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Mail 226 October 7 - 13, 2002






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Monday  October 7, 2002

I am in Anaheim in a motel, and the mail is a mess. Apologies.


I immediately thought of your site when I read this since it was your writing that originally got me to reading Kipling:

Larry Elmore


Jerry Pournelle wrote: WM9's core technology is the audio and video codec, the coder/decoder, which Microsoft claims is far more efficient than anything else available.

Microsoft: "We have written the most efficient code currently available for A/V codecs..."

Me: "Look! Up in the air! It's a bird !... It's a plane !.... No, it's a *pig*."


-- ------- --------- ------- -------- ------- ------- ------- Nicholas Bretagna II

Mr. Bretagna in another message to me suggests that I do something scatalogical. I can only point out that I reported what I heard at the conference. I assume that most readers are capable of figuring things out for themselves. From what we have seen, the new Media Nine stuff is pretty good for what it's intended for. It may be a pig, but perhaps not. Not everything Microsoft does is wrong, although I know there are those who insist, sometimes with rather crude suggestions, that it is.


I am not entirely sure what to make of the following:

This is an Australian story, with deep implications, and so much spin on the verbiage it's almost invisible! The headaline should be

"Microsoft Abandons -- sorry, "Completes" -- Pilot Program for Office XP" Enjoy,

John Tranter _____________________________________________

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Microsoft Completes Pilot Program for Office XP

Microsoft announced today that it has completed its worldwide pilot for Office XP End-User Subscription Licensing, also known as ESL. As a result of feedback from resellers and customers, the Office XP Subscription Licensing pilot will not be continued. Microsoft Subscription Licensing customers will receive a free upgrade to a perpetual Office XP licence.


Full story:

Microsoft Completes Pilot Program for Office XP Subscription licensing customers to receive free boxed copies of Office XP SYDNEY, Tuesday, September 10, 2002 -- Microsoft announced today that it has completed its worldwide pilot for Office XP End-User Subscription Licensing, also known as ESL. As a result of feedback from resellers and customers, the Office XP Subscription Licensing pilot will not be continued. Microsoft Subscription Licensing customers will receive a free upgrade to a perpetual Office XP licence. According to Microsoft, although Office XP Subscription Licence was a popular offering, research showed the subscription model was not well understood by customers participating in the pilot. Tony Wilkinson, Office product manager at of Microsoft Australia, said that Microsoft introduced subscription licensing for Office XP in May 2001 as part of a worldwide pilot project designed to gauge customer interest in migrating to a subscription model. "Customers and computer resellers from across New Zealand, Australia and France had the opportunity to be the first in the world to assess the subscription licensing model," Mr Wilkinson continued. "From their feedback, we learned that customers find subscriptions a useful method of purchasing software but are not ready to fully adopt this process. "The decision to upgrade those customers on the pilot to a full Office XP licence represents a major saving for small business. For example, a customer who is currently subscribing to Office XP Professional will receive the full perpetual version of the product free. This is a significant saving-the full retail copy carries Recommended Retail Price of $1288, almost $900 more than the cost of the Subscription Licensing version. "We appreciate our customers' participation in this pilot program, and we will incorporate their insights in the development of future products," said Mr Wilkinson. For more information about the completion of Microsoft's Office XP Subscription pilot program and details about receiving replacement product, please visit, or call 1800 642 008. About Microsoft Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device. For more information, press only: Selena Adams, Corporate Public Relations Manager Email:, Ph: 02-9870 2316 Peter Sertori, Account Director, Howorth Communications Email:, Ph: Microsoft Press Office line: 02-9904 4533


from John Tranter Please note the new Internet address and new email address.

New book: "Heart Print", from Salt Publishing, ISBN 1-876857-32-3 Marjorie Perloff's review: You can buy this book on-line at

> Editor, Jacket magazine: > homepage - poetry, reviews, etc, at: > early writing at:

39 Short Street, Balmain NSW 2041, Sydney, Australia Tel 

Then we have this:

Jerry -

It would appear that you may not be up to speed on the capabilities of QuickTime 6, using Mpeg 4, for streaming, or on all the many Mac tools that support authoring and streaming using QuickTime and Macs.

There has to be reason why 90% of all streaming content is created using QuickTime and Mac tools, and then converted to Real and WMP for streaming.

And, unlike WMP, QuickTime 6 works on PCs, as well as Macs, from day one of the product being available. Microsoft never does that as it seeks to further its monopoly.

Your praise of Windows Media 9 seemed very biased and one sided, and certainly not helpful to readers looking for a balanced view of what's out there in the market.


Joe Rosmann

And I am not sure what to make of that. Does it mean we shouldn't report on conferences like the Hollywood Media Player Nine conference? Perhaps not go to them?  Or what?  

My associates who work with media tell me that it's doubtful that 90% of all streaming content is created with QuickTime and Mac at this time.






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Wednesday, October 9, 2002

I am home but there is much to do.

At around 2:50 Pacific time, I was listening to NPR and Congressmen were speaking with regard to authorizing hostilities with IRAQ. I heard Representative Peter DeFazio from the fourth district in Oregon state that the United States had never unilaterally initiated hostilities against another state in all its history. This is wrong.

President Madison signed the declaration of war against Great Britain on 18 June 1812. General Hull invaded Canada on the 17th of July, thus initiating hostilities. In 1898 Congress passed a war resolution on the 25th of April against Spain. Admiral Dewey destroyed a Spanish Fleet in Manila Harbor on the first of May, thus initiating hostilities. These are two examples. One from over a hundred years ago and the other from nearly two hundred. To state that the U.S. would be beginning some new phase in international relations would be to state a falsehood. Nations have stated an intolerable condition and proceeded to war for hundreds of years. This is not something new as the Congressman implies. I can only surmise that he was indulging in hyperbole or was just ignorant of history.

Rodney Kendrick 

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence...   Napoleon Bonaparte And see below

Subject: Microsoft Users may be Charged for Security

Security as a profit center...

<,,t269-s2123526,00.html > -- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Computational neuroscientist modeling bat bioacoustics and behavior. <>

Absolutely no comment...

From Sue Ferrara:

Subject: From Debka

Giant Oil Tanker Explosion Sunday off Yemen Is First Al Qaeda Strike at Persian Gulf Oil Routes with Aid of Iraqi Intelligence

Full story on the website at 

Thanks! But note:

You've expressed some caution about before; this might be another time-for-caution.

It's remarkably easy to create an explosion aboard a tanker. I've come closer than I care to remember to doing just that, many's the time. And initial reports show lots of indication that this was an internal explosion (which does not, of course, rule out terrorism).

