November 8, 2011

Steve Jobs's Secret

Lots of people love beautiful things, but not many hate ugly things, or merely things that aren't quite beautiful, as much as Steve Jobs did. He was a great hater. That's an important element in having excellent taste: don't see the glass as half full. Jobs usually saw it as 110% empty.

In contrast, I don't have outstanding taste because I'm not a good hater. I see most glasses as part full. For example, I've always wanted to have outstanding taste in golf course architecture, but I like golf courses too much. I look at a mediocre golf course and say, "Hey, it's better than a strip mall!" Then, like most people, I tend to grow attached to the familiar and become accepting of its flaws. It's a more pleasant way to go through life, but the tradeoff is that you probably won't browbeat a giant staff into performing wonders.

And here's Malcolm Gladwell's review of Isaacson's Steve Jobs, in which he determines that the secret to Jobs's success was that he was a "tweaker." I dunno, Jobs's teeth always looked okay to me. We both used the same "I'll know it when I see it" quote, which shows we both read to p. 499, which is about 400 pages farther than most reviewers read their usual assigned books.

75 comments:

MQ said...

In general, big-time success requires:

--having blinders on, a singular focus
--enormous innate energy
--some intelligence and shrewdness

Some intelligence is important but too much intelligence can get in the way. Smart people often have difficulty keeping those blinders on, they're distracted by all the stuff to know. Analysis paralysis.

Thursday said...

There is an element of truth to this. The best judge of literature who ever lived was William Hazlitt, truly one of the greatest haters of all time.

Here is his essay "On the Pleasures of Hating":
www.blupete.com/Literature/Essays/Hazlitt/Hating.htm

Anonymous said...

Energy.
If there was one thing I wish I had more of it was energy.
I'd happily trade 10 IQ points for 1-2 hrs more per day of peak energy.
Of the most successful people I've known, the most important trait seems to be a much higher than normal energy level. They can just go full speed all day when normal people get tired and worn out.

Steve Sailer said...

"Energy"

Right. There ought to be a way to quantify it because it's so important, but I don't know of one.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Energy. Agreed. I was saying that focus and adaptability were going to be the abilities that pushed IQ off the top of the mountain of advantage, but energy may be a more precise way to look at it than focus.

As to liking things, and half-full: extend the argument. Would you say a person was a lover of wines if he liked only one? A lover of literature if he approved only of Faust?

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

There's hating bad stuff in search of good stuff, aka perfectionism, and hating just to feel good.
Winners hate differently than losers do. Winners hate failure or imperfection and try to get better and better. Losers hate out of sheer envy cuz they know they don't have a chance of making it.

edgy gurl said...

"Of the most successful people I've known, the most important trait seems to be a much higher than normal energy level."

You can't be serious. Though in some people the high energy seems intertwined with high IQ, less need for sleep, in others it's not necessarily purposeful.

It's like with the dog genius border collies. High energy is great if you've got cows or sheep to herd, not so great if said canine must vent that irrepressible urge to go go go by eating your sofa. Similarly, Jobs might have taken the edge off his personality if he'd worked off some of that anxious steam on exercise equipment kept in his office. Wearing a rubber band that he could snap against his wrist whenever he got the urge to snark or humiliate might've helped too.

You people have probably increased your tolerance to caffeine so much that it no longer gives you that extra pick me up. It might even have the opposite effect: another cup of coffee shocking your overwrought neurons with a surge of energy that peters out immediately and leaves you exhausted.

Ray Sawhill said...

It's fun to wonder about where taste comes from. Most of the visual people I've known, for instance, tell me that they just kind of arrived on earth with strong feelings about how things ought to look. They didn't know what to do about it initially -- that's where training and experience come in. But the strong feelings about how things ought to look were there from the outset.

Larger question: from an evo-bio point of view, why should it be the case that some people have these overwhelming aesthetic preferences (and dislikes, of course)? What benefit does taste-in-some-people confer on the species?

Jim O said...

I hope you haven't started drinking during the day. This post makes me worry.

BTW, when are you gonna review Anonymous ? I'd love to get into another Shakespeare authorship debate on these pages.

Ancestral Spirit said...

Perfectionism isn't synonymous with winning or success. Obviously you've never worked in a fast-paced environment where winning often involves coping with mistakes big and small and imperfections that can't be eradicated. As someone once said to me when I was overwhelmed at having to do a task somewhat sloppily because getting it done was more the point:

"This is not the best of all possible worlds."

In other words:

Work with what you've got.

Make do.

You just have a preference for a type A personality that gets worked up over obstacles big and small, formal and informal. Over time this constant stress causes health problems to the AR or those who live with him.

edgy gurl said...

"I was saying that focus and adaptability were going to be the abilities that pushed IQ off the top of the mountain of advantage, but energy may be a more precise way to look at it than focus."

