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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Goonies 2: Will it be Funny to See a Fully-Grown Man Truffle Shuffling?

August 5th, 2008 at 11:30 by Ian Dransfield

goonies 2 confirmed? maybe, maybe not. corey feldman, chunk, sloth, spielberg - the whole gang! maybe.Do we really need to see a grown man truffle shuffle?

That’s the question that has been buzzing around in our heads for the past few hours after news that there’s a distinct chance that the Goonies 2 film, rumoured for so very long, is actually in the early stages of real, bona-fide production.

And if the sources are to be believed, this isn’t a case of The Lost Boys 2: Straight To DVD And Missing The Point Of The First Completely - this is something Warner Brothers want to actually try and get right.

So how do we feel about that? Well, I would say we have mixed emotions.

See, everyone remembers The Goonies - it’s one of those films that everyone claims as their own, or that everyone claims defined their childhood in some way.

Kind of like Stand By Me, but with less River Phoenix. It just had a huge effect on so many young lives, older lives, middling lives and lives that came about later on - it’s a timeless classic. We’ll admit to that. We will - see? We just did it.

The fact that there have been rumours floating about regarding the possibility of a Goonies sequel for so long is sure to get anyone’s hackles up and turn them into the defensive wall of fury, angrily denying that anything will come about from any of this.

And we would never take that away from you - please feel free to shout, scream and generally be twits in the comments section below.

But when you pick up on news that says Warner Brothers are pushing the sequel as a big-budget blockbuster (and remember, this is the studio that released The Dark Knight, officially the best film ever), you start to take notice.

In fact, a source close to the project has told Moviehole that a team of writers are already working on a script and that some of the actors from the original film will be involved.

So how do we feel about the real prospect of a Goonie sequel? Well, taking such a cherished childhood memory and giving it a massive makeover, bringing the sequel to a whole new audience and churning millions of dollars into it could just result in this situation: you sit in the cinema, the film starts, it’s one and a half hours comprising of nothing but a turd staring back at you, steaming away on screen and stinking up the theatre.

You cry.

Your heart is broken.

Your childhood is ruined.

You lose all respect for Corey Feldman… wait - is that possible?

Nevertheless, hecklerspray awaits with baited breath for any further news on the matter.

When the movie does eventually come about we’ll be sure to decry it, lambast it and generally rip on it. Because let’s be honest here - we want it to be good, but there’s little chance The Goonies 2 will be anything more than fecal matter on a stick.

Pirate Olympics: 5 Alternative Ways to Watch the Olympics Online

Countless sports fans will look for video coverage of the Olympic games online while trapped in their cubicles this week, and chances are at least some of them won’t head to NBC’s official web site but will try their luck elsewhere. In fact, NBC’s decision to delay the online video coverage of popular events for three hours is almost an invitation to waste a few hours of time on pirate sites and P2P TV forums.

The IOC is aware of this problem and is trying to address it by posting authorized videos on YouTube. Too bad these clips won’t be accessible to folks in the United States. So where will U.S. Olympians go? Hard to say, to be honest. There’s a plethora of options out there, ranging from Chinese P2P services to torrent sites. However, previous sports events, ranging from the recent Euro Cup soccer contest to your regular NBA game, can give us a first idea of what kind of pirate platforms might get the Beijing bump.

Here are five ways people will use to get their Olympics fix:

P2P Streaming. China is the motherland of P2P streaming, with almost a dozen vendors offering live TV transmissions. The leading Chinese P2P TV platform PPLive is officially licensed to show the games — but only to an audience within China. PPLive told us it will restrict the transmissions to IP addresses from within the country. Hardcore fans might want to try to access the transmissions through a Chinese proxy server, but the chances this will work for a bigger audience are rather slim. After all, people usually tend to use proxy servers to access web sites outside of the PRC. Of course, there are other companies that seem to care less about filters and licenses. Both soccer and NBA fans have previously reported success with PPStream, PPMate, Sopcast, TVUPlayer and TVKoo.

Live video sites. Move over, Chris Pirillo: Streaming video hosters like Ustream, Stickam and will see a bunch of people trying to relay TV coverage of the games. The sites will probably try to shut down some of these efforts, but there’s a good chance that some will fall through the cracks. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see new kinds of spot coverage coming right out of someone’s living room, Mystery Science Theater-style?

YouTube. Granted, the official Olympics coverage will not be available to visitors with States-based IP addresses. But that won’t stop users that access YouTube through a proxy server based in India or any of the other 76 countries that have access to the IOC channel. Users will also upload excerpts and highlights from the competitions on their own. Google will try to filter these submissions, but, as Liz already noted, those filters won’t catch everything.

Torrent sites. BitTorrent has long been a good option for time-shifting TV, with some shows even finding their way online between the East Coast and the West Coast premiere, so we’ll likely see quite a few Olympic TV moments on torrent sites as well. Torrents should pop up on major sites like Mininova and The Pirate Bay as well as specialized, invite-only communities like within hours of the major competitions. Just don’t expect a cheerful Pirate Bay doodle. Site admin Peter Sunde aka Brokep has announced on his blog that he doesn’t want to help out the Chinese government by drawing attention to the games: “In my opinion the Olympics should never be held in a country like that.”

Foreign TV. The BBC is broadcasting the Olympics online — with up to seven live streams, no less — and broadcasters in other countries will offer their own coverage on the web as well, oftentimes using fewer technical hurdles than NBC. Granted, most of these streams will be protected by IP filters, but once again, proxy servers should be able to solve this problem. And I wouldn’t be too surprised if someone figures out a way to access a stream of some obscure Russian TV station without any proxy.

