Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review of Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a service Amazon offers--for $80/year, you get quick free shipping from Amazon (Amazon only, and not other sellers at Amazon). You also get to watch a selection of TV shows and movies for free.

First, the shipping. $80 is a bit much to pay for free shipping if you're just a casual shopper, especially when other sellers often offer cheaper prices than Amazon. We regularly buy diapers and wipes from Amazon (they have good sales, and you can "Subscribe," get an even better deal, and then cancel the subscription once the item ships). I very occasionally buy other items that are on sale (or that I need on emergency basis). Not enough to warrant paying $80. But, students get Amazon Prime free for a year (minus free TV/movies). And after my free one year subscription ran out, they offered me another year for half price. $40 for free shipping and free TV/movies. I did the math, and it's still not a bargain, although I think we'll come out a little bit ahead with all of the diapers we buy. What about the free TV/movies? Isn't that a big deal?

Not really. The selection isn't great unless you're a Doctor Who fan. Lots of British stuff. Not much else. The most popular TV shows right now are Doctor Who, Monty Python, Torchwood (a Doctor Who spinoff), and the Terminator TV show. Unless you like British TV (some of it, admittedly, is pretty good), you'll be disappointed by their selection of free videos. You're better off sticking with Netflix. Even if Netflix rates have gone up.

If you're a student, and you buy from Amazon, go for the free year. If you regularly buy from Amazon, consider it. If you buy from Amazon occasionally and you're a huge fan of British TV, it might be worth it. Otherwise, don't bother.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


My heart goes out to Norway today. This peaceful, beautiful, civilized country has been rocked by two terrorist acts that killed about a hundred people. Norway has about five million people, so per capita this terrorist act killed twice as many Norwegians as the 9/11 acts killed Americans. Even worse, most of these killed were young people.

Disturbingly, initial news reports from certain sources immediately blamed Muslims for the attack. Rupert Murdoch has been in the news lately for some horrible things one of his newspapers in England did; his newspapers and radio stations (Washington Post, Fox News, and others) were the primary (although not the only) news sources blaming it on Muslims.

It turns out it was a Norwegian. A gun-loving, immigrant-hating, apparently fundamentalist Christian, white guy. Not surprising, since almost everyone he killed was pro-immigrant. And all of a sudden instead of a "terrorist," he's a "madman," and many newspapers somehow don't substitute "Muslim" for "Christian" or even "fundamentalist Christian"--they just leave out his religion altogether.

Perhaps it's a lesson. In the Western world, far-right Muslims aren't the only ones capable of horrific terrorist acts. Far-right Christians are also very capable (remember the Oklahoma city bombings?)

Immigration issues in the U.S. are also quite heated, even though the number of immigrants is probably decreasing right now (mainly due to economic conditions). I was too quick to judgment in blaming the Arizona shooter for being like this Norwegian (when it appears that the Arizona shooter was indeed just a madman, who believed crazy things from both the right and the left). But we need to be on guard here, and watch out for those who get so caught up in anti-immigration rhetoric that they take their guns and their bombs and cause terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, please join me in prayers for the good people of Norway.