So... dead slow on the main engines, please. This might very well be a case of terrorism, but don't fall over if it's not.

Editorial comment: The only UN Security Council veto-holding member which may be relied upon to try and slow US actions against Iraq is France. So if it is terrorism, it's remarkably hamhanded terrorism.

Yours Aye. 
Rod McFadden

Dead slow, aye aye.



Subject: game of the month candidate

Check out 

It's free. (We paid for it with our tax money.)

Requires teamwork.

excellent graphics.

Very embarassing to be killed by teenagers on the net.


I have no relationship financial or otherwise with the U.S. Army that created this software other than being a citizen.

Again you need a good connection.

Heh. And now I have a good connection. Thanks!

Subject: QuickTime/Real/WMP

I'm not sure what your correspondent Joe Rosmann meant by his statement that "90% of all streaming content is created using QuickTime and Mac tools." However, one of the most widely used production tools in streaming and non-streaming media creation is Discreet Media Cleaner Pro, which started life as a QuickTime-only solution. It's used in post-production to "clean up" video and makes beautiful conversions among all three media formats, working with many editing tools (Avid, Premiere, Final Cut Pro, etc.).

Media Cleaner started life as a Mac-only program. The current version, 5, is for Windows and Mac, and requires QuickTime on both platforms (it includes QT 5 installers for both). The next version, 6, has so far only been announced for Mac OS X--I don't know what that means for Windows support.

Discreet is an Autodesk company, and many of its other products are either cross-platform or Windows only (3DStudio Max, for example). There has to be some market reason why Media Cleaner is moving ahead more quickly on Mac than Windows. Streaming video may not all be created using "Mac tools," but a huge proportion of the best video on the web went through Media Cleaner, a "QuickTime tool."

Oh, and I bet Media Cleaner Pro (on Windows anyway) already can export to the new WMP9 codecs, or at least won't be far behind.

Steve Setzer


Dear Jerry

Re: Project Orion

I noticed that on Thursday you posted the URL of a Project Orion test video.

I first learned about the concept of pulsed fission propulsion from reading 'A Step Farther Out', but have now just begun George Dyson`s 'Project Orion', which seems to be a very thorough historical investigation of the enterprise.

Indeed, Dyson`s book may have renewed interest in the whole concept of nuclear power in space. For a site, which seems to have begun this year, devotes itself to this issue. It can be found via the following URL: 

A multimedia gallery, which includes declassified film footage of the test demonstrating the feasibility of pulse propulsion, can be found there.

All the best

Christopher Woolfrey, United Kingdom

Yes. Understand, my only connection with Orion was to do some evaluations of the concept back when Taylor and Dyson were doing the work. I made some recommendations that were not followed.

Doc, I can safely say that Agent is hands down a much better newsreader than Outlook Express could ever hope to be, in the same way that Vopt is a much better defragger than the one that came with Windows. It can also double as your email reader, though I doubt you would be interested in replacing Outlook.

Agent has an excellent freeware version available, and it only costs $29 to register. If you are interested, their homepage is .


Been meaning to get to that, when I find a round tuit.  Thanks.

And my regular exhortation:

Oct. 5

Dear Jerry:

What the heck is "partial" DSL, when it's at home?

While it's always nice to see my scribbling on the site the gist of my last really was: buy a Mac. You, personally. Now. You will thank me.

I can't afford to bet you an amount which would be significant to you, so I'll make it a "gentleman's" wager. Buy a dual processor Power Mac running OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), and if in three months (allowing for the learning curve) it's not your preferred platform I'll eat my proverbial hat.

Windows runs on faster and cheaper hardware but I still grit my teeth when I have to go back to it. After Jaguar "once you go Mac you'll never look back" or something like that.

"Try it, you'll LIKE it!"

Best -

Tim Loeb

Well, given my business I have to look back, but I understand what you mean. Thanks.

From Joe Zeff, on a new scam:

There's an interesting article at The Register, . Apparently, the newest Nigerian scam is to order goods with stolen credit card numbers, having it shipped through a freight forwarding service that sends it on to Africa. The victim ends up with neither the goods nor the money. However, it also tells of a service that warns on-line merchants of scams like this. In the case given, an e-tailer lost 520 Pounds because he didn't subscribe and see the warning.

The service is in Britain, but there's no reason to think it's warnings aren't good elsewhere. It looks like a good thing, and, in any event, I'm glad to see people finding ways to fight back. Thought you'd want to know.


And from Ed Hume,

Subject: Customizing XP folder backgrounds


Drew Parkhill complained that Win XP had taken away some of his customization options. Well, it has and it hasn't. Certainly there's no mechanism to set up a background picture, however . . .

I upgraded my installation of XP Pro from an installation of Win BugME. I had customized folder backgrounds. They remain in XP. I haven't (until now) been able to create new ones, but Mr. Parkhill's missive got me thinking: if some of my folders have backgrounds, can't they all?

So I transferred a Desktop.ini file from one folder to another. I experimented with removing items until I found the irreducible minimum:


This assumes the image is in the folder to be customized. At minimum, xxx can be .jpg or .bmp. For others, try it yourself.

The imagename can be in the form of foldername\ for a directory within the folder to be customized, or X:\directoryname\

At least, this is what works on my machine. I don't have any reason to believe that the CLSID (the 36-character string denoted by [{}] above) will be different in different installations. OTOH, it may be that the only way to have such customization is to install Win BugME first and install XP over it. That kind of stuff is way beyond what I am willing to invest to learn . . .



And from Eric:

In regard to Drew Parkhill's complaints about the XP desktop: The claim of not being able to use desktop images stored in other locations is simply not true. I've had no problem selecting images, including tiling an animated GIF to briefly test my sanity, from any place on the system, and those selections survived rebooting.

The complaint of being unable to change certain elements of the 'Luna' desktop is essentially true but not for the reasons immediately suspected. Oddly enough, it isn't that the old modification options were taken away. They're still there and they work, if you're in the Windows Classic mode. The problem is that there isn't enough of the new stuff.

The new appearance introduced with XP is called Visual Styles. Essentially MS took what people know as 'skinning,' the ability to alter the cosmetics of an application and made it an OS level function. This is a great improvement for developers and users alike, much like the change from supporting printers separately in each application to making the OS perform the function for all apps. All fine and good, except the implementation of Visual Styles is incomplete in terms of the interface.

