The numbers don’t lie: as many long guns in Toronto as in rural areas

The impending destruction of the long gun registry has been touted by conservatives (and most especially conserva-bot sockpuppets) as being primarily intended as a sop to the rural voters who are “disproportionately affected” by the long gun registry is another demonstrable falsehood. As it turns out, there are 287,000 long guns in the Greater Toronto Area whose registration information will be bonfired when the Conservatives’ plan is carried out.

Most of the “nonrestricted” firearms registered within the GTA are in the possession of individuals — 263,000 guns — while a smaller number (nearly 24,000) are held by businesses (not including police agencies) or museums.

There are tens of thousands of urbanites — more than 85,000 — legally licensed to possess a gun in Toronto, a number that may include some police officers who possess personal firearms.

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Study: Poor thinking skills and conservatism/racism/homophobia strongly correlated

Via Jezebel, sometimes science isn’t just good for improving humanity’s lot in this universe, or improving (or drastically reducing) our overall life expectancy as a species. Sometimes science is also excellent at coming along and sciencing you up the perfect blog post.

As it turns out, pretty much everything you’ve suspected about conservatism and racism being correlated with being scientifically proven stupid is exactly true. The worse your cognitive abilities, the more likely you are to be a prejudiced jackass.

The first study examined two groups of British adults, one born in 1958 and the other born in 1970. Both groups were assessed for intelligence at age 10 or 11, and then a followup was conducted when they were between the ages of 30 and 33. During the initial test, children were asked to complete tasks that tested their abilities to reason and remember. During the followup two decades later, researchers assessed the subjects’ level of prejudice and degree of socially conservative views. “Social conservatism” was determined by asking subjects to respond to a series of questions like “Family life suffers if mom is working full time” or “I wouldn’t mind working with other races.” In this study, children with low scores on the first set of tests tended to grow up to exhibit prejudiced and socially conservative viewpoints on the second set of tests.

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Fan-made Thundercats movie trailer kicks all sorts of ass

You have to admit, whether you’ve seen the original Thundercats or not, this fan-made CG movie trailer has everything it would take to be a box-office success. It would certainly get me to watch. I mean, never mind the fact that I watched Thundercats regularly as a kid, and this probably breaks a dozen bits of canon — the CG is surprisingly excellent, fan-made or no, and the concept is pretty much exactly what Thundercats would need to become to make it in this particular all-action superhero movie environment.

(All of my above text can be boiled down to: “No Snarf! Perfect!”)

Narcissism has higher health costs for men

A fascinating but not entirely surprising result from a study about narcissism suggests that men incur a higher cost health-wise for trying to appear manly, or otherwise in conformity with stereotypical gender roles.

For the new study, Konrath and colleagues David Reinhard of the University of Virginia, and William Lopez and Heather Cameron of the University of Michigan examined the role of narcissism and sex on cortisol levels in a sample of 106 undergraduate students. Cortisol, which can be measured through saliva samples, is a widely used marker of physiological stress.

The researchers measured cortisol levels at two points in time in order to assess baseline levels of the hormone, which signals the level of activation of the body’s key stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Participants were not asked to complete any tasks that would elevate their stress. Elevated levels of cortisol in a relatively stress-free situation would indicate chronic HPA activation, which has significant health implications, increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems.

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Blue Marble Redux

Via Wired Science, here’s what could be the single most powerful image of the year, though we’re not even through January yet.

Thumbnail for a super-high-resolution satellite image of Earth

The full image is 8000×8000 pixels. It is extremely high resolution — if you zoom in, you can see signs of civilization in some spots on the North American continent. This was taken by the Suomi NPP satellite from a lot of tiny shots of the globe over the course of January 4th, and stitched together afterward. While I would love to have seen a single image of the entire planet taken at one instant, to get a sense for how the weather patterns were at that exact moment, this will have to do for now, considering how far away you’d have to get and how much equipment you’d have to put into space to get as high a resolution image as this pastiche.

But what an amazing image it is. Look at how thin and fragile the atmosphere is on this planet of ours. This is the only planet we’ve got. Maybe we should stop destroying it.

Newt’s new windmill: a moon base by 2020

That’s right, Newt Gingrich wants a permanent American-controlled moon base by the end of his second term in office. Don’t worry Republicans, he’s not suggesting, you know, actual funding by the government or anything — just that private enterprise will, somehow, for some inexplicable reason, become motivated to find ways to do it.

Speaking in Florida, hit hard by the loss of a large number of space-affiliated jobs, Mr. Gingrich said Wednesday that if elected, “By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.”

He said he believed such a project was possible with commercial and private efforts. According to USA Today, Mr. Gingrich said he had “a romantic belief it is really part of our destiny,” adding that the current state of the space program was a “tragedy.”

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Sacrelicious slash ad

Via Copyranter, here’s a (probably parody) ad for United Colors of Benetton that’s bound to raise some hackles.

Funny how a campaign built around the idea of reducing levels of hatred in our society has this absurdly ironic tendency of drawing so much controversy. And it’s not like this stuff is unprecedented — just search the internet for “slash fiction” and you’ll find that absolutely nothing is sacred and absolutely no fictional universe can get away without gay fan fiction. It’s like a corollary to Rule 34.

Abobo’s Big Adventure

Remember Abobo, the mini-boss with the big round head and the weird moustache in Double Dragon? The one you had to jump-kick twenty or so times to beat, who basically tried to eat your head if you attacked him in any other way? Well, it turns out Abobo had a son, named Aboboy, who has been kidnapped by ruffians.

Now, thanks to the magic of Flash programming and nerds with too much NES experience, Abobo has sallied forth to destroy every NES game in his quest to rescue his son. Nothing is sacred, nothing is safe, and classic gaming will never be the same again.

It is free to play, it contains parodies of so many NES games it would not be possible without the Fair Use clause of the copyright laws that exist presently, and it is. SO. EPIC.

RCimT: Spacey particle physicsey sciencey catch-up Friday

Some random science bits and bobs to clear out a bunch of tabs.

Scientists have discovered the speed limit for quantum interactions, and it is much, much slower than the speed of light. It is a little faster than twice the speed of sound in the medium in question, in fact. Yes, apparently also for entangled particles. This effectively hamstrings any woo-peddlers’ attempts to suggest that quantum effects explain things like the imagined effect of the planets’ positions on a person’s fate (I’m looking at you, astrologers).
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