Michigan Tourism Ads Work

A good advertisement should instill within you a strong emotion, be memorable and make you want to buy the product or service. Those three things are precisely what the Pure Michigan advertisements do for me.

I first heard them on the radio at work one day and they made such an impression that I went and searched for the advertisements online. It must truly say something when someone goes searching for advertisements as opposed to advertisements searching for customers. The ads are extremely relaxing and reach out to the golfer or fisherman or beach-goer in you. They paint extremely vivid mental images of bubbling water, a nice breeze on a hot summer’s day, or other equally pleasing thoughts.

Very powerful stuff. Go listen to a couple of them and you’ll know what I mean. If the actual place is anything like what the advertisements make me feel, it’s definitely a place worth visiting.

Links for Friday the 13th

No More Mail in Rebates

A couple weeks ago Best Buy announced that it was eliminating mail in rebates from manufacturers. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen a great sale on a flyer, only to check the asterisk for more details and see that it’s actually $5 and an additional $50 in a mail in rebate. I’ve had a pretty good track record for actually getting mail in rebates back, but the fact is, they’re a pain to fill out. That’s not mentioning the fact that you still have to pay taxes before you can send off that rebate. And I guess it’s only natural that FutureShop (which is owned by Best Buy) has now eliminated mail in rebates as well.

Actually it’s not a great situation for some; the people who take the time to fill in rebates (such as myself) may lose a bit in value. Chances are, with manufacturer rebates gone, sale prices are going to look a little less tasty down the road.

Video Game Texture Piracy

You don’t hear about this sort of thing everyday – there’s talk around the ‘net about a major game ripping graphical assets from other games. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has been accused by some of blatantly taking in-game textures from Doom 3 and Half Life 2. I mean if you’re going to take someone else’s game files you might want to at least change their filenames…

Vancouver and Dallas Go At It Again

I’ve been secretly rooting for the Canucks all year and the opening game of the Vancouver-Dallas series was quite the thriller. In fact, it was the sixth-longest game in NHL history, requiring over 78 minutes of extra time to end.

The two teams play again tonight.

Canada Buys Tanks?!

Not so long after the idea of scrapping the entire tank fleet and replacing them with Mobile Gun Systems (which are based on the Stryker platform, which is in turn based on Canada’s LAV III, which is in turn based on the Mowag Piranha) the Canadian government made it known that Canada will be replacing its fleet of 100-plus Leopard 1’s with 20 new Leopard 2A6M’s from Germany and up to 100 used Leopard 2’s from the Netherlands. The 20 advanced Leopard 2’s from Germany will be leased and sent directly to Afghanistan while the older Leopard 2’s from the Netherlands (which have been in storage for 10 years and actually never deployed) will be shipped to Canada later and refitted with, among other things, an air-conditioning system.

One of the main faults of the 30 year-old Leopard 1 is the lack of any sort of climate control inside the tank. As a result, under the Afghan sun, temperatures are reaching into the 60’s Celsius.

Hopefully the new tanks will make a difference – it’s sad to see so many of our soldiers dying.

Update Those Clocks!

The Daylight Saving Time period will be changing this year (2007) for much of the United States and Canada. That means this Sunday (March 11), you’ll want to remove one hour from your life (set your clocks forward one hour). This is three weeks earlier than last year and the many years before that.

Hope you don’t miss any meetings/appointments due to the change!

Economics + Politics

If there’s one thing that’s very clear to me in Ontario, it’s the fact that there’s a huge disparity in the wealth distribution in this province. While the average income here is quite a bit higher than say, Prince Edward Island, the cost of living is even higher. On PEI, there were those few that were very wealthy, but the average household could still live pretty comfortably in a middle class neighborhood. The cost of land was relatively low, unless you went towards the waterfront properties. Most places were well-kept.

But when you come to Ontario, you’d probably notice the shocking amount of derelict buildings, poorly maintained neighborhoods and a general ‘poorer’ feeling in many areas. That’s not to say there aren’t rich people. Far from it; everywhere you look, you can see fancy cars, huge houses and thousand dollar handbags (okay, so you can’t really see the last one everywhere…) That’s the problem though. The average income is higher because there are so many well off people. The majority of people are still only making $30-40K a year. On PEI, you can get away with that. In a big city in Ontario, where the cost of a decent condo is easily double a nice house on PEI, it’s pretty difficult to get by on that sort of salary. Meanwhile you’ve got a ton of people who trying to decide what luxury car to buy next.

I’m not complaining about my current living standards at all. I live very comfortably. If I want something, I can probably afford it, within reason. (No, I can’t go buy a car on a whim) What I’m saying is that there is a disproportionate amount of people who are not living comfortably. In fact, they’re hardly living at all. They work very long hours at mediocre paying jobs just to get by in the big city. Just how bad is it? If my co-op jobs’ salaries were annualized, I’d be making more money than a lot of people out there (in Ontario). Just think, I’m merely a first year university student.

It’s also why I’m against what the Harper government has done. Before the Liberals went out of power, they decreased the lowest tax bracket’s tax rate by one percent. However, when the Conservatives came into power, they reversed that 1% decrease and meanwhile lowered the GST by 1% instead. Now let’s think about this for a moment. Who does the 1% decrease in income taxes benefit the most? The people who need it the most; the people who make the least. Who does the 1% GST decrease benefit the most? The people who spend the most, or, in other words, (generally speaking here) people who make the most money already. This has always been the fracturing between the three main parties in Canada. The Conservatives favor the rich, the NDP favor the poor and the Liberals stick themselves somewhere in between. Fortunately, the majority of voters are not wealthy. The majority of voters are average Joe Schmos. While the Conservatives put on the front that they’re accountable and responsible, not scandaling it away like the Liberals, how much did we really lose with the Liberals? Yes, they got complacent in their position of power for too many years, but in reality, they only blew, what, a couple hundred million. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are spending billions on projects that many protest again. For example, the $100/month child support checks. Instead of providing the daycares subsidies, to lower the cost, the Conservatives thought it a good idea to send that money directly to the hands of the parents. While you’d like to believe so, not all parents are responsible. With the Liberals’ plan, the money was going to child care and child care only because it was going directly to those facilities. But when you mail a check out to a household, you no longer have any control over what happens with that money. Maybe it’ll be used for the child’s daycare or other care costs, but there’s also a big possibility that it could be used to buy cigarettes, alcohol or that big screen TV? Add on top of that the fact that many daycares are raising their monthly fees by that exact $100/month and it seems like those billions mailed out in nice government envelopes are for naught. So is it more right to spend money legitimately, but completely wastefully, than to cheat it from us? Or what about the softwood lumber dispute? Canadian lumber companies were forced to forfeit $1 billion to our neighbors to the south in the most recent deal. Now that in itself is bad enough when just about all the rulings were coming in our favor. To add insult on injury, the Conservatives crowed about how great of a settlement we were getting. How great was that settlement Mr. Harper? Why did we not get that other $1 billion if we were in the right? Why was it a good settlement if we in the right? Whether it be the Liberal scandals or the Conservative’s irresponsible spending, I believe we, the citizens, are being cheated.

I won’t speak about it too much at length, but I just have to comment on Steven Harper’s recent comments in light of the difficulty going on around the world. Be it the North Korea or Iran or Iraq or Israel-Lebanon conflict, Harper has been in step with the United States and George Bush the whole way. I want a government who can speak for the country. I don’t want a lapdop that’s willing to do anything to get some table scraps from the United States government. I actually feel disgusted at the way Steven Harper has handled himself. While just about every nation except the United States has called on an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Harper thought it would be nice to put on a show of solidarity with Mr. Bush. Earth to Harper, we don’t need a miniature Bush here. And what’s even worse is that we have one who can merely repeat after the real one. I mean what’s all this crap about a new Middle East coming from the United States? The Bush administration even went so far as to essentially call the people who don’t want this ‘new’ Middle East terrorists. Who the hell asked the United States what the Middle East should be? What gives them the right to define what it should be?

Enough of that. What started off as a small discussion about the financial state of Ontario compared to PEI really degenerated into politics. But if I learned one thing in economics in high school (aside from the fact that options are both awesome and evil) is that politics and money are joined at the hip.

Combustion

Well it seems like the ‘kidnapping’ (Israelis like to call it that while Hamas is calling it a ‘capture’… semantics) of the Israeli soldier late last month was just the beginning of what could potentially turn into a regional flare-up. Another two Israeli soldiers were captured recently by Hezbollah, which drags Lebanon back into the sights of Israel. Since Hezbollah and reported to be supported, funded, and armed by Syria and Iran, the entire Middle East region has now been thrown into the thick of things directly or indirectly. While Israel is categorizing its incursions invasion of Palestinian territory as ‘self-defence’, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to convince the rest of world on this matter. Already, the UN Secretary General has called on Israel to at least allow humanitarian aid through the region. Due to the Israeli bombings of the main power station and the destruction of numerous bridges, the humanitarian situation is becoming worse and worse.

And now that Lebanon has been pulled into the mix, it’s hard to imagine this dieing down before it first escalates. Both sides are being extremely stubborn. Israel is refusing to negotiate whatsoever and Hamas and Hezbollah are unlikely to give up their bargaining chip without at least some prisoners being freed by Israel. Neither side is in a favorable position. Hamas and Hezbollah do not have the capabilities to participate in an all out war against the Israeli army, but at the same time, Israel is painting a huge target on themselves. Many people are shocked at Israel’s extreme overreaction to the captures and is definitely not changing its ‘bully’ status in the Middle East…

But enough of that serious stuff… I’ve been neglecting this blog too much recently. I mean look at it, 3 posts so far this month. How terrible is that? I finished up my work for this week pretty early (no, I didn’t even leave my calculus assignment until the last day) and so I’m really trying to make the most of the free time. Extra sleep is definitely first on my list, which is why I have to power through this post and wash up.

I’m currently going through Entourage withdrawal. I finished the first two seasons in about 3 weeks of watching the show and I watched the first 4 episodes of season 3 in one night. I watched the 5th episode of season 3 just the other day. Now I’m without any Entourage until this Sunday. To fill the gap, I’ve been watching some of The Office and I downloaded season 1 of Star Trek: The Next Generation last night.

It’s just about time to start studying for finals as well. Most of the courses are starting to wrap up as there’s really just slightly more than one week of classes left. I’m currently caught up in 4 of my 5 courses so I feel pretty good. (Although I did get back a midterm today, which I got only 82% on. It really wasn’t that difficult of a midterm and I’m extremely disappointed in myself. It seems like circuits just isn’t my forte. Sucks that it has to be the double-weighted course too…) I was aiming for a 90% average, although with the way calculus is going and how I never seem to be able to do well in circuits, I’m not too sure how realistic that is now. Oh well, I’m definitely going to start studying earlier this semester. Hopefully, that’ll be good for a couple percentages.

I also (semi-)decided to buy a desktop this coming work semester. I don’t think I can stand the thought of not having something to game on when I’m bored as heck after work. I can just see that Conroe system with a 20″ LCD already. It would be so nice, but I’ll have to look at the financial situation when next semester rolls around. Speaking of work, I really need to do some research of those analysis tools that my employer sent me…