Paul Allen died on Sunday.
It’s possible you don’t know, or don’t quite remember who he was, even if you’re nerdy enough to read this site. Allen was Bill Gates’ partner in founding Microsoft back in 1975.
Gates writes, in his remembrance of Allen:
In fact, Microsoft would never have happened without Paul. In December 1974, he and I were both living in the Boston area—he was working, and I was going to college. One day he came and got me, insisting that I rush over to a nearby newsstand with him. When we arrived, he showed me the cover of the January issue of Popular Electronics. It featured a new computer called the Altair 8800, which ran on a powerful new chip. Paul looked at me and said: “This is happening without us!” That moment marked the end of my college career and the beginning of our new company, Microsoft. It happened because of Paul.
This wonderful world of computing where I’ve made my life (*) since the early 80s was built by men like Allen and Gates and Jobs and Wozniak and others whose names you don’t know, like Dennis Ritchie. I’ve joked for years that these guys were the only Boomers I actually liked, and it’s not far from the truth. (Well, Ritchie was older than that, but still.)
Computing was always a young man’s game for most of my life, but all those young men are getting older, and now, well, they’re shuffling off this mortal coil. Sic transit gloria mundi.
(*: My whole life. My career. My education. A huge chunk of my social life. And yes, even Erin; longtime Heathen will recall it was a blast email from a mutual friend that reconnected us 17 years ago this summer.)
With this memory from Facebook, we enter Broken Hip Advent!
Reader, we did in fact book that trip, but we never saw either show, because 48 days later, on November 20th, I did this, which well and truly starts the 128 day Cursed Holiday Season:
It was more or less a parade of Suck from 20 November until 21 January, otherwise known at this house as End of PICC Line Day.
We got a little reprieve in the Joco Cruise (30 Jan through 8 Feb; you can rent wheelchairs on cruise ships!), and then the real fun started on Glorious PT Day, 16 February.
Walker Liberation Day is 25 February. I wasn’t done — I needed a cane, which I bought at Southland Hardware — but we were definitely on our way out of the woods.
Finally, 128 days after my injury, there was this:
The whole saga, from the preamble of the potential two-plays-in-Chicago trip through the first time I rode my real bike again, is 176 days, or almost half a year.
Have you noticed that, even though your computer is insanely fast, and your connection is faster still, that web pages don’t seem to load any faster in 2018 than they did in 2008 or 1998?
Yeah. Me, too.
That’s the bullshit web.
Remember this scene in Top Gun, wherein Our Hero flies inverted over an enemy MiG and flips him off whilst
Dr Greene Goose shoots a candid Polaroid?
Yeah, uh, just read this in a New Yorker article about Virgin Galactic’s lead test pilot, Mark Stucky, who has flown for both the Marine Corps and the Air Force:
Stucky also was a showboater. In 1985, on a patrol mission over the Sea of Japan, he spotted a Soviet bomber in the distance, caught up to it, flipped upside d own, got close enough that only a few dozen feet separated the cockpits, and snapped a photograph.
Maverick? Meet Mark Stuckey, who is way cooler than you on account of not being fictional.
Longtime Heathen know our fondness for Mr Waits; this excellent retrospective of his early work — from his debut with Closing Time in 1973 through 1980’s Heartattack and Vine — traces his progression from neo-tin-pan-alley to the much more experimental artist he would eventually become.
After 1980, he would leave Asylum records and begin his collaboration (and marriage) with Kathleen Brennan; the changes were stark when Island Records released Swordfishtrombones three years later. (That’s the album, of course, which features “Johnsburg, Illinois,” about his new wife’s birthplace.)
It’s basically immoral to be rich:
Here is a simple statement of principle that doesn’t get repeated enough: if you possess billions of dollars, in a world where many people struggle because they do not have much money, you are an immoral person. The same is true if you possess hundreds of millions of dollars, or even millions of dollars. Being extremely wealthy is impossible to justify in a world containing deprivation.