Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Monday, April 28, 2014

John Oliver Is Over Oregon's Twee Bullshit

Posted by on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Also, too, the quarter of a billion dollars Oregon spent on an Obamacare website that didn't work:

Oliver didn't mention the name of the corporation that Oregon hired to build its health care exchange website and that's par for the course. You have to read all the way to the end of this story at The Hill before you discover that the site wasn't built by state bureaucrats. Oregon hired Oracle to build its site. All of that wasted money—hundreds of millions of dollars—was pocketed by private corporation. But somehow no one is angry with Oracle. Yes, yes: state oversight was clearly lacking. But a privately owned corporation—the free market at work—seems to have defrauded federal taxpayers out of millions and millions of dollars and no one is mad at them. Take hundreds of millions of federal dollars, deliver a hopelessly broken product, stand back and watch the blame get pinned on others—nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you're Oracle.

Did anyone else catch the premiere of Last Week Tonight on HBO last night? What did you think?


Comments (27) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Max Solomon 1
we laughed at the Oregon snark. but we went to bed before it was over.
Posted by Max Solomon on April 28, 2014 at 9:46 AM · Report this
As someone who writes software for government for a living, let me tell you, it's freaking hard. You have multiple interpretation of laws, no clear specs, different people telling you different things, inept IT staffs, the problems of procuring the correct hardware and software at the government, and that's just the beginning. Once you get something you thing works, the laws change and everything you did is now broken.
Posted by arbeck on April 28, 2014 at 9:46 AM · Report this
No one is angry at Oracle because it's pointless to be angry with them. Their products are universally loathed but somehow dominate fields.

Google the phrase "don't anthropomorphize larry ellison".
Posted by Tyler Pierce on April 28, 2014 at 9:52 AM · Report this
Doctor Memory 4
@2: you're not wrong. But. This is what Oracle does for a living. Larry Ellison has spent literally billions of dollars in the process of converting Oracle from a mere vendor of database software into an IBM-style-and-scale services vendor. Building large-scale systems with multiple interfaces to legacy systems is what they get paid for. It's not unreasonable to ask that, having been given millions of dollars to do this task, that they succeed or give the money back.
Posted by Doctor Memory on April 28, 2014 at 9:56 AM · Report this
guerre 5
@2 I echo @4, but here's the thing- we had what, 20 state exchanges and a federal system, and Oregon's is the one that crashed and burned? Sounds like other vendors figured it out.
Posted by guerre on April 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 6
@2 & @4. You're both right on this. I've done software for government health care systems that had to interface with insurance providers, and it can be a maze of competing fiefdoms and clueless project managers. Of course, that was before ACA and I was part of a rinky-dink group putting stuff together. Oracle should be a lot better than that. (though my own experience with their db doesn't give me much confidence - it seemed like it was designed to require expensive training/consulting)

Perhaps Oracle was merely following the grand American tradition of defrauding the government on sweetheart contracts. It's the true backbone of corporate wealth.
Posted by Sir Vic on April 28, 2014 at 10:09 AM · Report this

Although I don't (thankfully) have a great deal of experience using Oracle products, the few times I have have been universally awful. one company I worked for had almost exactly this same experience: spent over $1mm on an application that was absolutely useless to us and eventually had to be scrapped completely and redone by another vendor from the ground up. So far as I know, we never got any sort of apology, refund, or even a hearty "fuck you!" from Oracle.
Posted by COMTE on April 28, 2014 at 10:16 AM · Report this

To be fair the federal exchange almost crashed and burned as well.

@Sir Vic

I also agree that Oracle probably needs to eat a lot of the blame, I hate working with them. I hat their database. I hate their tools.

The only point that I was trying to make is this stuff isn't simple. And I really hate layman criticizing complex software projects when they have no idea what is involved in development at all. Much less complex development for a government system.
Posted by arbeck on April 28, 2014 at 10:18 AM · Report this
@6 "it can be a maze of competing fiefdoms and clueless project managers"

Sounds a lot like Microsoft.

Yes, democracy is messy and government is messy. But let's not pretend that large corporations and other organizations don't have their fair share of chaos and ineptitude.

The only thing that saves the reputations of many businesses is the fact that they make money, which is a relatively simple, measurable outcome that people can easily grasp and fixate on.

Governments, if they're working right, do not have that outcome, so it takes a bit more effort to appreciate their value relative to their costs. The costs we get because, once again, they're expressed in dollars. Dollars we think we understand.
Posted by stating the obvious on April 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM · Report this
Leishalynn 10
We may be a bunch of fucking idiots but we're not so stupid we pronounce it Ory-GAWN like that slip of a singer.
Posted by Leishalynn on April 28, 2014 at 10:34 AM · Report this
The full episode is available online (on the show's youtube channel):…
Posted by yelper on April 28, 2014 at 11:22 AM · Report this
@7, what this, or any, government entity should be looking for in a similar situation is not "any sort of apology, refund, or even a hearty 'fuck you!'" from a private company but liquidated damages and a performance bond to which it is entitled, due to the enforcement of fair contract terms. But to enforce fair contract terms you have to write fair contract terms into the contract that gets signed, and hire lawyers who will fight in court to enforce them.

This isn't a love affair. It's business.
Posted by westy on April 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Has Oracle ever delivered a product that worked, anywhere, ever? Because I'd love to hear that it happened at least once. I know exactly no one who's ever said something to the effect of, "Yeah, the new Oracle software's in. It's working okay. Usual hitches on any big IT project, but it's looking pretty promising."
Posted by usagi on April 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM · Report this
Unregistered User 14
Posted by Unregistered User on April 28, 2014 at 12:28 PM · Report this
SPG 15
The show has some laughs. I'd definitely recommend it.
Posted by SPG on April 28, 2014 at 12:29 PM · Report this
All software developed at public expense should be public domain and should be developed in the open like the majority of open source projects.
Posted by Phil M on April 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM · Report this
@16 Absolutely.
Posted by Ross on April 28, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 18
@13 I used to think it was me being a dipshit. I spent 3 full days just trying to work with an Oracle version of the database I normally supported. I gave up in frustration when I found I could stumble through the SQL version with much greater success. Since then, I too have not heard of any real life success stories with it.

It's as if they built a form of mass transit without windows or doors.
Posted by Sir Vic on April 28, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 19
The first version of the ORACLE DBMS was 90% fabrication & unfilled promises.

Same CEO
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 28, 2014 at 2:21 PM · Report this
@18: Oracle is an SQL (structured query language) database management system.
Posted by Phil M on April 28, 2014 at 2:46 PM · Report this
@16, most open source software is not public domain. It is subject to licenses at the discretion of the developer. Most open source software is not developed out in the open, but written behind closed doors by companies like Apache.
Posted by SSL is open source yet requires licensing. on April 28, 2014 at 2:49 PM · Report this
John Oliver makes me so happy! My new favorite Limey. He's brilliant, the show is the bomb.

I live in PDX, and I can't tell you how many times I screamed at the TV, "Let's get a fucking refund!!!" I've heard some mealy-mouthed afterthoughts about "trying to get some of the money back." WTF? We don't even try because it's just taxpayer money? How is Oracle not responsible?
Posted by portland scribe on April 28, 2014 at 3:46 PM · Report this
@arbeck, if you're an engineer, you might enjoy this...…
Posted by portland scribe on April 28, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this
AFinch 24
@20 - M$ has done a fine job of convincing everyone that Sybase/Sequel IS SQL but that doesn't make it so. MySQL and Postgres are equally easy to work with.
Posted by AFinch on April 28, 2014 at 6:18 PM · Report this
Oregonian here. While I thought the song was funny, it did give the impression that the ad campaign was where the money went. He did say it was only 3 million of the 250, but making the song the closing of the segment created the appearance that it was the ads' fault. Combined with not mentioning that Oracle screwed the pooch, it felt like the ratio of accuracy to making the joke work was off.

Loved the show though.
Posted by Impulse on April 28, 2014 at 10:52 PM · Report this
The Dopest 26
I would like to see Oliver take advantage of the HBO platform and do something a little different. The first episode was almost exactly identical to an episode of The Daily Show, which is more than enough to get me to watch on a weekly basis, but I could see him introducing something like hosting a Maher-style panel discussion or even doing some long-form "reporting" and having it be very successful. I dunno, I just feel like there's an opportunity here.
Posted by The Dopest on April 29, 2014 at 9:11 AM · Report this
@10 you do realize that's lisa loeb right

anyway, a good ol' mispronounciating is the least we deserve
Posted by eptified on April 29, 2014 at 10:37 AM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy