Steve Jobs

by Kieran Healy on October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs has died. He was 56. Here is his 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford.

{ 129 comments }

1

anon 10.06.11 at 12:16 am

This is very sad news. Steve Job’s genius shines through almost every product he touched. What ever flaws he may have had, Humanity has lost a great one today.

RIP Steve and thanks so much for a job well done.

2

Lemuel Pitkin 10.06.11 at 12:33 am

I admit, I find this surprisingly affecting.

Sure, Jobs was one of the 1% (or 0.001%) but he was one of the very few of them that got there by actually creating something, not by playing with money and leveraging rents.

And the guy was just in his mid-50s, he could have had another 25 years of creative work ahead of him. It’s stupid, I suppose, to be sad about the deaths of famous people you’ve never met, but this news does make me sad.

3

joel hanes 10.06.11 at 12:37 am

Jobs was one of the 1%

His annual salary every year since returning to Apple : $1

I think that sufficiently distinguishes him from the other Masters of the Universe and Galtian Overlords to which we usually refer when speaking of “the 1%”.

4

joel hanes 10.06.11 at 12:38 am

to _whom_

5

Jon H 10.06.11 at 12:39 am

“His annual salary every year since returning to Apple : $1″

I think that was his salary at NeXT and Pixar, as well.

6

Peter Macy 10.06.11 at 12:49 am

I’m curious: Does anyone know why he chose not to get paid? Is it that he didn’t care about money?

7

lemmy caution 10.06.11 at 12:56 am

According to wikipedia, they gave him a boatload of stock options:

In 2001, Steve Jobs was granted stock options in the amount of 7.5 million shares of Apple with an exercise price of $18.30, which allegedly should have been $21.10, thereby incurring taxable income of $20,000,000 that he did not report as income. This indicated backdating. Apple overstated its earnings by that same amount. If found liable, Jobs might have faced a number of criminal charges and civil penalties. Apple claimed that the options were originally granted at a special board meeting. Furthermore, the investigation is focusing on false dating of the options resulting in a retroactive $20 million increase in the exercise price. The case is the subject of active criminal and civil government investigations,[78] though an independent internal Apple investigation completed on December 29, 2006, found that Jobs was unaware of these issues and that the options granted to him were returned without being exercised in 2003.[79] On July 1, 2008, a $7 billion class action suit was filed against several members of the Apple Board of Directors for revenue lost due to the alleged securities fraud.[80][81]

8

Ben Alpers 10.06.11 at 1:02 am

Very sad news. Apple’s front page is now, unsurprisingly, devoted to Jobs.

9

Trey 10.06.11 at 1:05 am

It was my understanding that he was paid in stock options so as to directly tie the success of the company to his own success as its leader.

10

anon 10.06.11 at 1:51 am

I’m sure the lower tax rate on long term capital gains had nothing to do with it.

Maybe he finally left something to charity in his estate, but I doubt it.

11

Jeff 10.06.11 at 1:54 am

The loss of any individual is sad, especially to the friends and family members he left behind. He certainly lived a productive, important and unique life, but this obsequies need to canonize this man is bit sad in this “community.” Jobs was, contrary to the opiners, not a man of the people.

Jobs was an enemy of labor unions, previously commenting:

“I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way,” the Apple CEO told a school-reform conference in Texas on Saturday. “This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy.” – Steve Jobs

“The problems are unions. You plot the growth of the NEA [National Education Association] and the dropping of SAT scores, and they’re inversely proportional. The problems are unions in the schools. The problem is bureaucracy. I’m one of these people who believes the best thing we could ever do is go to the full voucher system.” – Steve Jobs

“You could have a track at Stanford within the MBA program on how to be the businessperson of a school. And that MBA would get together with somebody else, and they’d start schools. And you’d have these young, idealistic people starting schools.” – Steve Jobs

Nevermind that reams of data expose this as hoary lie or that better performing nations have greater teacher union density. Nevermind that this billionaire’s (but he only gets paid a dollar!) children probably will never attend a public school. No, today, he is a hero of the average man, right. Bullshit.

Moreover, Jobs oversaw the offshoring of tons of good-paying jobs in the tech industry that contracted with slave labor agencies in China and were routine workers’ rights violators.

At home, Apple fought against union drives and intentionally limits workers hours (a la walmart) to deny health coverage.

In sum, Jobs hates unions, denies workers health benefits and ships jobs oversees sweatshops.

It’s fine to think of this industry titan as an innovator and brilliant man, but please dont pretend he’s a hero or transcendent figure whom we should celebrate. Like many industrialists and rich men, his interest in the 99ers (to use the parlance of our times) was not of collective action but willful neglect and, at times, derision.

The braying narrative is indicative of the worshipful qualities for what purports to be the left. Mourn his loss, but dont rewrite history, please.

12

christian_h 10.06.11 at 2:11 am

Why is this front page news for all the papers and worth hours of coverage on the news channels? To me this is yet another step up in the celebrity obsession of modern capitalism – this time the celebrity CEO. Sad news for his friends and family, but I don’t see why I should care any more than about the passing of any Apple worker.

13

tomslee 10.06.11 at 2:23 am

The speech is a strange one. It is quite moving: personal, relatively modest, and thoughtful. Yet in the end it’s a “follow your dreams” speech, and as such is quite a contrast to the other Internet event of the moment, We are the 99%.

“Follow your dreams” invokes a cosmic balance (fortune favours the brave) but it also invokes a social bargain. And the 99% posters “sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy – work hard, play by the rules, get ahead – has been broken, and they want to see it restored” (Felix Salmon, quoted here).

So nothing against the guy, but over the next few days I’ll think more about what the 99%-ers say than what Steve Jobs said at Stanford.

14

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 2:23 am

Christian_h, this is the man who invented the mass computer. He had a direct hand in enabling millions to use computers. The Apple II is an iconic piece of hardware, and his popularization of it and spearheading of the Macintosh turned what was once an instrument of production into a device for the masses. Not one of the parts was made by him, but he saw the potential and advanced it.

15

Lemuel Pitkin 10.06.11 at 2:38 am

Worth noting that in all the tributes to Steve Jobs, nobody is saying “He was a rational agent who maximized the present value of his lifetime consumption, and would have wrecked his company in a second if he thought that would net him a dollar more. We will continue running Apple to generate the maximum profits for shareholders, whether that means putting out great products, putting out crappy products, or liquidating the whole thing.” Instead, they all talk — sincerely I’m sure — about his commitment and dedication to his work, and say things like “his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”

It’s a nice illustration of how capitalism’s biggest success stories are really arguments against capitalism. As David Graeber (among others) points out, no successful corporation runs internally on the principle of self-interest and market exchange. Rather, it depends on people’s professional conscience — their disinterested, deontological commitment to doing their job well. A fully capitalist corporation, where everyone is constantly trying to maximize their own returns, can only end up like Enron.