No, you were right the first time. High IQ can also be paired with a maddening lassitude. I've known successful people who were somewhat slobs seemingly engaged in endless off-task pursuits who, nevertheless: always cranked out A papers at the last minute, only needed to glance at their notes to score well on a test and came up with solutions to your most maddening problems while appearing completely absorbed in a computer game.

Life is easy for such people although they may be victimized by average IQ enviers or high IQ control freaks.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

So...

Jobs was an asshole... but was he a guru-asshole or a jerk-asshole? Was he an asshole just to be an asshole or an asshole to achieve great things(by whipping his men into shape)?
I heard he was a Buddhist, and many Westerners associate Buddhism with Dalai Lama, peace, and all that flaky stuff, but Buddhism is actually a very demanding and strict religion. Acolytes must often go through a kind of hell to rise up in rank and attain 'higher consciousness'. In EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Yoda is a kind of cosmic-Buddhist-guru, and he drives Luke very hard. Nice guy Yoda is not.
So, maybe Job's assholism was a kind of guru-assholism. Like Zen masters in Japan who take a big stick and whack acolytes in the back when meditating, maybe Jobs felt that he had to be tough on his underlings cuz he didn't simply want them to do okay but reach nirvana.

And maybe Jobs was so tough on other guys cuz he understood the culture from inside out. After all, he too had been a sort of slacker-genius-geek at one point. He knew that many computer programmer types were eccentrics, yogi-like flakes, hippie idealists, contrarians, rebels, and etc. He knew the industry was brimming with smart fools like the guy who created UNIX, aptly sounding like enneuchs. I mean he created that cool program and decided to give it way for free. So, Jobs prolly faced a crisis in his life at one point. Does he wanna pursue computer-yogi-culture and be like the Unix guy and be surrounded by geek-enneuchs... OR does he want GO FOR THE POWER!!!! After meditating, he realized he was really out for power!!! He felt like Annakin Skywalker who came to realize being a Jedi wasn't enough for him. Not that Jobs wanted to join the Dark Side. He wanted to be the leader of the computer Jedi community, and he wanted to whip his men into real knights.

He grew up identifying with counterculture and he noticed that many geeks shared th same attitudes. So, if he were lax or nice with them, he would be surrounded by a bunch of pothead wizards. Jobs understood that drugs, such as pot or lsd, can make people creative; but it could also make people hippie-dippie-lazy-or-lost. So, he wanted to take the creative side of counterculture and fuse it with the discipline of zen-buddhism-samurai-jedi stuff.
Lucas, also a Boomer kid, seemed to have the same idea. He too was influenced by 60s counter-culture, but his movies stress order, discipline, training, etc. A movie like THX-1138 is both anxious about technology AND fascinated with its possibilities. If most hippies in the 60s were into nature, guys like Lucas and Jobs stood apart cuz they loved technology: cars, cameras, computers, etc. Since technology requires order, training, and discipline, tech-wizards could never accept counterculture whole hog.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

Another crucial factor, I think, is Jobs is a late boomer, even later than Lucas. Born in 1955, he was only 15 when 60s ended. So, even though he grew witnessing and getting into the groove of 60s counter-culture, he was too young to take part in it and invest his ideas/life into it. His creative life would began after the counterculture had passed. This was prolly very important. Had he been born in 1945, he would have been in the thick and thin of 60s. Swept up in the idealistic cloud of Summer of Love, he might have been like the guy who made UNIX. He might have been listening to "All You Need is Love" and coming up with computer stuff to pass out for free in the name of 'sharing'.
But he came of creative/productive age AFTER the 60s had ended, and he could look back on the counterculture with a sharper perspective. He still admired its rebellious spirit, its youthful energy, its idealism, etc. But he also saw what had gone wrong. Beatles APPLE Corp, which was supposed to be a new kind of business based on a utopian model of openness, inclusion, and generosity turned into a total disaster. Its employees were thieves or lazy bums. Hippies and Hell's Angels came and went, having orgies and stealing and looting. The idea of 'everyone is an artist and should apply for contract with Apple' went to shit. So, by the time Jobs came into his own in the 80s with Apple, he knew all that hippie dippie idealist stuff was crap in the real business world. It may have value in the life of the soul/heart/imagination/creativity, but when it came to running an operation, he could not be a nice guy like John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Besides, the Beatles, for all their love mumbo-jumbo, broke apart mainly over business differences.
So, Jobs knew that business of business is ass-kicking. And especially since so many computer geeks were eccentrics with slackerish tendencies--creative but undisciplined and often unfocused--, he knew someone had to keep it all together. Why did the Stones make more money than the Beatles though Beatles sold more albums? Cuz the Stones had Allen Klein, super-asshole to manage their business. Beatles had gotten fleeced cuz Brian Epstein had been too much of a nice guy, allowing record companies to fleece him and his boys. And then after Epstein died, beatles thought artists and hippies could run their own cool business based on utopian dreams and love. But that was just a pipedream.
So, Jobs understood that for Apple to succeed, he had to be a
guru-asshole.
And as an admirer of Dylan, he knew that Dylan was never a nice guy. He was tough, ruthless, ferocious.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

Jobs was guru-some

Sarcastica said...

