There are two-toed sloths and there are three-toed sloths,the case being determined by the forepaws of the animals,since all sloths have three claws
on their hind paws. I had thegreat luck one summer of studying the three-toed sloth in situin the equatorial jungles of Brazil. It is a highly intriguingcreature. Its only real habit is indolence. It sleeps or rests
onaverage twenty hours a day. Our team tested the sleep habitsof five wild three-toed sloths by placing on their heads, in theearly evening after they had fallen asleep, bright red plasticdishes filled with water. We found them still in
place late thenext morning, the water of the dishes swarming with insects.
The sloth is at its busiest at sunset, using the word busy herein the most
relaxed sense. It moves along the bough of a treein its characteristic upside-down position at the speed ofroughly 400 metres an hour. On the ground, it crawls to itsnext tree at the rate of 250 metres an hour, when
motivated,which is 440 times slower than a motivated cheetah.
Unmotivated, it covers four to five metres in an hour.
“You aren’t announcing that you have been limiting yourself!” Roberta laughed.
“No, that isn’t my claim, but I have to confess that my limit is in sight,” he told her.
“Tough luck, Dad. Now, I am only getting well started,” Roberta said, then added to her mother, “If you drew prizes for all the good things you cook you
would have to have a museum for them as large as Colonel Lindbergh’s in St. Louis.”
“Second the motion,” Harvey put in, then went on to his young sister, “Who’s the lady you have been piloting along the coast the11 last couple of weeks?
Larry Kingsley told me she’s got loads of money and has taken to
taxiing about in
the air with
“I say, Berta, thought you were going to do some work for that Mr. Howe of the Federal Service. Did it fall through?”
“Haven’t heard much more about it, Harv,” Roberta answered her brother, as she poured maple syrup over a serving of piping hot pancakes. Her mother
came in at that moment with a replenished bowl of oatmeal, and she paused with an anxious glance at her young daughter.
“Hope you do not hear anything more about it, dear. I feel that your activities in helping clear up the mystery at Lurtiss Field placed you in any number of
very dangerous situations. Being a pilot is hazardous enough10 without adding to the difficulties by running down air-gangsters of any kind,” she said soberly.
My suffering left me sad and gloomy.
Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religionslowly brought
me back to life. I have kept up what somepeople would consider my strange religious practices. After oneyear of high school, I attended the University of
Toronto andtook a double-major Bachelor’s degree. My majors werereligious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religiousstudies concerned
certain aspects of the cosmogony theory ofIsaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed.
My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid glandof the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because itsdemeanour – calm, quiet and
introspective – did something tosoothe my shattered self.
“Perhaps Mr. Howe has discovered that he does not require your services. In work of that nature very often, when men on the job think they have struck a
hard snag, something comes up suddenly which clears the matter so they do not require outside assistance,” remarked Mr. Langwell, then smiled at his
wife. “As a maker of pancakes, my dear, you draw
first prize. The only
drawback to such a
breakfast is a man’s
The three-toed sloth is not well informed about the outsideworld. On a scale of 2 to 10, where 2 represents unusualdullness and 10 extreme acuity, Beebe
(1926) gave the sloth’ssenses of taste, touch, sight and hearing a rating of 2, and itssense of smell a rating of 3. If you come upon a sleepingthree-toed
“Yes. She always carries a wonderful pair of glasses, and when we are over the water orders that I fly low and as slowly as possible12 while she examines the deep. I have to keep my eyes on the board, so I haven’t been able to look at
what attracts her attention especially, but a couple of times she has seemed very pleased over what she examined, and appears to admire the schools of fish we have followed a couple of times. Guess it’s a hobby of hers, and she hasn’t anything special to do, so she rides it—”
sloth in the wild, two or three nudges should sufficeto awaken it; it will then look sleepily in every direction butyours. Why it should look about is
uncertain since, the slothsees everything in a Magoo-like blur. As for hearing, the slothis not so much deaf as uninterested in sound. Beebe reportedthat
firing guns next to sleeping or feeding sloths elicited littlereaction. And the sloth’s slightly better sense of smell shouldnot be overestimated. They are
said to be able to sniff andavoid decayed branches, but Bullock (1968) reported that slothsfall to the ground clinging to decayed branches “often”.
How does it survive, you might ask.
“Oh, that is Mrs. Pollzoff. Her husband used to be in the fur business and when he died she sold her interest to a big syndicate, she told me, because she knew there wasn’t much chance of her making a success against such competition.
She is keen on aviation, and bought herself a plane but has never been able to get a license. I asked Mr. Trowbridge and he said he thought it was because
she showed very little judgment in an emergency; she cracked-up three times, and they forbade her to fly alone.”
“I should think they would,” Mrs. Langwell exclaimed indignantly.
“That’s all I know about her, except that she is madder than a dozen wet hens at the government for depriving her of the
right to fly; and she
seems to be
interested in fishes.”
I was at the Indian Coffee House, on Nehru Street. It’sone big room with green walls and a high ceiling. Fanswhirl above you to keep the warm, humid air
moving. Theplace is furnished to capacity with identical square tables,each with its complement of four chairs. You sit where youcan, with whoever is at
a table. The coffee is good andthey serve French toast. Conversation is easy to come by.
And so, a spry, bright-eyed elderly man with great shocksof pure white hair was talking to me. I confirmed to himthat Canada was cold and that French
was indeed spokenin parts of it and that I liked India and so on and soforth – the usual light talk between friendly, curious Indiansand foreign backpackers.
He took in my line of work witha widening of the eyes and a nodding of the head. It wastime to go. I had my hand up, trying to catch my waiterseye to get the bill.
Then the elderly man said, “I have a story that willmake you believe in God.”I stopped waving my hand. But I was suspicious. Wasthis a Jehovah’s Witness
knocking at my door? “Does yourstory take place two thousand years ago in a remote cornerof the Roman Empire?” I asked.
“No.”Was he some sort of Muslim evangelist? “Does it takeplace in seventh-century Arabia?””No, no. It starts right here in Pondicherry just a fewyears
back, and it ends, I am delighted to tell you, in thevery country you come from.””And it will make me believe in
Jobs’s objections to the cloning program were not just economic, however. He had an inbred aversion to it. One of his core principles was that hardware
and software should be tightly integrated. He loved to control all aspects of his life, and the only way to do that with computers was to
for the user
from end to end.
What other bright ideas do you have for your life?” I askedmyself.
Well, I still had a little money and I was still feelingrestless. I got up and walked out of the post office toexplore the south of India.
I would have liked to say, “I’m a doctor,” to those whoasked me what I did, doctors being the current purveyorsof magic and miracle. But I’m sure we would have had abus accident around the next bend, and ‘with all eyes
fixedon me I would have to explain, amidst the crying andmoaning of victims, that I meant in law; then, to theirappeal to help them sue the government
over the mishap, Iwould have to confess that as a matter of fact it was aBachelor’s in philosophy; next, to the shouts of whatmeaning such a bloody
tragedy could have, I would have toadmit that I had hardly touched Kierkegaard; and so on. Istuck to the humble, bruised truth.
Along the way, here and there, I got the response, “Awriter”? Is that so? I have a story for you.” Most times thestones were little more than anecdotes, short of breath andshort of life.
I arrived in the town of Pondicherry, a tinyself-governing union Territory south of Madras, on thecoast of Tamil Nadu. In population and size it is
aninconsequent part of India – by comparison, Prince EdwardIsland is a giant within Canada – but history has set itapart. For Pondicherry was once the
capital of that mostmodest of colonial empires, French India. The French wouldhave liked to rival the British, very much so, but the onlyRaj they
managed to get was a handful of small ports.
They clung to these for nearly three hundred years. Theyleft Pondicherry in 1954, leaving behind nice white buildings,broad streets at right angles to each
other, street namessuch as rue de la Marine and rue Saint-Louis, and kepis,caps, for the policemen.
Apple resisted licensing out the Macintosh operating system until 1994, when CEO Michael Spindler allowed two small companies, Power Computing and
Radius, to make Macintosh clones. When Gil Amelio took over in 1996, he added Motorola to the list. It turned out to be a dubious business strategy:
Apple got an $80 licensing fee for each computer sold, but instead of expanding the market, the cloners cannibalized the sales of Apple’s own high-
it made up to
$500 in profit.
The descriptions burst with colour, contrast and tellingdetail. Really, your story can only be great. But it all addsup to nothing. In spite of the obvious, shining promise of it,there comes a moment when you realize that the
whisperthat has been pestering you all along from the back ofyour mind is speaking the flat, awful truth: it won’t work.
An element is missing, that spark that brings to life a realstory, regardless of whether the history or the food is right.
Your story is emotionally dead, that’s the crux of it. Thediscovery is something soul-destroying, I tell you. It leavesyou with an aching hunger.
From Matheran I mailed the notes of my failed novel. Imailed them to a
fictitious address in Siberia, with a returnaddress, equally fictitious, in Bolivia. After the clerk hadstamped the envelope and thrown it into a sorting bin, Isat down, glum and disheartened. “What now, Tolstoy?
Bill Gates, who was building a fortune by licensing Microsoft’s operating system, had urged Apple to do the same in 1985, just as Jobs was being eased out. Gates believed that, even if Apple took away some of Microsoft’s
operating system customers, Microsoft could make money by creating versions of its applications software, such as Word and Excel, for the users of
the Macintosh and its clones. “I was trying to do everything to get them to be a strong licensor,” he recalled. He sent a formal memo to Sculley making the
case. “The industry has reached the point where it is now impossible for Apple to create a standard out of their innovative technology without
support from, and the resulting credibility of, other personal computer manufacturers,” he argued. “Apple should license Macintosh technology to
3–5 significant manufacturers for the development of ‘Mac Compatibles.’” Gates got no reply, so he wrote a second memo suggesting some companies
that would be good at cloning the Mac, and he added, “I want to
help in any
way I can with the
give me a call.”
“I’m wet through,” he said, as soon as he walked into the room. “I’ll go to my room. And you, Vanya, stay here. Such a business he’s been having with his lodgings. You tell her, I’ll be back directly.”
And he hurried away, trying not even to look at us, as though ashamed of having brought us together. On such occasions, and especially when he came back, he was always very curt and gloomy, both with me and Anna Andreyevna, even fault-finding, as though vexed and angry with himself for his own softness and consideration.
gauze and damask silk to paste on various articles, and that they requested lady Feng to go and open the dep?t for them to take the gauze and silk, while another servant also came to ask lady Feng to open the treasury for them to receive the gold and silver ware. And as Madame Wang, the waiting-maids and the other domestics of the upper rooms had all no leisure, Pao-ch’ai suggested: “Don’t let us remain in here and be in the way of their doing what there is to be done, and of going where they have to go,” and saying this, she betook herself, escorted by Pao-yü and the rest, into Ying Ch’un’s rooms.
“You see how he is,” said Anna Andreyevna, who had of late laid aside all her stiffness with me, and all her mistrust of me; “that’s how he always is with me; and yet he knows we understand all his tricks. Why should he keep up a pretence with me? Am I a stranger to him? He’s just the same about his daughter. He might forgive her, you know, perhaps he even wants to forgive her. God knows! He cries at night, I’ve heard him. But he keeps up outwardly. He’s eaten up with pride. Ivan Petrovitch, my dear, tell me quick, where was he going?”
“Nikolay Sergeyitch? I don’t know. I was going to ask you.”
“I was dismayed when he went out. He’s ill, you know, and in such weather, and so late! I thought it must be for something important; and what can be more important than what you know of? I thought this to myself, but I didn’t dare to ask. Why, I daren’t question him about anything nowadays. My goodness! I was simply terror-stricken on his account and on hers. What, thought I, if he has gone to her? What if he’s made up his mind to forgive her? Why, he’s found out everything, he knows the latest news of her; I feel certain he knows it;
but how the news gets to him I can’t imagine. He was terribly depressed yesterday,
and today too. But why don’t you say something? Tell me, my dear,
what has happened? I’ve been longing for you like an angel of God. I’ve been all eyes watching for you. Come,
will the villain abandon Natasha?”
Why did Jobs mislead Amelio about selling the shares? One reason is simple: Jobs sometimes avoided the truth. Helmut Sonnenfeldt once said of Henry
Kissinger, “He lies not because it’s in his interest, he lies because it’s in his nature.” It was in Jobs’s nature to mislead or be secretive when he felt it was warranted. But he also indulged in being brutally honest at times, telling the
truths that most of us sugarcoat or suppress. Both the dissembling and the truth-telling were simply different aspects of his Nietzschean attitude that ordinary rules didn’t apply to him.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Jobs had refused to quash Larry Ellison’s takeover talk, and he had secretly sold his shares and been misleading about it. So Amelio finally became
convinced that Jobs was gunning for him. “I finally absorbed the fact that I had been too willing and too eager to believe he was on my team,” Amelio recalled. “Steve’s plans to manipulate my termination were charging forward.”
Jobs was indeed bad-mouthing Amelio at every opportunity. He couldn’t help himself. But there was a more important factor in turning the board against
Amelio. Fred Anderson, the chief financial officer, saw it as his fiduciary duty to keep Ed Woolard and the board informed of Apple’s dire situation. “Fred
was the guy telling me that cash was draining, people were leaving, and more key players were thinking of it,” said Woolard. “He made it clear the ship was
going to hit the sand soon, and even he was thinking of leaving.” That added to the worries Woolard already had from watching Amelio bumble the shareholders meeting.
At an executive session of the board in June, with Amelio out of the room, Woolard described to current directors how he calculated their odds. “If we stay with Gil as CEO, I think there’s only a 10% chance we will avoid
bankruptcy,” he said. “If we fire him and convince Steve to come take over, we have a 60% chance of surviving. If we fire Gil, don’t get Steve back, and have to search for a new CEO, then we have a 40% chance
The board gave him
authority to ask
Jobs to return.
Jobs could seduce and charm people at will, and he liked to do so. People such as Amelio and Sculley allowed themselves to believe that because Jobs
was charming them, it meant that he liked and respected them. It was an impression that he sometimes fostered by dishing out insincere flattery to those hungry for it. But Jobs could be charming to people he hated just as
easily as he could be insulting to people he liked. Amelio didn’t see this because, like Sculley, he was so eager for Jobs’s affection. Indeed the words
he used to describe his yearning for a good relationship with Jobs are almost the same as those used by Sculley. “When I was wrestling with a problem, I
would walk through the issue with him,” Amelio recalled. “Nine times out of ten we would agree.” Somehow he willed himself to believe that Jobs really respected him: “I was in awe over the way Steve’s mind approached
problems, and had the feeling we were building a mutually trusting relationship.”
Amelio’s disillusionment came a few days after their dinner. During their negotiations, he had insisted that Jobs hold the Apple stock he got for at least six months, and preferably longer. That six months ended in June. When a
block of 1.5 million shares was sold, Amelio called Jobs. “I’m telling people that the shares sold were not yours,” he said. “Remember, you and I had an understanding that you wouldn’t sell any without advising us first.”
“That’s right,” Jobs replied. Amelio took that response to mean that Jobs had not sold his shares, and he issued a statement saying so. But when the next
SEC filing came out, it revealed that Jobs had indeed sold the shares. “Dammit, Steve, I asked you point-blank about these shares and you denied it was you.” Jobs told Amelio that he had sold in a “fit of depression” about
where Apple was going and he didn’t want to admit it because he was “a little embarrassed.” When I asked him
about it years later,
he simply said,
“I didn’t feel
I needed to tell Gil.”