Monday, February 16, 2009

Oh How I wish I didn't procrastinate during my reading week

I wish I got some work done earlier this week and last weekend because I really wanted to go to treck out to Ottawa and catch a glimpse of Obama...Oh well at least I got to watch him on TV while he was in Canada.
Anyways, I took this photo of the CN Tower while I was in Toronto on Valentines Day. I like how I captured the busyness of the city and the bright lights. I just got a D40 for Christmas and I'm still experimenting with it, but hopefully I'll learn to take some beautiful photos..until then..I'll leave you with this one..

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative by Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria is a pretty intellectual guy. Personally, I've been a fan of his writing and his accomplishments- he always has something of substance to say about issues. In a nut shell Zakaria talks about how the US can learn from Canada and why we are not in such a predicament as as the US is in. All this is due to smart economic decisions are government made for the long term. His argument proves to be very persuasive and compelling. If you have the time... Check this article out.

The legendary editor of The New Republic, Michael Kinsley, once held a "Boring Headline Contest" and decided that the winner was "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative." Twenty-two years later, the magazine was rescued from its economic troubles by a Canadian media company, which should have taught us Americans to be a bit more humble. Now there is even more striking evidence of Canada's virtues. Guess which country, alone in the industrialized world, has not faced a single bank failure, calls for bailouts or government intervention in the financial or mortgage sectors. Yup, it's Canada. In 2008, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system the healthiest in the world. America's ranked 40th, Britain's 44th.

Canada has done more than survive this financial crisis. The country is positively thriving in it. Canadian banks are well capitalized and poised to take advantage of opportunities that American and European banks cannot seize. The Toronto Dominion Bank, for example, was the 15th-largest bank in North America one year ago. Now it is the fifth-largest. It hasn't grown in size; the others have all shrunk.

So what accounts for the genius of the Canadians? Common sense. Over the past 15 years, as the United States and Europe loosened regulations on their financial industries, the Canadians refused to follow suit, seeing the old rules as useful shock absorbers. Canadian banks are typically leveraged at 18 to 1—compared with U.S. banks at 26 to 1 and European banks at a frightening 61 to 1. Partly this reflects Canada's more risk-averse business culture, but it is also a product of old-fashioned rules on banking.
newsweek Quantcast

Canada has also been shielded from the worst aspects of this crisis because its housing prices have not fluctuated as wildly as those in the United States. Home prices are down 25 percent in the United States, but only half as much in Canada. Why? Well, the Canadian tax code does not provide the massive incentive for overconsumption that the U.S. code does: interest on your mortgage isn't deductible up north. In addition, home loans in the United States are "non-recourse," which basically means that if you go belly up on a bad mortgage, it's mostly the bank's problem. In Canada, it's yours. Ah, but you've heard American politicians wax eloquent on the need for these expensive programs—interest deductibility alone costs the federal government $100 billion a year—because they allow the average Joe to fulfill the American Dream of owning a home. Sixty-eight percent of Americans own their own homes. And the rate of Canadian homeownership? It's 68.4 percent.

Canada has been remarkably responsible over the past decade or so. It has had 12 years of budget surpluses, and can now spend money to fuel a recovery from a strong position. The government has restructured the national pension system, placing it on a firm fiscal footing, unlike our own insolvent Social Security. Its health-care system is cheaper than America's by far (accounting for 9.7 percent of GDP, versus 15.2 percent here), and yet does better on all major indexes. Life expectancy in Canada is 81 years, versus 78 in the United States; "healthy life expectancy" is 72 years, versus 69. American car companies have moved so many jobs to Canada to take advantage of lower health-care costs that since 2004, Ontario and not Michigan has been North America's largest car-producing region.

I could go on. The U.S. currently has a brain-dead immigration system. We issue a small number of work visas and green cards, turning away from our shores thousands of talented students who want to stay and work here. Canada, by contrast, has no limit on the number of skilled migrants who can move to the country. They can apply on their own for a Canadian Skilled Worker Visa, which allows them to become perfectly legal "permanent residents" in Canada—no need for a sponsoring employer, or even a job. Visas are awarded based on education level, work experience, age and language abilities. If a prospective immigrant earns 67 points out of 100 total (holding a Ph.D. is worth 25 points, for instance), he or she can become a full-time, legal resident of Canada.

Companies are noticing. In 2007 Microsoft, frustrated by its inability to hire foreign graduate students in the United States, decided to open a research center in Vancouver. The company's announcement noted that it would staff the center with "highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S." So the brightest Chinese and Indian software engineers are attracted to the United States, trained by American universities, then thrown out of the country and picked up by Canada—where most of them will work, innovate and pay taxes for the rest of their lives.

If President Obama is looking for smart government, there is much he, and all of us, could learn from our quiet—OK, sometimes boring—neighbor to the north. Meanwhile, in the councils of the financial world, Canada is pushing for new rules for financial institutions that would reflect its approach. This strikes me as, well, a worthwhile Canadian initiative.


Monday, February 9, 2009

M.I.A Rockin on Stage on her due date

I was introduced to MIA's music a couple years ago by some good friends, and I've been such a huge fan since. She's got a unique style compared to alot of the artist out there.'. I prefer MIA's older album KALA, which was one of my faves. She's also done a ton of mash ups of other songs. One in particular that I loved was with Madonna's "Hung Up' (Thanks Clara, if you ever read this). She's no longer that underground artist who people used to get excited about, since her hit 'paper planes' has made its way through the club scene and her music has now been incorporated into a lot heavy hitter rap artists music. It's not that I'm bothered that she's a more main stream, but there are times when you hear a song over and over again, it eventually gets over played and then you lose interest.... I can't help it! Anyways, she's got a lot of talent and is very committed to not only music but politics and culture. Check out her performance as she rocks out in her lady bug inspired outfit..and killer shades. I don't know if she's singing, it doesn't really sound like it...but eh she looks absolutely stunning! Totally Wicked. The whole time I was thinking what if her water broke. It would been like "swagga like...uhh.AHHHH.(with a stunned look on her face)..I think my water broke.." Could you picture it like I can?? Anyways, just check it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


A different kind of way of going about art that you don't regularly conceive of.
A Man with a concealed face and a razor, for his creative skill and imagination. His moves are stealth...considering how illegal it is cutting up ads and placing them on other advertisements in a collage style. This secretive madness is going on in NYC subways.
Clever? I think so...

Henry Matyjewicz aka Poster boy, the street artist based in NYC, artistic passion just got him arrested....It's art they need to get over it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

He's Just so Cool