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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Turning the tide to energy

by Rosemary Sullivant Turning the tide to energy

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In the proposed hydrokinetic energy transfer system, the flow of water current causes turbine blades to rotate. The rotor's rotational speed is increased through a gearbox, which drives a high-pressure fluid pump. The high-pressure fluid would be transported though flexible tubes to a larger pipe and then to an efficient, onshore hydroelectric power plant.

NASA researchers who developed a new way to power robotic underwater vehicles believe a spin-off technology could help convert ocean energy into electrical energy on a much larger scale. The researchers hope that clean, renewable energy produced from the motion of the ocean and rivers could potentially meet an important part of the world's demand for electricity.

Many different methods already exist for using moving water to create power. Hydroelectric plants, for example, are among the most established and least expensive sources of electricity. They benefit from the large hydrostatic pressure difference between the water surface behind the dam and the turbines that can be harnessed to produce power. But the power that can be produced in this manner is limited, because most of the suitable rivers already have hydroelectric dams.

Other technologies have been designed -- and are being developed -- to turn the energy of ocean currents, tides, and flowing rivers into another kind of power, called hydrokinetic energy. Many of these hydrokinetic energy systems use underwater turbines, similar to those in wind farms. Ocean currents or tides turn the turbines, which generate electricity that can be transferred by cable to shore.

Jack Jones, an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Yi Chao, a JPL scientist, have designed a new kind of underwater hydrokinetic energy system. It uses water motion to generate a high-pressure liquid rather than electricity. That liquid is then transported to shore and used to produce electricity on land. Caltech, which operates JPL for NASA, holds the patent on this innovative energy technology.

The JPL/Caltech hydrokinetic energy system is a spin-off from a research project to find a new way to power robotic underwater vehicles. Most robotic underwater vehicles run on batteries and have to be recovered by ship to have their batteries recharged or replaced.

In this project, initiated by Pat Beauchamp of JPL's Center for In Situ Exploration and Sample Return, Jones was asked to develop a way to use temperature differences in the ocean to power submersibles. He had previously developed thermally controlled balloons for Venus, Mars and Titan. Jones was teamed up with Chao, who uses underwater gliders in his oceanographic research. "I saw we could extend the lives of these vehicles significantly by harvesting energy from the ocean environment," Chao says.

Jones and Chao designed a system that takes advantages of changes in ocean temperature to create a high-pressure fluid that can be used to generate power. "The trick was to find a special substance known as a phase change material that changes from a solid to a liquid as the temperature in the environment changes from cold to warm," Chao says. "When the material melts, it expands, compressing a central tube in which another liquid is stored. This liquid, now under high pressure, is used to generate electricity to charge the battery underwater."

Working with colleagues from JPL and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, and funded by the Office of Naval Research, Jones and Chao are developing a prototype underwater vehicle powered by this new energy system. They will conduct field tests in the Pacific Ocean this fall.

While they were working on this project, the researchers realized that they could employ the same concept -- using an environmental pump to generate a high-pressure liquid -- to produce electricity from the world's ocean.

Going with the flow

In the large-scale JPL/Caltech hydrokinetic energy transfer system Jones and Chao propose, ocean tides, currents and waves, as well as river flows, would provide the energy source to create the high-pressure liquid. As the water turns underwater turbine blades, the rotor's rotational speed would be increased through a gearbox, which drives a high-pressure fluid pump. The high-pressure fluid would be transported though flexible tubes to a larger pipe and then to an efficient, onshore hydroelectric power plant.

"If we use fresh water in a closed cycle and recycle the fluid, there would be no direct impact to the ocean or river's ecosystem," Chao adds.

"A major advantage of this design," says Jones, "is that it eliminates all submerged electrical components, which are subject to corrosion." In addition, other tidal turbine energy systems, such as the one now in operation in Manhattan's East River, transfer the power generated by the turbines to the surface through buried electrical cables. These are expensive, hard to maintain, and can be dangerous, Jones says. Similar issues exist with two other types of hydrokinetic systems in use in the United Kingdom and planned for South Korea.

"The JPL/Caltech hydrokinetic energy transfer system combines a simple, corrosion-resistant subsurface design with the least expensive electrical energy generation system onshore," says Jones.

"Our proposed system has another advantage," he says. "The pressurized hydraulic energy can be stored in an elevated onshore reservoir and can be used to generate electricity when it is needed to respond to energy-demand. Most environmentally friendly energy systems produce power intermittently."

"This type of hydraulic energy transfer system is potentially applicable to many types of hydrokinetic energy from rivers, ocean waves, tides and currents," Chao says. Scientists can use state-of-the-art computer models of winds, river flows, ocean currents and tides to determine any location's potential for energy production, he adds. They can also predict how much energy could be produced in the future to help in planning energy use and storage.

"As with all such technologies, the ultimate arbiter is the end result of systems-engineering studies, overall efficiency, and costs in terms of dollars per output watt capacity and cents per kilowatt-hour produced," says Paul Dimotakis, JPL's chief technologist. "Such studies and preliminary development efforts also need to be performed for the JPL/Caltech hydrokinetic energy systems, and if these are promising, then the next phase in development can be undertaken."

Jones and Chao will be presenting a paper on the JPL/Caltech hydrokinetic energy transfer system at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering this summer in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Provided by NASA/JPL, Written by Rosemary Sullivant/Global Climate Change

10 Movies That Would Make Awesome Science Fiction Novels

People often talk about which science fiction books would make good movies. But which movies would make for excellent novels? And who should write them, in an ideal world?

Of course, plenty of original movies do get turned into books - but they're usually rushed novelizations, written in a month by someone who's juggling ten other deadlines and adding speech tags to the movie script. If you're lucky, you get a few extra insights into the characters and one or two scenes that the adapter added, or which were cut from the movie before or after filming. Plus, of course, the movies that get their own book adaptations aren't usually ones which could benefit from a really smart dose of storytelling. Movie adaptations of books, meanwhile, are usually disappointing for a whole different set of reasons.

But every now and then, a movie comes along down the pike that actually cries out for a smart, interesting book that brings out the ideas simmering below the surface. Here are ten movies that I'd love to see a really smart book version of, and the authors who would write them in my fondest dreams.

Twelve Monkeys. Cole (Bruce Willis) travels back in time from a plague-ravaged future to try and discover the source of the virus, but he ends up tangling with his own past in unpredictable ways. I was torn between listing this one and director Terry Gilliam's other dystopian epic, Brazil. But of the two movies, I think I'm more desperate to read a really thoughtful novel of Monkeys, preferably written by someone who watched the film with Gilliam a few times. There's so much confusing stuff in this movie, especially Cole's causal loop - is he creating his own dystopian future, or is he simply trapped in the logic of already-existing events? Did the scientists send Cole back on purpose to make sure their plague-ridden timeline "happens," as some have suggested? (In which case, why would they be worried about that, given that it's already happened?)
Who should write it: Marge Piercy, author of Woman On The Edge Of Time. She knows all about time travel, madness and the long reach of dystopia.

The Fountain. Meredith suggested this one - there's already a graphic novel adaptation of Darren Aronofsky's original screenplay, the one he never got to film. But there's no prose novelization of the actual movie, which I found to be a huge let-down despite its sprawling, ambitious plot. Judging from the results of our recent poll, many of you consider The Fountain an underrated masterpiece. Maybe a book could flesh out some of the confusing stuff about the present-day cancer cure and just what's going on with that weird tree-in-space sequence.
Who should write it: I'm going to go with Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn. He might be able to ground the present day stuff and add some life to those lifeless characters, and when he's channeling Philip K. Dick, he does weird-and-fantastical quite well. Maybe it would all feel epic and personal, the way I think the film was supposed to.

The Brother From Another Planet. John Sayles' story of an escaped slave with weird feet who lands up in present-day New York is one of my favorite films, although I haven't seen it all the way through in a decade. Joe Morton is fantastic as the mute escapee, who has a strangely close relationship with technology.
Who should write it: Tobias Buckell, author of Sly Mongoose, has dealt with themes of slavery and alien cultures in a lot of his writing.

Sleeper. Wikipedia claims this film is loosely based on the H.G. Wells novel The Sleeper Awakes, but I would say "loosely" is the operative word. And this is such a crazy slapsticky subversive novel, complete with humans impersonating robots, Orgasmotrons, a fake utopia and nose-cloning. And so much more.
Who should write it: Douglas Adams, if he was still alive? Actually, I'm going to go with io9 contributor Austin Grossman (Soon I Will Be Invincible), just because I think he could nail the neurotic Woody Allen tone, while doing a lot to flesh out the absurdity of this freaky dystopia.

Possible Worlds This little-known film stars Tom McCamus as a man who keeps journeying through different alternate universes and having a relationship with the same woman (Tilda Swinton), which always seems to end badly. And then there's a twist, which I won't reveal here but which we gave away in a found footage.
Who should write it: Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife.

S1m0ne. Andrew Niccol's most disappointing film totally deserves a novel told from the point of view of Al Pacino's character, a third-rate movie director who creates a virtual actress to save his troubled movie - and then has to deal with her becoming a superstar. A novel might be able to make the movie's premise more believable and dispense with some of the VFX problems that dog the movie, and a tight focus on Pacino's POV would allow us to probe the psychology of a man who brings to life an irresistible virtual avatar, in a cross between Pygmalion and Cage Aux Folles.
Who should write it: Amy Thompson, author of Virtual Girl, who manages to make that novel's skeezy programmer who creates a gynoid and then tries to enslave her actually sympathetic.

The Matrix Trilogy. No, not just the first movie. I want to see the whole trilogy as one sprawling, insane novel about cyber-avatars. I want all of the lame discussions about free will in the second movie and all of the lame everything in the third movie to be beaten into submission, and the whole disappointing mess transformed into a seamless whole, the story of humans trapped in a virtual world rising up against their machine overlords, while a virtual man-in-black becomes a megalomaniac.
Who should write it: That's the hard part. There are so many cyberpunk authors I'd like to see try their hand at it. But in the end, I'm thinking Charles Stross.
He does sprawling post-human stories really amazingly well, and might add a whole extra conceptual layer to the Wachowskis' somewhat facile world-building.

Primer. This knotty time-travel movie actually stands on its own remarkably well, but I'd still like to see a smart, thoughtful novel that deals with all the of the intersecting timelines and unraveling protagonists.
Who should write it: David Gerrold, author of The Man Who Folded Himself, still possibly the weirdest time-travel novel of all time.

Slither. You might think this is just another over-the-top body horror movie, about alien parasites who infect a town's residents. But this movie goes so much further, showing how a woman can't escape her abusive husband. The parasite infects her husband first, and then all of the people whom it infects afterwards speak with the husband's voice, so she's constantly trapped. It's up there with Society and Dead/Alive in the disturbing horrific social commentary sweepstakes.
Who should write it: The great d.g.k. goldberg, if she was still alive. Otherwise, I would say Nalo Hopkinson, author of Brown Girl In The Ring.

Sunshine. The screenplay is available in book form, but there's no novelization. I loved this film, but many people don't seem to agree, and maybe a really strong novelization could help win over the doubters, especially if it made the slasher-movie third act feel like it grew naturally out of the rest of the story.
Who should write it: I'm thinking maybe Stephen Baxter, who's shown a talent for writing madness as well as planetary disasters and space exploits.

Note: I was going to include Galaxy Quest on this list - but realized it already has a novelization, by Terry Bisson. Who, by amazing coincidence, is probably exactly who I would have chosen to novelize that movie. Has anyone read Bisson's Galaxy Quest novel, and is it as good as it ought to be? It's only one cent on Amazon (plus a few bucks' shipping, of course.) Also, did you know that Christopher "The Prestige" Priest has novelized David Cronenberg's Existenz

Kid Uses Fart Machine During City Council Meeting

10 Things That You Never Knew About Wolfenstein


It made Lucy Liu cry ...

read more | digg story

16 Great Music Add-Ons for Firefox

by Sean P. Aune
There are numerous FirefoxFirefox reviewsFirefox reviews add-ons to help enhance your music listening experience. From those that enable you to control your online or desktop media player, to tools to help you fill in gaps in your album art collection, or tweet your current song to your TwitterTwitter reviewsTwitter reviews followers, here are 16 great Firefox music add-ons to get your groove on.