We’ll follow up on this list once the games get going.

DIY Batman Tumbler Is Nearly Perfect, Built With One Man's Bare Hands

Bob Dullam is a man possessed—by a lot of things, surely, but mainly by the drive to build this absolutely amazing working replica of Batman's current-gen Batmobile, the Tumbler. Our buddies over at Jalopnik have spotted it, and It's got it all—the afterburner, the huge honking double-barrel wheels, the stealth-toothiness on all of the edges—immaculate. Dullam threw it all together with nothing more than commonly available photos and the movies themselves, all custom welded, in his own garage by himself. And if you're assuming he's got a pretty impressive Batsuit to go with it, you're right.

Bob estimates when all is said and done, his labor of love will cost him anywhere from $50k-$70k. And even after repeated pleading on the Super Hero Hype forums where he's showing it off, he ain't sellin'. At least not until he needs to liquify some assets to work on a working Batpod, which he's setting his sights on next. Head to Jalopnik and the boards for more. [SuperHeroHype via Jalopnik]

uTorrent Developer Shares BitTorrent Speed Tips

Written by Ernesto on August 05, 2008

Configuring your BitTorrent client is essential if you want to enjoy optimal download speeds. In our quest to help users get the most out of BitTorrent, we asked one of the uTorrent developers how we can speed up our downloads.

bittorrent speedAt TorrentFreak we have written quite a few speed guides, but we are not as knowledgeable as the people who work with BitTorrent clients daily. A few weeks ago we asked Olivier Chalouhi, developer and CTO of Vuze (formerly known as Azureus) to share some of his BitTorrent speed tips with us.

Today we continue our mission to help people get the most out of BitTorrent, by asking uTorrent developer Greg Hazel to give us his recommendations on how to optimize BitTorrent download speeds. Here are his three suggestions.

Cap the upload speed

Limiting your upload speed is by far the most important suggestion, and was also mention by Olivier Chalouhi in our previous BitTorrent speed guides. The rationale behind it is simple. Your connection is a tube (sort of), if you max out the upload capacity, the tube gets clogged.

Choose the correct maximum number of connections

Too much connections can actually slow down your torrents, instead of increasing the download speed. The uTorrent speed guide (Options > Speed Guide in uTorrent) automatically recommends the ideal settings. For users with a maximum upload speed of 256 kbit/sec, uTorrent suggests a maximum of 35 connections per torrent, and 60 in total.

Run as few torrents as possible

Less is more, sometimes at least. Running fewer torrents will guarantee that your connection can handle all the connections and requests properly. Since BitTorrent rewards people for uploading, the less torrents you run, the faster they will download. Again, the uTorrent speed guide will suggest the optimal settings, which is a maximum of 2 torrents for users with a maximum upload speed of 256 kbit/sec.

These three settings are the most important according to Greg, and configuring them correctly in your BitTorrent client, is the key to faster downloads.

High-tech Peeping Tom rigged laptop webcam to snap nude pics

When you see that little light turn on next to your webcam and you're not the one who did it, there reason for suspicion. A Florida woman recently discovered that a student who repaired her laptop installed software that allowed him to collect 20,000 photos of her in various states of undress.

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Stoner Cinema: 11 Movies for Marijuana Fans [PICS]

Hollywood hits a new high for pot movies in 2008 with Pineapple Express and The Wackness. Here are some of the other classics of the genre.

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Medical Marijuana Patient Fights For Right To Smoke Openly

A federally licensed Canadian medical marijuana user is fuming after receiving correspondence from his city councillor telling him to "Quit taking up taxpayers' dollars" with a "frivolous" human rights complaint. "I am not asking for anything special except the same rights that tobacco smokers have," he said. Cast your vote in the included poll.

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Orgasms 'at the touch of a button'

Courtesy of the Slightest Touch
The manufacturers say sales are about to hit the 4,000 mark
Women around the world are being told they can now have an orgasm at the touch of a button.

The makers of "Slightest Touch" say their device can give women longer, better and more intense orgasms.

They claim their device can trigger an orgasm without touching a woman's genital area.

According to the manufacturers, Slightest Touch works by stimulating the body's sexual nerve pathway.

'Turned on'

Women start by drinking an electrolyte sports drink 20 minutes before using the device.

They then apply two white electrode pads inside their ankles.

These pads are connected to the Slightest Touch device, which is about the size of a personal stereo.

If women feel they have problems with either sex or relationships, it's better to go and get professional advice about the possible causes, before spending a lot of money on a particular product
Family Planning Association spokeswoman
With the flick of a switch, women can literally get turned on.

The device stimulates the nerves sending gentle pulses up the woman's leg for between 10 and 30 minutes leaving women on the verge of climax.

"The Slightest Touch does not provide an orgasm," said Cherisse Davidson, the company's director of customer support.

"It gently stimulates the sexual nerve pathways taking the woman to a pre-orgasmic plateau where she dangles on the edge of orgasm for as long as she wants.

"From there, gentle stimulation can then effect the orgasm."

BBC News Online has been unable to get independent scientific verification that the product works.

But Ms Davidson, who first tested the device three years ago, insists it is effective.

"It can be of great benefit to many women," she told BBC News Online.

"I've been using mine for three years and I just love it."

She said the product can help women who simply want to improve their sex lives and those who have problems achieving orgasm.

However, the Slightest Touch, which sells for $139.95, is not suitable for everyone.

It is not recommended for women taking anti-depressants, those who are pregnant or those with some underlying medical conditions such as heart problems.

