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Friday, April 30, 2010

The 50 Greatest Christina Hendricks Cleavage Photos...So Far

To call Christina Hendricks' clevage "epic" doesn't even come close to doing it justice. Not since the days of Dolly Parton in her prime has America been so mesmerized or hypnotized by one woman's cleavage.

Click here for this Gallery:

LOTR Fan Builds Bag End Hobbit Dollhouse

By: Spooky

After reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, over 20 times, Maddie Chambers decided to take her passion for the LOTR saga to the next level, and created a dollhouse replica of Bilbo Baggins’ Bag End.
This mother of twins took on the hobbit house project when her boys were just 1 year old. At first, she thought she’d just build a hill with a round door, like the one of Bag End, but being a perfectionist, Maddie kept thinking of things to add. First she decided to make a removable roof, then she started drawing up the project, and adding more rooms, until she put it in her mind to build a replica of the Bag End featured in the LOTR movies.
Between taking care of her two children, and keeping the house from falling apart, Maddie Chambers managed to create her hobbit house replica, in just one year. If you think that’s a long time, you must know the whole thing is hand made, from the house itself, to the dollhouse furniture, and even the tiny food. And she only worked two hours a night, and during nap times. But Maddie says she’s always been a crafty person and this was a labor of love.
For more details about the building process, and even more photos of the Bag End dollhouse, head over to the blog Maddie set up for her impressive project. All I can say to this true geek is CHAPEAU!

How Much Money Will Converting the Star Wars Films to 3D Make?


Apparently, LucasFilm has decided to covert the Star Wars Trilogies into 3D. This is not exactly a surprise, as Hollywood is an a rush to make every movie 3D. But how big of a money maker will it be for the franchise?

The cost to convert a traditional 2-D movie into 3D can range between $50,000 and $100,000 per minute. If you split the difference, and say the cost would be $75,000 per minute, then the total price tag to convert all six films would be around $59 million.

In 1997, George Lucas released the special editions of Episode IV, V and VI into theatres. Star Wars opened in January and sold $138 million worth of tickets. The Empire Strikes Back opened a month later, but only had $67.6 million in tickets sales. Finally, Return of the Jedi opened in March, and ended its run with $45.5 million in sales.

Now, if you assume that the Original Trilogy films bring in exactly the same money in tickets sales for a re-release in 3D, then LucasFilm would stand to bring in $250 million in ticket sales on a $37 million investment. My guess is that if they do the 3D right, and do it quickly, then they are looking at tickets sales much higher than $250 million for this new release.

Clearly Lucasfilm will make their money back and then some, but is it worth doing? Does anyone care to see this or is it just another case of Lucas screwing around too much with the franchise?

Why Are Windmills Always White?And why do they always have three blades?

The federal government has green-lighted the nation's first offshore wind farm, to be built off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. Opponents claim that 130 white, three-bladed turbines will detract from the natural beauty of Nantucket Sound. Why do all modern windmills look the same?

So they're unobtrusive. A windmill's noise is directly proportional to the speed of its rotor tips. Two-bladed turbines have to spin faster than their three-bladed competitors to generate the same amount of energy. As a result, the whooshing sound they emit is somewhat louder. Two-bladed windmills would be a sensible choice for a remote, offshore wind farm like the one in Cape Cod, since they're just as efficient as the three-bladed models and cheaper to produce. But manufacturers—who cater to the densely populated and wind-power-oriented countries of Europe—have switched almost exclusively to producing the latter.

The placement of rotors relative to the tower is also a design controversy with acoustics implications. The downwind design, with the tower between the blades and the wind, is more structurally sound. (Think of a pinwheel: If you don't grip it tightly, it will tend to rotate into the downwind position.) The problem is that the tower creates a dead spot for airflow, which stresses the spinning rotors and generates a repetitive whop that can carry for miles. Right now, most manufacturers favor the upwind layout.

The white paint, which many localities require by ordinance, is also a matter of aesthetics. City planners seem to think white windmills are less of an eyesore. The white also reflects sunlight, which minimizes expansion and cracking of the gel coat that protects the fiberglass composite rotors. Not all windmills are white, though. Some Midwestern turbines are yellow to match the grain. (This doesn't work so well in the spring, when the crops are green.) German windmills are sometimes painted dark green at the bottom to blend into the forest. European rotors usually have a red stripe to make them visible to aircraft. Engineers once tried painting the rotors black to absorb sunlight and prevent icing, but it didn't seem to help much.
Hollow, tubular towers have vanquished the old girder design, because they discourage birds from landing on them. (Birds and windmills don't mix.) The tubes are also favored by construction crews, who can climb up a tower to repair it from the inside, protected from the elements.

The biggest design question for most engineers is rotor length. The energy a windmill generates is proportional to the area of the rotors' circular sweep, so energy increases proportionally to the square of the blade length. However, the volume of the rotor, which determines the cost, is proportional to the cube of the length, and increases faster than energy production. As we get better at materials engineering, the rotors will get longer. But at any given time the arms of a windmill will be built out to the length that maximizes energy return relative to the cost of production. The rotors on modern windmills are sometimes as much as 200 feet long. As such, transportation can also be a problem.

