Friday, August 31, 2012

Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, B of A, Credit Suisse

Just following up my last post regarding campaign donations. I think contributions to political campaigns are usually self-interested endeavours. We support a political party because we want them to represent us.

That being said, here are the top 5 contributors for Obama and Romney. I wouldn't identify as someone who entirely distrusts big banks, but having 5 big banks as Romney's top campaign donators is not confidence inspiring.

Campaign finances

The campaigns of people running for office, whether locally or nationally, are usually funded by their supporters in the form of donations. If a candidate has more money to spend on their campaign, they will have more opportunities to spread their message, become well-known, and increase their proportion of the vote. Political scientist Gary Jacobson has noted that increased campaign financing results in larger and more pervasive campaigns and increases a voter's recognition of a candidate. Greater voter recognition of a candidate allows a voter to more easily present an evaluation of a candidate. More evaluations usually means more positive evaluations in total, and therefore more votes. I made a splendidly diagram:

If you're interested in how the campaign finances of Romney compare against Obama, check out the screen capture below from

Monday, August 27, 2012

The cost of university tuition, opportunity cost, rationalizing university, and cleaning puke.

Hello blog readers,

As a self-loathing university student struggling with the cost/benefit ratio of attending university, I found this video particularly interesting. In the video below a past university graduate rationalizes the positive effects of attending university against the costs; keep in mind, he is located in the United States where tuition costs are much higher than Canada. University is still a worthy pursuit despite the over-commidification of university degree programs and the exceeding commercialization of quickly turning out over educated people with undergraduate degrees :) Yippeeee!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bring your gun to the Republican National Convention. Why? Because you can!

On August 28th-30th The Republicans are having their National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida. With such a large collection of political leaders and the Presidential hopeful himself, Mitt Romney, you can bet security will be at a maximum. All the standard potentially hazardous things will be banned from entering the convention; like knives, machetes, aerosol cans, long pieces of rope, mysterious liquids, and dynamite. But don't dismay: if you were planning on bringing your concealed weapon you can still attend. After all, thanks to the second amendment, it is your right to bear arms. The second amendment slowly blurs the line between idiot and ideologue, allowing any sane American to carry a concealed weapon if they have the corresponding permit in the State of Florida.

If you think this is stupid, picture this: the convention is going along cordially when the Queen of England herself comes in and starts bossing everyone around. We must expect, nay demand, Americans to defend themselves against tyranny accordingly... right

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

High-rises in Guelph

How high should buildings in Guelph be? Should we allow high rises (10+ stories) in the downtown core? The answers to these questions are highly contentious, depending on who you ask.

There are many benefits of tall buildings; they house lots of people in a dense space allowing efficient service delivery, they can provide affordable accommodation, they can bring people back into the downtown core and move away from Guelph's "bar driven" downtown economy, and they can offer students housing away from the student-centric neighbourhoods of Scottsdale, Ironwood, and Cole Road.

There are problems associated with high rises in the downtown as well; they disrupt the skyline, they cast foreboding shadows across the landscape, they may become large bland monoliths that fail to integrate with their surroundings. There is no correct answer.

Provincial pressures, such as the Places to Grow Act, mandate that Guelph must provide a certain amount of housing. One way to meet this demand and escape the sprawl of subdivisions (à la the Southend) is to intensify the accommodation of people in high rises.

I can't really say if I agree with the proposed high rise at the corner of Wellington and Macdonell. I don't live nearby, and my interaction with the space is limited to infrequent drive-bys. However, I do feel the scale of a high rise in that location is not keeping with the current trends of downtown. John Galt's original plan for Guelph was low-rise developments, similar to those of liveable European cities. I wonder if it is still possible to maintain that vision, while supporting growth.

Aerial view of Guelph
Aerial view of Paris

Sunday, January 22, 2012


boy: I'm bored. I think i will go on the internet.
     boy: HELLO? INTERNET?!
          boy: I love the internet
          Congressman: Hello Ben,
          boy: Who the hell are you?! How did you get in my computer?
Congressman: My name is Lamar Smith, Texas Congressman. I introduced the SOPA bill. Your version of Beyonce's Single Ladies was pirated. Get off the internet.

*The push for SOPA has stalled. Now we can all worry about ACTA* acronyms are oppressive.

SOPA and PIPA are two different things.

Do you steal music off the internet? Be honest.

I used to, but then in the summer of 2011 I decided to download Windows Vista and reformatted my computer. I also forgot to back up any files. I lost my entire music collection, slowly stolen off the internet since grade 7.

If you regularly consume media over the internet, chances are you visit websites that host copy-write infringing material. What does this mean? When someone creates something original they have the right to legally protect the their work. Copy-right or "the right to copy", gives the creator control over their work in many forms:

                      -They have the right to control any reproductions of their work
-They have the right to be credited for their work
                                   -They have the right to control who financially benefits from their work

The internet, in it's current form, has so much copy-righted material everywhere. In most cases without the owner's permission. YouTube, Wikipedia, Ebay, Craiglist, etc, all feature content the original owners never granted permission to use. This blog features lots of content I post without asking the owner's permission.
        The Stop Online Piracy Act gives the rightful owner's of intellectual property more power to go after people infringing on their content. It is a complicated bill with lots of implications. Check out the edu-cartoon above; it can explain techno jargon better than myself.

        Blogger, Jason Harvey of, gives a thorough explanation of the Stop Online Piracy Act, and the Protect IP Act here: A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP

Friday, January 13, 2012

slippery slope

sad reality of war

Why is something popular referred to as "viral"? As in, "this internet video has gone viral".
I think it has something to do with the infectious nature of a virus. "Infectious" also confers a negative spread; a spread of sickness and sadness. Rebecca Black's video, "Friday" has all of those characteristics. But I digress...

Recently, a video of US Marines urinating on Afghan corpses has gone "viral". I have not seen the video, as I cannot bring myself to watch it. An event like this has serious repercussions for all stakeholders in the ambiguous War on Terror. The American effort to win the hearts-and-minds of Afghans will suffer. The reputation of the American military will suffer. More people may take up arms against the United States. The international community will shame the war effort because this is a disturbing reality brought into the public's homes via computer screen.

Unlike the Gulf war, which was highly televised, the Afghan and Iraq campaigns have remained sheltered from the public's view. Time magazine recently did a piece on the growing separation between the military and the public, and this video is a jarring reality of being conscious about the war.

I found a lot of the press to shame the soldiers in the video. No doubt, their actions are despicable. But how can I begin to comprehend the circumstances that led to that video? War takes a toll on the mind, and people of differing mental fortitude go off to fight war. I don't mean to apologize for the soldiers in the video, but rather apologize for the circumstances in which their actions were committed. I assume watching scores of people die from bombs and bullets could rework the reality of the brain; make someone crazy. The reality of war could make urinating on your supposed enemy commonplace. This is not the first time something like this has happened. Who am I too say? I can't. We need to rethink how we fight these wars.

National Post - 
Video of Marines urinating on dead insurgents won’t harm peace talks: Taliban

Globe and Mail -
Video of U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban dead causes uproar

Friday, January 6, 2012

republican primary

Triptych of Haywain by Hieronymus Bosch. It's a crazy painting! The tadpole mouse is making a getaway!

Often, it is the loudest voices that carry the day. Popular media can have a way of sensationalizing the loudest voices, however extreme they might be, while the best voices become marginalized. I am referring to America's Republican Primaries, currently taking place. GOP candidates campaign to represent the Republican Party against Obama in November; if you didn't think the GOP was a breeding ground for unqualified leaders during the 2008 election (Palin), you will after the Republican Primaries (Cain, Bachmann, Santorum, Perry, etc).

The "media" (ambiguous, I know), presents us with politically themed stories, that have little bearing on the actual issues at hand. For example: Herman Cain's sexual harassment accusations. Why did this dominate news headlines for as long as it did? Our infatuation with reading about Cain's sordid personal life is pathetic. Headlines were made when he said pizzas with few toppings are for sissy's... I'll admit it, I ate it up. I had a great time laughing about Herman and all his nonsensical junk. The same thing happened with Sarah Palin in 2008. The media needs to do its job and clear its palate of these candidates who clearly do not stand a chance. The void created by the lack of non-pertinent distractions could be filled with stories that actually inform (I'm looking at you FOX NEWS). We need to do our job, and not give the soap-operaesque tabloids credence. 

We have some similar political personas in Canada, although not as extreme. The closest thing Canadians have to the political carnival characters from the States, is Don Cherry. Unfortunately, he garners more respect and attention than many of our top ranking public servants. And he doesn't even practice politics. We laughed along when Peter Kent apparently didn't know what ozone was, but unfortunately that is a much more serious issue than Herman Cain's mistress(es). Peter Kent's issue is  actually rather sad, and not something to laugh about.

It's not about a left-versus-right thing either. I would certainly vote for some of the Republican contenders over the Democrat's Obama. It is about intellectual honesty, and separating fact from drivel.
I encourage you to look into the United States' electoral race, starting with the Primaries right now. The changes taking place across the border are inevitably going to affect Canadians, and we should do our part to get informed and advocate for the change we want.

As of writing this, Cain and Bachmann have dropped out. Below I have posted a video from Rick Perry... scary I know. I have also posted a rebuttal I found on youtube, which sums up my feelings more eloquently than I can express.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

i still appreciate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, even though it presented negative enjoyment

I did not enjoy reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I give it a thumbs-down. Also, doesn't the hand on the cover look vaguely erotic?

I recently read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It chronicles a man who escapes the Earth's destruction, and his interstellar voyage. The book forced me to suspended my disbelief to uncomfortable levels, and I had a hard time identifying with the characters (aliens).

This book is a metaphor for political preference. Even though The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy  presented absolutely no value to me whatsoever, I still need to recognize a lot of people absolutely adore this book. 14 million copies have been sold, since it was first published in 1979. Do I begrudge the people that purchased this book? No.

This is a message to people that ardently take a political side, needlessly vilify the opposition, and fail to fully inform themselves. We all know people like this; on occasion we are all guilty of this. We need to constantly remind ourselves that both sides of the political spectrum are needed for healthy democracy and debate.