The product which was launched in the United States six months ago is now starting to getting attention in Europe.

Ms Davidson said the company had now sold almost 4,000 devices - some to customers in Britain.

However, the UK's FPA, formerly the Family Planning Association, urged women to get professional advice before spending their hard earned cash.

"If women feel they have problems with either sex or relationships, it's better to go and get professional advice about the possible causes, before spending a lot of money on a particular product," said a spokeswoman.

Michael Jordan: Me Vs. Kobe Not Even Close

July 31st, 2008 | by HG |

The Michael Jordan-Kobe Bryant comparisons have obviously gotten on MJ’s nerves. Michael wasn’t messing around, trying to get a rise out of the crowd. He was saying what he truly believes.. And he’s right. In their primes Michael Jordan is better than Kobe Bryant. Not even close.

Other than MJ setting the record straight the best part of the video is the kids in the background yelling for a 45-year-old Michael Jordan to dunk the ball. You can see Mike only wanted to shoot jumpers and layups, but he’s also a showman so he gave the people what they wanted.

Don't bogart that! The best of "stoner comedies"

"Some illegal pastimes simply aren’t funny under any circumstances, but it’s safe to say smoking pot isn’t one of them. Let’s face it—anything that turns a perfectly sane person into a babbling, red-eyed zombie with a monstrous appetite can be easily mined for comedy gold. "

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Olympic gold medalist Amanda Beard bares all for PETA


Olympian Amanda Beard strips off her swimsuit for a good cause.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist joins celebrities such as Alicia Silverstone and Eva Mendes who have also bared it all for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

The new ad features Beard next to the tagline: "Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin. Don't Wear Fur." She's set to unveil the ad on Wednesday, just days before the kickoff of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

"[T]o see animals … slaughtered to be worn as fashion is awful to me, so I'm definitely against wearing fur," said Beard in a statement released by PETA.

So does she have any regrets about posing nude?

"No. I'd much rather go naked than ever put a dead animal on my body," Beard said.

can read more here

XGames in Dubai in December..Richest Xgames Event Yet

ESPN and Dubai Event Management Corporation (DEMC) have formed a five-year collaboration to host the world's richest singular, multi-sport, action sports event. There will be a 2.5 million dollar prize purse a record for X Games and the action sports industry—and X Games medals distributed to the athletes. Event Dates are December 11-13 2008

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Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Diesel from grass? It could be possible

Imagine a grass crop, grown on marginal, non-food bearing land without pesticides or much fertilizer, that, when harvested, produces an oil that needs almost no processing to be substituted for diesel fuel.

Copaifera langsdorffii Copaiba Oleoresin Diesel Tree Grass Switchgrass Fuel

Much attention has been given to producing ethanol from non-food crops like grasses, but the ability to produce something indistinguishable to diesel from grass could be a game-changer. It would require almost no infrastructure change and could fuel all of the existing long-haul trucks on the road without modification.

Chhandak Basu, a researcher at the University of Northern Colorado, has received a grant to study the feasibility of taking the oil-producing genes from the tropical copaiba tree, also known as the “diesel tree,” and inserting them into other types of plants, like grasses, to induce those plants to produce the diesel-like oleoresin.

“The agricultural aspects of oleoresin have been studied extensively, but not the molecular biology part, not the genes responsible for this type of synthesis,” Basu said.

Oleoresin has been known for a long time to be easily substituted for diesel fuel, and the copaiba tree produces copious amounts of these oleoresins — each tree producing 40 liters per year.

The problem is that trees grow relatively slowly and the copaiba tree requires a tropical environment to flourish. A wholesale shift of large portions of the tropics to growing monocultures of these trees could have a devastating effect on tropical habitats and global warming through deforestation.

To get around this, Mr. Basu suggests that genetically modifying other types of plants to do the same thing that copaiba trees do could be part of the solution to attaining energy independence.

“This can be a tool in the toolbox,” Basu said of his research. “There’s so much wealth in this country that we should find a homegrown solution to address energy concerns. And if I’m successful here, we can spread the technology to the developing nations.”

The whole idea of a grass that produces diesel fuel is pretty cool — enough so that I’m a bit skeptical. Right now it’s just an idea on paper, but after thinking it over, the basic concept seems feasible to me.

The real sticking point is not the actual genetic modification, but the potential for cross-contamination of other types of grasses and related plants through wind-blown pollen. Once that gene is out in the environment, there’s no getting it back into a contained state.

If this issue can be addressed, a whole host of other genetic modifications for increasing biofuel production from grasses could also be implemented in the future.

Source: UNCO press release

When They Were Dweebs: Celeb And Their High School Photos

Can you guess who the star is from their high school yearbook photo? Some are easy, some aren't and some make you realize even some stars were once dweebs.

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The MAG Lev Concept Car With Sexy Design And 3 Wheels

InhabitatAugust 5, 200

by Jorge Chapa

mag, magnetic vehicle, magnetic concept vehicle, MAG, green car, green vehicle, concept vehicle

While many green gear-heads argue whether electric vehicles are better than hybrids, Slovak designer Matúš Procháczka has brought the debate one step further. His innovative concept car foregoes these trifling 21st century technologies and fast-forwards straight to the future. Instead of an internal combustion engine, his vehicle is driven by an electric engine that generates a magnetic field capable of propelling the vehicle down the road!