While we think all 16 are great, we suggest that you install just a few; Installing too many add-ons will slow down your browser.

Have another music add-on to recommend? Tell us about it in the comments.


Music Players and Controls


firefm

Fire.fm - Fire.fm was the winner of the Extend Firefox 3 contest, and with good reason. It gives you full access to the Last.fm library from anywhere you may surf to. Discover new artists, play favorite tracks, explore people with similar music tastes and more.

FoxyTunes - With FoxyTunes installed you can control just about any media player from directly inside your browser. Also finds album covers, displays lyrics and more.

GoMuzik - You can search the GoMuzik library of over 1 million songs and play those you like, make playlists and more.

Lala Control - While this add-on has same caveats (a tab must be opened, songs must have started playing or be in your queue), it will allow you to control the Lala.com flash player without having to constantly switch tabs all the time.

Music Hutch Toolbar - This toolbar works exclusively with music and videos on The Music Hutch, and with it you can shuffle and search all of the files for playback.

Music Player Minion - This extension operates as a client for the Music Player Daemon network, allowing you to control music from one computer on your home network from another.

My Opus Radio - Adds a player to the status bar to play India’s first online radio station for international music.

Online Music Player - This music player installs down in your status bar and allows you to play MP3 files either from the web or from local files. It is also capable of displaying lyrics and managing playlists.

Play Them All - Play Them All scans all of the links on a page for ones that end in .mp3 and creates a M3U playlist from them so that you can easily play them.

Radio Eksen - This add-on will allow you to see what is currently playing on Radio Eksen, a rock radio station in Istanbul, Turkey. You can click on the display to listen to the station in your media player, check the artist out on Wikipedia or Last.fm, get lyrics from Google and more.


Music Tools



Album-Cover-Art.org - Allows you to search Album-Cover-Art.org for album cover artwork you may be missing for your music collection.

FindThatBand - Allows you to highlight a band name on a site, right click to select search, and it will pull up information about that band on MySpace, LastFM, Pandora, or Wikipedia.

FiTunes Sidebar Extension - Shows you a sidebar built around the top 25 iTunes Store categories such as singles and albums.

Harmony - This add-on integrates with Pandora or FoxyTunes to give you real-time information about the music you are listening to, and will also scrobble the songs to your Last.fm account for you.

Song.ly - Song.ly allows you to share songs with all of your Twitter followers with just two clicks, and will take them to a page where the song is embedded in a player for them to hear. Sort of like Blip.fm, but it works more directly with Twitter.

TwittyTunes - From the same people who make FoxyTunes, TwittyTunes will allow you to post whatever music you have playing to your Twitter stream. What is nice is that this isn’t done automatically, but only when you click the button, so you won’t end up spamming your followers with song title after song title.

Kidneys grown in genetically modified mouse

NEWS.com.au

SCIENTISTS have successfully used implanted cells to create kidneys inside a mouse whose parents were genetically engineered so their offspring would not be born with the organs.

The team, headed by Professor Hiromitsu Nakauchi of Tokyo University's Institute of Medical Science, extracted a fertilised egg obtained through the normal mating of the genetically modified parents.

The embryo was then implanted with induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells from a mouse with kidneys and then transplanted into the womb of a surrogate mother.

The baby mouse was born with kidneys and it is believed its bladder inflated and it produced urine as normal, MCT news agency reported

Implanted iPS cells are thought to have compensated for the kidneys the mouse should have been born without.

The team now plans to use the research to create internal organs of monkeys inside pigs.

"If we become able in the future to create human kidneys inside pigs, we'll be able to solve the problem of a lack of organs for transplant surgery," Prof Nakauchi told MCT.

Older iPhone Prototypes Show up on Ebay

It looks like someone got their mitts on a piece of technology history over at 1 Infinite Loop. Someone is selling some prototype iPhones with a wacky pre-iPhone type of OS on it. One of the iPhones actually even works.

Update: Someone (Apple?) has taken the Auction off of Ebay. It was last seen around $2500

Original Ebay posting

Here is a quite rare and collectable example of iPhone prototypes, one even running a beta OS. Only one of the phones works however. Neither unit says "iPhone" on them anywhere, or list the storage capacity which is interesting. I did some research on the serial numbers, it appears they were both manufactured about 6 months before the release of the iPhone.

Phone #1:
-Powers on OK - GSM service works
-Plastic matte screen (see pics)
-Serial number YM649xxxxxx which corresponds to a factory in China, manufactured week 49 of the year 2006.
-Runs iPhone OS 03.06.01_G (iPhone Launch OS 1.0 was version 03.11.02_G)
-Good cosmetic condition

Phone #2:
-Doesn't turn on (tried leaving on charger for awhile, along with various reset procedures)
-Glass screen
-Serial number YM650xxxxxx which corresponds to a factory in China, manufactured week 50 of the year 2006. (The iPhone was announced on Jan 6 2007 and release June 29 2007.)
-I replaced the battery and still doesn't work. Currently apart right now, can leave as-is for buyer or reassemble.
-Has various scratches, it is in fair cosmetic condition at best

The phone that works is pretty neat to use. It does make calls(with my ATT sim), and I can surf the net. However when I did get to web pages they were the mobile versions, not the regular versions. I can't figure out how to set a ringtone, it is just silent right now. I can receive SMS but not compose my own, other than 5 included test messages. It doesn't sync to itunes. Camera seems to work. It has tons of testing options.

Also, the working phone has several interesting subtitles that alternate on the screens including:

[Skank is the new black]
[Nine parts perspiration]
[Say hello to the Newton MessagePad 3000]
[Skankphone]

The phones also comes with a really nice soft case for each. I can guarantee that the working phone will work when you get it, but nothing else beyond that. This auction includes the 2 phones, and the 2 cases, and that is it. Shipping via USPS Priority Insured. Paypal within 3 days. Please ask any questions before bidding.

And a video...


USB Finger: When reality meets product concepts

Yanko Design's You-SB concept:

Yanko Design You-SB finger drive

Jerry's real prosthetic USB finger storage:

Jerry's prosthetic USB finger storage

The story behind this is that Jerry had a motorcycle accident last May and lost a finger. When the doctor working on the artificial finger heard he is a hacker, the immediate suggestion was to embed a USB "finger drive" to the design. Now he carries a Billix Linux distribution and the Freddy Got Fingered movie as part of his hand.

Yanko Design's concept via Gizmodo.

The Best of Celeb Redheads


Carrot Top, Conan O'Brien, Amy Adams and more - who's your favorite?

read more | digg story

Police seize $1.2 million worth of drugs from Phish fans

From the Newport News, Va., Daily Press

Hampton

HAMPTON - Police confiscated $1.2 million worth of illegal drugs and more than $68,000 in cash from concertgoers arrested over three nights of Phish shows.

There were 194 concertgoers and others in the area of Hampton Coliseum charged with various misdemeanor and felony offenses — mostly possessing, using and selling drugs. Some faced multiple counts, for a total of 245 charges in all.

Police were out in force, with 113 Hampton police officers working special overtime shifts at the event, plus another 85 officers helping out from other agencies, said police spokeswoman Allison Quiñones.

Many of the charges pertained to marijuana, cocaine, mushrooms and painkillers.

Police used a combination of undercover and out-in-the-open tactics, those at the scene said. In one case, an undercover police officer offered to sell concert tickets in return for drugs, then arrested the man who tried to buy them.

The cost of paying police officers to work the special shifts — providing traffic management as well as overall security — was borne by Phish and its promoters, said Hampton City Manager Jesse Wallace. Taxpayers did not foot any of the bill, he said.

"It wasn't a free service," said Joe Tsao, the Coliseum's director. "We have police for every event, both in terms of security and traffic and parking. So this is customary, except it's just bigger."

Hampton police had assistance from officers with the Drug Enforcement Agency, Virginia State Police, Newport News and Poquoson police, Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Hampton Sheriff's Office.

The $1.2 million value of the narcotics confiscated was a police estimate of their street value. Police did not provide details of the drugs seized.

Of the 194 people charged with crimes, 46 were issued summonses to appear in court later, while 148 people were physically arrested.

Many of those arrested were out-of-town visitors.

Everyone arrested was first brought to a remote command center — set up at Hampton Chevrolet, where a Hampton magistrate worked all three nights to consider charges and decide on bond. Many of the arrestees were later taken to the Hampton lockup. According to a log at the lockup, there were 83 people brought in on drug-related charges, 20 people charged with being drunk in public and 10 brought in on driving under the influence and other charges.

Some of the people arrested accused local bail bondsmen of gouging them.

With so many out-of-state residents being arrested, bondsmen were asking them to put down the full amount as collateral — money the defendant would get back if they show up for their court dates.

Bondsman Vincent W. Paige Sr. said there was good reason for such a request.

"There's a concern that people will not return from these distances to come to court," Paige said. "If they don't come back, the bondsman will be out the money. ... We're not out here ripping people off."

He added that "if these guys had any scruples at all, they wouldn't be messing with the drugs in the first place." And if someone is complaining about having to put down collateral, he said, "his intentions are not to come back."

Paige bailed out only two people this weekend, dealing with their parents on both occasions.

Iowa Senator Seeks To Legalize Medical Marijuana

Public Hearing Scheduled


Marijuana for medical use is legal in 13 states. But, bills proposing legalization in Iowa have been continually shot down.Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcom is pitching the idea again.He has letters he's received from Iowans begging for relief from pain and nausea. Relief they believe will only come from marijuana."I've received email form a whole host of constituents and people around the state telling me their stories about the pain and suffering they go through on a regular basis and their desire to have some opportunity to address it," Bolkcom said.Bolkcom wants to addressing it with a bill titled the "Medical Marijuana Act."If the bill passes, a marijuana registry would be established. Identification cards would be passed out to those who have a qualifying medical conditions like - cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis C and Alzheimer's.The bill also gives doctors the right to prescribe marijuana for severe pain, nausea, seizures, and any other condition approved by Iowa's health department."I just think it's time that Iowa look into this area of pain relief," Bolkcom said.However, he said there are hurdles to overcome. The American Medical Association says more study of the use of medical marijuana is needed. Some doctors say marijuana is unnecessary because other, legal drugs are already available. And Marijuana is still seen as part of the war on drugs."I think there still some need to do education among policy makers and Iowans in general about the importance of this," Bolkcom said.He'll have the opportunity tomorrow afternoon. A public meeting has been scheduled. It's in the Senate lobbyist lounge at 2:00 p.m.Count on NewsChannel 8 for continuing coverage.

Purim - A Message to the West


Tonight and tomorrow, Jews around the world, celebrate the festival of Purim. The Book of Esther in the Old Testament describes all the events that led up to this celebration. While the cast of characters is Jewish, the message is universal. It applies to everyone who loves freedom, to everyone ready to fight for his/her values, it applies to anyone who will stand up to encroachment against one’s traditions and lifestyle, it applies to everyone who refuses to accept the seemingly inevitable and who, in spite of the odds, will defend what is right.

Almost 2500 years ago the Israelites, who’d been exiled to Persia, saw themselves threatened with mass murder through the instigation of Artaxerxes II’s (Ahasuerus) vizier, Haman. The odds were against them, bribes couldn’t accomplish much. Running away to safer lands, in those days, was not a viable option, especially since the Persian Empire extended through 127 lands! There seemed to be little that could be done… One man, one of the king’s ministers, a Jew, not only did not take this laying down but he seemingly exacerbated matters by refusing to bow down before the vizier. Rather than hide as soon as he saw Haman, he made it a point to stay where he was and while everybody bowed and prostrated themselves he made a point of staying upright. At first, this behavior seems incomprehensible. Every one was supposed to bow down or risk getting killed, yet this man seemed oblivious of the punishment and continued to openly defy and enrage the vizier. Common sense would have dictated bowing down. What was the point of attracting undo attention to oneself? And why would Mordechai, the Jew, be so brazen about it?

