Friday, August 26, 2011

Rick Perry: Proof that the mainstream media has a RIGHT-wing bias


1. Sordid and disreputable.
2. Shabby and squalid: "a seedy apartment building".

Above is the definition for the word "seedy" from

"Seedy" is also the word used by Rick Perry to describe the capitol of our nation, Washington, D.C.

His statement in its entirety (lest I be accused of taking him out of context):

"Look, I am not an establishment figure -- never have been and frankly I don't want to be. I dislike Washington. I think it's a seedy place."

How I yearn for the pleasant days of Reagan, when the Republican running for the Presidency "simply" wanted a small government. 

Now the poll-leading candidate among the pack of eccentric, electrifying, terrifying and hilarious Republican candidates leaves us to understand that he thinks Washington, D.C., of the Lincoln Memorial, of the Washington Monument, of the Pentagon, Capitol Building, Smithsonian, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, cherry tree blossoms, National Zoo, etc., etc., etc. is shabby and squalid.

OK, now imagine if, say, Barack Obama or Michelle Obama made a statement like this. I think that, at a minimum, Fox News would be expressing outrage on a daily basis for weeks.

They don't love America.
They don't believe America is special, exceptional.
They apologize for America.

 and so on.

Well, you can bet that Rick Perry won't apologize for America. He'll just say it's seedy.

Hell, maybe that's the way he likes it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Last Week at the PL/SQL Challenge

For those of you who still may not have registered, explored and played quizzes at the PL/SQL Challenge, here's a recap of last week's PL/SQL quizzes:

In the past week (15 August - 19 August), 790 Oracle technologists were busy submitting 2,376 answers to quizzes and exploring the library of past quizzes. Here are the PL/SQL quizzes played in that period:

15 August 2011: When you want to declare an associative array with an integer index, the datatype of the INDEX BY clause must be BINARY_INTEGER or any of its subtypes. You should, as a rule, always use PLS_INTEGER unless you have some specialized requirement.
              528 Players ♦ Avg. Correct: 64% ♦ Avg. Time: 221 seconds ♦ Rating: 4 stars

16 August 2011: Make sure that you are both aware of all possible built-in functions and that you use them in a way that optimizes both performance and maintainability.
              634 Players ♦ Avg. Correct: 73% ♦ Avg. Time: 444 seconds ♦ Rating: 4 stars

17 August 2011: ALL_PROCEDURES gives you information about the subprograms (procedures and functions, both schema-level and within packages) on which you have EXECUTE authority.
              633 Players ♦ Avg. Correct: 80% ♦ Avg. Time: 203 seconds ♦ Rating: 4 stars

18 August 2011: Use SAVEPOINT to define a point in your session's transaction to which you can rollback. This feature allows you to only partially rollback changes in your session.
              624 Players ♦ Avg. Correct: 70% ♦ Avg. Time: 273 seconds ♦ Rating: 4 stars

19 August 2011: You can compare a collection to NULL, but keep in mind that associative arrays will always evaluate to NOT NULL - even if they do not contain any data. Nested tables and varrays are NULL until initialized.
              591 Players ♦ Avg. Correct: 68% ♦ Avg. Time: 213 seconds ♦ Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Performance problems on the PL/SQL Challenge site?

We occasionally receive reports from players of slow performance on the site. For example:

Yesterday evening I waited about 1.5 minutes (yes !) to have the new SQL quiz page displayed ... For all this time, all that I could see was the upper part of the quiz page, with the table definition and the INSERT statements only ... but not the quiz itself and of course not the choices.

Sometimes the complaints have to do with rendering the images for the quiz. Sometimes the problems appear on virtually every page of the site.

Is this a problem for you? Please post comments regarding any sorts of performance issues you have. We will also create a poll for this question.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Israeli Fall" should be a model for US citizens

Well, it's not the spring any longer, so the massive protests in Israel cannot be called the "Israeli Spring."

Regardless of what you call it, the protests sweeping Israel are inspiring and encouraging, both for what it might mean for the future of Israel and the entire Middle East - and for how it could or should inspire Americans to also "rise up."

Some 300,000 Israelis, overwhelmingly Jewish and secular, protested this past Friday - that is roughly equivalent to some 9,000,000 protesters in the US (by percentage of population). Wow!

Today's article in Ha'aretz really struck home for me. To quote from that article:

“What is keeping people on the streets is the question that if we are all having a hard time and we are all working and paying taxes, who is making the profits?” said Daphni Leef, the 25-year-old filmmaker who began this protest movement with a Facebook posting and remains at its center. “We know there are certain families that have a lot of money and a lot of influence and there is no transparency. People feel deceived.”

Those families — the Ofers, the Dankners, the Tshuvas, the Fishmans and others — account for the 10 biggest business groups in the country and together control some 30 percent of the economy. They will doubtless be among the targets at another set of street demonstrations planned for Saturday night. 

