Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Vista Anyone?

Today's news is Microsoft's new Vista operating system, but please, I'm a blogger not a guinea pig. If I get really curious about Vista, I can always look at these screen shots. As one wag put it, "Why? It will take up 20% of your laptop before you turn it on!"
I thought Bala had the last word on Vista, but Deepak's link (via a comment) explains Microsoft to the rest of us.
Having installed, then uninstalled IE 7.0 I have seen the future and it does not work--at least for me. Good to know that when Vista really doesn't work, the familiar "blue screen of death" has been preserved to make Microsoft's users feel right at home.
Oh, and if you think Apple is the answer, you might want to see this first.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jane Fonda: From Vietnam to Iraq

Jane Fonda was back in the public eye at the Peace March in Washington, DC yesterday. For those of you too young to remember, you might like to read about her famous career from a nice, neutral news source, like, say Al-Jazeera, which you can do by clicking here.

When the US left Vietnam, they did so in a hurry, and Orders went out from the invading North to kill all South Vietnamese officers, including their wives down to the rank of Second Lieutenant. Cambodia then got busy killing its enemies, including burying many alive up to their heads in sand, resulting in an unusually gruesome death. No one really knows how many died after the US left, but counting in the millions is probably about right.

Of course, at the fall of Vietnam all Western news sources disappeared, so much of this was hidden from the public view.

Vietnam was an extremely different type of war, and comparing it to the situation in Iraq isn't very helpful, except when it comes to analyzing the anti-war movement and in anticipating another bloodbath which could easily follow too hasty American withdrawal.

The Democrats seem to be willing to spend some time discussing making some benchmarks and goals for Iraq before we bring home the troops, and I hope they get serious about that. Talk that the Iraqui people don't want Democracy is stupid; they have voted and voted and voted in ever greater numbers for Democracy. They now need the goal, the tools, the will, the resolve, the hope that civil order can be imposed on their country. That is absolutely essential, for Democracy, and every American should make a firm resolve that this is the right and proper course of action before we leave.

Above, right, is a photo of the last helicopter (or one of the last helicopters) leaving from the roof of the American Embassy in Vietnam. While the terrible loss of life in the aftermath of US departure was not subject to much jouralistic coverage, we owe more to Iraq and more to ourselves than letting wholesale killing take place when we depart.

The old folks, who marched for peace in the Vietnam era, can't forget the incredible fun of their early days of activism. Fueled by good music, good dope, and good lovin' in the pre-AIDS era, there is a nostalgia that draws them again and again to the movement of their youth. Their stories have led yet another generation to try to recreate the good times taking place in the US while soldiers suffered abroad.

Jane Fonda is now 69 years old. The easy life she has led makes her look much younger. While news reports state that she appologized for her action in Vietnam, the truth is that she only appologized for having a photo taken that made it look like she was shooting down US planes. She is not a patriot, and many would think that she is indirectly responsible for as many deaths as Saddam Hussein himelf.
Note on the photos: The top photo is a famous photo showing Jane Fonda atop an ANV tank. The ANV killed over 40,000 Americans in Vietnam. The second picture is a photo of the lucky people who were able to be helicoptered out of Vietnam by the US embassy when America withdrew its troops. Thousands of Vietnamese tried to enter the American embassy at that time, desperately seeking to leave the country. It is likely that most were killed by the ANV. The third photo is a poster advertising Woodstock, the famous rock concert.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Back on Influenza Vacation

So much for declaring an end to the Influenza Vacation. That didn't get me much, so I am going back to bed. I went to work a couple of days this week, and left in defeat. I took home some work and found that I was just as productive in bed than I would have been at the office. I am reminded "you can't take it with you," and having more than a few moments over the last 2 weeks where I thought I might be dispatched to the Hereafter fairly quickly this approach seems quite logical to me.

While in bed, I read a review of the book, Doing Nothing. Except for my excuse of the flu, I could identify. It's a history of loafers, loungers, slackers, and bums in America. Having personally abandoned the work- ethic over the past two weeks, it seems that I am in good company. You could read more about the book at Amazon if you feel like doing something.

In earlier years, I pooh-pooh'd all those recommendations for rest as an antidote for flu, and was richly rewarded with poor health for months to come. I don't have many flu symptoms left except for the extreme tiredness, and I am feeling better every day, so we will see if my plan to comply with the recommendations of every outfit that has advice about the flu actually work.

