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Persons of the year
December 18, 2005 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Newsfilter: Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Paul Hewson named by Time Magazine as their persons of the year in recognition of their efforts against HIV-1, malaria and debt in Africa. "For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are Time's Persons of the Year." said the mag's editor-in-chief.
posted by docgonzo (123 comments total)

 
Thanks for posting this. I'm not sure I'd have heard about it otherwise.
posted by 327.ca at 8:18 AM on December 18, 2005


What a banal, safe, pointless choice on the part of Time. Irrelevant.
posted by orthogonality at 8:23 AM on December 18, 2005


(But good post, I'm not criticising docgonzo.)
posted by orthogonality at 8:25 AM on December 18, 2005


If it weren't so tragic, this would be hilarious. "Rewiring politics" and "reengineering justice"? what's next, imagineering solutioninations and scientificizing actualities? time magazine gets fucking dumber and dumber.
posted by yonation at 8:26 AM on December 18, 2005


It beats last year's choice.
posted by caddis at 8:28 AM on December 18, 2005


It beats last year's choice.

What I was gonna say.
posted by dobbs at 8:29 AM on December 18, 2005


Worthless.
posted by killdevil at 8:30 AM on December 18, 2005


The worst choice yet was 1995's winner Newt Gingrich, who was and is essentially unknown outside the USA. They should have renamed the award "American of the Year" then.
posted by sour cream at 8:43 AM on December 18, 2005


Damn that Bill Gates for saving lives in Africa! It isn't like he invented the iPod or something important like that.
posted by LarryC at 8:45 AM on December 18, 2005


At Time is consistent in their banal choices.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 8:54 AM on December 18, 2005


I'd rather it had been Mother Nature (the heavily-rumored pick).

It's always worthless. Rich people aren't special or noteworthy because they're philanthropic--they're special and noteworthy when they're not (like the entire Bush clan, for instance).
posted by amberglow at 9:05 AM on December 18, 2005


Props to them for their humanitarian work and all that; it's certainly something I'll never mock or dismiss, but I can't be the first to have read this and said "oh, great. This is just what Bono needs for that legendary humility of his."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:07 AM on December 18, 2005


Oh those Bards of the Powerful; let's all wear armbands!

I still can't believe anybody thinks TIME Magazine's covers are more important than those on its sibling AOL publication, People. ("I said BLOW, bee-yatch!")
posted by davy at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2005


It's always worthless. Rich people aren't special or noteworthy because they're philanthropic--they're special and noteworthy when they're not (like the entire Bush clan, for instance).

What are you talking about? Prescott Bush was incredibly generous; ask any German.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2005


It beats last year's choice.

I vote we beat last year's choice.

Cheap pun, I know.
posted by sourwookie at 9:16 AM on December 18, 2005


From the Gates Foundation Website:

Overview: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to promote greater equity in four areas: global health, education, public libraries, and support for at-risk families in Washington state and the greater Portland area. The Seattle-based foundation joins local, national, and international partners to ensure that advances in these areas reach those who need them most.

Endowment: $28.8 billion
Total grant commitments since inception: $9,259,952,552
Total 2004 grant payments: $1,255,762,783
Geographic reach: The foundation supports grantees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and we support work in more than 100 countries. About 60 percent of our grants go toward global efforts; the rest is dedicated to improving lives in the United States.

Illustrative Grant Commitments:
Gates Millennium Scholars Program, United Negro College Fund http://www.gmsp.org/ - $1 billion
The Vaccine Fund, http://www.vaccinefund.org/ - $750 million
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, http://www.iavi.org/ - $126.5 million
United Way of King County, Seattle, WA, http://www.uwkc.org/ - $55 million
Knowledgeworks Foundation, http://www.kwfdn.org/ – $20 million
The Network of Public Libraries for the New Millennium Project, Chile – $9.28 million

posted by LarryC at 9:16 AM on December 18, 2005


Is it Godwinning or meta-Godwinning to mention Bill Gates is now in the proud company of Hitler? (And Stalin?)
posted by bardic at 9:17 AM on December 18, 2005


what's next, imagineering solutioninations and scientificizing actualities?

Fungineering paradigmities.
posted by Gator at 9:20 AM on December 18, 2005


Time Magazine is still being published?
posted by ryanhealy at 9:21 AM on December 18, 2005


bardic, are you saying that hitler and stalin were Time men of the year? That would surprise me very much.

*quick google*

My god, you're right.
posted by jouke at 9:22 AM on December 18, 2005


Is it Godwinning or meta-Godwinning to mention Bill Gates is now in the proud company of Hitler? (And Stalin?)


No, but GW (2004), Hitler (1938) and Stalin (1939 and 1942) make quite a team.
posted by caddis at 9:22 AM on December 18, 2005


as caddis and dobbs said, it beats last year's choice. but not by much.

of course, in a year of a disaster of a war, it's always nice to choose the "high ground", to avoid embarrassing topics

and, if Time gets suddendly so interested in AIDS, well, let's hear it from one of their best contributors, Jim Nachtwey:
As I accompanied caregivers on their rounds in shantytowns, hospices and farms, I was awed by their selfless, unsung devotion. Where hope no longer existed, they replaced it with comfort and dignity. (.pdf file)
you want to honor AIDS? choose one of the many victims. or one of the many brave, selfless souls who care for them. choosing to honor an ultra-rich white straight nerd, his wife, and a washed-up celebrity with a Messianic complex and a penchant for preaching, is very very lame.
posted by matteo at 9:23 AM on December 18, 2005


you want to honor the fight against AIDS?
etc
posted by matteo at 9:26 AM on December 18, 2005


As someone who nearly died from malaria, I am glad to see Gates win this, if for no other reason than to publicize the disease. IIRC, the Gates Foundation's support for anti-malarial research dwarfs every other effort. Which isn't suprising, considering there's not nearly as much money to be made curing third world diseases as there is curing "loneliness" or "sadness" in the first world.

what's next, imagineering solutioninations and scientificizing actualities?

Awesome.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:27 AM on December 18, 2005


Wow, this feels like Slashdot. Gates EVIL!
posted by smackfu at 9:28 AM on December 18, 2005


I can't help wondering what Lester Bangs would write about this "media event."
posted by davy at 9:35 AM on December 18, 2005


Uh, they're probably also working against the similarly zoonotic HIV-2, since, like, that's prevalent in countries like Nigeria and Senegal.

/pedantic derail

posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2005


jouke: Just in case it's unclear, Man of the Year isn't an award for the greatest person of the year, but rather the person who defines it. Or at least it used to be, but celebrating "The American Soldier" is a lot safer than risking people thinking you're giving an award to Osama Bin Laden, so now it's just whoever seems marketable.

So yeah, Hitler and Stalin are former winners, but it would be somewhat odd if they hadn't been, considering all that world-changing they did.
posted by Simon! at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2005


I concur with this award. Gates is doing incredible good things.

