“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The real world pirates are the Chinese.

The West used to know how to treat Chinese pirates.

The New York Times headline is somewhat different from what I chose for them. Read the article about intellectual theft and technological piracy. China deserves a special tariff to compensate the west for their brazen thievery, 125% is about right for my taste. The article is intellectual spit.

April 28, 2009
In China, Knockoff Cellphones Are a Hit

SHENZHEN, China — The phone’s sleek lines and touch-screen keyboard are unmistakably familiar. So is the logo on the back. But a sales clerk at a sprawling electronic goods market in this Chinese coastal city admits what is clear upon closer inspection: this is not the Apple iPhone; this is the Hi-Phone.

“But it’s just as good,” the clerk says.

Nearby, dozens of other vendors are selling counterfeit Nokia, Motorola and Samsung phones — as well as cheap look-alikes that make no bones about being knockoffs.

“Five years ago, there were no counterfeit phones,” says Xiong Ting, a sales manager at Triquint Semiconductor, a maker of mobile phone parts, while visiting Shenzhen. “You needed a design house. You needed software guys. You needed hardware design. But now, a company with five guys can do it. Within 100 miles of here, you can find all your suppliers.”

Technological advances have allowed hundreds of small Chinese companies, some with as few as 10 employees, to churn out what are known here as shanzhai, or black market, cellphones, often for as little as $20 apiece.

And just as Chinese companies are trying to move up the value chain of manufacturing, from producing toys and garments to making computers and electric cars, so too are counterfeiters. After years of making fake luxury bags and cheap DVDs, they are capturing market share from the world’s biggest mobile phone makers.

Although shanzhai phones have only been around a few years, they already account for more than 20 percent of sales in China, which is the world’s biggest mobile phone market, according to the research firm Gartner.

They are also being illegally exported to Russia, India, the Middle East, Europe, even the United States. “The shanzhai phone market is expanding crazily,” says Wang Jiping, a senior analyst at IDC, which tracks technology trends. “They copy Apple, Nokia, whatever they like, and they respond to the market swiftly.”

Alarmed by the rapid growth of counterfeits and no-name knockoffs, global brands are pressing the Chinese government to crack down on their proliferation, and are warning consumers about potential health hazards, like cheap batteries that can explode.

Nokia, the world’s biggest cellphone maker, says it is working with Beijing to fight counterfeiting. Motorola says much the same. Apple Inc. declined to comment.

Even Chinese mobile phone producers are losing market share to underground companies, which have a built-in cost advantage because they evade taxes, regulatory fees and safety checks.

“We’re being severely hurt by shanzhai phones,” says Chen Zhao, a sales director at Konka, a Chinese cellphone maker. “Legal cellphone makers should pay 17 percent of their revenue as value-added tax, but shanzhai makers, of course, won’t pay it.”

So far, however, China has done little to stop the proliferation of fake mobile phones, which are even advertised on late-night television infomercials with pitches like “one-fifth the price, but the same function and look,” or patriotic appeals like “Buy shanzhai to show your love of our country.”

Last month, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology did warn consumers about the hazards of shanzhai phones, saying “their radiation usually exceeds the limit.” China’s consumer protection agency says faulty mobile phones were the No. 1 consumer complaint last year.

A few weeks ago, a 45-year-old man in south China was severely burned after his cellphone exploded in his shirt pocket, according to state-run news media.

But that hasn’t seemed to affect sales of black market phones, which typically sell at retail for $100 to $150. In the spirit of what is called “shanzhai” — which suggests rebels or bandits and which applies to counterfeit products of all kinds — many consumers are willing to take a risk on a cheap item that looks stylish.

“I saw iPhone pictures on the Web; it’s so cool. But it costs over $500 — too expensive,” says Yang Guibin, 30, an office worker from Chongqing. “So I decided to buy a shanzhai iPhone. I bought it in a digital market here; it looked exactly like the iPhone.”

Some experts say they believe the shanzhai phenomena is about being creative, Chinese style.

