Thursday, October 6, 2011

One last thing: R.I.P., Steve Jobs

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.
O shaman,
O wizard,
O golden son of Zeus and mortal woman, you
defied the gods, stole fire
& gave it to mankind.
For this they struck you down.
“One more thing.”
That was catch phrase.
Or was it the one about putting a dent in the universe?
I like them both,
but you have to admit,
“One more thing” is punchier.
Jon Ive says you inspired people
but you could also be difficult at times.
A bit unkind of him, I think.
What genius isn’t difficult?
Picasso was a jerk. So were Tolstoy and Beethoven.
So was Michelangelo, I bet,
though to be honest
I really don’t know anything about Michelangelo
because I missed class on the day we discussed him.
But based on his work
I’d bet he was a total dick.
What beauty can ever be created without pain?
What great art has ever been produced without suffering?
And don’t say “Seinfeld” because (a) that wasn’t
as easy as it looked & (b) twenty years later
it really hasn’t held up as well as everyone
thought it would, has it.
What <em>you</em> did, however,
now <em>that</em>
will be remembered forever.
I don’t mean the products.
The Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad.
Yes, you invented them
& yes, we have heard of them
but no, Steve Jobs,
your greatest accomplishment
was not some piece of hardware
not some lines of code
not the mouse and the graphical user interface
which let’s face it you really kind of just
borrowed from Xerox PARC
& “borrowed” might not be excactly the right word
for what you guys did
but on this day of all days let’s not quibble
about word choice.
No, Steve Jobs, your greatest accomplishment
is what you did to us.
You gave us joy.
You restored our sense of childlike wonder.
You enabled us to live in a world where
we always believed that something amazing & magical
was just around the corner
and that the future would be better than the past
because in fact,
as long as you were alive,
it was.
Your name, old friend, is the definition of hope.
Not literally, I mean, not if you
look up “hope” in the dictionary,
but you know what I’m trying to say.
And now, with you gone,
what happens to us?
Have we reached our peak?
Our zenith? Our apogee?
Or some other word that means the highest point
you can reach?
I think maybe we have.
Because here’s what I see.
I see
America in decline:
a civilization unsure of itself,
adrift, confused, puffed up
with phony patriotism,
an empire run by number crunchers,
by MBAs & investment bankers
by quick-flippers & angel investors
who make nothing
who build nothing.
But you, Steve–
you flew in the face of that.
You were the one who invented,
who created,
who said no,
that’s not good enough,
go do it again.
Go make it amazing
& stop being such a whiny little bitch
because your kid is in a school play
& and you don’t want to work late.
People call you a visionary.
I believe that was literally true.
I believe you had a vision, way back
in the early days,
of where everything was headed
& once you’d had this vision
you set out to make it real,
the way a sculptor sees
a finished statue inside a block of marble
& slowly chips away
until everything unnecessary
has been removed
& the vision becomes real.
Steve, I’m sorry.
I wrote this lame-ass poem
a while ago
because I believed that when this day came
my mind would go blank
& I would not be able to write
& all I would want to do
would be to go out walking in the woods
by myself
not talking to anyone.
I was right.
That’s all I want to do.
In fact that’s where I am right now.
I’m out in the deep woods
where there is
no sound
the wind moving through the trees
shaking the high branches
the leaves letting go
drifting to the ground.
I hear my footsteps on the wet path.
I hear my breath
I think of nothing.
I do not want to talk
or write or sing your praise.
I do not want to cry or mourn.
I will not say that life is pointless or empty without you,
because the truth is,
no matter what happens,
life is good.
Too short, of course.
But always good.
So anyway.
Here in the woods, alone,
I make peace with your leaving.
I offer you
one last namaste. I press
my hands together,
& bow to honor
the divine inside you.
I pray you will
forgive me
for going on too long,
& now I promise: no more words.
Because words mean nothing.
Words fall short.
Words scatter like dry leaves,
stirred by the wind,
swirling, rising upward,
tangling with each other,
like some incantation gone awry,
unable to bring you back.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I’m totally fine, but goodbye for now

No doubt you’ve seen the news. For obvious reasons I won’t be blogging here anymore, though I will leave the archives up. I hope you’ll pray to whatever God you believe in, and heap endless scorn and abuse on the first goddamn hack that dares to try snooping around to find out what’s wrong. I mean it. No staking out the hospital, no asking around among my friends. No calling doctors and asking them to speculate on what might be going on. Anyone who does that is lower than dog shit stuck to a shoe, and I hope that when you see stories like that — because you will — you use their comment strings to express your outrage for being the kind of scumbags who would put their own hunger for unique visitors and pageviews ahead of a man’s right to privacy.

