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Microsoft Science

Bill Gates Unleashes Swarm of Mosquitoes 841

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the ok-that's-awesome dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates released a glass full of mosquitoes at an elite Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference to make a point about the deadly sting of malaria. 'Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,' Gates said while opening a jar on stage at a gathering known to attract technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars. 'I brought some. Here I'll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.'" Say what you will about the guy, that is showmanship. Well done.
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Bill Gates Unleashes Swarm of Mosquitoes

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  • Assault ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redelm (54142) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:45AM (#26736145) Homepage
    This willful act could be considered assault by one of the attendees and BillG arrested. Even if not stung. Worse for him, this conceivably could come under US federal terrorism laws.

    Some people are allergic to mosquito bites even if the mosquitoes are disease-free. Harm is not necessary in most states to convice for assault (that's battery). Just the threat of harm.

  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:50AM (#26736215)

    What has Gates done PERSONALLY to make slashdotters so hateful of him? Honestly, the real reason Microsoft is able to get away with what it does is that monopolies are an inherent flaw in our current economic system. Microsoft is no different, or annoying and heartless, than the cell phone companies or how AT&T was.

    Bill Gates smoothly made sure his company won the monopoly, but even without the man, a different software company would have won it.

  • You all laugh now (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:51AM (#26736231)

    Sure, it might be showmanship... But who's going to get the last laugh when the various "technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars" are infected by mosquito-transmitting borg nanites installed by Bill Gates himself?!

  • Re:Assault ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dow (7718) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:56AM (#26736305)

    No, in the UK he would have been arrested and held under anti-terrorism laws too.

  • Re:Assault ! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:57AM (#26736315)

    Some people are allergic to mosquito bites...

    Most people are allergic. Why do you think they itch when you get bit?

  • Re:Assault ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:59AM (#26736343)
    This willful act could be considered assault by one of the attendees and BillG arrested. ... Some people are allergic to mosquito bites even if the mosquitoes are disease-free.

    I bet they were mosquitoes that don't bite at all, eg ones that just eat nectar. In any case only the females suck blood. (Pause for jokes...) If anyone had been bitten I'm sure we would have heard of it pretty quickly -- who wouldn't like to sue Bill Gates?

  • I think he's safe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:59AM (#26736349)

    If you're a tech king or politician, would you want to be known as "the guy that sued the richest-man-turned-philantropist over a bug sting"?

    Nobody in that could would ever talk to you again. Let alone invite you to dinner, because they could just happen to offer you something you might be allergic to and sue again.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:00AM (#26736355)

    Heck, Saddam Hussein never PERSONALLY did anything bad to an American, yet he's still hated.

    Read up on his crybaby routine for Altair Basic. Some of which was "stolen" by dumpster diving. See the Halloween documents. The illegal works he's done, approved or helped commit.

    Just because he didn't to it *personally* to *me* doesn't mean that his actions haven't affected me.

    And that is where the hate comes from.

    Mind you, since when has Linus Torvalds done anything to Bill? Yet Bill HATES linux and accused Linus of IP theft deliberate, of being unamerican, killing the livlihoods etc.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:03AM (#26736377)

    His intentions may be good. I think I remember his vision was to create the computer that everyone can use and everyone can understand, and make it the only OS you'll ever have, so nobody would have to worry about not knowing the UI should he ever face a different computer because every computer would use the same (i.e. his) OS.

    Unfortunately, the whole thing has become the poster child for the old saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

  • astroturfing tag (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poity (465672) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:10AM (#26736459)

    Why is every MS story being tagged astroturfing? Do people even know what that word means, or are there really people who harbor such paranoia and belief in grand conspiracies (some kind of tech version of 9/11 Truthers)?

    I bet someone's going to accuse me of astroturfing with this post and being a shill for Gates..

  • by feed_me_cereal (452042) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:10AM (#26736465)

    What about this indicates a faux grassroots movement? Words like 'astroturfing' quickly lose their meaning when abused like this...

  • The new Gates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:13AM (#26736499)

    Gates has always been largely hated here and in the IT community because of course he's the one who lumped us all with the worst of Microsoft's products as well as the best ones. It was his company that was hit by the major anti-trust suit and so on. Whilst the company he was responsible for is indeed guilty of being not particularly nice and whilst it's a fair comment to make that if he was in charge, then he is responsible too I think it's a little more complex than that.

