Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Times Today

I opened the on-line New York Times this morning and found that it’s too late for me to be president of IBM. This comes as a shock. Heck, I still think that with enough training I could make a Major League team, maybe as a 7th-inning relief specialist. The IBM shock is second only to the death-knell I heard the day I walked through my college library and thought, But I will never have time to read all of these books! Doors begin to close at a certain age, and I am past that age.

The same article in the Times assured me, however, that one of my daughters can run IBM. It reported that Virginia Rometty (pictured) is taking over from Sam Palmisano. As the father of two daughters, both grown now, both brilliant, I smiled over this news.

Some of my most conservative Catholic friends throw “women’s lib” into the same hand basket of hell as all the other social changes my generation has witnessed, but if it means my daughter can do what she wants to do, without violating the Commandments, then I say that women’s liberation is a good thing. The problem is not liberation of women; the problem, as always with us humans, is what we do with our freedom.  

It turns out that IBM has a “traditional retirement age for chief executives” of 60, which forced the retirement of Palmisano (60) while making way for Rometty (54). The IBM tradition ruled out not only Webster Bull (60) but also another more viable candidate, Steven Mills, an IBM insider (also 60).

Steve Jobs (56) was not in contention.

I have not read the 1,001 pieces about Jobs that have flooded the media since his death. I have been too busy using devices he spawned: my Mac G3 with the super-wide hi-def screen that makes my friends gasp when they enter my office, not to mention my MacBook Pro, my iPhone, my iPad, and my iPod. I have been living the iLife, and until Jobs’s death, I was hoping for the iBed. Now it’s probably too late.

I will not have to read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs either, now that I have read Maureen Dowd’s troubling op-ed piece about it today. There’s another thing that makes my insanely conservative but treasured-for-all-that Catholic friends growl: Maureen Dowd. But I say, if reading 844 words by Dowd (I counted them, I have nothing else to do) saves me reading a 656-page book, I’ll make that bargain with the devil.

Isaacson is a fast worker, and his publisher makes two. Steve Jobs came out 17 days after Steve Jobs died—fourteen days slower than Jesus, but still impressive.

According to Isaacson, filtered through Dowd, Jobs was Svengali in jeans. He practiced his stare. “He wanted the other person to blink first. He wanted [his stare] to be, like Dracula’s saturnine gaze, a force that could bend your will to his and subsume your reality in his.”

Jobs’s life, according to Dowd, “sounded like the darkest hell of volatility. . . . There were Rasputin-like seductions followed by raging tirades. Everyone was either a hero or bozo. As Jobs’s famous ad campaign for Apple said, ‘Here’s to the crazy ones. . . . They push the human race forward.”” And so on. Jobs was a monster who thought himself enlightened. 

Jobs was the model post-modern humanist: “He embraced Zen minimalism and anti-materialism.” Meanwhile, the mother of his first child said Jobs was “full of broken glass.” And unlike IBM today, “He could be hard on women.”

The sad tale continues, but I have heard enough. No, I am not selling my iPhone, but again I am reminded to keep my grandiosity in check. The American dream, 2011 edition—to be the next Steve Jobs—is a nightmare.

Although being Tony LaRussa yesterday might be worse. Did you read about Phonegate? That’s all covered in today’s Times as well. Because the landlines connecting the Cardinals dugout and the bullpen were unreliable, the St. Louis manager made two unfortunate pitching changes in Monday night’s Game Five. You may see him using an iPhone in Game Six. Or an IBM laptop with instant messaging.

There was one other article in today’s Times that caught my attention. China has decided to lead the world in desalination, because God knows they’re going to run out of fresh water one of these days. My only question is, what happens when the oceans run dry? We’re running out of everything else—oil, clean air, common sense. Can saltwater be far behind?

As long as we keep the faith, I guess, we’ll be fine.

My friend Carol messaged me last night to say that she is enjoying my recent “random posts.” I guess she meant this one, and probably this one, not to mention this one.

Now we can add this one.

When you have nothing to say, say something anyway.

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