Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... what?

I'm reading through this short piece on the resurgence of 60's fashion crap and nodding my head and thinking "yep, yep, yep ... look at all of that dreck that the boomers are trying to bring back around." I'm not entirely sure that it's a bunch of twentysomethings trying to borrow this stuff to attract attention, so maybe we differ a bit there on the interpretation.

But then I get to this part: "Scared because on top of that, there’s a war going on that’s costing more than the military budget of the world…. combined." I don't want to pretend you're not afraid. Fear can be a real thing. But this doesn't even pass the laugh test.

First, it's very cheap to have legions of soldiers without equipment, so the lack of budget for the forces of the Sudan, for example, is hardly surprising. Add all of them up and you get a tiny dollar figure, but their troops are incapable of projecting power outside their own borders, and are occasionally incapable of projecting power to all parts within their own borders.

Second, most of the nations in the EU have approximately no armed forces because they don't need them; their expeditionary forces can handle small conflicts, and when large conflicts pop up they can always cry and wave for Uncle Sugar to come bail them out. We continue to have armed forces because (1) we don't really trust other people to guard ourselves and our posterity, and (2) it isn't all that expensive. In 2007, for example, our total military spending was 3.8% of our GDP ( National Defense Budget Estimates from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense).

Let me repeat that ... 3.8% in 2007. The most astonishing thing about the U.S. military machine isn't how expensive it is, but how cheap it is.

It's BACON!!!!

Mmmmm .... bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon. Bacon. Yummy yummy yummy bacon.

Phone Envy

Yesterday was Kathy's birthday. I had been thinking about all manner of things to get her as a birthday present, when she mentioned that she was thinking about pooling her "money for birthday present" presents towards an iPhone. "A ha!" I said, so I bundled her into the car and off we went to the Apple store. I of course didn't tell her that's where we were going, so it was still a surprise to her right up until we were about 100 feet from the Apple store.

We walked in and I announced in a large voice that "my sweetie wants an iPhone, and I want you to get one for her." The clerk produced an iPhone in a box, there was some jiggery-pokery with the credit card and the handheld laser scanner / card swipe device the Apple store retail clerks use now, and then we were out of there.

Got home, plugged it into her computer, and activated it on our existing AT&T account (replacing her old and busted Moto RAZR), and she was golden. No problems. Not one. The whole process worked just like companies wished it always did.

And the phone! OMG it's gorgeous. And shiny. She just giggles every now and then from the delight of dorking about with it. After a bit she let me touch it so I could type in the access key for our wireless network at home, but then she wanted it back.

Now, of course, I have phone envy.

P.S. I tried to photograph it, but couldn't get anything I liked. Most of the shots looked like this promo from Apple's website, so here's a shot from Apple's website.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Amazon + TiVo = SCORE!

We were so busy over the weekend that we totally forgot the Super Bowl was on. Normally we'd have TiVo'd it and then fast-forwarded through the boring parts to get to the commercials, but we were busy and didn't even do that much. Tivo noticed that there was a "House" on afterwards, so it recoded it. As always, though, the live event ran long and we didn't get the whole thing.

Our first stop was iTunes, but we didn't see any episodes of "House" there. So we checked Amazon and, sure enough, there they were. I had to sign for the "Unbox" service, but that was easily accomplished. Drill down to the missing episode, hit the "1 click" button, and bob's your uncle.

We didn't wait for it to download, but went off and did other things. When we sat down tonight, it was waiting for us. It was only standard definition, but it was a good encoding and still looked nice. It also came without commercials, which was an unexpected bonus. If only we could get a fatter pipe from Qwest, this would be super-dee-duper. As it is, though, it's a strong recommend. I imagine we'll be buying plenty more episodes from unbox now that we're sensitized to it.