Friday, June 15, 2018

Reign Of The Madmen

Visiting the Reagan Presidential Library over a year ago impressed upon me the Gipper’s charm and cordiality toward Gorbachev.  Yet Reagan was also fiercely resolute in his conviction that people desire to forge their own destinies.  It was the two Cold War leaders riding horses together as much as it was Reagan’s defiance at the Brandenburg Gate that ended the threat of communism in Europe.

It was a fine example of the “neo-noblesse oblige” that had been the template since World War II.  Countless perished in that conflict due in no small amount to the failure of “gentleman diplomacy” on the part of the upper crust.  But for its time, that was sanity.  And then a new sanity dawned with the rising of a false sun over Hiroshima.

Yet Ronald Reagan… was insane.  Or so we were told by pundits and academics.

Speaking of peace while drastically building up the American nuclear arsenal. An unprecedented military re-investment.  Strategic Defense Initiative.  The latter especially indicated Reagan’s “lack of sound mind.” “Men of peace” do not behave this way, insisted the experts.  “Good feelings” and nice words would prevail.  Drawing-down strategic assets and ultimately freezing nuclear weapons: that was sanity.

Except that very same “sanity” had locked the superpowers into a torturous drawn-out wait for inescapable Armageddon.

Reagan’s insanity is now regarded by all but the most stiff-hearted as superior genius.  He knew the Soviet Union was damned to fail… and so Reagan expedited its collapse by giving Moscow no choice but to spend itself into imploding.  More than a generation of Americans and Russians have now appreciated life without nuclear nightmare.

Somehow, since Reagan departed office, the world has gone un-sane.  The “sane ones” have taken over the asylum.  And we are all the worse for it.

Then came what to many was the night of June the Eleventh.  The gravitas of the flags of the United States and North Korea, arrayed together in official capacity, cannot be understated.  There was the handshake between President Trump and Kim Jong Un before the two retreated into private discussions followed by lunch.  Shortly afterward it was revealed that Kim had already agreed in April to commit toward de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

And then came Dennis Rodman, live from Singapore, in what must go down as among the most surreal moments in the annals of global diplomacy.

The former pro basketball star -- festooned in facial metal, a “Make America Great Again” cap and a marijuana cryptocurrency shirt -- broke down in tears during a bizarre interview on CNN.  There is no reason not to take Rodman at his word when he described attempting his best to communicate overtures from Kim to then-President Obama, only to be roundly rebuffed (read as: “ignored”) by Obama.  It appears that for all of Rodman’s antics in Pyongyang, he was more driven and sincere than most of us gave him credit for.  CNN’s Chris Cuomo looked as hapless as Robb Stark at the Red Wedding.


Cast pity upon the future generations of high school teachers.

Within hours “The Worm” was being hailed as Nobel-worthy.  Almost as a garnish, Scott Adams put the circumstances into context better than journalists who have made lifelong careers of such commentary.  The creator of the comic strip Dilbert explained how Kim had been won over through his love of American cinematography and presented on a tablet screen.  Adams hailed it as perhaps “the best negotiation video in the history of man.”


This is not what statesmanship looks like.  Dennis Rodman is not the second coming of Henry Kissinger and the mind behind Dogbert doesn’t have a clue.  iPads are no substitute for champagne.  This kind of insanity is not supposed to prevail on a global stage.  At least not without being confronted with multilateral airstrikes and petty cliches.

That is what “sane” professionals have insisted, especially since the prospect of a Trump presidency first surfaced.  Oh yes, “beer summits” and gestures like giving Queen Elizabeth an iPod and unloading pallets of gold bullion onto the tarmac in Tehran… that is sanity, the experts have told us.  That is what “legitimate international negotiation” is meant to look like.


Lest it be said this was peculiar to Obama, his immediate predecessors worked with sanity also.  George W. Bush was known for hosting barbecues honoring dignitaries at his Potemkin ranch, and Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright hoisted flutes with Kim Jong Il in the heart of Pyongyang.  Three administrations have exemplified a quarter century of global sanity and the success of those minds has proven dismal at best.  Among other things Obama’s sanity almost certainly helped to fund Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

A few days before the Singapore summit, CNBC correspondent John Harwood questioned the mental health of President Trump.  “I'll be honest as a citizen, I'm concerned about the president's state of mind,” Harwood said.  “He did not look well to me in that press conference.  He was not speaking logically or rationally.”

It was far from the first time that mainstream journalists and his political nemeses have diagnosed Trump with having psychiatric issues.  Disregard that very few possess medical credentials and those who might have not accompanied Mr. Trump through the protocols necessary to render such a verdict.   Curiously, many of those same observers applauded Robert De Niro dropping F-bombs on live television less than twenty-four hours before the summit as “sane” behavior.  But, I digress.

As someone who has lived with bipolar disorder and especially severe depression for most of his adult life, I would offer an alternative assessment of the current President of the United States:

I know what having a mental illness is about.  I have lost track of the different medications, the therapists and psychiatrists, and the hospitalizations that have transpired toward reining in a mind turned against itself.  So let me cut to the chase: I do not see any indicators whatsoever of mental illness in Donald J. Trump.

I do however see within the man a rare acceptance of his own sense of identity and understanding of why he holds to his beliefs.  Somehow that has become construed by some to be “arrogance”, “belligerence”, and that bugaboo “narcissism”.

For a number of reasons, I could not support or vote for Trump when he was campaigning for President (and Hillary Clinton would never under any circumstance get my vote).  At times Trump behaves in ways that are confounding and frustrating, mostly in regard to the decorum of office.  Case in point: his poor choice of words at last summer’s National Boy Scout Jamboree.

That being said, Trump has otherwise not only not displayed any mental incapacity whatsoever, he has demonstrated an enviable grasp and willingness to confront reality.  “Narcissism”?  That is a condition of someone so uncomfortable with their own existence that he or she justifies it at the expense of all others.  Per that measure, Trump is the least narcissistic President or any contender in a generation.  He is proving to be not unlike in leadership as Winston Churchill: someone who did have bipolar disorder, incidentally.

It’s too easy to associate deviation with madness.  Often they who do so err in assuming that every person is neurobiology and organic chemistry and nothing more.  They ignore that we also are mind and soul.  That we are not creatures of instinct but are meant for thought and all of responsibilities that come with it.

Scripture teaches that man’s wisdom is foolishness to God.  We have certainly seen the “wisdom” of leadership in recent decades.  It has been weighed and found wanting in the scales.  “Insanity”, as Einstein famously observed, is repeating the same mistake and expecting a different result every time.

