There’s a very striking element in the beautiful photo of Bill Gates sitting down in a beautiful glass-walled room to read Nick Lane’s book The Vital Question. Sure, Gates wears a mercurial smile — but that’s not it. It’s also very, very sunny in Seattle, where Gates says he’s dialing in from. But Gates explains this too: “Here in Seattle, summer is a gift you earn by gutting out nine months of rain and gloom. The skies are clear, there’s hardly any humidity, and the nights are cool.” Fair enough.
But the weather, though against Seattle’s brand, isn’t the unusual part either. The most striking element in the photo is that as you look to the left of Gates, there’s another house. (For a larger pic, go to Gates’ engaging, smart and all-around excellent site GatesNotes.com.) Now try this: take a poll around your neighborhood, where if you’re like most people you can see more than a few other residences from your window. (People who live in apartment buildings can just listen for the other dwellings.) Ask in your poll: Can Bill Gates see any other houses out his window? People will invariably say no way: Bill Gates is the richest man in the world — the property is all his as far as the eye can see. But no — there it is. Another house. It could be a guest cottage, of course. A 30,000 foot guest cottage. But it sure looks like another house. Who’s house is that?