The culture wars of the 90s are over folks, give it up, who cares about that banal stuff.
posted by stbalbach at 9:51 AM on December 18, 2005


Simon, I did not know that.
But they did not put Bin Laden on the cover, did they?
posted by jouke at 9:55 AM on December 18, 2005


How can you reward someone for doing something that they are totally expected to do? If Gates didn't give away any of his multi-billions to charity he would be sneered at.

Now if he put his public perception - and great future wealth - at risk by using his immense power to force the Bush administration to reverse their inane policy of withholding financial support to African nations that promote the use of condoms then I would say the Person of the Year honor would be well deserved. The man takes no risk and makes no sacrifice by scraping a couple of billion dollars off his shoe to try and stem a tide that is being exacerbated by the Bush administration policies.
posted by any major dude at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2005


Props to Gates. He's probably doing more than the United Nations. In fact, I propose that he privatize the UN, and throw out all nations that don't meet certain humanitarian criteria.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:59 AM on December 18, 2005


But they did not put Bin Laden on the cover, did they?

very good point jouke. Time exemplifies the media's "corporate well-being before journalism" mentality that pervades all corporate media today. If Stalin and Hitler existed today they wouldn't make the cover either because it could hurt the corporation's public image.
posted by any major dude at 10:00 AM on December 18, 2005


Man of the Year isn't an award for the greatest person of the year, but rather the person who defines it.

It's not even an award. They're not being "rewarded" with anything but a little extra publicity.
posted by Gator at 10:02 AM on December 18, 2005


Bill Gates sure can't catch a break around here. God forbid Time magazine recognize the donation of billions of dollars to cure some of the world's deadliest diseases.
posted by hobbes103 at 10:06 AM on December 18, 2005


Thanks for posting this. I'm not sure I'd have heard about it otherwise.
posted by 327.ca at 8:18 AM PST on December 18


Thanks for posting this comment. I'm not sure I would have heard pointless bitching about this thread otherwise.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2005


For what it's worth, Time Magazine is the the anti-Internet. People who have studied its history will know what I mean. This discussion is thus almost like matter and anti-matter meeting.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2005


Hobbes, maybe I'd have more respect for the choice if he didn't make his billions by creating operating systems that have given me hundreds of hours of grief and lost wages. We've all paid dearly for his charity. The honor should go to all the hapless Windows users who paid for one of his monopolistic and inept operating systems.
posted by any major dude at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2005


Hobbes, maybe I'd have more respect for the choice if he didn't make his billions by creating operating systems that have given me hundreds of hours of grief and lost wages.

Aww, poor boopie. Don't consider for a second that those same operating systems have given others hundreds of hours of joy, productivity and EARNED wages. Or the fact that your open source martyrs can't donate a dime to anybody because they're too busy whoring for contributions themselves. Grind, grind, grind that axe!
posted by kjh at 10:27 AM on December 18, 2005


choosing to honor an ultra-rich white straight nerd, his wife, and a washed-up celebrity with a Messianic complex and a penchant for preaching, is very very lame

Paul Theroux agrees with you and then some, though not for your reasons. More like a rich white guy and an old rocker doing more harm than good.
posted by billysumday at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2005


That's like people blaming McDonalds for making them fat. Nobody's forced to use Windows at gunpoint -- at least not outside secret US detention centers. I'm very pleased to see the Gates foundation doing such fine work and am optimistic about living to see the day when Mr. Gates shuffles off his mortal coil and the majority of his fortune goes to good works. I'll probably install Linux and play PS3 games on it in emulation while recompiling my kernel and downloading updates to OSX 11, and ...
posted by roue at 10:43 AM on December 18, 2005


I don't care for Bono, but I am glad Bill & Melinda Gates got the nod for their charity work.

Also as per the About.com list of all the previous men/women/persons/things of the year, did George W. Bush win it 3 times? Twice alone and once as a part of the "Two George Bushes"?
posted by riffola at 10:44 AM on December 18, 2005


Oh nevermind, it's George Bush who is nominated twice in the same year.
posted by riffola at 10:47 AM on December 18, 2005


Nobody's forced to use Windows at gunpoint -- at least not outside secret US detention centers

My company is windows based. Not a gun but a relatively sharp razor.
posted by any major dude at 10:51 AM on December 18, 2005


Can sombody please remind me why I should give a crap what Time magazine does? (ditto ryanhealy)

Minus that; kudos to anyone who donates billions of dollars to AIDS research.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:54 AM on December 18, 2005




That's like people blaming McDonalds for making them fat.


Exactly the point. McDonalds and Microsoft are nothing but legal crack dealers - sure - everyone loves crack but you'd be much better to avoid them. So pardon me if I don't honor someone who has forced a lot of innovative and visionary men to their knees so he could continue to dominate a market with inferior products. I know he just continues the rich tradition of fascist corporations that have "built" America but I'm one who thinks the world would be a better place if robber barons like Vanderbilt, Morgan, Carnegie, Walton and Gates never existed.
posted by any major dude at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2005


I like Paul Theroux's fiction and his other writings in general. I am at a loss to figure out what his solution to Malawi is other than "you broke it--you fix it". We all suffer from compassion fatigue at times, and I'm sure there are plenty of good reasons to carb about Time magazine and Bill & Melinda Gates and Paul Hewson. However, I guess I wonder what all of you who are bitching the loudest have done to help make the world a better place this year?

I'm not challenging you or trying to insult you, just sayin' that these people are doing some good (I too think that Bono blathers & brays a little too loudly about his good deeds to be effective, but compared to some who are ONLY about the bling, I give him points for thinking about others, even if it is only occasionally). So take the time you need to carp & then go help your neighbor with a smile on your face. Leave the bile behind.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:00 AM on December 18, 2005


I'm rather curious to see how they'll top naming Powerline the blog of the year.
posted by aaronetc at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2005


They should have renamed the award "Newsmaker of the Year" or some such years ago. As it is, every time the "winner" is somehow odious -- to some people, of course, that means Bill Clinton -- you get a predictable thread of how-could-theys (and of course supporters cheer it, even if it wasn't given because TIME liked their guy). It's long past its stupid date.

For once I agree with Paris -- TIME is the anti-internet. Ironically, what they're doing is giving an award for the equivalent of the top search item. If there were a Google Man of the Year, every year's award would go to Britney Spears.
posted by dhartung at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2005



Props to Gates. He's probably doing more than the United Nations. In fact, I propose that he privatize the UN, and throw out all nations that don't meet certain humanitarian criteria.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:59 AM PST on December 18



Finally! Paris has found a way to get the US out of the UN!
posted by stenseng at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2005


Gates admits, Microsoft's image has benefited "and maybe a few more users come along. There's nothing wrong with that at all."

[Gates' so-called charity] has flown journalists and photographers around the world to spread the word that Microsoft's chairman cares.

If a man defrauds $100 from every single human being on Earth, then holds a series of globally televised press conferences to announce that he's going to give you everyone a dollar back, how grateful should we all be?
posted by cleardawn at 11:31 AM on December 18, 2005


If a man defrauds $100 from every single human being on Earth, then holds a series of globally televised press conferences to announce that he's going to give you everyone a dollar back, how grateful should we all be?