    Microsoft as a company aside, I'm not convinced Bill Gates is actually that bad a person.

    I think maybe he got blinded sometimes by the position he was in and made bad decisions, other times there's been videos of him snapping at staff and so on but these strike me as particularly human traits, in the case of geeks who aren't the greatest at dealing with people, the latter doesn't strike me as being particularly unusual. After all, even Steve Jobs who is much more of a people person that Gates has ever been is equally guilty of such treatment of his staff. What's more, Jobs has also never been one for philanthropy either- in fact, on the contrary, he actually cut Apple's philanthropy programs when he returned to the company and never brought them back.

    Some may argue the only reason he gives to charity is as a tax dodge, but if that's really true why does he do things like this? If it were a mere tax dodge, then there's no reason he'd need to waste his time.

    This view I have of him nowadays was somewhat reinforced in a recent documentary on him that I watched the other day - "Bill Gates - How a Geek Changed the World" which was certainly interesting. Of course, we never know whether documentaries like these are made with an air of bias to them or not, similarly we don't know if everything Bill does really is just a show. But honestly, now he's no longer at Microsoft and still is willing to do things like this I think I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now unless he does something to prove otherwise.

    I think it's true when some commentators suggest that a few decades down the line, when Gates is old and dying that he indeed wont be remembered as that guy that ran that evil company and is hence evil himself, but will be seen more as a pretty decent bloke. I think as a person, Microsoft as a company has actually done more harm to his image than he perhaps deserves. I'm just not convinced anymore that Gates is one of those people who does necessarily deserve to go down in history as a bad guy. I may be proven wrong as time goes on, but only time will tell I suppose.

  • Re:Assault ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:16AM (#26736547) Homepage Journal

    Drug dealers and minorities do, WASP billionaires don't.

  • by LoyalOpposition (168041) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:24AM (#26736659)

    Honestly, the real reason Microsoft is able to get away with what it does is that monopolies are an inherent flaw in our current economic system.

    Inherent? I suppose in the sense that it was there in my parent's time, and it's still there. I prefer to think of it as having been specifically crafted into our political system. Quoting Article I, section 8, in relevant part: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;" Milton Friedman once said that almost all monopolies are government granted or government supported. Ask yourself this question--who comes beating down your door if you start copying Microsoft software and offer it for sale? Or this one--what kind of monopoly would Microsoft have if anyone had the right to copy Microsoft's software at will?

    -Loyal

  • by Xest (935314) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:28AM (#26736707)

    I think that's the thing. Gates actually had a really good vision, he wants to see our lives go digital and all our digital devices interconnected and everything integrated to work as a single beautiful system.

    The problem is, his view of how this occurs is via Microsoft producing everything in that overall system, rather than use of open standards. This is not even necessarily because he thinks open standards are a bad thing, but simply because he was in charge of a company that has to answer to share holders who want nothing but profit and in that scenario, he perhaps had no choice but to go down the route of having Microsoft do it all.

  • Re:Assault ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hijacked Public (999535) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:32AM (#26736789)

    So? Poor people get convicted using toy guns. Gates could have doubled his cool creds in this demo by telling the audience that poor people also can't get away with loosing a swarm of mosquitos on a bunch of important people, but he sure can.

    It is ufortunate that it takes someone who is very well off to do this kind of thing. There is a 0.01% chance that anyone from the crowd could convince the local prosecutor's office to pursue criminal charges agaisnt Gates. 0% more like. He could bring in a legal team that would tie up an underfunded overworked team of state lawyers for 1000 years and waste more tax money than the war on drugs and he himself would never see the inside of a courtroom.

    And if you went after him in civil court the interest he'd earn in the time it took to make the case would cover any monetary award that would be judged against him. He is well insulated against legal stupidities.

    Rich people could redeem themselves if they did cool stuff like this on a regular basis, but now all they do is devise ways to burn us all for fuel. Back in the day Howard Hughes would crash a rocket plane into your house, wash his hands in your sink without asking, and apologize for it to nobody.

  • Re:And next up... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jnik (1733) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:37AM (#26736849)

    He's got three kids. Although he might be a geek, I'd call that evidence he's no longer unicorn-attractant.

