If any readers could offer me guidance on a hardware problem with my PC I'd be most appreciative, although obviously the anonymous nature of internet readership places you under no obligation to do so. I will try to be succinct.

I build my own PCs and run Windows XP. Four days ago, I had what I believe was a hardware failure. System was unresponsive and unable to boot even in safe mode. I removed the HDD (3 year old WD Raptor, which have a notoriously high burnout rate) and tested it with my laptop via an external HD dock. It appears to be a write off (unable to format, bad sectors, etc). So I grabbed another drive – for some reason I have about 9 laying around my office – formatted it clean, and attempted to do a fresh install of XP with the new drive. No other components changed.

I got halfway through the install and at the first reboot I go into an endless loop of trying to resume the installation but being unable to do so. I can't make any keyboard inputs (unresponsive) even though the generic USB drivers supposedly loaded in the first part of the install. So it just loops through "Press any key to boot from CD/DVD…" to restarting. I disabled all boot options other than 1) the DVD and 2) the HDD.

I'm flummoxed. The reason I'm suspecting a hardware problem (mobo?) is that I've never heard of being unable to do a clean install on a clean hard drive before. WTF?

Any suggestions welcome. Thanks in advance.


So the pendulum has swung back to the Republican side, right? The Democrats had their moment of glory in 2008 and now the President and Congress are as popular as anal polyps. The American people have abandoned Obama and the only thing that remains is to sit back and wait for the Republicans to pick up 150 seats in Congress next fall.

This is what the right believes, which is the surest possible indication that it won't happen. The left, accustomed to being to American politics what the Luftwaffe is to the History Channel, is starting to believe it too. My, how rapidly all that optimism from a year ago has faded. Jeebus. Obama has a rough spell eight months into his presidency and we can hardly hear over the hysterical pant shitting.

The false equivalency of giving 50% + 1 of the airtime and column space to ratings-magnet conservative nutbars (not to mention radio, which is essentially 100% wingers) creates the deceptive impression that there is an army of teabaggers ready to conquer the nation from within – and that untold millions more fully support them from the safety of their suburban castles. As usual there is only one problem. The facts bear little resemblance to that "reality" that Beck and Hannity are working so hard to create.

Generic Democrats are still beating generic Republicans in House 2010 races. Obama's favorables exceed the negatives by a good margin. 78% of the public (78%!!!) believes that the health care system needs "fundamental reform" or a "complete rebuild." Glenn Beck's favorables are a whopping 24% Some kind of health care reform package – most likely a toothless one that will upset liberals far more than get-the-guns-the-gubmint-men-is-comin' conservatives – is virtually assured of passing at this point, denying the talking point of the President's dramatic failure. But keep talking about that Olympics thing like it represents the utter collapse and humiliation of the President and his presidency; it's really working!

Is 2010 going to be wine and roses again for the Democrats? I doubt it. It would be absolutely unprecedented to have a third consecutive election with gains similar to 2006 and 2008. It's far too early for any predictions to be useful, but history tells us that the President's party will have some House losses – 20? 25? – but the Senate landscape is such that the GOP will have trouble making headway in the best of circumstances (more to come soon!). Sure, we know that generic polling and public opinion on specific policy proposals are unstable creatures and we shouldn't be calling Vegas to bet the house on another Democratic rout. But while Glenn Beck and your drunken Uncle Jim and your asshole coworkers are kicking back and waiting for a repeat of 1994, the rest of us can kick back and wait to hear the excuses they'll hurl at us when it doesn't happen.