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Presented without comment. Too sad.

From Rebecca via facebook.


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It's getting almost tiring taking shots at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They've already shown themselves to eagerly willing to terrify the bejezzus out of children, behave like misanthropic racists who equate Jews to dogs, and are unbelievably sexist, embracing the hyper-sexualization and objectification of women....women who like to have sex with broccoli.

This time, they're taking shots at the so-called "Canadian seal-hunt/slaughter", and two recent shows of solidarity for and against. PETA (unsurprisingly) has thrown their hat in the ring (to be fair, they've been all over this for years), this time with one of the most ill-conceived, unintellectual retort imaginable.

The logic goes something like this"

PETA: What? They're slaughtering baby seals and skinning them alive? PETA-Rainbow-Warriors: UNITE AGAINST CANADA!

Passerby: ummm....What? No one is slaughtering baby seals, and no one skins them alive. Canada has banned large-scale commercial seal-hunting years ago, and has dramatically reduced the allowable seal-kill that....

PETA: UNITE AGAINST CANADA!

Passerby: Okay, you just interupted.....

PETA: BOYCOTT!

Passerby: Ummm, what do you plan to boycott? Seal Products? Products from arctic waters?

PETA: We will hit Canada where it hurts the most: their pocket books!

Passerby: Oh, so I guess that might be Oil, softwood lumber, grains, or telecommunications? Are you going to boycott Canadian wheat?

PETA: nononono! We're going to boycot the most Canadian thing of all!

Passerby: A crippling sense of fatalism and inferiority complex?

PETA: MAPLE SYRUP! AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Passerby: What??? That makes NO sense at all!

PETA: Sure it does! Canadians hunt seal, Canadians also make maple syrup!

Passerby: But they're not even connected! Not even slightly! And, it's also bordering on racist! Why don't you boycott hockey, beavers and cold weather!

PETA: Ra......cist???? Nevermind! BOYCOTT! Quick, get the seal costume out! We need people to take us seriously!

Pictured: PETA, being taken very seriously.

Look folks, this has nothing to with animal rights. It never did. This is once again about PETA proving that the most lunatic fringe will get all the press, and yet here I am, proving them right. I wrote this entry for two main reasons 1) I hate PETA with such an intense rage that I turn so green that I can absorb sunlight for energy. Everytime they pull stunts like this I can't resist making fun of their inabilty to think rationally or yes, ethically. 2) There is a lot of misinformation out there as to what goes on in the "seal hunt" and what does not go on. Animal rights activism has, at least in this case, caused wide-spread poverty and economic devestation in some of the poorest communities in North America: the Inuit communities whose ONLY source of income is seal hunting. I'll say that again, there are communities of hundereds of people scattered around the arctic whose ENTIRE income comes from seal hunting. Imagine what a boycott is doing to them.

Large-scale commercial seal-hunting has been banned for years, yet dipshits like PETA and Paul McCartney (I normally love the guy, but his head was up ass on this one) continue to get all the press and tug on the heartstings that over-large super-adorable baby seals can elicit. Already terribly poor communities are made far worse because of "activism" like this. I just wanted to throw that out there to my skeptical friends who may not know the whole story.

Maple Syrup? Really???



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Stacked

Sk-Blam!

This is a composite of 2 shots. One is a 307 second exposure, the other a 355-second exposure, for a total exposure time of 662 seconds (just over 11 minutes) worth of exposure. The shots have to be broken up like that because the light pollution would make the image look all....soupy (heavily tainted with red and orange, which you can clearly see at the far-right of the image: that's the light pollution of distant Peterborough, 30 minutes south from where this was taken). More to see here.


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On Ways too Milky

I had an excellent observing night last night, and I took some shots that I've been patiently waiting since August to be able to take. Behold: The Milky Way!

f/3.5, 307 sec exposure, ISO-800, 18mm focal length

f/3.5, 406 sec. exposure, ISO-400, 18mm focal length.

Purrrrrretty.





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Curve ball

I realize that this blog is quickly becoming "What astronomy pictures has Steve taken lately?" It's just that they're so damn fun, cool, and....well....LOOK at this!

This is that always-cool startrail effect over "beautiful" Peterborough, Ontario, looking south from my roof.

Neat.




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A Zoom with a View

Remember a while ago when I took that picture of Venus using nothing more than a telephoto on my Canon Rebel?

Well, I went out again this morning and grabbed this:


That's Jupiter, with 3 of the 4 Galilean Moons! From left-to-right: Europa, Io, Jupiter, and Callisto is sitting out there on the edge of visibility. Ganymede can't be seen because it's in the furthest part of it's orbit from us when I took this (around 5:00 am EST), and shined at magnitude 27.91.....that's absurdly dim. The object just above Callisto is the star μ Cap -HP 108036. Once again, this telephoto does me well. See? Astronomy doesn't require a lot of expensive gear, just a little know-how and elbow grease. Also, expensive gear helps.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Jupiter. When I was beginning to get serious about astronomy, Jupiter was the only object in the night sky that was worth looking at (aside from the moon, and this was before I knew how to find Andromeda, the Ring Nebula, the Double Cluster or any other number of things I've since stared at), and the first time I saw the moons and banding of the planet was as close to a religious experience as I can get, and I endured many-a-mosquito-bite staring into the eyepiece for hours. It spent last year in Sagittarius and sunk into the western sky in January. It has re-emerged in the eastern morning sky in Capricorn, and it's possible to see the moons even with a pair of binoculars (but keep in mind, your hands need to be REALLY steady....tripod-steady mind you, but they CAN be seen). So if you happen to have a long, sleepless night, have a look in the eastern sky. By 3:00 am or so, it should be high enough to see unless your horizon is exceptionally obstructed.

If you can, try and take a picture of it, and send em to me! I'd love to see what other people can do (who aren't faceless google-image searches)!




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Line dancing

This is a stack of 305 30-second exposures. It's not exactly the shot I was trying to get, but so close. Either I pointed the camera at the wrong spot, or I zoomed in a little too far. Either way, still neat. Stay tuned for more attempts.



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...lifting me higher

I was going to go out and get some astronomy shots with some local landmarks in the foreground. Little did I know that the landmarks would be way-the-crazy awash in spotlights. Regardless, I think this is pretty, so here it is: The historic Peterborough Lift Locks.




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You spin me right-round

Okay, people really seem to dig these kinds of photos, so now that its a bit warmer, it's about time I made a new one. They're absurdly easy to make, but time consuming. Below is a stack of 237 30-sec exposures, f/4.5, ISO-800, 18mm focal length.



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BARGH!!! Everyone is on twitter! People I like are on twitter! It took me a few years to catch up with people and finally join facebook, but this twitter thing is getting kwazy.

First off, I post my astronomy photos to facebook. Then to Flickr. Then here. I understand the synergistic benefits of adding a twitter feed to the already muddled mess (3 things is muddled? wow....that sounds lame), but.....BARGH!!! This tide is becoming a bit too much to handle, and soon my blog might actually be read by more than 30 people! Oh noes!

Have a monkey.

See? Monkeys don't need twitter. Therefore, neither do I!



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On TAM7 (the first)

Z'okays....so I believe I mentioned in the last post that I'm going to TAM7. Which is still true. I'm going because of their scholarship program. It doesn't cover travel, hotel, or food....just the registration fee (which is a big hunka-change). But still, without the scholarship, I would not be able to afford to go. So I'm very very very very greateful to the JREF for the scholarship program, and to every single person who has ever donated cash to the JREF. I am able to attend this extraordinary event soley because of your generous donations.

Thank you.

I'm still waiting on the news of a friend to see if she's coming with me, but once I know, I hope to see many of you there. If I have to, I'll go alone (which would suck 20% more than otherwise).

For my part, the Skeptic community has existed entirely online for the last few years, and it will be a tremendous treat to see these people in person....to transmute the digital to the physical.