Haman was a descendant of King Agag, who was defeated by the Hebrew King Saul. King Agag was a descendant of Amalek, a desert chieftain in the Sinai Peninsula who attacked the Jews fresh out of Egypt and was very badly defeated. The enmity between the two people was strong, Haman as a descendant of Agag, craved vengeance from the nation he hated most. Here was the head of that nation and Mordechai seemed to egg him on, to go out of his way to provoke him with his attitude. Why did this Jew, Mordecai, refuse to bow and prostrate himself? Haman was considered a deity, he wore a necklace with his likeness in the form of an idol. Had Mordechai bowed to Haman, he would be bowing to a living idol. No Jew could do that! By being so brazen, he hoped that Haman would take out his wrath on him and him alone. But Haman was very smart. He knew Mordechai had saved Ahasuerus’ life by revealing a plot he’d overheard when two courtiers were planning to assassinate the king. For Haman to go and demand Mordechai’s head from the king was not likely to succeed. Instead, he told the king that one nation stands apart and refuses to blend in therefore it should be destroyed, including every man woman or child. By destroying all Jews he certainly would kill Mordechai! Esther, the queen, foiled the whole scheme when she invited the king and his vain vizier to dinner. At dinner she revealed to Ahasuerus, the plot against her people. Soon Haman and his 10 sons were hanged instead. That in short is the story of Purim… What is it’s relevance to our world of today? What if anything can it teach us? Patience, gentle reader, you will soon see…

In the days of the British Mandate in Palestine, the Jews - in the interest of peace with their Arab neighbors - were asked to give up any and all claims to the area of the Western Wall, which is a remnant of the old Temple and thus the holiest existing site in the Jewish religion. In exchange for relinquishing all claims against it, the Arabs would permit the Jews to pray at the Wall without resorting to violence. Considering the number of Jews that had been killed or hurt on their way to prayers at the Wall, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Committee were ready to sign such a deal. They could not however do so, their signatures would lack legitimacy unless Rabbi Kook - the Chief Rabbi - could be convinced of the merits of the idea and would publicly endorse it.

Various groups and organizations went to see the Chief Rabbi and carefully explained the situation, stressing the fact that by simply relinquishing Jewish rights the bloodshed of Jews would stop. The Rabbi however listened painfully but did not answer. His beadle, sensing the Chief Rabbi’s pain, went into the next room where the Rabbi’s oldest son was engaged in studies with others. He explained the situation and the son then entered his father’s room and explained to the important members of the delegation that his father could never agree. They eventually left disappointed… they had presented their case to the Chief Rabbi, they had explained to him that lives could be saved, but he did not badge, as if he did not fully grasp reality!

Another delegation of notables came to see Rabbi Kook, these were even more important people, nobody ever denied them their request. For while couched as requests, their words were meant as orders. They too accomplished nothing, especially after Chief Rabbi Kook told them. “Mordechai never bowed, nor would he prostrate himself! (Book of Esther 3:2)” Defeated in spite of their entreaties, in spite of their threats, the notables left empty handed. Rabbi Kook knew full well that compromising at this time would mean that at a later time the Jews would be told that they should stop praying at the Western Wall altogether, after all, their Chief Rabbi and all the Jewish notables had given up any claim and therefore it was no longer theirs. They - the Jews - would now encroaching on the Muslims by insisting on praying at the Western Wall, to which they had given up all claims!

Fast forward a few years to WWII, this story is about the Grand Rabbi of Skulen, Elazar Zushe Portugal (of blessed memory!). Nothing stood in the way of the Rebbe when it came to save Jews. During the war he was in the city of Chernowitz, then under Soviet control, so as to be able to assist those who had tried to smuggle themselves to Romania. Any Jew that was caught was immediately found guilty and as punishment was either sent to Siberia for life or he got a bullet in his head… The Rebbe, no matter the odds, always pleaded for those that had been caught and usually succeeded in getting them free.

The colonel in charge of the border patrols, also lived in Chernowitz, he was a ruthless man, but there was something about the Rabbi’s manner and his words that always managed to win him over, but even he had had enough of this Jew!
He finally told the Rabbi, ” This will be the last time you will bother me. If you come again on behalf of your Jews I will kill you!”

Shortly thereafter the Rebbe was notified that a family of nine had been caught in the process of smuggling out. The Rebbe felt it was his duty to save them. Big bribes did not work, the Russians were absolutely determined to make an example of these people and thereby stop or at least slow down the escapes. The Rabbi felt he could still go to the Colonel and plead. His family and acquaintances begged him not to go, “why risk your life?” they argued. His answer was that while it was not a given that he would be killed as the colonel threatened, the lot of the unfortunate family was sealed unless he could do something about it!

Rabbi Portugal approached the colonel’s home with trepidation, climbed the steps and knocked on the door. The colonel opened and was immediately overcome with anger. He grabbed the Rebbe and threw him down the stairs. Badly hurt, and with extreme difficulty he managed to get up. With whatever strength he had left he barely climbed up the stairs again and knocked on the door.

The colonel opened the door and could not believe what he saw. There stood the Grand Rabbi of Skulen, dirty, bloodied, clothes torn, in obvious pain but… with a look of defiance in his eyes. “I must speak to you colonel!” the Rebbe said, tears streaming down his face. The colonel listened, the Rebbe begged, cried, as he told of the family’s plight. The colonel’s hardened heart was softened by the Rebbe’s selflessness and heartfelt devotion. He was impressed and the family was freed! The Grand Rabbi of Skulen, regardless of personal danger did not accept the family’s fate. He never wavered in his resolve to save them at all costs even at great personal risk. “Mordechai never bowed, nor would he prostrate himself! (Book of Esther 3:2)”

Still wondering what these stories of dead old Jews have to do with the 21st century world we live in now? Let me explain, gentle reader, 2500 years ago some Jews stood up to the Persian vizier. Today, in Europe, in America, we are threatened by IslamFascists who demand every right for themselves in exchange for nothing! Leaders in the UK, in the US, throughout Europe and Latin America are giving in without a fight, Frankly, these leaders have nothing to fight for. In the UK Imams preach hatred for the West, while living off the british taxpayer’s money. Their freedom of speech and incitement to violence is protected, While Geert Wilders, who esposes without inciting or preavching violence is denied entry to the UK and his freedom of speech is curtailed. Western politicians have long given up their values in exchange for power, money, lust. None of those lasts long, thus they have no reason to fight for. We the people are of no import to these so called leaders, all they want is to perpetuate themselves in power! They know full well that as long as they are useful to IslamoFascism, as long as they bow and prostrate themselves they will be reelected by that malevolent minority who would tear away the rights from the rest of us. There are still some people in the West who cling to their spiritual values, there are still people in the west who pride themselves of their lifestyle and Western heritage… Mordechai never bowed, nor would he prostrate himself. Will we?!?!?