“Chinese grass-roots companies are actually very innovative,” says Yu Zhou, a professor at Vassar College. “It’s not so much technology as how they form supply chains and how rapidly they react to new trends.”

While the phones may look like famous brands, companies actually add special features like bigger screens, dual-mode SIM cards (which allow two phone numbers) and even a telescopic lens attachment for the phone’s camera.

Since it is the SIM card that makes a phone run in China, as in most places other than the United States, all you have to do is insert a valid SIM card into a shanzhai phone and it works.

All this innovation comes from an industry that only took off in 2005, after Mediatek, a semiconductor design company from Taiwan, helped significantly reduce the cost and complexity of producing a mobile phone.

Using what experts call a turnkey solution, Mediatek developed a circuit board that could inexpensively integrate the functions of multiple chips, offering start-ups a platform to produce a low-cost mobile phone.

The industry got another boost in 2007, when regulators said companies no longer needed a license to manufacture a cellphone.

That set off a scramble by entrepreneurs in this electronics manufacturing center. Counterfeiting and off-brand knockoffs flourished. Tiny companies would buy a Mediatek chip loaded with software, source other components and ask a factory to assemble them.

Marketing strategies were simple: steal. Designs and brand names were copied identically or simply mimicked. (Sumsung for Samsung or Nckia for Nokia.)

Tapping into the supply chains of big brands is easy, producers say. “It’s really common for factories to do a night shift for other companies,” says Zhang Haizhen, who recently ran a shanzhai company here. “No one will refuse an order if it is over 5,000 mobile phones.”

The people who make fake iPhones admit it’s a shady business.

“We are a kind of illegal producer,” says Zhang Feiyang, whose company, Yuanyang, makes an iPhone clone. “In Shenzhen there are many small mills, hidden. Basically, we can make any type of cellphone.”

The competition is already forcing global brands to lower prices, analysts say. And new Chinese brands are emerging, like Meizu, a would-be Apple that has opened stylish stores here.

“Our phone is even better than the iPhone,” says Liu Zeyu, a Meizu salesman in Shenzhen. “Our goal is to create a phone that makes Chinese proud.”

Chen Yang contributed research.


  1. Gosh, whit. You put up a post just for me. And I missed it.

    I was watching Goodfellas. One of my favorite mob movies.

  2. ...During which my brother called.

    The conversation found its way to current events (via swine flu) and I found myself listening to AM radio talking points. Up until six or seven years ago, that would've been me. I could write those points (which may just go to demonstrate how stale they are at this point). Now it's my kid brother, hair on fire, and he wants to share - and to have shared - his extreme anxiety and understanding of the big bucket of doom being balanced over the doorway of our collective fate. Failing that, he wanted at least a debate. I couldn't manage that either.

    I left the Right. I can't imagine ever going back. And the Left has never had appeal. I am content to belong to no camp at all. Until something better comes along.

  3. "Intellectual Rights"

    Such an interesting concept.

    That the manufacturer retains property rights, even after he sells the product.
    Which may be fair, as some liabilities are retained, after the sale.

    Intellectual rights, certainly not embodied, ideologically, in Laissez-faire Capitalism.

    Intellectual Rights are a function of State regulation and control. The "shanzhai" products not part of the Chinese export economy, but built for domestic consumption, by rouge entrepreneurs scattered across China.

    Shanzhai manufacturers are already criminals, in China, as they avoid the 17% VAT tax payments that legitimate manufacturers make.

    The Shanzhai phones a symptom of Charlie Chi-coms' trek towards being a "Failed State", one where tax evaders are able to advertise on television.

    Ideologically and strategicly we should be encouraging this development, not attempting to stifle it. It weakens Charlie Chi-coms totalotarian grip on the Chinese people, which is a good thing.

    Especialy if one believes the "Rights of Man" are universal.

  4. The technology that the Mainland Chinese have used to facilitate shanzai phones, was Chinese, to begin with.

    ... after Mediatek, a semiconductor design company from Taiwan, helped significantly reduce the cost and complexity of producing a mobile phone.

