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Nov 2011 16

Blackboards In Porn is a highly amusing site that claims to celebrate “pornographers who go the extra mile when set dressing classroom porn and actually write something on the blackboard.”

Its anonymous but obviously British editor and webmaster, who we’re reliably informed has a BEng in Electronic Engineering and an MA in Screenwriting, focuses his or her considerable analytical and creative skills on the equations, diagrams, and notations drawn on said boards, checking for accuracy and scouring for greater meaning.

Though not a porn site ourselves (we like to think we’re naughty but not nasty, and pinup rather than pornography), we thought it’d be fun to set BiP some homework. Thus we challenged ’em to set their logical prowess loose on the chalk boards of SuicideGirls. Here’s what BiP came up with while checking out Nina Suicide’s Back To School photo essay…

WORK HARD AND DO YOUR BEST

Lessons in Life – universal
Computer Science – A-level/undergraduate level

There can be few better exhortations to students than this. Working hard and doing one’s best will always produce the finest possible results, either in the classroom or on the playing field. After any exam or sporting challenge there is no failure if one can say afterwards “I did my best.” (England footballers please take note.)

A game of Noughts and Crosses is underway on the blackboard. If this has been done by a student then it should have been rubbed off immediately (see post #9 re Wilson and Kelling’s broken windows theory). But if this is actually part of the lesson then a gold star should be awarded as Noughts and Crosses is a great introduction to many mathematical and computer science concepts from combinations and symmetry to artificial intelligence.

A first question to pose to the class would be how many games of Noughts and Crosses are possible (the game tree size)? A naive answer would be 9! = 362,880 (assuming X always goes first). However, many games will be over before all the squares are filled, and many more are simply rotations and reflections of others (in effect there are not nine, but only three starting places: corner, centre and edge). Taking these into account gives an answer of 26,830.

Devising an algorithm to produce perfect play is also a favorite challenge, exploring ideas such as backwards reasoning and recursion. These can then be applied to other, more complex games such as Connect 4 and draughts, through to unsolved games such as Reversi, chess and Go (with its game tree complexity of 10360).

However, if this is an attempt to teach the strategy of perfect play then one must hope that the teacher has picked a very poorly played game to illustrate what not to do. Assuming that X’s first move was in the corner (always the best start: of the then 73 possible games, assuming perfect play on X’s part, 71 result in victory and two in a draw), then O has immediately blundered by playing the far edge instead of the centre (where his/her only hope of a draw can come from), resulting in what should be certain victory for X. X could then force a win by playing the centre, but has him/herself blundered by playing middle bottom. O can now snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat by playing centre or top right, leaving X to harp on about how the Wags should have been allowed to stay in the team hotel.

Despites its pedagogical pedigree, Noughts and Crosses quickly becomes futile when both players can easily force a draw. This was well-illustrated in WarGames, when the military supercomputer, equating the game to global thermonuclear war, evaluated all possible outcomes and remarked, “Strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” Failing that, just work hard and do your best.

8/10 An inspired choice of teaching material.

Visit blackboardsinporn.blogspot.com/ for more case studies on mathematics as featured in erotica.

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Nov 2011 16

by A.J. Focht

The internet exploded early Monday morning when Variety announced that David Yates, director of the final four Harry Potter films, was “teaming up with the BBC to turn its iconic sci-fi series Doctor Who into a bigscreen franchise.” The only problem with this was the BBC didn’t even know about it. A tweet from the BBC’s official Doctor Who Magazine said:

To those hearing Doctor Who movie rumours, it’s just the same rumours which have been going round for years. Nothing’s currently happening!

So for those of you who were hoping that the Doctor would finally make it to the big screen, it looks like you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Still, Yates seemed rather adamant; maybe something will come of it.

Thor director Keneth Branagh has revealed his reasoning for not returning to Thor 2. Turns out it was simply an issue of timing. Branagh didn’t have time to get back into the project quickly like Marvel needed. He also generously noted that he, along with many others, is excited about the new director Patty Jenkins.

