Saturday, September 16, 2006

The most well-shot films of all time - i.e. in terms of cinematography

Results sorted by number of votes:

Blade Runner
Saving Private Ryan
The Thin Red Line

Citizen Kane
The Godfather

2001: A Space Odyssey
Apocalypse Now
Schindler's List

Star Wars
The Matrix

Barry Lyndon
Days of Heaven
Lawrence of Arabia
Lord of the Rings
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The New World

David Warren on the treachery of the media (regarding the Pope's speech at Regensburg)


This was not a crude anti-Islamic polemic; nor was it so at the end of the 14th century. It was a quest for peace and amity, then as now.

By turning the story back-to-front, so that what's promised in the lead -- a crude attack on Islam -- is quietly withdrawn much later in the text, the BBC journalists were having a little mischief. The kind of mischief that is likely to end with Catholic priests and faithful butchered around the Muslim world. Either the writers were so jaw-droppingly ignorant, they did not realize this is what they were abetting (always a possibility with the postmodern journalist), or the malice was intended. There is no third possibility.

From the start, the BBC's reports said the Pope would "face criticism from Muslim leaders" -- in the present tense. This is a form of dishonesty that has become common in journalism today. The flagrantly biased reporter, feigning objectivity, spices his story by just guessing what a man’s enemies will say, even before they have spoken.

While I don't mean to pick especially on the BBC, when other mainstream media are often as culpable, they are worth singling out here to show the amount of sheer, murderous evil of which this taxpayer-funded network is capable.

European Population Substructure: Clustering of Northern and Southern Populations - apparently Ashkenazi Jews are, genetically, southern Europeans

The Pope on secularism


The Gospel invites us to realize that we have a "deficit" in our capacity for perception - initially, we do not notice this deficiency as such, since everything else seems so urgent and logical; since everything seems to proceed normally, even when we no longer have eyes and ears for God and we live without him. But it is true that everything goes on as usual when God no longer is a part of our lives and our world? [...] Every now and then, however, some African Bishop will say to me: “If I come to Germany and present social projects, suddenly every door opens. But if I come with a plan for evangelization, I meet with reservations”. Clearly some people have the idea that social projects should be urgently undertaken, while anything dealing with God or even the Catholic faith is of limited and lesser urgency. Yet the experience of those Bishops is that evangelization itself should be foremost, that the God of Jesus Christ must be known, believed in and loved, and that hearts must be converted if progress is to be made on social issues and reconciliation is to begin, and if - for example - AIDS is to be combated by realistically facing its deeper causes and the sick are to be given the loving care they need. Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable. When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little. All too quickly the mechanisms of violence take over: the capacity to destroy and to kill becomes dominant, becomes the way to gain power - a power which at some point should bring law, but which will never be able to do so. Reconciliation, and a shared commitment to justice and love, recede into the distance.

People in Africa and Asia admire, indeed, the scientific and technical prowess of the West, but they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason, and one to be taught to their cultures too. They do not see the real threat to their identity in the Christian faith, but in the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom and that holds up utility as the supreme criterion for the future of scientific research. Dear friends, this cynicism is not the kind of tolerance and cultural openness that the world's peoples are looking for and that all of us want! The tolerance which we urgently need includes the fear of God - respect for what others hold sacred. This respect for what others hold sacred demands that we ourselves learn once more the fear of God. But this sense of respect can be reborn in the Western world only if faith in God is reborn, if God become once more present to us and in us.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A few posts by Amy Welborn on reactions to the Pope's recent speech in Regensburg on reason, Islam, secularism, etc.

Oh, please

Raging on

Needed: A sense of irony and a clue

Protests in pictures

A bit of support

Lending a hand

Mr. Pope...

Pithy summations:

Lots of links to reviews of Christoph Luxenberg's "Die syro-aramäische Lesart des Koran : Ein Beitrag zur Entschlüsselung der Koransprache" ["The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran : a Contribution to the Decyphering of the Koranic Language"]

Answers to Muslims - it seems to be written by a Catholic

Penetration distance (inches) for a .303 bullet in various materials according to the "Field Service Pocket Book"

Steel plate, best                              0 4375
Steel plate, ordinary mild, or wrought iron    0 75
Shingle                                        6
Coal, hard                                     6
Brickwork, cement mortar                       9
Brickwork, lime mortar                        14
Chalk                                         15
Sand, between boards or in sandbags           18
Sand, loose                                   30
Hard wood, e g  oak                           38
Earth, free from stones (unrammed)            40
Soft wood, e g  fir                           58
Clay                                          60
Dry turf or peat                              80

On bullet penetration in water

"Based on these observations a person must be submerged at least 5 ft. to feel reasonably safe from .50 caliber machine gun fire and at least 2 ft. for .30 caliber machine gun fire."

