Thomas Wictor

A terrible death awaits you

A terrible death awaits you

I just wasted an hour trying to download the new Apple operating system for my computer. Apple is in a death spiral. They don’t send you disks anymore; you download everything fro the App Store.

The problem is that the App Store will often not recognize your Apple ID and/or password. It waits until you’ve entered your redemption code—which they send you in an encrypted PDF—and then says your password isn’t recognized. You have to reset your password, but now the redemption code you need to download the new operating system is no longer valid.


I paid for my new operating system, but now I can’t get it. The automated “support” systems at Apple are not programmed to handle this problem. And no human will help me, because no human at Apple cares. The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, recently made headlines by telling “climate change deniers” to get out of Apple stocks. And the crowd cheered! That’s telling ’em, Tim!

No. What actually happened was that shareholders asked Cook to disclose the costs of Apple’s sustainability efforts, and Cook refused. He said what my father always said when challenged.

“Why don’t you just quit?”

Apple’s newest operating system, Mavericks, is a disaster. Just trying to use something as vital as e-mail is problematic. The top tech experts advise us to wait until Apple irons out the completely unacceptable number of bugs that Mavericks has. I tried to upgrade from my current operating system because Apple will no longer provide updates. So I’m going to the one right below Mavericks.

Rigidity and hubris mean that a terrible death awaits you. Apple will die. There’s no doubt in my mind. Incompetence combined with self-righteousness and unreachability is the perfect formula for a spectacular downfall. I’ll get my new operating system from somewhere else.

Rigid, defensive people drive everybody away. Apple is losing customers in the computer market, and it’s not making up for them in tablets or smart phones. At that shareholder meeting, Tim Cook distorted the position of the people challenging him. They were asking about their return on investment (ROI); to make them shut up, he branded them “climate change deniers” and reframed the dispute.

“These people care more about money than the environment!”

No. They wanted to know what Apple’s sustainability efforts are costing.

After initially suggesting that the investments make economic sense, Cook said the company would pursue environmental goals even if there was no economic point at all to the venture. [Justin Danhof, director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project] further asked if the company’s projects would continue to make sense if the federal government stopped heavily subsidizing alternative energy. Cook completely ignored the inquiry and became visibly agitated.

There’s your answer. When a person ignores your question, gets upset, and then impugns your motivations, that means he knows he’s in the wrong. He’s using red herrings, or the fallacious debating technique of Argument by Misdirection. when someone changes the subject, it’s an admission that they’ve lost.

My father did that his entire life. When he’d come up with some harebrained scheme, woe betide anybody who even asked him to clarify. Our mission was simply to do what we were told. If we asked a single question, he got angry, and then he’d start flinging the red herrings. His distortions of our positions—the fallacious debating technique of building straw men—would always begin the same way.

“So what you’re saying is—”

He never accurately described the points we made. When he dragooned us into building an underground water-pipe system for a local landmark, he told us that his eventual goal was to build a sprinkler system to that the place would have a lush, green lawn.

“Who’s going to mow the lawn?” I asked.

I will,” he said with his chin up.

“You can’t,” I said. “You’re eighty-two years old, and you have diabetes, a bad heart, emphysema, and neuropathy in your hands and feet. Tim and I can’t mow the giant lawn because we have our own lives. The Historical Society lacks the funds to hire gardeners. Putting in a sprinkler system would cause far more problems than it would solve.”

“So what you’re saying is you don’t care if the whole place falls down!”

Actually, I never said any such thing. I said that having a lush, green lawn would require tons of work, and there was nobody to do it. During this particular conflict, I had to leave because I couldn’t take the insults and wild, panicky rage. Tim stayed behind and turned his frosty calm on Dad for over an hour, explaining patiently that his idea was insane.

We built the underground water-pipe system that went completely to waste, but Dad sullenly gave up on the sprinkler system. He was already three years into his terminal cancer, so he found other methods of distracting himself, such as using an adding machine to check his finances every day, morning to night, for two years.

People are drawn to what’s familiar. My orientation is toward people like my father. I accept that. I’ve known many who argued exactly the way he did. Their rigidity and inability to face their own poor choices made them minor-league monsters. They dealt with disagreement by assaulting me with insults, straw men, moving the goalposts, red herrings, and ad hominems.

Well, Dad is dead. I don’t allow anybody to treat me that way anymore. More importantly, I have a message for the rigid, terrified people out there.

Unless you change your ways, you’re doomed. Like Apple, you’re headed for the landfill. Here are the fates of the people I’ve known who were like my father.

One is trapped in a loveless marriage with a sadistic dictator. Familial pressure keeps the pretense alive, so the person will die in the poisoned palace.

One is is married to a pig, and their children are psychos. I fully expect to hear someday that one of the kids carried out a mass murder and then committed suicide.

One died full of rage, terror, and complete bewilderment that the life lived had been so horrible.

One lives alone in old age, feet rotting off from diabetes, arteries plugged with fat, the spouse having fled years ago, and the offspring loading trucks for a living and demanding money.

One died so afraid that massive sedation was required. Though in a coma, he kept getting out of bed and trying to run.

One married a domineering incompetent, the two of them united against the world and killing themselves with fast food.

One lives a double life that I figured out years ago. The big secret is a nothing, every aspect of both lives being sheer fantasy.

One is an obese hysteric who drools because the Botox or nerve damage from endless cosmetic surgery has destroyed control of the lips.

A lot of people hate me—I know this from their messages—because I admit to my failings. But I’m still alive. Admitting to being a failure didn’t kill me. Not only that, I look forward to every day. My future is full of opportunities.

The rigid, defensive, fragile, and fearful Dad-clones are on a collective banzai charge. Ever read about those? The Japanese in World War II would simply run at emplaced machine guns, screaming, “Banzai!

And they would all be mowed down, to the last man. They accomplished nothing. Their lives were wasted.


My life has meaning. If you want to waste yours, that’s your choice. But I won’t charge the machine guns with you.

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