Solving the gcc 4.4 strict aliasing problems

A couple of days ago Jeff Stedfast ran into some problems with gcc 4.4, strict aliasing and optimizations. Being a geeky sort of person, I found the problem really interesting, not only because it shows just how hard it is to write a good, clear standard, even when you’re dealing with highly technical (and supposedly unambiguous) language, but also because I never did “get” the aliasing rules, so it was a nice excuse to read up on the subject.