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  • Seeing to Business

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 14th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Around the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008, I was working two days a week at a Tiny Bidness owned by a friend of mine, Dave the Computer Genius. I had known Dave off and on since 2002, ever since I had looked for a local computer tech to tell me what was wrong with my very first computer. I think that I found Dave through some on-line search, possibly through some local variant of Craig’s list. Anyway, he pronounced my computer well and truly dead, and sold me a rehabbed unit which even if rehabbed was still a better and more up-to-date one than the defunct unit, which I had gotten ten good years out of since buying it at the Yongsan PX. So, I referred Dave to my then-employer, the consultancy dealing in intellectual property (read – did marketing packages and a provisional patent for people who had invented a gadget), and later on he referred me to one of his clients, the ranch realtor, when I was job-hunting.

    Dave did computer installation, training, and trouble-shooting – rather like a one-man Geek Squad – and having a nice collection of regular clients, he did pretty well at it. He talked once or twice of one of them, another Tiny Bidness – a little local publisher owned by Alice G. whom he insisted I would get on with like a house on fire. He promised that one of those days he would take me along when he went to her home/office to work on her computer system, and introduce us. He always thought that we should get together, since he thought we both had a lot in common. And so we did, eventually – although that wasn’t until six months after Dave died of a sudden heart attack.

    So, Alice and I went into partnership. Her little company was basically a one-person shop, after the death of her husband – coincidentally about two weeks before Dave’s death. I re-did her website, and re-did it again, when the cost of the specialized software to maintain it got to be too much. I learned her system for estimating costs, took client meetings – and she had been doing business so long in San Antonio that the company has a lot of name recognition locally among those with the wherewithal to publish a book privately. I did editing and sometimes transcriptions when the client had only a paper manuscript and not a word-processing file. I learned how to do formatting – that is, book interior design – and a couple of years ago I talked Alice into establishing a publish-on-demand imprint. We had lost a good number of otherwise promising clients, you see; Alice preferred using a local lithographic printing enterprise, which is only a bargain if you want to print more than a couple of hundred copies at a whack, whereas a POD imprint which also fed into a national distributor would let us be more competitive – and put our client’s books on Amazon. The days of clients who could afford to pay $5,000 to $15,000 and up to publish their book was coming to an end, I would argue, and we were in competition with Createspace and Booklocker and Booksurge and a hundred other POD houses. She would point out that there were years when she only did two books a year, and I would say that we wouldn’t even have that many at the rate we were going.

    So, we set up the POD imprint – and of our five clients last year, four of them were POD. I handled them all anyway. We re-did all of my own books that had been published already – and the sales of the printed versions came trickling back to the imprint’s book account. Alice was sidelined more and more with health problems, which have come to a head in the last few months.

    The bottom line is that I am going to buy her out, for pretty much the cost of her lawyer doing all the paperwork to transfer the business to me. It’s a good thing that the land sold when it did – as I can just about afford to do this. It’s a nice little business, with all the necessary connections to freelance service providers. There are clients with reoccurring orders for reprints, and potential customers who just prefer to be able to sit down and meet face to face with a real person. Together with my pension, with the income from my own writing – there’ll be enough. I’ll never look to grow it to the point of hiring employees, though. Training up Blondie as my junior partner, as Alice trained me – well, that’s where my work future lies, and with luck it will provide for us both.

    (cross-posted at www.ncobrief.com)

     

    57 Responses to “Seeing to Business”

    1. dearieme Says:

      “I’ll never look to grow it to the point of hiring employees”: my wife remarked yesterday that there are quite a few restaurants around here – country pubs, mainly – that are strictly no-employee businesses. One (typically the husband, apparently) cooks, and the other does “front of house” including all the waitressing. Killingly hard work, I’d imagine.

    2. Sgt. Mom Says:

      For a restaurant pub, yes – probably killingly hard work. For this Tiny Bidness, not so much. Publishing five or six books a year, and either doing all the work or subcontracting it out will bring in enough, when taken in combination with the profits from my own writing. Not money by the bushel, or a killing work-schedule, but enough.

      I just got off the line with the CPA who has done my tax returns since … umm, 1995. He approves of the whole project and is raring to go; this kind of thing is meat and drink to him. He is another Tiny Bidness, himself.

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      When I published my history of medicine book, it cost $20,000 to do the layout and print 2,000 copies. After 4,000 copies, I got tired of doing my own fulfillment and by that time Amazon had set up their POD operation. I turned the book over to them and for no work I get about $250 to $500 a month. It’s been ten years and it still sells about 20 to 50 copies a month.

      I’m still trying to figure out if it is worth it to finish the memoirs book. My medical students all wanted a copy but, typically, didn’t read that much during the holiday. Small publishing has got to be easier than it was in 2000.

