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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ernesto barely worth thinking about

As I write this Tropical Storm Ernesto is about to come ashore somewhere between Cape Fear and Oak Island on the south-eastern North Carolina coast. We've been getting rain here in Reidsville throughout the evening but we'll probably only really start getting the outer bands of Ernesto in the next little while. The Weather Channel and all the local news outlets are on the coast covering this thing... but this is certainly one of the most underwhelming weather stories I've ever lived through. A lot of rain and some wind gusts - nothing really sustained - is all we're really going to get. At most, this is going to be a medium-sized nuisance over the next day or so. Hurricane Bob in 1985 was a lot worse than this. Ernesto really pales in comparison to Fran.

But all the same, we are going to be getting some much-needed rain from this system. Although I will admit that deep down, part of me is wanting the adrenaline rush that comes with riding out a major hurricane. This season we've been very lucky. And don't get me wrong, hurricanes are something that cause a lot of devastation...

...but there's no feeling in the world quite like being someplace in the projected path of an oncoming hurricane: the hydro-thermal engine from Hell. Waiting out the really big storms is like looking down the barrel of God's shotgun.

It'll be ten years ago next week that we got hit by Fran. I'm gonna try to do a write-up about it sometime then.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Y'all go visit Jennifer Olwin's blog!

It's like this: I really don't like tooting my own horn. But Jennifer Olwin - who I have never met in person but I've fast come to count her as a very dear friend and all-around terrific person - has a mighty fine thing to say about my blog in her most recent post. I just wanted to take the opportunity to say this: that ever since first finding her blog a few months ago, Jennifer has definitely become an inspiration for me to focus my own blog that much more on God and how He would have me publish my thoughts online. Anyone who has that kind of positive effect on me, I want to go out of my way to let other people know about that person. Between her and Lisa (who's got her own blog too for you to take a gander at) these two ladies are certainly keeping my online 'tude straight. So go check out her blog: I guarantee you'll come away from it that a lot more enlightened on things :-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Worst hypocrisy I've seen from the Bush White House in a very long time

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Iraqi government that he was visiting that country to do "what we can ... to help promote the rule of law and also help promote security in this country."


Attorney General Gonzales is doing nothing about upholding the rule of law in this country, the United States of America. Why should we believe that he and the rest of this administration are going to do any better by Iraq?

And "promote security"...?! This from the man who is instrumental in letting thousands of illegals cross into America daily.

Sometimes I have to wonder if the Bush Administration might actually be trying to actively destroy American sovereignty. Either they are ignoring our own problems by outright design, or they really are the most incompetent administration to ever occupy the White House.

(The more I see this kind of stuff happening, the more I'm starting to long for the Clinton years as the "good old days".)

Monday, August 28, 2006

eBay crippling homeschool parents with new policy

It's being reported on WorldNetDaily that online auction giant eBay has implemented a new policy that is unfairly targetting homeschooling families.
A new policy by Internet trading behemoth eBay that bans homeschool teachers' texts from its auctions is prompting a tirade of complaints from the company's faithful customers.

"Really the homeschooling community is a huge participant in eBay when you get to thinking about it," said one customer who was identified as ''angels*wings'' on an eBay blog. "We buy textbooks naturally but we also purchase items like microscopes, slides, globes, maps, manipulatives, educational games, reading books, supplies for our classrooms ... stickers, idea books, folders, sheet protectors, school supplies, software, educational movies, models, post cards ... the list is enormous."

The policy, which is inclusive of all teachers' texts, was made known recently as those who were auctioning various books watched as their postings were deleted.

Another homeschooler on the blog said she questioned eBay when her listings were cancelled.

"They told me that it fell under their heading of 'illegal, dangerous, offensive, or potentially infringing,'" she said. "What are they thinking? I have a mess of curriculum here that I can't sell, and needing money from it to buy curriculum for the new school year."

The response from the company was posted for others to see.

"As you may know, eBay does not permit items that are illegal, dangerous, offensive, or potentially infringing. Additionally, eBay has just recently made the decision to prohibit the sale of Teacher's Editions of textbooks and solutions manuals that are intended solely for use by teachers. Since eBay strives to be a level-playing field, all Teacher's Edition textbooks, manuals and guides will be covered under this policy. Unfortunately, home schooling Teacher's Editions are not exempt from this policy and this policy will apply to all grade levels."

The company continued that those products often contain "special answer keys, exams, teaching tips, and guides"...

So sales of textbooks for students can go on unimpeded. But sales of teacher's editions that would let a homeschooling parent check the work of her children are strictly a no-no.

This may be one of the dumbest things I've ever seen happen on the Internet. Does eBay really believe they should now be "playing nanny" for their customers? Are they really that worried that students might (shudder) go looking for answers to questions? It's like they've never even heard of Google.

The only people I know of who would really be hindered by this ridiculous policy are kids who memorize everything they read... and that's got to be a very low percentage of the children at that. Otherwise, eBay is not only doing homeschool parents a grave disservice, they are angering a considerably vast customer base.