    Using what experts call a turnkey solution, Mediatek developed a circuit board that could inexpensively integrate the functions of multiple chips, offering start-ups a platform to produce a low-cost mobile phone

    Since the US maitains a "One China" policy, all the Chinese shinzai manufacturers are really stealing from the whirled, the marketing muscle of international corporations, like Nokia.

    Real Robin Hoods, spreading the technological wealth to a people long deprived. And they didn't even have to steal the tech, that was homegrown, they just piggyback their marketing.

  5. "The rights of man" -- hogwash. We are only interested in the rights of Americans to prosper - screw the other guys!

  6. Torture Inc.!! errrr, Enhanced Interrogations R US. Mind you, if you are 'the other' don't even think about doing it to our boys.

  7. "I left the Right. I can't imagine ever going back. And the Left has never had appeal. I am content to belong to no camp at all. Until something better comes along."

    You already found it, the calm reflective detachment of the expatriati. Smoke em while you gottem.

  8. Ash, I would cut off the ear of a kidnapper to make him tell me where he was holding one of my grandsons. With relish.

    Wouldn't you?

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. To paraphrase what Mr Rollins said:

    "Signing those argeements was a mistake"

    And perhaps it was, but we did it, none the less. Setting ourselves right in Rule #4's crosshairs.

    While at the same time ash can rant, implementing Alinsky's Rules 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, & 12 in the continued campaign for control of America's future.

    For as the US goes, so goes the rest of America.

  11. 2164th,

    That is the tautological argument - with the answer embedded in the premise.

    In the real world you have no idea that 1. the person is the kidnapper, 2. that that person knows where your grandson is. and 3. That cutting off his ear will yield the answer you desire and that the desired answer is correct.

  12. Add to the above reservations I expressed you also have the problem of institutionalizing it as a standard method of interrogation and you start marching down the path of Stalin et al. Why the heck not use it for local law enforcement? Why not as a method for public school administrators to safe guard our children?

  13. That's absurd, ash.

    It could be plain as day that the prisoner was involved. Let's say he was captured by my bodyguards during the kidnapping.

    He would know their post snatch plans, having been part of them.

    He very well could know where the surviving kidnappers were going and who they were.

    If he didn't know, there'd be no reason for him to survive the kidnapping. I'd give him three strikes. Free admission, Interrogation, Ehnaced Interrogation.

    If he could not provide part of the immediate solution, he'd be out.

  14. Smoke em while you gottem.

    Tue Apr 28, 10:48:00 AM EDT

    I have a fresh pack from the nice woman who works a cart on my street corner. I do my little part to help with her rent.

  15. Los Pepe solución a la anarquía

  16. Or put a bit more succinctly

    "Cuando el Estado falla, Los Pepes tenido la solución a la anarquía"

  17. That's correct Rat -, you have to set up a very narrow set of circumstances in order to make the argument play out - you need to embed the conclusion in the premise. In your description 1. You assume your bodyguards are telling the truth, and not, say protecting a negative assessment of their failure to protect the body, 2. the captured kidnapper knows the post snatch plans and, in your case, 3. His guilt warrants execution if he fails to provide desired info.

    Again, why not use these enhanced methods of interrogation as standard local law enforcement practice?

  18. Because I am not the State, ash.

    Actions that can be justified by an individual become unacceptable as an extension of State power.

    If the State has not failed.

    The kidnappers having gone to war with me and mine. I never signing on to upholding the Geneva Accords, except while representing the United States.

    For those young readers, I'll set the stage of the next question:

    Aldo Moro (September 23, 1916 – May 9, 1978) was an Italian politician and two-time Prime Minister of Italy, from 1963 to 1968, and then from 1974 to 1976. He was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, holding power for a combined total of more than six years.

    One of the most important leaders of Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democracy, DC), Moro was considered an intellectual and a patient mediator, especially in the internal life of his party. He was kidnapped on March 16, 1978, by the Red Brigades (BR), and killed by them after 54 days of captivity

    Was the kidnapping and killing of Mr Moro simply a crime or an act of war against Italy?

