June 26, 2017

IM Book Review: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson
Simon and Schuster, 2011

* * *

How is one to think about a person like Steve Jobs? Jobs was:

  • A counterculture anti-materialist whose life work was to create consumer products and conduct corporate business dealings at the highest level.
  • A connoisseur of impeccable elegance and style who disregarded everyone’s advice that he needed to wear deodorant.
  • A control freak who insisted on micromanaging every detail of the buildings he renovated for business, having them painted museum white and outfitting them with outrageously expensive art and furnishings, who wouldn’t buy furniture for his own houses.

In his encyclopedic retrospective about Jobs’ life and work — a wild ride through Boomer Wonderland and Silicon Valley Mythos, from counterculture to corporate cool — Walter Isaacson has brought to life a portrait of an iconic figure in American business whose life was filled with polarities. His biography enables us to appreciate Jobs’ “genius” while at the same time the reader recoils from the brutal nature of his intense, off-the-charts egoism that left relationships, lives, and careers lying wounded or dead along the side of the road.

One reviewer wrote:

Steve Jobs cried a lot. This is one of the salient facts about his subject that Isaacson reveals, and it is salient not because it shows Jobs’s emotional depth, but because it is an example of his stunted character. Steve Jobs cried when he didn’t get his own way. He was a bully, a dissembler, a cheapskate, a deadbeat dad, a manipulator, and sometimes he was very nice. Isaacson does not shy away from any of this, and the trouble is that Jobs comes across as such a repellent man, cruel even to his best friend Steve Wozniak, derisive of almost everyone, ruthless to people who thought they were his friends, indifferent to his daughters, that the book is often hard to read. Friends and former friends speculate that his bad behavior was a consequence of being put up for adoption at birth. A former girlfriend, who went on to work in the mental health field, thought he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. John Sculley, who orchestrated Jobs’s expulsion from Apple, wondered if he was bipolar. Jobs himself dismissed his excesses with a single word: artist. Artists, he seemed to believe, got a pass on bad behavior.

– Sue Halpern, New York Review of Books

I am an unabashed lover of Apple products and have been since the early days of the Macintosh. The reason they are so successful is ultimately attributable to Steve Jobs and his fanatical commitment to a vision of simplicity and unity. This vision led him to be intense and focused and tyrannical about the way he ran his business.

Jobs was compulsive about every detail of the devices his company created, and at times he pushed his workers beyond all reasonable limits to make the impossible happen. His infamous “reality distortion field” led him to believe the ordinary rules didn’t apply to him when he wanted to accomplish something.

He bent the facts or blatantly lied about them if it was necessary to persuade others to do his will, pulled products at the last second because they weren’t perfect in his eyes, cajoled others until they did it his way or hammered out perfection together, and excoriated his employees mercilessly in public when their work didn’t interest him any longer. All meetings were held face-to-face and usually involved intense, even explosive arguments. Outside the conference room, he engaged in countless public shouting matches with his coworkers and others. He regularly weeded out the “B” players on his staff, insisting that only “A” players were acceptable. And, in his eyes, the difference between “A” and “B” was the difference between “perfect” and “shit.” Jobs had perfect binary vision: there was perfect, and there was everything else. And everything else was not worth an ounce of his time and energy.

Over and over again he insisted that Apple take an integrated “closed” approach to its products in which Apple controlled the entire process, not giving users choices and options. In his mind, this was the only way to make great products that had both artistic integrity and ease of use for consumers. He said regularly that he believed in creating products that stood at the intersection of  technology and the humanities, art and science — tools that were beautiful and enhanced human growth as well as being functional. And he was as anal about how they were marketed as he was about the products themselves, insisting on controlling each product launch and ad campaign so that it represented the “Apple experience.”

The truly difficult part in reading Isaacson’s biography comes when learning about the ways Steve Jobs treated other people. A long time Apple colleague, Andy Hertzfeld, once told Isaacson, “The one question I’d truly love Steve to answer is, ‘Why are you sometimes so mean?'”

Isaacson comments:

Even his family members wondered whether he simply lacked the filter that restrains people from venting their wounding thoughts or willfully bypassed it. Jobs claimed it was the former. “This is who I am and you can’t expect me to be someone I’m not,” he replied when I asked him the question. But I think he actually could have controlled himself, if he had wanted. When he hurt people, it was not because he was lacking in emotional awareness. Quite the contrary: He could size people up, understand their inner thoughts, and know how to relate to them, cajole them, or hurt them at will.

