Older blog entries for fejj (starting at number 170)

Amazing what a break from looking at code can do to help you fix a bug.

Back in 2004, I had been writing articles explaining different sorting algorithms, how they worked, and how to implement them in C (and in most cases, how to implement them more efficiently than the "standard textbook way"). Well, I had gotten distracted around the time I had been working on an article for Quick Sort and never got around to finishing it. I remember having a bug in my QuickSort routine somewhere that I wasn't able to find after a few nights of looking at it and having had more pressing things to attend to, set it aside for later (but not before documenting a few test cases that failed and how they failed).

Well, yesterday, after coming across that code, I opened it up in my trusty Emacs editor and in just a few minutes had a solution... it was basically a simple one-off bug.

Not long after, I got a call from someone at Google who had seen my resume and repeatedly told me they found it "interesting". I have no idea what that means, exactly, but I take it that it's a Good Thing(tm) :)

23 Jan 2007 (updated 24 Jan 2007 at 15:16 UTC) »

Thanks to Ross's blog for informing me about Dave Cridland's Push-IMAP projects (Polymer, Telomer) and the Lemonaide specs. This was quite an interesting read... I've been wanting something like this for years, it's really exciting stuff.

Despite what pvanhoof claims in his own response to this news, offline functionality is not the hardest part of implementing an IMAP client.

I find it hillarious that the only argument against what I've posted comes down to:

"No really, Bush is a Bad Man because I say so."

Very convincing argument, I must say.

bi: You claim that my arguments are unfalsifiable and somehow conclude that this means that Iraq did not have possession of WMDs? Huh? I simply cannot follow your logic. I agree that the claim that Iraq had WMDs is unfalsifiable, which is exactly my point - all of the people claiming that Iraq never had WMDs are simply mindlessly regurgitating what the news media is feeding them in order to manipulate the masses to be against the Bush Administration; a brainwashing if you will.

20 Dec 2006 (updated 20 Dec 2006 at 19:46 UTC) »

bi: you still fail to offer any evidence to the contrary. Is it safe to conclude, then, that you have none and that there is the possibility that what I have stated is truth?

Also, there were other compelling reasons to go to war with Iraq than simply the question of whether they had WMDs, as I pointed out in my last post which you failed to bother to even acknowledge (you focused only on one small portion of what I wrote to critique).

As to the issue of the Iraqi people being worse now than they were because of the mortality rate?

I present to you the following statistics in rebuttal (from markhumphrys.com ):

Opinion Polls in Iraq

Johann Hari on opinion polls after the war: "So what we now know is that on the day of the anti-war rally, with all the caveats ... a majority of Iraqis were saying: "Better this invasion than what we faced otherwise." They would not have been marching with you. They would have been marching for the invasion."

July 2003

Post-liberation, the majority of Iraqis in Iraq support the war! (also here and here and here and here)

Sept 2003

What Iraqis Really Think, September 10, 2003 (also here)

  • The majority oppose an Islamic state.
  • When asked what country they would want Iraq to be like - Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt or the US - the US was the no.1 answer.
  • The majority want to punish the Baath Party rather than forgive their crimes.
  • The majority want America to stay longer.

Mar 2004

Survey

  • The majority who expressed an opinion supported the US invasion.
  • The majority think things are better now than before the war.
  • The majority oppose an Islamic state.
  • 80 percent oppose the fascist "resistance".
  • The majority want America to stay longer.

Who knows better: the Iraqi people or Spain's new PM? - discussion of the above survey by Janet Daley. Why does the ignorant socialist government of Spain listen to Al Qaeda on Iraq, instead of to the Iraqi people? Why do they do Al Qaeda's bidding on Iraq, instead of the bidding of the people of Iraq?

May 2004

Survey

  • 84 percent of Iraqis say Saddam is guilty of murdering their countrymen.
  • 83 percent say he was a torturer.
  • 61 percent say he deserves the death penalty.

June 2004

Survey

  • 76 per cent of Iraqis feel freer to express their political views in public today than under Saddam.
  • More than 80 per cent feel freer to exercise their religious beliefs.
  • 76 per cent do not believe their lives were made worse by the Coalition.
  • 85 per cent feel safer with CPA in place.

