Wednesday, June 01, 2005

This Blog Condemned!

Our friend Barsoom notes that the Cogito Ergo Geek looks really really UGLY when using Internet Explorer (IE) as your browser.

Didn't use to be like that, until BLOGSPOT had a spot of trouble with their hardware last month. Since then, if you try to view this blog with IE, it spreads across two pages ... or more, if your display settings aren't fixed at 1024 x 768 pixels.

Funny about that. If you look at an individual article it shows up just fine.
(*click on the permalink, which is a timestamp at the end of each article on this blog.*)

But if you look at the whole-blog URL, IE can't handle it.

I'm working with to resolve this problem, but I have to say that IE is the only browser so far identified that has a problem with it.

If you don't like it, I don't blame you. However, there are things you can do about your browser environment to avoid the problem entirely. (No, I'm not telling you that your browser sucks, even if it does; I'm just saying there are alternatives.)

This blog, and all other websites I've viewed, show up just fine if you're using a Mozilla-based browser.

I would like to recommend Netscape. I've been using it for years, and among its advantages is the ability to open new webpages in a new 'tab', instead of a new window.

If you're interested, Netscape version 8.0 can be downloaded for free here. Or, you can spend less than ten bucks and they will send you the CD for version 8.0, which has just been released. (I pre-ordered the CD-only for $6.95 last month.)

In the movie "U.S. Marshalls", Tommy Lee Jones told Robert Downey Jr.
Get yourself a Glock, and get rid of that nickel-plated sissy-pistol. Put that back in your suit and don't take it out unless I tell you to.
I would never give that advice about pistols, but let me say this about browsers:
Get yourself a Netscape browser, and get rid of the nickel-plated sissy-browser. Put that back in your suit and don't take it out unless I tell you to.
I won't be telling you to use Microsoft products when there is a better software product available. And there is usually a better software product available.

But don't get me started.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Evil Amerika

Do you have the stomach for one more disgusting article?

Neither do I. But I find 'em, I share 'em with you.

This one from (surprise!) The Moscow Times. It's an 'opinion' article:

CONTEXT - This Week in Arts and Ideas from The Moscow Times

("Arts and Ideas"? Give me a break!)

The author's name is cited as "Chris Floyd", and you wonder what someone with such an anglicized name is doing writing to the Moscow Times. Well, it ain't Glasnost!

Seymour Hersh, chronicler of madness from the My Lai massacre to Abu Ghraib, tells a chilling story of the lingering aftermath of atrocity.

As the revelations of brutal torture by the victors were first spilling from conquered Iraq, Hersh was contacted by a family member of a young U.S. woman who had served in a unit policing Abu Ghraib, the Guardian reports. The young soldier had "come back a different person," the relative said: distraught and angry, turning her back on her family.

The relative retrieved a computer she'd lent the soldier to use in Iraq -- and found there a file crammed with torture porn: photo after photo of a naked Iraqi prisoner writhing before the onslaught of fierce police dogs. One of the pictures was later published and became an emblem of the dehumanizing brutality of the U.S. occupation.

The young soldier thought she'd been sent to fight for democracy and freedom, the relative told Hersh, but it was a lie. Instead she found herself in Hell, committing crimes, violating her own nature, her sense of duty perverted by leaders who twisted it into a weapon to serve aggressive war. Since her return, said the relative, the young soldier keeps getting black tattoos, more and more of them, slowly covering her entire body -- literally trying to change her skin.

The fate of this soul-broken, tormented daughter of America embodies the nation itself under the malevolent reign of President George W. Bush. The whole country is changing its skin, trying to cloak its complicity and shame with a wilful disfigurement. Who could look on the hideous form of Bush's America -- the snarling faces belching rancor on Fox News; the rabid partisans oozing bile through the halls of Congress; the money-glutting religious extremists relentlessly pushing ignorance, intolerance and theocratic dominion; the corporate beasts devouring the landscape, destroying communities, writing their own laws, gorging on unprecedented profits wrung from global sweatshops, corruption and war; the somnolent, silent, acquiescent public, blankly countenancing torture, deceit, military aggression and the destruction of their constitutional order -- and not see in all this a body politic in profound psychological crisis: traumatized, guilt-ridden, turning itself inside out in a frantic attempt to escape the truth?

And this desperation only grows as the truth piles up, fragment by fragment, dug out from Bush's slagheap of lies. In the past month, there has been a barrage of "smoking guns" outlining the Regime's criminality in such stark and blatant terms that even the U.S. corporate media -- those cringing enablers of atrocity -- have been forced to take some notice.

Take a break, Pal.
In 1970, I came back from Vietnam "distraught and angry" and found myself turning my back on my family.

But it wasn't because I had been leading naked VietCong around on a leash; it was because I had seen too many friends killed by the VietCong. It took me a while to regain my perspective, and to realize that my grief was alienating me from civilized society. It's a thing that happens, and stable people learn to (a) not sucumb to savagery in the midst of war, and (b) not assume that everyone is your enemy.