  19. Was the Pakistani citizens assault on Bombay just a crime, or an act of war?

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. What of those two prosecutors going to the Supremes, bob linking us to the story, they being sued for falsely imprisoning a fellow for 25 years.

    Did they torture that man?
    I certainly think so.

  22. There are a Billion of'em, and they're tired of being poor.

    Look Out Above!

    Actually, I can't tell you why, but it feels like a "good news" story to me.

  23. Getting back to basics--

    "I have been chasing gamma-ray bursts for a decade, trying to find such a spectacular event," said Berger. "We now have the first direct proof that the young universe was teeming with exploding stars and newly-born black holes only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang," he said.Oldest object(burst) in the universe seen so far--

    Gamma Ray Buster

  24. I guess Arlen Spector won't be the GOP Presidential nominee in 2012 after all, he just became a Donk.

  25. Do the Chinese have anything we can steal from them?

  26. Xena, can you put a diamond in your belly button for me?

  27. He always was a donk. Now he's a craven donk, a craven tickle-brained miscreant!

  28. Of course on Coast to Coast last night there was lots of talk about the flu virus being bio/engineered, one theory being the military did it to stop the Mexican immigration, it supposedly being targeted at them.

    Rreally, would it be such a bad thing if the flu wiped out most of Capital Hill, no repecter of parties? Target them, then you got a flu virus that might gain the respect of the nation.

  29. U.S. regulatory czar nominee wants Net 'Fairness Doctrine'Barack Obama's nominee for "regulatory czar" has advocated a "Fairness Doctrine" for the Internet that would require opposing opinions be linked and also has suggested angry e-mails should be prevented from being sent by technology that would require a 24-hour cooling off period. WND

  30. Again, why not use these enhanced methods of interrogation as standard local law enforcement practice?

    Good idea, Ash, Let's do it.

  31. Ace comments on the Tedisco defeat. It seems like he was just another McCrazy-like, Business-hating, go-along, get-along, Faux-Republican.

    When are we going to quit nominating these kinds of assholes?

  32. Prayer Leads To Good Health--


    Let's hope so, it's about all we have left, right now.

  33. I am content to belong to no camp at all. Until something better comes along.Trish

    Not a bad attitutde, taken all in all.

    The only thing missing is a frontier to which one can hightail it, when one can't stand things any longer.

  34. Bobal

    withdrawing is the new for me!

  35. heh

    There was a time in my youth when I was interested in going to Australia.

    I think Sam's in a good place there.

    Too late for me now.

  36. Should have seen the Specter defection coming.

  37. In all honesty the Republican party treated Arlen Specter like dog shit. Arlen Specter stayed a Republican Senator for Pennsylvania because he represented the interests of most Pennsylvanians.

    That is how it works.

    A lot of Republicans on the right wanted a 100% down the party line guy and they got 85% from Specter. They were so worried about that missing magic 15% that they would have elected Toomey in a Republican primary.

    Toomey would lose a statewide election by 25% probably to Joe Sestak, an ex naval officer that beat the pants off of a conservative Republican from Delaware county.

    Pat Toomey was a US rep from Allentown and could have stayed in the House after three terms, but he signed the goofy pledge to leave and did.

    I doubt that Toomey can winn a statewide election in PA with the Democrats now having a registration balance of one million.

    Now Sean Hannity has what he wants a solid pure Northeast controlled by the Democrats and not infected by any suspect Republicans.

  38. The Repiblicans left Arlen Specter, he did not leave the Republicans.

    Just as happened to Ronald Reagan and the Democrats.

    We used to have a happy Republican from down along the border. I forget the limp wrist's name, but he decided he'd had enough and the GOP nominated a fire brand in his stead. A fellow the "retiring" Congressman could not stand to be in the same room with.

    It is a Democratic District, now.

    Despite the best of the demials, by the remaining Republicans, the US os now a Center-Left country. The longer they deny that realitiy, the longer their stay in the wilderness will be.

    No half-a-loaf mentality of incremental gains is good enough for real Real Republicans. They are now another vote away from 43 Senators, loyal and true.

    Remember the Alamo!!!

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. Arlen Specter took the measure of Barack Obama, over the last 100 days, and decided to join him.

