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Monday, January 24, 2011

George Washington Never Looked So Good

Granted not all of these are 1$ bills, but for the most part they are. For my buck these masked bills are worth much more than a single dollar. My favorite is probably the Ronald McDonald or the Howard Stern one. Who would you like to see George transformed into?

Click the gallery to view them all

That’s dirty, Sanchez – Jets QB Mark Sanchez picks nose and wipes it on Mark Brunell

During the first quarter of tonight’s Jets-Steelers AFC Championship game, Jets QB Mark Sanchez was caught on camera picking his nose and then unabashedly wiping it on the jersey of veteran QB Mark Burnell.
As our good friends @ticketradio tweeted: that’s dirty, Sanchez.

Video: Mark Sanchez picks nose and wipes it on Mark Brunell

Man's Wheelchair "Tank" Banned From Street in Britain

posted by: Robin Marty
Man's Wheelchair  
It's a huge blow for a disabled man in Britain, who was hoping to enjoy the outdoors the way he used to -- his specialty wheelchair has been banned from public roads and sidewalks.

Apparently, it's technically a tank.

Via The Mercury:

"It is ridiculous that I should have found a chair that could help me do all that, then told I could use it, only for the authorities to turn around and say that if I used it on the roads I would be doing something illegal," he said.
Jim has used a wheelchair since 1999 due to chronic back and joint conditions, neurological problems and arthritis which leave him in constant pain.
He was given the chair for Christmas by a friend who had it made by US firm TC Mobility, for £15,000 ($24,000) after Jim found he was limited by his basic wheelchair.
"NHS wheelchairs are fine but when they get to anything other than a flat, even surface they are useless," he said.
"I used to be someone who was very into outdoor pursuits before I had to use a wheelchair and I had hoped the tracks would mean I could get back out and do the kinds of think I used to love doing."

Jim's new wheelchair, which weighs nearly twice as much as the standard approved chairs and scooters, and which comes with heavy threads rather than wheels, cannot be used on public streets and sidewalks due to possible damage to their surfaces, the vehicular department announced.  He is welcome to use it on private land, he's told, but "I have to cross roads and pavements to get to the areas where I can use it," Jim points out, leaving him basically trapped.

As Gizmodo puts it: "At a cost of $24,000, that's one helluva pricey toy to hoon around on in his backyard."

Keanu Reeves Reveals Plans For Matrix Four And Five

The fourth and fifth sequels to 'The Matrix' may be shot in 3D, with creators Andy and Larry Wachowski reportedly keen to ''truly revolutionise'' the action movie genre.

Keanu Reeves has revealed plans are underway for two more sequels to 'The Matrix'.
The actor - who appears as Neo in the first three movies of the sci-fi action drama - hinted he and the writers of the franchise, Andy and Larry Wachowski, have discussed the possibility of shooting the two new movies in 3D and are reportedly seeking further advice from 'Avatar' creator James Cameron.

However, the Wachowskis are said to be keen to deliver something which has "never been seen" in the movie world and would "truly transform" the action movie genre.

Hearing Keanu commenting during a key note speech at the London School of Performing Arts, a reporter for Ain't It Cool News said: "They have completed work on a two picture script treatment that would see him return to the world of 'The Matrix' as Neo.

"Keanu says the brothers have met with Jim Cameron to discuss the pros and cons of 3D and are looking to deliver something which has never been seen again. He stated that he still has an obligation to the fans to deliver a movie worthy of the title 'The Matrix' and he swears this time that the treatment will truly transform the action genre like the first movie."

However, according to the reporter, the Wachowskis are looking to complete their current work on new movie 'Cloud Atlas' before discussing the possibility of adding to 'The Matrix' series.

Solar power enters the plastic age


London (CNN) -- Cheaper and lighter compared to its more expensive, cumbersome silicon cousin, plastic photovoltaics (PV) could herald a revolution in the solar power market, according to a UK solar panel expert.

