Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Interesting pics from the RED DAWN remake

Wasn't sure at first what to think about a remake of 1984's Red Dawn. But after seeing a number of behind-the-scenes images like this one...

...y'all can now color me "curious". It's been a long time since we've had an anti-communist movie. And making it China instead of the Soviet Union is going to be an intriguing update on the original's premise.

Red Dawn 2010 is the site you wanna go to for more about Red Dawn, due out next year.

"Missing" content finally restored to STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC II

While we're waiting for Star Wars: The Old Republic (and BioWare is now taking applications for closed beta testing if you're into that sort of thing) maybe this'll satiate your appetite in the meantime. About five years ago Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II came out but instead of BioWare doing the follow-up to their original game, work was contracted out to Obsidian. Now don't get me wrong: Knights of the Old Republic II was a superb game ("some" people, ahem, even claim it's better than its predecessor).

But even the most casual players found that there were obviously things... wrong... with KOTOR II. Some more tech-savvy folks went looking through the game's CD-ROM discs and found huge chunks of content that Obsidian had intended to put into the final version, but for one reason or another chose to instead yank it out. But the "missing" resources, like cutscenes and dialogue and even an entire planet (to say nothing of that elusive HK droid factory) were still there amid the files. And it wasn't long after the game was released that a community of fans coalesced together to modify the game and restore the deleted material.

It's taken nearly five years, but at long last the Knights of the Old Republic II Restored Content Project is darn nearly in its final form. The developers are calling the latest version of their mod an "open beta", but by all accounts this is the game as Obsidian first envisioned it. The modders are recommending a clean install of Knights of the Old Republic II and using no previously saved games. Here's the current complete list of download links and other info on the project's official website.

Maybe after I finish playing Batman: Arkham Asylum (not to mention Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 and Halo 3: ODST) I'll check this out :-)

Skull thought to be Hitler's is actually of a woman

In April of 1945, during the final days of the European theater and with the approaching rumble of Soviet tanks heralding the collapse of his "Thousand Year Reich", Adolf Hitler is said to have committed suicide within his Berlin bunker. His longtime mistress Eva Braun also joined him in death, rather than be captured alive. They took cyanide and then shot themselves. And according to surviving accounts, Hitler's aides took the bodies outside the bunker, doused them with gasoline and set them ablaze: an attempt to ensure that the Soviets could not make a trophy of the Fuhrer's remains.

But a year later, bones and skull fragments with bullet holes were found at the site by Russian forces. They were assumed to be all that was left of Adolf Hitler. The fragments sat in Moscow throughout the Cold War, and only in recent years have they finally come under the scrutiny of modern science.

And now, according to DNA studies... "Hitler's skull" is found to be that of a woman, most likely between the age of 20 and 40.

There's no telling who this skull might be then. My guess is that it might be Braun's, but absent any confirming DNA from possible relatives, there's no way we'll ever know. Just one more mystery then, among the myriad of enigmas, of World War II. But it also adds fuel to the fire about persistent theories that Hitler survived long after the war.

Or, maybe it really is Hitler's skull... and he was actually a woman? I've heard that one in my time too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Johnny Robertson channels Oral Roberts! Cult leader exclaims "This may be our last night!"

This has to be one of the most ridiculous broadcasts I've ever seen coming out of Johnny Robertson and the "Church of Christ in Name Only". And that's sayin' something...

He started at 10 p.m. tonight on the program out of WGSR's Martinsville studio, ranting about Bob Lawson (several e-mails came in today saying that Lawson pitched my blog during Charles Roark's The Local Buzz earlier this afternoon and that neither Roark or Robertson like that at all).

After that, Robertson commenced to launching an on-air crusade against, for some reason or another, a steakhouse.

And now several times in the past few minutes Robertson has insinuated that this might be the end of him on WGSR. It was like watching Oral Roberts back in 1987, when Roberts told his viewers to send him millions of dollars or else "the Lord will call me home". Tonight Robertson announced several times that "This might be our last night!" It sounded as if he were begging the WGSR viewing area to keep him on the air, in spite of how he was denouncing WGSR general manager Charles Roark and staff member Debra Buchanan for doing business with said steakhouse.

(Does this mean that Hollywood Mountain is Martinsville, Virginia's very own "City of Faith"? :-P)

Hey Johnny Robertson, quit being a drama queen! EVERYONE knows that Charles Roark will never kick you off of his station. Roark has sold too much of his principles (some even are saying his soul) to you. The entire area knows that you, Johnny Robertson, are the biggest-paying client of WGSR and that without all that money coming to you from the cult in Texas that WGSR would take a crippling hit.

It's like watching the proverbial battered wife: Robertson can trash-talk Charles Roark and the entire staff of WGSR as much as he wants, and Roark will let him get away with it. Because Robertson will just tell Roark "Where else you gonna go bay-bee?"

(And in response to the reader of this blog hailing from Alaska: I am not making this stuff up about what goes on around here. It's really happening. The nonsense coming out of Robertson's cult is so bizarre that I wouldn't know how to begin to conjure it up out of my imagination.)

And for a broadcast called What Does the Bible Say?, Robertson spent approximately two minutes out of two hours' broadcast time covering any scripture at all. Parse that as you may...

Now it's a North Carolina school making kids sing about Obama

Last week it was news of an elementary school in New Jersey that had forced its students to chant a song of praise about Barack Obama.

And now there's this video, made at Sand Hill Elementary School in Asheville, North Carolina (one of my most very favorite places that I've lived, incidentally)...

What the heck is going on here?

Actually, that's a very rhetorical question. Because I do know what's going on here. I've watched it build and grow for the past seventeen years, at least. It's not just a cult of one person. It's a cult of executive power: worshiping the President of the United States as if he were the living seat of divine government. I saw the warning signs during the Clinton era and was utterly appalled at how too many Christians were eager to imbue the same qualities onto George W. Bush. What's going on now with Barack Obama is only the dismal tide of the times.

That said: I still can't recall anything quite this disturbing before in American history. That a outright cult of personality is developing around the President.

This is very wrong in the worst way. I don't know of any other way to put it.

Thanks to Matt Mittan for the heads-up.

I'm getting #@&% sick and tired of EVONY ads!!

Whoever is responsible for all of those #@&% banner ads for Evony needs to be dragged out into the street and shot hung from the nearest telephone pole by his circular reproductive units with piano wire.

Seriously.

No, I haven't played this game. But I have heard from numerous sources that it is terrible. And the thing about Evony being "free forever" is a fraud: to achive anything in the game will likely microtransaction you into bankruptcy.

But that hasn't stopped the developers of Evony from running a publicity campaign that could be called full-bore faulty advertising, if not increasingly desperate. There is no "queen" to save (nor is there "your lover", My Lord).

I have tried numerous times to keep the Evony ads from popping up on this blog. They keep creeping in, like so many filthy cockroaches...

Want to see how badly the idiots behind Evony want you to play their cruddy game? Hit here, My Lord, for a gallery of Evony ads and watch how the raciness has escalated throughout this past summer.