We have tried diplomatic sanity.  It has failed and no amount of protesting from the Obamas or the Clintons or the Bushes or their supporters can alter that.  Yet in the space of a few hours, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un accomplished more than seventy years of their predecessors and professional negotiators achieved combined.


Maybe it’s time we try with little more than faith and hope and heart, enjoined with thought.  Perhaps now we should give real sanity a chance to prove its qualities.

There sits that sanity personified, at the site of the most historic and successful summit meeting of the modern era, in the form of Dennis Rodman.

If this be madness, may we suffer more of it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Good morning America and while you were sleeping...

You are waking up to something that most of us never, ever even dreamed we would be seeing.  That the flags of the United States and North Korea are being displayed with one another in an official capacity would drop jaws alone.

But then, this...


Two men who in the space of a few hours have accomplished more than their respective predecessors achieved in the previous seventy years combined.

The end of the Korean War is at last at hand.  Kim Jong Un has indicated he wants full stepdown of a nuclearized peninsula.  Time will tell what the full measure of that intent yields, of course.  But there really is a sense that the leader of North Korea is being genuine.  Maybe Kim has done something even more impossible than what we are seeing on the world stage.  Perhaps he is stepping out of the long shadow of his father and grandfather.

There is no avoiding the obvious fact that by all accounts Kim has been a brutal dictator over his people.  Even so, I have sometimes wondered if he was following the example set by his forefathers, without question.  Has he turned from their example?  'Twould be a path that very few men in places of absolute power have ever taken.  Could it be that we may have underestimated the character of Kim Jong Un?

Again, time will tell.

Then again, stranger things have happened already regarding this occasion of unprecedented history:


In what will surely go down as among the most surreal moments in the annals of global diplomacy, former NBA star Dennis Rodman broke down in tears during an interview on CNN and... seems like there really was a heart of gold behind his antics in Pyongyang these past few years.  Rodman was serious about opening up a dialogue between North Korea's leadership and the United States, apparently.  To hear Rodman tell it, his efforts were appreciated by Kim but when it came to presenting his labor to then-President Obama, he was rudely rebuffed.  Only now, with Donald Trump in the White House, has progress been made and by all appearances magnificently so.

Kim Jong Un is pledging to end his nuclear program, the Korean War is ending and Dennis Rodman is now more eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize than Obama ever was.  It's as if we're in the Matrix and it's been reprogrammed by Electronic Arts.

If you have small children, please be letting them watch this.  And explain to them what's going on.  One of the defining moments of my own life was the day that Reagan was shot.  I wanted to turn the channel and watch cartoons but Dad told me "No we need to watch this, son.  This is history.  You'll be reading about this in books someday.  This is something you can tell your own children about."

He was right.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Since FALLOUT 76 is now officially in West Virginia...



...I just had to run with it!

Actually, "Walton's Mountain" would be a hilariously appropriate name for a player's encampment.  Maybe someone on your team can set up a moonshine still in his or her house.  Y'know, in honor of the Baldwin Sisters and their "recipe".

Fallout 76 streets on November 14.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

My new op-ed piece is up at American Thinker (and about Star Wars and Kelly Marie Tran...)

The last time I wrote an op-ed for publishing other than on my own blog was more than ten years ago.  Certainly hasn't been for lack of wanting to.  This is a kind of writing that I first attempted on the cusp of my senior year of high school and it's a craft I devoted myself to developing further in college and beyond.  Then all of the general wackiness of the past decade transpired and that threw everything out of kilter.  Especially being able to engage all the gears required to really feel like I could be the writer that I needed to be to give this my very best.  And now, well... maybe this is an indication that the time for that has come at last.

American Thinker is a commentary site that I've come to appreciate and visit often, and I am very grateful that it has published "The Revolution Will Not Be Finalized".  An excerpt:
Social revolution has no such finite end.  The civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties was not a "social" revolution.  There was no grand upheaval of the common order – only an assertion of what had long been codified in American heart if not law: that all men are created equal.  It began with acts of conscience, and it ended with acts of conscience. 
There are many in our era who speak unceasingly of bringing about "social justice."  They never describe what a "socially justified culture" will look like.  Why should they want to?  Because for big-P Progressivism to be consistent, it must be progressing toward something.  To state conditions for victory?  That would be aborting Progressivism.  That is not part of the plan.

Maybe it's a persistent pattern in my life but this piece does begin with a bit about the state of the Star Wars "social justice" mess going on right now.  That's kind of what precipitated it being written to begin with.  Well, when one is asking the Muse for inspiration then one takes what one can get.  Anyhoo if you want to check it out here's that link again.

Speaking of Star Wars, I've been out of the loop on stuff the past several days but I did hear about what's been going on regarding Kelly Marie Tran.  "Star Wars fandom terrorist organization" is a phrase that I never imagined would telegraph across my synapses no matter how fevered and delirious they might get.  It was easy to sincerely wonder if it was for real or a satire or a covert "false flag operation".  But apparently it's real.  And if you hadn't heard already, the reports are that Tran unhooked herself from Instagram and maybe all the rest of her social media as a result of brutal harassment because some didn't like The Last Jedi or, more darkly, that they think she was cast to fill a "racial quota" or something.

How has this come about?  What has happened to us?  Star Wars fans have been divided on issues before but NEVER like this.  And it is not the result of the 2016 U.S. election (I may forever be shaking my head in disbelief that someone wrote that on a website devoted to this franchise).

I'll try to maintain brevity here.  Personally, I liked The Last Jedi including Tran's character Rose.  There have been a number of "Rose"-es in my life.  That conscientious young lady with spunk and tenacity and she holds everyone around her accountable to themselves whether they want it or not... or realize that they do want it.  There needs to be more like Rose in the real world.  She was a sweet character and Kelly Marie Tran played her wonderfully.

Reiterating what is in the essay on American Thinker, I do believe that Disney and especially Kathleen Kennedy have done a ginormous dis-service and act of destruction against the Star Wars brand by using it as a platform for their own ideologies as opposed to what it's supposed to be: a realm of ideas common to the human condition.  And in the past few days especially we are seeing the horrible fruits of that error in judgment... though obviously Kennedy and her associates are not the ones to be held responsible for the cyber-bullying against Tran.  That's strictly the fault of the "Legends losers" or whatever they're calling themselves.