Process Lasso

Process Lasso is a unique new technology intended to automatically restrain running processes that are consuming too many CPU cycles.

CamStudio - Free Screen Recording Software

CamStudio is able to record all screen and audio activity on your computer and create industry-standard AVI video files and using its built-in SWF Producer can turn those AVIs into lean, mean, bandwidth-friendly Streaming Flash videos (SWFs)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

FirearmsID - An Introduction to Forensic Firearm Identification

Who The Terror Apologists Support

"Check out this list of Representatives in the House who "support the interests" of CAIR as ranked by the organization itself."

On the Christian foundation of Western rights and freedoms


What my students precisely lacked was imagination, imagination to understand that the past was a different place, with different ways of living and thinking about the world, and that women, and men, too, had ways of deriving satisfaction and even happiness without the opportunities or legal arrangements of our present time. The almost knee-jerk reaction of contemporary students was instead: Why did women put up with that? My young female students were convinced that they, unlike Emma, would never stand for a bumbler like Charles Bovary. This way of thinking, however, is contingent upon the material conditions of the world we live in. Since the time of Flaubert and Mann, the advance of capitalism has radically altered material life in the West, led to changes in civic and political arrangements, and transformed our assumptions about the right way to live.

It is a superficial, but dangerous, trope of our time that advances in democracy and human freedom are self-evident to rational minds. This delusion is common among liberals and the Left, who never cease uncovering instances of authoritarianism, cruelty, and intolerance in the distant or the recent past. [...] For her it is the achievement of the secular Enlightenment that we are "more compassionate, humane, and respectful of human rights." Just compare, she writes, the fourteenth century's treatment of prisoners to today's, "an advance due to Enlightenment reformers."

As a scholar of the eighteenth century, I am familiar with this attribution of our supposed moral advance to the sages of the Enlightenment. The philosophes, however, independent scholars of their day, were simply capitalizing on the changed material environment in which they lived. Beginning in the early modern period, in the late fifteenth century, with European exploration of the globe and the opening of vast international trade, men (and mostly they were men) began to have economic opportunities beyond those dictated by tradition. The history of the West since then has been one of continuous improvement in the material life of more and more people, not simply the traditionally rich and privileged. With this democratization of wealth, ordinary men began to chafe at the traditional political and civic arrangements that kept them from wearing the clothes they liked, marrying the person of their choice, or choosing their own profession. The market began to offer "choice" not only in lifestyle but also in products. In response to this more liberal economic environment, philosophers began to enunciate ideas concerning liberty and individual freedom. But where would they have come up with the idea that each of us has a right to determine our destiny, if not for the moral legacy of Christianity, namely, the uniqueness of every person before God and the duty of that person to work out his individual salvation? All of liberalism's important achievements - free political institutions, religious practice, intellectual and artistic expression - grew, in tandem with the wealth of the West, from that simple idea.

Don't imagine that because criminals now have clean cells, even telephone privileges and access to law libraries, that we are more enlightened than our fourteenth-century predecessors. With our current material resources - a huge establishment of lawyers (many of them women), college degrees in prison management, cheap electricity, food providers, and so on - it would be irrational to keep criminals chained to walls in unheated cells for years, dependent for food on meals brought by their next of kin, and all the other horrors of incarceration brought to us by Alexandre Dumas. Liberals, and Heather Mac Donald, think that such "progress" is self-evident, as if ethics were something that accumulated in our arteries like cholesterol. But make no mistake: If we returned to the material conditions of the fourteenth century, prisoners would have their law books taken away.

While it is self-evident to Heather Mac Donald that "the rule of law" is transparent to "all rational minds," try that idea on the Chinese, who are certainly rational (and infinitely skeptical, it would seem). One of the reasons that the concept of human rights has so much difficulty inserting itself in China is because of the absence of a Christian legacy. The Chinese are becoming more prosperous, but they have only the vaguest sense of what is second nature to us in the West - namely, the sacredness of the human person. The greatest reform movement in the world, the abolition of slavery, was led by Christians, not the philosophes. So, yes, Miss Mac Donald, we do live parasitically off the moral legacy of Christianity.

Test Pilot - helicopter game (Flash)

Manhattan skyline panoramas — 6.5 miles of NYC skyscrapers - nice diagrams that name the individual buildings

The Curt Jester: Catholic hospital does the right thing

Women are no longer able to get tubal ligations at Catholic-run St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Humboldt, Sask.