It's not Saturday worship, it's SABBATH worship! A visit to a Seventh-day Adventist church

During the nearly six years that The Knight Shift has been blogging the exploits and ideas of its eclectic proprietor, I've chronicled a lot of interesting topics. This next one easily ranks up there among the more fulfilling things that I've had the pleasure of writing about. And I can't help but feel like I came away from this with not only newly-found appreciation and respect for brothers and sisters in our Lord that I might otherwise have never had fellowship with, but also a deepened and even more profound grasp - however inadequate it must always be so long as I persist in this carnal realm - of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Along the course of my travels I have visited many a place of worship: from every flavor of Baptist church to (accidentally) walking into a sanctuary of snake handlers. And everything in between from Catholic to Mormon, to a Jewish synagogue once upon a time. As a professional journalist I was even once sent to report on a gathering of pagan worshipers.

But it's been all too rare that I've taken the opportunity to meet in fellowship with other Christians and not as a detached observer but as one who comes also seeking after our Lord and Savior.

So it is that a few days ago, I was invited to attend a Sabbath worship service at a Seventh-day Adventist congregation.

Up 'til now, my knowledge of Seventh-day Adventism has been unusually cursory: I understood that Adventists worship on Saturday instead of Sunday. That was basically it, other than I've long known that Adventists discourage the use of alcohol and tobacco (how I came to know that is a whole 'nother story). But over the course of two days I came to learn and understand a great deal more about those of my fellow servants known as Seventh-day Adventists.

Obviously, the most notable characteristic of Seventh-day Adventism is coming together to worship on the Sabbath, which in accordance to Judaic tradition lasts from sunset on Friday night until sunset a day later on Saturday. And to fully appreciate Adventism this must be borne in mind: that this is not "Saturday worship". Merely intimating that Saturday is the "holy day" of Adventism is not accurate at all, and I confess also at first having that common conception in mind. Rather, it is observing the Sabbath: something much more contemplative and wonderful. This is in keeping with the fourth of the Ten Commandments. As one of the fundamental beliefs of Adventism describes it...

"The beneficent Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God's unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God's kingdom."
I would soon come to realize that this not only pertains to congregational worship, but also that for Adventists the Sabbath is a very personal time of individual rest from labor and reflection upon Christ. Indeed, I found that the Adventist perspective of the Sabbath to be exceptionally sincere and... perhaps "refreshing" is the most appropriate word? For the Seventh-day Adventist, to be a Christian can not possibly be a matter of mere "religion". It is a pursuit of Christ for every waking moment of life, seeking with great zeal to serve Him first of all and then a service of others as He also served us first.

I have to say that in that regard, my own heart came to feel considerable kinship with my Adventist brethren.

Seventh-day Adventists hold in high regard Ellen G. White: a Christian writer of the nineteenth century and early 1900s, described by Randall Balmer as "one of the more important and colorful figures in the history of American religion". Which I feel obliged to address something here, and this is coming strictly as one who isn't a Seventh-day Adventist and is trying to be as objective as I can possibly be: Adventists do not worship Ellen G. White! I've found a lot of material floating around on the Intertubes insisting that Adventists hold up White on par with Jesus Himself, that Adventists are baptized into Ellen G. White, etc. During my visit with one particular Seventh-day Adventist congregation, which included a lot of time studying Adventist writings and doctrines in their library, I couldn't find anything remotely suggesting such a notion. I did however study much of White's own writings. And maybe I'm missing something, but from what I've seen she was a remarkably humble woman who did nothing to exalt herself (I was looking for such a thing, trust me) and instead did everything to ponder and meditate upon the glory of God. According to Adventist history, White had only a third-grade education, and yet I found her articulation to be on par with that of Martin Luther and John Wesley... and I can't recall anyone accusing Lutherans or Methodists of worshiping those guys (okay, some people do come to mind, but they're talked about on this blog too much already).

The Seventh-day Adventists are among the most Berean-minded followers of Christ that I have had the pleasure of meeting. The central tenet of their faith is "The Bible, and the Bible alone", and to this they strive utterly to hold true. Baptism is by immersion, and for those who profess belief in Jesus Christ (i.e. not "baptismal regeneration"). Adventists also practice an open communion, and observe the ordinance of foot-washing. During my visit I was able to witness both of these.

I arrived at the church at around 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, in time for Sabbath school. I will admit: that does take some getting used to saying, being one who has grown up all his life hearing about and going to "Sunday school". But it's not Sunday school, is it? And it's not "Saturday school" either. It's Sabbath school. First there was a time of prayer and singing, and then the congregation delved into the lesson...

The subject was the Second Epistle of John in the New Testament. And it wasn't merely a time of teaching but also lively discussion among just about everyone in attendance. How lively? At one point Pastor Edwards used the Borg from Star Trek as a metaphor for Gnosticism!

(I must confess: this was religious discussion that was seriously tuned into my personal wavelength :-)

Sabbath school lasted for a little less than an hour, and then at 11 a.m. it was time for the main worship service. Which, as one who had never been to a Sabbath service before, I found it to be very much just like a worship service that one might expect in most congregations of Christians. However, I must also note that I found the spirit among the congregants to be especially joyful and ringing of praise. It reminded me quite a lot of the independent Methodist church that I spent the early part of my life growing up in: that same kindred and shared devotion to God in both singing and prayer...

This particular Sabbath is what Edwards likes to call a "High Sabbath": when the church holds communion. Preceding that however came a time of foot-washing. Men and women went to different rooms (I was told that this was a holdover from a time when women wore stockings and would usually need another lady's assistance in removing them for the observance of the ordinance). Married couples and families however could go to another room and perform the act with each other...

During this time, I saw husbands and wives pray together and confess to each other their failings, their unworthiness, and ultimately their thankfulness to God for His grace. It was a very moving fifteen minutes, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to witness this throughout the church.

Following the foot-washing (and subsequent hand-washing... just want to be thorough in my reporting here folks :-) the congregation returned to the sanctuary for communion. I also found this to be very much like the communion that I have taken in many of the churches that I have visited over the years. Pastor Edwards spoke a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing, and then the church's deacons distributed the elements to us.

Following our partaking of communion together, Pastor Edwards encouraged everyone to have a good and restful Sabbath. Some of the congregants then left for home. However many remained and enjoyed a potluck lunch in the church's fellowship hall (I am also told that potluck dinners are very much a tradition following worship services at Seventh-day Adventist churches).

According to recent figures, Seventh-day Adventism is one of the fastest-growing denominations of Christianity not only in the United States, but throughout the world. Based on what I have recently seen firsthand, I can understand why that would be. During my visit with the Adventists, I saw a very real and sincere hunger for Christ that... and I am disheartened to say this... is all too absent in our world. For the Adventist, it is about Christ and diligently searching the Word of God for guidance and wisdom. In a day when so much of modern Christianity seems to follow fleeting fads and fading fashion, what I discovered in the Seventh-day Adventist church was very much the same love of God and love toward one another that has endured twenty centuries of man's history and fallen nature. For the many who are growing tired of illusion, there is something very appealing to be found in the Seventh-day Adventist understanding.

I am extremely thankful to Pastor Jonathan Edwards and everyone in the family of the Wilson First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Wilson, North Carolina for the opportunity to observe, ask questions and photograph their worship service. It was a very enjoyable and uplifting visit, and I cannot but remark that I feel that God richly blessed my time with them enough that I went away all the better for it.

