Sunday, February 28, 2010

Am watching BEN-HUR on Turner Classic Movies right now

Yeah the one with Charlton Heston, not the black and white silent original.

I don't know what's a sadder commentary: that a film this epic and majestic couldn't be made today without computer-generated effects, that Ben-Hur would likely not even been greenlit for production by modern studios, or that current audiences would generally lack the attention span that those of fifty years ago possessed to really take in this kind of a movie.

I've thought for a long time that a film should be judged according to its own time. In its own way, Ben-Hur and movies like it are an excellent synopsis of the sort of people who both made these films, and who appreciated them most.

Sorta a psychological historical document, when you think about it.

Congratulations are in order tonight!!!

Good news from a couple of my Theatre Guild peeps this evening!

First of all, there is good friend Jessica Gray, who is now engaged! Her boyfriend last night proposed to her in front of about 500 of their close personal friends :-)

And also bigtime congratulations to Marlo Nall, another friend, who just announced that there will be no doubt another happy member of our troupe as she will be a mother later this year!

Funny: I was telling Marlo just two months ago that she was going to make a great mommy someday. And last night for no obvious reason it popped into my head "It's almost time for Jessica to get engaged."

If someone else in the Theatre Guild has another great announcement tonight, it'll be a trifecta!

Seriously though: Congratulations Jessica and Marlo! And God be with you and yours as you begin y'all's next scenes in the drama of life :-)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Classic SESAME STREET: The Cookie Counter

Ernie should have just kept pointing!

Chile earthquake is making scientific and television history

First things first: The proprietor of this blog extends his own thoughts and prayers to the very many that are going out to our friends down Chile way today, in the aftermath of the 8.8 earthquake that rocked that country in the wee hours this morning.

And by the way, it's a great testament to that country about how on the ball the folks are about this. I've heard only great things about Chile over the years and the speed and diligence that they have exerted in dealing with this disaster, makes me compelled to tip my hat to 'em.

If you haven't already today, it would - not to put too fine a point on it - be extremely recommended that you tune in right now to CNN or Fox News or whatever, and check out the live feed coming from Hawaii, which looks to have dodged the proverbial bullet so far as tsunami are concerned. There have been significantly higher waves hitting Hawaii but so far, nothing of serious consequence (and let's pray it stays that way). The truly fascinating thing that I'm finding from all of this is that, for the first time that I can remember it happening anyway, possible tsunami have been anticipated and evacuations well underway... and before television cameras for all the world to see, too.

Considering that the Boxing Day Tsunami was just over five years ago, that's a huge leap in technology and means of geological analysis and prediction.

Gotta love science :-)

US court ruling gives zombies free speech rights

Constitutional rights are no longer applicable only to living citizens, but to the undead ones as well.

Here's the story from Metro.co.uk...

US court rules 'Zombies have free speech rights'

A court has allowed a group of protesters dressed as zombies to continue with a lawsuit against police who arrested them for disorderly conduct.

The appeal court overturned a previous finding that the group had correctly been arrested over a 2006 protest in a shopping centre.

The group had been wearing makeup designed to make them look like and extra in a horror flick, with white faces, fake blood and black circles round their eyes.

They then proceeded to stagger round the shops, urging consumers to "get your brains here".

They also carried audio equipment, which police described as "simulated weapons of mass destruction", even though they were mobile phones.

The appeals court ruled that the police had no reason to imprison the protesters simply for "dressing as zombies, and walking erratically in downtown Minneapolis."

Thankfully, everyone else still has our Second Amendment rights and will be ready to employ it when the inevitable zombie apocalypse descends upon us :-P

Friday, February 26, 2010

Awright, new terminology...

I don't like the term "insane". I prefer "mentally hilarious".

(Shamelessly stolen from Bryan and Kathy Shepley :-)

Climatological wishful thinking

This is one winter that makes global warming sound like a pretty darned good idea.

Andrew Koenig's most amazing role

By now you've no doubt heard about actor Andrew Koenig, who was found dead in a park in Vancouver, Canada several hours ago.

Most people remember Koenig (son of Walter Koenig who played Pavel Chekov on Star Trek) as "Boner", the best friend of Kirk Cameron's Mike Seaver on Growing Pains. But a few years ago there was a film that Andrew Koenig appeared in, and played no small part. Indeed, for the many of us who have seen this we can't but be astonished at the incredible power and potential that Koenig had as an actor. It was definitely a sign that he was going to go far. I've even heard some say that Koenig's portrayal of the Joker is the most faithful take on the character in cinema history.

So in memory of Andrew Koenig, here is Batman: Dead End...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This blog needs some more beautiful on it...

...so once again, here is my cousin Lauryn.

Curiously, every time I post a photo of her, this blog's counter starts skyrocketing.

Question for my Twitter-in' peeps

What's the best third-party application/front end thingy to use with Twitter?

I'm beginning to use my own Twitter account a lot more, including photos and probably video as well. It would also be nice to have something that would, if at all possible, automatically aggregate tweets/twits/whatever addressed to me so that I see 'em without having to just happen upon them.

So what would y'all recommend? :-)

Not a trap: Ole Miss might make Admiral Ackbar its new sports mascot

The University of Mississipi, better known as Ole Miss, retired its previous mascot Colonel Reb a few years ago. The school has put it up to the student body to select the next standard bearer of athletic pride.

Looks like Ole Miss is going to replace a colonel with an admiral. Namely, Admiral Ackbar from the Star Wars movies. Ackbar has emerged as the front-runner among the possible candidates for the mascot job.

"It's a trap!"? No, and it's not a joke either. Assuming the lawyers at Lucasfilm (who I have a more than cursory knowledge about, and that's as much as I dare say about that) lets Ole Miss do it, the Mon Calamari tactical genius who orchestrated the assault on the second Death Star could very well be leading the cheers at the football and basketball games!

I like what one person has said about Admiral Ackbar at Ole Miss: "Well it does rebrand the Confederate cause in far more positive way -- I say they run with it. In fact, Ackbar's leadership as a symbol of the diversity of the Rebel Alliance against the human supremacist Empire reverses the whole image problem! Remember, the Rebel Alliance was fighting Palpatine's 'Grand Army of the Republic.'"

Yeah, I guess that's one way of looking at it. But still, even being a die-hard Star Wars geek (and proud of it!), if I were at Ole Miss and had some say in who the new sports mascot should be, and if it had to be an aquatic alien, I wouldn't have considered Admiral Ackbar at all (no offense Acky).

Instead I would have suggested Cthulhu from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft...

Can you imagine the sheer terror that would be evoked by such a thing? And hey, Ole Miss could rename their team to be the "Ole Miss Old Ones"!!

Color me officially intrigued by Bloom Energy

Heaven only knows how many alternative energy schemes have been proposed over the years, only to watch all of 'em that come to mind fail to deliver the promised goods of cheap, clean power.

But having read about it for the past few weeks, and now seeing what was unveiled yesterday by the company, I think there's a LOT of potential in what Bloom Energy has come up with.

Imagine ten years from now, having a brick-sized energy server supplying all of the electricity to your house. No power lines or anything. A few weeks ago my house went 22 hours without power during a severe winter storm, along with 43,000 other people in this county. That would be a thing of the past, along with monthly bills from the power company.

Well, possibly. PCWorld's website has ten questions about the Bloom Energy Server that lots of folks will probably be asking.

Can't wait to see how this unfolds :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Had an interesting day

Edited a bunch of video, worked on a writing project, fixed a nasty computer problem, got sent on an impromptu medical mission of mercy of sorts, and tonight I found something that I've been searching for the past, oh, twenty-two years.

And thank the Lord, it didn't snow!

Now let's see what the morrow brings with it...

Not interchangeable

Power can come from enlightenment, but enlightenment can never come from power.

To ALL those good people in Jamaica who are visiting this blog right now...

Greetings! :-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Lighthouse": Post-episode reaction to tonight's LOST

Did that one get called, or what?

So 108 and 23 played a huge part of "Lighthouse" toward the end of the episode. But what's Jacob game here?

I'm starting to get a bit impatient about the flashsideways-es. This episode was in my opinion the best single-character centric look at the other timeline, and in spite of himself Jack is a terrific father. But what is the purpose of this other reality... and why are we seeing it at all? Questions abound and the clock is ticking down on opportunities to explain that and the bajillion other mysteries left on Lost.