Explainer thanks Douglas E. Adams of the Purdue Energy Center, Scott Larwood of the University of the Pacific, James Manwell of the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Research Laboratory, and Jonathan Naughton of the University of Wyoming Wind Energy Research Center.

Lost Finale “Will Generate A Tremendous Amount Of Theorizing”

by Peter Sciretta

Lost Final Flight
If you’re expecting Lost to end with definitive answers think again. The Hollywood Reporter conducted an interview with Lost co-creator-showrunner Damon Lindelof, who revealed that the series finale will “end lost in a way that feels ‘Lost’-ian and fair and will generate a tremendous amount of theorizing.”
“The Sopranos ending only would have worked for The Sopranos. … The great thing about series finales is that they have to fit the show. … We’re going to be as definitive as we can be and say this is our ending, but there’s no way to end the show where the fans aren’t going to say, ‘What did they mean by this?’ Which is why we’re not going to explain it.”
Also, Damon claims “a very large part of” the finale was “part of the original plan.” Lindelof also addresses criticism of the sixth season’s “Flash-sideways” by explaining that “people don’t know what it is, they don’t know how it connects back to the show.”
“So we’re throwing this big mystery into a show that already has a bunch of mysteries in a time frame when they are expecting us to be closing doors, not opening them.”

Lindelof also revealed that some huge sets were created for the series finale, and to help avoid leaks, the final scenes were filmed during the middle of the production schedule instead of the final days. Watch the interview segments embedded below:
Part 1:

Part 2:

LEGO: the building blocks to success

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO, LEGO
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of Lego has redefined the Danish toymaker. This is how he built the foundations for better leadership.

A traditional family business had always been at the heart of Lego; but by the time current CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp – the first man outside of the founding family to head the company – came onto the scene, the model was no longer working.

The Lego Group began its life in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter from Billund in Denmark, who began making wooden toys in 1932. By 1934 the company was known as Lego – from the Danish phrase leg godt, meaning “play well”.

While the introduction of plastic moulding mechanisms breathed new life into Lego, giving us the now infamous multi-coloured plastic bricks of our childhood, over time the company found it was spreading itself too thin. As the world around Lego moved into an increasingly more digital era, the Lego Group appeared to be on its way out.

But then, in 2004, new CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp arrived, and his radical rethinking of the Lego Group not only breathed new life into the company, but also saved it from near-destruction (PDF Annual Report 2004 LEGO Group  - interesting read). Make no bones about it: Jørgen Vig Knudstorp is the man who rescued Lego.

Amazing Lego Facts Infographic: (Click Image to View Full Size)

According to Knudstorp, his entire vision is based around the Lego brick, “that it is our heritage and it is our future”, but in this modern business world, how do you ensure a firm financial backing for a company whose main product is – essentially – falling behind the times?

“Sometimes when I speak about our vision, I talk about a 2.2 version of the Lego Group,” Knudstorp exclusively explains to “When we talk about the digital age, I talk about a 2.2 version of Lego to signify that we are not leaving the physical world, but we are taking the best learning from that and continuing with that as our actual mainstay and core business, and we are adding the digital revolution.”
Speaking exclusively to Adam Burns, Editor-in-Chief at, Knudstorp explains some of his truly “out the box” ideas that helped make a critical difference at Lego. And, now that the brand is up and running again and is doing incredibly well once more, Lego is now facing a multitude of options for future opportunities.

“I think it is a golden rule in business that most companies don’t die of starvation, but die of indigestion,” jokes Knudstorp. “There is so much opportunity if you open your eyes to it. One of the rules I stick to is that you can really only build an adjacency to your core business every three to five years, because it’s such a major undertaking in terms of culture and in terms of capability.”

Watch the full interview with Jørgen Vig Knudstorp CEO, LEGO: The Man Who Rescued Lego
And Knudstorp knows what he is talking about. Not only is he responsible for the reimagining of culture at Lego, which has helped the construction toy maker to redefine its business model, but he also admits that “indigestion” is where Lego struggled before – and that the group won’t be making those mistakes again. “You run the risk that people will lose their focus on their core business as they pursue these new adjacencies that have become the ‘new and sexy thing’ to do.

“So for me, a major paradigm shift is that the core business is the most exciting and what we need to continue to do is reinvent every year and make sure we build our business on this in the future.”
Lego remains a staple of the childhood toy box. Currently approximately seven Lego sets are sold each second, and the world’s children reportedly spend 5 billion hours a year playing with Lego bricks. Children can buy Lego products in more than 130 countries, and the company has theme parks in four countries across the globe.