The first previews from Middle Earth will likely hit this December. According to Andy Serkis (Gollum), the first trailers for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey should be in theatres this holiday season.

In a recent interview with TV Guide, Bruce Campbell talked about the decision to cut the role of Ash from the new Evil Dead. Campbell said that while the decision pissed many off, ultimately, they decided it was best not to run a direct parallel to the character, even though this is a remake. Campbell also notes that he wouldn’t have wanted to put any actor in that position, and I don’t blame him. Following in the footsteps of Campbell in his most famous roll would be rather daunting.

DC heroes aren’t just storming the comic stores, Cartoon Network is adding a block program called DC Nation that will feature several DC cartoons. During the sneak peek to the new Green Lantern animated series, Cartoon Network aired a teaser for the block program. It looks like many of the classic heroes, as well as some new ones, will be featured in the segment.

Geek news has been a bit lacking this past week. It might be because everyone has been stuck inside playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The newest game in the COD franchise broke its own record selling more than 6.5 million units in less than 24 hours. While the game might have been the best seller, it wasn’t the only major game released this week; it was also competing with The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Assassins Creed Revelations.

Modern Warfare 3 is getting the sales, but it is one of lowest ranked games of the month generally pulling 8/10 and ‘B’ ratings. Batman: Arkham City, Skyrim, and Assassins Creed have been pulling in higher 9/10 and ‘A’ ratings. All of these games are likely to land one Game of the Year prize or another, although Skyrim and Arkham City have managed the highest reviews.

The Xbox 360 is the oldest system of the current generation on the market. After six years on the shelf, everyone is wondering when it will get a replaced for real and not just upgraded with accessories like the Kinect. That time might be closer than you think. New rumors report the next Xbox will be called the Loop. Those who claim to have the inside scoop say the system is smaller and cheaper than the current Xbox system, yet more powerful and next generation. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes of these rumors.

Finally, the final episode of Dragon Age Redemption starring Felicia Day is now live. For those who haven’t been following, it is an excellent web series based in the Dragon Age universe. If you haven’t tuned in, now is your chance to watch all of the episodes without the week wait in-between.

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Nov 2011 11

by Steven-Elliot Altman (SG Member: Steven_Altman)

Our Fiction Friday serialized novel, The Killswitch Review, is a futuristic murder mystery with killer sociopolitical commentary (and some of the best sex scenes we’ve ever read!). Written by bestselling sci-fi author Steven-Elliot Altman (with Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse), it offers a terrifying postmodern vision in the tradition of Blade Runner and Brave New World

By the year 2156, stem cell therapy has triumphed over aging and disease, extending the human lifespan indefinitely. But only for those who have achieved Conscientious Citizen Status. To combat overpopulation, the U.S. has sealed its borders, instituted compulsory contraception and a strict one child per couple policy for those who are permitted to breed, and made technology-assisted suicide readily available. But in a world where the old can remain vital forever, America’s youth have little hope of prosperity.

Jason Haggerty is an investigator for Black Buttons Inc, the government agency responsible for dispensing personal handheld Kevorkian devices, which afford the only legal form of suicide. An armed “Killswitch” monitors and records a citizen’s final moments — up to the point where they press a button and peacefully die. Post-press review agents — “button collectors” — are dispatched to review and judge these final recordings to rule out foul play.

When three teens stage an illegal public suicide, Haggerty suspects their deaths may have been murders. Now his race is on to uncover proof and prevent a nationwide epidemic of copycat suicides. Trouble is, for the first time in history, an entire generation might just decide they’re better off dead.

(Catch up with the previous installments of Killswitch – see links below – then continue reading after the jump…)

[..]

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Nov 2011 09

by A.J. Focht

Even the prequels are getting sequels. British actor Jason Flemyng who played Azazel in X-Men: First Class has said that a follow-up could soon be in the works. First Class was a surprisingly good addition to the franchise; hopefully tacking another one in won’t kill the series on a bad note.

Iron Man 3 is being shot in Wilmington, North Carolina. If you want to make the trip out there (or are lucky enough to live nearby), you can register to try and be one of thousands of extras needed for the shooting.

Over the last few weeks, dozens of set pictures and several videos from the shooting of The Dark Knight Rises have been leaked – see roundup here. A couple of major spoiler could be contained, including a characters death scene.

Not everyone is convinced that the Metropolis project is happening. For those of us still holding out hope, the Metropolis IMDb page now lists Joe Davola and Alfred Gough as the executive producers; Gough being one of the original creators of Smallville.

On the comic front, DC Comics continues to dominate. The New 52 has really paid off as DC pulled in over 50% of all comic sales last month.

J.J. Abrams reportedly is after Benicio Del Toro to play the roll of the villain in the up coming Star Trek 2. No one is quite sure who the main villain will be. Theories range from the return of Khan to the Klingon’s and everything in between. The last movie created an entire new timeline so the possibilities are endless.

We’ve known that there were plans to another Blade Runner film; Ridley Scott says the project is likely to be a direct sequel. Scott also said that the project is quite a ways along, and they are close to finding a writer.

Reports from Middle Earth have been scarce lately. Last week, Peter Jackson and the crew released the new video blog. The video covers the finer points of shooting The Hobit in 3D, with several on set shots. The first part of The Hobbit is set for release holiday 2012.

Do you want to forever immortalize yourself in the Whedon-verse? Well, if you’ll settle for a walk on role, this could be your chance. A walk on role in Whedon’s next project, In Your Eyes, is being auctioned on eBay. At the time of this writing, the bidding is up to $2,550. So how bad do you want it? Oh, and did I mention the proceeds go to The Adrienne Shelly Foundation.

Sad news from the land of Oz. Bruce Campbell’s cameo scene has been cut. Bruce tweeted that such things happen in epic flicks, and that there were no hard feelings toward Sam Raimi.

Barnes & Noble has revealed their tablet, complete with Marvel comics. As if almost in response to the Kindle Fire’s deal with DC, Barnes & Noble has released their own tablet featuring several of Marvels comics. The tablet is starting at $249 and is available on November 18.

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Nov 2011 09

by Mentalrage

Arkham Asylum pretty much set the standard for how good a game based on a comic book character and the world they inhabit could be. Previously, game’s based on comics were generally speaking either ill thought out, poorly executed, hurriedly produced tie-in’s with film properties or otherwise underwhelming and insulting to fans of both good games and the comics they were based on with very few exceptions.

Developer Rocksteady at that point had only produced the distinctly average Urban Chaos. Which made both their treatment of the Batman universe and it’s polished presentation and execution in Arkham Asylum all the more surprising.

Now the much-anticipated follow up Arkham City is upon us.

Simply put, Rocksteady has defined how to produce a follow up to a successful game. It builds on everything featured in the previous game, tweaking things here and there as well as adding plenty of new elements. Arkham City is an almost perfect example of digital alchemy, balancing deep lore that Bat fans will appreciate, but not to the extent that it will drive away gamers unfamiliar with the intricacies of Gotham City.

Arkham City finds a section of Gotham City partitioned off and transformed into a vast penal colony overseen by mysterious psychiatrist Hugo Strange. Bruce Wayne soon finds himself incarcerated in Arkham City for speaking out against Strange and it’s down to the Dark Knight to figure out what Strange is really up to and what “Protocol 10” is.

Chances are, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few decades, you’ll be familiar with at least some of the numerous villains that make up the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery (which is arguably the best in comics). Rocksteady has once again produced some great character designs with the Penguin re-imagined as a sadistic, eccentric Cockney wide-boy being just one of them. You can also look forward to seeing Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, The Joker, and Solomon Grundy, to name but a few, and that’s just the main story, there are side missions involving Bane, Mr. Zsasz, and The Riddler, plus additional Catwoman story missions which intertwine with the main story (her design is heavily influenced by Adam Hughes iconic take on the character).

The presentation all round is slick and highly polished. The Arkham facility which you find yourself in, with its array of buildings and alleyways, really feels like part of a city. It’s a gothic delight that’s equal parts urban decay and neon excess. These aren’t just random buildings either, Bat fans will pick up on numerous things like the building you first suit up as Batman in being Ace Chemicals. The voice acting is universally excellent with Kevin Conroy once again being a solid Dark Knight and Mark Hamil putting in another sublime performance as The Joker.