If a poster knocks over a straw man, how much should we care?
posted by docgonzo at 11:33 AM on December 18, 2005


How exactly has he (or Microsquash) defrauded anyone of anything? Don't like Windows? INSTALL LINUS, PORBLAM SOLVAD.
posted by stenseng at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2005


What any major dude said.
posted by davy at 11:42 AM on December 18, 2005


If a man defrauds $100 from every single human being on Earth, then holds a series of globally televised press conferences to announce that he's going to give you everyone a dollar back, how grateful should we all be?

If a man takes $100 from self-minded people (that they would have had to spend anyway) who are unable recognize or applaud an unmatched charitable contribution to the world, and gave that $100 to people who are far more needy than she/he is, I would be extremely grateful, impressed and humbled.

When anyone here can stand up and say they are prepared to give 95% of their wealth to people more needy than themselves, then they deserve some credibility. The rest of you? You're everything thats wrong about capitalism. You're all about the competition and not about the contribution. You are making serious fools of yourselves right now.
posted by DirtyCreature at 11:57 AM on December 18, 2005


Hobbes, maybe I'd have more respect for the choice if he didn't make his billions by creating operating systems that have given me hundreds of hours of grief and lost wages. We've all paid dearly for his charity. The honor should go to all the hapless Windows users who paid for one of his monopolistic and inept operating systems.
posted by any major dude at 1:17 PM EST on December 18 [!]


Hasn't given me anywhere near hundreds of hours of grief and lost wages. It's also helped me make cash in the print, internet, video, and publishing world, but so to has my education, my mind, friends and relatives, all despite my hideous looks. I'm afraid I haven't at all paid dearly for his charity. Sorry to hear you have.

Hapless Windows users? There are millions of people who use it and blanketing them as hapless is hilarious. There are millions of people who wear socks as well. What can we generalize about them?

I've also listened to Steely Dan and Wilco on it. For that, perhaps I should hold Gates accountable.
posted by juiceCake at 11:58 AM on December 18, 2005


I'm not opposed to Bono and the Gateseses, but I worry that Time is turning this little beauty pageant into "Best Person of the Year" rather than "Person of the Year." That makes last year's Bush pick all the more unsettling.

My pick would have been Pope JP2, for the effect that his death had on his followers and the debate that his legacy spurred over the role of religious dogma in a modernized and liberalized world.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:01 PM on December 18, 2005


sure, microsoft continues their valiant fight against open source (which is not a superficial battle, but a real political one), enjoys near-omnipotent power over applications, helps jail chinese dissidents, caves in quickly to anti-gay activists , but they gave some money that they stole from other software companies, through heavy-handedness and shady deals with the US DOJ, to africa. yay for them!
posted by yonation at 12:07 PM on December 18, 2005


Bill Gates has lived most of his life as a ruthless businessman, but is now using the vast majority of his wealth to provide for humanity's greatest needs, regardless of what is fashionable or will give him better marketing. The money would not be spent in this manner had he not accumulated it. He's done more good for mankind than any saint.

Bono, meh. The problem of debt relief in Africa is minor compared to the problem of infinitely corrupt African leaders. Maybe some day his efforts will bear fruit, but for the most part he is just making life easier for the warmongers and election-riggers. Far better to focus on curing disease.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:19 PM on December 18, 2005


helps jail chinese dissidents,

I hadn't realized Microsoft now own Yahoo.

caves in quickly to anti-gay activists

Millions of destitute, diseased, starving children versus thousands of dual income couples with no biological contribution to future society. Hmmm tough choice.
posted by DirtyCreature at 12:21 PM on December 18, 2005


any major dude: Hobbes, maybe I'd have more respect for the choice if he didn't make his billions by creating operating systems that have given me hundreds of hours of grief and lost wages. We've all paid dearly for his charity. The honor should go to all the hapless Windows users who paid for one of his monopolistic and inept operating systems.

Look, are you telling me that those hours wouldn't have been wasted with a non-microsoft operating system? I doubt it. With Linux and free software, the average clueless computer user would need hundreds of hours of training to administrate their own home system with any small degree of competance. With Macs, most of what is wrong with Windows systems (viruses, spyware, hacks) would be just as wrong with Macs if Windows wasn't around to present a giant easy-to-hit target for the lamers to go after. Either alternative system is almost as happy to crash as Windows if administrated stupidly.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:25 PM on December 18, 2005


helps jail chinese dissidents

Um, all that article says is that Microsoft censors blogs in China more than it does so in the USA. If you want to complain about American businesses trying to operate lawfully in Communist dictatorships, I'd suggest you take up your complaint with government rather than individual companies.

caves in quickly to anti-gay activists

They took a "neutral stance" on a piece of legislation that had nothing to do with them, in an attempt to avoid losing loads of money from Bible-bashers. I can think of worse things for a business to do.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2005


Surely it boils down to this: Gates made a huge fortune selling a product. Rather than sit on all his fortune he gives substantial chunks of it away (10 billion actually given, 28 billion endowed, is not bad for a single freaking individual). And rather than give it to some entertain-the-rich foundation he is giving it to the poorest, sickest, most needy people on the planet.

So sure, for all that he deserves criticism. A lot of people in this thread have outed themselves as real wankers. Maybe it would help if you thought of your 100$ copy of Windows 95 as a 100$ donation for AIDS research. Or maybe you should post describing how you are doing more than these people are. Either way, save your bullets for completely worthless rich people like, say, Mick Jagger or Steve Jobs or Paris Hilton not those who are following a pretty worthwhile American tradition of philanthropy..
posted by Rumple at 12:30 PM on December 18, 2005


If a poster knocks over a straw man, how much should we care?

docgonzo - thank you. I can leave this thread in peace now.
posted by Wingy at 12:33 PM on December 18, 2005


There are millions of people who wear socks as well.

Millions of people who unconsciously wear socks that are made in China or (some third world country) by workers who get paid less than a living wage with no healthcare or benefits. There was a time when the people who made our clothes could afford to live and work among us. But then again, why should I care about someone elses well being while I can still afford to pay the $300/month for heath benefits. (my share of my corporate sponsored health plan - up from $260 last year). It's every corporation's right to pay their workers as little as possible to continue to work for them right? And it's also our duty as good Americans to sit back and cheer them on as they take away these benefits right?

You asked.
posted by any major dude at 12:38 PM on December 18, 2005


I'm not sure if Gates has given more than some others (Ted Turner and George Soros come to mind, but I'm not sure if they have given more or less). The difference with Gates is the manner in which he has given. He has carefully chosen projects which his immense, but in fact limited, wealth can actually solve a problem once and for all, like the attempt to completely erradicate malaria. He doesn't simply throw money at a problem, but finds a specific issue that money can actually solve.
Bono has used his narcissistic ego as a lever to gain access to other egos to produce a hell of a lot of press for some pretty good causes. Whether he has been as effective in actually changing anything, I'm not sure. But I'd like to see more pop stars act more like Bono and less like Ted Nugent.
posted by johngumbo at 12:42 PM on December 18, 2005


Rumple, is Gates' philanthropy really the most important thing/person/act of the year? Why this year instead of previous years? Bono too--he and the Gates' didn't start of do anything world-changing this year. There's no earthly reason (except for Time being afraid) why these three people got it.