  • by homey of my owney (975234) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:40AM (#26736891)
    Really? You have to be infected in order to appreciate the horror of malaria?! Wait'll the HIV folks get a hold of this idea.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:43AM (#26736923)

    Now that I know he actually likes bugs, life just became crystal clear.

  • Re:The new Gates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:57AM (#26737169) Homepage

    A great many of us have a real sense of right and wrong. And even though we may not always do the right thing, we usually feel pretty bad when we do the wrong thing.

    This company led by Bill Gates has done so many intentionally wrong things without any sign or hint of conscience or apology, I cannot subscribe to your rather apologetic perspective. I have yet to see a company whose actions were not a reflection of its top leadership. With that, I would say it's a pretty safe bet that Bill Gates is not a nice guy and has no clue what fair play is.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:00AM (#26737225) Homepage Journal
    No kidding! The majestic malaria mosquito once roamed the plains in swarms of billions! Today due to eradication efforts and environment encroachment, they roam the plains in swarms of hundreds of millions! Something must be done to stop the slaughter of the helpless malaria mosquito!

    Anywhoo wish I were there to provide a note of irony as the UNIX guy who calmly orders a Gin and Tonic [wikipedia.org] and goes back to ignoring Bill Gates' bugs and viruses...

  • Re:The new Gates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@nospaM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:03AM (#26737273) Homepage Journal

    Some may argue the only reason he gives to charity is as a tax dodge, but if that's really true why does he do things like this? If it were a mere tax dodge, then there's no reason he'd need to waste his time.

    It's the robber baron principle. As they get older, they need to assuage the guilt they feel for having skirted / broken the law in order to become one of the ultra-wealthy.

    See Rockefeller and Carnegie for context.

  • Re:Assault ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:06AM (#26737333) Homepage

    As someone who grew up around poor white people, I find your statement offensive. "The system" treats all poor people badly, regardless of ancestry (see sig).

  • Memento Mori (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Valdrax (32670) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:11AM (#26737433)

    This is a beautiful illustration if the Liberal mindset. Rather than trying to raise the poor by eliminating mosquitoes he's trying to equalize everyone by lowering the wealthy.

    Or, an alternate way to look at it is that he's trying to remind the wealthy that just sitting still and letting poor rot instead of trying to help raise them up isn't a good thing. Encouraging empathy by upsetting their comfortable little world and letting them know a little bit of what the plebians feel of fear. Sometimes you've got be knocked on your ass once to appreciate the view. Dunno why this is a "Liberal" thing in your mind (and thus bad?), but there you go.

    Maybe it's just his way of saying, "Memento mori, bitches."

  • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@nospaM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:13AM (#26737481) Homepage Journal

    The fact that he feels the need to point out that the rich are not immune is exactly what I am talking about. Everyone knows that. The rich do, too. He's just being condescending.

  • by maddskillz (207500) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:17AM (#26737563)

    Definitely eliminating the mosquitoes is what he should be working for.
    I am sure they server no ecological role at all.
    Heck, why not use DDT? I think it's pretty good at controlling mosquitoes...
    Either that, or maybe not everything has a simple solution.

  • by freefrag (728150) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:17AM (#26737565)

    The Gates Foundation is trying to distribute antimalarial drugs to all the poor people in Africa. Too bad there is already a cure for malaria orders of magnitude cheaper: DDT. In epidemiology, you eradicate a disease by preventing its spread, not treating every infected individual. Malaria was already eliminated in places like Sicily by using DDT.

    DDT does not thin eggshells of birds. It is not carcinogenic either. [unl.edu] I can't tell whether Bill Gates is trying to accomplish anything or just spend lots of money on others out of penance. If the Gates Foundation wants to improve the world, they would have more money for useful charity if they just applied DDT in Africa.

  • by iangoldby (552781) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:20AM (#26737595) Homepage

    he's trying to equalize everyone by lowering the wealthy

    No he's not.

    First, he didn't release the mosquitoes [slashdot.org] (although you wouldn't realise that from the summary). Second, they were mosquitoes bred in a laboratory, so were not carriers of malaria.

    But that is all completely beside the point.

    The point that he demonstrated, rather well it seems, is that we in the west find the idea of us being subjected to the risk of malaria extremely offensive. On the other hand, how many of us are raising a protest about people in developing nations being subject to exactly the same disease?

    Hypocrites, all of us. Shame on us.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:33AM (#26737843) Homepage

    Nonsense.