That being said, I have not seen before and I do not see now how having the cast reflect a wider range of ethnic backgrounds is part of that at all.  Indeed, I wish there had been this much variety from the very beginning.  But George Lucas pretty much used what there was to work with on a then-limited budget and an available pool compromised of mostly classical English actors and American expatriates like Phil Brown and William Hootkins.  As far as I'm concerned, those are NOT "whites" or "blacks" or "Asians" or "Aleutian Islanders" or whatever in that galaxy far, far away.  Those are humans and whatever geography their ancestors hailed from is long forgotten about.  It shouldn't matter at ALL who plays the roles in these movies!  Just find whoever is right for the part and trust him or her to do his or her best.

Miss Tran, if you happen to read this, please know that you are a very lovely and talented young lady and that you provided much-appreciated shine and sparkle in The Last Jedi and I hope you have an even bigger role in Episode IX.  So far as I'm concerned, you weren't doing anything other than play a human of good character.  And that's something that none of these real-life trolls can ever claim to be.  Hope you come back, kind miss!

Okay, that's 'nuff for now.  It's Sunday morning.  Go back to sleep or eat your corn flakes and get ready for church or watch your re-runs of Land Of The Lost or whatever.  At least sometime today look at the outside world and hug your loved ones or just stop and smile and say hello to someone you've never met before.

Know what you believe.  Know why you believe it.  Know how to stand for it.  But also know that there's more to life than that.  We are as but a vapor.  Don't let a moment go by looking for reasons to be bitter and filled with rancor.

And to those discovering this blog: greetings!

Sunday, June 03, 2018

To father a child: do I have that right?

I am not a wise person.

There are many who possess far greater wisdom than I can ever contain in the few cubic inches of mind absent depression or mania.  And those who admit to knowing me will testify, Dear Reader: I have shared many matters I wrestle with on Facebook, hoping that among beloved friends some can lend a measure of that wisdom.

At first, that's where this was meant to be: posted on Facebook.  But maybe this time I should cast a wider net.  Perhaps some of you who read this blog can provide the answers I seek.

Here it is: Should I want to have children?  Why should I want to have children?

Do I have the right to bring a child into this world?

It is no secret that for the vast majority of my life I have wanted to be a father.  To be entrusted with a child or children who can be born and live and grow and find their purpose and see that their father and mother love each other very much and most of all find their own relationship with God.  To be the parent who goes looking for presents to be found under the tree on Christmas morning.  To explore the world and see it anew through the eyes of my children.  To watch them learn and laugh, just as I will discover again for the first time what it is to learn and laugh.  To do my very best so that they have a better life than I ever did, and to never doubt that they are loved and cherished.  To have that home filled with love and joy and thoughtfulness.

And increasingly I wonder if I should want that at all.  If I was wrong to have wanted that and if I have wasted time in chasing after it.

It comes down to four reasons why I am haunted to ask those questions.  And maybe some of you can give comfort and encouragement.  And the truth.  Especially the truth.  No matter how painful it might be to hear it.

First of all, let us be frank: The world is a cruel place.

And with each passing day it becomes even more cruel.  I see in my own country how it is that anger and hatred, and craving power over others, and hypocrisy and corruption are becoming like virtues.  How much of what made our culture great is becoming eroded for sake of carnal pursuits and perversities.  How it seems that only those who give in and compromise on their convictions and principles have a chance of "making it" and being successful.

Why should I want to subject a new human life to that?  How will I answer him or her, if they ask why did I bring them into existence in such a place?  To have a life where they will be hurt by others over, and over, and over again.  Where they will be used and abused and exploited and betrayed and bitterly disappointed by the boundless visions of man's inhumanity to man.

Second, and this is a big one: How do I or can I tell a child that he or she is going to one day die?

Once upon a time, the fear of death immobilized me.  Almost literally.  That was when the depression first began and after losing a number of loved ones in the span of a few months.  I became obsessed with staving off death.  Even forever, if it was possible.  And that was the mania part of bipolar disorder working its malevolent magic: casting a spell of delusion over my rational understanding of how things must be in this realm held captive to entropy.

The thought of dying doesn't disturb me anymore.  Indeed, there are some days when I think I would rather welcome death.  To be free of the memories of griefs and hurts and abuses: those inflicted on me but mostly those I have inflicted upon others.  Which has oddly made wanting to be a father even more tantalizing.  It would be a chance to fill up my life with good memories instead.  And be driven to give my sons or daughters a happy and fulfilling childhood that they will never someday look back upon with regret and anguish.

And that must be selfishness on my part.  To use having children as a rationale for escaping the ravages upon my own mind and spirit.

What do I tell a child when he or she asks if they will die someday?  How do I respond when they ask why did they have to be born, just to one day perish?  And if they are endowed with any of the inquisitive nature I had in my own childhood, they will eventually ask that.

How do I tell a son or daughter that they are going to die and there is nothing I can do to stop it but I was going to make them live and die anyway?

Third: Dare I possibly condemn a child to have a mental illness?

Bipolar disorder is a funny thing.  We know there is a genetic component but when it comes to getting expressed there is quite a lot of dancing about.  I am now persuaded after research that my great-grandfather on my paternal side had severe mental illness.  So did his daughter, my grandmother.  Grandma Knight definitely demonstrated significant periods of depression.  Dad never showed any signs whatsoever of mental illness: indeed, he might have been the most "normal" of our family.  Grandma Knight had four grandchildren and when her genes and those of my grandfather are diagrammed out, there was a 25% chance that one of those grandchildren would have mental illness.

Looks like it skipped over Dad, from my grandmother and her father, and landed on me.  None of the other three grandchildren have had indicators of mental illness.

With a one hundred percent confidence that I carry the gene for bipolar disorder and having long known that it is an active part of my life, well...

Dare I risk passing that condition on to my children?

Their odds of developing it might be less for them than they were for me.  But even so, to have any mental illness is to jeopardize the chance of a normal and productive life as most people enjoy.  It's certainly something I've never gotten to know.  More than a decade and a half of my life has been spent on medication and deep counseling and some involuntary hospitalizations.  All while trying to grasp and claw at some semblance of enduring happiness.

Don't my potential children have a right to that happiness?  How dare I risk taking that away from them?

And then, fourth, the harshest consideration of all:

How can I give life to a child who will have doubts about God?

When I mentioned "hypocrisy" earlier, I must count myself the worst of the lot.  Because for all of my belief in God, and doing my best to serve Christ with what talents He has given me...

For the most part, I believe God is there.  But I also confess that I doubt God has ever heard my prayers, that He ever will hear my prayers.  I confess that to me, God is not the all-loving, all-caring Father.  And I am very jealous of those who find joy in His love and grace, when it is that I cannot have that.  