In addition to selecting Windows Classic from the Appearance tab of the Display control panel you can also turn off Visual Styles by going into the System panel and going into the Performance section under the Advanced tab. (System|Advanced|Performance in sequence) Select custom and you find the Visual Styles tab at the bottom of the list. This method has, so far as I can tell, the exact same effect as the Display|Appearance method. I suspect it appears in the Performance list solely for conveying the concept that this feature consumes more CPU time than the Classic mode and thus might be preferably turned off on systems lacking CPU speed, video performance, RAM, etc. The usual suspects.

Visual Styles is a much more sophisticated API set than what came before. Where previously all of the display elements where little more than lines and color fills there are now textures and many other items from the modern graphics library. The user controls in the Display panel simply don't know how to talk to the newer format parameters, so rather than supply the necessary tools they gave the Visual Styles themes protected species status by which they simply ignore any attempts at modification. Note that this is just my suspicion based on the info I could find in MSDN and elsewhere. It may be that the modifications are being accepted (the Theme selection tab seems to indicate this) but what is being changed isn't visible when Visual Styles are active.

Although this info may be interesting it doesn't change the essential complaint. If a 'XP SE' is due out next year it would be a good time to provide the tools to modify Visual Styles themes in the fashion Windows users have long been accustomed. Or to make it up to current users those tools could be released initially as a Power Toy or in an update to the Plus! package. (Expect to see this in the initial set of complaints on!)

In the meantime, if you don't mind a little expense, there are some third party products that allow for a very elaborate alterations of XP's appearance. At the API level there's some very nifty stuff. It just takes good developers to expose it to users. The best or at least most prominent of the bunch is found at Stardock Systems. ( They have a wide variety of products beyond just cosmetic modifiers. They've carried out the work of exposing XP's APIs to the end user in many ways that Microsoft has yet to do. (Never mind that this opportunity for ISVs goes against the default image many hold of Microsoft. Don't think, it just makes your head hurt.)

Next up is TGTsoft ( with their StyleXP, StyleBuilder, and Res Builder tools. In the visual mod area this is like Stardock's best competition.

Also out there is Cronososoft ( whose products are a little harder to judge as their Romanian origin results in a somewhat linguistically impaired site. Might be good stuff but I lacked the patience for digging too deep in the face of such descriptions in the wee hours of the morning.

Also notable is a site I found in the process of finding XP visual tools. Called Fun With XP (, it offers a useful place to find a vast array of resources for the current OS generation on most new computers sold.




On a different subject:

Subject: Onion Piece about RIAA Suing Radio Stations Close To Truth...


Thought you might find this amusing:

< >

Although... It may be closer to truth than fiction.

Open nets... -- Norman Ferguson | Network Consultant/Thespian Member, Apple Consultants Network | Microsoft Certified Professional

Amusing if you don't cry thinking about the situation.

And end on a serious note:

Hi Jerry,

Isn't it interesting on how certain nations that support weapons inspections are also nations that Iraq owes a great deal of money? I understand that those nations feel that a regime change may mean that Iraq would void that debt, but the Incompetent Empire naturally would keep oil prices high in order to pay that debt. Which would be acceptable if they were in the crosshairs. On another note, perhaps not so incompetent... if Turkey's commutation of the death penalty for Ocalan is groundwork for a postwar settlement. Although I cannot imagine anyone settling the Turk-Kurd issues, let alone the USA, it is good to have a bit of optimism heading into the weekend. As far as the financial economy, how certain are we of the numbers? How many were fudged, for do we really think only a handful of large companies did this? And when do we publicly hang the accountants? Talk about custodes custodiens!!

Best regards, Jim Laheta

ps. I love the Oman Observers' bottom of page: the oil prices right next to the prayer schedule.

I still want to put the money into developing energy sources including space solar power.  Not likely, it seems...

And from Sue:

Subject: But of course! 

Smart wives improve men's lives

October 6 2002 The Sun-Herald

Being married to an intelligent woman could be a man's best chance of avoiding an early grave, it is claimed.

New research suggests that having a well-educated wife helps lower a husband's blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attack by up to half.

It is also claimed brainier women enforce better lifestyles in the family, encouraging partners to follow a good diet, stop smoking and seek medical advice.

The study, details of which are published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology, found a strong link between the total years of education a wife had and the health of her spouse.

The effect was seen in all couples, regardless of how educated a husband was, except for those men who had very little formal education.

The research was based on a sample of 20,000 married men aged 35 to 56 in Norway.

I knew that....

In interesting notion:

Good morning, Jerry.

The Business Class column in the Washington Post is polling readers for "nominations for stupid airport security rules the government should eliminate." Nominations are to be sent to  and will be submitted to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Since you complain about such rules, maybe you and your readers should jump on the Business Class bandwagon--or maybe start up your own bandwagon.

Of course, complainers will need to know what they are talking about--i.e., what the existing security rules are. I don't know if the rules are written down anywhere. Maybe one should complain about stupid security practices, rather than rules. Maybe complaints should include when and where the stupid practices were observed--just in case the TSA weenies don't know what's going on outside the Beltway.

Best regards - Robert Griswold


Send not to learn for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee...

When Back-Office Work Moves Overseas, What Happens to Workers


It may be good for business owners to shift back-office operations overseas, but is it good for workers? Advocates of the off-shore strategy say yes. Contact centers and transaction-processing facilities in places like India and Mexico can provide good jobs to poorer countries, they argue, adding that U.S. employees who lose work may eventually find higher-skilled positions. Critics, though, don't buy that version of globalization. They say workers in the developing world can be exploited, and U.S. clerks, accountants and call center workers are by no means guaranteed a decent-paying replacement job. Especially given the slow pace of economic growth compared to a few years ago, moving back-office work overseas will hurt the most vulnerable Americans, suggests Jeff Faux, economist with the Economic Policy Institute. "It's going to have an impact on opportunities for people to rise up the economic ladder in the U.S.," he says.

The debate isn't exactly new. It follows disputes over the loss of manufacturing jobs and, more recently, information technology work to lower-wage nations. In contrast to those earlier controversies, though, the labor issues involved in sending back-office operations overseas haven't boiled over much into the public arena. Perhaps that's because a relatively small amount of back-office work has been transferred away from the U.S. Last October, research firm Gartner found that just 5% of U.S. corporations with revenues ranging from $100 million to $4 billion outsourced, or had the intention of outsourcing, portions of their back-office offshore. And although major names like General Electric, American Express and Conseco have established their own back-office facilities in countries such as India, China, Mexico and Jamaica, many smaller organizations have not jumped on the bandwagon.