Obama and Hillary Score No Points in Latest Round

Tomorrow there may be additional media points scored by Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton at the big peace march in Washington, DC. Since I am doing nothing today, I'll take a pass making any candidate comments and send you to a couple of websites that have views that you will surely find of interest. The Backyard Conservative is doing political posts at a website targeted to aging women, so click here to read her latest on Obama before you miss this gem. The UK Times Online has a great OpEd post on Hillary, which you can read by clicking here. Finally, Georgia's Piney Woods Rooter takes on both Hillary and Obama in a couple of enligtening posts.

With news today that John Edwards is building the most expensive home in his county, the running total on the political scorecard currently as follows:

Obama and Hillary are even at 1; Edwards is at -1.

Wilmette Weekend: Hurry! Get Those Trustee Petitions Done!

If you are thinking about running for Wilmette Trustee, stop thinking about it and get those Petitions done! You can find futher information here, but make sure you carefully read the info on the State Board of Elections website about the proper way to present those petitions before you file them. These are serious rules, and candidates ignore them at peril to their candidacy.

How are you going to get all those signatures before February 5, you ask? Tomorrow morning, head over to the Post Office. It gets a lot of Wilmette traffic, so that will help. All week long you can go to the Metra in the morning. That also gets a lot of Wilmette traffic, with people who don't have much to do until their train comes. Go early so you can get the maximum number of trains.

Generally people are happy to sign your petition, knowing that the more candidates to choose from the better the Trustees will be. Oddly enough, conservative Republicans and moderate-to-liberal Democrats have worked together on a number of Wilmette issues over the years, both being in complete agreement over one or another issues. While both sides of the equation generally emerge amazed at how easy it is to work together with people you previously thought were wrong about everything, it has created a great village spirit over the years. The village has a great history of supporting diverse candidates, so don't think your age, national origin, religion or the amount of time you have lived in Wilmette is a bar.

If you're thinking about it, just do it!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The State of the Union: Civil and Spririted

Except for that troubling few minutes when new House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, seemed to get a mint horribly stuck to the roof of her mouth, the 2007 State of the Union Speech served as a showcase of how competing political groups, with opposing viewpoints, can work together in harmony. Following a unusually divisive campaign season, Speaker Pelosi maintained the traditional repect shown by Congress for the President. While she seemed greatly challenged by sitting up and sitting still, she’s fairly new at that, and really deserved an A for effort. Wisely, Speaker Pelosi has chosen to keep the television cameras solely under the control of the House; maintaining Congressional Dignity as well as making good use of a very cramped space.

Despite many comments on Senator Pelosi’s apparent problem with new contact lenses (hopefully, she’ll realize that there isn’t much to see during these speeces, and switch to glasses or just uncorrected vision in the future), from the tone of last night’s political exercises in DC, the nation is in good shape; people are talking about solutions; there is an air of civility. Hopeful signs, all.

In the aftermath of President Bush's speech, the Democrats couldn't wait to get their turn to speak. Sen. Barack Obama, the man who can’t forget the State who elected him fast enough, had his press release out before the President left the floor of the House. Unfortunately, his lack of experience in the Senate didn’t hold up to Charles Gibson's questioning and he seemed ill prepared on a number of the issues.

Sen. Hillary Clinton currently has no issues, just a request for the good thoughts of the American people before she takes a stand on anything. Jim Webb was selected to give the Democrats response to the President, who of course had no surprises in his speech. It's likely Webb made an number of exellent points. I wish I could remember what he said. Unfortunately, Webb's hidden message turned out to be why people should think twice before placing their faces into the hands of a cosmetic surgeon. Not to concentrate on appearances, I just couldn’t get beyond the obvious overdosing on Botox and Restyla.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The End

OK, that's it; I'm calling this 7 night 6 day influenza vacation to a halt. As of tomorrow, I am back to work, which offers nice things to you, like money to pay your bills. Having averaged over 100 Kleenex a day, it's been a busy time for me, though not in the usual way.

I really feel that another day or two in bed would be the best idea, but enough is enough, and its over. Since each day has been a better one than the one before, progress is good. It's been a lot of suffering, but its been a long time since I was sick. Let's hope that the progress remains steady.

