Friday, January 4, 2008

Eight Celebrity Hidden Geeks

As any nerd can tell you, being smarter than everyone else has a price. Poor social skills, being grossly over or under weight, being terrible at sports. Skin problems, probably bad eyesight ... you get the idea.

Yet, there is a whole class of nerds who break that universal rule, who somehow wind up smarter than us, yet also, are so good at kicking ass or being hot that they've got legions of adoring fans. Maybe they're just lucky, or maybe they turned their backs on God and sought solace in the infernal embrace of a giving demonic patron. The fact is, it is not fair that these people exist and we suggest you take it up with your local clergy.

We're talking about people like ...

When Golden Globe winner Natalie Portman was 10 years old, a representative of Revlon found her at a pizza parlor and asked her if she wanted to model. Portman turned her down and said that, all things considered, she would much rather act.

Portman was a straight A student in high school, although it was a public school and we can tell you first hand that most of what they teach involves premarital sex and how to keep your gun properly oiled. While playing the Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace, she skipped the premiere to study for her final exams. This, by the way, got her into Harvard (If you ask us, it's really a toss-up between the Ivy League and non-alcoholic sparkling cider at the kids' table with baby Anakin.).

Portman was a research assistant in a psychology lab and put in some time working for the youngest law professor in the history of Harvard, Alan Dershowitz. You may remember him as a member of O.J. Simpson's legal "dream team," permanently earning himself another place in history as somebody you never want to get in an argument with about anything, ever. He even gave her a shout out in his book The Case for Israel.

By the time she got her bachelor's, she had studied four languages in addition to Hebrew, the language of her birth, had been published in professional science journals twice, killed an ass-load of aliens, and generally made us look like big human-shaped piles of poo. Seriously, when we were 10 years old, we wanted to be doctors or space cowboys or, at the very least, fire fighters. The closest we've gotten so far is one of those little shiny red fireman helmets.

Recently Natalie returned to the ground she covered with Dershowitz when she starred as anarchist apprentice Evey Hammond in the terrorist fable V for Vendetta. This got her invited to Columbia to speak to a class on terrorism and antiterrorism and, more importantly, bridging the raw, seemingly eternal divide between comic book and Star Wars geeks.

The Offspring lead singer Dexter Holland

Bryan "Dexter" Holland is the kind of dude who, if he can't get into a rock show, grabs a buddy and starts The Offspring. Half a decade later, he was signed with Epitaph Records to join NOFX and Rancid, with whom his band is partly credited for bringing punk rock back into the angst-dripping hearts of suburban kids who really don't have much to complain about except the emptiness of their idle middle-class lives. To go down that road, however, he had to give up a pretty straight-arrow career path of over-achieving drudgery that probably would have given him some of his best moody material--and a bitchin' minivan to go with it.

Dexter, as it turns out, grew up in the high-rent suburbs West Garden Grove, California.

He went to Pacifica High School and, instead of setting fires and declaring anarchy, went ahead and graduated as valedictorian instead. He went on to the University of Southern California, became a pre-med student and eventually got his Master's Degree in molecular biology. He was actually on the way to a Ph.D. before dropping out to follow his dream of throwing glistening globs of his own biological molecules all over screaming audiences night after night.

In his spare time he decided to also become a licensed airline pilot and flew himself around the world. Hey, why not?

#5 & 6.
Underworld's Kate Beckinsale and Kevin Grevioux

Let's talk about Kate Beckinsale first. Well, there's the posh and personable accent. Then, there's the "shaped out of clay and given breath by a prayer to the gods and a slowly expanding pillar of light" body. Also, there's that face. Oh, and this:

So how does one prepare to star in a campy Matrix-with-werewolves franchise? Why, by becoming a literary prodigy and mastering several languages, obviously. Beckinsale wrote award-winning short stories and poems (taking home the national W.H. Smith Literary Award twice in a row). That love for the written language took her to Oxford University, where Beckinsale mastered French, German and Russian and had her nose buried in French and Russian texts caked with several lifetimes' worth of "who the hell gives a damn about Baratynsky" dust. She was on her way to being the world's sexiest librarian in the world's emptiest library before she finally dropped out to eventually star in a movie about a war between vampires and werewolves.

