Six Degrees of Separation

When Businessman, Philanthropist and Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen wakes up today he will be 56 years old —– and a brand new U.S. President, Barack H. Obama, will begin his first day in office.

Fifty six years ago, on January 21, 1953, the day that Paul Allen was born in Seattle, Washington to Edna Faye and Kenneth Samuel Allen,  also marked the first day of a new Presidency—that of 34th U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  

On January 21st, 1953 the world was a much different place. Among other things, the U.S. experienced its leader’s inauguration in a very different way.  President Eisenhower’s Inaugural Address  was broadcast live—-just as it was yesterday—from the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.,  but his speech was received by the U.S. people only through radio, televison or newspaper.

 Fast forward 56 years later to 2009 and President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address was viewed by millions; shot around the globe via a thousand different media. The Internet buzzed with the excitement of the moment—people “Twittered”  or “Tweeted” every line of the new President’s speech and about everything that was happening at the Capitol ; the Internet’s Hulu streamed the entire ceremony from beginning to end ; celebrities were sharing their private backstage views of the festivities surrounding the welcoming of a new President  ; Satellite photos were taken,4644,6338,00.html# and by the evening of January 20th, Microsoft had designed a composite 3D photo of the scene via “Photosynth” —resulting in a remarkable virtual tour of the event taken from the emailed cell phone and camera pictures of some of the 2 million people who witnessed the Inauguration firsthand.

The same “Wired World” that Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen and numerous other Visionaries dreamed about years ago has come of age and has brought the Presidential Inaugural Experience up close and personal in a way never seen before—in a way that couldn’t have been imagined 56 years ago.  

The world is very different than it was in 1953.  And yet,  in some ways, it is also very much the same:

Fifty six years ago, our 34th U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, made his Inaugural speech on January 20, 1953 and reflected on our Country’s need for hope, for God’s guidance and help, and the courage to face the challenges of the day:

“The world and we have passed through the midway point of a century of continuing challenge… the swift rush of great events, we find ourselves groping to know that full sense and meaning of these times in which we live.   In our quest of understanding, we beseech God’s guidance.  We summon all our knowledge of the past and we scan all signs of the future.   We bring all out wit and our will to meet the question:
How far have we come in man’s long pilgrimage from darkness toward light?   Are we nearing the light—a day of freedom and peace for all mankind?  Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon us?”*1

And yesterday, January 20th, 2009,  so did America’s 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama.  As the American people face the enormous challenges of the day, we are still searching for an answer to the same question that was asked 56 years ago:

“How far have we come in man’s long pilgrimage from darkness toward light?   Are we nearing the light—a day of freedom and peace for all mankind?  Or are the shadows of another night closing in upon us?”

As Paul Allen celebrates his birthday today, this country welcomes a new President whose eloquent Inaugural speech brings hope that we are in fact drawing towards light and peace, and that despite the significant challenges we face today, we are better than ever before.  Here is the full transcript from yesterday’s address, courtesy of ABC News:

President Barack Obama Delivers Inaugural Address at US Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Jan. 20, 2009


“My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”


Happy Birthday, Mr. Allen!

And Welcome Mr. President! May God bless and guide you and America!



President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Speech:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Inaugural Address:    

*1 Eisenhower Inaugural Speech
January 20, 1953


 He’s been touted as the “Pharaoh of the Pacific Northwest” for his renovation of South Lake Union in Seattle, and listed among Time Magazine’s Most Influential for two years running. He owns 3 major league sports teams, and has left big footprints in several industries, including computers, medicine and space travel. And yet Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen has been described as a down-to-earth, regular guy—“the nicest billionaire you’ll ever meet.”


But just in case you never do meet him, you can still see that “Regular Guy” side of Allen via a few videos that have been floating around the Internet lately.


Check it out:

1) Shaq Attack:

Basketball phenom Shaquille O’Neal recovers gracefully from a tumble into the stands by shaking the hand of Trail Blazers owner, Paul Allen.


2) High Five:

A Seahawks win has owner Paul Allen and fans in a very good mood. Check out this video of Allen high-fiving Seattle Seahawks fans as he walks off the field.


3) Twice Bitten:

Here Paul Allen is a good sport as he is attacked by a “vampire” while chatting with a comely news reporter about Gwen Stefani and technology.


4) Cannes Hello:

Here is a video of Allen in Cannes, France, coming ashore from a trip aboard one of his megayachts, Tatoosh. His lovely home in St. Jean Cap-Ferrat, called Villa Maryland,  was a hangout for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt during the 61st Cannes Film Festival last summer.