The sterilization procedure had been banned at the hospital since the end of June, following a decision by the hospital board.

Tube-tying decision examined

"We were not involved in this decision," said Saskatoon Health Region spokesperson Kerilyn Voigt, when asked about St. Elizabeth's change in policy.

Voigt said the board of governors for St. Elizabeth does not report to them but to the Saskatchewan Catholic Health Corporation, which is owned by the province's bishops.

"(The decision) is out of our hands," Voigt said.

Bishop Albert LeGatt of the Saskatoon diocese said the Catholic Health-Care Ethics Guide, which is overseen by the bishops of Canada and the Catholic Health Association of Canada, dictates that tubal ligation is not to be used when its only purpose is the regulation of conception.

"It's a reflection of Catholic theology and Catholic moral teaching," LeGatt said.

"In a sense what it is, is a Catholic health-care institution exercising a community right guaranteed by the Charter of Rights under the freedom of religion.

"That would be the same for any other faith-based health-care institution."

St. Pauls Hospital supports St. Elizabeth position on tubal ligation

The Executive Director of St. Paul's Hospital says it's not surprising that St. Elizabeth's Catholic Hospital in Humboldt is ending it's practice of providing tubal ligation surgery.

Brenda Fitzgerald says St. Pauls would be in a similar situation if it was required to provide full obstetric and gynecological services. She says as a Catholic Hospital, St. Pauls is required to follow the Catholic Ethics Guide, just as St. Elizabeth's does.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


DSpeech is a TTS (Text To Speech) program with integrated ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) functionality.

The Pope discusses Islam a bit (but mainly secularism), quoting from this book, it would seem; by the way, the English translation of the original Getrman seems to be faulty in some respects... This seems more accurate, but the Greek quotes are messed up a bit...

Excerpts (from the first link):

In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason," I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation ("diálesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: Not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry.


From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature.

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which ultimately led to the claim that we can only know God's "voluntas ordinata." Beyond this is the realm of God's freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done.

This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazn and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God's transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions.

As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language (cf. Lateran IV).

God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Ephesians 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is logos. Consequently, Christian worship is "logic latreía" -- worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Romans 12:1)

The X0 Project - they want to get the best possible version of the original Star Wars movies from laserdisc (using the Pioneer X0 player) and put them on DVDs... The site includes articles on color correction, etc.

An interesting fact about the constellation Scutum:

"The original name Scutum Sobiescianum (Sobieski's Shield) was introduced in late 1683 by Hevelius as commemoration of the victory [over the Turks] of the Christian forces led by Polish king and hero John III Sobieski in the battle of Vienna."

Al-Qaeda from the inside out

"Lawrence Wright traces the intellectual history of al-Qaeda in a marvellous article for the New Yorker. The view looking out from within al-Qaeda is completely different from the standard narrative provided by the newspapers."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The following article is not serious, but is it legally possible?

Canada seeks admission to United States on technicality


The case, which is expected to reach the United States Supreme Court before the end of the year, hinges on technicalities in the founding documents of the United States. According to Canada, they were offered statehood 225 years ago and they never turned down the offer nor was it rescinded at any point by the United States.

According to the Canadian legal staff, the United States Articles of Confederation, which were written and accepted by Congress November 15, 1777 and subsequently ratified and put in force March 1, 1781, contains a clause admitting Canada to the United States. The clause, known as Article XI, reads, "Canada acceding to this confederation, and adjoining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union; but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States." Canada is using this clause as the basis of their claim to statehood.

Canada's claim was initially written off on the grounds that the Articles of Confederation have long since been replaced by the Constitution of the United States. However, Canada's legal staff have put forth the argument that the Constitution of the United States supercedes but does not replace the Articles of Confederation. If Canada is able to successfully argue that the Constitution of the United States merely supercedes the Articles of Confederation, then they will be well on their way to proving their right to statehood as the Constitution of the United States in no way cancels out the Articles of Confederation's invitation to Canada.

The central element of the argument that the Articles of Confederation are still in effect is that the Constitution of the United States were adopted in a manner that was not in accord with the amendment process laid out in the Articles of Confederation. The amendment process for the Articles of Confederation are laid out in Article XIII, stated as, "the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State."

The Constitution of the United States was not put into place under the Articles of Confederation as it was put into effect under its own Article VII, which reads, "The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same." Since the Constitution of the United States was not put into effect under the methods laid out by the Articles of Confederation, Canada may have a very powerful means for arguing against the replacement of the Articles of Confederation by the Constitution of the United States.

