Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rambling Review of "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson

     I think Isaacson has done a very hard thing here, and that is to be fair in writing about a giant in the tech industry who was incredibly revered in his own lifetime and yet incredibly polarizing. To write a Biography of such a man and publish it shortly after his death is a hard thing to do because society is still swimming in the aura that was Steve Jobs. Imagine someone writing a biography of George Washington while he was alive which pointed out all of his flaws and quirks. Isaacson has faithfully consulted primary sources and people close to Jobs, interviewed Jobs himself, and then unashamedly painted what I believe (but rather have to intuitively imply after reading) a true picture of the man. For better or for worse, that picture is of a genius who was a consistent jerk. But those are the facts, and although The author does write about and concede that Jobs did much to transform the technology and personal computing industries, building one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world, he also doesn't shy away from pointing out how much of an asshole he was with people. Sometimes Isaacson even drifts into a sort of chiding tone, which I think goes too far: "The nasty edge of his personality was not necessary. It hindered him more than it helped him." Thankfully, most of the time the author stays above that level of narrator–involvement.
      On a more subjective level, I was very interested to be learning about the history of Apple and the contributions it made to the computing industry. Some examples of this would be that the Apple II was hugely influential in the personal computing industry, pretty much inventing the category, and even more so with the Macintosh in 1984. Also developing the first mass-marketed version of an operating software using a GUI (Graphical User Interface, instead of lines of prompts using code, you actually visualized things like a desktop, pages, icons, etc.)
     If you are interested in Apple as a company, Steve Jobs, or technology in general, then this book would be a good read for you. It is rather long (571 pages not including the index and whatnot), but it is written clearly and coherently, so the pages go by quickly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"No More Christian Nice Guy" Review

     A friend of mine recently loaned a book entitled "No More Christian Nice Guy" to me. He did this because he thought the book would help meaner, basically. No. But yes. But...ok, more masculine. Less "nice" (see the book's title). More assertive. Thus, this review is going to be a bit more biased than usual, and I am going to have a bit more fun writing it than usual. Because HEY! *Thumps chest, grunts* I take offense to that, so I'm gonna turn over tables with my whip! Just like Jesus did!

     The Thesis of "No More Christian Nice Guy" is basically that due to the influence of modern society with encouragement from the church at large, men have been de-clawed, so to speak. Feminized. sissified. They, (or should I say, we!) have been fed a bill of goods that tells us that Christian men are gentle and kind, they don't speak up or out, they don't swear, they don't enact physical violence. They don't roughhouse. Coughlin's cry is for men to stop being passive wimps. My view is that he is right to complain about the state of men in society today and call for bolder, more passionate men who are more like Jesus and less like the worldly men around them. I think that he makes many good points in this book. However, overall, after reading it, my main critiques are these:

1. The point he is trying to make, though sometimes understandable to the reader, is often lost and mistaken for a message riddled with stereotypes and generalizations
2. His points are too often drawn from personal experience or are grounded in the author himself–opinions, basically. Too many heavy assertions without logical implications or footnotes to other sources
3. He doesn't account for the myriad of differences among men and allow for there to be different ways that men can be the best version of themselves, instead trading this out for a more "one size fits all" approach drawn from a skewed picture of Jesus

     Coughlin's intent is clear and pure, but his assertions aren't backed by solid logical inference or textual support, No More Christian Nice Guy is book I want to endorse, but sadly can't.