Sunday, November 05, 2006

Dolphin reveals an extra set of ‘legs’

Scientists say fins may represent throwback to ancient land-dwelling ways

Image: Dolphin
Taiji Whale Museum via AP
In this photo, released by Taiji Whale Museum, divers hold a bottlenose dolphin that has an extra set of palm-sized fins near its tail.

Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of hind legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land.

Fishermen captured the four-finned dolphin alive off the coast of Wakayama prefecture in western Japan on Oct. 28, and alerted the nearby Taiji Whaling Museum, according to museum director Katsuki Hayashi.

Fossil remains show dolphins and whales were four-footed land animals about 50 million years ago and share the same common ancestor as hippos and deer. Scientists believe they later transitioned to an aquatic lifestyle and their hind limbs disappeared.

Whale and dolphin fetuses also show signs of hind protrusions but these generally disappear before birth.

Though odd-shaped protrusions have been found near the tails of dolphins and whales captured in the past, researchers say this was the first time one had been found with well-developed, symmetrical fins, Hayashi said.

"I believe the fins may be remains from the time when dolphins' ancient ancestors lived on land ... this is an unprecedented discovery," Seiji Osumi, an adviser at Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research, said at a news conference televised Sunday.

Image: Dolphin "legs"
This photo, released by the Taiji Whale Museum, highlights the extra set of fins. The tail is being held by a diver whose hand is visible at upper right.

The second set of fins — much smaller than the dolphin's front fins — are about the size of human hands and protrude from near the tail on the dolphin's underside. The dolphin measures 8.92 feet (2.7 meters) and is about five years old, according to the museum.

Hayashi said he could not tell from watching the dolphin swim in a musuem tank whether it used its back fins to maneuver.

A freak mutation may have caused the ancient trait to reassert itself, Osumi said. The dolphin will be kept at the Taiji museum to undergo X-ray and DNA tests, according to Hayashi.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

Four-finned dolphin thrills scientists
Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa - 21 hours ago
Japanese researchers said on Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of back legs, providing ...
Could extra dolphin fins be legs?
CNN International - 22 hours ago
TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of hind ...
Four-finned dolphin an 'evolutionary throwback'
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia - 23 hours ago
Something's fishy ... divers hold a bottlenose dolphin which has an extra set of human palm-sized fins. A bottlenose dolphin captured ...

Thursday, August 31, 2006


How to Dress Like an Individual at a School With a Dress Code

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Plaid school uniforms

More and more schools all over the world are imposing stricter dress codes or uniform requirements on students. While administrators claim these measures encourage equality and proper behavior and discourage gangs and offensive clothing, many students feel that dress codes restrict their ability to express themselves. If your high school has a stringent dress code and you're worried you might look like "a nerd" or like "everybody else," here's how you can distinguish yourself from the crowd.


  1. Get a copy of your school’s dress code and read it carefully. If you are going to get new clothes, you want to make sure they are completely within the dress code. Make sure you fully understand the dress code, and ask an administrator for clarification if necessary.
  2. Go through the clothes you have now and see what you have that fits within the guidelines of the dress code and that you will actually wear.
  3. Pay attention to little things in the dress code that aren't restricted. For example, you may have to wear shirts that have collars and sleeves, and which are solid black, white, or navy blue. While that certainly limits you, it doesn’t say anything about pockets vs. no pockets or button fronts vs. polo shirts. Find something you are comfortable in that fits within the dress code. In this example, if you don't like polo shirts, get button fronts. Sleeves can be any length as long as they’re there. No matter how restrictive your dress code, you’ll likely have some choices.
  4. Shop at your favorite stores or designers. Just because your clothes have to be conservative doesn’t mean you can’t still buy the brands you like to wear. In fact many designers now make clothes specifically to meet the growing dress-code and uniform markets.
  5. Choose shoes that make news. Shoes are often hard to define in dress codes, so you may be able to get away with some extra creativity on your feet. For example, some dress codes say that shoes have to be closed toed. This doesn't mean sneakers or loafers only. If your school doesn't have any real strict regulations on shoes, get something fashionable that stands out. If your school is strict or brown/black shoes are a must, then slowly add little things. Try a colorful shoelace, or try gluing little rhinestones on and see if you can get away with it.
  6. Accessorize. Dress code or no dress code, you can use accessories to express your individuality and style, but the stricter your dress code the more important accessories may be.
    • Belts: Often belts have to be leather and the buckle size is restricted, but there may not be color guidelines or belt buckle type guidelines. Get bright colors, or patterns that attract attention. Did your mom already buy you a drab brown belt? Glue glitter on the buckle or otherwise embellish it.
    • Jewelry: If there aren't any jewelry restrictions, wear bracelets, necklaces, earrings, or rings that stand out and make you feel special.
    • Hair: Many dress codes provide few restrictions on hair. While you probably can’t dye your hair crazy colors, you can put bows of different bright colors, pigtails, braids, or anything colorful or unique that the dress code can't restrict.
  7. Push the envelope. Maybe your dress code has some “grey areas,” or maybe parts of it aren’t enforced. See what you can get away with. What’s the worst that could happen? Just don’t do it too often or too obviously, or teachers and administrators might start cracking down.