Monopoly helped British POWs "Get out of jail free" from Nazi captors!

If Ridley Scott wants to make a Monopoly movie so bad, he should scrap his plans for a straight adaptation of the board game and film this instead: the ingeniously crazy and TRUE tale of how British soldiers in German POW camps during World War II used Monopoly to escape from prison. Historians are now saying that thousands of British military personnel could have literally gotten "out of jail free" and safely out of Nazi clutches... with a little help from Parker Brothers.
During World War II, as the number of British airmen held hostage behind enemy lines escalated, the country's secret service enlisted an unlikely partner in the ongoing war effort: The board game Monopoly.

It was the perfect accomplice.

Included in the items the German army allowed humanitarian groups to distribute in care packages to imprisoned soldiers, the game was too innocent to raise suspicion. But it was the ideal size for a top-secret escape kit that could help spring British POWs from German war camps.

The British secret service conspired with the U.K. manufacturer to stuff a compass, small metal tools, such as files, and, most importantly, a map, into cut-out compartments in the Monopoly board itself.

"It was ingenious," said Philip Orbanes, author of several books on Monopoly, including "The World's Most Famous Game and How it Got That Way." "The Monopoly box was big enough to not only hold the game but hide everything else they needed to get to POWs."

Right when I'd thought that I'd heard every bizarre story out of World War II, then this one comes along. Just outright amazing! Mash here for more about "Monopoly: The Stalag Edition".

"Weird Al" Yankovic voted #1 by fans for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rolling Stone asked its readers who they wanted most to see inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Coming in with the most heap o' votes? "Weird Al" Yankovic! Also making the list are Rush, The Moody Blues, Alice Cooper, The Beastie Boys and Jethro Tull.

Personally, I think Weird Al and his entire band should get a Hall of Fame nomination. Those guys are among the creativiest and hardest-working musicians in the industry, for a way long time. Al deserves this... along with that much-needed star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The trailer for Syfy's RIVERWORLD miniseries...

...resembles NOTHING of the Riverworld from the books of Philip Jose Farmer! Other than having, well, a river.

(The inclusion of Samuel Clemens and his fabulous riverboat, however, does give me some hope that this will be a better effort than what Sci-Fi Channel attempted in 2003.)

So if you've never read the novels, what do you think?

The after-death journey to the source of the River begins in 2010.

"Time telescope" could magnify communications capability

It's a very rare moment when I read something for the first time that goes almost completely over the top of my head. This is one of them: researchers are building a "time telescope" that can compress data into smaller chunks of time, that is then transmitted via fiber optics. Hit the link if you want to feel your brains getting twisted.

Of course, there are going to be some who will say that time is going too fast already, but I digress... :-P

First trailer for the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake

Hmmmmm...

Much to my own surprise, I have to say this is a great trailer and it hints at what could end up being a fairly good movie. I'm going to always consider the original series featuring Robert Englund to be the definitive Elm Street canon, but Jackie Earle Haley is looking and sounding very good here as Freddy Krueger.

A Nightmare on Elm Street slashes its way into the waking world on April 30th, 2010.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ancient coins from Egypt bear name of Joseph

Has archaeological evidence for the biblical account of Joseph been found? That's what the Middle East Media Research Institute is reporting in a translation from an Egyptian newspaper. Scholars sifting through countless artifacts stored at the Museum of Egypt are now saying that numerous "charms" are actually coins dating to the time Joseph was said to have been in the court of the Pharaoh chronicled in the Book of Genesis. One of the more intriguing discoveries were coins...
"...that bore special markings identifying them as being from the era of Joseph. Among these, there was one coin that had an inscription on it, and an image of a cow symbolizing Pharaoh's dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven green stalks of grain and seven dry stalks of grain."

Some years ago a tomb was discovered dating back to the same supposed period, apparently of a high-ranking official: not only were there no remains but the name on the sarcophagus had been obliterated. Some have speculated that it might have been the tomb of Joseph and that when the Hebrews split the scene, the honked-off Egyptians did what they could to blast Joseph's name out of the history book... errr, scrolls.

You know what would be really cool? If we found Egyptian coins from the same period depicting the face of Elvis!

(Yes Chuck, I wrote that just for you ;-)

Johnny Robertson just hit a new low

As if he couldn't get any lower (this being the man who has already accused two churches, with no evidence whatsoever, of child pornography).

Tonight on his What Does the Bible Say? show on WGSR, Johnny Robertson - the demented cult leader of the Martinsville Church of Christ - has thus far during the broadcast done nothing to discuss and expound upon his own beliefs.

Instead Robertson has chosen to... attack an eight year old little girl.

What the hell is wrong with this man?

Friday, September 25, 2009

U.S. economy in peril if Asian countries won't buy debt

"Armageddon" is the word that Tiger Management founder and chairman Julian Robertson says the United States faces for its economy if countries like Japan and China stop purchasing American debt.
"If the Chinese and Japanese stop buying our bonds, we could easily see [inflation] go to 15 to 20 percent," he said. "It's not a question of the economy. It's a question of who will lend us the money if they don't. Imagine us getting ourselves in a situation where we're totally dependent on those two countries. It's crazy."

(snip)

"We're in for some real rough sledding," he said. "I really do think the recession is at least temporarily over. But we haven't addressed so many of our problems and we are borrowing so much money that we can't possibly pay it back, unless the Chinese and Japanese buy our bonds."

Mash down here for more observations from Mr. Robertson.

I'm still wog-boggled about the idea of basing a national economy, even partially, on the selling of that country's debt.

How did that happen?

Nothing good can possibly come of it.

Epic head honcho clarifies Gears of War confusion

For a good while today many fans of the Gears of Wars video game series were taken aback by reports that Epic Games president Michael Capps had remarked at the Tokyo Game Show that the next installment in the series would have to wait for the next generation of consoles: putting it around 2011-2014. Which would be an awfully long wait.

Happily, it seems that things are more positive regarding the further adventures of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad. Capps has since clarified his statements:

After the event, Capps told Eurogamer that if there is another Gears of War in the the next four to five years, it would appear on existing platforms. If it's based on the next Unreal Engine though, it'll have to be for next-gen hardware: "If we ship a game in the next few years, it'll be Unreal Engine 3. If we ship a game on next [generation] consoles, it will likely be Unreal Engine 4," he confirmed.
That makes sense. I could see at least one and maybe even two more Gears of War coming out based on the existing Unreal Engine 3.

And speaking of Gears of War, if you've played Gears of War 2 then you must read Gears of War: Jacinto's Remnant by Karen Traviss. It picks up moments after the events of the most recent game, and chronicles what happens to all those people who had to flee Jacinto before it was sunk to flood the Hollow and kill the Locusts. It also answers a lot of questions (like what happened to Dizzy, which can also be found in the Gears of War comic book series). As a hardcore Gears fan, I loved it :-)

Manson follower Susan Atkins has died

Susan Atkins, the follower of Charles Manson who murdered actress Sharon Tate in 1969, has died in prison at age 61 from brain cancer. A few weeks ago Atkins had been turned down for parole, having requested a "compassionate release".

Incidentally, she had been the longest-incarcerated female prisoner in California history.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Photos from SPARKcon!

