Saturday, 13 February 2010

Gates famous at last

Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of the software giant Microsoft, for a while the world's richest man, has finally achieved true fame - he appeared on Jon Stewart's Daily Show last night. (Actually it was his second time on the show, but the first was so long ago that Stewart was not yet the radical chic fame-maker he has become.)

Gates is a fascinating figure, a multi-billionaire capitalist with a canny
business head who is nevertheless entirely unfitted for power in the Society of the Spectacle. However much he spends (or doesn't spend) on his haircut and clothes, he still looks like a physics postgrad, and his performing skills are still those of the seminar room rather than the TV studio. Jon Stewart was visibly awed by Gates (as well he might be), who described his work since retiring from the day-to-day running of Microsoft, the most important part of which is investing his own millions into malaria vaccine research.

Since malaria kills more people than just about anything else in the world, and since Big Pharma finds it unprofitable to pursue, this is an unquestionably philanthropic exercise - but Gates still managed to make it sound boring by nerdy attention to detail. Paradoxically enough, I found this quite refreshing compared to the boastful, predatory boosterism we usually hear from US business moguls. 


originally posted 27 Jan 2010 11:27 by Dick Pountain   [ updated 27 Jan 2010 17:14

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