Friday, January 25, 2008

Let's begin with Bill
Tom Smith

Capitalism is so mean.  Just ask Bill Gates.  While it makes some people billionaires it leaves the rest of us struggling to get by, unable to afford the new MacBooks.  It's baffling, almost as baffling as trying to figure out how to adjust the margins in Word.  And don't tell me by adjusting the little sliders at the top of the document.  That only works sometimes.  Perhaps the whole world should be organized like Microsoft.  We could all work for one guy because we don't know any better.  We could just do what he thinks is best.  If anybody tried to compete, we would squish them.

Capitalism is not perfect, as anybody who has ever contemplated why IE has 90 percent of the browser market knows.  It's just better than all the other systems.  One of the things we have to put up with in capitalist systems are guys who make a pile of money because they were there with the right widget at the right time and think because they are now zillionaires they actually know something about global politico-economico-social everythingology.  They don't.  They know about widgets and were lucky enough to get in at the creation of the widget market.  Gates is not even the future of operating systems, let alone the world economy.  If he has time on his hands, let him invent a word processing program that doesn't suck.

It is somewhat consoling to the rest of us, however, that so many rich dudes make fools of themselves when they go global sage.  Henry Ford became a Nazi, Howard Hughes grew his fingernails, and John Foster Kane retreated to his fantasy castle and got as fat as Orson Wells.  If Bill isn't careful, he'll end up wandering around wearing a sheet, carrying a bowl, and babbling about interest rates.  It ain't pretty when it happens.

I don't know what it is about Davos.  You put a bunch of extremely rich and powerful sorts together in an isolated Swiss jet set retreat, and the next thing you know, they want to run the world, benignly of course.  There's not much we can do, except assign some junior 007a sort to monitor them.  If they get too full of themselves, we might have to cause a little accident while they're visiting their underwater headquarters, but 99% of the time, it's all just self-congratulatory bloviation, something really rich people do when they have gotten bored with being productive.  Somewhere in Bangalore there's a 9 year old, smarter than Gates ever was, burning with the desire to change the world with computers or biologicals or whatever.  He's a lot more interesting to me than the Dumbness in Davos.

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Tom Smith



Posted by: Chris | Jan 25, 2008 8:28:08 AM

The problems with Word don't occur on WordPerfect. But, alas, it is almost extinct. My surveys of law students over several years indicate that about one percent use WordPerfect. Even among faculty, it is mostly older ones who use WordPerfect. It was "a better mousetrap" but savvy marketing (bundling Word with Windows in new computers--for free at one time, though now there is a hefty charge now that there is no real competition--did WordPerfect in).

Posted by: Paul McKaskle | Jan 25, 2008 9:58:14 AM

alt-F-U : I thought it was a joke but it really works. I'll be damned.
WordPerfect really was wonderful. But about 7 or 8 years ago it started to be unstable for long documents while running windows, at least that's what I found. After losing enough work, I finally switched to Word. WP was much superior, except that MS did not like it.

Posted by: tom smith | Jan 25, 2008 3:16:45 PM

Speaking of 007: wasn't Davos where Blofeld had his "spa" in On Her Majesty's Secret Service?

As I remember, he was replacing visiting celebrities and leaders with body doubles under his control.

Ernst Stavro Soros, anyone?

Posted by: enemyofthepeople | Jan 25, 2008 9:00:58 PM

Your stats on IE are outdated. Its market share is now less than 80 percent, and falling.

Posted by: Bradley J. Fikes | Jan 25, 2008 10:38:18 PM

It never fails as the industrialist or entrepreneur struggles to be succesful and achieve market share or even monopoly because of the non-interference of the government and his own hard work. But once they become succesful then the idea that God intended them to have all this money and market share becomes a waking obsession. He looks around with horrid fascination and realizes that there are people out there plotting tirelessly to dethrone him or at the very least stab him a couple of times.

Posted by: Pat Patterson | Jan 27, 2008 7:14:18 PM

I know this is picky, but it's Orson "Welles" (with two "e"s) and "CHARLES Foster Kane."

Posted by: salaryman | Jan 28, 2008 5:32:15 PM