The first 9/11, and Mary's Holy Name! - Feast of the Holy Name of Mary: September 12

On this great feastday of Our Lady’s Holy Name, established in 1683 to honor Mary’s intercession to deliver Christendom from the Moslem onslaught at Vienna - on September 11 and 12 that year - we recall the words of Psalm 33: “The LORD foils the plan of nations, frustrates the designs of peoples. The plan of the LORD stands forever, wise designs through all generations. Happy the nation whose God is the LORD, the people chosen as his very own.”

Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc, who predicted in a 1936 essay that Islam would again attempt to conquer the West, reviewed the history of its successful aggressions against our civilization, culminating in “the last effort they made to destroy Christendom”:

“Vienna . . . was almost taken, and was only saved by the Christian army under the command of the King of Poland [Jan Sobieski] on a date that should be among the most famous in history - September 11, 1683.

On that date, 9/11/1683, the rescuing Christian army attacked the Turks besieging Vienna, delivering a resounding defeat on the next day, September 12. The Viennese, under fierce siege for two months, had sought the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“The object of this feast [The Holy Name of Mary] is our blessed Lady bearing the name of Mary, and it was instituted that on it the faithful might in a special manner recommend to God, through the intercession of His all-holy Mother, the needs of the Church, and thank Him for His almighty protection and numberless mercies, especially those we receive on account of the graces and mediation of the Blessed Virgin. The feast was allowed at Cuenca in Spain in 1513; it spread in that country, and in 1683 Pope Innocent XI extended it to the whole Western church, as an act of thanksgiving for the raising of the siege of Vienna and the defeat of the Turks by John Sobieski, King of Poland; it . . . is now kept on the date of Sobieski’s triumph.” Butler’s Lives (vol III, p 544).

In an insightful secular essay, The Revolt of Islam: When did the conflict with the West begin, and how could it end? (New Yorker Magazine 11/19/01), Bernard Lewis wrote:

Then the change came. The second Turkish siege of Vienna, in 1683, ended in total failure followed by headlong retreat - an entirely new experience for the Ottoman armies. A contemporary Turkish historian, Silihdar Mehmet Aga, described the disaster with commendable frankness: "This was a calamitous defeat, so great that there has been none like it since the first appearance of the Ottoman state." This defeat, suffered by what was then the major military power of the Muslim world, gave rise to a new debate, which in a sense has been going on ever since. The argument began among the Ottoman military and political élite as a discussion of two questions: Why had the once victorious Ottoman armies been vanquished by the despised Christian enemy? And how could they restore the previous situation?

Did Christ's enemies, and ours, choose 9/11/2001 to “get back” for 9/11/1683, and all the Moslem defeats that followed? Or, did God perhaps allow this to be the fateful date, that we might recall how Vienna, and what once was rightly called Christendom, were rescued by faith and by repentance, and might like them return to the path that leads to peace - to love of God and neighbor, and obedience to God's commandments - the path taught by Jesus, exemplified by Mary's earthly life, and again emphasized by our beloved Pontiff in his first encyclical, href="">Deus
caritas est?

To answer the question of Mr. Lewis’ essay title, “How could it end?”, the conflict between the West and Islam could end in peace - if those who have heard and once believed the Gospel again embrace it, and submit to God their wills, and their lives. In 1683, a holy Capuchin monk, Fr. Mark D’Aviano, asked for help by King Leopold, who worried over the Moslem advance upon Vienna, href="">addressed the Viennese, “’Vienna, Vienna, your love of lax living has prepared you a grave and imminent chastisement: Convert, and consider well what you are doing, O wretched Vienna.’ He was listened to: the emperor commanded public penances, and the Viennese, like latter-day Ninevites, prayed and did penance.”

Must not America and the West today repent again, of its abortions, pornography, immorality, atheism, materialism; of its love of luxury in preference to the love of God and neighbor?

St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716), the “Apostle of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” predicted:

"The power of Mary over all devils will be particularly outstanding in the last period of time. She will extend the Kingdom of Christ over the idolaters and Moslems, and there will come a glorious era in which Mary will be the ruler and Queen of human hearts."

Let us, then, keep this holy day by prayer and by repentance, asking Our Blessed Mother Mary again to intercede with her Divine Son, to obtain the conversion of the Moslems (the truly devout among whom greatly revere Mary), and to bring about the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart, and ensuing period of world peace, that she prophesied - and promised - at Fatima, Portugal, on July 13, 1917.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Guide to Al Durah: Recent Posts - on Pallywood and the Western media

Notes on Red's 4K projected footage at IBC - on the new very-high-resolution Red camera