Because to my utter shame God to me is a cruel, manipulative and indifferent bastard (yes, I am trying to hold back the anger toward Him).  And I am exhausted of seeing Him bless others with love and families and purpose and joy.  When the only consistent elements throughout my life since childhood have been a mind turned against me, a mother who was more abusive than I realized until recently and only now have I begun to address those wounds, hopes of a future with purpose and satisfaction falling to ashes in my hands...

(And if I as a parent carry on the cruelty and manipulation of a previous generation?  But that is something I'm not yet ready to delve into.  Maybe it's better that remain buried.  As a character in a recent movie said: "Let the past die.  Kill it if you have to.  That's the only way to become what you were meant to be.")

Ever more so, I am losing my faith in God.  Because God has never had enough faith in me.  Certainly not enough to extend the shot at a fraction of the life that seemingly everyone around me has to one degree or another.

And if this is "life" to be thankful and joyful to Him for, then I would rather that He never have created me in the first place.  He can banish me to Hell for all eternity, if this is the only existence that He will ever grant me.  I can't even trust that He would give me a new and whole mind if I go to Heaven.  An eternity with a mental illness?  Where is the joy in that?

To doubt that God is there or worse, to be unable to escape believing that God is deaf and indifferent to our prayers, is a kind of Hell all its own.  And there are some who are going to tell me "Oh Chris, you should be thankful and joyful all the same!  God gave you life and forgiveness of your sins.  You were made for God's pleasure and to Him you are perfect.  You are the clay, not the Potter and not even the Potter's wheel!  Who do you think you are to tell God that He messed up?  You have Christ and isn't that enough?"

No.  It's not enough.  Because despite all that scripture teaches, the God I have seen and come to know is a God who does play favorites.  He blesses some and curses others and if you're on His sh-t-list, there is nothing you can do about it.  And I'm not only referring to the jealousies of my own life.  Too many in this world suffer while others have seemingly have... okay, not everything but certainly the things that matter most.  Innocent people get thrashed and stomped upon and denied even an iota of something to be thankful for.  So what reason do they have to be thankful to God?

Once, I could be and was thankful to God.  I could pray to Him.  Not with requests or for something "good", but merely to thank Him and to praise Him for what I did have.  Now I recognize that, maybe it was being hopeful when I had no reason to be hopeful.  Maybe it was just wishful thinking.

Is that all God is?  Merely "wishful thinking" on our part?  Is there even a God at all?  Or are we deluding ourselves?  Have I been deluding myself for twenty years and more?

What do I tell a child?  That God is there and that He is listening to him or her?  When my own heart harbors even a sliver of doubt?

How do I tell a child that God is good, when he or she keeps praying and in return hears only silence from a Father who is aloof and removed from our cares and concerns save for a select few?  What if that child believes that God loves some but He has to have a reason to hate others... and they are it?  Because that's what it has been like for me all too often.

How do I tell with a sincere and faithful and thankful heart that God is there for my children?  What do I say when they tell me that God isn't there for them?

How do I dare consign a child to that kind of anguish and torment?  Because if that is all that there ever was for me, I would rather have died in the delivery room.  And there would come a day when my children will tell me the same thing.

My doubts about God are not dispelled.  And I'm not going to pretend anymore, for the sake of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that "everything is fine" between He and I.

Perhaps God might grant an infinitely deeper grace to my children than He has to me.  Perhaps they might know a love and joy from Him than I ever have.  I would hope that He would.

And then again, He may not.  There is no guarantee that He would do that either.

If I were to have children, I would have to be brutally honest with them in all things.  Including about God.  And though I do believe He is there, the faith in Him being all-loving and all-caring is practically absent.  There will be no lies or delusions or distractions from either my faith or my lack of faith... and I do want to have faith.  A real, abiding and enduring faith in God.  But if there is not...

To lie to my children like that would be the cruelest thing I could do to anyone.

So, with all of that being said:

Should I trust God?  Should I dare to plot something so irrevocable as giving existence to a human soul in this wicked and evil world?

Do I have any right at all to be a father?

Whoever is reading this and thinks they have something to share, please do so.  The comments are wide open on this post.  Feel free to use your own name or an alias or to be anonymous.  Maybe some among you have answers that have eluded me in spite of all searching out my heart and mind and soul.

If you do, I would very much appreciate it.

(And very special thanks to "N.G." for having a listening ear and proofreading this post at least three or four times before I hit the "Publish" button on it.)

Saturday, June 02, 2018

New SATURDAY NIGHT MASSACRES: Keyser Soze versus Sherlock!

The previous Saturday Nights Massacre has just ended.  With 83% of the vote Han Solo has hyperspace away with the Coors beer against Peter Quill's 17%.

And now, for the next matchup:
THE SETTING: 
New Scotland Yard had been rocked. Not even MI-6 knew who he was except vague rumors from the usual suspects. About possibly being Turkish, maybe German. The explosion on the Thames portended schemes of a sinister genius more formidable than Moriarty or Magnussen. As Mycroft rushes into Speedy's Cafe (stopping only to hold the door open for a man limping onto the London streets) he spots his brother eating a sandwich. Informed on the situation the dark-haired man in the woolen cape coat smiles. There is a gleam in his eye. And the game begins...


That's right: it's Keyser Soze versus Sherlock (from the BBC series).  It is a clash of the intellects like nothing before.  Voting is now open for two weeks until June 16.  Who will triumph in this battle for the soul of the good people of London?  YOU WILL DECIDE!  Cast your vote and may the best mastermind win.

These middle school girls play Dungeons & Dragons... and it is amazing!

Don't you wish YOU had a teacher like Ethan Schoonover when you were in middle school?  This is the kind of innovation and creativity that educators should aspire to have in their own classrooms.  Heck, it's enough to tempt me to consider teaching full-time.  Several years ago I taught an elective about making and managing websites at an Episcopal day school.  It was just one class three days a week, but it was so much fun and I still think often of those kids and the imaginations they were putting to use.  The girls that Schoonover teaches are indeed blessed to have a mentor like "Mr. E" because they are cultivating skills that will take them very far in life.

What are we discussing here?  After pestering Mr. Schoonover with the idea for an official after-school group at Lake Washington Girls Middle School located in Seattle, the ladies began a Dungeons & Dragons Club.  Seems that they had been inspired by the hit Netflix series Stranger Things and how the kids on that show take so much pleasure from their marathon sessions of Dungeons & Dragons.  The club became such a raging success that Schoonover was approached about making an entire elective class of the classic role-playing game.  There are now two groups of girls involved in DND campaigns and Schoonover is planning a summer program focused on the game.

