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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Star Wars Movie Mashup Posters


Artist Matthew Ranzetta has re-created the posters of five popular movies using the typography and imagery of Star Wars. Beautifully thought-out and rendered!

Via Geekosystem.

Darth Vader's personal Lego spaceship flies Sept. 1

Lego will start selling a special Star Wars set featuring the personal spacecraft of Darth Vader. It will go on sale on September 1, and cost $400. It will be the longest Star Wars set in Lego history.

(Credit: Lego)

Lego said Friday that it will begin selling a new Star Wars model seat featuring Darth Vader's own personal ship, the Super Star Destroyer Executor. The set will go on sale on September 1 on Lego's Web site and in its branded retail stores.

This will be the longest Star Wars Lego model at 50 inches, and it takes 3,152 bricks and pieces to put together. All told, it will weigh eight pounds. One feature will be a command bridge underneath a removable section of the top of the model. Inside will fit mini-figures of several Star Wars characters--Vader himself, and a few others.

The set will cost $400 when it goes on sale.

Another look at the new Darth Vader Lego model.

(Credit: Lego)

Mother To Donate Uterus To Daughter For Experimental Operation


Photo: Focus Laser Vision / Creative Commons License

A British woman born without reproductive organs is hoping to conceive by undergoing an operation for a uterus transplant -- supplied by her own mother.

Sarah Otterman, a 25-year-old biology teacher who lives in Stockholm, was diagnosed with Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser syndrome at birth and cannot have children, though she has considered adoption.

But now she's a potential candidate for a womb transplant trial in Goteburg, Sweden, which will test the success of the experimental procedure in ten pairs of donors and recipients. If the organ is not rejected after one year, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) drug therapy will be administered to boost the patients' chances of conceiving after organ transplantation.

After much discussion, Sarah's 56-year-old mom, Eva Otterman, a managing director at a Nottingham lighting company, volunteered to be her daughter's donor. In fact, the majority of the donor pairs are mothers and daughters, something that didn't surprise Dr. Mats Brännström, head of the transplant team. He told the Toronto Star:

It is the natural fit. There may be an advantage with the mother because the daughter is similar in tissue type so you have less of rejection. The mother would also be more determined to help their daughter in this way than other people.

Despite the odd circumstances, it's a true example of deep motherly love. Brännström and his team have already done trials with 25 female baboons -- though without the IVF therapy -- and estimates a 60 to 70 percent chance of success with humans based on preliminary data. If the first five human womb transplants to be done in 2012 are successful, this procedure could eventually become available worldwide to thousands of women who cannot naturally conceive. All of this leads us to ask, would you be willing to donate or receive a womb transplant from a relative?

Read more over at the Toronto Star.

Meet Daisy, the Houdini-like cow that can open gates with her tongue

By Ali Plumb

If you were under the impression that cows weren't that clever, then prepare to think again. Our case in point: an ingenious Houdini-like cow by the name of, you guessed it, Daisy.

Now despite her seemingly unremarkable name, our Daisy is one clever bloody cow. You see, it turns out that she was sick of being cooped up in her cow shed all day, so she recently decided to do something about it.

Slickly using her tongue, she discovered she was able to whip out the bolts in the gate to her part of the shed, allowing the whole herd to funnel out into the open air.

Her owner, a Northern Irish farmer by the name of Tom Grant, thought that he might have some cattle rustlers on his hands after he kept seeing his cows wandering free – that is, until he whipped his camera out and recorded Daisy's remarkable trick.

The footage is below for you to take a look but, but just to get them over with, here are some horrific cow puns that we somehow managed to resist mentioning in the actual news story: "This is 'udder' genius", "'Cow' did they do that?", and "Meet 'Moo-dini'!" Oh, wait, no we didn't. Damn. Sorry about that.

Steven Spielberg demanded Megan Fox be fired from Transformers, says Bay

The actor was reportedly forced to leave the franchise for her remarks likening director Michael Bay to Adolf Hitler

    Megan Fox in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009).
    Before the fallout ... Megan Fox in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). Photograph: PR

    As Lars von Trier knows, comparing a film director to Hitler – even if it's yourself – is rarely wise. And it's now been confirmed by Michael Bay that it was Megan Fox's remarks likening Bay to the German dictator that led to her being dismissed from the Transformers franchise.

    1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
    2. Country: USA
    3. Directors: Michael Bay
    4. Cast: Hugo Weaving, John Malkovich, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, Shia LaBeouf
    5. More on this film

    Speaking ahead of the 4 July premiere of Transformers 3, in which British model Rosie Huntingdon-Whitley replaced Fox as the female lead, Bay has revealed it was the film's executive producer, Steven Spielberg, who demanded Fox's dismissal. Bay said: "You know the Hitler thing? Steven (Spielberg) said, fire her right now."

    Fox, 25, made the offending remarks to British magazine Wonderland shortly before production was scheduled to begin on the third instalment of the franchise. "He's like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous madman reputation," she said of Bay. "He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he's a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he's not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he's so awkward, so hopelessly awkward. He has no social skills at all. And it's endearing to watch him. He's vulnerable and fragile in real life and then on set he's a tyrant. Shia [Labeouf] and I almost die when we make a Transformers movie. He has you do some really insane things that insurance would never let you do."

    At the time, Fox's departure was credited to her desire to pursue other acting opportunities.

    Bay's appointment of Fox was not universally popular. In an open letter posted on Michael Bay's website, a Transformers crew member disparaged Bay's decision to cast her over more experienced actors. "He told everyone around to just trust him on his choice … she became one of the most Googled and [ogled] women on earth. She was famous! She was the next Angelina Jolie, hooray! Wait a minute, two of us worked with Angelina. Second thought: she's no Angelina. You see, Angelina is a professional. We know this quite intimately because we've had the tedious experience of working with the dumb-as-a-rock Megan Fox on both Transformers movies."

Public Urinal Feeds Plants With Pee

by Sami Grover

when nature calls urinal image
Image credit: Tuvie/Eddie Gandelman

The idea of urine separation to ward off peak fertilizer is not exactly new. But while some of us get to pee on our garden mulch, or urinate on our compost heaps, infrastructure for large-scale urine collection in an urban environment still seems a ways off. But here's a more decentralized option from designer Eddie Gandelman in the form of a public urinal that filters pee on site, and uses it to feed plants.

Posted over at design site Tuvie, the When Nature Calls urinal is in the concepting stages right now. While us TreeHuggers may focus on the tantalizing idea of resource efficiency and offsetting fertilizer needs, the primary motivation of the designer seems to be making public toilets a more pleasant place to be, and pee:

By setting up the restroom in pod format with 4 urinals on every pod, the users can enjoy more space and privacy. This system as well paves way for both peeing and watering the plants. Approved by a professor of toxicology, the project employs 3 processes. The urine thus collected is filtered, which is then used for the plants. Peeing, besides being a waste process becomes a nurturing one, which appears to be a great advantage here. This idea will certainly make the very notion of urination a better experience.

We're not the only ones to wonder if this could be taken a step further though. Michael Hines over at Trend Hunter writes about When Nature Calls, suggesting that restaurants and bars could could grow vegetables or fruits, cutting "costs and carbon at the same time." Of course some fairly careful monitoring would need to be done to ensure that the systems' filter mechanisms can get rid of potential pathogens or medications. And whether or not the public would be ready to accept such a direct and immediate connection between human waste and food remains to be seen—however safe it proved to be.

But hey, at least it's not a burger made from poop...

Happy Summer Solstice to you!

Summer Solstice

  • in the Northern Hemisphere, summer solstice begins on Jun 21 2011 at 1:16 P.M. EDT

  • in the UK June 21, 2011 at 17:16 UTC

Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning "sun" + "to stand still." As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky.

As a major celestial event, the Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their longest summer day in December.

Early Celebrations

Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer otherwise known as the Summer Solstice, Midsummer (see Shakespeare), St. John's Day, or the Wiccan Litha.

The Celts & Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun's energy. The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.

Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice were the Druids' celebration of the day as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth", resulting in the present day belief of a "lucky" wedding in June.

Today, the day is still celebrated around the world - most notably in England at Stonehenge and Avebury, where thousands gather to welcome the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.

Pagan spirit gatherings or festivals are also common in June, when groups assemble to light a sacred fire, and stay up all night to welcome the dawn.

Summer Solstice Fun Facts

  • Pagans called the Midsummer moon the "Honey Moon" for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice.

  • Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump.

  • Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To thwart them, Pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of them was a plant called 'chase-devil', which is known today as St. John's Wort and still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.

More about summer solstice around the Web:

On the Web, discover more about the topic, where & how Summer Solstice is celebrated around the world along with related history, folklore and rituals that mark the much-awaited long, bright days of summer ....

Summer Solstice - Good overview of its history, customs & holidays, illustrations, date & time charts and related links, from Wikipedia.

Summer Solstice Celebrations - Ancient & Modern - Skip past the intrusive ads for a detailed discussion about how the day has been celebrated over the centuries, and in many cultures, with suggested reading and related links.

BBC Religion - Summer Solstice - A brief overview of Pagan rituals and ceremonies with related links to more facts & information.

Weird Wilstshire - Summer Solstice - Archived pictures with a report on one particularly successful UK sunrise celebration, including related links & online forum.

The Pagan Festival of Litha - The origins of Druidic Summer Solstice celebrations and their meaning in the natural cycle of seasons.

Here are some recent quotes on this day from the press, along with some words from those who celebrate the Summer Solstice as a holiday.

