Recently by James Altucher: 8 Alternatives to College
I was standing right next to Steve Jobs in 1989 and it was the closest thing I ever felt to being gay. The guy was incredibly wealthy, good looking enough to get any girl, a nerd super-rockstar who had just convinced my school to buy a bunch of NeXT machines (which, btw, were in fact the best machines to program on at the time) and I just wanted to be him. I wanted to be him ever since I had the Apple II+ as a kid. Ever since I shoplifted Ultima II, Castle Wolfenstein, and half a dozen other games that my friends and I would then rip from each other and pretend to be sick so we could stay home and play all day.
I dont care about Apple stock. (Well, I do think it will be the first trillion dollar company). Or about his business successes. Thats boring. The only thing that matters to me is how Steve Jobs became the greatest artist that ever lived. You only get to be an artist like that by turning everything in your life upside down, by making horrible, ugly, mistakes, by doing things so differently that people will never be able to figure you out. By failing, cheating, lying, having everyone hate you, and coming out the other side with a little bit more wisdom than the rest.
So, 10 Unusual things I didnt know about Steve Jobs.
1) Nature versus Nurture. His sister is Mona Simpson but he didnt know it until he was an adult. Mona Simpson was one of my favorite novelists from the late 80s. Her first novel, Anywhere but Here , was about her relationship with her parents. Which, ironically, was Steve Jobs parents. But since Steve Jobs was adopted (see below) they didnt know they were brother-sister until the 90s when he tracked her down. Its proof (to an extent) of the nature versus nurture argument. Two kids, without knowing they were brother and sister, both having a unique sensibility of life on this planet to become among the best artists in the world in completely different endeavors. And, to me it was great that I was a fan of both without realizing (even before they realized) that they were related.
2) His fathers name is Abdulfattah Jandali. If you had to ask me what Steve Jobs fathers name was I never in one zillion years wouldve guessed that and that Steve Jobs biologically was half Syrian Muslim. For some reason I thought he was Jewish. Maybe its because I wanted to be him so I projected my own background onto him. His parents were two graduate students who I guess werent sure if they were ready for a kid so put him up for adoption and then a few years later had another kid (see above). So I didnt know he was adopted. The one requirement his biological parents had was that he be adopted by two college educated people. But the couple that adopted him lied at first and turned out not to be college educated (the mom was not a high school graduate) so the deal almost fell through until they promised to send Steve to college. A promise they couldnt keep (see below). So despite many layers of lies and promises broken, it all worked out in the end. People can save a lot of hassle by not having such high expectations and overly ambitious worries in the first place.
3) He made the game Breakout. If there was one thing I loved almost as much as the games on the Apple II+ it was playing Breakout on my first-generation Atari (I cant remember, was that the Atari 2600?) And then breakout on every version of my Blackberry since 2000. If he had never done anything else in life and I had met him and he said, Im the guy who made Breakout, I wouldve said, you are the greatest genius of the past 100 years. Funny how things turn out. He went on from Atari to form Apple. Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, went to form the greatest restaurant chain in the history of mankind: Chuck E. Cheese.
4) He denied paternity on his first child, claiming he was sterile. The other had to initially raise the kid using welfare checks. I have no judgment on this at all. Raising kids is hard. And when you have a kid you feel like this enormous energy and creativity you have for the world is going to get misdirected into a little baby (Jobs parents mustve felt that way as well. Like father, like son). Heck, I originally wanted my first kid to be aborted. But people change, mature, grow up. Eventually Jobs became a good father. And thats what counts in the end. Much worse if it was the reverse. I didnt know this either: that the Lisa computer (the Apple III) was named after this first child.
5) Hes a pescetarian. In other words, he eats fish but no other meat. And he eats anything else a vegetarian eats (including eggs and dairy). Turns out if you compare pescetarians with regular meat-eaters they have a 34% less chance of dying of heart disease. And if you compare vegetarians with meat eaters, they only have a 20% less chance of dying of heart disease. I think from now on Im going to be a pescetarian, just because Steve Jobs is one. Except when Im in Argentina. In Argentina you have to eat steak. Ted Danson and Mary Tyler Moore consider themselves pescetarians. Somehow, even the world pescetarian seems like it was invented in California.
February 25, 2011