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[flagged] Bill and Melinda Gates Separated (twitter.com/billgates)
339 points by lox 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 59 comments

Considering the high-profile nature of their partnership as it pertains to the Gates Foundation as well as potential down-stream impacts e.g potentially around which projects are picked up by the foundation, strategic philanthropic decisions, etc., this post would seem to be pretty relevant to the HN community.

Please stop flagging it.

Feel free to downvote me for complaining about the flags, but don't flag the post. No, I'm not OP.

No, it isn't. It literally is just mainstream news and celebrity gossip, with nothing to stimulate intellectual curiosity, nothing related to technology, and no new or interesting phenomenon worth discussing. It's bad enough we have to entertain obituary threads but this is a bridge too far.

Two rich people got divorced. Who cares? Flag it into the ground.

> No, it isn't. It literally is just celebrity gossip, with nothing to stimulate intellectual curiosity, nothing related to technology, and no new or interesting phenomenon to discuss. It's bad enough we have to entertain obituary threads but this is a bridge too far.

No...... It's literally a tweet from their verified account. It's literally the exact opposite of gossip; it's their official announcement, and this thread provides room for readers here to analyze the effects of the split in our technical, entrepreneurial, and philanthropic context

You know what's gossip? r/relationship_advice, which this isn't. (discl: I run the subreddit)

Please contribute positively.

it's also a textbook example of how to announce such news in a positive way (together and without dragging each other to hell).

I contributed my flag and downvotes.

And fair enough, it's not gossip. Celebrity news still doesn't belong here.

> It's bad enough we have to entertain obituary threads

It seems your personal relevancy radar is out of sync with the larger HN community. Not a problem in itself, but probably not something you should get up in arms about.

This is not gossip. It's about as official as you can get.

Plenty people saying it shouldn't be flagged, but then not actually commenting on the substance? Why not, if it is relevant?

Largely because the flagging consumed the oxygen in the room. But there are still comments talking about potential outcomes.

My main concern is around whether the foundation ends up splitting from its current areas of focus (climate change and disease research). There's been a wealth of innovation around both as a consequence of GF's investment and I worry that less focus might mean less funding at a critical time for both.


> I am not okay with [...] the whole social distancing narrative

Yikes. That's a flag. At least one reputable study: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200910110824.h...

> free circumcisions to African boys based off of pseudoscientific and absurd research.

On the compound impact of a 1% difference: https://www.politifact.com/article/2016/apr/18/hiv-africa-6-...

The WHO analysis, for independent reading: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/43751/97892...

> even if true it’s still multiple orders of magnitude less cost effective than offering and teaching condom usage.

Announcement of condom innovation funding: https://sg.finance.yahoo.com/news/bill-gates-condom-campaign...

Progress check: https://www.mic.com/articles/128850/bill-and-melinda-gates-f...

One potential MVP five years after the initial grant round: https://www.businessinsider.com/scientists-invent-self-lubri...

Seems like a multi-layered approach: tackle risk from one side through improved rubbers and further reduce risk on the flip side through medical procedures given the sustained aversion to traditional condoms.


It's not really healthy to harbor this amount of unfounded hatred for someone you've (presumably) never met, and I'd advise bringing fact-checked sources next time.

> Yikes. That's a flag.

You flagged my comment because I expressed an opinion that you disagree with about social distancing? I didn't say it doesn't work to reduce infection (although I absolutely put no stock in associative studies), I said it was a bad thing. I don't believe in constraining human relationships via coercion in order to prevent the spread of a highly infectious respiratory virus that is and was always going to be endemic. What an evil thing to do to use the flag button like that.

Doubly ironic because you linked to an article about a study rather than the actual study, and the study itself is incredibly weak because it's a crappy associative study, which is the only type of study you can really perform for social distancing (which is why it will always be a largely unfalsifiable intervention but I digress)

> Announcement of condom innovation funding: https://sg.finance.yahoo.com/news/bill-gates-condom-campaign...

That doesn't change the fact that they're spending money on this intervention. Moreover there are obvious ethical concerns with billing genital modification as a medical intervention. We don't take that ethical stance towards FGM, which we rightly decry here in the West as evil. (And before you say that FGM is totally different from male circumcision, you should read up in detail about both, including the multiple different forms of FGM, many of which are analogous to male circumcision; the correct answer is both types of genital mutilation are evil, not just the one we do to girls).