Yeah, it's been late coming ('cuz I've been alternately busy and lazy) but here's some of what went down at SPARKcon in Raleigh this past Friday!

My presentation, "The Dude Who Took Down Viacom: One Filmmaker's Story" was scheduled for 5:45 that afternoon at Artspace. About 15 people showed up to hear me discuss that very bizarre situation that happened two years ago between myself and Viacom. Just before I took to the "stage", SPARKcon's filmSPARK organizer Nene Kalu opened the show...

And then for the next hour or so I went into the tale about the run for Rockingham County Board of Education in 2006, that "Star Wars"-themed TV commercial that I made, how it went way out of control and wound up on VH1 and then the mess with Viacom after I put the clip of that on YouTube...

We had a question/answer session, and then things wrapped up around 7 o'clock. A few of us went to this restaurant down the street for dinner, and then checked out some of the SPARKcon fashion show...

And look! It's none other than fellow blogger Drew McOmber! He came to the presentation and we got to hang out for the rest of the evening at SPARKcon. This was the first time we had actually met in person. It's always awesome to hook up with friends from the 'net like that :-)

Yah, I know: I look horrible. Had been going on like 2 days without solid sleep prior to SPARKcon. Some friends are wondering if I've got Batman's metabolism :-P

Thanks to Nene Kalu and Kathy Justice and everyone at SPARKcon for a great time!

Elementary students made to praise Maximum Leader Obama with song

More and more, I'm finding that this "cult of Barack Obama" to be less laughable and more disturbing. No elected official in the United States should ever be the subject of a praise song. Not even the President. That position is merely the most important of a body of public servants.

But watching this video shot at B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, New Jersey this past June, I'm reminded too much of young Russian children who got instilled with the belief that Josef Stalin was a god on Earth to be adored and worshiped. Or Kim Jung Il's cult of personality in North Korea...

And here are the lyrics...

Hmm, hmm, hmm
Barack Hussein Obama
He said we must all lend a hand
To make this Country strong again

Hmm, hmm, hmm
Barack Hussein Obama
He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay

Hmm, hmm, hmm
Barack Hussein Obama
He said we all must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance

Hmm, hmm, hmm
Barack Hussein Obama
He said red, yellow, black, or white,
All are equal in his sight

Hmm, hmm, hmm
Barack Hussein Obama
Yes, hmm, hmm, hmm
Barack Hussein Obama

And there are some other lines in this song too, about "Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!" and "For all your great accomplishments, we all do say "hooray!" and how Obama is "number one!"

But the one that bothers me most is "Red, yellow, black, or white, All are equal in his sight..." If you know anything about little kiddies' Bible school songs, then you'll recognize that whoever wrote this crap is definitely equating Obama with Jesus Christ.

I don't know how much plainer I can put it without going too far in violating the mores of polite society: this sort of insanity pisses me off! And I don't care who it is that little kids like these are being made to exalt. I didn't like how those Christian youths were whipped into a George W. Bush-worshiping frenzy in the Jesus Camp documentary (that's the second time I've mentioned that film on this blog in the past 24 hours) and I like it not more or less here either. But it certainly does seem like it's becoming an increasingly public occurrence to bestow upon Obama the quality of apotheosis.

This isn't a "Democrat" or "Republican" thing. This is about whether we will choose to be a people of free mind and good conscience.

"...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
And anyone else can go pound sand.

WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN hits a brutal conclusion

Fourteen months ago Mark Millar began his "Old Man Logan" arc for Marvel Comics: the story of Wolverine, now some fifty years in the future, eking out a hardscrabble existence with his wife and children in the countryside of an America gone straight to hell. And in all that time Wolverine - now simply known as "Logan" - hasn't once popped his claws.

And then the cataract-plagued Hawkeye approached Logan with a business proposition: one that the former X-Man couldn't turn down because he needed the rent money to pay off the inbred progeny of Bruce Banner. For the next several issues we watched Logan and Hawkeye tear across the remnants of the United States en route to New Babylon. And during the trip we finally learned what happened on the night the heroes fell, when Wolverine was brought down so hard that he forever forsook violence.

But it was all a setup. Hawkeye was killed by agents of the new President: the Red Skull. Logan wound up meting out a cold dish of revenge in the bowels of the White House, before donning Iron Man's old armor and flying back to California with a valise full of cash: more than enough to pay off the Hulk Gang.

And then Logan arrived home.... to find that his entire family had been killed by the Hulks. They "got bored", Logan's neighbor told him.

Do I even need to intimate what happened next, after Wolverine saw the battered bodies of his loved ones?

"SNIKT!"

Well friends, it has been a long wait indeed but "Old Man Logan" finally wraps up this week with the publication of Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size #1. All I will say about this issue is: get it! It's not terribly deep on character or plot compared to what has preceded it... but hey, we do see Wolverine, uncaged after a half-century of self-restraint, totally breaking bad on dozens of Hulks. It's a mean, ultra-violent sixty-four pages that will have you forgetting that the Comics Code Authority ever existed. But I also have to say that it ends better than I had expected (and I had come to expect plenty after how good the rest of this arc has been).

By all means buy it now on the stands. Or wait for the "Old Man Logan" trade paperback when it comes out in a few months. I'm not much of a regular comic book reader, but I must attest that "Old Man Logan" has been satisfying enough to warrant some bookshelf space. Absolutely to be recommended!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jabba the Hutt inflatable costume (fer realz...)

What the...?!?

Rubies Costume Company might have crossed a terrible, terrible line with this Jabba the Hutt Inflatable Costume. For seventy bucks (plus shipping and handling) you can finally get to crash the party as Jabba Desilijic Tiure... known more infamously as galactic crime lord Jabba the Hutt!

(And I suppose Star Wars geeks with more imprurient tastes could also fulfill some unhealthily common fantasies by putting this on, then laying on a couch while their wife/girlfriend/female significant other is put on a leash and wearing the Secret Wishes Princess Leia Slave Costume... but we won't dwell on that.)

I'm seeing some very way wrong YouTube videos coming about because of this thing :-P

Want a BEAUTIFUL image from STAR TREK for your desktop?

If you saw Star Trek over the summer then you'll remember that stunning shot of the Enterprise rising out of the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. Diamond Sky Productions has just posted two VERY high-res images from that scene: one of the Enterprise's engine nacelles breaking through the clouds and a second of the Enterprise emerged in all her glory. The image at right is just a small preview of the entire picture. I'd already had a pic of Enterprise with the shuttles arriving as my desktop wallpaper for the past few months, but I've already changed it to this one. Dunno how long these'll be up, so grab 'em while you can!

WATCHMEN: THE ULTIMATE CUT streeting on November 3rd!

If I can keep being a good boy until Christmas maybe Santa will put this in my stocking...

Even though I already own the Director's Cut (and have recommended it to everyone instead of the original that came out in theaters earlier this year) I am already lusting badly for Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut. /Film has the succulent details about the DVD and Blu-ray releases. Here's what you get on five discs for the DVD...