Unlike its predecessor you have a vast area that you’re free to explore open world style after the opening scenes. Gliding and grappling your way across the myriad of rooftops and perching upon a gargoyle before listening to a bunch of thugs debate whether crossing Two-Face or The Joker is worse before dropping out of the night sky and taking them all out is a thing of beauty it has to be said. If you’re so inclined you can actually spend a considerable amount of time just exploring before even starting any missions.

The downside of this new open world approach is Arkham City doesn’t have the claustrophobic story driven narrative of its predecessor, the varied selection of villains are battling each other for both territory and screen time it seems. Though I don’t think –– as impressive as Batman’s rogues gallery is –– there are many characters that would support a full story like The Joker, so in this regard Rocksteady has made a wise move.

To aid your navigation around Arkham City, Batman now has a divebomb move which can be used either as an offensive maneuver (once you’ve got the necessary upgrade) or can be used to gain height and speed by pulling up at the last minute before soaring into the night sky. Another addition is the line launcher, an adaptation to the Batclaw which enables you to travel horizontally between buildings and can even be fired mid flight to travel around corners.

Combat in Arkham City is built around the same mechanics as the previous game, but things have been tightened up with new options thrown into the mix too. Now you can use the numerous gadgets at your disposal in the midst of a fight easier. Watching a hammer wielding goon take out half his own men after being hit by the Remote Electronic Charge (a new addition) never gets old. Counter moves are a big factor in combat and learning the timing will literally save your life. Arkham City thugs aren’t completely brain dead either, they will team up on you and not just form an orderly queue while you take them out. Also if another gang of thugs is witness to your brawling, they’ll come steaming down the street and join the fray. This can result in facing a literal horde of bad guys where you can really show off your combat prowess.

One of the best things about combat in Arkham City is it doesn’t fall into the all too familiar problem of tedious repetition. Performing the same few moves over and over can quickly go from exhilarating fun to boring chore in a combat oriented game. Thankfully the combat here is influenced by your surroundings, find yourself up against a wall facing a mob of goons, and your counters will take this into account with Batman slamming faces into said wall until you move away from it.

Stealth quite rightly is also an important part of surviving in Arkham City. Even the Dark Knight isn’t invincible, so taking on tooled up goons head on will just lead to a quick demise. Vantage points are key and so is patience. Learning patrol patterns and picking your moment to strike before disappearing into the shadows will lead to goons freaking out and firing at shadows, which will lead to an intimidation experience bonus when you clear the area. If things do go a bit awry you can employ a new smoke bomb to cover your escape.

It’s not quite as easy this time around though, with goons later in the game sporting some hi-tech gear. For example they’re equipped with thermal imaging headsets which make you visible even if you’re hiding in the shadows, and have signal jammers which screw with your Detective Mode, meaning you have no access to the usual readouts on enemies in the vicinity.

Experience will allow you to level up where you can upgrade your Batsuit and gadgets, and learn new special combat techniques, amongst other things.

As for the Catwoman missions I mentioned earlier, they’re just as well executed. In fact they’re so good you’ll find yourself wishing there were more of them. Navigating Arkham City as Catwoman is a completely different experience as you utilize her whip and pounce from rooftop to rooftop or scale larger buildings in stages. Combat is different too. Catwoman is faster, but takes more of a beating if a goon connects. Her combat style is similar to Batman’s but the counters and stealth takedowns (dropping down off the ceiling for one) are more graceful and acrobatic in their approach and there’s a different set of gadgets to have fun with. I think Rocksteady may have gone a little overboard on sexing up Catwoman, I don’t think her catsuit needs to be zipped down quite that far to be sexy.

There’s plenty of other little details like Batman’s Batsuit taking damage as you progress, radio communications with both Alfred (with his trademark subtle dry humor) and Oracle. And listening to Penguin or Joker berate their goons as you take them out is highly amusing in a twisted way. “Batman’s never killed anyone but that doesn’t mean he won’t start with you,” quips The Joker.