    There is a deeper message there, one most of us will artfully avoid

  41. I am glad to see Spectre go. If I must spend some time in the wilderness, so be it.

  42. "I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more aligned with the philosophy of the Democratic Party"- Specter

  43. Well, whit, as the Republicans cede the Northeast and the West Coast, while on a losing trend in the Mountain West. Then combined with the Democratic dominance in the industrial rust-belt of the Mid-West, the way forward is not evidently clear.

    The GOP becoming a Regional Party that will have little effect on the National stage, for at least a decade.

    Hunker down and arm up

  44. What the Republicans preach, they do not practice.

    They exist as the non-democratic party.

    Did the Republicans practice small government, secure borders, speaking softly carrying a big stick, minding our own business, protecting the wealth of the country, respecting state's rights, property rights and individual freedom and privacy from government intrusion?

    Who amongst the recent past Republican leadership walked the Republican walk?

  45. Specter has not gone. He still may get beat if Sestak runs against him.

  46. Kid Rock, representing the Army National Guard, Citizen Soldiers.

    There stands the Center-Right, rallied around Kid Rock & NASCAR.

  47. That litney of policies, those are not Republican realities.

    Those are not issues that elected Republicans believe in. Based upon their performance.
    That they are issues that you may find compelling, duece, does not make them Republican issues nor you a Republican.

    The Republicans of the 21st century not the Perty of Lincoln and Grant, that's fer sur.

    Nor are they part of the Party of Progress that Teddy Roosevelt led.

    They are in a wilderness of the own design.

  48. I guess I am now an army of one. No party to turn to.

  49. Specter is an old man. He sold his dignity to make one last stand. It will not work. The republicans in PA will hate him, the Democrats will not trust him.

    Sestak will clean his clock.

  50. Exactly, amigo.

    Kid Rock represents the Right, in America today, better than any politician.

    You guys avoid modern entertainment and the cultural medium of HD TV, on the big screen.

    Or at least some of you do make claim to self-imposed ignorance.
    Miss out on the gala events promoted on CMT. Skip the History Channel, disdain Idol and even Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice".

    But most of US eat that shit up.

    Dancing with the Stars, Obama style.

  51. Here is Joe Sestak according to Joe Sestak. He has not exposed himself to PA. Why does Specter think they will choose him over Sestak?

    "Joe Sestak is serving his second term as the Representative from Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District, which includes most of Delaware County and parts of Chester and Montgomery Counties.

    Born and raised in Delaware County, Joe Sestak spent 31 years serving our nation in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of three-star Admiral.

    Joe Sestak brings to Congress the same dedication and commitment with which he served this country in the Navy. As a member of Congress, Joe is working to strengthen our country's national security - national security that begins at home in the health, education, and economic promise of our people, as well as our defense security. Joe's primary focus is on fixing problems and moving our country forward - not on governing from the left or on the right.

    During his distinguished career in the Navy, Joe led a series of operational commands, culminating in the command of the George Washington aircraft carrier battle group, which consisted of 30 U.S. and allied ships, 15,000 sailors, and close to 100 aircraft. Under Joe's watch, the George Washington battle group conducted combat operations in Afghanistan and precursor operations to the war in Iraq.

    Joe also served in President Clinton's White House as the Director for Defense Policy on the National Security Council. After 9/11, he was selected to serve as the first Director of "Deep Blue," the Navy's anti-terrorism unit where he worked to establish new strategies for the Navy to fight the Global War on Terror.

    After graduating from Cardinal O'Hara High School, Joe followed in the footsteps of his father, a Navy captain who served in World War II, and attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he graduated second in his class. Joe also holds a MPA, and a PhD in Political Economy and Government, from Harvard University.

    Joe has one brother and six sisters. He and his wife, Susan, have a daughter, Alexandra."

  52. The Republicans have treated him like dog turds for years. Saw him speak, on TV during his book tour.

    Said that when he had his bout with cancer, his Republican "friends" acted like it was a contagious ailment.