Disc 1:
- Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut Film
- Audio Commentary with Zack Snyder and Dave Gibbons

Disc 2: Over 3 Hours of Special Features
- The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics
- Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes
- Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World
- Watchmen: Video Journals
- My Chemical Romance Desolation Row
- Under The Hood
- Story Within A Story: The Books of Watchmen

Disc 3: Digital Copy of the Theatrical Version

Disc 4 and 5: Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comics

Remember: this is the cut that is going to incorporate the "Tales of the Black Freighter" animated material (which saw a separate DVD/Blu-ray release at the time the film premiered) within the Watchmen movie itself! I am very stoked about seeing how this is going to play out 'cuz if you've read the book you know how the comic book that young Bernard is reading parallels with the main story. The theatrical release was pretty faithful to the graphic novel (read my review here), the Director's Cut was even better (here's my take on that one) and the Ultimate Cut might be the best of the lot.

This is going to be a fine addition to my humble DVD collection, right next to my Blade Runner 5-disc set (the one in the snazzy "briefcase" :-)

(And thanks to Phillip Arthur for the heads-up!)

Nightmarish "Christianity"

I know, you don't have to tell me: "Consider the source". I'm still debating whether Max Blumenthal is aspiring toward that higher vision of what journalism should be, or if he's got some kind of agenda. But I'll say two things in this instance: his research and writing is quite good. That, and I'm compelled to agree enough that he's on to something here that I felt led to post about it.

The Nation's website has publishedan excerpt from Blumenthal's new book Republican Gommorah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party. The selection, titled "The Nightmare of Christianity", is about Matthew Murray, who shot and killed four people during attacks at a missionary training facility and then a church in Colorado two years ago. Murray may or may not have had severe problems already that should have been addressed. But to hear Blumenthal describe it, Matthew Murray's struggles were hopelessly complicated by his family's hyper-religious demands and expectations... until finally he snapped and took five lives, including his own.

Here's some of what Blumenthal writes...

But as soon as Murray enrolled at YWAM's training center in nearby Arvada in 2002, he found himself trapped in an authoritarian culture even more restrictive than home. He realized that, as another student of YWAM bluntly put it, the school's training methods resembled "cult mind-controlling techniques." Murray became paranoid, speaking aloud to voices only he could hear, according to a former roommate. He complained that six of his male peers had made a gay sex video and that others routinely abused drugs. Hypocrisy seemed to be all around him, or at least dark mirages of it. A week before Murray was scheduled to embark on his first mission, YWAM dismissed him from the program for unspecified "health reasons." "They admitted that I hadn't done anything wrong, just that they had prayed and felt I wasn't popular/'connected' and talkative enough," he recalled.

Two years later, Murray raged at two YWAM administrators during a Pentecostal conference his mother had dragged him to attend. The shocked staffers promptly warned Loretta Murray that her son "wasn't walking with the Lord and could be planning violence." Within days, an ornery local pastor was allowed to burst into the young Murray's room, rifle through his belongings, and leave with a satchel full of secular DVDs and CDs--apparent evidence of his depravity. Murray's mother searched his room for satanic material every day afterward for three months, stripping him of his privacy and whatever was left of his love for her. After the trauma-inducing raids, in which Murray estimated his mother and her friends destroyed $900 worth of his property, he concluded, "Christianity is one big lie."

There's a lot more in Blumenthal's extensive article about Murray and the kind of "Christianity" that he was forced to experience, including this song that students at a south Florida "Christian"-based charter school are made to learn:
Obedience is listening attentively,
Obedience will take instructions joyfully,
Obedience heeds wishes of authorities,
Obedience will follow orders instantly.
For when I am busy at my work or play,
And someone calls my name, I'll answer right away!
I'll be ready with a smile to go the extra mile
As soon as I can say "Yes, sir!" "Yes ma am!"
Hup, two, three
Sounds like something out of the Hitler Youth movement, don't it?

I wouldn't be bringing this article to anyone's attention if I didn't think it merited some thought. Because I know it does. Matthew Murray obviously had issues that should have been given sincere treatment. But if Blumenthal's reporting is anywhere even remotely accurate, I have no doubt at all that the kind of "Christianity" inflicted upon Murray destroyed his spirit, his mind, and ultimately his life.

I have written about it before many times on this blog: that Christianity is not supposed to be about having power in this world at all. To follow Christ means a putting to death of the old nature with each new day... but because we desire to, not because we are made to. But that is precisely how too many alleged "Christian leaders" have gained and maintained power and control over others.

Don't believe me? Look at this pic that I snapped from the website of Bill Gothard, cited in Blumenthal's article as the one most responsible for the insane regimen that Matthew Murray's parents subjected him too...

They "formed an army" and started a "movement of power"?

How is that anything near to demonstrating the love and grace of Christ to others?!

To follow Christ is to be in this world, but not of this world. It means saving the lost from a dying world, not saving a dying world from the lost.

(And if you can suffer an hour or so of your own blood boiling, I would also recommend watching the documentary Jesus Camp: one of the most disturbing looks at American "Christianity" ever produced.)

When I read stories like that of Matthew Murray as Max Blumenthal is conveying it, I can't help but envision Jesus turning down Satan's offer to give Him all the power and authority over this world. Jesus rejected it... but a countless multitude of men and women instead began screaming "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

Neither can I but believe that Satan smiles and says "Of course I'll pick you. And you will be fine. After all, you are only doing what He should have done. I'll even let you do it for Him."

People like this are not trying to win America for Christ. They are trying to win America for their own "Christianity". For their own religion. But to sincerely follow Christ has never been about something so mere as "religion".

And in the end, Christianity of this sort can only hurt and destroy lives, not build them up. Matthew Murray was but an extreme example.

Am I making too much of this? Folks, I don't know if I could make nearly enough of it. So much grief could have been avoided, and still be avoided, had some among us professing Christ only taken the admonition of Proverbs 3:5 to heart...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

Red sky over Sydney

The apocalyptic sunrise that residents of Sydney, Australia awoke to this morning...

The city is choked by a cloud of "red dust" and haze that experts haven't seen before. Hit here for more amazing photos of this curious weather phenomenon in Syndey.

(Special thanks to Father Roderick Vonhogen for the eerie and stunning find!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is this Nicolas Cage as Superman?!?

That's what GeekTyrant is wondering (and has Twitter-ed that sources are confirming). This does indeed appear to be Nicolas Cage in a costume test for the Superman movie that Tim Burton almost began production of in early 1998. That would make this photo around twelve years old... which jibes with Cage's current age.

And then there's this tidbit that also adds credence to it being real, from a very long article posted in 2005 about the INSANELY bizarre story of the Superman film franchise between Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in 1987 and 2006's Superman Returns...

"Nicolas Cage, having been fighting tooth and nail against Burton and [Jon] Peters' vision of Superman (even though he'd been putting on a happy public face about working with them), angrily demanded that he be allowed to wear the classic Superman costume and fly. So WB relented much to Burton's dismay, ordering up a rubber Superman suit and flying FX tests. (A chintzy, Sam Jones-as-Flash Gordon-type Superman suit was dished up, but it went over like a lead balloon.) However, when Cage tried on the rubber suit, it looked stupid. And when they stuck a long-haired wig on him, it looked even worse."
Some are saying this might be a Photoshop job. Personally, I think it fits well with the evidence.