Added to all that, there’s Riddler trophies to find, challenges to complete, and did I mention you get to punch a shark and can hitch a ride on a helicopter?

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Nov 2011 08

By Nicole Powers

“It takes a lot of electricity to turn black crude oil into gasoline.”
– Chris Paine

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, General Motors’ EV1s were the Apple Macs of cars. Ahead of their time, they were only driven by an enlightened “different” thinking few, but those that did felt passionately about their high tech machines.

A fully electric plug-in vehicle with a range of between 70 and 140 miles depending on model, the EV1 was first introduced into the marketplace in 1996. Available in limited test markets on a closed lease-only basis (whereby no actual purchase was allowed), it was developed by General Motors partly in response to the California Air Resources Board’s requirement that the seven major auto companies in the US had to make at least 2% of their output zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 1998 in order to sell any cars within the state (with further graduated steps stipulated up to 10% in 2003).

Though grudgingly produced by General Motors, the vehicle was beloved by the few consumers lucky enough to rise to the top of the company’s reportedly vast waiting list. But it was likely a car that was never intended to succeed. General Motors seemingly put more effort into fighting the CARB mandate in court than meeting existing demand for vehicles or marketing the EV1 to create even more. It was therefore not uncoincidental that the demise of the EV1 occurred in tandem with the gutting of CARB’s ZEV rules. The EV1 program was officially cancelled in 2003, and a total recall was put in motion, with repossessed cars being not only compacted but shredded for good measure too.

A 2006 documentary, Who Killed The Electric Car, chronicled the crushing demise of this groundbreaking car. In it filmmaker Chris Paine highlighted the collusion of the auto industry, oil companies, and politicians, who all had a vested interest in seeing the electric vehicle die an untimely death alongside CARB’s environmentally prudent directives. Catching the zeitgeist, Who Killed The Electric was the third highest grossing documentary that year (Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth being the first).

However, a decade after General Motors presided over the funeral of the EV1, the killing of the vehicle has proven to be a costly mistake. With gas prices rising, Toyota filled the rapidly increasing fuel-efficient void with their hybrid Prius, which went on sale in Japan in 1997. Following its worldwide debut in 2001, Toyota have sold over a million Prius cars in the US alone, and the rest of the auto industry has been scrabbling to catch up.

With revenge being served on a platter less than a decade on, Paine and his documentary team were compelled to reexamine the fortunes of the electric vehicle in a follow up film. The first had centered on activists working from outside the industry, with this film Paine chose to follow a diverse group of instigators working from within. Revenge Of The Electric Car therefore features four EV evangelists (some of whom were more recently converted than others) who are attempting to drive the future of the automobile into the present: Bob Lutz (General Motors’ Vice Chairman up until May 2010), Elon Musk (Tesla Motors’s CEO), Carlos Ghosn (Nissan’s President and CEO), and Greg “Gadget” Abbot (a DIY electric engine retro-fitter).

SuicideGirls recently visited Paine at his ultra green home to talk about his cinematic “I told you so” and the electric awakening of a sluggish car industry that was in need of a shock. After checking out the 2008 Tesla Roadster parked in Paine’s garage, the irony was not lost that we were conversing about, and anticipating the dominance of, the gas-free vehicle in the heart of LA’s oil country amidst the pumpjack nodding donkeys of Baldwin Hills.

Read our exclusive interview with Chris Paine on SuicideGirls.com.

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Nov 2011 07

by ExAddict

The first four were tight. Real tight.

It’s a late night sometime during the ‘90s at any one of the millions of households, college dorms and computer labs across the planet…Productivity is at an absolute standstill because much caffeine, Doritos, freewill and time have been surrendered to what was simply put, the greatest game ever.

Fast forward to today and an entire generation of gamers await the next chapter in the series. But like the adventures of Duke Nukem before it, this one may end up stuck in the design stages for a vaporware eternity.

The game was SimCity. Or should I say SimFuckinCity. The ingenious city building and urban planning series created by software company Maxis and designer Will Wright. Sadly, since January 14th, 2003 – the release date of the last true SimCity title – the series has been dead in the water.