16

christian_h 10.06.11 at 2:39 am

Watson Ladd, huh? Are we still living in the romantic period where without the “inventor” the personal computer wouldn’t exist? Come on, this is nonsense. If this was the “inventor” of the standard container passing away (arguably something with as great an impact on modern life as the personal computer) there wouldn’t be even a notice. It’s pure celebrity journalism.

17

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 2:50 am

There was actually an obituary in the NY Times about the inventor of the shipping container.

18

Lemuel Pitkin 10.06.11 at 3:03 am

Enron link. (The one @14 doesn’t work.)

19

speranza 10.06.11 at 3:52 am

Shorter christian_h:

‘NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!’

20

David 10.06.11 at 4:42 am

Empathy aside, christian_h shows a distinct lack of imagination and not a very good grasp of commodity celebrity worship.

21

christian_h 10.06.11 at 4:52 am

I have no idea what speranza is talking about. None. Not only is his shorter longer than what I actually wrote it is completely missing the point. I’ll go back to reading coverage of Lady Di’s death now.

22

christian_h 10.06.11 at 5:02 am

Empathy? How about empathy for the Chinese workers who killed themselves due to working conditions in factories producing Apple products? The rich white guy is the one who deserves empathy, and they deserve two paragraphs on page A11. Unbelievable.

23

Jon H 10.06.11 at 5:07 am

“How about empathy for the Chinese workers who killed themselves due to working conditions in factories producing Apple products? “

Apple products, and everyone else’s too. What, you think the XBox is made by Amish craftsmen?

24

christian_h 10.06.11 at 5:11 am

Jon H: And if Bill Gates’s passing got the same amount of completely over the top coverage, I’d be complaining as well. So what’s your point?

25

hellblazer 10.06.11 at 5:34 am

Whether you agree with him or not, how the hell is christian_h’s tone remotely comparable to Gradgrind?

26

Keith 10.06.11 at 5:37 am

christian_h:

The plight of the Chinese factory worker is an unfortunate effect of the manufacturing chain, but that’s a problem that neither Steve Jobs was responsible for nor could have changed. Blaming him for not fixing your pet problem while he worked tirelessly for education and the advancement of technology is disingenuous if not outright myopic.

27

between4walls 10.06.11 at 5:55 am

Keith- Wait, how do you figure that Steve Jobs, as the CEO of Apple, had no capacity to ameliorate conditions in the factories that supplied his company? I don’t agree with christian_h’s comments, but it’s not “myopic” to look at how the people who actually manufacture the products fare. You can’t just write that off as “an unfortunate effect of the manufacturing chain” when it’s actually an integral part of the manufacturing chain!

28

between4walls 10.06.11 at 6:08 am

Christian_h, what do you think of the Nobel Prizes currently being awarded for scientific discoveries? Do you think that’s just some Romantic idea of the individual scientist’s role in a discovery? Do you think that since someone else might have discovered it anyway, the people who happened to do it shouldn’t get prominent obituaries when they die?

29

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.06.11 at 7:35 am

@ LP, 14: Rather, it depends on people’s professional conscience—their disinterested, deontological commitment to doing their job well.

Well, what about this little anecdote, from wikipedia:

According to Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Atari had offered $100 for each chip that was eliminated in the machine. Jobs had little interest or knowledge in circuit board design and made a deal with Wozniak to split the bonus evenly between them if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips. Much to the amazement of Atari, Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50, a design so tight that it was impossible to reproduce on an assembly line. At the time, Jobs told Wozniak that Atari had only given them $700 (instead of the actual $5,000) and that Wozniak’s share was thus $350.

Sounds like the guy was, after all, a capitalist proper.

30

Tim Worstall 10.06.11 at 8:32 am

“If this was the “inventor” of the standard container passing away (arguably something with as great an impact on modern life as the personal computer) there wouldn’t be even a notice.”

As @16 points out, NYT obit a couple of weeks back, Daily Telegraph (UK) obit. Excellent book about the whole thing (“The Box” I think it was called) a couple of years back. Very good Brad DeLong review of that book out there somewhere. Heck, The Register even bought a piece off me about Keith Tantlinger’s death.

Not as much coverage of Jobs, sure, but more than none.

31

glenn 10.06.11 at 8:34 am

The dude was worth billions…if not a capitalist, what then? But he did so pretty much by living his own rules, pushing boundaries, inventing and making stuff that people wanted, even if they didn’t know it at the time. So what sets him apart, is that he didn’t do it just for himself, he really did benefit other industries and consumers (say, as opposed to the wall street leverage-and-trade industry) He bought the genesis of Pixar for like $10million eventually sold it for over $4 billion to Disney (in which he ended up owning about 5%). So, of course he was a capitalist, and clearly he excelled at it, and in many ways, he’s one of the best examples: his passions led him to being a successful capitalist. My guess is that the capitalist part was incidental to just about everthing else.

32

ajay 10.06.11 at 8:48 am

Apple CEO now even slimmer, but with reduced functionality, critics say.

33

Jon H 10.06.11 at 9:17 am

glenn wrote: ” So, of course he was a capitalist, and clearly he excelled at it, and in many ways, he’s one of the best examples: his passions led him to being a successful capitalist.”

The thing is, he didn’t go for the quick, easy money. He put about $50 million of his own money into Pixar, before the IPO. He might have gotten a return earlier, by turning Pixar into a studio churning out low-quality animation. But he let them go for cinematic quality and story.

34

cian 10.06.11 at 1:22 pm

Christian_h, this is the man who invented the mass computer.

Not actually true, but even if it was the machine was invested by Steve Wozniak, a man who was treated pretty dreadfully by Steve Jobs.

Its a shame Ayn Rand isn’t around – she’d have loved Jobs, and all the celebrity worship.

35

Barry 10.06.11 at 1:29 pm

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 2:50 am

” There was actually an obituary in the NY Times about the inventor of the shipping container.”

(a) link?
(b) *an* obituary. No front page article?

36

Barry 10.06.11 at 1:30 pm

Tim: “Not as much coverage of Jobs, sure, but more than none.”

Anybody who got a column-inch in their local paper upon death got more than none.

37

Barry 10.06.11 at 1:33 pm

Keith 10.06.11 at 5:37 am
” christian_h:

The plight of the Chinese factory worker is an unfortunate effect of the manufacturing chain, but that’s a problem that neither Steve Jobs was responsible for nor could have changed. Blaming him for not fixing your pet problem while he worked tirelessly for education and the advancement of technology is disingenuous if not outright myopic.”

This wins the thread for the most bald-face flat-out lie. Even if the thread goes for a thousand comments.

