Friday, December 02, 2016

The Amish

The Amish are an interesting group.  Since we've been thinking of living in the Lancaster PA area, I looked into our possible future neighbors, and I liked what I learned.

They are members of a proscriptive religion, but one that's different from other similar religions in important ways. Put simply, they aren't about imposing their ways on other people. Their rules are only for themselves, just as it should be.

Even if you are born into an Amish family, you must make an active decision to be baptized and be a part of the Amish religion. And Amish-born people who do not choose the religion are not hated, killed as infidels, consigned to hell (just a different kind of infidel death) or any other foolishness. They remain a part of their family, and are treated as family. Again, just as it should be. The Amish impose their rules on people who want to live as Amish, and are reasonable toward those who don't. That's sensible, because the Amish life is hard, and not for most people.

Compare the Amish with other fundamentalist religious groups: fundamentalist Islam, and fundamentalist Christianity. I'll call them collectively IslamoChristianity a la Frank Gaffney's rantings about "Islamofascists". Gaffney is a well educated right wing crank who ought to, and probably does know better than what he espouses.

Look at the war between fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam, called the global war on terror by the Bush administration. Certainly, America opposing and thwarting terrorists has been going on long before the Bush administration fabricated reasons to invade Iraq, and before the 9/11 attack, but Bush's was the first fundamentalist Christian-led U.S. administration to act on their religious beliefs as a matter of public policy. Occupying Iraq with no thinking was a stupid recipe for constant war. Islam has their "death to infidels" policy which is a pretty straightforward call to constant war - there are a lot of infidels and it will take time to kill them all.

Amish are pacifists.

Question:  Who doesn't want constant war?
Answer: The Amish
Rightheadedness Score: Amish 1, IslamoChristianity 0.

This "war" started as a simple argument between two extremist sects, both of whom wish to impose their views on morality on the rest of us. The both of them ignored, and continue to ignore the fact that most people aren't extremists, and are utterly opposed to living under religious tyranny.

Amish don't want to tell anyone what to do who didn't ask to be told. IslamoChristians wish to tell EVERYONE what to do, and kill the ones who won't comply..

Question: Who doesn't want to tell you how to live?
Answer: The Amish
Rightheadedness Score: Amish 2, IslamoChristians 0.

The details of their rules aren't important; the willingness of the IslamoChristians to commit large scale, ongoing acts of violence in ongoing attempts to bend us to their respective visions of how to live is important. The 9/11 attack, and the invasion of Iraq, are two examples of utter stupidity. 9/11 just pissed off a reactionary US Executive branch, and occupying Iraq cost so much it probably will doom the US to second class economic status (or worse) forever.

Question: Who is not stupid?
Answer: The Amish
Rightheadedness Score: Amish 3, IslamoChristians 0.

You can see how this is going. The trend isn't going to change.

The Amish, by necessity, live among people who don't live as they do, believe as they do, or act as they do. They are among us, but apart in ways that are important to them, by choice. They live with grace, tolerance, dignity, and they do it without imposing on anyone.

The IslamoChristians are thugs who are willing to kill innocent people to further their aims.  They could learn a thing or two about how to behave in a civilized world from the Amish.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Soft Landing for North Korea, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea - How?

First, some assumptions. I would prefer that North Korea (the DPRK) and South Korea (ROK) are reunited without war. I want to see the ROK not harmed too much economically by having to subsume a pretty dysfunctional infrastructure and economy in the North. That harm has to happen to the ROK economy to achieve reunification. There is, and will continue to be, pushback against reunification by corporate interests in the ROK, although no one will admit this.

Both militaries are itching for a fight, and both are great at what they do well. The ROK military excel technically, much like the US military. The DPRK military are possibly unmatched in unconventional warfare (think US Navy SEALS, only better, and many, many more of them), and extremely innovative in asymmetrical warfare using old platforms. It's pretty smart to crater a coastal airfield runway using BM21 rocket launchers mounted on P6 torpedo boats, a completely disposable platform, and it buys a much needed day of suppressed air support. There are other examples.

So, let's avoid all that. Were I Kim Chong Eun, leader of North Korea, one option I would consider would be to launch a very feeble invasion of South Korea, intending to lose quickly and with a minimum of loss of life. This lets Kim squander, by surrender and mis-use, the North Korean military, his only rival for power, and force the South to take a "we didn't mean to, but we broke it, so we own it" approach. Political and economic objections are thwarted, countries are reunited like East and West Germanies, rebuilding begins, problem solved. I'm sure the ROK has a plan for this contingency, the only fly in this ointment. This is a workable plan, I think.

And the problem is, North Korea doesn't seem to be thinking that way. They are developing a submarine launched ballistic missile capability. A Whiskey or Romeo-class diesel-electric North Korean Navy submarine surfacing 13 miles off the city of Los Angeles with a few hundred mile or thousand mile capable nuclear missiles sends a message. This could easily happen.

The US is floating plans for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea to take out their nukes. Unwise. Our military are completely unwilling to have any kind of ground war on the Korean peninsula, because the terrain there neutralizes our armor advantage, so there would be no follow-up. I'm pretty sure the North Koreans have not revealed the location of all their nukes to us. This plan is a fail.

But I think this is what North Korea is inviting us to do - blow up some of their stuff. How they see that resulting in a soft landing is difficult to see. It might be that Kim cannot compel his military to do the feeble invasion route, and his nuclear antics are his only way to get a big enough conflict to save the DPRK from itself.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Set Based Solutions

In the Structured Query Language (SQL) database world in which I live, the first thing to learn is thinking of information as existing in sets. We learned about sets in third grade, never thinking that we would use that knowledge for anything useful.

Someone needed to have a SQL statement that would always return only activity from the previous day, without having to tell it what day it is now, and have it work independent of human interaction. OK, we can do that.

So, the set we want is records that have a date that is yesterday. We also want to fabricate counts of stuff that happened yesterday in four (or n) domains. This works:

SELECT     TOP (100) PERCENT Client_Name, Abstractor, Abstractor_Name, EntryDate, COUNT(CASE WHEN Payment = 1 THEN 1 ELSE NULL END) AS [Payment Type 1],
                      COUNT(CASE WHEN Payment = 2 THEN 1 ELSE NULL END) AS [Payment Type 2], COUNT(CASE WHEN Payment = 3 THEN 1 ELSE NULL END) AS [Payment Type 3],
                      COUNT(CASE WHEN Payment = 4 THEN 1 ELSE NULL END) AS [Payment Type 4], DATEADD(dd, - 1, GETDATE()) AS EntryDate1
FROM         dbo.vwClientsPaymentsAbstractors
WHERE     (EntryDate >= DATEADD(day, DATEDIFF(day, 1, GETDATE()), 0)) AND (EntryDate < DATEADD(day, DATEDIFF(day, 0, GETDATE()), 0))
GROUP BY Client_Name, Abstractor, Abstractor_Name, EntryDate
ORDER BY Client_Name, EntryDate

We count the payment types using "COUNT(CASE WHEN...THEN...ELSE...END" statements to coerce the different types into their sums.

Then this date manipulation:

WHERE     (EntryDate >= DATEADD(day, DATEDIFF(day, 1, GETDATE()), 0)) AND (EntryDate < DATEADD(day, DATEDIFF(day, 0, GETDATE()), 0))

gets us only yesterday's records, without knowing what day today is. It works every day.

I love working with SQL.