I'm beginning to think that "Christian Shepherd" on the island was the Man in Black all along, and Claire sided with his camp as long ago as "Cabin Fever". Sure seems that way, the way Claire introduced Jin to "my friend".

So is that the explanation for the numbers?! Probably more to it than that but if not, that's still a heckuva neat purpose for them.

The teaser for next week promises answers. We'll see.

I'll give "Lighthouse" an 8.5 out of 10.

Is the Joker on the loose in Mayberry?

Over the weekend somebody vandalized the statue of Sheriff Andy Taylor that sits outside the Surry Arts Council building in Mount Airy, North Carolina. The statue depicts Mount Airy's most famous son, actor Andy Griffith, alongside his son Opie from The Andy Griffith Show.

Sheriff Andy now has green hair and a red smile painted on his face. His sheriff's badge is also now colored red. Opie was unharmed.

You can read all about it here.

I don't think that whoever did this has any idea of the trouble they're in. This being North Carolina, and Mount Airy (the inspiration for Mayberry on the show) of all places, an attack on Sheriff Taylor is downright sacrilege.

Sounds like the Joker is afoot in Mayberry. Time to load up your bullet Barney!

Speed of light slowed to 38 miles per hour

Light in a vacuum travels at about 186,000 miles per second. Now a group of scientists has slowed down a beam of light so that it only goes 38 miles per hour.

They did it by sending the light through super-cooled sodium atoms, which worked "like molasses" on the photons.

Read all about it here.

38 miles per hour? That's about half as fast as I usually drive :-P

Jessica Watson is 3/4ths of the way home

So you might be asking "Who is Jessica Watson?"

I've been following Jessica Watson's journey with great interest since it began this past October. At 16, this young lass from Sydney, Australia is endeavouring to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat, alone and unaided. She left the harbor in Sydney on October 17th 2009, headed on an easterly track that went north and back across the Equator. On January 14th Jessica rounded Cape Horn (her first sighting of land since taking off) at the southernmost tip of South America and began the Atlantic Ocean leg of her 23,000 nautical mile journey.

Sometime today - if she hasn't already - Jessica Watson should be conquering Cape Agulhas on the southern tip of Africa and enter the Indian Ocean. Then once she gets to Australia she merely has to sail around Down Under and get back to Sydney.

Visit Jessica Watson's official website for more information about her amazing odyssey, including a blog that she's maintaining on the trip and a page that uses Google Earth with GPS tracking that shows her present location and the track of her voyage thus far.

And Jessica: You go girl!! :-)

Two reasons why tonight's LOST episode could be more important than most

Reason #1: it's airing on February 23rd.

Reason #2: this will be the 108th hour of Lost since the show first began airing in fall of 2004.

With 23 being one of "the numbers" and 108 being the sum of the numbers, good money is on tonight's episode - titled "Lighthouse" - will wind up being rather monumental. Many keen Lost fans noted that last week's "The Substitute" aired on the eve of Ash Wednesday.

Lost at 9 tonight. Expect the usual post-episode reaction and thoughts afterward on this space :-)

Have you ever noticed...

...that everyone in the Bible who found "favor with God", without a single exception, encountered severe trials and troubles?

(Credit goes to friend and fellow blogger Kevin Bussey for that observation. One that I have been led to meditate much upon in the past several days.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Keynes and Hayek rap "Fear the Boom and Bust"

If all lessons about economics were this entertaining, I might not have slept through most of those classes years ago...

From creative director John Papola and creative economist Russ Roberts comes "Fear the Boom and Bust", a rap song in which legendary economists John Maynard Keynes and F. A. Hayek come back to life and attend a modern-day conference on the economic crisis, but first have a night of wild party.

Here 'tis! And I was laughing pretty hard at this...

Incidentally, that video was passed along this way by good friend and fellow blogger Danny de Garcia II from the Big Island of Hawaii. And he asked me to reprint an e-mail that he sent to all of his state's legislators...

Greetings Hawaii State Legislators,

As one of the major issues facing the Legislature this session is the question of economic recovery and how to connect the dots on falling revenues, I would like to submit for your review a video which explains in a rather simple to understand and humorous fashion two different schools of economic theory, Keynes; which supports big government and big spending to "stimulate" the economy and F.A. Hayek who won the 1974 Nobel Prize for his discussion on how government manipulation/intervention affects the economy. Please take a look at this 7-minute video, I think it will be very educational as well as self explanatory ......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk

Very Respectfully,

Danny de Gracia

Okay Danny, done! And as you noted: "Now they have absolutely NO EXCUSE to say 'I didn't know that we impact the market' :D"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Time for my weekly dose of ARE YOU BEING SERVED? on PBS

Just for fun, let's count how many times Mrs. Slocombe talks about her pussy!!!

EDIT 12:59 a.m. 02/22/2009: I am very disappointed! In two episodes tonight, Mrs. Slocombe mentioned her pussy only once! But Mr. Humphries more than made up for it :-)

REAL Church of Christ member discusses Johnny Robertson

First things first: Earlier this week somebody suggested that we should begin referring to local cult leader Johnny Robertson as "He Who Stalks Behind the Pews".

It was too good an idea not to go into Photoshop with it...

(click to drastically embiggen)

Heh-heh. Haven't done one of those in awhile :-P

Speaking of video cameras, a number of people have informed me that during his four hours of "Religious Review" this past week that Johnny Robertson put the word out to all(?) of his viewers that he wants them to begin covertly video recording all the churches in this area with video cameras, cellphones, iPhones etc. and to send the footage to him.

Between his obsession with Martinsville-based television station BTW, his constant scheming to destroy Baptists and Pentecostals and Methodists (especially Baptists), his harassing innocent people in their own homes and churches and store parking lots, his monitoring both feeds of WGSR to watch for dissenters, and now trying to amass an army of spies, does Johnny Robertson ever, like... you know, minister to the members of his own church? Doesn't seem right, somehow.

Yet another blog has popped up to counter Johnny Robertson and his so-called "Church of Christ". Whoever is behind it is already asking hard questions about the hyper-legalist doctrine of the cult as well as the lingering enigma regarding Jason Hairston's departure from the cult.

Finally, there is this that was posted on another forum by a mainstream Church of Christ member in the Martinsville, Virginia area. I thought it pertinent enough to repost here...

Word on the street, is supporters of John are starting to see through him, meetings have transpired as to a solution.

Even the Preaching School was created on lies and deceit via pictures, names of attendees. Funds were raised via a list of names and pictures of those who were supposedly enrolled. After some dropped from the program, funds were still being raised as if the program still had the same enrollees. It is quite clear that the purpose of the training school, was not to make “Gospel Preachers” but created solely to make clones – clones of John. John knows he has lost support and also realizes that his negative popularity is hurting his cause, rather than furthering his agenda. In desperation, he has tried to push more air time, as if this will help.

Watching a few shows one can quickly see that the show revolves around his ego. Seldom is Jesus referenced on his shows. He is more interested in picking apart the flaws of others than he is in reaching lost souls. And, NEVER do you hear him discussing the many problems within the Church of Christ. Why not? Well, simply put, it would show him to be like the rest of us – IMPERFECT. He falls short with morality and doctrinally, just as everyone else. But, pride comes before the fall and he dare not acknowledge his short-comings nor will he disclose information regarding the many disagreements within the Church of Christ; and folks these are not just some minor disagreements, they involve doctrine.

The “Doctrine of Christ” becomes whatever each sect within the Church of Christ deems it to be. Also, there is so much disagreement over “the gospel”-- not the Gospel about Jesus, but the gospel of scriptural interpretation. If you teach something like one cup MUST be used during communion, the multiple cuppers are labeled preaching “another gospel.” Many splits have occurred because one group says the other church of Christ sect is preaching “another gospel.” In both cases, Johns teaching on the “Doctrine of Christ” and Paul’s teaching to the Galatians are twisted and ripped from context and then used to divide the Church – a sin that Paul condemned strongly. John is a master at such misapplication of scripture, often ripping a verse from it's context and giving his own private interpretation which we are warned not to do.

Cults are masters of scripture manipulation and this brings me to the million dollar question: Is John Robertson a cult leader? YES!! Is the Church of Christ a cult? NO!! Many conservative Church of Christ are loving people, teaching the truth in love, not wanting to control peoples minds, but lead them to Christ. John wants his cultish ego fed and many afar off are staring to see this.