    He singled out Mr Bush, in particular, for going out of his way to avoid getting to close to Mr Specter, in the privacy of the White House.

    Seemed to me that Arlen took it persoanally.

  53. This is Pat Toomey, a somewhat lighter resume:

    TOOMEY, Patrick Joseph, a Representative from Pennsylvania; born in Providence, Providence County, R.I., November 17, 1961; graduated from LaSalle Academy, Providence, R.I.; B.A., Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., 1984; elected to Allentown, Pa., Government Study Commission, 1994; elected as a Republican to the One Hundred Sixth and to the two succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1999-January 3, 2005); not a candidate for reelection in 2004, but was an unsuccessful candidate for nomination to the United States Senate.

  54. Specter endorses the Admiral, over Mr Toomey, duece.

    That is the bottom line of his move, he'd rather lose to Joe Sestak, a fellow he proboly repects.

  55. Said that when he had his bout with cancer, his Republican "friends" acted like it was a contagious ailment.Actually a pretty common reaction among people. Unconsciously avoid the sick. Normal reaction really, one should watch oneself, maybe catching oneself doing that very thing. Little kids especially avoid the sick. Take a look, then skedaddle.

  56. FAA Memo: Feds Knew Flyover Would Cause NYC Panic; Threatened Sanctions Against NYPD & Mayor's Office If Secret Got Out...Heh, are people nuts, or what?

    Why not take a picture of the stupid sitting on the ground?

    Why take a picture at all, come to think of it?

  57. Take heart, Jimmy Carter could call on 61 Demo Senators from 1977-1978 but Jimmy Carter himself was the cure for that.

  58. Leave it to the GOP to get behind a group called 'Club for Growth' that has actually shrunk the party...and be happy about it.

  59. As recently as late winter, he was asked by a reporter why he had not taken Democrats up on past offers to switch parties.

    "Because I am a Republican," he said at the time.

    Tuesday's switch was not Specter's first.
    Fillibuster-proof Mark

  60. I'm tempted to say no one eighty years old has any business being in Congress anyway. Surely there are better things to do with one's dying breath.

    Can hear the howls of complaints--ageism, constitution, equal rights, etc.

    But really, a voyage awaits, the sailing date nears, it's said to be healthy to take aim to lift the sails, get one's affairs in order, watch as the coast line recedes, conform to one's divinity, dying gracefully like an aging tree, rather than bury oneself in the tomb of politics.The kids know, and most of the grand good old folk too, that there's really nothing much to it to get chumped up about. Only the Spectres of the world seem to want to avoid the issue by hanging on and on. Ted Stevens comes to mind too. And that dreadful old man, Robert Byrd.

  61. "Just to be clear," piped up Sen. Mark Pryor, of the pork-producing state of Arkansas, "there are no pigs in the United States that have been affected with this virus?"

    Satisfied that all American hogs are healthy, Pryor turned to the more pressing matter of vaccine production. "Do you need any more money to do this?" he asked.

    Before the witnesses could answer, Harkin interrupted with a long answer of his own, which led, inevitably, back to the hog farmers. "Now, let me return here," he said, asking the Agriculture Department witness to repeat his assertion that there's "not one single pig in the U.S. that has this particular virus."
    Flu Pandemic

  62. Specter knew he would lose to Toomey as sure as we know his cousin Phil killed that nice blonde lady.
    Simple as that.

  63. 28. whiskey:

    "The whole point of killing the F-22 and everything else military is who benefits: Straight White Men who are NOT SWPL yuppies. But conservative and nerdy engineers.

    Obama won on the female vote, specifically single women. Expecting him not to cut Defense to a point where it no longer meaningfully exists is just silly. That’s who he is, but more importantly that is who his supporters are.

    More sure to bring a chuckle than Jack Daniels.
    ...that's my Whiskey for ya.

  64. "Department witness to repeat his assertion that there's "not one single pig in the U.S. that has this particular virus"
    Unless and until the head of homeland security comes down with a case.

    Hope 'Rat don't miss her too much.

  65. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!
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  66. Who would win in an epic battle of pirates? Somalis or Chinese?