    4. Sgt. Mom Says:

      There is a lot of stuff that is easier with small publishing now, Mike. The software to do good layouts and cover designs is much more widely available and cheaper. What with the establishment publishing industry crashing and burning, there are a lot of fairly competent cover and layout techs available on a freelance basis, not to mention editing talent. And being able to do printing on demand negates the need to have a couple of thousand copies printed at a time, plus if you have an account with LSI (Lightning Source Intl)you also have the option of being distributed by Ingram, which is entrée into bookstores and on-line catalogs like Amazon.
      If you do the memoir, Mike – launch it as an e-book first. My .02. YMMV.
      It is interesting, I think – that there may be a trend forming in Tiny Bidnesses; besides depending on independent subcontractors, many of them that I have worked for are family-based, which is kind of a curious throw-back. One of two cover artists that our Tiny Bidness uses is my own brother. He’s a freelance graphic artist; works out of home, and is chief caregiver for his and his wife’s children. My own prospective business partner will be my daughter – and maybe, if we prosper and the kid is interested – Alice’s grand-niece. I wonder if the future of business doesn’t include a bunch of tiny, nimble firms, loosely linked with freelancers, running around the feet of the lumbering corporate behemoths. We may not make very much individually – but keeping it Tiny might be a way of going Galt, keeping food on the table, and below the radar of the Big-Bidness-owned State.

    5. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “there are quite a few restaurants around here – country pubs, mainly – that are strictly no-employee businesses. One (typically the husband, apparently) cooks, and the other does “front of house” including all the waitressing. Killingly hard work, I’d imagine.”

      This is very typical of France where hiring an employee is like getting married, only worse. There is a small cafe right by Pegasus Bridge in Normandy where the British 6th Airborne landed in gliders on D-Day, The cafe is very nice and still run by the daughter of the owner on D-Day. The first review on the link is wrong. She was very polite and has only one employee because of French work laws. She made our lunch when we were there in 2006. She was a child of four on June 6.1944 so she may have retired by now. It is a lovely spot and typical of French small business.

    6. Jeff the Bobcat Says:

      “It is interesting, I think – that there may be a trend forming in Tiny Bidnesses; besides depending on independent subcontractors, many of them that I have worked for are family-based, which is kind of a curious throw-back. One of two cover artists that our Tiny Bidness uses is my own brother. He’s a freelance graphic artist; works out of home, and is chief caregiver for his and his wife’s children. My own prospective business partner will be my daughter – and maybe, if we prosper and the kid is interested – Alice’s grand-niece. I wonder if the future of business doesn’t include a bunch of tiny, nimble firms, loosely linked with freelancers, running around the feet of the lumbering corporate behemoths. We may not make very much individually – but keeping it Tiny might be a way of going Galt, keeping food on the table, and below the radar of the Big-Bidness-owned State.”

      Add in 3D printing and other coming technologies and you are moving toward America 3.0 as described in Lex’s book.

    7. newrouter Says:

      good luck.

    8. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “I wonder if the future of business doesn’t include a bunch of tiny, nimble firms, loosely linked with freelancers, running around the feet of the lumbering corporate behemoths.”

      My daughter-in-law runs a successful marketing business out of her home and is raising her free kids quite nicely. My son, her husband, is a fireman and is home four days a week including the weekends. They are doing nicely. She has clients all over the country.

    9. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Three kids ! They are by no means free.

    10. Jonathan Says:

      Good luck!

    11. Dan from Madison Says:

      “This is very typical of France..”. I will second this. The last few years I have ridden my bike in the Pyrenees and we go to a local tiny restaurant for dinner every night. The place is always insane and the wife cooks while the guy does everything else. I asked why no employees and they said what Mike already spoke of, which are the insane work laws in France. I do not know how they get anything done there.

    12. Bill Brandt Says:

      Have a good friend since childhood how became a successful plumber – his work was such that he could have easily expanded, hiring others, more bidding (new construction) But with the problems of workman’s comp and such he chose to just remain small – just him.

      And he’s done very well.

      I think with technology, the trend is towards small.

      In many industries, it doesn’t matter where “here” is anymore. Many jobs can be done across the country.

    13. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

      }}} I wonder if the future of business doesn’t include a bunch of tiny, nimble firms, loosely linked with freelancers, running around the feet of the lumbering corporate behemoths. We may not make very much individually – but keeping it Tiny might be a way of going Galt, keeping food on the table, and below the radar of the Big-Bidness-owned State.

      LOL, I am on paper (well, digital paper) as having predicted this about 20 years ago.

      I am of the opinion that the old, hierarchical model is a product of industrial society with its Big Factories and Big Assets. The modern IP & Services economy needs to be far more nimble, facile, and the product of a very different environment.

      Agricultural society culminated in the organizing principle of the Feudal Enclave, with its leaders, the Lords and Ladies, and their vassals and peons.

      Industrial society culminated in the multinational corporation, with its CEOs and Presidents, and their managers and employees.

      Both of them were naturally hierarchical — I think this seems obvious, though I’ll allow someone else to consider, and explain, why that is so.

      Information and decision making occurred by info flowing up and down the power tree until it reached a certain point, a decision was made, and then the decision flowed back up the tree and fanned out to where it applied.