Over the years, people have spoken of the “cult” of Apple, and perhaps one reason is that its leader was so cult-like in terms of charisma and charm on the one hand, and control and abuse on the other. The biographer, like me, has mixed feelings about whether that combination of magnetism and brutality helped or hurt Jobs more in the long run. However, the questions must be asked: would Apple have become the company it is without his intense focus and impossible demands, his mercurial temperament and withering verbal attacks? Is it necessary in American business to be an asshole to get people to do the impossible? Many of the colleagues who suffered under Jobs’ vicious management style told Isaacson they never could have accomplished what they did had he not been so relentlessly intent on pushing them, insulting them, arguing with them, and using every aggressive and passive-aggressive tool in his arsenal to get them to be “A” players on his team.

After reading this biography, I feel even more keenly the tension of following Jesus in a society of affluence, freedom, the competitive mentality, and the myth of progress. I admire Steve Jobs’ accomplishments and think that Apple has provided the world with useful and beautiful products. We are better because of his work, his talents, his gifts. On the other hand, I find his world and ethos and the way he lived within them utterly foreign and in many ways repugnant to the character of the new creation.

Steve Jobs was not a religious man, at least not in any traditional sense. He was a devotee of Zen Buddhism, a vegan, and he sought enlightenment through LSD, meditation, solitude, visits to places like India and Japan, and ascetic practices such as fasting (though some have suggested his eating practices may have actually been eating disorders). Near the end of his life, as he reflected on his impending death, he said, “I’m about fifty-fifty on believing in God. For most of my life, I’ve felt that there must be more to our existence than meets the eye.”

Speaking for myself, I’m about fifty-fifty on Steve Jobs.

Comments

  1. Reading about Jobs here and elsewhere brings to mind Pascal’s (I think) observations that we humans are “glorious wrecks,” and Solzhenitzyn’s observation that the line between good and evil runs through each human heart. We’d like things to be black and white, good and evil, but the reality is that humans are more complicated than that. We are at once magnificent, immortal beings created in the image of God and utterly fallen. We might pity or loathe Jobs but if we’re honest we’ll admit that any of us is capable of acting as as he did in his worst moments.

  2. Honestly, when I read this I think about the success and fallout of Mars Hill and Driscoll et al. The ability to succeed and thrive where others fail. The ability to completely reorient a culture. The ability to draw a cult like following. The ability to real good while doing real harm. The centrality of one man’s vision and the raw skill he has to turn his vision into a reality.

    • That is why I wrote the “Leaders” post earlier this week. As I read Jobs’ biography, I kept getting this nagging feeling I’d seen these things before — in churches I know.

      When the mission is everything, and the leader defines the mission, watch out below.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The biographer, like me, has mixed feelings about whether that combination of magnetism and brutality helped or hurt Jobs more in the long run.

        Magnetism and Brutality (especially brutality for domination) — where have we seen this before? Sounds like every charismatic dictator in history, whether he’s the dictator of a nation, a high-tech company, a megachurch, or a house church.

        Magnetism to his True Believers, Brutality to the Other. The dynamic and personality is the same, only the scale and terminology are different.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          P.S. Magnetism (to the Elect) and Brutality (to the Not-Elect) also sounds a LOT like the image of God you get from Jack Chick tracts and Calvinistas.

          P.P.S. “I tapped into the Despot — the little part within us all that has to control and dominate all others.” — actor Anthony Hopkins in an interview, describing his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs

    • petrushka1611 says:

      “The ability to real good while doing real harm.”

      This.

  3. Steve Jobs is success at any cost personified. Paul’s words come to mind about being able to prophesy and work miracles, but without love you are nothing. In Jobs we see this writ large.

  4. You know, I can’t imagine that in 30 years even the coolest of Apple products will look like anything more than an Atari 2600 looks to us today. Charming, an exemplary product of its times, but ultimately not much more than that. Hardly seems like it could be worth the cost in damaged relationships and psyches.

    • +1

    • I’m afraid to think of what we’ll be using when our current Macbooks, ipods and ipads look quaint. Star Treck gadgets will look like ancient history.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That’s the risk any SF writer or set/prop designer takes when creating something set in the far future.

