So I was listening to this week’s edition of TWiT, during which Leo Laporte and the usual band of miscreants psychoanalyze Microsoft‘s new ad campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. I had not seen the ad yet myself—apparently it debuted during an NFL opening game, and considering that I don’t watch professional sports and the overwhelming majority of my television watching now consists of shows containing magic backpacks and talking monkeys that wear red boots, it hadn’t come to my attention yet—so the discussion naturally raised my morbid curiosity. So I dug around a little on YouTube and found this. I must admit, it’s as surreal as I was led to believe. I won’t attempt to try and mine this thing for hidden meaning like Ryan Block did; the only comment I think I can really make about it is that it tells me absolutely nothing about Microsoft, Windows, or any other product they may have in the pipeline, and after watching it I am no more inclined to pick Microsoft options over the competition than I was before. I thought that was the point of advertising….
But that’s not the weirdest part. Last night, I dreamed about Bill Gates. Maybe it was exhaustion, maybe it was a prescription-drug fueled haze (I’m currently in the middle of my quarterly bout with bronchitis), but it was not something I was particularly expecting. There’s nothing really interesting to say about the dream, though. In what little I remember, Mr. Gates was there, tying his shoes. He wasn’t necessarily trying on new ones, nor was there any indication that the shoes were noticeably old. They were shiny, brown leather dress shoes, so they could have been either new or well maintained. Mr. Seinfeld was nowhere in sight. The setting was unclear; I can’t say that it was a shoe store, a men’s locker room, or any other recognizable setting. I know only that I was seated on a wooden bench which I believe was painted a dark green and that Bill Gates stood next to me, lifted one leg, and set the foot on the bench, then proceeded to tie his shoe laces. Then he left without saying a word and the dream moved on to wherever it went after that. I remember nothing else about the dream, and to my knowledge Mr. Gates appeared nowhere else within it.
I have no desire to do any research on what kind of Fruedian analysis can be drawn from watching a billionare-CEO-turned-philanthropist from one of the world’s largest and most reviled software companies tying his shoes next to me. I’d be afraid of what I’d find. So I’ll just say it was the prescription cough syrup working its magic and go back to talking to the pink elephant and the green roast beef sandwich on either side of me. It’s a conversation about world politics and an economy built entirely around edible golf balls will solve the world’s energy crisis. It’s very enlightening. Maybe, somehow, some way, we’ll figure out exactly what makes Windows “delicious” while we’re at it. Drug-enduced hysteria is about the only way I can think of in my current semi-lucid state to make an operating system taste delicious. It makes me begin to wonder, though… what would other OSes taste like? Would Mac OS be crunchy? Would Linux be spicy? Would my Treo’s PalmOS be light in calories? I certainly hope so… I am trying to lose weight….
I received an interesting e-mail yesterday from a representative of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. She said she would be attending the sixth International Congress on the Systematics & Ecology of Myxomycetes in the Ukraine in October and that she was giving a “lecture on the different ways that Myxomycetes (Slime Molds) inspire people to make works of art”. Her search of the Web turned up GPF and a certain lovable blob of goo, so she asked permission to reproduce a couple of comics and inquired my thoughts on Fred’s genesis.
First of all, I had no idea there actually was an international congress devoted to the ecology of slime molds, let alone that there had been five previous ones. It’s both fascinating and ludicrous all at once. It’s one of those things you would think would be such a minutia that nobody would bother devoting their lives or entire symposia to. Then again, science is all about increasing human knowledge and at some point you have to specialize to learn all there is possible. (Personally, I’m a poly-science geek; I dabble in a little bit of everything and am master of none.) The second part of this that fascinates me is the thought that there may well be many more people using slime molds in or inspiring their art. I can explain myself away as a weird, isolated nutcase with an odd sense of humor, but to think there are other nutcases with equally odd senses of humor out there is a little bit frightening. Then again, I know how many of you out there read the comic, so maybe there are more nutcases out there than previously thought. 😉
I’ve asked the author of the e-mail to keep me in the loop on how her presentation goes. There’s a tiny part of me that almost wishes I would be invited to the seventh ICSEM as a guest of (dis)honor. I don’t know whether I’d be lauded for promoting awareness of slime mold research or demonized for the liberties I’ve taken with slime mold science. Either way, I’ll bet it will be one wild mold-lovin’ party….