      But for IP and Services, that’s far too slow a process, with far too many bottlenecks — Scott Adams’ “Mordac, the Preventer of Info Services” and “Floyd, the Abusive Co-worker”, to say nothing of the Pointy-Haired One.

      I argue that a networked system, rather than a hierarchical one, is much more effective. If you think of the organizational pattern as quickly forming and reorganizing, loosely bounded networks of specialists, that is where your future “Tidy Bidness” is headed. “Corporations, Feudal Enclaves” — the organizational concept needs a name. Call it a Kith, which I think is what it’s going to reflect — any Kith you are are in will mostly be 1st or 2nd gen connections, that is, “people you know, and people who know people you know”. Not a lot of complete strangers. Some, as your goals entertain some atypical external need — using the book business as an example, if you decided to print some book on plastic rather than paper, you might need to connect with someone in plastics who you had limited connection to — but, if you did that a couple more times, you’re going to keep going back to the same person, aren’t you?? This makes them “someone you know” after that first time.

      Networking skills become significant. The more people you know, the more people who will seek your assistance in a task. So your talent becomes significant, but your capacity to make others aware of it matters as much and perhaps more — the more things change, the more they stay the same.

      I also think this world will be more fragmented — there will be much less likelihood of attaining Bill Gates style wealth. Projects will tend to be smaller, more manageable by a collective mind, with less structured control over things. More “empowerment” to make decisions, too — one of the ideas here is delegated command. Let the people close to the event make the decisions about it. The wealth produced will be much more evenly distributed, too, even if something does “hit it big”.

      I suggest that we are headed towards a much more fragmented, much less centralized society, and the above is one of the chief factors to that end.

      US$.02 <—- and worth every penny.

    14. Kirk Parker Says:

      Dan,

      I do not know how they get anything done there.

      That’s just not all that high on the national agenda.

    15. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>>Three kids ! They are by no means free.

      So true.

    16. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “I am of the opinion that the old, hierarchical model is a product of industrial society with its Big Factories and Big Assets. The modern IP & Services economy needs to be far more nimble, facile, and the product of a very different environment.”

      Interesting because this was the model for most medical practices until the past couple of years. Ted Kennedy criticized medicine as a “cottage industry.” Now, Obamacare has driven a consolidation as hospitals buy up individual and small group medical practices. Now, we see one of the disadvantages as the “exchange” insurance plan are excluding many networks. This will pose a problem for some of these big vertically integrated medical systems if they are not in the favored network. Meanwhile, the smaller old fashioned practices are much more nimble and many are going to a new cash model.

      Kaiser was the old HMO model but the newer HMO systems are for-profit and will have trouble with fixed costs. Twenty years ago, when I was looking for an associate, I discovered that most young docs were more interested in vacations and time off than opportunity for growth. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

    17. Jim Miller Says:

      Speaking of medical consolidation: There have been some interesting articles in the New York Times explaining how ObamaCare is increasing that consolidation — and how that, in turn, is likely to lead to higher prices. It will be worse, for obvious reasons, in rural areas.

      Here’s a post I wrote in July on the problem.

      Good luck to Sergeant Mom with her business.

    18. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Thanks, all – IGB, that was very shrewd; a network of small units doing business, and deliberately keeping the individual units small and the connections personal. I looked around, and realized that is what is happening with this particular business. None of us will ever achieve Bill Gates riches, but with luck, we will make a good living from it. Perhaps this is Galt’s Gulch, 21st century style.

    19. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The electronic medical record, which even I thought would be a time saver, is turning out to be a huge kludge factor in the Obamacare world. It is made mandatory by some provision of the law and the docs in practice I’ve talked to tell me me it takes about 25% of their time since data entry has to be by the doc. We had a whole workshop at the medical school about how to teach medical students to use it and i has been a mess when we have tried. The interface looks like something the DMV would invent. There are no time savers as I once thought would be the advantage. For example, to enter any data on a patient, the doc must first enter a diagnosis ! What if you don’t yet know what is the matter with the patient ? Tough. Put one in. And you cannot later delete it even if it’s wrong.

      I’m beginning to suspect the same sam write the EMR before it started work on the web site.

      My pulmonary doc, who has been a friend for 30 years, was complaining that it took 3 hours for him to enter the data from patient visits after the last patient has gone. Last week I got a letter from him announcing his retirement for “health reasons.” Mental health I suspect.

    20. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Priceless, Mike – yeah, the brave new world. I heard the same thing about the so-called ‘paperless office’ – except that we were having to print out hard copies of everything, anyway.
      Just another aspect to watch, when it comes to Obamacare crashing and burning…
      I have to go in to see my primary care guy this week – to renew the blood pressure prescription. BAMC has had some kind of electronic system for the last few years. Which is nice, because when I am prescribed something, all I have to do is walk downstairs to the pharmacy, and it is already there.

    21. Michael Kennedy Says:

      EMR is not that tough. A young surgeon a few years ago had a surgery EMR he had written using Visual Basic that was great. He was selling the software at the College of Surgeon a few years. It’s much easier to have government mandate it. That way you don’t have to make it work well.