Chaim

How to Delete Any Online Account

Canceling accounts you've created on the Web isn't always easy. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to ditch social networks, online retailers, blogging services, and more.

read more | digg story

Chuck Norris Allows Birthday to Arrive

Today is Chuck Norris' birthday. He turns infinity.

Chuck Norris's Birthday

Fun fact:
Chuck Norris was born three months premature, because he had asses to kick.

p.s. -- he's 69 (in human years).

Some babies are born head first....others feet first...but only one was born beard first. 69 years ago today in Oklahoma a legend was born. Carlos Ray Norris was once a shy, non-athletic boy, who was often tormented by his classmates for his mixed native-American heritage, but he used his lust for revenge to help him become the most powerful being on the face of the earth. As an Air Policeman (I'd assume sans plane, just flying round and arresting people) in the US Air Force he would earn the nickname Chuck and started studying the martial arts so hard that he had to create his own - Chun Kuk Do - because nothing else was good enough. Actor, ass kicker, inventor of the roundhouse kick, and star of the Atari 2600 game Chuck Norris Superkicks, without Chuck's influence the video game industry would just be a bunch of cutesy pet sims. Let it ring across Barrens chat on every server - Happy Birthday Chuck Norris! He might be 69-years-old, but he could still kick all of our asses at once without even blinking.

and don't forget...

  1. Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried. Ever.
  2. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
  3. Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
  4. The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.
  5. If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.
  6. Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.
  7. Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting implies the probability of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.
  8. Chuck Norris doesn’t wash his clothes, he disembowels them.
  9. Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man ate a f***ing Indian.
  10. In fine print on the last page of the Guinness Book of World Records it notes that all world records are held by Chuck Norris, and those listed in the book are simply the closest anyone else has ever gotten.
The rest can be read here....http://chisblassternardone.blogspot.com/2007/10/chuck-norris-facts.html

‘Star Wars’ Live-Action TV Series Casting Underway

'Star Wars'A live-action TV series set in the “Star Wars” cosmos has been an elusive, tantalizing prospect for years. News of the potential production first surfaced in 2005 while George Lucas was promoting “Revenge of the Sith.” Work on the “Clones Wars” animated feature film and Cartoon Network series, though, took creative precedence. In late 2007, Lucas revealed that he and his team were about to begin writing scripts for the live-action show. Now MTV News has learned that casting for the series is currently underway.

During the junket for the Nicolas Cage thriller “Knowing,” star Rose Byrne let slip that Team Lucas is casting a wide net for actors to join the show. “A lot of my friends have been auditioning for it,” she said.

According to Lucas, the show will focus on minor characters from the saga and be set in the time period between “Revenge of the Sith” (Episode III) and the original “Star Wars” (Episode IV). The action will follow the Rebel Alliance as it slowly gains strength against the Empire. There will be Stormtroopers, but no Jedi or Darth Vader will appear on screen. As he did with the “Clone Wars” series, Lucas will write and shoot an entire year’s worth of episodes before looking for a cable channel on which to air the series.

Thus, with casting just now moving forward, it looks to be quite some time before fans will be able to catch some live-action “Star Wars” on the small screen.

Bryne couldn’t have been more pleased about her time working with Lucas on 2002’s “Attack of the Clones.” “My experience was wonderful,” she said. “George is a great guy. I was just there for a week, standing behind Natalie [Portman] looking very demure and supportive. 95% of the fan mail I get is from ‘Star Wars’ and I’ve never seen them.”

As much as she enjoyed the “Star Wars” experience, Byrne, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on FX’s “Damages,” will not be auditioning for the live-action series. “I’m on a show,” she said. “I don’t know if I look that good in space.”

Who would you like to see cast in a live-action “Star Wars” TV show? Which cable channel would be the best outlet for the series?

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After 24 years Mike Tyson is Finally Playable in a Videogame


There will be plenty of butterfly floating and bee stinging in the ring this summer, as EA announced that Muhammad Ali will be one of two cover athletes for Fight Night Round 4. The boxing legend will share the space with powerhouse and controversy magnet Mike Tyson. We just hope Ali knows to duck out of the way should Tyson's eyes flash red before schooling "Iron Mike" in a lesson of sweet science.

Both will be playable in the upcoming title, which is currently in development at EA Canada. Also, eager players who lay down a pre-order for Fight Night Round 4 at GameStop will net early access to the game's demo, giving them some extra time to live out pugilistic dreams before the rest of the world laces up.

List of films being released in 3-D

March 9, 2009 by Daniel Herrera

This being a slow news day, I thought it would be interesting to listl the films currently slated for the 3-D treatment, and maybe some of films rumoured to take the ever popular extra dimension.

Piranha 3-D-Alexandre Aja of The Hills Have Eyes remake fame is currently in preproduction remaking this horror film scheduled for a late 2010 release.

Alice in Wonderland- Tim Burtons remake of the classic Disney cartoon is getting a 2010 release with Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter starring.

Toy Story 1 and 2 are being given a re-release in theatres and being converted to 3-D, with both looking for a 2010 release to build hype for the upcoming Toy Story 3 sequel.

Avatar- James Cameron’s anticipated first film since his Oscar winning Titanic back in 1997, is slowly creeping closer and closer to its release date of December 18th of this year.

G-Force- Jerry Bruckheimer’s upcoming children’s film featuring talking Guinea Pigs (don’t worry you read that right) is getting the 3-D treatment, and featuring the voices of Penelope Cruz and Nicolas Cage.

UP- Pixar’s latest film featuring the voice and startling similarity to Ed Asner is coming to theatres this summer. UP, marks Pixar’s first foray into the 3-D arena.

Battle for Tera- This animated film featuring the voices of Evan Rachel Wood, David Cross, and Justin Long is beginning it’s run on May 1st of this year.

Monsters Vs. Aliens-Dreamworks Co-Owner Jeffrey Katzenberg, has been touting 3-D technology for quite some time now so let’s see if his first foray into 3-D films is worth the trip when Seth Rogen and Reese Witherspoon lend their voice talents this March 27th.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs- The third and final (?) entry into the animated tale of scrat and the rest of the pre historic creatures make their debut this September 28th 2009.

A Christmas Carol-Robert Zemeckis makes his anticipated return this christmas in yet another 3-D animated tale this time starring Jim Carrey taking 4 roles including the role Ebenezer Scrooge.

Planet 51- The Rock stars with the beautiful Jessica Biel in this upcoming animated film which has the stars lending their voices to tell the tale of an alien planet living in fear of an alien invasion. The invasion starts November 20th 2009.

Rango-Gore Verbinski recently announced this animated tale as an upcoming project featuring the voice of Johnny Depp which will be filmed in 3-D. No release date has been announced.

Final Destination Death Trip 3d- The fourth installment in the popular horror franchise will bring viewers to 3d carnage during a Nascar type race on August 14th 2009. Thanks to killerfilm reader SagiMewtwo for the heads up.

Films rumoured for a 3-D treatment:

The Lord of the rings have often been touted as being re released in 3-D, along with King Kong as Peter Jackson was said to have been using the technology at the time.

Battle Angel- James Cameron has been stating that he would be making films in 3-D and that he would love to tackle this film as his next project. Of course he said this before Avatar so who knows when he will work again.

Re-Animator-I struggled to put this one in rumoured, as day by day it seems closer to fruition. Brian Yuzna who is the films producer, and may direct this film, has stated himself he would like to make the film in 3-D but no approval or confirmation as of yet.

The Avengers-Way too early to tell if this will come.

Crank 3- With the sequel still not released, this is very premature but there have been rumblings.

Thanks to killerfilm reader Will for pointing out that there is also rumours of Star Wars being given the 3D treatment as wel,l cuz as we all know 2 dimensions just isn’t enough. Totally forgot about this one.

CGI Boobs: 7 Special Effects The Stars Want to Keep Secret

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If you gave any one of our big tech industries millions of dollars, a team of computer geniuses and cutting edge technology, they would probably waste it on AIDS vaccine research or nanocomputers or something. Hollywood will invest it in CG penis enhancement.

The reason is sometimes hours of makeup and the perfect lighting still aren't enough to make some stars look like stars. Welcome to the world of "vanity visual effects."

#7.
Angelina Jolie's Naked Body in Beowulf (2007)

Beowulf continued the proud tradition of "performance capture" earlier exhibited in Polar Express, where real actors' bodies and motions are painstakingly captured and digitized into the computer world to play terrifying dead-eyed zombies (it is believed eye performances were captured separately, from that cupcake dog.)

In Beowulf, Angelina Jolie plays a nude lizard woman. In an interview, Jolie speaks about how shy she was about having her naked body scanned for the part, which is odd considering that the body you saw in the film came from Rachel Bernstein, who "has made a living winning swimsuit competitions" while "appearing in almost every lingerie catalog in LA."

That resume certainly qualifies her for the role, but leaves a few questions unanswered. Angelina Jolie, by all appearances, has a perfectly fine body, and any worrisome changes due to her three-month pregnancy at the time could have easily been touched up as they freely admitted to doing with the male actors.


"Ugh, she is hideous. Hire a body double, I'm gonna puke."

It might just be a symptom of society's double standards that actors can freely brag about getting better fake bodies while actresses have to keep up a pretense of being physically perfect. Or maybe she honestly didn't know. It certainly seems possible that when Angelina Jolie asked if they needed her to disrobe to have every square inch of her naked flesh scanned into a computer, some unscrupulous devil at the Sony scanning lab conveniently forgot to mention the body double.

#6.
Kevin Costner's Hairline (and Neck Vaginas) inWaterworld (1995)

Waterworld holds a special place in entertainment history as one of the easiest punchlines of all time. When produced in 1995, for a budget of $175 million, it was the most expensive film ever made; money clearly well-spent on CG representations of things you can't find in real life, like the ocean. It turned out that, in addition to the planned out effects, after shooting had wrapped, some unfortunate observations came to light, such as the fact that Kevin Costner was losing his hair.


Costner in 1995. According to our Photoshop Department.

At this point, Costner realized that audiences would never be able to take his role as a half-fish/half-man seriously if they kept being distracted by his male-pattern baldness. Costner reportedly asked for reshoots and CG fixes, leading to one of many arguments that eventually got director Kevin Reynolds kicked off the movie.

Costner may have been inspired by another aging action hero. In 1991, it was rumored that Bruce Willis ordered his thinning hair touched up in Hudson Hawkwhich, if true, would have been even more ridiculous, budget-wise, as photorealistic CG wasn't available in 1991, and the hair would have had to be pretty much hand-painted frame-by-frame by a 2D artist. It seems like Costner may have taken the wrong lesson away from this cautionary tale of vanity (The biggest flop of the 90s prior to Waterworld? Hudson Hawk).

More understandable was some after-the-fact CG gill modification. Costner, as a fish-man in the movie, had gills on his neck. Above water they looked like gills, while underwater, as it turns out, they looked like vaginas. Needless to say, additional budget was found for some quick digital fixes. While they had saved themselves from losing the "family" audience, sales in Japan would suffer.

#5.
Vivien Leigh's Eye Color in Gone With The Wind(1939)

It's easy to think that vanity visual effects started with the introduction of CGI to movies, but phoniness and gratuitous image manipulation have always been an integral part of Hollywood movie making, as the urge for this kind of arbitrary after-the-fact tinkering transcends technological limitations.


Like when they digitally added Jabba the Hutt into Citizen Kane.

In 1936, when it came time to cast an actress for the green-eyed Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind, producer David Selznick went through an enormous two-year talent search looking at all the top actresses of the day. The final choice for the green-eyed Southern belle was a blue-eyed English actress named Vivien Leigh.

As production kicked into gear, in 1939, it suddenly occurred to Selznick that films were now in color. Technicolor had only introduced its groundbreaking three-color process for live action films in 1934, five years before, so Selznick could be forgiven for letting it slip his mind.

Rather than entertain the thought that the eye color of the main character may not be the most important aspect of a movie, Selznick pressured Monty Westmore, the makeup artist, to cover his ass on this one. He would call Westmore repeatedly at three in the morning and other odd hours, to explain that Vivien Leigh's eyes were still not green. Fans of the book would apparently settle for nothing less.


On the left you can see Vivien Leigh with green eyes as seen in Gone With The Wind, and blue eyes have been added on the right so that- oh seriously, who even cares?

Rather than wait decades for the introduction of colored contact lenses, the unfortunate Westmore, the cinematographer and the costume designer struggled to do their jobs using a combination of lens filters, reflective green costumes and enough green eyeshadow to drown a grown man.

#4.
Nicolas Cage's Abs in Ghost Rider (2007)

Nicolas Cage has always been a little like a mild version of post-steroid Carrot Top--someone whose head doesn't seem to belong with his body.

Since at least Con Air, Cage has put a lot of work into his body, with fairly impressive results. Meanwhile, his head continues to look like Nicolas Cage's head, and his hairline in particular seems to take a step back for every ounce of muscle he gains.

This discrepancy is probably what has fueled accusations of CG muscle fakery against Cage from time to time, much of it likely to be unfounded. His action hero role in Ghost Rider once again calls for a handsome, ripped young man, but Cage was cast instead, and he did his best. He's talked about the amount of work put into getting in shape for the film and photos of him on the set seem to show the results:

So you'd think no CG help would be needed. However, some after-the-fact tattoo removal had to be done, and it seems that while they were in there, they couldn't help but fix a few other things here and there:

And now it's just silly. Why bother with a trainer at all, when they're just going to use the body of a Rambo action figure instead.



#3.
Jennifer Connelly's Tear in Blood Diamond (2006)

Suppose that you have a crucial emotional shot of Jennifer Connelly looking distressed while talking on a mobile phone. You were happy with her performance at the time, but in the context of the film, you realize she needs to take it to a whole new level of distress. If you were George Lucas or the lady that wroteTwilight, the solution would be pretty simple: you would just dub in a line where Jennifer Connelly states, "I am distressed! Very, very distressed!" Meanwhile, directors capable of understanding human emotions might dial that back a few notches and simply add a digital tear rolling down her cheek.

That's only the tip of the iceberg as far as performance alterations. As the linked article mentions, "Visual effects experts privately admit to changing actors' expressions: opening or closing eyes; making a limp more convincing; removing breathing signs; eradicating blinking eyelids from a lingering gaze; or splicing together different takes of an unsuccessful love scene to produce one in which both parties look like they are enjoying themselves."

In the future, if technology advances far enough, we could see a visual effects equivalent of the Auto-Tune, software that could add any emotion to any actor, possibly spelling the end of ironically enjoying Keanu Reeves performances, which would be a shame.

#2.
Brandon Routh's "Bulge" in Superman Returns (2006)

Superman's main features were always supposed to be his chiseled face, his spit-curl and the big S symbol on his chest, and not his genitals. During production of the Superman Returns movie, Brandon Routh's mighty package allegedly became a distraction.

Shape and size became vital issues within the costume department, and digital effects were considered to reduce the size of the package in post-production. After a great deal of discreet work, children everywhere were saved from learning that men and women are different. And that some men are way different.

There is no indication of what "inside source" originally leaked the "Superman's dong is just too huge" rumor, but in our minds we picture a shadowy, Brandon Routh-shaped informant.

On the side of equal opportunity, Lindsay Lohan's breast size was allegedly reduced in Herbie: Fully Loaded, preserving one audience segment while alienating another. Lending credence to that rumor is the fact that Lola VFX, a well-known digital cosmetic enhancement shop, worked on the film.


Booooo.

Music videos are also a lucrative area for post-production fixes, one of the most unfortunate being adding digital panties to Carmen Electra in a Li'l Kim video after an unintentional flash.

#1.
Kevin Bacon's Penis in Hollow Man (2000)

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the family-friendly modifications in Superman Returns and Herbie, we have Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man, based on the classic H.G. Wells novel The Invisible Rapist. It attempts to answer the age-old question: What would you do if you were a huge jerk that was able to become invisible? It's an important philosophical question that apparently can't be answered without showing penis. Like, a lot.

Kevin Bacon gets to showcase his manhood in possibly more ways than any other film has ever showcased a wiener. Whether it be plain old nudity, or heat vision swinging dong...

... or skinless man dong...

... or underwater dong...

... or shaking-off-water dong...

... or dong passing through smoke.

Now, the dong passing through smoke is barely visible, but it's important to take note of, because Verhoeven very specifically instructed artists to ensure it was visible. It was vital to him that Kevin Bacon's invisible penis be apparent in as many shots as possible.

While the heat vision shot only involved taking regular footage of Kevin Bacon walking around naked and running it through a filter, the water shots and the smoke shots specifically required an entire CG Kevin Bacon to be built, with CG joints and controls on every part of the body, including the penis, all controllable by animators, allowing them to increase penis swing on the smoke shot, for example, if necessary. And Verhoeven felt it was necessary.

Rumors also indicate that Kevin Bacon himself, after viewing some of the shots, discreetly requested some modifications using the universal language of dong description: he nodded toward the dong, held his hands some distance apart and then increased the distance.

We can laugh, but what man reading this wouldn't have done the exact same thing?

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