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An Open Letter To Tim Cook

Or, Banging My Head Against The AAPL that is, not the Apple that maybe never was, except to me

· Thinking Different,Social Change,Philosophy

This is always fun. But I wrote it, and might as well copy/paste here, on the minuscule chance that someone who might actually respond might read it. Not taking that bet, but the pixels are free…

To whoever is filtering Mr. Cook’s correspondence,

Respectfully, this is admittedly a lot to digest. As a bullshit litmus test, I suggest the reference to the documented (by your own support people) little trick that utterly lobotomizes OSX, or did, and that it is something Steve Jobs was behind, and where he says so. If that passes, which it will, I didn’t make up the ability (totally replicable) to fuck up your shit with his personal info, and can’t create support case IDs in your own system, so it’s real, then I humbly suggest the rest might be worth his read as well. Or at least worth letting him decide. Thank you.

Mr. Cook,

Firstly, thank you, sincerely and gratefully, for reading this far. It means all the difference to another human being. Period. No elaboration needed or more meaningful.

That said, I have a lot to say. Forty–seven years’ of a very singularly damaged and tired life lived without the benefit of a lot of tools and qualities neuro–typical people don’t even know they have or rely on.

But really, I do have a lot to say, and I am trying to put it all together according to topics in ways that will effectively communicate, offer support and reference, and, in short, get out of my life and let me have some peace, damnit.

But I am absolutely certain, socially retarded little soul that I am, that trying to put it all out would in some way sabotage everything I am trying so hard to do, for reasons that, by definition, I cannot see, or grasp, and no one has ever laid out to me. They just go away. Always, every decade or so, like clockwork.

So I am going to try a couple of initial statements, and see if anything piques your interest. And go from there. I hope. This is new ground for me. I have absolutely no contacts or influence with anyone who could make all the difference. And as CEO of Apple, sir, you are the singularly most empowered individual on the planet to do that for me.

Apple has, in more than one very real, life–saving, way, been a miracle for me. Since 1992. I have a lot to say on this, but I’ll keep it to memes and familiar ground.

I Think Different in a way that is likely impossible for the non–autist, non–hyperlexic mind. Not better or worse (how would I know) but definitely Different, and it has its perks.

Here’s to the Crazy Ones. That bit about changing the world? I have more than a couple of notions on that subject that, and I honestly cannot see the fatal flaw, excepting that I am just one person with no voice or eloquence or beauty.

Apple, on the other hand, is the world’s best at the qualities I lack. And of course, has the resources to do anything, if they want, and if they see how those resources will do the trick. Not always obvious (see hyperlexia, lingual squirminess, and a neural tic that is essentially a search engine for conceptual leaps of, well, the obvious, once you see it).

Because we just might do it. Says Apple, Jobs, Steve.

Insanely Great. There’ no doubt I am severely cracked. I doubt I am technically sane, though I am extraordinarily lucid and self–aware. And great? Not me. But what I can show, what is possible if it’s just made to matter, and I speak in terms of human dignity, equality on so many levels (including the LGBT crowd you may be sensitive to, so am I, I am Queerer than a three–dollar bill) that not doing what can so feasibly be done with the will, the right leverage, and I don’t know, a few million, or less, or a billion (I am utterly ignorant of financial minutia there, but you have a quarter trillion in pocket money. It isn’t an issue and you probably could also spin it into ads and PR that would make you even more obscenely, bloatedly wealthy).

Bill Gates, the guy who used to act so relentlessly, rapaciously, unethically greedy, recently dropped 400 million of his own cash, not his company’s, to eliminate polio in India, where it had been a threat to the 1.3 billion there for, well, ever.

You need to step up your game. Not only is it the right thing, I will show, but it’s also just a fun little perk to give him a kick in the nuts, metaphorically speaking, and remind him who he kept trying to copy.

And how the great ones do it with style, grace, and a crushing Muhammad Ali knock–out of effortless power.