> It's not really healthy to harbor this amount of unfounded hatred for someone you've (presumably) never met, and I'd advise bringing fact-checked sources next time.

You clearly aren't familiar with fact checkers and how they work otherwise you wouldn't use that phrase with a straight face.

And sorry, it is absolutely healthy to harbor a strong distaste for someone that does things you think are evil. I've never met Xi Jinping but I don't like him either.

> On the compound impact of a 1% difference: https://www.politifact.com/article/2016/apr/18/hiv-africa-6-...

First of all politifact is not a neutral source, can we stop collectively pretending that these fact-checker types have any credibility?

Anyway I don't want to get into the whole AIDS-in-Africa debate but maybe you should read up on the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangui_definition and the fact that we regularly diagnose AIDS for things that could very plausibly not be AIDS.


I avoided giving sources because I don't want to have to argue the age-old "is it okay to perform a medicalized pseudo-surgery that started out intentionally with the intention of curtailing pleasure and the function of the male sexual organ" debate. But you might be interested in https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1016/S0968-8080%2807... that goes into some interesting history.

On the WHO-Bill-Gates-circumcision-for-HIV thing specifically, there's a great response letter to the original study that points out the glaring flaws (the most shocking that they halted the study halfway through because the results were supposedly so good it was unethical not to circumcise everyone right away...which poor data analysis aside has the obvious confound that you can't have sex for weeks after getting circumcised thus you need a long study period). However I'm having trouble finding it.

Tangentially, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/africans-speak-out-... makes some good points though. Yes it's not a research paper, I'm not trying to say it is.

I agree that the post isn't flag-worthy, but I don't think the content is very relevant to the community either. Although the Gates Foundation and Microsoft share the same founder, the former is nothing like the latter.

Until we get some other news, I’ll just assume this is a case where sometimes two people were great together at one point in their lives aren’t at another. This happened to my parents when my sister and I were both out of the house, they realized they weren’t the same two people they were decades before. Thankfully, they’re both very cordial with one another and both happily remarried.

I have doubts this means anything negative for the foundation, other than maybe a rebrand of the name. I live in Seattle and have a few friends who work there - While both Gates are active in the spectacle of the foundation and pushing the broader mission, neither touch day-to-day operations at all.

Given what happened in Jeff Bezos's divorce, this has massive implications for everyone beyond relationship drama. (e.g. control of the Gates Foundation / philanthropy contributions)

I hope it doesn't disrupt the Gates Foundation. I know there's people there doing really impactful research with good progress. It would be a shame for those labs to wind down due to Bill and Melinda's split.

Similarly, I was a Gates Scholar and it changed my life (no college debt). I hope none of the scholars or scholarship fund partners are affected, either.

Exactly, the number of people 'downstream' from Bill & Melinda Gates is quite large, and this could easily disrupt a lot of important work. That said, they are both unlikely to make rash decisions that would have a negative effect on their image, that is what that foundation was all about in the first place.

Uhm, perhaps that’s why it’s better to delegate this kind of impactful organizations non-personal institutions driven by long-term societal discourse and paid by the general public through taxation?

The Gates foundation has an endowment of $49.8 billion. That isn’t annual additions. That is all the money.

The US federal govt spends $85.9 billion a day. That is just federal, not state or municipal.


The US alone could very easily set up a foundation with similar funding. What makes the Gates Foundation special are the ideas and networks of the creators.

Are you telling me that the private allocation of resources is more efficient than public?

Private vs. Public is not the discriminating point, centralization is.

The Soviet Union went down because it represented an attempt at strictly centralized management, coupled to punitive information management where any feedback was assumed to be dissent and swiftly repressed.

As you may know, negative feedback systems are the key to stability and USSR is a case study of everything the opposite.

China is hardly a legit market economy, more of a compromise to afford some autonomy of judgement and decentralization.

There's a reason why the Soviet Union collapsed and China liberalized their economy


Maybe we'll see some different priorities and Melinda will be inspired by that other Seattle billionaire divorcée?[0]


I thought the same thing. It sounds like they'll continue to be on the board together though.

Could you explain what you mean in more detail?

Why does this story keep getting flagged on HN? As multiple people have pointed out, regardless of the personal issues in question, this affects a large number of people (such as those at the Gates Foundation).

Because it's basically celebrity gossip.

I don't really think this impacts the Foundation, and even if it did, it is a relatively small organization.

I previously commented on this sentiment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27036542.