What are you talking about? Prescott Bush was incredibly generous; ask any German. Nazi.
posted by amberglow at 12:43 PM on December 18, 2005



Hobbes, maybe I'd have more respect for the choice if he didn't make his billions by creating operating systems that have given me hundreds of hours of grief and lost wages. We've all paid dearly for his charity. The honor should go to all the hapless Windows users who paid for one of his monopolistic and inept operating systems.

What an utter load of horseshit.

I'm a technology consultant, I work with OSX and Windows every day. I've been working with computers since my TI-99 4a

I've used every os since then.

Windows XP is by FAR the single best operating system I've ever seen or used. It does everything, and nearly all of that well, easily enough for millions of people who are not technologically minded to still be able to benefit from computing and the internet.

It does this all while working with literally thousands of different pieces of hardware, from hundreds of disparate vendors, and works more or less flawlessly about 98% of the time.

Meanwhile, the next best competitor, Apple, has the ability to start from scratch with a fresh kernel, has REAL monopolistic control over their hardware and software vendors, and what do they come up with?

An os that's arguably somewhat competitive performance-wise with windows, on hardware that's twice as expensive.

Don't get me started on Linux. It's a great project, and I'm glad to see that it's out there, but it's still a good ten years away from me being able to unleash ANY flavor of it on Joe-average end user and not have them calling me in two days because they broke the internet.

I think a lot of this "M$" hate comes down to tech geeks with tears in their beer because Microsoft demystified computing and made it available to the masses.
posted by stenseng at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2005


I can't believe the level of cynicism I'm seeing here. I wouldn't want to dismiss the pain and suffering you endure from the security flaws in Outlook Express. And the inhumanity of having to download security patches to your WindowsXP is surely an evil that outweighs the lives of 700 thousand people the Gates Foundation has saved from death by diarrhea.
Yeah, you should email Bill Gates about this. Use Thunderbird, if you like. Bill is busy eradicating malaria from a continent though, so you might not get a response.
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2005


I hate Bill's software, but I'm glad his wife pushed him into doing something with all that filthy lucre. As for Bono, that NYT article about him a few weeks ago really opened my eyes - he's not above kissing a lot of Republican ass, and finding ways to score points with those in power, in order to feed some hungry people. That takes guts.

So guess what? I actually like this pick. It's not about the fucking software, people.
posted by fungible at 12:55 PM on December 18, 2005


The world is full of millionaires whose business decisions determine how we live and die, full of millionaires making truly evil decisions (quick, who are the CEOs of these companies?), but a lot of people treat only one man like he's Mr Evil because. Maybe those people think only about what happens on their desktops?

If you're against capitalism and against all corporate CEOs from Ben & Jerry to all the real Mr Burns guys around the world, that's cool, but state it that way, don't act as if Gates is worse than the guys making their money selling actual death machines. Meanwhile, Gates is killing no one, he is not running sweatshops, and he is trying to help many, many people.

You could argue that there are better people, some real saints among who deserve more than non-saint Gates to be called a good person, and then you'd almost certainly be right. But how many of those living saints are doing as much real good for as many real people?
posted by pracowity at 12:57 PM on December 18, 2005


.

The unoriginal Mother Theresa v. Bill Gates competition.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:03 PM on December 18, 2005


When anyone here can stand up and say they are prepared to give 95% of their wealth to people more needy than themselves, then they deserve some credibility.

Sure, I'll happily give 95% of my 35,000,000,000 dollars to charity, if you'll just give me the 35,000,000,000 first. Of course, I get to choose exactly how to give it away (perhaps to pharmaceutical companies I own shares in, for example, rather than actually to help poor people). And of course I get to keep the change.

Incidentally Gates hasn't given 95% of his profits - he's given less than 1%, keeping the other 99% for himself and his family. And even if he did give 99%, the remaining 1% would still be more than any reasonable human being could ever need in a lifetime of pleasure and luxury. So please, spare the tears for Saint Bill.

Everyone needs heroes, it's a deep need that we all have, and there's precious few of them in the mainstream media world. So it's easy to understand how people get fooled bv the corporate media machine, especially with pseudo-folk-heroes like Bono and Geldof cheering loudly from the sidelines.

But there are a great many true heroes, living normal lives all over the world, spending every day doing generous, helpful things. Making an honest living. Caring for others.

None of them are billionaires. And none of them are reported on in Time magazine.
posted by cleardawn at 1:15 PM on December 18, 2005


It's always worthless. Rich people aren't special or noteworthy because they're philanthropic--they're special and noteworthy when they're not
I'd beg to differ. How many of the world's wealthiest people come anywhere close to Gates when it comes to what percentage of their wealth they donate to truly worthwhile causes? Warren Buffett? The Walton Family (5 of the top 10 richest people in the world)? Karl Albrecht? Larry Ellison? Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud? Not to mention the 650 or so "garden variety" billionaires in the world.
And how many other entertainers have used their fame to do anything close to raising awareness and meeting with world leaders in order to reduce Third-world debt? There are musicians richer and more famous than Bono - but I don't see Madonna, P. Diddy, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Dave Matthews, or Paul McCartney lending their time and names to such endeavours.
I'm not a fan of Microsoft and I don't think U2 is the greatest band ever - but I can appreciate the accomplishments of Gates and Bono compared to the vast majority of their peers. Being rich and/or famous doesn't make anyone especially worthy - but I am sure Time's main motivation is to sell magazines. To that end, they put a business nerd icon and a rock star on the cover - which I'm sure are sound demographic choices for the publication.
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:20 PM on December 18, 2005


It wasn't Gates wife who talked him into giving away his fortune - it was Warren Buffet.

Ben and Jerry are no longer CEOs. They sold out to Unilever.

Gates is not running sweatshops? Where do you think the Xbox is made? So as long as he's not the guy holding the whip directly on the slave labor right?

Rockefeller had a real shitty reputation once upon a time. He had striking coal miners killed - including women and children. Not too many Americans liked him. What did he do? He gave away a large part of his fortune (don't worry he kept plenty of pocketchange for himself and his progeny) to humanitarian causes and public project - made sure the whole world knew he was doing it too. He became a well respected man and his name is now synonamous with Christmas - that seems fitting in a way.

The fact of the matter is that we have no idea what the internet or computing would be like right now if it weren't for Bill Gates. If you judge progress by the creation of wealth - then Gates is a great man. But if just progress on quality of life then the jury is still out. I live a large majority of my life in a 'cube'. History has proven (for me at least) that these "great men" do nothing but consolidate power and limit the choices of man - and then use their great wealth to make men feel grateful for their existence. Fuck 'em. Men who lust for money and power like Gates are the reason Africa is in the sad state it is in today.
posted by any major dude at 1:40 PM on December 18, 2005


I don't see Madonna, P. Diddy, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Dave Matthews, or Paul McCartney lending their time

I guess you don't watch many mainstream charity gigs? Not that you missed much. But if you want to be hip with the kids, you have to appear on charity gigs. Does wonders for the record sales, apparently. Just like oil corporations have to show green fields and blue sky on their TV ads.

