Source Code: an enigmatic mind trip

“It’s quantum mechanics, parabolic calculus. It’s…it’s very complicated,” says one character from the movie. Fancy mathematical words aside, director Duncan Jones and writer Ben Ripley’s enigmatic thriller meets sciencefiction mystery, Source Code, is nothing less than complicated. The audience is literally thrown into the story, chaos and confusion intact, surrounding military helicopter pilot Colter Stevens, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Stevens essentially wakes up in someone else’s body, history teacher Sean Fentress, on a commuter train bound for downtown Chicago. Sitting across from him is the enchanting Christina Warren, played by Michelle Monaghan. Stevens, along with audience, is given no explanation to his situation or how he came to be literally in Fentress’s life. Before he can explore much more into his predicament, a bomb explodes on the train, and the life of Stevens in Fentress ends. But Stevens wakes up again, this time in some capsule of sorts, being hailed on a computer monitor by “Beleaguered Castle.”  It is there that, through the help of Colleen Goodwin, played by Vera Farmiga, Stevens overcomes his confusion and realizes his goal – through some trick of fringe mathematics and physics, called the “source code,” Stevens is able to enter the life of Fentress for the last eight minutes of his life. In that allotted time, Stevens must find the bomb that destroyed the train and discover the identity of the bomber. The inventor and developer of the source code, Dr. Rutledge, played by Jeffrey Wright, explains  the mechanics of source code as “complicated” – namely, Stevens creates an alternate reality whenever he enters the life of Fentress via the source code. Basically, nothing Stevens does on the train will affect his own reality, where the train has already been destroyed and everyone on it killed. Though Colter enters the life of Fentress multiple times, each and every time is different, firmly keeping the audience enthralled, and preventing the plot from becoming repetitive and the audience from discovering any plot holes. Viewers are privy to the same information that Colter has been given, and join him in deciphering the mystery surrounding his own situation: Goodwin tells Colter that he has been with Beleaguered Castle for two months, but Colter has no recollection of that time. In masterful style, director and writer duo Jones and Ripley bring the story to a gut-wrenching climax with the lives of Colter and everyone else on the train hanging in the balance. All in all, Source Code deserves at least one viewing, if not many more...

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U.N. stands back as southern Sudan fights for its freedom

A nation that has been at war for more than 50 years may finally see an end to its conflict. That was what many believed when southern Sudanese voters agreed almost unanimously Jan. 9 to secede. The north’s National Congress Party (NCP) immediately accepted the referendum when results came in Feb. 7. The new nation, the Republic of South Sudan, will come into existence July 9. Southern President Salva Kiir counseled his people to avoid pre-emptive celebration of the secession, demonstrating considerable wisdom in his caution, for it would be almost six months before his people would experience      independence. And South Sudan is finding that freedom from the rest of Sudan comes at a great cost. The Sudanese people have been separated for some time, with basically one government in the north and one in the south, with conflict between the two peoples having begun even before Great Britain granted them complete autonomy in 1956. Generally, the northern Sudanese people hold strongly to Islamic beliefs, while the southern people have a mixture of Christian and animistic beliefs. This difference in belief is one of the driving factors in the south’s decision to secede. Another is the northern government’s practice of eradicating entire people groups of different belief systems or tribes, both directly and indirectly. The Darfur incident is a prime example, and the north’s reign of terror may not be over. Only two months have passed since the voters decided to secede peacefully. Within a month, the ceasefire between the two nations crumbled, caused by uprisings of militant groups in South Sudan. The causes for the uprisings vary. Many are led by new rebels or northern-aligned commanders. George Athor, a former deputy chief of staff of the southern army, appears to be the main perpetrator of insurgency, having rebelled last year after losing a gubernatorial election. Still other conflicts seem to be motivated by local grievances, such as land disputes between neighboring tribes. Whatever the reasons, the “peaceful” secession has turned to bloody revolution. The south broke off talks with the north March 13, accusing them of conspiring to overthrow the south and of arming southern militias. Now, the NCP’s immediate “acceptance” of the secession referendum has become             questionable. Officially, the northern government is willing to allow the south to secede. Unofficially, it seems that the northern government has no plans to allow their southern counterpart to secede without difficulty, further prolonging a 50-year conflict that was on the verge of resolution. Although the north Sudan’s President Omar el-Bashir has been charged with crimes against humanity relating to the Darfur incident,...

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New depth for younger athletes
Mar08