Dec 2004 - Jan 2005

Survey

Do you support military action against the so-called resistance? 88 percent said "Yes".

Dec 2005

Survey (see here)

  • 57 percent want democracy, 26 percent want a dictator, 14 percent want an Islamic state. Zarqawi is fighting for something that nobody wants. His stupid men are dying for something that nobody wants.
  • When should the allies leave Iraq? 26 percent say leave now. 66 percent say stay longer.
  • 80 percent of Kurds say the US was right to invade Iraq.
  • 58 percent of Shiites say the US was right to invade Iraq.

Jan 2006

Survey

"Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US-Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?"

  • 77 percent of Iraqis think it was worth it.
  • The Sunnis regret the end of apartheid, but if we exclude them, 91 percent of Kurds say it was worth it, and 98 percent of Shias say it was worth it.

So, despite a higher mortality rate, the Iraqi people seem to prefer life post-Saddam as compared to under Saddam.

20 Dec 2006 (updated 20 Dec 2006 at 18:58 UTC) »

zanee: and therein lies the misunderstanding of so many people that are anti-Bush... they focus on WMDs meaning nuclear weapon capability, when in fact WMDs can mean any weapon capable of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear, or ballistic missiles).

You also say that there is evidence from the intelligence community that points to the "fact" that WMDs did not exist in Iraq. I will refute you with the following:

  • intelligence is never black and white. some sources may lead to the conclusion that something is true, others might lead to false. You have to analyse what is presented to you and reach a conclusion based on all pieces and the value of each piece (was this source biased? is that source really saying that it's true? or only that he believes it to be true? who/what are this source's sources? etc). You can't just point to one intelligence source and reach a conclusion (which is exactly what you are trying to do).
  • Iraq collaborated with and was harboring known terrorists, some of whom lived in the al-Jazair neighborhood of Baghdad.
  • There is/was only one way to find out for sure if Iraq had WMDs - invade (as you say, there have been, to my knowledge, no found WMDs of nuclear nature inside the boarders of Iraq, that we know of - but that doesn't mean they don't exist, hidden somewhere; similarly it doesn't mean that they do. But that was my previous point).
  • There exists intelligence (backed also by British and Isreali intelligence sources) that there existed joint Iraq-Egyptian WMD (nuclear and ballistic missile) programs in neighboring Arab nations such as Lybia for the purpose of "plausable deniability".
  • In September of 2002, Iraq is known to have moved chemical weapon components to Syria for storage.
  • In 2002, Saddam moved troops into position to make a preemptive attack on Isreal (with the help from other Arab nations, the Palestinians as well as Al-Qaeda) before the United States was able to make its offensive on Iraq, knowing that the United States would have to launch their attack from Isreal. Saddam's plan was to use ballistic missiles launched at Isreali targets to cripple Isreal and America as much as he could, but, only after the planned attacks started from terrorist groups who would start the fighting. The reasoning was that he knew Isreal would have to retalliate against the terrorist attacks, thus giving him the excuse to attack Isreal back saying that he was simply coming to the aid of the Palestinians. He hoped that this would also have the effect of rallying the rest of the Arab nations behind him.
  • It has been confirmed also that Iraq was preparing to provide biological weapons to the Palestinians.

Even if we remove all evidence of Iraq having (or having access to) any type of WMD, the fact that they were going to launch an offensive on Isreal is justification enough to attack Iraq, nevermind that they harbored and collaborated with terrorist organisations. Saddam was unstable - a threat to the people of Iraq and his neighbors and had been for decades, it was time this threat was eliminated for the safety of millions.

Zanee says that anyone studying the region at the time knew it was impossible for Iraq to have them. I ask, why? They had WMDs as early as the 1920's, how is it impossible for them to have had them as late as 2002? Did they suddenly become incapable of weilding anything more destructive than a caveman's club? You offer no evidence to the contrary, and in fact I can find numerous books by recognised experts on the region that make claims to the opposite.

Where's your proof?

19 Dec 2006 (updated 19 Dec 2006 at 21:54 UTC) »

As a followup to the accusations that the Bush Administration was the source of the claim that Iraq had WMDs, the following article on CanadaFreePress.com has more evidence to the contrary.

bi: I was more rebutting the common misconception that the Bush Administration was the original source of the claim that Iraq had WMDs more than I was responding directly to the particular Slashdot poster's false claims.