  • For the girls, wear underwear that makes you feel pretty. No one is going to see it but you. Just knowing that you have it on will make you more confident in what you are wearing on the outside.
  • Try wearing pins and buttons, but don't overdo it.
  • Nails can be painted pretty colors. Do anything too wild and you may get in trouble, but there are tons of lovely pale and pastel shades, and a French manicure is always a classic.
  • Keep your make-up clean and conservative, if you’re allowed to wear makeup at all. A little bit of light shadow with the regular stuff is fine, but you should probably avoid the electric green eyeliner!
  • Add jewelry. Adding funky and bold jewelry will make you stand out without pushing the clothes.
  • Remember attitude. Go to the bathroom with a blank look on your face and look in the mirror. Leave and then go back with a sincere smile on your face. You’ll probably notice that you look and feel different, maybe even better. Clothes don’t make the man (or woman), so project an attitude that is uniquely you, and you’ll still be an individual, even in the plainest uniform.
  • Many dress codes do not specify gender. A boy probably could not get away with a skirt and knee-socks, but no one will mind if a girl goes to school in chinos.
  • Put a wire in your tie - bend it into shapes.


  • Make sure you are following your dress code when you go shopping or when you are altering your clothes.
  • Some schools require you to purchase your uniform outfits from a certain company. Buy whichever colors you feel most confident in, and make sure you wear well-fitting sizes.

How to Avoid a Speeding Ticket

Sure we all want to be able to bat our eyes at an officer to avoid being written a ticket. Unfortunately, not all of us are females, let alone attractive. So the alternative skill would be spotting the cops before they spot you.


  1. Take a defensive driving course. Aside from making you a safer driver it'll make you a more AWARE driver, which you'll need driving at high speeds. One such rule you'll learn is the 12 second rule. You've probably used the 5 second rule, which is looking 5 seconds on the road in front of you. But especially driving at higher speeds you'll find that looking 12 seconds into the future is much safer, and 12 seconds is alot closer to the limit on the distance police radar can reach. So you'll have enough time to tap the brakes if you spot them.
  2. Be aware of every car entering, exiting, and hiding behind other cars. The worst thing to do after narrowly avoiding the cop with a laser gun is to fly past the next cop driving on the same road as you. Be aware of every car in your vicinity. More and more cops today aren't driving Crown Victorias (see tip #3). So keep your eyes open and suspicious of every car you see.
  3. DO NOT search the road for Crown Victorias. This is by far the most foolish tactic one can use for identifying cops. Police use everything from Camero's to SUV's to Cadillacs and Mustangs. As you probably know some police don't even use marked cars anymore. So how do you identify a cop before you realize he's cruising next to you in a Camry?
    • Look for roof lighting. Your brain should pop up a red flag anytime it see's any sort of junk on top of a car. It could easily be police lighting.
    • Police AREN'T handicapped. If you see a Crown Victoria with a handicapped tag on it chances are its just a senior citizen. No use holding up traffic trying to smoothly slip by him.
    • By law officers are not allowed to endorse any ideology or group on their cars. The cars are owned by the city, so you'll be hard pressed to find a police car with a "Total Princess" sticker on the bumper.
    • Police license plates are made differently than every one elses. In some cases they'll actually say EXEMPT. However, in some cases they won't be different, so don't take my word for it.
  4. Look inside the officers car if you can. You might see a cage seperating the front seats and back seats. Or you might see the officers uniform.
  5. Safety in numbers. Try to join a speed train. By that I mean a train of 3 or more cars all speeding the same amount. The person in front is usually the one who takes the blame when these trains are caught. In addition, if the first person in the train doesn't see the cop, the second person will and they'll break accordingly to prevent you from being seen driving 90.
  6. Beware the boogey man. If 200 yards ahead of you a man driving 90 all of a sudden decides to hit his brakes with no one in front of him, you can bet money that a cop is in his line of sight that isn't in yours. He might have a police radar in his car. And since the limit of police detectors is the same limit as the radars themselves that added distance between you and the car in front of you will make the police detector that much more effective. Not to mention, you didn't have to pay for it.
  7. Last but not least, don't be a cocky driver. Cops are very smart, and if you've been busted just smile politely and accept your ticket. You'll see him in court.


