Repair, don’t revoke, qualified immunity

The problem with qualified immunity is that it is very difficult to pierce qualified immunity without a specific precedent and it seems very difficult to add or match relevant precedents.

But qualified immunity is important to avoid clogging up the business of government with nuisance suits.

My proposed solution is to reverse the onus on precedent very specifically with a constitutional amendment.

We already prohibit cruel and unusual punishment in sentencing persons found guilty via the Eighth Amendment.

How ironic that cruel creativity can help bad actors preserve qualified immunity protection in harming persons merely being detained, in custody, or as an artifact (not the sentence) of penal incarceration!

Therefore, we should amend the US Constitution, adding:

“No person in any sort of government detention or custody shall be subjected to cruel or unusual bad treatment.”

I intentionally included “any sort of” and “bad” because we need to avoid weasel work arguments about whether, for example, a traffic stop is government detention. IT IS! If there is a legal word of art missing to describe any other class of the government having you under its control, add it here. I think what I have written is clear and possibly over verbose. But our GOAL is to prevent cruel treatment. I have specified bad because I don’t want to constitutionally prevent unusual good treatment for valid reasons such as witness protection and an unbounded set of things I can’t think of at the moment.

If enacted, this amendment puts the onus on agents of government to make sure their actions comply with accepted procedures (not unusual procedures) without the death by inches problem of having to enumerate all possible future bad, unusual, or cruel acts.

Yet this amendment does not hamstring government agents from protecting themselves by following established procedures. And it continues to protect them from suit for bad outcomes resulting from reasonable behavior in the performance of duty.

We need to make superior good treatment of anyone detained the standard without putting good officers in danger. I believe this amendment is the best route to that goal.

Let’s see if we can beat the time from proposal to ratification record!

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Predicate relations or join on clause

Some of my friends vehemently prefer the SQL-89 predicate relations definition of joins.

Some of my friend vehemently perfer the SQL-92 “join on” clause, aka ANSI joins (which always puzzles me since I think both are defined in ANSI standards.)

 

Some folks (and this probably doesn’t include my friends) have called the Oracle join specification (+) “an abomination.”

I think each has strong points and drawbacks. In Oracle both are still legal.

In which syntax is it quicker to discover all the tables involved in a particular query? (hint: the one where you list all the tables immediately after the from clause.) Of course inline views and “with” common table expressions have diluted that old advantage of ’89.

In re: (+) being “an abomination” that holds only if you were never taught to read it correctly. It distinctively and succinctly documents the table having null tuples “added” to it to equalize the join.

Neither syntax is inherently “better” and just as perfectly structured programs can always be written in BASIC6 and spaghetti can be written in Pascal, perfectly clear syntax can be had in either 89 or 92. (notice I didn’t say Wirth was stupid. When he wrote his article there were MANY amateur programmers creating spaghetti in bad ports of Basic who didn’t get the proper schooling of Kemeny and Kurtz to write structured code. Wirth noticed that it was extremely easy to use goto poorly and harmfully.)

 

If you want an easy to read query, you can have an easy to read query!

In 89, put the tables in an order. Add the join clauses in that same order and always put the (+) denoting sets to be expanded on the right.

Then put all the filters in, in the table order of the from clause and the column order of the columns of each table.

Do that and you’ve got a complete, well-formed, repeatable and easy to digest query.

There are a few equally clear variants, and you can also write spaghetti. If you start like this (and especially if you have a defined order for your tables through-out your application suite) your code will be probably be extremely easy to read.

Likewise 92. In 92 you might have to look through more code than you’d like to find all the tables involved in the query, but it is difficult for even the creatively obtuse to disguise the join criteria.

I count myself amongst those who rue that they stuck in “LEFT” and “RIGHT” and didn’t just make it all earlier to later implicitly. And others have already pointed out that using the shorthand NATURAL means you have to look in the dictionary to see which columns participate in the join.

This shouldn’t be a religious war. Bad code should be re-written to be readable because sooner or later some human will have to support it. But that is a distinct issue from re-writing clear 89 syntax just because you don’t like 89 syntax.

Now one more question: Why haven’t we re-written the SQL standard to include the few little bits that are missing to make it an orthogonal representation of relations?