5) Blazers Workout:

Here is Paul Allen again after a Blazers workout, chatting about chatting with some dynamic new potential players from France — in French, no less.


6) Blazers Press Conference:

And here he is again talking about his favorite basketball team.



 7) Beard or No Beard?

 Here is Paul Allen joking around with Bill Gates as the famous photo from 1978 is retaken 30 years later: (2:30 minutes into the program):


(From BBC’s “The Money Programme: Bill Gates: How a Geek Changed the World.” (Part 2)


8 ) A Computer on Every Desk:


And here he is talking about the realization of the dream that he and Bill Gates had of putting a computer in every home and on every desk:


9) Best Computer History Video of All Time:

If you haven’t seen Robert Cringley’s “Triumph of the Nerds,” in which many of the pioneers of the computer industry, including Paul Allen, were featured, you’ve got to check it out. Here is one place where you can find it :


10) Jamming with Friends:

Finally, here are a few of my favorites—-Paul Allen performing in concert through the years, just being a regular guy, having a good time and playing some pretty decent guitar rifts besides!


Here he is hamming it up with his band:


And here is a bearded version of Paul Allen in 1995, having a great time performing with some good friends:

So maybe this post isn’t “Evri”-thing you wanted to know about Paul Allen—

in fact, you can find that here:


But it’s still fun to see Allen in candid mode. :-)_________________________________________________________________________________

BTW—I know I’ve been away for awhile.

I’ve been a little sidetracked lately, doing some serious cyberspace exploration with my mini-pc, a Flipstart, and I’ve been having just too much fun with it to stop by.   But I’ll be back soon, I promise, with more six degrees connections, and a list of cool sites and other things I’ve discovered lately along the way.

Stay tuned…..



“…All my life I’ve wanted to see the day when men would conquer space and explore the planets—and I wanted to take part in it. I don’t have to tell you how that feels…”

From Robert Heinlein’s “Rocketship Galileo” p.23



Escaping from earth will not always be automatically expensive; contrary to the impression created by a Saturn launch, the energy needed to reach space is remarkably small…..Commercial space flight is now beginning to be technologically feasible and will soon become economically viable.”

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

From the Foreword to Dan Linehan’s “SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History”



“Tourism is the first market for the new spaceflight industry, as thousands of people with the dream to see the earth from space for themselves sign up for rides on suborbital spaceships, which will become increasingly affordable.”

From the book “Rocketeers” by Michael Belfiore



Space travel was exciting to any kid growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen was no exception. Like millions of American kids, Allen followed the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, and recalled the excitement he felt when the television cart was wheeled into his classroom so that he and fellow students could view the historic events on a black and white TV. Science fiction books fascinated him, like Robert Heinlein’s “Rocketship Galileo” which told the story of a group of kids who built their own spaceship; and a visit to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair offered a simulated rocket journey into space in the world’s first “Spacearium.” 

As a kid, Allen built dozens of model rockets and even tried his hand at building a homemade rocket of his own out of an old lawn chair (it melted:-).  And he was awed by science fiction stories that made the big screen, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he saw at Seattle’s local Cinerama theater.


So when brilliant inventor Burt Rutan introduced the idea of a low cost suborbital spacecraft, Paul Allen was very, very interested.


The relationship between the billionaire and the inventor began with a different business venture, but by the Spring of 2000, when Burt Rutan felt that his idea was ready for funding, he asked for a meeting with Paul Allen and told him about the spaceship he was designing. Allen responded with a handshake and an enthusiastic—“Let’s do it.”



“”I always had in the back of my mind, would I ever have the opportunity to do something in a space-related initiative? Allen recalled. “And so when the SpaceShipOne opportunity came up, I was very excited to pursue it.”

From Dan Linehan’s “SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History”(p. 19)



And the rest is history. The Allen-funded SpaceShipOne soared into space, and on October 4th, 2004, it became the first privately funded spaceship to make it into suborbital space twice in two weeks with an equivalent weight of 3 people, thereby winning the Ansari X-prize. It also thereby effectively jumpstarted the commercial space travel industry, something which had previously been thought so impossible that it had a “giggle factor.”


On that October 4th date, back in mission control, as SpaceShipOne was still floating in space, Paul Allen shook another hand—the hand of billionaire Richard Branson—who purchased the rights to Allen’s spaceship development program for his own commercial “spaceline,” Virgin Galactic.  The handshake symbolized the next great step in the commercial space travel industry—as “Rocketeers” author Michael Belfiore commented, “That moment marked the end of the beginning of the commercial space age.”


