Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a short (75 min) documentary about the only Sushi chef to ever win 3 Michelin stars for his restaurant. It tells something of his life story, part of his family life and background, but is mostly about the pursuit of perfection in the craft to which you devote your life. Having made sushi since he was nine years old, Jiro continues to search for improvements and new ideas in how to conduct a meal of varied sushi courses. An engaging portrayal of a world that is quite foreign to me.
Idiocracy is one of those movies like Three Kings where it defies belief that someone funded the production of the story. An average person from today is put into suspended animation, and awakes, hundreds of years later, to a society where he is now the smartest person in the world. Its crass (in a frat-boy humour way) portrayal of a life taken over by corporations has moments of insight into the kind of culture that the West risks embracing to greater and greater extents.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (affiliate link).
This is one of those books that I had every intention of reading when it was released, but was too busy to read at the time. When I had the chance to borrow it, I jumped, and spent most of my train trips for a week (and a sleepless night) reading it. This was a good way to consume the book, I think - full immersion, as much as is possible with my current schedule.
Back at uni, I did a “historical computing” assignment on the S-100 bus, part of the technology of the early 1980s, and a key part my first computer (the one I had access to when I was about five years old). I was a big fan of computer culture even back then, though it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that I had a chance to play with a Macintosh.
Even though I didn’t own any Apple computer until I started earning money for myself, Apple computers were a big part of my computer experience - a UNSW program when I was at primary school gave us a chance to learn Appleworks on the Apple IIe (I remember they had an Apple II GS in a room somewhere - it was much faster than the regular Apple II computer series, which made Frogger completely unplayable).
All this reminiscing is to help explain what I liked about the book - it was a chance to go back to that period of time, and see what was happening in the part of the world where so much computer development was taking place.
The book is certainly not without its flaws - have a listen to the hypercritical podcast episodes 42 and 43 for a very detailed breakdown of why Isaacson was “the wrong guy” for the job of biographer - he lacks technical knowledge, and has not done a great deal of cross-checking ideas. In particular, I was wondering how Jobs justified his division of work/life balance, seeming to spend little time with his family: there wasn’t much of an attempt made to explain this.
If you have a passing interest in Steve Jobs, this is a good book to work through in search of answers. If you’re looking for something more substantial in terms of how Jobs achieved what he did, there’s still a lot of mystery remaining, but this may well be the book that gets closest to answering anything.
I don't often blog here about parenting things, but this seemed an appropriate milestone. Tomorrow, my eldest goes to school. Over the weekend we visited my parents, and looked through the old family photos of my own first day at school. In these photos, my parents - now around retirement age - are my age, and I’m tiny. It’s hard to believe that when the call goes around for “an old shirt to use as a paint smock”, that the giant garment he uses will be one of my regular work shirts!
I have no clear memory of my first day at school - there is a vague sense of entering a particular classroom, and getting started on some activity or other, but apart from regular games of “dead soldiers” after lunch - where all the kids had to lie perfectly still until spotted as moving by the teacher, or deputised students who had been caught moving - and getting a question about the relative weights of a couple of objects wrong, kindergarten is a bit of a blur.
So I’m not sure how much my son is going to remember of the day itself. I’m hoping he has an overall memory of the continued effort at sustaining a relationship I’ve invested. I’m taking the day off tomorrow to make sure I’m around to drop him off, pick him up, and be around for the family during the day should anyone need me.
In the lead up to becoming a Dad, and for most of the time of being a parent, I’ve been studying theology, hoping to understand how best to impart some wisdom to my son. Sometimes it works - it’s nice to know Greek and fumble my way through some Hebrew, and to have a better understanding of the Christian worldview. Mostly, it’s a balancing act - avoiding simple moralising, not going deeper than he’s ready for in terms of assumed knowledge.
The main problem is saying anything about it at all. far easier to engage him on his own chosen topics of TV shows an video games. Of things he sees around him and wants to comment on.
We caught up with friends, even today, and there were plenty of opportunities to talk about Christian things - how many times did I just drift back to amusing anecdotes about the kids, when I could have taken some more “risks” and asked some questions whose answers will last long after everything else has faded away?
But I pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep going. It was good to pray with my eldest the night before he’s about to embark on his biggest adventure yet.
Big changes ahead for the whole family; as ever, it’s impossible to tell what the future will hold, but we presume that God will continue to be faithful to us.
Bring on the next step.