Posted in Oracle, Thinking Clearly | Tagged | 2 Comments

Temporary? Sewage from the Washington Post

The Washington Post has slyly entered the liberal media campaign against D. Rump (take the pledge to *NOT* give his full name social media hits as well as to document whence come his policy proposals) by temporarily publishing a cartoon depicting Cruz’s children as monkeys. Nice play Post – if you no longer care about your integrity and reputation as an actual news outlet and home to journalists. Let’s review: 1) You gave Cruz a media storm 2) You created sympathy for Cruz amongst the folks who are certain of your liberal bias 3) You admitted that your editor is completely asleep at the switch 4) You lowered yourself to the rung of publications several layers of sewage below the surface where it is perfectly fine to attack innocent children 5) You washed your hands of all this with a note 6) Good luck with the hand washing, Pilate – at least it is sewage, not blood.

Anyone who believes this was inadvertent likely believes you are an objective source of news. Shame on them. Shame on you.

Posted in politics, Thinking Clearly | 2 Comments

#SyrianRefugees

So how much would it cost to house 50,000 Syrian immigrants in luxury for as long as it takes to be sure they are safe?

Nothing, compared to our humanity.

This entire issue is being presented as an either/or “I’m right and you are wrong” issue. We absolutely should take a share of world-wide refugees on a continuous basis over time. That should be a general policy of every stable free country the even pretends to be a member of the community of nations.

Ah, but we do have some specifics to consider.

If they happen to be from a region (neither ethnicity nor race nor religion) where it seems likely persons with bad intentions will infiltrate the refugee pool, I don’t find it innately offensive that we take our sweet time getting the innocents completely free into our society.

Done poorly it could be offensive.

Done well it could be a model for civilization.

Oh, and by the way: Some folks are trying to liken this to the almost certainly illegal detention of citizens of Japanese extraction in World War II. If you are paying attention, that should not pass the laugh test for more reasons than I’ll try to enumerate. But I will give you a few off the top of my head:

First, the WWII interment included citizens as opposed to petitioners for entry.

Second, the WWII interment probably expropriated wealth from citizens without due process.

Third, the WWII interment (whether for lack of resources or wanting to punish persons of Japanese extraction for the bombing of Pearl Harbor whether or not they had anything to do with it or both) involved facilities that could be generously described as austere.

Okay. I hope that is enough that you will actually laugh out loud if someone tries to convince you that detaining #SyrianRefugees for a while has any correspondence with the WWII interment of citizens of Japanese extraction.

What we should be proposing for the #SyrianRefugees should be so good and laden with features (such as education, cultural opportunities, and entertainment) that the candidates for entry will be disappointed upon release from the screening facility. It should be so good that someone who infiltrated with bad intentions will exit into society with a new world view. Finally: Give the #SyrianRefugees who are candidates for entry to the US a legitimate opt-in, opt-out choice for alternative placement in some other country. We’ll know our program is not good enough if there are not plenty of candidates for entry into other countries who will leap at the chance to come here knowing they may face a protracted stay at the screening facility.

Dear Congress:

Do the right thing. I’m pretty doggone sure you can find some money for this in defense and intelligence budgets. It will probably cost less than one fighter jet. And if you’re more interested in adding up the financial ledger than doing the right thing as its own reason, get your staff to estimate the public relations (okay, propaganda) value of this approach over those shouting “Death to America.” And please remember: Most of the refugees are just plain folks running away from trouble they had no means to fight against. If we take 50,000 or 100,000 it would be a difficult task for the bad authorities in the currently bad places these fellow humans are fleeing to place more than one or two infiltrators. So let’s treat all of them extremely well as we provide them a safe haven. And release them carefully.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I’ll be saying Merry Christmas, perhaps as early as the start of Advent. I might also toss in a Happy Holidays now and then and the only reason I won’t say “Happy Hanukah” to my Jewish Friends is I can’t get agreement on spelling or pronunciation. But I won’t be offended by any business or person who says anything else or even is rude about my greeting. First, Christ would not like it. Second, the First Amendment has got freedom of religion just right: The state cannot establish a particular church nor impede the free exercise of a particular church. And while I might reward a business with a nice Christmas display after Thanksgiving, I won’t be boycotting a business for whatever reason they decide to not have a Christmas display. That would be downright un-Christian.

Peace.

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Improved #IranDeal

The existing #IranDeal proposed by the Obama administration for approval by congress involves a considerable amount of questionable verification procedures. For the moment, let us assume the verifications will all work and even that Iran will make no attempt to circumvent the proposed deal. In that case, it is entirely reasonable to expect Iran to have a nuclear arsenal within twenty years. With a modest amount of circumvention and subterfuge that could be as little as twelve years, but let us not get side tracked by splitting hairs over eight years more or less.

