My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

9 Articles in June 2008

  1. 30 hours sacrificed to the altar of Mass Effect

    I just finished playing Mass Effect, a Bioware science fiction role-playing game for Xbox 360 (what I played) and now PC. When I bought my Xbox back at Christmas, I knew that Mass Effect was on my short list of Games I Wanted. It had received high praise and excellent reviews; the commercials made it look like the sort of game I would enjoy--I like science fiction, and I like combat as long as the game isn't all combat. So a couple of weeks ago, I bought Mass Effect at about half price on eBay and began playing.

    Many reviewers hailed Mass Effect as the best game of the year. I wouldn't go that far, but then again, I'm not a gamer, and my experience in games this year hasn't been all that much. It is definitely one of the best games I have ever played; however, it does have several weak points that prevent me from enjoying it as much as I would like. I'll cover those later.

    Mass Effect may have the best story of any game this year. As a RPG, you get to play a character and make decisions that affect the story and…

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  2. I do not support the death penalty

    ...but if I did, I'd make it as entertaining as possible.

    I do not believe that any human being is justified in taking the life of another human being. The death penalty does not make sense if you're an atheist, and it doesn't make sense if you're a theist. If you are an atheist, then you probably don't believe in an afterlife. In that case, you are depriving the murderer of existence without inflicting any form of punishment. Since all humans do eventually die, the murderer will die of natural causes eventually. Why not inflict as much punishment before then? Execution robs you of that. If you are a theist, then you probably do believe in an afterlife, which means a "hell" in which the wicked experience divine retribution. However, once again, if you execute a murderer, then he or she will go straight to Hell. And if you do happen to be wrong about the whole "God" thing, you've let that murderer off the hook. Now, since there is a zero per cent chance of the murderer living forever, then it makes sense to inflict as much temporal punishment as possible, then let the murderer experience eternal damnation upon…

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  3. The normality of self

    Pretentious title, no? This is actually just something that occurred to me while having a bath (baths are great that way).

    I don't know which particular set of neurons collided to produce this aspect of my personality, but I've never been one to concern myself with body image--mine or anyone else's. Physically I'm rather lucky in that I lead a sedentary lifestyle but have a high metabolism and a slim build. So I'm very tall and rather thin. If I were more physically active, I might actually be fit and perhaps develop some muscles, but those same neurons decided that I would prefer to sit in front of a glowing screen and push electrons about while writing blog entries discussing the pushing of those same electrons.

    Where was I? Oh yes, body image. I've never been particularly concerned with my body image. However, since I bike to work during the summer--an increased level of physical activity--I started thinking about how this would affect my body. In the bath tub I looked at my thighs and thought, "Wow, are my thighs really that big?" :ermm: That thought made me think about body image, and I realized that I don't know if…

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  4. Please remember to breathe

    If there were one thing I would change about myself, it is the fact that I lack the ability to inhabit the moment. I am constantly and consistently thinking only of the future--not necessarily the distant future, more usually the immediate, next-couple-of-hours-or-days future. And I find that this drains me more than is necessary.

    Summer is supposed to be time off from school to relax, but present-day economics throws a wrench in that model. Students instead usually must arm themselves with resumes and hunt out at least one (if not more) summer jobs in order to pay for schooling, residence, food, gas, and whatever expensive habits they have acquired since they had enough money to buy expensive habit-forming items.

    I'm one of the lucky ones. I don't have to pay for schooling, residence, or food. All I need to take care of are my expensive habits,((i.e., buying DVDs and miscellaneous computer stuff)) and sometimes gas, although my dad is pretty generous in that area. Otherwise, I'm just saving my money for when I will need to pay for school, when I'll need to start renting an apartment or put a down payment on a house or anyone of those expenses…

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  5. Canadian Copyright: A Call to Arms

    Fair Copyright for Canada

    You often hear someone invoke the phrase, "As a __," in which he or she then goes on to name some sort of position or title that gives him or her the ability to voice an opinion on the subject at hand. "As a world leader...," "As a scientist...," "As a schoolteacher...," "As an evil overlord...." Here's something on which we should all have an opinion.

    As a person, I value access to information. Many people, especially those my age, do not realize how saturated we are with information (or if you do, you may not understand what that means in a historical context). Go back in time about 550 years. There was a new invention on the scene in Europe: the printing press. The printing press allowed people to do something that, until then, was a very laborious task: it enabled the mass transmission of information in a written form. Prior to then, books were copied out by hand--usually by monks--and few people knew how to read. Most knowledge was passed on orally. And most people had access to very little information compared to what an individual knows today.

    Fast forward 550 years back to present day. We…

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  6. Spark

    Lately I've been listening to CBC Radio's new show Spark.

    Some of you may recall that I'm not always fond of the CBC, but they've got something good going with Spark. It's the sort of show that would appeal to demographics that might otherwise view the CBC as stodgy and uninteresting. Spark's host, Nora Young, discusses the latest technology and technological phenomena with guests. Specifically, the show focuses on how technology integrates into and impacts our daily life. So even if you aren't a technowizard, you could still find the show interesting (and perhaps even informative).

    Take a look at the Spark blog to get an idea of what sort of topics the show's covered in the past. Even if you don't get CBC radio where you live, you can listen to Spark via podcast--that's how I listen, because then I can just put it on when it's convenient.

  7. With a cherry on top

    Not every day can be awesome--if it were, our standards would inevitably just rise to redefine the level of "awesome" required to indeed be awesome. It reminds me of that scene Gattaca, in which the corporate head honcho discusses how they can "measure" human potential. The innocent hero asks, "And what if they exceed their potential?" And head honcho replies, in the coldest and most calculating tone, "No one exceeds their potential. If they do, it simply means we did not measure it accurately in the first place." For me, that was the most chilling moment of the movie.

    Yet I digress. Not every day can be awesome. And not every day can be terrible. Some days are mediocre. Some days are gloomy. Some days are better than average. Today (or rather yesterday, I guess) was better than average--with a cherry on top.

    It was nice outside, so I took this reprieve from the rain as a chance to walk down to Hillcrest Park and read for a little. The wind picked up, however, and the bugs were especially bad, so I didn't stay as long as I could have. When I got home, I did some housework…

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  8. Website redesign

    Those of you not reading this through a feed (that is, if anyone actually subscribes to my feed...) will notice things looking a little ... different.

    This is the long-awaited, long promised redesign! The previous design has been in use since before my site moved to A Small Orange in October 2005. It was time for a change, time for a fresh look, time to update the site to better reflect me. That was a challenge on its own.

    As I began toying with designs, I had to confront the question What reflects my personality? What could I put in my personal site design? After all, that's the only purpose this site has--it's a vanity site. I could incorporate pictures of me, except I don't have many. Maybe some scenes of Thunder Bay. I toyed with various concepts and positioning. Eventually I struck on the idea of using a vertical banner image of my socks-and-sandals photo. It looked nifty and different, plus it is most definitely me. I like socks with sandals. :D

    I chipped away at the rest of the design piece by piece. I found a good stock photo of a tea cup to include in the…

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About Me

I’m a 26-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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