Stupidus

Saturday, February 10, 2007


The Curt Jester: Edward Tracts - John Edwards' version of Chick tracts


Kijiji - free local Classifieds Ads and Want Ads, for cities in various countries (not USA, for some reason)

Canadian version


RocketIndie

A DVD production/distribution service; they make their money from a $5 shipping and handling fee, as well as $29 for each 1000 (or fewer) DVDs in their warehouse.


Canon HV20 Overview - cheap ($1100) HD camera coming in April

Friday, February 09, 2007


Making Kids Worthless: Social Security's Contribution to the Fertility Crisis

Excerpt (see article for the graphs):

Why have children when the state will take care of you in your old age?

The effect of social security on fertility is seen clearly in empirical data. The figure below shows cross-sectional data from over 100 countries in 1997. In this data, all countries with large pension systems have fertility rates below the replacement level. No country with pension payments above 4 per cent of GDP has a fertility rate above 3.

Historical data is even more revealing. The following figure depicts time-series data from eight European countries from 1960 to the present. The growth of social security payments (X-axis) is associated with the decline of fertility (Y-axis) almost one-to-one.


'Contraceptive' Push by Abortion Business Leads to Largest Ever Surge in UK Abortion

MSI staff professed themselves "taken aback" at the surge in abortion demand despite a campaign to promote the use of emergency contraception. Described as a massive publicity drive, the campaign urged women to purchase the morning-after pill and promoted the MSI "party purse", according to a report by the UK News, including the pill, condoms and a guide to sexual health.

Anthony Ozimic, political secretary for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), responded to Marie Stopes's comments on the unprecedented numbers of abortions it performed last month, saying, "Marie Stopes should stop trying to fool the public by feigning innocence and bewilderment about the rise in abortions. There is overwhelming evidence that easier access to birth control drugs and devices, which Marie Stopes promotes and provides, has failed to contain the rising number of abortions."

"Marie Stopes also spends significant resources promoting and providing abortion," Ozimic said. "Unborn children are being killed and vulnerable women are suffering post-abortion trauma as a result of Marie Stopes' work."

A leading UK family planning expert admitted in September that promoting emergency contraception has not decreased the number of pregnancies or abortions in the country, which in fact have continued to rise.

"Despite the clear increase in the use of emergency contraception, abortion rates have not fallen in the UK. They have risen from 11 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 1984 (136,388 abortions) to 17.8 per 1,000 in 2004 (185,400 abortions)," wrote Anna Glasier, director of the Lothian primary care NHS trust in Edinburgh, in the British Medical Journal.


Study Finds Pro-life Incremental Legislation Cuts Minor Abortion Rates by Almost 25%

"Abortion-restricting legislation reduces the rate of abortions among minor girls by nearly 25 percent, a new study shows, with Medicaid funding restrictions and parental notification laws having the greatest impact."


Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform

The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) is an educational pro-life organization whose mission is to make abortion unthinkable. CCBR conveys the plight of the unborn through visual displays and trains people how to articulate a scientific and philosophical defense for the position against abortion. CCBR’s activities are designed to change hearts and minds as a precursor to transforming behavior. People are reached at various venues including high schools, universities, churches, public streets, and public gatherings.

Since its inception, CCBR has been instrumental in the display of Genocide Awareness Project images in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. CCBR personnel have given apologetics training, engaged in debates, and presented pro-life strategy and motivational talks across North America.

Why Our Approach

There are numerous known testimonies of saved lives and changed minds as a result of CCBR and CBR's work. Here is a selection of positive feedback from presentations and visual projects.


Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform

The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) is an educational pro-life organization whose mission is to make abortion unthinkable. CCBR conveys the plight of the unborn through visual displays and trains people how to articulate a scientific and philosophical defense for the position against abortion. CCBR’s activities are designed to change hearts and minds as a precursor to transforming behavior. People are reached at various venues including high schools, universities, churches, public streets, and public gatherings.

Since its inception, CCBR has been instrumental in the display of Genocide Awareness Project images in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. CCBR personnel have given apologetics training, engaged in debates, and presented pro-life strategy and motivational talks across North America.

Why Our Approach

There are numerous known testimonies of saved lives and changed minds as a result of CCBR and CBR's work. Here is a selection of positive feedback from presentations and visual projects.


The Elliot Institute - an attempt to "erect a preemptive prohibition on all forms of human engineering"


Moralism and UK Adoption Laws

[W]itness this latest example of moralism, a secular-liberal moralism imposed by law, from Great Britain. At issue was whether the Catholic Church would be forced to comply with proposed sexual-orientation anti-discrimination laws that would require publicly funded Catholic adoption agencies to place children with gay couples.Up until a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Tony Blair was in favor of a conscience exemption for the Church, but after a revolt from his Cabinet, Blair announced there would be no exemptions: Instead, everyone would be given a twenty-one-month transition period to comply with the law.