The Obama administration and various pundits claim this is the best deal we are going to get and that the alternatives are all worse. My response is that plenty of alternatives that would be readily agreed to by Iran exist. They are too numerous to list, so I will just relate my personal favorite, which tends to stabilize the region, eliminate any reason for Israel to make a preemptive strike, and generally sets the stage for Iran to work on the welfare of its people and economy.

My favorite version of an improved #IranDeal is this: Iran gets a nuclear arsenal NEVER.

Apart from removing the time limits on the various inspections and quantities in favor of Iran getting a nuclear arsenal NEVER, we sweeten the deal: As long as Iran does not have a nuclear arsenal, we promise to not invade them. (And they still get all the accommodations in the current deal.)

This is a far better deal for Iran, and if you doubt they will accept it, offer it to them.

I do not respect any counter arguments or reasoning claiming to understand the minds of those in  power in Iran regarding their strategic interest so as to presume they will not accept this version of the deal. Argue all you want why they won’t accept the deal. OFFER the deal genuinely and they will accept. Prove me wrong, don’t try to argue me wrong. When a simple test is available, it is idiotic to argue that you know the minds of someone else. So rather than writing a tome about exactly how I think it is in Iran’s strategic interest to avoid the costs and risks of a nuclear weapons program, just do this: OFFER the deal.

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test blog entry to check filter to oaktable.net

nothing to see here, just testing a filter to a technical blog aggregator.

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IRAN “Deal” is a plan for IRAN to have nukes within a dozen years

The Iran “Deal” trading a removal of economic sanctions (which make it difficult economically for Iran to pursue development of nuclear weapons and delivery mechanisms) for the promise of a delay in developing nuclear weapons by Iran is a short sighted agreement.

In fact, even assuming that Iran perfectly adheres to all it is supposed to do, this “deal” is a plan for  Iran to be within its rights to be able to resume building a nuclear arsenal in a decade and probably have significant throw weight within a dozen years.

Are we convinced a mere decade will transform Iran into a nation we can trust with nuclear weapons?

Not likely.

No nukes for Iran now, No nukes for Iran tomorrow. No nukes for Iran for a *LOT* more than a dozen years. Stop this plan. Stop any plan for Iran to eventually have nuclear weapons.

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STEM to STEAM, Andy Savage, and a manipulative huffpost ad that could have been great

Andy Savage gave a powerful and on-target keynote at the Collaborate Conference (Quest, OAUG, and IOUG #C14LV). There is a nice summary at http://collaborate.ioug.org/p/bl/et/blogid=40&blogaid=289 , which I recommend. My favorite bit was point #7 : Art belongs in the same discussions as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M., not S.T.E.M.).

Andy phrased his entire take, even the bits of irony, on calling for positive action.

This is in contrast to a recent huffpost manipulation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/24/verizon-ad-tells-parents-to-encourage-girls_n_5526236.html

that insinuates compliments on being pretty imply stupid repression. It cobbles together a fictional account that would make anyone who took even the basic youth sports coach seminar cringe. See it yourself. Now the voiceovers of objection to specific acts of the girl in question were about preventing certain imminent disasters, but were phrased in the worst possible way. It is probably worth watching. Then come back here.

Now as I recall the very first introductory NYSCA seminar video, there was a bit about encouraging positive action, especially in kids. Scene one, dad coaching new bike rider on a sidewalk fringed by hedges: “Don’t ride into the hedges.” Of course the kid looks at the hedge on one side and rides right into it. Scene two: “Ride between the hedges down the center of the sidewalk.” The kid looks at the hedges, then looks at the center of the sidewalk, and rides down the center of the sidewalk to success. Hooray. Oversimplified? Perhaps a bit, but the underlying point is to coach the thing you want to have happen as a positive and as the last words in an instruction.

So what does this have to do with the Huffpost ad? Sigh. Well plenty. So consider the girl in the muddy rivulet wearing a party dress. “Don’t get your dress dirty.” could have been: “Let’s get into our adventure clothes before we climb up that muddy stream.” Another bit has the girl struggling with a power drill awkwardly on what looks like expensive equipment that might be ruined or at least damaged by unskillful drilling. “Be careful! Give that to your brother!” (Who in addition to being male, seems older and skilled at using power drills just by the way he takes the handle.) So how about “Let’s practice some drilling on some scrap so we do a better job on the telescope.” The message still prevents the imminent danger and probable damage, but it re-casts the message from “you can’t do that” to “you surely will be able to do that better with a little practice.”

That sums up my objection to the manipulation of this ad. 1) Its very title implies that a compliment about being pretty must come coupled with offensive other remarks, and 2) That there is no way to prevent bad results without causing psychological restriction on the person restrained from getting dirty in party clothes or getting hurt and damaging expensive equipment.