And on July 28, 2008, just a couple of weeks ago, the reality of private space travel—of ordinary people becoming astronauts and sailing off into space—just got closer with the unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s mothership, Eve, otherwise known as WhiteKnightTwo.  The WhiteKnightTwo, a beautifully designed carrier aircraft, will be launching rocket SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts into suborbital space in the near future.


In fact, if you have a couple hundred thousand dollars (or A LOT of Virgin Atlantic frequent flier miles)*, and a dream to be an astronaut, you can sign up to be a passenger on a Virgin Galactic spaceflight right now:





and for “Virgin Atlantic Frequent Fliers”*


Apparently, a large number of people have already signed up.






It’s all pretty exciting when you think about it, and it had me wondering what space travel might look like, say, 50 years from now.  So just for fun, I thought I’d write a story about an astronaut from the year 2058, who is also, since spaceships are so common at that time, basically just an ordinary businessman on his way home from work.


Just one more thought… case you hadn’t guessed, this story is NOT real. And one more thing—if you see Microsoft Co-founder,  Paul Allen’s name (and related stuff) pop up in the story, remember that this IS the Six Degrees of Paul Allen site…….. 🙂






Businessman Bo Nunez stepped inside the gleaming spaceship and trudged wearily down the narrow aisle leading to the first class section of the 8 pm Virgin Galactic Transport Shuttle. It had been a long day.


He looked forward to getting home. Although the commute to his condo on the Rutan Community Moon Colony was a long one—roughly an hour’s journey—he did not regret the purchase of his new dream home there last year in 2057.  The price was admittedly astronomical, but it was a nice little community—the amenities were unparalleled, and the views—well, the views were literally out of this world.


He sank down into his plush leather seat, buckled his seat belt and settled in for the ride home. Donning headphones, he began to listen to a song he designed last night on his computer with the help of the latest Drumcore software. He had become a pro at mixing tracks—and by blending a little U2, Blues and drum solos from his favorite artists, he had come up with a pretty decent song. In fact, the recording would have been perfect were it not for the vocalist. He chuckled as he heard his own voice. “OK, so I guess I won’t quit my day job,” he laughed.


He pulled his Kiha* out of his shirt pocket and gently set it down on the pull-down table in front of him. Immediately the surface of the table began to shimmer and ripple as if it were made of water. Multicolored tropical fish appeared to swim deep into the surface of the table and across the screen in 3D, as the scene reflected the underwater beauty of Bo’s favorite dive spot in Palau. This was clearly his favorite screen saver, this underwater video that Bo took last summer, and it always put him in a good mood after a hard day’s work.


“Hello, Bo” said a soft, pleasant voice coming from the table. “Where do you want to go today?”


“To the moon, Alice!” he thought, remembering the ancient Jackie Gleason reruns that were so popular in the 2040’s. But instead he smiled and said:


“How about checking today’s headlines?”


Immediately the surface of the table changed to reveal the top stories and photos of the day. One headline in particular caught his eye:


“The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Changes Its Name.”

AP Seattle, Washington


“The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has announced that it is changing its name and its focus due to the recent development of the Cancer/HIV vaccine.  Since the vaccine was discovered a few years ago, these diseases have been effectively made obsolete in the civilized world.


The newly renamed Fred Hutchinson Research Center will now merge with neighboring charitable organizations; The Allen Institute for Brain Science, founded by Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen and the Gates Foundation, founded by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, to refocus its efforts and collaborate its resources in order to bring the vaccine, along with other recent Allen Institute cures for MS, MD and Alzheimer’s Disease, and the latest spinal cord regeneration treatment, to underdeveloped countries.


“We are extremely pleased and honored to be a part of this wonderful project,” stated Jo Allen Patton, chairman of the Allen Family Foundation. “We are grateful to the remarkable men and women who have developed breakthrough medicines that are now capable of defeating these devastating diseases, and we hope to continue to provide the funding necessary to bring these cures to every person who needs them in every corner of the world.”


Nunez paused for a moment to absorb the information. “Another scientific breakthrough from the Allen District of Seattle! What a place it must be!


“And Paul Allen—I’ve heard of that guy,” he thought. “I wonder what he’s doing now?”


Curious, Nunez did an EVRI  search and discovered that at 105 years old the Microsoft Co-founder had just cut his 4th best-selling rock album.


“So he finally broke down and released another set of songs,” Nunez thought. He remembered what terrific hits the first three albums had become nearly 20 years ago, but he had heard that Allen hesitated to issue another album.  It was important to him that people remembered him for more than just his music.


Right under that headline was an article about Allen and Gates:


“Dynamic Duo Strikes Again


People Weekly


‘Holy smokes, Batman!’  The Dynamic Duo is at it again, battling the forces of evil.