  • Drive a car that was made to sustain excessive speeds. Blowing a tire or piston isn't a cool way to elude the cops.
  • DO NOT be a reckless driver. You should always signal properly and change lanes smoothly to avoid bringing attention to yourself.
  • DO NOT get road rage. You driving 2000 mph doesn't mean John Doe doing 25 mph in a school zone is an idiot. It means YOU are.


  • Driving at excessively high speeds decreases the amount of control and reaction time one has on their car.
  • Around hills, curves and opposing traffic it is next to impossible to know a cop is coming. So either slow down or accept the fact that you'll turn into a fugitive trying to out maneuver the officer turning around to apprehend you.
  • Slamming on your brakes after you see an officer will almost certainly cause a traffic jam either on or behind you. Be considerate for your fellow speeders.


Friday, April 28, 2006

ZPD: Heed the last Ninja ...

Wed, Apr. 26, 2006: Associated Press' HANS GREIMEL: Last Ninja: 'Be able to kill your students'

NODA, Japan - The teachings of Grand Master Masaaki Hatsumi echo through my head as he entreats me to attack a blackbelted disciple with a practice sword. "Always be able to kill your students," he says.

Chilling words from a shockingly fit 76-year-old man who bills himself as the world's last ninja and stocks his training chamber with weapons such as throwing stars and nunchucks. Especially to a neophyte whose closest brush with martial arts was watching Bruce Lee matinees as a kid.

As I cautiously raise the sword with a taut two-handed samurai grip, my sparring partner gingerly points to Hatsumi. I avert my eyes for a split second - and WHAM! The next thing I know, I'm staring at the rafters.

Keeping your focus is just one of the lessons thumped out on the mats of the Bujinkan Dojo, a cramped school outside Tokyo that is a pilgrimage site for 100,000 worldwide followers. They revere Hatsumi as the last living master of ninjutsu - the mysterious Japanese art of war practiced by black-masked assassins of yesteryear.

"He's unlimited in body, mind and spirit," says Richard VanDonk, who flew in from California to practice body throws in the dojo's warm glow of rice-paper screens and flickering votive candles. "He's a master of change."

Hatsumi is the only living student of the last "fighting ninja," Toshitsugu Takamatsu, the so-called 33rd Grand Master who was a bodyguard to officials in Japanese-occupied Manchuria before World War II and fought - and won - 12 fights to the death. Legend says that during one battle, Takamatsu snatched an eyeball from a would-be Chinese bandit.

Today, Hatsumi's enemies are stereotypes and flagging interest in the ancient art. He seeks to leave the task to a worthy successor as speculation mounts about his retirement.

In many ways, the curly-haired, wide-eyed Hatsumi has been a victim of success: He has helped make ninja an international household name by training followers from Chile to South Africa. But he also has watched his legacy co-opted by goofy caricatures such as "Mutant Ninja Turtles" and schlocky Hollywood send-ups like "Beverly Hills Ninja."

"I think it's pathetic," Hatsumi says of the ninja's modern image.

A glance around the dojo suggests the average Japanese might agree. The vast majority of students are foreigners, often with a military background, who learned of Hatsumi overseas. That's because in Japan, ninjutsu is swept up in the wave of apathy that has sapped the ranks of traditional martial arts like sumo and judo.

Most Japanese are exposed to martial arts in school. But the number practicing judo has been declining since the 1980s as more people turn to Western sports like golf and tennis. Sumo also has fallen on hard times, forcing the Japan Sumo Association to import stars.

"Young kids might be more interested in other sports that are flashy or fashionable," concedes Makinori Matsuo, an associate professor of martial arts at Tokyo's International Budo University.

"They tend to be turned off by the image of martial arts as sweaty and smelly," he said.