It's interesting that you bring up Hans Blix. As has been noted by every director of the UNSCOM (including Blix himself), Iraq has had a history of being uncooperative with the weapons inspectors. Suddenly this changed in 2003.

It could be argued that it was because Iraq had finally finished getting rid of / dismantling their WMDs/programs and no longer had anything to hide, and I think this argument is plausable.

haruspex says "Gosh, just maybe they cooperated because they didn't want their country destroyed?"

I think that's another very good theory - I'm sure Iraq was confidant that the United States would likely invade by that point.

Anyways, back to bi's assessment that Bush had other motives for invading Iraq other than the WMDs, I am inclined to agree.

19 Dec 2006 (updated 19 Dec 2006 at 19:04 UTC) »
bi says in his blog entry dated Dec 19th, 2006:
but check out the following words which he quotes Clinton as saying (emphasis added):
"And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them. Because we are acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future."
From these words, he goes on to draw this conclusion (emphasis added, again):
[...] it is interesting to note that even the Clinton Administration claimed that Iraq had WMDs [...]
Now, when someone can't properly distinguish between the past tense, the present tense and the future tense, are we supposed to trust his self-righteous pronouncements on US presidents past and present?

Allow me to quote again from the same source that I was quoting there (emphasis added):

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Earlier today, I ordered America's Armed Forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological programs, and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.

[...]

Iraq repeatedly restricted UNSCOM's ability to obtain necessary evidence. For example, Iraq obstructed UNSCOM's effort to photograph bombs related to its chemical weapons program. It tried to stop an UNSCOM biological weapons team from videotaping a site and photocopying documents, and prevented Iraqi personnel from answering UNSCOM's questions.

Prior to the inspection of another site, Iraq actually emptied out the building, removing not just documents, but even the furniture and the equipment. Iraq has failed to turn over virtually all the documents requested by the inspectors; indeed, we know that Iraq ordered the destruction of weapons related documents in anticipation of an UNSCOM inspection.

This suggests (although, admittedly, does not confirm with 100% certainty) that Iraq had WMD programs. Those statements are where I had concluded that the Clinton Administration was convinced that Iraq had WMDs.

I maintain that then President Clinton chose his words more carefully than I that Iraq was suspected of having (or soon having) Weapons of Mass Destruction. We already know that they had them further in the past (afterall, they used them prior to even the first Gulf War).

Now, before bi argues that Iraq has never used nuclear weapons, it is important to note that the definition of WMDs is not limited to nuclear weapons. From Wikipedia:

Weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a term used to describe a munition with the capacity to indiscriminately kill large numbers of living beings. The phrase broadly encompasses several areas of weapon synthesis, including nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) and, increasingly, radiological weapons.

We know for a fact that Iraq has had (and knows how to make) chemical weapons capable of killing large numbers of people. This is undisputable fact.

Clinton says this in his address:

With Saddam, there's one big difference: he has used them, not once but repeatedly -- unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war, not only against soldiers, but against civilians; firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Iran -- not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.

I concede to bi that my wording was wrong there, and I apologise, however one must also note that it was clear that Clinton felt there were indeed WMDs as, in the summer of 1998, he launched missiles at a target thought to have been a chemical weapons plant (later reported to have been a pharmaceutical plant instead) which, as you might note, happened prior to the report that I quoted from 1999.

My point is that even the Clinton Administration was convinced that Iraq had WMDs or, at the very least, the means to construct them... thus debunking the assertion that the Bush Administration was the originating source of this (possibly mis)information (I say possible misinformation because it has never been proven that Iraq didn't have the suspected WMDs at the time of the allegations; similarly it has never been proven that they did).

19 Dec 2006 (updated 19 Dec 2006 at 19:43 UTC) »

In reading the anti-Bush Administration propoganda that spammed the Slashdot forum under the article about the USGS censor, I was shocked to find such woefully inaccurate libel. Allow me to respond to this piecemeal (for the purpose of clarity, I will quote the slashdot poster with bold italics and any other article with only italics).

