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Mail 269 August 3 - 9, 2003






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Monday  August 4, 2003


Subject: Lost jobs


I was talking to a lady last week whose husband is back to work. He's a machinist. He lost his job a few years back when the big company he worked for contracted. Since then he has been in and out of work. He's highly skilled, makes precision parts for aerospace tooling and the like. His current return to work is because his company - - the one that most recently laid him off when it lost an ongoing contract to a firm in China - - called him back because the firm in China had "done the job wrong," as the man's wife put it, and he would be correcting the work. But that kind of work won't last. For one thing, the Chinese will, as the Japanese did, get better at precision machining.

Then I ran across an article in Aviation Week. Here are excerpts:

After winning the $18.9-billion contract to build the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in the summer of 2002 placed a $12.3-million order with Ingersoll Milling Machine Co. for custom-made machine tools to produce parts for the stealthy tactical aircraft. As of April of this year, Lockheed Martin had paid Ingersoll more than half the contract price but it still had no machines delivered. Then came the jarring news. Ingersoll had shut down. [April 22, 2003 bankruptcy filing]

A giant in the machine tool field, Ingersoll was one of five companies in the world capable of manufacturing sophisticated machinery used in the production of both metal and composite parts for airframes and engines.


On June 17 [Lockheed-Martin] hired Cincinnati Machine, an Ingersoll rival and the only other U.S. company that can build both metal-cutting and composite-forging machinery, to complete the work on two of the machines at the Ingersoll plant in Rockford. [emphasis added]

The two Ingersoll machines will stand more than two stories high and stretch 70 X 20 ft. The automated machines are designed to drill holes in the F-35 wings and fuselage at high speeds. <snip>

U.S.-based aerospace companies, . . . have been acquiring non-U.S. machine tools since the Japanese entered the field aggressively more than 15 years ago.<snip>

Dalian, a Chinese machine tool company, which has already acquired a division of Ingersoll, is one of several bidders to buy what's left of the company. <snip>

Machine tool employment in the U.S. has been in steady decline for more than two decades.<snip>

From Monkey Wrench, by James Ott, Aviation Week & Space Technology 07/28/2003, page 48

Supposedly the machine tool business is down all over the world except for China, mostly due to the "global downturn in manufacturing." But there is a lot to think about.

Ed Hume

And I'll have more on employment, job export -- we have definitely lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs in the past decade or so -- and other such matters later. There's a lot last week, too.


Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Troops bear 'Moor Killer' badges:,2763,1005509,00.html 

Troops bear 'Moor Killer' badges

A row broke out in Spain yesterday after the country sent its first troops to patrol Iraq wearing on their shoulders the Cross of St James of Compostela - popularly known in Spain as "the Moor Killer". Patches bearing the cross, the symbol of a saint who allegedly guided the medieval Christian re conquista of Spain from the Muslims, are to be worn by a 2,000-strong Spanish brigade in central Iraq, who will patrol the sacred Shia city of Najaf. While newspapers and radio stations reacted with astonishment at the choice of symbol, politicians avoided the argument. "If we start debating this subject the risks surrounding the mission will only be increased," said a spokesman from the opposition Socialist party, Jesus Caldera. Spaniards, unaccustomed to seeing their soldiers take part in what many see as an army of occupation, already view the Iraq mission with concern. The deaths of more than 40 US and British soldiers since the Iraq war was officially declared over has increased worries about the prime minister Jose Maria Aznar's willingness to help the countries whose troops ousted Saddam Hussein. "To put the Cross of St James of Compostela on the uniforms of Spanish soldiers supposes an absolute ignorance of the society in which they will have to carry out their mission," fumed El Mundo newspaper in an editorial. "It would be difficult to come up with any symbol more offensive to the Shia population than this cross."

A few comments: Thanks to Spain for lending a hand getting the job done. If really offended, the Shia population needs to get over it, join the modern world, and get some religious tolerance. The El Mundo newspaper editorial staff are hopeless Politically Correct twits. 

Oh, and <*chuckle*>.
 Jim Riticher

Turkish units in Korea had regiments with ancient Ottoman battle banners including the Siege of Rhodes where the Turks behaved abominably; I didn't notice any of the other allies being unhappy to see them. They saved more than one US company's hide. No one asked the Koreans what they thought about it though.

Subject: Muslims and the Christian Cross

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Display of the Christian Cross is indeed politically incorrect, and in some cases illegal, in Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country dominated by the Wahhabi sect, does not allow the display of any form of the cross. The emergency and disaster relief in this and other Muslim countries is handled by the Red Crescent. I have no direct experience with the Red Crescent, but they are visible and clearly welcome at the scene of an accident. I am not in Iraq, and can only view the situation there with regard to the Spanish army using a cross as part of their insignia as an interested outsider.


William l. Jones

I am not certain that being PC is a primary part of an army's duty. Police, perhaps, but armies break things and kill people and scare the hell out of the rest. If you didn't want that, don't put an army in place...

Subject: The Turkish Army in Korea

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

The Turkish Army made quite an impression in Korea. According to my brother, they set up a compound fenced by a single strand of unbarbed wire. The local "slicky boys" could hardly believe their good fortune, all that property protected by a single wire. The first one caught lost his right hand. The second one caught had a rifle cleaning rod run through his head, in one ear and out the other. The Turks then hung his body over the main gate.

This caused some ill feeling. Eventually the Koreans found a Muslim chaplain that asked them to take down the body. The Turks complied, but left the head in place. No third thief was caught.

A few years later I went there on a contract supporting the Korean Air Force at various locations. I noticed right away the Koreans had adopted Turkish customs of combat and military discipline to the greatest extent possible. The Turks are still greatly admired as the primary example of disciplined fighters by many Koreans.


William L. Jones

I know.



Subject: On Daniel Pipes. 

Dear Jerry A little about Daniel Pipes. 

by Diana West Washington Times August 1, 2003 
 Douglas M. Colbary

An interesting article about a man I have long known and admired. I don't always agree with him and his brother Richard, but if you disagree you had best be prepared: they always are.

