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A helpful reader sends a jpg of two adjacent pages from Germany's Net-Business magazine. And need we say more? Well, yes, now you mention it.

Net-Business does have a web operation, but the text isn't up there yet, and fortunately we can't read it on the image we've got. The article on the left, we're informed, is largely about how everybody in the IT business hates Bill Gates, while the picture on the right... Well, for reasons we don't quite grasp, this is apparently page one of a two page ad for Der Spiegel, and appropriately enough it's tagged "The story goes on." Actually more properly, but less appropriately, it might mean "history goes on." But it could mean the other.

Left to very extreme right: The Devil, a hardware supplier

Our informant optimistically says "we think you can read enough German to translate the articles' headline." And there hangs something of a tale.

The Lettice Pidgin German lessons left me to understand that böse means wicked, but as what we have then translates as "Many believe, Bill Gates is the wicked," there are clearly wider nuances to its use as a noun. Cue two hours getting deeper and deeper into web searches.

Das Böse is clearly something like satan or the devil, but auf Deutsch these are Satan and Teufel respectively. First hit, amazingly, was our dear friend Doctor Tom, who's found a piece of gear called The Evil Kyro. Well I never. Then there's Calva Y Nada's Das Böse macht ein freundliches Gesicht, now sadly unavailable in English, but which possibly translates as "The Devil has a friendly face."

Boy, are we going to cop some wierdos after the crawlers are through with this page.

Lowering the tone further, we have Star Trek. Deep Space Nine 10. Das Böse. Puzzlingly, this would appear to correspond to Star Trek. deep Space Nine 10, Valhalla, but that (available as an e-book from Amazon, is by an entirely different author.

But enough of this relentless drive downmarket. Over at the University of Ulm, the department of philosophy asks, Was ist das Böse ??? The answer is apparently very long and involved, but there are some great animations you should check out there. The chattering demon is lovely. Meanwhile the University of Bielefeld runs a course on "Gott und das Böse", while back at Ulm we have a commentary on Goethe's Faust.

Now we're getting warm, if you'll pardon the expression. Introducing himself to Faust, Mephistopheles describes himself as "Ein Teil von jener Kraft, Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft." Which Bibliobytes' translation gives as: "Part of that power which still produceth good, whilst ever scheming ill."

A complex concept, this das Böse. Mephistopheles goes on to explain: "Thus all the elements which ye Destruction, Sin, or briefly, Evil, name, As my peculiar element I claim." Which does clarify matters a tad as regards which side he's on.

Reader Mike Langner comes up with some further useful stuff: "Das Böse means the devil. Literally, it means 'The Evil', but because of ancient superstition that to say a demon's name out loud will call it to you, they just call it "The Evil".

So is Bill Gates evil? Is he The Evil? Is he the devil? Has he struck a Faustian pact with the devil so he gets all the money in the world in exchange for his soul. Screw that for an explanation - he's a lawyer's kid, he never had a soul. And he doesn't look a bit like that guy on the right (the far, far right) either. ®

Bill Gates Devil stories we prepared earlier:
Bill Gates is the devil - - whacky numerologist 'proves'
Bill Gates devil numerologist can't count

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