        In the preface to one of his SF novels, Poul Anderson commented that “any portrayal of the future has to be mapped onto the present.” The farther you project, the more uncertainty there is in your projection. And the greater the chance of being blindsided by what really happens. I remember all the FTL spaceships from the Fifties, navigated by slide-rule calculations (because future computers were the size of the Empire State Building, far too big to put on a ship).

  5. Fortunately Jobs proprietary view was busted in the computer world by the open system view of Bill Gates. As a person who began computing in pre DOS and PC days I suffered through multiple upgrades that required not only purchasing serveral propriatery computers but also haveing to purchases specific versions of all the software I used that would only run on the computer I had purchased. Versions of Word Star and Perfect Calc had to be compiled not only for the brand, but the very model of each computer. By the time I had owned my third system I was well over the 14K mark in dollars spent. Very happy those days are gone.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      That’s why Bill Gates is THE Antichrist to Mac Fundamentalists.

      When I switched my home system from Mac to PC around 15 years ago (couldn’t afford the prices of Mac upgrades, peripherals, and software, plus I work at a Windows shop), I lost several friends who were Mackinistas.

      As in Shunned as an Apostate.

      • It went the other way too. I remember being laughed at and taunted by an employee at a Gateway store when I told him I had a Bondi Blue iMac. He considered it a vastly inferior machine dressed up like a lollipop.

        • sarahmorgan says:

          It’s not a shocking surprise that an employee at a store — someone with a vested interest in denigrating the competition in order to sell his product — would behave that way, bad as it was. But I’ve found that the evangelical world harbors a rather unpleasant and unhealthy idol worship of Mac products, to the denigration of non-Mac-users….I still remember the day my boss at a parachurch ministry I volunteered at — he was a huge Mac fanboy/evangelist — walked into my workspace and tried to get me to agree with him that all PC users were simply “ignorant idiots”….while I was working on my PC laptop.

          • Wow, how 1Cor 13 of him! As much as I’ve loved Macs, I’ve never been able to embrace the “evangelist” or “fundamentalist” role.

            I am working now on a Google Chromebook. Pretty much anathema to Jobs and friends.

          • “But I’ve found that the evangelical world harbors a rather unpleasant and unhealthy idol worship of Mac products, to the denigration of non-Mac-users….”

            Really? Based on what?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            But I’ve found that the evangelical world harbors a rather unpleasant and unhealthy idol worship of Mac products, to the denigration of non-Mac-users….

            Hypothesis:

            Mac Enthusiasm resembles a religious Cult environment in attitude, behavior, and trappings. The Evangelical world is predisposed to think the same way. So they’d flock to the Cult of the Mac. The dynamics of the two are the same; just like Amway.

            Hypothesis:

            Sheer contrariness. If the Heathen do X, we must do Not-X. Since The World/Those Heathens overwhelmingly use PCs, God’s People Must Use Macs. “For PCs are the things which the goyim use.”

          • Mike Bell, the biggest Mac evangelists I have known have also been evangelical Christians. Coincidence? Maybe. But I tend to agree with HUG. Success in the business world seems to draw evangelicals like moths to a flame. And they don’t even notice when their wings catch on fire …

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Mike Bell, the biggest Mac evangelists I have known have also been evangelical Christians. — Jeff Dunn

            The biggest one I have known (from my other anecdotes) was Trad Catholic. Guy’s attitude in other departments also had elements of Complementarianism/Quiverfull and Clericalism as well.

          • There’s a term in the tech community called RWars. Or Religious Wars. It was what we used to refer to debates like Win/Mac, Dos/Win, Mac/Amega, Excel/123, TokenRing/Ethernet, etc…

            The point being most of the debate was centered on strong personal belief, not actual facts.

            Haven’t hear the term for a while so maybe it has fallen out of favor.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            There’s a term in the tech community called RWars. Or Religious Wars. It was what we used to refer to debates like Win/Mac, Dos/Win, Mac/Amega, Excel/123, TokenRing/Ethernet, etc…

            Or StarTrek/Babylon-5. Now THAT was a Jihad…

          • StJohn117 says:

            Sarahmorgan,
            See, I’m the wrong guy you want to try that with. I’d ask to borrow his mac and start opening up the terminal to start doing some command line sorcery.

  6. One positive thing to note about Jobs is that even though he was unimaginably wealthy, he didn’t often spend his money on pure extravagance like many wealthy people. I respect the fact that he lived in a relatively average house in Palo Alto. On this front, he actually puts many Christian leaders to shame.

