Daily Archives: March 2, 2014

Headlines from around the world: 3/3/14

A federal judge in San Antonio has ruled that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize the validity of out-of-state same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia writes in his ruling, “Regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states and remains so today, However, any state law involving marriage or any other protected interest must comply with the United States Constitution. ” The two bans will, however, remain in effect for the time being as the judge has issued a stay until the issue is resolved by a higher court.

AMS Colloquium: “Fast Solvers” and partial differential equations

As applications of partial differential equations have advanced in recent times, so too have the size and complexity of the equations involved. This has led to a growing demand for solving techniques that can be implemented to quickly and efficiently find solutions and solution sets to these equations. It is no surprise, then, that this growing demand has led to a growing field of finding these “fast solvers”, and some recent work in this field was the topic of this week’s installment of the AMS department’s colloquia series.

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Thor: The Dark World – A Nontraditional Superhero Movie

Most critics’ and many viewers’ response to “Thor 2: The Dark World” was ambivalent. The general consensus seems to be that the Thor franchise is weaker than those of the other Marvel heroes, that the movies are entertaining but nothing to write home about. Instead, people rave about “The Avengers.” “The Avengers” was fairly standard comic book fare: a team of superheroes bands together to save the world from a looming menace of epic proportions, learning how to get along in the process. Neither “Thor” nor “Thor 2” boasts a particularly divergent plot from this formula (looming menace, save the world, etc). Yet both of these movies – and especially the second one – stand apart from, and above, the rest of the Marvel canon. The reason for this is not anything novel in the twists and turns of the plot, but in the characterization of the villain, Loki, and in the female characters of the franchise, most notably Jane, played by Natalie Portman, and her sidekick, an unpaid intern named Darcy.

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Professional graphics cards on a student’s budget

Professional graphics cards exist to fill a lucrative niche market. Professional software – like SolidWorks or ANSYS Fluent – and the time of the engineers using this software is extremely expensive. Companies that have spent a minimum of $5,000 on a single seat license for a professional program are willing to pay drastically increased hardware costs to maximize the productivity of their engineers. Professional graphics cards do this by carefully optimizing their drivers for specific programs and workloads. If your sole interest in graphics cards is pumping out higher framerates in Quake or Doom (or whatever kids are playing these days), these cards are not for you. If you are more interested in getting the most out of SolidWorks, you may want to consider a professional card.

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Phantom of Paradise

“Phantom of the Paradise” is a 1974 musical written and directed by Brian De Palma; stars Paul Williams, William Finley, and Jessica Harper; and the soundtrack was done by Paul Williams. The film is a loosely adapted mixture of “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Faust,” and “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” Despite having been a heavily panned commercial failure when it was released, it has been revived through a heavy cult following and currently has a 94% Fresh rating on review site rottentomatoes.com. It is currently available for stream through Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, as well as the numerous re-releases on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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NSBE Cultural Festival

The NSBE Cultural Festival displayed both African and African-American customs and traditions in a fun and enriching celebration of culture and history. The festivities facilitated cultural celebration and blending through sharing traditional foods, performances, and dancing. The evening began with NSBE hosts providing attendees with foods such as moinmoin, efo, jollof rice, beans, chopped barbeque pork, and beef and chicken turned in Nigerian stew. While eating their fill and admiring the decorations, the audience was treated to a performance by a four-member, soulful jazz band by the name of JoFoke aNem. After the band, the NSBE brought slam poets Mahogany and Niyah from Slam Nuba to the stage to recite some powerful poetry ranging in topic from discussions of slam poetry and what it meant to each of the poets, to stories about life and personal struggles, to culture appropriation, to the bonds of family and humanity in general. Afterwords, the Ujamaa Dance Collective finished the night with a high-energy return to music through their performance with African drums.

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Game Review: Depression Quest

“Depression Quest.” What kind of a game is this?!? There are no guns, no cars, no explosions, no air strikes, no invincibility mods, and heck, there are barely any graphics! In fact, the graphics are only just random pictures that pop up sometimes alongside the text that makes up the entirety of the interactive portion of the game. The whole thing is just a boring story about an average guy going about his day-to-day life and he never gets any superpowers or becomes an unlikely hero or finds out he is the Chosen One. He just eats, sleeps, goes to work, and does boring stuff in between. Who thinks that stuff is fun? Even old-school text-based adventures had more enemies than this stupid thing. The fact that the developers of this piece of garbage have the nerve to call it a game in a day and age where awesome titles like “Call of Duty,” “Battlefield,” “Skyrim,” and anything with Batman’s name on it rule the industry is an insult to everything that is awesome about gaming.

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