The winter of 2015

Not as much snow as our northern friends, but no less beautiful...

The artwork of Cameron Hobbs

A young artist to watch out for.

Tammy the Pup approves of new look!

Semi-psychotic pooch gives two paws-up to The Knight Shift's overhaul.

Movies I've Never Seen: THE BIG LEBOWSKI

"It really tied the room together."

Catherine Rose: genius, pioneer, mother

A story of love, creativity, and perfect timing.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Pong, and Donkey Kong... all in one game


Using the paddles from Pong to shuttle Pac-Man back and forth through his maze while dodging the aliens of Space Invaders.  All while Donkey Kong showers the screen with barrels.  This wonderfully schizoid mash-up of four of the most classic video games of all time is called Pacapong and it comes courtesy of a clever lad named Dick Poelen as his contribution to the Ludum Dare 58 video game jam.

I look at this screen and visions of my childhood erupt across my inner retina.  This is the kind of thing that we used to dream up as kids: crossovers between video games.  I think one idea was to have Pac-Man gobbling dots as he moved up Donkey Kong's girders.  Kinda weird to see something like that actually come to pass.

Kotaku has more about Pacapong, including where you can play it (bear in mind that it's a two-player game just like Pong).

Watch George Lucas photobomb documentary about nuclear waste!

Look!  A wild George Lucas sighting!

"Nuclear Waste: Fission Products & Transuranics from Thorium & Uranium" is sincerely fascinating in its own right.  A short documentary about the valuable materials often left in used-up fuel rods from nuclear reactors and how they might be extracted.  Very interesting if you're at all into nuclear engineering and chemistry in general.

But let's face it: most people are going to want to see the creator of Star Wars stumbling into view on a Chicago street as research scientist Bruce Hoglund explains pyroprocessing (using molten salt and electrochemistry to pull out the desired substances).

You can choose to watch it all, OR you can fast-forward (I recommend moving it to 13:00 to get the full effect):

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act: An affirmation of liberty, and other thoughts

Some musings on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act now on the books in Indiana and that so many are in a tizzy about...

The act does not discriminate.

The act is not "anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-bisexual, anti-transexual" or anti-anything at all. Nowhere in the text of the legislation is there found a clause stipulating that any one or any group in particular is to be given any less protection under the law.

The act simply reasserts something that Amendment One of the Bill of Rights has codified for well over two hundred years: that there is a right to assembly and association. This also means that there is just as much a right to NON-association.

The act simply does as its title indicates: it allows for individuals and businesses to not provide a service if doing so violates the religious beliefs of that individual or business.

There are many people who do not believe that such a valid concept exists as "gay marriage" or any other kind of marital relationship apart from one man and one woman. These people have a right to those beliefs even if they are not agreed to.

The act asserts the rights of such people to act in accordance to their religious beliefs.

The act applies across the board to every citizen of the state of Indiana. Thus, a Moslem photographer cannot be compelled to be hired for a Jewish bar mitzvah. A Jewish carpenter cannot be forced under penalty to build a creche for a church’s Nativity scene. A Christian-owned bakery will not be obligated to bake a cake meant for a homosexual marriage celebration. And a homosexual-owned catering service cannot be made against their will to provide food for the "God Hates Fags" nuts at Westboro Baptist Church.

Those who are against the act have every right in the world to look for another business with which to solicit service as a customer.

Why are two homosexuals who want a wedding cake going to a bakery that they know is against homosexual marriage, anyway? Are there no more bakeries around, or could it be that they desire to forcefully compel that bakery to provide against its owners beliefs?

If the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is going to legalize discrimination and if those against the act are concerned about it on such a vast scale, then logically they have accused most of the people of the state of Indiana of being pro-discrimination and that said discrimination is deeply entrenched in that state's society. I have to wonder what most citizens of Indiana would think of that.

Those who are in favor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not consumed by hate toward anyone.
And if they were, I would not want to associate with those people. Christians are not to hate anyone. But that does not mean that Christians must give approval of behavior that according to their convictions is sinful.

The ones who are most preaching "tolerance" seem to be rabidly intolerant of those who hold to the beliefs of marriage being solely between man and woman.

The ones who are most preaching "tolerance" seem to be rabidly intolerant of, for the most part, Christians.

Businesses have the right to serve or turn away who they wish. If a business does not want me as a customer, it can do so. Just as I can choose not to solicit service from that business or any other. If a business so chooses to discriminate, I have the right to go to or not go to that business. If a business decides it will no longer serve celibate white males with bipolar disorder, then I will not try to force the issue and neither would I want to. Neither would I try to be a customer of a business that discriminates against women or other ethnic groups. I will gladly take my money elsewhere.

Those against the act are naturally welcome to boycott Indiana. However such boycotts in general are counter-productive.

I would even dare say that boycotting the entire state of Indiana is akin to cutting off one’s face in spite of his or her nose.

The people who disagree with those against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not "bigots". They do not hate anyone. They are not followers of an outdated religion. They are not pro-discrimination. I have been called all of these things and more in the past few days, by people who do not know what they are talking about.

If a church is truly discriminating against homosexuals, I would not want to be a part of that church. Jesus loved the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and every other sinner as much as He loved His disciples. So must I. But neither did Jesus affirm or approve of their sins. Neither can I. He told them to "go and sin no more." So they must. So must I, for that matter. No church should turn away any sinner. But no church must be compelled to give approval to any sin, either.

There are already laws such as Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in place in 19 other states. That is almost 40 percent of the country. These states seem strangely bereft of any boycotting on the part of those who are anti-Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It has been a very long time since I have seen any alleged discussion as has been about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act with so much incivility and raw hatred. And the vast majority of it seems to be coming from those against the act.

I like to think that we can be better than that.

You are free to agree or disagree with me as you wish. Regardless, Jesus loves you and so do I.

Video for Lindsey Stirling's "Take Flight"

It was this past July when I wrote about discovering Lindsey Stirling and her enchanting mastery of the violin. That and how she choreographs herself while performing. So taken in by her music have I been, that by a vast margin it's been her album Shatter Me that I've listened to the most while writing my book.  And her music videos have been no less arresting, even hypnotic.  In every way Stirling has astounded the senses in ways that very few examples of music nowadays have achieved.

A few days ago Stirling released the video for "Take Flight", also from Shatter Me.  I can't remember any video lately that has got me scratching my head wondering "how did they do that??"

Here it is.  Prepare yourself for a beautiful ride on a melodic journey through geometry as wild as it is beautiful...


Friday, March 27, 2015

New sponsor: HyperMind, for all your gaming needs!

The Knight Shift is proud to welcome a new advertiser, and if you've been a longtime reader you'll already know something about HyperMind.

A positivalutely abundawonderful game store in Burlington, North Carolina, owners Nick and Denise Shepherd have established a place that draws loyal customers from as far away as Virginia, Raleigh/Durham and Winston-Salem.  And by "games" we're talking about the old-fashioned stuff that doesn't require batteries or a specialized console... but does require you to play with others and have fun.

Whether you're looking for time-honored pastimes like Monopoly and Risk, or new classics such as The Settlers of Catan, HyperMind has something for everyone.  They also stock a healthy amount of miniatures-based games (including my current drug of choice, X-Wing Miniatures).  One of the biggest sellers is perennial favorite Magic: The Gathering.  And HyperMind goes all-out to provide for its devoted players, with an ample stockpile of cards (just about every kind of current booster pack you can think of) and a huge room serving as a place of casual play and weekly tournaments.  Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons are also a favorite.  If they don't have it on shelves, the folks at HyperMind will gladly order it for you.

Serving the Triad area since 2006, HyperMind is an experience that you will want to return to again and again.  Stop by today, and discover the fun!

Deadpool entices you to come hither...

From Ryan Reynolds' Twitter feed...


That may be the best translation of a costume from comic book-to-big screen that I've ever seen.  Looks spot-on perfect.

How are they going to handle Deadpool's legendary mouth?  Lots of fans demanding a hard R rating, noting that PG-13 won't cut it.  One idea I heard a few weeks ago was that for almost the entire movie there could be a white word balloon with "&$*#" whenever Deadpool uses profanity.  That Deadpool would be aware of it just like in the comics.  And that they save the big "F-bomb" for a critical spot in the story.  I could accept that.

Deadpool arrives in theaters next February.

Dean Smith left $200 in his will for each of his players

Now this fits the definition of "classy" to a tee...

Last month legendary basketball coach Dean Smith passed away.  He coached the Tar Heels of UNC-Chapel Hill from 1961 to 1997 and when he retired he was the coach with the most wins of any in collegiate basketball history.  He had two national titles to show for it.  Along the way he coached about 184 players.

And every one of them is getting $200 to enjoy a nice dinner out.

From the story at Fox 8:
 Each player who lettered under late North Carolina head men’s basketball coach Dean Smith is receiving a surprise gift from the coach himself: $200.

Smith, who died last month, willed the money to each former player in his trust. Tim Breedlove, who wrote the letters to the players, confirmed the gift to SI.com on Thursday. The letter from Miller McNeish & Breedlove, PA, reads, “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” The enclosed checks also included the notation, “Dinner out.”
My respect for this man continues to grow.  Again, very classy.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ten years ago today...

...Doctor Who returned.

"Run."

The first episode since 1989 was titled "Rose". London shop associate Rose Tyler stumbled across murderous store mannequins and then came to be rescued by The Doctor. Christopher Eccleston was the first actor of the revived series to portray the legendary Time Lord.

In those early days before Doctor Who became a true global phenomenon, its loyal base of die-hard fans were doing anything to watch the new episodes immediately, instead of waiting a year or so before they aired outside of England.  A lot of us learned how to download via torrent because of that first new season of the show, I'm telling ya.  We would not be denied our Doctor!

Ten years.  Wow.  Who would have thought that a full decade later, the Doctor Who mythos would be as world-renowned as it has become?  Being a fan since watching the Tom Baker episodes on PBS, I can still hardly believe it.

Happy anniversary Doctor Who.  Don't go on hiatus again, ever!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The most interesting carpool passenger in the world

I did something like this coming through Atlanta alone several years ago.  Except instead of what this guy did or having a mannequin, I used a pillow wearing my leather jacket and I went the whole way through the high-occupancy lane with my left hand on the wheel and my right one holding the pillow up and in sight.

How I cleared Atlanta while doing that, I'll never know.

From the Associated Press via Q13Fox News in Seattle...

Most Interesting Man in World' fails as carpool lane ruse

FIFE, Wash. (AP) — A Washington State Patrol trooper says it’s by far the best carpool scam he’s seen, but it didn’t work.

A motorcycle trooper parked along Interstate 5 near Tacoma on Monday afternoon spotted a driver and a rather unusual “passenger” pass by him in the carpool lane.

When the trooper stopped the car, he discovered the “passenger” was a cardboard cutout of the actor who portrays “The Most Interesting Man in the World” in Dos Equis beer ads.

The driver’s response?

“He’s my best friend.”
The highway patrol didn't confiscate The Most Interesting Man in the World, but they did tell the driver to not use him again.

Later on the patrolman tweeted: "I don’t always violate the HOV lane law … but when I do, I get a $124 ticket."

I love stories like this.  You have to give this guy props for some ingenuity even if it didn't work.  And hey, from the photo above it looks like he's still having a good time despite the error of his ways.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Large Hadron Collider could open up other universes this week (this may not end well)

In the process of investigating a good idea (said process being one that even Stephen Hawking said could destroy the Earth), those wacky boffins in Switzerland are preparing to generate in excess of 5 trillion volts of juice with their Large Hadron Collider in the next few days.  The result could be the creation of miniatures black holes.  But more than that: it could punch a hole through the normal dimension of space-time and allow a peek into universes other than our own.

Reed Richards, take note!

From the article at IGN.com...
CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is being fired up this week after a two-year hiatus and a group of scientists think the results could prove the existence of parallel universes.
A paper published by Dr.s Ahmed Farag Ali, Mir Faizal, and Mohammed M. Khalil in the journal Physics Letters B argues that the second run of the LHC produces or detects miniature black holes, which they argue could point to entire universes hidden away in higher dimensions folded into our reality.
“Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualized," Faizal explained to Phys.org. "This is not what we mean by parallel universes. What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions."
One of the cooler things about this is that it could demonstrate a phenomenon called "gravity's rainbow", which among other things theorizes gravity "leaking" into our universe from others.

Hmmmm... dunno if this is such a good idea.  If memory serves, it was such experimentation that was the backstory of the classic video game Doom.  Do we seriously want a potential gateway to Hell getting opened up in the Swiss Alps?

Large Hadron Collider:
Where the sanest place... is behind a trigger.

Wonder if Black Mesa is in on any of that action.

STAR WARS: TIE FIGHTER anime-style short will leave you lusting for more

If Disney was really smart, they would hire this guy to make a bunch of traditional-animated films like this!


There was a shorter version that Paul Johnson released a few years ago, but this is the full-fledged vision: Star Wars: TIE Fighter.  And it is breathtaking.  I dare say that I speak for a lot of fans out there when I say that this... THIS... is what we want to see.  And see more of.

Here it is:

For all the wonder of CGI-animation, the traditional 2D style has more... I dunno... "character"? "Emotion"? How about "heart"? And that's what this video has in spades. This is as much of a Star Wars story as the live-action films, in my opinion. And it's one that I would gladly pay to see more of at the box office.

Two new advertisers with The Knight Shift

If you have a product or service and you would like to reach an average audience of 20,000 viewers a month*, please consider this blog as a venue for your advertising.  I am very thankful that the The Knight Shift's readership represents so vast a variety of interests and backgrounds.  And you can reach out to them!  Write to me at theknightshift@gmail.com with "Advertise on The Knight Shift" in the subject line, and let's get started.  I'm looking forward to working with you to build your brand and give you solid results.

http://www.sweetwick.com/And now, I am proud to announce that this blog has two new sponsors!  The first is Sweet Wick Candle Company.  Makers of fine hand-crafted candles infused with the best of fragrances, the good people at Sweet Wick are dedicated to the art of creating their products to be as much a beauty to look at as they are an aroma to indulge in.  Since its founding not too long ago, Sweet Wick Candle Company has enjoyed tremendous success and is already beginning to see nationwide distribution.  Don't wait for their amazing products to show up at your local shop, visit the website and check out their offerings today!

And next up, we have Yard Draggin...


Inventor Stephen Shumate has pulled off something that has not been done in at least one thousand years: he has re-envisioned the wheelbarrow.  Except that Yard Draggin has no wheels.  Instead, advanced materials are used in the construction of... well, to be honest I don't know how to describe it in words.  If you go to the website you'll find some videos of Yard Draggin in action.  It's just now hitting the market and I wouldn't be surprised if there are soon going to be television commercials for this product: something so useful and versatile, that you'll wonder how did you get by so long without it.

Be sure to keep watching The Knight Shift, as this blog continues to bring new products and services into the public eye.


* based on Google statistics for March 2015