Gates' only genuine accomplishment is getting away with the world's biggest intellectual property scam - selling copies of something that everyone needs and that should be available free, as indeed equivalent open-source systems are.

What would Gates say to someone who pirates a copy of Windows and gives the money to charity instead?
posted by cleardawn at 1:46 PM on December 18, 2005


None of them are billionaires. And none of them are reported on in Time magazine.

And they should all be applauded and encouraged. But none of them have saved a few million lives either.

Noone is shedding a tear for Bill Gates. Some of us are sharing our disgust at selfish people and those who see the world in terms of saints and anti-christs and can't applaud a selfless act of charity many millions times more than any of us can ever contemplate.
posted by DirtyCreature at 1:46 PM on December 18, 2005


Microsoft is a vicious company who's antics are very visible because everyone uses their products. They're not as bad as some companies. Apple would be worse if they had the market share Microsoft did, IMO.

That said, Bill Gates is being very generious with his money.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 PM on December 18, 2005


First:

If a man defrauds $100 from every single human being on Earth, then holds a series of globally televised press conferences to announce that he's going to give you everyone a dollar back, how grateful should we all be?

Then:

None of them are billionaires. And none of them are reported on in Time magazine.

Then:

What would Gates say to someone who pirates a copy of Windows and gives the money to charity instead?

One more and you've hit for the cycle, Cleardawn.
posted by docgonzo at 1:51 PM on December 18, 2005


Some of us are sharing our disgust at selfish people and those who see the world in terms of saints and anti-christs and can't applaud a selfless act of charity many millions times more than any of us can ever contemplate.

Exactly.

Note what you've done there - you clearly see the world in terms of saints ("selfless act of charity") and anti-christs ("selfish people"). I would argue that Gates' acts are hardly selfless. He is a deeply selfish, manipulative, dishonest man - that's how one becomes a billionaire. Of course he's also capable of acts of kindness, no doubt (Hitler loved his dogs) but when I see people claiming he's a saint, I feel a need to remind them that many, many ordinary people are far more saintly than any billionaire.

As for "more than any of us can ever contemplate" - speak for yourself. I could contemplate Gates giving away ALL his ill-gotten gains to poor people - not to corporations he has shares in - keeping only a simple, pleasant house for himself and his family, and taking an honest job, perhaps as a computer programmer - apparently he's actually quite good at that, or was, once.

I can contemplate that quite easily - in fact, I'd even advise him to do it. And if he did, I'd then respect him as much as any other honest working man.
posted by cleardawn at 2:10 PM on December 18, 2005


Of course he's also capable of acts of kindness, no doubt (Hitler loved his dogs)

GODWIN! Restack.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 2:23 PM on December 18, 2005


One more and you've hit for the cycle, Cleardawn.

no doubt (Hitler loved his dogs)

And he makes it look easy with a stand-up triple.
posted by JackFlash at 2:36 PM on December 18, 2005


You know what would be cool?? If we could make a list of the mefites with the most money and the most free time and then tally up their charitable works and pick the ones who did the most so we could shit on them with our petty grievances. Oh Happy Festivus!
posted by zarah at 2:39 PM on December 18, 2005


For being rich.
posted by HTuttle at 2:40 PM on December 18, 2005


Note what you've done there - you clearly see the world in terms of saints ("selfless act of charity") and anti-christs ("selfish people").

Too much random silliness. Too little time. See above.

He is a deeply selfish, manipulative, dishonest man - that's how one becomes a billionaire

I think you have just completely disclosed your prejudice and motivation in one small phrase.

I'm not even disgusted anymore. Some people you just can't help. See you.
posted by DirtyCreature at 2:41 PM on December 18, 2005


I'm not even disgusted anymore.

You weren't disgusted to begin with. I was disgusted, because you were blindly following the programming given to you by the mass media, to the extent of calling Bill Gates "selfless".

This thread does serve to demonstrate how effective Gates' PR operations have become. Normally, he'd need to pay people to do what you've done here - and they wouldn't be able to do it so effectively as you, either. Genuine worshippers argue so much more convincingly than mere mercenaries.

And genuine worshippers, it seems, can be cheaply bought.

All hail Saint Bill!
posted by cleardawn at 2:53 PM on December 18, 2005


Rockefeller had a real shitty reputation ... his name is now synonamous with Christmas

It is? You must have a very peculiar thesaurus. And I don't even mention the spell-checker.

Men who lust for money and power like Gates are the reason Africa is in the sad state it is in today.

You are attempting to argue what? That rich guys messed up Africa, rich guys are all alike, Bill Gates is a rich guy, so therefore, rather than give Bill Gates any credit for helping people in Africa or anywhere else, we should blame him for Africa's troubles, including, perhaps, the troubles it had before his grandfather was born? You can't be arguing anything like that, because that would just be totally nuts.

To me, it's more likely that you're merely attempting to use the old guilt-by-association ploy ("Gates is a rich guy. Speaking of rich guys, that Rockefeller sure was a mean man."). But that would be such a lame ploy that I hesitate to accuse you of that.

So what is your point in digging back into history to drag into the debate first a Rockefeller (presumably you mean John D. Rockefeller Jr almost a hundred years ago if you're talking about miners) and then certain other unnamed rich guys who hurt Africa (presumably also a long time ago, if you're talking about the colonies)? Do you have anything to say about Bill Gates and today, or are you here to yell about other people in other times?
posted by pracowity at 3:03 PM on December 18, 2005


amberglow -- I'm not sure he is more or less deserving to be "Man/Person/Part of a Couple of the Year" either, or even what that means, I was just addressing the point that he is, in fact, making a difference for good in the lives of millions of the poorest and sickest people on the planet, and as someone upthread pointed out, that kind of trumps whether or not someone has to reboot Xp once in a while.

What he is doing is comparable to the Carnegie library foundation -- focused, targets the have-nots, effective, and likely long term (28 billion endowment).

And people lay off Bono for Chrissakes, the man is using his fame as a tool for good, and not just blowing it up his nose. How many of us make the principled decisions over the easy ones? Especially when we have a *real* choice -- Bono could retire and live on a yacht, or he could try to make the world a better place. I happen to think he has raised a lot of awareness and he may well have a concrete effect -- his approach is no better or worse than those who, with fewer means, try to change the world one person or one gesture or one 20 dollar cheque at a time.

Cleardawn -- maybe put the non-philanthropist robber barons up against the wall first. Then we can talk.
posted by Rumple at 3:11 PM on December 18, 2005


Millions of people who unconsciously wear socks that are made in China or (some third world country) by workers who get paid less than a living wage with no healthcare or benefits.

Gee really. I didn't know that! So where's your generalizations about those of us who wear socks? Hapless, evil people?

There was a time when the people who made our clothes could afford to live and work among us.