"Plastics are much cheaper to process than silicon. In principle the devices we've been making might be very, very cheap and cover large areas," said David Lidzey from the UK's University of Sheffield.
Unlike rigid silicon panels, plastic (or organic) PV is far more flexible making it easier to install, which Lidzey says could hand it a huge advantage.

"If you've got panels that almost roll up like a big sheet of wallpaper then that might be a very good way of powering developing countries," he said

Polymer solar panels differ from most commercial plastics like polythene which are essentially insulators.
Turning them from a material that prevents conductivity into ones that promote it requires chemists to "tweak their molecular structure," says Lidzey.

But he says some everyday plastic products aren't a million miles away from the plastic PV he's researching.
"If you look at a (chip) packet, what you've got is a plastic film, a few layers of inks and a printed metal layer to keep the materials fresh. Rearrange the order of those layers and you get to a structure that's very similar to the PV devices we're looking at," Lidzey said.

On of the leading lights in developing plastic PV is U.S.-based tech company, Konarka who are already applying their "Power Plastic" technology to a wide range of products including luggage and parasols.
Larger arrays are also being fitted to street furniture, as can be seen with San Francisco's bus shelters.
Researchers are also hopeful that buildings could also get the plastic treatment in the future.

In 2009, Konarka installed a "curtain wall" to an outside section of its Florida offices as part of a pilot project.
Plastic PV, say the company, can absorb sunlight from "all sorts of ranges" allowing it to be installed onto vertical walls.

Founded in 2001, Konarka are one of many companies trying to perfect the technology. And the news is increasingly promising. But there are some issues to be resolved before plastic can truly find its place in the sun.

Whereas silicon has an efficiency of around 15-18%, plastic devices can only achieve 7-8% at best, currently.
Problems also remain with operational lifetime. Silicon devices will generally last around 20 years and are very stable, Lidzey says.

Organic-based (plastic) systems are less so, degrading much more quickly. But things are improving.
"There is a lot of activity to find out what the mechanisms are by which these materials degrade so we can produce better packaging materials to prevent this," Lidzey said.

He concedes there is some way to go before plastic PV catches up with silicon's superior efficiency and durability, but even that might not be an issue, he says.

"The idea is that you might not need to catch up provided you can make them cheap enough," he said.
"My guess is that it will be between five and ten years, and then we will see a significant volume of devices being made from plastic."

Why shoppers find it so hard to escape from Ikea: Flatpack furniture stores are 'designed just like a maze'

By James Tozer

If you've ever found yourself hopelessly lost in an Ikea store, you were probably not alone.

The home furnishing chain’s mazy layouts are a psychological weapon to part shoppers from their cash, an expert in store design claims.

The theory is that while following a zig-zag trail between displays of minimalist Swedish furniture, a disorientated Ikea customer feels ­compelled to pick up a few extra impulse purchases.

A-mazing: A route a customer took through a store. Professor Alan Penn said they are designed to stop customers leaving
A-mazing: A route a customer took through a store. Professor Alan Penn said they are designed to stop customers leaving

According to Alan Penn, director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London, Ikea's strategy is similar to that of out-of-town retail parks - keep customers inside for as long as they can.

'In Ikea's case, you have to follow a set path past what is effectively their catalogue in physical form, with furniture placed in different settings which is meant to show you how adaptable it is,' he said.

'By the time you get to the warehouse where you can actually buy the stool or whatever's caught your eye, you're so impressed by how cheap it is that you end up getting it.'

While its stores have short-cuts to meet fire regulations, shoppers find the exits hard to spot as they are navigating their way through displays of flat-pack furniture, he added.
'Also you're directed through their marketplace area where a staggering amount of purchases are impulse buys, things like lightbulbs or a cheap casserole that you weren't planning on getting.

'Here the trick is that because the lay-out is so confusing you know you won't be able to go back and get it later, so you pop it in your trolley as you go past.