And a reminder:

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

by Rudyard Kipling

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

Thanks to Rod McFadden for reminding me. I post this every few years... See also The Old Issue

Subject: Truly stupefying.

Roland Dobbins


And from a correspondent in another discussion group:

In previous messages I have expressed doubt about lumping the countries where Islam is the most prominent religion into something called the Islamic world. This is no more valid than referring any more to Christendom. There are plenty of people in these countries whose motivation is not religious and who are not followers of the religious leaders.

Now it turns out that not even the religious all have the pundit standard opinion. The following is from Slate's daily email.

The WSJ reports on the rising number of dissident Iranian clerics who've decided to head into exile and set up shop in Iraq. The latest decamper: Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson, who appears to have a touch less anger towards the Great Satan than his grandpa did. The U.S. Army, he says, is "a liberating force that freed Iraqis, not occupiers." He added, "Just like the Iraqis, the Iranians are desperate to be free and if all other methods fail they may welcome American military intervention."

I should note that the US press likes to refer to the occupation and the resistance, using words that in WWII distinguished the bad guys from the good guys. Even Foxnews

=And from the same group:

G.K. Chesterton foresaw Osama bin Laden 75 years ago:

"A void is made in the heart of Islam which has to be filled up again and again by a mere repetition of the revolution that founded it. There are no sacraments; the only thing that can happen is a sort of apocalypse, as unique as the end of the world; so the apocalypse can only be repeated and the world end again and again. There are no priests; and this equality can only breed a multitude of lawless prophets almost as numerous as priests. The very dogma that there is only one Mohamet produces an endless procession of Mohamets."

About the same time, Hillaire Belloc predicted:

"... I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam. Since religion is at the root of all political movements and changes and since we have here a very great religion physically paralyzed but morally intensely alive, we are in the presence of an unstable equilibrium which cannot remain permanently unstable."



And the SCO Linux wars heat up as enraged penguins strike back

Red Hat has initiated legal proceedings against SCO. They have basically asked the court to make SCO stop telling Red Hat customers that Linux infringes SCO intellectual property. They are also asking for triple damages under state law "for harm caused by SCO's unfair competition and false advertising...unfair and deceptive (trade) well as for violations of common law, including trade libel, unfair competition and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage."

SCO, in turn, has promised to countersue; Darl McBride said, in an open letter to Red Hat, "Be advised that our response will likely include counterclaims for copyright infringement and conspiracy." 

Red Hat has also set up a fund, the Open Source Now Fund, to defray any legal costs incurred by the Linux community. Red Hat put in $1 million to get the fund going, and they are taking contributions. I plan to send them some money. For more information, send email to: 

There is an excellent weblog, written by a paralegal, called GROKLAW. I need not explain that name here! The paralegal, "PJ", does a great job of explaining the significance of what's happening. I'm adding GROKLAW to the list of sites I read regularly. 

I wonder if SCO's stock price will drop on this news. But then, I don't understand why it's so high in the first place, so maybe Wall Street will surprise me again. -- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

We may be certain that there will be many rich lawyers whoever wins here.




This week:


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Tuesday,  August 25, 2003

Thanks to Jim Mangles who doesn't always agree with me for this:

Dr Pournelle,

Here is the same article on WMD I directed you to in the London Sunday Times but this time in the Washington Post. You could successfully direct readers of Chaos Manor to it here, if you should so wish,

Jim Mangles

This is a good a summary of the issue and well worth your time.

 And here's a disturbing situation:

Subject: Gun Statistics Expert John Lott Victim of  Identity Theft -- 08-04-2003

Always verify your sources? Someone has gone to a lot of work on an internet smear campaign.

Randy Storms


Jay Leno made this comment August 4, regarding the effort now underway to write a constitution for Iraq:

"Hey, why don't we send them ours? It worked well for us for over two hundred years . . . and we're not using it anymore . . ."

Mark Thompson jomath@



This from another conference:

The costs of affirmative action, like other business expenses, are passed on to the consumer/worker. By comparing the observed distribution of income to that which would obtain in a meritocracy, the total cost can be estimated as ~$192 billion annually. On average a black worker between the ages of 25 and 64 earns an extra $9,400 a year because of affirmative action, Hispanics almost $4,000 a year. White workers pay an average of about $1,900 annually to foot the bill. (The calculation is conservative as it ignores gender preferences.) 

Hmmmm.  Interesting if true.

Subject: Currect SCO Insider Trading Data

Here's something that might amuse you. I reckon Darl McBride is going to need a really good lawyer real soon now. Assuming that they don't get arrested first, the officers should all be cashed out in about a month.

Andrew D. Todd

No comment...

SCO has announced their new SCO IP licensing structure. 

The initial "promotional" licenses are as follows:

client (desktop) license: $199

server with 1 CPU: $699
 server with 2 CPUs: $1,149
 server with 4 CPUs: $2,499
 server with 8 CPUs: $4,999
 additional server CPU: $749

After the promotional period is over, the license fees will of course be even higher.

The SCO FAQ on this (link below) says this is a "reasonable return" on SCO's investments in UNIX. 

Do they really think they are going to collect money from this, or is this just a ploy to make SCO even more annoying so someone will buy them to make them go away? I really wonder if the SCO insiders believe their own press releases. 
-- Steve R. Hastings "Vita est"

They always were a strange company, doling out licenses to the press as if they were hoarding the sacred gold. Very odd.




This week:


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  In case you missed this over in view, it's urgent:

Need help in locating a web development firm.


Would like to solicit your help. As you may remember, I'm chairing a project which has developed tools to be used by physicians and nurses involved in the treatment of heart failure. We've also got tools to be used bypatients with heart failure.

We will need, in fairly short order, a firm that can make these tools into web based tools. The tools are partly paper based and partly based on a database developed in Access.

