Friday, October 14, 2011

Our national values

One of the principal innovators and inventors of the 20th century died recently. You are reading this message courtesy of his inventions. From his office in a major corporation's R&D lab, he created or oversaw the creation of the innovations that made pretty much everything in today's computer world possible. Whether you are using a Windows PC or a Mac, you're using a descendent of one of his inventions, and if you're viewing web sites or receiving email you're using even more.

So of course this man dying is major news. I mean, we're talking about a man who was to computers what Thomas Edison was to lightbulbs. And of course the San Jose Mercury News, the "Newspaper of Record of the Silicon Valley", would devote the majority of the front page to covering this man's life and career because, well, he was a legend, okay, right?

So I take the newspaper out of its bag and open the front page and... uhm... nothing. Indeed, the only mention of his death is a short obit on the obituaries page.

Meanwhile, the death of a marketing con artist and fashion icon got front page news in the Murky plus pages upon pages of section A space over the next few days. But then, Dennis Ritchie actually created stuff, while Steve Jobs was a celebrity pitchman for fashionable items. And being a celebrity is more important than, like, actually inventing the "C" language whose descendants power all current PC's, inventing the Unix operating system that MacOS and most of the Internet is based on, and so forth.

Dennis Ritchie, Sept 9, 1941 - (yesterday?). In a better world, in a better nation, his death would be front page news, and the death of a marketing con man with good fashion sense would have been buried on the obituaries page. So it goes.

-- Badtux the Geek Penguin


  1. The marketing Con Artist that could have employed thousands of Americans to build the toys that he was peddling, yet, he chose to let the Chinese build them because that's the way Lizard people think. Employing Americans is for SUCKERS, not smart Lizard People.

  2. Damn right, Badtux, and well said.

  3. Lynne: Far too true :(.

    Dave: You bet. And it's not because Apple doesn't make enough money to build everything they sell in America, their big problem is finding places to stash their hoards, they're having to build a whole new Spaceship One the size of the Pentagon just for their money. But good jobs for Americans would imply having human feeling, which cold blooded lizard people lack so (shrug).

    - Badtux the Unix Geek Penguin

  4. Well, I don't actually hold that low of an opinion of Jobs. Considering the obituary you posted a week ago, I was kind of surprised to see you refer to him as a "marketing con artist and fashion icon." If you were one of my friends, I would probably give you a hard time about that because that is how I roll ;)

    I also don't really think it is any great tragedy when someone isn't recognized sufficiently after their death because they are, you know, dead. You can't appreciate fame when you are dead after all. This guy is no Steig Larsson either, whose main success was posthumous. No, Ritchie was recognized during his lifetime, albeit only by a small group of UNIX aficionados. He may not even have wanted fame. I know that fame isn't something I would ever want.

    I just posted that picture because it seemed to fit and I agree with the message that our culture values celebrity over substance and that maybe that isn't such a good thing.


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