If you are reading this, and desire to stay in the Church of Christ, there are others in town who know John is a cult leader and they will gladly accept you and will do so in love and not attempt to control your minds.

Interesting. Very interesting.

Last night during my personal Bible study (so far that's all I'm reading this Lenten season, having vowed to give up reading for pleasure :-) I did some study in 2nd Corinthians. Beginning in the eleventh chapter, Paul has a lot to say about as he puts it the "super-apostles" who were puffing themselves up with legalism. They thought that by following "the rules" that this would give them more merit than other Christians. Paul rails against them and not just because they were trying to destroy Paul's ministry either. These people were bringing back the same rule of law that Christ's substitutionary death had put an end to. In effect, these people were undoing the finished work of Christ at Calvary.

It's not by any work of our own, lest we should boast! We are saved by the grace of God, and not by the grace of other men.

I cannot put it any more plain than this: to insist otherwise, is a very evil thing. Perhaps the most evil thing possible in this world. Christ came to free us. Men like Johnny Robertson and his followers lust to enslave others... and in the name of Christ, no less!

And I'm going to keep stating the obvious for however much I have to, regardless of any intimidation or threats from Johnny Robertson and his lackeys.

Some thoughts on Joseph Stack and the IRS

The subject of Joseph Stack - the man who did a kamikaze attack with his private plane on an IRS office in Austin, Texas this past week - came up last night while a friend and I were getting a bite to eat after seeing Shutter Island (an excellent movie, incidentally).

For whatever it's worth ('cuz hey, I'm just a blogger on the Intertubes) I think that Mr. Stack was a very troubled individual, and I would no doubt hold to that assessment even if I had not read his bizarre and rambling screed that he posted on a website before burning down his own house and then flying off the brink of madness.

I also think that it's very, very inappropriate for anyone to ascribe Stack as being typical of a political ideology. In the past few days I've seen self-professed liberals claim that Stack echoed the sentiments of conservatives and the Tea Partiers, and I've seen self-professed conservatives insist that Stack was a liberal.

I saw much the same happen in the days and weeks following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. That was wrong then and trying to score political points off of a senseless act is just as wrong now.

That said, I am inclined to ponder what it was that drove Mr. Stack to such extreme behavior, and as with everything else I believe such curiosity can be meditated upon without examination in that darklyiest mirror of temporal politics. A better mind than my own for this sort of thing - namely, that of Chuck Baldwin - has articulated some thoughts about Stack and his anger. Baldwin doesn't excuse Joseph Stack or make him out to be "a martyr for the cause"... but he does address the increasingly growing frustration that many Americans are having with a government that they are compelled to believe no longer represents them or derives from our consent.

Finally, in his pre-mortem manifesto Joseph Stack referenced Section 1706 of the 1986 tax act: a bit of legislation that Stack claimed declared him to be a "criminal and non-citizen slave" and drove his programming career into financial ruin. A 1998 article in The New York Times addressed the very same problem that apparently so provoked Stack, and tax attorney Harvey J. Shulman discusses Section 1706 further in light of recent days. Reading it, I must profess that it's hard not to have some sympathy toward Joseph Stack (and I can have that without condoning his actions of this past week) as well as toward anyone else who is trying to make it as an independent computer programmer or technical consultant. The IRS has enforced such an inordinately burdensome tax liability on these people that I cannot but believe that it has led to a stifling not only of personal wealth, but of innovation and creativity in this country.

Kinda makes you wonder if Steve Jobs or Bill Gates would have ever started Apple or Microsoft after 1986... or if they would have just given up their dreams because the government mandated too much money from them to have ever made it worthwhile.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Knight Shift celebrates ONE MILLION VISITS!!!

As of tonight, February 20th 2010, The Knight Shift has officially hit seven figures...

...because this evening this blog received its ONE MILLIONTH VISITOR!

WOO-HOO!!!


Took just over six years, nearly 4,000 individual posts about everything from Star Wars to me running for office to restaurant reviews to crazy cult leaders to legal battle with media giants to exploits in filmmaking to travel to religion to cutting-edge science to...

What hasn't this blog and its eclectic proprietor covered in all that time?

Well, it's been a heck of a fun ride. And one million separate visits to what is, admittedly, a personal blog is quite a significant accomplishment. I'm thankful to have had such an audience, and I sincerely mean it when I say that I hope to continue delivering the goods - whatever they happen to be - for a long time to come.

In the meantime, y'all buy a candy bar and pretend I got it for you. And the drinks are on me too :-)

Bumper sticker that I made for my car

My political philosophy
can't fit on a bumper sticker.

Neither should YOURS!

Says what it means. Means what it says.

I came up with the slogan about two weeks ago, designed it in Photoshop and had CafePress print it and ship it to me. It replaces the "Ron Paul for President" sticker that has been on my bumper for almost two years. Which that one wound up striking up lots of good conversation with folks who saw it decorating my car, and hopefully this new one will stir up even more.

Alexander Haig, 40.2nd President of the United States, has passed away

"As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the vice president." Those were the words of Alexander Haig on March 30th, 1981. President Ronald Reagan had just been shot and rushed to the hospital and Vice President George Bush was en route from Texas. As the Secretary of State, Haig made his now-(in)famous statement in an effort to assure Americans that there was no vacuum of authority per the presidential line of succession.

Haig was wildly wrong, of course (the next in line after Vice President is the Speaker of the House, followed by the President pro tempore of the Senate and then the Secretary of State) but it was merely a colorful moment in a life of decorated military service to his country, followed by assisting three presidents and even having a try for the office himself.

The sad news broke this morning that Alexander Haig has passed away at the age of 85.

Thoughts and prayers going out to his family.

Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL released 25 years ago today

American audiences didn't get to see it until ten months later (and only then, after one of the most legendary "word of mouth" campaigns in cinema history).

But all the same, on this day we celebrate a quarter-century since the release of Brazil: thought by many to be not only Terry Gilliam's masterpiece, but also a film that was extremely far ahead of its time in so many ways...

In case you've never seen it before, this movie has nothing to do with the country of Brazil (apart from the theme song ""Aquarela do Brasil"). Set "Somewhere in the 20th Century", Brazil is the tale of Sam Lowry (played by Jonathan Pryce), an employee in the lower tier of a government so overly-bureaucritized that it's been called everything from satirical to prophetic. Lowry seeks escape from the tedium of his existence in wild daydreams of rescuing a beautiful maiden. And then his fantasies begin to intersect with waking life after a paperwork snafu at the Ministry of Information sets in motion a series of chaotic events that leads him to the very real Jill (Kim Greist). Also thrown into the mix is Archibald "Harry" Tuttle, a renegade heating and air conditioning repairman (played by Robert De Niro, in what has been praised as one of the finest roles of his career).

One could spend way too much time writing about Brazil and its many themes. Gilliam's desire to convey desperation to escape from modern life (along with Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Gilliam considers Brazil to be part of his "Trilogy of the Imagination"), government power run amok, people too fixated on materialism and vanity ("Consumers for Christ"? There's gads of commentary in just those three words), the list goes on.

It's a very difficult movie to describe, if you haven't watched it yet. Twenty-five years later and Brazil has not only gotten better with age, it's now more relevant than most films in recent memory. And indeed, it's one of the rare films that seems to get better with each new viewing.

So happy twenty-fifth anniversary to Brazil! And no offense meant, but here's to praying that the next twenty-five years don't bring this movie any closer to reality.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Attention: Charles Roark

To: Charles Roark, general manager of WGSR Star 47

I have significantly more substantiation for my report than you had when you allowed your biggest-paying client to accuse First Christian Church in Kernersville of child pornography without challenging him on it, or when you personally claimed on live television that the same church was "full of perverts".

sincerely,
Chris Knight

Lawsuit alleges school officials spied on students at home via webcams

If true, this is worse than George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. At least in that book the people of Oceania knew that the telescreens were everywhere watching them.

What I'd love to know is: how does a public school system - any public system mind ya - have enough money in these dire economic times to give a laptop computer to each and every student?