Mesmerising: Ikea's store in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.The flatpack store is designed to make it difficult for us to escape
Mesmerising: Ikea's store in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.The flatpack store is designed to make it difficult for us to escape

'It's not like somewhere like John Lewis where everything has a logical lay-out and you know you'll probably be able to navigate your way back to the same spot again.'

Pugh: Can you pop into Ikea for me?
Alongside its reputation for good, cheap design, Ikea's distinctive labyrinth has been phenomenally successful with 283 stores in 26 countries and profits of £2.3 billion last year.

The sometimes gruelling strategy - dubbed 'more like S&M than M&S' by Prof Penn - is similar to that employed by out-of-town shopping centres to attract customers then keep them in side for hours on end, he added.

Studies at the Bluewater centre in Kent found that shoppers spent an average of just over three hours inside, with a significant number spending eight hours at a time there.
Malls are subtly designed to keep shoppers moving around the retail floor, rather than towards the exit, while the frequent need to drive to the middle of nowhere means visitors are encouraged to make a day of it.

Along with familiar cafes and play areas, a common design is the 'dog bone' mall, where a large store at either end - such as Marks & Spencer or Debenhams - is attracted at knock-down rent, while smaller stores like Next or Mothercare cluster in-between to take advantage of the custom they generate.

Supermarkets use similar tactics, according to Prof Penn.

'They couldn't get away with having shoppers going in one single route like Ikea, so what they do is put popular purchases like milk and bread at the far end of the store so you have to walk past shelves of other products on the way.'

Big success: The Ikea store in Wembley, north London. Last year the Swedish giants made a profit of £2.3bn
Big success: The Ikea store in Wembley, north London. Last year the Swedish giants made a profit of £2.3bn

He has a 'nightmarish' vision of a clothing store like Primark directing shoppers on a single route through the store, passing displays of different styles of outfits en route, but questions whether the Ikea template would work on the high street.

'It would be interesting to have customers go past lots of mannequins showing different lifestyles the clothes were meant to inspire before they actually got to try them on, but so far no-one's tried it.'

However Prof Penn said the trend was towards more subtle techniques, with new city centre malls having better links to surrounding shops while supermarkets devised more sophisticated tactics for targeting their preferred customers.

Ikea denied that its store layouts were designed intentionally to bewilder customers.
'Our furniture showrooms are designed to give our customers lots of ideas for every area of the home including your kitchen, bedroom and living room,' said Carole Reddish, Ikea's deputy managing director for the UK and Ireland. 

'While some of our customers come to us for a day out to get inspiration for every room, we appreciate that others may have looked at the Ikea catalogue or online offer, have a specific shopping list in mind and would like to get in and out quickly.
'So to make it easier for those customers, we have created shortcuts.'

Food Freezing Technology Preserves Human Teeth. Organs Next?

by Constance J. Woodman

Japanese business man and chef
Chefs and scientists alike can use magnets to prevent the formation of ice crystals during freezing.

A technology used to freeze sushi is solving a dilemma for organ storage. By borrowing tech used to preserve high-end food delicacies, a Hiroshima University research group proved it possible to safely freeze whole teeth and their delicate attaching tissues. As long as the freezer stays cold, the folks at Hiroshima U. think your teeth could be stored for 40 years, no problem. But the sushi-storage system isn’t a one trick pony: internal organs could be next thanks to the magic of supercooling.  In typical cryo-storage, fast freezing of organs requires poisonous levels of anti-freeze, and let’s face it, no one wants a poisoned kidney transplanted into their body. But slower freezing causes cell popping ice crystals to form. So, what do you do to prevent ice crystals during slow freezing? Use magnets. ABI is the Japanese company producing the freezer system. ABI’s “Cells Alive System” (CAS) vibrates water with magnetic fields, preventing freezing, even at supercool temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius (According to the Patent.) When the field is turned off, the water in the food instantly freezes. No time for ice growth means no Freddy Krueger action on frozen organs. Watch some great demonstrations of the technology in the videos after the jump.

Interest in the CAS technology has spread all over the world. In the first video below, a bottle of water is super cooled below freezing in a CAS freezer. The bottle is slammed against the freezer door, inducing ice crystals to form. The bottle of water is instantly turned to solid ice. Supercooling water is a trick you can Try At Home but the CAS system is able to do more than supercool pure liquids. It can supercool, then freeze, meat and vegetables and anything else.  In the second video, CAS frozen flowers are dethawed and arranged in a vase.  The perfect preservation of the flowers is an enormous contrast to my painful childhood memories of sloppy, limp, dinnertime vegetables.  The frozen vegetables were train-wrecked by ice, while these flowers received much, much less damage during freezing.

The transition of this tech from food to longevity science is slowly evolving, but the steps forward are real. You can, right now, pay to store your teeth. Hiroshima University tested the cooling technology for teeth, and uses ABI CAS freezer tech at The Teeth Bank, the world’s first commercial tooth bank. Dr. Toshitsugu Kawata, a Hiroshima University professor who has done extensive research at the Teeth Bank, helped prove that CAS is a viable technology to preserve teeth. Spare teeth used to be worthless medical waste. Now, removed wisdom teeth aren’t garbage, they can be frozen and re-implanted at any point during your life. (The Teeth Bank’s re-implant success rate is 87% according to the Taipei Times. ) Thanks to scientific advances, surgeons can even alter your old teeth by sculpting them, transforming a molar into an incisor. To quote Dr. Kawata, “It’s like having a spare tire.”

In the journal Cryobiology in 2010, a research team including Dr. Kawata published the use of ABI’s CAS freezing technology on teeth. A very tricky part of tooth preservation is keeping tooth ligaments alive, or even some of the ligament cells.  Implanting ligaments is important.  We have ligaments attached to teeth because the force of chewing could grind our chompers out of our jaws.  When the research team tried slow freezing a whole fresh tooth without the CAS magnetic fields, the ligaments didn’t survive and were severely damaged. However, a CAS magnetically vibrated tooth’s ligaments survived. CAS frozen ligament cells grew as well as those from a fresh tooth, and showed only minor damage.

Frozen wasabi
See the intact cell walls? This wasabi suffered very little damage due to ice.

The founder of the ABI Corporation and its CAS freezer, Norio Owada (known internationally as “Mr. Freeze,”) is actively pursuing medical advances.  There’s a hodgepodge of reports out there about what’s being done.  According to various sources, Mr. Freeze is collaborating with 40 researchers to translate their work with teeth and sushi to hearts, nerves, and other organs. Transplant medicine could benefit tremendously. With further research, this technology could supercool, or even freeze internal organs, putting an end to the dangerously brief time frame for organ transplants. In a 2008 Forbes article, Mr. Freeze speculated on where his technology may lead. “If you could preserve a heart for three days, you could fly it anywhere.” On the late-night Japanese TV show, World Business Satellite, there was discussion of research towards using ABI’s CAS freezers to store ovaries during cancer treatment, allowing women to keep their fertility. On the ABI company webpage, photos of a rat heart transplant and undamaged cell walls of frozen wasabi are a reminder of the unusual coupling of frozen food and medicine.

Rat heart surgery
Rat heart transplant for ABI's research

Despite the very promising advances, and actual organ banking technology coming from ABI, information about the company hasn’t been too plentiful on the blog-o-sphere. One problem is that there have only been a couple English language scientific publishings that refer to ABI Corporation LTD or the CAS system. The next problem is that most of the TV and news media is in Japanese. And finally, since CAS freezers are sold internationally, videos and forum posts about people messing with the freezers aren’t always by English speakers. However, this technology could solve major problems associated with cryopreservation of body parts. Because as we’re learning to make organs, we need to learn how to store them.

