For weeks now, I’ve been metaphorically lugging Steve Jobs around with me. I bought Walter Isaacson’s biography shortly after Jobs died, but I got side-tracked by the controversy over hazardous working conditions at the plants in China where Apple products are manufactured.
Once I started reading, I was again wowed by Jobs’ early vision for personal computers and how his interest in both Zen Buddhism and calligraphy, not to mention the influence of LSD, shaped his sensibilities. They seemed to explain the elegance and grace that Apple products have always communicated.
But then I would come across a passage in which Jobs treated a friend, relative or worker with such unspeakable cruelty that I’d have to put the book down before finishing a chapter. The more familiar Jobs was with the object of his abuse, the meaner he permitted himself to act.
It’s too bad right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart never met Derrick Bell, because it might have made him a better man.
Of all the news that surfaced after Breitbart’s sudden death, I was most stunned by the evidence that he was preparing to use Professor Bell to attack President Obama. Perhaps you’ve seen the clips of The Hug, taken by WGBH in 1991 while Obama was a student at Harvard Law School. Student Obama introduced Professor Bell to a crowd protesting the lack of faculty diversity. Then, they embraced. This happened the year after Bell had lost his tenured position owing to his taking unpaid leave in protest the school’s failure to hire a black woman as a tenured professor. He was one of three black men on the faculty, but he recognized that black women need a role model, and there were none. Harvard dragged its institutional feet, and he never returned to teach. But his legacy lived on there long after he accepted a position as Visiting Professor at New York University.
Some very foolish things have been said about the proposed Cordoba Muslim Cultural Center in downtown Manhattan, the majority of them, it seems to me by people who wouldn’t know how to find the site if they were dropped off at the closest subway stop.
Years ago, when I was in a quandary about the direction of my career, I got some sound advice: Never fall in love with a corporation, because it’s constitutionally unable to reciprocate.
This week, the Supreme Court created a limited redress to that issue in Citizens United v the Federal Elections Commission, giving corporations unfettered permission to spend their general funds on the campaigns of politicians they favor, and turning them into “a real live boy” as Slate put it. Who says money can’t buy you love? If the Rehnquist court handed Republicans the presidency in 2000, it’s hard to believe the Roberts court hasn’t handed them the Congress in 2010.
Even before President Obama spoke Tuesday night, the news had leaked that he had authorized 30,000 new troops for Afghanistan.
I didn’t think his speech would reassure me, but it did. A little. What a pleasure it is to hear a president with a sophisticated mind, an ordered thought process and the vocabulary to match them! For people like me, it’s the ultimate seduction.
Random reflections on politics, the media, political activism, women's lives and spirituality, often inspired by travel, cultural events or what I read.
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