Last bit, and I feel I may risk seeming pompous here, please do not read as such. But while it is somewhat presumptuous for me to be the one to say so, Apple tugged on some really, really heavy images when they played Think Different. You know them, or should. Apple is not, I assume, in any way legally responsible for that debt, but morally and ethically, you call on Lennon, Einstein, Ali, Picasso, and so on, and so on, which you absolutely did with a brilliant campaign celebrating them (and so rubbing them off on you), and if you play that card, when the time comes, you’d bloody well be ready, and then eager, to start making that real. I am presuming, but I am also not wrong.

Last tidbit for now. I had somehow missed a Jobs Meme for years, which is just odd because I am pretty damned Apple–aware, but this one, I only saw after he died.

“I would give all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.” ~ Steve Jobs

Well, I don’t have a Time Machine (in fact, the one on my MacBook consistently craps out for reasons no one, from Apple Support to my ISP, can explain), but I do have this.

Heraclitus. He’s the first of the Big Greeks, but no one knows him because everyone agrees he is completely obscure. Except that I parsed him before I even read that little detail (as always, Wikipedia at ones’ own peril).

Because he’s me. As people who know me will attest, in that I have been saying the same things for decades now, and are totally freaked out when I point out where the mess is, take it out, and voila. Everyone sees it.

Socrates, and he alludes to it all over, took a whole lot from Heraclitus, but expressed in reverse, essentially, as he was a speaker, and Heraclitus was a writer. Put it together, and again, don’t take my word for it, it’s pretty much impossible to miss once you know to look, and it adds a whole new level of context to his famous words, particularly the Apology, which suggests a breathtakingly ballsy effort on his behalf.

More Socrates. New Socrates. I can’t have made it up, it’s been published for 2,500 years or so. But there it is.

All his technology? I already have it, though admittedly getting old and tired as I am disabled and have a very limited income. I am not asking for anything there. I am rather coming to deliver my side of the deal. Jobs’ technology changed what was possible for me.

But I’ll be damned if I let him get away without at least a gentle nudge in the balls, metaphorically speaking, for being such a fucking shit until very near the end. Jobs’ genius? For sure. Jobs the person? This is one Apple person who couldn’t stand him.

But I was genuinely happy for him, reading his last words, and seeing he got there. Finally.

Your Time Is Limited. Is it ever. I have somewhere between now and maybe 30 years with much better medical care. I would like to stop spinning my wheels and putting what I have to some use.

If I was applying for a job, would you at least consider an interview? I’m not even. Just a chance to show you some things I think might blow your mind a couple–few times. (They sure did mine.)

For free. I’d pay if I could.

(Apple, I love you, but you have screwed me financially so many times since 1992 with lost warranties, or mysteriously refused service, even when I showed your techs how to completely lobotomize OSX with about ten key strokes. I can probably find the service code on that, but hint… It was a Jobs easter egg. I can show where he is pointing and what it did. I just ran out of juice taking on his Apple ID. I got the password just fine, but it was inactive long enough that needed security question answered, and I cannot, and you’d laugh at the ways I came at it, I still have the notes, fathom what is the colour of the sky in his world).

If there is any other way to say blue, including in several languages I am pretty certain he did not even speak, I will be damned. And it’s not Marmalade (re: Beatles) or Technicolor Grey (re: William Gibson, cyberpunk author and computer–illiterate Mac user), or… I mean, I really reached. But that simple question totally stymied me. I still pick at it, now and then.

You probably know the site and easter egg I am referring to, one of three, each tied to a Jobs Meme. I go both Here’s To The Crazy Ones and Think Different. I don’t really have the chops for the other branch.

I’ve got his legal disclaimer slash permission to fuck around, somewhere on this thing if you somehow haven’t seen it. Pretty cute. He could bend his words and curve his sentences with style, all credit where due. But on that level, it’s my playing field, I parse that stuff as normally as you read this. Just a neurological tic.

So if somehow, I am seeming batshit insane referring to Jobs easter eggs, frying OSX with a magic word, etc., please, at least, let me show you the links. His own, or maybe Apple’s now, whatever. Your own Support Case ID and even the people at the Pointe–Claire Apple Store who frankly couldn’t believe it, and even let me fry a few thousand dollars’ worth of demo models to show it is replicable and requires your really big tech tools to un–fuck. A complete system wipe and reinstall won’t do it, etc.