Indeed there was. It's disgusting that this is no longer the case. I'm sure Microsoft is the leader in this trend. I always vote for for labour related governments that support social programs. I apologize for not living up to your own standard of activity.

But then again, why should I care about someone elses well being while I can still afford to pay the $300/month for heath benefits. (my share of my corporate sponsored health plan - up from $260 last year).

It's not for me to say why you should or shouldn't. But it'd be nice if we all did, wouldn't it.

It's every corporation's right to pay their workers as little as possible to continue to work for them right?

I'd say no. But then your statement is about as sensical as blanketing "hapless" Windows users who have been exploited to no end by Microsoft. I hadn't realized I was conversing with someone who thinks in black and white. My bad, as they say.

And it's also our duty as good Americans to sit back and cheer them on as they take away these benefits right?

Absolutely not. I wonder, has Time ever done an article on Microsoft's business practices? How about Enron's? How about Nike? How about the government's relationship with labour? I guess it was and is all roses perhaps? Do tell.

You asked.

Actually, I didn't. It was rhetorical. Thank you, nonetheless for the nonsense. Now what has any of this to do with your experience using Windows versus my experience and the horrible crime against humanity that is Time magazine's selection?
posted by juiceCake at 3:23 PM on December 18, 2005


There is no way that bill gates is getting 28.8 BILLION dollars worth of PR out of this.
posted by ryanissuper at 3:24 PM on December 18, 2005


JohnGumbo: "But I'd like to see more pop stars act more like Bono and less like Ted Nugent."

Not to pick a nit, but Ted "the Nuge" Nugent is an activist as well, promoting conservation and enviromental preservation. I personally hate his "take" on the issues and think he's an idiot to believe hunters are conservationists when the majority are red neck idiots who just like to kill stuff. Just because they guy makes songs like Wango Tango instead of Sunday Bloody Sunday does not mean he doesn't genuinely care about his chosen issues in the same misguided way Bono does.

[/derail]
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:33 PM on December 18, 2005


Christ, he's not Saint Bill but he seems to be sincerely trying to use his money and power to make the world a somewhat better place. By Wikipedia, he's worth 46 Billion dollars and his foundation has $28.8B. That means that he's given at least a third of his fortune to good works. Yea, so you paid $100 for an operating system that crashes occasionally, what the hell does that take away from the good work that he's done?
posted by octothorpe at 3:40 PM on December 18, 2005


[Edward G. Robinson Voice] Yeah, what is Steve Jobs doing for Africa? Yeah, Yeah...[/Edward G. Robinson Voice]


Just kidding; I love SJ.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:49 PM on December 18, 2005


Surely it boils down to this: Gates made a huge fortune selling a product.

Unlike Bono ? Oh, yeah. Right.

Bono could retire and live on a yacht, or he could try to make the world a better place.

Or he could inflict us with his monstrous ego and get endlessly applauded for his brand placement of himself on a billion TVs. There should be celebrity sunset laws.

Paul Theroux agrees with you and then some, though not for your reasons.
And he's worth quoting
Africa is a lovely place - much lovelier, more peaceful and more resilient and, if not prosperous, innately more self-sufficient than it is usually portrayed. But because Africa seems unfinished and so different from the rest of the world, a landscape on which a person can sketch a new personality, it attracts mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth. Such people come in all forms and they loom large. White celebrities busy-bodying in Africa loom especially large. Watching Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently in Ethiopia, cuddling African children and lecturing the world on charity, the image that immediately sprang to my mind was Tarzan and Jane. Bono, in his role as Mrs. Jellyby in a 10-gallon hat, not only believes that he has the solution to Africa's ills, he is also shouting so loud that other people seem to trust his answers....
posted by y2karl at 4:48 PM on December 18, 2005


Every celeb over 30 does charity, afaik--from Angelina Jolie (more deserving than Bono, i think, this year) to those celebs with diseases or siblings afflicted or just wanting to help. It's not special, and it's actually regular nowadays. The Celeb Charity Review.

As for Gates and other billionaires, people like Soros and others do far more than him and for a longer time, at a higher cost to them. The most generous billionaire is Gordon Moore, former Intel CEO, who has given away 64% of his $10.6 billion philanthropy-adjusted wealth.

I still would like to hear why they are the 2005 People of the Year. What did they do this year to make them the most newsworthiest? More than Bush? The many "Al Qaeda #2s"? The "insurgent"? The "Americans left to die by their Government during Katrina"? (that would have been my choice). There are so so many others who should have been chosen this year. This is not a lifetime achievement award nor a Peace Prize, nor a Humanitarian Prize, but an honor to the NEWSMAKER of the year. Even our Constitution as Toilet Paper would have been a better and more relevant choice, or a Govt. Official in Handcuffs, or...
posted by amberglow at 5:13 PM on December 18, 2005


In all ways, this is a more cowardly choice than even in 2001, when they didn't go with Osama.
posted by amberglow at 5:15 PM on December 18, 2005


Amazing: apparently Gates, wife-of-Gates, and Bono have become a holy trinity and formed a single 'Person'. What an utterly insipid decision-by-committee. Given the power the Times wields, it's fair to ask: what exactly has this accomplished? It's brought our attention (again) to three of the most physically comfortable, secure, and privileged people on the planet and said "hey, they're good guys!". Thank God Almighty for the Fourth Estate, what would we do without you guys digging up this sort of info and providing such insight into our own "times", boys and girls you really earned your keep today.

Windows XP is by FAR the single best operating system I've ever seen or used.

This is too ridiculous to pass up. Yes XP is a lot better than 3.11, 95, 98, SE... but you remember how we arrived at XP? A 20-year Bataan Death March through all that other garbage.

more or less flawlessly about 98% of the time

non sequitur much? a little pregnant? up is down? if there's one thing any version of Windows has never done it's 'work flawlessly'; if I had a nickle for every minute of my life I've wasted watching some version of Windows reboot I could buy a car... or give it to the poor of course...

I think a lot of this "M$" hate comes down to tech geeks with tears in their beer because Microsoft demystified computing and made it available to the masses.

Demystified?... I didn't believe it was possible for anyone to say anything new about Windows but this is a first: I have never heard this theory from anyone else or even mistakenly formulated it on my own.
posted by scheptech at 5:22 PM on December 18, 2005


I think you have just completely disclosed your prejudice and motivation in one small phrase.

I'm not even disgusted anymore. Some people you just can't help. See you.
posted by DirtyCreature at 2:41 PM PST on December 18


This from the guy who defends fradulent businesses like Sniffex.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:22 PM on December 18, 2005


Hey pracowity wasn't Godwin's law amended not too long ago to include attacks on spelling errors? I'm typing on Firefox because IE no longer works on my computer for some reason. I've yet to find a damn Firefox extension like iespell so suck on it if you can't deal with my spelling errors, I've got two kids and football to deal with. If you can't get the parallel I'm making between Gates and Rockefeller I suggest you go hit the library. Robber Barons have learned how to keep there hands cleaner these days but don't think for a second they are any less brutal. Their dirty work is done through offshoring and lawyers now instead of "bosses" and sherrifs.
posted by any major dude at 5:33 PM on December 18, 2005


Bill Gates has two speeds: walk and kill.
posted by horsewithnoname at 6:29 PM on December 18, 2005


I used to hate Gates for being so rich and doing so little for humanity, but that was in the 90's. An almost 30 billion dollar endowment is very generous, and he's not even worth as much as he was 5-6 years ago. You don't hear about the founder of Ikea (now the richest man on the planet), or the Walton heirs (worth about 18 billion each) doing much for anyone. It's beating a dead horse, but the Waltons are driving small businesses bankrupt and forcing states to provide health care and services to their employees. Dickheads.

