the religion but find that they’re subject to either punishment by the legal system of their home country or subject to threats on their life by those within their only country (see the recent spate of murders within Bangladesh).

2) There was also a story about Chick-fil-A ( link ) and the issue of the founder supporting organisations that opposed same sex marriage. The problem is that the issue wasn’t the fact that the founder was supporting organisations that oppose same sex marriage but the fact that these organisations were linked to the ‘kill the gays’ push in Uganda not to mention some of the nastiest elements within the Republican Party hell bent on bringing back anti-sodomy laws by claiming that they’re not targeted at gay men. I really do wish that when people do talk about the relationship between the founder of Chick-fil-A and the anti-same sex marriage movements that they such people actually talk about the wider context of the discussion rather than just viewing it as a simple matter of two groups; one being for and one being against.

No movement ever works in isolation and it is ridiculous that the media couldn’t even be bothered looking into the links between the various groups that make up those group that see themselves as ‘fighting a culture war’ (a war that they lost 50+ years ago but they’re like that lone Japanese soldier that held out until 1974 ( link ) ). It is something that the SPLC has done a good job at when it comes to showing links, both formal and informal, between reactionary groups that may have divergent opinions but will come together when interests overlap and working together is of mutual benefit. In the case of these anti-same sex marriage organisations, their interests go well beyond just merely stopping same sex marriage but focus on rolling back hard won rights along with obstructing even seemingly innocuous recommendations such as when a department of education offer guidelines when it comes to dealing with bullying LGBT students and how schools should address that matter.

US presidential election menagerie

One of the biggest attraction of Trump is not only his willingness to stick it to the establishment but gives the appearance that he actually empathises, through his body language and the tone of his speeches, that he understands what the average person is going through. Then throw on top of that the fact that he isn’t part of the establishment of going through hoity-toity Ivy league universities, his use irreverent language, not to mention the fact that he has the ‘Joe Sixpack’ common man appearance of enjoying a hot dog at the ballpark  – “I’m just like you! I enjoying sitting back watching baseball and eating a hotdog just like a normal working class Joe”.

When it comes to Bernie sanders there is also the perception of authenticity – a person whose only major asset being the house owned in Vermont, some savings, no major donors, a person of humbling beginnings and a history of always sticking up for the little guy. In the case of Bernie, what you see is what you get, and unlike Hillary he hasn’t changed his tune for the decades he has been in politics where as Hillary it has been a situation of blowing with the political winds when just as things change she changes with it to give the appearance of being at the leading edge where as Bernie has been at that position all the time – it was the public and politics that caught up to where he stands on social and economic issues.

When it comes to Rubio the problem is that he sounded like a wimp – that he would soon be and doing something else in much the same way that Jeb Bush came off as a, to quote Trump, as ‘low energy’ candidate rather than actually passionate about the job they’re going for and the policies being advocated by him and his team. The complete lack of passion which boarder lined on the disinterested was what ultimately erected a barrier between the voter and Rubio resulting in there being a lack of a rapport being built between the candidate and potential voters.