According to a lawsuit filed in federal court, administrators of the Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania could and were using the built-in webcams on laptops given to students of Harriton High School to watch them in the privacy of the students' homes (and obviously without knowledge or consent of the students or their parents). The revelation about the webcams came to light when Harriton High School Assistant Principal Lindy Matsko told student Blake J. Robbins that Robbins was "was engaged in improper behavior in his home" and showed him a photograph taken from Robbins' laptop webcam. Robbins' father confronted Matkso and received confirmation: school officials can remotely access the webcams even if the students aren't using the computers at all.

Lower Merion administrators claim it's an anti-theft security feature. But "Occasionally a green light would go on on your computer which would kind of give you the feeling that somebody’s watching you," Harriton High School student Drew Scheier told an NBC affiliate in Philadelphia.

Let's see due process run its course on this folks. And if it is determined in a court of law that Lower Merion officials and faculty were spying on students with the webcams, then the whole sorry lot of 'em need to be dragged out into the street and hung from the nearest telephone poles by their circular reproductive units. With piano wire.

(And here's the full text of the lawsuit, if you are so interested.)

Remember that woman who accused the Duke lacrosse players of rape?

Crystal Mangum is now sitting in the Durham County Jail under a $1 million bond. She has been charged with attempted murder after assaulting her boyfriend, setting his clothes on fire in a bathtub and then trying to stab him.

Slash here for the story.

About a week or so ago a friend brought up the Duke lacrosse case during a conversation, talking about how those players were innocent but even so the notoriety of the case would always hang over them. And he didn't shy away from expressing his disgust about how Crystal Mangum got away unpunished. "Don't worry," I told him. "I saw it happen with O.J. Simpson and too many others. Maybe in ways we'll never even see, she'll get hers eventually."

Nothing else needs to be said...

LEGO robot solves Rubik's cube in less than 12 seconds

Mike Dobson - AKA Robotic Solutions - is known far and wide for his genius at cooking up contraptions with LEGO bricks and the LEGO Mindstorms robotics packages. Dobson has now applied his mad skillz toward his latest creation: the CubeStormer.

This thing looks scary. Sorta intimidating like the Voight-Kampff machine from Blade Runner. But set your faces to stunned y'all: the CubeStormer can solve any Rubik's cube puzzle on its own in twelve seconds or less, and sometimes even in less than five seconds!

Check it out...

Read more about the CubeStormer here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In loving memory of Uncle Wayne

A lot of people keep telling me that I should take whatever talent God might have given me and strike out for greater fame and fortune. About as many of them ask me why am I still in Reidsville. And it's a fair question. There's only so much opportunity here for someone like me. I mean, if you're going to do filmmaking and writing, then you should be in Raleigh or Charlotte at the very least.

What's been holding me back? Guess for one thing, I've been trying to wait patiently on God to show me what He wants of me. I've been striving to trust in Him rather than trust in myself. And it so happens that maybe that patience has begun to pay off, as some considerable opportunity has arisen and the more I think and pray about it, the more I'm feeling led to follow it however far away it might be.

The other thing that's been keeping me here are the people that I love and care about the most.

In spite of how rough the past good many years have been, I can't help but feel like the luckiest guy on this Earth, for all of the people that God has blessed my life with. He has given me the best friends that I can possibly imagine. And I am extremely thankful to have a family that is so... well... unique! And I like to think that wherever I am preparing to go to, that I will be taking with me all the good things that they have shown me.

But it's going to be hard, to be that far away from the people that I love so much. The people who have given me so much more encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom than I could possibly convey how grateful I am for having them in my life.

People like Uncle Wayne...

John Wayne Roberts was one of the first people that I can remember knowing about. Guess it has to do with how close Mom's family has always been, and how she and Wayne pretty much grew up together. And also how Uncle Wayne's daughter and I were the closest in age to each other among everyone in the extended Roberts clan.

But I also think that it has to do with the fact that Uncle Wayne seemed to be everywhere. He was definitely the "go-to guy" in the family, for good reason. His talents ran the gamut from accounting, to managing, to cooking (and I even vaguely remember him working as a meat slicer at a local grocery store). Whenever anyone had a problem, Uncle Wayne was the ever reliable fount of intellect and experience that could be drawn from.

Uncle Wayne was the first person in the entire family to own a personal computer... and a modem! Think it ran at 300 baud blazing speed, or something. Guess you could say that he was a real technophile. Uncle Wayne was also the one who first got my grandmother hooked up with cable television: for all the movies that it brought into her living room that she enjoyed watching, I will always be grateful for his doing that for her.

Uncle Wayne was a man who followed Christ. And he walked the walk as best as anyone has that I've ever known. There was a quality about him that spoke volumes of his grace-filled life. In his younger years Uncle Wayne went on a number of mission trips, including one to build a church in Haiti. He was an active member of his congregation. But it was his day to day demeanor that was his greatest testimony. Uncle Wayne was a kind, gentle and humble man who saw each person as worth loving. Uncle Wayne fought many hard battles over the course of his life... but he never complained about them. I've no doubt that it was because he was too busy praying for those who were fighting even harder battles than he.

We didn't know that he was fighting one last struggle. He kept it quietly to himself. The last time I saw him was a month ago, and if anyone had told me that he was in such ill health, I would never have believed it. Uncle Wayne was doing even then what I had always seen him do most: being there for others.

Two weeks ago, Uncle Wayne passed away.

He leaves behind his wonderful wife Deborah and two daughters, Heather and Meggan. And many people - both family and friends - who loved him so very much.

And I cannot but thank God for putting Uncle Wayne into my life, because I am a far better person for having him as not only an uncle, but a mentor and close friend.

The last time that I saw him, I shared with Uncle Wayne about the opportunity that had been put before me. He counseled me to go for it. I told him that I didn't want to leave behind people like my family. People like him. Uncle Wayne reminded me not to be afraid, because the Lord has directed us and would be with me no matter what.

It's the strangest thing, but as saddened as I've been about losing Uncle Wayne, I've found it hard to shed a tear for his passing. Maybe it's because I know more than ever before that this world isn't all there is. And that the Lord was with Uncle Wayne and that he is in a far better place now.

This isn't goodbye. Not at all. This is just "so long" for now.

And now it's time to remember Uncle Wayne in the best way that I know how: to share the best things that he gave me with others in the scope of the larger world.

When you think about it, there's not many better memorials to those that we love than that!

Something that should be obvious

We should stop putting people in government who can't even govern themselves.

Interstellar hydrogen would be lethal for warp drive travellers

Assuming that we could ever figure out how to travel faster than the speed of light, there may not be a heck of a lot that we could do with it. That's what Professor William Edelstein of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (dude sounds like a polymath for having a good head about medicine and high-energy physics) has determined.

The problem is hydrogen, which exists in interstellar space on average of two atoms per cubic centimeter. Which ain't a whole lot. But if a spacecraft were to accelerate toward lightspeed those scarce atoms would start bombarding the ship like a hail of bullets...

As the spaceship reached 99.999998 per cent of the speed of light, "hydrogen atoms would seem to reach a staggering 7 teraelectron volts", which for the crew "would be like standing in front of the Large Hadron Collider beam".

This is a very bad thing, because humans in the path of this ray would receive a dose of ionising radiation of 10,000 sieverts, and as Bones McCoy would doubtless confirm, the lethal dose is 6 sieverts.

The result? Death in one second.

The spacecraft's structure would do little to mitigate the effects of the killer hydrogen. Edelstein "calculates that a 10-centimetre-thick layer of aluminium would absorb less than 1 per cent of the energy", and the intense doses of radiation would damage the ship's structure and fry its electronics.

Edelstein grimly concluded: "Hydrogen atoms are unavoidable space mines."

Kinda makes you have whole new appreciation for them forward shields on the U.S.S. Enterprise, aye? :-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

TSA agent makes 4-year old kid remove leg braces

Ryan Thomas, a four-year old lad who is developmentally disabled and must wear metal leg braces because of low muscle tone, was considered enough a potential terrorist threat that a Transportation Security Administration goon forced Ryan's parents to remove said leg braces while the family was en route to a vacation at Disney World.

Words fail.

Oh yeah, by the way, ten thousand TSA agents will now have access to classified information.

What the hell is happening to our country?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"The Substitute": Reaction to tonight's LOST

Anyone else go "Ewwwww..." when they saw that spider creeping off of dead Locke's face?