I'm looking for a firm that can do such things. Usable is most important, but stunning is also an ideal. This is the first time this has been done, to the best of my knowledge, and we'd really like to do it well. I'd hope that such tools would be widely used and that they could be easily modfied. I hope that the tools can be put in the public domain and become open source tools, but the funding agencies for the project may have different ideas.

While I'd be happy to take a chance on someone who doesn't have a track record in most instances, I'm afraid that in this setting, we've got to have someone who can prove they can do such a thing in fairly rapid order. I've got to demonstrate expertise to the funding agencies.

We've a budget, natch.

I don't know of such firms, but suspect that your reader do know of such firms. Could you help by posting this where they can see it?

Mark Huth

I would be curious to see if this gets any results. I know we have a reasonably large readership, and more than enough talent among the readers to do the job...

  Jim Woosley forwards the latest development in the SCO situation:

SCO Sets Price For Linux Users
Until Oct. 15, users can buy protection against a lawsuit for
$699; after that, the price jumps.


The lunacy continues.... 

-- John Harlow, President BravePoint Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 Progress,Web and Java Specialists

A mind is like a parachute; it works best when fully opened....






And a rather important debate, which I suspect will move from here to its own page. How should publicly supported scientific research be reported and published and accessed?

Hello Dr. Pournelle,
 I would appreciate your insight on this matter. My first response is of course we (the public) should have cheap access to scientific information purchased with our taxes. But, since the system has been working for years, will a change like this actually make a citizen's life better or worse? The longer I live the more myopic I seem to get.

Regards, Randy Storms

The problem here is that the research is paid for by the public, but the publication -- which involves a lot more than just putting it out on the web -- isn't. There is the whole peer review process, for example. Medical Journals -- most science journals -- are expensive propositions, in part because of editorial costs. I said when CD ROM was invented that this would be an enormous boon for the distribution of scientific knowledge, and it was, but the fact remains that editorial costs are higher than I had suspected, and much higher than production costs.

And of course there is greed. Nature is notorious for its jealousy. It wants to be first and exclusive: and it's enormously profitable. Then there are the journals of science associations and organizations: they're generally cheaper but they are also slower, and of course they still have editorial costs.

And journal jealousy is notorious in science anyway. C. Northcote Parkinson dealt with this many years ago: an editor (A) considers a scientist (B) unsound and won't publish his work, believing it nonsense. So B founds a journal that will publish more controversial work, but of course he isn't going to publish that notorious scoundrel (C), who goes off and founds his own journal. And the libraries scramble to decide which of these they will carry, particularly since the most prestigious, A, says that his journal isn't available for subscription to anyone who subscribes to C's nonsense...

One school of thought would have those who pay for the research also pay page costs for publication. This would open some competition. There are other proposals.

And in it all, remember that the Internet can be the father and mother of lies as well as truth.

Comments solicited.


And more idiocy:

Hello again,

I think I've figured out why they are stopping old people now. They're worried their pace makers might be wired. 

<snip> Feds fear simple electronics may become weapons Cellphones, cameras will raise red flag at airports

By EUNICE MOSCOSO and KELLI WYNN The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON -- Air travelers trying to minimize delays may want to leave cellphones and cameras home.

The Department of Homeland Security advised airport screeners across the nation Tuesday to intensify searches of those and other small electronic items, including car key alarms, saying terrorists may try to convert them into concealed weapons.

"Al Qaida operatives have shown a special interest in converting a camera flash attachment into a stun gun type of weapon or improvised explosive device," the advisory said.

Explosives hidden inside the smallest camera could cause much damage, it said.

Although the advisory comes on the heels of a government warning that terrorists may be planning more suicide hijackings, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said the government is not considering raising the national threat level, which remains at yellow, marking a "significant" risk of terrorist attack. Yellow is in the middle of a five-level scale implemented last year to guide government response to terrorist threats.

"Flying commercial aviation is substantially safer than it was Sept. 11 [2001]," he told reporters at a Washington press conference outside a local fire station.

Ridge said there have been no indications that terrorists have used these types of disguised electronic devices.

The advisory -- sent to airport security managers, screeners, law enforcement officials and the Federal Protective Service, which protects government buildings -- asks officials to scrutinize auto camera flash attachments, cellular telephones, multiband radios, dual speaker radios, various remote car key alarms and other portable electronic items. The items could be used in attacks on government buildings and public venues with controlled access as well as at airports, the advisory said.

It says the portable electronic items offer terrorists the ability to mask bomb components during X-ray inspection.

Ridge said he anticipates more delays during screening, but said the new measures are necessary to ensure the safety of travelers.

Diana Cronan, spokeswoman for the Air Transport Association, to which 22 U.S. airlines belong, declined comment.

"We don't comment on security matters. The airlines continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security on all security matters," she said.


Why don't we just zipper everyone naked into individual plastic bags, stack and attach air hose, then fly. Of course, you have to figure out how to get clothes, money, transport, etc. when you reach your destination.


Braxton S. Cook

The aristocracy -- Public Service union members -- now consumes from 25 to 40% of the GNP depending on how you define things. The purpose of all this is to make sure these aristocrats get the salaries and pensions they are entitled to, so they can continue to donate money to the politicians who set up their entitlements. It's a cozy arrangement.

But don't we all feel safer now?


Subject: Maybe the EU will be able to rein in MicroSoft

Our own DOJ hasn't been able (or at least willing) to. 


-- John Harlow, President BravePoint Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 Progress,Web and Java Specialists

A mind is like a parachute; it works best when fully opened....





And something important:

Subject: how to run DOS games under Windows XP

I've been running the ancient DOS Lucasarts game "Day of the Tentacle" under XP using the excellent freeware program VDMSound. This software emulates old sound cards (Soundblaster for voice, MPU-401 for music), including the cards' interrupts, for DOS programs that want to drive the sound hardware directly. It does this using the DirectX audio API so it works with any sound card.