No, we’re not talking about ancient comic book superheroes, but about an unbeatable team of philanthropists named Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Not quite a century ago, when the pair was barely out of their teens, they wrote a language that changed the world, and founded a company that is still one of the most successful organizations in the history of business.


And now they’ve joined forces again to take on a new villain—-disease.


Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have been in the disease vanquishing business since the turn of the century. Through their efforts with the Gates Foundation, the disease Malaria, a horrible scourge that plagued millions of people many years ago has long gone the way of Microsoft’s early competitors. But Gates has begun to tackle other dark forces and has taken on a new partner to do it—his old Microsoft partner, Paul Allen.


Allen has been on a disease fighting mission of his own for many years. The Allen Institute for Brain Science, a charitable organization that he founded in 2003, has made major breakthroughs recently in combating a number of debilitating illnesses that have plagued the world. The Allen Institute has historically ventured into a number of research projects such as the brain map and spinal cord map, and has published its findings for free, assisting researchers to find cures for diseases in their particular fields. Recognizing that this kind of information-sharing leads to scientific breakthroughs that benefit everyone, other researchers have followed suit, and the speed of progress in fighting these infirmities has taken off like lightning in recent years, most recently leading to cures.


The Gates’ will now join The Allen Family Foundation and the recently renamed Fred Hutchinson Research Center in bringing these cures for a number of diseases, among them Alzheimer’s, MD, Multiple Sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as the recently discovered Cancer/HIV Vaccine and Spinal Regeneration and Regrowth treatments, to countries that currently do not have access to this kind of medicine.


May their battle against disease take them to the ends of the earth and to the farthest reaches of space; or, in the words of another Superhero,


‘To Infinity and Beyond!’ “




This was great news. Bo remembered a friend of his from years ago, a good friend whom he’d lost…….”I wish those cures had been around earlier,” he thought to himself.


He was deep in thought when the seat belt light clicked off and nudged him out of his reverie. Bo looked up from the screen on the table in front of him and gazed out the window. What a view! He could never get used to how beautiful the earth looked from up here.


Some of the passengers had taken off their seat belts and were floating around the room, laughing and doing somersaults, and noisily calling each other over to the many windows of the spacecraft to check out the spectacular scenery. When the cabin was full, this was considered bad manners—-this bouncing around the room, sometimes bumping into people who just wanted to get home. But tonight, perhaps because of the late flight, the cabin was nearly empty, and there was plenty of room to move around.


As many times as he had made this trip, Bo could not resist feeling completely thrilled by this part of the ride. The feeling of weightlessness made him feel, well, even a little giddy, like a kid riding on a roller coaster for the first time.


But today for some reason, he was overwhelmed by the feeling.  Maybe it was the stress of the day or the good news he’d just read. Or maybe he had just taken it all for granted for too long. Whatever the reason, today he couldn’t resist taking off his seat belt and joining the floaters.  As he released the latch of his seat belt and floated away from the restraint, suddenly Bo Nunez forgot the seriousness of the day he had just had. He forgot his age, his business, his life back on earth. For this moment, none of those things mattered. He was 10 years old again—free—and if he wanted to jump off of his first class leather seat and bounce around the walls of this luxury craft in his business suit, he could care less how it looked to anyone else.


The seat belt sign came on again, much too soon it seemed, and he belted himself in once more for the lightening-fast ride home. He was breathless, elated from his venture climbing around the cabin and he felt a little like a school kid who had misbehaved in class and had gotten away with it.  By the time the Virgin Galactic Shuttle descended upon the Lunar Spaceport and touched down on the surface of the moon, Bo Nunez was in a very, very good mood.




Just for fun…so that means that none of this is real. But impossible? Maybe not …… J




Check out these links…….

Dan Linehan’s SpaceShipOne: an Illustrated History:

Michael Belfiore’s “Rocketeers”


“Rocketship Galileo” Robert Heinlein

Other References:
Remarks upon winning the Robert J. Collier Trophy from Allen’s website

Other Links:

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Ready for Trips into Space::

Upcoming conference on what’s next in the tourism industry:


Paul Allen’s SpaceShipOne:


Condos on the moon in 50 years?

(What about 15?)