The Dungeons & Dragons Club has become a pillar of social involvement at Lake Washington Girls Middle, and even students who aren't in the class are asking for updates on how the adventures are going.  And after he began posting photos and updates on his Twitter feed Schoonover and his students are now actively followed by fans around the world: young people but also teachers who have been inspired by this fresh approach to education.

'Cuz it's not just about the game itself.  Schoonover is using it to teach concepts like math (calculating the volume of a room before confronting that weird mist within) and ecology and political science, as well as social interaction skills.  The girls are compelled to tap into their knowledge and find ways to apply them to "real world" (kinda) problems.  Eschewing the standard modifier tables and instead uses algebra to solve dice rolls, "inspiration points" are rewarded for success.  Stuff like that is what merited a visit from some of the game's designers at Wizards Of The Coast.  Forget the gold pieces ladies: you and your teacher have scored a mound of platinum  These are girls who would probably conquer "Tomb Of Horrors" on their first try.  Formidable indeed!

Geek & Sundry has a TERRIFIC article about the adventures at Lake Washington Girls Middle School.  Here's hoping that it will lead to even more students and teachers beginning their own Dungeons & Dragons clubs.  One of the biggest obstacles that educators face in American public schools especially is "teaching a test" instead of teaching the material for its own sake and to encourage critical thinking skills.  Schoonover and his crew have found a way to overcome that obstacle... and how perfectly fitting that they have!  One suggestion though: Mr E and his girls should begin an official blog or a Facebook group about their campaigns.  And use it to reach an even wider audience.  Not just that but the students can chronicle their exploits with art, maps etc.  So there would be even more skills being nurtured: drawing and painting, cartography, and online publishing practices and ethics.  Anyhoo, just an idea.

Speaking of this game, a few weeks ago I posted about my own first time playing Dungeons & Dragons.  And how that had been such an enjoyable and creative experience.  Don't know why I did it at the time but months before Tammy the Pup (my miniature dachshund) and I set out across America (two years ago!) I bought a copy of the Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook.  Maybe it was divine Providence telling me that it would be needed eventually?  Anyhoo, the core guide is in my possession and as you can see in the photo I've a set of those weird dice.  Since it looks that I'll be getting settled now in [location redacted] I'm gonna find or try to start a group here.  My therapist has strongly suggested that it may help with my bipolar disorder and how often it erects blocks in my writing.  That might deserve keeping a chronicle of for its own sake, researcher and reporter that I try to be.

Gary Gygax, wherever ye be, we raise a flagon of mead high in your honor.  You have awarded a boon to young people and may they forever journey far with it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bethesda has just announced FALLOUT 76!

Look!  Teaser trailer!

Seems like the Fallout series is going to West Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley area.  Definitely somewhere in Appalachia...

 

I have but one thing to say:


After they release Fallout 76 Bethesda should make Fallout: Lucky City based on my old hometown Reidsville, North Carolina. They wouldn't even have to design anything from scratch, just use what's already there!  Here, I've even bombed the place ahead of schedule for them...


An interesting question...

"Are you going to delete the embarrassing stuff from your blog?"

It wasn't the first time that's been asked and it won't be the last.  This time it came from a longtime friend.  And the context was clear: would I remove any of the less impressive material from this site? Meaning the content that would potentially reflect harshly upon me, might humiliate me.  Perhaps even cost me a professional opportunity or a relationship or a position of leadership.

So... would I do that?

Absolutely not.

I think in the fourteen years since The Knight Shift began, I've deleted only five posts from it.  And those were made in haste, in "moments of madness" if you will.  And for the most part they were more about others than they were about myself.

Fourteen years.  Much happens to a person in that period of time.  And if it doesn't, that person is doing something wrong.  The human condition should be about change, and growth, and evolution.  It must be about becoming more and more the individual that God meant for each of us to be.  There is no avoiding that.  Not unless one intentionally avoids all contact with the world and "turtles in" and refrains from fear of that change.  And that can't be called much of a life at all.  That was the greatest moral of A Christmas Carol, what Marley came to warn Scrooge about: that however it transpires, a person will be made to go and be among fellow men.  To have among them a life of fellowship and growth, or an eternity alone and stagnant and in remorse.  And though there had been decades wasted behind him, Scrooge made up for it.  And if that's not a dynamic life, I don't know what could be.

Since January of 2004 there have been a lot of endeavors and career choices on my part.  To say nothing of the relationships that have come and gone.  Including a divorce, the circumstances of which in one way or another will haunt me for the rest of my life and though I know it was never the "real me" but a mental illness, there is still regret.  In just the past two years I have left my original hometown and set out across America with my dog Tammy in tow, looking for... I thought at first it was meant to be a new place to live.  Now I realize that it was to find a new state of being.  One that was not possible before.  To arrive at a greater state of existence than I had ever imagined could come about.

And the Chris Knight of 2018 is not the same Chris Knight of 2016, when I left Reidsville for destinations unknown even to myself.  In just the past several months I have come to manage my bipolar disorder and come to a place where that life abundant I have sought for so long can at last be. And then there has been the spiritual growth.  My life in Christ began in November of 1996.  I like to think that it has come a long way since then.  It will never be perfect.  The growth will never cease on this side of the veil.  Even so, many have told me that I've come a very long way since those tumultuous first few years... and the even more tumultuous past eight or ten years or so.

All of that and more has been reflected in this blog from the very beginning.

Why should I deny that it happened?  How can I deny that those things occurred?

This blog has been a chronicle of many things in my life. But the real meta game being played out is that it has been a chronicle of my life itself  along the way. Stupidity and foolishness and mistakes and scars included.  And if those weren't part of it, the purpose and meaning of this endeavor would be cheated.  It would be as if I was claiming to have been perfect all along, and that would be a horrendous lie to others and even worse to myself.

It's like what Locke said in an episode of Lost, when he was asked why didn't he change the series of events that brought him suffering when he had the chance to do so.  It would have saved him so much pain.  "No, I needed that pain," Locke told Sawyer.  "It got me to where I am now."  And that's it precisely.  Wherever I am now - and I prefer to think that it's a better place as a person than I was before - the pain and grief and loss along the way was a major factor toward that.  Do I wish that some things had been otherwise?  Definitely.

But in my better moments, I know that if even God Himself were to give me the opportunity, I would not change a thing.  Who knows?  Maybe it will lead someday to the life I've always desired for.  Especially to be a husband and a father.  Maybe what has gone on before is preparing me for that happiness.  Maybe my own struggles and ordeals might someday help others who need encouragement.  That would be a very high honor, no doubt about it.

So... would I ever wipe out something from this blog if it made me "look bad"?  And trust me: there have been many things here that in retrospect make me look bad.

No.  I wouldn't.  I can't.  Doing so would be me being disingenuous to myself.  It would be me being disingenuous to others.  And most of all, it would be me being disingenuous to God.  How far I have come is a testament of His grace and ability more than of my own.  The apostle Paul didn't shirk away from the person he himself once was.  Should I or anyone else do likewise?

Yes, it means potentially costing a lot of potentially wonderful opportunities.  Even in the years since going public with having bipolar disorder (in circumstances which at the time were unavoidable in my personal life) many have asked me to consider running for office again, as I did for board of education in 2006.  I don't see how that will ever happen.  There isn't much of a market for manic-depressives in the realm of elected politics.  And there again, I would have to be honest.  I would  have to be candid about myself, lumps and all.

But I've learned along the way: getting elected to public office isn't a requisite for making an impact for the better in this world.  The world is changing every day, and whoever is senator or president or king plays only a small part in that.  It comes down to the individual, to each of us, who makes the world what it is.  And in that regard, not one of us has a role that is lesser than that of any other.

This is my own role to play.  To be a voyager on a journey of self discovery.  To be a journalist as much about myself as I ever have about my surroundings.  And to write about it.  And hope that somehow it might be read and appreciated by others.

I'm not sending any of that down the proverbial "memory hole".  It is what it is.  And it will continue to be.  No matter how bad it hurts.,




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A proposal for armed teachers in the classroom

Several years ago as a college student, I was minoring in secondary education.  The intended plan was since I couldn't hack it in computer programming (with visions of being a millionaire like the guys who made Doom in my head) that I should focus on something I was actually good at: history, and teaching it.

The discussion in class one day turned to student discipline and keeping order in the classroom.  Naturally it went on a tangent about school shootings.  And I suggested arming the teachers with taser weapons.

It's a wonder I didn't get banished from Elon University right then and there, the notion was so radical and attacked.  But this was before Columbine.  Now?  The thought of a non-lethal stun device seems almost quaint.

Under no circumstance is the Second Amendment to be violated.  Some may not like it, but the right to keep and bear arms is the absolute final deterrent against government becoming all-powerful and consuming, and that is what the Founders intended.  But schools, whether public or private, are special environments where immediate accessibility to a firearm may not universally be for the best.  And yet, armed attacks on students and teachers continue.  I could deviate a bit about the true cause of such atrocities, but that's for another post.

So... what is to be done?  Because advertising that a school is a "gun-free zone" does not work, has not worked and will never work to deter a bad guy from storming the premises with a firearm and the intent to hurt and kill others.

Here, then, is my proposal:

  • Give those teachers who opt to be armed the right to do so, provided that they pass extensive background check and pass a mandatory training program tailored to address school violence and the responsibilities that will come with having a loaded weapon on standby in the classroom.
  • Install a lockbox in each classroom.  Secured with a real key, not a combination lock.  Only the teacher of that room and the principal will have a copy of the key, with another copy kept at the main office and retrievable by authorized personnel or law enforcement requesting the key through proper channels.
  • Teachers who choose to bring their firearms to school will be required to check them in at the office every morning, retrieve the key for their classroom's lockbox, and upon arrival at their classroom will immediately secure the gun in the lockbox.
  • At the end of the day each teacher opting to have a firearm available will remove the gun from the lockbox, sign the gun out at the office, and return the key.
  • The gun is kept out of ready reach but in a worst case scenario will still be within immediate grasp of the teacher.  There is also a log kept of which members of the faculty are armed for that particular day.
It's as responsible and accountable a system as I've been able to conceive.  Maybe more learned and wiser minds in regard to school safety can come up with something better.  If so, I for one would appreciate knowing what it is.

But merely announcing that a school doesn't allow guns, with nice neat placards announcing as much to visitors entering the building, isn't going to save lives.  Not from a lunatic whose only thought is to wipe out as many innocent lives as possible before the cops or deputies finally arrive.  In this imperfect world, seconds count when help is still minutes away.

And people like David Hogg (whose fifteen minutes of fame are WAY past finished) need to recognize the reality of the situation.  If they want completely safe schools, then "good feelings" aren't going to accomplish anything.  Knowing that there are armed teachers and other staff on campus, who will fire back with deadly force if absolutely need be...

The psychological value alone in that merits considering arming teachers with appropriate weaponry, to be used as a last resort.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Chris sez SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is a great fun ride that put him in his place!

Well, they sure showed me.

Toward the end of Solo, there is a brief scene with Emilia Clarke's character Qi’ra.  And maybe it shocked the audience and made jaws hit the floor but for me it was much more upheaving.

Without spoiling for anyone who hasn't seen this movie yet, let's just say that one of the reasons I haven't written anything about the Star Wars animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels is because I have seen very little of them.  Not only because there was lack of time to adequately invest myself into those shows but primarily that I hadn't taken them seriously at all.  And at the heartmeat of the matter is one character.  No offense meant to Dave Filoni but the moment they announced this person was getting injected into The Clone Wars I lost all interest in that show and then again in Rebels.  It was cheap, petty, reeked too much of being "gimmicky".  So it is that in my own personal canon of Star Wars, The Clone Wars and Rebels didn't exist.  And for years I've said this to countless many fellow fans: "The only way I will possibly accept Filoni's animated shows as legitimate Star Wars is if (redacted) is brought into the live action films and confirmed there to be (redacted)".

Last night at the first showing of Solo, seeing it with Codename: Dot Matrix and being haunted afterward until the sun arose wondering what this sweet and lovely lass must have thought when her friend went into full-tilt wacko Star Wars existential crisis upon seeing THAT particular character on the screen, big as life and twice as ugly (wait, was that a double or even triple entendre?)...

Dear Dave Filoni and Star Wars Story Group head honcho Pablo Hidalgo: well played, boys.  Well played indeed.  I suppose now I really will have to watch aaalllll of those seasons of Rebels and The Clone Wars.  Expect fat bonuses from Disney for this particular stunt as sales of Blu-ray season sets and digital downloads will crash through the ceiling after this weekend.

So here it is.  Solo: A Star Wars Story.  The film that some were scrying would be as bad or worse than Batman & Robin.  That movie was Detroit sewage on the Ross Ice Shelf and two decades later some of us still can't expunge its cinematic reek out of our nostrils.  But certainly a Star Wars movie couldn't be that bad... right?  RIGHT?!?