    22. Bill Brandt Says:

      I had a minor operation a few years ago and the nurse was saying that she spends half of her day on the keyboard filling out mandatory junk.

    23. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The “Risk Management” people have taken over nursing notes so they are almost unusable. I used to read the nursing notes first when making rounds so I knew what was going on. No more, They are useless except to defense lawyers if the hospital screws up. Then they can obscure anything.

      I did a lot of med-mal expert witness work for years. I began with defense but, after a staff member’s father died under odd circumstances, I began to do plaintiff reviews and testimony. Some of them were pretty interesting, like looking at a train wreck.

    24. dearieme Says:

      “I have to go in to see my primary care guy this week – to renew the blood pressure prescription.” The system for me is that when I’m getting low on my BP pills I just put in a prescription request on-line and the script is sent to our nearest pharmacy. Anytime I am at the GP’s (about every three weeks, for a ‘bloods’) I have a BP measurement that’s entered onto my electronic record in seconds, before my very eyes.

    25. Joe Wooten Says:

      My doctor absolutely hates the new EMR his clinic was forced to adopt. They used to have another system that he was able to carry a tablet to each room and type in a few things while he examined you. Now he spends more time on the EMR than actually visiting with the patients.

      He’s only 56 and is seriously considering retirement.

    26. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “Anytime I am at the GP’s (about every three weeks, for a ‘bloods’) I have a BP measurement that’s entered onto my electronic record in seconds, before my very eyes.”

      This what I thought it would do. Plus, there are all sore of possibilities for ICU patients. What I have seen so far is junk. One new innovation that actually began before the EMR is that nurses notes are entered in the same area as doctors’ notes so you have to wade through all the risk management crap. I’m sure there was politics behind this as nurses must have felt “disrespected” by having a separate part of the chart. In fact, it was the first part I read but that was when it was real observation, not blather.

    27. dearieme Says:

      What has really impressed me is two experiences.
      (i) I needed a skin cancer removed; that’s GP’s work, but only for one who’s suitably skilled and experienced. So my practice sent me to another practice, where the chappie just called up my file on his computer to check a couple of points before he proceeded.
      (ii) On one visit to my GP she wanted to talk over a symptom with a specialist at the local teaching hospital; she phoned, and they looked through my notes, each on her own computer, while they talked it over.

      Attempts to build a nationwide electronic record system have ended in abject and expensive failure. But this system, which I assume to be local, seems to work a treat. If I ask how my blood sugar has been over the last x years, the GP just prints out the chart for me.
      Ditto anything else that they’ve been in the habit of recording: cholesterol, BP, weight, …..

    28. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Dearieme, I have been a member of the American Society for Medical Informatics since the 1980s.

      There were quite a number of successful applications. Minnesota had a system of remote small clinics run by PAs that were linked to a big hospital in Minneapolis. They were linked by video and data lines and could get immediate help for serious conditions.

      The Intermountain Healthcare system, in the 80s, had a program to control the treatment of respiratory failure in young patients with Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The program is still in use. It began when the use of ECMO (extra corporal membrane oxygen) machines appeared. These are long term artificial lung devices that can run for weeks without damaging red cells. The problem is that it cost $100,000 to set it up and run it for even one day. IMHS did a study to see if respirator care could be optimized without ECMO to decide which patients absolutely had to have it. Before this study only 15% of these patients, mostly young trauma victims, survived. After setting up the computer protocols and running them for several weeks, the survival approached 85% without ECMO. The results were dramatic.

      In 1995, I wrote a proposal to set up a program to care for the frail elderly in my area using the rudimentary EMR we had and linking the treatment from assisted living homes near (8 mile radius) the university medical center and the servers at the university. The care givers would be residents and nurse practitioners who would go to the assisted living site. The administrators already promised to provide us with onsite treatment rooms. They were desperate to get better care for residents. The treating providers would carry only a laptop, which were still kind of primitive then, and use dial up to get the records and enter progress notes on the servers.

      The university medical group and the department of family medicine were enthusiastic. The administration nixed the program. The administrator who killed it was later hired by UCLA to run their medical center. The proposal still sits in my file cabinet.

      All I’m saying is that this mandatory EMR is badly designed and will drive a lot of physician away. The poor design is a puzzle because there are 30 years of study.

    29. David Foster Says:

      I understand that some doctors are now bringing in someone to handle the EMR work while the doctor actually speaks with and examines the patient…I guess you could call this assistant a Scribe.

    30. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “I guess you could call this assistant a Scribe.”

      More overhead, not less. How about this ?

    31. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I suspect the trouble with the Dragon option is the template which does not allow essay-style entries.

    32. Gringo Says:

      [EMR]It is made mandatory by some provision of the law and the docs in practice I’ve talked to tell me me it takes about 25% of their time since data entry has to be by the doc.

      Sounds like a cost-effective way to do it. Pay a clerk in the hundreds of thousands of salary per year- or whatever MDs make. Definitely more than a clerk.

