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Marx, Einstein, Colonel Sanders... and Bill Gates?

It’s a list that would have made Carnac the Magnificent proud, but it doesn’t have much of a punch line. In fact, Gates was selected, along with a strange myriad of historical figures, by a state-run newspaper as one of 50 foreigners shaping China’s modern development.

There’s no word yet on how Gates feels about being on the list, but maybe a Norwegian reporter can make one up for us, since he’s already done a fake interview with Microsoft’s main man.

Or maybe we could get the word from the guy who’s creating all the buzz in Silicon Valley, the fake Steve Jobs, whose "secret diary" has everybody wondering who’s pinning the Apple honcho’s inner thoughts. (Warning, there are a few dirty words in there....)

Speaking of China, I got a few responses to my blog entry about U.S. companies’ "principles" in doing business over there.

. Frank wrote, unambiguously: "They are in the wrong side and sooner or later they will pay for their betrayal."

As long as they make money now, though, Frank, they’ll be happy.

Bruce, on the other hand, points out that customers have always been able to do whatever they like with technology, so technology providers aren’t necessarily to blame:

"I think Amnesty International needs to rethink this statement. The sophisticated technology was designed for its biggest customer -- BUSINESS. Sure, countries buy the equipment but my guess is businesses buy and use the majority of equipment and deploy those features in self defense. Those companies sell equipment with certain capabilities; it's up to the end user to configure those features as they see fit."

A very valid point, actually.

And speaking of Gates, Mike took exception to my recent description of his charity work:

"I know you spend a lot of time trying to be insightful or cute, and much of it is a bit of both, but the following comment from the 7/27/06 edition is neither: ' Bill Gates transitions into full-time savior of the world.' There is significant responsibility for those with wealth, and even more so for those with piles of it like Gates and Warren Buffett (about time he came around). Flippant comments like that serve no purpose and actually detract from a somewhat useful newsletter. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for someone who is willing to quit his day job, which has made him rich beyond his wildest imagination, and run a philanthropic foundation that brings so much good to so many. We need more compassion, not less, and mocking it says more about you than you’d probably care to know. A couple of different words would have been neutral and not hinted at anything: ' Bill Gates transitions into running his foundation full-time.' Maybe it was your desire to use four fewer letters. Yea, that must be it."

Mike, you make a good point. I’m certainly an admirer of Gates’ charity work myself and wasn’t trying to belittle it (or him) in any way. It really was just a cute little throwaway comment that I made, not anything intended to be a statement -- and especially not a negative statement. But I do appreciate you pointing out the fact that it could easily have been misinterpreted.

Just one thing, though, Mike -- when have you ever known me to try to use fewer letters?

Got anything else on your mind? Let me know at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on August 03, 2006