Monday, May 30, 2005

Firefox Falls Short of Hype, and Other Software Problems

I don't see what the fuss over the new Firefox web browser is. For one thing, it's simply not true that Firefox prevents popups.

When I've used IE with Zone Alarm Pro (a firewall), I got no popups.

But when I use Firefox, I'm innundated with popups, regardless of whether I used Zone Alarm Pro with it or not. It makes me wonder if Zone Alarm's firewall is also worthless when I'm using Firefox.

To add insult to injury, Firefox always informs me along the top: "Firefox has just blocked one popup." Even as I'm staring at the popup before me.

Another problem, when I save images on Firefox, the browser seems to choke, taking a longer time that IE to save it. And Firefox will eventually freeze if I save too many images, unlike IE.

Does anyone know why I may have these Firefox problems, or how to correct them?

I'd also appreciate it it anyone can recommend good programs to fix Windows XP Pro (such as WinDoctor, which seems not to work so well with XP), or something to uninstall programs.

For some reason, I only partially uninstalled AdAware 6, so that it no long accepts updates. And it won't let me install AdAware 7 over it.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Terrorists or Guerillas?

I recall a definition of "terrorism" from my childhood in the 1970s, one that seems to have gone down the memory hole: "Guerillas attack military targets. Terrorists attack civilians."

The 1970s was a time when terrorism was much in the news. You had the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Red Brigades, the Weather Underground. The IRA and PLO were also much active. So terrorism was much talked about, even in the Weekly Reader, the paper of record for the grammar school set. :-)

I don't recall the above as a controversial distinction between guerillas and terrorists, though I never hear it used any more. Instead, the definition of "terrorist" seems to have broadened. But does anyone else remember this 1970s distinction?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Origins of the Term "Politically Correct"

The term "politically correct" is bandied about so much as to have become meaningless. But what really does it mean? Here's a history of the term (as best I know it).

"PC" has gone through four stages of meaning. "Politically correct" was initially coined by Leon Trotsky to refer favorably to those whose views remained in sync with the ever-shifting Bolshevik Party line. This was important, as "not PC" people risked prison or death.

"Politically correct" was revived (and again, used favorably) by 1960s New Left radicals who fancied themselves revolutionaries in the mold of Che, Castro, and Mao.

"Politically correct" was first used negatively by 1980s conservatives, following the publication of Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind. Conservatives embraced the term "politically incorrect" as a badge of honor to contrast their championing of free speech against campus leftists who used speech codes to suppress debate on sensitive topics. This was also when the term first became widely known by its acronym, "PC."

In these three previous stages, everyone agreed that PC meant Left, and "not PC" meant Right. But because liberals don't like a reputation of being anti-free speech, within a few years they did a turnabout, and called their opponents "PC" and themselves "not PC." Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect is representative of this fourth stage, creating the odd result of a self-proclaimed "not PC" show winning a very PC environmental media award.

However, despite liberals' turnabout, conservatives continued to refer to themselves too as "not PC." Thus "PC" has lost any specific meaning in this fourth stage, since everyone defines their position as the now chic "not PC," and their opponents as "PC." (A far cry from the days when Russians dreaded the Chekists who executed "not PC" people.)

-- Thomas M. Sipos

Friday, May 06, 2005

Karen Kwiatkowski for President

Since other Libertarian Party members are already offering suggestions for our 2008 presidential candidate in the LP News, I'd like to nominate the woman who should have been our candidate in 2004: Virginia LP member Karen Kwiatkowski.

We had a fine lineup of contenders in 2004, but none with Kwiatkowski's creds. Those who've read her articles at (among other places) know that she's a retired Lt. Col. who worked in the Pentagon during the planning stages for the Iraq War. She later revealed how the neocons had pressured the military into doctoring their intelligence analyses in favor of war. Kwiatkowski's been interviewed by significant media outlets across the political spectrum: Fox News, L.A. Weekly, In These Times, The American Conservative.

As a retired military officer, she had the expertise to debate foreign affairs and national security -- the big issues of 2004 -- on a level playing field with Kerry and Bush. As someone known to the media, she'd have drawn more extensive and respectful coverage than any of the other "big three" LP contenders. And as retired military, it'd be hard for anyone to besmirch her patriotism.

Though I'd long read her work, I only discovered that she was a ten-year LP member during the convention. I wish I'd circulated a Draft Kwiatkowski petition, but it was my first LP convention and I didn't know the mechanics of nomination until too late. I don't even know if she'd have accepted the nomination.

But, provided that she's willing, I think Libertarians should seriously consider Karen Kwiatkowski for president (not merely for veep) for 2008.