Hidden Secrets in New Ready Player One Trailer

The recently released trailer for Ready Player One packs some nice pop culture references! Here’s the trailer:

Ready Player One takes place in a world where the depletion of fossil fuels and global warming have led to a worldwide energy crisis. People now seek refuge from this harsh reality inside a virtual reality world called the OASIS, where anyone can be anybody and do so much more than the real world now allows. It’s founder announced in a postmortem message that he left a treasure within OASIS that when found would award wealth and control of OASIS itself to the person who discovered it.

Much like Wreck-It RalphReady Player One is jam-packed with references to other people in pop-culture, namely games and movies. Here’s a couple I could spot myself:

  • The Iron Giant, from Iron Giant
  • Even more obviously, King Kong is shown
  • For a moment, you can spot Tracer from Overwatch and Chun-Li from Street Fighter

There are surely more I couldn’t spot without rewatching the trailer a dozen times over. Ready Player One releases March 30th, 2018.

LA Noire Review: Devils in the Details

LA Noire is a remastered version of the original 2011 title released by developer Rockstar Games. This action-adventure detective game portrays all the glorious conventions of its namesake, even if it’s still very rough around the edges. You play as Cole Phelps, a veteran of the Okinawa campaign turned police officer turned LAPD detective. You play through many, many cases in Cole’s career through various departments – Traffic, Homicide, Vice and Arson – including all cases from the original release that originally existed separately as pre-order DLC.

Each case feels distinct from the other – although depending on your sleuthing skills, each case isn’t necessarily as satisfying to solve as the last. LA  Noire’s cases play out through two primary ‘phases’ – gathering evidence and interrogating witnesses. Gathering evidence is contextual as Cole navigates crime scenes or locations of interest – your controller vibrates to show you’ve found something. While it isn’t all of value – you can interact with stray liquor bottles irrelevant to the scene itself – Cole’s dialogue about the items that actually are of import to the case conveys a sense of discovery the player is feeling in equal measure.

This evidence is catalogued in Cole’s notebook and used in the other distinct ‘phase’ of LA Noire – the interrogations. This part of LA Noire is what stands out from the rest – the game uses advanced facial mapping to represent real, emoting faces. This means that people look like and act like people, which the game means for you to interpret to properly progress in dialogue. This all works but only to a point – the technology was a little odd even back in 2011 and there are definitely signs of age in the remaster because of how almost experimental this technology was. It makes the other facet of interrogations – choosing how to interpret witness statements – a bit of a chore, and that’s before you factor in the game’s ever-changing logic. In the original release, you had three ways to react to testimony – you could Believe it, Doubt it (if you thought the person was lying but lacked evidence) or call them out on their Lie with gathered evidence. These options exist in the remaster under new names – Good Cop, Bad Cop and Accuse. It’s less a criticism of the remaster as it is the original but it’s very misleading as to which choice is the correct one. You may think because of analyzing the testimony and reading the dialogue that you can only play Bad Cop to a statement but in reality you were supposed to Accuse them and the game wasn’t giving you a clear picture of the situation.

A remaster is ultimately a rerelease of the original game – LA Noire is served well by a fresh coat of paint in the modern gaming era, even if it’s still bogged down by its original issues.

Demon-Haunted PechaKuchas

 

Dr. Rebecca Martindale gave a PechaKucha presentation at the end to give her interpretation of the book.

On Friday December 1, Dr. Rebecca Martindale, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology, had her students present their PechaKucha presentations over the book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.

 

“When we first started these presentations, I kind of did it in the middle of the semester and Caleigh started at the beginning. She’s going to do her presentation of The Demon-Haunted World the way most students and faculty would present when they use PowerPoint Presentation,” said Dr. Martindale.

The event began with Caleigh Bailon’s traditional presentation summarizing chapter 1 of the book. She discussed the key points of the chapter and her slides were text-heavy, which is common in many traditional presentations.

“After learning the new method of presentation, it’s kind of gruesome to go back and look at something like this,” Bailon said.

Next, Philip Dorouen explained what a PechaKucha was and how they worked. PechaKuchas are presentations that follow a specific format. 20 images are shown for 20 seconds each and they advance automatically.

“They are a great creative way for students to express themselves,” he said.

The benefit to this presentation style is that it can prevent the speaker from spending too much of their time talking about one part of the presentation. They have to keep speaking to keep up with the presentation and it can shorten a lengthy topic to highlight the main points. You can visit the PechaKucha website for more information and to watch other presentations. He also played the following video for the audience to give them a visual of how this presentation method worked.