The odds were against it.  Solo's production history has been the most beleaguered of any Star Wars movie to date.  Leaked stories about how much of a mess the script was, Alden Ehrenreich's alleged lack of sufficient acting talent for the role of Han Solo, the dismissal well into filming of co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller necessitating bringing on Ron Howard to take over... all signs pointed to this being a disaster.  And then there was plain and simple matter of "Do we really need or even want this movie?  Is the story of young Han Solo something that merits being told?"

Friends, Romans, countrymen, fellow geeks and nerds and dweebs, lend me your auditory organs!  You can be of good cheer: Ron Howard and his crew have indeed turned in a fine and enjoyable addition to the Star Wars mythology.  And it gets this Star Wars uberfan's hearty Seal of Approval™.

But there are some things that I feel obligated to address about Solo: A Star Wars Story in writing a review:

There have been an astonishing four Star Wars films released over the course of the past two and a half years.  And of that quartet, Solo is by far the most light-hearted and least cerebral.  And maybe it's not the Star Wars movie we "needed" per se, but as a one-shot side tale complementing the heavier drama of this franchise it's a terrific lil' ride.  Solo is not necessarily a movie that a fan must see over and over again during its theatrical run, but it's certainly worth catching at least once.  Many have projected this to be the least-earning to date of any of the Star Wars movies.  I can understand why that would be, but that wouldn't and shouldn't be a reflection on the quality of the film itself.  Solo is a summer popcorn movie.  The kind you see with friends and family and you can unplug yourselves for a few hours and just throw your hands in the air and holler and laugh and throw yourselves into the moment.  Y'know, like what A New Hope must have been forty-one Mays ago today.  Before The Empire Strikes Back cranked up the gravitas and pegged the needle three years later.

Solo: A Star Wars Story isn't required viewing to keep up with the saga.  But it certainly is a fun one.  Whether you see it in the theater now or some months from now on Blu-ray or whatever at home, preferably with those aforementioned friends and family.

It's not without some due criticism though.  After a rollickin' desperate ordeal for our hero in the first part or so the film tends to slow down, though the pace does pick up again.  Maybe too much too fast though.  The rumors of script problems were not without a threat of truth: some of Solo is hard to follow.  Confusing even.  It reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.  The betrayals, backstabbing and conniving in that movie made it genuinely difficult to follow for too much of its running time.  Solo isn't quite that bad, but the Kasdan Boys could have tightened this script up and made it a tad more cohesive.  And something I've read mentioned by others since the film opened last night: Solo is dark.  Not "it's a very dark story" but that it could have been more brightly lit in terms of cinematography.  At first I thought it might have merely been the particular screen that Codename: Dot Matrix and I saw it on, but others are likewise reporting it at their own locations.

That being said, hey... it's a fun film.  It's a Star Wars movie for a Memorial Day weekend, though let us not forget the real reason for this holiday.  To honor and remember those who gave all so that the rest of us can have movies and everything else that this land has been abundantly blessed with.  To be thankful for that.  I hope that we can be.

Alden Ehrenreich's portrayal of young Han Solo was spot-on perfect.  He brings the smile and swagger that we recognize and cherish later on in the saga.  But if even perfection can be eclipsed, it certainly is done so by Donald Glover's portrayal of Lando Calrissian.  Every moment of Glover as Lando is a whole heap o' hootworthy delight.  Glover doesn’t just "get" Lando, he IS Lando.  I had been quietly hoping for a "works every time" homage to Billy Dee Williams but alas!  Not this time.  And speaking of Glover as Lando: he is not a "social justice pansexual" despite what co-writer Jonathan Kasdan said a few days ago.  I thought Lando in Solo was definitely a lady's man.  Though it should be duly noted that Lando doesn't care WHAT form the lady comes in, be it human or alien or droid.  If that's pansexual, then just think of Donald Glover's Lando as a supercharged James T. Kirk from the original Star Trek and your conscience can be comforted.  It certainly shouldn't be enough to dissuade parents from taking their small children to see Solo.  And I hope it never becomes that for any Star Wars film, but I addressed that issue a few blog posts earlier.

Joonas Suotamo, successor to Peter Mayhew as the one in the Chewbacca costume, does great honor to the man who brought everyone's favorite fuzzball to life on the screen in 1977 and so many times since.  Woody Harrelson can now proudly boast a Star Wars notch on his belt: his Tobias Beckett is a strong figure in the life of Han Solo.  Very much a Long John Silver type, and that was intended apparently.  Emilia Clarke as Han's now grown-up childhood friend Qi-ra had depth.  Perhaps not as much as seven or eight seasons worth of Daenerys on Game of Thrones can afford, but she turns in a good performance that portends we may see more of her in the role.  I did want to see more of Thandie Newton though.  She has become a powerhouse presence on HBO's Westworld as the rogue host Maeve and seeing her in a Star Wars film was something I had increasingly been looking forward to.  Paul Bettany, as crime lord Dryden Vos, reminded me of Al Capone as Robert De Niro played him in The Untouchables, though Dryden doesn't wield a baseball bat (he uses something much more wicked).  Lando's droid L3-37 quickly endeared itself to the audience, much as K-2SO did in Rogue One a year and a half ago.  It would be wonderful if L3's presence could be asserted again in a future Star Wars film, because Phoebe Waller-Bridge was obviously enjoying herself waaaaay much and it paid off.  And be listening for Linda Hunt as Lady Proxima early in the movie.  I've long been a fan of her, especially when she was the voice of Management in Carnivale.  And now Linda Hunt gets to make her mark on the Star Wars saga, which makes Solo all the better.

Solo may not be requisite material for a Star Wars exam, but there's plenty of extra credit to study up on.  We finally get to see Han's homeworld of Corellia.  The "expanded universe" of Star Wars literature may be kaput but it's yielding up a LOT of juicy material getting folded into the new canon.  Teräs Käsi is now a legitimate Star Wars martial art and attentive fans' ears will perk up at the mention of Carida and the Maw (wait... did this movie just have references to Kevin J. Anderson’s Star Wars work?!  What the...?!?  Is the Apocalypse looming over us or what?).  And then, yeah... that cameo.  The one that overturned my own personal table of Star Wars lore.  It's not a gimmick anymore and I can accept it.  I think most likewise hesitant fans will too.  I'm now curious to see if Lucasfilm and Disney are "grooming" that character into becoming a future threat down the line, as happened with Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Perhaps for the rumored Obi-Wan movie or the just-announced Boba Fett film.  Time will tell.