But they may soon. The logic behind going global with accounting, data entry and customer-service tasks is compelling. While call center workers in the U.S. can make in the high $30,000 range or more a year, their Indian counterparts might earn $4,000, or up to $7,000 for a management-level post. Including other expenses, total cost savings of 30% to 40% are possible in moving back-office tasks overseas. What's more, the quality of the work can surpass expectations. While clerical and call center jobs in the U.S. often are seen as mediocre-paying dead-ends, the same work is a relatively high-paying, high-status job in a developing country. That can translate into better-educated, more-motivated employees halfway around the globe. Betting that more and more U.S. and European-based companies will see this light, business process outsourcing outfits are springing up in India especially.

India's National Association of Software & Services Companies (Nasscom) says the country's call center and BPO industry - what it calls IT-enabled services - grew by 70% during the 2001-2002 period to a total of $1.46 billion in revenues. And Nasscom has a bullish outlook as well. Indian revenues in IT-enabled services should jump to $16.94 billion by 2008, capturing more than 10% of the global market, Nasscom predicts. Indian employment in the field, Nasscom says, could rise from roughly 100,000 to 1.1 million people.

A study last year by London-based consulting firm Ovum found that call center capacity worldwide will nearly double within five years, growing from 7.3 million seats in 2001 to over 13 million early in 2006. Ovum also saw the call center industry growing particularly fast in Central and Eastern Europe and in South and Central America (including the Caribbean). Both of these regions' share of global call center capacity will jump from 2% of worldwide call center seats in 2001 to 7% in 2006 (a combined increase to 14% from 4%), according to Ovum.

But it's not clear the back-office overseas switch is ideal for workers in developing countries. Not all Indian facilities are air conditioned, notes Vail Dutto, CEO of a U.S.-based contact center outsourcing firm. Dutto toured 20 Indian sites earlier this year while seeking an Indian partner for her firm InTelegy. In India's tropical climates, lack of air conditioning all but guarantees a "data sweatshop" atmosphere. What's more, some back-office facilities in India have smaller personal work space standards than offices in the U.S., says Chuck McDonough, director of accounting for the World Bank, which moved some back office operations to Chennai, India last year.

Besides the prospect of hot, cramped offices, another concern is the ability of workers in poorer countries to organize independent unions, suggests Candice Johnson, spokeswoman for the Communication Workers of America union. For example, she says, labor leaders in Mexico have been fired and beaten up. "It's still a very difficult thing to do to exercise your rights to organize as a worker," Johnson says.

< snip >

Ave! In fact we can count on corporate generosity and ethics. Nothing can possibly go wrong, as we raise the world living standard.






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Thursday, October 10, 2002

Dr. Pournelle,

I am no expert, but history is a hobby. That said, as I recall, the War of 1812 started because Britain was conscripting sailors of American ships, amongst other factors. So, wouldn't this mean that Britain was initiating hostilities first? (From Rodney Kendrick's Mail on Wednesday.) Or did I learn it wrong from my imperialist American apologist professor, trying to hide, yet again, American aggression against innocent nations? I need to look into the Spanish American War a little to evaluate Mr. Kendrick's second point.


Semper Fi George A. Laiacona III <> "Using living humans for terminal guidance has been completely ineffective on all spin-stabilized rounds." -Excerpt, King's Men Scientific Research Manual

Is this the battle of the simplicimus theories of history? Of course we were provoked; and our passive aggressive answer, the Embargo, wasn't a particularly good solution to the problem. I am probably humor impaired, but I don't see the point of discussions in the terms you have chosen.

There have certainly been elements of aggression against, if not innocent, then certainly nearly helpless, nations: ask the Navajo, or the Lakota Sioux. Of course the innocence of the Sioux is a bit questionable since they were engaging in wars of extermination against their neighbors.  And the myth of the noble savage is much with us and has been since the Enlightenment, but it remains a myth. Most of the victims of imperialism are probably better off from having been colonized; but they aren't likely to see it that way (the US being at least at one time the exception, since the Revolution was over the rights of free Englishmen). And the real impact is on the colonizing power.

The Spanish American War has a very long and still undecided history; and the consequences have been with us a long time. Whether justified or not, the outcome was a great expansion of US government and obligations, leading to our expanded views of the Monroe Doctrine, and including our running Santo Domingo for some time.

All that may be good or bad; putting it in simplistic terms is probably not helpful, and history as sloganeering, while traditional, is not always so good. The US has always looked to its own history for guidance.  Unfortunately, few in our schools now know much about it.







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Friday, October 11, 2002

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

You wrote: "Nothing can possibly go wrong, as we raise the world living standard." What I do not quite understand is, why you write that as if it were a *bad* thing?

It has long seemed to me that one of the great accomplishments of free trade (or "globalization" as we now apparently call it) is to raise the living standard in other countries: all of the invidious comparisons in the article to which the above is your tagline, are things which may seem unacceptable to us, but represent substantial improvements in those countries. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that the agenda of the article author is revealed by that very revealing quote from the CWA spokeswoman at the end: ultimately the objection is the inability to use unions to jack up the price of labor and engage in other rent-seeking behaviors.

As it happens, there are a number of studies now coming out--some by the UN itself!-- vindicating the notion that globalization has had salutary effects on world poverty: and again, it is not obvious why you would object to this. You live in a city in which you cohabitate with something on the order of a million illegal immigrants (to say nothing of the legal ones), who are filling niches in the economy that plausibly could be filled by Americans, except that these are the kinds of jobs--busboys, domestic staff and the like--that ordinary Americans turn up their noses at. Surely it is clear that these illegals would probably not be here if they could get a decent job back home?

I am keenly aware that "exporting jobs" as the phrase has it, is terrible for those caught in the downdraft. But these sorts of changes in the labor mix are always occurring, and not only because of globalization. A majority of the US population was engaged in the agricultural sector as late as the 1880s: now it is well under two percent. Surely this was not caused by globalization? A similar pattern is occurring in manufacturing, and it is clear that the export of manufacturing jobs is a factor: but the trends have been in place since the 1940s, when we were certainly not exporting manufacturing jobs.

A look at macro employment figures by industry makes this, I think, clear: from table no. 596, page 384 of the 2001 edition of the StatAb, we find that while from 1980 to 2000, total employment (all sectors) increased from 99.3 to 135.2 million, the following occurred in the "muscle" sectors: manufacturing decreased from 21.9 million ot 19.9 million, a decrease of two million; mining decreased from just under a million to about a half-million; while construction *increased* from 6.2 million to 9.4 million. So--although they might not have been too happy about it--there were opportunities aplenty for displaced manufacturing workers (and miners) that were neither burger flipping jobs, nor computer programming jobs: the 3.2 million increase in construction jobs could clearly have absorbed all 2.5 million displaced workers and then some.