This web site has step-by-step instructions on how to set up the game. I think these are easily adapted to other DOS games: 

This web site is the home page for the VDMSound program: 

320x240 graphics on a 21-inch screen take some getting used to. I find the blocky pixels less disturbing if I take off my eyeglasses.

Andrew Klossner

Or it would be important but I can't manage to download anything. It's all promises that ended at a page that tried to install spyware. I can't find an actual way to download any of this freeware. Probably stupidity and haste on my part.

I now have it. More later, it's dinner time.


Subject: Follow-up article on John Lott. Its a parody?
  -- John Harlow, President BravePoint Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 Progress,Web and Java Specialists

A mind is like a parachute; it works best when fully opened....

And think on it. Someone could, I suppose, pay Google or others to direct people to a "Jerry Pournelle Says" web site where they spout nonsense in my name. Of course not many can write like me -- a lot of people have tried it -- so it might not work, but then it might.

And yet one more thing to worry about:

Subject: RIM loses patent-infringement ruling 

Did you see this? RIM is enjoined from selling their devices in the US until the patent runs out in 2012.

"The two sides have been engaged in a legal dispute since late 2001, when NTP claimed that RIM infringed on its patents covering the use of radio frequency wireless communications in e-mail systems"

I wonder how this will affect the whole industry. Who wants a wireless device w/out email?

RIM has asked for a patent review. I think we should review the whole patent process.


-- John Harlow, President BravePoint Voice: (770)449-9696 Fax: (770) 449-9003 Progress,Web and Java Specialists

A mind is like a parachute; it works best when fully opened....

And a thought for the day:


We had an education system that worked, once. We also had a sane society that worked. Want more proof? Re-read Laura Ingalls Wilder.

For example, "Little Town on the Prairie" shows a 15 year old girl in a one-room school in a tiny farm town who knew more about history, math and English than your average college graduate today. I wept, re-reading it today.

Public schools used to work. In some places, like my town, they still mostly do. But public schools require active participation by the local citizen-parents to have any chance of real success.

I'll go out on a limb here. Public schools, like most other public agencies, require real "public virtue" on the part of citizens to work. Only a few people in this world can maintain that kind of virtue without a solid religious commitment.

But of course saying that might hurt somebody's self-esteem.

Steve Setzer

If we insist on schools that don't work plus free trade the outcome is predictable; and of course may be the best argument FOR free trade. (When I first put this up I did a really Freudian thing and said "best argument against;" thanks to Mr. Mangles and others for pointing this out).  

It may be that the schools have got so bad that we must take an economic dose of salts, and spiraling toward poverty will loosen the stranglehold on our schools. That will sure take a while, but it may be the only way. It may not.

Greg Cochran reminds me that typically fewer than 10% graduated from high school in those days, and it's a lot easier to educate 10%. I agree, but there are implications to that, too, because our current schools don't educate the top 20% as college candidates nor do they do a lot for the lower 80%: they're becoming increasingly useless in the name of democratic equality, which allows the wealthy to send their children to good schools and perpetuate their advantages.

The right way to have public schools in a democracy is to educate by ability to absorb the instruction, and have most children learn good trade skills. Tennessee did a pretty good job of that in the 1930's and 1940's, with free and automatic admission to the University of Tennessee for high school graduates who took a College Prep line of courses in high school. It was tough and most didn't, and the schools had plenty of decent instruction for those not in college prep.  

But we will never do that now.



Hi, Jerry. The following link 

points to a debate in CIO magazine between a couple of lawyers, one a proponent and one a detractor of software patents. As an open source developer, I think this issue is extraordinarily important, obviously. I'd be interested in reading any thoughts you had on the topic.

---------------------------------- Jonathan Abbey Austin, TX GPG Key: 50D3B73B at keyserver,

Deadline time. I'll try to get to it later. Thanks. Meanwhile comments solicited.






This week:


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Thursday, August 7 , 2003

Subject: The cutting edge of software outsourcing! 





Dr Pournelle,

Rewards of $15 million each have delivered Saddam's sons to us and the $25 million on his head may well soon deliver up Saddam himself, dead or alive.

Why do we not offer similar rewards for conclusive evidence of the existence of WMD? If it works it would be cheap at the price, and if it does not what have we lost?

Jim Mangles

Seems reasonable to me. Of course there's also immunity since those who know about them probably were involved. But it's my guess that there were none "ready", but plenty of potential for making them if the regime was left undisturbed. I don't really care. Saddam was deterred from using them against us in any event; the existence or non-existence of WMD would not have been much of a factor in deciding to go in if I were in charge. Saddam was a stable and ruthless dictator, but he was no threat to the United States of America.

He was a convenient target for a hostile takeover by another empire, any other empire, and if we needed a base in the Middle East he was a convenient target for us. All these are rational imperial considerations, and if one thinks imperial, he was the right one to take out.


Subject: DOS [adventure] games under windows

Dear Jerry,

You may be interested in a program called ScummVM < >. Here's their own description of their program:

ScummVM is a 'virtual machine' for several classic graphical point-and-click adventure games. It is designed to run Adventure Soft's Simon the Sorcerer 1 and 2, Revolution's Beneath A Steel Sky, and games based on LucasArts' S.C.U.M.M (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) system. S.C.U.M.M is used for many games, including Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max and more.

You can check here <> to see if the game you wish to run is supported. (I would check myself, but I can't find the title on your site anymore).


Conquest of the New World. I'll check. Thanks.


I share your befuddlement at the content of most spam. It is deeply discouraging to think there is a sufficiently large population who respond to such offers to make it pay, regardless of how widely spewed the spam and how cheap to send. Then there's the five to ten a day which arrive in Chinese (down from 20 or more a year ago). One becomes numb to it all, even if 99+% is filtered and you only see it scrolling by on the log.