Blog for Choice Day

Happy Blog for Choice Day! Can you think of anything more festive than celebrating your right to kill your very own (soon to be) child? Civilization has come a long way since those old-fashioned Romans who stuck their newborns along the side of the road, hasn't it?

Abortion is big business and big politics, too. Hope you enjoy your day; millions of those choices won't.

Obama: Lincoln Strategy Losing Strategy

The Barack Obama spin people have been working for quite a while to position him as "the New Lincoln." After all, he's tall and gangly and both have found Illinois to their political taste. Practically twins, right?

Obama has enjoyed a life of priviledge and education that Lincoln could only dream of. Lincoln knew how to survive on the frontier. Obama's biggest test so far has been how to explain away his youthful enjoyment of drugs.

In the Northeast and in the heartland, Lincoln is celebrated as a hero. But in the South, which is only today emerging economically from the "burn and destroy everything" orders given by soldiers serving under Lincoln's command in the American Civil War, this is going to be less than popular.

While Illinois thought they were getting a public servant when they elected Obama, all we ever read here in the Land of Lincoln is where Obama is travelling next in quest for the Presidency. We know that the man who seeks to be seen as "honest Barack" has been to Africa, to Hawaii, and for all I know back for a class reunion at his old Madrassa in Indonesia. But has he been to the South? Does he realize that ol' Abe is not exactly the hero others see him to be? It's hard to think that a senator this green could already be this out of touch.

Clinton 1 Obama 1.

Hillary's "Presidential" Look

Hillary Clinton has her website for her presidential run up, and I must say something went quite wrong--from a fashion point of view. The choice of clothing for her video seems all fashion faux pas, even though it was likely a result of extensive polling. Looking more like she's running for First Grandma rather than President, Hillary's red-on-black "sleeve seams from hell" look is a shock. It's what every 85 year old well bred lady might have worn duing Hillary's childhood in Park Ridge, minus the pearl button earrings and rich jewel colors.

Wlmette suggest that Hillary's stylists look overseas for inspiration. Both Queen Elizabeth and Angela Merkel have mastered "frump" quite handily, so she need not look far. Its obvious that Hillary's striving for a look that says "I was never involved in Whitewater" while still conveying the message that what the world's children really need is a cookie. Somehow, it just isn't working.

Political fashion scorecard: Obama 1, Hillary 0.

Sundance Festival--What???

In the second half of the 20th century there was a wholesale assault on what was viewed as "uptight Victorian mores." The birth control pill and easy access to abortion on demand spurred a coarse and vulgar lifestyle. The cause and the prevention of AIDS is ignored. Today a couple is just as likely to accounce their engagement well after baby makes three. Modern photography and film has leant itself to a genre well beyond erotica and well into the debasement of humanity.

This coarsening of society and cheapening of the human spirit has often led me to contemplate "Where on earth will we go from here?" The only unexplored frontier seemed to be bestiality, and I assumed it was only a matter of time until that appeared as the latest indiginity. Not suprised, then, to read that the Sundance Festival features such a film.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bear Down Bears!

I won't be at the Bears-Saints game tomorrow. having celebrated yet the fifth evening and fourth day in bed, flat-on-my-back with flu. From the looks of things, I won't be seeing the Bears game at all, unless I am lying down. But enough about me. The Lyric Opera of Chicago has posted on Youtube its contribution to Chicago Civic Pride, Bryan Griffin (all dressed up in his full regalia for Die Fledermaus) singing "Bear down Chicago Bears." I think you will enjoy the short video; just click here to see it.

Oh, and no lectures about the importance of getting a flu shot--I got mine last October.

Update: Make sure you see Brookfield Zoo's Bears are SuperBowl Ready, and Chicago is Superbowl Ready too!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cold Weather is Here - But in California?