Meanwhile, the biggest, baddest werewolf in the film was this guy ...

Kevin Grevioux, who played Raze. This dude, seemingly born to play horror movie monsters, served as a research assistant at the world famous National Institutes of Health and got his degree in microbiology from Howard University. While pursuing his master's in genetic engineering, Grevioux discovered he was more interested in film and moved to Los Angeles. The role of Raze was perfect for Grevioux because, well, he wrote the movie.

We'd like to have been a fly on the wall during that shoot, with Beckinsale quoting Russian poetry and Grevioux tossing out cancer cures in their spare time. Then, they get interrupted so they can go play werewolves and vampires.

Neither Vin nor Diesel is his real name (it's Mark Vincent), but it was a given that creatures like this do not have names so much as titles. He's lately known more for the movie The Pacifier (original working name, Holy Shit, what the hell am I watching? Oh, right, shit. That's what I'm watching), and not known, thankfully, for his "comedic" turn in Find Me Guilty. But, one can hardly mention Vin Diesel's name without remembering severed carotid's and snapped necks.

Multifacial, a movie he produced for $3,000 (and which, surprisingly, is not porn) gained the attention of Steven Spielberg, who cast him in Saving Private Ryan. This started off Vin Diesel's film career in a long string of roles being surly, growling one-liners, looking intimidating without even trying, and racking up a body count (huge) and number of Oscars (zero) to rival Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime.

And, the whole time, he was playing Dungeons and Dragons. Has been for over 20 years. Seriously, somewhere on his body is a tattoo of his player character's name. Now, that's hardcore gamester.

His geek flag flew higher when he opened up his own gaming development house, Tigon Studios, just because he was tired of people making crappy games based on movies. The very fabric of existence was rent asunder when, to the shocked and frightened gasps of a reviewing public, it turned out The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, the first video game based on a movie since Goldeneye was not just better than the movie, but better than just about every other game that came out that year. It's average review score was 90 percent, according to MetaCritic.

Porn star Asia Carrera

Retired porn star Asia Carrera, real name Jessica Steinhauser, is a bit of a legend in the porn industry. With 36-26-36 measurements, she performed in a jaw-dropping 400 hundred films in her career and exchanged an unthinkable amount of bodily fluids. She's also mother of two.

She calls herself "the nerd of porn," and we assumed it was some kind of in-joke, until we saw her credentials. Here is somebody who studied piano as a child and by the age of 14 was playing in Carnegie Hall.

At 16, she went to Japan and taught English classes. She was a state spelling champ, in the National Mathematics League, a Spanish National Honor Society member, placing in National Geography, Language and Math Olympiads, and is a member of Mensa. That got her a free ride to Rutgers, where she double-majored in business and Japanese. This naturally inspired her to change her first name to Asia and become an entrepreneur in America's fastest growing business.

Either that, or her self-professed hatred of her parents' pressure on her to succeed academically made her lash out by riding random guys reverse cowgirl on camera. Whatever works.

When she and her brother get in the room together, she admits a tendency to "geek out," and would rather volley IMs back and forth than hold an actual conversation. The sex lives of some of our staff members are, to be honest, quite similar, so we can relate. Her geek hallmark, however, is her love of LAN parties and Unreal Tournament (handle: megabitchgoddess).

Now that she's no longer taking shots to the face while sprawled out on pool tables, you can expect her to dish it just as hard and fast online. Keep an eye out for her self-made skins, or download them yourself:

Queen guitarist Brian May

In case your musical knowledge doesn't pre-date the '90s, Brian May played lead guitar, wrote for and was the sometimes lead singer of Queen. He put the words "We Will Rock You" (surprisingly), "Who Wants to Live Forever" (ironically), and "Fat-Bottomed Girls" (not so surprisingly) in Freddie Mercury's mouth. Sometimes Freddie shrugged and said, "Ah, bloody 'ell, I broke my last bottle of Goldschlager with 'at 'igh C, so's 'ow about I shut my gob and let you 'ave a go at it?" and sang back up to him.

