Drupal HTTP request status fails on localhost

I was working on a test Drupal site in Windows XP using XAMPP and it was running really slow.  Status Reports showed the following error:

HTTP request status Fails
Your system or network configuration
does not allow Drupal to access web pages, resulting in reduced
functionality. This could be due to your webserver configuration or PHP
settings, and should be resolved in order to download information about
available updates, fetch aggregator feeds, sign in via OpenID, or use
other network-dependent services.

This is a pretty common issue with a wide variety of causes, judging from the amount of entries at http://drupal.org/node/222454.  None of the solutions on that page worked for me though.  Finally, I found that the problem went away if I directed my browser to http://127.0.0.1/mySite as opposed to http://localhost/mySite.  My etc/hosts file already has a 127.0.0.1 localhost entry, which I thought meant those two were interchangeable, but apparently I don't understand how that really works (and I'm man enough to admit that). If you can enlighten me, please do so. Otherwise, if you are experiencing this issue, try using the numeric localhost ip as a workaround.

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