The young woman in question apparently didn't have sufficient moral guidance to make the simple step from the Senior Prom to (a). That, or the entire article is based on lies. Either is possible.

I find it interesting that no names, no second sources, are cited. I'm inclined to believe that the author is engaging in a flight of America-hating fantasy.

"The fate of this soul-broken, tormented daughter of America embodies the nation itself under the malevolent reign of President George W. Bush."
Was this written by Teddy Kennedy? This guy has a real boner for Bush and America, doesn't he?

... the hideous form of Bush's America ...

This guy is from out-of-town. He may or may not be a charter subscriber to "Le Figaro" (the French magazine which is too arrogant to provide an english edition on the internet), but he is surely getting his information from some America-hating source.

Well, even the French can't be all bad. They rejected the EU constitution, didn't they?

Okay, I'm about burned out on this puppy. You can go read the whole thing by clicking on the link at the top of the page, but here's the last gasp from the guy who apparently did what Alex Baldwin didn't have the guts to do ... move to a country which really appreciated him:

We have reported here in great detail on the voluminous evidence establishing that the endemic, systematic torture in Bush's gulag was instigated by the White House, sanctioned by Bush's appointed "legal experts" who ruled that as commander in chief, he is not constrained by laws against torture -- or, indeed, by any law whatsoever. Equally copious evidence establishes that Rumsfeld and selected Pentagon officials eagerly implemented the torture regimen -- then systematically worked to block or limit investigations once the truth began leaking out. For example, one of the low-ranking "bad apples" finally convicted in the Afghan murders -- after extended Pentagon cover-ups -- was sentenced to just three months in jail by a military court this week, The Associated Press reports. Three months for helping beat a chained, helpless man to death.
Oh, wait. One more thing. The webpage (disengenuously) invites you to write to them if you are 'startled' by the contents:

To Our Readers

Has something you've read here startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? Do you have ideas to improve our coverage?
Then please write to us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the name of the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Yeah, right. Like I'm going to give you my name, address and phone number, Ivan.

Danegeld, by Rudyard Kipling - A.D. 980-1016

It's Kipling Night!

This time, I'm not typing the whole poem because I've found someone else who has done the 'data entry' thingie for me.

Danegeld, by Rudyard Kipling - A.D. 980-1016

IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:
"We invaded you last night - we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:

"We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!"
It's easy to apply this lesson to RealPolitiks in today's world. Think of the Iraqi war, the War on Terrorism, and you will know that the question is not one which was ultimately resolved in the past millenium ... or the one before that. It's a problem which will haunt us forever: Whether it is better to pay the Danegeld, and learn to live with the Danes; or to fight the 'Danes' at every opportunity.

The 'Danes' are those vandals who predate innocents. One thousand years ago it was the Danes (the Vikings, coastal raiders, whomever). We in America dealt with the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean two centurys ago, because we then refused to pay them tribute ... DaneGeld.

But there's a much more recent example of the problem with paying DaneGeld. It is the slaying of innocents in Isreal. Can the Israelis ... can we ... afford to buy off terrorists by giving in to their demands for territory?

Here are two victims of terrorism. Let's give the victim a face, and put a name to the act.

Daniel Pipes supports the concept that there is no reasonable alternative to fighting the Danes. Or, as our modern world names it, Jihad.

"... if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane."

Guests From Hell! - News - Man Lights His Own Home On Fire To Make Guests Leave

Didja ever have days like this?

GENEVA, Ill. -- Some people will do just about anything to get unwanted house guests to leave. But police say Dean Craig went too far.

Craig, 46, was charged with felony arson after allegedly splashing rubbing alcohol on the floor of his home and igniting it with a lighter early Sunday, the Kane County Sheriff's office said.

Nobody was injured. Police say Craig had asked two unwanted visitors to leave, but they refused. Then he allegedly carried out a threat to light the house on fire.

Craig was being held on $25,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 9.

I'll bet my friend Randomly Hitten' felt like this when we stretched his BBQ out for seven hours last weekend.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The BBQ, and the Irish Dance Troupe

One of our IPSC group of Olde Fogies (known locally as "The Usual Suspects") who typically squad together at matches has been pursuing 'other interests' for the past several months, and consequently we have missed his company at matches.

Accordingly, Randomly Hittin' Witten decided to host a BBQ at his home on Sunday, May 29. He chose this day, I presume, because it fell during a 3-day weekend. It was only a coincidence of timing the the weekend was Memorial Day Weekend, and a further coincidence that most couples included at least one veteran. Still, we were glad to spend the day in the company of friends with similar backgrounds and experiences, and values, which may partially explain why we were originally drawn to each other and established fast friendships. Weekend BBQ gatherings are not unusual for this group, and over the years we have also discovered a common appreciation for the finest things in life ... not the least is a liking of Jamisons Irish Whiskey, since Randomly Hittin' and "The O'shea" share an Irish Heritage, and I pride my self on being one-quarter on my father's side.