      When you have people writing laws that have no idea about the business they are legislating about, this is what happens. And happens.

    33. Jonathan Says:

      The poor design is a puzzle because there are 30 years of study.

      It’s only a puzzle until you figure out which set of incentives is driving the design.

    34. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “It’s only a puzzle until you figure out which set of incentives is driving the design.”

      I think the usual explanation is “good enough for government work.” The template seems to be a control mechanism. It doesn’t have to be this way. When I was in grad school at Dartmouth 20 years ago, an ER doc in the program had written an application to extract billable items from an ER doc dictation of an encounter report. The application scanned the dictation and pulled out procedures and other billable items, attached a charge from a schedule and generated a bill. The same application could scan for quality items or any other purpose. The ER doc had written it herself and was making money selling it to other ER docs in Maine.

      The same technology could scan any dictation and generate orders or other second order documents. On the other hand, it doesn’t force you to do it their way. That seems to be the attraction.

    35. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Out of a sense of history, I guess, I searched for and found my 1995 proposal for a study at UCI for the care of the frail elderly. The premise, as stated in the proposal, was that these patients could be cared for economically if their medical problems were managed early on and controlled. Now, of course, we have the IPAB to ration care no matter what the outcome. Still, out of historical interest, the proposal may be worth looking at . It included an EMR proposal.

    36. Anon Says:

      I am a computer programmer working around some of the new medical health records software. Doctors are being required to purchase it and show ‘meaningful use’ in the next few years, or they’ll start getting their Medicare / Medicaid reimbursements docked 1% / year. They’re also being paid handsomely to implement the software (over $60,000 for an individual doctor, and $millions for a hospital)

      My favorite anecdote about it is that as part of ‘meaningful use’, doctors are required to collect information about things like smoking status, height, weight, race, blood pressure, and so on.

      A doctor is allowed to say, “Blood Pressure is not within the scope of my practice, and thus I don’t collect it”, and not provide an answer to the blood pressure question. However, no doctor is allowed to say that race is not within the scope of his/her practice, and they *all* must collect that data.

    37. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Thanks, Anon. I am so fortunate to be out of active practice that I no longer go to the hospital doctors’ dining room. I am uncomfortable with the envy of the younger docs because I was in “the golden age” of medicine. I avoid talking about economics with my students.

      Part of “meaningful use” is no doubt guns in the home. It certainly is for pediatricians.

    38. Anon Says:

      Actually, none of the ~120 ‘meaningful use’ questions cover guns.

    39. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “Actually, none of the ~120 ‘meaningful use’ questions cover guns.”

      An oversight that will be corrected. The pediatrics community has been pushing this theme as a health hazard for years.

    40. dearieme Says:

      One bloody NHS hospital asked me my religion. Cheeky sods. I referred them to the Great Reform Act of 1832.

    41. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “One bloody NHS hospital asked me my religion. ”

      It’s important because Muslim women don’t have to wash their arms. A surgeon friend of mine in London tells me that Muslim women refuse to scrub arms in surgery. Wonder why the infection rate is up ?

    42. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I guess I was behind a bit in Muslim medical news if this item is accurate.

      Newest Laws in the UK have stated that Muslim nurses are no longer required to wash their hands before procedures. Muslim nurses claim that it compromises their modesty–if that’s the case, don’t work in the hospital then.
      Anyways, health officials have acknowledged the, “danger of microbes and death.” They are instead supplementing this concern mandating the, “less sanitary option of wearing disposable plastic over-sleeves.”
      A Department of Health spokeswoman stated, “The guidance is intended to . . . balance infection control measures with cultural beliefs.”

      Whatever.

    43. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Balance infection control measures with cultural beliefs? WTF? I thought – silly me – that washing your hands and forearms before a medical/surgical procedure was just one of those things. Are they trying to tell us that Muslims are so pure that germs wouldn’t dare live on them?

    44. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

      }}} It’s important because Muslim women don’t have to wash their arms. A surgeon friend of mine in London tells me that Muslim women refuse to scrub arms in surgery. Wonder why the infection rate is up ?

      That seemed a bit over the top, and the source specious, so I did a search… ;-)

      It’s not quite that extreme, really, but it is blatantly favoring one religion over another.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1265136/NHS-relax-superbug-safeguards-Muslim-staff–just-days-Christian-nurse-banned-wearing-crucifix-health-safety-reasons.html

      The main relevance occurs ca. para 14:

      Birmingham University revealed that some students would prefer to quit their course than expose their arms.
      A Muslim radiographer quit at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading over the issue.
      Yet Islamic experts are divided about how Muslim women should dress as the Koran is ambiguous on the matter.
      The revised rules, issued on March 26, make clear that staff can wear uniforms with long sleeves as long as they roll them up securely above their elbows to wash and when they are on the wards.
      They add that staff who want to cover up completely when dealing with patients will be able to use special disposable ‘over-sleeves’.

      Clearly, I’m not “on the scene”, so your personal source seems relevant, if you really trust him.

