Steve Jobs Channels Ellis Wyatt

(p. 260) In 2007 Forbes magazine named Steve Jobs the highest-paid exec-(p. 261)utive of any of America’s five hundred largest companies, based on gains in the value of stock granted to him at Apple. He was on the board of directors of the Walt Disney Co. Yet his former residence in Woodside, where he had once met with Catmull and Smith and mused about buying Lucasfilm’s Computer Division, was now in a state of decay under his ownership.
He had wanted to demolish it; after a group of neighborhood residents opposed his plan to do so, he left the house open to the elements. The interior suffered damage from water and mold. Vines crept up the stucco walls and wandered inside.
The memories that haunted its hallways were those of Jobs’s darkest times. He had bought the house only months before the humiliation of his firing from Apple; he lived in it through that firing and through the hard, money-hemorrhaging years of Pixar and NeXT. He left it as his fortunes were about to change, as he was sending Microsoft away from Pixar, convinced that he had something he should hold on to.
When a judge ruled against his quest for a demolition permit, Jobs appealed in 2006 and 2007 all the way to the California Supreme Court, but he lost at every stage. He received proposals from property owners offering to cart the house away in sections and restore it elsewhere; he rejected them. One way or another, it seemed, he meant for the house to be destroyed.

Price, David A. The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
(Note: italics in original.)
(Note: The passage above is from the Epilogue and the pages given above are from the hardback edition (pp. 260-261). The identical passage also appears in the 2009 paperback edition, but on p. 265.

“There Was Never a Plan . . . Just a Series of Mistakes”

CaroRobert2012-04-30.jpg “Robert Caro in his Manhattan office. The later volumes of his L.B.J. biography have taken more years to write than it took the former president to live them.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 37) “There was never a plan,” Caro said to me, explaining how he had become a historian and biographer. “There was just a series of mistakes.”
. . .
(p. 38) Caro had a[n] . . . epiphany about power in the early ’60s. He had moved on to Newsday by then, where he discovered that he had a knack for investigative reporting, and was assigned to look into a plan by Robert Moses to build a bridge from Rye, N.Y., across Long Island Sound to Oyster Bay. “This was the world’s worst idea,” he told me. “The piers would have had to be so big that they’d disrupt the tides.” Caro wrote a series exposing the folly of this scheme, and it seemed to have persuaded just about everyone, including the governor, Nelson Rockefeller. But then, he recalled, he got a call from a friend in Albany saying, “Bob, I think you need to come up here.” Caro said: “I got there in time for a vote in the Assembly authorizing some preliminary step toward the bridge, and it passed by something like 138-4. That was one of the transformational moments of my life. I got in the car and drove home to Long Island, and I kept thinking to myself: ‘Everything you’ve been doing is baloney. You’ve been writing under the belief that power in a democracy comes from the ballot box. But here’s a guy who has never been elected to anything, who has enough power to turn the entire state around, and you don’t have the slightest idea how he got it.’ ”
The lesson was repeated in 1965, when Caro had a Nieman fellowship at Harvard and took a class in land use and urban planning. “They were talking one day about highways and where they got built,” he recalled, “and here were these mathematical formulas about traffic density and population density and so on, and all of a sudden I said to myself: ‘This is completely wrong. This isn’t why highways get built. Highways get built because Robert Moses wants them built there. If you don’t find out and explain to people where Robert Moses gets his power, then everything else you do is going to be dishonest.’ “

For the full story, see:
CHARLES McGRATH. “Robert Caro’s Big Dig.” The New York Times Magazine (Sun., April 15, 2012): 34-39 & 52.
(Note: ellipses and bracketed letter added.)
(Note: the online version of the story is dated April 12, 2012.)

Caro’s book on Robert Moses is:
Caro, Robert A. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1974.

Global Warming Would Reduce Deaths from Flu

(p. 4) According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this January was the fourth warmest in the documented history of weather in the contiguous United States.
. . .
. . . , our warm winter may have one unforeseen and felicitous consequence: a drastic reduction in the incidence of influenza.
. . .
This year’s flu season, . . . , didn’t officially begin until late last month. And while a true number is difficult to reach — not every sick person is tested, for instance, and the cause of a death in the hospital can be clouded by co-morbidities — it is likely that no more than a few hundred people in America, and possibly far fewer, have died of the flu this winter. Indeed, by any measurement, the statistics are historic and heartening. For every individual who has been hospitalized this season, 22 people were hospitalized in the 2010-11 flu season. Even more strikingly, 122 children died of flu last season and 348 during the flu outbreak of 2009-10 — while this time around that number is 3.

For the full commentary, see:

CHARLES FINCH. “OPINION; The Best Part About Global Warming.” The New York Times (Tues., March 4, 2012): 4.

(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review is dated March 2, 2012.)