Who wants to be a billionare?


It was that master of quick wit Groucho Marx who once remarked he found television very educating as every time someone turned the set on he’d go to another room and read a book.

Perhaps less cynically I too extoll the pedagogical (a truly frightening word if ever there was one) virtues of television. In fact, allow me to suggest from the outset, it’s very possible I could have been a doctor had there not been so many good shows on television back in my youth. Like shards of intermittent sunlight filtering through a thick rainforest canopy, things worth knowing – from sources other than a whisper-narrating David Attenborough –  do occasionally manage to escape the blast-furnace of noise, opinion and melodrama that is the small screen.

Not that what I’m about to relate really fits into that category. But here goes anyway. On the show MILLIONAIRE HOTSEAT the other afternoon, the following question was posed:

According to FORBES MAGAZINE, who (of the writer’s pictured) became the world’s first billionaire author?Real

*** If you answered Robert Galbraith, congratulations!

       You’re now $20 000 richer in lounge-chair expert imaginary tv dollars.

*** Ps. On a non-literary note, if you’ve got  a yearning for the top prize, simply name the person, who as of 17 hours ago, overtook Bill Gates to be crowned the new World’s Richest Person (Hint: Initials J.B)





19 thoughts on “Who wants to be a billionare?

  1. It’s Jeff Bezos the Amazon founder.

    Although I have to admit I’d never heard of him before watching the Today show this morning….so it turns out that this question or a least the knowledge of the answer does also relate to tv.


  2. Correcto-mundo, as Fonzie might have said, and excellent, excellent point Desleigh regarding the source of knowledge for many people (including myself) of the answer to that (soon to be) general knowledge question.

    For being the first to stump up the answer, don’t suppose you’d take an IOU in place of the prize? How ’bout a stamp on your coffee shop loyalty card? A packet of trail mix maybe? Would you settle for a ‘Here Come the Habibs’ tote bag? The drink-in-able silence means you’re at least thinking about it… right?


    • All good suggestions as prize alternatives.

      However I assume I was only first in as I wasn’t watching the Broncos lose. Even though I tipped them, not watching them win or lose for that matter is a prize in itself for me, especially if the others in my tipping competition also selected Broncos which I suspect they did.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. J.K Rowling and Stephen King are two of my favourite authors not just because of their books, but because they’ve overcome adversity, in the form of mental illness and substance abuse. After reading countless biographies and autobiographies on authors, musicians and artists, Ive discovered that there’s a definite link between creativity, mental illness and substance abuse.

    I’m reading about Ernest Hemingway at the moment, after previously reading a biography on Steve Nicks, and am astounded by the way these people have lived their lives, whilst being so successful.

    Any thoughts?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Glen, great reference to Groucho Marx on the value of reading and TV.

    On the topic of wealth, Forbes Magazine included 40 billionaires on their original list in 1987. That number ballooned to 2043 this year with Jeff Bezos on the top of the pile. In response to your comment Matt, it is interesting thinking about a possible link or relationship between creativity and mental illness. Obviously, the two authors you’ve listed do not represent all authors, but it’s an interesting notion that has been studied and explored for some time. Even Aristotle once said, “No great genius has ever existed without a strain of madness.” Michelangelo, Beethoven, Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, to name a few, were known to wrestle inner demons.

    In 1931, there was a study involving 800 creative geniuses where it was deemed that only a minor proportion of participants were devoid of any form of mental illness. Just recently (2013) a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, found that “people who made their living through either a scientific or creative occupation, were more likely to have bipolar, or a relative with the condition.” So, it’s a very interesting topic that continues to perplex neuroscientists, psychiatrists and everyday man.

    Great blog, Glen!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Some very impressive statistics-quoting there Prof Richardson.
      Who can argue with a study whose scope includes 800 studied individuals?

      I’ve heard the theory that people who, for want of a better description, spend at least a little time each month down in the cukoo mines can somehow channel that mental anguish to enhance and actually fuel their creativity.

      On the other side of that, can you then turn around and say that because a person is creative they are then necessarily linked to some form of brain malfunction? That would be a sad day if ever that became the majority thought and ideas outside a certain box were automatically held in suspicion (which in some circles is definitely the case and probably always will remain a trait (flaw?) of human thinking).

      The supposed connection between genius and mental illness falls down a little when you consider that many ‘geniuses’ are only gifted in a particular field and are very average in every other aspect of intelligence.

      Speaking of falling down, all this pondering has given me a slight thought-overload headache. I know I could chew on this stuff all day so I’d better break the cycle and take myself off now for a cordial and a bloody big vanilla slice.


      Liked by 1 person

      • We may need to engage in a discussion of cause and effect. Does mental illness make one a better creative, or does excessive time spent in the curious land between the ears create mental illness (or a reasonable facsimile?).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Rebecca,

        Great to have a published author of your repute visiting these humble corridors.

        On the subject of mental illness brought on by too much time alone or vice versa, I will point to that most feared punishment of jail prisoners the world over – solitary confinement. Being trapped with nothing but your own thoughts for company is liable to bring even the most mentally robust among us to their knees at the edge of the psychological precipice.

        As the turnaround, this begs the question – is the longing for too much of one’s own company (as writer’s tend to prefer) a sign of some ingrained tendency to want to tie the drawstring on a size 10 ‘crazy pants’ a little too tightly?