(My paternal grandmother was born a Dildine, and while I have no idea what was the County of her origin, there's enough Irish here to appreciate all things Irish. Especially the whiskey, and especially while I can be assured that I'm not the only participant who will arrive at any BBQ with a green bottle in hand.)

In celebration of the partial Celtic origins of our group, Randomly arranged some entertainment. One of his neighbors was a member of an Irish Dance Troupe, and he asked if she could schedule a performance at the BBQ. Mary, a charming leprechaun of many years experience, was happy to oblige. The BBQ started at noon ... I was a half hour late.

The Irish Dance Troupe was scheduled for 2pm, after the end of the meal. They were a half hour late. The only reasonable conclusion to tardiness is that it is an Irish national trait. It's not my fault I'm always late. I find some comfort in that cultural abrogation of my inherently bad sense of time, and the fact that The O'Shea showed up on time fails to disuade me from my comfortable conclusion.

There were four members of the troup in attendance. There are about 20 members of the troupe, but everyone else had other things to do (including one selfish individual who reportedly was getting married and chose this weekend to go back to The Olde Sod to meet the family of his prospective wive.) However, they had a fifth person with them; "Bob" was from Dublin, and while we had no idea how he had come to join the troupe for this event, we were glad to see him.
Bob brought his wife. A married couple in the troupe brought their son Patric (all of the regular troupe members were wearing emerald green kilts), Mary brought two of her grand-daughters, and there were a couple of other people who were not clearly identified. No matter, we were glad to have them, plenty of food available but we only had two bottles of Jamisons, which we hid. You can't be too careful with fine whiskey around the Irish.

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Oh, and one of them brought their dog ... a bob-tailed German Shepherd named Mariah. More on Mariah in a minute.

The troupe brought a Karaoke machine, and they set it up on the back porch. The porch would be their stage, and we the audience were arrayed around the porch were we could relax comfortably in our patio chairs while they performed.

Unfortunately, there were no chairs available for the troupe members while various of them performed, so they generally sat on the low brick retaining wall ... next to the fish pond.

One of the first acts was Bob from Dublin quoting a very sad poem by the great Irish poet, Keats. In the middle of the act, Mariah chased a ball into the fish pond. Mariah is a water dog, we learned, and she very much enjoyed thrashing around the pond. We watched while the idle troupe members solemnly sponged water and duck-weed off the emerald green kilt of the lone costumed regular member of the troupe and Bob from Dublin continued his morose poetry. Hearing a choking sound beside me, I turned to see Randomly cramming his hand into his mouth, up to the wrist, in a solemn and respectful effort to resist the nearly overwhelming impulse to laugh. Bravo to Randomly for his appreciation for the solemnity of the moment.

The troupe demonstrated Jigs, Reels, and various other dance routines. Unfortunately, there were only the four regular (costumed) troupe members, and Bob from Dublin, so they were forced to draft on-hand family members to fill out the tradition six-person routines. Usually, they called upon one of Mary's grand-daughters who was invariably cast as 'a man'. I understand that there are to be 3 women and 3 men in the dances, and she graciously accepted the role of 'a man'. There was some discussion of who was 'a man' and who was 'a woman'. Bob from Dublin asserted that he was pretty sure he was a man, and as nobody present was willing to challenge the assertion, he danced in that role during the entire performance.

Someone suggested that Mary sing. Mary's granddaughter objected vociferously, stating that "I've heard her sing since I was this big, and believe me you do NOT want to hear Grandmother sing!" Later, Mary presented a short explanation about why she wasn't allowed to sing. When she was in High School, she was in Choir. During one recital, her teacher approached her and said "Mary, if you'll just mouth the words without singing, I'll give you a 'C' for the year. Mary responded: "A 'C'? No deal. You'll give me an 'A' for the year, or I'm singin'!"

Lydia, the high-stepper of the group (and who apparently was an instructor of Irish dancing) played a piece on the tin whistle. I had never seen an actual 'tin whistle', and I was surprised at the range which she was able to find in the one-and-a-half octaves available.

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Taking requests, the troupe attempted to sing "Danny Boy". They couldn't remember the words, so after a minute they quit. Too bad; I thought they were doing just fine. I don't remember the words either, but if they had continued I was going to request "Who Threw The Overalls In Mrs Murphy's Chowder", some of the words to which I DO know (if not the tune). I bet they knew the words too, but were too dignified to suggest it themselves.

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As the last act of the performance, the troupe declared that they were going to teach the audience an Irish circle dance. Being the designated photographer (designated by myself), I remained behind. I have 2:44 minutes of film depicting my friends dancing an Irish Reel. It is for sale to the highest bidder, which I assume will be one of the friends I photographed.

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The performance ended far too soon.

We still had some Jamison's left.