You are woefully uninformed (despite your absolutely ridiculous "informative" moderation), not to mention completely wrong. I say this because:

> Iraq was not attcked illegally

Bush and crew lied about the reasons for attacking Iraq. [cnn.com] Iraq had no WMD.

Whoa there cowboy... lets take a step back and take a look at this in perspective. Was this truly a Bush Administration fabricated lie? To answer this question, it is interesting to note that even the Clinton Administration claimed that Iraq had WMDs (a fact that the Left would like you to forget as it would ruin their anti- Bush propoganda and their supposed moral highground).

A Google search provides us with the following link: TRANSCRIPT: CLINTON ON PREEMPTIVE AIRSTRIKES AGAINST IRAQ dated December 16th, 1999. Quoted from the article:

Washington -- President Clinton ordered America's Armed Forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq December 16 to "attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological programs, and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors."

Clinton states:
"This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance."

[...]

"If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors; he will make war on his own people," Clinton said. "And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them. Because we are acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future."

If you read the full transcript, you see the following statements:

Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological programs

[...]

For example, Iraq obstructed UNSCOM's effort to photograph bombs related to its chemical weapons program.

If that's not enough to convince you that the Clinton Administration felt certain that Iraq had possession of WMDs, let us examine a speech he gave in February of 1998:

In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction ready to use them or provide them to terrorists

This seems to counter the uninformed Leftist views that WMDs were an imagination of the Bush Administration. Not only did the Clinton Administration believe that Iraq had (or would soon have, depending on your interpretation of Clinton's statements) possession of WMDs, but it had even launched an attack based on their belief at the time (President Clinton launched missiles at a target in Sudan suspected of being a chemical weapons plant back in the summer of 1998).

If we take a look at the article that the Slashdot poster referenced, we find an amusing admission by that article's author:

Readers may not recall exactly what President Bush said about weapons of mass destruction; I certainly didn't. Thus, I have compiled these statements below. In reviewing them, I saw that he had, indeed, been as explicit and declarative as I had recalled.

We find here that this journalist did research on the subject of Iraq and the claims by the United States that they (Iraq) had Weapons of Mass Destruction, yet he conveniently omits quotes by past presidents claiming the same assertions. A little further investigation brings to light that John W. Dean has a political agenda to push, which is evident by the number of books he has written with anti-conservative sentiments along with the content of his interview with Democracy Now where he pushes that Bush should be impeached.

Folks, I can't stress enough the importance of evaluating the objectivity of the articles you read in newspapers and what you see in the news on television. For starters, you need to realise that a vast majority of the news media are staunch supporters of the Democratic Party and thus have a tendency to provide a slanted view of the facts tipped against the Right (usually, I believe, this is done on a subconscious level but it is there none-the-less; no one can be 100% objective, especially on matters of politics).

in order to generate popular support for his attack on Iraq, Bush and his crew lied to the public.

I think "lied" is a bit extreme here, especially considering that it was the common belief among all officials in the United States that Iraq did in fact have WMDs (note that I say "belief" which is the key word here because in order to lie, one must know for a fact that what he is saying is fictitious in nature - and it has yet to be proven that Iraq never had WMDs, it is only a suspicion that we (the USA) was wrong in our original assumption that they had them).

In fact, subsequent to the first gulf war, Iraq was not threatening anyone or their interests.

While they may not have directly threatened anyone, they were closely collaborating with terrorists which, I believe, many would define as threatening to the safety of our and other nations. Even Clinton, the hero if the Left, has stated that Iraq was a threat to both this nation and the neighbors of Iraq (see above).

The administration repeatedly and specifically claimed that Iraq's administration had direct and unequivocal ties to Al-Quida. And has that been found to be so? No.

As before, it is again interesting to note that the Bush Administration was not the first to make the connection between Iraq and the Al-Qaeda as pointed out by an article in The Washington Times, which states:

The Clinton administration talked about firm evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network years before President Bush made the same statements.
and
In fact, during President Clinton's eight years in office, there were at least two official pronouncements of an alarming alliance between Baghdad and al Qaeda. One came from William S. Cohen, Mr. Clinton's defense secretary. He cited an al Qaeda-Baghdad link to justify the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.

There are even more interesting tidbits in the article, so I urge anyone interested to read further.