Caveat first: the MAG car would require that all automotive infrastructure be magnetized in order for it to work, a task well-neigh impossible for any large-scale implementation. However such a system would tremendously reduce the energy required to propel the car, as it’s electromagnetic motor would be calibrated to reduce the car’s weight by 50%. The seats are created by two fabric nets which are adjustable to suit the occupant, and consume a minimum of materials.

The winner of the Unseen Technology Award at the Interior Motives Design Award 2007, the MAG is an extremely futuristic vehicle that requires technologies that are far away from being developed and deployed. Still, it presents a striking concept for future-foward transport that was too intriguing for us to resist.


mag, magnetic vehicle, magnetic concept vehicle, MAG, green car, green vehicle, concept vehicle

mag, magnetic vehicle, magnetic concept vehicle, MAG, green car, green vehicle, concept vehicle

mag, magnetic vehicle, magnetic concept vehicle, MAG, green car, green vehicle, concept vehicle

mag, magnetic vehicle, magnetic concept vehicle, MAG, green car, green vehicle, concept vehicle

Kites Could Become Major Source Of Wind Power

Written by Ariel Schwartz

Published on August 5th, 2008

The idea to use kites for wind power is nothing new, but a development at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reminds us that we haven’t even begun to tap the potential of these flying contraptions.

A recent experiment performed by a team at the university used kites to create 10 kW of energy—enough to power 10 homes. This is a not a major breakthrough in and of itself, but the researchers plan to build a larger version of the project called “Laddermill” that would create 50 kW of energy. They eventually want to build a 100 MW version of their project. If successful, the expanded project would create enough power for 100,000 homes.

The kites are attached to a generator by a string. Power is created when the string is pulled and the generator turns as winds lift it into the sky.

According to Laddermill project leader Wubbo Ockels, kites are a cheap way to use energy higher up in the air, where winds carry more power due to high speeds (7 meters/sec). In contrast, turbines harvest energy closer to the ground, where wind speed is slower (5 meters/sec).

Unfortunately, Ockels predicts that the technology might not be brought to the market for a long time unless a large amount of money is made available. But if the kite generators do make it out of the lab, they may silence critics who complain about wind power’s detrimental effects on birds and scenery.

More Posts on Wind Energy:

A lost world has been found in Antarctica, preserved just the way it was when it was frozen in time some 14 million years ago.

Mt Boreas in the western Olympus Range, Dry Valleys (left) and moss mat (right), the Dry Valleys climate prevented decomposition
Mt Boreas in the western Olympus Range, Dry Valleys (left) and moss mat (right),
the Dry Valleys climate prevented decomposition

The fossils of plants and animals high in the mountains is an extremely rare find in the continent, one that also gives a glimpse of a what could be there in a century or two as the planet warms.
Mt Boreas in the western Olympus Range, Dry Valleys (left) and moss mat (right), the Dry Valleys climate prevented decomposition
Mt Boreas in the western Olympus Range, Dry Valleys (left) and moss mat (right),
the Dry Valleys climate prevented decomposition

A team working in an ice-free region has discovered the trove of ancient life in what must have been the last traces of tundra on the interior of the southernmost continent before temperatures began to drop relentlessly.

An abrupt and dramatic climate cooling of 8°C in 200,000 years forced the extinction of tundra plants and insects and brought interior Antarctica into a perpetual deep-freeze from which it has never emerged, though may do again as a result of climate change.

An international team led by Prof David Marchant, at Boston University and Profs Allan Ashworth and Adam Lewis, at North Dakota State University, combined evidence from glaciers, from the preserved ecology, volcanic ashes and modelling to reveal the full extent of the big freeze in a part of Antarctica called the Dry Valleys.

The new insight in the understanding of Antarctica's climatic history, which saw it change from a climate like that of South Georgia to one similar to that seen today in Mars, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We've documented the timing and the magnitude of a tremendous change in Antarctic climate," said Prof Marchant.

"The fossil finds allow us to examine Antarctica as it existed just prior to climate cooling at 13.9 million years ago. It is a unique window into the past. To study these deposits is akin to strolling across the Dry Valleys 14.1 million years ago."

The discovery of lake deposits with perfectly preserved fossils of mosses, diatoms and minute crustacea called ostracods is particularly exciting, noted Prof Lewis. "They are the first to be found even though scientific expeditions have been visiting the Dry Valleys since their discovery during the first Scott expedition in 1902-1903," he said.

"If we can understand how we got into this relatively cold climate phase, then that can help predict how global warming might push us back out of this phase. For the vast majority of Earth history there was no permanent ice like is common today at the poles and even the tropics at high elevation. There's been a progressive cooling going on for 50 million years to get us into this permanent-ice mode; the formation of a permanent ice sheet on Antarctica plays a big role in that cooling.

"Studies like ours that establish when and how climate thresholds were crossed along the way can be used to predict climate thresholds going the opposite direction, from cool to warm.

"Although, to be fair, we're looking at one that is very far away; warming would have to be greater than what is predicted for the next one or two centuries to cause a melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The west Antarctic Ice Sheet is much more vulnerable.

Prof Ashworth is struck by how species of diatoms and mosses are indistinguishable from living ones. Today they occur throughout the world - except Antarctica.

"To be able to identify living species amongst the fossils is phenomenal. To think that modern counterparts have survived 14 million years on Earth without any significant changes in the details of their appearances is striking. It must mean that these organisms are so well-adapted to their habitats that in spite of repeated climate changes and isolation of populations for millions of years they have not become extinct but have survived."

What caused the big freeze is unknown though theories abound and include phenomena as different as the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and tectonic shifts that affected ocean circulation.

Information appearing on is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

Top movie ticket puts you far beyond the cheap seats

By Angel Jennings Globe Correspondent / August 6, 2008

When Showcase Cinema de Lux opens its doors at Patriot Place on Friday, moviegoers will have a choice to make at the ticket counter: coach or first class.

Just like coach-class airfare, a standard ticket will reserve a seat inside the new Foxborough movie theater, which houses a restaurant, food court, several conference rooms, seating areas for children, and a reading room for adults.

But for an extra $10, patrons can upgrade: securing a spot in leather loveseats, where hosts serve cocktails, and gaining access into the Lux Level, a posh upstairs lounge overlooking the lobby's baby grand piano.

"You will never have to leave the theater," said manager Sheri McConaghy. "In fact, you will never have to leave your seat unless you have to use the restroom."

Facing growing competition from DVDs and the rise of home theaters, movie theaters increasingly are adding amenities such as bars and food to attract more moviegoers.

"People are watching more movies," said Perry Lowe, a marketing professor at Bentley College and a former theater owner. "But they are watching fewer movies at the movie theaters. The movie theater is becoming an endangered species."

Hoping to stem dwindling attendance at its 15 theaters in Massachusetts, Dedham-based National Amusements created the upscale concept at Patriot Place. The theater is the second in the Boston area to feature such premium amenities, but it's the first in New England to implement the luxury feel throughout the theater. The pilot program, launched at Showcase Cinemas Randolph in December, has the Lux Level and food court but no piano and lounge space.

National Amusements said the theater is part of its plan to "transform the theater into a community entertainment destination."

"We want people to come to the theater even if they are not going to the movie," said company spokeswoman Wanda Whitson. "There is something for everybody - lounges, shopping mall within walking distance, and the stadium."

National Amusement, the fifth-largest movie theater chain, said it plans to open another luxury theater next year in Dedham.

But some moviegoers are not convinced the amenities will bring more bodies into the theaters.

Hanging out with two friends at Showcase Cinemas Randolph yesterday, Linda Tiller of Sharon chose to watch the film "Hancock" from the regular cloth seats instead of paying $10 more to sit in the cushioned loveseat. She said receiving the VIP treatment at theaters does not draw her to the movies.

"If it is a good movie, we will go," she said. Her friends agreed.

Angel Jennings can be reached at

The 26 Hottest US Olympic Women Athletes

Olympic athletes are the cream of the crop; they're the best of the best. We've picked out the female athletes who are the best of the best in their sport, and then picked the hottest ones. Not only are these women the best at playing their sports, but they're also the best to look at.

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Ten Reasons Why the Clone Wars TV Series is Going to Rule

Of course you're nervous about the new Star Wars: Clone Wars movie, and the 100-episode Clone Wars TV series that will begin airing on Cartoon Network this fall. Maybe you feel a little burned by episodes I-III, or the idea of an animated series gives you burning visions of Jar Jar. But have no fear, young Padawans. We've carefully weighed all the evidence, watched all the clips, and studied the Clone Wars back story carefully by combing through the comic books and "expanded universe" novels. And we bring good news. Clone Wars is going to be awesome — here are ten reasons why.

1. Dooku vs. Palpatine
In the movies, the Sithy Separatist leader Count Dooku is in league with Palpatine (Darth Sidious), and there are very few hints that he's much more than a very competent henchman. But in fact, he has his own agenda and has a whole future planned for the Separatists, a group that includes most of the galaxy's free traders and techie types. Clone Wars will focus on how Dooku's Separatists push for their agenda against Palpatine's power-grabbing imperialists. I like the idea of free traders vs. fascists. It's an interesting clash, with our Jedi heroes right in the middle.

2. Female ninjas
No offense to Leia and Padme, but on the scale of princess to ninja they were pretty far to the princess end of things. In Clone Wars, we're going to get some seriously kickass female ninjas mixing it up with the Jedi Knights. Anakin's padawan Ahsoka is fearless and strong, and Obi Wan Kenobi will meet his nemesis, the powerful assassin Asajj Ventress.

3. Clone rights
At the heart of this series will be a biology vs. technology theme, with the Jedi-led clone army fighting the Separatist-led droid armies. Will biotech soldiers prove better than techtech ones? More important, though, is that we'll watch as the clones begin to overcome their programming and become individuals. Will there be clone rights? Clone romance? These are the kinds of weird questions that make me excited about this series.

4. Clone Wars is new-school YA fiction
Perhaps influenced by a new generation of YA fiction with more adult themes, Clone Wars will be aimed at young people but will shed the kiddie comic relief of the Star Wars movies. Instead of identifying with Jar Jar or C3P0, kids watching Clone Wars can put themselves in the boots of the brave, wisecracking Ahsoka.

5. The Jedi come in shades of grey
We've seen a few Jedi in the movies, and we know they can be either good Knights or evil Sith. But we haven't seen the full range of Jedi powers (many Jedi have unique powers that go beyond telekinesis), nor have we seen them when they stop being polite and start going badass on the battlefield. I'm excited to find out about Luminara's powers, and what Kit Fisto can do with all those tentacles. The point is, it's not just Sith vs. Jedi — it's the many shades of Jedi.

6. War dramas are instant win
While every episode of the Star Wars movies has dealt with a decisive battle or coup, none of the movies could be classified as a "war film" proper. They are epics, character studies, political melodramas, and space operas — but none has focused on the lives of soldiers and officers waging a several-year campaign. It's about time we learned about the lives of grunts in the army of the Republic, and got some good soldier banter going.

7. More droids
The Separatist forces are packed with trade associations and tech guilds, so they have the latest droids with all the most up-to-date service packs installed. Expect serious coolness in the droid department: Those rolling shielded guys from Attack of the Clones are just the beginning. The fact that the series is animated will only add to the awesomeness of these droids, who look best in a stylized, CGI environment anyway.

8. Dooku backstory
He was once a Jedi, and he semi-trained his assassin Ventress in the ways of the Dark Side even though she was never Jedi material. What other weirdness lurks in Dooku's past? Why did he turn to the Dark Side? Why did he start the Separatist rebellion in the first place? We've got 100 episodes to find out.

9. Anakin as ironic hero
Knowing what we do about how Anakin turns out, it's a strange and intriguing irony that he's going to be our hero in this series. Even as we see him being a good mentor to a sympathetic young woman (Ahsoka), we know he has a dark side — and we know that he's lying to the Jedi every day since his secret marriage to Padme. Anakin has acquired a lot of creepy depth during the Star Wars series, and the Clone Wars were probably the time in his life when he could have turned it all around and told the Dark Side to stick it. And yet we know he won't: That each act of kindness and bravery is going to go sour one day soon. That makes for a pretty dark war tale, and I'm down with it.

10. Second-generation Star Wars sensibility
Filoni and Winder have both been associated with contemporary game-changing animated series: Filoni with Avatar and Winder with Powerpuff Girls. If they can successfully infuse the sweep of the Star Wars universe with a contemporary burst of anime sensibility and good humor, Star Wars will reach a new generation. And reawaken the first generation's love for a franchise that once felt like the most amazing new thing any of us had ever seen.

Colibri's TriLign Lighter

Examples of man’s unique relationship with the number three can be traced through all parts of life: religion, philosophy, mathematics, art and, now, lighters.

Although the concept of using three flames to aid the lighting of larger gauge cigars is not new to the aficionado, Colibri’s butane-fueled Trilign further develops this idea.

A push of the side ignition button opens two flaps—much like a space shuttle’s cargo bay doors—and produces a pyramid-shaped torch flame, a perfect isosceles triangle, which is adjustable.

Three high-velocity jet burners, aligned atop the lighter, create the distinguishable flame. The center jet burner fires straight up while the two flanking burners shoot at an angle towards the center flame. The result is a heat source big enough to light the fattest double corona you can find.

The high-velocity jet burners help the flame endure wind extremely well, but don’t believe retailers who market the lighter as entirely windproof.

Made of stainless steel, the Trilign’s heft is reassuring and yet light enough to stash in the front pants pocket. The lighter’s lines are neither curvy nor boxy, but sleek and a pleasure to hold. The aficionado who wants to travel light will appreciate the 8 mm cigar punch, which is razor sharp, that folds out from the bottom of the lighter.

Colibri says the Trilign will light 100 cigars on a full tank of butane. A fuel-level viewing window on the side opposite the ignition button helps the smoker keep tabs if he loses track of how often he lights up.

The Trilign comes in four colors: black/light gun satin, chrome satin/light gun satin, dark gunmetal/light gunmetal and light gun satin/dark gunmetal. The finish feels smooth to the touch and ribs on the lighter’s ignition ensure the user will always have enough grip.

The Trilign retails for $80 and just started shipping to stores and tobacconists everywhere.

Tesla hires Mazda's star designer


It's been a busy week for Tesla Motors, everyone's favorite upstart-electric-carmaker-slash-green-icon- slash-venture-world heroes.

On Monday, Tesla announced it had hired a former Ford Motor Co. exec as its new chief financial officer. The new CFO, Deepak Ahuja, comes to the San Carlos, Calif., company via Ford's small-vehicle development program, and before that Ford Southern Africa.

Now Tesla is confirming that it has hired Mazda's Franz von Holzhausen, widelyFranz regarded as one of the most-influential and well-regarded young designers in the industry, to head its design operations. The electric carmaker has yet to officially announce details of the hire, but it is without doubt a coup for the start-up, which began taking delivery of its first completed, all-electric, $100,000 Roadsters in April.

Von Holzhausen, Mazda's North American director of design, has been at the Japanese automaker since 2005 and is credited with developing the carmaker's current "design language," which is industry jargon for the collection of styles and physical characteristics associated with a particular brand or series of vehicles. His language is called Nagare and can be seen in cars like this (pictured with Von Holzhausen):

Now he'll be coming to Tesla, presumably, to work on the company's hotly anticipated Model S (formerly known as the WhiteStar) sedan and the even-further-down-the-road compact car known as the BlueStar. Early speculation as to whether Von Holzhausen, who is based in Los Angeles, will open a Tesla design studio in the Southland has not been confirmed by Tesla.

The Dutch designer also worked at Volkswagen and General Motors Corp., where he was involved in the design of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.

Wagging tongues were quick to point out that Von Holzhausen is not Tesla's first A-list designer hire. Until last year, Tesla had contracted former BMW and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker to help create future models.

Ominously, that relationship ended poorly, with Tesla suing Fisker for allegedly stealing trade secrets that helped him develop his plug-in hybrid, called the Karma. That case is still pending.

-- Ken Bensinger

Ward's 10 Best engines of 2008

The winners for 2008 (engine and tested vehicle):

Audi AG: FSI 2.0L turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Audi A3)
BMW AG: 3.0L turbocharged DOHC I-6 (335i Coupe)
Daimler AG: 3.0L DOHC V-6 Turbodiesel (Mercedes E320 CDI)
Ford Motor: 4.6L SOHC V-8 (Mustang Shelby GT/Bullitt)
General Motors Corp.: 3.6L DOHC V-6 (Cadillac CTS)
General Motors Corp.: 6.0L OHV V-8 Hybrid (GMC Yukon Hybrid)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd.: 3.5L SOHC V-6 (Accord Coupe)
Mazda Motor Corp.: 2.3L DISI turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Mazdaspeed3)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.: 3.7L DOHC V-6 (Infiniti G37)
Toyota Motor Corp.: 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Lexus IS 350

Nissan Shows G37 Hybrid

Infiniti G37 Hybrid

During a recent preview of its 'earth-friendly' vehicle developments , Nissan also unwrapped this - an Infiniti G37 Hybrid.

Although the automaker has already dabbled with hybrids (the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid comes to mind), the G37 demonstrator is the first attempt Nissan's shown at a rear-drive gas-electric vehicle.

Infiniti G37 Hybrid

We're told the car retains the stock combustion engine, but adds a parallel-hybrid system, not unlike Honda's current "Integrated Motor Assist" system. The G37 Hybrid's electric motors can help propel the car under hard acceleration, but there is no pure EV mode, even for low-speeds.

Nissan says the G37 Hybrid uses an 'advanced' lithium-ion battery pack (manufactured through its joint-venture with electronics giant NEC), but fails to talk about its specifications.

Also noticeably missing from the G37's press file is a timetable: We've no idea if or when the G37 Hybrid will come to fruition, but it could help the Infiniti brand survive in tightly-regulated markets.

The End of Easy Leasing

Cablevision wins on appeal: remote DVR lawful after all

By John Timmer | Published: August 04, 2008 - 04:30PM CT

Does it matter where a DVR's hard drive lives? Hardware from outfits such as TiVo records shows onto a local disk, but the cable provider Cablevision decided to dispense with dedicated hardware and a local drive, and instead it rolled out a service where users could record shows through their existing cable box; those recordings stayed on a remote server in the central office for storage and playback. Content providers sued, alleging copyright violations, and they won a landmark injunction that blocked deployment of the system. But Cablevision appealed, and has now won a sweeping victory that may clear the way for the company to deploy its remote DVR service after all.

The initial case was filed by film studios and TV channels, and it alleges that the Cablevision service violates their copyrighted works in three ways:

  1. The process of recording creates a temporary buffer that contains pieces of every copyrighted work that Cablevision broadcasts
  2. The individuals that subscribe to the service store copies of copyrighted material on servers controlled by Cablevision
  3. The process of streaming a work from this storage to a home constitutes an unauthorized public performance

The claims resulted in a summary judgment and an injunction that prevented Cablevision from deploying the system.

A 1.2s buffer: not infringement

It's hard to imaging a more sweeping reversal than the one in a decision (PDF) handed down today by a three judge panel of the Second Circuit's Court of Appeals. The summary judgments on all counts are reversed, leaving Cablevision the victor, and the injunction against deployment of its remote DVR service has been lifted.

The new ruling includes an extensive examination of the technical details of the DVR system, and those details were used to throw out the claims regarding the buffering system. Data in the two buffers at issue typically constitutes 0.1 and 1.2 seconds-worth of content, and the initial decision ruled (apparently correctly) that this was an "embodiment" of the copyrighted work. The relevant statute, however, also specifies that this copy has to be embodied "for a period of more than transitory duration."

On this count, the buffers failed to infringe, leading to a reversal of the ruling.

Who owns the copies?

There's little doubt that the copies that end up in the users' storage space are copyrighted material, but the question here revolves around who "owns" that copy. The court notes that the hardware is provided by Cablevision but used by others to make the copies, and it says that "mere ownership" of the hardware does not establish liability.

Because those copies are made at the direction of the users, and have to be arranged in advance of Cablevision's broadcasts, the court held that these copies were essentially controlled by the user. "We are not inclined to say that Cablevision, rather than the user, 'does' the copying produced by the RS-DVR system," the court decided.

The decision suggests that the remote DVR system might constitute contributory infringement, since it is designed to specifically produce copies of copyrighted works. Unfortunately for the content owners, all of their allegations focused on direct infringement.

Public performance

The final point at issue was whether playing the stored file constituted an unauthorized public performance of it. The Appeals Court focused on the transmit clause of the Copyright Act, writing, "Although the transmit clause is not a model of clarity, we believe that when Congress speaks of transmitting a performance to the public, it refers to the performance created by the act of transmission."

Since that transmission is destined for the viewer who recorded it in the first place, it doesn't run afoul of the rules governing public performances.

The ruling appears to sweep away any barriers to Cablevision (or anyone else) deploying a remote DVR. Any further legal action appears destined to focus on the question of whether this sort of service is infringement-enabling, but the issues there are likely to be murky enough that wholesale injunctions against deployment won't be forthcoming.

In general, the service appears to be very consumer-friendly. Cablevision plans to charge less than the going rate for DVR box rentals, and its centralized processing and storage are likely to be more resource- and energy-efficient than distributing thousands of set-top boxes. The centralized nature of the system should also make capacity and software updates better. With all these positives, and no practical differences between the functionality of remote and local DVR services, it would be unfortunate if legal technicalities stifled the potential for this technology.

Russian Gulags: Then and Now [PICS]

The Gulag was the government agency that administered the penal labor camps of the Soviet Union. "Gulag" is the Russian acronym for The Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies.

To mark Solzhenitsyn’s passing — he died yesterday at the age of 89 — we’re taking a look at Gulags as they were, and given our penchant for the creepy and the abandoned, how some of them remain today, moldering in the remote wilds of Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan.