As for Bono, I can't bring myself to dislike him. Yes, he does have a big ego (and he himself makes fun of it quite often), but the guy has done a lot for AIDS victims and Third World debt relief. He deserves some credit for having endless meetings not just with Republicans, but the undersecretary of this and that from several countries. His heart is in the right place.
posted by Devils Slide at 6:41 PM on December 18, 2005


"This is too ridiculous to pass up. Yes XP is a lot better than 3.11, 95, 98, SE... but you remember how we arrived at XP? A 20-year Bataan Death March through all that other garbage."

"non sequitur much? a little pregnant? up is down? if there's one thing any version of Windows has never done it's 'work flawlessly'; if I had a nickle for every minute of my life I've wasted watching some version of Windows reboot I could buy a car... or give it to the poor of course..."


Oh christ... I'm so sick of hearing this. Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe it was you? Maybe you just flat didn't know what the hell you were doing, and broke the damned thing?

I've done nearly every system intensive type of computing, from distributed rendering farms, 3d animation, high-end gaming, graphic design, digital non-linear video editing, audio engineering and recording, and more, all under some flavor of windows. Sure there are quirks. Yes, you may need to do some tinkering with settings, etc to make things work *just right,* but overall, it did work, and it worked well.


And what are you comparing this "20 year bataan death march" to? Was there some other AMAZING os out there that was foolproof, user friendly, and would have revolutionized the way we compute, were it not for "the man" keeping it down?

No. There wasn't, and there isn't. If there were/is, go fucking use it. Closest there's EVER been is the Amiga os, and that got killed by their own internal financial and marketing blunders.

The reality is that Windows is really a remarkable, wonderful, and amazing piece of software. Are Microsoft's business practices shitty at times? You bet. That has NOTHING to do with the quality of their product, which for the breadth of what you can do with it, at the small expense required, is truly amazing.
posted by stenseng at 6:47 PM on December 18, 2005


Oh please. Even this Windows guy recognizes that Apple was where XP is now many years before. DOS was pretty good, if limited by its non-gui interface. Windows was an unmitigated disaster up until W2K, and really until XP. OS/2 beat the crap out of Windows technically many years ago, but lost in the marketplace.
posted by caddis at 7:09 PM on December 18, 2005


And it was IBM that moved computers out of offices and into homes, not Microsoft.
posted by amberglow at 7:50 PM on December 18, 2005


Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe it was you?

No, 99.9% of the reboots I've had the displeasure to yawn through were while helping extricate people called 'users' from one of approximately a million different wondrous varieties of Windows disasters.

The first order of business for a queen bee upon emerging from her little cell is to go around and kill those who are just about to emerge. That's MS's historical dynamic simply put. You're asking us to admire the Queen because without her there wouldn't be one. You point out there's nothing to compare Windows to but this is due primarily to MS's stroke of luck with IBM and marketing prowess initially and then to their employment of shady business practices as the company grew stronger and consolidated its position. (Who's air supply would you like to cut off today?). And to the point, one of their (successful) business strategies has been to always take things to market before ready in terms of quality. They understood early on the value of getting to market earlier with something barely acceptable rather than later with something great.

As someone mentioned above we'll never know what the world would have looked like without it but you, for some reason, assume nothing would have been developed in Windows' place. I'm certain something would have and the money being given away now? Somebody else would be doing it.
posted by scheptech at 8:07 PM on December 18, 2005


YEAH M$ ROXXORS TEH AIDS BABYES BILL GATES WINDOZE 95 RULEZZZ!!!! SUCK IT JOBZZ!!!1!!
posted by fungible at 8:55 PM on December 18, 2005


Let's pretend for a second that "Slime" is a serious magazine with actual credibility:

Exactly what did Melinda Gates do except marry Bill?

As for Bill ... I'm leery of any "philanthropic" endeavor that sends out PR press releases every time they make a donation. Sort of reminds me of campus frat rats having a year-end canned food drive for orphans to somehow atone for their jackassery for the other 364 days of the year.

As for Bono. Sue me. I like Bono. I saw him speak and was genuinely impressed. Don't know if it rates "Man of the Year" status, but his creds are solid with me.
posted by RavinDave at 10:16 PM on December 18, 2005


Meh. I'm just saying the quality of the product and the business practices are separate issues.

OS X is just *now* becoming as useful an operating system as windows, rather than vice versa.

Also, win98SE was and is a fairly solid os. So is 2000.

95 and ME were/are total pieces of shit, yet even 95 I can excuse to an extent, as it was such a radical improvement over 3.1

I just think people tend to take for granted how much they are able to do in the world of computing, largely through windows, simply because it's so ubiquitous, and it's become en vogue to be an MS hater. I'm not any great fan, but I recognize a functional product when I see one.

Apple has JUST NOW developed an OS that gives better than marginal performance and usability, (by stealing the open BSD kernel) - with total control over hardware and software vendors.

Claiming that Microsoft is where it is today solely upon predatory business practices is plain wrong. If you step back and look at windows as a piece of software divorced of whatever stigma MS carries with it - it's an impressive assemblage of code.

The story of the dawn of personal computing, the os wars, etc is a long, complicated, and interesting one, but it's not so simple as to say "Bill Gates is a bully, and that's why Windoze is #1"

I feel about it sort of the same way as people who rail against how much cars hurt the environment, then hop in their volvo alone to run down to the store for milk and eggs.

Have some perspective. That's all I'm saying.

Bill Gates is a cutthroat motherfucker, and he and his cronies should have/should continue to be watched like hawks for any sign of predatory or monopolistic business practices. Meanwhile, Windows is an impressive and functional piece of software that makes my life, and millions of other people's lives better every day.
posted by stenseng at 10:24 PM on December 18, 2005


People get amazingly worked up about one magazine's annual celebrity-of-the-year selection.

Amberglow has a good point: "I still would like to hear why they are the 2005 People of the Year. What did they do this year to make them the most newsworthiest? More than Bush? The many "Al Qaeda #2s"? The "insurgent"? ..."

It's not how nice or smart the selected people are, but apparently how influential or simply newsworthy they were, good or bad. Maybe the criteria change of the years. Gandhi was selected just once, in 1930, while Stalin and Bush were each chosen twice. Mrs Simpson, a nonentity, was selected in 1936 for causing the gossip of the year (marrying a king, forcing an abdication).

