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July 14, 2003

Linux, Anyone?

Just in from the fine folks at GW tech support: They explain that I might be able to scrape by with something other than a windoze-based system in some cases, but the here's where the rubber meets the road as far as they're concerned:

The bottom line, however, is that the law school cannot condone any student coming here intending to use anything other than a windows-based machine that meets the minimum specs. Sorry if this message unnecessarily covers familiar ground for you -- I just wanted to be clear about the situation here at GW Law.

Got that? GW cannot condone any intent to use anything other than a windows-based machine. I can't think of a better way to welcome your new students than with rhetoric like that.

So here's the thing: I can maybe make peace with buying a machine that runs Windows, but I'd like a certain kind of machine and I need your help. My requirements would include:

  • a non-Intel processor, meaning I suppose something from AMD (Athlon?)
  • a machine on which I could run Linux for everything that's not Windoze-only

So I guess what I'm looking for is a small, lightweight laptop with an Athlon processor that ships with a dual OS installed—some wi-fi friendly variant of Linux and Windows XP Pro. Any suggestions?

I'm pretty clueless here, so any help will be appreciated. What's the best (most consumer-friendly) version of Linux, anyway? Thanks.

Posted 01:55 PM | law school

GW's Computing Regime

So when GW says it requires students to have a laptop that runs Windows XP Professional, what do you suppose that means? As I mentioned the other day, I don't want to buy a Windoze pc, and in fact this is one of the more glaring issues I have with attending GW in the first place. I wonder how many other schools are getting so authoritarian in their computing policies.

For the record, GW says you must have a certain Cisco wireless networking card for your computer because GW's network uses Cisco's LEAP encryption. However, it appears Apple's Airport wireless networking cards work fine with LEAP, so long as you follow these directions for using Cisco's LEAP authentication via Airport.

GW uses Extegrity for its exams, so that's definitely Windoze-only and emulators like Virtual PC almost certainly won't work. It also uses SynchronEyes computer lab instruction software for its legal writing and research course. This is another program that appears to take control of your desktop, so it might not work in emulation either.

It may be that buying a windoze laptop is a compromise I have to make to go to law school, but what may be most disturbing about this is the slippery slope fear it creates. What other compromises lay ahead? And are they really worth making? As the clock ticks down to just slightly more than a month until school starts, these questions are no longer academic, and my level of dismay over what should otherwise be a fairly trivial issue suggests that I'm not really ready for this reality.


Posted 12:43 PM | Comments (2) | law general

Fearing Fear Itself

Are you more afraid now than you were in 2000?

The Democratic presidential candidates finally start attacking Bush's credibility for lying to get us into war. Apparently Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman and Gephardt—who both all to give Bush permission to attack Iraq—have finally found a way out of the dilemma they've been in as that pro-war stance made them increasingly unpopular with Democratic voters; now they can just say that the reason they supported the war is that they believed Bush, but now that they know he lied, they can vehemently condemn both Bush and the war. Lucky for them. Will this reduce Dean's lead? As the most "mainstream" candidate who has opposed the Iraq war all along (although he says the invasion of Afghanistan was the right thing to do), Dean was able to distinguish himself on this issue, but that distinction may now become less clear.)

This comes at a time when I'm just baffled that more people aren't just irate about this issue. Why do the same people who got upset that Clinton lied about a blow job (which hurt no one directly besides Clinton, Lewinsky, and Clinton's family) seem so unconcerned about Bush's lies, which have effectively killed thousands of people? Some analysts seem to think the answer is fairly simple: Americans are just scared silly. In fact, it seems we've been whipped into such a frenzy of fear that we'll accept just about anything. For example, in "Trading On Fear", PR analysts Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber look at how Yubbledew and Co. (the Bush administration and corporate America) have stoked the fears of the average American and then profited from those fears. And in "A Nation of Scared Sheep" Louise Witt looks more closely at the fears driving Americans to give Yubbledew and Co. a pass on the lies it told to get support for an invasion of Iraq. Very simply put, it seems we are being manipulated, and apparently it's working.

First Rampton and Stauber explain how television propaganda was used to sell the Iraq war to the American public, but they also debunk the idea that the crap we see on television is just the networks and studios "giving the people what they want":

Fear is one of the most primitive emotions in the human psyche, and it definitely keeps us watching. If the mere ability to keep people watching were really synonymous with "giving audiences what they want", we would have to conclude that people "want" terrorism. On September 11, Osama bin Laden kept the entire world watching. As much as people hated what they were seeing, the power of their emotions kept them from turning away.

Fear is an awesome force. Its power is obvious since even though we can all say intellectually that fear was what caused the Red Scare or the Salem Witch trials or whatever, we still can't seem to help ourselves when someone tells us to be afraid and to do stupid things because of our fear. It was 1933 when Ike said:

first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Ike may have overstated the case a bit—surely there are some things we should fear besides fear itself—but we really don't have much room for such quibbling at the moment. Yubbledew and Co. are still on the loose trying to salvage and extend their "scare and plunder" methods of governance. Currently they're trying to squirm out of the mess they're in by blaming George Tenent and by asserting that they didn't, technically, lie. "We got the info from Britain, and Britain did put that info in a report, which is all we said. We didn't say it was true, we just said it was a claim made by British intelligence." So why does that make it any better?

I'm sure tomorrow will bring new developments. Meanwhile, the good news is that the most recent polls show that the Yubbledew teflon is cracking. Happy Monday!

Posted 09:25 AM | election 2004 general politics

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