    45. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

      BTW, corollary to my assertions above, for an IP & Services economy to properly function, you need as few things interfering with the flow of information possible. Current copyright models based on traditional control over information are highly counter-productive. Copyright needs to be seriously overhauled for the coming age. I suspect that’s not going to happen until there’s an economic collapse. I know that’s at odds with America 3.0, but suspect it’s going to have to happen before we can get to America 3.0.

      I do strongly recommend reading John Perry Barlow’s The Economy of Ideas. It’s now almost 20 years old, but just as accurate and timely now as it was then, perhaps more so. Much IP Law is built on equating Real Property with IP. It is not, by a long shot. Attempting to treat IP the same as Real Property, because they’re both “property” is as foolish as trying to treat steam the same as ice, because both are “water”. There is a phase change of difference between the two, and attempts to treat them the same will get you scalded or frostbitten or both.

      And copyright as control is dead, anyway, unless you’re prepared to make radical changes in the internet.

      Bear with me:

      People say that the internet “treats censorship as noise, and routes around it.”

      In my experience, this is true. Playboy attempts to shut down Scanmaster, an early scanner of Playboy imagery — and when they succeed, a hundred more scanners take over.

      The RIAA shuts down Napster, and a dozen more p2p file sharing programs pop up, none of them with the design flaw that allowed the RIAA to shut down Napster.

      So — you cannot censor the internet in its present form.

      Now,
      Censorship is someone saying “This we deem dangerous, therefore you may not access it.”
      Copyright is someone saying “This you have not paid for, therefore you may not access it.

      Yes, I argue that, on a mechanical level, they are the exact same activity. NOTE: I am not arguing they are morally equivalent AT ALL. I am saying that both are about controlling access to information

      So, what does this say? I argue that The Internet treats copyright-as-control as noise, and routes around it.

      So either you have to change copyright to not be control based, or you have to alter the internet to allow it to censor things.

      I dunno about you, but the latter seems to me to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

      At this point, I’;m going to offer a bit more of an argument, using a post I made a week or so back (the first line is a quote of what spurred the point I made):

      }}} But that doesn’t mean anybody who wants should be able to make mickey mouse comics and profit off of Disney’s success.

      WHY NOT? That’s where half of Disney’s works came from in the first place — stuff in the public domain. You think Disney created Alice In Wonderland? You think Disney created Snow White, or Cinderella? Those were all works in the public domain.

      More critically, Disney has been DEAD for something like 40 freaking years!!

      What the hell have these FAT BASTARDS sitting there with their hands out saying “give me money” done to EARN anything? Anything at all?

      Go ahead, I’ll be amused at your response.

      Sorry, you don’t OWN ideas. You don’t OWN your creations. Once you send them out to society, you don’t OWN them any more.

      SOCIETY wants to encourage you to DO that, however.

      The child says “Information should be free.”

      This is wrong, though.

      DATA perhaps, should be free. “Information” — be it musical notes in a specific arrangement, words written into a pattern, or thoughts about how the world really works — are someone’s hard time spent constructing a unique “Worldview” of DATA.

      If society wants you to spend the time to do that — to not just construct a worldview, but to release it for our enrichment, then yes, we do need to enrich the one who does that.

      But that does not make you OWN it after release. In actual fact, we don’t HAVE to reward you at all — we can, in fact, simply steal it. And this was The Way Of Things up until a bit less than 400 years ago — and even there, it was mostly not protected until 1789, when Madison wrote, with Jefferson’s encouragement — the first widespread protections for IP into human Laws.

      Yes, the Constitution, in all its other uniqueness, is the first codification of widespread IP protections into law anywhere. It even explains WHY it is there: “To promote the sciences and the arts”. Note that “enriching the creators of things” isn’t mentioned. Society doesn’t implement IP protections for the benefit of creators. It does it for its own benefit, in terms of Arts and Sciences.

      Now ask yourself a simple question:

      Which is more likely to produce a vast array of interesting IP to enrich society by “promoting the Sciences and The Arts”:

      5000 people who think they have an interesting take on Mickey Mouse?
      or
      10 lawyers sitting in a conference room giving their permission for a few people to create Mickey Mouse “things”?

      Sure — the 5000 people will also produce a lot of crap. And certainly some porn with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy in a three-way. The good stuff, though, will survive. And all the dreck will fade away.

      But ask yourself — how much actually INTERESTING stuff has been produced by the latter system regarding Mickey in the last 30 years? Any cartoons? Any movies? Or has it been knock-off, uninteresting drivel for the most part?

      So why should society continue to reward these fat “non-producing product sponge” assholes sitting there doing a BAD JOB?

      So — my point is — Copyright needs to be overhauled to allow free access and use of ideas in the creation of things. And reward the creators in some way using a suitably well defined metric… perhaps some equation of internet searches, link followthroughs, and things like that. Money to come from a slush fund of some kind coming from blank media or the like.

      No, it’s not a full answer, but it’s a start.