    We shape policy in those areas where we are "free to meddle".

    Africa is not Bill's "white mans burden".

  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmat[ ].org ['ter' in gap]> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:42AM (#26737991) Journal

    Or, an alternate way to look at it is that he's trying to remind the wealthy that just sitting still and letting poor rot instead of trying to help raise them up isn't a good thing. Encouraging empathy by upsetting their comfortable little world and letting them know a little bit of what the plebians feel of fear. Sometimes you've got be knocked on your ass once to appreciate the view. Dunno why this is a "Liberal" thing in your mind (and thus bad?), but there you go.

    Ah yes, that would be the Green-Liberal plan that we executed in the 1960s-1970s...

    1. Develop DDT.
    2. Use DDT to wipe out the North American malaria-carrying mosquito population.
    3. Drain the swamps to prevent mosquitos from returning.
    4. Enjoy life in a malaria-free country.
    5. Ban DDT.
    6. Crusade against anyone else seeking to drain their own swamps.
    7. Offer extremely expensive anti-malarial drugs for sale.
    8. Completely fail to understand why poor third-world countries have a malaria problem.
    9. ??
    10. Profit!

    Our society has a bad habit of declaring a thing to be evil after we don't need it any more.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:52AM (#26738205)
    Because:
    1. We have a climate less friendly to the disease carrying mosquitoes in the first place
    2. We discourage the use of DDT because of the side-effects (on birds for instance), despite the fact that we could not have eliminated malaria without extensive use of DDT
    3. We discourage the draining of swamps, once again despite the fact that it was the only way we kept the mosquitoes from returning

    If we want people to listen to us when we say "Don't drain swamps and don't use DDT", which are the only cheap and effective ways to control malaria, we need to help find and fund other solutions that they can't afford.

  • I know why... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnuUMLAUT.org minus punct> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:56AM (#26738289) Homepage

    who tagged this astroturfing?!?!

    Obviously someone whose dictionary was bricked!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:57AM (#26738305)

    You are an idiot. RTFA first and then comment.

    Attendees are pissed? So wtf? Just a (fake) taste of reality is enough to get the attendees pissed eh?

    I am from 3rd world, have been here in the US for a decade now. I'm appalled at the ignorance in this country about the way of life in the tropics (which doesn't necessarily equal 3rd world). Those diseases are real, regardless of your sense of hygiene and health. And can affect you anytime. People die of Dengue, Malaria and Meningitis because of mosquitoes. At the very least, mosquitoes are annoying as hell. When I was back there I used to dream of spreading a mosquito-killing virus and eradicating them.

    What he did was perfectly fine, even if a bit sensationalist. He made a point.

  • Re:And next up... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IsoRashi (556454) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:58AM (#26738347)
    I don't want to sound gay or anything, but unicorns KICK ASS!
  • Re:And next up... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by randomaxe (673239) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:04PM (#26738449)

    But how awesome would it be if he gave a speech about unicorns?

    Well, he does like to talk about the advantages that DRM provides to consumers. Same difference.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:08PM (#26738517)

    Us? We in the west?

    No, [b]I[/b] would find it offensive if someone put [b]me[/b] at risk.

    Everyone worries about themselves (and their family if they have one) first, and other, nameless folks afterward.

    Anyone who says otherwise is a vain liar who wishes to appear selfless.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:09PM (#26738547)

    > Why don't other societies do that, too?

    Uh...poverty?

    > Why is it our job to do it for them?

    Uh...kindness?

  • by Kamokazi (1080091) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:13PM (#26738651)

    Erm...you missed the point entirely. He was just going for the shock value to get his point across: He would like rich people to donate money to help fight malaria (and other) outbreaks in third world countries.

    And they were probably just harmless, non-disease carrying mosquitos that I get bit by a hundred times througout the summer. I mean seariously, do you think he would actually risk someone getting a life-threatening illness?

  • by proclivity76 (755220) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:14PM (#26738659)

    The posers out there that want tax payer money to go to their cause are the absolute stingiest when it comes to their own money. Their motto is "Someone should give money, but it's not going to be me." That's cowardice, phoniness, and should be shamed. The idea of the government giving out charity money is awful for the personal growth and personal connection that donors get when giving their own money, under their own will, not under the threat of government force.

    For Bill and Melinda to commit to giving all of their wealth away to charity before dying is beyond noble.