        It was the French playwright Jean Paul Sartre who coined the phrase “Hell is other people”. Based on that approach, it makes perfect sense to allot disproportionately large swathes of time devoted to enjoying one’s own company at the expense of interactions with others. Then again many pychologists would point to the idea that certain mental disorders that manifest themselves in odd behaviour – hoarding and addiction are two that immediately come to mind – tend to flourish with loneliness.

        And yes, aloneness does not necessarily equate to loneliness.Science fiction masterpen Phillip K Dick once observed, “It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”
        And who could argue with that?

        Liked by 1 person

      • On a related note I think it may have been Albert Einstein who was quoted as saying –
        “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”

        I think at different times, perhaps especially if for whatever reason one happens to be having a bad day, we can all relate to that.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks Geoff. I remembering listening to a Leonard Cohen interview a while back, and he said that great work can often come from suffering. He believed that his greatest work was often a victory over previous difficult times in his life, which can be related to anyone. I think it’s good to know that sometimes our greatest challenges in life, which can sometimes involve suffering, can be followed by our greatest achievements.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Celebrity bios? Definitely read my share of those. One of the more memorable was a biography of the band Van Halen I first read back in the early 90’s. CRAZY FROM THE HEAT was David Lee Roth’s recollections of the madness and mayhem of the bands glory years in the eighties, complete with stories of dwarf roadies dressed as nuns, supergluing entire hotel rooms of furniture to the ceiling and their infamous rider demands including the one specifying no brown candies in their backstage M& M’s bowl. I’ve never been able to part with my copy of this book so it still gathers dust in my garage today.

    As to the question of mental ‘irregularity’ (as Rocky Balboa would have put it) I’d be a bit dismayed now to learn that what I and many others saw as just the usual wild antics and shenanigans of rock stars and sundry smashing up their musical instruments and snorting white powder through hundred dollar bills was infact evidence of individuals on some kind of ‘spectrum’ going all the way up to bipolar and even schizophrenia.Harmless eccentricity for people with the time and money to indulge it or hints of something darker which is destined to meet it’s balancing yang in the form of prescribed medication? As we know it seems like just about everybody and everything has a diagnosis and a name for their ‘condition’ these days so that could be viewed as the evolutionary step of a more informed, educated (and therefore understanding?) society.

    As to serious writer types, I’ve always had my suspicions about those folk (he says without the slightest hint of irony).The act of writing means you are, by necessity, engaged in an extended cerebral activity where your stock in trade is thoughts. Existing in a world of pure thought, for long periods, for some people would be a form of mental torture. And as to shutting yourself off from others for a year or more to write a 100 000 word novel, a case could be made for why that could be considered something approaching self-harm. Writers also by their nature are people who are inclined to want to peer over the edge and see what’s there, which, when you’re talking about the human mind and the behaviour it dictates, can be a somewhat murky landscape full of grey tones. Afterall, we are each trying to tame the primitive beast within and at the same time do our best to pull off the modern graces required in a civilised society.

    Ok, sometime at least a paragraph or so back this discussion got way too serious on my part. I should end with a half-way respectable narrative arc and mention that not only is there a brand new Van Halen bio written by the band’s former manager Noel Monk just been released but the rumours are getting louder that Van Halen will be reforming (with both frontmen David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar – how would that even work?) for a 40th anniversary tour next year to support a brand new studio album. In a move set to send their legions of fans into nerdgasims, Warner Brothers are also set to release a ‘massive’ box set later this year.

    Now you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for your thoughts Glen and Geoff. I love these types of discussions. Anything involving writing, music, art or movies gets me excited. Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So much talk of mental illness, and tying it to genius. That is indeed something to make one ponder.

    I reminds me of a CSIRO “workshop” just before I myself was invited to walk such hallowed halls, where I was told of the psychologist who observed the gaggle of Australia’s greatest minds boarding the boat at the end of the weekend. He was struck by how so many of Australia’s greatest minds were there before him, yet none of them could get on with one another. I guess the weekend in general had something to do with team building.

    Leaping then to the topic of science and mental illness, I have read that much of what is passed off as mental illness is done so with no form of any scientific measure at all. It is purely the subjective assessment of one or more deemed to be experts.

    Perhaps that will change in time now we are able to measure brain activity and gather images of such. I’ve certainly seen a fair measure under the topic of childhood trauma, and would be particularly interested in how it may present under other forms of mental illness like bipolar or schizophrenia (one word I hate having to type as I can never remember how to spell it and don’t want the hassle of trying to look it up). Would this make me OCD, or a diagnosable opposite of OCD?

    Perhaps with brain imaging now possible, we can remove much consideration of mental illness on the part of authors. I hope so. It reminds me too much of the gulags.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Roger, if you’re interested in the topic of childhood trauma and how it can potentially disrupt a life, then I’d suggest having a look at the works of Dr. Gabor Mate.

    He covers many different topics in his books and lectures, ranging from stress, parenting, addiction and childhood development. His work can be controversial at times, but he also makes many valuable points, such as how genes can be turned on and off by the environment, and how valuable the early childhood environment is when determining what type of an adult will eventuate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Matt.

      It is great there is a growing body of research on the topic of childhood trauma. If I had time, I’d love to do a pHD into that realm myself. I can well agree with Gabor Mate that early childhood influences do much to affect how a child turns out. The resilience of some kids vs others in the same family is also intriguing to me. What frustrates me a great deal is how many approach trauma kids as if they are 100% “trauma” with no other areas of capacity to behave beyond the diagnosis.

      I won’t go on… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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