    46. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “That seemed a bit over the top, and the source specious, so I did a search… ;-)”

      Missed the reason why the source seems “specious.” The fellow who told me is an older NHS surgeon who is also a famous anatomist. I could mention his name but it might conceivably cause him trouble. He is also concerned about the number of young English women who are converting to Islam. These are women without any cultural or genetic tie to Muslim society. He sees them going to medical school. Neither of us can understand why a woman would do that.

      I just checked his Wiki entry to see if he is still alive. I haven’t seen him since 2006. He was born in 1926 and still a professor of Anatomy although he quit operating in 1993.

    47. Jonathan Says:

      So — my point is — Copyright needs to be overhauled to allow free access and use of ideas in the creation of things. And reward the creators in some way using a suitably well defined metric… perhaps some equation of internet searches, link followthroughs, and things like that. Money to come from a slush fund of some kind coming from blank media or the like.

      The current IP law regime has been jiggered for the benefit of 1) big content owners such as Disney and 2) IP lawyers. Probably a rollback of the current lifetime-plus-70-years copyright term, and perhaps reductions in statutory penalties for small-fry infringers, would make sense. What’s often ignored in online discussions about copyright is that the typical content owner is an independent artist, writer or photographer rather than a big, politically connected media company. The current legal regime makes it difficult and expensive for the independent content owner to enforce copyright, to the extent that it is often not worth doing anything if someone rips off work that you created.

      And to say that the ease of theft of online content justifies that theft, as I think you are saying, is wrong too. I shouldn’t be allowed to steal your lawnmower merely because you haven’t fenced your yard. We could change the rules so that an unfenced yard is defined as a commons; property rights definitions are to a significant extent arbitrary. But once we establish rules we are better off in the long run if we enforce them. The same technology that enables the sharing and theft of online content can also enable the enforcement of IP ownership.

      An no, IP creators should not be compensated based on “some equation of internet searches, link followthroughs, and things like that”. We have free markets for most types of property. There will be much less creative activity if creators aren’t allowed to capture the full value of what they create. The best course of action might be the incremental measures I mentioned above, plus the creation of a streamlined enforcement system (perhaps along the lines of a federal small-claims court) for lower-value infringements.

    48. David Foster Says:

      MK…”He is also concerned about the number of young English women who are converting to Islam. These are women without any cultural or genetic tie to Muslim society. He sees them going to medical school. Neither of us can understand why a woman would do that.”

      I think there are probably some parallels with Koestler’s character Hydie Anderson and her affair with a Russian Communist.

    49. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “I think there are probably some parallels with Koestler’s character Hydie Anderson and her affair with a Russian Communist.”

      Yes, I agree and think the daughter in In the Garden of Beasts had a similar reaction.

      I would not be surprised to learn, if we could read minds, that the political left is driven by much of this sentiment. Hence their affection for Islam, which would put many of them to death.

      In The Third World War 1985, the original version, which was written by retired British generals, the war is lost and the book ends with the Russians rounding up all the British leftists and hanging them. No doubt the generals, and Hackett, were indulging a fantasy. The book was later rewritten and republished with the ending changed. The redo was probably due to poor sales and the downbeat ending was blamed.

    50. Joe Wooten Says:

      I wonder if Hackett and the other generals would now make changes in that novel given the state of decay among the Soviet forces already somewhat evident in the late 1980′s. The extremely poor performance of their equipment would be something I would factor into my analysis that would have made the USSR go nuclear very quickly. If they won, they would have been presiding over a nuclear wasteland with minimal looting opportunities.

    51. Joe Wooten Says:

      I think that is why the Soviet leadership never tried attacking the west. With the US covering western Europe, it would have been suicide.

    52. Ginny Says:

      Good Luck & Congratulations, Sgt. Mom – but you plan well and this isn’t your first adventure, you’ll be great. There’s little that is scarier but little more satisfying than a small business. This does seem the future – much like the more nimble and diversified and independent world Lex’s book posits.

      But isn’t it ironic that these new, independent, autonomous culture/business/professional models are countered by the other thread in these comments in which the germ theory seems to be seen as a trade-off, to be balanced by culture. Respect is admirable, of course, and perhaps the disposable sleeves work. Still I’d just as soon that anyone opening my heart or delivering my daughters’ children thought washing their hands was really important.

    53. Kirk Parker Says:

      Anyone who doubts that a soviet/etc takeover wouldn’t have resulted in massive bloodshed on the left needs to go read Bloodlands.

    54. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

      }}} }}}“That seemed a bit over the top, and the source specious, so I did a search… ;-)”

      }}} Missed the reason why the source seems “specious.”

      I dunno. It just LOOKED to me from experience like one of those sketchy sites that you may well get accurate info from, but should never, ever take on its word to that fact. Treat it like wikipedia — an initial place for ideas to verify on your own, not a final place to trust in.

      I can’t say what, exactly, made it fail the “sniff” test. But I’d lay odds its veracity value is probably less than 90%.

    55. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

      }}} I could mention his name but it might conceivably cause him trouble.

      Oh, that’s fine. I was more suggesting *you* should make that validation, since you are more able to judge, and I’m inclined from other posts to trust your judgement with less than complete reasons, and argue for how much you trusted him and why (if you were even inclined to do so).

