Military spending needs to be cut. NOW!

Q: When is enough defense spending enough?
A: When you spend so much money defending something that you can no longer afford to upkeep it.

That is the point we have reached.

The military – It’s big enough…we can stop now. We spend 41% of the world’s military budget. That’s more in percentage and real dollars than the next 14 countries combined. And that is each and every year. It’s time to stop. It’s time to either stop spending a good chunk of that all together or spend it on something domestically like roads or healthcare or education or, well, just about anything else. (Or maybe we can go ahead and enact the Farm Act of 2012 and even leave in the Food Stamps for the poor here in America…golly, what a concept…making sure Americans have food to eat.)

This amount of money spent on “defense” is obscene.  But it is far more than just the money, it’s the mindset.  I often hear people complain that we shouldn’t be the world’s policeman and questioning why we keep getting involved in these insane wars with no end in sight.  It’s because (I believe) we have been so convinced that that is our role in the world that we base our policies and budgets on it.

And the more research I do on this subject, the more I am convinced that the military industrial complex needs us to to think like this.  I know it sounds very wingnut-ish, but they absolutely need us to keep risking lives and treasure so we can keep spending money on them.  It’s a vicious cycle that needs to end.

How much more effective would it be to shore up our internal defenses and anti-terrorism policies and practices here at home than to spend the $4,000,000 on a single predator drone that may or may not kill and enemy and may or may not kill innocents (and thus encourage people to help the terrorist we are fighting or even breed more terrorism itself.)   Isn’t the random killing of civilians by a bunch of nutballs what got this started in the first place?  How is our doing the same “winning hearts and minds”?

We are not Rome.  We are not built on military strength, but the strength of our ideals and our freedoms.  Our defense comes first by holding true to those ideals and freedoms and the belief that they are as true for us in the States as they are for others in other countries.  We lead by example, not by force.

And while I’m pretty certain Jesus wasn’t speaking about government spending, I think his words still hold true in this instance: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34)

Where, then, is our nation’s heart?

CDW & NetApp (Part IV)

Recently I had a bit of trouble with NetApp and CDW on two pretty significant issues.  These issues were big enough to prompt me to write not one, not two, but three blog posts regarding this situation.

Last week my two reps from CDW came out to pay a visit to see what we could do to salvage the relationship.  Initially I was against the idea of even taking the meeting.  I really didn’t see the point.  Bridges had been burned and it was time to move on.

The meeting was scheduled several weeks after the incident.  Now I don’t know if they planned it that way or it was by chance but it allowed CDW to be in a good position for the meeting for four reasons:

  1. By the time the meeting occurred, the issue had been resolved.  So that wasn’t hanging out there anymore.  And as anyone in the IT world knows, that problem was quickly replaced by three more and the NetApp/CDW problem was quickly forgotten.
  2. Tempers had cooled for the most part.
  3. It allowed us to try out some other vendors.  This issue with the NetApps aside, nobody even comes close to CDW when it comes to delivery, availability, product line, and price.  They truly are second to none in that regard.  The others vendors I tried…well, watching them try to get a simple order right was like watching a drunk monkey try to open a mason jar.
  4. It allowed me to go back an look at the time line of what occurred a little more objectively and see what things I could have done to have prevented the issue from reaching that point.  Things I did that were counter -productive were as follows:
  • I could have told them early on that we did not believe we had a good DR plan because of missing software.
  • I could have picked up the phone and forced a conference call to explain the severity of the situation we thought we had instead of waiting for them to do it.
  • I would have worked with them versus looking at them in an adversarial role
  • Most of all I could have communicated more and better.

Anyway, what’s done is done.  Lesson learned, at least on my part.  Sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees and this was one of those times.  And when you’re a small fish in a big pond it sometimes can feel like you’re ignored by the bigger fish.

I hope to re-establish the relationship someday to what it once was.  They’re good folks and a good company.  I am doing business with them again and I look forward to continuing to do so for a long time to come.

David Blaine is counting on you not to understand physics

Yes, that’s correct.   David Blaine, the magician and entertainer, has come to the realization that his audience just isn’t up to speed on the fundamentals of science.  It is what he is substituting for “magic” these days apparently.  (No offense, David.  I love your street magic.)

His latest ‘death-defying” feat performed this weekend in NYC is to stand on a 20 foot tower for 72 hours while being zapped constantly by 1,000,000 volts of electricity.

Sadly, the real trick here is standing on a 20 foot tower for three days without sleep or potty breaks or any other kind of breaks.  Props for that.  The 1,000,000 volts of electricity?  Meh.

The thing is it could be a billion volts of electricity and it wouldn’t matter for a two reasons:

1)      Voltage isn’t what kills you.  It’s amperes (amps) that kill.  In fact, anything over 0.1 amps is considered lethal.  So while a million volts my sound scary, it has no relevance on the danger of the situation.

2)      Mr. Blaine is wearing a Faraday Suit the entire time.  The suits, sometimes worn by linemen in high-voltage situations, cancel out the charge inside the suit so the wearer is not harmed by the charge outside the suit.

So barring a rainstorm or that Mr. Blaine wets himself during the performance, there really is no huge danger to him.  This is less “magic” and more a “cool physics demonstration.”