    As far as his personality, it seems like an extreme version of many of the people I know who are scientists or researchers. Their lives are consumed by their work, and they leave a lot of collateral damage in their wakes. I really do think that a lot of this behavior has to do with personality disorders that our beyond people’s ability to control. Often times when you confront these people about the hurt they cause other people, they honestly have no idea what they’re doing. It’s hard for regular people to understand, and I’m not saying it necessarily excuses their actions. I just don’t think it’s a matter of people simply being able to will themselves into better behavior.

    • I don’t know. I haven’t read the bio, and I’m not likely to because I’d never finish it; it seems as though I’d spend too much time fetching it back, having hurled it against the wall out of anger at Jobs’s behavior. But the stories I’ve heard suggest a great deal of indulgence. Remember Screwtape’s “gluttony of Delicacy”? By all accounts, Jobs had it in spades.

      The question for the working world, perhaps, is how much Jobs’s behavior was necessary for Apple to do the work it did. Surely the answer ought to be, “not as much as he liked to think.” There is an enormous difference between being fixed on a vision and a demanding taskmaster, and indulging in the kind of evil he by all accounts regularly visited on those surrounding him.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I am an unabashed lover of Apple products and have been since the early days of the Macintosh.

    That is not a something to say to me. Working at a Microsoft shop, I’ve had encounters with “Macintosh Fundamentalists” who WITNESSED to me at high volume — “MAC IS THE SUPERIOR SYSTEM! MAC IS THE SUPERIOR SYSTEM! APPLE AKBAR! APPLE AKBAR! APPLE AKBAR!” Vicious snarking contempt for the Antichrist Microsoft and anything connected with it, nasty and snarky, never missing an opportunity to dis what is not Apple. Full Culture War/Jihad mode, with Steve Jobs as their Personal LORD and Savior.

    The most unforgettable Mac Fundamentalist incident happened to me in the late Nineties, when a Mac Fundie was Witnessing to me about how Apple Mac would drive Microsoft into bankruptcy by the Year 2000. This in the late Nineties. At any hint that this might not have been a realistic timeline, the eyes would bulge out, the face go bright red, the cords in his neck would pop out taut, and the REAL screaming began: “DIE, HERETIC!!!!!!!!!”

    (Always wondered what would have happened if Steve Jobs were to call for a Jonestown or 9/11…)

    Steve Jobs cried when he didn’t get his own way. He was a bully, a dissembler, a cheapskate, a deadbeat dad, a manipulator, and sometimes he was very nice. Isaacson does not shy away from any of this, and the trouble is that Jobs comes across as such a repellent man, cruel even to his best friend Steve Wozniak, derisive of almost everyone, ruthless to people who thought they were his friends, indifferent to his daughters

    Question — was Steve Jobs a success in spite of this nasty personality (which seems to have had only room for Steve Jobs) or because of it? One review of the biography worried that all the MBAs would choose the latter and start acting like (and treating others like) Steve Jobs because THAT’s what Makes Success.

    Steve Jobs was not a religious man, at least not in any traditional sense. He was a devotee of Zen Buddhism, a vegan, and he sought enlightenment through LSD, meditation, solitude, visits to places like India and Japan, and ascetic practices such as fasting (though some have suggested his eating practices may have actually been eating disorders).

    Let’s see. Having lived all my life in the granola bowl of SoCal, let’s go down the Celebrity Checklist:
    Zen Buddhism — very fashionable, without any taint of that old-fogy Christianity
    Vegan — very very fashionable among the Beautiful People, and a sure sign of one’s Moral Superiority
    Acid and Asceticism — Touches both bases on open-mindedness and Moral Superiority
    Meditation — Plus the added cachet of Being Very Spiritual
    All in all, very conventional for a Baby Boomer CELEBRITY type.

    P.S. Did Steve Jobs EVER acknowledge his bastard daughter, other than naming the predecessor of the Mac after her?

    • Yes, HUG, Jobs and his daughter reconciled, though their relationship had many ups and downs over the years.

    • In the end, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates seemed to have a relationship of mutual respect. Though they both fiercely defended their respective approaches to personal computing (open vs. closed), they could each voice the advantages of their lifelong opponent’s approach too. Until I read the biography, I didn’t realize how closely they actually worked over the years. Gates was a huge supporter of Macintosh. But they had some pretty impressive fights too.