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Oprah Makes 385 Million A Year

Some things are too massive for me to comprehend, like space or Prince Fielder. So when I heard this, I couldn’t really wrap my head around it:

Usmagazine reports Oprah Winfrey earns a whopping $385 million a year.

If Oprah deserves that much money, that would mean she’s roughly 7500 times more valuable than me. Hmm, yeah, that pretty much makes sense. Okay, but fine, maybe Oprah is worth that much, but the article also says this:

Kyra Sedgwick takes home $275,000 per episode of TNT’s The Closer, making her top- earning actress on a cable network drama.

First of all, I’m pretty sure The Closer isn’t even a real show, just a promo TNT runs to give you a breather between back to back airings of The Shawshank Redemption. The only way that paycheck is justified is if they’re giving her 50 dollars per promo. I think even Tyler Perry is like “Jesus, enough with these f&*kin’ Closer promos.”

If you can’t comprehend what you can buy with 385 million dollars, maybe this will help you out:

Massive 8ft Eagle That Catches Tennis Balls [PICS+VIDEO]

It's the ultimate game of fetch, but with a difference - it's played with an eagle.

Evie, a stunning white-tailed sea eagle, has taken a liking to tennis and enjoys nothing more than flying after balls thrown by her proud owner George Hedges.

As part of her favourite game, the stunning bird-of-prey deploys her massive 8ft wingspan to hurtle after the balls, either catching them in mid-air or swooping to seize them from ponds.

Enlarge Evie the Eagle

On the ball: Evie the Eagle gets stuck into her game of fetch

Enlarge Evie the Eagle

Lift off: Proud owner George Hedges and Evie take flight

Enlarge Evie the Eagle

Swooping to conquer: The tennis ball is no match for Evie's strong beak

The high-flyer retrieves the balls using her impressive talons or beak.

Mr Hedges' Dartmoor falconry, Devon's Eagles, is home to a total of 18 birds, including owls, hawks and falcons.

He says the birds are exercised constantly but "we also like to give them a bit of play time".

The tennis ball looks like the size of a golf ball in Evie's large claws and it quickly became the bird's number one toy after she spotted it on a lawn.

Enlarge Evie the Eagle

Mine: Evie would prove a formidable opponent

'One day by sheer accident Evie saw a ball on the lawn and grabbed it. Now it's her play toy,' Mr Hedges said.

Enlarge Evie the Eagle

Best of friends: George and Evie

'When she fetches it her reward is a piece of fish like mackerel or trout, a day-old chick or a piece of meat like rabbit.'

White-tailed sea eagles became extinct in England in the early 1900s and numbers in Scotland are still very low despite a long re-introduction scheme.

The theft of the species' eggs has hampered the attempts at re-introduction and has led to local initiatives to help protect nests.

But Mr Hedge's work with Evie has helped put the birds back in the spotlight, leading to an appearance on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's television show, The F Word, where he was captured hunting with an eagle.

But there is no doubt who the real star is and Evie would likely prove a formidable match for anyone on the tennis court.

Watch the amazing footage here...

The Ten Most Outrageous Car Body Kits

Whether deciding the quickest way to live their dream of owning an exotic car is stretching those lines over a not-so-exotic frame — like a Ferrari out of a Fiero or a Porsche out of a Volkswagen Beetle — or just for the challenge, the results are usually outrageously memorable.

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'Pub ban' order for wife killer

Edward Flaherty
The jury had heard that Flaherty had no recollection of throttling his wife

A judge has told a Glasgow pensioner that stopping him going to the pub was a "more meaningful" sentence than a prison term for killing his wife.

Edward Flaherty, 74, was convicted of strangling 69-year-old Ina Flaherty with a tie after she refused to give him money to go out drinking.

Lord Matthews said Flaherty's dementia made him unsuited to prison.

He imposed a year-long restriction of liberty order which will keep him inside his home during opening hours.

The pensioner will be tagged and banned from leaving his home in the city's Drygate area between 1100 and 2300 BST after being found guilty of culpable homicide.

At the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Matthews told Flaherty that under normal circumstances he would have been given a prison sentence in double figures.

He said: "I have read and considered a number of reports from experts. It is plain to me that if I were to impose that sort of sentence you would be released in a very short time because prison would not be able to cope with your condition.

The report prepared for the court paints a picture of a man in significant physical and mental decline
Donald MacLeod
Defence QC
"Sentencing you would just be a token gesture. I am anxious to impose a sentence that restricts your liberty.

"You still go to the pub where you went with your wife. That must annoy her relatives.

"Not being able to go there will be a more meaningful disposal than a prison sentence which will not last long."

During the trial the jury heard that Flaherty said he had no recollection of the moment he throttled his wife of 52 years in April last year.

When asked who killed her, he said: "It must have been me. There are no ghosts running about the house who would have done that."

Defence QC Donald MacLeod said: "The report prepared for the court paints a picture of a man in significant physical and mental decline.

"There is a clear diagnosis of dementia setting in. It is a progressive condition and ultimately he will need 24-hour care.

"I am deeply conscious there has been a death here, but this man is very unwell.

"He was always willing to plead guilty to culpable homicide, but this was flatly rejected by the Crown and that is why a trial was necessary."

Do they really think the earth is flat?

Photos such as this one are deemed fakes by flat-earthers

In the 21st Century, the term "flat-earther" is used to describe someone who is spectacularly - and seemingly willfully - ignorant. But there is a group of people who claim they believe the planet really is flat. Are they really out there or is it all an elaborate prank?

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