John Carmack shares Steve Jobs memories

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Jobs was like Frank Lloyd Wright in that he believed that laws and customs were for much lesser men than himself. Obtaining people’s unlisted phone numbers was something he was noted for.


Which is why when people kept stealing his license plates, he just stopped using them. Still paid registration, but that law was “beneath” him.

Moreover, it really would not surprise me at all if Carmack ultimately made a lot of unofficial contributions to the design and simply hasn’t said anything because that’s not really his way. The guy does what he does for the love of doing it, which gets my respect even if he’s shifted politically in ways that disappoint me. (It’s hard when one of the idols from your youth shifts like that, but everyone is wrong about something.)


he wasn’t breaking the law. At the time california had what was essentially a loophole. You were allowed a 6 month grace period for when a license plate had to actually be attached to a car. Jobs would lease a different AMG SL55 every 6 months to avoid having to mount the plate. that loophole has since been closed.


Using lots of money to exploit a loophole in the law that could only be exploited if you had an absurd amount of money is pretty much a textbook example of believing oneself to be “above the law.”

It doesn’t mean that he’s a scofflaw, it means that he thought he had a right to exploit that loophole because he could afford to lease a new car every 6 months. If he didn’t believe himself to be above the law, he’d have followed the rules like people who can’t afford to exploit a loophole like that.

Some people call this innovative, but it’s just circumventive observation–keeping an eye for going around problems rather than straight at them. It’s something that everyone does, albeit some more than others. It’s not inherently bad but in this case it led him to elect to take the “non-cooperative” route which is almost always worse for everyone in the long run.

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