Katie says she will be keeping a list. So, consider yourselves warned.

For now, peace out. Much love. Namaste.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Yesterday’s post with the two photos was in poor taste. Many readers wrote in to point this out. They’re right. I was wrong. I have taken it down. I apologize for causing offense.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My talk with a left-wing hack

So I had the opportunity, over the weekend, to speak to a hack from a top-tier news outlet. This guy leans left, as do almost all of the hackery, no matter what they might claim about being neutral or unbiased or not taking sides. And this guy was talking about Gabrielle Giffords and tut-tutting and blaming Palin and Limbaugh. I was like, Dude, do you not realize that you are part of the problem? Yes, even you. All of you. Your whole friggin industry. The guy was dumbstruck. Like, honestly, this had never occurred to him.

So I explained.

The problem in media goes much wider than Palin and Limbaugh and Beck. The entire media business needs to do some soul-searching. News in general, in all forms, has become so debased and vulgar and unserious. Now all of us are paying the price. Because maybe it sounds pious to say that news is important to a culture. We’ve all had our fill of hacks who take themselves and their “profession” too seriously. But on the other hand, there was a time, in the days of Walter Cronkite, say, when reporting news was something that people took seriously, and maybe I’m just an “old,” but you know what? We were better off in those days.

The problem began when news became tied to profits. The networks at one time used to run news as a loss leader, subsidized by entertainment. When that changed, and news started chasing ratings (and dollars), the problem began. When dollars started to dry up, things only got worse. Networks became desperate and resorted to making the news more like entertainment.

The Internet made things worse, in two ways. First, the Internet exacerbated the decline in revenues, and heightened the desperation in the news business. Trust me, I’m in a position to know, because I’m in the business of seeing just how far I can make news people bend in order to keep getting my advertising dollars. That influence is stronger now than it has ever been. The TV networks and magazines and newspapers are desperate and terrified. Stuff that 10 years ago they would have thrown back in our face they now do willingly — in fact, they don’t even wait for us to suggest it. They suggest it themselves.

But second, and more important, the Internet created an outlet for competing and often crazy voices. It gave birth to a new kind of “news.” Despite what the new-media pundits claim, the much-celebrated “citizen journalism” was all too often just noisy crap and propaganda.

The first example of this that I can remember is DailyKos. That was the first political site that really took off on the Internet. Remember how powerful that site once was? I was always struck by how coarse and vulgar it was. Bush and other right-wing pols were demonized, compared to Hitler, and so forth. I mean, I hated Bush as much as anyone, but Hitler? Okay. Let’s all take a deep breath.

But Kos became a kind of template for other political coverage online. Drudge on the right was just as unfair and slanted and crappy as Kos on the left. But then, to make things worse, the mainstream media began copying the Internet, and this kind of noisy, personal, ugly kind of news spread onto cable TV. Fox News came first. MSNBC became its mirror image.

So today much of what we call “news” is really entertainment, and entertainment of the worst sort. Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Olbermann, Ed Schultz. It’s not right or left. It’s both. It’s shouting, and name-calling, and demonization, and it’s all fun and games until someone gets shot.

As for the Internet, let’s just be honest: Much of what we now call “news” online isn’t even entertainment, it’s garbage.

There. I said it.

It’s garbage precisely because online news sites are not primarily created to report news. They’re created to make money. Problem is, it’s nearly impossible to make money doing what they do. So they resort to ever more desperate tricks.

Why is so much online “news” reported in slideshow format? To gin up clicks. Not because it is a better way to consume news, because, please. Why is HuffPo so crowded with sensationalistic tabloid junk about celebrity boobs and fluffy “lists” of “the deadliest ice creams.” (And just about everyone else, too. )

Why is so much online news just driven by whatever SEO crap the portals (MSNBC, Yahoo) happen to want at any given moment? Why do journalists now start their day looking at Google search results to see what’s “hot” and then deciding what to write about based on that?