I thought last week's episode, "What Kate Does", better than many have given it credit for. Tonight's episode of Lost, "The Substitute", was all-around solid and oughtta placate darn near everybody. 'Twas great to see the dynamic between Sawyer and Locke again (even though Sawyer knew pretty much immediately that it wasn't the real Locke). I think that tonight's show also answered many questions about the lists and the numbers (even though we still don't know what the numbers are supposed to mean).

One thing that's starting to bug me though is the deal about the "flashsideways". We're three episodes into the final season and we barely know anything about what's going on with them. Hope this starts to get addressed soon.

I'll give "The Substitute" an 8.5 out of 10. And I might even resolve that higher the more I think about it.

Thinking of doing Lent. Any ideas?

A few years ago I gave up blogging for Lent. It turned out to be an incredibly refreshing experience, and I came back reinvigorated and full of excess creativity.

More than a passing thought had crossed my mind to do it again starting tomorrow. But my friends aren't too keen on the idea. The Knight Shift, it seems, has become "too valuable a source of information".

(I'll let the merits of that argument be an exercise for the reader.)

I'm still considering doing something this Lenten season, however. I'm open to suggestions. What could I give up for the next forty days?

No, I'm not a drinker. And I haven't done drugs since... nevermind :-P

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Let's see Hallmark make a card out of this

Saint Valentine was a Christian who was imprisoned, brutally tortured and finally beheaded on orders from Emperor Claudius II of Rome on February 14th, 270 A.D. 



How we came to remember the occasion by giving cards, candy and flowers, is anyone's guess...
 
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY anyway!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beaker's Ballad: Another new video from the Muppets!

What happens when Beaker attempts a cover of "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas? In a word: "BURNINATION!"

Think I figured out a big LOST mystery

Yah, maybe. Like a few days ago when I posted the "Dark Entity is trying to escape God's judgment" notion.

Here it is this time: "Adam and Eve" are going to turn out to be Sawyer and Juliet.

Go back and watch this past week's episode "What Kate Does" again. Trust me it is not a "filler" episode like too many are saying it is. After going through it for a third time I can't help but think that there are some huge chunks of Lost mythos - that we have been hungering for - that were laid bare at last.

Here's a hint to help you along: you also need to go back to "Not In Portland", which was the first Juliet-centric episode. 'Cuz the two episodes kinda, sorta go hand in hand.

If y'all are seeing the same thing that I am, feel free to post a comment :-)

How the Tea Party is being co-opted by those it's fighting against

In his latest essay "A Warning To The Tea Party Nation", Chuck Baldwin signals both profound encouragement about the Tea Party movement... and a caution about how it is being quietly taken over by the very sort that the Tea Party began in opposition to.

Here's a clip, beginning with a comparison to the "Republican Revolution" of 1994...

Spurred mostly by the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, a host of young, energetic freshman Republicans marched into Washington, D.C., determined to return a burgeoning and out-of-control federal leviathan to the constitutional precepts of limited government. I'm talking about then-freshman House members such as Helen Chenoweth, Steve Largent, Bob Barr, Joe Scarborough, Sonny Bono, John Shadegg, J.C. Watts, etc. These young conservatives went to Washington, D.C., determined to reduce the growth and size of the federal government.

The vehicle used to transport these young conservatives from grassroots activism to US House and Senate seats was the highly touted "Contract with America" (CWA), which was orchestrated by House Speaker-to-be, Newt Gingrich. The CWA included a promise to the American people that if they would give the GOP a majority in Congress, they would eliminate up to 5 federal departments--such as the Departments of Energy and Education--and many federal agencies.

Obviously, not only did the GOP-controlled Congress not eliminate a single federal department or agency--or even shrink the size of the federal government at all--it expanded the size and scope of the federal government at every level. And there is one reason for it: Big Government neocons posing as champions of conservatism co-opted and destroyed the Conservative Revolution of 1994.

If one wants to put names to these treasonous wretches (and I do), I'm talking about charlatans such as Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott. Anyone who thinks that Newt Gingrich is a real conservative or that he will do anything to reduce the size and scope of the federal government needs to speak with any of those Republican members of the freshman class of 1994. (Sadly, too, some of the members of that great freshman class went on to become Big Government toadies themselves. Such is the power of that Putrid Province by the Potomac.)

The Tea Parties of 2010 remind me very much of the Conservative Revolution of 1994. And if the Tea Party Nation is not very careful, they will succumb to the same fate. The signs of a silent takeover of the movement are already appearing.

My gut feeling is that we're going to be watching the Tea Party wax brilliantly throughout 2010 and it's going to no doubt be a factor in winning a bunch of seats in Congress for the GOP. And then come this time in 2011 the Tea Party will be a fast-fading memory: its purpose as a ready-made vehicle for the Republicans fulfilled. That's if the Tea Party continues to make the mistake of hitching its wagon to "stars" like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and the like. The Tea Party is supposed to be a movement about an idea: that government must be limited by the Constitution in deed as well as in word. That's a different thing than being led around by ideologists who have proven well enough that they have not this country's best interests in mind.

On a related note, my good friend Danny de Garcia II out of the Big Island of Hawaii has in the past 12 hours started up what he calls a "conservative splinter" faction of the Tea Party...

The Coffee Party is born! Here's the official (well as official as a political party less than half a day old) description of the Coffee Party...

The TEA Party has been hijacked by big government, pro-globalist, pro-finance oligarch, pro-war, pro-police state, anti-liberty candidates and spokespeople who are interested only in putting the American people BACK TO SLEEP with their tranquilizing chamomile tea of propaganda.

We on the other hand are awake, we realize that the TEA Party movement began with a distrust of big government, a desire to repeal the USA Patriot Act, to end the Federal Reserve, to stop the illegal wars and to return America to a land of the people, by the people and for the people. Americans drink coffee more than their British cousins because after the Boston Tea Party, they learned to live without Tea. Well, it's time to switch from the tainted TEA and get a dose of reality.

The TEA Party was fathered by men like Ron Paul who believed in a return to the Bill of Rights and Constitution, not phonies who want to expand the powers of the state. Now, "TEA Party" candidates are opposing Ron Paul and others and replacing the message with a false revival that promotes totalitarianism. As any REAL conservative knows, our question is not one of left or right, but up or down - up to liberty, or down to the ash heap of liberty. Join the Coffee Party!

I love it! :-) And if you want to join the Coffee Party too, here's the Coffee Party's page on Facebook. I was member #6 ("I am not a number, I am a free man!!") 'Twould be great if this thing cracked double or even triple digits by the end of the weekend! :-)

Friday, February 12, 2010

It is snowing. Again.

I have decided that Winter 2010 is officially going to be recognized as "The Fell Winter".

Look it up if you've never read Tolkien :-)

The most popular article on The Knight Shift lately...

...has been my report on visiting a Seventh Day Adventist church and what I learned about my fellow followers of Christ known as Adventists. There's not a day that goes by now that a nice e-mail doesn't comes in about that write-up (including from places as far away as Singapore and Russia).

I don't usually do this but in light of the huge amount of traffic that's come in during the past few weeks and months about it: I'm very much in awe at how well this seems to have resonated with so many people, and if perhaps God has used it in His own wide and mysterious ways then I am thankful to have played some small part in that.

Anyway, if you haven't read it yet, feel free to check it out!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A thought in rhyme...

A greater wisdom is seldom taught, but ever always must be sought.

See Eric Smith in AN EVENING OF SHORT PLAYS #22 at the Greensboro Fringe Festival this weekend!

Good friend and colleague in fighting the good fight Eric Smith, hot off his portrayal of Reverend Hopkins in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever a few months ago, wants y'all to know that he'll be appearing in "An Evening of Short Plays #22" this weekend, presented by the Greensboro Playwrights Forum as part of the Greensboro Fringe Festival. The show runs tonight through Sunday in the City Arts Studio Theatre at the Greensboro Cultural Center. Admission is free but a $5 donation is encouraged (and no doubt more would be appreciated if you enjoy it... as you no doubt will :-)

Wanna know what to expect? Here's the rundown of one of the plays...

"Viewer's Like You by Tommy Trull"

In a highly meta-theatrical play, a snowman actor struggles to find his motivation in a film about snowman porn.

Heck, I'd pay full admission just to see that one :-P

Iran is now a "nuclear state"

So declared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today in Tehran on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the revolution that put the current regime in power.