So rise above this manipulation! Voice restraints and prevent accidents WITH your best thoughts about how to accomplish the desired activity safely and to a good result. If you cannot offer a solution in real time, there is always the generic fallback, something like: “Hang on a second. Let’s figure out how you can do that {safely | effectively | without trashing your pretty dress}. ”

And let’s make sure we don’t trash ART while praising Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Praise being well-rounded and note that excellence in Art is synergistic with excellence in STEM: STEAM! (Thanks Adam). And of course also, let’s get geared up for #C15LV. Happy New Year.

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xfinity customer service chat

MARK_: My Issue: An hour on the phone and three attempts to authorize my replacement equipment PKKVZQSMC ended with a hang-up while supposedly transferring me to a supervisor.

user MARK has entered room

analyst Cherry has entered room

Cherry: Hello MARK_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Cherry. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Cherry: Hi! How are you doing today, Mark?

MARK_: read what I wrote

Cherry: I know it has been a roller coaster ride for your Mark. I understand that you have spent hours over the phone to activate the new box.

Cherry: I can only imagine what you have gone thru.

Cherry: No worries, I am here to assist you with your concern.

Cherry: I am now checking if the box is already in the account so I can start sending a signal.

Cherry: While waiting, may I know what do you see on the Led lights in front of the new box and if you are getting any error on your TV screen?

MARK_: I wonder if the problem is the two serial numbers. One is PKKVZQSMC and the other is SAZBFVHPS. The power light is on. The message on my screen is that my EXPLORER unit is not authorized for use.

Cherry: Thank you for providing that information.

Cherry: Nothing to worry about the Serial numbers, one of them is for the card, the other one is for the box.

MARK_: We’re now 2 hours and 17 minutes into simply trying to get this box to work.

Cherry: I understand. Rest assured that we will work on all possible solutions to get the box work.

Cherry: I see here on the account that the box is already added.

Cherry: However, the box is not getting signal from the network.

Cherry: Before I go ahead and send a signal to the box, let us make sure your box is connected tightly

Cherry: Is the box connected to the wall via CABLE IN?

MARK_: That is not correct. Three times the activation and reset has been received. When it gets to about 2:10 to go of the interactive program load, it shuts off and goes back to “not authorized for use”

Cherry: If yes, please make sure the cables are snug and fitted to the ports from wall and CABLE IN port of the box

Cherry: Thank you for letting me know. I will take note of that

Cherry: Are you using any third party device like a splitter, amplifier, power surge/strip that is connected to the cable box?

MARK_: The cables are snug. They are brand new RG6.

Cherry: Thank you.

MARK_: I’m using the splitter the xfinity tech installed, exactly as with the old box that recently froze.

Cherry: I see. Would you mind bypassing the said splitter to isolate where the issue is coming from? Let us see if the splitter affects the signal distribution. We also have to make sure that the connections are perfect before I send a special signal from my end.

MARK_: I am not willing to disrupt my phone and the working cable box to do that.

MARK_: Or my internet service

Cherry: I understand. No need to worry as we will only try this temporarily. If there is no improvement, then connect it the same way it was connected earlier. Yes we will be disconnected, but I will wait for you within 8 minutes to reconnect. We just have to make sure.

MARK_: A) I’m not disconnecting my phone at all

MARK_: B) I’m not disconnecting my internet

MARK_: c) I’m not disconnecting my working cable box.

MARK_: d) Do you think this is a reasonable plan, or is this a practical joke?

MARK_: And I’m NOT worried. I’m out of service and you are suggesting I get more out of service. Get a supervisor.

Cherry: Alright, Not a problem with me if you do not want to do the steps. Let me do it on my end then. Please let me know if there are changes on your new box

MARK_: There is a problem with ME that you suggest turning off my phone, internet, and working cable tv service as a step. That is not acceptable.

Cherry: I am only asking if it is fine. and the step is only for temporary. I am not asking you to turn them off all the way. Sorry for making you feel like that.

Cherry: Hows the box? are there any changes?

MARK_: no changes

Cherry: Thank you.

MARK_: I go look again if you just did something

Cherry: Let me Initialze the box now

Cherry: Thank you.

MARK_: You exactly asked me to bypass the splitter, which would disconnect my other services. If you do not understand that I am very worried.

