Did Chinese President Xi Jinping just blink in trade war stand-off with US?

That exact headline comes from The South China Morning Post, a leading news organization in Hong Kong.

I guess the U.S. media mavens who screamed about the dumb move Trump made against China had already turned their attention to the next round of bashing the president.

Why analyze some important information when you can focus on the salacious statements of a hooker and an FBI hack?

As The South China Morning Post reports:

In his keynote speech at the [economic meeting of the] Boao Forum for Asia—his first to a foreign audience since starting a second term as leader—Xi pledged to open China’s doors ‘wider and wider’ to the world.

The most notable pledges were the easing of foreign ownership limits in the financial and automotive industries, lower tariffs on imported cars, and improved protection for intellectual property rights.

The next day, China’s central bank unveiled a slew of measures to open up its financial sector to foreign investment, including the removal of foreign ownership caps for banks, as Beijing tried to paint itself as an open economy and a key backer of free trade and globalization.

At the beginning of a two-month stay in China, I visited Chengdu, which most people know as the home base for many of the cuddly pandas. But the city is also the home of one of the largest plants that produces Apple products. It is a massive site, where an estimated 100,000 people work.

The plant is owned and operated by Foxconn, which is the largest, private employer in mainland China with about 1.4 million workers. Ironically, the company is actually based in Taiwan, but it is so good at what it does that the mainland government tends to look the other way.

For more on FoxConn, see https://www.recode.net/2015/4/6/11561130/where-apple-products-are-born-a-rare-glimpse-inside-foxconns-factory

But consider this: What if President Trump decided to hit the Apple and FoxConn operations—as well as others like them that ship electronic goods the United States—with significant tariffs? At least, President Xi may not rule out that possibility.

Even though American consumers may complain about price increases on myriad products, the Chinese president knows a trade war would hurt his country a lot more than the United States.

A final note: My complaints about Facebook have nothing to do with privacy. My bone to pick is how the company has ruined any recognition of proper punctuation.

FB puts a period outside of every quotation mark, such as “I like you”.

That’s all right if you’re in the United Kingdom but not in the United States.

I spend countless hours correcting students’ misuse of punctuation in my classes, which is a product of a poor educational system that fails to recognize rules of a grammar and Facebook. Just sayin’.

A majority of Americans wants the government to regulate technology companies—a significant change after revelations that Russia used online services such as Facebook to influence the 2016 election.

According to an Axios-Survey Monkey poll, concern about government inaction is up significantly—15 percentage points—in  the past three months.

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Says Axios: “That’s a seismic shift in the public’s perception of Silicon Valley over a short period of time. It shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but it also reflects a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, as well as the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.”

In a previous Axios-Survey Monkey poll in November, just after Facebook, Google, and Twitter testified before Congress, only about 40 percent of those polled were concerned that the government wouldn’t do enough to regulate the tech companies.

That number jumped to 55 percent in the latest poll. That includes 45 percent of Republicans, who are usually skeptical about government regulation. Independents showed the biggest shift with an increase of 20 percentage points.

The poll found a variety of other problems those polled see in the tech sector:

–More than eight out of 10, including significant majorities across party lines, blame the technology companies for not doing enough to safeguard their platforms against election interference.

–Fifty-five percent of those polled think social media do more to hurt democracy and free speech.

The online survey was conducted by Survey Monkey from February 21-23, 2018, among 3,574 adults in the United States. They were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the Survey Monkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is 2.5 percentage points. Crosstabs available here.

A recent analysis in The Wall Street Journal described Facebook as “tone deaf.”

“It isn’t clear whether the Russian activity on Facebook made a difference in the election, a position some Facebook executives still privately maintain, and no evidence has emerged that it tipped the result to President Donald Trump. What is clear, however, is that the social-media giant’s months-long obliviousness to deepening public concern about its social impact has worsened a backlash against it and other Silicon Valley giants,” The Journal wrote. For more, see https://www.wsj.com/articles/tone-deaf-how-facebook-misread-americas-mood-on-russia-1520006034

Moreover, Google, Facebook, and other technology giants have a decidedly leftist tilt. Many top leaders give huge contributions to the Democrats.

A recent analysis found that “a majority of the most-engaged partisan Facebook pages are left-leaning or affiliated with Trump resistance movements, according to NewsWhip, a social analytics measurement company. The firm looked at the engagement (likes, comments, and shares) of partisan pages in Trump’s first full month as president. Even more telling is that most of the left-leaning pages are out-performing some of the most trafficked news competitors in overall engagement.”

Google, Facebook, and Twitter loomed large at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference, where participants squeezed into a standing-room-only ballroom for a discussion called “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue.”

Moreover, a new film by Peter Schweizer, a journalist known for his investigations into Hillary Clinton, focuses on technology companies and their role in filtering the news. Even The New York Times noted the upcoming motion picture: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/business/media/paul-schweizer-google-facebook.html

Although I am not a huge fan of government regulation, I just about have had it with the social media giants. I happy to know that I’m in the majority for a change.

Speaking of Windows 7 have you noticed something missing from your TV screens?

That’s right the I’m a mac, I’m a PC ads have virtually disappeared. I haven’t seen one since the first week of windows seven, the “trust me” ad.

It has been half a year and windows 7 has apparently been exactly what Microsoft claimed it would be, a solid operating system on a good computer that can be purchased for almost $1,000 less than a comparable Mac.

