A Love Letter To Bill Gates, And His Better Half

Illustration for article titled A Love Letter To Bill Gates, And His Better Half

Bill Gates is a great guy. Perhaps, in rabidly defending the market share of the Microsoft-Intel alliance, he stifled competition and innovation and squeezed vendors. Meh. You know where I am not really hurting from the terrible dearth of innovation? Software! Oh sure, this blogging software I am using drives me to suicidal thoughts every few minutes, but hello! Back in high school there was NO INTERNET. Meanwhile, my mom's new car has the fuel economy of the Model T Ford. Meanwhile, the ENTIRE APPAREL INDUSTRY HAS YET TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO SEW A BUTTON. So anyway, my point is, Bill Gates is giving away all his money and Warren Buffet's money, too, and I get to write about it today because yestederday he told us that he's doing it for the us:

"If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers, most of whom are women," Gates said.

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Anyway, there is an abiding school of thought — and I am for once going to admit that I have not read nearly enough to know how true this is — that it's all the influence of his wonderful wife Melinda, who rejected him on grounds of lack of spontaneity the first time he asked her out for "two weeks from Friday." From a recent Fortune profile, Melinda sounds kind of like Michelle Obama, in the sense that she sounds AWESOME, and also in the sense that she not only made her husband a better person but that in that process, she became a better person herself. (Isn't that sweet? Don't you wish that happened more often?) There are all sorts of things we learn, such as the fact that Bono thinks she's the coolheaded rational counterpart to Bill, and that it was her idea to eradicate malaria. But this is the part you'll find really poignant if you're that type. It's from her high school valedictory speech, given in 1982:

If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.

Bill Gates' New Project: Farming [CNN]

Melinda Gates Goes Public [Fortune]

DISCUSSION

As a Seattleite, I'm always hung up on the fact that the Foundation was kind of a PR move after the anti-trust suit: they can give away all the money they want, but it doesn't change the fact that he was/is basically a robber baron.

Melinda is awesome, I won't deny it. I don't think a man as smart as Bill would have anything other than a kind and brilliant wife who's a great philanthropist. But his family attended a congregational church and they, as a denomination, are very into social justice.

@yanee: they also have an entire home outside their four-story compound gate that is just for laundry. I saw about a 30-50 people drift in and out in a few hours. Insane.