Since Knudstorp’s arrival in particular, Lego has made tremendous ground. “For the first two years of this new transformation of the company, we said we didn’t have a strategy – all we had was an action plan,”.
“It was kind of like having a heart attack. After maybe having tried for 30 years to change your lifestyle you suddenly realize that you either change your lifestyle or you are going to die. And then people get very motivated and they get on this action plan of healthy eating and nutrition – or in our case, back-to-basics, serving the retailers really well and making the products children really care about and getting back to the core of what Lego is really all about: A process of rediscovery.”

Image Copyright: The High Life PowerPig

Is Stephen Hawking right about aliens?

Stephen Hawking thinks that making contact with aliens would be a very bad idea indeed. But with new, massive telescopes, we humans are stepping up the search. Have we really thought this through?
Close enough? A scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Photograph: Allstar/COLUMBIA/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

In February 2008, Nasa sent the Beatles song, Across the Universe, across the universe. Pointing the telescopes in its Deep Space Network towards the north star, Polaris, astronomers played out their short cosmic DJ set, hoping that it might be heard by intelligent aliens during its 430-year journey to the star.

The hunt for intelligent species outside Earth may be a staple of literature and film – but it is happening in real life, too. Nasa probes are on the lookout for planets outside our solar system, and astronomers are carefully listening for any messages being beamed through space. How awe-inspiring it would be to get confirmation that we are not alone in the universe, to finally speak to an alien race. Wouldn't it?

Well no, according to the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking. "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans," Hawking has said in a forthcoming documentary made for the Discovery Channel. He argues that, instead of trying to find and communicate with life in the cosmos, humans would be better off doing everything they can to avoid contact.
Hawking believes that, based on the sheer number of planets that scientists know must exist, we are not the only life-form in the universe. There are, after all, billions and billions of stars in our galaxy alone, with, it is reasonable to expect, an even greater number of planets orbiting them. And it is not unreasonable to expect some of that alien life to be intelligent, and capable of interstellar communication. So, when someone with Hawking's knowledge of the universe advises against contact, it's worth listening, isn't it?

Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Seti Institute in California, the world's leading organisation searching for telltale alien signals, is not so sure. "This is an unwarranted fear," Shostak says. "If their interest in our planet is for something valuable that our planet has to offer, there's no particular reason to worry about them now. If they're interested in resources, they have ways of finding rocky planets that don't depend on whether we broadcast or not. They could have found us a billion years ago."

If we were really worried about shouting in the stellar jungle, Shostak says, the first thing to do would be to shut down the BBC, NBC, CBS and the radars at all airports. Those broadcasts have been streaming into space for years – the oldest is already more than 80 light years from Earth – so it is already too late to stop passing aliens watching every episode of Big Brother or What Katie and Peter Did Next.

The biggest and most active hunt for life outside Earth started in 1960, when Frank Drake pointed the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia towards the star Tau Ceti. He was looking for anomalous radio signals that could have been sent by intelligent life. Eventually, his idea turned into Seti (standing for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), which used the downtime on radar telescopes around the world to scour the sky for any signals. For 50 years, however, the sky has been silent.

There are lots of practical problems involved in hunting for aliens, of course, chief among them being distance. If our nearest neighbours were life-forms on the (fictional) forest moon of Endor, 1,000 light years away, it would take a millennium for us to receive any message they might send. If the Endorians were watching us, the light reaching them from Earth at this very moment would show them our planet as it was 1,000 years ago; in Europe that means lots of fighting between knights around castles and, in north America, small bands of natives living on the great plains. It is not a timescale that allows for quick banter – and, anyway, they might not be communicating in our direction.

The lack of a signal from ET has not, however, prevented astronomers and biologists (not to mention film-makers) coming up with a whole range of ideas about what aliens might be like. In the early days of Seti, astronomers focused on the search for planets like ours – the idea being that, since the only biology we know about is our own, we might as well assume aliens are going to be something like us. But there's no reason why that should be true. You don't even need to step off the Earth to find life that is radically different from our common experience of it.

"Extremophiles" are species that can survive in places that would quickly kill humans and other "normal" life-forms. These single-celled creatures have been found in boiling hot vents of water thrusting through the ocean floor, or at temperatures well below the freezing point of water. The front ends of some creatures that live near deep-sea vents are 200C warmer than their back ends.

"In our naive and parochial way, we have named these things extremophiles, which shows prejudice – we're normal, everything else is extreme," says Ian Stewart, a mathematician at Warwick University and author of What Does A Martian Look Like? "From the point of view of a creature that lives in boiling water, we're extreme because we live in much milder temperatures. We're at least as extreme compared to them as they are compared to us."

On Earth, life exists in water and on land but, on a giant gas planet, for example, it might exist high in the atmosphere, trapping nutrients from the air swirling around it. And given that aliens may be so out of our experience, guessing motives and intentions if they ever got in touch seems beyond the realm's even of Hawking's mind.