38

ajay 10.06.11 at 1:58 pm

35: much as I hate to prove Watson right, here it is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/business/keith-tantlinger-builder-of-cargo-container-dies-at-92.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=tantlinger&st=cse

He got quite a bit of coverage. The Economist didn’t write him up, but they did give an obit to the inventer of the container ship, Malcolm McLean.

39

anthony 10.06.11 at 2:02 pm

I think, Jeff, we could observe that people who are experts in one field, fall prey to stupidity in another; that it’s a nice little irony that it was educational purchases that kept Apple going in the lean years; and move on.

40

J. Otto Pohl 10.06.11 at 2:15 pm

The statement on the plight of the Chinese factory workers under globalized capitalism sounds exactly like the defense socialists use to offer up for the GULag under Stalin and Lao Gai under Mao. You can’t after all “make an omlette without breaking a few eggs.” If the owners of factories are not responsible for the work conditions in those factories then I guess nobody is responsible. It reduces the crimes of actual human beings to inevitable “unfortunate effects” similar to natural disasters. So there is never any reason to change anything in the system. I reject this type of thinking, but just about everybody on the internet disagrees with almost everything I write so I guess we can place a statue of Jobs next to those of Stalin and Mao as great “progressive” heros. Nothing must ever be allowed to stand in the way of “progress”, certainly not the well being of ordinary people.

41

christian_h 10.06.11 at 2:25 pm

Look I never said Job’s passing wasn’t news-worthy. I also never blamed him personally for the conditions at Foxcomm, although obviously he shared responsibility. In fact nothing I wrote could be construed as an attack on Steve Jobs – my ire was directed at the media circus. Should I mention that just a couple days ago those same media reported – live – the introduction of the new iPhone. A consumer product launch, reported live by serious news organizations. There’s a theme here, and it isn’t “media doing their jobs”.

42

engels 10.06.11 at 2:29 pm

I once went into Manchester with such a bourgeois, and spoke to him of the bad, unwholesome method of building, the frightful condition of the working-peoples quarters, and asserted that I had never seen so ill-built a city. The man listened quietly to the end, and said at the corner where we parted: “And yet there is a great deal of money made here, good morning, sir.”

43

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 2:36 pm

cian, others may have made it. But looking at folklore.org I get the sense that Jobs was very directly responsible for envisioning many of its most fundamental features and its iconic design. Rounded Rectangles and correctly handling fonts were both due to initiatives from above. Every aspect of the machines he was responsible for had to meet with his approval. As comments on slashdot have pointed out, Gates put a computer on every desk. Jobs put one in every home, school, bedroom, and closet.

J. Otto Pohl, nice point. I’ld complicate it a bit by noting that it is the system of capital that in some sense drives the conditions. The capitalist is also not free.

44

cian 10.06.11 at 2:50 pm

The amount Apple saved by using Foxconn and other such things was fairly negligible compared to their profits. Apple would still have been an immensible profitable company without doing those things; he just chose to maximise profits. He had a choice.

Though the idea of Capitalists not being free is kind of intriguing. Should we expect to see variations of the Nuremberg defense. I was just following the logical dictates of capital; which unfortunately trapped me living in the lap of luxury.

45

tomslee 10.06.11 at 2:52 pm

On the responsibility of individuals in the system versus the responsibility of the system itself, hasn’t there been a thread about that somewhere?

46

cian 10.06.11 at 3:02 pm

cian, others may have made it. But looking at folklore.org I get the sense that Jobs was very directly responsible for envisioning many of its most fundamental features and its iconic design.

You’re mistaking the Apple II for the Mac. The Apple II was a command line machine, and Steve Wozniak was the one largely responsible for it. Much of the innovation in the Mac (and the Lisa) came from the Xerox Star. That’s not to say he didn’t have a significant influence on it, but the innovation tends to get overstated. Most of the true innovations in Computers have also been commercially unsuccessful, incidentally. Apple have never been a particularly innovative company; they’ve been a company (under Jobs) which had a very strong design sense, which they were able to utilise effectively to sell products to small, highly focused, but wealthy market.

As comments on slashdot have pointed out, Gates put a computer on every desk. Jobs put one in every home, school, bedroom, and closet.

Those are some ignorant comments, then, which is what I guess one expects of Slashdot. Apple products have always been niche, mainly because they’re very expensive. They’ve been influential, sure, but they’re like the BMWs of the computing world.

47

Lemuel Pitkin 10.06.11 at 3:14 pm

I know it;s a waste of time to argue with Watson Ladd, but @43 is really magnificent in how it goes, literally from one sentence to the next, from assigning complete responsibility to Jobs for the personal computer revolution, to absolving him of any responsibility for conditions in the factories where his products were made. Funny how it’s all the individual when it’s a question of admiration (and money), and all the system when it’s a question of blame.

Tom S. is of course right that this was also Daniel Davis’ line about bankers.

48

cian 10.06.11 at 3:19 pm

Funny how it’s all the individual when it’s a question of admiration (and money), and all the system when it’s a question of blame.

And yet he’s apparently a Marxist. Am I the only one who finds this odd?

49

Jonathan Mayhew 10.06.11 at 3:23 pm

I can’t think of many people who have had as much influence on the “structures of feeling” of contemporary life during the past four decades. To compare him to the inventor of some shipping container is absurd. What’s the theoretically correct amount of media coverage for an event like this? The founder of a major, influential company or two with a rock-star-like profile is hugely significant, even if you thought his influence is negative.

50

Anderson 10.06.11 at 4:05 pm

11: I’m sorry; did you mean to demonstrate that Jobs was *mistaken* in his remarks about teachers’ unions? Or does criticizing any union make one “anti-union”?

51

Lemuel Pitkin 10.06.11 at 4:18 pm

he’s apparently a Marxist

Ladd? I don’t think he’s anything except confused.

52

cian 10.06.11 at 4:26 pm

Follow the link on his name. He’s part of the Platypus group seemingly. Which admittedly would also explain the confusion.

53

ajay 10.06.11 at 4:41 pm

52: maybe he is trying to heighten the contradictions by just contradicting himself a lot?

54

Barry Freed 10.06.11 at 4:44 pm

That’s very funny Cian. Are they really a thing? Googling led me to an article with the title: “Platypus Group: Pseudo-Marxist, Pro-Imperialist, Academic Claptrap” citing the founder’s support for the Iraq war. OTOH, said article is posted on the Sparticist league website so YMMV/YHBW

Whenever I feel the temptation to feed that troll I find myself beginning the post “Watson, lad…”

55

Lemuel Pitkin 10.06.11 at 4:45 pm

Sounds like the guy was, after all, a capitalist proper.

You might be right, Henri. I don’t really know much about Jobs personally. But I’m really more interested in the myth.

