Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

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Just to prove it is an extremely small world: One of my readers lives in my own apartment building, and I've never met him, until the blog.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/23/2002 09:30:00 AM | link

The Old Oligarch will write again! I'm almost finished with the great leap forward out of Washington and into suburban Virginia. Many thanks to those of you who have sent parish recommendations. I will take all the information I can get. We'll be living near the Dunn Loring metro stop, right at the intersection of I-66 and the Beltway. Basically, all I'm looking for is a solemnly celebrated Latin-English Novus Ordo with a preacher who won't drive me slowly insane. We have a car, so we can drive a little bit to get to a decent parish. Sloth inclines Zorak and I to have at least one parish on our list which has a late Sunday afternoon Mass, but that's a secondary consideration.

Steve, Roy, Mike, Ossian, Patrick et alia -- thanks for your letters! I will respond soon.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/23/2002 09:13:00 AM | link

Promptly at 8am this morning it began. Already wake, its opening shot made me start, although I knew it was coming this week. The explosive concussions echoed through my apartment, so loud they are clearly audible through the -33db earplugs and -31db earcups I use at the rifle range. I can feel every strike's reverberation in the seat of my chair, gently shaking the keyboard of my computer. Its brutal glory is an encapsulation of life in the District: a war of attrition fought against the fundamentals of sanity.

I welcomed this sonata of resonating steel and displaced earth, at a tempo of one strike per second. After all, even soldiers become accustomed to shelling after a while. Opening my window, I savored the fragrance of burnt diesel.

Oh piledriver, my piledriver! I embrace thee! Enormous. Relentless. Belching black smoke not 40 feet from my bedroom window -- you're what "quality urban living" is all about! An incarnation of promises to come, enfleshed in misery for the present. All in all, I'm happy you're here for the next month.

Because I'm moving out! Yes, dear friends, its off to Vienna, Virginia for me and Zorak. I've had quite enough. We're leaving next week.

Urban Friend

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/11/2002 08:34:00 AM | link

My entry for Poetry Wednesday: The phenomenological poetry of Delmore Schwartz, a poet much enjoyed by the late Professor Maurice Natanson, the man who taught me late continental philosophy at Yale.

The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me
"the withness of the body" -- Whitehead

The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
-- The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

~ Delmore Schwartz
(b. Dec. 8, 1913 - d. July 17, 1966)

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/10/2002 12:20:00 AM | link

On looking through the Vatican website for some of JPII's encyclicals, I notice that Fides et Ratio is the only one offered in Arabic. Perhaps they are working backwards, starting with the most recent document in the highest class of teaching. Or perhaps they are starting with what is most necessary for Islam: not Fides aut Ratio, but Fides et Ratio.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/09/2002 06:35:00 PM | link

Blogwatch-worthy: How gay activists hijacked Fr. Mike on Sept. 11th. Tragic, but somehow unsurprising. (Thanks to Catholic Lawyer for this one.) I wouldn't be surprised if Fay had really convinced himself that Fr. Mike was gay. I had a histrionic, delusional gay boss in my old part-time job who thinks everyone who is remotely friendly to or interested in the homosexual movement is a closeted queer. Ditto for the outspoken enemies of the gay movement -- including Cardinal Ratzinger -- whom he honestly believes to be "a repressed queen."

From the same site: Making digitally-designed child porn protected speech. Don't even get me started on this one. It doesn't surprise me either, except for the ingenious combination of technology and indominable pedophilic lust in service of flouting the law. But once you agree to tolerate one kind of pervert's fetish, what are you to say when all the rest line up? I've had the unfortunate experience of meeting NAMBLA (National Man-Boy Love Association) ten years ago, and I thought back then it was only a matter of time.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/09/2002 03:49:00 PM | link

I switched to Opera. No, not the musical genre. The Opera browser. Let me tell you why, then I'll chip in my appreciation of the browser at the end.

Why? I was tired of Internet Explorer crashing, and taking the damn desktop with it. I run a Windows setup in my home, and I'm a control freak about the computer. The only person who is even allowed to touch it in my absence is my wife, and this after a long explanation of The Rules.

Running Windows 98 without crashes is hard enough as it is. With a lot of judicious selection of programs, regular registry and system maintenance, backups, etc., I've managed to run a relatively crash-free OS on a single install for over three years. The single largest breaker of this trend, however, has been IE.

What Microsoft considers integration is better described by the old army term: "cluster-f..". I like my OS like my federal government: a limited and voluntary coordination of free and independent system resources. The MicroBorg way of approaching everything drives me wild. (Yes, I know I could run Linux, but there are so many progs I have for the Windows platform.)

Not only does IE crash often, but it loves to hang the OS on its way down. I finally had enough. So let me tell you about Opera:


1) Opera is a thin program. 3MB total install, without the Java option. Compare to the dozens of meg for Netscape and IE. IE 5 won't even fit on my old laptop with its limited drive space, but Opera does.

2) Opera is simple. It just does browsing. (Not entirely true with the later versions, which add a simple, optional newsgroup reader and e-mail client.) It doesn't entangle itself with 100 other progs on your system. (Compare: I installed Windows Media Player 7 and almost shot myself afterwards.)

3) Opera doesn't care if it is my primary browser. I didn't dare uninstall IE for fear of unleashing the wrath of Windows upon me, and running Opera and IE together hasn't caused me any problems.

Features and Use

1) Never Get Another Pop-up Window Again. Opera proves that web-spam can be optional. With the click of a button (File-->Quick Preferences-->Refuse Pop-up Windows), you can totally disable all pop-ups on the fly. Never see another X10 camera ad again. Kiss the window-within-a-window on a Geocities or Tripod site goodbye. Forget half the crap on Yahoo. It simply doesn't come up any more. I've tried add-on software with IE (such as Pop-up Killer), but nothing works nearly as well.

What about situations where you want to use a pop-up window? Say, to leave a comment on a blog? Click Quick Preferences, turn on pop-ups, get your pop-up window, then turn it off again. Opera changes on the fly, without restarting. I find the minor inconvenience of the two seconds it takes to turn on pop-ups when I need them totally worth it to surf the web in peace for the remaining 99% of the time.

2) Mouse Gestures. The next best invention to the mouse wheel.

Perhaps mouse gestures exist as plug-ins for other browsers. (I think Netscape has them too.) They're great. You can do all sorts of simple browsing tasks (Open a new window, go back, close a window, refresh) all with simple flicks of the mouse over the screen. Hold right click, mouse up-and-down, and you'll refresh. Hold shift while you do it, and you'll refresh without going to cache. Right-click while swiping to the right, and you'll go back a page.

It sounds like nothing, but it's a real timesaver. Like the mouse wheel, it shaves a few seconds off several common tasks. Once you realize how often you do these things, however, you can see how it saves time and reduces fatigue.

3) Multiple Document Interface (MDI) or Single Document Interface (SDI): Your choice.

In English: SDI = each webpage appears in its own Opera Application. (Like when you "Open New Window" in IE.) One webpage per browser client on the taskbar of your Windows OS.

MDI = ALL the webpages appear within a SINGLE Opera window. You access the different pages by clicking on tabs on a menu bar, and Opera itself only appears as a single Windows program on your task bar.

If you browse like I do, you probably have a dozen different web pages open at the same time. With MDI, it's easier to keep things organized, Opera takes up fewer system resources, and my Windows Task Bar isn't obliterated with 100 tiny browser sessions all running at once.

I know this is a subjective thing. Some people prefer SDI. But that's the great thing: Opera lets you choose.

4) Opera can remember where you were, and start there again. I've got ten windows up right now (Tushnet, Cacciaguida, etc.) and I want them there when I fire up the browser tomorrow. With my preferences, I can choose that Opera open and automatically load the pages I was looking at when I closed my last session.

Should Opera ever crash (and mine has three times in about two months), she starts up right where you were when she gave out. Nice. I can't ever get Norton "Quick Reload" to do this with IE.

5) Rule your plug-ins and scripts. Like Netscape, Opera takes an opt-in approach to the many, many code-executing programs and languages you can run in the browser. It comes with Shockwave Flashmedia as a plug-in, but that's it.

You can enable, disable or remove every plug-in in your system. You can choose whether to run Java, Javascript, embedded audio, embedded video, to accept cookies or even whether to display animated gifs. I ran my IE with ActiveX off, since a great many more times it was used for ads than for serious web applications, and it's crash-prone. As neat as it that the once-humble web browser now has become its own little programming environment, I like the ability to turn all the special effects and bells and whistles off and just browse. This is great for users whose laptops are low-powered too (more below).

Another great thing about Opera is that it gives you the choice of whether to execute files like PDFs or Word Documents OLE-style (within the browser) or to boot the necessary program, download the file, and run it in a separate application window. This is GREAT for Adobe PDF reader, which frequently hangs no matter what install or version I try, and doesn't quit after IE calls it up as an embedded object in the browser. It stays running in the background until it crashes. With Opera, I fire up Acrobat Reader as a stand-alone window, and feed web PDFs into from the pop-up menu in Opera. It starts up, runs, and shuts down fine this way. I also hate when I accidentally click on a .DOC and IE starts a useless, mangled embedded session of Word inside the browser. With Opera, you can set the default never to do this.

6) It actually clears all your info when you tell it to. When you click "delete personal information," it trashes everthing: cookies, history, saved passwords, etc. You can even do this automatically every time you close the browser, if you're truly paranoid.

I know this feature was primarily developed for porn-addicts to hide last night's browsing from their girlfriends, but I like to know that when I leave my laptop in a hotel room for two days on vacation (like I did just last week) that the geeky teenager who is cleaning the room can't get curious, turn it on, and access my online webcourse, bank information and precious blogger.