Paul Davies, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University and chair of Seti's post-detection taskforce, argues that alien brains, with their different architecture, would interpret information very differently from ours. What we think of as beautiful or friendly might come across as violent to them, or vice versa. "Lots of people think that because they would be so wise and knowledgeable, they would be peaceful," adds Stewart. "I don't think you can assume that. I don't think you can put human views on to them; that's a dangerous way of thinking. Aliens are alien. If they exist at all, we cannot assume they're like us."

Answers to some of these conundrums will begin to emerge in the next few decades. The researchers at the forefront of the work are astrobiologists, working in an area that has steadily marched in from the fringes of science thanks to the improvements in technology available to explore space.

Scientists discovered the first few extrasolar planets in the early 1990s and, ever since, the numbers have shot up. Today, scientists know of 443 planets orbiting around more than 350 stars. Most are gas giants in the mould of Jupiter, the smallest being Gliese 581, which has a mass of 1.9 Earths. In 2009, Nasa launched the Kepler satellite, a probe specifically designed to look for Earth-like planets.

Future generations of ground-based telescopes, such as the proposed European Extremely Large Telescope (with a 30m main mirror), could be operational by 2030, and would be powerful enough to image the atmospheres of faraway planets, looking for chemical signatures that could indicate life. The Seti Institute also, finally, has a serious piece of kit under construction: the Allen Array (funded by a $11.5m/£7.5m donation from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) has, at present, 42 radio antennae, each six metres in diameter, but there are plans, if the Seti Institute can raise another $35m, to have up to 300 radio dishes.

In all the years that Seti has been running, it has managed to look carefully at less than 1,000 star systems. With the full Allen Array, they could look at 1,000 star systems in a couple of years.

Shostak is confident that, as telescope technology keeps improving, Seti will find an ET signal within the next two decades. "We will have looked at another million star systems in two dozen years. If this is going to work, it will work soon."

And what happens if and when we detect a signal? "My strenuous advice will be that the coordinates of the transmitting entity should be kept confidential, until the world community has had a chance to evaluate what it's dealing with," Davies told the Guardian recently. "We don't want anybody just turning a radio telescope on the sky and sending their own messages to the source."

But his colleague, Shostak, says we should have no such concerns. "You'll have told the astronomical community – that's thousands of people. Are you going to ask them all not to tell anybody where you're pointing your antenna? There's no way you could do that.

"And anyway, why wouldn't you tell them where [the alien lifeform] is? Are you afraid people will broadcast their own message? They might do that but, remember, The Gong Show has already been broadcast for years." And, for that matter, the Beatles.

9 Deadly Words Used By A Woman

New 'Scream 4' Poster And Story Details

By Joey Ernand


'Scream 4' Poster And Story Details Horror master Wes Craven recently spoke a bit about the upcoming sequel he once said would never happen.

Are Sidney (Campbell), Gale (Cox), and Dewey (Arquette) still going to be the central characters, or are they on the periphery this time?
It’s a total integration of those three and new kids. The story of Sid, Gale, and Dewey is very much a part of the movie.

And Sid’s still having problems with Ghostface?
There have been 10 years of no Ghostface, but there has been the movie-within-a-movie Stab. We have fun with the idea of endless sequels, or “sequelitis” as Kevin calls it in the script. Sid goes through these three horrendous things, and Stab was based on those horrible things. And then they’ve been taken by a studio and run into the ground in a series of sequels. She has been off by herself and living her own life, and she’s even written a book that has gotten a lot of critical acclaim. She’s kind of put her life back together in the course of these 10 years. But, certainly, there would be no Scream without Ghostface, so she has to confront him again, but now as a woman who has really come out the darkness of her past.

Can you tease what’s happening with Dewey and Gale by this point?
I don’t think Bob Weinstein would be very happy if I disclosed anything. We have been playing CIA with trying to keep everything secret, and we haven’t put any pages out from the current version of the script, except for things we’ve already discarded. Our first experience with casting this time around, the sides [portions of the script used for auditions] that we used were put on the Internet the same afternoon. It was bad back when we made the other movies, too. On Scream 2, we had the first 40 pages of the script show up on the Internet the night they arrived from Kevin, and we had to do backflips to rewrite the opening.

Speaking of openings, are you at least going to continue with having a couple killed at the beginning of the film?
That’s a strong possibility. [Laughs] Certainly, you will recognize what Bob calls the DNA of the film: a very complex murder mystery, a shocking action picture, wonderful humor based on character, and lots of surprises, as well as a movie that kind of copies itself. It’s a pretty amazing script.

What is your opinion of where the horror genre has gone these past 10 years?
It feels like the end of an era of a certain type of film. There are series of films, a lot of sequels, and a lot of remakes, and part of the humor of Scream 4 is when characters comment on that. “Enough of Saw 25 and all!” [Laughs] A lot of films, directors, and studios are the butts of some of the jokes. In order to figure out what’s happening around them, the characters have to figure out where the genre of horror is. So this is a look at horror after 10 years of a lot of sequels rather than original films coming up year after year. One film is successful, and then they make 25 of them. I think it’s time for something new. I’ve done remakes of my own films, too, with The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, but we feel it’s time for something new and different, and that’s what this film is going to be.