“One of the things they do is have PechaKucha nights. It was originally designed by a couple of architects who basically had this philosophy where if you give an architect a microphone, they’ll talk for hours and hours. People all around the world get together in lots of different venues and have PechaKucha nights to talk about whatever they want with this particular format,” said Dr. Martindale.

Abram Garza presented his PechaKucha to summarize chapter 3 of the book.

Abram Garza presented the first PechaKucha of the event to summarize chapter 3: The Man in the Moon and the Face on Mars. This chapter was about pseudo-science and how people tend to believe tales without proof of their validity. He used note cards to aid his presentation because this format relies on images without text. Roslyn Swofford was the last student to present and she summarized chapter 21 of the book.

Dr. Martindale ended the event with her own PechaKucha presenting her interpretation of the book. This particular method made it easier to stay engaged during the presentations. The absence of text put more focus on the presenter and what they were saying, while also providing an interesting visual. Next time you have a presentation for class, try using this method to make your presentations more fun, engaging, and interesting.

The Life of the Tennis Forehand

Deontae Harper

Everyday day I ask myself why tennis is underrated and I never could get the best conclusion. Tennis is not an easy sport to play, especially when you are playing the right way. I would like for just anybody to come out and play tennis and master the sport like Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer does. Now these guys can hit amazing shot none stop as if it was the easiest thing on earth. The way they make a forehand shot look so fantastic is phenomenal. The reason the tennis forehand shot is astonishing is because, it allows the player to maintain control over the game and their opponent, it is the most comfortable shot in tennis for most players to use when rallying during a match, and it blows your opponents’ minds with the different types of spin that you can apply to the ball.

For starters my favorite forehand shot is the running forehand shot because it allows me to apply tons more power to the ball then I would from a stable open stance forehand shot. For instance Russian tennis player Vera Zvonareva, who now holds the highest percentage of this shot in the women’s professional stats leads with only 47% out of 100, this shows the difficulty of the shot. Although I like this shot, this shot isn’t an easy shot to accomplish because, you have to keep your body balanced throughout the shot because if not you most likely will shank the ball out the court. One author explains that Vera says, “I like to use what I call a buggy whip swing with lots of upward and forward movement,” (Rolley 39).

There is a big component to the forehand shot that has a tendency to get overlooked. This component is the mental focus to hit the ball accurately, maintain control over the game and your opponent. I have the skill to do this when I choose to sometimes , but sometimes I just let my opponent get into my head and blow the match out of anger. Many people who have this skill wins outweigh the ones who have short tempers according to the stats of sports psychologist Sian Beilock: “A player who has this skill ask themselves after every point where am I going to play the next ball to either maintain or take control of the game.

Next is the comfortability of the forehand shot. Most players like to relax as much as possible when hitting this shot so that they would not mess up the shot due to tension in the body. No player like to hit a forehand that they will regret in a match because that’s usually where a player shines on the court while performing this shot. Whenever I drop a forehand into the net due to and correctable error that I mad I flat-out yell at myself for giving that point away. In comparison to my forehand shot a professional tennis players is exceptionally off the charts better than mine. Look at men’s professional tennis player Gael Monfils’ forehand, he has way more control and power than me. Gael stats that there is five basic components to the forehand shot that he uses, which are the Shoulders, Arms, Follow-through, Knees, and Feet. All these components to Gael Monfils’ forehand allows him to maximize the ultimate comfort ability that he needs to stay ahead of himself and the game. “ There’s the modern typical forehand, and there is Gael Monfils’ forehand,” says Tracy Austin.

Last but not least we have the spin to apply to the ball when striking a forehand shot. There are several different types of spin that you can apply to the ball. The common spin that most tennis players use is the basic topspin shot. A topspin shot means that you basically close the face of your racket and brush up on the backside of the ball to create that simple spin. “ I love to hit a deep topspin shot that hits the ground and takes off due to the spin which causes my opponents to struggle with their returns to this shot,” says outstanding tennis player Rafael Nadal ( Burwash 22 ). Another great spin to develop is this slice shot which simply means to cut through the ball, but at the same time push outward with the ball evenly. This also is a hard shot to hit because your timing has to be right and at the same time you must have the control to do it , but when you develop this shot you will become a much greater tennis player on both sides of the ball because this slice shot makes the ball leave the path of the opponents which plays in your favor most of the time.