"In contrast, I don't have outstanding taste because I'm not a good hater. "

I dunno, Sailer. I've observed some of the complainers on this site being criticized because you don't consider them qualified to complain. I've wondered if that ideal high IQ male of yours who is besieged on all sides by mediocrity and AA machinations actually exists. Otherwise, it often appears you're here to kick people when they're down by baiting them with what seems to be empathy for their plight but really isn't.

Slightly OT: Since I'm not a journalist, I measure the output of such professionals by whether or not it legitimately increases my understanding of some topic not by whether or not they manage to get published frequently or win a coveted spot on a news program. Sure, YOU'D best exhibit a certain amount of decorum wrt your counterparts but I'm not required to since I'm not in the biz. : p

Anonymous said...

Stuff that increases one's energy level: exercise, abstaining from uh... self-abuse. Walking fast, push-ups will quickly make you feel more energetic. So will Red Bull, but I'm sure that if you start drinking it every day, the effect will eventually wear off.

Sitting at a desk saps one's energy. I've read that Don Rumsfeld always used a desk behind which he could stand, even after he hit 70. I have a tiny little laptop, so I can type on it with my thumbs while walking around my home - I get more stuff done that way than while sitting or lounging. And I feel better doing it.

Luke Lea said...

Been reading the New Yorker?

Luke Lea said...

""Energy"

Right. There ought to be a way to quantify it because it's so important, but I don't know of one."

Success?

candid observer said...

Well, I wonder how much of role "energy" plays in success in contrast to perseverance -- though likely the two are to a degree correlated.

I can see that in business sheer energy goes a very long way, especially when combined with a reasonable amount of ability. Showing up goes a long way in business.

I'm not so sure outside that realm.

If A has only 6 peak energy hours in a day and B has 8, then, yes, maybe B generates a third more product of some kind or another.

But is, say, an author who writes 15 books in his lifetime really far less likely to be a great success than one who writes 20? Or a mathematician who produces 30 papers in his career less likely to be so than one who produces 40?

My guess is that the greater determinant of success is perseverance in the face of frustration or failure -- not the hours put in in a day.

The writer who keeps writing despite many rejections is the one more likely to succeed. The mathematician who keeps cranking out papers and ideas rather than giving into discouragement because a result doesn't come easy, or because of simple laziness, is more likely to succeed.

Most of the cases I know of in which someone of talent fails to make any kind of mark are instances in which they simply weren't able to apply themselves consistently. Indeed, often these individuals were almost preternaturally gifted with energy -- but not energy that was brought to bear on the discipline in which they found themselves.

The point is, people -- particularly academics, intellectuals, and scientists -- typically have the time available to them, and sufficient energy, to do pretty much whatever they might be capable of doing in any case in their chosen discipline. If they fail to do so, it's mostly because they can't screw up the motivation to apply themselves to that area.

agnostic said...

Real haters like Jobs come almost exclusively from the minimalist approach to design. They just can't stand the sight of any ornamentation, it gives them The Urge to Purge. It's a real, basic personality difference (flaw).

The Palladians were like that during the Enlightenment, the International Style tyrants during the mid-20th century, and the neo-International Style puritans of the past 20 years, including Jobs.

The other approach, that delights in ornament, only gets upset when minimalism is dominant and they're oppressed. But once the zeitgeist allows them to follow their decorative impulses, they mellow out, cut loose, and have fun. They have very low free-floating levels of hatred and pole-up-the-ass reactions to what they don't like.

Even when they're dominant, the minimalist people are almost incapable of enjoying themselves. Their only source of satisfaction is gloating over how their style has become triumphant, so nyah-nyah-nyah.

Luke Lea said...

re: energy and success

Sen. Bob Corker, our local senator who lives here in Chattanooga, has a seemingly limitless supply of energy, doing deals full tilt 18-to-20 hours a day, like a manic-depressive without the depressive part of the cycle. It is obviously an enormous advantage both in business and politics. Napoleon, famously, was the same way: he went to bed after supper, around 8 o'clock in the evening (when his rivals were partying) and arose at midnight, ordering his secretary, "Write: . . . "

Anonymous said...

Weird how all the hero-worshipers come out when Steve tells the truth about business.

Some people need to stop reading Ayn Rand or the WSJ and start thinking or actually working in the business world.

Jobs didn't invent stuff, he managed people who invented stuff. He was a salesman/manager. Nothing wrong with being a BS artist, but you'd better have someone who actually can do stuff.

Anonymous said...

Swept up in the idealistic cloud of Summer of Love, he might have been like the guy who made UNIX.

