Will someone kick the #StupidBucket

Imagine for a second, what would happen if  someone pours a bucket of ice-cold water over your head? A slight chill runs through the body, the hair gets spoilt, the dress gets wet, and god forbid if you are carrying your wallet or your phone on you, the person with the bucket would possibly be buried in one.

But what if you could have some fun, get publicity, and indulge in friendly ICB11bantering with your colleagues or friends, and finally, the beatific feeling of having contributed to a good cause, all at the same time. If imagine you could get all this by having a bucket of cold water poured over your head, would you not agree to it?

This is what essentially the Ice Bucket Challenge (or as it is known #IceBucketChallenge) is all about. Lots of fun, PR gimmicks, bantering and all this in the name of a charitable cause. Apparently the Ice Bucket Challenge is being taken for spreading awareness on ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A neurological disorder affecting the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Patients suffering from ALS or Lou Gehrig Disease as it is also known suffer from a degenerative loss of control over their bodily functions, leading to total paralysis and subsequent death. Typically, the time-span between the onset of symptoms to death is around 2-5 years. It is a painful and traumatic disease, which leaves the person debilitated and is incurable. Hence, people having fun with cold water in the name of such a traumatic disorder must make you sick. Right?

Not really. In our disjointed world, something as abominable as this is repackaged as a philanthropic and social exercise. SO, the Ice Bucket Challenge has a social side, the participants in the challenge have a choice of donating $100 or having a bucket of ice-water poured over their heads. Ideally, you’d expect folks (especially the uber rich ones) to opt for donation, so that there can be more research on the disease, and the possibility of finding a cure. But no, in a sort of pseudo machismo, people will have water poured over their heads as if it is a very brave and gallant thing to do. The script is similar in almost all the videos posted, the person will ICB2“accept” the challenge, rattle of a few more names, steel himself/herself up, have the bucket emptied over self, smile, shriek or just look bewildered. The length of the video varies from 30 seconds to over 2 minutes, directly proportional to how desperate the person is for publicity. In fact, in many videos the celebs don’t even mention ALS or do it very casually, thereby defeating the whole purpose for taking up the challenge (remember the greater good of spreading awareness). Continue reading

Is Bill Gates a cheat?

For the past years, basking in the after-glow of his philanthropic efforts, one can almost spot a small radiant halo surrounding Bill Gates head. Through his, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the software czar has pledged to donate half his assets to charity and is very much living up to that claim. He has already spent billions in research on AIDS, education and had pledged that he will eradicate Malaria globally. Speaking purely in corporate parlance, Bill Gates has been beatified. And his transition from a scheming, wily Billionaire to that of Saint Gates, has been truly remarkable.

But now, there is a big boulder has been hurled at that carefully crafted image by none other than one-time friend, and ex co-founder Paul Allen in his soon to be published memoir, “The Ideaman, a memoir by the co-founder of Microsoft”. Recalling those early days when the company was founded, Allen makes some damning allegations against Gates, who apparently not only cheated him of his ‘fair share’ but also was keen to upstage Allen during his weakest period in life, when he was afflicted by Hodgkin’s disease.

The not-so charitable side

The biggest grouse that Allen still holds against is his former partner at Microsoft is not surprisingly related to the way things shaped up when the company was established back in 1975. Recalling those heady days Allen touches upon his partnership with Gates when they first met at Seattle’s Lakeside School in 1968. Talking about his first impressions, Allen terms Gates as a “gangly, freckle-faced eighth-grader edging his way into the crowd around the Teletype, all arms and legs and nervous energy. He had a scruffy-preppy look: pullover sweater, tan slacks, enormous saddle shoes. His blond hair went all over the place.”

It is obvious that with his skills with the Teletype (the shared computer at their school) much impressed Allen, who further states that, “You could tell three things about Bill Gates pretty quickly. He was really smart. He was really competitive; he wanted to show you how smart he was. And he was really, really persistent. After that first time, he kept coming back. Many times he and I would be the only ones there.”

Over the next few years, destiny would bring the two together and they both went on to create Micro-Soft. But once, the company was established and set, the disconnect occurred. The difference in both their personalities made them drift further and further apart. While Allen was the philosophical, do-no evil sort of technologist, Gates was the demanding maniacal boss, who would be livid at a programmer asking for a day off, after working 81 hours in 4-days. “Some said Bill’s management style was a key ingredient in Microsoft’s early success. But that made no sense to me,” he states. Continue reading