New depth for younger athletes

The men and women’s tennis teams won their way into last year’s conference tournament. This year, the Cru is back and working to do even better. “If we place first in the West Division, we can host the conference tournament here,” senior psychology major Megan Aarhus said. “My hope is to win it here, on our own turf.” The teams are in full-swing of their spring seasons. “We’ve been training since we started school back in the fall, but now is the time we have to let our hard work shine,” junior sport management major Josh Pownall said. Both the men’s and women’s teams have already played and defeated the University of the Ozarks, Southwestern University and LeTourneau University. The Lady Cru also played Trinity University on Friday but lost the confrontation 2-7. “We played really well and were ahead 2-1 after doubles.   A lot of the singles matches were really close, but they were tougher than the other teams we’ve played so far,” senior exercise sport science major Rebecca Everett said. Everett said that the women’s team has more players this year than last. “We have 10 girls this year. It’s good because it makes us work harder to earn our spot to play in the top six,” Everett said. The men’s team has proved itself victorious thus far in the season, with the beginning of conference matches just around the corner. “So far, we’ve played well enough to win, but we are going to have to keep getting better to beat our toughest competition in the conference,” Pownall said. His teammate and doubles partner, senior exercise sport science major Daniel White, is in agreement. “Our schedule gets harder from now on,” he said. White said he hopes to help the team the rest of the season by continuing to play doubles at a high level while also improving his singles play. Pownall said that this year’s team has several freshmen who changed the overall dynamic of the team. “The freshmen are only going to get better,” he said. Aarhus sees a similar trend among the Lady Cru. “The teams are younger this year, but overall, we are better than last year,” Aarhus said. “We have more depth in our line-ups.” So what’s next for the men’s and women’s tennis teams? The Cru play in their next three mathces in Belton on March 10, 11 and 23 at the Yvonne Li Tennis Center. To reach their conference dreams this season, Everett said the team needs to take every practice seriously. “I feel we need to stay focused on our training and work hard every time we step on...

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The Wise Man’s Fear: Journey of a hero

Good things come to those who wait. At least, that’s what readers of Patrick Rothfuss’ latest installment in his Kingkiller Chronicles hope to be true. The Wise Man’s Fear comes out nearly four years after the first book in the series, The Name of the Wind, which became a New York Times best-seller. The last book in the trilogy is yet unnamed and has no release date as of now. Rothfuss’ chronicles are about the biography of Kvothe, an adventurer, arcanist and famous musician. The plot is essentially divided into two different action threads: the present, where Kvothe tells the story of his life to Devan Lochees (known as the Chronicler) and Kvothe’s past where most of the story is located. Rothfuss has been keeping his readers and fans updated via his blog. In a post Jan. 17, 2008, just a year after the publication of the first book, Rothfuss announced a delay in the next installment’s release. He ardently apologized, writing, “I’m sorry. We were sure we could have book two out in a year, but it just wasn’t the case ….Book two has been delayed. It was unavoidable, and I am sorry.” Rothfuss explained several reasons for the delay of the book’s release. Rothfuss clarified, “There’s a HUGE difference between a story that’s finished, and one that is polished, revised, and refined into something really, really good.” Rothfuss’s trilogy was originally written in one large book, thus the books were essentially “finished” long ago. “They had a beginning, a middle, and an ending. They probably could have been published, and people would have liked them fairly well, but they would not have been the best book possible,” he said. “And that’s what I want to write for you …. I want to give you a great book. A book that is as perfect as I can possibly make it. I want you to read it and laugh, and cry and be horrified.” In the second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of becoming the hero and learns how hard it is to become a legend in his time. An escalating rivalry with a powerful member of nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University, a place of higher learning and where many people come to study. Kvothe is determined to seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. Any worries that The Wise Man’s Fear might not become as popular as the first book were dismissed when the second book claimed a spot in Amazon.com’s top...

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Typography: ‘bread and butter’ of design
Feb21

Typography: ‘bread and butter’ of design

People rarely pay any attention to fonts or typefaces, but Anthony Watkins, a professor at Sam Houston State University, has a specific passion for typography. Through an acquaintance with Ted Barnes, the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at UMHB, Watkins was invited to display a gallery  of his works and  conduct a workshop. Watkins received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and has been teaching at SHSU for more than a year and a half. “It was interesting to put together a gallery,” Watkins said. Being a graphic designer, he does not usually gather his work for studio presentations. Senior computer graphic design major Kyla Williams attended the opening of the gallery Feb. 17 and enjoyed seeing Watkins’ designs. “Some were funny and precocious,” she said. “I appreciated hearing how he became a designer.” Freshman nursing major Pat Krone, who saw the display, said, “(The designs) are quite bright and colorful. They definitely catch your eye and make you stop and look closer.” The display shows Watkins’ talent and multiplicity as a designer as well as his personality and humor. The most apparent skill displayed in his work is an inherent understanding of typographic information, as almost all of his designs feature words or letters. The exhibition will be open until March 11 in the Arla Ray Tyson Art Gallery on the second floor of Townsend Memorial Library. Of all the subjects dealt with in design, one of Watkins’ favorites is typography, which he refers to as the “bread and butter” of design. “Typography is very foundational (and) tremendously important to be able to work successfully as a designer …. A lot of good designers could do 90% of their work with seven or eight good typefaces,” Watkins said. His favorite fonts are those that are “classic, time tested…(and) have been around for hundreds of years.” However, Watkins said that “doesn’t make them old. They’re as useful and as contemporary as they were 300 years ago.” Because of his passion for typography, Watkins’ workshop focused on fonts and    typefaces. It took place the Friday following the opening of the gallery in Presser Hall, and students who were interested in the workshop were instructed to bring an exacto-knife. After a brief highlight of the delicate differences between typefaces, Watkins explained the project he hoped to complete during the workshop, and over the next three hours, several students dropped in and out of the workshop to lend a hand. The ingredients involved in Watkins’ design recipe included 6×6-and-6×8 inch foam poster board, many different colors of printer paper, cans of adhesive spray...

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