Archive for September, 2011

September 27, 2011

Nazisploitation

ilsa

Nazisploitation is a subgenre of exploitation film and sexploitation film that involves villainous Nazis committing criminal acts of a sexual nature often as camp or prison overseers in World War II settings. Most follow the standard women in prison formula, only relocated to a death camp or Nazi brothel, with an added emphasis on sadism, gore, and degradation.

The most infamous and influential title (and the one that set the standards of the genre) is perhaps ‘Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS’ (1974), a Canadian production. Its surprise success and sequels led European film makers, mostly in Italy, to produce dozens of similar films depicting Nazi atrocities. While the Ilsa series and Salon Kitty were profitable, the other films were mostly box-office flops and the genre all but vanished by the mid 1980s.

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September 27, 2011

Hypermiling

Hypermiling

Hypermiling is the act of driving using techniques that maximize fuel economy. Those who practice these techniques are referred to as ‘hypermilers.’ Hypermiling can be practiced in any vehicle regardless of its fuel economy. It gained popularity as a result of the rise in gasoline prices during the 2000s. Some hypermiling techniques are illegal in some jurisdictions because they are dangerous. Hypermiling has come under fire from several quarters due to claims of dangerous or unlawful behavior by some hypermilers, such as tailgating larger vehicles on freeways to save fuel by drafting. As a result, the Hypermiling Safety Foundation was formed in August 2008 to promote a safety and public awareness program, advocating legal fuel-saving techniques.

Hypermiling contests have been held on selected courses. The Maximum Fuel Economy contest was held in Indiana, where ‘world records’ for the Honda Insight (213 miles per gallon), Toyota Prius (136 miles per gallon) and the Ford Escape Hybrid (76 miles per gallon) were set. Contestants used techniques which included rolling through all stop signs and having the vehicle tires inflated well beyond recommended specifications. Another contest is the Tour to the Shore, held in New Jersey, which evaluates drivers of cars and trucks.

September 27, 2011

Ryan Larkin

walking

Ryan Larkin (1943 – 2007) was a Canadian animator who rose to fame with the psychedelic 1969 Oscar-nominated short ‘Walking’ and the acclaimed ‘Street Musique’ (1972). In later years Ryan was plagued by a downward spiral of drug abuse, alcoholism and homelessness, but towards the end of his life found himself back in the limelight when a 14-minute computer-animated documentary on his life, ‘Ryan’ by fellow Canadian animator, Chris Landreth, won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film and screened to acclaim at film festivals around the world. ‘Alter Egos’ (2004), directed by Laurence Green, is a documentary about the making of ‘Ryan’ that includes interviews with both Larkin and Chris Landreth as well as with various people who knew Ryan at the peak of his success.

Larkin studied under Arthur Lismer (a member of the Group of Seven, Canadian landscape painters in the 1920s) before starting to work at the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada in the early 1960s. At the NFB, Larkin learned animation techniques from the ground-breaking and award-winning animator, Norman McLaren. Larkin made two acclaimed short animated films, ‘Syrinx’ (1965) and ‘Cityscape’ (1966), before going on to create ‘Walking’ (1969). ‘Walking’ was nominated for an Academy Award in 1970 in the category Best Short Subject, Cartoon, but lost to ‘It’s Tough to Be a Bird’ by director Ward Kimball (one of Disney’s ‘Nine Old Men’). He went on to direct the award-winning short ‘Street Music,’ which premiered in 1972 and would be his last project.

September 26, 2011

Titanium Ring

Engineer's Ring

Titanium rings are jewelry rings or bands which have been primarily constructed from titanium. The actual compositions of titanium can vary, such as ‘commercial pure’ (99.2% titanium) or ‘aircraft grade’ (90% titanium). Rings crafted from titanium are a modern phenomenon, becoming widely available on the market around the 1990s.

They offer several unique properties: they are biocompatible (hypoallergenic), lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and have the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal. Titanium was discovered in England in 1791 by William Gregor.

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September 26, 2011

Real-time Ridesharing

haxi

lyft

Real-time ridesharing (also known as dynamic carpooling) is a service that arranges one-time shared rides on very short notice. This type of carpooling generally makes use of three recent technological advances: GPS navigation devices to determine a driver’s route and arrange the shared ride; Smartphones for a traveler to request a ride from wherever they happen to be; and social networks to establish trust and accountability between drivers and passengers. These elements are coordinated through a network service, which can instantaneously handle the driver payments and match rides using an optimization algorithm.

Real-time ridesharing is promoted as a way to better utilize the empty seats in most passenger cars, thus lowering fuel usage and transport costs. It can serve areas not covered by a public transit system and act as a transit feeder service. It is also capable of serving one-time trips, not only recurrent commute trips. Furthermore, it can serve to limit the volume of car traffic, thereby reducing congestion and mitigating traffic’s environmental impact.

September 26, 2011

Simulation Video Game

goat simulator

Surgeon Simulator

A simulation video game describes a diverse super-category of video games, generally designed to closely simulate aspects of a real or fictional reality. Construction and management simulation (CMS) is a subtype in which players build, expand or manage fictional communities or projects with limited resources.

Strategy games sometimes incorporate CMS aspects into their game economy, as players must manage resources while expanding their project. But pure CMS games differ from strategy games in that ‘the player’s goal is not to defeat an enemy, but to build something within the context of an ongoing process.’ Games in this category are sometimes also called ‘management games.’