That is really sad. Always admired their partnership. You just never know what’s going on in people’s lives.

I wish them and their family the best.

This has far reaching consequences for a lot of people on HN, please stop flagging it, the only result that has is that it gets submitted over and over again drowning out just about every submission to the new page.

People change over time. Sometimes that means you stay in a relationship because family-wise (raising children) or financially it makes sense or the alternatives are painful.

Seems like none of these are at play. Best of luck to Bill and Melinda.

I will never forgive BillG for his cutthroat and ruthless actions as Microsoft CEO given he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. None of his "charitable" actions will clear his record.

It doesn’t clear that record. But it also doesn’t take away from all the incredible work they’ve done.

Both things can be true. Especially in this case where they happened sequentially instead of in parallel.

You mean ruthless towards competing companies or ruthless towards people?


I remember her (jokingly) complaining that at dinners, he would only talk about his pet project, a machine for turning urine into clean water

A separation at this level reverberates across many levels as it will effect the lives of thousands of people. Makes me very curious as to what exactly happened.

Probably as simple as growing apart. Love and relationship are bonds that must be nurtured from both sides throughout life, or they fade away leaving nothing more than friendship.

After 30 years, you'd like to think marriage allows for some growing apart, though.

Loyalty and honor count for something, when you're thinking about who should hold your hand in the ICU, or who should be with you and your kids in the next plot (or urn).

It's odd to think that either of them looked at the other and thought "this person is an obstacle to what I really want."

Given the Gateses' roles in the tech world, venture funding, philanthropy, and Big Problems (scroll through BG's Twitter feed for numerous recent examples), including malaria, fresh water, sanitation, COVID-19, nuclear power, carbon emissions, global warming, disinformation, and more, the adjacency to numerous topics highly relevant to HN are high.

I say this as a very long-time critic of Microsoft and Gates, including on recent issues (patents as applied to vaccines).

This makes me rethink the nature of a marriage.

Just curious, how so?

Why is everyone getting triggered by the story of divorce? A lot of unhappy relationships out there? This is highly relevant article. this power couple Microsoft founder I mean his actions and life trajectory are deeply intetlinked with the history and future of technology on Earth this is extremely relevant article, and historical moment. As much as some naive commenters here would seem to like to assume a divorce does not just affect the people involved especially in this case massive flows of capital are going to alter as a result.

Sorry for them, but good thing the kids are grown.

There's an old joke about a very old couple that goes before a judge to get a divorce. The judge asks them how long they've been together. They say 75 years.

"And why are you getting a divorce now?" the judge asks.

"We wanted to wait until the children died."

the youngest is 18 now. maybe the marriage is gone for years and they were waiting for the kids to come of age? pure speculation

Bill accumulated most of his wealth before the marriage AFAICT, so that should make things go pretty smoothly. There is the notion that he will have to continue to provide her with the standard of living established during the marriage, so he could be on the hook for substantial alimony or a one time payment to buy her out.

Pretty sure your numbers are off. From some quick searching, it seems he was worth in the ballpark of $15b when they got married, and he's worth a bit shy of $150b now.

Yeah but does he derive most of his wealth from his shares in MSFT and, if so, did he acquire those shares before marriage? AFAIK, the value of those shares is immaterial if he owned them outright before marriage. If he was drawing a salary during the marriage then half of it is hers, including any assets purchased with that salary, any gains on those assets, etc.

Also, any inherited wealth coming from his parents should be his sole property. His dad died last year I believe but his widow(not Bill's mom) is still alive so the inheritance might not have happened yet.

How far in the richest people list will he fall!

Now someone has well timed this gigantic exit scam.

I would have flagged this post too if it was linking to a newspaper... not sure why it was flagged though.

I'll blame it on /u/dang, as usual. Can someone email him to get this reversed?

Users flagged it. Actually that's basically always what [flagged] means on submissions (see https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html). With comments it mostly means that too, but things are a bit more complicated.

... but you are the ones that implemented the flawed flagging.

Oh, I see. Sure, you can take that perspective, but it's a bit abstract. When most HN readers ask about flags, they're interested in knowing who flagged it and why.

> but it's a bit abstract

it's like the big picture VS the rest

The constant stresses of indefinite lockdowns and getting canceled by the Tumblr digerati are basically destroying our private lives.

Oh Bill and Melinda's divorce is 100% because of Tumblr. (honestly I would sprinkle just a little bit of Myspace and Discogs on there also)

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