Then today, this one dropped into the spam bucket which managed to make me exclaim "What are they thinking?" all over again:

From Thu Aug 7 08:17:50 2003 From: "Cytokine Array" <> Subject: ADV: 20% off our new Rat Cytokine Arrays

RayBiotech, Inc. The Protein Array Pioneer Company

Developer of Advanced Protein Array Products. With our Patent Pending Technology , you can detect 79 human, 32 mouse, or 19 rat cytokines, chemokines, growth factors and angiogenic factors in one experiment!

Enhanced Efficiency, Affordable, Reliable, Highly Sensitive No Sophisticated Equipment Required, Any Lab Setting No Sample Preparation Needed

20% off Rat Cytokine Array System 10% off all Antibodies, Growth Factors, and Cytokines

Offer ends Aug 15, 2003

Please Visit, email to or call 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx for detailed information.

RayBiotech, Inc.

Offer good for US customers only.

This email is sent on behalf of Raybiotech, Inc., Powered by

That's right, now they're marketing biological laboratory equipment through spam. It only compounds the absurdity that this offer, "good for US customers only" was spammed to my address in the .ch (Switzerland) top-level domain.

I suppose we should be happy they aren't offering "anthrax, botulinum cultures, ricin precursors...".

------- John Walker | Truth has a way of heaving up through the cracks of | history. -- H. G. Wells

What makes you think they aren't?  Stay well.


Subject: Exporting jobs

I've been following your posts on this, and I was pretty sure I agreed with what you were saying.

But then I was sent this: 

and now I'm not so sure.

If you have any thoughts, and any time to put them up, I'd be very interested.

Keep up the good work!

Andrew Duffin

Well, the von Mises Institute will certainly present the best possible absolute laissez faire argument, being that's the entire purpose of the outfit, and usually they are fair in doing it; but note:

1. People are not the economic units of economic models. They are for the most part rational and make economic decisions in line with economic utility, but not always. Human "utility curves" are not precisely contiguous with the money return of a decision, and finding the true utility functions is expensive. In other words, people aren't easily modeled. Quel surprise.

2. I note that this guy says the US was only "relatively" well off after WW II and that according to Murray a great number were in poverty. Poverty is a very relative, not absolute, term. Most people in "poverty" in the US would have been considered absolutely wealthy through most of history.

3. The notion that a good economy floats all boats may not be true when there is enough concentration of income.

4. The US education system isn't what it used to be. Now I am among the first to say that reform of education is the most needed action to prevent job export. That takes a long time. We need things we can do now to alleviate some of our problems including loss of manufacturing jobs. That doesn't mean you apply a patch like a tariff and then do nothing else.

5. None of this addresses the issue of revenue. Tariff for revenue was important to the US for a very long time. Substituting tariff for some of the income and capital taxes seems reasonable, and a dynamic analysis takes that into consideration, but most Free Trade arguments ignore that entirely.

I could say more but I have a novel to write. This article says nothing new, but the arguments may be new to some. Libertarianism is persuasive, and as a vector it's a direction I want to see us going in; but I am not persuaded that Free Trade in the absence of other libertarian measures -- lower taxes, far fewer regulations, far less federalization, far less federal control of education, more freedom in education -- makes sense. Example: suppose I apply environmental and worker safety regulations that double the cost of manufacture of a widget, then ask American companies to compete with overseas widget makers. Can you predict the outcome?

And saying "Well, dump the regulation" is a bit like Will Rogers telling the Navy to boil the Atlantic Ocean to meet the submarine threat. It might work but we don't know precisely how to do it.

Economists and libertarian theorists do not seem to deal well with the real world we actually live in. The real world faces us with many bad choices, some worst than others.

Of course there's the bumper sticker "Vote for Cthulhu. Why settle for a lesser evil."


On Medical Journals: (See above)

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I've tried to give the subject a bit more reflection, if you think this is something that you can use you're more than welcome to do so.

The PLoS (Public Library of Science) is not the solution to the really important problems of Medical Publishing today -- as I have discussed below. For medical libraries having limited funds, it may perhaps some time in the future alleviate financial problems in subscribing to some outrageously expensive Journals. Also it might help the general public and M.D.'s in not-so-well-off countries have access to more of the published literature.

If an online journal like PLoS Medicine as suggested by Dr. Varmus's group might replace the less prestigious (but expensive) journals, it would be well and good. However, I would not (and I think this applies to most of my colleagues) submit a paper to the PLoS unless it had been rejected by prestigious journals with good circulation -- and these typically are not the expensive ones. Moreover, the best journals -- at least in my field -- make their contents fully available on the web after some period. And if the M.D. in China or Argentina has to wait 6 months to a year after publication to download the full text the full text for free --- well, the period from results to publication is typically longer than this. Shortening these times is desirable, but not a really big factor except in special circumstances like the recent SARS outbreak.

However, the real problem is over-publishing in the Medical Sciences. This problem is caused not by the amount of valuable science actually produced, but because of the pressure on individuals and institutions to roll out a certain number -- the higher the better -- of publications each year. Much of this stuff finds its way into the less prestigious (but often more expensive journals) with limited circulation. In these journals, the peer review is done to less exacting -- and often inadequate -- standards. Unfortunately, after about 15 years of reviewing for Stroke and other journals, I cannot help feeling that there has been a downward trend in the quality of scientific writing and, even more alarmingly, in the understanding of the scientific method. I suspect that the professors and the experienced staff do not devote adequate time and effort to supervise and teach the younger colleagues who do most of the work.

The peer review system in the top journals is not perfect, but in my experience it functions adequately (like democracy in Switzerland). While there are examples of papers being rejected because of conflicting interests; this is not the rule (I've had a paper published in Stroke where a very influential scientist on the Editorial Board was so opposed to Methods and Results that he wrote an Editorial rebutting the study -- fortunately our work has been confirmed later). Also, some bad science and poorly composed papers get through, -- even in these prestigious Journals, but again this is not the rule (yet).