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September 26, 2011

Dating Sim

tokimeki memorial

Dating sims (or dating simulations) are a video game subgenre, usually Japanese, with romantic elements. They are also sometimes put under the category of ‘neoromance.’ The most common objective of dating sims is to date, usually choosing from among several characters, and to achieve a romantic relationship. They can involve several technical elements such as a time limit, several statistics such as looks and charm which can be boosted through exercise, or an ‘attraction meter’ which can increase or decrease depending on one’s decisions.

The term dating sim is also often used incorrectly as a synonym for the visual novel genre. While the two genres often share a common visual presentation, dating sims are sometimes considered to be more statistically based than the ‘choose your own adventure’ style of visual novels.

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September 26, 2011

Bullet Hell

A ‘shoot ’em up’ is a subgenre of video games in which the player controls a lone character, often in a spacecraft or aircraft, facing large numbers of enemies while dodging their attacks. A variation arose in the early 1990s called ‘maniac shooters’ and ‘bullet hell,’ which required the player to dodge overwhelming numbers of enemy projectiles and called for still faster reactions. Bullet hell games arose from the need for 2D shoot ’em up developers to compete with the emerging popularity of 3D games: huge numbers of missiles on screen were intended to impress players. Toaplan’s ‘Batsugun’ (1993) provided the prototypical template for this new breed, with ‘Cave’ (formed by former employees of Toaplan, including ‘Batsugun’ creator Tsuneki Ikeda, after the latter company collapsed) inventing the type proper with 1995’s ‘DonPachi.’

Manic shooter games marked another point where the shoot ’em up genre began to cater to more dedicated players. Games such as ‘Gradius’ had been more difficult than ‘Space Invaders’ or ‘Xevious,’ but bullet hell games were yet more inward-looking and aimed at fans of the genre looking for greater challenges. Treasure’s shoot ’em up, ‘Radiant Silvergun’ (1998), introduced an element of narrative to the genre. It was lavished with critical acclaim for its refined design, though it was never released outside of Japan and remains a much sought after collectors’ item. Its successor ‘Ikaruga’ (2001) featured improved graphics and was again acclaimed as one of the best games in the genre. The genre has undergone something of a resurgence with the release of the Xbox 360 and Wii online services, and games like ‘Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved,’ while in Japan arcade shoot ’em ups retain a deep-rooted niche popularity.

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September 25, 2011

Fake Shemp

fake shemp by greg williams

Fake Shemp is the term for someone who appears in a film under heavy make-up, filmed from the back, or perhaps only showing an arm or a foot.

In 1955, Shemp Howard of the ‘Three Stooges’ died suddenly of a heart attack. At the time, the Stooges still had four shorts left to deliver, according to the terms of their annual contract with Columbia Pictures.

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September 25, 2011

Crocoduck

crocoduck by Anne Sauer

The term ‘crocoduck‘ was originally presented in a 2004 children’s story, ‘Guji Guji.’ The author and illustrator Chih-Yuan Chen produced the bestselling children’s story in 2004 as a modern day twist on The Ugly Duckling story in which a crocodile egg rolls into a duck’s nest and is raised in a brood of ducklings, growing up as a ‘crocoduck’ who thinks he is ‘not a bad crocodile,’ but ‘Of course, I’m not exactly a duck either.’ It was later used by creationists to claim that the absence of any half-crocodile, half-duck creature disproves evolution, an argument that quickly became a popular theme used to ridicule a common misrepresentation of the theory of evolution.

In 2007 creationists Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort participated in a televised debate, parts of which were aired on ABC Nightline, on the existence of God. Comfort says they produced composite pictures of what ‘we imagined would be genuine species-to-species transitional forms. We called one a ‘crocoduck’ and another was called a ‘birddog.’ These pictures were used to show exactly what they thought evolutionists believe, but can’t back up through the fossil record.’ Their composite picture of the imaginary ‘crocoduck’ showed the head of a crocodile on a duck’s body. However, modern species share a common ancestor, but are neither descended from each other nor from some crude composite chimera, and ducks are not descended from crocodiles.

September 25, 2011

Voyager Golden Record

explanation

The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for future humans, who may find them. As the probes are extremely small compared to the vastness of interstellar space, the probability of a space faring civilization encountering them is very small, especially since the probes will eventually stop emitting any kind of electromagnetic radiation. If they are ever found by an alien species, it will most likely be far in the future as the nearest star on Voyager 1’s trajectory will only be reached in 40,000 years. Voyager 1 passed the orbit of Pluto in 1990, and left the solar system in 2004. In 2009, it was over 16.5 billion km from the Sun and traveling at a speed of 38,000 mph.

As Carl Sagan noted, ‘The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.’ Thus the record is best seen as a time capsule or a symbolic statement rather than a serious attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life. The inscription, by President Jimmy Carter, reads: ‘This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.’

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September 25, 2011

Echoes

meddle

Echoes‘ is a song by Pink Floyd including lengthy instrumental passages, sound effects, and musical improvisation. Written in 1970 by all four members of the group (credited as Roger Waters, Richard Wright, Nick Mason, David Gilmour on the original release), ‘Echoes’ provides the extended finale to Pink Floyd’s album ‘Meddle.’ The track has a running time of 23:31 and takes up the entire second side of the vinyl recording.

The composition uses many progressive and unconventional musical effects. The ping sound heard at the beginning of the song was created as the result of an experiment at the very beginning of the Meddle sessions. It was produced through amplifying a grand piano and sending the signal through a Leslie rotating speaker. At six minutes in, a funk progression in the tonic minor begins. Gilmour used the slide for certain sound effects on the studio recording.

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