Ninja is a compound word from the Japanese characters for "stealth" or "endurance" and "person," a reference to their traditional role as spies, mercenaries and assassins working for medieval warlords.

Traditional weaponry such as swords and throwing stars feature prominently is Hatsumi's lessons, as do handclaws for climbing walls, blow darts and chili pepper dust to throw in an opponent's eyes.

But true ninjutsu, Hatsumi says, is self-discipline and balance in the boardroom and the battlefield. It's about mastering one's weaknesses, including laziness and fear, and exploiting a rival's needs, such as sex and pride.

As he nimbly glides across the padded floor, Hatsumi showers students with cryptic proverbs straight out of Confucian scrolls, such as "anything can be used as a weapon" or "ninjutsu is the sum of things in the universe."

"Timing is the most difficult," he adds, while casually deflecting a gleaming metal sword swung at his neck by a veteran student. After the turning the blade on the attacker, Hatsumi gives his arm a slight twist, eliciting a baleful yelp.

Halfway through the lesson, Hatsumi takes a break to pen traditional brush paintings for students who hustle to his side with paper. Then things get serious again with the meting out of "ninja tests."

Going for his fifth-level ranking is Phil White of England, who kneels on the floor with his eyes closed. Behind him stands Hatsumi, clutching a padded wooden sword that he plans to bring down on White's head.

If White - with his eyes still closed - manages to dodge the sword, he passes; if not, he takes home some bumps.

Twice the staff cracks on White's head before he slumps out of the way on his third try - enough to satisfy the master.

"I'm still shaking," White says afterward, while being barraged by congratulatory slaps on the back. "I didn't feel like I was moving. You feel like you're being blown by the wind."

Today, hundreds of ninja schools across Europe, North America and beyond trace their roots to Hatsumi.

He has held training seminars for the FBI, CIA, the Mossad and for police in Britain, France and Germany. He has served as a martial arts adviser to films such as the James Bond thriller "You Only Live Twice" and the television miniseries "Shogun."

Hatsumi has left his mark in other ways, authoring a dozen books in English and Japanese.

He says he is not ready to sheath his sword anytime soon, but admits the question of who will succeed him as ninjutsu's world leader is a constant topic of gossip at the dojo. Only Hatsumi gets to choose the next grand master, and he's not giving any hints.

It's even possible it will be a non-Japanese for the first time, he says.

"Human beings always want to know what they cannot know," he says. "But you can never tell the future."

Associated Press writer Kana Inagaki contributed to this report from Tokyo.


Masaaki Hatsumi

Masaaki Hatsumi (初見良昭 Hatsumi Masaaki, born December 2, 1931) is the founder and current headteacher of Bujinkan Dojo martial arts organization.

He graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo with a major in theater production, and later opened his own chiropractic clinic in Noda city.

From his childhood he studied many martial arts, including judo and western boxing. During this time, he was instructing American soldiers in the art of judo, and noticed because of size and strength superior to his Japanese comrades, they were learning in months what typically took a Japanese judoka years to master. In this, he began to question himself and his training. It was after this time, he began studying ancient kobudo weaponry under Toshitsugu Takamatsu.

In 1957 he began making his weekly trips to train with his new teacher in Kashiwabara, taking a train ride some several hours one way. He did this every weekend, and was able to train as often as possible with his sensei.

From Takamatsu he inherited the position of sōke (headmaster) of 9 ryū (schools of martial arts):

Masaaki Hatsumi first came to the attention of the western world when his student Stephen K. Hayes began appearing in martial art magazines in the late 1970s. The techniques that Hayes demonstrated in these magazines were then referred to simply as the techniques of the Ninja. Westerners craving knowledge about these ancient systems of self defense saught out the teacher of Hayes and, thus, Hatsumi-sensei was introduced to the west. He first came to the United States in 1983. He later traveled and taught throughout Europe.

In the 1990s Hatsumi-sensei began teaching the nine schools under the banner of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. His training began to move from the pre-arranged kata and henkas, to teaching to grasp the feeling of a technique instead, to try to feel what makes a technique work under the most dire of situations. This principle is called shinkengata, and represents life/death situations.