    Bill's mosquito release brings a very real situation to a mostly sheltered culture. Those I know that have gone on mission trips to poverty stricken countries all profess that the were forever changed by the experience. Gates unleashed a small jar of change on that crowd, and I do hope it takes root and holds.

  • by Americano (920576) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:18PM (#26738731)

    Being nice, spending money to help people aside from yourself IS socialism.

    No, that is NOT socialism. [wikipedia.org] Socialism refers to the collective or state ownership of the means of production & distribution of goods, and generally condemns private ownership of property & privately-owned industry. What you are referring to is known as Charity, or Philanthropy, as you rightly identified at the start of your post.

    That being said - Gates' comment had absolutely no element of "socialism" to it - if he had said "The government should take your companies & your money and use those resources to give everybody malaria medication," *that* would be endorsing socialism.

    An honest discussion of class inequities is not tantamount to socialism. In the same way, noting that black women are more likely to get a deadlier form of breast cancer [msn.com] is not a racist statement. Branding something one of your least-liked -isms because it makes you uncomfortable does not make the label stick.

    The whole point Bill was trying to make -- and which is being clouded by the usual Slashdot air of cynicism and hatred towards anything Bill Gates does or says -- is this: Malaria is, statistically speaking, a disease of the poor. A disease which is treatable and preventable at a fairly low cost, and a disease which the "rich and powerful" could do a lot to reduce or eliminate - and should do a lot to reduce or eliminate, because it's "the right thing" to do.

    Private organizations asking individual citizens for charitable donations has nothing to do with socialism.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:19PM (#26738751)
    Brilliant. So as long as we all destroy the ecological balance of the planet equally, it's fine. Who cares if we sicken and kill off all the animals at the top of the food chain, leading to a massive overpopulation of grazers and further destruction of nature, as long as it reduced the incidence of half a dozen diseases. While we're at it, let's solve the food/energy crisis by burning all the forests for fuel and planting wheat and corn everywhere. I'm sure there will be no long term consequences to the homogenization of life on the planet.
  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Technopaladin (858154) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:20PM (#26738767)
    They Declared the ban on DDT after it laid waste to our BIRDS. Its OTHER enviromental effects are are also worth examining. Causes cancer and has some pretty strong effects on fauna besides insects. Your post would indicate we just decided to ban it for no worthwile reason. I personally like Fish eating birds.
  • by Brickwall (985910) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:24PM (#26738843)
    | Frankly, I think he should have stabbed everyone with an HIV syringe.

    Quite possibly the most mind-numbingly stupid comment ever posted on slashdot

    I don't know; I thought his comment about getting "cocky" CEO's to "release" the cure for AIDs was equally stupid. US companies spent $10 billion on AIDS research in 2007. If any one had a cure, he could make billions of dollars. The idea that someone is sitting on that gold mine is just laughable.

  • by Kratisto (1080113) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:29PM (#26738965)

    Slashdot needs a mod +5, Awkward.

  • by wipeMyButt (1411817) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:30PM (#26738997)
    So, by using a stage trick (because you know all those mosquitoes really were carrying the malaria virus) to try and shock a group of people out of apathy Gates somehow becomes a "Liberal" who wants to equalize society at the lowest common denominator? What are you smoking and why aren't you sharing? First of you equate a "Liberal mindset" with some sort of Huxley like uber-socialism. Then you say he's trying to lower the wealthy (no one said the audience was wealthy, they're just not 3rd world poor) instead of helping the poor (he's spent billions doing just that). I think your analysis of his symbolism says more about the way you think than it says anything about Gates' action.
  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mdarksbane (587589) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:38PM (#26739123)

    I'm sure that the nearly 900,000 people who die a year from malaria are happy our birds are safe. I love birds of prey, too - they are some of the coolest creatures on the planet. But fuck you if you think they're more important than close to a million people a year. If you even reduce that number by half through reasonable DDT usage (I'm not saying farmers should be able to spray it wherever they want to stop whatever pests they want), in the years since DDT was banned you'd have stopped the equivalent of several holocausts.

    We should look at the environmental effects of DDT and use it carefully - but you have to balance human and environmental factors here, and in the case of hundreds of thousands of yearly deaths, I'd say the balance shifts a little bit toward the human end.