I do not say that this is what they *should* have done: I am merely attempting to engage the issue on the level you have suggested in the past, that there need to be reasonably well-paying jobs for people who are in the blue-collar niche and are unlikely to escape it. Is it fair to ask a master machinist to recycle himself as a bricklayer, or a plumber, or an electrician? I do not know. But it is surely fairer than to make them burger flippers or to demand that they become computer programmers, I should think.

As ever, I remain your humble servant,

Very respectfully,

David G.D. Hecht

I never for a moment supposed that free trade wasn't good for those who got the jobs we export.  Still, if you want to share your salary with someone overseas, you are permitted to do it. It's called charity. If you want to share someone else's salary, there's a different name for it.  In general, liberalism consists of A & B getting together to see what they can make C do for poor old D. Let me hasten to add that this is a generic comment, not intended as any summary of Mr. Hecht's position.

Mr. Hecht's point about the shifting of "muscle" jobs is correct, but I think he like many of us on the right side of the Bell Curve underestimates the difficulty of retraining after 15 to 25 years; it's easier for us than it is for some. That's not bragging it is a statement of well documented fact. Most political decisions are made by people of IQ 120 and above; they much affect those of IQ 70 to 90. This is inevitable, but the principle of the consent of the governed demands that their interests be considered no less than those of the decision makers.  Me, I would rejoice if there were a great multiplication of necessary jobs for those displaced by the end of manufacturing.

Unfortunately, the practice has been as we export one set of jobs, instead of paying people more for the less pleasant jobs they could be doing, we import people to do the new jobs so we don't have to pay so much. This leaves us with a significant and growing group of people who used to be middle class, and now have no prospect of remaining in the middle class even if they are willing to undertake new tasks such as nursing home attendants and meals on wheels drivers. And not enforcing the immigration laws exaggerates that trend.

Over the long haul the conversion from a manufacturing economy to something else is  as inevitable as the conversion from a farm economy to a manufacturing one. I would only hope we can make that transition a bit smoother.  Read Goldsmith's The Deserted Village for flavor.

And I continue to be concerned about the future of a democracy in which a large block of citizens are useless, know they are useless, and who are sustained only by the largess they can vote themselves from the public treasury -- or by the bribes the others will pay to shut them up.

Meaningful work; a fair day's work for a fair day's pay; these may be requirements for a working democracy. 

If that can't be done, then perhaps we had best think of some new forms of government that are not concerned with the consent of the governed. An aristocracy of political theorists?

The Eleventh Commandment:

11. The owner of the head which sticketh out shan't be surprised when it is lopped off.

It appears the retromingent pithecoids of Jihadistan are indeed as dumb as they look; the attack on the Limburg was probably terrorism.

Abashedly Yours, Rod McFadden

Indeed. Debka seems to have had it right this time.

From JoAnne Dow:

Are the Al Quaeda people really so dumb as to think provoking a Islamic religions wide holy war on the US will see them on the winning side? Or do they have some ulterior motive that is not good for the Islamic peoples of the world.

Al Quaeda and the Arab world have what it takes to make life uncomfortable to us. We have what it takes to exterminate all but small pockets of the Arabs and the Islamic religion. If a holy war is provoked and we find ourselves fighting for our lives down to every person in the US being at immediate risk is there any reason to believe we would not "do what was needed to abate this nuisance?" We'd live with a huge cloud of guilt on our consciences. However, we would be the people who lived and did well afterwards. The Islamics and all their shrines and temples would cease to exist except in very small pockets not worth it to wipe out. Along the way I am sure a lot of Islamic people who did not support the global holy war would be destroyed along with those who did.

Does Al Qaeda really understand that their course of action and intent COULD conceivably lead to the virtual extermination of their religion and all its adherents?


As usual you ask good questions.

Jerry, you wrote: "Most of the victims of imperialism are probably better off from having been colonized; but they aren't likely to see it that way".

It's not commonly known that for a brief spell from 1811 to 1816 , Java passed from Dutch colonisation to British jurisdiction, with Sir Stamford Raffles as the Governer. The changes made to the governance of Java during that brief period were overturned when the Dutch resumed control. Around 4 years ago I toured Java and spoke to many of the locals. When they found that I was British it was common for them to tell me how wonderful British rule had been and how they wished that they had been colonised by us and how life today in Indonesia would have been better. While you may say that you would expect that attitude from people in the tourist trade, it was noticeable that there was a definite coolness towards the Dutch tourists that we encountered.

I suppose it just goes to show that you need a comparison to to make a judgement.

Regards Edward Chambers.

Indeed. But see below.

Eric Pobirs on Macs and other things:

In the process of trying to see if there were any way around the limits imposed by the currently available tools on the XP Display control panel, I noticed something.

If I set the Active Title Bar color to something very much different than the default I found that if I watched closely while minimizing or maximizing a window the color I'd selected was visible in the appropriate place. For that brief instant the Visual Styles elements weren't redrawn and the modified theme elements could be seen. This lends credence to the suspicion that the tools are doing their job but the results are rendered invisible under the Visual Styles elements.

In response to Tim Loeb's challenge, I'd have to suggest he not count his virtual winnings too quickly. I primarily use Windows but I have occasion to work for Mac-user clients. It is an unpleasant experience every time due to the element of the Mac that is least avoidable, the Finder interface. It never fails to annoy.

Way back when the Mac was a single-tasking environment having the single menu bar wasn't an issue since you only ever had the one active application, although there might be many windows from that app opened at a time. As soon as multi-tasking entered the seen I found the Mac interface had failed to keep up with the world. The idea of 'one menu bar to bind them all' is a constant irritant whenever I have to use a Mac.

The usability wonks claim this is a better way to do things but I've never seen anything remotely close to a proof of this. They like to claim that users have trouble learning when closing a window will exit a program. I've never known anyone who stumbled over this longer than a few hours with their first computer. On the other hand I frequently see users (who are obviously accustomed to non-Mac interfaces) close a window and then be baffled to find that application still owns the menu bar. Using the switcher menu is an acquired trait and one I'd be perfectly happy never to use again. (Screenshots for the aborted Copeland OS promised to do away with all this nonsense but that project collapsed under then mismanagement.)