A little snow and cold weather is pretty common here in Wilmette in January, and not even worthy of comment. However, it has snowed in Los Angeles, and that is very rare indeed! To access photos of California in the snow just click here and here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Democrats and Martin Luther King

On the eve of Martin Luther King Day, with just one week of Democrat control of the Congress, it is clear why the Republicans’ star will rise again. First, the Congress took Monday off for football related activities. Second, one of the leading contenders for the Democrat nomination for President in 2008, Sen. Barack Obama, was widely pictured partially dressed in a beefcake pose. Then, to top it all, Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, in an action that can only be charitably described as despicable, took out after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, denigrating her for her failure to have dedicated herself to child-bearing. In each instance, individual Democrats failed to speak out and show any leadership, raising the question whether there is a serious member among them.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice is a Republican, but is Dr. Rice fair game for the Democrats because of her party affiliation or because of her race? Dr. Rice grew up on the civil rights battleground of Birmingham, Alabama. During her childhood, tempers between the races in that city flared so violently that even small children could justifiably fear for their lives. Dr. King herself lost a friend in a horrific bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Martin Luther King was well known in Dr. Rice's home town. He wrote his “Letter from Birmingham jail", (he is pictured, above, being arrested there for civil disobedience) just months before he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington DC.

With these thoughts in mind, in honor of the Martin Luther King holiday, and mindful of Dr. Rice’s recent abuse by Sen. Boxer, we reproduce the following lines from the Dream speech

"[T]he Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land."

"Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."

"Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Democrats throughout the country will be celebrating their historic support of the Civil Rights movement tomorrow. But does that commitment continue today? All thoughtful Americans--Democrat or Republican--should be asking that question. Racism is ugly, and it is time for it to end.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Faces of Hope in Iraq

These hopeful and happy faces could be any kids down the block, but they are not. They are children of Bagdad, and the picture is current. Will the US cut and run, or will the US stay long enough in Iraq to give these children the bright future that they surely deserve?

These are the children who Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and the Democrats who join with his view would leave as quickly as possible. I am all for accountability, but it will be the American voter through the force of public opinion who ultimately decides whether we will give the new Iraq government the tools it needs to be able to conduct the democracy which they have chosen, or whether we will retreat.

Please think about these children in the coming days. They don't have a clue what a "bi-partisan plan" means, but you do. Stand up, speak out, with the goodness that is America.

Photo credit

Altar of Liberty

“We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

I was quite taken by the reference to the "altar of liberty" alluded to in President Bush's speech last night on January 10. I started thinking about that altar, and I decided it would look like the awe-inspiring repository of the Constitution at the at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., pictured above. The words inscribed on the altar surely would be the famous words from the Declaration of Independence, which is quoted under the picture.

My heart was proud with the sacrifices made by Americans to help Iraq gain its freedom and independence, and I was disappointed by what I perceived as the craven Democrat response.

I questioned my hearing skills, however, when I found out that the actual words spoken in the speech were "Author of Liberty," not "altar of Liberty." Nevertheless, the image in my mind was so compelling I thought I would share it, even if I was wrong.

Text of the President's speech


Text of the Declaration of Independence


Photo Credit: Thomas Ormston, who posts his photos on Flickr. His photostream of images of the National Archives is well worth your time. Please take a few moments to remember that the freedom we enjoy in the United States is still only an unrealized dream in the hearts of men, women, and children in much of the world.

Don't Be So Sure About Global Warming

Don't be so sure about Global Warming--read this post from the Middle East!

Clue as to content from a comment: "I know how much my fingers hurt in the cold weather and I am not comfortable with gloves."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Feast of the Magi

Today is Three Kings Day, Twelfth Night, the Feast of the Magi, and the end of Christmas. It's time for one final celebration which marks the arrival of the Magi in Bethelem to bring gifts to the infant Jesus.

And so Christmas ends as it began, with the Three Kings. Christmas season began for me this year at an Evensong service at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, seated in the church choir, nearby the golden shrine of the Three Kings that has made Cologne a famous pilgrimage site for over 800 years. It was a wonderful Christmas season, with the best of Yule, the best of religion, and the best of family and friends. We are sorry to see it go. Happy New Year to all Wilmette vistors, and God Bless. I wish all a wonderful year.

Happy Twelfth Day of the Politically Correct, Non-Religious, Eurocentric Mid-Winter Festival

I hope you've been enjoying the past 12 days, Christmas is coming to a close. In this global age you may have spent some time wondering just what kind of greeting is best to send diverse friends from different cultures and religions. In the spirit of inclusion, we present the following politically correct version of the gifts of the last day of the modern non-religious midwinter festival.