Yes, I know of examples like you wrote: Scientist B starts another Journal (in a recent case with an expensive publisher). However, this is not necessarily because the Scientist-to-become-Editor disagreed with Editor A, who would not publish work done by B’s group. An equally likely motivation for B is the prestige of being Editor-in-Chief (and founder) of a Medical Journal. In addition, there is the financial aspect, in particular for the Publisher.

By the way, the medical publishing process is expensive, not only for libraries. When we were to publish the abstracts of a recent conference in a supplement to a non-prestigious Journal, we would have had to come up with about $40,000 for a supplement of about 80 pages. That was more than the conference could afford (the medical industry has gotten much less generous with support over the recent years). Of course we had it all on our website in good advance ( -- hosted on your recommendation by I felt that was sufficient, but the President of the Society strongly felt that we had to have paper copy also, and to have it officially published so that the abstracts could 'count' as a publication (nonsense in my opinion).

So a compromise was found, we spent some nights doing the entire formatting/layout and editing ourselves -- Word2k is quite good actually, even the Editor-in-Chief admitted that he could not see significant differences from the normal Publishers issues. A local shop did the printing and binding, the covers were the only part edited and printed by the Publisher. We distributed it to the conference participants and sent a batch of 500 to the Publisher who distributed it to his subscribers -- saved us about $30,000.

Yes, I would welcome the initiative to have quick access to Medical Literature directly on the Internet, and, moreover, I would be willing to pay for it, but not the outrageous prices being charged by some Publishers today. If the effect (and maybe this was the intention) of the initiative of PLoS would be to bring down the cost of access to other Medical Journals on-line, it is fine. However, it is not a real solution to improve the problems of over-publishing in the Medical Sciences.

Best Wishes, Rune Aaslid PhD

[To see a list of publications of any significant paper in Medicine goto : 

and type in the name of the author/or medical subject -- the abstracts freely available will tell you at least 90% of the story]

In previous conversation I gather that Dr. Aaslid thinks there are too many lower quality journals, and those tend to be both private and expensive, and are one of the reasons for the high costs.

I append that first discussion here. It caused me to ask for clarification.


Just a perspective from a medical scientist's viewpoint.

You write:

"The problem here is that the research is paid for by the public, but the publication -- which involves a lot more than just putting it out on the web -- isn't. There is the whole peer review process, for example. "

Fact is:

For peer reviews (almost a hundred of them done for the American Heart Association [AHA] ) I've not been paid a cent so far. My colleagues and myself do these reviews as a payback for support we've enjoyed from the taxpayers in founding our research. Hopefully also -- we do it to help the new generation of researchers to be objective and educated in the scientific method.

Furthermore, you write:

"Medical Journals -- most science journals -- are expensive propositions, in part because of editorial costs. I said when CD ROM was invented that this would be an enormous boon for the distribution of scientific knowledge, and it was, but the fact remains that editorial costs are higher than I had suspected, and much higher than production costs."

Fact is:

For the AHA the subscription cost are very reasonable, and after a short time (6-12months) anyone have access to the full text of the article free online. In addition, the paper copy is being sent to not only the medical libraries but also to most individual cardiologists, neurologists etc who subscribe.

In cardiovascular medicine, the AHA journals are the ones where most of us submit as a first choice --- US institution or non-US. However, only a relatively small percentage of papers get accepted (my percentage of recommendations for rejection was more than 90% the last 3 years and the Editor-in-Chief was even more restrictive).

So here is the chance for Elsevier, and Karger; and the other publishers of sorry-to-say second-rate Medical Journals (I've been guilty of publishing in these also, albeit not a lot). They can't make the big subscriber number from individuals, so they have get their bounty out of the Medical Libraries -- and every reputable Medical School has to pay up for tons of second-rate medical "research" which should not have been published anyway . Oh well --

Best Wishes,

Rune Aaslid PhD

I may be out of my depth here. I'm in favor of publications counter to the established views, but I am also very much concerned with truth in advertising and proper labeling. This isn't always easy to do.

And I note in today's paper that the first public announcement of the cloning of a horse was in Nature, and it's been in the pipeline about 6 months, Nature being rabid on the subject on not leaking what they're going to publish.  Is that good?



Given the topic, please withhold my name this one time. Thanks!

I'm in the midst of my tri-annual career review and would be interested in your thoughts on some emerging IT trends. Currently I'm a Senior System Architect with a Fortune 50 corporation, working primarily on back office automation applications and infrastructure - not exactly a growth area.

I've been doing a lot of reading and research on the IT outsourcing trend, as well as some others. I'm coming to the conclusion that the long-term viability of an IT career is in doubt - especially the back office/business apps area that I've been focused on. I don't think that there really will be an IT turnaround this time - it's more of a fundamental change than a downturn . I expect that in the absence on tariffs on Software, the outsourcing trend will continue to expand. Ultimately, I believe most of the back-office/line of business applications will be outsourced completely (and likely overseas).

So that means that I'm debating my future - I don't want to get caught unemployed and unemployable. Long term (10 years), I'm leaning towards exiting IT completely. Mid-term (2-5 years) I'm thinking about moving into Security (which straddles IT and provides a more gradual transition), and Six-Sigma. Thoughts on those? How about others?

If you've got time, I'd really be interested in hearing your thoughts on this . Thanks!


All good questions. But if I don't get to work on the novel I'll be out sourced...

Comments solicited.


And a radical centrist on the California madness:


I am encouraged that both Arnold and Arianna are running for governor. They are both smart cookies.

Of course, they may be ineffective if they do not know "where the bodies are buried" and, like the current White House occupant, have to rely on "professional" advisors with less than pristine backgrounds.

I seem to recall that for all his technical and organizational acumen, it really was his political naiveté that undid Ross Perot, and so chose Stockbridge (?) for his VP, and then let himself be undone by various dirty tricks.

In fact it would not surprise me if the neo-cons tried to undermine Arnold. He is too-- well, you know-- European.

"European", a code word for "intellectual"? Do you think that Arnold would stand still for the cuts in the education budget while boosting prison construction? I somehow think he is smarter than that.