Given a Mac OS system for personal use would probably allow me to pick up the reflexes tied to its interface soon enough but that is extremely unlikely since Apple has imposed conditions that guarantee I'll never make such a purchase with my own money. This has put Apple in a permanent market share ghetto so I've little inducement to make the investment from a career skills perspective either. I've always hoped that Apple would get smart and pick being a software (including OS) company over being a hardware company so as to allow multiple competitors to make the platform accessible to a wider range of interests. There's no good reason the build-your-own crowd can't be served along with those with money to blow on style exercises, all to the benefit of the platform as a whole. There is no reason Apple couldn't match Microsoft if they just picked the right business to be in.

The menu bar is just one issue of many that come up and cause me to pause and wonder who thought that was a good idea. Different is not a bad thing but different is not automatically better or worse. Often enough, it's merely different. Just because you're used to your particular choice of different don't assume it will enjoy the same reception elsewhere.



Microsoft has released Security Bulletin MS02-054 "Unchecked Buffer in File Decompression Functions Could Lead to Code Execution (Q329048)" to fix a critical bug in Compressed Folders Patches are only available for 98 with Plus! Pack, Me and XP, which sounds reasonable because these are the only platforms that include this feature. Unfortunately there are many web sites that explain how to take the DLLs from a Plus!, or ME, CD and install on other platforms, e.g., so it's possible that there may be systems out there that don't get patched.

What makes this worse is that for years the advice has been that it's best to avoid executable attachments and zip them up before emailing. Anyone who misses the bulletin may feel perfectly safe saving and opening a zip file attachment, especially if they have all the usual security measures in place and have recently visited Windows Update and been told that there are no applicable Critical Updates.

I'm sure that Microsoft is within its rights ignoring these people because there is probably small print in the EULA that restricts users from taking a component of one OS they have "bought" and then install it on another. But what about people who upgraded from Plus! or ME to Win2k; are they still legally entitled to use the "compressed folders" DLLs? Or what if you upgrade with a clean Win2k install, then use the tip mentioned above to retain a feature you had previously installed and used on that same PC?

With Critical Updates, where the victims may not be the recipients of the Trojan but those who are later hit by a DDOS, shouldn't Microsoft allow the patch to be installed by anyone who has the affected DLLs on there system?

I've just subscribed via Roberta's site - been meaning to do so for years, sorry I didn't get round to it sooner. Thanks for this great web site, and for all of reading pleasure you (plus Niven and Flynn) have given me for more years now than I care to remember.

Best wishes

Paul M Dove


And this for HP users of XP:

Hi Jerry, I installed the XP SP 1 on my HP Pavilion 750 a few weeks ago, and have had no problems. However, when I ran Windows Update to get my latest security fix, I found the folowing message, which some may find of great interest...

"Alert: Windows Update has detected that your computer is a Hewlett-Packard Pavilion desktop or Compaq Presario desktop PC with Windows XP pre-installed. After you install Windows XP Service Pack 1, you might encounter an issue with the PC System Recovery utility. If you use this utility to perform a non-destructive system recovery, you might be unable to start your computer. Recovering from this error requires a full destructive system recovery, which results in the loss of all user data. Hewlett-Packard will release an update to the PC System Recovery utility soon. When you install that update, this alert will no longer appear in Windows Update. Please refer to Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) Article Q329450 for additional information"

Glad to see you finally have DSL! I've no hope of that, living in the boonies, although if I lived in the next town 1/4 mile down the road, I could have cable internet.

Cheers, Rod Schaffter -- "Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." --James Thurber

Thanks. An important warning.

Harry Erwin has some observations on Security and Back Office Exports:

I'm currently teaching security to e-commerce students. My relevant background was government security, so I was not fully prepared for some of the security issues that arise in business, particularly the issue of trust. Traditionally, we have handled trust in a rather broad-brush way--systems with discretionary access control (DAC) trusted everyone who was an insider and used group membership or an access control list (ACL) to manage their access based on need to know. If you turned on mandatory access control (MAC), you added clearance level as a second criterion for access, but with a limited number of clearance levels defined quite broadly. The generally available operating system solutions are limited to those criteria.

In e-commerce and business in general, trust is much more fine-grained, and access has to be controlled based on additional trust-related criteria---time of day, location, task being performed, etc, etc, etc. This reflects two opposing factors--the insider threat is paramount, but for the business to maximize profit, security must not be obtrusive. The resulting access rules reflect the business logic, which everyone agrees should be defined at the top, but their enforcement has to be implemented by a security kernel at the core of the operating system to avoid a host of vulnerabilities. How to do this is not yet understood.

Moving the back office offshore is a bit dangerous from the perspective of security. Low salaries make insider attacks more attractive, security management is hard to enforce from a distance, one doesn't understand the relevant motivations and expectations of foreign employees, and internationally- distributed operations create new interfaces with new vulnerabilities. Some US experience with software developed off-shore indicates that software engineering skills are often not as high, suggesting that high criticality applications should not be developed off-shore. The need to manage trust in the high-level business logic implies that most e-commerce software has higher criticality than development managers are willing to admit, and consequently e-commerce may be walking into a development catastrophe. 

-- --- Harry Erwin, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Computing, University of Sunderland. Security engineer and analyst. <>

I see I am going to have to write an essay on nationalism, patriotism, and mutual obligations among citizens. Edmund Burke pointed out a long time ago that a nation is more than a joint stock company.


(And in fact I have been thinking about that essay during my walk.)


additional info related to your recent comment : "And I continue to be concerned about the future of a democracy in which a large block of citizens are useless, know they are useless, and who are sustained only by the largess they can vote themselves from the public treasury -- or by the bribes the others will pay to shut them up.

Meaningful work; a fair day's work for a fair day's pay; these may be requirements for a working democracy."

from the AP, today, Friday, Oct. 11, on school dropouts: "For the year 2000, approximately 1.56 million U.S. residents ages 16 to 19 did not graduate from or were not enrolled in high school."

"In New Jersey (my state), the total number of people in that age group not in school or graduated..." was "43.2 percent in 2000."

The article did not give a similar national percentage, although most likely that information was included in the AP source material. Essentially, every other person in that age group is a failure, produced by a system of failing educators and failing schools. They face a bleak future of bottom level jobs, if there are any to be had. Significant portions of this group are likely to spend extended periods on public assistance, on and off welfare and unemployment. And, unfortunately, significant portions are likely to resort to crime for sustenance, and probably already have.