Institutes mentioned as they are in 2008: 

The Allen Institute for Brain Science:


Allen Institute Spinal Cord Map:


Allen Institute Brain Atlas:


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:


 Other Stuff Mentioned:









The Paul Allen Band:




*(BTW, I have no idea what they’re up to—just took a guess….:-)


Microsoft’s “Surface” 



SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo Videos and more:


 Inside SpaceShipTwo

 From the Discovery Channel and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions “Black Sky”   (Mike Melville)

 SpaceShipTwo Demo

SpaceShipOne winning the X-Prize (Brian Binnie)

 Space Travel future

 Virgin Galactic SpacePort

 Virgin Galactic video narrated by Richard Branson

 Animation of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo from a year ago

 Private industry moves to take over space race

Honeymoon in Space, Anyone? 🙂


Last Friday, Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen was performing at the hottest party in Cannes—his own. 



From the LA Times: “The most publicized Cannes Film Festival party is the annual black-tie ball held by Vanity Fair magazine.

But billionaire Paul Allen’s yearly yacht bash may have become an even hotter ticket.”



An A-list of celebs, including Sean Penn, Natalie Portman, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Barry Diller, Salma Hayek, Petra Nemcova, Woody Harrelson and George Lucas were treated to a late-night concert by Paul Allen and his band on the upper deck of Paul’s 301 ft. megayacht, Tatoosh, the smaller of his two ships. The music continued on as guests made their way to the lower decks, where Allen’s guests were entertained by U2’s Bono.



O.k. That was last week.



This week—tonight in fact—Paul Allen again took the stage and fronted his band, this time at the NCTA’s “Battle of the Bands” charity concert held at Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.  As I write this, the concert is still going on, and all of the bands are pretty good, especially considering that these are amateur musicians whose day job is in some way connected to the cable industry.



But Paul Allen was great.

And I’m not kidding. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m probably going to say SOMETHING nice about this guy—I’m an unabashed fan. But I am so not kidding, Paul Allen is a terrific guitar player.



I know what you’re thinking.  I can imagine that the Hollywood guests who drank Allen’s champagne and hung out in luxurious surroundings at his party last week would probably have given a good round of applause for their host’s performance, even if the music wasn’t as good as the food.


I kind of suspected the same thing before I saw Allen in concert. It’s logical that the guy would get accolades as a performer just because he owns the yacht or the stage or the company, or just because he’s probably the most influential guy in the room.


But I’ll bet the concert last week was really good, because the concert tonight was great. It was so great.


Paul Allen knows how to play the guitar. It’s almost a little unfair, because he’s so good at so many other things.


He played a killer guitar tonight—killer. I got an inkling that he was pretty good when I heard the band’s second song, a lovely blues song that I’d love to get on my Zune, but I was blown away by the next song, Paul’s rendition of Jimi Hendrix’ “Purple Haze.”  



And I’m not the only one who was blown away by the performance. Amidst the applause after the band’s performance, the show’s announcer exclaimed— “Oh my Gd!” and the audience started chanting, “Paul, Paul, Paul, Paul….”   And, no kidding, they wanted an encore!  The Paul Allen Band was the only Band the entire night that got an encore request from the audience.


 Other comments by judges, etc. included “Awesome,” “It was easily the best guitar playing of the night”  and “You should quit your day job—oh yeah, that’s right, you DID quit your day job!” J



Anyway, what a great concert! I’ve had a great time watching all of the bands, and it was wonderful to finally get a chance to see Paul Allen live in concert.


 And the other thing—it’s been really nice to be able to do it all from home. I’ve been watching the concert tonight from my Flipstart computer via Octoshape streaming video.


Check it out:


Ok, the verdict is finally in.


The Paul Allen Band won 2nd place!


Now all we need is an album—maybe an Amazon Mp3 download or something—


What do you think, Paul?



You’ve got to check out this video of Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen and his Band “On the Road to Nola!”–

Is that great or what?! 🙂

Next Tuesday, May 20th at 8 pm in the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Allen and his band will be among a number of cable industry musicians performing at NCTA’s “Battle of the Bands” Charity Fundraiser.  Proceeds from the Concert will go towards New Orleans schools and libraries, and to other organizations devoted to helping the city of New Orleans to rebuild.

A number of the bands performing that night have submitted their own version of “On the Road to Nola,” but you can imagine which one is my favorite! 🙂

Anyway, when you watch the video, keep in mind that the guy sitting in the driver’s seat of that beat up old VW van is one of the most powerful, influential people in the world.  (If you don’t believe me, just ask Time Magazine :-).


 Wow–what a great video!  Paul Allen must be a really down-to-earth guy to ham it up like that, you know?