The news business has descended into the gutter in a pathetic attempt to stay alive. It’s been a horrible race to the bottom. This is turn has polluted our politics, and now we’re seeing the result of it.

Fortunately for the world, we’re going to change all that, with iPad and the apps model. But that’s a story for another day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Signs of the apocalypse

* Stock in private tech startups has risen 54% in the past six months.

* A company that makes a wristband for using your iPod Nano as a wristwatch has raised nearly $1 million in venture funding.

* A company that makes pants — that’s right, fucking pantsjust raised $18.5 million. On top of the $7.7 million they’d raised previously.

* Twitter is now worth $3.7 billion, and Facebook is worth $45 billion but that’s a bargain because it will easily be worth $200 billion by 2015, and by 2020 could be the first company with a $1 zillion maket value, so buy-buy-buy, everybody!

Right. And back in 2007, Fortune raved about how huge Second Life was going to be, and some visionary person who could see into the future because he knew so much about technology said: “In two years I think Second Life will be huge, probably as large as the entire gaming community is today.”

Food for thought.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hate-spewing “Christians” need to listen up

You may have heard that a bunch of born-again idiots tried to sneak a gay-hating app into our App Store, and we pulled it, and now the wingnuts are protesting. See coverage on Catholic News Agency and Newser and ABC. Katie says I should just say nothing and let the whole thing fade away, which is what we usually do whenever organizations try to use our popularity to stir up “controversy” and attract attention for their causes. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Greenpeace.) But this time I just can’t hold back. I’m sorry, but there are a few things I’ve been wanting to say for a long time now, and this trumped-up “spat” gives me a chance to say them.

Dear faux Christians,

First of all, it’s my store, and I’ll sell what I want, and I will not sell what I don’t want to sell. That’s my definition of freedom — I’m free to do whatever the hell I want with my store.

Second, your “religion” is a myth. It’s bogus. Jesus did not die and rise from the tomb and ascend into heaven. Okay? That. Did. Not. Happen. God did not take the form of a little bird and fly down and impregnate an unwed teenage virgin girl so that she could give birth to a half-human half-divine man-god. Immaculate conception, virgin birth, raising people from the dead, walking on water, loaves and fishes — great stories, but correctly filed under “fiction.” The sad fact is, what you call “faith” is a form of mental illness. It’s amazing enough that so many of you are running around in your mental case dream world. But it’s simply unacceptable when you start trying to impose your delusions upon the rest of us. Cynical politicians may feel the need to humor you and kowtow to your demands. I, however, do not.

Third, while Christianity is completely a myth, it would be useful if you actually understood the myth that you purport to be building your lives around. The sad fact is that you do not even understand the philosophy you claim to espouse. I do not know if you are intentionally misunderstanding the myth, or if you are just stupid and/or poorly educated. But your beliefs are not, in fact, Christian. Heck, if you’re a Roman Catholic, your entire organization is not Christian. It’s Roman paganism with the name of Christ grafted onto it. Ever seen the Vatican? Please explain how that jibes with anything Christ ever said or taught. Or here’s a fun exercise. Go to Rome, and visit the Forum, then walk across town and visit the Vatican. Wait for the bells to start going off in your head.

Protestants moved in the right direction when they figured this out and broke away from Rome. But over the centuries they too have been corrupted, and in the last fifty years the nutso born-agains have twisted everything up and what they call their “religion” no longer has anything to do with anything Christ ever said or taught — it’s about using Christ’s name to gain secular power. Let me explain. Jesus Christ did not preach hate. He did not tell people to oppress other people. He did not ever say that he hated gay people. He did not tell his apostles to run for political office after he died so they could change the laws of Rome.

I’m not even a Christian, and even I know this stuff. So let me take a moment to explain some of it to you.

There was a story about a Good Samaritan. Have you heard of it? Do you understand it? The message isn’t that you should help strangers. That story is about violating taboos. The Samaritans and Jews weren’t strangers to each other — they hated each other. Like, seriously hated. Like, Jews weren’t supposed to talk to Samaritans or they’d be unclean and need cleansing or something. But wait, there’s more. One of the guys who wouldn’t touch the beaten Jew was a priest. The other guy was a Levite — meaning, a big deal super-duper high-class extra-holy Jew. You know why those two guys walked by the injured Jew and didn’t help? Because it was considered unclean to touch a dead body, and they figured that if they tried to help the guy and the guy turned out to be dead, they would be defiled. So they walked by.

