Rest Easy, Mr Jobs

I heard the news of Steve Jobs’ passing as soon as I opened a web browser last Tuesday night. There was no way to miss it. A dozen Facebook posts and Twitter essentially blew up. News travels fast in this world. A world made incredible mobile and easy to read thanks to him. Whether an Apple user or not, the landscape of technology was indelibly affected by him.

My life as an Apple user was not quick to come. I didn’t switch over until I got my first laptop, a PowerBook G4. That computer is probably still running somewhere, particularly with its strong OS, the thing that won me over in the first place. My feelings got stronger the more I used it and other computers like it. I’ve developed into an almost strictly Mac technician now. I don’t know that I would have if I was stuck with Microsoft-based systems. Maybe I would have gone to Linux, I don’t know.

I’ve been reading lovely eulogies and memories in general of the man and the environment and tools he created. While he didn’t code every bit of the systems he ran, his touch of refinement and the big ideas of their interconnection were his. He had a vision for what the world could be like that was not defined or limited by the way things are currently. We all could use a perspective like that.

The worst of it is that he was only 56. So young, so much time could have been left. He never put off what he knew he wanted to do, that much is obvious. And we should all be thankful for that fact. Still, I don’t think there is a person who can fathom the future he saw and probably was going to make in the next 25 years.

There’s not much I can really say, so I’ll pass on some links to a few of the things people have said and remembered about Steve Jobs. This man is and will long be remembered as someone of a caliber towards Edison, Franklin, and even Da Vinci.

  • One of my favorite stories about a 12-year-old Steve Jobs calling up a technology founder by the name of William Hewlett.

  • President Obama released a statement about the man. I think this says things well:

    Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

    The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.

  • Though not really related to Mr Jobs the man, but a poignant comic about what killed him. 56 is too young. He was in his prime.

  • Stephen Colbert was the first to nearly draw a tear to my eye.

And for a final farewell, I think it’s best to end with an edit of an Apple ad, read by Steve Jobs himself.

Rest easy, Mr Jobs. And thank you for all you contributed.

Ten Years Later

[I’m going to go ahead and use a writing crutch: I am going to warn that this post is rather bitter. And also long-winded. And poorly edited. And has little to do with 9/11 itself, but more my long view of the aftermath. For a better, more direct story, this one is really good.]
This post falls into the inevitable category. The 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks has been all I’ve heard about and read this past week. Frankly, I’ve been avoiding it almost entirely. Other than when I’ve needed to drive around and wound up listening to public radio, I have skipped over a large number of articles.

I was 18 at the time, waiting for a late start to college. I woke up to an email from my then girlfriend telling me to turn on the news. So I watched, shocked. My memories aren’t very vivid from that day. I do remember wondering what could be done, and realizing nothing, I tried to go about my day. I had slated to get a haircut, so that’s where I went.

It was just me and the old barber who owned the place. He cut my hair, slowly, while we watched the TV up above the doorway. We wound up sitting and watching for a couple of hours, I think. Again, my memory is hazy.

The most I remember is feeling very angry and vengeful, though rationality held back the vengeance response in me. After all, I was on the other side of the continent. And as more information came out about the attackers, I remember chatting with my friend, a Muslim from England. She asked if this would change my view of her, and I declared absolutely no. That fact has never changed.

Life continued on, and I started my studies at the university, eventually in politics no less.  So that immediate history became viewed through a lens of me taking in a great deal of information about the event itself, as well as chains of events leading to and from.

So then I became angry again, but not at the terrorists. They were just criminals. Ruthless pawns of a pointless ideology bent on simply trying to hurt forces more powerful than it. And they should have been tried as such. We’ve dealt with internal and external terror before, so the legal proceedings would not have been beyond our means.

Just as big an issue: 9/11 led to us invading Iraq. Even just writing it down right now seems utterly insane. I remember the pressures leading to it that were falsely proposed and constantly changed by our Executive. I had long called bullshit before the fact (our criminal mastermind was hovering between Afghanistan and Pakistan, after all). And it only became worse, the stretching of justifications after the fact.

Worse yet, our insatiable need for security turned not only on our own citizenry, forced to be molested before boarding planes: it made us torturers. We became beyond the negative stereotype the Al-Qaeda members saw us as even back then.

Now we imprison and torture using the more invisible methods of the USSR and the Spanish Inquisition. Our fear turned us into bullies. Bullies who hang fellow humans in stress positions used by Nazis. It used to be the weapon of our enemies. A terrible, useless weapon we did not bother with as a society.

Now here we are. 10 years later and we haven’t rebuilt much. We still stand astride the world as the greatest power humanity has ever known. Supposedly still the pinnacle of a society based on human rationality and free enterprise.

Rather than use that goodwill and patriotism to better ourselves and others, it became a tool against us. It became unpatriotic to question our leadership, and now it is considered unpatriotic to think of alternate plans to pull ourselves out of our own economic cesspool.

We also now have entire media organizations who declare suspicious a billion far-flung people as “The Muslim World”. We don’t see the old Western powers as “The Christian World”. The term doesn’t exist. As well it never should, especially in our immigrant-built, free-believing, make-your-own-way pinnacle of human civilization.

Insecurity is a price we pay for it. Those who died, died for that reason. Because we believe people should move about our 50 states without issue or worry. Al-Qaeda never had a chance to bring that down. That possibility was never there. They are myopic criminals, bent on havoc, nothing more.

It was our greatest mistake to turn around and grant these thieves of lives the rank of Stalin or Hitler. They are hardly above Timothy McVeigh (oh yeah, that guy.) They deserved to be tried and imprisoned until their deaths. Not turned into comic book level evil masterminds.

Those people hurt us that day. All the pain since has been self-inflicted. I’ll always remember this as a day we turned into the weakest form of ourselves. A true tragedy it was.

The Sound of Humanity

From my dearest posting on Google+.

I read stories like this from both World Wars often enough. Never mind the propaganda and rhetoric: we were never at war with Germany, we were fighting Nazi Fascism.

It’s hard remember that being a soldier is not being a criminal. We and they know that we’re all actual people in this world. A piece of that understanding feels lost in our modern wars.

No longer are the soldiers drafted citizens fulfilling their duty to their homeland. Now it’s a juggernaut stepping on anthills. As much as both sides want to make the world better, the plight of the opposition is missing from consideration.

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Reagan and Obama

From Sullivan’s Daily Dish:

”For all our troubles, midterm finds this Administration and this country entering a season of hope. We inherited a mess, we didn’t run away from it and now we’re turning it around … My biggest regret is that because the accumulated damages piled up so high for so long, putting America’s house in order has been a tough and painful task … We’ve got to prove that what we said about it is true – it’ll work,” – Barack Obama November 2010, Ronald Reagan January 1983.