[...]

The law doesn't really imagine that Catholic adoption agencies are somehow preventing gay and lesbian couples from adopting elsewhere. The proposed law is, instead, a device to rebuke the Church, to tell the Church that its teachings about homosexuality and marriage are false, a way for gay-rights activists to attack Christianity under the mantel of nondiscrimination.

Banned in Boston

Excerpts:

Just how serious are the coming conflicts over religious liberty stemming from gay marriage?

"The impact will be severe and pervasive," Picarello says flatly. "This is going to affect every aspect of church-state relations." Recent years, he predicts, will be looked back on as a time of relative peace between church and state, one where people had the luxury of litigating cases about things like the Ten Commandments in courthouses. In times of relative peace, says Picarello, people don't even notice that "the church is surrounded on all sides by the state; that church and state butt up against each other. The boundaries are usually peaceful, so it's easy sometimes to forget they are there. But because marriage affects just about every area of the law, gay marriage is going to create a point of conflict at every point around the perimeter."

[L]ast December, the Becket Fund brought together ten religious liberty scholars of right and left to look at the question of the impact of gay marriage on the freedom of religion. Picarello summarizes: "All the scholars we got together see a problem; they all see a conflict coming. They differ on how it should be resolved and who should win, but they all see a conflict coming."

Reading through these and the other scholars' papers, I noticed an odd feature. Generally speaking the scholars most opposed to gay marriage were somewhat less likely than others to foresee large conflicts ahead--perhaps because they tended to find it "inconceivable," as Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine law school put it, that "a successful analogy will be drawn in the public mind between irrational, and morally repugnant, racial discrimination and the rational, and at least morally debatable, differentiation of traditional and same-sex marriage." That's a key consideration. For if orientation is like race, then people who oppose gay marriage will be treated under law like bigots who opposed interracial marriage. Sure, we don't arrest people for being racists, but the law does intervene in powerful ways to punish and discourage racial discrimination, not only by government but also by private entities. Doug Laycock, a religious liberty expert at the University of Texas law school, similarly told me we are a "long way" from equating orientation with race in the law.

By contrast, the scholars who favor gay marriage found it relatively easy to foresee looming legal pressures on faith-based organizations opposed to gay marriage, perhaps because many of these scholars live in social and intellectual circles where the shift Kmiec regards as inconceivable has already happened. They have less trouble imagining that people and groups who oppose gay marriage will soon be treated by society and the law the way we treat racists because that's pretty close to the world in which they live now.

[...]

As general counsel for the American Jewish Congress, Marc Stern knows religious liberty law from the inside out. Like Anthony Picarello, he sees the coming conflicts as pervasive. The problem is not that clergy will be forced to perform gay marriages or prevented from preaching their beliefs. Look past those big red herrings: "No one seriously believes that clergy will be forced, or even asked, to perform marriages that are anathema to them. Same-sex marriage would, however, work a sea change in American law. That change will reverberate across the legal and religious landscape in some ways that are today unpredictable," he writes in his Becket Fund paper.

Consider education. Same-sex marriage will affect religious educational institutions, he argues, in at least four ways: admissions, employment, housing, and regulation of clubs. One of Stern's big worries right now is a case in California where a private Christian high school expelled two girls who (the school says) announced they were in a lesbian relationship. Stern is not optimistic. And if the high school loses, he tells me, "then religious schools are out of business." Or at least the government will force religious schools to tolerate both conduct and proclamations by students they believe to be sinful.

[...]

Precisely because support for marriage is public policy, once marriage includes gay couples, groups who oppose gay marriage are likely to be judged in violation of public policy, triggering a host of negative consequences, including the loss of tax-exempt status. Because marriage is not a private act, but a protected public status, the legalization of gay marriage sends a strong signal that orientation is now on a par with race in the nondiscrimination game. And when we get gay marriage because courts have declared it a constitutional right, the signal is stronger still.

The method and the mechanism for achieving protected status may be different for orientation and for race. Even the Massachusetts supreme court, for example, declined to rule explicitly that orientation is a protected class, subject to strict scrutiny. But in Massachusetts, the end result may be similar. If state courts declare gay marriage a constitutional right, they are likely to see support for gay marriage as state public policy.

On the cultural level, the declaration by a court that only animus explains why anyone would treat two men differently from a husband and wife represents an unfolding civil rights logic that has real consequences. As Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman put it, "But if you give one church permission to discriminate against gays, what's next? Permission to discriminate against blacks or Jews who want to adopt?"


FilmAffinity - a film rating site

FilmAffinity Ranking Lists

Examples:

My Favorite Movies
My All-time Worst
My Favorite All-Time TV Series
Upcoming Movies: Not To Miss
Movies I Want to See (not upcoming movies)
Movies I Want to Buy
Movies I Own
My Favorite Dramas
[etc.]