Cherry: Alright

Cherry: I have sent the initializing signal to activate the box

Cherry: Please check if there are any changes. It should take effect within 2-3 minutes

MARK_: The power led blinked. The remote led came on. The data led came on. Then the power led went steady and resumed blinking. I’ll got back out, but I assume it will be starting the interactive program download again, then that will get to about 2:10 left to go, and it will screw up again. We’ll see.

Cherry: Thanks for the update,

MARK_: so once again the on demand information loaded very quickly and when the interactive program guide got to the 2:10 to go point the unit shut off and once again reports that it is not authorized for use.

MARK_: Based on the load moving at the wall clock speed and the on demand loading very quickly, I’m pretty doggone sure I’ve got a good signal. Something is going wrong.

Cherry: Thank you for updating me.

MARK_: Now get someone who can diagnose this problem.

Cherry: Since the box has reacted but has not stabilized as normally expected, I would like to ask your help to do the refresh manually.

Cherry: Oh, you do not want to continue on troubleshooting?

MARK_: Is this where I disconnect the power for 20 seconds and try again?

Cherry: No. Please turn off your cable box and unplug it from the power outlet. Wait for 60 seconds and plug it back in and turn on the cable box and TV after 3 minutes. Then once the TV is on, please wait another 5 minutes before accessing and pressing anything

Cherry: Guide, On demand and channels should be allowed to load for 5 minutes.

MARK_: OH. LONGER WAITS. SURE. I’ll try that. In the mean time, since you’ll have a lot of it, get some advice from someone else there. Ok. So unplugged for 60 seconds. Then plug in. Then wait 3 minutes, turn cable and tv on. Then wait 5 more minutes. Got it. I’ll be back to your in about 10 minutes. (including the walk)

Cherry: I understand that this has been an inconvenience for you, Mark. We are only trying the best solution to get your box work. But if you have already tried everything on your end and everything fails, then I’ll be more than glad to send out a technician to check on the new box.

Cherry: I am checking on the soonest schedule now

Cherry: May I have the best number to call you for appointment confirmation?

MARK_: I already have a tech coming tomorrow to put in new boxes. This is for family here tonight.

Cherry: I see

MARK_: I’ve already done the 60 second unplugged and we’re 2 minutes into the wait.

Cherry: Thank you.

MARK_: I’m walking back now and I’ll turn both the cable box and tv on at the 3 minute point on my timer

Cherry: Thank you.

Cherry: By the way, upon checking here in the account, the pending order for HD Complete was cancelled. Is this what you ordered for?

MARK_: yes. Who could possibly have cancelled that?

MARK_: by the way. the cable box power was not responsive. when I turned on the tv it reported it was in the process of downloading the interactive guide. Once again, when it got to the 2:10 point it stopped displaying anything. I have not touched anything since.

Cherry: Possibly the sales rep who applied the order since they are the only ones who can access the ordering system.

Cherry: Thank you for updating me, Mark.

MARK_: I’m glad I’m got this transcript.

MARK_: Now we’re at your 5 minute point. Should I try turning it back on?

Cherry: Yes please.

user MARK_ has left room

user MARK has entered room

MARK_: now it is back to your explorer unit is not authorized for use

Cherry: I understand.

Cherry: Thank you for cooperating and trying it with me.

MARK_: now can we get someone who can diagnose the problem?

Cherry: Since we have both tried to do the activation and refresh remotely and manually and the box has not responded effectively, I would like to suggest to send our field technician and personally check on your box

Cherry: Yes. I can send him as soon as 3-5 pm on 28th

Cherry: Shall I proceed>?

MARK_: I fetched the box personally to repair it for tonight

MARK_: We need to get someone on the line now who knows more.

Cherry: We all have the same knowledge and tools to have this issue resolved. The best resolution is for us to send out a technician since this is more than a line issue that we can remotely detect

Cherry: Our technician can personally check on your box to see if there is something wrong with it, He can also double check the connections and inside wiring .

MARK_: I’m verifying the replacement of this box tomorrow with complete service. They are supposed to come between 3 and 5.

Cherry: That is I am not sure of. I am seeing the order here as cancelled. We can only confirm this with the Sales Department.

Cherry: Shall I verify this with the Sales Department over here on chat?

MARK_: I’m calling them. Someone is playing games with me and interfering with my family’s enjoyment of the Christmas holiday.

Cherry: I understand.

MARK_: I do NOT want it cancelled. I did NOT cancel it.

The analyst has left and your issue has been closed.

Waiting for response from Cherry

Cherry: I understand.

Cherry: That is why I am asking you if you want to verify it with them here on chat

user MARK_ has left room

Not really. I’m still there waiting.

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