Yukio Mishima: narcissist, political fanatic, suicide. And one of Japan's greatest novelists. I recently completed the Sea of Fertility tetralogy, which traces the life of Shigekuni Honda from youth to retirement as a wealthy attorney, centered around what Honda believes are the successive reincarnations of his friend Kiyoaki Matsugae: as a young rightist, a Thai princess and an orphan. The most powerful of the four novels, in my opinion is the second: Runaway Horses. The book seems to rebuke the militant nationalism of Japanese reactionaries, though ironically enough Mishima himself ends his own life under the banner of a similar ideology. Mishima's fascinating portrait of an inherent dark side of youth - a taming of a deep inhumanism - so to speak, comes through almost all the novels, but most strongly in the last. This echoes a theme he developed in The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea, though I can think of few works that more strongly explore this theme than the Lord of the Flies. In any case, Mishima is masterful in exploring aberrant developmental psychology - even as he, himself, seems to have been stricken with his own disordered personality.
Maria Skobtsova: atheist, symbolist poet, Bolshevik revolutionary - and a renegade nun arrested for helping Jews in Paris by the Gestapo, she allegedly died by taking the place of a Jewish woman being sent to death. Jim Forrest provides a useful overview of her life - unlikely most lives of a Christian saints, this is no hagiography: it is a straightforward story of life. At the same time, we see a life transformed by a dawning realization that self-denial is a path to transformation -
"The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says ‘I': ‘I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.’ To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need. . . . I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews. It fills me with awe."
And despite a life dedicated to service, she remained an acute intellectual, a characteristic of so many Russian emigres in Paris. This too reflected her view that redemption and suffering where intertwined - my favorite piece On the Imitation of the Mother of God- draws this out beautifully.
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The numbers are compelling: Oracle's share is 23.2%. A cluster of five other vendors have between 9% and 14% each. The rest is spread broadly, with each vendor commanding 2% or less. Oracle's share grew 23.3%, compared to growth of just under 12% for the sector as a whole.
I am glad to see this for a bunch of reasons. As Vice President of Embedded Technology at Oracle, I take a personal interest, of course. Oracle Berkeley DB, which Oracle acquired with Sleepycat in 2006, is aimed squarely at the embedded space. I have long maintained that embedded opportunities represent a significant source of new revenue and growth. Computers have escaped the data center, and special-purpose systems are getting deployed in living rooms, in the walls of buildings and in shirt pockets. There is an enormous amount of data travelling over networks and touching these systems.
The key to our success in the embedded space has been to assemble a family of products that address a wide range of requirements. A manufacturer building mobile telephone handsets needs to store crucial information reliably. So does a vendor building an optical network switch, and an ISV developing high-performance equity trading systems for financial markets. The three have very different requirements, though, and it's unrealistic to expect any single product to satisfy all of them.
All of our database products -- Oracle Database, Oracle TimesTen, Oracle Berkeley DB and Oracle Lite -- can be embedded in partner systems and deployed invisibly to end users. All contributed to our number one ranking by IDC.
It's not just the technology that has made us successful, though. The people who choose and deploy embedded databases are software developers. In the enterprise, we generally talk to DBAs and CIOs, but in the embedded world, we talk to architects and CTOs. Those conversations are different, and we have had to develop new expertise and new strategies as we have pursued embedded customers. Over the past several years, we've concentrated on building the technical, support and sales expertise necessary to win embedded business in countries around the globe. IDC's vendor share numbers suggest that we're doing okay.
Congratulations to Oracle's Embedded Global business team, and to the product development and support groups for all four products! This is a tremendous accomplishment.