I mean, isn’t it funny? We’re constantly told that these vast inequalities in wealth and status are the necessary price of all the stuff capitalism showers us with. (Whether the stuff is worth it is a separate question.) Without the lure of billions, entrepreneurs would never have give us their wonderful inventions. But once we pass from defenses of inequality in the abstract to some individual entrepreneur, we never hear that story. Even if it’s true, no one says of Jobs, “He was one lazy guy, who wouldn’t get out of bed for less than six figures. And the only thing that mattered to him about the iPhone, was how much money it would make him.” No, they say — he said about himself — the exact opposite of all that! Which shows that, on some level, even the apologists for capitalism don’t believe their own stories about the importance of market incentives.

56

geo 10.06.11 at 5:23 pm

Lemuel @55: Whether the stuff is worth it is a separate question

An interesting one, too, which I hope some deep thinker will post about eventually on CT. Myself, I would barely notice if Steve Jobs had never existed, while every time I read a passage by George Eliot illuminating the moral landscape, or a post by, say, Chomsky or Glenn Greenwald, keeping the flame of civic idealism alive, or hear a track by Art Tatum, or drive around the American West, I remember why life is worth living. There does seem to be something a little … disproportionate about Jobs-worship.

57

ajay 10.06.11 at 5:27 pm

56 is, I assume, even now on its way to Pseud’s Corner.

58

geo 10.06.11 at 5:35 pm

Come on, ajay. You just wish you could write eloquent, heart-stirring comments like 56.

59

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.06.11 at 6:05 pm

IOZ: http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2011/10/shantih-shantih-shitty.html

Yeah, successful massive marketing was his best achievement. Anybody who’s willing to spend a lot of money can create a good gadget; to sell it for 5 times the price of the average one is the real challenge.

60

ben w 10.06.11 at 6:34 pm

I would barely notice if Steve Jobs had never existed

Neither would anyone else, of course.

61

Salient 10.06.11 at 7:16 pm

I have no idea how I feel (or am supposed to feel) about Steve Jobs dying, but I do feel vaguely appreciative for that which is commonly attributed to his presence in technology design. To overstate the case a little, without Jobs as a strong counterbalance to the input-maximizing trend, my MP3 player would have forty-eight submenus, my desktop PC’s mouse would have seventeen buttons, and maybe half the interactions with my laptop would require extensive typing to clarify my instructions to it.

So hey, insofar as these playful exaggerations are descriptions in the general direction toward which technology would have developed without Jobs, my thanks for the insight to act against that–perhaps it’s accurate to presume that, in anyone else’s hands, “less is more” would have been a completely empty platitude, to be printed on an office wall inspirational poster, underneath the picture of a flower or a boat.

62

Lemuel Pitkin 10.06.11 at 7:30 pm

Arthur Goldhammer on Jobs:

“What he did was essentially to package the genius of tens of thousands of others, who worked not for extraordinary shares of immense profits or for rock-star celebrity but for love of the work itself. When the technologies are in place, it is inevitable that a Jobs will come along and find the key to commoditizing them, but creation of the technologies is a long, slow, and above all social process, which owes more to the actions of a far-sighted state and to basic research pursued in universities and private labs than to the genius of any entrepreneur.”

63

Keith 10.06.11 at 7:54 pm

between4walls@27/ Barry@37:

Jobs was one man and the system is, if not broken, in extreme disrepair. He could have directed his energies towards ameliorating the trade imbalance between 1st and 3rd worlds, but that was not his bag. Complaining about how the CEO of one of the world’s largest technology companies was insufficiently Wobbly is pretty much the definition of disingenuous.

Steve jobs managed to do a lot of good, even if he took advantage of a broken and gamed system to do it. It’s a complicated old world. And our categories for explaining it don’t always fit the myriad and contradictory human motives we have for taking action.

or the short version:

“Sure, Jobs helped bring computing to the masses but what has he done for me lately?” is a sentiment you can sit on and spin.

64

cian 10.06.11 at 8:04 pm

“Sure, Jobs helped bring computing to the masses but what has he done for me lately?” is a sentiment you can sit on and spin.

Actually that would be Microsoft, IBM, Intel and the PC clone companies. Apple made high end luxury computers, and then they made high end consumer goods. Which is a different thing.

65

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 8:19 pm

Lemuel, I based my separation on the facts as we know them. First, Jobs played a significant role in the conceptualization of all apple products during his time at Apple. There were competitors, none of which had as comprehensive a vision of what a computer could be, or tried as hard as apple did to make it easy to use. Xerox failed to realize what they had, Windows was much less attuned to design. Furthermore, we recognize accomplishments regardless of the gestalt associated with them in art, in science, in literature. No matter how many others wrote buildungsromans, Goethe gets the credit for the Sorrows of Young Werther.

As for the conditions in the factories, Apple doesn’t really have a choice. Its not Job’s money to spend, its money that belongs to other people which he is tasked to spend as best as possible. Were he to not employ the most profitable combination of labor in the factory that he controlled, he would be failing in a duty he has to the shareholders. In that respect it is the system. You are just as responsible as he is for buying machines not caring about the work conditions under which they are made. I think I applied the usual standards for responsibility, and considering that workers at Foxcon are there voluntary, some of the blame for their suicide must rest on everyone who didn’t offer them a better job.

Jonathan Mayhew, that container has saved a million disability adjusted life years at least by optimizing global trade, enabling everyone to sell their labor. Without that container no billion strong global middle class in the former third world.

66

Barry Freed 10.06.11 at 8:26 pm

I suppose conditions in those overseas factories will improve drastically after we unilaterally invade their host countries and impose democracy which will lead to improvements in working conditions as their citizens vote for strong labor safety laws. Or is that the other thread.

67

Tom 10.06.11 at 8:31 pm

@LP 55. That is a nice point but overstated. One can believe that market incentives matter, to a not negligible degree, for the “ordinary” person without believing, as the galtians of these days, that canceling the Bush tax cuts would crush innovation in the U.S. economy.

@LP 62. Again, I agree that usually we focus on the individual forgetting about the rest. I also agree that we celebrate the winner but sometimes, even without the winner, there would have been someone else (the second classified, so to speak) who would have done just the same. So, a measure of the accomplishment of someone should be how much is her added value with respect to the next available option. It is hard to say but it seems to me that Jobs’ contribution was substantial in this regard. He turned around Apple, he created Pixar, he bet on the Ipad and won (many were skeptics when it was launched). So, let’s not forget the accomplishment of the individual here, too. But, as I said, I very much agree that the balance on the news is more on the celebration of the “genius” forgetting all the others who contributed.

As to the “deplorable Apple’s overseas labor practices”, I have not found much online that supports this view. The conditions in the sweatshops are due to the fact that workers in China are ready to work for a pittance. Indeed, many would like to work there even if the conditions are tough. I found a mention of beating by Foxconn of workers there: that instead is deplorable. Forcing x to work for you is different from x choosing to work for you (no matter how bad the alternative option is for x). But that does not mean that Apple is responsible for it. These things may be hard to monitor even if you care about them. And of course I have no evidence that Apple does care, I am just saying that I did not find much evidence against Apple, especially if you think of how big it is and that stuff is going to happen somewhere sometime, unfortunately. On the other hand, Apple created added value and contributed to bidding up the demand for labor in the third world, something that should be considered as at least in part offsetting other deplorable practices.

68

geo 10.06.11 at 8:32 pm

ben w @60: Ouch! You’re right, of course.

69

cian 10.06.11 at 8:36 pm

You know until I saw Watson Ladd’s posts it had never occured to me that you could combine Ayn Rand’s Objectivism with vulgar Marxism. Its certainly odd.

70

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 8:37 pm

Barry, I’m a little reluctant to invade countries with nuclear submarines. The whole fallout nuclear winter thing. But your comment is correct: political freedoms to organize are part of what improve labor conditions. The absence of those freedoms is part of what makes Chinese workers work under the conditions they do so.

71

Barry Freed 10.06.11 at 8:42 pm

Tom, google: Apple China suicides. No link because then I’ll be caught in spam trap purgatory.

Cian, that seems the right combination.

Watson, lad….nevermind.

72

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 8:43 pm

Cian, I’m not defending the situation in which it is required to employ workers under horrible conditions, just noting that that is the result of capitalism. So long as labor mediates society we will face these conditions. Socialist revolution is the only solution to this mediation. And I would never argue for an essential human nature, which disqualifies me from Objectivism, and probably most vulgar Marxism.

73

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.06.11 at 8:46 pm

Forcing x to work for you is different from x choosing to work for you (no matter how bad the alternative option is for x)

It seems to me that forcing x to work for you is the exact equivalent of x choosing to work for you after considering the consequences of resiting your forcing x to work for you.

74

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 8:52 pm

Henri, coercion isn’t offering someone a choice. You are saying to someone “do X or I commit an act Y that infringes upon your person or property”. That’s distinct from “if you give me X I will give you $Y”. Wage slavery is by far preferable to the real thing because the slave has no bargaining power, while the worker has some. The question is can we overcome the need to mediate social interactions through labor power and commodity exchange.

75

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.06.11 at 9:04 pm

How is ‘give me X or starve to death’ different from ‘give me X or get killed’? They appear to be the same set of options exactly.

76

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 9:09 pm

If your not hiring me was going to result in my death then they might be the same options. But that’s virtually never true: people change jobs looking for higher wages or better conditions. There are a lot of people competing to hire, and a lot competing to work. If this story doesn’t work, what’s your explanation of the danger premium in non union industries, which wouldn’t exist for slaves?

77

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.06.11 at 9:21 pm

Both ‘allowing to be forced’ and ‘choosing’ are alternatives to something more unpleasant than working. They are not exactly the same, but similar. Different mechanics, same result.

78

between4walls 10.06.11 at 9:25 pm

@Keith- Fair enough, I was just suprised you so blithely dismissed any possibility of responsibity & think you underestimate the effects an individual can have even in a messed-up system.
On the Foxconn issue, a string of suicides at a workplace is not necessarily a sign of a problem with the workplace itself. A suicide cluster can happen in a boring suburban high school as well as a high-pressure manufacturing plant. Absent some really damning evidence to the contrary, I’m not inclined to blame Jobs or anyone else for the fact that the Foxconn workers follow the same tragic psychological pattern as plenty of other communities.

79

Joe 10.06.11 at 9:27 pm

It’s ok to be critical about Apple’s monopolistic, law-suit happy business practice and questionable overseas labor record and still mourn the passing of Steve Jobs. Regardless of your feelings of Apple, you have to recognize the part Steve Jobs has played in revolutionizing mobile computing for all of us.

Am I the only one who remembers how terrible touch screen interfaces were in early Windows Mobile cellphones from Compaq and HTC? Or the clunky and cumbersome operation of pre-iPod MP3 players? (Oh what fun I had with my Creative Nomad 1.) I never bought an Apple product – I found them overpriced and restrictive, but I can surely appreciate the tremendous impact Steve Jobs had in driving the entire market forward.

Competition from the iPhone, iPod and iPad gave companies like Google, HTC and Samsung the impetus to step up their game and give us quality products. We need more disruptive geniuses like Steve Jobs in this world to give everyone a good kick up the backside and force them to improve their game. He will be missed.

80

Watson Ladd 10.06.11 at 9:28 pm

Henri, every decision is a choice amongst alternatives! What are you complaining about? And more importantly, what do you want to see replace it?

81

Barry Freed 10.06.11 at 9:40 pm

On the Foxconn issue, a string of suicides at a workplace is not necessarily a sign of a problem with the workplace itself. A suicide cluster can happen in a boring suburban high school as well as a high-pressure manufacturing plant. Absent some really damning evidence to the contrary…

between4walls, did you even bother to read any stories about the Foxconn suicides and the workplace conditions there before making that statement? Here, let me answer that for you: No, no you didn’t.

82

between4walls 10.06.11 at 10:03 pm

@Joe- Same goes for Pixar kicking up standards in animation.

83

piglet 10.06.11 at 10:34 pm

“Am I the only one who remembers how terrible touch screen interfaces were in early Windows Mobile cellphones from Compaq and HTC? Or the clunky and cumbersome operation of pre-iPod MP3 players?”

Joe, most of us here are Luddites, except for those who are Laddites. We only have cell phones as emergency backup and wouldn’t know how to use any of these things you are talking about.

84

C. D. Ward 10.06.11 at 10:47 pm

“Am I the only one who remembers how terrible touch screen interfaces were in early Windows Mobile cellphones from Compaq and HTC? Or the clunky and cumbersome operation of pre-iPod MP3 players?”

Only a heroic figure could have rescued us from such an awful fate. Truly a great loss.

(Please excuse the snark; I’m a computer programmer, and my colleagues have been even more insufferable than usual today.)

85

between4walls 10.06.11 at 10:50 pm

@Barry Freed- I have read articles on the suicides and the conditions at Foxconn and they’re clearly abusive and secretive employers between the excessive overtime, the regimentation, and the general verbal abuse reported by people who worked there, not to mention their attack on the worker who lost the prototype. And Foxconn and Apple should be held accountable for those things.
But these spates of suicides happen in lots of different circumstances and communities, so are Foxconn and Apple directly responsible if one happens in their admittedly messed-up workplace?

86

christian_h 10.06.11 at 11:18 pm

Keith: Complaining about how the CEO of one of the world’s largest technology companies was insufficiently Wobbly is pretty much the definition of disingenuous.