So lemme ask you, Dear Reader, after you have finally stopped hysterically laughing: what do you think? :-)

The stainless steel art of Catherine Thornton

This past Friday afternoon, while we were at Artspace in downtown Raleigh waiting for me to give my presentation about my copyright fight with Viacom as part of SPARKcon, a friend and I spent about an hour walking through the gallery and taking in the fantabulous artwork: some very neat stuff in there and some things were... rather offbeat, to put it mildly.

But there was one piece on display that grabbed hold of my senses more than anything else, because I had never seen something like this before. It was a "painting" made by grinding on a sheet of stainless steel:

Now ain't that cool?!?

Well, it so happened that the artist responsible for this eye-arresting image was on the gallery's premises and at work in a small studio down the hall. Her name is Catherine Thornton, and I was most delighted to meet a lady blessed with not only artistic vision but original techniques and concepts. As it turns out she has done several works in stainless steel, using various grinders and sanders to etch patterns and shapes into metal as another artist might use a paintbrush on canvas. But as Thornton was sure to note, the advantage of her medium is that it will last indefinitely with no fading away of pigment or deterioration of the surface.

Truthfully folks, the photos that I shot do not do justice to Thornton's work. They have to be seen in person and up close to best appreciate. As one who works in metal also from time to time, I thought it was one of the most creative use of steel so far as artistic handiwork goes. If you possibly can, I would heartily recommend a visit to Artspace at 201 E. Davie Street in Raleigh to check it out for yourselves. And Catherine Thornton also maintains a website devoted to her work and artistic philosophy.

WHOOOOOO!!!

The TV commercial for the Ric Flair Scratch-Off from the North Carolina Education Lottery...

I'm sorely tempted to insert a "Space Mountain" joke in here somewhere :-P

EDIT 3:18 a.m. EST 09/23/2009: I am just now discovering that this game is not called "Ric Flair Scratch-Off" as I had originally thought. Instead it is officially known as... Wooooooo!

As if this state didn't have enough people imitating Ric Flair, heh-heh...

That's it. I'm definitely going to buy at least one of these tickets. Not to scratch off, just to keep and hold onto because, well... a Ric Flair-themed state lottery scratch-off game called "Wooooooo!" is just too clever to pass up on owning one.

This will be the hottest-selling scratch-off game since the lottery started up here almost four years ago, I would wager an RC Cola and a Moon Pie on it. Maybe we'll see the entire Four Horsemen appear on a ticket sometime down the line :-)

North Carolina will let illegal immigrants enroll at community colleges

Last week North Carolina's State Board of Community Colleges voted to allow illegal immigrants to enroll at the many community colleges we have here.

Very, very wrong move. As Rockingham County's own Phil Berger Sr., the state Senate Minority Leader noted...

"This action is a slap in the face to legal North Carolina residents that desperately need access to the job training provided by our community colleges during the worst period of unemployment since the Great Depression."
But it's still worse than that. It's this kind of thing that encourages illegal immigration to begin with. And in my opinion that's not being a good neighbor to our friends across the border in Mexico. They have their own house to clean, just as we have our own that needs a lot of work. Sweetening the pot so that more people will be drawn here illegally to take advantage of our already over-burdened societal infrastructure is a detriment to the citizens here, and it does more damage to Mexico than most realize by bleeding away personnel that could otherwise be trying to make their own nation a better place to live.

All of that, and I have to wonder aloud how what is officially admitted to be illegal behavior is now being rewarded.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A blogger is born!

Hey everyone, say hey to the newest blogger on the planet (along with the probably 500 or so in the past few minutes who also took that first leap into the blogosphere): Steven Glaspie and his Gentle Giant Express. Steven is a longtime friend and fellow Eagle Scout, and yes he's yet another brilliant mind to come out of Rockingham County, North Carolina! This is a thinkin' dude, who writes some great poetry among other things. The blog is brand spankin' new, so check it out at stevenglaspie.blogspot.com and watch Steven flex his skillz!

Burglar caught after logging into Facebook at victim's house

No wonder it's often called "Crackbook": some folks are addicted to it! Consider one Jonathan G. Parker, age 19, of Fort Loudoun, Pennsylvania. Police in the town responded to a call from a home on August 28th in which the resident reported a breaking and entering, and the theft of two diamond rings valued at more than $3,500.

The cops didn't have far to look for a suspect, however: Parker used the victim's computer to log into his Facebook account and forgot to log out.

Jonathan Parker was arrested, and is currently in jail on $10,000 bond. He's facing one to ten years in the slammer if convicted.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. But also very funny :-)

I would so buy this game...

Halo 3: ODST (the ODST means "Orbital Drop Shock Trooper") is getting a massive midnight release later this evening. I've already got a copy pre-ordered. And those fun-loving chaps at Ctrl+Alt+Del have come through with the box art for the next Halo game. And you thought it was going to be Halo: Reach next year? Get ready for Halo: OWST!

All we need now is Halo 3: Commissary Orbital Kitchen Officer and we will have our new Halo trilogy!

It's that Dr. Horrible thingy from the Emmys last night!

I heard during the wee hours of the morning (thanks Phillip!) that during the Emmys last night, Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion had appeared in a Dr. Horrible segment! YES!! At last, more of Joss Whedon's wonderfully twisted Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (click here to purchase it from iTunes and it is HIGHLY recommended).

So while we're waiting for Joss Whedon to hopefully make more episodes, here's last night's hiliarity between Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer...

Is it just me, or is Dr. Horrible a way sad supervillain for letting his arch-nemesis just walk into the secret lair and take over his Internet? I can't see Destro or Dr. Colossus ever being that slacking. Horrible better pray that Bad Horse doesn't hear about this...

Michael Emerson wins Emmy for LOST!

I do not watch much television, truth be known. A show has to be mighty impressive for me to invest the time to keep up with it on a regular basis. But I can't recall any show that has so captivated my imagination as has ABC's Lost. And of all the remarkable characters from the magnificent Lost ensemble, few have been more intriguing than Benjamin Linus (shown here from last season's episode "316" as he shares the story of Thomas the Apostle), played as no one else could by Michael Emerson. Is Benjamin a bad guy? A good guy? Someone with an agenda we can't even begin to imagine? Even now going into the show's final season, Ben Linus is a complete mystery.

Last night at the Emmy Awards, Emerson finally got his long-deserved recognition: he won the Best Supporting Actor for a dramatic series. Considering that there is no single "primary" character in Lost, that is certainly something to be proud of.

Congrats to Michael Emerson, and everyone who won something last night :-)

I have returned...

...from a most interesting weekend!

(And I'm wrapping up a bunch of projects this morning too. Boo-yah!!)

Awright, back to the blog. I hope you people have behaved yourselves in my absence. If I'm told you've been nice, there may even be some photos that I'll post later on :-P

Friday, September 18, 2009

BIOSHOCK 2: Coming February 9th, 2010 worldwide

I had a gut feeling this morning after posting the story about BioShock on Windows for $5 that good news was imminent...

Mark your calendars: February 9th, 2010 will herald the release of BioShock 2: the sequel to 2007's mind-rattling first-person shooter. It will be an international debut across Xbox 360, Windows and PlayStation 3.

From the official press release from 2K Games...

Currently in development for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows LIVE, BioShock 2 will deliver two unique, yet intertwined experiences that form the perfect blend of explosive first-person shooter combat, compelling storytelling and intense multiplayer action.