Looking into the  future, imagine you have heart failure ten years from now. Rather than a frightening race against time to find a donor organ from a cadaver, a spare heart is thawed from a well stocked frozen organ bank.  Hell, you’ve got a CAS freezer full of replacement parts grown from your own cells. Humans are learning how to grow replacement organs through bio-scaffolds and printing (As reported in Singularity Hub.)  Combining organ printing and organ freezing may lead to growing and freezing our own spare parts, well beyond the extra teeth and perfectly preserved wasabi.

[Images, ABI incorporated, World Business Satellite]
[Sources: Journal of Cryobiology, Forbes Magazine, Journal of Biomedical Research]

Sundance: Kevin Smith debuts bloody 'Red State' and severs relations with Hollywood

Image Credit: Danny Moloshok/AP Images

Seventeen years ago at Sundance, a chubby New Jersey convenience store worker broke into Hollywood.
Sunday night, he broke out of it.

Kevin Smith, who became a hero to aspiring filmmakers everywhere by selling his comic book collection and maxing out credit cards to create 1994′s Clerks, premiered that film at Sundance and sold it to Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax, which turned it into a cult-hit that spoke to a generation.

“Cult” was the operative word Sunday as Smith premiered his latest movie, the bizzaro horror thriller Red State, about a gay-hating minister (Michael Parks) who goes on a blood-drenched rampage against an equally murderous squad of federal agents, with some sex-crazed teens stuck in the middle. In addition to Red State being a film about a cult, Smith also announced plans to leverage his own cult-fanbase to break out of the studio distribution system and put the film out there for audiences on his own.

Though Smith had promised via Twitter he would auction the film to a distributor live from the stage after the premiere, it turned out to be a joke. When the auction started, he immediately “bought” the $4 million movie himself for $20, and announced he would use Twitter (where he has 1.7 million followers), his popular comedy podcast, a 15-city roadshow tour, and word-of-mouth from fans to release the picture himself.
“What we want to do is, like, ‘Yes, anybody can make a movie,’” Smith said – at the tail end of a nearly half-hour long speech. ”We know that now. We know that because I’ve made ten, you know what I’m saying? That means anybody can make a f—ing movie. What we aim to prove is that anybody can release a movie now as well. It’s not enough to make it and sell it now, I’m sorry.”

He compared laboring to make a truly independent film and selling it to a studio distributor to having a child and giving it to someone else to raise.

Smith said the one thing he can’t do in-house is get the movie onto screens. So he put out the invitation for theater owners to cut a special deal with him, which he pledged would be better terms than what they get from studios. “We want to partner up, man,” he said, taking a shot at his last movie, the critically slammed Warner Bros. comedy Cop Out: “We won’t screw you over. We won’t be like, ‘You gotta f—ing take this piece of s—. If you want The Dark Knight, you better take this piece of s— Cop Out.”

His plan is to have the movie in theaters nationwide Oct. 19, the anniversary of the Clerks release. He didn’t make the project sound especially inviting to potential exhibitors, however, saying he would not do any advertising or interviews to promote the film, instead relying on his fanbase to spread the word. The ecclesiastical irony was not lost on many in the audience. “Kevin Smith intends to market Red State, a film about a church-cult, directly to his fans.The irony of ‘preaching to the choir’ is piquant,” tweeted James Rocchi of MSN Movies.

Smith apologized to studio scouts in the audience who may have thought he was sincere about selling the film. Then he joked: “I’m not that sorry. It’s a film festival — come see a movie…. I will say this in my own defense, a lot of you work for studios and s—. Studios make movies. Movies have trailers. So you guys make a lot of trailers; you’ve lied to me many times.”

His next project is the hockey film Hit Somebody, which he announced would be his last film as a director. After that, he said he wanted to focus on his fledgling distribution company, helping other indie filmmakers get their films to an audience without going through Hollywood.

Or would his becoming a successful distributor actually make him just another part of Hollywood?
To put it in one of Smith’s beloved geek-friendly Star Wars metaphors, is he defying the Darth Vader of studios — or simply joining them to help rule the indie movie galaxy?

