NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Oracle gives no raise, Gates gets no praise

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Oracle gives no raise, Gates gets no praise

The election madness is finally over. I cast my ballot and set up a lawn chair outside the polling place to watch the fistfights. Whether you were Left, Right, or somewhere in the Muddle, I urged my friends to vote early and often.

Footing the Bill: Piles of mail poured in deriding my recent efforts to cut the world's richest man some slack. Some readers correctly pointed out that both I and my source (Forbes) had our numbers slightly askew: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of $US27 billion; so far they've only given away a paltry $US7.2 billion. Several Cringesters argued Sir Gates' largesse was tainted because a) he made his Bill-ions selling shoddy software using Machiavellian marketing strategies (true) and b) he uses his foundation to foist Microsoft products onto its beneficiaries (not true). Other readers opined that "Bill &" should be lopped off the foundation's name, given that his Billness discovered philanthropy only after he got hitched. I'm sure he's not the only guy who got married and started giving (and giving and giving).

Consulting the Oracle: According to my spies, Oracle declared 2004 the Year of the Consultant and, to celebrate, allegedly delayed annual raises and promotions for consultants. Welcome to the Oracle family, PeopleSoft employees! Please check your wallets at the door.

The Incontinent Continent: My recent item on inspired reader Shelly U. to submit a real potty portal - Australia's National Public Toilet Map ( The site lets you plan vacations around any of the 13,899 public facilities Down Under. Gotta hand it to those Aussies - they don't take the important stuff sitting down.

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