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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Dance Off: Old Britney vs New Britney (VIDEO)


Old Britney vs. New Britney: The Dance Off!

Posted by Craig Marks


Britney Spears is 29 years old, which isn’t really old at all, even for a pop star. And yet much of the talk surrounding her two new videos, “Hold It Against Me” and “Till the World Ends,” and especially her live performances on Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel has centered around the erosion of her once formidable dance skills. Now, Girlfriend has been through an awful lot since “…Baby One More Time” seared eyeballs in 1999: marriage(s), divorce, kids, custody battles, public humiliations, corrosive scrutiny, ugly power-plays over control of her very being, and more. We can only imagine the toll that takes on someone’s psyche, no less their body. (UPDATE: She also suffered a knee injury back in 2004, which could be a contributing factor to her onstage woodenness, although it doesn’t explain that far-away look in her eyes.) And while our name isn’t Dr. Drew, we would not be surprised to learn that Britney’s motor skills have been downgraded by a prescription cocktail of psyschopharmaceuticals that have helped her reach some place of inner contentedness, maybe even happiness. Her new album is great, she’s dating someone who doesn’t seem to be pure evil, and she’s starting her tour in Sacramento on June 17. We will go see her, of course (come with!), but we’re more than a little uneasy about whether or not she’s capable of handling the athletic challenges of a 21st-century arena show. Maybe her fans don’t care; they’re just glad she’s upright and making awesome dance-pop and ohmygoditsbritney! But watch this video of Britney then vs. Britney now—inspired by the legendary 2002 nightclub dance-off between Britney and ex Justin Timberlake—and see if you don’t get a little sad/concerned when you realize that “then” is less than ten years ago.

For lots more pics, videos and up-to-the-second dish on Britney, check out her Popdust Artist Page.

The Top 50 Most Impressive Venues in Sports


There are some incredibly impressive venues in professional sports.

But these 50 are absolutely mind-blowing.

Ranging across a variety of professional sports, let's take a look at what the world has to offer. With so many beautiful sights in store, journey with me through the athletic universe.

Click here for the Slide Show

Peter Jackson’s First Hobbit Set Update


Peter Jackson has updated his Facebook page with the first real update from the set of The Hobbit, and in addition to revealing a pic from the set; he confirmed they are shooting the movies at 48 frames per second.

Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues. It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D. We’ve been watching HOBBIT tests and dailies at 48 fps now for several months, and we often sit through two hours worth of footage without getting any eye strain from the 3-D. It looks great, and we’ve actually become used to it now, to the point that other film experiences look a little primitive. I saw a new movie in the cinema on Sunday and I kept getting distracted by the juddery panning and blurring. We’re getting spoilt!

As for the image on the monitors…it sure does look at lot like Bilbo is exploring a certain cave. Jackson promises a video update very soon, and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s up.

LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1




LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1 by Adam Grabowski

via The Brothers Brick

photos by Adam Grabowski

8 More Strange Places on Planet Earth

Pole of Inaccessibility

Antarctica’s Pole of Inaccessibility / Photo: Cookson69

You’ve walked the Great Wall, gazed upon the Pyramids of Giza, and scaled the Andes to Machu Picchu. What’s next?

Earth is a mighty big place, and if you’re willing to strap on some snowshoes or trek through barren deserts there’s a whole lot of strangeness left out there.

1. The Southern Pole of Inaccessibility

Location: Antarctica

Antarctica’s Pole of Inaccessibility — the point farthest from the sea in all directions — is probably the most remote spot on the planet. It’s also the coldest, with an average year-round temperature of -58.2C (-72F).

The exact location is always in dispute, but the best marker lies at 82°06′S 54°58′E, where a creepy plastic bust of Vladimir Lenin sits atop a cabin built by the Soviets in 1958. The cabin is completely buried in ice, but should you manage to dig it up there’s a golden visitor’s book left for intrepid souls to sign their name.