  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CompSci101 (706779) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:43PM (#26739213)

    Or after we've actually gone through the trouble of figuring out that the solution we came up with fixed the problem at hand and caused many others due to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    Asbestos for everyone!

    Seriously, though, if there are better solutions available today than terraforming and introducing pesticides that wipe out indigenous species (read: medicine and vaccines) and the only barrier to entry is the cost of said vaccines -- which are themselves artificially inflated to preserve drug company profits by trade agreements and intellectual property laws that effectively kill thousands of people around the world yearly -- don't you think the rich people that own the companies profiting while people who can't afford their products are dying should get an earful?

    C

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:55PM (#26739411)

    Why the urge to control everybody else? Mind your own fucking business. How Africa solves their malaria problem is none of our fucking business.

  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Conanymous Award (597667) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:56PM (#26739429)
    Somehow, trying to evoke empathy - a basic human trait - is a 'liberal' thing to conservatives. It's funny, really. The grandparent is a 'beautiful' illustration of the conservative mindset.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @01:07PM (#26739643)
    "Liberal" has become a label for "something I dislike." It's been so distorted by the faux news talking heads that no longer a meaningful label. So let's talk behavior in the real world. If you *don't* lower the wealthy, nothing gets done for the non-wealthy. Historically, I'd have to say this is pretty accurate. Those dang socialist liberal types are the reason your food doesn't poison you, your drugs are tested, and public libraries exist. Not to mention little things like rural electrification. Think any of that would ever be done by the private sector, really? If so, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. But back to real world phenomenon.... Every ecology, including economic ones, develops parasites, but you can only tolerate a certain parasite load. As recent events have demonstrated, we've gone wa-a-a-a-y beyond that. Our current parasites, (i.e. financial professionals produce nothing but the illusion of money) have become life threatening to the economy. If they had the same risks as the rest of us (the equivalent of releasing misquitos), would the current economic unpleasantness have ever happened?
  • by Wraithlyn (133796) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @01:14PM (#26739797)

    Hypothetical: Imagine "the cure" turns out to be some natural compound that the pharma companies can't patent and monopolize. In such a scenario, it would likely be far more profitable to continue selling expensive "treatment".

    Not saying it's true, just that finding a cure doesn't automatically guarantee maximum profits. (On the flip side, you can't dismiss such a possibility with "They just wouldn't do that"... tobacco companies sat on their knowledge of the deadly and addictive properties of smoking for years, in the name of profit)

  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @01:18PM (#26739903)
    You need to jump down off that high horse and do some research. There has never been a worldwide ban on DDT, only bans in individual countries. DDT continues to be used in various parts of the world even today and in fact is listed in the 2004 Stockholm Convention [wikipedia.org] as one of the chemicals allowed for use in vector control of insect bourne diseases.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @01:35PM (#26740227)

    Shame that the gag is completed by the subject you missed, Re:Collecting Mosquitos

  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ddt (14627) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @01:57PM (#26740711) Homepage

    Depends on your point of view. Most bird habitats are threatened. Humans are overpopulated.

  • by Golddess (1361003) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @02:17PM (#26741081)

    Definitely eliminating the mosquitoes is what he should be working for. I am sure they server no ecological role at all.

    I can't tell if you're being serious with that comment or not.

    At any rate, just to play Devil's Advocate here and name at least one situation where they could play a significant ecological role, off the top of my head I'm sure it'd effect the bat population. Which in turn could effect the populations of other bugs, causing them to grow. Sure, initially the bat population would just shrink to fit their reduced food sources, and the other bug populations would remain unchanged, but a shrunken population means less diversion between the bats which makes them more susceptible to, say, an illness wiping them all out, which then the other bugs populations would grow.

  • by sdnick (1025630) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @02:23PM (#26741193)
    Brilliant. So as long as we all destroy the ecological balance of the planet equally, it's fine. Who cares if we sicken and kill off all the animals at the top of the food chain, leading to a massive overpopulation of grazers and further destruction of nature, as long as it reduced the incidence of half a dozen diseases.

    Yeah, what's half a dozen diseases causing millions of human deaths every year when we need to worry about destroying some mythical "ecological balance"? Let's ban DDT worldwide.