Good thing that nobody here did so. What I did complain about was that our major media could care less about the people who actually make the gadgets they love dying, and then go ahead and spend incredible space and time eulogizing their boss. Who, by the way, is of course sharing responsibility for the working conditions in these factories, which are brutal and awful as anyone who actually cares to find out would know. Also, nobody forced Jobs to be a billionaire CEO. If he really disapproved of forcing workers to work 12 hour shifts with no breaks he could have done something about it and, if need be, had himself fired by his greedy shareholders. He was certainly much more free to do so than the workers in question were to decline those shitty jobs.

Steve jobs managed to do a lot of good

Bull-shit. A few million rich people in the North aren’t “the masses”. Computing hasn’t been “brought to the masses” at all, and insofar as it has it isn’t through Apple’s high-end, high-price products.

Clearly being in any way insufficiently worshipful of anything Apple is an internet sin worse even than being mildly critical of Chomsky on a lefty blog. Lesson learned, I guess.

87

Lemuel Pitkin 10.06.11 at 11:38 pm

Am I the only one who remembers how terrible touch screen interfaces were in early Windows Mobile cellphones

OK, if the message were “Steve Jobs helped give us less-clunky touchscreens, probably a bit sooner than they would have come anyway,” fine. A modest contribution to the convenience of everyday life. Worth a two-paragraph obit in the Times, three if he was also, you know, a great college athlete or something. But the rhetoric instead is “he brought computing to the masses,” which is just hero-worshiping fantasy.

88

Nick Caldwell 10.06.11 at 11:56 pm

Not to rain on anyone’s grief-policing, but, well, here’s a Wired article on the actual tangible good Steve did: ‘This Stuff Doesn’t Change the World’: Disability and Steve Jobs’ Legacy.

I haven’t looked at prices recently, but last time I checked, buying a Mac mini was a lot cheaper than fitting a Windows computer out with the JAWS screen reader for visually disabled users.

89

Nick Caldwell 10.06.11 at 11:59 pm

Lemuel, I think you underestimate how much worse personal computing would be if not for Apple. We might still have something like Windows, but it certainly would be far less usable than it is. The World Wide Web may never have been invented (the first web browser was programmed on a NeXT workstation).

90

Antti Nannimus 10.07.11 at 12:41 am

Hi,

Steve Jobs was obviously one of the most germinal people in our early computer experience. I’ve always admired his ability to succeed in making these difficult products useful, accessible, and desirable. The vox populi since his death certainly confirms that success and widespread appreciation of it.

However I have long been at least equally suspicious of him, (and, for that matter, of all the other IT capitalists!) about his obvious need to control and dominate us in the marketplace.

So while I acknowledge his great contributions, and sympathize with those who feel the loss of his presence, I’m also very much at peace with the fact that I don’t own a single product that he produced. Of course, his great legacy will survive, I am absolutely sure, without any of my own personal financial contributions to it. That’s okay with me too because I completely agree with his view that the computers are bicycles for our minds, and I appreciate his contributions to make them available to us all.

Have a nice day,
Antti

91

Tom 10.07.11 at 2:24 am

@christian_h 83

“Bull-shit. A few million rich people in the North aren’t “the masses”. Computing hasn’t been “brought to the masses” at all, and insofar as it has it isn’t through Apple’s high-end, high-price products”

I remember the same thing being said in the early 90s about cellphones (only the rich were able to afford them, mostly in their cars). Now mobile phones are spread around the world and they help Africa growing.

@Barry Freed 81

Thanks, I had seen about the suicides. But Foxconn has 800,000 workers (Salon article, by Leonard on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:54 PM EDT) and Wikipedia reports 19 suicides at Foxconn. That is a rate of a bit more than 2 suicides per 100,000 workers. Wiki reports for U.S. a rate of 17.7 suicides per 100,000 persons. So, as to the suicide rate, I do not see the numbers that back up the outrage (yes, I know, one is a rate per worker, the other a rate per person, but my point still holds). And Apple made an investigation into the suicides (do not know what came out of it though).

And, again, everyone seems to remember the suicides and the (highly despicable) beatings but nobody remembers that workers chose to work there and so most of them considered to be better off by doing that, with respect to their best available alternative (such as probably not having a job or a job at a lower wage). The work conditions, I am sure, are awful and there is a chance that a worker won’t make it because he crushes under the stress. But it is a gamble that they are willing to take (truck drivers, by the way, make a gamble with their life too every trip they make). I do not want to downplay the tragedy of someone who kills himself because he cannot stand long hours of repetitive work in alienating conditions. But it is important not to just fixate on that without mentioning the context in which, unfortunately, many Chinese workers live.

92

anon 10.07.11 at 2:39 am

#88 Nick writes: “Not to rain on anyone’s grief-policing, but, well, here’s a Wired article on the actual tangible good Steve did”

Which, ironically, is exactly the point. What Steve Jobs did was to perfect the INTANGIBLES.

Why should you even care how much an intuitive, clean, easy to use, beautiful
user interface is worth? (e.g. ipod, ipad, iphone)

When you go to the Louvre and see La Joconde do you ask yourself, “gosh how
much is this small bit of paint worth?” (maybe if you are the stereo-typical
American tourist you do. )

“Hey you … in that fancy costume … how much are them Crown Jewels really worth? In good old American Dollars I mean, not that monopoly you limey wankers use.”

93

Popeye 10.07.11 at 2:41 am

I remember the same thing being said in the early 90s about cellphones (only the rich were able to afford them, mostly in their cars). Now mobile phones are spread around the world and they help Africa growing.

All thanks to Steve Jobs.

94

dictateursanguinaire 10.07.11 at 3:29 am

if I could use a concept from Aristotle re: honor — I just don’t see why society needs to make this big of a deal. i mean, obviously he ran a popular and visible company and all that and did all this cool technological stuff. but he already won, for chrissake. he got the money. why not lavish social rewards on people who do good things but won’t get the financial reward? I know i’m stepping into Walzer spheres of justice territory here but really…

and the whole cult-of-genius thing is such a farce. yeah, he was a smart guy. so are a lot of people who get a lot less credit.

I think a quote from Steven Jay Gould (incidentally, a mass popularizer himself…Jobs maybe made the iphone but Gould wrote the stuff on the screen that the layman could actually read ) is relevant here:

I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops

95

between4walls 10.07.11 at 3:38 am

@Tom- “nobody remembers that workers chose to work there”
What do you mean, nobody remembers this? People choose (under economic pressure) to work at every company that doesn’t run off slave labor, but that doesn’t absolve their employers of the responsibility to provide decent conditions.