(If you go to the concert,  you will have to bring a fully charged cell phone in order to vote on the best band.*  So…..since you’ve got your camera phone out anyway….what do you think? How about taking a photo or video clip of Paul Allen’s Band? Anyone?) 🙂


Apparently the concert will also be webcasted by Octoshape:

See.. ,

I’ll have to check it out on my Flipstart ….. 🙂

Sorry for being away for so long —-
I’ve been hanging with Brad and Angelina ……….,,20196636,00.html


Starting new companies……

Sticking up for my homeboys against the whole NBA (except for Mark Cuban ) ……….

Doing Some Remodeling ….
And Accepting Awards…………,28757,1733748,00.html?iid=redirect-time100
All of those awards…where in the world am I going to keep them all???

The truth is, I’ve just been really busy doing a lot of pretty mundane things.
This has been a quiet Spring for Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen, but I imagine that Allen’s most uneventful day would seem pretty exciting in comparison to mine. 🙂

Here is a quick glimpse of just a few of the things that Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen has been doing recently:
—– Paul Allen was one of only two NBA owners who voted against moving the Seattle SuperSonics team to Oklahoma as the new Sonics owners wanted.  As reporter John Canzano noted, although from a business standpoint Allen had the most to gain from a “yes” vote, he put his own interests aside, stood up to NBA Commissioner David Stern and 28 other NBA owners and voted “no” in the best interests of the people of Seattle.
That took guts. Way to go, Paul!
—–Allen’s Brain Institute is continuing to push the frontiers of Neurology, giving away expensively acquired medical research findings in order to help other researchers to find cures for diseases of the brain that much faster.  In March, Paul Allen’s Institute launched 3 new landmark Brain Atlas projects focusing on the human brain, developing brain and spinal cord. The projects “have vast potential to help scientists worldwide gain new insight into neurological diseases and disorders.”
In addition……

“The Institute will create three new Web-based atlas resources that map gene activity in the brain and spinal cord. These include an atlas designed to provide insight into gene expression in the human brain; an atlas of the developing mouse brain designed to illustrate and enhance understanding of gene activity across multiple stages of development from birth through adulthood; and an atlas of the mouse spinal cord designed to inform research into spinal injuries due to disease, disorder or trauma.

The new atlases will be officially known as the Allen Brain Atlas (ABA)—Human Brain, ABA—Developing Mouse Brain, and ABA—Mouse Spinal Cord. Upon completion, the atlases will be made publicly available on the Internet at no charge to users to encourage widespread use and scientific collaboration.”

Although the Brain Institute’s latest developments have not been met with as much fanfare as the first time it made a major scientific breakthrough, Time Magazine has not forgotten to recognize Allen for his achievements. This is the second year in a row that Time Magazine has nominated Paul Allen as one of its “100 Most Influential” (for 2008).  Check it out below: (Excerpt written by Thomas Insel and Story Landis)
“If the brain is science’s great frontier, you need someone to lead the expedition—someone with smarts and curiosity, not to mention a large bank account to finance the journey. In the terra incognita of the brain, that’s Paul Allen.  Co-founder of Microsoft, owner of three sports teams and lead backer of SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 made the first private manned space flight, Allen, 55, is also head of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which was founded in 2001 with the goal of mapping the brain, cell by cell and gene by gene. His scientific team began with the mouse brain and finished the job in 2006, posting all the data online. Scientists everywhere now have a free neural GPS to learn where and how specific genes are expressed—a vital tool for studying similar functions in human brains.The institute has now begun its own effort to map human gene expressions, hoping for insight into the molecular basis of consciousness and creativity. Allen founded his institute in the belief that with the right tools you can transform the speed of science itself. Not many people accomplish that even once. Allen is doing it yet again.”,28804,1733748_1733754_1735855,00.html  *
—– And this is not the only honor that Allen will be receiving in May.
At the NCTA conference this month, Allen will be among those receiving the cable industry’s top honor, the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, which is “presented annually to individuals who excel in both business and personal commitment to their colleagues, and whose accomplishments merit the recognition of the entire cable industry.”
 Watch for the “battle of the bands” during the conference, which will include a performance by Paul Allen’s band. .
(BTW—-If you’ve been invited and have a video camera, please, please, please use it that night, ok? We seriously need a Youtube of Paul Allen in concert! 🙂
I’ve already found a few videos of my favorite musician on the Web—but could certainly use another one… 🙂
Check out these links: 
(Paul is the guy in the baseball cap)
Ok, the video above is pretty cool—Allen is performing with Spinal Tap and a number of other musicians during last year’s Live Earth Concert at Wembley Stadium in London. But it’s also impossible to tell whether Allen is a good guitarist or not in the midst of so many rock musicians.
So—check out this video from 1995—many, many years ago. Here is Paul Allen back in his bearded days, performing with “The Paul Allen Group” at a Ticketmaster event in Santa Barbara, California. It’s absolutely priceless, and you’ve got to admit, this guy plays a pretty mean guitar! 🙂
And here is one more site to check out for a taste of Allen’s own music.  Most of the songs on this album were written by Allen, and all of them were performed by his band, Grown Men.
What else?
In April, Paul Allen was awarded an honorary Ph.D in Science from the Watson School of Biological Science in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.  In addition, during the last few months he has been founding startups, buying up wireless airwaves, donating to charities, “scouting” in Spain for his Trail Blazers, and basically having a really good time, as you can imagine!
What a remarkable life!
*(BTW—It is interesting to note how Time defines “Influential.”
“The TIME 100 is not a hot list. It’s a survey not of the most powerful or the most popular, but of the most influential. Influence is hard to measure, and what we look for is people whose ideas, whose example, whose talent, whose discoveries transform the world we live in. Influence is less about the hard power of force than the soft power of ideas and example.”)