Meta-wise, I couldn't help but think that Ron Howard was injecting some of the spirit of American Graffiti into Solo.  Especially that first scene on the mean streets of Corellia.  Ron's brother Clint, long a beloved presence in the Howard movie stable, gets some screentime (but if he was drinking any tranya, I must have missed it).  I was somewhat disappointed that the brothers' father Rance Howard, who recently passed away, didn't get an appearance.  Perhaps circumstances didn't allow for it.  And this, the second Star Wars film to not be scored by the legendary John Williams (although he contributed a few pieces) adds another excellent work of composition to the catalog of soundtracks.  John Powell's score has just enough of the familiar themes without being derivative at all.  A Star Wars movie should be a unique vision of its particular filmmaker, its music no less so.  I think Powell's will prove to be an excellent set of tracks to listen to, especially while driving.  Y'know, like how some of us back in the day got speeding tickets from playing "Duel of the Fates" (and that's definitely a double entendre).

Solo: A Star Wars Story isn't the best film of the franchise, but it's not an Attack Of The Clones either.  Its its own animal altogether: a fun-filled romp through the galaxy far, far away that doesn't care as much for dramatic weight as it does for "Faster! More intense!" thrills that Lucas was screaming from the director's chair thirty years ago.

And if nothing else has persuaded you to check it out, consider this: Solo finally addresses that ridiculous "Kessell Run in less than twelve parsecs" boast that armchair physicists and professional astronomers have been fanwaking themselves about for the past forty-one years.  It now makes sense, even.  If that's not worth twenty bucks for tickets and a minimum of outrageously overpriced confectionary, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A federal judge just turned Twitter and Facebook into public utilities

In what might be the most hilarious case of unintended consequences in recent memory, today Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled that President Donald Trump was wrong to have blocked users from his Twitter feed... which inadvertently has officially designated Twitter (and by extension Facebook and YouTube and other social media outlets) to be common carriers like the telephone system!

In a 75-page ruling, Judge Buchwald declared that Twitter was a "designated public forum" on which Trump could not discriminate against selected readers by blocking their accounts. "This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, 'block' a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States," Buchwald said in her opinion. "The answer to both questions is no."

So let's tear this down...

If a person is a "public official", that person can not "mute" communication between himself or herself and selected members of the audience based on their political views.  It is effectively giving the President a right to be heard whether he wants to be heard or not.

So when do these same protections get extended to ordinary citizens like Diamond & Silk, who have been chronically banned (and reinstated after considerable public outcry) from Facebook and other social media venues?

The documented cases of those who have seen their Facebook posts, tweets, and YouTube clips purged down the memory hole have have had one outstanding factor overwhelmingly in common: they have pertained to those who hold what are often deemed to be "conservative" beliefs.  Too many have been banned outright or have been "shadow banned": made to look as if they are broadcasting their message out but in fact have had their posts and tweets throttled down or shut down completely by Twitter or Facebook or whoever.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that it is now an open secret that there is extremely active discrimination being practiced on the part of self-ascribed "liberals" and "progressives" within the tech industry against those who they disagree with.  So much so that some have wondered if there might be RICO charges on the basis of advertising purchased with these companies only to have potential audiences algorithm-ed out of sight and out of mind.

But now thanks to Naomi Reice Buchwald, Twitter and other social media platforms have been officially defined to be "common carriers" like AT&T, Comcast, and a lot of other companies.  In business but also subject to regulation by the government to ensure fair practices and privileges for all.  And if users of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are being censored not because of inappropriate behavior but purely on the basis of ideology, well...

This is gonna be totally fun to watch as it unfolds.  Wouldn't surprise me if Twitter came down on Trump's side if it keeps them and every other social media outfit out of regulatory jurisdiction.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

For those who are graduating...


This is the season for graduations. For some it has already happened and for a few it's still in the next week or so. And I know that countless commencement speeches have been given already and better minds than mine have had reams of wisdom to impart. Even so...
Earlier this month someone who has become a very special person in my life graduated from college. Someone who God blessed with an abundance of intellect, talent, and beauty. She is graced with more faith than most, including I. And her parents and family and friends are very proud of her. For the first time in my life I sent a graduation card and, ummmm... guess I didn't know what quite WHAT to say! But I gave it a try.
Maybe these words will be of some use to others who are also walking up to get their diplomas. So here is what little I have to share to them:
- Take the high road. No matter how much the world or your friends or even family insist that you stay safe.
- Never compromise on your convictions.
- Know what you believe, but also know why you believe it.
- Think for yourself, because there is always someone who will try to think for you.
- Always try with your best, but do not be afraid to fail.
- Humbleness is always greater than pride.
- Be kind. But also know how to love even when it hurts.
- Never stop learning. When you stop learning, you stop living.
- Laugh hard. Run fast. Love, always.

Warhammer 40,000 now needs Pre-K books (and I'm here to help!)

If you're at all a fan of Warhammer 40,000 whether you play the game or just are fascinated with the astounding body of fiction and art it has inspired, you probably got the the news yesterday that there are are childrens books coming out soon based on Warhammer 40,000 and its fantasy sibling Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.  At first I thought it was a joke but a quick look at Bell of Lost Souls confirmed that these are indeed being released in the near future.  Here are the first two:



Reaction from the fanbase has been mixed.  Some are applauding it, some think it's "too immature" whatever THAT means... especially coming from players of a game during which screams of "WAAAAGH!" are common.  Still others think that Games Workshop is playing a strategy of "get 'em while they're young" like tobacco companies, Democrats, the John Birch Society and freemium iPhone apps.  Personally, I like it!  Makes me wish I had a kid or two to justify getting these books (and it could still happen someday...)

'Course, it goes without saying that there are aspects of Warhammer 40K that are going to require a delicate hand in addressing for younger audiences.  Like f'rinstance, oh... I dunno... maybe Slaanesh (the Chaos god of sensual pleasure) and the whole thing about how the Dark Eldar like to spill out of nowhere to raid for victims to suck the lift force from.  And the Inquisition.  And why do Commisars seem to enjoy killing their own soldiers so much?  How the heck are they going to put Tyranids into this new series?

Well, I'm of the opinion that this is going to be a great success.  But since this is Games Workshop and their Black Library division we're discussing, maybe we should prepare for the inevitability of 40K books for an even younger readership.  Like, ages 3 through kindergarten.  So with that in mind, I took the liberty of making the first in the series of the next generation's introduction to the far future:




Dear Games Workshop: disregarding the fact that I am not a British subject, please feel free to contact me about my percentage of the sales.  I'll take either Pound sterling or an entire company of my choice of Primaris Space Marine miniatures (including the new Roubute Guilliman).  And if you ever bring Lorgar back I'll take him too.