“Once, humans were intimate with the cycles of nature, and never more than on the summer solstice. Vestiges of such awareness survive in White Nights and Midnight Sun festivals in far northern climes, and in neo-pagan adaptations of Midsummer celebrations, but contemporary people take little notice of the sun reaching its far point on the horizon. Tomorrow is the longest day of the year, the official start of the summer season, the fullest of light — yet we are apt to miss this phenomenon of Earth’s axial tilt, as we miss so much of what the natural world does in our surrounds.” - James Carroll, The Boston Globe

“Legends describe the solstice as a time when the doors to enchanted castles and the underworld were cast open and mortals could mingle with fairies and imprisoned princesses and explore hidden caverns. Shakespeare set his silly and brilliant comedy on this night, depicting the collision of three very different worlds in a magic forest where fairies work romantic mischief on sleeping couples, while bad actors rehearse a Roman play about doomed lovers. The youth of today may not pause to think that they are reenacting ancient midsummer celebrations or mating rituals when they get debaucherous at the many music festivals that kick off around the solstice, but the primal desire to be outside dancing and carousing late into the night is irrepressible at this time of year.” - Megan Cytron,

“Midsommar, the Swedish celebration of summer solstice, is a pretty easy holiday to love — perhaps because it’s more of a party than a holiday. This year, the solstice itself falls on June 21. Swedes, like many in Europe, have celebrated the longest day of the year since pagan times. And with good reason: In a northern land where the sun barely rises during the dark, snowy winter, summer is a time to celebrate the golden outdoors. It’s a time to sing and dance (ideally around a flower-studded maypole or frighteningly large bonfire), eat the best of the summer crops, and toss back shots of bracingly strong alcohol.” - Deena Prichep, NPR

But for some, midsummer is about more than glorious dawns, for pagans it is a very significant date. Steve Ludford of the Pagan Federation explained: “In essence it is a time to celebrate the strength of the sun, which is the masculine element in paganism, and obviously in midsummer the sun is at its strongest.” “The word solstice actually comes from the Latin meaning to stand still, because at midsummer the sun appears to stand still in its path.” Although thousands of pagans will head to Wiltshire to celebrate the occasion, Chair of the Druid Network Phil Ryder believes most will head to our own monuments to mark the occasion “Most druids would rather avoid Stonehenge like the plague. The land where we reside is most important to us, so for that reason, people are most likely to navigate towards the ancient sites near them. In many cases the ancestors built the stone circles and burial cairns oriented towards the solstice which makes them a good place to see the dawn and celebrate.” - Western Telegraph

“While it heralds the sun’s waning, Litha is not about light or dark winning victories over each other, even temporarily, or about one end of the polarity between ice and fire being the “good” one; it’s about the constant interplay in the dance that is the turning of the Wheel of the Year. That cooperation and interaction are the real story of destruction averted, and not just averted, but transformed into the ongoing process of re-creation. Now that’s something to celebrate.” - Literata, The Slacktiverse

The 25 Most Influential Music Videos Of All Time


MTV logo 1981 june16.jpg
​It's hard to fathom a time before music videos, and it's even sadder to remember when channels like MTV and VH1 were wall-to-wall music videos. In between there was a golden age, when with every clip that you watched could spark a revolution in you, or at least change your fashion sense. It's sad to say, but the age of music videos as we knew it has largely been over since The Real World premiered, although when YouTube took over it at least made it possible to see most any video on demand on your computer or phone.

One of the first videos that we ever loved was Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" from 1986's So album. Being three to four years old and growing up in a musical household, music videos were just like cartoons and live-action kid shows. We didn't know a boundary between Pee-Wee's Playhouse or "Sledgehammer"; later we would find out they were directed by the same person, oddly enough.

Gabriel is in The Woodlands tonight for a date with his New Blood Orchestra, touting a show with no guitars or drums, which after a year of metal, punk, and indie, is a welcome change, especially in the hands of Gabriel and company. The guy has been in our lives since we could remember, and tonight we see him live.

Here are 25 of the most influential music videos of all time. This is not an authoritative list, and nothing is order, though we did put "Thriller" at the end just in case anyone skips this paragraph and decides to throw a fit. Anyhow, what are your favorites?

Peter Gabriel, "Sledgehammer"

The effects, the effects, the effects.

Talking Heads, "Once In A Lifetime"

Weirdo David Byrne comes to your living room.

Guns N' Roses, "Welcome To The Jungle"

There was hair-metal, and then these dudes show up from Planet Scum to slay us all.

The Beatles, "Strawberry Fields Forever" (Peter Goldman)

Trippy visuals, and some of the first tastes of psychedelia for the straights.

2Pac & Dr. Dre. "California Love"

Two of the best rappers of any generation, plus Mad Max. By they way, happy 40th, Pac, if you're out there.

Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing In The Dark"