Back to the Front

When one of the late twentieth century’s most belligerent nations unveiled to the world its proposal for an imprudent war in the near east there was one prominent nation who vehemently opposed it. The belligerent nation’s reprobate politicians were so distressed by the rebuff that they sought to remove the dissident nation’s name from their lexicon. The supposed statesmen went so far as to suggest that their nations most well know food be renamed in order to demonstrate their displeasure. As most Americans would remember French fries were to be renamed freedom fries. In retrospect it is easy to understand why France had reservations about the Americans’ proposed expedition, but at the time the rhetoric was quite effective and yet the French firmly opposed the adventure.

After taking a trip, primarily in France, along the Western front of the Great War it becomes easier to understand why they would have reservations about instigating a war. As Stephen O’Shea said, “A French hamlet might not have a water tower, a baker, or even a store, but it will always have a list of the dead chiseled in stone.” It is conceivable that if America had more lists of the dead chiseled in stone it might be less militaristic. A nation that retains the scars of a terrible mechanized war that occurred nearly one hundred years ago has good reason to pause before embarking upon another conflict. An attentive walk along the Western Front, even a figurative one, should be prerequisite to embarking upon modern mechanized war.

SAP ABAP, Variable Variables

I was modifying an ABAP program for a migration project and came across a section of code that was initially puzzling to me. I couldn't figure out why the previous developer was filling variables with field names and then assigning those variables to field symbols, until I noticed the parentheses surrounding the variable name in the assign statement. The previous developer create a variable to hold the name of a field (another variable), he then used the ASSIGN keyword to assign the parenthesized variable it to a field symbol. Field symbols are a type of memory pointer, so the field symbol pointed to the memory location specified by the value of the variable.

The History and Memory of the Vietnam War

In many ways the memory of the Vietnam War drastically diverges from the actual history of the war. Frequently these differences are propagated by the government, media, or society out of ignorance, contempt, or both. One of the most prominent examples of this is the Tonkin Gulf incident which lead to a resolution with the same name and the escalation of hostilities in the area. The United States government was responsible for starting the incident, but that was not know to the public until long after the war ended. There were social organizations, such as the National League of POW/MIA Families, that would create an alternate view of history to serve their own purposes. Later it was the media, through movies such as Rambo, that would foster a memory of the Vietnam war that was not supported by evidence. The biggest shame of these divergences is that people must expend time and energy setting the facts straight, time and energy that could be better used for exploring the real issues that the nation is or was attempting to solve.

JavaScript Binary Expression Tree

I am working on a personal project that requires a JavaScript expression evaluation engine, so I started by designing class that would evaluate mathematical expressions off of which I could build. The first step takes the user supplied string and parses it into an array of operands and operators, which has a performance of O(n) for the number of characters. Next, the array is turned into a binary tree, which has a performance of O(n) for the number of operands and operators. The binary tree is balanced based upon the weights of the operators in order to get the correct order of operations, which has a performance of O(log n). Finally, the expression that the tree represents can be evaluated and that performs in O(log n).

Most of the code is shown after the jump.

Who Started the Cold War

Near the end of the Second World War in the Soviet West Ukraine there existed clandestine guerilla forces with nationalist beliefs. In order to establish an “Autonomous Ukraine” these terrorists, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its militia the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), were resisting Soviet influence in the region and had murdered no less than thirty-thousand Soviet military and Communist party members. The United States and Britain, afraid that the Soviet Union was planning to start a third world war, covertly used these forces to exploit internal tensions in the Soviet Union and undermine their system of government during a time of perceived weakness.

The Deer Hunter

At the most basic level The Deer Hunter is a story of three friends who volunteer for service in Vietnam, but the diegesis is composed of many artfully woven and nuanced threads. It explores the range of emotions experienced by each of these friends, the role of the civilians in their lives, and the interactions between those two distinct groups. The film skillfully uses suspense to fill the average viewer with a sense of apprehension that conveys the feelings a combat soldier might have had in Vietnam.

As the material for the Vietnam war was forged in midwestern steel mills, so were the rugged characters in the film. The three main characters came from an Orthodox Russian background. The assumption could be made that their families immigrated from the Soviet Union and that their parents bestowed upon them both a sense of patriotism and disdain for communism that would motivate them to volunteer for the war. They knew that they were physically tough enough to volunteer for military service, but it may have not occurred to them that more than physical durability would be required of them.

Economic Consequences of the Vietnam War

In his book Mr. Campagna performed a comprehensive examination of the economic consequences of the Vietnam War. He examined the immediate and direct costs as well as the future and indirect costs. One of the most interesting aspects of his analysis was his attempt to discern the non-monetary economic costs of the war. As Mr. Campagna said, “there may still be strands remaining from the period that continue to influence the present.”

According to Campagna, in the early years of the Second Indochina War the economic impact was minimal. The impact of aid sent by President Eisenhower was negligible. Under President Kennedy the costs of resolving the supposed missile gap far exceeded the costs of assistance to the Republic of Vietnam, even though the number of military advisors practically doubled every year of his administration.

The Long Telegrams

The Novikov telegram was written by a Soviet diplomat at the close of the Second World War. In the telegraph Novikov gives his interpretations of the United States’ international policies. He sees America’s policies as being imperialistic and driven by purely monopolistic capital interests. Novikov saw signs of this in the replacement of Roosevelt with the much more conservative Truman, as well as the general political shift toward reactionary “bi-partisan” policy. Novikov believed that the US entered the world war late in order to look after its financial interests, and was attempting to take advantage of the perceived power void left by the after the second world war. Since all the former world powers were physically destroyed and in financially pre- carious positions, the capitalists in the United States would be able to expand by selling their goods in rebuilding countries. They would then be able to establish further ownership of capital in those areas. Further evidence of the capitalistic nature of the motives was that the US was working with German industrialists that made the war possible rather than limiting their influence.