Archive for December, 2011

Installing Ubuntu on a Dell Inspiron 1501

It’s been a while since I did a tech update, but nothing like doing OS installs on a Friday night. My nearly 5 year old laptop, a Dell Inspiron 1501, is on its last legs. The only thing I use it for is BOINC, so I figured that installing Ubuntu would give it a bit more breathing room than Windows. However, when I tried to run the install, I got a screen full of crazy colored vertical lines. Doing a BIOS update did not help. However, a forum thread did lead me to the right solution: setting the nomodeset option before install.

So if you want to install Ubuntu on a Dell Inspiron 1501 laptop and you keep running into the crazy colored vertical lines, during the install, hit F6, then select “nomodeset”. Presto!

First Amendment Nuttiness

The First Amendment to the Constitution is probably the most misunderstood amendment, likely because it is the one that most people know about. Few things are funnier than hearing it misused by people who say things like “You can’t ban me from this website, I have First Amendment rights!” It’s one thing for internet trolls to not have a grasp of what the First Amendment means; it’s quite another for churches to think that they have a right to discriminate while getting government contracts.

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Spare a dollar (coin)?

The U.S. is going to continue to fail at introducing a dollar coin until it removes the dollar bill at the same time. This isn’t terribly hard to understand. It also isn’t hard to understand the benefits: coins last much longer, are more convenient for things like vending machines, parking meters, buses, and other low-denomination transactions, and are cheaper to produce in the long run. Sadly, nobody in Congress has the courage to eliminate the dollar bill. Nor do they have the courage to eliminate the penny. Disappointing.

Subverting Success

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell famously said that the number one priority of Republicans is to make Obama a one-term president. As a necessary conclusion from this assertion, Republicans are trying to deny any kind of success to Obama. Even if that means deliberately subverting a program that aims to expand health care coverage to people. Reading things like this just makes me sick.

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Patronizing, 2011-style

Duncan Black (AKA Atrios) at Eschaton often has a special segment called “What Digby Said”. Not having a whole lot more to add after this miserable Sunday, I’ll mainly leave comment on the Obama administration’s Lucy-like pulling the football away on the issue of emergency contraception to Digby.

For the life of me, I don’t understand this. The science is not the issue, seeing as how the scientists said to go ahead with it. Thus, the reasoning has to be politics, which as Digby points out, makes zero sense. Nobody who already hates Obama isn’t going to vote for him based on this decision. On the other hand, the large number of currently non-voting young people who would be happy to fill in the oval for Obama if they would just vote are going to absolutely hate this decision. It’s politics as usual, it’s patronizing, it’s wrong.

Once again, the Obama administration is engaging in something that is both bad policy and bad politics.

Changing the cost of college

Recently, the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management put forward a plan to charge more in tuition for undergraduates than the rest of the U. The plan, which would charge an extra $2,000 a year in order to recruit and retain more faculty members, would change the egalitarian tuition policy that the U has had for more than 20 years. Although I don’t have an opinion one way or the other on this policy, it does bring to light one issue that I think we should be discussing: the cost of a college education, or more specifically, the “egalitarian” tuition model that prices degrees similarly. I think that policy hurts more than it helps, and it’s time to change the price we pay for degrees.

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Remembrances of Quists past

Allen Quist is running for Congress again. Since he has little chance of getting the GOP endorsement, let alone beating Tim Walz, this news is about as important as yet another Ole Savior run for something. However, I have a special place in my heart for Quist, as he is one of my oldest memories of Minnesota politics.

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I’m voting for Noor

There’s a primary next Tuesday in my senate district, SD59. It’s the first round in the special election to replace former senator Larry Pogemiller, who resigned earlier this year after a long stint in the senate. Given the political leaning of the district, it’s almost a guarantee that the winner of the DFL primary is going to be elected to the district, and that has made the campaign on the DFL side a crowded one, with a number of candidates vying for the privilege of running in the general election next January under the DFL label. Among all the candidates, one has risen to the top of my list, and the candidate I’m going to be voting for next Tuesday is Mohamud Noor.

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