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I can haz Mai birfdae?

You know, skeptics are supposed to know better than to get uppity over bullshit, arbitrary numerical "milestones". Still,

Pictured: About to get wedgie'd

I've hated birthdays since about the 24th or so. You know what sucks even more? the 364 other days of the year where you occasionally have to hear about how old your younger friends are getting. I find that particularly obnoxious, and yet, here I am doing the same thing. I sincerely apologize if you were born anytime before 1979, but I must do this.

I hate the idea of turning 30.

Pictured: the other 364 days of the year, as seen in my apartment. Not pictured: tears.

I hardly think I'm alone when I say that my life didn't turn out as I had planned/hopped for/envisioned when I was younger. So I won't bitch about that. Because you know who cares less about your problems than you ? Everybody. Still, 30 does carry tremendous psychological baggage with it. It's not the only age that does, I realize this. But still....30....wowzers. The last "milestone" birthday that I "celebrated" saw less than half of the friend turn-out than I expected. Why? Because it was on the same night as the last episode of Friends. The conversation(s) went a bit like this:

"Why don't you just tape it?" I asked, which was met with "...well, I am."

"So you can come then?"

"Well, I still want to watch it"

"But...you're taping it....you can watch it whenever you like"

"Yeah, I know...but....Come on! It's FRIENDS"

"No, it's not! It's a TV show. I am a friend! A real-live friend!"

The irony was not lost on me that night, I assure you.

, I didn't even make any plans for today (plans are for the weekend). So what the hell am I going to do, on this, the day marking 30 times the earth has gone around the sun since I was alive? I was thinking of getting in the car and driving for most of the day with nowhere in particular in mind. I could go home and spend with the family (I was just there 2 days ago). I could sit in my underwear and play Resident Evil 4 on the Wii. I still haven't watched that last episode of Friends...who knows? Maybe it was worth risking pissing off a close personal friend over.

I know that in almost every case, people who are in their December years rank their decades in order to happiness, and by that barometer, the 30's should go better than the 20's (which were better than my teen years). I've had friends assure me that it's not so bad, and will probably be kickass...and I truly believe them!

Still.

30.

In other news, I'm going to TAM7. Which is so bloody great. Anyone else going? Let's meet up and talk about the last episode of Friends.




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If you read this, then chances are that you already know of a little asteroid called Apophis. It's that asteroid that in 2029 is going to whizz past us closer than even some of our geo-synchronized satellites. From this whizz, the gravity of the Earth will cause the orbit of Apophis to be thrown off-kilter, and when it returns in 2036, there is a chance (albeit a slim one, as far as we can tell), that it will smack into us.

The Planetary Defence Coalition has launched, and awarded prizes in a competition to whoever can provide the best design in order to deflect Apophis. Neat! I submitted my patented "Care Bare Stare". No dice.

I just think it's way-cool that there is even such a thing as "The Planetary Defense Coalition".

Pictured: Planetary Defense Coalition





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I know y'all are probably a little tired of my many, many pictures of the moon. But I slightly improved my setup, and am now able to get twice as close (optically speaking) as before. So here's a few closeups of some craters and mares of the moon!


Okay, have one of Saturn. It's a bit grainy, but twice as big as I used to be able to get.


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Alberta: Doomed?

If you read this blog, chances are you read the better skeptic-blogs, such as Pharyngula, which I must thank for giving the heads up to this article.

Looks like Alberta is at it again, changing what should be a progressive country into Texas. Actually, I think that a more accurate analogy would be Kansas, but I won't bore you with the details (I strongly recommend you read this for a more clear idea where I'm coming from. Hey Alberta, populist much lately?). Albertan skeptics! Get on this, please! There are so few skeptic battles to be fought in Ontario (the last one of note that I can remember was the Sharia Law fiasco), and I'm rather powerless in this case. The most us outsiders can do is make this as public as possible, and hopefully we can embarrass this law into the book of retarded history.



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