In conclusion to my research over the diversity of the tennis forehand and how it enhances the positive outcome of the game, I would like to close with saying that with out the tennis forehand I think that the intensity in tennis would be taken out because only thing that’s left is the backhand and the serve. Although the backhand and the serve are big components in tennis, the forehand excels pass them because its more popular. The reason the tennis forehand shot is astonishing is because, it allows the player to maintain control over the game and their opponent, it is the most comfortable shot in tennis for most players to use when rallying during a match, and it blows your opponents mind with the several different types of spin that you can apply to the ball.

Danger: Chemical Agriculture!

Allison Hall

A problem facing modern society remains the use of chemicals in agriculture. While they provide some benefits, the negative aspects far outweigh the positive. Chemically modified agriculture poses a threat to humanity by contaminating livestock, poisoning plant life and contributing to the international phenomenon of global warming.

Modernly, farmers and livestock owners use growth hormones and other chemicals to rapidly grow animals to disperse the meat in bulk and quickly. These methods are used not only to help the animal to grow but also to bump up the speed to which they grow to profit both farmers and corporations. These chemicals pose not only a threat to the animals but also possibly to the people ingesting it. If the thought of humans ingesting excess growth hormone does not terrify you, then the idea that factories use substances such as ammonia to sterilize meats should. The real points are the idea that these animals do not get the proper treatment and care that they deserve and the ingestion of this meat could result in dangers. Most chickens raised for their meat lack the ability to walk or see by the time they are slaughtered for profit. These steroids have the capabilities of working on humans the way that it works on any other mammal. It is impossible to tell whether the hormones in the meats eaten are natural or not. According to Renu Ghandi and Suzanne M. Snedeker, authors of “Consumer Concerns about Hormones in Food”, “… it is not possible to differentiate between the hormones produced naturally by the animal and those used to treat the animal. This makes it “difficult to determine exactly how much of the hormone used for treatment remains in the meat or the milk.” This obviously raises questions, such as whether these added hormones are contributing to ailments such as cancers or obesity.

In relation to the contamination to meats, plants are suffering as well. Genetic engineering, pesticides and weed killers are being used to kill insects and weeds and enhance plant growth; however, it is being done in excess and at times not even hitting the intended target. Instead, it partakes in run-off which adds to the contamination of both water outlets and, yet again, animals. These chemicals travel from the plants to other location via rain and normal hydration methods. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring says, “… chemicals sprayed on crop lands or forests or gardens lie long in soil, entering into living organisms, passing from one to another in a chain of poisoning and death.” Not only does this harm animals, but it harms animals that, once again, humans consume. This is not the only draw back to chemicals in farming. As far as chemically modifying plants, it would have the same effect as modifying animals. These growth hormones and chemicals are present in food consumed by man. The effects may not be drastic immediately, but a slow build up is sure to be a problem.

It is no secret that the earth’s atmosphere has been altered in ways that could be both artificial as well as naturally produced. In fact, Carson wrote “The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous lethal materials.”  These chemical contaminating, pesticides in particular, contribute to global warming. They increase the carbon levels in the atmosphere which plays a hand in the rising heat levels. Carbon creates this sort of blanket that traps in heat. With no escape the rays from the sun bounce around in the earth’s atmosphere and cause rising heat levels. Yes, other things have become a problem in this regard, but in trying to fix the issue, chemical agriculture should be looked at.

In conclusion, using chemicals in our agriculture lessens the health accountability for both our animals and plants while also playing part in the demotion of atmospheric stability. It may, at this point, not be a possibility to completely outlaw the use of chemicals, but alternatives could be found and in the mean time the use of these chemicals can be lessened.

Batman vs. Superman: A Fight for Contentment

Allison Hall

 

            When you heard announcements for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, did you think ‘finally! This is the epic battle to the death that I’ve been waiting for!’? You wouldn’t be much different than other superhero movie goers. The problem is that’s not the movie. There is build up including minor squabble between the heroes but ultimately it’s a lot of Superman with a little bit of Batman who seems to be there to satisfy the title. It remains more true to the actual story line of the heroes than what it is built up to be. In the end, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is off putting due to confusing concepts and cinematography; however, it all seems drawn together by extraordinary talent.