Set approximately 10 years after the events of the original BioShock, the halls of Rapture once again echo with sins of the past. Along the Atlantic coastline, a monster has been snatching little girls and bringing them back to the undersea city of Rapture. Players step into the boots of the most iconic denizen of Rapture, the Big Daddy, as they travel through the decrepit and beautiful fallen city, chasing an unseen foe in search of answers and their own survival.

Multiplayer in BioShock 2 will provide a rich prequel experience that expands the origins of the BioShock fiction. Set during the fall of Rapture, players assume the role of a Plasmid test subject for Sinclair Solutions, a premier provider of Plasmids and Tonics in the underwater city of Rapture that was first explored in the original BioShock. Players will need to use all the elements of the BioShock toolset to survive, as the full depth of the BioShock experience is refined and transformed into a unique multiplayer experience that can only be found in Rapture.

Are you ready to return to Rapture? Just four and a half months to go!

I'm speaking at SPARKcon in Raleigh this evening!

Just a friendly reminder that if you want to meet the blogger/proprietor of The Knight Shift in person and you're going to be in the Raleigh/Durham today, that you're in luck!

I will be at Artspace, located at 201 East Davie St in Raleigh at 5:45 p.m. this afternoon during the filmSPARK track of SPARKcon: a grassroots-organized four-day festival celebrating individual creativity around the Triangle area and throughout North Carolina. This will be the fourth annual event and this year SPARKcon will be held September 17-20. I'll be speaking about the bizarre "copyright infringement" situation that happened between Yours Truly and Viacom on YouTube two years ago.

Look! Event announcement!

The Dude Who Took Down Viacom: One Filmmaker's Story
EVENT LOCATION
Artspace

EVENT DESCRIPTION
Meet North Carolina filmmaker Chris Knight, a.k.a. "The Dude Who Took Down Viacom". In 2006, Knight made a campaign advertisement to help promote his running for a seat on Rockingham County's Board of Education. Knight did not win a seat on the board, but he did win some internet and media fame as his commercial was featured in The New York Times, on the Fox News Channel, every major newspaper in the state, on National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, by the Heritage Foundation, VH1's show "Web Junk 2.0", and E! Entertainment Television's show "The Soup". The major attraction of Knight's commercial was his creative use of Star Wars as an allegory for his strong commitment to reforming education practice. Life was good for Knight, until he loaded a few clips of his infamous commercial's featurette on "Web Junk 2.0" onto Youtube and was slammed with a copyright infringement claim. Come here the details of Knight's battle tonight as the filmmaker recounts his battle with Youtube and VH1's parent company Viacom firsthand.

SPONSOR
Artspace

And look again! There's also a Facebook page for "The Dude Who Took Down Viacom"!

Once again, I am compelled to note that I am very thankful to Nene Kalu, Kathy Justice and the rest of the good folks organizing the filmSPARK track for inviting me to take part in SPARKcon. Check out the SPARKcon website for more information.

And I hope to see you there! :-)

Classic SESAME STREET: Ernie's reminder(s)

Another classic sketch from Sesame Street. This is the one where Ernie has gone to great lengths (of string) to not forget something important...

Poor Bert. He probably wakes up every morning with quiet dread about what Ernie is going to do that day :-)

Get BIOSHOCK (Windows version) for just $5

The Windows edition of BioShock - a video game so profound that many consider it to be an entirely new form of high-brow literature - is now on sale for five bucks at Direct2Drive. If you've a Windows-based machine and haven't experienced the majesty and horror of the sub-Atlantic metropolis that is Rapture, here's your chance to go in deep for a handful of scratch. It's just one of the games that Direct2Drive is offering at slashed cost to celebrate its fifth anniversary as an online game delivery service. I don't have to tell you how terrific a deal this is, so go get BioShock... would you kindly?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Annie promised...

There are a lot of things running through my head right now about Annie Le, the 24-year old graduate student at Yale who disappeared last week just days before she was to be married. Her body was found this past Sunday hidden in a basement wall of the campus lab where she had been conducting research.

Nothing I might say could add any substantially new comment about how utterly heartbreaking this story is, about how this happened just as Annie was preparing to spend the rest of her life with her husband-to-be.

I've wanted to say something about how the mainstream news media has once again sacrificed ethics and principles for sake of an admittedly sensational story. And I'm referring to how the press has been all over the story of Raymond Clark, now the main suspect in Annie Le's murder (he's probably being arrested as I write this). Even if Clark did take Le's life, there is a right way to bring him to justice. What I've seen in the past couple of days (particularly the "journalism" of the Associated Press) is not that way at all. I've never believed that anybody accused of murder should be found guilty by the press before due process has been allowed to take place. This kind of "reporting" does nothing to protect liberty and ensure justice, and in fact puts those aspects of American life in greater jeopardy than many might realize.

But mostly, what I can't help think about, is what Annie Le promised us.

This was an absolutely brilliant young woman. Le was considered to be "the next Einstein" by her high school peers (and was valedictorian of her class). She had graduated with honors from the University of Rochester after majoring in cell and developmental biology. And until this past week Le was pursuing her doctorate in pharmacology at Yale.

There is no telling what Annie Le would have brought to the world with that beautiful mind that God had gifted her with. She could have cured a disease or found a way to prevent birth defects. What Annie could have accomplished was practically without limit. But we will never know. That she was taken in such an apparently brutal and senseless fashion is not only a loss to her loved ones, but to all of us.

There was so much potential to change the world for the better, contained in that tiny, beautiful girl with the beaming smile.

And she never got the chance to do that, or to have the happiness that she deserved.

And then I think about how it is, in America today, that there are so many that are just as blessed with talent and ability as Annie Le had been... and those same individuals will never have the opportunity to show us what their promise. Yeah, I'm talking about what you think I'm talking about. But I'm not about to turn this tragedy into a platform for any political agenda.

All I'm saying is this: that this could very well have turned out to be a much different, and indefinitely more promising, world. If only millions of more hearts and minds and souls had been permitted to share their creativity and their passion and their intellect with us.

That is what Annie Le promised.

And I prefer to believe that is what any of us can promise.

Mary Travers and Henry Gibson have passed away

Two items of sad news breaking this morning.

The first is that veteran actor Henry Gibson has died at age 73. He was one of the original cast members of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, where he made regular appearances as the flower-bearing poet who would stroll onstage and deliver a funny poem. He also appeared during each episode's "party scene" as a priest-type character invoking religious humor ("My congregation supports all denominations, but our favorites are twenties and fifties."). Over the following years and decades Gibson racked up an impressive filmography, including voicing Wilbur in the animated film of Charlotte's Web (I had no idea that was Gibson's voice until this morning), Kentucky Fried Movie, InnerSpace, and recently in a recurring role on Boston Legal. However I'd bet that most people reading this will especially remember Gibson's uproarious portrayal of the Head Nazi in The Blues Brothers. Gibson also wrote songs and books, including more of his poetry.

Sounds like he was an all-around talented fella. He will certainly be missed.

And then last night came word that Mary Travers, whose voice endeared itself to generations as part of the musical trio Peter, Paul and Mary, has passed away at age 72 following a battle with cancer.