      You’re right about the Mac evangelists, though. It’s like I say, the Calvinists are always worse than Calvin.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        You’re right about the Mac evangelists, though. It’s like I say, the Calvinists are always worse than Calvin.

        Near the end of their respective lives, didn’t Charles Darwin say “I am not a Darwinist” and Karl Marx say “I am not a Marxist”?

        • If anyone ever reads this, since I’m posting soooo late…

          My seminary professor had a book signed by Karl Barth who in this inscription wrote:
          “Karl Barth, not a Barthian”

    • I applied for a job once as a “Microsoft evangelist”. Seriously. That was the job title.

      • Hard to understand how a company that controls more than 90% of the computers in the world needs an evangelist, but hey! someone has to do it! Would you have had to sign a pledge saying you believe in a literal 64-bit creation?

        • Nice!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Hard to understand how a company that controls more than 90% of the computers in the world needs an evangelist…

          Preaching to the choir is nothing new. My writing partner tells me about small churches were he is that haven’t seen a new member in decades who still hold Altar Call tent revivals for travelling evangelists — attended only by long-time church members.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I think whoever was hiring had a sense of humor.

  8. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Apple products? Cool for entertainment, not much else. Seriously. I work in Resource Modelling – i.e. the building of geological models in 3-d software packages, and the geostatistical analysis of the data from those models. I use t powerful laptops, and big CPU’s. I also often have to communicate with engineers and the programs they use.

    Apple offers nothing. All the powerful packages are PC – based.

    The Apple-PC debate is like a debate between the maker of a popular vehicle series (run -around, Van, SUV, maybe a sports car), and a manufacturer that builds everything from bicycles, to mining equipment, to container ships, and satellites. Microsoft doesn’t have to create all that other software, but it enables them.

    • Unless they’re working in a technical field like you mention, people don’t care about raw computing power. They care about ease of use, reliability, and, well, image. That was what Apple sells. They are successful because they create products that live where technology and art intersect. For the most part, none of their stuff is really entirely new when it comes out. But they take these things, and they refine and make them into things people really want. Personally, I’ve never owned a Mac (although I do plan on getting an iMac for my studio sometime soon), and I wish other computer manufacturers paid as much attention to the details as Apple does.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Sure. That is why I sometimes (half-) joke that Apple is for idiots, and PC for those that actually have brains AND do the work. But that is my inner geek speaking.

        I do own an IPOD though, which I use. I won it at a convention 🙂

        • And Linux?

          • Linux is for those of us who really do the work that lets people who think they’re doing the work do whatever it is they think they’re doing. 😉

          • Tim the Enchanter says:

            Good to know there are at least a few of us Linux users around.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Back to my transportation analogy: Linux is the equivalent of the backyard mechanic with the souped-up dragster that needs constant tinkering… 🙂

          • Using your transportation analogy, Linux is the two-mile long freight train doing the heavy hauling around here. Macs are nice because they’ve got a Unix underpinning that lets you fix things and communicate easily; and you can write the mandatory reports on them. And a lot of stuff only runs on Windows. The only OS evangelism I’ve run into has been light-hearted.

  9. Apple vs others has been a religion for years. I am a bit of anomaly for an IT guy.

    I work maintaining enterprise level databases. So I have worked in UNIX (they look down on Microsoft), I currently have over 100 Microsoft enterprise servers with some serious iron (Microsofties look down on Apple) and then there is Apple whom both of the above look down on.

    I love Apple’s products, they appeal to my right brain, but my professional life is lived out in tech. Its funny, in tech these things become like religious discussions.

    In my personal life when I just want to use technology my idea of heaven is Apple products, and hell is Windows Vista or Linux.
    In my professional life, Heaven is Linux or Unix, hell is Apple

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Well, I left out UNIX in my comment earlier. Basic (excuse the pun) but powerful. Call it the software equivalent of a Soyuz Rocket…

  10. This week marked the passing of art critic Robert Hughes. His critique of the obsession with zen simplicity in modern design (esp. in architecture) was that it resulted in inhumane communities, because it tried to force people into lifestyles of simplicity (no pictures on your white refrigerator door!) that they weren’t yet wanting for themselves. “It seems that people, like plants, need the s**t of others as their nutrients.”
    Similarly, Jobs’ obsession with design simplicity and perfection could only be achieved through weeding out the messiness of the independent-thinking, free-willed humans around him. “Think Different” meant “think MY way”. It accomplished much in terms of design aesthetic, but at the cost of great personal ugliness along the way.