In the early '70s, he also had a Bachelor of Sciences degree with honors from the Imperial College of London and was in the middle of his doctorate studying how light reflects off of dust floating in space and the movement of that dust within the solar system. While we at Cracked are sure that Brian May's heart was pounding with excitement when he first signed up for the classes, we admit that you probably had to be there to give a rat's ass.

May also apparently grew tired of it, because at that point he took 30 years off from his doctorate to become a millionaire, one of the best guitar players in the world and a member of one of the greatest rock bands in history.

When he wasn't busy rocking faces, May fiddled around with astrophysics, co-authoring two scientific papers and the book Bang! - The Complete History of the Universe with Christ Lintott and Patrick Moore. He also has been a regular guest on the latter's show The Sky at Night for years). Finally, after he was satisfied that he had squeezed all the rocking he could into one lifetime, he went back and got his doctorate in the fall of '07.

Then, he was appointed Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, meaning we now have a man who can look upon both Albert Einstein and Eddie Van Halen and ask why they didn't get more done.

Mr. Lundgren was an almost-superstar back in the '80s, having played comic hero The Punisher (1989 version) and even He-Man (1987). But, his greatest acting accomplishments is beating Apollo Creed into something resembling grape jelly and inspiring the greatest Rocky montage of all fucking time.

As it turns out, this towering blond monster who casually told Sylvester Stallone, "I will break you," could have, in fact, probably calculated the amount of effort (in force pounds per square inch and Joules expenditure) needed to do just that in his head.

The man reportedly has an IQ of 160. He graduated from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, got his master's in chemical engineering, then was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT. After just two weeks of that, his superhuman intellect allowed him to calculate that a life spent inventing life-saving chemicals would mathematically contain less awesome than one movie spent playing He-Man.

Hey, did we mention that he speaks five languages (French, Swedish, German, English and Italian)? Or, that he's a Pentathlon Team Leader and a former Ranger? And a third-degree black belt?

So, really, to play a superhuman machine of destruction in Rocky IV, he still had to tone it down quite a bit. Hell, this man had to tone it down to play He-Man.

If you liked this article, check out Celebrity Ripped Club: 8 Non-Athletes Who've Gotta Be On Steroids .

FDA to approve Cloned Food

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was expected to deem meat and diary from cloned animals safe for human consumption.

The FDA examined the issue for six years and asked producers of cloned livestock to not deliver foodstuffs to markets until their official ruling on the food's safety, the Wall Street Journal said Friday.

It's expected to take at least three years for meat and diary products from cloned offspring to reach store shelves but the pending decision would be a landmark decision for biotech companies as cloned cattle, for example, fetch at least $15,000 for copies of prized bovines.

Food retailers expressed concern over a failure of effective government oversight of cloned livestock, saying, "consumers will lose the ability to choose clone-free products."

Some consumers view clone-derived foodstuffs with disdain, calling the foods "Frankenfood" but Jeffery Barach with the Grocery Manufacturers Association said consumers will welcome the quality products as they become more educated.

Australia, Canada, France, Japan and New Zealand permit the use of livestock clones but their foods rarely enter the consumer market.

The European Union bans the importation of U.S. meat amid concerns over the use of hormones and U.S. food companies face obstacles in European markets that are unlikely to respond favorably to consuming cloned products.

Atlanta airport busiest in US for 3d straight year

With more than 41 million fliers a year, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport offers very few quiet spots. With more than 41 million fliers a year, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport offers very few quiet spots. (Tami Chappell/Reuters/File 2007)
Email|Print| Text size + By Associated Press / January 3, 2008

ATLANTA - For the third year in a row, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has retained its title as the nation's busiest in terms of flights, according to preliminary government data released yesterday.