Also, did you know that Microsoft Internet Explorer has kept a record of every single page you've ever visited, even after you've told it to "Clear History" and "Empty Cache"? Try this. Open an MS-DOS window (if you have Windows 98) or boot to DOS from floppy. Go to your C:\Windows\History directory, and type "dir" for directory. If you've emptied your info recently, you'll get nothing. Now type "dir /a" with "/a" for "show all." You'll see a hidden directory called "history.ie5" CD into it. Do "dir /a" again. You'll see an Index.Dat file with your current history, and anywhere from one to dozens of other sub-directories called "mshist~1", "mshist~2," etc., each with its own Index.Dat. Open Index.Dat with a text browser, and you'll get all the URLs visited during a certain time period in the life of your browser. Every time you "clear" your history information, IE simply copies the history to a hidden file in a new directory. Not only does this take up megs and megs of space which has to be removed by hand, it's just not secure.

I love to build functioning computers from old systems, some of which I've salvaged from faculty and administrative offices at the university. While most people are smart enough eggs to wipe out their visible personal data, those who don't totally wipe the hard drive leave all sorts of interesting data behind. Enough said?

Opera actually nukes what you tell it to, quickly and easily. Privacy conscious or guilty conscience, this is an unqualified Good Thing. Much better than Microsoft second-guessing for you about whether your data really should be deleted or not.

7) Great for thin clients. I have an old Intel 486, 66 MHz laptop with 20MB RAM running Windows 95. Don't even think about running IE on there. But Opera runs like a champ, since it uses much less drive space and RAM.

You can also tell Opera exactly how much disk space and RAM to use for caching. On my memory-starved laptop, I turn off RAM caching entirely, and it works much better.

8) Totally rearrange the look of it. Want that button bar on the bottom of your window, not the top? Want to use custom icons or a browser skin to change the look? You have a lot of control over look and feel.

9) It has a nice status bar when it loads webpages. It is much more informative than IE. Opera tells you what it is doing at every step in the page-loading process, with a progress indicator for processes that lag.

10) A number of extremely handy right-click menu options. Several are very handy little tweaks, including a "copy image location" (which IE lacks) and a "Copy Mailto: address" which eliminates the need to hack that "mailto:" off the URL when you "Copy the Shortcut" in IE.


1) You can download it for free, but it displays little ads in the top tool bar until you pay for it. They are a little annoying, and they take up browser real estate that could be used for browsing. But guess what? If you want to browse in full-screen mode, they go away. Pay Opera to register the software and the ads go away forever.

2) Opera has strictly implemented the latest HTML, XML, CSS, etc. protocols. IE especially (but also Netscape) has incorporated hundreds of little adaptations to the official HTML specifications to accomodate shoddy code commonly found on pages all across the web. Opera was programmed from scratch, and makes no attempt to replicate all of these minor accomodations. As a result, if you have your error warnings turned on (you can turn them off), you see just how many poorly programmed pages there are out there. I get many more page errors on Opera.

Sometimes you can get around bad page design by telling Opera to identify itself as another browser version (you can chose IE 5, Mozilla, etc.).

In conclusion, this is just my personal opinion. I have no intention of getting dragged into the great Internet debate about which browser is objectively the best. I offer the above for those who are sick of IE. Give Opera a try...you might like it.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/09/2002 05:04:00 AM | link

Don't worry, Emmy, I took Zorak's Personality Disorder Test, and I'm totally nuts too. At least I'm not schizoid, avoidant or dependent!

But come on! If this is their definition of schizotypal, it can easily be applied to every serious philosophy major I know from Yale:

"The disorder is characterized by odd forms of thinking and perceiving,

Guilty as charged.

and individuals with this disorder often seek isolation from others.

Ah, The Other. Don't blame me if I don't want to go back in The Cave!

They sometimes believe to have extra sensory ability or that unrelated events relate to them in some important way.

Well, that hasn't happened to me yet. At least not when sober.

They generally engage in eccentric behavior

Hmm. Just about every paleo-con I know fits this description.

and have difficulty concentrating for long periods of time.

That's why I blog.

How much time can YOU spend with Gadamer, Lonergan and DeLubac without needing to change gears? Or running down the latest mental tangent to a question that's been on your table for years? So I'm reading Derrida to complement Gadamer, and Derrida remarks about the use of the concept of khora in the Timaeus. So I start thinking about Plato's Form of the Different again, which gets me thinking about the late dialogues like the Sophist and Parmenides, and what Dr. Reuter was trying to tell me about them 5 years ago... Where was I? Ah yes...

I basically arrange my entire day around my short-term interest in reading, bouncing from the books, to some mundane task, and back again (if I am lucky enough to remember what I was doing an hour ago).

Their speech is often over elaborate and difficult to follow.

Guilty once again.

So guilty, in fact, that Eve and Emmy once wrote a blank verse satire, part of which depicted one of my typically long, tangled-up speeches delivered on the floor of our Pythagorean brotherhood. The conclusion: "...Ockhamitic world-animal lobster. Take that, pernicious Hobbester!" is still my favorite line.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 7/09/2002 02:37:00 AM | link


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