      Perhaps it’s really what’s happening, and the mail piece is what is SUPPOSED to be happening. Kinda like the reports from the NHS about how effectively they’re handling things like any delays associated with surgeries, vs. anecdotal evidence that says they’re lying through their teeth about it.

    56. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

      }}} And to say that the ease of theft of online content justifies that theft, as I think you are saying, is wrong too.

      No, I did NOT say that. I said that the very NATURE of digitized IP, combined with the NATURE of the internet, makes any attempt to provide reward by the traditional means of CONTROL not just difficult, not just unlikely — impossible.

      It is anathema to the design of the internet to allow control over the dissemination of information. And changing that would ruin the internet.

      So THAT, along with the simple fact that the system NEEDS the free flow of information, the freely available usage, with as little friction as possible, of information, justifies a radical restructuring of the process.

      You can’t do it.
      You shouldn’t do it.
      It’s downright foolish to do it.

      Why do it?

      }}} I shouldn’t be allowed to steal your lawnmower merely because you haven’t fenced your yard.

      And here you’re bumping into the phase change problem I commented on. Please go read Barlow’s Wired article. You almost certainly do not understand this issue sufficiently to really grasp what I’m talking about.

      REAL PROPERTY is to IP in the same sense as ICE is to STEAM. They have a significant quality in common — Property/Water — but to attempt to apply the rules for one to the use of and handling of the other is a recipe for a cluster f***.

      I could detail this out, explain it very clearly, but Barlow does such a wonderful job that it makes more sense to have you read it and then answer any arguments with, or questions about, his treatise after it’s given you some (LOL) real intellectual property ideas to think about.

      Realize that Barlow is not talking through his hat — he’s not some guy just coming up with a Bright Idea and writing it down.

      He made himself VERY rich doing EXACTLY what he says…

      }}} There will be much less creative activity if creators aren’t allowed to capture the full value of what they create

      LOL, most creators create because they’re driven to do so. It’s like being really good at playing football. Pros do it long after their bodies are telling them “Stop, you’re wrecking me!!” because it is in their nature to do it. When you are good at something, you do it because you are driven, not because of the rewards.

      Look at Emily Dickinson, one of the greatest creators of the 19th century. Almost everything we have of her creations is available to the public because her executor, when instructed to destroy the contents of a trunk after she passes away, refused to do it and published the contents instead. Most of her poetry, including some of her best works, that has survived was published posthumously.

      So, no, most creators will continue to create as long as they have enough to live on. That’s not arguing that should be ALL they are given, but it’s only in the last century or so that “getting rich” has even been an OPTION for creators. For most of human history, creators have eked out a living by finding a patron willing to support them, often on a pittance, not by getting a piece of the action from every person who enjoyed their works.

      And if you think a penny — even a tenth of a penny — from every single person who enjoys your works — when there are SEVEN BILLION potential takers — is chicken feed, then you’re not doing the math: A 10th of a penny from 50 million people is US$50,000.00

      Not bad for something that might be as little as a week’s work.

      }}} plus the creation of a streamlined enforcement system (perhaps along the lines of a federal small-claims court) for lower-value infringements.

      No, when society is building wealth by taking ideas and altering them, adding to them, restructuring them, and, in general, building on prior efforts, taking the time to seek approval to use something in that direction is FRICTION. Serious friction. It’s like government red tape in a capital business venture.

      Suppose I have this GREAT idea for a joke that will fit on a t-shirt. But it circles around an existing meme — like, say, a riff off of a currently popular song.

      Now, I won’t argue that, since it does circle that song, that the authors of the song should get a piece of that. But if I have to take the time and expense to get permission… If they have the power to refuse permission… then there is a damned good chance I will say “Ah, eph it… not worth the trouble.” And there is an equally significant chance those with the power may not understand, or appreciate, the notion, and say “no”…

      Would YOU have expected “Gangnam Style” to take off as it did? Of course not. I doubt if even Psy had any idea he was creating what became the most viewed video in YouTube history. But explode it did. And there is no rational way any human could really have said, “I knew that would happen.”

      What you’re looking at is, if you think carefully about it, an awful lot like the IP version of centralized control over industrial development.

      Let the market decide which of millions of ideas is really worthwhile, not a few idiots in a board room, or even a single idiot in a garage. The engine of wealth, where IP is concerned, is to have the freest, and fastest, possible flow of information that society can provide. And “control” over the information is anathema to everything I’m talking about.

    57. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

      BTW, here’s another example, patent related, of how utterly screwed up our IP law is:

      MPHJ Exposed: The Real Dirt on the Notorious Scanner Troll
      To the extent there’s a poster child for patent abuse, it’s MPHJ, the infamous “scanner troll.” This week’s revelations show us for the first time just how much damage the patent troll has caused. Hint: it’s a lot.
      MPHJ owns a handful of patents, which it claims covers the basic technology for scanning documents to email. You read that right—simply scanning documents to email.

      …(continued)…