Ahmadinejad's basis for this announcement is that Iran is "capable" of producing weapons-grade uranium.

By the same token, the fact that I used to launch Estes model rockets as a kid means that I can declare myself to be a space-borne superpower.

(I'm just sayin'...)

Is a gift of the Magi a cure for cancer?

Frankincense, the precious fragrance that was among the gifts that the wise men from the East brought to the infant Jesus, is now being studied intensely for its cancer-fighting properties. There's something in frankincense that compels cancerous cells to "reject" nuclei and reset back to what the normal governing gene sequence should be.

It's a very educational and intriguing read, especially if you've ever read the Christmas story out of the Bible and wondered what the heck frankincense is supposed to be :-)

(And although that painting has nothing to do with frankincense specifically, I'll give props to whoever can tell me the name of it, who painted it and what its historical significance is ;-)

Newly released 9/11 photos show World Trade Center collapse from aerial viewpoint

Eight and a half years later and new material of the 9/11 attacks is still coming out.

Look at this image of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, taken from a New York City Police helicopter...

And eight years later, the same words come out of my mouth upon seeing it: "My God..."

Click here for many more photos.

"Subversive" groups in South Carolina must be legally registered

What. The. Hell. ?!?

If you are a "subversive" person - i.e. if you are honked-off enough with the government that you think it should be overthrown or even coerced in any way whatsoever (which could mean anything) - and you happen to live in South Carolina, you must now register with that state's government or else get slapped with a $25,000 fine and up to ten years in prison.

Hit here for the full text of the "Subversive Activities Registration Act", which is now codified in the South Carolina law books.

Right off the top of my head, this law violates the First Amendment (right of peaceable assembly), the Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination) and damn near everything that the Founders had in mind when they wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Who the hell in the South Carolina legislature voted for this abomination? Whoever they are, they should be dragged out into the street and horsewhipped most heinously. Followed by a good tar 'n featherin'!

EDIT 8:52 a.m.: It just hit me what South Carolina's lawmakers really have in mind with this thing. Let's start calling it for what it is: a dissent tax! South Carolina like most other states right now are having a bigtime budget crunch, so they've hit on a new channel of revenue. And right now there's beacoups of anger at the government, so South Carolina's legislators are attempting to tap into that as a lucrative source of income.

Dissent tax. That's what I'm gonna start calling it anyway...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Robertson the Lesser is all kinds of incoherent tonight (and PROVES that Methodists, Presbyterians and Catholics are biblical!)

Yah, talking about Micah Robertson, son of local cult leader Johnny Robertson of the so-called "Martinsville Church of Christ". Someone sent me an e-mail saying that Robertson the Lesser was doing daddy's show tonight (why is it that Micah seems so ashamed to acknowledge that Johnny is his father?) and I was about to work on a video project and needed some background noise, so I dialed up the Martinsville feed of WGSR for chuckles.

Even while busy authoring a DVD, I was able to poke tons of holes in Robertson the Lesser's alleged "presentation".

First of all, I'm not at all convinced that Micah Robertson is completely confident in what he professes to believe. The guy comes across as too nervous, too insecure. He drones on and on like a monotone robot.

Well, when I tuned in Micah Robertson was claiming that pianos and guitars were carved idols and shouldn't be brought into churches. Ummm... ohhhkaaaaay...

Then a little later on Micah Robertson condemned churches that vote on memberships, saying that it's not scriptural. He then immediately followed that up by talking about how his so-called "Church of Christ" denies the Lord's Supper to those who the church believes doesn't deserve it. How is that at all NOT judging someone as being unworthy of fellowship?! Heck, even if there's not much scriptural basis for voting on church membership, what Johnny Robertson and his cult are doing is worse and even more un-biblical!

But as outrageous as that is, that's nothing compared to what took place a few minutes earlier, when Micah Robertson himself demonstrated that the Methodist churches, the Presbyterian churches and the Roman Catholic churches are scriptural and how his own "Church of Christ" is not!

Robertson the Lesser was using some Old Testament verses out of context to build up his cult's usual twisted case for legalism. As is often the case, this involves water baptism, without which the cult believes one is going to Hell (but you're probably going to go to Hell anyway).

And then Micah Robertson cited Ezekiel 36:25.

What does Ezekiel 36:25 say, per the King James Version that Robertson quoted from?

"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you."
WHOA!!! "SPRINKLE" water?! You mean it DOESN'T have to be full immersion in water in order for one to be "clean"?!

That is what the Bible says, folks.

Now, who among our brethren in Christ are most known for sprinkling water? The Methodists, the Presbyterians and the Roman Catholics come most to mind, and there are a number of others.

In fact, nowhere in scripture are we told that a person must be dunked at all. We're told that people "came up" from the water, but that could mean any number of things.

The only logical conclusion, if we are adhering to a strict interpretation of scripture, is that Micah Robertson has proven tonight, if nothing else, that his own church is not biblical and has instead shown that Methodist, Presbyterians and Catholics are on very firm scriptural foundation. No doubt he didn't mean to, but hey: God can even work through the foolish.

I would say that I'm waiting for that $5,000 check from Johnny Robertson for showing how his son has proven that "denominations" are in the Bible, but I'm not gonna hold my breath...

BIOSHOCK 2 is making Chris cry

BioShock 2 went on sale yesterday. I was in line at midnight on Monday evening at the local GameStop to get my copy. I'm still early in the game but it is wildly exceeding my expectations!! There'll be a full review of it up as soon as I finish the game.

But...

...Can somebody PLEASE tell me HOW in the world can I beat the Big Sister?!?

The first Big Daddy that you meet in the game, I was able to take him out easily (probably 'cuz after playing BioShock no less than seven times it had become old hat and I not only knew the tricks but was able to adapt BioShock 2's new weapons to those tactics). And I've got my first Little Sister to harvest the ADAM (which took considerably longer 'cuz those Splicers were coming at us like there was no tomorrow).

Well, I've been stuck in the museum for several hours now because of that Big Sister. She is whipping my butt like no nemesis I've ever fought in a video game.

So I'm putting the call out to anyone who's gotten lucky. All I'm asking is for the best strategy to taking out the Big Sister. Nothing more than that.

If you've gotten past this... thing, feel free to post how you dunnit as a comment :-)

Meanwhile tonight in North Carolina...

UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE UNC DUKE ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz...

All creatures great and gluttonous

Outside my window is a wooden bird feeder. All this winter I've kept it well stocked with sunflower seeds and whatnot, and it's proven especially popular with our local feathered friends during the recent spate of harsh weather. 'Tis been quite good fun watching the cardinals and blue jays flutter in and get their fill.

Well a short while ago a new customer flew into the joint. It was a woodpecker...

...and he's pecking away furiously on the wooden sides of the feeder!

Hey Woody: it's a bird feeder, not bird food!

But I guess I have no choice but to let him have at it. My feeder enjoys too great a reputation as an "all you can eat" establishment and the woodpecker is determined to take me at my word.

Maybe next year I should change it to a metal feeder and leave out some strips of bark for the cellulose-loving clientele...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"What Kate Does": Reaction to tonight's LOST

Hmmmm...

I don't feel at all that this was a "filler" episode. Way too much good character drama in "What Kate Does" for that.

Like most Lost episodes, I'm just trying to figure out what its real shape and form is. Where it's going. There's certainly a sense that the past five seasons have been well-invested but... invest in what?!

The scene where Dogan was "testing" Sayid evoked genuine groaning. That looked positively hurtful.

Anyone else thing that Claire's blurting out "Aaron" in the other timeline might be some of the "main" universe leaking through? Perhaps a subtle hint at the quantum mechanics at work in Lost?

I'll give this episode a 6.5 out of 10. Not overwhelmingly excellent, but not mediocre either. And who knows: there might be more that we saw in this one than we realize, that'll be more appreciated as the rest of the final season unfolds.

Christopher Nolan to guide rebooting of Superman and is already working on the third Batman movie!

The cinematic future of DC Comics' two most classic heroes is in good hands.

Christopher Nolan is set to "godfather" the relaunch of the Superman film franchise. This will not be a sequel to Superman Returns, but will begin its own new continuity. Nolan won't be directing or writing, just kinda shepherding and mentoring the process along into the kind of movie series that Superman needs to become.