The Atlanta airport logged 994,466 flights in 2007, up 1.8 percent from 976,447 in 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Flights include takeoffs and landings.

Chicago O'Hare International Airport, was second-busiest, with 935,000 flights in 2007, down 2.4 percent from 958,643 in 2006, the FAA said.

The FAA only released preliminary data for what typically are the three busiest US airports - Atlanta, O'Hare, and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, said spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

Atlanta and Chicago have run neck-and-neck in recent years to claim the title of the nation's - and therefore, the world's - busiest airport. Atlanta already claimed to be the world's busiest in terms of passengers, with 41.35 million passengers in 2006, the latest data available from the FAA. Chicago was second-busiest with 36.82 million passengers in 2006.

Atlanta airport officials said Hartsfield-Jackson's increased flights in 2007 came from growing demand for air travel in the metro Atlanta area and efforts to increase flights by Delta Air Lines Inc. and AirTran Airways, which both have large air travel hubs at Hartsfield-Jackson.

In recent years, O'Hare has faced limited flight capacity because of federally mandated flight restrictions. But a new north runway and runway extension expected to open in November - when the federal restrictions will be lifted - will add to the airport's ability to handle new flights, said spokesman Gregg Cunningham.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport had 686,711 flights in 2007, down 2.3 percent from 702,722 flights in 2006, the FAA said.


There is a story between Transformers and me that I cannot but share with you.

When I was in Grade 4 in 1988, the Transformers appeared. It's no doubt a precious house to a child, especially in an age of entertainment-lacking. I'm lost and enjoying myself among the sounds of transforming, KUKUKAKA. I got accustomed to every characters and every events.
Every Saturday evening, watching Transforming program was the most precious time I was longing for during the week. I would like to buy everything regarding Transformers. It's a pity that only cheapest pasters I could afford. Each time I could stand for a long while to watch transformer toys before small booth.

Later, a classmate took a toy to school. Hasbro's Motormaster. It was said that it was very expensive, compared to other kinds of toys, for it was bought from Shanghai city.
Obviously, I would be no other than admiring and jealousness.

However, other toys cannot be mentioned in the same breath. Because its materials, style is far beyond to compare. Even I was shocked that the logo of Transformer could change its color, which is the clearest memory on my mind till now. I cannot believe that a transformer toy can be made in such an excellent level.

Chairman Mao had said that people can achieve everything he wants in case of his courage.
Later I got an idea to make one by myself.

At the very beginning, I collected boxes which were used to save pencil-lead for it could be easily reached and adhibitted, and its suitable shape, transparency. I tried to make one. It was a racing car or other kind of toy. I cannot remember it exactly. It’s not bad. Anyhow, it's a very important experience by which I become more confident. I have to choose other materials to make other toys, like Starscream, Grimlock, which have more arcs.

Then I turn to use other materials. This time I use ordinary paper. It happens that there are many shell-paper on hands.

Like any other hand-made activities, I image a picture body outspread, and then draw it on paper, and cut it down and paste it. Finally put all parts together. From which I get it more and more clear that thinking is prior to making.
To make a transformer, I have to learn it how to transform at first, and set it down every parts and every joints which will be used to transform. Taking all into consideration, and solve problems one by one, rather than focusing on a detailed one. Through many times trying, the Starscream comes into being completely. “Cool", the first word appears in my mind.(Thank Great Wall for translating 微笑 )

Freezing Enthusiasm has been ignited again. People can be easily influenced, but something in one's heart cannot be changed. The first time I saw the foreshow of the transformer, I felt that my feeling comes back. The moment I enter into the cinema, I feel that my dream will soon come into true. According to familiar names, strange faces, classical actor's lines, and fashionable and brand-new Camoro, I exert myself to recall things in 1988. Something just appears and then dies away silently. People always touched by recalling. I'm touched and excited during watching film. It's time to do something to express my true feelings. For I know that I'm still passionate.

