Posts Tagged ‘endless war’

Morning Madness

Posted: 2 November 2007 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ever get pissed twice before you’ve really even opened your eyes? This is why I shouldn’t read my RSS feeds so early in the morning. At the top of the list is Bush equating Democrats who oppose the war (as if it could be called opposition, anyway) to those who ignored Hitler and Lenin and then Hillary firing back. Am I mad at Bush for making this analogy? No and I think he’s correct, but not in the way he thinks. I’m more angry at Hillary for firing back and not recognizing her own culpability. The Sheepocrats sat back and did nothing four years ago when this war began and passed the Patriot Act before that. They have endorsed the war at every stage since and even their current so-called opposition is luke-warm and putrid with its weasliness. So yeah, they are like people who ignored the rise of Hitler and Lenin. If she had recognized that and said it publicly, it would have done her credit.


Next up, I was reading a few bit twiddling hacks and came across a nice one for branchless absolute value [hat tip]. The hacks are all in the public domain, too, so that’s good. He does list the occasional variation that is patented, an enormously helpful fact if you’re producing commercial software. So here is the patented version of the branchless absolute value:

int v; // we want to find the absolute value of v
int r; // the result goes here
int const mask = v >> sizeof(int) * CHAR_BIT - 1;
r = (v ^ mask) - mask;

The last ^ (XOR) – (subtract) combination represents the patent. What works also?

r = (v + mask) ^ mask;

As Sean points out, though, the patent probably could be contested if the holder (none other than Sun Microsystems) ever tried to enforce it. So what ticked me off is that such a thing could be patented. I raise my hands in impotent fury at the ludicrousness of software patents. I don’t blame the inventors for them, it’s something you pretty much have to do these days. I blame the system that makes that true.


Did some benchmarks on the two versions of absolute value given above.  Using a 3.06GHz processor, I could run 4 billion absolute values in 18.916 +/- 0.021 seconds for the patented version and 18.906 +/- 0.026 seconds for the free version.  So no need to even bother with the patented version it looks like.


Dennis Kucinich is not afraid to say the thing many people are wondering. Is Bush freakin nuts? Does he really think World War III is going to break out if Iran gains the knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons? Who are the sides? The middle east versus the rest of the world? Oh and North Korea. Plus a couple countries in Africa so embroiled in their own civil wars, they’d be lucky to send 100 men to fight off this giant.

CNN’s political ticker has this:

“I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” Bush said at a news conference earlier this month.

The Democratic presidential candidate later said he does not consider questioning the Bush’s mental health inappropriate, according [to] the Inquirer’s Web site. [emphasis mine]

I’m about 99.9999% sure that any nuclear weapon Iran acquired would be used for one purpose and one purpose only: deterrence. What Bush is actually saying here is “if you’re interested in avoiding a US invasion of your country, it seems like you ought to be interested in getting a nuclear weapon.” He really can’t see the connection between posturing to overthrow a government and that government’s desire to acquire a nuke to prevent that? This version of diplomacy is like the battered wife who kills her husband in order to escape. Only this husband thinks the wife is going to get a gun and is trying to kill her first.

As usual, Kucinich is the only one brave enough to speak out against this looming evil. The rest are off scrambling around in the dirt for the pennies tossed at them by the corporate patrons. Pelosi can barely look up long enough from the feast of pork-in-a-barrel to notice.

On a side note, I like the CNN editor’s rendering of the bolded sentence above. That’s a direct quote as of 10:00am Eastern time.

Blackwater USA Update

Posted: 2 October 2007 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last week I commented on the piece in the NY Times about Blackwater USA being disproportionately involved in confrontations in Iraq.  A followup piece today indicates that they have been involved in 168 shootings in Iraq since 2005, and in “a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded.”  The report was issued by the Democratic majority staff of a House committee and criticizes the State Department, as well, for helping cover up and gloss over several incidents.

This seems to confirm the suspicion that Blackwater USA has a culture of shoot-first-ask-questions-later.  And as I said before, the strain is just too much for people to handle.  Families in Iraq are torn apart when innocent people are killed and these security guys doing the shooting will be suffering the consequences for the rest of their lives as well.

Vote Kucinich.