2. Derweze – the Door to Hell

Location: Turkmenistan

While drilling for gas near Derweze in 1971, a team of geologists in Turkmenistan accidentally collapsed an underground natural gas cavern. Rather than have the poisonous gas escape and kill the local semi-nomadic Teke people, the team lit it on fire.

It’s been burning ever since.

3. The Principality of Sealand

Location: English Channel

Principality of Sealand

Nice place to visit but… / Photo: Source

After WWII, several British gun platforms were abandoned in the English Channel.

In 1967, a pirate radio broadcaster took up residence in one of them and declared the fort an independent nation, and after a run-in with the Royal Navy a court ruled that Sealand was outside British jurisdiction.

It’s been operating more or less as its own country ever since, issuing passports, currency, and tourist visas. There was even an attempted coup that involved helicopters, a shotgun, and several hostages, resulting in a German diplomat being sent to the nation.

Freedom from legal restrictions has made Sealand an attractive base for online casinos and filesharers, so “custodianship” of the principality is currently on sale for the low, low price of 750 million euros.

4. Bouvet Island

Location: South Atlantic Ocean

Technically a part of Norway, the nearest landmass to Bouvet Island is an empty chunk of Antarctica over 1750km (1090 miles) away.

Inhabited only by lichens, penguins and seals, Bouvet nonetheless has its own internet domain (.bv).

The most remote island in the world has only been visited a handful of times by various research expeditions and explorers attempting to claim it for their homeland, and in 1964 a mysterious boat loaded with supplies was discovered without any trace of its passengers.

Though in reality the most interesting thing on the island is probably a ruined weather station, the film Alien vs. Predator took place mostly on Bouvet.

5. Bir Tawil

Location: The Egyptian-Sudanese border

Bir Tawil is a barren trapezoid of land between Egypt and Sudan that is so useless neither country will admit they own it. Both states claim its much more attractive sister territory, the Hala’ib Triangle, but due to treaty terms neither state can claim both.

It’s little more than sand, rocks, and a well in the middle, but it has the distinction of being the only unclaimed piece of Earth outside of Antarctica.

Zilov Gap

Photo: Austin Vince

6. The Zilov Gap

Location: Central Siberia

The Trans-Siberian railway was completed in 1916, but its builders made sure to avoid the Zilov Gap. It’s a 640km (400 mile) stretch of wilderness so inaccessible that it wasn’t crossed until 2000.

If you’ve seen The Long Way Round, this was the impassable section that forced Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman to hop the train.

As of 2005 a road through the Gap was under construction, but given the condition of the average Russian highway, my guess is it will still make for an adventure.

7. Mount Thor

Location: Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

Mount Thor

Photo: Ansgar Walk

Although not a particularly tall mountain, Mount Thor is home to the greatest purely vertical drop in the world.

At 1250m (4101ft), the drop is over one and a half times higher than the tallest man-made structure ever built — currently the Burj Dubai.

An American team set the world record for longest rappel in 2006 on Mount Thor; another attempt by a Canadian park ranger ended tragically when his equipment failed and he dropped to his death.

8. Mir Mine

Location: Mirny, Siberia

The Mir diamond mine in Mirny, Eastern Siberia is one of the biggest manmade holes in the world. At 525m (1720ft) deep and 1200m (3900ft) wide, it’s so huge it can suck in helicopters flying over it due to the downward air flow (the air space above is off limits because of this).