Um, no. UNIX was made by employees at Bell Labs who were computer scientists, electrical engineers, mathematicians, programmers. This group included people like Dennis Ritchie, who also invented the C programming language and died recently. These guys were technical geniuses and pioneers. They were not big hippie types. And Jobs didn't have the technical ability to come up with something like UNIX. Jobs didn't know how to program, and had very little technical understanding of computers.

"Dennis Ritchie: The shoulders Steve Jobs stood on"

http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/14/tech/innovation/dennis-ritchie-obit-bell-labs/index.html

"Dennis Ritchie is the father of the C programming language, and with fellow Bell Labs researcher Ken Thompson, he used C to build UNIX, the operating system that so much of the world is built on -- including the Apple empire overseen by Steve Jobs.

"Pretty much everything on the web uses those two things: C and UNIX," Pike tells Wired. "The browsers are written in C. The UNIX kernel — that pretty much the entire Internet runs on -- is written in C. Web servers are written in C, and if they're not, they're written in Java or C++, which are C derivatives, or Python or Ruby, which are implemented in C. And all of the network hardware running these programs I can almost guarantee were written in C.

"It's really hard to overstate how much of the modern information economy is built on the work Dennis did."

Even Windows was once written in C, he adds, and UNIX underpins both Mac OS X, Apple's desktop operating system, and iOS, which runs the iPhone and the iPad. "Jobs was the king of the visible, and Ritchie is the king of what is largely invisible," says Martin Rinard, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory."

Luke Lea said...

@ Ray Sawhill - "What benefit does taste-in-some-people confer on the species?" Don't know about the species but it can confer high-class chicks on the guy. See The Mating Mind.

In my opinion part of taste comes from the home environment in which you grew up, the same way as with manners. OTH I know the stepson of a friend whose tastes in home furnishings bear absolutely no relation to the home he grew up in, but a very close one to his father's family's garish ideas, which he never saw. So there must be some genetics in there too.

Anonymous said...

"I hope you haven't started drinking during the day. This post makes me worry."

Define 'drinking'... define 'day'.

As to the philosophical issue here, I have some difficulty with the easy assumption of human empathy. Without being a total solipsist, how do I ever KNOW how good someone else may be feeling? What is a normal state of energy and well-being? We tend to define normal in a negative sense; ie, by the absence of pain, discomfort, anxiety, malaise, unease, etc. But where are the words or metaphors (or objective measures) for possible degrees of feeling good?

This line of thinking has obviously led many people into an interest in drugs and pharmacology, and in that direction doubtless lie many worthy quips about drinking during the day, etc.
Gilbert P.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

Sailer may not be much of a hater but his limited dislike for certain ideas and cultures is enough for him to be labeled as a PROFESSIONAL HATER.

What matters is not how much you hate but what you hate. If you hate white christian conservatives with all the passion in the world, you get Mccarthur Foundation donations and cush position at Harvard.
But if you 'hate' liberal Jews or gays just a wittle bit, you are to be burned at the stake as an EVIL HERETIC WITCH HATER.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

"Stuff that increases one's energy level: exercise, abstaining from uh... self-abuse."

This doesn't seem to have diminished Philip Roth's energies as a writer.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

"Um, no. UNIX was made by employees at Bell Labs who were computer scientists, electrical engineers, mathematicians, programmers. This group included people like Dennis Ritchie, who also invented the C programming language and died recently."

Oh okay... I heard it was free so I thought some pothead done it.

Wes said...

Ronald Reagan is supposed to have said something like, "never underestimate the power of a good clean hate", with regard to Communism. Hate is an unappreciated driver of much good in the world. Maybe hatred of disorder drives a lot of cleanliness?

Since hate is considered a universally bad emotion it doesn't get proper study. But as far as Steve being a non-hater, well that actually helps. He is able to discuss Human Bio-diversity in way that isn't off-putting.

slumber_j said...

@Agnostic

I don't think you're right about minimalism being the almost-necessary father of exclusionary (which is to say hate-based) taste. Classicists who didn't hate ornament at all did hate that which departed from their program. Neoclassicists too, and I'm thinking here about architects particularly.

The ultra-decorative Louis Sullivan uttered the dictum "Form ever follows function," and didn't like stuff that fundamentally departed from his ethos. There's more...

You may well be right that it's easier to arrive at an aesthetically pleasing minimalist aesthetic than at other styles by following an exclusionary program, but I don't agree that you can pretty much only get there by following one.

Reg Cæsar said...

Real haters like Jobs come almost exclusively from the minimalist approach to design. They just can't stand the sight of any ornamentation... --Agnostic

Huh? How was the original iMac more minimalist than the PCs of the day?

Minimalism is indeed awful in architecture, furniture, kitchenware, vehicle design and the graphic arts. But it's just the thing for little plastic objects. (And even better for Web sites viewed thereon; what else does Google's homepage need?)