His Bujinkan system is comprised of the nine ryū (schools) listed above, and has a ranking system as follows:

Mukyu (commonly called 10th kyu) - White Belt 9th - 1st Kyu - Green Belt (Red and White Patch) 1st - 4th Dan - Black Belt, Shidoshi-ho (Black and Red Patch with Stars) 5th - 9th Dan - Black Belt, Shidoshi (Black and Red Patch with White Border, and Stars) 10th - 15th Dan - Black Belt, Shihan (Green and Orange Patch, with Stars)

Some of his more well-known senior students include:

Wheee! I can do that - ZPD

Friday, April 21, 2006

ZPD: Fear and Loathing of Washington Lunacy

Ted Rall: Don't Impeach Bush. Commit Him - A Maniacal Messianic Prepares to Fulfill His Destiny :

From ICH - "I have fulfilled my destiny," the president says manically. He has just entered the nuclear launch codes that will trigger World War III. Seconds later, he emerges from a bunker. The Secretary of State squeezes between two soldiers. "Mr. President!" he shouts. "We have a diplomatic solution!"

He smiles. "It's too late," he replies. "The missiles are flying. Alleluia. Alleluia."

The above scene, from David Cronenberg's 1983 adaptation of the horror novel "The Dead Zone," is a classic if slightly preposterous nightmare of a world destroyed by a demented demagogue. Now, incredibly, a lunatic out of a Stephen King movie has brought the United States to the brink of Armageddon.

Until I read Seymour Hersh's expose in The New Yorker and subsequent follow-up coverage by other journalists about the Bush Administration's plans to start a war against Iran, I had dismissed talk of George W. Bush's messianism as so much Beltway chatter. True, he hears voices, even claiming that God and Jesus Christ talk to him. "I believe God wants me to run for president," he told a friend in Texas. Eschewing mainstream religion, he routinely parrots the apocalyptic ravings of fringe Christianist cults: "And the light [America] has shone in the darkness [the enemies of America], and the darkness will not overcome it [America shall conquer its enemies]," he said during his fevered campaign for war against Iraq. He mimics Old Testament cadences: "God told me to strike at Al Qaeda and I struck them," Bush told the Palestinian prime minister in 2003, "and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East."


Despite the man's wacky religiosity, I have been giving Bush the benefit of a small amount of remaining doubt after five years of the most disastrous rule this nation has ever suffered. I believed that he was breathtakingly bigoted, stupid and ignorant. But I didn't think he was out of his mind. Until now.

"Current and former American military and intelligence officials" tell Hersh "that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium." Of course, uranium enrichment for peaceful atomic energy is permitted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory. Which is what the Iranians say they're doing. But the Bush Administration, which knows a little about lying, doesn't believe them.

Fair enough: One only has to consider the risk of nuclear conflagration between India and Pakistan to see why the fewer countries have nukes, the better. Not every country can be trusted with such terrifying weapons. So how does the trustworthy United States plan to make its stand against nuclear proliferation?

By nuking Iran. ...”


From Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images cite fair use

The NY Times today reported that Chinese officials were outraged over the White House accrediting a reporter who screamed at Mr. Hu from the stands, and mistakenly referring to China by the name of its archrival Taiwan. Adding insult to injury, here’s a picture of Vice President Dick Cheney sleeping during Mr. Hu’s press conference.

He's dreaming of the death count of American boys - many suspect he needs them for medical reasons...

Also in the news -

Sunday, March 19, 2006

From PPGP to ZPD! Backstopped ...

ZPD: Blogger still wonky on this end - but PPGP blog accessible via the RSS feed!


Pixar Animation Studios
Type Public (NASDAQ: PIXR)
Founded December 9, 1985
Location Emeryville, California, USA
Key people Steve Jobs, Chairman/CEO
Ed Catmull, President
John Lasseter, Vice President, Creative
Industry CGI animation
Products RenderMan, Marionette

Pixar Animation Studios NASDAQ: PIXR is an award-winning computer generated imagery (CGI) animation firm based in Emeryville, California (USA).

Though best known for its production of computer-animated feature films, Pixar also develops and markets high-end 3D computer graphics technology. Most notably, Pixar is the developer of the industry-standard rendering software RenderMan, which is used to generate high-quality, photorealistic images.


Early history

Pixar was founded as the Graphics Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm that was launched in 1979 with the hiring of Ed Catmull from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). After years of remarkable research success, and key milestones in films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes, the group was purchased in 1986 by current Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs after he had been kicked out of Apple (the company he founded with Steve Wozniak) and was looking for something to do with his money. He paid US$5 million to George Lucas and put US$5 million as capital into the company. The sale reflected George Lucas' desire to stop the cash flow losses associated with his 7 year research projects associated with new entertainment technology tools, as well as his company's new focus on creating entertainment product rather than tools. A contributing factor was cash flow difficulties following Lucas' 1983 divorce concurrent with the sudden drop off in revenues from Star Wars licenses following the release of Return of the Jedi. The newly independent company was headed by Dr. Edwin Catmull, President and CEO, and Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, Executive Vice President and Director. Jobs served as Chairman of the Board.

