March 21, 2003

It’s been a good

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

It’s been a good day. It’s not often you get to push forward the
state of the art, but in some small way I did today when one of my
colleagues and I figured out how to beat the previous-best (that’s
O(n3), for those of you playing along at home) matrix
chain-multiplication optimization algorithm efficiency by almost
two whole exponents. Got big matrices to multiply together? I’m
your man.

Like other
people, I’ve
thrashed around with what to say about war, and about this war, and
I’ve had no luck. I’ve started typing a dozen incomplete screeds,
deleted them as the rage faded to resignation. What’s one more
diatribe going to do, after all the others, the demonstrations,
the diplomacy, the pleading? Not a damn thing, really.

I don’t think there’s much to say except that in hindsight it is
now clear that there was nothing that Iraq could have done, nothing
that U.N. inspectors could have reported and nothing that could
have been said by the U.N. membership that would have prevented this
from happening. The American diplomatic efforts have fared so badly
because they never really mattered in the first place; they were a
stall, nothing more. I don’t want to sound like I’m in the anti-war
crowd, here: I’m not. But you’d need to be on an all-crayon diet to
think that asking the nations of the world to participate in a long,
drawn out con job is going to garner anything but hard feelings and,
hey look, that’s exactly what’s happened.

It infuriates me that it’s come to this, but mostly
it’s how it came to this that rankles. No part
of what has led up to this war is not repugnant; the astonishing
of the media, the hypocrisy of the French, the
complete and utter impotence of the U.N., the unforgiveable stupidity
of the peace movement
and the unbelievable diplomatic
of the White House. Listening to
semisentient peaceniks chanting “no blood for oil”
is just as grating as the absurd pro-war claims
of making the world a safer place, the pro-war “evidence
cribbed from a graduate thesis and forged documents as empty as
moral authority.

There is a chance, I think, that the Iraqi people will come out
of this with a decent shot at peace and prosperity. Certainly,
it will come with a huge up-front price tag. I the meantime, I
guess things like a stagnant economy and a missile-throwing North
Korea will have to wait. In the meantime, I will feast my eyes on
the moving human-interest stories that seem to make up the bulk of
the Olympic-Games-esqe war coverage. It warms my heart that people
are “going on with their lives”, bravely staring danger in the eye
and declaring that southern Wisconsin will never give in to
terror. I wonder what America’s teens think of this war? I’m sure
CNN can tell me.

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