My children -- in many dimensions they're as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod.
Atheists complain about religious-minded parents brainwashing their children with anti-facts (faith), but here is the head of the most influential technical company (well, maybe Intel is) in the world brainwashing his kids with anti-faith (facts). Now who's irrational -- the technonerds or the there-must-be-more-to-life-than-what-our-brains-can-sense crowd?
Reminds me of me and my kids. When they were young, I brainwashed them about the terrible nature of McDonald's meals. I had stopped going there in 1979 after I had four too many hamburgers with a pink stripe through their middles.
In elementary school, they went on a class trip to see how a McDonald's operates (now who's into brainwashing?). My son came home that day, breathlessly announcing to me, "Dad, they don't put ground-up shoeleather and earthworms in their hamburgers!" Score one for the rationalists.
A decade later, and our kids have discovered for themselves that they don't particularly care for the food products sold by McDonald's. Here's the irony: my middle daughter last week interviewed there for for a summer job.
Back the the Ballmer quote. This could well be why Microsoft is flagging. Its size is a problem, but having blinders on is the equivalent to corporate murder. I don't care much for Intel either, but former CEO Andrew Grove's book title, "Only the Paranoid Survive," says it all. It's a problem if Ballmer's not getting feedback from his own kids about two of the most important products for teenages -- Google for research and iPods for coolness.
Of course, there is the spin angle. Ballmer's handlers from Edelman (perhaps?) are telling him to make negative comments about his primary competitors in a homey, believeable fashion. "Gosh, I would never let my kids play with stuff that darn dangerous."
In the end, I don't deny him his right to raise his children with whatever cultural restrictions he feel appropriate. After all, I refuse to take my kids to DisneyLand/World, because I'd rather spend the money on taking them to the real California, the real Washington DC, the real New Zealand, and the real Europe.