As far as whether the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection has been proven to be true or not seems to be a side-issue to the Slashdot poster who only seems interested in trying to argue that the connection was a Bush-concocted lie to the American public. That said, however, let us investigate further.

As Andrew C. McCarthy observes in this article discussing the 9/11 Committee staff's Statement No. 15,

Is the commission staff saying that the CIA director has provided faulty information to Congress? That doesn't appear to be what it is saying at all. This is clear — if anything in this regard can be said to be "clear" — from the staff's murky but carefully phrased summation sentence, which is worth parsing since it is already being gleefully misreported: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." (emphasis mine.) That is, the staff is not saying al Qaeda and Iraq did not cooperate — far from it. The staff seems to be saying: "they appear to have cooperated but we do not have sufficient evidence to conclude that they worked in tandem on a specific terrorist attack, such as 9/11, the U.S.S. Cole bombing, or the embassy bombings."

As mentioned in the above article, George Tenet, Director of the CIA, wrote to Congress:

  • Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.
  • We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade.
  • Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression. Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.
  • We have credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.
  • Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of relationship with Al Qaeda suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.

It seems to be the CIA's consistant assertion that there is, in fact, a connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.

I suppose the original Slashdot poster would make the accusation that the CIA is wrong, but can the original Slashdot poster post evidence to the contrary? I somehow doubt it.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld specifically claimed they knew where the WMD were. And were they there? No.

For the sake of argument, pretend that you are a drug dealer and the police have given you a written notice stating that they will be searching your home for the possession of drugs on a particular date and that they know where in your household these drugs are "hidden" (and provide, in detail, where those drugs they know of are located). Do you:

  • a) leave the drugs where they are so that they might be discovered and proven to exist
  • b) move the drugs to another location and/or get rid of them altogether

I think any intelligent person would get rid of the drugs or at the very least, hide them in a new location. I'll hold the ludacracy of the Slashdot poster's assertions to be self-evident (especially considering the extensive amount of time between the disclosure of the location of said WMDs and the actual invasion of Iraq to "find" said WMDs).

It does not, unfortunately, address the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in pursuit of this illegitimate war; nor the loss of Iraqi lives; nor the loss of US soldier's lives, and the lives of those soldiers from other countries who ill-advisedly entered into combat with the US in this criminal action.

I find it amusing that the Slashdot poster purports to be so interested in the lives of Iraqis. Does he know how Iraqis are treated under the Saddam Hussein dictatorship? Does he not realise that anyone who displeased Saddam in any way would be executed without a trial? Does he not know of the Human Rights under Saddam Hussein's Iraq? I think, if he did, he would change his mind on this issue.

This website documents further the attrocities committed in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. How can anyone who claims to be concerned about the well being of Iraqis be so against the United States getting involved in Iraq to liberate the people? A good question indeed.

It is unfortunate that US soldiers had to die, but it is a sad reality of war. People die. Was it worth the lives of the men and women who faught so bravely in this conflict? Only time will tell, but it is at this time far too early to tell and will likely never be clear (it's impossible to compare and contrast the outcome of different choices). The only measure we can truly evaluate is the feeling from the soldiers as to what their beliefs are - do they believe that their efforts were in vein? Or do they feel their lives were worth the effort?

I leave it as an exercise to the reader to read the numerous articles where US soldiers involved in the Iraq conflict commented on their feelings of whether it was worth risking their lives. I think you'll find that most feel their efforts were worth it.

The last assertion made by the Slashdot poster claims that other countries blindly followed the US into Iraq. This is naive. No government blindly follows another into war - they all had their own Intelligence and risk analysis, anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.

Since my December 1st blog entry expressing my distaste for political crusades in the Free Software community and therefor deciding I wanted nothing to do with the community, I have come to the conclusion that my decision was in haste.

I'd like to retract my desire to avoid the community. Yes, I still harbor feelings of distate for those who would try to tear the Free Software community apart for their own political gain, but my refusal to participate in the Free Software community only hurts the Free Software community for which I care so deeply about.

I urge the community as a whole to stay away from political crusades as it will only cause harm. Try and see the good things that groups/companies do for the community and not focus on the few negatives. No one is perfect, and therefor it is wise to not throw stones. As a community, we would much prefer software companies involved in F/OSS to be our friends rather than our enemies.

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