To: William Gates

Chairman at Microsoft

Co-Chair at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Dear Mr. Gates,

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I haven’t yet received my invitation to your LinkedIn Network.  No biggie—-I know you’ve been busy lately—but it’s just that I’m sure we know a lot of the same people…..

Well, o.k., maybe I know OF a lot of the same people whom you know, but same difference, right? 🙂

Anyway, in the meantime, I thought I’d take a crack at the excellent question that you posted on your LinkedIn site:

“How can we do more to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and technology?”*4ITS

I thought I’d start out by answering your question with a question:

What  were the things that inspired you and your friend Paul Allen when you were young? And just as importantly, what factors helped you both to become successful in those fields later in life?

You obviously know the answers better than I do, but I can take an educated guess based on your life, and turn it into advice for this new generation of young people:

1) Give them a vision:

Do you remember the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair?

I’d bet a dollar that going to that Fair was a profoundly inspiring experience for you (and for Paul Allen too) when you were children living in the city of Seattle. Remember The World of Science and The World of Tomorrow?  You could walk right into those exhibits and experience the possibilities the future had to offer in a powerful, palpable way. You could stand next to a rocket designed by NASA or ride in a “Spacearium”–a virtual space ship and see the “stars.” You could witness “Space Age Communications” at Bell Telephone’s pavilion, or get a glimpse of how future computers could connect libraries together and make information accessible to everyone.

From p. 20 of the Seattle World’s Fair 1962 official program:

“The experience is vivid. Shafts of color have illuminated another life—an easy, gracious, stimulating future beyond tomorrow’s tomorrow. Time itself has been compressed so that you could stand on the threshold of Century 21.”*1

The World’s Fair offered a profoundly real vision of what the future could be—it’s opportunities and responsibilities—a vision designed to inspire kids to dream big and do great things. And you and Paul Allen and a number of Visionaries took that dream and ran with it, building the real “World of Tomorrow.”

2) Give them access to cutting tools and information.

Remember the Lakeside computer room–the teletype machine that connected to a computer at CCC? Wasn’t it remarkable for kids who were barely into their teens—12 and 14 year olds—to have access to something that was so cutting edge for its time? I wonder how many adults grasped the magnitude of what was being done in that little room; what you were learning and how futuristic it all was? Wasn’t it because you had free reign with that equipment—that you could play with it and explore what you could do with it—at least a part of the reason that you could envision its future potential? Wasn’t it a part of the reason why a few years later you could call up Ed Roberts at a time when few people even owned an Altair, let alone found a use for one, and confidently tell him you could write a language for his pc?

3. Give them exposure to cutting edge mentors:

I know that you had a number of really remarkable teachers at Lakeside and and had several other mentors back in those days, but I’ll mention just one of them as an example. Do you remember Steve Russell, the guy who wrote the first videogame, Spacewar?  He and Dick Gruen had just come to C-Cubed from Stanford’s SAIL  (Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab) program, which was involved with a number of research projects including, of course,  artificial intelligence.*2

That was a pretty cutting edge concept for its time. And although I heard that those guys never spoon-fed you any information (Paul Andrews called them “Zen Masters” because in response to your questions they would hand you and Paul Allen another manual so you could figure it out for yourselves 🙂 ),* 3  I imagine that working side by side with people who understood an area that most people had no clue even existed—guys who were dabbling on the cutting edge of technology—had an influence on you and Paul Allen, didn’t it?


So how do you give large numbers of young people access to creative tools and mentors?

Via the Internet, of course!

I have it on good authority that if you or Paul Allen or Steve Ballmer or Bono (or pretty much anyone from the X-Box team 🙂 ) were to offer a few insights via Youtube or live webcast etc., young people would be there in a heartbeat—watching and listening, eagerly absorbing what you have to say. 

The communication options out there today via the Internet offer a myriad of mentoring opportunities and an easy way to reach out to young people and impart new ideas, provide virtual communities, make contacts or share information.

And as far as creative tools go, maybe on a widespread level you could impart basic information—do a video on how to write a simple program, for example. On a more individualized level, one idea might be to pose a problem and then offer resources to the kids who present the best ideas and want to work on solutions to solve it—sort of an X-Prize-like contest where acceptance into the contest is competitive, but once accepted there are sponsors who can help the entrants to bring those ideas to fruition.

Then of course there are the science clubs, bowls, fairs and other kinds of contests already in place that you could support—not even necessarily financially, but through finding ways to keep everyone connected and facilitating connections to mentors in the various scientific fields.

4) Reward Goodness:

“Of course, not all challenges spring from technology. Many of the toughest problems we face today; hunger, the environment, population growth and violence desperately need people who want to attack these problems and make a difference in the lives of others.”*4

That quote was from Paul Allen in a speech he made to the WSU graduating class of 1999. And you have echoed the same sentiment—that we need people who can address the urgent problems that our world is facing today such as poverty, disease, food and energy shortages and environmental issues.*5

See… Bill Gates’ Speech at the World Economic Forum on Creative Capitalism

As you said, the world of today is better than in years past. The leaders of today include a number of tech wizards and visionaries whose creative ideas and efforts have made the world a better place. And as you know, the youth of today are our world’s greatest resource and its best hope for the future.  Nurture those young people who share a vision of a better world and who come up with new ideas that address some of its challenges.

Inspire everyone, but focus your resources and mentoring efforts on them. If your vision of creative capitalism is truly to become a widespread business ethic, it is the youth of today who will embrace it and the next generation who will bring it to fruition. Seek out the kind of young people who share your vision, whom you want to be tomorrow’s leaders, and help them to get there through scholarships, internships, small business loans, other financial rewards, and of course, recognition.

5) Above all, don’t underestimate them just because they’re young.

As you know from experience, young people can accomplish a great deal!

Another Lakeside story…..

Do you remember Frank Peep from C-Cubed and ISI in your Lakeside days?* 6  A few years ago I asked him if he was surprised that kids as young as you and Paul Allen were could have accomplished so much. His response? A definite “No.” On the contrary, he was not at all surprised.

“Kids are fearless,” he said.

When the adults looked at those computers, they saw some really expensive equipment. When you kids looked at them, you saw a playground—a game, a challenge.  You wanted to play around with the system, test it out, explore its capabilities—which was exactly what you were supposed to do—you were hired to find the bugs in the system so those problems could be fixed. 

You guys weren’t afraid of anything, so you took risks and crossed boundaries and did things that the higher-ups—the adults—said could never be done. It was because of your youth, not just in spite of it, that you were able to accomplish so much.

Kids are too young to be afraid, too naive to know that something is impossible and too inexperienced to believe that the way it’s always been done is the only way to do it.

As you said, “Young people aren’t as constrained by traditional ways of thinking. They haven’t yet completely absorbed the “right” way to do things, so they are free to pursue ideas that seem impossible to those of us with more experience.” ,
With the Right Skills, Young People will Create More Innovations

So challenge them, give them a few creative tools and see what they come up with. You never know what could happen…..

So there you go…..answer #4 gazillion to your Linked In question—hope it helps!

…..And about that Linked In invite—no hurry or anything.  I’ll just be sitting here, waiting by my computer……. :-)*

*….actually, my computer will be sitting here in my pocket, waiting by me. I just bought a Flipstart—Yeah!! 🙂 But that’s another story for another time….. 🙂



1 Seattle World’s Fair 1962 Official Souvenir Program, 1961 ACME Publications

2. “Gates: How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented An Industry—and Made Himself the Richest Man in America.” by Paul Andrews and Stephen Manes. 1994;   p. 32–

3) “Gates” Ibid. at p. 30

4) Paul Allen’s WSU Speech to 1999 graduating class upon receiving the Regent’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The WSU site used to have an audio of the entire speech, which was originally aired via satellite uplink from the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. (Paul Allen’s Trail Blazers were in the NBA Finals at the time.)

Also—I heard that Paul Allen just attended the TED conference:



so these very issues have been on his mind too lately. He has also tried to inspire young people in a number of ways in the past; for example, check out these links:


6) “Gates” Ibid. p. 40; Interview with Frank Peep, winter of 2004.

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