Initially, Pixar was a high-end hardware company whose core product was the Pixar Image Computer, a system which was primarily sold to government agencies and the medical community. One of the leading buyers of Pixar Image Computers was Disney studios, which was using the device as part of their secretive CAPS project, using the machine and custom software to migrate the laborious Ink and Paint part of the 2D animation process to a more automated and thus efficient method. The Image Computer never sold well. In a bid to drive sales of the system, Pixar employee John Lasseter — who had long been creating short demonstration animations, such as Luxo Jr., to show off the device's capabilities — premiered his creations at SIGGRAPH, the computer graphics industry's largest convention, to great fanfare.

Business in transition

As poor sales of Pixar's computers threatened to put the company out of business, Lasseter's animation department began producing computer-animated commercials for outside companies. Early successes included campaigns for Tropicana, Listerine, and LifeSavers. During this period, Pixar continued its relationship with Walt Disney Feature Animation, a studio whose corporate parent would ultimately become its most important partner. Pixar was a key technical participant in the development of Disney's CAPS, a computer-assisted animation post-production software system. In 1991, after substantial layoffs in the company's computer department, Pixar made a $26,000,000 deal with Walt Disney Studios to produce computer-animated feature films, the first of which was Toy Story. Pixar was re-incorporated on December 9, 1995.

Disney and Pixar

All of Pixar's major features thus far have been made in collaboration with Walt Disney Pictures. All aspects of production, including writing, development, animation production, and post-production, have been handled in-house by Pixar, while production costs have been split between the two companies. Disney has handled all aspects of distribution and has borne all costs related to distribution and promotion. In 1997, after the release of Pixar's first feature-length film, Toy Story, the two companies signed a 10-year, 5-picture deal evenly splitting production costs and profits on subsequent movies. Reflecting the media giant's clout at the time the agreement was signed, Disney alone retained rights to the films and characters. In addition, Disney collects 10 to 15 percent of each film's revenue as a distribution fee. [1]

Pixar and Disney have had ongoing disagreements since the production of Toy Story 2. Originally intended as a straight-to-video release (and thus not part of Pixar's five picture deal), the film was upgraded to a theatrical release during production. Pixar demanded that the film then be counted toward the five picture agreement, but Disney refused.

The arrangement has been very profitable for both companies. Pixar's five feature films have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion, equivalent to the highest per-film average gross in the industry. After a lengthy hiatus, negotiations between the two companies resumed following the departure of Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner from Disney.

The two companies attempted to reach a new agreement in early 2004. The new deal would be only for distribution, as Pixar intended to control production and own the resulting film properties themselves. As part of any distribution agreement with Disney, Pixar demanded control over films already in production under their old agreement, including The Incredibles and Cars. More importantly, Pixar wanted complete financial freedom; they wanted to finance their films on their own and collect 100 percent of the profits, paying Disney only the 10 to 15 percent distribution fee. This was unacceptable to Disney, but Pixar would not concede.

Pending the Disney acquisition of Pixar, the two companies extended their distribution deal for Pixar's 2007 release of Ratatouille ensuring that if the Disney acquisition falls through for whatever reason, this one film will still be released through the Disney distribution channels. Unlike the earlier Pixar/Disney deal used for the earlier films, this one has the following caveats:

  • Pixar is responsible for 100% of the production costs.
  • Pixar owns the film and the rights to the characters.
  • Disney is paid only a straight distribution fee.

Disney's acquisition of Pixar

On January 24, 2006, Disney announced that it had agreed to buy Pixar for approximately $7.4 billion in an all-stock deal. The transaction would catapult Steve Jobs, who was the majority shareholder of Pixar with 50.1%, to Disney's largest individual shareholder with 7% and a new seat on its board of directors. Jobs' new Disney holdings would outpace holdings belonging to ex-CEO Eisner, the previous top shareholder who still held 1.7%, and Disney Director Emeritus Roy E. Disney, whose criticisms of Eisner included the soured Pixar relationship and accelerated his ouster, who held almost 1% of the corporation's shares.