I can’t make up what isn’t there.

But I can point to a hyperlink as well as anyone else.

I have a pair of efforts in the iBook store, but all honesty, I was extremely mentally ill and not entirely lucid when I wrote them. They’re in no way wrong, but they’re not at all complete or an example of my right mind and words. I was fairly sure I was going to die by then, and it was just a bloody effort to get something out before it all got lost again.

I am happy to report that I continued to perplex my doctors with my seeming refusal to quite meet human parameters in some ways, like endocrinology and of course neurology, and so am as healthy as that term can be applied to me with a straight face, and I am quite lucid, if probably annoying and prone to going on some. If Robert Downey, Jr., or Halle Berry are on your contact list, I am confident they might remember me one night at the Jewish General Hospital, where they of course were quite conspicuous, but I was the one doctors and nurses kept buzzing around, coming by to inform me, “You should be dead!” So often that I almost felt the need to apologize for failing to comply by just feeling run down and shitty, and not able to feel my feet, which was what finally convinced me that my phobia of needles was going to have to surrender to the inevitable, that I was diabetic and nerve damage was worsening quickly, and had been for some time, but trying to ignore it and hoping it would go away wasn't going to work.

Which, oddly, some of it did end up just going away. Enough to just make life interesting, in my sense of the term, but not actually kill me, or stop me if I am willing to endure pain and indignity to get something typed, or whatever. Which I am.

Because I would like it to actually mean something for me, if no one else. By which I mean everyone else.

Like do a riff on a famous poet, from New England, very much a big name, and have a Harvard Professor Emeritus Ridiculous Pulitzer Committee chair, twenty–five honourary PhDs as if her own weren’t enough, poet, I repeat that last, a poet, not be able to recognize, even with a slightly annoyed hint, after being condescend to when I was being utterly respectful and in fact convinced I hadn’t actually composed this, but subconsciously swept it up somewhere.

But nope. Me. Kind of exactly how Paul McCartney described composing “Yesterday.” Convinced he’d heard it somewhere, but nope. Just there. No effort or application of his immense genius required. Which just isn’t even fair to the rest of the world.

Mind, it’s just a clever little dig at the Vatican, with Michelangelo in mind, but in no way implied, when you take Stephen Crane’s elegantly simple and eloquent…

A man said to the universe:

“Sir, I exist!”

“However,” replied the universe,

“The fact has not created in me

“A sense of obligation.”

And just flip it to,

God said to A Man,

“I have a sense of obligation!”

“And yet,” replied Man,

“This has not persuaded me that you in fact exist.”

I mean, I think it’s cute, but it’s certainly not particularly difficult to play if this then that so that then this and check backwards to be sure and… I’m trying to describe my mind’s spelling, grammar and ethics checker like that. I actually think you could code an ethics checker with all kinds of tunability for perspective, faith, etc… I mean, I know what I’d find the essential notions, and could easily explain my thinking to someone with the expertise to translate from “Ross going off again” to “If this equals this…”

Ahem. Sorry. If I had even the slightest ability to, well, code, but I digress. But I do think it might be a useful little tool to aid in civility in discourse in the written medium.

Thank you for your attention, if you have read this far. I have a lot more to say, but my hands are shot typing this much anyhow, so that seems like a good hint to wrap. (Just enough of a hint of a speech impediment to be unintelligible, or I’d let my poor laptop do the typing.)

I’ll let another, far, far greater mind than I can even conceive of being, have the last word. Which he, of course, was, and remains. The last word, where anything he had to say was concerned. Naturally, I have a few hints where to look for some of the things he had to say, but only to certain kinds of minds who come in without knowing everything he is absolutely famous for.

In short, paying attention and not assuming a single thing.

Which of course, I can show… It wouldn’t be so aggravatingly miserable to play the “what are we going to amazingly discover because it’s right in front of our faces but no one sees it until I wave my magic Look At The Obvious Wand again today?” game, where the prize is coming off as increasingly delusional or calamitously, offensively full of shit because of the sheer volume of it, when you can’t get anyone to let you just point and shut up.

Cordially, or so I hope,

Ross Coburn

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

coburn.ross@me.com

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”


~ Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

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