Arnold's announcement reminds me of a graduation talk I heard by Tom Clancy a couple of years ago where he counseled his young audience to get into politics in order to do the most good, but first to become independently wealthy so as to be un-buyable.

I have high hopes for both Arianna and Arnold. Of course I would have voted for Riordan against Davis, and I suspect that there are many "liberals" who would have also. Oh well, you can count on Davis for a dirty campaign now too.

So if Davis does his usual number, but this time against Arnold, the stronger candidate....

The interesting thing about this recall is that it's not a 50% + to be elected. It's a real wildcard situation, and if Arianna can get it together, we could have a really fun administration. That in itself could create a political re-alignment, especially if the Republican crazies splinter the vote and the liberals and Greens back Arianna.

But if Arianna gets elected, the whole country will be up for grabs once again, like it was with Perot, only different. But then y'know, us anarchists like to have fun.

I kind of favor Arianna because she is Greek and Orthodox and not so much liberal but, I like to think, "middle-ist" like myself.

If she runs, it COULD be an interesting campaign.


Well, this is California. Heck, I miss Jerry Brown. And at this point anything can happen.

Thing about Davis is that even if his friends have their roads, they want more. So "keep that guy; he's got his road," doesn't apply here.

I wonder how life is in Tennessee where I came from? Or if I could be a Texan... But I like it here.


Subject: The juxtaposition is truly ironic.

Happy Birthday, sir, and many happy returns . . .

The juxtaposition is truly ironic:

Roland Dobbins

Indeed. Ironic indeed.  Thanks.

Subject: Dark energy confirmed?

  (But note question mark and see below

Two pages, well worth reading:,39020505,39115479,00.htm  



Subject: Aubrey de Gray interview

------- Roland Dobbins







This week:


read book now


Friday, August 8, 2003

Working on fiction, and other pressing matters.

Subject: Cui bono, indeed?

Roland Dobbins









This week:


read book now



The Saga Continues:

IBM Countersues SCO Group It alleges that SCO violated the GNU General Public License under which it accepted Linux contributions and that it doesn't have the right to revoke IBM's Unix license.   

Jim Woosley

And the beat goes on...

  The report on Dark Energy contains the usual sloppy reporting. Dark energy has not been confirmed. Instead, the Hubble data merely supports the Dark Energy theory.

Congratulations on joining the 70 year old club. Many of our generation didn't make it this far.

Chuck Anderson

Precisely. But note the original post subject line.


Dear Dr. Pournelle, I see that the FBI has determined that the terrorists crashed the plane, not the passengers.

However, there is some dissension. As the FBI was undoubtedly in on the analysis of the original stuff that was played and shown to the victim's families, one wonders how there could be such a discrepancy in interpretation.

 If it comes out that the passengers could not get through the cockpit door even with a food cart battering ram, then it becomes essential that there be federally trained professionals on board to deal with possible problems. I had thought originally, when some of the reports of the flt93 revolt came out that this was the only dark spot in an otherwise brilliantly conceived and executed operation (from the terrorists viewpoint). If however it turns out that they were not able to be as effective as earlier thought, this leaves open the door for the TSA or some other bureaucracy to get their professionals in to do it right. One more step in proving that the self-reliant American is a myth of the past. I realize that this sounds like a conspiracy theory and that I might be a bit paranoid... but am I paranoid enough? What are your thoughts? 
Patrick A. Hoage

First, after Waco one can't be too paranoid about the FBI, as many subsequent events have proven. There are competent people in the FBI, but there are a lot of the causes of anarcho-tyranny in there. The only real remedy is to cut their budget in half and send in a Director with the authority to pension off or fire for incompetence about half the staff. Then go back to high standards for recruitment. 

This will restore morale if it's done properly, which is to say, dump the jerks and incompetents and keep the dedicated people who have actually done some work.

As to the implications of 93, if you can't get into the cockpit even with a food cart battering ram and a bunch of passengers -- then what's the danger in the first place?  Clearly the cabin crew opened that cockpit door, and clearly that won't happen again no matter how many throats the hijackers cut, so what's the need for the "trained professionals" to begin with. 

And if we are really worried about future hijackings -- I am not -- I would still opt that all combat trained US military officers and non-coms above the rank of sergeant be required to carry a .22 pistol loaded with soft nosed slugs when they board an airplane rather than play the stupid games they're playing now....


Responses to the IT trends inquiry

Dr. Pournelle,

Your anonymous correspondent is right to worry.

I have no doubt at all that all application development and support will move offshore (translation: to sweatshop labour) in the very near future. IT operations will follow soon after. Your comments about exporting jobs and rendering whole swathes of society economically inactive are perceptive. We may yet reap the whirlwind.

I'm in a similar position, being a highly-experienced - and therefore costly to employ - IT techie. I am a server and data-center specialist with a large multi-national, and this was part of the spec for a recent internal vacancy:

"Actively manage the activities required to drive forward all Offshore services for applications support, enhancement and development across all IT units in xxx. Must promote the adoption of offshore engagements using the strategy developed by the xxx IT Offshore Centre of Excellence. Provide internal consultancy to assist each IT unit to place development work with offshore suppliers, and transition services to offshore suppliers. Aggressively drive IT units to realise offshore target savings as a result of moving IT services offshore. Manage offshore supplier performance and delivery. "

Need one say more?

Time to move out of IT!

In my own case, I am old enough not to worry much, they can put me out to grass if they like - and they probably will - but as long as they're honest enough to give me a decent payoff then who cares.

If I were under 40 I'd be seriously worried. If I were under 30 I would not choose a career in IT.

As for "Six-Sigma", I would say go for it. This is a current management buzz-word much in vogue in big companies. It's pretty well meaningless of course, or rather, it just means common-sense problem-solving and aiming for process reliability, which was something we all did when I started in the chemical industry 30 years ago; the only differences are that back then we didn't have the benefit of the jargon, and the meetings were shorter. Whether your correspondent can reconcile himself morally to becoming, in effect, a pointy-haired jargon-spouting timewaster, is a matter for his conscience; I am not sure that I could.

