Archive for April, 2009

Live Free or Die

April 20, 2009

The cat is out of the bag – Oracle buys Sun. Why this matters? For many reasons, but all of them boil down to one – freedom. Before I am accused of being marxist, a disclaimer – I competely disagree with this comment:

And this may be a reason why the feds should reject this acquisition because Oracle will become as much a monopoly in the db space as Windows is in the operating system space.

No, no, no and no. Nonsense. Government has no business in the economy. Government is not an economic entity. Leave the market alone. And just like government should not be in business of breaking down monopolies, it should not be in business of granting them, either.

OK, back to original topic – what does this mean? Well, there is really only one truly free player left in the enterprise DB arena – PostgreSQL. As recent economic development around the world shows, the current market atmosphere is highly toxic. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain free from both government financial manipulation and hyper-regulation as well as corporate lock-in attempts. And when the two are combined, one ends up with corporatism, which in it’s worst incarnation has degenerated in fascism. What is common to these entities is that they emit a luring “siren call” promising ever increasing benefits if only we couple our destiny to their product line or economic plan. Initially, the illusion appears to instantly work – that’s why it’s so easy to sell. One can conveniently implement a desired software functionality by using proprietary technology or buy a truck load of gadgets with non-existent, easy-credit money. But, as any other illusion, this one comes to an end soon, too. And as one reader comments:

I personally don’t like spending $60,000 on a license for my software, PLUS a $40,000 service contract. Do you? That’s Oracle. Locks you into their technology silos, and then starts the million cuts that will bleed you dry.

Knowing Oracle, MySQL shall probably be killed or turned into something that does not conflict and/or detract from the Oracle DB user existing or potential base. Poor MySQL users, I feel sorry for them. But the boys from Finland cashed their rewards and took off, leaving it’s faithful followers at the mercy of sharks. There’s a lesson to be learned – don’t trust the corporations and governments. Do honest business with everyone, but keep your options wide opened lest you end up locked-in (or locked-up).

As for all those MySQL users, my advice is: consider switching PostgreSQL. It always was a better choice than MySQL, it still is and, very likely, it will remain so. Java users? Let’s wait and see. In the meantime, I’ll put my long-term investment into good old C++. Why? I know, I know. It’s old. It’s big. It’s crappy. But it still does the job. And it’s not owned by anyone.

Is there anybody out there?

April 19, 2009

I mean, really, is there anybody out there?

For 8 years, we’ve had allegedly dumb president, presiding over government feeding us misinformation. Now we have an intelligent president presiding over government which is feeding us (surprise, surprise) misinformation. While the previous Commander in Chief had an excuse of not being exactly “the sharpest tool in the toolbox” which could, at least theoretically, be used to justify the costly mistakes, this president is sharp, articulate, and charming, ergo no excuse for bool shift:

Everybody was making record profits – except the wealth created was real only on paper.

I guess that is meant to be presented as something completely opposite to the solution of our days – quantitative easing, a.k.a. printing money out of thin air, which creates “real wealth”. Is there anybody out there?

When people couldn’t get home loans, the crisis in the housing market only deepened. Because the infected securities were being traded worldwide and other nations also had weak regulations, this recession soon became global.

Mr. President, if We the People may ask: as former community leader, activist and lawyer, you are no doubt familiar with  Community Reinvestment Act? Yes, CRA, in conjunction with Fannie and Freddie did it under the false guise of “care for the poor”. Weak regulations? Hmm, let’s see … says NY Times in 1999 :

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the credit-worthiness of credit applicants.

Sounds like a lot of regulation to me. If anyone has doubt, do a reality check on how regulated the U.S. economy is. Of course, it would be futile to expect someone who has caused the problem in the first place to look into facts honestly and blame itself for current difficulties. Hence, it had to be someone else. So a plethora of usual suspects is pulled out of hat and served to the anxious populus: free market, animal instincts, greedy investors, racists, capitalist pigs, corrupt corporations etc.

So, says Mr. President further:

But whether we like it or not, history has repeatedly shown that when nations do not take early and aggressive action to get credit flowing again, they have crises that last years and years instead of months and months.

That would be like in the 1930-ies, when Herbert Hoover supposedly did nothing, FDR expanded upon that, unnecessarily prolonged the depression by estimated 7 years and the real recovery did not occur until after WWII. In a more recent history, Japan did not manage to get itself anywhere with bailouts. Rather, it ended up loosing a decade trying to do it. But United States is in a much worse shape. Japanese had saved and still are. US is in debt over its head and shows no signs of changing the deadly habit.

No, the world does not end when bad banks fail and credit shrinks. The world is better off because economic entities are circumstantially forced to save which creates room for healthy growth. Yes, there is economic pain, as it should be when you overdo things. But the pain is there for a reason – it’s telling us something is wrong and we should change our ways. But instead of sound economics, we are offered more of the same as a remedy.

I want every American to know that each action we take and each policy we pursue is driven by a larger vision of America’s future – a future where sustained economic growth creates good jobs and rising incomes; a future where prosperity is fueled not by excessive debt.

Gee, thanks, Mr. President. Coming from someone who managed to spend more money we don’t have than anyone else in history in just a couple of months, it already makes me feel better when I am assured there will be no excessive debt. I guess, what is a couple of trillion to a debt that already exceeds the world’s GDP. Is there anybody out there? Knock, knock … anybody home?

Let’s Re-establish Slavery II

April 19, 2009

I knew I was on the right track. Here’s what Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal says on the subject:

Some 19th-century slaves, whose skills were worth more in towns than on plantations, were leased by their owners to businesses in towns. The businesses would remit half of the slave’s wages to the owner. Out of the remainder, slaves could save enough to purchase their freedom.

Today, we cannot purchase our freedom from the IRS. The only free Americans today are those who can work off the books or who can live on public welfare.

People who reject my analogy can test the analogy by refusing the government’s claim on their labor. They will find that the IRS can be just as ruthless as the worst feudal lord or slave owner.

Let’s Re-establish Slavery

April 2, 2009

We’ve been working on POCO 1.3.4 release recently. Well, my friend Günter is, I’m kindof helping a bit here and there. Anyway, we used to have a nice, warning-free compiling code. But, alas, there’s a herd of GNUs that did not like us compiling warning-clean, so they decided to randomly sprinkle some nonsensical warnings throughout the compiler. Anyway, long story short, if you had a piece of perfectly legal, standard, logical and non-ambiguous piece of code like this

if (a && b || c) blah();

the infinitely wise g++, in its 4.3.2 reincarnation shall now loudly and obnoxiously recommend that you reconsider your ways and clarify your intentions by adding a healthy measure of parentheses. Lisp nostalgia or something else? Sigh.
Recently, Günter has brilliantly clarified how it sucks to be rms. Bravo! With all due respect to Mr. Stallman, he is sadly mistaken, unrealistic and unreasonable in his extremism. I mean, true freedom should include freedom to choose not to be free, shouldn’t it? Which brings me to the (intentionally controversial) topic. No, I have not lost it. Things are tough in the world nowadays. There are some voices of reason, but for the most part, unless something changes drastically, we are freaking doomed to years of economic hardship, taxes and the accompanying loss of freedom.
Which is what drives the issue home. If you think it’s crazy, think again. In Roman Empire, (nominally) free people used to sell themselves to slavery to avoid the unbearable burden of taxation. So, this is a call to all democratic governments around the world to give their subjects way out and re-establish slavery.