Jobs's genius was to make minimalist plastic gadgetry that you wanted to hug. Oh, and use.

Anonymous said...

"What benefit does taste-in-some-people confer on the species?"

Men have been chasing after good-looking women forever. What does "good-looking" mean? Healthy, undamaged. I think it also means having refined, delicate facial features, as opposed to rough-hewn ones. Plus there is a hard-to-define concept of elegance. What's the use of delicate, elegant facial features? Hmmm, perhaps they correlate with something important? Perhaps guys who could perceive finer gradations on the beauty spectrum could maximize their chances of acquiring women who had more of this something important to give to their kids? Perhaps this is too contrived. And this something important, if it exists, can't be intelligence - we've all seen extremely ugly smart people.

How about a different theory: maybe aesthetic taste arose not because it was needed for anything, but as a side-effect of humans having complex brains. Perhaps complex-brains just can't help but notice this elegance thing, whatever it is, just like they can't help but eventually discover calculus and the laws of physics. Perhaps this elegance thing is just out there like the Pythagoras' theorem, but more complex, and anything with a brain is bound to stumble upon it eventually and find it interesting. If intelligent life is ever discovered in other star systems, would it automatically prefer a picture of a Gothic cathedral to a picture of Frank Gehry's crap? What about Charlize Theron vs. Minnie Driver photographed at the same age? When the Sentinelese are eventually contacted by civilization, would they pick the right photograph if given a choice? I suspect that they would.

Dennis Dale said...

In the Nineties I was mugged by Jobs and some of his fellow tweakers. He was in-between CEO gigs at the time, of course.

Maya said...

"Energy.
If there was one thing I wish I had more of it was energy.
I'd happily trade 10 IQ points for 1-2 hrs more per day of peak energy."

As I remember from college, amphetamines (like Addearal) get you there. Unless you have a set of specific health problems like high blood pressure and insomnia, a pill per week, probably, wouldn't damage your health. As someone who struggles with low energy more often than I'd like, sometimes I think it could be worth it.

Reg Cæsar said...

...p. 499, which is about 400 pages farther than most reviewers read...

Nobody separates the actual from the abstract like our Steve. So why does he keep making this error? "Farther" is actual distance, "further" is abstract.

I suppose if these were paper books, you could read 400 pages-- or so many millimeters-- farther. But on an e-reader, it'd have to be further.

Wes said...

Energy. I agree, I know several high energy people with modest IQs that got much further than I would have predicted. Of course, mix high IQ with high energy and you have a potent combo.

There is no way to appreciably raise IQ, but it seems like methods to increase daily energy should be available.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

"Energy"

Right. There ought to be a way to quantify it because it's so important, but I don't know of one.


I don't think it's a perfect way to quantify energy, but I'd use how long a person can operate at a high mental or physical level without getting sick or needing a mental break.

The really successful people I've known seem to be able to operate at a peak level at work or school for long periods of time. They seem to be able to cope with hectic travel schedules, being physically active outside of work, juggle multiple responsibilities and exercising while being busy without 'breaking down' for a little bit. They're usually ex-athletes from high school, and often college.

Being able to control this energy is essential, as edgy girl notes.

I am Lugash.

Anonymous said...

Can you please beat up Malcolm some more? I miss that. When I see the word "eigenvalue" I still giggle.

TGGP said...

I am a Cult:
You might be thinking of the free software variants of Unix. Those are (most notably) Linux and the lesser known B.S.D (Berkeley Software Distribution, which Mac OS X is built off). There are still commercial variants of Unix and companies whose business is to support free Linux distributions (like Red Hat). A company called S.C.O has tried to claim ownership of Unix and accused the free variants of infringing, but I don't think they've been successful in doing much other than being annoying.

eh said...

In contrast, I don't have outstanding taste because I'm not a good hater.

Alert the SPLC.

dearieme said...

Why do people find it hard to identify the key activities of business moguls? People talk about Ford as if he invented the car, or mass production, but he didn't. They talk about Edison as inventor of the light bulb, but he was beaten to the light bulb, lost his patent action and had to buy out his competitor. And they persuade themselves that Jobs was an inventor, which he wasn't.

Why such difficulty? Are people too stupid, too ignorant, too sentimental... what?

cinderella said...

"Hate" is a loaded word that distracts from what you're really talking about here.

"Exclusionary" has negative connotations as well which means you're more passing judgment on those who don't see things your way than engaging in meaningful evaluation.

I'll throw in a more neutral term: "eclectic". I had a roommate who couldn't abide the incongruous images pinned to my cork board. I had some nice rococo art from a playbill, a calendar with minimalist paintings by some obscure artist, flyers from diverse campus events all hanging above a bed with a somewhat preppy comforter that had a teddy bear on the pillow. She, on the other hand, had managed to merge a preference for red, black and yellow with a comforter that nicely accessorized a set of movie posters from her favorite film.