96

dictateursanguinaire 10.07.11 at 3:43 am

oh yeah and a barrel of laughs at the people suggesting that Jobs was socially constrained and just Bein’ a Dude Runnin a MNC Like Us Regular Joes when he had to do bad things but insist that only He, Steve Jobs, could have conceived of non-crappy interface and that no one else could have had the Courage and the Bravery and etc. etc.

Oh and the iPad thing? He made a bet that people will buy into advertising enough to buy a product that is functionally a poorly thought out mix between an ipod and a laptop? Hell, one day a TV producer made a heroic bet that people would watch ‘Jersey Shore’ — call that person a visionary til your voice goes hoarse, do.

97

Lemuel Pitkin 10.07.11 at 3:46 am

why not lavish social rewards on people who do good things but won’t get the financial reward?

That’s a very good question.

98

Kaveh 10.07.11 at 4:02 am

Lemuel @55′s point about capitalists not believing their own ideology of the profit motive: in my (admittedly limited) experience, this is very true. Business discourse is really full of this kind of language–trying to find a higher motive for doing good work. I’ve heard it remarked that people who write and speak about business (motivational seminars, &c.) are preaching a kind of spirituality. This is how it is in the US, anyway. It may be different elsewhere. And I think maybe part of the reason why it’s like this is that Americans spend so much time at work, and the whole corporate system is designed to milk every last ounce of effort out of workers, and this is increasingly true for highly-skilled workers too.

99

geo 10.07.11 at 5:16 am

d-s: I know i’m stepping into Walzer spheres of justice territory here

And why not? It’s a brilliant theory and successfully explains why Jobs, like anyone else, was owed scope for his talent and praise for his achievements but not billions of dollars.

100

Tim Worstall 10.07.11 at 8:44 am

“Thanks, I had seen about the suicides. But Foxconn has 800,000 workers (Salon article, by Leonard on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:54 PM EDT) and Wikipedia reports 19 suicides at Foxconn. That is a rate of a bit more than 2 suicides per 100,000 workers. Wiki reports for U.S. a rate of 17.7 suicides per 100,000 persons. “

Quite: although the proper comparison is with general Chinese suicide rates, not with US ones. Wikpedia say 19 per 100,000 for males, 13/14 for population. So the evidence seems to be that the suicide rate at Foxconn (absent deconstructing into age groups etc) is lower than the general population.

Which slightly takes the wind out of the sails of the argument that Foxconn is so awful that it drives people to suicide.

As to the pay there: as should be fairly obvious, the way to increase wages is actually to employ people. If those various factories (not just Foxconn, all of those places making stuff in China for us to buy) weren’t there then Chinese wages would be lower than they currently are. In the absence of our buying the stuff made by Chinese manufacturing workers then Chinese manufacturing wages would not have risen by 14% year on year as they have done for more than a decade. That’s a between 3 and 4 times multiple of wages at the end of the 1990s.

Sure, Chinese workers are poor, we’d all like them to be making more money. Excellent, we buy what they produce and their wages go up, as they have been. What actually is the problem with this outcome?

101

ajay 10.07.11 at 8:57 am

why not lavish social rewards on people who do good things but won’t get the financial reward?

Er, we do. It’s not an either/or thing. It’s not like someone said “oh well, we would have given Dakota Meyer a Medal of Honor, but unfortunately Steve Jobs got a front page obituary, so we can’t.”

102

cian 10.07.11 at 9:05 am

So Steve Jobs helped people, because the iPad can be used by the disabled in place of touch screens. That seems a stretch.

The phone argument doesn’t really work either, because Apple really invent new stuff, they just made well designed, upscale consumer goods with margins to match. This hadn’t been done in consumer electronics before, but Apple are no different to Mercedes, Miele, etc.

The computer revolution happened because of Andy Grove, Microsoft, Taiwan chip companies and PC clone manufacturers. Without them you wouldn’t have cheap ubiquitous computers, or the computer revolution. For that matter the contribution of Linus Torvalds massively outweights that of Steve Jobs. Or for that matter the Apache team. But their contributions are invisible to most people, and were not focused on the glamour stuff.

Basically who had more of an effect on the world: Ferdinand Porsche, or Henry Ford. And whose cars would you rather drive?

103

JJ 10.07.11 at 1:59 pm

“Wage slavery is by far preferable to [slavery] because the slave has no bargaining power, while the [wage slave] has some.”

The difference between slavery and wage slavery is the difference between involuntary servitude and voluntary servitude, or the difference between feudalism and capitalism (neo-feudalism). An agricultural, labor-intensive economy compels the involuntary and illiterate servitude of its slaves, whereas an industrial, capital-intensive economy compels the voluntary and literate servitude of its slaves.

104

christian_h 10.07.11 at 2:30 pm

With his next trick, Tim Worstall will tell us that the KIA rate for US soldiers in Iraq in 2005 was lower than the Washington, DC murder rate. I simply can’t believe the lengths Apple worshippers will apparently go to to excuse their beloved company’s behaviour. I mean I knew they are a rabid bunch from the rare instances I’d take a look on tech-y sites, but this really has surprised me. Well as I said, internet lesson learned.

105

christian_h 10.07.11 at 2:33 pm

In other news, many scientists have long used Apple computers, so it was really Jobs who should have gotten all those Nobel prices over the last 20 years. I mean nobody here seriously believes the scientists could have done their work without those Macs, right?

106

cian 10.07.11 at 2:35 pm

Wage slavery is the freedom to starve.

107

ajay 10.07.11 at 3:51 pm

Basically who had more of an effect on the world: Ferdinand Porsche, or Henry Ford.

If my memory is correct, then Porsche, because of all those Panzers he designed. Ford just supported the Nazis, Porsche armed them.

108

Watson Ladd 10.07.11 at 4:19 pm

To those equating wage slavery and slavery, I would like to know what slavery is.

109

Salient 10.07.11 at 4:33 pm

To those equating wage slavery and slavery, I would like to know what slavery is.

I’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with you on that one, if not on much else. There is this weird thing where people consistently erase the whole ‘subject to arbitrarily high amounts of sexual assault and physical assault, with no hope of redress’ dimension of slavery when making comparisons to the wage-trap, and it’s pretty damned offensive.

I think this happens because some individuals who insist on making this comparison momentarily forget that women were slaves, too. Maybe it’s hard to bear the horror of a lifetime of rape in mind when one imagines fieldwork and housework as the most horrifying thing slaves were forced to do?

…cue someone telling me that individuals earning a wage can be subjected to assault as well, which is true and needs to be prioritized and addressed and criticized and stopped, but which doesn’t justify the ‘wage-earner as slave’ metaphor. At all.

110

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.07.11 at 4:45 pm

The initial comment wasn’t about any wage slavery, it was about Chinese sweatshops.

If you equate Chinese sweatshop with Parisian office, I would like to know what a Chinese sweatshop is.