As part of the deal, John Lasseter, Pixar Executive Vice President and founder, would become Chief Creative Officer of the newly-combined Disney-Pixar animation studios as well as the Principal Creative Adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs and builds the company's theme parks. Current Pixar President Ed Catmull would become President of the combined Disney-Pixar animation studios, reporting to Iger and Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studio Entertainment.

There were additional conditions laid out as part of the deal to ensure that Pixar remains a separate entity, a concern that many analysts had about the Disney deal[2]:

  • If Pixar pulls out of the deal, they must pay Disney a penalty of US$210 million.
  • The Disney board will now include Steve Jobs.
  • John Lasseter has the authority to approve films for both Disney and Pixar studios, with Disney CEO Robert Iger carrying final approving authority.
  • The deal requires that Pixar's primary directors and creative executives must also join the combined company. This includes Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Brad Bird, Bob Peterson, Brenda Chapman, Lee Unkrich, and Gary Rydstrom.
  • There will be a steering committee that will oversee animation for both Disney and Pixar studios, with a mission to maintain and spread the Pixar culture. This committee will consist of Catmull, Lasseter, Jobs, Iger, Dick Cook, and Tom Staggs. They will meet at Pixar headquarters at least once every two months.
  • Pixar HR policies will remain intact, including the lack of employment contracts.
  • Ensures the Pixar name will continue, and that the studio will remain in its current Emeryville, California location with the "Pixar" sign.
  • Branding of films made post-merger will be "Disney Pixar".

Executive leadership

Today, Jobs continues in his role as chairman, and is also the company's CEO. Catmull remains president. Lasseter —a two-time Academy Award-winning director and animator— oversees all of the company's projects as Executive Vice President of the Creative Department. Other notable members of the executive team are Sarah McArthur (Executive Vice President of Production), Simon Bax (Executive Vice President and CFO), and Lois Scali (Executive Vice President and General Counsel).

Feature films

A movie called Ray Gun was rumored to be released by Pixar in 2007, but latest reports indicate that this will be a 2D feature which Pixar has no interest in developing. Currently Warner Brothers owns the rights to develop this film.

Short films ("Shorts")

A wireframe view and rendered frame of "Geri", originally
featured in the short "Geri's Game," but who later made a
cameo appearance in Toy Story 2.

Feature film traditions

The Pixar Format

All Pixar features have a common theme. The setting of the film is always a world in which people/creatures/objects that are not commonly thought to have normal everyday lives live in societies resembling modern American society. For example:

  • Toy Story/Toy Story 2 — Toys come to life and live in a community in their owner's room while he's away.
  • A Bug's Life — Insects live in harmony and have their own hierarchy and tiny little cities.
  • Monsters Inc. — Horrifying monsters live everyday lives in their own community. Scaring kids is just their day job.
  • Finding Nemo — The ocean, like Earth's land mass, has its own cities, schools and communities ruled by fish.
  • The Incredibles — Superheroes live among us and take ordinary jobs and have ordinary problems, such as a greedy boss or a troublemaking son.
John Ratzenberger

John Ratzenberger (most widely known as the mailman character Clifford Clavin from the television sitcom Cheers) is always a character voice, referred to by the studio as their "good luck charm". The following is a list of his roles in the first seven Pixar movies:

He also voiced a character in the English dub of Spirited Away, overseen by John Lasseter. Actor Wallace Shawn also appears in multiple Pixar Films. He has become such a stable part of the company that he plays on its softball team.

Cameo appearances

Every Pixar film has included cameo appearances of characters or objects from their other movies or short films.