Al Gore doesn't really care about "global warming"

Excerpts:

Emerging economies such as China are justified in holding back on fighting greenhouse gas emissions until richer polluters like the United States do more to solve the problem, former Vice President Al Gore said Wednesday.

Chinese officials said they would act after industrial countries such as the United States and others make changes themselves, Gore said, addressing a conference in Madrid on global warming.

"They're right in saying that. But we have to act quickly," said Gore.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Greenscreen and Bluescreen Checklist

"Shooting for greenscreen or bluescreen? Here's a list of hard-earned experiences from the shoots where I've been vfx supervisor."


On the danger of liberalism

Excerpts:

Policy Exchange, the think tank, has published a poll-based study that shows young British-born Muslims are far more alienated from mainstream society than their parents.

The Policy Exchange report argues that this alienation is largely due to more than 20 years of official multiculturalism. This benighted orthodoxy has emphasised differences and divisions and promoted a sense of grievance that is sometimes almost paranoid. This amounts to full-blown victimhood, whipped up not just by Muslim spokesmen but also by nonMuslim journalists and commentators and human rights activists in the victim industry, who complain, in defiance of the evidence, of growing Islamophobic attacks and persistent police harassment; they make comparisons with Nazi Germany. The mayor of London, no less, called at a recent conference for an end to the "media's orgy of Islamophobia".

These inflammatory accusations persist. For example, the supposedly moderate Dr Mohammad Naseem, a champion of interfaith dialogue, an honorary doctor of Birmingham University and chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, said last Thursday that he believed the government was "pursuing a policy of maintaining a perception of a [terrorist] threat to justify the draconian antiterror laws they have been passing". It had, he said, embarked on "a campaign to strike terror into the hearts of the Muslim people", and he compared Blair's Britain with Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union. He is encouraging people to disbelieve the police's assurances last week that they are "not targeting faith communities but suspected criminals". This is paranoia gone mainstream.


The VizieR Catalogue Service

VizieR provides access to the most complete library of published astronomical catalogues and data tables available on line, organized in a self-documented database. Query tools allow the user to select relevant data tables and to extract and format records matching given criteria. Specific care has been taken for optimizing access to some very large catalogues such as UCAC2, the USNO-B1, or the 2MASS last release.


SMART97: a new solution for the rotation of the rigid Earth (PDF)

The Earth rotation solution SMART97 (Solution du Mouvement de l'Axe de Rotation de la Terre) is an analytical solution of the Earth rotation in the rigid case.

Locations of source code files that implement the above

For example, example.f is here: http://vizier.u-strasbg.fr/ftp/pub/A+A/329/329/example.f


Computing planetary positions

Below is a description of how to compute the positions for the Sun and Moon and the major planets, as well as for comets and minor planets, from a set of orbital elements.

The algorithms have been simplified as much as possible while still keeping a fairly good accuracy. The accuracy of the computed positions is a fraction of an arc minute for the Sun and the inner planets, about one arc minute for the outer planets, and 1-2 arc minutes for the Moon. If we limit our accuracy demands to this level, one can simplify further by e.g. ignoring the difference between mean, true and apparent positions.

The positions computed below are for the 'equinox of the day', which is suitable for computing rise/set times, but not for plotting the position on a star map drawn for a fixed epoch. In the latter case, correction for precession must be applied, which is most simply performed as a rotation along the ecliptic.


Announcement: Moray acquired by POV-Ray; to be released as Open Source

Moray is a Windows program specifically designed to create 3d models and scenes to be used with the POV-Ray raytracer, and was originally sold as trialware.

POV will, in due course, re-issue Moray under a new name and new license. The license has not been decided on with finality, but will be OSI-approved. [POV is planning to release it under the GPLv3 but this decision is subject of course to review of the final version of that license.]

The POV-Team is continuing development on version 3.7, which is the last planned major release of the current POV-Ray codebase prior to version 4.0. [...] The current version 3.7 development codebase will be made publicly available at around the same time as the Moray codebase. This will allow the public to assist, if they wish, in completing version 3.7 of POV-Ray and will also assist in the transition to 4.0.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


"We have long memories" - lots of comments on the Liberal Party threat to limit or nationalize the Alberta oil industry

NEP: The National Energy Program ... 25 Years Later


Orwell's "Catalonia" revisited - on his support for destroying churches, etc.

Excerpt:

As late as 1944, reviewing F. A. von Hayek's Road to Serfdom, Orwell wrote, "A return to 'free' competition means for the great mass of the people a tyranny worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the state." One pinches oneself: what, with Hitler and Stalin still alive, the Holocaust continuing, and the Gulag full to overflowing? In 1949, he allowed Homage to Catalonia to be reprinted without any note of retraction.