Do you get it now? Jesus, your big hero, was saying that if you have some rule or conventional wisdom that causes you to do harm to people, violate the goddamn rule. You probably cannot understand how shocking this story was when Jesus told it. Because this was really, really shocking. First, he’s saying that the priests and Levites are jerks; and second, he’s saying that Samaritans, the skankiest, nastiest, grossest, most reviled people in that part of the world, were better than priests and Levites.

Continuing in this vein, check out the story about Jesus asking a Samaritan woman to pull him a bucket of water from her well. Again, total taboo breaking. First of all, he’s not supposed to talk to a woman in public. Second, he’s definitely not supposed to discuss theology with a woman. Third, he’s not supposed to drink water from a well that belongs to a skanky old Samaritan. Fourth, the woman is described as being a bit of a whore. Fifth, oh yeah — did I mention that she was a Samaritan?

Taboo breaking happens all over the place in the Jesus myth. (And let’s be clear. This is all a myth. But it’s actually an instructive myth, if you understand it.) Jesus heals a woman who’s suffering from menstrual flow; she touches his robes. This makes him unclean. Does he get pissed off? No, he blesses her and calls her “daughter.” He heals the son (or possibly servant) of a centurion. He heals people on the Sabbath.

Or let me digress to the story of the Prodigal Son, which you presumably also do not understand, despite your claim to be Christians. The point of that story is not that it’s great to forgive sinners like the younger son who asks for his inheritance, leaves, squanders it, and then returns in shame after tending pigs (a Jew tending pigs — get it? ) and falling on hard times. No, the point of that story is the older son. He’s the dipshit who thinks he’s such a great, obedient, law-abiding, straight-arrow goody-goody, and who gets all pissed when Dad celebrates the return of the younger son, and complains about this, because — pay attention — he’s a hypocrite. He follows the rules, and does everything he’s supposed to do. But you know what? He’s the bad guy in this story.

So let’s move on and return to our discussion of hating the homos. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone? Ring any bells? Or how about this: Judge not, lest ye be judged?

Oh, and here’s one that you even put on your own Manhattan Declaration document, which is ironic because you don’t seem to understand what it means and in fact what you’re doing is the exact opposite of what this statement intended: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. In other words, do not become entwined with the state. Focus on the next world, not on this one. Or, to be more blunt: Stay the hell out of politics, you boneheads. If a state or federal government wants to marry gay people, that’s their decision. Leave it alone. Go say some prayers.

Yet somehow you’ve twisted this around and interpret it to mean that you should impose your will onto others by passing laws that would force other people who do not share your beliefs to be bound by the rules of your Bible, even though (a) your Bible is fiction and (b) you’re not even interpreting the fiction correctly.

It’s bad enough that you’re hateful bigots. But to dress up your hate and bigotry as an expression of Christianity? That, my friends, is pure evil. If you want to go around hating people, fine. Go for it. It’s stupid, and pointless, but whatever. Go hate people. Just don’t go around saying Jesus told you to do it.

So, listen up. You can’t put your bullshit in my app store. I’m sorry. But I won’t let you use my store to spread your hate. I don’t want any part in the spreading of your phony religion, either. There is no God. There is no heaven. There also is no hell, which is too bad, because if hell did exist, you would surely be spending eternity there, with red-hot pokers up your butts. And nothing would make me happier.

Monday, November 29, 2010

R.I.P., Leslie Nielsen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In case you are traveling this week

I’m told that people who don’t have their own jets are being forced to subject to some humiliating patdowns. If you’re among those people, I will pray for your soul.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I have no reason to run this photo

But I saw it on Gawker and found it inspirational. Apparently she is some kind of singer. I’ve asked my iTunes people to come up with some pretext for a meeting.

Woz backpedals, right on cue

He claims to Engadget that he was misquoted. Just like we told him to say. He was like, How can I just go out today and say the exact opposite of what I just said yesterday? I told him, Easy, I do it all the time. Then Katie dialed the number for Engadget and held up his cue cards while he spoke. Done and done.