This seems to have been lost in all the Ipad, Iphone business lately, but it is VERY significant.

Is this Microsoft’s Domino’s Pizza moment? If so I would highly recommend keeping that extra grand in your pocket and get the Windows 7 machine instead of that Mac.

A: At least Apple can fall back on a fanatical customer base when they get other people upset.

The NRCC is not that lucky when they put out stuff like this:

“Conservative Party bosses in New York have been sold a bill of goods in the form of Doug Hoffman’s deceptive smoke-and-mirrors campaign, but fortunately they aren’t the ones deciding this election,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the NRCC, which has produced Web ads attacking Hoffman’s conservative bona fides. “We will continue to remind New Yorkers that a vote for Hoffman or Bill Owens is a vote for Nancy Pelosi and her far-left, radical agenda.

Yeah that Sarah Palin is sure one big Nancy Pelosi fan.

And the NRCC doesn’t have iTunes to fall back on either!

A serious You Fool moment.

Well my son and I drove an hour to the nearest apple store and were coldly informed that they will charge us $1100 to fix the machine he paid $1500 for less than two months ago. (Plus $200 for extended warranty)

Even worse than this was the cold customer service that reminds me of the NRCC’s attitude toward conservatives in NY-23, the old we have your money now do what we say business.

Since 2000 I’ve been doing computer support and customer service, I’ve seen all kinds of customer service, the Natick’s Apple store’s customer service wouldn’t pass for customer service in the old soviet union.

So congratulations Apple, you’ve managed to alienate me, a fellow who recommends computers to people and buys them on a regular basis. On the basis of the customer service I received it is impossible that I would buy an Apple for my other son. The chance that I will purchase one during my say 20+ years of computer buying is now zero.

As I have a large Sicilian family this story is going to be repeated among them, we Sicilians are very clannish, what are the odds that we won’t go elsewhere?

A week doesn’t go by when I’m not asked about what computer to buy, guess what I won’t recommend? What are the chances I would do so to any person I know or friend and customer I want to keep?

Oh and did I mention the sheer anger of my son? He has a half a century of buying of computers ahead of him. He is very catholic and will have kids. How many apples do you think he will buy? How many times do you thing this story will be repeated over the decades?

That doesn’t even count this blog and the visitors who come on a regular basis.

And I almost forgot, I happen to be a top 1000 reviewer at Amazon.com, you’ve heard of them I trust. I wrote a review of his computer over there, and I wrote it at the apple store.

So smart move Apple. Who needs those potential sales anyway?

Well we called apple today and we apparently will have to PROVE that it wasn’t accidental.

My son is 18, this is the first computer he has ever purchased, he bought it with his own money. He is active in facebook and school and has a father who blogs loudly.

With currently life expectancy he has 50+ years of computer purchases ahead of him.

We are heading to the apple store to determine if any of those future purchases will be of apple equipment and to determine if my first personal experience of Apple quality and support will convince me to steer people away from the company.

So far it’s apple 0 and Squat 1 but we will go direct to the store and see. I’ll update you in a few hours.

I have not owned any apple machine since the mid 80, but my son when faced with the choice of a Vista machine or an Apple my kid choose the Macbook for about $1500, much more than any computer I ever picked up. He purchased the extended warrenty that boosted the cost up to $1700

Tonight my son was looking up some grades in his macbook when he finished he shut it down and closed it, no big deal. When he opened it up about 35 minutes later he found to his shock that the screen was cracked from top to bottom.

As the Apple service line is closed we will give them a ring tomorrow. The closest Apple store is in Natick so we will find out just how good the service and the Warranty is for Apple machines.

We will see if the Apple service lives up to their reputation. Either way I’ll let you know.

If this was Microsoft then it would be considered an example of an evil greedy corporation trying to maximize profit:

The Palm Pre has been riding fairly high on a wave of publicity since its launch just a few weeks ago, so much so that Apple seems to have decided that it might be prudent to take a little wind out of the smartphone’s sails by announcing that, although the new device’s claim to be able to seamlessly synch with Apple’s iTunes store may be true at the moment, that may not be the case for very much longer. Sound a little draconian? Sure enough, but business is business

Now I don’t have an issue with Apple behaving like a corporation trying to maximize profit, it’s their company. It just drives me crazy when people act like Microsoft is the source of all evil when they do the same thing. Apple is a business, it has always been a business and anyone who thinks it is some kind of altruistic non profit is deluding themselves.

Via Glenn.

I think that Apple might actually be a business out for profit:

Reports of cracked hinges on the laptop are nothing new, but we always assumed Apple would eventually ‘fess up to the problem and comp those repairs. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and we just got another report of a hapless MacBook Air owner who has a broken hinge that Apple says will cost $800 to repair, despite the fact the laptop is under warranty. Our own MacBook Air Rev. A had the exact same problem — the hinge becomes loose over time, then suddenly catches and cracks from normal use, it’s not from undue stress — and Apple did the repair for free, but only after we escalated the issue to a manager, who let us know how very nice of them that was. From reading various reports, that seems the exception to Apple’s repair policy, which lists this sort of damage as “accidental,” and we’re wondering how widespread this issue may be.

This would make a very interesting Mac vs PC counter ad.

Via Glenn.