The premise of the film is hyped to be a fight between Batman and Superman, however, the movie is more about Metropolis’ problems regarding Superman. This is probably due to the fact that the film is a sequel to Superman: Man of Steel. Regardless of whether it holds true to basic concepts of these characters, the movie should be able to stand alone. I don’t feel that it does. Batman is thrown into the film as a sort of public bystander with a narrow mentality. In hind sight, he seems to be a whiny, hyperactive brat. There’s no probable or obvious reasoning to the uninformed viewer behind the bat’s aggression. The film jumps from story line to story line and it’s hard to keep track of everything. Somewhere among what’s already been listed, the Lex Luthor story is brought in, Metropolis vs. Superman is touched on, and to further that the Justice League is alluded to. Aside from the movie being over packed, it is also very confusing in letting the audience know where they’re at in time. At some point you jump from what you’re seeing, to two months, to over a year and none of this is clear. Everything seems to be happening within a matter of days. It seems like a big mess of a prematurely popularized movie.

Another oddity is the use of the camera and scene jumps. The cuts do little for insinuating where you’ll be taken next. With the scenes so sparse and separated from the main story line it’s hard to understand and process what’s going on and relevant as well as what has actually happened and what remains to be false reality. There’s a lot of camera panning that adds on to length, dragging the movie out. Some of the camera shots seem unnecessary, such as the panning around buildings, and make the movie seem longer than it is or needs to be. It is typical for these shots to appear in superhero films, but so little seems to happen as far as action goes for prolonged periods of time, so these shots are just agonizing. At certain points it’s boring. There’s action, however, it doesn’t make up for the lengthy scenes. When you go to see a superhero movie, especially versus, you want constant head to head battle and a fast paced story line. That’s not what you get here. There is a lot of Superman feeling sorry for himself, creating a droll mood, and glimpses at an angsty Batman.

A big complaint remains to be the films acting and talent. Ben Affleck has received the most ridicule, but in reality he’s done his job. He plays Batman as a darker entity, which is nice, as apposed to the typical socially awkward Bruce Wayne. Affleck made a personal choice in characterization and I loved it. The rest of the movie is out of the ordinary, why shouldn’t the characters be? Another great talent was Jesse Eisenberg who plays Lex Luthor. In my familiarity, he plays comedic roles and here he’s portraying a deeper identity. He’s jumpy and energetic, not unlike his other roles, yet really portrays Luther as a character slowly descending into madness. Out of all things in the film, his characterization is one of the few things actually understood to be escalating.

This movie is less than satisfying when thinking of it in a new comer’s way. People unfamiliar with Superman or Batman wouldn’t have any trouble getting lost in the chaos. For the expert, this movie may be suitable, but for the average movie-only superhero fan, it is less than enjoyable.

 

Best Ever?

After an impressive championship run last June by the Golden State Warriors many fans were left wondering what’s next. That question was answered with the greatest regular season in NBA history. After starting the year off with 24 straight wins the Warriors, led by the terrific trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, they went on to go on a 73-9 record. That put them one game ahead of the of the Bulls team of 1996 that hit the 72 win-mark. So the question that is being asked now is are these Golden State Warriors the best team in NBA history.

This Warriors’ team has been better than any other team I have ever watched in my lifetime. They are made up with the best shooting backcourt the NBA has ever seen, along with a roster loaded with talent. While the NBA has been in the process of a change with the 3-point shot being more emphasized, but the Warriors’ took this to the next level. Steph Curry, the reigning MVP, is shooting better than any other player in the history of the NBA. This team has taken the passing of the San Antonio Spurs, and combined that with superior talent along with great chemistry.

The argument of the best team of all time is tough for many fans as it seems to be more about what era you watched. Many fans, and even players have had very strong arguments on this topic. One main reason this topic is tough is because both team’s posses player that are arguably the best player of their generations. One, Michael Jordan, is not as much of an argument because he was head and shoulders above all the competition he played against. Steph Curry on the other hand may not be the best player of his generation, considering the greatness of LeBron James, but he has definitely put himself into the heart of all fans today, young and old.

Besides just what player you watched and loved, there is another thing that many people like to bring up. Clearly the game has shifted in a physicality stand-point. What most arguers of the Bulls like to point out is that the Warriors could not stand up if the game was still played like it was in 90s. However, in that same breath, any fan of Steph Curry and Warriors would tell you that those Bulls would not be able to keep up with the pace, passing, and shooting of this great Golden State team.

Regardless of what team you think is better it is impossible to deny the greatness of this Warrior club. Whether they are better or not than that great Chicago Bulls’ team is impossible to tell, even though Bulls’ great, forward Scottie Pippen, was quoted saying that he thought his Bulls’ team would sweep this Warriors’ team. Either way this team has been fun to watch, and I can’t wait to see if they can repeat.