    People in the West can afford this kind of arrogance because they aren't the ones threatened by those half a dozen diseases. If your mother, wife or daughter were to die of malaria, I'm sure you and your smugness would both be fine knowing that your ecological concerns were being catered to. Meanwhile, enjoy the return of the American bedbug.
  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mdarksbane (587589) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @02:25PM (#26741227)

    I'll allow that the situation is more complex than I indicated in a two paragraph forum post :)

    DDT does continue to be used worldwide as a local vector control agent. Its unrestricted use as an agricultural pesticide did most likely damage its ability to be used against malaria through the encouragement of resistant strains of the disease.

    But many third world countries have had to cut back on DDT use because of pressure from the US aid groups supplying their anti-malaria money. And hundreds of environmentalist groups lobbied hard against allowing it into the 2004 Stockholm Convention. I consider this preference for animal over human life to be strongly misguided, even as someone who is strongly for the protection of animal life when it is reasonable.

  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @02:35PM (#26741399) Journal

    No. If anyone had a drug that slowed down the progression of HIV and had to be taken every day for years and years and years, they could make a billions of dollars.

    A cure is just one dose. Hardly worth researching.

    That is probably why we have the former, and not the latter.

  • MODS ON CRACK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @02:45PM (#26741593) Homepage Journal
    Jebus, the pro-MS trolls are out in force again. A concise and detailed answer to GP's question is not a troll. Somebody please fix this.
  • Re:The new Gates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by replicant108 (690832) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @03:05PM (#26741901) Journal

    No, the rest is reinvested to "allow for the continued funding of foundation programs and grant making".

    But they do this by "investing for profit".

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-gatesx07jan07,0,6827615.story [latimes.com]

    The point is that the focus on maximising ROI inevitably means that ethical considerations come second.

    The goal is to keep the foundation around forever so that it can continuously hand out money forever.

    Since Bill controls the Foundation, it is effectively he who is handing out the money.

    This clearly gives him a great deal of economic and political power.

    For example most people have access to investment funds like 401k and such, however, I'm pretty sure nobody really looks at the list of companies or bothers to keep track of the list of companies within each fund.

    Unlike most investment funds, the raison d'etre of the Foundation is supposedly humanitarianism.

    Given that ROI comes before humanitarianism in 95% of its investments, one cannot help but feel that there is some hypocrisy involved.

  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @03:49PM (#26742445)
    I support the free-market system and capitalism to the degree that I'd probably get spit on in Berkley, but even I think the 'Rich' (generalizing broadly) occasionally need a kick in the butt to shake them out of social insularity they occasionally find themselves in. Look at the discussions about digital television, here on Slashdot... a lot of people ask, seriously, "Who doesn't have cable?"

    The rich deserve what they've earned, but sometimes when rules get set, the poor are simply overlooked. Not from malice, but just because the people running the game don't understand the situation.

    There's constantly streets being repaved and repaired in the city I live in. In the 'nice' side of town, a street will get resurfaced if develops any cracks, minor wear, etc. In the 'poor' side of town, a street will get resurfaced once it dissolves into a mess of potholes and asphalt fragments. Why the discrepancy? I think it's probably because everyone high-up in city government lives in the 'nice' part of town. Well-off people deserve to live where-ever they can afford, so that's fine; but a city service shouldn't vary depending on how expensive the houses in the neighborhood are.

    I've also noted here how a nearby town has municipal broadband, which was losing money, so they levied an additional tax on everybody's power bill. I'm against wealth redistribution... especially that, which redistributes money from the poor to the well-off! And that decision wasn't passed by greedy rich people; it was made by clueless but well-meaning rich people.
  • On poverty. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maillemaker (924053) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:02PM (#26742635)

    >Uh...poverty?

    Wasn't America once a poor country, too? Yet we overcame and solved our mosquito problem. I don't see why other nations can't develop themselves and solve their mosquito problems. It's not like they even have to invent the solution.

    >Uh...kindness?

    When we have money to spare we can indulge your sense of kindness.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:09PM (#26742733)
    You know, no matter how faceless the corporation, every scientist, researcher, and project manager is a real human being. Is there anybody you know in real life who would sit on a cure for AIDs?
  • Re:MODS ON CRACK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:14PM (#26742849) Homepage Journal
    Hehehe.

    I have far worse problems than bad moderations.

    I just have a fairly good track record of fixing bad mods via my mods on cracks comments. Plus, it's an exercise in burning karma. Not that that's ever worked...
  • Re:The new Gates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @04:41PM (#26743381)

    What a jackass you are. You're like one of those idiots who think paying a mortgage on a house is smart because of the "tax advantage". Hey - dipshit - you're still paying interest, just 25-35% less interest than you would without the tax benefit.