This appears to be the policy of Blackwater USA, a security contracting firm providing services in Iraq to the State Department. The New York Times reported yesterday that the firm is under investigation in both Iraq and in Washington for a shooting on September 16th in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. State department officials report that the incidence of violence by Blackwater personnel was at least double the rate of the other two security firms. The State department did go on to say that of the 1800+ missions that Blackwater personnel have been on, a very small percentage resulted in violence. While not quoting numbers, the department rep said there “dozens” of incidences. DynCorp, another security firm, reported 32 cases out of 3200 convoy missions, a rate of 1%. Blackwater’s rate is at least double that, so there were a minimum of 36 episodes.

So looking at the real numbers, you might think: “big deal.” The problem is that this could be representative of a culture at Blackwater that encourages a shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality. Now, I am actually sympathetic of these guys. I can’t imagine the incredible stress you must be under as a security professional in Iraq. Every corner, every roadside bump, every window could be hiding the bomb or person that kills you. If I were there, I probably would have shot someone by accident a hundred times just from stress. Hell, when I play multiplayer war games I’m constantly shooting my teammates when they run around a corner or jump up in front of me. The situation has to be insane.

The reason I’m even talking about this is that I think this is a good example for what war does to people. The Blackwater people may be like me and get jumpy and shoot first rather than restraining themselves and waiting for cooler heads to prevail. Or they could be giving in to the power that a nearly lawless warzone enables. In either case, not only are more people dying, but these security personnel are suffering emotional damage. Losing your humanity to bloodlust or becoming more and more neurotic due to constant fear — either way it’s a losing prospect for these people. Also, if they are killing twice as many people and there is no significant increase in the danger factor for their missions, they could very well be killing innocent people. The regulation of contractors is attracting attention from the top brass, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is sending a team to Iraq to discuss the situation with General Petraeus. (It just struck me what an imperial-sounding name that is.)

So, bring these guys home and the soldiers who are suffering just as much or more. Vote for Dennis Kucinich.

Well, I didn’t get a chance to listen to Edwards last night on MSNBC, since I apparently can’t work a TV anymore. I thought I was watching MSNBC, it was actually NBC and then after Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island made the Democratic response and there was no John Edwards, I realized my mistake. Thanks to the wonders of the giant tubes that make up the interwebs, I was able to watch his speech:

I was pretty happy about the speech, though it came off as disappointingly weak at the end. He made a convincing, fairly non-aggressive case against prolonging the war, arguing from simple practicality. It seems this approach could possibly be better at persuading conservatives and fence-sitters than saying that Bush and the military are terrorists (ala Rosie O’Donnell). And yes I know she didn’t actually say that. What was weak in Edwards’ speech was the whole “timeline” business. It annoys me whenever I hear it. It’s so open-ended. If by timeline, he means in three weeks, then I can live with that.

Another problem here is that while Edwards has come out on the side of peace, he still voted for the war: a serious failure in judgment. And I don’t even listen to Obama (aka Obomba) when he chastises other candidates for voting for the war. Based on his long history of voting to prolong W’s endless war, I have little doubt that Obama would have been right there with his “aye” raised high when called upon to vote to overthrow a sovereign nation whose leadership we installed.

It returns to the fact that there is only one choice: Dennis Kucinich. Electability is a term invented by the corporate-sponsored media. Real electability is what happens when you actually go out and vote with your mind and heart instead of voting because of what some plastic face on a TV screen tells you to do. Dennis Kucinich is the only one who has opposed this war at every turn, the only one who has a real plan to bring our troops home. Edwards was right when he said the only way to force a political solution between Shiites and Sunnis is for us to get out of there. Kucinich has been saying that all along. We should hold all of these democrats accountable and vote for the only one with the clarity of mind and morals to do what was right from the very beginning and elect Kucinich.

And the bodies lie scattered…

Posted: 16 August 2007 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

More sad news from the Endless War. The New York Times is reporting at least 250 dead in an attack on two Kurdish villages, Qahtaniya and Jazeera. As they always do, these numbers will surely rise. As of the time of the Times report, at least 40 obliterated homes had not been searched for casualties.

Reading these stories is enough to make you weep. They also report on a Kurdish woman stoned to death by her own people for dating a Sunni man. Sunnis then killed 26 Kurds in response. And then to hear the US Ambassador spin it: “This indiscriminate and heartless violence only strengthens our resolve to continue our mission against the terrorists who are plaguing the people of Iraq.” They are plaguing Iraq because we brought them there. As long as we are there, they will continue to plague Iraq.

It’s time to leave.