Its sister mine, Udachnaya pipe, is equally gigantic, and both can easily be seen on Google Maps:

Mir Mine
Udachnaya pipe

Send Your Message of Support to Japan (Auto-Translated!)

by Michael Graham Richard

google messages for japan website
Image: Screen capture of

Thank You Google!
The wounds from the 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan a month ago, and from all the other problems that the seismic event caused (the tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis, etc), will take a long time to heal. Thousands are physically wounded, thousands are dead, many have lost their homes and the infrastructure is crippled, and there is no doubt vast psychological damage. At times like this, a message of hope and support can truly help. That's why I hope that you will send a message to our Japanese neighbors on this small planet. It will be auto-translated to Japanese by 'Messages for Japan', a new site by Google.

google messages for japan website
Image: Screen capture of

On March 11th, a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurred near the northeastern coast of Japan, creating extremely destructive tsunami waves. As the country turns from immediate disaster response to the next phase of rebuilding, this site will help deliver messages of hope and support from all over the world to the people of Japan. Write your own message and have it automatically translated into Japanese, or read messages from around the world. (source)

google messages for japan website
Image: Screen capture of

To send your message of support, go here: MessagesForJapan (simply click on "write your message" on the left)

VW Looks For its New New Beetle To Push It To New Heights

Volkswagen is looking for America to catch Beetlemania again (VW).

by: David Kiley
It's not often that the unveiling of a single car by an automaker makes history. But then not every car has the history and legacy of the Volkswagen Beetle. On April 18, the German automaker will unveil an all new design of its Beetle, only the second time since the original Beetle first showed in Germany in the 1930s.

Though the last "New Beetle" design, which was unveiled in 1998, went out of production and dealer showrooms in 2009, the Beetle is the company's, and the brand's, most important product ever, at least in the U.S. The New Beetle arrived on the scene 19 years after VW dealers in the U.S. stopped selling the original, and did nothing short of of save the Volkswagen brand in the U.S.

How? The public was so excited about a comeback of the Beetle, perhaps the most loved vehicle of the twentieth century, they began taking an interest in Volkswagen again two years before the car hit showrooms. The publicity and attention drove people to VW showrooms to check out, and buy the models it did have on sale -- Jettas, Golfs and Passats.

Having recovered from its near-death experience in the 1990s from which the sensation around the New Beetle rescued Volkswagen, the new New Beetle design, which will go on sale in showrooms this Fall, does not have such heavy lifting to do. But make no mistake: Volkswagen is counting on a revival of interest in "Beetlemania"to help it meet its ambitious sales goals. VW, which sold 257,000 vehicles in 2010, has publicly stated its mission to reach 800,000 vehicles a year by 2018.

Back in the mid 1990s when the anticipation was building for the arrival of the New Beetle, Volkswagen was struggling with fewer than 100,000 sales a year, and just three model lines--Golf/GTI, Jetta and Passat. Today, VW has seven model lines, and the new "New Beetle" will make eight. "The New Beetle doesn't need to play quite the same role as it did a decade ago for VW, but it is going to be very important for sales and for our brand," said Volkswagen marketing chief Tim Ellis in an interview last year at the launch of the 2012 Jetta. Today, Jetta is the company's top selling model in the U.S.

The old "New Beetle" was on sale with very few upgrades or changes for a decade before ceasing production in 2009. And the last four years or so, sales slid as interest in the bulbous car waned. The other problem for Volkswagen was that the Beetle had been predominantly a woman's car; men having largely viewed the car as too feminine.

The new New Beetle seeks to attract more men, Ellis said. The design, while unmistakably a Beetle, is sleeker and a bit more muscular; less soft looking than its predecessor. Even tuners, the shops that accessorize cars with special wheels, spoilers and body kits have told VW they believe the new design has many more possibilities for attracting men, and their customers, than the previous model.

The importance of the Beetle has always gone beyond mere sales. Consider that in Volkswagen's climb from post-war Germany, the original Beetle served as the underpinnings of all the VW models--the Microbus van, the Karmann Ghia coupe, the Squareback station-wagon and "The Thing" SUV. It was one of the most versatile feats of engineering in automotive history.

