Maternal scepticism

Dave Winer writes:

A family story. My mother was a pure capitalist. She believed in hard work, being productive. She felt threatened by evidence of idleness. I drove her crazy. Even as a kid I would sometimes just sit in a chair in the living room of our apartment in Jackson Heights and think. Once she saw me sitting, lights off, no TV, no book, appearing to be doing nothing, and she lost her shit right there. Anyway, many years later, when I sold my company and then it went public, after years of begging me to get a job, her stock in the company was all of a sudden worth a lot of money. It was the only time I remember getting her unqualified approval. She boasted, even when I could hear, that I was profitable. In other words, the money and time she put into raising me made her money.

That rings a bell. I’ve been a journalist and an academic all my working life. (My Observer Editor-in-Chief, Conor Cruise O’Brien, who straddled the same two occupations with great distinction, once said to me that he and I “had a foot in both graves”.) My mother, who hoped I would become an engineer with the national Electricity Supply Board, went to her grave believing that I never had held a proper job.