February 19, 2003

Letter to the editor …

I was going to have another long rant today but then came across the following letter which I might find both enlightening and humorous :p It’s a letter to “The Observer” by Terry Jones called I’m losing patience with my neighbours, Mr Bush. While you can probably read it at The Observer site itself, let me reproduce it here verbatim and so escape having to write anything of my own today :p Actually, I believe it’s worth repeating since Terry Jones makes a lot of points that I totally agree with 🙂

I’m really excited by George Bush’s latest reason for bombing Iraq: he’s running out of patience. And so am I! For some time now I’ve been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I’m sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven’t been able to discover what. I’ve been round to his place a few times to see what he’s up to, but he’s got everything well hidden. That’s how devious he is.
As for Mr Patel, don’t ask me how I know, I just know – from very good sources – that he is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them that if we don’t act first, he’ll pick us off one by one.
Some of my neighbours say, if I’ve got proof, why don’t I go to the police? But that’s simply ridiculous. The police will say that they need evidence of a crime with which to charge my neighbours.
They’ll come up with endless red tape and quibbling about the rights and wrongs of a pre-emptive strike and all the while Mr Johnson will be finalising his plans to do terrible things to me, while Mr Patel will be secretly murdering people. Since I’m the only one in the street with a decent range of automatic firearms, I reckon it’s up to me to keep the peace. But until recently that’s been a little difficult. Now, however, George W. Bush has made it clear that all I need to do is run out of patience, and then I can wade in and do whatever I want!
And let’s face it, Mr Bush’s carefully thought-out policy towards Iraq is the only way to bring about international peace and security. The one certain way to stop Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombers targeting the US or the UK is to bomb a few Muslim countries that have never threatened us.
That’s why I want to blow up Mr Johnson’s garage and kill his wife and children. Strike first! That’ll teach him a lesson. Then he’ll leave us in peace and stop peering at me in that totally unacceptable way.
Mr Bush makes it clear that all he needs to know before bombing Iraq is that Saddam is a really nasty man and that he has weapons of mass destruction – even if no one can find them. I’m certain I’ve just as much justification for killing Mr Johnson’s wife and children as Mr Bush has for bombing Iraq.
Mr Bush’s long-term aim is to make the world a safer place by eliminating ‘rogue states’ and ‘terrorism’. It’s such a clever long-term aim because how can you ever know when you’ve achieved it? How will Mr Bush know when he’s wiped out all terrorists? When every single terrorist is dead? But then a terrorist is only a terrorist once he’s committed an act of terror. What about would-be terrorists? These are the ones you really want to eliminate, since most of the known terrorists, being suicide bombers, have already eliminated themselves.
Perhaps Mr Bush needs to wipe out everyone who could possibly be a future terrorist? Maybe he can’t be sure he’s achieved his objective until every Muslim fundamentalist is dead? But then some moderate Muslims might convert to fundamentalism. Maybe the only really safe thing to do would be for Mr Bush to eliminate all Muslims?
It’s the same in my street. Mr Johnson and Mr Patel are just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of other people in the street who I don’t like and who – quite frankly – look at me in odd ways. No one will be really safe until I’ve wiped them all out.
My wife says I might be going too far but I tell her I’m simply using the same logic as the President of the United States. That shuts her up.
Like Mr Bush, I’ve run out of patience, and if that’s a good enough reason for the President, it’s good enough for me. I’m going to give the whole street two weeks – no, 10 days – to come out in the open and hand over all aliens and interplanetary hijackers, galactic outlaws and interstellar terrorist masterminds, and if they don’t hand them over nicely and say ‘Thank you’, I’m going to bomb the entire street to kingdom come.
It’s just as sane as what George W. Bush is proposing – and, in contrast to what he’s intending, my policy will destroy only one street.

Posted by Fahim at 8:18 am  |  2 Comments

When I first started working, we had to work with (and code for) DBase and FoxPro databases. Now, I’m not sure what the whole category was called – flat databases? non-relational databases? pre-relational databases? I have no idea :p But then I did learn about RDBMS or relational databases and about SQL queries – OK, the latter part is not quite true, I’d learned SQL queries with DBase IV and FoxPro but you get the idea … I learnt about tables, schemas, queries, views, procedures etc. Now I hear that there are new kinds of databases being talked of: post-relational databases and OODBMS or object oriented databases.

I guess it is only an evolutionary step and that it was bound to happen sooner or later but I find myself fascinated by OODBMS. On one hand, I wonder if they will ever take hold and come to be widely used like the RDBMSes of today – Oracle, SQL server, Sybase etc. On the other hand, I simply want to get to grips with them and start playing just for the sake of working with them :p But before I get into that, you might be wondering what an OODBMS is and how it differs from an RDBMS? I probably am not the best person to explain the difference but let me try 🙂 An RDBMS basically stores its data in the form of tables of records (or rows) and records which are made up of fields (or columns). If you need to represent some sort of a relationship between data in one table and the data in another table, you usually use a key field and if you really want to normalize things (now I won’t even get into a description of it – just accept it as good database design philosophy if you don’t know about normalization <g>), you’ll probably end up with a separate table for the relationship as well. Now with an OODBMS, data is represented in the form of classes and (here is the good part) you can actually define methods for the classes to manipulate the data contained within! What’s more, since your data is represented as properties of the class, you can have other properties which are references to a different class or a collection to represent relationships with other data. I am not sure whether I explained it well enough but to me it seems a much more elegant solution – but that’s probably because I am a programmer and I can think in terms of classes :p

Incidentally, I’d done some work along similar lines to access Oracle data using an object framework written in Java for one of my employers and I was startled to find that I had basically written something like an OODBMS system emulator for my particular case 🙂 Anyway, I stumbled upon not quite an OODBMS (because they call it a post-relational database) by accident when I clicked on a banner ad at SourceForge for Cache. I was fascinated by the ability to work with data as classes and am actually looking into how well Cache works because their site says that you can access Cache data from Java, C/C++, VB, Delphi etc. I intend to test it out (since they have a free download) with Delphi and see how well it works and they might actually have a convert if it works well 🙂

Posted by Fahim at 6:45 am  |  2 Comments