    Bill Gates has already given away a huge chunk of his money, and will have given away the vast majority of it by the time he dies. Your idiocy in claiming he's somehow "making money" off the tax benefits is laughable and only your fellow irrationally MS hating dweebs will be stupid enough to fall for it.

    Secondly, it's his wealth. He wants to see it go where it will do what he wants.

    Thirdly - whatever douchebag. He's never been convicted of any kind of felony, and neither has Microsoft.

  • Re:On poverty. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@@@gmail...com> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @05:02PM (#26743749) Journal

    Wasn't America once a poor country, too? Yet we overcame and solved our mosquito problem.

    Yes, before you were born, America was a poor country. You've inherited a rich one. Now go spend your our forefather's money like you made it yourself while other people work 80 hour weeks for less the minimum wage and contract malaria, because by golly, you've earned it! It's their fault for being born into poverty!

  • Re:On poverty. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <[ten.00mrebu] [ta] [todhsals]> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @05:33PM (#26744271) Homepage Journal

    Conservatives think that everything bad that happens to someone, everything, is their own fault and they should be able to fix it themselves.

    You can't convince them otherwise, trust me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @06:15PM (#26744965)

    Really? You have to be infected in order to appreciate the horror of malaria?

    I don't think even getting infected reveals the horror of malaria. The true horror of malaria is getting the disease and not having access to the health care necessary to save your life.

    I had a friend who spent 2 years traveling through Africa. He got Malaria twice but had health coverage and was able to get the care he needed to survive. According to him, the experience "sucked" (both actually having the disease and it cutting time and money that he was planning on spending on his trip), but he survived with very few lasting consequences.

    Getting the disease gives you some notion of what it's like, but only in the same way that not eating for a day or two would give you an insight into living in poverty and famine.

  • Re:Memento Mori (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Medievalist (16032) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @06:16PM (#26744977)

    DDT's original purpose was malaria control. Only later was it used for a general pesticide. For a while, the WTO suggested the use of DDT in this manner. DDT is extremely effective, and when used moderately and not as a general pesticide, the environmental effects are highly reduced. Clearly DDT as a pesticide is clearly worse that the pests, but DDT as a malaria prevention is not clearly worse that malaria.

    Well, you're wrong about DDT's original purpose. It was not determined to be a contact insecticide until the 1930s, but was created in the 1800s.

    However, your general point is still valid; it is overuse of DDT that has made it ineffective against malaria. The people screaming "DDT! SPRAY DDT! MORE DDT! KILL ALL THE BUGS!", instead of using it in carefully targeted applications, were the ones who ruined the efficacy of DDT against malaria - not scary greens and evil liberals.

    You'll note from reading this thread that loud and uninformed people are still willing to throw poison about without proper understanding of the consequences... I'd only trust someone like yourself, who is willing to consider nuances, with DDT.

  • Erm... and he did all of these things PERSONALLY? I would bet that out of that list, a bit of digging will show that he had a personal hand in very few (if any) of them.

    The man is/was a figurehead, not a mad genius.

    The list of crap is definitely valid (except for 13 - billions of dollars is still billions of dollars, regardless of what it amounts to relative to his income or his company's), I simply question his personal involvement with these things.

  • by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:19PM (#26746949) Homepage Journal

    My job basically amounts to finding and killing people (military).

    Big tobacco sat on their findings for quite a while.

    The 'real people' who made zyklon B during world war 2 probably knew what it was being used for, but...

    Conservatives probably are comfortable hiding statistics about sex, disease, and pregnancy that undermines their positions- data that could otherwise save lives...

    Yes, I do believe a company would sit on a cure.

    -b

  • by shadowbearer (554144) on Friday February 06, 2009 @12:10AM (#26748113) Homepage Journal

      Tech support, circa 198x: Teaching people how to use their operating systems and software.

      Tech support, circa 2009: Virus removal, fixing broken MS Office updates, etc.

      What were you talking about, again?

      SB

     

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 06, 2009 @10:25AM (#26751255)

    Say what you want but atleast dont make fun of his philanthropy. I dont every other billionaire giving his money in charity (well except Warren Buffet but I am sure you would make fun of him too)

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