Granted my style couldn't be resolved into any one trend. Yet my roommate's tastes were antithetical to my disparate ones in every way: bold, expressionistic colors vs my pastels, a movie with a strong lead vs my art film with unknown actors and ensemble casts, definition vs exploration. If this hadn't been a temporary situation, I'm not certain we could've removed all dissonance. She had a strong need for visual order that I didn't and was also attached to bold colors that I can only take in small doses. The place would have looked much better with her stylistic uniformity or failed to offend with my more muted shades predominating. Otherwise, you were left with the rather jarring contrast between personalities that probably precluded our generating a third style that was pleasant for both of us.

It was easy enough to endure for a semester or two though certainly would've been intolerable over an extended period of time. That being said, the problem was more one of discomfort than hate. It's only under the right circumstances that a vexation becomes intolerable. When imposed from without and inescapable with one or more groups refusing to compromise, living side by side can be loathsome and volatile. Being picky or highly critical can maybe make things worse but it's not the same as "hate".

Also, active hate may be generated by those resistant to change as well as by those wanting to impose a new way of doing things. You're right. however, that more passive exclusion does tend to be done by someone wanting to preserve order or style rather than change it. Compromise arrived at fairly that observes the most heartfelt interests of all involved is probably the best option though not necessarily the fairest.

eh said...

OT

Hot news item: Washington orchards desperate for apple pickers

With migrant workers scared off by immigration crackdown, Wash. orchards desperate for pickers

Good thing it's pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving; it would be a shame to not have apples for apple pie on Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, if the "migrant workers" were "scared" on Halloween, then that doesn't seem all that unfair.

Anonymous said...

I do miss Steve. The place isn't the same without him. Guess he's gone for good to a better place with better people.

You guys just suck.

The Social Pathologist said...

Hating the ugly comes naturally to those who love the beautiful. But it takes a cultured mind to know what is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Rubens had enormous energy but was not known as mean spirted at all.
Sargent, likewise, Sorolla as well.

and what did TheodoreRoosevelt say:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,

SFG said...

"In contrast, I don't have outstanding taste because I'm not a good hater. "

You seem to hate the Mexicans pretty well. ;)


I know they're trashing your neighborhood, but every single one of your essays ends with a plea to limit immigration. It's sort of as if Beethoven ended all his symphonies with the opening of the Fifth.

Anonymous said...

"Energy"

Right. There ought to be a way to quantify it because it's so important, but I don't know of one.


There is a psychological test that measure perseverence, as per candid observer, in mice that is. Namely, Forced Swimming Test. And the measurement unit is seconds apparently.

However, I doubt that it could be used on people. Morality aside, test would not be a good predictor of success in humans, as it is dependent on mice being stupid enough not to be aware of the test's premise.
According to wikipedia, though without sources, some scientists express doubt that the test works even for mice. Unnamed scientists or the wikipedia editor, whichever comes first, suspect that antidepressants may make the mice not less desperate but instead less wise. But I think both options are plausible, as well as any comination thereof.

Kevin Michael Grace said...

The glass volume problem restated. "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow"--David Mamet.

Jobs and his place in history. So identifying an underexploited market for objects encased in brushed metal now qualifies one for transcendent genius, does it? My, how we have lowered the bar.

Jobs and the East. Jobs' time in India made him a justified asshole. He treated people like shit because they deserved it, because it was the will of the Godhead (as determined by the acolyte Steve Jobs).

Kylie said...

"Real haters like Jobs come almost exclusively from the minimalist approach to design."

No. I think you're mistakenly assuming that most design purists are minimalists. Many purists are more what I'd call "archivists". Everything has to be within the period or style they love. If it must be museum quality or reproduced by artisans to resemble such, so be it.

You might be surprised at how "hateful" the purists of non-minimalist design can be. One design blogger sniffed that she wouldn't considered getting to know an acquaintance who'd referred to a sofa as a "couch" or curtains as "drapes". She's right insofar as her terminology goes but purist though I am, even I find that a bit cold, if not hateful.

An exceedingly refined aesthetic can bring great satisfaction, even joy, but usually only within a very narrow, though deep, range. One learns to turn a blind eye--and ear. A good example of this is having perfect or near-perfect pitch.

"In contrast, I don't have outstanding taste because I'm not a good hater. I see most glasses as part full."

Hence your notion of citizenism. It's like taking shelter in a cave. It offers minimal protection from the elements and thus promotes longer life without adding much to quality of life, unless you can drum up some enthusiasm for stalagtites, little lizards that slither around in the dark, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Lots of people love beautiful things"

But what they find beautiful is usually ugly or vapid.

josh said...

Steve jobs. Brilliant,obsessive,driven,dominantcourageous,unstoppable.A visionary. A leader. Who today can compare to him? One name leaps to mind:Herman Cain.

