Ignorance in Power is a Nightmare Scenario

Forget "ignorance is bliss" when it comes to those in power. Ignorance among the powerful is deadly. How deadly? Try 655,000 lives. That is the number of Iraqis who died since 2003 who might still be alive but for the US-led invasion, according to a survey by a US university.

Could ignorance kill more than half a million people in three years? Yes, if you invade a sovereign nation based on bad intelligence, guided by a flawed understanding of history and military strategy.

Could the number of people killed by this ignorance be wrong? Well, consider the follow-up story describing reactions and the rationale. The instigator of the invasion, President Bush, says "Six-hundred thousand or whatever they guessed at is just...it's not credible."

But the report was prepared by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health which is hardly a group of dummies. It was peer reviewed by The Lancet, one of the most respected scientific journals in the world. The survey uses techniques relied upon in many fields, specifically adjusted for the given task, based on past efforts and critiques thereof.

The ignorance lies in simply rejecting such a study as not credible. You can disagree with it for sure, but to reject it outright shows a lack of understanding of scientific methodology. The next thing you know the President will be rejecting evolution as "just a theory." Hmm, like that other theory called gravity. Or is our President ignorant of that one as well?

Seagate Service Impresses

My how hardware support has changed. Used to be that when a hard drive died it was just hard luck; but recently I experienced problems with a Seagate hard drive that proves things have become much closer to the way they should be.

The drive is a 250 gigabyte Barracuda 7200.8 that I bought some time ago ago when I saw it on sale somewhere (the vagueness is intentional, as you will see). I must have figured I would eventually use it as an external drive to archive files. Well, the eventual day came yesterday and I plugged it into a USB drive enclosure. I plugged that into my main desktop machine, an IBM ThinkCentre P4HT, and fired it up. Everything worked fine.

(BTW, the IBM is now a Lenovo and I am pleased to report that the excellent IBM online support appears to have transitioned nicely to the new company, with lots of information about my system available at the click of a button.)

The Seagate drive formatted fine and I started to copy some files over. All went well but there was an occassional high-pitched click, barely audible, and only traceable to the Seagate drive by using a handy paper ear cone (old car mechanic trick). I figured it was no big deal and began a large copy operation [about 180 gigabytes] from a Maxtor USB drive to the Seagate. Next morning I checked the copy operation and it had completed successfully, but the Seagate drive was now making a sound much closer to the dreaded "katink katink" that can herald a drive failure.

Aaaargh! I had no recollection of where or when I bought the drive. How would I be able to exercise my warranty rights? Was the warranty still good? I surfed to Seagate support onthe web and clicked on Warranty. Wow! With a few keystrokes I had confirmed, via serial number, that the warranty was still in place (Barracuda's appear to come with a reassuring 5 year warranty). Furthermore, I was offered a chance to check out the drive's status via a web page. One Active-X control later, a basic check had reported a healthy drive. But a more intense check was offered. I launched it and was soon told the drive was damaged. Not only that, an automated return process was initiated right there.

I was given the option to send in the drive and get a replacement, or pay a modest fee and get a replacement before I sent in the bad drive (the bad drive going back in the prepaid box that came with the new drive). If the drive had been mission-critical I would have used the paid option and thought it good value for money. As it was, I figured I could save a few bucks and just send in the damaged drive. I did that and got a replacement in short order. Kudos to Seagate for making the painful as painless as possible.