Fifty years ago, high school dropouts were able to find productive and well paying jobs in manufacturing and other industries. Globalization has now exported a great percentage of those jobs overseas. The remaining unskilled jobs are low paying (store clerks, fast food, etc.)

Perhaps the national picture is brighter than that of New Jersey, maybe only one out of three or four are dropouts, rather than one out of two. But, to your point, can a democracy (or an economy) sustain itself when every two or three people must support another?

If we don't rescue the educational system, we are headed for difficult times. Perhaps we can start by increasing the educational opportunities in prison (maybe early release for those who complete their GED, or BA, etc.)

Harry Emerson

Yes. Any efforts to examine economics in a democratic republic must take account of education; and in our case of the utter failure of the education system. We don't teach them well; we take their job away after the learn to do them; and we import people to take the replacement jobs they might have got.  And we hope for stability.



I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the topic of 'Empire and Citizenship'. I would be willing to wager that a large percentage of those people we so frequently see on the news burning the flags of the USA and Britain would jump at an opportunity to emigrate if given the chance. Both countries have enormous numbers of 'illegal' immigrants attempting entry. People will go to quite extraordinary lengths to gain entry into the UK, clinging to the outside of high-speed trains as they go through the channel tunnel and suffocating in containers on the back of lorries for the chance at a better life.

Citizens of Empire have frequently been given special rights as 'overseas subjects' of the empire or some such. Protection under the law, and a range of rights were afforded to such citizens, but usually not automatic right of abode in the 'motherland'.

Would the citizens of Iraq really be so disappointed to be granted status as 'US overseas subjects' with many of the legal rights and economic and educational opportunities afforded to full US citizens? Many of the citizens of Hong Kong weren't too keen on seeing the British leave. Let them receive some obvious and real benefits, and their loyalty (or at least lack of open rebellion) may be much easier to achieve. By contrast institutional 'racism' and lack of genuine opportunity for those born in the client states (e.g. Palestine, Northern Ireland, Soviet Central Asia, etc.) can leave a horrible legacy that endures.

How have the successful empires managed this?


Craig Arnold

Rome was a successful empire but after Aurelius it was no longer Roman. Septimius Severus was born in Africa and after him no Emperor ever was Roman.


J Neil Schulman says:

The Most Ridiculous Nobel Peace Price yet:

The Nobel Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter? Are they out of their freaking minds?

By doing nothing to prevent our regional ally, the Shah of Iran, from being overthrown by Islamic fundamentalists, President Jimmy Carter started the chain of events that led to the Gulf War...

Without which the 9-11 attacks on the United States never would have happened....

Without which the United States would not have become so fearful about the possibility of weapons of mass destruction being used on our country that we are now willing to institute a new doctrine of preemptive strike to remove remote dictators because they might have and use them against us or our allies, or provide them to terrorist networks who will.

By Jimmy Carter allowing the Shah of Iran to fall, the United States later found it necessary to back Iraq in its war against Iran in order to maintain stability against the Soviet threat to the Middle East...

Which empowered the monster, Saddam Hussein...

Which gave Saddam Hussein the idea that he was our boy and could do whatever the hell he liked, including invading Kuwait...

Which caused the United States to have to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, because it was our mess to clean up...

Which ticked off Usama bin Laden because of the presence of infidels (that is, our troops) in Saudi Arabia, which we were using as a staging area against Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War...

Which led Usama bin Laden to plan and execute the Al Qaeda 9-11 attacks.

This idiotic bungling of the international balance of power by President Jimmy Carter, with consequences that have led to terrorism and war, is the prizeworthy making and promoting of peace?


J. Neil Schulman

I would be careful with those superlatives. I can think of Nobel prizes in the same rank...

Some good news:

Subj: Whoopers at launch-ready

Remember the whooping-crane migration project?

They have seventeen new birds this year. They're ready to go, but delayed by weather.

Progress reports appear daily at 

Rod Montgomery ==






This week:


read book now


Saturday, October 12, 2002

Proud To Be A Cannibal 

Proud To Be A Cannibal New Vision (Kampala) NEWS October 9, 2002 Posted to the web October 9, 2002 Kampala

They should ask for advice on how to get good meat, instead of jailing me - Sseruwu

Looks like things have gone about as far as they can go...

But see below

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I just finished re-reading the "Janissaries" series for the umpteenth time, and I enjoyed it as much as ever. I must compliment you on an excellent series. The characters are interesting and the premise for the story is fascinating. It is always intriguing to imagine what the effect would be if modern technology and science were suddenly transplated to a "medieval" setting, and in "Janissaries", you have given us a wonderful, guided tour of this process. I must also add that, as a former infantry squad leader, it is gratifying to see an author of science fiction write about military tactics and equipment realistically and believably.

But as always, after I turned the last page, I found myself wanting to know how it all came out in the end, and whether or not Galloway and co. managed to outwit the Shalnuksis, preserve the seeds of civilization on Tran, and set the stage for ultimately freeing humanity from enslavement by the Glactic Confederation.

I know you finished work on that series years ago, yet I entertain the hope that if you returned to the Second Empire of Man roughly twenty years after finishing work on "The Mote in God's Eye", you may also see fit to return to Tran and tells us more of the adventures of Rick Galloway and his companions. I hope that you will do me, and all your other readers a great favor, and finish this story for us.

Thanks for your time. With deepest appreciation, best wishes, and highest regards, I am ever

Sincerely yours,

Darren B. O'Connor

Thanks. IN fact I have about 45,000 words of the next story. I keep hoping I can get other stuff done so I can finish it. It is in fact a good story and I have some thoughts on where it should go. Real Soon Now.

Okay, this wins the award for the oddest damned story of the week: 


You write "I never for a moment supposed that free trade wasn't good for those who got the jobs we export", and Edward Chambers writes "It's not commonly known that for a brief spell from 1811 to 1816, Java passed from Dutch colonization to British jurisdiction, with Sir Stamford Raffles as the Governor. The changes made to the governance of Java during that brief period were overturned when the Dutch resumed control."

I am afraid that there are mistakes behind both positions.

Free Trade IS frequently bad for those on the receiving end of the exported jobs at a certain stage of development, not as a necessary thing flowing from the jobs but as a side effect of another part of Free Trade: loss of independent resources. The people ARE earning more cash - they are just worse off than they used to be, from not having the subsistence resources they used to have. Their former cash income was a top up, and now they have to live on slight increases in it. This is not revealed by the cash income statistics that are presented to "prove" improvements.