111

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.07.11 at 4:50 pm

Here, perhaps this will help: http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_40/b3701119.htm

But of course you could google it yourself.

112

Watson Ladd 10.07.11 at 4:50 pm

It’s more then just rape. When you are a slave you will never be anything else. A worker stands in a position of formal equality and doesn’t define himself by his job. He can have hobbies. But a slave is always a slave until he is freed.

113

Watson Ladd 10.07.11 at 4:58 pm

Henri, I was responding to JJ. Of course, what you linked to is actual slavery, where workers cannot leave their jobs. But notice that this requires governmental complicity. I’m not arguing that work conditions in China are good or that they cannot be improved. Rather I am arguing that they are a step forward from being farmers and serfs of the party apparatus.

114

Salient 10.07.11 at 4:58 pm

{Henri, for what it’s worth, I was replying to what JJ/cian said later on, and I don’t disagree with you at all about the horrors of sweatshop labor.}

115

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.07.11 at 4:58 pm

No one except you said anything about slavery either. Someone upthread said that “forcing x to work for you is different from x choosing to work for you”, and I disagreed. “Forcing x to work for you” has nothing whatsoever to do with rape, or “you will never be anything else”.

116

Watson Ladd 10.07.11 at 5:14 pm

Henri, I will not acknowledge any replies from you until you acknowledge the following quote does indeed appear on the blog from JJ, and can be reasonably read as equating workers and slaves.

An agricultural, labor-intensive economy compels the involuntary and illiterate servitude of its slaves, whereas an industrial, capital-intensive economy compels the voluntary and literate servitude of its slaves.

I am not a sock puppet of JJ, and Salient and JJ are distinct usernames. Therefore someone other then me or Salient has been talking about slavery on this blog, contrary to your assertion in Comment 115. Furthermore, I said that “forcing x to work for you is different from x choosing to work for you” although not quite in that language. I may have been the first to talk about slavery, but others joined in. For forcing someone to work is slavery.

Now as for the substantive content of your post slavery is forcing someones will to be your own, and is open to all sorts of abuses. It is the ownership of people, the degradation of man to an object, the a supreme act of villainy and contempt for human life. Should we be surprised that the reduction of man to an object leads to him being used as a sex toy as well as beast of burden?

117

Substance McGravitas 10.07.11 at 5:24 pm

So Steve Jobs helped people, because the iPad can be used by the disabled in place of touch screens. That seems a stretch.

Without defending the cult of the billionaire tyrant with the personal jet, Apple was way ahead of the curve in trying to make their machines usable to people who needed some help. It wasn’t just the iPad.

118

Henri Vieuxtemps 10.07.11 at 5:29 pm

For forcing someone to work is slavery.

Well, you could be forced to work in American prisons until recently, and in the US military even now. Or a judge could sentence you to community service; that’s forcing someone to work.

119

cian 10.07.11 at 5:49 pm

There is this weird thing where people consistently erase the whole ‘subject to arbitrarily high amounts of sexual assault and physical assault,

And you read all that into my brief use of a term which is widely used in popular culture. Amazing.

120

Salient 10.07.11 at 7:50 pm

And you read all that into my brief use of a term which is widely used in popular culture. Amazing.

Well… I really shouldn’t have included you in my remark, you were briefly quipping, whereas JJ was making a more literal assertion (had JJ’s remark not appeared above I probably would not have even noticed your use of the phrase, and even if I did and decided to respond, I’d have been much milder in reply). So hey, apologies, you got swept up in crossfire relatively unfairly.

But, ‘widely used in popular culture’ isn’t a strong self-defense (I say this in the abstract, having already conceded that you don’t need any self-defense at all). Consider that, for example, saying “that exam raped me” wherein ‘to be raped’ is equated with ‘to cause difficulty or hardship’ is widely used in popular culture–it seems I can’t go a week without overhearing it, except in the summer. Whether that usage is appropriate, or should be called out as inappropriate, one might dispute. But to be amazed that anyone would take offense to it, and would suggest why it’s offensive? Eh. Every guy (and for this example it’s a guy 100% of the time) who I call out on inappropriate use of the verb ‘rape’ acts shocked and amazed that anyone could possibly be offended too. And, often enough, they respond as if the popularity of that usage in and of itself justifies their use of it.

121

Arvind 10.07.11 at 9:47 pm

Am I the only one who remembers how terrible touch screen interfaces were in early Windows Mobile cellphones from Compaq and HTC?

What do you mean, ‘remember’? I’m still using the HTC Wizard I bought in 2005.

122

David 10.08.11 at 12:31 am

And lets not forget how terribly bitter Steve Wozniak sounded when speaking about Jobs the other night.

123

JJ 10.08.11 at 3:49 pm

I’ve been trolling this blog for years, with a variety of provocative remarks, and have to yet to receive a more evocative set responses. Must have hit an exposed nerve.

“There is this weird thing where people consistently erase the whole ‘subject to arbitrarily high amounts of sexual assault and physical assault, with no hope of redress’ dimension of slavery when making comparisons to the wage-trap…”

Just as the servitude is voluntary, so are the consequences, which is why the concept of wage slavery is so much more appealing to the people who employ wage slaves than it ever was to the Romans, for example, who simply conquered them. The wage slaves feel that they deserve the consequences of their slavery.

Many women justifiably refer to marriage as institutional rape, and many men have been known to refer to work as the institutional rape of their productive capacity. After all, increasing the productivity of the typical employee is essentially synonymous to increasing his or her output, or putting out for the people who employ them. And since servitude, voluntary or otherwise, is so essential to the maintenance of social status, not simply as the member of a social class but as the fundamental justification for social and physical existence, servitude confers upon its servants salvation from their crimes against the Lord, the landlord, no less.

The wine of institutional theft, servitude, is thereby transmuted into the water of individual theft, or the guilt of the servant who rebels against the futility of his servitude.

124

geo 10.08.11 at 3:58 pm

125

Watson Ladd 10.08.11 at 4:16 pm

JJ, I again want a definition of slavery and servitude. It seems that you want to reduce both to the dimension of labor being performed for others.

126

cian 10.09.11 at 5:03 pm

Salient, fair enough. I agree about the use of rape in the current context, but its the nature of language to change. When somebody says “bugger it” in the UK, its gone way beyond the literal meaning. Same thing with f*** it.

127

logern 10.11.11 at 12:19 am

per Steve Jobs

Can’t you just be notable eccentric these days without being a statement on anything in particular?

128

logern 10.11.11 at 12:22 am

should be: a notable eccentric

129

logern 10.11.11 at 12:44 am

I’m defining an “eccentric” as someone who is not so much an example for others, or represents a philosophical path, but because of attributes or compulsion holds a unique position in society, or more often the case, is just dysfunctional.

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