Orwell's "Catalonia" revisited - on his support for destroying churches and enlisting child soldiers, etc.

Excerpt:

As late as 1944, reviewing F. A. von Hayek's Road to Serfdom, Orwell wrote, "A return to 'free' competition means for the great mass of the people a tyranny worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the state." One pinches oneself: what, with Hitler and Stalin still alive, the Holocaust continuing, and the Gulag full to overflowing? In 1949, he allowed Homage to Catalonia to be reprinted without any note of retraction.


Bird's eye view of famous TV homes - with links to info such as address, evaluation, etc.


The real deal? - Some scientists deny global warming exists

Excerpts:

Dr. Shaviv's digging led him to the surprising discovery that there is no concrete evidence -- only speculation -- that man-made greenhouse gases cause global warming. Even research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-- the United Nations agency that heads the worldwide effort to combat global warming -- is bereft of anything here inspiring confidence. In fact, according to the IPCC's own findings, man's role is so uncertain that there is a strong possibility that we have been cooling, not warming, the Earth. Unfortunately, our tools are too crude to reveal what man's effect has been in the past, let alone predict how much warming or cooling we might cause in the future.

[...]

"Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th-century global warming," he states, particularly because of the evidence that has been accumulating over the past decade of the strong relationship that cosmic-ray flux has on our atmosphere. So much evidence has by now been amassed, in fact, that "it is unlikely that [the solar climate link] does not exist."

The sun's strong role indicates that greenhouse gases can't have much of an influence on the climate[...]

Even doubling the amount of CO2 by 2100, for example, "will not dramatically increase the global temperature," Dr. Shaviv states. Put another way: "Even if we halved the CO2 output, and the CO2 increase by 2100 would be, say, a 50% increase relative to today instead of a doubled amount, the expected reduction in the rise of global temperature would be less than 0.5C. This is not significant."

The evidence from astrophysicists and cosmologists in laboratories around the world, on the other hand, could well be significant. In his study of meteorites, published in the prestigious journal, Physical Review Letters, Dr. Shaviv found that the meteorites that Earth collected during its passage through the arms of the Milky Way sustained up to 10% more cosmic ray damage than others. That kind of cosmic ray variation, Dr. Shaviv believes, could alter global temperatures by as much as 15% --sufficient to turn the ice ages on or off and evidence of the extent to which cosmic forces influence Earth's climate.

In another study, directly relevant to today's climate controversy, Dr. Shaviv reconstructed the temperature on Earth over the past 550 million years to find that cosmic ray flux variations explain more than two-thirds of Earth's temperature variance, making it the most dominant climate driver over geological time scales. The study also found that an upper limit can be placed on the relative role of CO2 as a climate driver, meaning that a large fraction of the global warming witnessed over the past century could not be due to CO2 -- instead it is attributable to the increased solar activity.

CO2 does play a role in climate, Dr. Shaviv believes, but a secondary role, one too small to preoccupy policymakers.

On climate response to changes in the cosmic ray flux and radiative budget

Abstract

We examine the results linking cosmic ray flux (CRF) variations to global climate change. We then proceed to study various periods over which there are estimates for the radiative forcing, temperature change and CRF variations relative to today. These include the Phanerozoic as a whole, the Cretaceous, the Eocene, the Last Glacial Maximum, the 20th century, as well as the 11-yr solar cycle. This enables us to place quantitative limits on climate sensitivity to both changes in the CRF, and the radiative budget, F, under equilibrium. [...] Subject to the above caveats and those described in the text, the CRF/climate link therefore implies that the increased solar luminosity and reduced CRF over the previous century should have contributed a warming of 0.47 +/- 0.19°K, while the rest should be mainly attributed to anthropogenic causes. Without any effect of cosmic rays, the increase in solar luminosity would correspond to an increased temperature of 0.16 +/- 0.04°K.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Art Deco buildings - handy list of thumbnails of old skyscrapers and their names or addresses


Excerpts from a 2002 letter by Stephen Harper to members of his Canadian Alliance party denouncing the Kyoto accord:

-Canada is the only country in the world required to make significant cuts in emissions. Third World countries are exempt, the Europeans get credit for shutting down inefficient Soviet-era industries, and no country in the Western hemisphere except Canada is signing.

-Implementing Kyoto will cripple the oil and gas industry, which is essential to the economies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

-As the effects trickle through other industries, workers and consumers everywhere in Canada will lose. THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD.

-The only winners will be countries such as Russia, India, and China, from which Canada will have to buy "emissions credits." Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.

-On top of all this, Kyoto will not even reduce greenhouse gases. By encouraging transfer of industrial production to Third World countries where emissions standards are more relaxed, it will almost certainly increase emissions on a global scale.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


In Wikipedia, you can link to a Wiktionary definition as follows:

[[Wiktionary:example|example]]

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