Best regards and apologies for the length.

Andrew Duffin

PS I wish I had known it was your birthday yesterday, I would have sent greetings on time! Very best anyway, and may you have many more birthdays. And hasn't Sable grown!



Congratulations on your 70th birthday and many happy returns.

Like your previous correspondent, I too am involved software development, mostly back-office stuff in the City of London.

I believe the days of co-located project teams are certainly numbered; this will apply to many areas, but it makes sense for software development to be in the vanguard in this respect. The internet and VPNs are an enabling technology for virtual teams, but successful practice means getting your procedures right and your management trained up successfully.

Doing a search for "Managing Virtual Teams" at Amazon or on Google will bring up a hit-count which may surprise you. I can particularly recommend "Managing Virtual Teams" by Martha Hayward.

I have certainly seen more and more work going offshore. One choice for developers as individuals is to make themselves more cost effective by re-locating to a place where living is cheap and work remotely, this could mean living in the countryside or even emigrating. It's not that easy to find such work at the moment, but I expect on-line markets to develop for assembling such teams. The internet & VPNs make remote working very easy for programmers, and we typically don't have the same technology hurdles to surmount as normal home-workers do.

Until recently, one way to keep one's salary high and one's self employed was to make sure you acquired extensive domain knowledge about Stockbroking or Derivatives Trading or somesuch, but recently I believe I can discern a trend for the domain experts to do the analysis and split off the development work to an offshore team. This is worrying, and indeed reduces the number of jobs for the "Analyst/Programmer". The analysts are in NY or London and the programmers in India. Project Managers spend a lot of time on airplanes.

The dilemma for many of us is that good APs are high-IQ types. We could do well in other jobs, but we LIKE programming. It's a way for the mathematically inclined to be creative. If our work really does dry up and we like living in the city, we'll have to do something else as a day job and program open-source software for fun in our spare time.

Personally however, the idea of working whilst sitting at a Cafe on a Greek Island overlooking the Med, or hacking with a view of Table Mountain in the background is a worthwhile trade-off for some of my salary. Globalisation isn't necessarily a horrible proposition if you know how to ride the wave.


Craig Arnold

And we have:

Found this in the Mercury News. It seems the person holding the number 2 IT position in the Homeland Security Department, a position that requires no IT degree, lists a PhD on her resume which has been found to come from an unaccredited source. Hmm. I feel better already! Times 2! 

Posted on Wed, Aug. 06, 2003 Homeland Security IT official suspended amid probe of credentials By Dune Lawrence Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security has suspended with pay its No. 2 computer official while investigators look into whether she obtained her academic credentials -- including a Ph.D. in computer information systems -- from a mail-order university.


Callahan, who transferred to Homeland Security on April 1 from a Labor Department post as deputy chief information officer -- the Labor Department's No. 2 computer job -- wasn't available for comment, her lawyer said.

Rick Stolba "Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." - Mark Twain

Emphasis mine. But these things happen: when they set up a new department, everyone tries to try to send their deadwood elsewhere. Senior Executive Service grade gets paid a lot but can't refuse transfers to other locations: some get sent to Nome or other such places in an attempt to get them to refuse and leave.

I speculate only here, but...





This week:


read book now


Sunday, August 10, 2003

Begin with a portent. Could it be our future:

Subject: Muslims Reject Borg Assimilation Siren Call In France

A small story circulating on the Net this morning. The real larger story is why Europe overall is so passive when they themselves understand the implications: 

SEXISM IN THE Cités: An unnamed 15-year-old girl is assaulted by 18 boys, most of them not much older than she is. Sonia, also 15, is raped by seven of her supposed friends in the basement of her apartment building. Sheherezade, 11, is beaten and raped repeatedly over the course of a year by 12 different boys. 

GRIM AS SUCH crimes may be, they're becoming commonplace in the police ledgers of Paris, Lyons or Toulouse. The scene is almost always the same: the housing projects called cites on the outskirts of France's major cities. Built by socially progressive governments in the 1960s, they've since been taken over by a generation of mostly Arab immigrants-impoverished, cut off from their native lands and culture, ghettoized. Here, young men try to rule their families and neighbors under a macho code drawn partly from Muslim tradition, partly from the violence and porn in the media. Women submit to men, they say. Good girls, good sisters, cover themselves and stay home. Otherwise they are putes, whores, who can be used and abused even if they say no. 

Such stories, then, are not just about urban crime and rough neighborhoods. They reflect a core issue of Muslim integration in Europe.

Dave Colton

I await comments. My views are well known. I do not oppose immigration but immigration in numbers sufficient to overwhelm the melting pot and the assimilation into American society is an extremely dangerous experiment, and I very much fear the results.

Well, I went through the process Saturday when I flew back to the UK. I got pulled out for the full inspection because I was wearing full-drag post-doc uniform--cords, lab T-shirt, sandles with metal buckles, etc. I was actually angling for the experience because I wanted to evaluate their procedures. They make a lot of sense as SOP for a large organization made up of individuals whose median IQ is probably about 85. (The UK security staff are probably more like 100.) I can handle it and smile. 

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

I suppose that is good news.

  Subject: Your Republic vs Empire pages

This link may be relevant for the second page:

Roland Dobbin

I have added it there.  Thanks.


I received an e-mail saying"

"Sit in a chair, holding a pad and pencil. Move your foot in a clockwise direction (i.e., move the whole foot in a circle; don't just rotate the foot about the heel).

While doing this, write the number "6" on the pad. Don't read further until you've done this.

You'll find that your foot switched to a counterclockwise direction even if you were not conscious of its doing so."

I was astonished to find this was absolutely true in my case.

It wasn't, however, in my wife's case. Perhaps relevant: While I am strongly right-handed, my wife was born a lefty and was forced as a kid to switch to being a righty.

And in fact it's an odd sensation...




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