  • Toy Story — During the staff meeting at the beginning of the movie, some of the books on the shelf behind Woody are named after some of Pixar's short films, such as "Tin Toy" and "Knick Knack".
  • Toy Story 2 — When Hamm is flipping through the channels, many of Pixar's short films, including Pixar's old logo, were briefly represented. Geri (from the short Geri's Game) appears as the toy cleaner. There are "A Bug's Life" toys in Al's Toy Barn. Also, in that movie when Mr. Potato Head found Mrs. Potato Head's earring, Mrs. was reading "A Bug's Life" book. Right before the road crossing scene, the "bug bar" from A Bug's Life is visible in the bushes. In one of the outtakes during the end credits, Flik and Heimlich from "A Bug's Life" are accidentally swatted by Buzz, who doesn't see them.
  • A Bug's Life — A Pizza Planet cup from Toy Story is seen above the bar as Flik enters. Also, Woody from Toy Story can be spotted in an outtake during the credits.
  • Monsters, Inc. — Boo shows Sulley her Jessie doll (from Toy Story 2) and a Nemo toy. In the same scene, a toy ball from the Luxo Jr. short. Also, the mobile home where Randall becomes trapped is the same one from "A Bug's Life". Sitting next to the trailer, as in "A Bug's Life", is the Pizza Planet truck. In one of the outtakes during the closing credits, Rex from Toy Story is seen auditioning for a part of the large monster (known as 'Ted') that Mike and Sully meet while crossing the street on the way to work in the beginning of the movie. When Randall is jettisoned from Monstropolis, you can briefly see Nemo from "Finding Nemo" mounted on the wall as a fishing trophy.
  • Finding Nemo — A Buzz Lightyear action figure can be seen in the dentist's waiting room. Also, a patient can be seen reading a Mr. Incredible comic book. Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. can been seen during the end credits swimming through the ocean. The Pizza Planet truck from "Toy Story" can be seen during Gil's 'escape from the tank' montage, as well as an early version of the character 'Luigi' from "Cars".
  • The Incredibles — Mr. Incredible's desk lamp is Luxo Jr. In the scene with the self destructing message, the boxing game from Toy Story is on the shelf, to the left.
  • Cars has many cameos:


Similar to George Lucas' 1138 and Al Hirschfeld's Nina, the letter-number sequence A113 is an animation in-joke which appears in all Pixar films to date. It is a reference to one of the room numbers at CalArts (which several of the employees attended).

The Pizza Planet Truck

The Pizza Planet Truck which featured prominently in Toy Story appears in each of the Pixar films. The truck is noticeable for only showing the letters "Yo" (the only letters left from the car's brand; "Gyoza", not "Toyota" as is commonly thought.) Examples:

  • Toy Story: Buzz and Woody get to Pizza Planet in this truck.
  • A Bug's Life: As the two bugs are talking about seeing the light, the truck can be seen on-screen.
  • Toy Story 2: The toys steal and drive the truck to the airport.
  • Monsters Inc.: At the end of the movie, Randall is thrown through a door and ends up in a caravan where he is mistaken for a gator. The caravan is next to the Pizza Planet truck.
  • Finding Nemo: While the escape plan is being shown, as the bags of water cross the road, the truck drives past.
  • The Incredibles: The Pizza Planet truck can be seen on the freeway towards the end of the film.
  • A Wiggly Fairytale: The Pizza Planet Truck go past the Wiggles house while the Wiggles are sleeping toward the end in Wallace & Gromit font at the end of the new animated Wiggles film.

Teaser trailers

The Pixar teaser trailers since A Bug's Life consist of footage created specifically for the trailer, spotlighting certain central characters in a comic situation. Though similar scenes and situations may appear, these sequences are not in the films being advertised, but instead are original creations.


  • A Bug's Life: All the insects from the circus troupe gather onto a leaf right before Heimlich bites the end of it off, causing them to fall.
  • Toy Story 2: The green alien toys come up to a center with the claw coming down. First the claw was carrying down "Toy Story" with the aliens doing their trademark "Oooh". Second the claw brings down a "2" and with the aliens turning around and looking at the audience and saying "Twoooo". Then Woody and Buzz come up with a little greetings.
  • Monsters, Inc.: Sulley and Mike stumble into the wrong bedroom. (Also, in a preview shown before the first Harry Potter film, Sulley is shown playing charades with Mike, but Mike is unable to guess the phrase 'Harry Potter'. The clip never specifically mentions Harry Potter, but the end states that Monsters, Inc. is playing right next door.)
  • Finding Nemo: Marlin asks the school of fish for directions and Dory scares them away.
  • The Incredibles: An out-of-shape Mr. Incredible struggles to get his belt on.
  • Cars: Mater, a rusty tow truck talks to Lightning McQueen after hitting and killing a baby bumblebee.

Feature film inside references

In an homage to Ray Harryhausen, stop motion animation pioneer and designer of countless cinematic monsters, the restaurant in Monsters, Inc. is named "Harryhausen's."


External links



Ages ago - ZPD managed to get Dr. Alvy Ray Smith and Edwin Catmull a "free trip" to Sapporo to visit B.U.G. to discuss items of mutual interest. I only got a thank you from Ed. I'll also have this at ZPD as a backstop - ZPD