As for the Dutch, far from "reversing" British changes in the East Indies they actually made further changes along the same lines. Where they had formerly used an extensive raid-or-trade approach to exploitation, they learned from the British example of reforms leading to intensive use of resources. They started the "cultivation system" that led to even more intensive - and far more profitable - use of local resources. The only "reversal" was the reduction in autonomy of the locals, back to levels that obtained before the British interregnum.

One interesting feature of all this was that the Dutch financed it all at local expense by using a depreciated currency. This is another trick that is still in use, whenever a slowly depreciating reserve currency is used to acquire foreign revenue generating assets. Plus ca change... PML.


I.e., a Goods and Services Tax (or almost any other broad based production tax), with a Negative Payroll Tax, promotes employment.

See  and the other items on that page for some reasons why.

Well, I am sure I can construct scenarios for almost any purpose, but my point had little to do with the effect of Free Trade on the place where the job went, and a lot to do with the US where it used to be. As a matter of fact, I have written before about the problems with the maquiladora system: jobs get sent to Mexico, but they don't stay there long; in a few years they get sent offshore entirely, leaving Mexican workers accustomed to higher income but having to find a new job, or migrate.

As to Dutch and English colonial practices in Indonesia, I will have to let you to argue; it's well out of my expertise.

But see Below





This week:


read book now




PML wrote

"As for the Dutch, far from "reversing" British changes in the East Indies they actually made further changes along the same lines. Where they had formerly used an extensive raid-or-trade approach to exploitation, they learned from the British example of reforms leading to intensive use of resources. They started the "cultivation system" that led to even more intensive - and far more profitable - use of local resources. The only "reversal" was the reduction in autonomy of the locals, back to levels that obtained before the British interregnum."

The point I was making was about peoples perceptions.

You could probably make an equally valid economic case for the Trail of Tears. But try convincing the Cherokee of that! While it may be true from an economic point of view to say that the Dutch made "far more profitable use of local resources", they often achieved this with a system of peonage. When labour for the new coffee and tea plantations was required, Javanese peasants were forcibly removed from their land and shipped off to the plantations where they were fed and housed, but were usually not paid or permitted to leave. Folk memories are long, and this is what the Indonesians know about the Dutch. Also, the Dutch removed the autonomy of the local kings as is mentioned, but this also led to the feeling among ordinary Javanese that they were little more than slaves. This is the history taught in Indonesian schools and why Dutch Imperialism is seen as more onerous than the short period of British rule.



Edward Chambers

And that may be enough on the subject; as I said, it is well outside my area of expertise, and has little bearing on the original point I made. Thanks for an interesting history lesson.





Regarding the posting about cannibals in Uganda, and with some additional comments…

My company is looking at an extensive undertaking to upgrade the technology relative to infrastructure, education, e-government, and health care in Uganda, which means we’ll probably be there for about 10 years.

Consequently, I just (September 28th) returned from Uganda after being there for a month, most of which was spent in Kampala, but traveled to most of the outer areas. We had a near miss around Kotido with the terrorists operating in the northern part of the country (some of the news media report them as rebels, but they aren’t, they are just thugs, looting and killing when they have the opportunity), which have been accused of having cannibals among them. When we were in the remote areas of the north, we were escorted by pickup loads of soldiers, with locked and loaded weapons. Each time we’d stop, they were form a perimeter around us. I have pictures….it was interesting.


However, I met with quite a number of people from within the government, from NGOs, and private citizens. We covered Uganda in depth, and I heard absolutely nothing about cannibals operating anywhere in Uganda. I found the people there to be warm, friendly and very intelligent. Even in the very remote areas, people regard education as one of the most important tasks to accomplish. Most of Uganda is engaged in subsistence farming, with bananas, maize, passion fruit, goats, sheep and cattle (depending on the area of the country you are in) are the main crops and animals raised. Few people have any money, those that do are in the “trading centers” as they are called there.

I suspect that if the link regarding cannibalism on has any truth, it is an isolated incident, by as the Ugandans refer to them, a “mad person.” Due to lack of money, there are no hospitals to house the insane, and they wander the streets. It’s difficult to describe the conditions in the hospitals involved in curing physical illness. Health care is supposed to be free in Uganda. There are hundreds sitting on hard backless benches or the floor waiting for the chance to see a doctor. Even if he does see them, the pharmacy (I was in several) will probably not have any prescribed drug. In Mulago hospital, the largest in Kampala, and indeed in Uganda, the pharmacist had about 20 bottles of pills and liquids, and this is in a hospital that sees about 75,000 outpatients a year. Anyone who is checked into a hospital must bring their own bedding and food, and someone to care for them. Around any hospital in Uganda, the grass and trees are draped with bedding that has been washed by a family member and is drying before being returned to the patient.


I have pictures in my mind that I will never be able to forget of small children lying like limp dolls in unsanitary, open air wards, no doctors or nurses anywhere nearby, but a Mom sitting there with tears in her eyes as her child lies dying, with no hope of help. A “Surgery” resembles nothing so much as a concrete stall in a dairy farm, with the staff even wearing tall white rubber boots into them.


If a person does get drugs, they have to find them on the open (black) market, and pay a premium, which they probably don’t have.


Doctors must supplement their income by having an outside practice, where they can actually have some income. Despite this, there are some very smart people, dedicated doctors and administrators who are trying to change things. It will take time and money, and some large U.S., European, and Asian companies have signed up to help. Pfizer, for one, is willing to send a lot of drugs to Uganda, provided they can have some trusted method of distribution and outcome monitoring. One of the things we hope to do is implement a medical records and pharmacy application to help with that. In the Mulago hospital I mentioned earlier, all records are on paper, in a complicated and massive filing system. There is a huge room, filled top to bottom with manila folders that are the current patient records. Outside, there are over 40 cargo containers with records that they cannot keep inside. It is such a massive problem, that I can’t imagine how a doctor can accomplish any sort of research, yet they do. One of the locations doing most of the new work in Aids is there, and they recently discovered that a certain drug, injected in an HIV positive mother, at the right moment during birth, can prevent the newborn baby from being HIV positive also.

I know I digressed a bit here … but the images are fresh in my mind, and sometimes they just have to come out. I’d be happy to send along pictures, or describe more of the country if anyone is interested.


Thank you for the information and vivid imagery.

I never supposed that the practice was anything other than a bizarre incident, and I thought the full story (which I didn't include because of copyright) made that clear. Whether the perpetrator is mad or has carried the reductionism of the Enlightenment to it's extreme is for the reader to decide; he clearly thinks he is the only sane person around. Note that Michael Valentine Smith would probably have agreed with him.







Entire Site Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.

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