So Bush? Maybe twice is enough. The Time list is really an American list for American readers, so you could argue that the US president should be selected pretty much every year if you're going to go strictly on how influential the person was in how many American lives that year, and then it would be the Time American President of the Year, which wouldn't be so interesting. Select terrorists/freedom fighters/the other guys? Maybe they chose "The American Soldier" (2003) instead because they're afraid to give any credit to the other side, though the fighters on both sides are yin and yang in the Tear on Warrer. To be honest, you'd have to choose Osama at least once, but imagine the uproar if they had chosen him instead of the friggin' soldiers. Instead of the safe, positive media event Time wants, nutcases would be burning that issue of Time in public rallies. (Maybe they'll burn the Gates issue instead?)

But war isn't everything unless you're there, and most Americans see war only on television. In computing, which most Americans see and feel directly every day, "The Computer" itself was selected in 1982, Andy Grove (chips) in 1997, and Jeff Bezos (online shopping) in 1999.

On the strength of this year alone, maybe Gates wouldn't make it, but cumulatively (and I think that counts with the selection) he has been and is very influential and newsworthy. He gets around. He's almost certainly on your desktop at work or at home or both, and it's been that way for years. His products determine the way people compute every day like the pen and paper used to determine, before computing, the way everyone wrote. He's under a lot of Christmas trees this year. Microsoft, for good or bad or both, has been big in the news (and the courts) for a long, long time in the US and in the rest of the industrialized world. And of course Gates is working through his charity foundation, so he's fighting diseases, putting kids through college, etc., in all sorts of good ways touched on by others above. There might be other people who could have been selected -- the leader of China, by default? -- but there's no reason to act as if it's an outrage that Gates was selected.

For the sake of argument, let's say Gates is the big, bad, dangerous guy so many people make him out to be and (or because) he has worked his product (so evilly, of course) into the daily lives of so many people. Then why not select him for being so bad and influential? Or is he suddenly not so bad? Maybe Microsoft isn't such an evil, all-conquering entity after all?
posted by pracowity at 12:45 AM on December 19, 2005


> Exactly what did Melinda Gates do except marry Bill?

It's the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, right? If she, as much as Bill, determines how the foundation spends its money, why not credit her? Forbes lists her 10th on their list of the world's most powerful women, so they must figure she has a lot to say in how things are done there.

Time's selection of her indicates that she and Bill were chosen on the strength of their charity work together and not because of his software except as a source of money for the charity. I don't quite believe that: I figure they're also giving Bill credit for non-charity influence and newsmaking, like they're giving Bono credit for being a rich, famous rocker and not for being simply a do-gooder. But maybe I'm wrong.
posted by pracowity at 1:03 AM on December 19, 2005


Sorry, but I keep flashing on that old Norm MacDonald Weekend Update routine:

"Oprah Winfrey's longtime boyfriend, Stedman Graham, has written a new book called, You Can Make It Happen: A Nine-Step Plan for Success. Step Number One? Become Oprah Winfrey's boyfriend. ... [applause] Then the other eight are just hang around... "
posted by RavinDave at 1:32 AM on December 19, 2005


Exactly what did Melinda Gates do except marry Bill?

She's active in the foundation, but I see your point. My memory's fuzzy, but a few years ago when Gates started this whole thing I read an interview in which he credited his father with getting him to do this in the first place. Apparently his dad was disappointed with Bill's lack of (or rather, limited) philanthropic ventures, and sort of rode him until he sprang into action. So papa Gates deserves some credit too.

As for Bill ... I'm leery of any "philanthropic" endeavor that sends out PR press releases every time they make a donation.

Again, you have a point. Freud said true charity is anonymous, and I tend to agree. But if Bill wants a bit of PR, he's welcome to it considering he's shelled out $30 billion.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:38 AM on December 19, 2005


ah, how wonderful to be transported back to ≈ 1990, dialing into a local WWIV board and scanning the mac vs. pc board. Thanks, stenseng.
posted by Treeline at 6:33 AM on December 19, 2005


Was it Bill or Melinda who penned this gracious heart-felt letter of thanks, er... press release, um... announcement, let's see... uh statement...
posted by scheptech at 7:27 AM on December 19, 2005


What's this “Time Magazine” of which you speak? Some sort of chronoparticle ammunition holder?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:08 AM on December 19, 2005


"ah, how wonderful to be transported back to ≈ 1990, dialing into a local WWIV board and scanning the mac vs. pc board. Thanks, stenseng."

Hey, I do what I can...=)
posted by stenseng at 9:15 AM on December 19, 2005


ah, how wonderful to be transported back to ≈ 1990, dialing into a local WWIV board and scanning the mac vs. pc board. Thanks, stenseng.
posted by Treeline at 9:33 AM EST on December 19 [!]


Don't forget the Amiga. Why it had pre-emptive multi-tasking well before... and therefore... because... but what about the multiple buttons on keyboard... risc is better... yeah well... CMYK... old architecture...except... easy to use... just works... fanatic... colour... sound... but... costs a fortune... AMD... virus... piracy... real professionals only... more than one button is confusing... i don't need that... if only you knew what you were talking about... troll... faster... intel is better now... etc...
posted by juiceCake at 2:09 PM on December 19, 2005


Yes, it worthless!
posted by kiha1972 at 5:04 PM on December 19, 2005


The onslaught of Gulf Coast hurricanes, notably Katrina and the deadly flooding which devastated New Orleans, was overwhelmingly picked by U.S. editors and news directors as the top story of 2005 in The Associated Press' annual vote.

The hurricanes received 242 first-place votes out of 288 ballots cast. No other story received more than 18 first-place votes.


I wonder how the Gates and Bono placed?
posted by amberglow at 9:08 PM on December 21, 2005


And in the news in my city...
posted by davy at 5:56 AM on December 22, 2005


Yeah, Davy - They including any sort of support or OS upgrades with those PC's - Maybe even a blanket licence to use whatever Microsoft products the library needs, for as long as the machines are operational?

Not according to the article, it seems. So, after a chunk of the money Bill donates goes back to Microsoft, then when XP moves on to 'Longhorrors' or whatever the new OS is, those eventually change from being a donation to being a request for funds, right?

Give away the razors, sell the blades.

And make yourself look like a saint doing it. Gotta be cheaper than paying astroturfers, buying crooked think tanks or paying off every politican you can get your hands on.
posted by Orb2069 at 9:11 AM on December 22, 2005


Here's a great piece About how fatuous and futile this style of aid really is.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:46 PM on December 26, 2005


Thanks for linking to that hate-fuelled article from the Reverend Moon's Washington Times, ParisParamus. I'm glad you think it's "great".

No doubt you and your lovable pal Rev Moon would prefer it if Gates just kept all his wealth for himself, as Mr Moon so generously does, or perhaps if he invested it in some more illegal monopoly operations similar to Microsoft - or how about a profitable little brainwashing cult operation?

Any act of charity, however empty and PR-oriented, is a betrayal of everything you claim to believe in. It is not, however, either fatuous or futile.
posted by cleardawn at 3:47 PM on December 28, 2005


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