(I'm probably one of the few who'll admit to honestly liking Superman Returns a whole lot. It wasn't perfect, but I thought it hit on some of the right tones for a Superman flick. But hey, I also liked Ang Lee's Hulk and still loved 2008's non-sequel The Incredible Hulk :-)

But that's not all folks! According to the same report at GeekTyrant, David Goyer and Jonah Nolan are already at work on the third installment of their Batman series.

Gotta wonder how that'll turn out. The Dark Knight was darn nearly the most perfect comic book movie in the history of anything. But I've faith in the Nolans and Goyer. I'm thinking that where Batman Begins ended with "escalation" and The Dark Knight built on that, the next logical step would be how Gotham City goes from being run by organized crime, to now a place where the mob has been toppled and the time of the "freaks" like Joker, Scarecrow etc. will finally be at hand. At which point the people will have no choice but to turn to Batman and embrace his role as protector of Gotham.

The best thing about that scenario is that it opens up Nolan's Batman continuity indefinitely! We could see a movie or two for everyone in the Batman rogue's gallery. And regardless of what Chris Nolan has said, I'm confident that the Penguin could be set loose in his Batman 'verse and still be convincing. That's what I most wanna see anyway :-P

White House official sez: Critics of Obama are aiding Al Qaeda

John Brennan, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, has stated in an essay for USA Today that "Politically motivated criticism" of President Barack Obama and "unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda."

Hey Republicans: Remember when your President George W. Bush declared that "If you are not with us, you are with the terrists"? Do you recall all that howling about how disagreeing with the President was tantamount to treason?

Some of us were trying to tell y'all then that this sort of thing would come back to bite y'all in the ass.

How does it feel now, to be named as helping terrorism?

I think Mr. Brennan's statement is just as ridiculous as what Bush said following 9/11. And to anyone with a working neurobiology, this should demonstrate once again that there is no discernible difference between the Democrats and Republicans.

But hey, now the vast majority of Americans have been officially declared as harboring terrorist sympathies! 'Twill no doubt make it far easier for The Government to declare us all enemies of the state...

"Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration"

An outfit called Soomo Publishing out of Asheville, North Carolina has cooked up this astounding music video that should be used in high school and college history classes across America.

Here is "Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration"...

On God and political parties...

I doubt that God ever worked through a political party, seeing as how He much rather prefers to work through real people.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Did Charles Roark cost Rockingham County 60 well-paying jobs?

So a fairly well-known company was considering locating a facility in Rockingham County that would have put around sixty people to work in positions with good pay.

And then some of their management happened to catch a few days' worth of WGSR Star 47. In particular The Local Buzz with WGSR general manager Charles Roark. Even more particular: a number of recent broadcasts in which Roark was encouraging viewers to talk about their sex lives.

It gave this area a bad enough impression, that those jobs aren't coming now.

I've been sitting on this for a few weeks but didn't have enough confirmation of it until this afternoon. One source told me that WGSR's being the sole televised media outlet for the county made us "out to be slackjawed idiots".

Call it a classic case of one bad apple ruining the whole bushel.

By the way, ever notice how Roark will do his damndest to get callers to talk about their sex lives, but he never talks about his own?

Curious, that...

Way more coming in due time. I'm sitting on too much material that deserves to be unloaded before I move on to bigger and better things (hopefully sooner than later).

The Boy Scouts of America is 100 years old today!

On February 8th, 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was founded by William D. Boyce, Edward S. Stewart and Stanley D. Willis. It had been Boyce who first discovered the Boy Scouts in Great Britain during a trip there in 1909, and thought that it would be a good thing for the youth of the United States as well.

A hundred years later, more than 110 million Americans have taken part in the Boy Scouts of America in some form or another. More than two million of them have earned the rank of Eagle Scout (and it's been one of the greatest and most humbling honors of my life to be among them).

So Happy One-Hundredth Birthday to the Boy Scouts of America! It's come a long way... but I've a feeling that Scouting's best days are yet to come.

The unique populism of the Tea Party movement

The biggest problem I've had with the Tea Party thing is that I can't but think that I've seen this many times before already. Specifically, a bunch of well-meaning citizens who come together in common cause against government corruption and the like, only to see their collective energy peter out and their efforts assimilated by a bigger political machine.

But having read Larrey Anderson's essay at American Thinker about the Tea Party movement, I'm now compelled to reconsider my position. Or at least, I now feel more confident about giving the Tea Party more of a fair chance to prove itself. The difference between it and previous efforts, as Anderson notes, is that in defiance of the many flavors of opinion held by those active within the Tea Party movement, there is a very common regard for the Constitution that is uniting them...

The Tea Party is a unique populist movement and moment in American history. There is no charismatic leader of the party. The Tea Party has more grassroots movers, shakers, and members than any other populist movement ever seen in our country. So what makes it so different from previous populist political factions?

"Populism" is a vague political concept. There have been populist (and wannabe populist) political movements on the left, on the right, and even in the middle (wherever that is) in the history of American politics. None of the movements were particularly successful -- and many of them were outright scams.

(snip)

So what makes the Tea Party different? I have attended several local Tea Party gatherings (and addressed a couple of them). There is one document that is ubiquitous at these events: the Constitution for the United States of America[iii]. People hand out copies of the Constitution like hors d'oeuvres that are served at...a de rigueur tea party.

I especially like how Anderson notes that the Tea Party does not need a charismatic leader or spokesperson. Indeed, it would almost certainly work against the Tea Party's favor if it were to invest in such a person.

I've thought for the longest time that the most refreshing thing that could possibly happen in American politics is for the average citizen to stand and take the initiative on his or her own. If the Tea Party earnestly represents that and can continue to buck the status quo, then I couldn't help but applaud it.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Why are gun sales banned because of snow in King, North Carolina?

One county to the west of my position in King, North Carolina, the authorities have banned the sale of guns and ammunition during the "state of emergency" there caused by the winter storm of the past few days.

From the story at the WXII.com website...

Authorities lifted a curfew and alcohol restrictions in King on Sunday, but said a state of emergency declaration remained in effect until Monday.

Authorities said the state of emergency declaration would continue until Monday 9 a.m., barring any unforeseen circumstances or severe changes.

Effective Sunday afternoon, alcohol restrictions and a curfew were lifted. All other remaining restrictions would continue until Monday, said Paula May, King police chief.

Other restrictions include a ban on the sale or purchase of any type of firearm, ammunition, explosive or any possession of such items off a person's own premises.

King is a rather small town. If people are inclined to own a gun there, they're more likely than not probably already in possession of one.

Just don't understand what the point of this restriction is.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Is THIS where LOST is headed?! (Crazy theory ahead)

This may or may not bear out as anything accurate to where Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are taking Lost, now in its final season. But there's a zillion other theories out there, might as well add my own to the madcap mix!

It hit me like a mallet between the eyes late last night, during the 22 hours that the electricity was out from this winter storm. The first big clue was the title of the Season 6 premiere episode: "LA X".

Perhaps a play on LAX, the abbreviation for Los Angeles International Airport where Oceanic Flight 815 was heading toward from Sydney, Australia. Of course, Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island and set into motion the events of Lost...

...but as we saw in "LA X", following whatever it was that Juliet did at the Swan site in 1977, an alternate reality was created: one where Oceanic 815 landed in Los Angeles on September 22, 2004. And this reality is running co-terminous with the "main" timeline where Oceanic 815 still crashed on the Island.

Well, using an "X" for a storyline involving multiple realities isn't unprecedented. Back in the late Nineties comic book artist Alex Ross pitched an idea to Marvel Comics: basically a dystopian Marvel future like what Ross did with Kingdom Come for DC Comics a few years earlier. The result was Earth X: what is, in my estimation a very under-rated alternate mythology of the Marvel Universe.

Earth X was followed up by Universe X and Paradise X. And where this is germane to our discussion of Lost is that it becomes revealed during the course of the Earth X trilogy that longtime Marvel supervillain Mephisto had been plotting and scheming since the dawn of time to create alternate realities! Why, you ask? Because Mephisto sincerely thought that he was the devil of Judeo-Christian teaching and he was making all of these alternate timelines so that he could flee into them, in a bid to escape what he believed would be God's final judgment at the end of time.