I’m idling at home for some days. Since the film show, I'm wondering to do something. Once in a shopping, I was attracted by egg-pie. The largely superficial yellow color looks like car painting. Later I pay more attention to yellow packaging paper, and then find a satisfied one. At that time, I think it might be useful when making my bee. No matter I enjoy it or not, I buy it only in the aim at collecting its packaging paper. (Some pictures was added later, for I did not take a camera before making it.)

Tools photo, totally prepare to make by hands. Compass is old and leaves one leg. Without any hesitation, it has been thrown into trash box. It’s a pity I cannot find my T square. Otherwise, it will look like a little bit more professional.

Bond photo

Do not look down upon snap fastener(button?maybe you have never seen it that was popular in China ten years ago) . All joints will depend on it.

Moon-cake box will be brought to play. It is strong enough to be used as framework.

Main material is white paperboard, both-sides. Other supplements are chopsticks, popsicle sticks, the core of ball-point pen, clew, plastic spring, etc.

All materials are prepared. That Searching data, sketching, is useful to understand the whole structure. The process is most important. All the reference pictures come from internet. Most of them are face-side and only one is back-side, and not clear. I have no way but use my mind to image. (Later I find a clear back-side picture, and find that some is wrongly made. It’s very regret that it has been pieced together. I only amend some parts. And let others alone.) After having studied the film edition bee thoroughly, I find that the procedure of transformation is very complicated, even some parts has taken place shape-changing. Whereupon, I give up the idea of shape-changing, and pay more attention to its mobility.

In July 15, I begin to make it. According to layout, the first part would be its head.
Then the head is here.

For its complex shape, the framework is absolutely necessarily. It's upper limbs. A little bit roughness.

It’s leg. They seem thin and weak. (Later it become no use for it cannot support its weight. And I have to re-design one.)

On July 21, some accessories have been made.

On July 25, the chest is molding. And some parts of the back

On July 28, arms complete.

On July 29, watching film again, to check its structure

On July 31, re-make the waist. combined with the chest, can be turned in three directions X, Y, Z. The arms most likely finished. (The back is under installing. Some parts are unknown.)

Aug. 2, Legs

Aug. 3, Legs complete, install.

Aug. 6, it is cruses. In order to support the most parts of its weight, chopsticks have been used.

Aug. 7, try the proportion. The bee has to lie down before the complete of cruses.

Aug. 8

Aug. 10, legs complete

assemble, the last part is the back

Aug. 11, Mission Accomplished

It eventually comes out. There are about more than 60 movable joints, 36 cm height. Using one AO paperboard, besides, I have to enjoy five all stra of KFC, together with two boxes of egg-pie, four bottle of Tai-zi milk. All what I want to express is in the BUMBLE BEE.This time, while making the model, I have no idea of keep designs. All I have done is draw directly on paper. So I am very sorry that there is no any desigins. But next time, I will note all the details as possible as I can. Special thanks to fatbaby.Thank Great Wall for translating 微笑 .

To re-paste it, please note my blog address:

Snow-holers using new 'poo chute'
Walker using the 'poo chute'
The Cairngorms 'poo chute' was launched in November
A "poo chute" designed to help dispose of waste has been well used by climbers and hillwalkers snow-holing in the Cairngorms, park rangers have said.

The facility was launched in November after concerns about faeces found in snow-holes - shelters dug into a snow-covered mountainside.

Heather Morning, of the Cairngorm Ranger Service, said it had generated a lot of interest.

The chute has been set up near the Cairngorm Ski Area car park.

Mrs Morning said: "It has done amazingly well.

"People were out snow-holing before Christmas - the season usually kicks off in January.

"Two groups were out before Christmas and both of them used the chute."

Sterilization barrel

The clean-up effort was launched following concerns about contamination of the River Nethy and Loch Avon Basin.

Human waste was also found in snow holes at Ciste Mhearad and Coire Domhain.

Visitors can pick up bags and a light, rigid bottle with a screw top called a BHD from the ranger base free of charge.

Coming off the hills, walkers and climbers can deposit the bags - which are soluble at 40C - down the chute into a sewage plant and place the bottles in a sterilization barrel.