In her memory, here's a clip from the early 1960s of the classic cover that Travers, along with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, did of "Blowin' in the Wind"...

Thanks for the good tunes and the great memories, Mary.

Of one accord no longer? Dissent amock in Robertson cult

Odd things are afoot regarding local cult leader Johnny Robertson and the "Church of Christ in Name Only".

Numerous e-mails came in Tuesday evening about that day's edition of The Local Buzz on WGSR. The entire last half-hour of the show consisted of honked-off viewers calling out general manager Charles Roark on his blatant pro-Robertson bias. And one Internet forum devoted to Henry County, Virginia issues - which Johnny Robertson had publicly boasted of being "the number one topic of discussion" - has in recent days become loaded with anti-Robertson animosity. Some of which is coming from people claiming to be former members of the cult.

Without knowing anything else about what's going down across the state line, it certainly does seem as though the people of Martinsville and Henry County, for whatever reason, are on the warpath like never before against the "Church of Christ" cult.

But here's the real meat and gravy, friends and neighbors...

As most people around here know, Robertson and his followers have established themselves a very sick reputation for their "hidden camera" ambush interviews with anyone and everyone who isn't aligned with their twisted mentality. In the past year alone Robertson has accused - with no evidence whatsoever - two churches of child pornography. Robertson has harassed and confronted private individuals at their own homes, at their places of worship, and anywhere else that he has found opportunity to be a nuisance. And more often than not Robertson has jubilantly posted footage of these confrontations on YouTube. Most of these have been published on the "wherethebiblespeaks" YouTube channel.

Since this week began, all of the confrontational clips on that channel have disappeared. Along with every video of the recent Johnny Robertson/Bob Lawson "debate". Gone down the memory hole. Become unvideos. Vanished into the ether.

(But in case anyone needs them, I have saved all of them to my own computers here. They still exist and I've got 'em.)

This hasn't been the first time lately that the cult has had issues on YouTube. Over the summer Robertson and his followers lost their "studyjesus" channel (the one that among other things had the video from last summer where Robertson claimed that the Danville Church of Christ has been painted with a bomb threat by local Muslims... but strangely didn't see fit to report that to the Danville Police Department). Reports that came here suggest that Robertson and his followers violated YouTube terms of service and had it yanked.

However, in regard to the "wherethebiblespeaks" channel, something much more intriguing is now transpiring.

A few days ago "Paul", who had been the person in charge of the channel (and one of Robertson's most active supporters) posted this on the channel about his "retirement"...

I'd like to personally thank all of the people that have either subscribed to or become friends with Where the Bible Speaks. I have enjoyed moderating this channel very much but it is time that I pass the torch on. Where the Bible Speaks will now be moderated by my good friend, Andrew. I'm sure those of you who are regular visitors of the channel are familiar with him as he has done several videos. I am confident that he will do a great job with the channel and I hope you all embrace him and continue to support Where the Bible Speaks. Again, I'd like to thank all of the supporters! Take care! - Paul 9-14-09
And then this "Andrew" wrote the following e-mail to someone about comments being removed, but also made several startling statements...
Re: Johnny Robertson Videos

Paul was doing quite a bit of work with the page and all and has decided to sit back and breath and leave me (Andrew) in control of the content. I hate that you have been troubled by your comments being removed and do apologize. I assure you, nothing has been, or will be deleted for unfair reasons. Although I found the lawson debate entertaining, I didn't see it of much spiritual profit. It was less of a religious nature, and more of a debate of personal matters between Johnny and Bob. When I seen things like bickering over "double-breasted suites" and what not, I decided it didn't promote enough spiritual truth. There were some topics in it that were of use, but I believe the bitterness of it all overlapped that. For a similar reason I deleted all the "shorts" on the debate I had with Jake. (Internetdisciple) I decided to let the full debate speak for itself. I might make videos later, and include loops of such, but I will be on camera discussing it. I also deleted my "communion video" because I plan, Lord willing, to make another. To the displeasure of many, I'm sure, I will be deleting many more vids of Johnny and James, because there are some important doctrines, which they hold and teach, which I strongly disagree with. I haven't quite decided what and when yet, or exactly what I'll do with everything of theirs, but I will most assuredly delete all of James' videos for some doctrines that he has taught on TV as of late, that are contrary to the Gospel. I have much respect for James, as he is a kind, and intelligent man, but that cuts not stuff with me, for teaching false doctrine. - Andrew

WHOA!!! Someone from the "Church of Christ" not only publicly accusing Johnny Robertson and James Oldfield of "false doctrines" (something that Robertson and Oldfield do all the time to others) but is now also removing their videos because of that false doctrine?!?!?

If you live in this area, you will no doubt understand what this means. Because Robertson, Oldfield and their followers not only preach but demand "unity". They brag constantly about how their "Church of Christ" (again, I emphasize that this is not the mainstream Churches of Christ we're talking about) has no disagreements amongst itself.

And now Robertson is being referred to as having "bitterness" and "false doctrines"... from within his very own group.

Has a schism erupted within the "Church of Christ"? Could it be that some among them are getting fed up with the raw hatred and bitter root of Johnny Robertson, James Oldfield, Micah Robertson, and Mark McMinnis? Fed up enough that some within it are beginning to stand up to Johnny Robertson, just as many are now standing up to him in the general community?

I honestly don't know. But to date, this is certainly the most glaring and public crack in the cult's facade of apparent solidarity.

And I have no doubt that Johnny Robertson will fully address this issue at some point during the course of the many hours of live broadcast time that he has on WGSR each and every week.

/sarcasm

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why are local law enforcment agencies deploying high-tech sonic weapons against citizens?

Call it what you may, a law of either history or human nature. Anything can be used as a weapon... and that a thing intended as a weapon will be used as a weapon.

Concordantly, there is no reason to produce a weapon unless there is a determined possibility of using that weapon.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department is now in possession of a Long Range Acoustical Device or LRAD: a "sonic weapon" straight out of science-fiction (particularly Atlas Shrugged). This is something that has been used in Iraq against insurgents and also recently against pirates off the coast of Somalia. Quite effectively, it should be noted.

Well, now San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore has been placing his new toy at town hall meetings where citizens have been coming in droves to protest "health care reform" and bigger government.

A spokesman for the San Diego Sheriff's Department claims that the LRAD will not be used as a weapon by the department, further alleging that the LRAD is only going to be used in emergency situations like warning residents during fires or floods. However, Sheriff Gore has previously acknowledged that the LRAD could be used for crowd control similar to pepper spray.

What's wrong with using a bullhorn, or a truck-mounted stereo system and microphone? What is wrong with using pepper spray? There's not the potential for life-long injury (especially to children and unborn babies) with those measures as is the case with the LRAD.

(Incidentally, the $27,000 that the San Diego Sheriff's Department used to purchase the LRAD came from a PATRIOT Act grant.)

I'm gonna say it if nobody else will: there are many agencies of the government, and San Diego Sheriff's Department is lookin' like one of 'em, that are no longer accountable to the people. To aim something obviously intended for military purposes at regular American citizens goes way beyond a simple "chilling effect" and too far into the realm of being nothing short of a full-blown scare tactic.

Let me be even more succinct: if a government boasts of having a weapon against its people, it will inevitably use that weapon against its people.

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