Sure there have been newer interpretations and incarnations of the Sim brand, especially since the 1997 acquisition of Maxis by the giant gaming conglomerate Electronic Arts. Despite SimCity’s incredible sales success and cult following, gamers have been crying for the next edition for close to nine years. Yes, believe it or not, it’s been almost nine years since SimCity 4.

So what happened? Mainly, a ton of platforms, iPad this. Nintendo 3DS that. While the original SimCity and it’s four true sequels (SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000 and Sim City 4) kicked serious ass on PC and Mac for fifteen years, the arrival of powerful handheld gaming systems, and later the iPhone and tablets have meant a new audience for an old standard. Afterall, as the piss-poor Duke Nukem Forever proved having tempted fans for 15 years, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Thus a legion of first-time gamers and business users going portable are spending countless hours creating and exploring exciting and worthwhile cities in an essentially unchanged gaming environment. Recent releases of SimCity have been based mostly on SimCity 3000, a.k.a. the crown jewel of the Maxis empire, released in 1999.

Something deep within the development teams of Electronic Arts must be clinging to the assumption that good code can always be recycled. While recent remixed versions and deluxe editions of the best of the series stand to bring a flood of fans to this legendary world-creator, we still don’t have what we want – SimCity 5.

Some might be asking, what about The Sims? Isn’t that a logical sequel to the brand? Nope, not even close. Even though The Sims, Spore, SimEarth, SimFarm, SimTown, Streets of SimCity, SimCopter, SimAnt, SimLife, SimIsle, SimTower, SimSafari, and SimPark all offer the Will Wright brand of world-building and exercises in environmental simulation, nothing beats the very first time your city comes alive, the moment you power up the transformer to bring electricity to your city. And many of us have hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of game time to prove it

Besides, although The Sims is in fact the highest selling video game of all time, the engineers and architects hidden inside all of us clamor for a return to world-building, not romantic plot-lines involving debates over purchasing a new couch and nonsense gibberish conversations with neighbors. For that, we have reality.

And then there’s the matter of Civilization.

First released in 1991, Civilization 1 through 5 have consistently offered a new and expanding universe for fans of extended (and time-consuming) adventures that revolve around the gamer playing the role of deity. The last Civ title was released in September 2010 and for some hardcore players, a new PC or Mac chapter of Civilization often means a complete upgrade in system hardware.

Will SimCity 5 ever see the light of day? Hard to tell. In 2007, EA released SimCity Societies, billed by some as the theoretical next sequel, but not a true SimCity 5. A review in two words: It sucked. Focusing far too much on being a bastard hybrid of both The Sims and a childish version of SimCity 4, SimCity Societies left a bad taste in many mouths.

Core to the reason why we may never see another worthwhile installment of this gaming classic, designer Maxis let the series design rights slip to Tilted Mill Entertainment, so they could concentrate on EA’s Spore, an underwhelming creature-builder also inspired by Will Wright.

If it ever is to see a real release, SimCity 5 may be born through the decision in 2008 by Maxis to release the SimCity source code under a free software license. If there’s one thing the free software community knows how to do, it’s fork the fuck out of original code.

If the fifth chapter in the book of SimCity is to be written, it might be authored by a fifty-six year old Senegalese crop worker or a banker riding the subway booting Ubuntu.

Maybe it’ll be worth the wait.

Other recent gaming notes…

* Will the Angry Birds movie threaten to score big box office or go down as yet another example in the long history of video game to big screen adaptations that have totally flopped? * Ever since my Xbox 360 surrendered to the red ring of death, I’ve been putting off investing any more money in Microsoft for this generation of gaming. But Battlefield 3 (from EA) just dropped and may change all that for me. I’m sick of waiting for a PS4. * WWE ’12 (from THQ) for PS3, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360. Demolition and the Legion of Doom have been added as legends and I can see myself picking this up for the deepest Create-A-Character mode in the history of gaming. Throw in Brock Lesnar and the return of the F5 and my dollars are done.

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