Well, in the United States, the top 400 richest individuals control more wealth than the "bottom" 150,000,000. That is disgusting, immoral, and anti-democratic in the deepest sense.

And I do believe many, many Americans are outraged. But somehow we are all or mostly all not taking action, going out on the streets, challenging both these filthy rich stealers of our wealth (oh, they steal "legally" through political "contributions" and having laws written in their favor, but still they steal) and the elected officials who clearly don't represent us.

So I hope that the Israeli protests will be the spark that brings Americans out in the millions to say:

"Forget compromising with the Tea Party! We've been "compromising" for decades. It's time to correct the imbalances."

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Surreal: Failed Capitalism Destroying Our Democracy

Back in 2008, capitalism went belly up. Remember that?

Credit markets froze. Banks failed. Hell, banks couldn't even figure out what assets they actually owned and what they owed to others. The mortgage system completely collapsed. The markets stopped working.

Capitalism died.

But the United States government (that is, we the people) bailed out the capitalists because, gee, we didn't really seem to have any choice. Nope, no choice, but to hand them hundreds of billions of our hard-earned dollars (and euros and yen and....).

And in return for that desperate, generous action....we the people have been totally screwed.

I woke up this morning to find that Standard and Poor's had downgraded the credit rating of the United States to AA+, which could cost us, the people, another $100 billion in interest costs per year. And why did SandP do this? Because they didn't think we'd cut spending enough.

Cuts to spending were (and are) a Republican political position, with many a position of extremism to the point of disloyalty to their own citizens (in terms of the impact). As polls have showed again and again, a majority of Americans did and do not approve of the path taken by the Congress and the President.

How is it possible then that a private company can simply decide that it doesn't think the government went far enough, and push us closer to an economic failure?

SandP is not some mysterious entity. It is owned by McGraw-Hill and is led by specific, individual human beings. These people made this decision. They did not have to do this. The other two credit ratings agencies (also private, which really makes no sense at all, correct?) did not change their rating.

Capitalism died. We resurrected capitalism, and then the capitalists waged (well, to be honest, continued to wage) war on the citizens of the United States for their own personal enrichment. Millions lose jobs, health care, health, quality of life, homes. Millions upon millions, and the Tea Party, backed by extremely wealthy capitalists, keeps pushing our economy and democracy to the brink of outright failure.

They hate our government, the government of the people (not corporations). They want to be free of government constraints, and we (some of us) have elected/invited these destructive, greedy people into our government so they can destroy it.

So who are the individuals at SandP/McGraw-Hill who took this action? It's time to focus some outrage on the bastards who are destroying America. Here's a link to the McGraw-Hill board of directors. Here's a link to the SandP executives.

Enemies of the People of the United States

Deven Sharma, President, Standard and Poor's
Paul Coughlin, Executive Managing Director, Corporates and Government Ratings, Standard and Poor's

For a much more intelligent (less rant-rich) analysis of the role of Standard and Poor's, check out this Nation article.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

My All-Time Favorite Football Team: the Miami Dolphins!

And I don't even particularly like football. So why would I have a favorite team?

Because yesterday my nephew, Brian Daniels, signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins to join their practice squad. Now he can hopefully prove his worth further through the upcoming practice games and earn a place on the 2nd or 3rd string rosters.

Incredible! Amazing! Fantastic!

Wow. I cannot imagine what Brian is feeling right now. He never gave up on his goal even though he experienced a series of disappointments. He never stopping pushing himself, working hard, making sacrifices, and keeping in place, of course, his wonderful positive outlook on life.

Whatever happens from here, Brian has now accomplished something that very few people in the world are capable of. You did it, Brian!

I am so proud of Brian, and eager to fly down to Miami to watch him play.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A new quiz debuts at the PL/SQL Challenge

Today marks the start of a new quiz at the PL/SQL Challenge: the Oracle Magazine PL/SQL quiz. I write a column for Oracle Magazine and two issues ago, I started a series of articles that introduce PL/SQL to those who are just entering the world of the Oracle Database.

And starting with the Sept/Oct 2011 issue, we are including quiz questions within the article, which can also be answered at the PL/SQL Challenge site.

Of course, you don't need to read the article to take the quiz, but we hope you will do so.

One player has already submitted a question about this quiz, asking: "The Oracle Magazine quiz ends in 1613 days? Seriously?"

Yes, seriously.  Each issue of Oracle Magazine has a "shelf life" of two-three months (before the next issue comes out), but the magazine is also available online. I know from experience that many Oracle technologists read these articles well into the future.

As a result, one way in which the Oracle Magazine PL/SQL quiz is different from others is that it will stay open for a really long time - until 31 December 2015.

But we will be selecting raffle winners randomly from all players, well before that, and likely more than once.

Steven Feuerstein