Anonymous said...

Given the state of art it is in, the problem is poorism, not purism.

Anonymous said...

What matters is not so much how one sees the glass but who gets to drink whatever's in it.

helene edwards said...

Good point. That must be why most women have such execrable taste in jewelry - they're lousy haters. No, wait, their hatred is actually quite easily triggered, isn't it? Oh well.

not a hacker said...

When I have the bad luck to be in Las Vegas, I can't stop looking at the Bellagio hotel. Breathtaking architectural beauty. Hardly anyone shares my awe.

Kylie said...

"'In contrast, I don't have outstanding taste because I'm not a good hater.'

You seem to hate the Mexicans pretty well. ;)


I know they're trashing your neighborhood, but every single one of your essays ends with a plea to limit immigration."


You know what I hate? This kind of disingenous remark.

First, you are a liar. Not every one of Steve's essays ends with a plea to limit immigration. Secondly, you are deliberately conflating hatred of something with hatred of the deleterious effects that something produces, which Steve himself never does when discussing immigration.


"It's sort of as if Beethoven ended all his symphonies with the opening of the Fifth."

Apparently, you've opened a fifth, and downed it, too, if this is your idea of a cleverly snarky remark.

Oh, and no, it's not.

Anonymous said...

Jobs is the rare perfectionist with good judgment, which comes through both in the Isaacson biography and in the comma-ed "i, steve" quotes book (Jobs undoubtedly sought to improve on the cover photo aesthetics of "i, steve" in contributing his photos to the front and back covers of "steve jobs", evidently favoring a front view and a slight downward looking head tilt; he was not, however, back-lit).

It's a less appreciated general issue in management of technical firms that the technical wonk personality (which Jobs was not) has a lightly regulated capacity for fascination which almost precludes the sort of good judgment Jobs demonstrated in his design/business career. There may be some species survival value in having a handful of people with good judgment directing a much larger group with little capacity to pick what's crucial out of the sea of ambiguities, but able to apply strong attention to trivial tasks. Jobs seemed to grasp the crucial factors and keep people on track: (p. 351) "He went around the table assailing everyone...You know we're trying to save the company here, and you guys are screwing it up!"

Jobs had the balls to be psychologically manipulative, lie, unfairly accrue credit to himself, etc. in istevian application of Roissian tenants to the business sphere. Apple products and product releases, Jobs' death and the biography release, and so on reflect alpha-esque ego-oriented attention seeking statements. As a hard knuckled character capable of cruelty internally and in business dealings (while turning out charming consumer friendly products), he receives the highest accolade for businessmen: "a hard man in the world". Et chateau, he boffed Joan Baez a few times, too, for whatever that's worth.

Jobs worst decision was in delaying traditional therapy for his cancer, due to an ideological cali-hippie natural therapies mentality, but even the best can err. Michael Milken, another cali-character with good judgment, also attributed his cancer to stress in his early 40s but self-directed his diagnosis and aggressive therapy and is still with us.

Catperson said...

Energy. Agreed. I was saying that focus and adaptability were going to be the abilities that pushed IQ off the top of the mountain of advantage, but energy may be a more precise way to look at it than focus.

Adaptability, or at least the cognitive component thereof, is IQ. Intelligence is the mental ability to adapt. The ability to learn, think flexibly and apply information to new situations is what allowed humans to adapt to ever corner of the globe. Now there may be aspects of intelligence that are not well measured by IQ tests and these may contribute to success; ablities such as executive functioning, frontal lobe reasoning etc. I suspect a lot of high IQ people who fail in the real world have some sort of executive/frontal lobe disability.

As for energy, this seems easy to quantify. The amount of cleaning you can do in a day could measure physical energy. Number of super easy math questions (2+1) you can answer in day could measure mental energy.

Cult said...

"Hating the ugly comes naturally to those who love the beautiful."

Not really. While I have no use for gratuitous ugliness, ugliness in art can be a form of truth. GODFATHER is a beautiful epic, GOODFELLAS is a rather ugly sordid tale of thugs, but the latter movie is more truthful.
MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE features a lot of ugliness--and I don't much enjoy watching it--, but it is filled with so much truth about humanity, warts and all, that I can't turn my head away. Truth is a kind of beauty, maybe a deeper kind.

"But it takes a cultured mind to know what is beautiful."

Yes and no. Uncultured mind goes for easy thrills; in contrast, a cultured mind has an eye for 'higher' things. But more culture means also more complexity, a realization truth and meaning don't necessary equal beauty; and also that ugliness has its fascinating angles too. Take some of the paintings by Goya. Certainly not pretty but there's real power there, a kind of depth you don't find in works that are simply pleasant to the eye.

To be sure, 'too much culture' can lead to a kind of decadence or avant-garde conceit where the tasteless and hideous are elevated and favored merely for its 'radical' or 'subversive' value, and it seems like most ulrtra-cultured people today are under that kind of conceit.

Cult said...

Beavis and Butthead is truth.

Cult said...

Microsoft is the McDonalds of the computer industry.

Apple is the Starbucks of the computer industry.

Google is the Google of the computer industry. That's why it will win.

Doug1 said...

Anonymous 8:01—

Jobs didn't invent stuff, he managed people who invented stuff. He was a salesman/manager. Nothing wrong with being a BS artist, but you'd better have someone who actually can do stuff.

He was always a good salesman. He grew into being a very strong manager of a sort by the time he returned to Apple through its acquisition of Next for it’s software, which became iMac’s OS 10 software more or less. Perhaps he was at Pixar too or grew into it there.

What it always was most of all was someone with great design sense, and great ergonomics sense. I.e. he had great tech taste. He was also a market genius. He had a real sense what people really wanted.

Steve’s review of the biography of Steve Jobs is great at making all that clear.

Anonymous said...

Being a bastard product of an unmarried white woman an a nonwhite man seems to contribute to success. Perhaps there is a reason behind it and we can teach it at business schools.

I think I know where he got the idea for his wardrobe:
Hecubus
Evil!
Kids In The Hall - Simon & Hecubus: Gandar

Also
The Apple-1 for Only $666 - First Apple Ad (1976)

Anonymous said...

I think one big lesson is that if you have hundreds of millions by age 25, you can make a big impact in the world if you want to.

Jobs wanted to be a somebody, unlike Wozniak or Allen.

If Gil Amelio hadn't brought Jobs back into the fold, Jobs would have been another rich has-been.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

"Jobs didn't invent stuff, he managed people who invented stuff."

But couldn't one say McCarthur didn't win battles and that he only led men who won battles?

To the extent that Jobs provided a general direction to his men and imbued them with his vision, he was sort of an inventor.
Consider Kubrick and Douglas Trumbull. It was Trumbull who actually did the technical stuff on 2001, but it was Kubrick who provided him with the vision. Without the vision of Kubrick(and later Scott with BLADE RUNNER), Trumbull's technical expertise wouldn't have gone far. And his collaborations with third rate directors didn't produce much of worth.

Anonymous No. 15.5 said...

Huh? How was the original iMac more minimalist than the PCs of the day?

No fan, at least for the second-generation version. Takes a lot of hard engineering and someone in charge who hates ambient noise to pull off something like that.

Udolpho.com said...

"Why such difficulty? Are people too stupid, too ignorant, too sentimental... what?"

Mostly ignorant, but also people are often stuck on a "Big Man" theory of history that says big important figures (that they are aware of) move events forward. It's much less exciting to think of history moving forward on the backs of many anonymous people who make important incremental contributions. Although obviously the latter is closer to the truth.

Anonymous said...

Windows 7 looks nice. It looks as good or better than OS X depending on your view. And Apple's software like Safari, iTunes, and QuickTime suck. That's why even people with Macs use Firefox and Chrome and VLC instead of the Apple stuff.

The main reason to buy a Mac is to fit in and to avoid not looking uncool in certain social settings and industries. I know lots of people who bought and buy Macs after they became popular again in the mid-2000s after iPods became popular who admit to this. Most of their computer use is just to browse the internet anyway. To be fair though, this is a main reason why lots of different consumer brands are chosen. So it isn't unique to Apple or anything.

morleysafer said...

not a hacker: the Bellagio seems relatively pleasant-looking, not to an art critic perhaps, but most of modern LV is nauseating.

Udolpho.com said...

"To the extent that Jobs provided a general direction to his men and imbued them with his vision, he was sort of an inventor."

No, he wasn't. An inventor makes things, he doesn't pick them from a series. Changing the definition of "inventor" to whatever it was Steve Jobs did (choose swatches) is not helpful.

Antioco Dascalon said...

I can tell when someone is not a true connoisseur if, when asked what they like, they say "Everything." If you like every kind of music or every kind of food, you are not discriminating and thus do not have excellent taste. I always like it when people answer "Good music" or "good food" as if that weren't a tautology. If there is not some music that makes you physically cringe, then you are not an aficionado. Same for wine, or beer or philosophy or sports. If you don't hate a team, you aren't a fan.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

"An inventor makes things, he doesn't pick them from a series."

Okay, maybe he wasn't an inventor but he was an innovator in the methods of leading and guiding and pressuring inventors. And he knew how to coordinate all these different inventions. He was an interventor.

Anonymous said...

EU's diversity recession. Northern Europeans weighed down by Southern Latin and Greek lazies.

Anonymous said...

Jobs didn't know how to program, and had very little technical understanding of computers.

Oh yes he did but you are too ignorant to know that a computer only needs 64Kilobytes of RAM.

And it should go on fire. That is a very useful feature.