It must be fun to be the one of the richest men in the world-- you can perform nerdishly odd & borderline psychotic stunts and not be beaten to death by outraged mobs.One of the perks is to be able to afford a really great security team, too.
Case in point: this interesting article about Bill Gates and his campaign to rid the world of the undeniable plague of malaria-- here, symbolized by releasing a jar full of mosquitos in a conference hall filled with similarly well-heeled types.
An excerpt from the story by David Gardner:
It was a show-stopping move by any standards.
Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft and a renowned philanthropist, let loose a swarm of mosquitoes at a technology conference in California to highlight the dangers of malaria.
‘Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,’ the Microsoft founder yelled at a well-heeled crowd at a technology conference in California.
’I brought some,’ he added. ‘Here, I’ll let them roam around – there is no reason only poor people should be infected.’
He let the shocked audience sweat for a minute or so before assuring them that the freed insects were malaria- free.
But that didn’t satisfy all the attendees.
‘That’s it. I am not sitting up front anymore,’ eBay founder Pierre Omidyar said.
The stunt was an attempt by Gates – who quit Microsoft last year to concentrate on his charity work - to hammer home the importance of malaria prevention.
It is one of the pet projects of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that announced last year it was donating £115 million to help develop a vaccine for the deadly disease.
Up to 2.7 million people a year still die of malaria each year, 75 per cent of them African children.
Although malaria has been eradicated in most countries with temperate climates, it is still prevalent on continents like Africa and Asia, which have tropical or subtropical climates.
Gates was speaking at the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Long Beach, California which attracts the great and the good from the worlds of science, technology, business, entertainment and academia.
The organisers of the TED conference said it was an 'amazing moment' and provided the audience with 'food for thought'.
Chris Anderson, curator of the show, quipped that the moment should be headlined, 'Gates releases more bugs into the world'.
It was great theatre, but begs the question: why not focus on lifting the ban on the one proven anti-malarial substance: DDT, the pesticide that rid most of the Western world of the disease decades ago?
The sad legacy of Rachel Carson is an annual death toll in the millions, mostly in Third World countries-- and this, despite repeated current-day research that indicates most of her concerns about DDT were completely unfounded.