Footnote: About six members of an anti-gay extremist church used as the model for the religious group in Red State showed up outside the theater to protest, but few festival-goers paid attention to them besides a few dozen counter-protesters carrying goofy signs. Smith marched over himself with one that read: “God Hates Fat.”

'Wonder Woman' project finds a home at NBC


Image Credit: DC Comics

The ol’ girl may fly this fall after all: NBC has picked up the Wonder Woman pilot from David E. Kelley. Ironically, NBC was the final network to pass on bringing back the superhero over a week ago, but that was before the new regime was officially in place in light of the impending Comcast takeover. Robert Greenblatt is now spearheading primetime as chairman. (On Thursday, head of programming Angela Bromstad announced she was leaving).

The pilot’s cost may not be a concern to Greenblatt, the wunderkind who revitalized Showtime with critical faves like Dexter and Weeds. One factor that seemed to have sunk the Wonder Woman project the first time around was the price of rebooting the series, with the studio requiring a rich license fee to bring the iconic character back to life. But then, NBC has been down this road before: It rebooted Bionic Woman. Kelley’s take incorporated the superhero’s signature lasso, cuffs, and plane in the script, and insiders said it was a serious, non-campy take on the DC Comics character. For years, various writers and producers (including Joss Whedon) have tried to bring back Wonder Woman, but the character has proved difficult to resurrect.
Kelley is already executive producing Harry’s Law for NBC, the new drama starring Kathy Bates. The pilot, like all the others ordered by NBC during the current development season, will have to pass the final smell test this spring before its ordered to series in May.

In other business Friday, NBC also ordered a drama pilot from Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City), dubbed Mann’s World. It chronicles a celebrity hair stylist in Los Angeles.

Drew Barrymore to direct another Wizard of Oz film

Drew Barrymore has reportedly signed on to direct Surrender Dorothy, which joins at least five other Wizard of Oz films announced in recent weeks
    Drew Barrymore
    Too old for the lead? ... Drew Barrymore. Photograph: Scott Legato/Getty Images Another day, another Wizard of Oz reimagining. Drew Barrymore looks set to become the latest member of the Hollywood glitterati to travel down the yellow brick road after signing on to direct Surrender Dorothy, pitched as a loose sequel to the 1939 musical. Barrymore, who recently made her debut as a feature film-maker with the well-received rollerderby movie Whip It, was originally tipped to star in the project when it was first proposed back in 2002. She would have played the great-great-granddaughter of Dorothy, a young woman who has to learn how to use the power of those famed ruby red slippers to keep the Wicked Witch of the West from taking control of the kingdoms of Earth and Oz. There's no word on whether Barrymore will still be taking the lead role, though at 35 she might be considered a little old for the part. The project has been resurrected due to the current proliferation of movies based on much-loved children's stories, following the enormous box-office success of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. At least five films based on the Wizard of Oz have been reported in recent weeks. Disney, which made Alice in Wonderland, is developing Oz the Great and Powerful, an origins tale revealing how L Frank Baum's wonderful wizard ended up at the Emerald City (and possibly featuring Sam Mendes directing Robert Downey Jr as the wizard). There are also two CGI versions, as well as another based on a comic-book series, and finally the bizarre-looking The Witches of Oz, featuring Lord of the Rings' Sean Astin, Christopher Lloyd (as the wizard) and Alien's Lance Henriksen. Though all 14 of Baum's Oz books are now out of copyright, and therefore freely available for anyone to plunder, it seems unlikely that all of the above will make it into cinemas: often in these cases, one or more of the films will fall at the wayside at the development stage. If not, there are going to be more wizards in multiplexes over the next few years than at a Harry Potter convention. The Wizard of Oz story has been adapted for the big screen on many occasions, with the most famous version being the 1939 musical starring Judy Garland. Disney itself brought Return to Oz, based on two of Baum's sequels, to cinemas in 1985. 
    Here are all the novels: