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The Revenge of Arithmetic

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REALITY CHECK – “Data corruption refers to errors in computer data that occur during writing, reading, storage, transmission, or processing, which introduce unintended changes to the original data.” If left unchecked, data corruption eventually renders a database completely useless; not only useless, but harmful.

By Richard Fernandez – Belmont Club | May 30, 2014 | PJMedia.com

A useless database only fails to give you answers. A harmful database actually gives you consistently wrong answers. This was exactly what happened to the Veteran’s Affairs, according to the Washington Post.

The first thing a database developer learns to fear is data corruption. “Data corruption refers to errors in computer data that occur during writing, reading, storage, transmission, or processing, which introduce unintended changes to the original data.” If left unchecked, data corruption eventually renders a database completely useless; not only useless, but harmful.

The Post’s David Farenthold says VA corruption began with the Republican Warren Harding, who nominated his poker buddy, Charles Forbes, to head the agency in 1921. Forbes, however, was a scoundrel. Harding, on being tainted by the scandal, apparently took things into his own hands, if one may pardon the pun, in the most politically incorrect of ways.

About two years ago, Brian Turner took a job as a scheduling clerk at a Veterans Affairs health clinic in Austin. A few weeks later, he said, a supervisor came by to instruct him how to cook the books….

This is how it worked: A patient asked for an appointment on a specific day. Turner found the next available time slot. But, often, it was many days later than the patient had wanted.

Would that later date work? If the patient said yes, Turner canceled the whole process and started over. This time, he typed in that the patient had wanted that later date all along. So now, the official wait time was . . . a perfect zero days….

But all this was apparently a secret to Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, perched 12 levels above Turner in the VA’s towering bureaucracy. Somewhere underneath Shinseki — among the undersecretaries and deputy undersecretaries and bosses and sub-bosses — the fact that clerks were cheating the system was lost.

To read more: http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2014/05/30/the-revenge-of-arithmetic/

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