Soviet icon surprises polar scientists

By MICHAEL FIELD - Fairfax Media | Friday, 04 January 2008

Scientists trekking across a little visited part of Antarctica have discovered a bizarre relic of the Soviet Union is dominating the South Pole of Inaccessibility.

In the middle of no-where – literally the point on Antarctica furthest from the sea – an imposing bust of revolutionary Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin peers out onto the polar emptiness.

A Norwegian-US Scientific Traverse met Lenin this week while nearly a thousand kilometres to the south another group were "moving" the South Pole – literally.

A barber's pole marks the actual spot but the US Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station sits on top of a moving ice-sheet - so the Pole moves.

The Inaccessibility Pole marks the point on Antarctica that is furthest from the ocean. At 3718 metres above sea-level it is in the Australian zone and seldom visited.

The Scientific Traverse this week made it to the Inaccessibility Pole for New Year's Day and found a one time Soviet Union base buried under the ice.

The group's website says Soviet scientists first visited the Pole in December 1958 and built a small cabin there.

After several weeks they left, putting the bust of Lenin on top of the chimney facing Moscow.

"Today the bust is clearly visible from many kilometres away, and remains as they left it on the chimney, although the cabin itself is buried under the snow," the explorers say.

The current expedition plans to leave something more substantial in the form of an automatic weather station. They will also drill a 90 metre ice core.

One of the drillers, Lou Albershardt, told an US website that they took six weeks to reach the pole, noticing Lenin from a long way out.

They all speculated on what the bust might have been made out of; marble or concrete.
“You wouldn’t believe it. He’s plastic,” he said.

Lenin died in 1924 and his corpse was embalmed and placed in a mausoleum on Moscow's Red Square.

The old Soviet base sits at 82 degrees six minute south, 54 degrees 58 minutes east. The pole's actual position is disputed around how to define the coast to the north.

The Inaccessibility Pole is around 878 kilometres from the South Pole.

At the South Pole a ceremony was held this week to move the Pole and put in a marker on the spot that the pole had been.

The US Antarctic Program said in a statement the new marker was designed by base machinist Derek Aboltins. His design has 54 grooves around the edge, one for each of the 2007 winter-over staff.

The diamond shaped emblem on top replicates an old sign that used to be displayed on the old gymnasium before it was torn down. The resulting marker resembles a gear, similar to those that turn the new South Pole Telescope.

The station sits on a glacier which moves about 10 metres per year, so every January 1 a brass marker designating exactly 90 degrees South is placed in the new location.

1 Million Pounds

The mayor has issued a New Year's challenge to residents of Oklahoma City.Mick Cornett wants them to shed 1 million pounds by watching what they eat. It could be difficult, since a spread of cornbread, sausage gravy, chicken fried steak and pecan pie has been designated the official Oklahoma state meal.
Cornett is working to make the city more pedestrian friendly so people will walk more, but he said residents also need to acknowledge that they eat too much and don't eat the right foods. As part of the initiative, residents can sign up and track their weight loss on a new Web site, than 2,600 people have signed up so far. They've lost more than 300 pounds. Oklahoma City ranked 15th in a 2007 survey of America's fattest cities conducted by Men's Fitness magazine.

Sten Cells without Killing Fetus

Published: November 21, 2007

Two teams of scientists reported yesterday that they had turned human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without having to make or destroy an embryo — a feat that could quell the ethical debate troubling the field.

All they had to do, the scientists said, was add four genes. The genes reprogrammed the chromosomes of the skin cells, making the cells into blank slates that should be able to turn into any of the 220 cell types of the human body, be it heart, brain, blood or bone. Until now, the only way to get such human universal cells was to pluck them from a human embryo several days after fertilization, destroying the embryo in the process.

The need to destroy embryos has made stem cell research one of the most divisive issues in American politics, pitting President Bush against prominent Republicans like Nancy Reagan, and patient advocates who hoped that stem cells could cure diseases like Alzheimer's. The new studies could defuse the issue as a presidential election nears.