Category Archives: Social Media

Garrison Keillor, 1999: God & Bill Gates on the Far Side

[NOTE: On Garrison Keillor’s Substack, there’s a feature called the Back Room, on which he posts odds and ends from his decades of work. Yesterday the following popped up.]

From TIME Magazine
ESSAY — June 14, 1999

Faith at the Speed of Light

“Just In terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”

–William H. Gates III

[In 1999] Bill Gates was the richest man in America [he was #4 in 2022] , and after he had gained a good deal of the world, God sent him an e-mail:

Beloved Bill:

I saw how you allocated your time resources last Sunday moming and was not impressed. Riding a stationary bike? Watching guys on the Men’s Channel talk about triglycerides and P.S.A. counts? Three words of advice: Love thy neighbor. Ever hear what happened to the rich man who stiff-armed the beggar Lazarus? I caused a general protection fault, and he has been off-line for centuries.

Anything you’d like to talk about? I’m here.

Your Creator,


Bill Gates typed out a reply:

Dear God:

Wow. Omniscience. Cool. But how do I know you’re omnipotent too?


B. G.

The moment he clicked on Send, the entire Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., went dark. And the darkness was very great. The a.c. shuddered to a halt. He heard his emplovees keening and wailing over lost data. His office was filled with creeping things and birds of the air. Beads of sweat dripped from his nose. Acrid smells drifted in, the website buming after a multitude of hits by Hittites, and he heard the clatter of hooves: a herd of crazed swine trotted down the hall, little pink eyes aglow, pagers clipped to their ears.

On his way out, he touched his nose and found a boil. A leper lay in the lobby begging alms, and when Bill Gates dropped in a nickel, the power went on.

Back in his office, a message was on his screen:

B. G.: That was only the screensaver. There is more where that came from. Obey my commandments or a virus could come to pass that would bring the information age to a shuddering halt. I did a flood once, and behold, I can do viruses. Once men tried to reach heaven by building a tower, and I made their formats incompatible. I could do this again. Or I can do love and redemption. I am, after all,

P.S. Your move.

The websites were restored. The leper was promoted to general manager and put in charge of the crazed swine, who, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, had to be kept in their current positions. Most of them were vice presidents, though, so it didn’t affect the value of Microsoft stock.

Bill Gates ran the word commandment through a database search and found that God had dumped a whole bunch of them on his Designated Population Group–no graven images, no stealing or coveting, keep the Seventh Day holy, and also what to eat and stuff–and then, later, to love God and love thy neighbor.

Gates wrote:

Dear God:

Do I need to be thinking ark at this point? Can we talk?

-and suddenly found himself in a chat room.

LUCI: I see that Bill Gates, that bug-eyed little weasel, is acting like you don’t exist. Want me to deal with him? I know people in the Justice Department.

THE LORD GOD: No. It takes longer to get smart guys up to speed. But I shall strive with him, and eventually he may get it.

LUCI: The guy is a closed circuit. Let me at him.

THE LORD GOD: Let’s see how it goeth.

BILL GATES: Hey, guys. It’s me. The aforementioned weasel.

But God had signed off.

LUCI: Hey, Pearly. How’d you like to own the phone company? I can get it for you wholesale.

BILL GATES: Who in hell is this?

The next day Microsoft developed Stained-Glass Windows, the most advanced spiritual software ever. The user could download a worship experience, including Scripture, Webpastor’s sermon and Holy Sacraments, in 10 minutes flat. You knelt at the keyboard and hit alt/f7, and out the disk drive came a tiny white wafer.

Bill Gates e-mailed God a copy of Windows and a note:

You want to reach people? Here’s how. Forget the stone tablets with the dandruffy guys in suede shoes droning on about transcendence.
BTW, I am giving a billion shekels for good works.


But he got no reply.

The next Sunday morning, Bill Gates went into Stained-Glass Windows, and the Scripture reading was a screechy passage from Jeremiah, and the sermon was very antimoney, antigrowth, antientrepreneurship, and it scrolled on for hours; and when the Confession window opened, Bill clicked twice on the Pride icon and then Continue and saw

“This program has performed an immoral function and will be shut down,”

and in that moment he went blind.