But then is it ironic that this is the fourth film in a series?
Yeah, but I’ve never felt like these are sequels. This is a film about the progress of, at this point, three core characters, and how all of these events have changed their lives, and how the events in their lives have been reflected in the movies around them, which they might like or might really not like at all. I think that makes it really different.

As for the poster’s tagline, “New decade, new rules,” are the new rules going to specifically comment on what’s happened these last 10 years with horror movies?
It’s very much about the last 10 years, and where we are right now. “New decade, new rules” is very much the keynote of the film, that is, trying to figure out what sort of rules (the new Ghostface) is following. How do we fight this killer without a road map? We have to figure out where we are.

Can we count on Scream 4 remaining an R-rated movie with blood and guts and all that fun stuff?
I think that’s safe to say. I’ve very excited about it. At this point in my career, Scream is one of the longest running stories I’ve told. It’s fascinating to still have actors who are very much into continuing their roles and have great chemistry. Part of the reason these three characters are still alive is because they’re so great. We haven’t wanted to kill them.

And, should Scream 4 become a hit, you are signed on for Scream 5 and 6, right?
Yeah, I’m signed on for the duration.

Yeah, I remember when Craven said that there would only be three "Scream" movies, too. What a difference ten years and no real hits make, huh Wes?

Despite my instinctive barbed reaction whenever one of these years-later sequels is announced, I'd say my biggest problem with "Scream 4" is that I just don't think that Kevin Williamson is or ever was as good a writer as he was first perceived to be. He was on fire there for a bit, but I think the more output we got from him, the more it was apparent that the man has decent satirical ideas but sub-par CW-esque dialogue and execution of said ideas (which makes sense, seeing as he was responsible for the Dawson).

But, at the end of the day, I'm approaching this with an open mind. The very core essence of the "Scream" series has always been at the very least original. I always admire satires when they also happen to be pretty good entries in the genre they are lampooning. I even enjoyed both sequels, to varying degrees. So, if they find a new way to reinvigorate all that, then by all means go for it.


Hugh Hefner, film scholar.

The announcement that Hugh M. Hefner has ponied up $900,000 to help save the Hollywood sign from destruction came as no surprise if you're familiar with Hefner's long-standing infatuation with all things old Hollywood.

As a direct patron of the cinematic arts, Hefner's record is sporadically impressive. Playboy Productions did give the world Roman Polanski's impressively violent "Macbeth" and Peter Bogdanovich's high-water mark "Saint Jack," two seriously worthwhile movies. If Dino de Laurentiis is an unlikely patron of the arts for letting David Lynch have complete control on "Blue Velvet," we must give Hef credit where credit's due. Elsewhere, Hefner's dream of conveying the Playboy philosophy of thoughtful hedonism and erudition via non-softcore-porn movies never came to fruition. He's had two perfectly dreadful cameos in the last few years as himself: in "The House Bunny," where he unconvincingly falls for Anna Faris' charms, and in "Miss March," where he delivers a rote, uninspired monologue about the nature of true love. Here's Hef discussing the latter role:

Hefner has, quite late in the game, decided to share his cinephilic knowledge with the world. "Movie Night at the Playboy Mansion" informs us that he has a library of 20,000 DVDs and film prints (a collection that would come in handy in a pinch if TCM were suddenly fire-bombed) and presents us with the notes Hefner presumably declaims to "his invited celebrity friends, coworkers and special ladies about the movie they're about to see."
04272010_astaire.jpgAs a programmer, Hef's fairly catholic, veering from untouchable landmarks ("The Maltese Falcon," "The Third Man") to long-forgotten prestige fare ("Disraeli," "Knight Without Armour"), with pit-stops at a smattering of post-'40s films ("The Exorcist," "The Jerk"), recent movies about which he hasn't a damn thing to say ("Sherlock Holmes," "Nine") and -- most intriguingly -- basic assembly-line studio fare ("Too Hot To Handle," "Carefree"). The notes are a melange of shooting dates and production trivia, leavened with anecdotes from any biographies Hef might have lying around.

Flashes of personality are rare and limited to Hef figuring out if the movie is a four- or five-star experience, though I do like this interjection about the 1938 late-period Astaire-Rogers vehicle "Carefree": "The plot concerns psychiatry and hypnosis, so it was a special favorite of mine back in 1938. Who wouldn't want to have Ginger under their control in an hypnotic trance?" Of course.

It's sweet that Hefner -- like his semi-logical heir in film fetishism, Quentin Tarantino -- wants nothing more than the chance to share a lifetime of obsessive viewing with whoever's around, using the carrot of the Mansion to lure the Bunnies into watching minor Astaire-Rogers or little remembered Clark Gable-Myrna Loy movies. As "Playboy" recedes into the cultural sunset, at least Hefner's educating the unschooled on the only cultural heritage that really seems to matter to him.

[Photos: "Miss March," 20th Century Fox, 2009; "Carefree," Warner Home Video, 1938]

Happy Queens Day - Koninginnedag!

Happy Queen's Day! Today is all about ORANGE and the QUEEN and ORANGE and DRINKING and ORANGE

Bright Orange Happy: Queens Day in Amsterdam, 2009 from Oliver Hagan on Vimeo.

On the 30th of April, 2009 and 2007, I had the pleasure of attending Queen's Day celebrations in Amsterdam with some friends. For those who are unfamiliar with Queen's Day, it is a Dutch national holiday that celebrates the birthday of the Dutch Queen, Beatrix (though her actual birthday is on the 31st of January). All across Holland, the Dutch wear orange clothing, sell their old clothing and goods in the streets, and blast music from makeshift sound systems. The country pulsates with life. Queen's Day celebrations in Amsterdam always attract the largest crowds and more than a million people were rumored to take part in the festivities this year.

Every imaginable street in downtown Amsterdam was filled with people and throughout the day, walking on the streets felt like wading through a giant sea of orange. Festivities get going in the morning and by early evening it's quite difficult to find many sober people on the streets. The beauty of Queen's Day was the atmosphere and the music!

Tiësto @ Queensday Amsterdam 2009

More info:
Live Stream from Queensday NOW:

How Americans See Europe

Happy Van Damme Friday: Bloodsport Training - AMAZING!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

90 Degrees Can Change Everything


PF4B6 90 Degrees Can Change Everything
This is surely the result of a really awesome digital camera. Maybe the photographer had a tilted posture when he took this photo? Well, maybe its just photo shopped. Either way the result is brilliant.

Volkswagen to Replace Spare Tire with Folding Electric Bike

VW bik.e – Click above to watch video after the jump

Volkswagen has rolled out its first ever two-wheeler at Auto China 2010. Following a flurry of flapping and arm waving highly sophisticated dance number, V-Dub research and development chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg rode confidently onto the stage aboard the VW bik.e (not a typo). A very cool looking piece of mobility art that looks a little like a small bicycle without the pedals, the battery-powered device has definitely been designed with both form and function in mind: the whole thing folds quickly down into a flat disc that fits quite nicely into the spare tire compartment found in the bottom of most trunks.

369diggsdiggWhile auto shows are known for their concepts that never see the light of day, we are told there are plans to actually commercialize this machine, though it probably won't come as an option with your next VW. With a range of 20 kilometers (12.5 miles), it's not meant for long distance treks but rather as a supplement to your car. Its official top speed is 20 km/h (12.5 miles per hour) to allow Germans to ride it helmetless, though word on the street says the version at the show could go much faster. No mention was made about how long it takes to charge, but apparently the bik.e's batteries can be replenished by a car's DC current as well as a typical AC plug. To get a glimpse of this "mobility enhancer" in action and hear the good doctor expound further, hit the jump for the accompanying video.

[Source: ZerCustoms]

Best 3 Year Old Baseball Player

This is Beau. He likes the White Sox, Paul Konerko and mashing the ball out of the park.

Hilarious Hacked Device Electrocutes You for Thinking (Video)

by Aaron Saenz

most painful toy hack ever
What do you do after hacking a brain computer interface to electrocute people when they concentrate? You invite over some comedians and film them flipping out. Awesome.

In further proof that idle engineers are the most evil demographic in the world, I present to you the “Most Painful Toy Hack Ever”. Created by Aaron Rasmussen, co-founder of Harcos Laboratories, this hacked device monitors your brain activity and gives you a scream-out-loud electric shock as soon as you start concentrating as a way of making your friends laugh. That’s the sort of mixture of comedy and malevolence you can expect from Harcos. To promote their energy drinks (which look like mana potions, and bags of human blood) they’ve pulled a lot of crazy stunts using technology. They’re sort of the geeky version of Jackass. Watch the video below to see Rasmussen shock the crap out of himself, his co-founder Elijah Szasz, and the cast of SMBC-Theater. I never knew such hilarious antics could arise from combining BCI with electroshock therapy.

For a hack of a brain computer interface (BCI), the MPTHE is pretty cheap to build. Rasmussen says the entire project cost him around $105. That includes the BCI from a toy called MindFlex (~$80+), an electric shock card from Qkit (~$5), and various electronic parts. Harcos Labs has placed all the information you need to build your own MPTHE on their website. I’m sure hackers everywhere have already started to improve upon the design. We just saw the release of the first patient-ready BCI on the market. Maybe with that EEG they’d be able to do something more productive than shock you. As brain computer interfaces get more common, and accessible, I’m sure we’ll see some really incredible hacks, hopefully not all for evil.

[image and video credit: Harcos Laboratories]
[source: Harcos Laboratories]

Seven Medieval Castles You Can Buy

By: Dahlia Rideout 


Castles for sale, cheap! Well, not too cheap, but compared to a penthouse apartment in New York or a Beverly Hills mansion, you could pick up a fine European castle for not much more.

Three-Bedroom castle for sale, Aquitaine, Gironde, Monségur, France

Price: $922,478
Charming fortified castle for sale in Aquitaine, the heart of French wine country. This fixer-upper has been updated with the bare minimum (like a toilet, kitchen) to retain its medieval charm. Screaming sounds from the dungeon further add to the ambiance.
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The Walton Castle, Clevedon, Somerset, UK

Price: $6,865,433
Like ivy? This gem has you covered! Seven-thousand square feet of medieval glory awaits you on this hilltop masterpiece. Impress your friends, threaten your enemies, survive a land attack. New roof in 1620 and 1984.
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Seven-Bedroom medieval chateau, Lot-et-Garonne, France

Price: $2,629,503
This beauty has been lovingly restored by its current residents, but there are no guarantees against past resident ghosts. Seven bedrooms plus a few secret rooms for the occasional Moorish invasion. Dungeon makes a great playroom for the kids, plenty of parking.
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Seven-Bedroom medieval chateau, Lot-et-Garonne, France

More photos of the lovely French Chateau.
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Killahara Castle, Tipperary, Ireland

Price: $1,311,864
This little charmer has survived everything from the battle of 1582 to a cow living in the top quarters in 1981. Battles, murders, and infamy create a welcoming atmosphere everyone can enjoy. 3G wireless coverage is strong on the seven-acre property.
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Castle For Sale in Sologne Area, France

Price: $6,526,732
This gem is truly a medieval masterpiece, This fifteenth-century wonder features 8100-square feet of land, including a fifty-acre forest, five acres of gardens (hope you have a green thumb!), horse stables, and a few guest houses thrown in for good measure. Worried about maintenance? Put an ad on Craigslist for a family of serfs!
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Castello di Mazzè, Turin, Italy

Price: $19,791,005 (negotiable)
It doesn’t get more luxurious than this. Previous guests include Vittorio Emanuele II di Savoia, the Count of Cavour, and even Mussolini. Built in the XII century (you can say that with pride), this enormous complex is even too large for the property description to list. Bring along a few hundred of your best friends for stunning views of the lake.
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Templar Knights Castle, Haute Provence, France

Price: $2,357,736
It doesn’t get much better than living in a genuine Templar castle built in 1125. It was constructed to defend the valley against the marauding Moorish invaders of Arabia. The swimming pool was probably added later. In true Templar fashion, the kitchen should always be stocked with goblets.
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Hero Dog Tries to Help Mortally Wounded Dog - Chile

A dog in Chile is unfortunately hit by a car and killed. Another dog drags the mortally-wounded dog to the side of the road. The hero do ran away.

MythBuster Adam Savage + SBU (Self-Balancing Unicycle)

focusdesigns December 20, 2009Adam Savage of the MythBusters receives his SBU, an electric self-balancing unicycle by Focus Designs Inc.

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Video by: Valeo Visual (

The 9 Most Annoying People at Starbucks

Starbucks is the best and worst place on the entire planet. On the one hand, they have more than enough delicious caffeine, whipped cream, and overpriced travel mugs to satisfy your early morning cravings. On the other hand, they're usually a steaming hotbed of douchebaggery. Here are the 9 most annoying people you'll run into at your local Starbucks:
The Regular
Y'know what's awesome? When you walk into a Starbucks to find a line about thirty patrons deep, and then the person who gets in line behind you just shouts to their "friend" behind the counter: "Hey, Colby! I'm getting my usual!" Then, the line jumper spends the rest of his time trying to "just sneak in and pay real quick" so that he can avoid standing in line with all the other losers who don't come to this particular Starbucks as often as he does, and therefore don't deserve special service. If, by some miracle, the Starbucks employee forces The Regular to wait in line to pay like a normal person, then they still get their coffee way before anyone else does, and they get to stand there and enjoy their delicious morning beverage while everyone else is pulling their hair out in desperate need of their morning fix. This type of special treatment is just blatantly wrong, unless I'm getting the treatment, in which case I'm okay with it.
The Overly Happy Line Greeter/Order Taker
At some point, the Starbucks Corporation realized that their growing legions of employees didn't have the best people skills. Their answer was to create their own version of the Wal-Mart Greeter who also takes your order. But, since anyone who's over-qualified to be a Wal-Mart greeter is a Wal-Mart cashier, you end up having some G.E.D.-havin' dumbass or an excruciatingly-lonely elderly woman force their brand of corporate chit-chat down your throat. Instead of waiting to pay for your $4 coffee in peace, you have to deal with: "Goooooood morning today! How are you? Some kinda weather we're having isn't it? I wish I was outside in the park! Wouldn't that be nice? It's sooooo sunny! And what's better for you than a nice big dose of Mr. Sun! Maybe some coffee? Ha! So, what can we get you today? Need a little pick-me-up? You do! I think we ALL could use one, yes we could! YES WE COULD! Hi! WELCOME TO STARBUCKS!!! And how are you doing today?!?!"
The Kid
It's been scientifically proven that if you give a thoroughbred horse a tall iced mocha right before a race, it will always win*. This is because of the massive and ungodly amounts of caffeine and sugar that are somehow contained within each Starbucks brand beverage. These drinks get you so wired that they should come with some kind of surgeon general's warning on the side of the cup. Yet, somehow, people allow 8-year old kids, who are all ready hyperactive thanks to the addition of these Starbucks brand energy injections into their normal diet, to pound back Caramel Machiatos by the dozens on a daily basis. Remember the crazy fast zombies in 28 Days Later? Well, this is the first step to making them. Keep it up, humanity!
The Manager Who Refuses to Recognize Standard Sizes
I understand: you’re a corporate guy and thus must abide by company policies by calling the different sizes by their Starbucks names of Venti, Grande, etc…. But if I ask you for a small, don’t act like I'm speaking to you in that Native American langauge we used in World War II to deliver coded messages. You, Starbucks, are the one who's chosen to be "different" by calling your sizes something other than what they are. If you insist on looking at me like I'm a retard speaking Chinese whenever I order a "small" coffee, then I'm going to insist that you give me change for a dollar with "3 twinklies, 3 chartruse bubblebunnies, and a dragonplumber". Deal with it.
The Complicated Order Guy
When you order coffee, it shouldn’t sound like you’re giving the pass code to a missile defense system. If you’re lactose intolerant, on a strict diet, and can’t handle a full dose of caffeine, how about instead of ordering a “non-fat, grande, soy chai latte with a half shot of espresso and no foam", you just drink a glass of water. They can make that pretty quickly, so you won't have to pace around in front of the pick up counter like a starving circus lion at lunch time. The best part about it: last I checked, a glass of water won’t give you exploding diarrhea or anxiety (unless you’re at the Starbucks in Tijuana).
The Intern Who is Buying for the Entire Office
Wearing an all-white or striped button down shirt, this guy shows up with a legal pad full of hastily scribbled orders. "Yeah, I'm gonna need 24 tall skinny soy lattes with sugar free hazelnut extra hot...and 32 grande no caff cappuccinos with light whip cream, sugar free hazelnut and vanilla with white chocolate mocha. And 14 grande supremos with a triple shot, sugar free vanilla, extra white mocha, no whip, no foam and an extra drizzle. Oh, and can I get a smiley face on the bottom of all those?" Then, instead of just grabbing his bags and leaving, he painstakingly inspects all 70-odd cups in his 17 flimsy cardboard holders. If you get behind this guy, you may as well give up any hopes of getting a cup of joe in your lifetime. You're better off flying to Colombia, slitting Juan Valdez's throat and stealing his invasive, coffee-harvesting burro.
The Writer Who Wants You to Know They’re a Writer 
Being a writer is a pretty cool (albeit thrifty) occupation, but unfortunately you can’t tell someone’s a writer just by looking at them. However, feeling the need to tell someone you’re a writer is way less impressive. Therefore, these people go to the busiest Starbucks and pop open their brand new powerbook, making sure their screen is clearly displaying a full page of Final Draft. After they get their overly-elaborate morning beverage, they'll sit at a table and stare at their computer screen, taking deep breaths, suggesting an intense and creative thought process that normal minds are not capable of. Who gives a shit if an asshole and his mac have spent six hours taking up a table normally reserved for four people? The most important thing is that you know that they’re juggling a complex story about a boy in Alaska who comes of age and befriends a bear. That’s right, they’re creating that using only their minds!
The Guy Who Hates Starbucks But Goes There Every Day
Armed with armchair political rants, this guy is the world's biggest bore and the world's biggest hypocrite combined into one big uber-shithead. He won't shut up about how Starbucks is bad for the environment and how they're taking over the world and how their coffee totally "doesn't taste like the gourmet stuff downtown." But when you bring up the fact that he's ranting about Starbucks while he's actually inside a Starbucks, his crappy hippie-wannabe excuses just start piling up. "Well, here's the thing, I just didn't have time to make it over to my usual coffee place. You know the one way over on 2nd Ave? I was on my way over there, but the traffic was a killer, so I was totally forced to get my fix at this place. I totally can't stand that I have to come here, but that's what they do. They tie your hands, man. These big corporations. They just own you! They're everywhere!  Can you grab me a handful of Splenda?"
The Study Group
Screw the library with all it’s “room” and “group space.” It makes way more sense to have your 20-person study session in an incredibly busy and crowded Starbucks with tables that have insufficient space to lay your books. Everyone knows you have a poli-sci midterm, mostly because they can hear every f*cking thing you’re saying because you’re yelling so that you can be heard over the frappucino machine. Would you hold a study group session in a Turkish prison? Because Starbucks is basically the same thing, except with less gay sex, and a little bit better coffee.