Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution

Growing up with the desire to study law, but not the dedication nor drive to obtain a Juris Doctorate, I have replaced those desires with a strong interest in politics and law through all levels of government. I find my self reading more books, and in this case, listening to audio books, on the subject.

This book contains the words of retired Justice John Paul Stevens about the six issues which he proposes that we fix with amendments to the Constitution.  The audio book is a short 3:42 listen.  It is a good smooth listen, but can be fast tracked at times requiring me to re-listen to a few sections to ensure I got the references and their meanings correct.

The six issues are presented in a more concise well written method than I could provide over here.  I’ll simply add my thoughts to each below.

  1. “Anti-Commandeering Rule”   – I cannot agree with this suggestion as proposed as I feel that a locally elected official has a more direct relationship with those they serve, and ignoring a federally enacted rule or law can be an act of protest.  The current issues outlined in this book I believe are acceptable, and need no further assistance from the Constitution.
  2. Political Gerrymandering”  I fully support a law restricting this practice, as politicians will continue to be politicians who will continue to politic and do things that are both questionable and in their favor, this amendment could assist with those issues.
  3. Campaign Finance”  While I believe the proposed solution is decent, I could imagine where the dominant party in power could further restrict the speech (spending) of those not in power through rule making, which could make the situation just as bad as it is now.  Corporate money in politics is bad (epic proportions at this point) and must be regulated, but with due caution in mind.
  4. Sovereign Immunity” On its cover, I think I support this one.  There is no reason that agents of the state are protected from their actions of doing so.  The only thing I fear is the flow of tort actions this would result in.  I don’t like blank protections for any class of people, especially the state itself.  Should this be pushed on the federal government as well?  I’m not sure, but this is a start.
  5. Death Penalty” I don’t believe that the Death Penalty serves the purpose that it once did in the past. With the 20 year waits for executions, the deterrence factor of the death penalty is simply useless.  The excessive cost of holding death row prisoners over regular life prisoners is also not warranted either, I can agree with the addition of these five words.
  6. The Second Amendment” With the power the Department of Defense has over State’s National Guard units, I don’t see how stripping 2nd Amendment protections to individuals, and relegating those only to the ‘state militia’ is any less than fully revoking the 2nd amendment.  This is the most absurd recommendation I’ve seen yet.

Overall I enjoyed the book, not so much the message.  I am a fiscal conservative and social moderate, which is mostly where Justice Steven’s opinions floated towards the beginning of his career, but as we can see from his opinions over his later years, and in retirement, he has changed more towards a federalist leaning position.

Thanks for your service, and the book I guess.

Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution Book Cover Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution
John Paul Stevens
Hachette Audio
April 22, 2014
Audio Book

By the time of his retirement in June 2010, John Paul Stevens had become the second longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court. Now he draws upon his more than three decades on the Court, during which he was involved with many of the defining decisions of the modern era, to offer a book like none other. SIX AMENDMENTS is an absolutely unprecedented call to arms, detailing six specific ways in which the Constitution should be amended in order to protect our democracy and the safety and wellbeing of American citizens. 

Written with the same precision and elegance that made Stevens's own Court opinions legendary for their clarity as well as logic, SIX AMENDMENTS is a remarkable work, both because of its unprecedented nature and, in an age of partisan ferocity, its inarguable common sense.

“I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet” Sa`di  – The Gulistan

It is nice to remember that where ever you may be reading this entry, you are more fortunate and well off than the majority of the world.  While we all have our trials and tribulations, we must keep those in perspective to the world as a whole.  Take pride in your past accomplishments that have propelled you to where you are today.  A few minutes of self-reflection can be quite rewarding.

Jason Carter – Cottontown, TN

Del McCoury's Fiddler - Jason Carter

Welcome back to our Directory of Jason project.   For this installment, we look at one of the more famous (in some circles)  Jason Carter.   This Jason Carter will be known to folks familiar with blue grass as he plays fiddle in the Del McCoury Band.

Jason was determined to be born in February, and made a most expeditious entrance to the world on February 1, 1973.   Being born and raised in Kentucky, Jason was surrounded by pickers and singers for the majority of his life.  He learned guitar and mandolin from his father starting in grade school and picked up fiddle in high school after hearing Del McCoury play at a bluegrass festival.

Jason made his way to Nashville destined to be in a world-class bluegrass band.  After only 6-months with another band, Jason ran into none other than Del McCoury, whom he promptly propositioned for a job, which was dully granted.

Jason like most other Jason Carters, Jason Carter of the Del McCoury band is a no-holds barred, see what you want and take it kid of guy.

If you’re in for some light reading, here’s some more info on Jason the Fiddler.  Bio, Interview and bGoogle

Second Year Presenting at SQL Saturday Orlando

SQL Saturday 318 Logo

Coming up on my schedule is another appearance at SQL Saturday Orlando.   Orlando is quite special to me as it was my first ever presentation, and their team is quite welcoming, and just plain awesome.

Looking at the line up this year, I’m quite excited to see a few of my favorite speakers Louis Davidson ( b | t ), David Klee ( b | t ) and none other than Mr. Argenis Fernandez ( b | t ) coming in to share their wisdom.

For those of you local to the Tampa area, you might recognize our veteran speakers Pam Shaw ( t ) ,  Miguel Cebollero ( b | t ),  Jeff Garbus ( b ), Ron Dameron ( b | t ), as well as our most recent contribution to the Microsoft team Jorge Segarra ( b | t ).  A locally recognizable, but new on the speaker list is Pinellas PASS User Group Leader Leigh Freijo ( t ) with a presentation on how to get hired.  Having been through one of Leigh’s interviews (successfully!), and having heard some of his interview tales, I can say that he has some insight on what will get you hired.

As far as my presentation, I’m working on a new one titled: ‘Encryption 101: A look at SQL Encryption Options’ which I hope will be as well received as my previous presentations.  We’re going to take a look at TDE, SSL, Column and even backup encryption options so safeguard your data. I’ve been really heads down in the details on this one and need to start getting it all together in a palatable 101 type presentation.  We are a few weeks out so I still have time to smoke test it on my wife.

If you haven’t already, get over and register. Its set to be a fantastic day of training as it has been for the last 8 years.

SQL Downgrades Made Easy

I was reading Kendra Little’s ( b | t ) post on SQL Server Edition Changes and it reminded me of the work I did at my last position.   I did LOTS of downgrades, seriously, LOTS.

When we started auditing our systems we found TONS of Enterprise and Standard Editions being used in development and QA environments.  In the past, Microsoft gave us a pass and only cared about what was being used in production, but this year they indicated that not to be the case, so a remediation was in order.

Since I had done a good deal of work with Michael Well’s ( b | t Scripted PowerShell Automated Deployment Engine  (SPADE) for new server setups, I was the best candidate to handle the job.  I lost count of the total number of downgrades that I did, but I have a few dozen pages in my notebooks that look like the one below.  This page would have been one night’s work.



















The process which got me through a few hundred downgrades was fairly simple:

  1. The first step of downgrading is copying off your system files. If you are not sure where your system files are you can simply view the Start Up Parameters of the SQL Service.  I usually copy this value to a draft email or temp file for reference, just in case.  Once I find the master I copy the master, model, and msdb database to a temp folder.   If you skip this step, they will be deleted during the uninstall. Don’t ask me how I know this.
  2. Now that we have the lifeblood of our instance saved safely away, we can proceed with step 2, uninstall, which is just as it sounds.  Most of the time I will simply run the uninstaller and select everything as there is nothing better than a fresh install.  If you have SSAS or SSRS there are extra steps to safely migrate those services, which aren’t covered here.
  3.  By default, when SPADE is run, it copies all of the install media over one time and sets a file indicating that the media is in place.  If you run SPADE a subsequent time, it will see the file indicating the media is already copied locally and skip that step completely.  If you’ve used SPADE in the past this would result in you installing the previously installed version, again.  So prior to running SPADE, ensure you have deleted the install folder if it is there.
  4. Once SPADE has done its thing, installing everything, checking all the standard settings etc, we need to shut SQL down and move our old system databases back into place.  If you installed your INSTALLSQLDATADIR in a different location than you had prior, you will need to place your old system files in the new INSTALLSQLDATADIR location, once done, start the SQL Service again.  If all went well, it should start right up with no issues.
  5. In some cases, we were actively changing the names of the instance being downgraded, and this would require us to remove the old SPN entry and add a new one. If you get linked server issues with AD logins, you likely forgot this step.  As you can see from my checklist, there aren’t any checks on this column, as this was not the norm, but normal enough that it had its own check-box.
  6. If you are going to be industrious as I was and perform multiple downgrades at the same time, I recommend that you pre-stage the install media prior to your actual downgrade window.  SPADE has a -PRE flag that will allow you to run all the pre-checks without doing the actual install, this will stage your media locally, which will save you some time during the actual work. This check box was for just that, one check would be for version, other services (SSRS, SSIS, second instances) that would require more investigation, and I forget what the other check-box was for.

All in all, I was able to knock out this process multiple times, over multiple nights spread over a 2-3 month time frame.  Any thing that came up out of the ordinary during downgrade time I would simply skip that server and knock out the remainder.

One thing to note is that all of the servers that contained SSRS databases had to be coordinated with the team that ran those servers as the SQL Engine and SSRS engines have to be the same version, otherwise it wouldn’t operate.  Another gotcha, was SCOM I believe.  Luckily upgrading to a higher version has been a built in option of SQL Installers since 2005 I believe, a quick manual run of the install media in your SPADE folder and it can be upgraded in place, less than a minute in most cases.

This had been my experience, yours may vary.  If you have a large environment and find yourself doing builds fairly regularly, I highly suggest checking out SPADE, it can automate nearly all of your install and standardization tasks right out of the gate. Quick and Easy!