    In this regard, I see the parallel dangers in my own attraction to the elegance and rigor of systematic theology, and in well-meaning but doomed efforts to make people fit my own vision of what holiness should look like in their lives. Jobs’ defense was essentially, I can’t help coming across as a mean jerk, there’s no other way to compel those around me to attain such a high, unified standard of perfection.
    It displays form of godliness, but can deny its power.

  11. If you read a lot of sources about how Bill Gates was while in the office he and SJ were very similar in how they drove and berated people. BG though, figured out that what he wanted was for everyone to use his products and to achieve that goal he had to allow for some/lot of rough edges. And skirt the law, or plow through if he thought he could get away with it.

    I think of BJ as someone who’s a modern day Carnegie Mellon. Ruthless and cruel while running his business into a monopoly that controlled the market, then when he decided to get out he became the guy who gave away money to promote the welfare of the poor. Which he treated like S*** before then.

    As to which computer I like? Well I’ve been in the computer industry since 75. Personally I prefer Macs for my own use. For others I recommend they buy the computer that does the needed task and/or makes them happy. Doing otherwise is foolish.

    • Ah, BJ should be BG.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Years ago, I heard Bill Gates described as “Today’s version of a 19th Century Steel or Rail Baron”.

      And it wasn’t just Andrew Carnegie (the original Steel Baron). John D Rockefeller (the original Oil Baron) also “gave away money to the poor which he treated like S*** before then”. With Rockefeller, we know it was a deliberate and purely PR move — the records survived. (Note that this refers only to the original John D Rockefeller, not his descendants in today’s Rockefeller family. As Dogbert put it, “The two basic ways to get rich are Crime and Inheritance. The best way is to have your father do the Crime and you Inherit his loot.”)

      Ah, BJ should be BG.

      Maybe you were thinking of that present-day Church Baron, Mark Driscoll?

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Last paragraph of the NY Times article cited above:

    The day before Jobs died, Apple launched the fifth iteration of the iPhone, the 4S, and four million were sold in the first few days. Next year will bring the iPhone 5, and a new MacBook, and more iPods and iMacs. What this means is that somewhere in the third world, poor people are picking through heaps of electronic waste in an effort to recover bits of gold and other metals and maybe make a dollar or two. Piled high and toxic, it is leaking poisons and carcinogens like lead, cadmium, and mercury that leach into their skin, the ground, the air, the water. Such may be the longest-lasting legacy of Steve Jobs’s art.

    Something about the iPhone & iPod. You can’t swap out the battery. It’s a sealed unit. And Lithium-Ion batteries WILL go dead — permanently unable to hold a charge — after a few years. It’s a chemical reaction in the battery itself; they have a finite useful life. What this means is that you have to discard and replace your iWhatever on a regular basis because it WILL automatically become inoperable in a couple years. (Without any tricks like a lot of laptops — long-term timers hidden in the operating system which turn off the cooling fans and cause deliberate permanent overheat failures.) You can’t repair it, you can’t swap the batteries for new ones and extend its service life, you can only throw it away and buy a new model from Apple. And the old ones become the E-waste mentioned above.

  13. David Clark says:

    After reading this biography, I feel even more keenly the tension of following Jesus in a society of affluence, freedom, the competitive mentality, and the myth of progress. I admire Steve Jobs’ accomplishments and think that Apple has provided the world with useful and beautiful products.

    The tension of following Jesus in the society you speak about is also one that keenly affects me. On this thread there has been a comment about Linux. While I am a Linux user, I don’t care to have a war about technology. If you like Apple, stick with it in my opinion.

    But, I think there is a part of Linux that speaks to the tension of following Jesus in the affluent society. That part is Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux and the source of Linux’s name. From what I have read about both of them, Linus Torvalds and Steve Jobs are polar opposites. No one has ever described Linus as an asshole and he gets along with pretty much everyone. From everything I have read, Linus is a devoted father and husband. Where Jobs was about pushing his singular vision come hell or high water, Torvalds is about collaboration, sharing, writing good software, and getting on with things.