The car also ushered in an entirely new era of advertising--all advertising, not just that done for cars. Volkswagen's ad agency from the late 1950s through the 1990s--Doyle, Dane Bernbach--advertised the Beetle and other models in the 1960s against all conventions of the time. Where GM and Ford were glamorizing cars in ads, DDB was self-deprecating in ads for the Beetle, or "Bug" as it came to be known. One famous ad ran a small picture of the Beetle, with the headline "Think Small." In another, it advertised the Beetle using an unthinkable (for the day) headline--"Lemon." That ad was meant to call attention to how ruthless VW engineers could be in rejecting seemingly good Beetles for having minor problems.

Today, quality is perhaps the biggest thing standing in VW's way of achieving its ambitious sales goal. VW has been losing ground in J.D.Power and Associates quality surveys the last two years while brands like Hyundai, Kia and Ford have been gaining.

Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan Browning, who took over the reins last Fall, says that improving quality and customer service is the most important piece of VW's plan. "We've got exciting products coming, but we also have work to do in this area and we are going to do it."

View Gallery: Volkswagen Beetle

The White Stripes Releasing Live Album Of Final Show

by Nick Neyland

It seems unlikely that we’ll get any new White Stripes material in the near future following their split in February, but the band are giving us a few farewell gifts. A live album from the duo’s final show together is set to be released on Jack White’s Third Man label, and will simply be titled Live in Mississippi. The vinyl-only release was recorded at Southaven on July 31, 2007, and you can check out the full set list below. There’s also a live DVD by the band in the works, which was recorded at Ralph’s Corner Bar in Moorhead, Minnesota on June 13, 2000, and will be titled Under Moorhead Lights All Fargo Night. No release date for that is forthcoming just yet, but keep an eye on the Third Man website for more details.

Track listing for Live in Mississippi:

Stop Breaking Down (Robert Johnson cover)

Let's Build A Home

When I Hear My Name

Icky Thump

Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground/As Ugly As I Seem

The Same Boy You've Always Known

Wasting My Time

Phonograph Blues (Robert Johnson cover)

Cannon'/'John The Revelator

Death Letter (Son House cover)


Apple Blossom

You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)

In the Cold, Cold Night

I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart

Hotel Yorba

A Martyr For My Love For You

Ball And Biscuit

300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues

Blue Orchid

I'm Slowly Turning Into You

Boll Weevil

Bike Hanger: Vertically Rotating, Multi-Level Bike Parking By Manifesto Architecture

by Kimberley Mok


Images: The vertically-hung, space-saving Bike Hanger by Manifesto Architecture

It's a scenario familiar in many cities: ugly, unwieldy and badly-designed bike racks, with the worst of it being that there's never enough bike parking to go around (meaning messy clumps of bikes in public spaces, for example). And with space in urban areas usually at a premium, it makes sense to stack things vertically. The intriguing Bike Hanger from New York-based Manifesto Architecture does the vertical trick, but takes things a step further by hanging off the side of buildings in those underused, residual spaces between them.

According to ArchDaily, Bike Hanger was designed and shortlisted for the 2010 Seoul Cycle Design Competition, which called for ideas to improve the city's bike-friendliness and infrastructure.

The idea is to keep pedestrian flow of traffic free from bike interference, and public spaces free of unsightly globs of locked bikes that look like cycling disasters. Each rack unit can hold anywhere from 20 to 36 bicycles, and the units themselves can be agglomerated, creating rows of neatly stacked public bike racks.


The canopy and frame would use recycled plastic, stainless steel and carbon frame. The hanger's rotation mechanism would be powered by good old-fashioned elbow grease, by pedalling a stationary bike hooked up into the hanger system, thus keeping energy and maintenance costs low.



On top of that, Bike Hangers could be designed as urban landmarks in their own right, creating another means of wayfinding for city dwellers.

One question that comes to mind is how a system like this could be protected from vandalism and theft -- after all, we've seen how public bike programs like Paris' Velib have been dealt a blow by irresponsible use. And what about long-term parking? But overall, the Bike Hanger's space-saving virtues, sensible structural format which allows for easy visual identification of each person's bike and its use of recycled materials makes it a pretty clever proposal for solving the bike parking dilemma.