On the 12th day of the Eurocentric midwinter festival, my potential life partner gave to me:

12 males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming;

11 pipers piping (the 18-member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Union are included as called for in their contract, even though 7 will not be asked to play a note...) ;

10 leaping scions of a patriarchal ruling class system;

9 women from advantaged backgrounds engaged in rhythmic self-expression;

8 economically disadvantaged women coming from homes where it is understandable why they are stealing milk-products from enslaved bovines;

7 endangered swans swimming on protected wetlands;

6 enslaved fowl producing non-vegan animal products;

5 golden symbols of culturally sanctioned domestic incarceration

(NOTE: due to complaints, we have reintroduced all the colley birds, French hens and the partridge to their native habitats. To avoid the ire of animal rights activists, the remaining gift package has been revised.)

4 CD's of recorded whale songs;

3 deconstructionist poets;

2 World Wildlife calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses, the proceeds from the sale of benefit the environment; and

An environmental activist chained to an old-growth pear tree (if you do not wish to keep this gift, please remember a permit is required to remove the tree pursuant to Wilmette Ordinance.)

Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas! Hope are are having a Happy New Year; we are still working on our resolutions over here. Oh, and one final thing: if you are planning to send a "12 Days of Christmas" gift next year, you can click here to see this year's cost.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Time to be a Wilmette Village Trustee

Did you ever think about running for the Wilmette Village Board? If so, you can find the info on how to be a candidate here. If you are in general agreement with the views expressed on this blog, it's likely Wilmette will have nice things to say about you, and yes, people will be able to find those comments via Google.

President Christopher Canning Speaks on the Emerald Ash Borer

I happened to tune into Chicago Tonight last evening, and I was surprised to see Wilmette Village President Chris Canning as a guest. His topic was the emerald ash borer, and he described how the Village plans to remove all ash trees on parkways, figuring that they are all going to die. This will, of course, cost a couple of million bucks.

I would be a little more skeptical about this plan (the trees will be replaced with other types) except for the fact that not only does Mr. Canning have five ash trees at his house, he also is Wilmette born and raised. For that reason I imagine that he is taking the best interests of our Village to heart. This plan was apparently devised with the help of many foresters as well as federal and state agencies.

To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Canning doesn't own an interest in a tree trimming service or a tree nursery, but this is one nice piece of business for someone. In the meantime, I am proposing the following town motto: "Wilmette, where every day is Arbor Day." Kind of has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Previous posts on trees in Wilmette: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Korans in Congress

In a nice touch, Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U. S. Congress, will be swearing his oath of office using a Koran once owned by the great American Patriot, Thomas Jefferson, and now owned by the Library of Congress. Jefferson was an amazingly open-minded early American, so it’s not surprising to read that his extensive personal library contained a copy of Islam’s Holy Book.

While I don’t care so much for Rep. Ellison’s choice of religion (could there be anything more American than religious bias), come to think of it, I am not much of a fan of Jefferson’s religious views, either. Many of Jefferson's contemporaries didn't agree with him either, but Jefferson's open mind translated into important American policy at the formation of this country.

What is important is that Rep. Ellison, who requested that he use the book, sends a clear signal of his high regard for American History and American values through his act. While some people are concerned about a Muslim being elected to Congress, I imagine that it will prove to be just about as dangerous as electing, say, Catholics or Jews, both targets of earlier scare campaigns. In short, I am sure that this will all work out very nicely, and maybe provide a signal to the rest of the world that people of many religions can comfortably work together for a common national good.

Interestingly enough, the version of the Koran in this good Christian house came from my childhood home. It belonged to my father, who, like Jefferson, possessed an inquiring and open mind as well as an open account at Foyle's, a London bookseller, which sold many books not then readily avilable in the United States.

Of course, Jefferson's tome might have had less to do with his open views on religion and more to do with his involvement with the Barbary pirates. If that piques your curiousity, you might enjoy reading this. Or perhaps, if you are just curious about Islam, you might enjoy seeing this great set of pictures from the Hadjj at Mecca (click on the thumbnails to see larger pictures).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Lords a Leaping - Happy Tenth Day of Christmas

Happy tenth day of Christmas. Unfortunately, the twelve days of continual merrymaking following Christmas has been somewhat interrupted by the press of work. We've been wondering, though. Is the gift of ten lords a leaping a gift of a single performance, or do the lords just leap on over to your house and move in? If you have any insight into the matter, or if your true love gave you a present, such as is pictured above, on the tenth day of Christmas could you please leave a comment?