He was on his stationary bike, the keyboard on his lap. He did not cry out. He took a dozen deep, cleansing breaths and dismounted and set the keyboard on the floor. He sat down in front of his computer and switched on Audio and said, “Voice activation.”

There were two confirming beeps.

“God,” he said. “It’s Gates. Make that 5 billion.”



The Dominion Voting Machine Lawsuit Goes to Trial soon: Here’s a Good Summary

Mike Lindell, insurrectionist, pillow hawker, major Fox advertiser


[NOTE: Columnist George Will sets aside his usual reactionary sentiments here, to produce instead a concise and clear breakdown of the case Dominion will attempt to make in pursuit of its $1.5 billion defamation  action against Fox News.
Will usefully points out the challenges Dominion faces in proving that the Fox “News” promotion of demonstrable falsehoods about their machines as engines of mass voting fraud constituted actionable defamation.
Continue reading The Dominion Voting Machine Lawsuit Goes to Trial soon: Here’s a Good Summary

Breaking: Is Nothing Sacred? Saudis Jail Two Wikipedia Editors

[NOTE: I use Wikipedia almost every day. It’s perhaps the finest flower of the rapidly-disappearing era of the free (as in built for honest public service rather than profit or propaganda) internet. But the Saudi rulers know how to deal with such unwelcome ideas & their advocates: if bribery doesn’t suffice (as in golf),  jail, torture, & murder are next on the shelf. Can anyone rescue these latest victims? And the ultimate target: Wikipedia?]

Saudi Arabia jails two Wikipedia staff in ‘bid to control content

Administrators jailed for 32 years, and eight years, as activists warn of ploy to infiltrate website

AFP in Dubai — Thu 5 Jan 2023

An investigation by parent body Wikimedia found the Saudi government had penetrated Wikipedia’s senior ranks in the region, with Saudi citizens acting or forced to act as agents, two rights groups said.
Continue reading Breaking: Is Nothing Sacred? Saudis Jail Two Wikipedia Editors

My 2022 Rollercoaster: Photos & Cartoons, Part 1

January 2022: was it sunrise for Democracy, or sunset?

. . . Not even the cat was sure . . .

We weren’t the only worried ones . . .

. . . In Washington, the Supremes were busy working up their new minority rule act, with a special interest in the coming midterm elections, and protecting their withering reputations from the “stench” of their “ethics free zone.”. . .

Meantime, I kept getting texts like these, a couple per week, plus phone calls, junk mails, etc.: they all claim to be individuals, but reporters have shown they are working for big real estate dealers, who pick up lots of small houses, turn them into rentals, jack up area rents, and sell stocks in the bundles. I suppose it’s legal, but it will push out lower-income folks and generally increase inequality. As for me, I’m not selling . . .

No wonder there were a lot of gloomy days . . .

But in early February, the first signs of spring were popping up . . . Yellow daffodils, and tiny red-faced  henbit. Some folks say henbit is a  weed, but I like it.

But the lift to the spirit that the dawn of spring usually brings was suddenly disrupted this year, by a move far to the east . . .

The shock of this horrible war has not yet worn off. It soon took me back to my old stamping grounds a protest vigil in Fayetteville NC.

From left: the Fair Wendy, Patrick O’Neill, this blogger, and Andrew Bryant.

Since then, I’ve been working to learn about Ukraine and the war’s background, and sharing my discoveries on the blog. And there’s more to come . . .

Yeah, finding out . . . .

Reuters: Twitter Losing Core Tweeters, Internal Docs Show

Can’t deny it, but I failed at figuring out how to make TWTR work, as a way of communication or discussion, so never became involved or enamored. In addition, I think crypto is at bottom a scam, so I never was drawn toTWTR by that.

If this Reuters report is correct about a gathering exodus by the platform’s core users, my reaction will be a shrug. I don’t care if Elon Musk’s loses some billions, and even if Facebook is now the gateway for geezers, I’m almost 80 and it serves my social media needs well  enough.

Reuters Exclusive: Twitter is losing its most active users, internal documents show

Oct 25 (Reuters) – “Is Twitter dying?” billionaire Elon Musk mused in April, five days before offering to buy the social media platform.

Continue reading Reuters: Twitter Losing Core Tweeters, Internal Docs Show