    Linus in my opinion is much more likely to be described as a good person. While neither Jobs nor Torvalds is religious, I’d have to say that Torvald’s approach to making technology is much more compatible with Jesus’ message than was Jobs’. And I think this is one where taking a higher road may have a better outcome. Apple products may be noisily ruling the stock markets and retail spaces, but Linux is silently taking over the world. It’s pretty much impossible to get on the internet and access anything without having that data go through a Linux device at some point, even though most people probably are not aware of that. Google runs their entire operation on Linux, as does Amazon, just as two examples. A solid majority of all of the invisible internet infrastructure runs on Linux. The massive amount of computing power the guys at CERN used to discover the Higgs Boson, that was Linux. The cheap wireless routers that everyone buys to share the internet at home, that’s almost certainly Linux. Every single Android device, that’s Linux.

    My point is that Linux rules the computing world, and thus rules our lives invisibly. This is only possible because Linus Torvalds did not act like Steve Jobs. He’s the kind of guy you can admire with few, if any, provisos. He acted better and his impact is far greater than Steve Jobs’ will ever be, it’s just an impact that most people will be gleefully ignorant about.

    • StJohn117 says:

      Yeah. It was ironic because there was a graphic about Steve Jobs vs Dennis Ritchie who I believe died either on the same day or within days of each other. Man… that was a rough week for those of us who enjoy tech.

  14. StJohn117 says:

    Hehe… seems this has split off into a couple of discussions. So, where to begin:

    1. Steve Jobs — You know, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. If you’ll recall, Jobs gave Isaacson a mandate. Be honest. And I think Isaacson goes out of his way to do that. Whether you like Jobs or hate him, you have to give him that: He was brave enough to do it. He was even brave enough to tell Isaacson to seek out the people he didn’t get along with. I can’t think of too many people who would be brave enough to try that. He has my respect on that one. Seems every pastor I’ve talked to about this book comes out not liking Jobs, but they seem to ignore that piece. Dunno. I’m going to try to finish the book this week before I pass final judgment. I’ve got about a quarter of it left. And yes, I echo Chaplain Mike’s recommendation to go read the book.

    Chaplain Mike says he’s 50-50 on Jobs. Fair enough. I’m 50-50 on most people. Even myself. There’s pieces of me I don’t like. I don’t like the fact that I have a pretty low tolerance for stupid. (I’m working on it.) My sabbatical from church taught me that I really need time alone to function correctly. It’s another reason I cut the cord on Facebook. It felt like I was connected all the time. (Oh, and I didn’t like the direction that Zuckerberg was going with it. And the fact that government can force you to turn over passwords, search without warrants, etc.) As I’m about to leave my twenties, maybe I’m finally at peace with who I am. I’m tired of apologizing for being a human being in need of a lot of grace. I’m tired of the gospel of sin management. I’m a sinner. I need grace. End of story.

    2. Tech — As I have stated, this is one of my passions. I am writing this on a Mac. I have a windows machine that I built myself for games and my portable is Linux based. (Hey, you try finding a computer that’s about the size of a Nintendo DS that has great functionality. This is the AWESOME part about open source.) Generally, I like an OS that gets the heck out of my way and harness the power of the machine. Mac is good for stability (UNIX… thank you Dennis Ritchie!) and Linux (Thank you Linus Torvalds!) is good if I want to rip open the source code or want a low cost operating system that is either good enough or heavily “tweakable.” Windows has advantages in terms of a huge game library. Which is really what I use it for. Though, I’m often compelled to use it for Office at work. So, yes, I end up using excel… begrudgingly. Though I gotta admit, it’s growing on me.

  15. In fair disclosure, my second son was an orginal subscriber to “MACAddict” and a fan of all things Apple since he was elementary school, and he is now an Apple employee, albeit not nearly managerial or executive.

    I thought they were nice computers, but it is not something I have an ounce of passion about.

    But….I have to agree with the quoted ex-girlfriend who suggests narcissitic personality disorder, which is a mental illness but ALSO a treatable one, if the person sees they have a problem. Most don’t, as they value themselves and their opinions far more that a so-called “expert”. These are the people who truly have it backwards……They LOVE things and USE people.

    I imagine the Lord knows when He has created a sick brain, and takes that impediment into account. Nevertheless, I agree with most posters that I would rather NOT “gain the whole world and lose my soul”.

  16. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    My wife is virulently anti-Jobs & Apple, mainly because of the Apple symbol copyright infringement issues with the Beatles.