By the end of Paradise X, Mephisto was killed at last and his machinations stopped for good. And a "Heaven" of sorts wound up created that would forevermore keep Earth and its realm from being manipulated by cosmic entities like the Celestials and their sort.

See where this is going?

So here's what could be happening in the Lost saga...

The Island is, among many other things, a prison for the Dark Entity (what we have seen all this time as the Smoke Monster, various incarnations of characters and now appearing as John Locke). And it's a prison because the Dark Entity is, if not the Devil himself, then someone representing the very nature of evil. And the Dark Entity has been stuck on the Island all this time, doing what Satan does in accusing humanity (namely to Jacob, who is perhaps the embodiment of the Island and its power, as we saw hinted at by the spring in "LA X").

As with any other prisoner, the Dark Entity wants to escape. But he can't simply leave like a normal person could. There are "rules" in effect: rules which have only begun to be hinted at to us. The Dark Entity cannot escape by breaking the rules. Outright killing Jacob would have broken the rules too... so the Dark Entity has had to find a loophole.

"Salvation" for the Dark Entity came in the form of John Locke: ironically the one human who wanted to remain on the Island. But the biggest irony of all came as Benjamin Linus, who assumed that he was the greatest manipulator on the Island.

Linus had no idea at all that he himself was being manipulated by someone even more powerful.

In the end, the Dark Entity, posing as John Locke and thus the leader of the Island's people, entered the statue of Tawaret to confront Jacob. He still couldn't kill Jacob of course... but as Benjamin Linus was still the de facto tapped leader of the Island, he possessed the power and authority to kill Jacob if he wanted to. Of course as we know, Ben was motivated to do so by the Dark Entity, and he slew Jacob.

Why? For what purpose was all of this?

Because the Dark Entity just wants "to go home".

What "home" means, hasn't been made clear yet. It could mean that he wants to escape to somewhere in the outside world. Or it could mean escaping into someplace beyond our realm of understanding.

And it could be that he wants to escape into an entirely new universe. Like, the one that was just created by the timeline in which Oceanic 815 didn't crash.

This is no longer a fight for the Island. Or even for the Earth. This might well be turning into a struggle for all of reality.

Little does the Dark Entity realize though, that Jacob isn't out of the game quite yet. He's still able to communicate via Hurley. And Jacob obviously knew what was coming down given the contents of the guitar case that he gave Hurley before directing him to take the Ajira 316 flight. Also, why did Jacob seem so nonchalant and accepting of his fate?

Unless it was all part of some greater plot by Jacob. Perhaps to put an end to the Dark Entity once and for all?

One of the bigger elements of the Earth X trilogy was Mar-Vell's quest to end the rule of Death. And in Death's realm it seemed that Mar-Vell had fallen and the war had been lost. Mephisto was literally gloating over Mar-Vell's body. And then Mar-Vell revived and manipulated Thanos (no small manipulator himself!) into slaying Death: the entity that Thanos had sought to court as his lover.

I don't see why Jacob couldn't be playing a similar "long con" against his ages-old nemesis in the tale of Lost.

This sixth and final season of Lost might be coming down to an epic battle between good and evil, with people in two universes deciding the outcome.

There y'all have it: my own personal Lost theory.

Comments?

22 hours without electricity

More than 43,000 people here in Rockingham County have been without power since last night because of the winter storm. The precious juice stopped flowing to my own house at just after 7:30 p.m. yesterday evening.

I've been hunkered down under four blankets and a Boy Scout sleeping bag for most of that time since, trying to stay warm.

Give it up for the lads (and lasses) of Duke Energy though! They restored electricity a short time ago to this road and from what I'm hearing, about 11,000 are still without power and hopefully they'll be back on the grid by first of the morning at the latest. So Lord willing, Rockingham County won't miss the Super Bowl "big game".

Got any weather-related stories? Feel free to post in the comments! This is gonna be one to tell the grandkiddies about!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Two and a half inches of snow this morning

And that's mostly just in the past hour. Coming down harder than it did last week about this time.

Nobody's going nowhere today.

FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS has a trailer and release date

"War. War never changes."

Behold the first trailer for Fallout: New Vegas, which is set for release this coming fall...

I invested about 140 hours into Fallout 3 and still didn't get to see everything in the Capital Wasteland! Guess I'll be losing just as much time in post-apocalyptic Lost Wages come later this year :-P

Thursday, February 04, 2010

THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS has a premiere date and a new trailer (and look who's in it!!)

Word broke in the wee hours of the morning that The People vs. George Lucas, Alexandre Phillipe's documentary about the love/hate relationship Star Wars fanatics have with the creator of their most treasured mythology, will have its world premiere at South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, Texas next month!

Look! Official movie poster!

And look again! New trailer!

And who is that appearing at 44 seconds into this trailer? That's Melody Hallman Daniel from my very first film Forcery! I'd been hoping and praying that Melody's amazing performance doing that rant would make it into The People vs. George Lucas... and it did! And Phillipe has hinted to me that there will be a few other clips from Forcery in his film, too.

Can't wait to see this :-)

A brief meditation on atheism

There is nothing damning about happening to be an atheist, but there are plenty of things wrong with insisting upon it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A joke that I gotta share here...

Courtesy of good friend Jason Overby...
Cop: "Your eyes look red. Have you been smoking pot?"

Guy: "No but your eyes look glazed, have you been eating donuts?"

Heh-heh, clever :-)

WATCHMEN 2 is being discussed at Warner Bros.

Read about it here and here.

No. Just, no.

AVATAR tops TITANIC as new king of the world

Honestly never thought I'd see this happen: James Cameron's Avatar has officially dethroned his own 1997 Titanic for the domestic box-office record.

It'll probably last only as long as it takes Cameron and crew to make Avatar 2, which'll make even gads more money :-P

Weather word from those in the loop...

Sources are telling me that authorities in North Carolina and Virginia are preparing for a possible 16 to 24 inches of snow this weekend.

Thought y'all would like to know.

Taking daughter to church could land daddy in slammer

Joseph Reyes (right) is seen taking his 3-year old daughter to church. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Except that Reyes did so in violation of a judge's order that he not expose his daughter to anything but Judaism. For taking her to church (after previously having her baptized there) Joseph Reyes is now possibly in "contempt".

Here's more on this very twisted story...

Joseph Reyes knew he could be accused of defying a court order barring him from taking his daughter to church. But he did it anyway and now he is facing contempt of court charges and jail.

The 35 year old, holding his 3 year old in his arms, walked into Holy Name Cathedral on January 17. A news crew videotaped the act of defiance.

"I have been ordered by a judge not to expose my daughter to anything non-Judaism," Reyes told a news reporter. "But I am taking her to hear the teachings of perhaps the most prominent Jewish Rabbi in the history of this great planet of ours. I can't think of anything more Jewish than that."

The prominent Jewish Rabbi that Reyes referenced was Jesus Christ.

Just before Christmas, a judge issued a temporary restraining order specifically barring Reyes from exposing his daughter to any religion other than Judaism after Reyes had his daughter Baptized without the knowledge of his estranged Jewish wife.

Now the lawyer representing Rebecca Reyes (formerly Rebecca Shapiro) has filed a Motion for Criminal Contempt, asking that Joseph Reyes face criminal charges for defying the judge's order.

The hearing date is set for February 16 and Reyes has launched a new Web site www.christianfatherdefensefund.com to raise money for his defense.

He hopes that he will receive contributions from sympathetic fathers and other individuals who find it unconscionable that a judge would tread into the area that seems to violate the constitutional right guaranteeing Freedom of Religion.

"My daughter is half Jewish," says Reyes. "Just because my marriage is ending should not mean that I can't go to church to worship with my daughter.

"I'm a Christian, and I was Christian when Rebecca and I got married. No judge should have the right to force me to attend a synagogue to be able to pray with my daughter and no judge should have the right to stop me from going to church with my daughter."

His attorney, Joel Brodsky, says they will fight.

"My client should be allowed to take his daughter to church," says Brodsky, who happens to be Jewish. "In every way this is wrong. Freedom of religion is absolute and no judge should be able to interfere with that freedom."

The judge is clearly respecting one establishment of religion over another in this matter, and is thus a most wild violation of the Constitution.

That said, the religious life of the child is something that should be the jurisdiction of the parents, regardless of the legal status between them. And it should be between the BOTH of them to resolve this out of mutual love for their daughter.