Abe Lincoln and a beaver want you to catch some ZZZs

So it's now 3 a.m., an unconscionably late hour to be up at. Ironically enough, a short while ago I was checking some web-mail and a banner ad for Rozerem appeared. It's a prescription sleep medicine and if you haven't seen the TV ad yet... well, this is just one plum weird commercial. A guy who can't sleep shuffles into his kitchen where Abe Lincoln and a talking beaver are sitting at the table with a chess set, telling the guy they've been waiting for him. In the background there's someone at the kitchen counter wearing a deep-sea diving suit. The tagline is something like "Your dreams miss you." For a pharmaceutical ad, it's certainly one of the most odd that I've ever seen... but I think it's strangely funny too. I mean, what kind of person is it that comes up with the idea of putting Abe Lincoln and a wise-cracking beaver together? Well if you want to see the ad here it is in Quicktime format (may have to upgrade to the latest version of the player though).

Awright, time for me to get in some sleep myself. See y'all on the flipside :-)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

One year ago tonight...

...I was making this post. Hard to believe it's been an entire year already since Katrina hit New Orleans.

Campaign website gets new look

My campaign website at knightforboard.org got something of a minor overhaul this weekend. New logo, a slicker menu interface with rollover graphics, online contributions implemented, and a few other tweaks. Please check it out if you haven't done so already. And very special thanks to Ed Woody who went above and beyond the call of duty in helping make this site even better than it was before.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Higher-quality MP3 of "Don't Download This Song"

A few days ago I posted about "Weird Al" Yankovic makng the first single from his upcoming "Straight Outta Lynwood" album available as a free download on his Myspace page. That file of "Don't Download This Song" was 92 kbps in rate. Well not many people may know this but in the past few days Al has also put up DontDownloadThisSong.com and there's a much higher-quality version of the song (at 160 kbps) available for download there. I recommend getting it from that site if you must download it (even though the song implores you NOT to download it at all :-)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's the Return of the Spinning Head!

Here's a real blast from the past that I found tucked away on a seldom-used hard drive tonight...

The mad spinning head of Chris Knight

I made that all the way back in 1998! Remember how a long time ago when we didn't have blogs or Myspace, how we made our own personal homepages? Yeah, a bygone era to be sure. Well when "Weird" Ed and I were roomies at Elon, I had him help me make this graphic for my homepage. So I sat in his office chair while he operated my standard film camera mounted on a tripod. I faced the camera, he snapped off a pic, and while keeping my head straight I rotated 1/8th the way around. He took another pic, I rotated, and so forth. Then I got the film developed and scanned all the photos (with the scanner in the computer lab at school), took the files home and did some editing with Paint Shop Pro, then assembled them together with GIF Construction Set. All of this was using Windows 3.1 except for the scanning which was done on a Win 95 machine. I then stuck it on my homepage (which was called "Chris Knight's Virtual Surreality" at the time). It came out pretty good, I think. It definitely made people laugh when they saw it. Anyways, it's a bit of graphic fun I had back in the day and I thought that if anyone is curious about what a 360-degree look at my head was like in 1998, that it'd be fun to post here for old time's sake.

Making a contribution to the Knight for School Board 2006 campaign

I'm now three weeks into my campaign for school board. And if you would like to help out in any way, I would certainly appreciate the support. Just saying "good luck" or sending a prayer this way would help plenty. But I would certainly also appreciate any monetary support that could come this way.

So if you've read my campaign website or you know enough about me already that you feel I would be of great service on the Rockingham County Board of Education, I'm asking you to consider making a financial contribution to this campaign. There are two ways you can do this from this blog: directly online via PayPal, or mail-in a check along with some required information.

Personal checks and checks from PACs registered with the state of North Carolina ONLY are accepted. By state law we cannot accept corporate contributions. Contributions are limited to no more than $4,000. Anonymous contributions are prohibited. State law requires that the name, address, phone number, occupation title and employer's name be recorded from each contributor. Contributions are not tax deductible.

There are two steps to making an online contribution.

1. Send an e-mail to knightforboard@gmail.com with "Contribution" in the subject line. In the body of the e-mail you must provide the following information:

Address (street, city, state, zip)
Phone Number (including area code)
Occupation/Job Title
Contribution Amount

2. After sending the e-mail you may then hit the button below that will take you to a secure page on PayPal from which you can make a contribution with a major credit card or checking account.

There are two steps toward making a mail-in contribution.
1. Send a written/printed page with the following required information:

Address (street, city, state, zip)
Phone Number (including area code)
Occupation/Job Title
Contribution Amount

2. Mail the page with the information, along with your check contribution, to the following address:

Chris Knight
1516 Sherwood Drive Apt. B
Reidsville NC 27320
As I said, any support at all - even just wishing me good luck and Godspeed - would be appreciated. But if you find it possible to make a financial contribution, I would be especially thankful. By the way, no sensitive financial information will be shared with anyone. I am only required to make a record of name, address, phone, employer information etc.

Chad gives it a "tri"

A few weeks ago my life-long friend Chad (who you might remember for his stunning portrayal of George Lucas in Forcery) did something he's never done before: competed in a triathlon. That's when you swim a distance, then bike a long way and then run the rest of the race. Chad's a veteran of two full-blown marathons already and several half-marathons, and he was one of the best swimmers on our team in high school and he bikes to work sometimes... so the man was way up to the challenge of the triathlon. Read his blow-by-blow report, including a bunch of great action photos. Congratulations on a good race Chad!

Testing, pay no attention

P.S. the above photo is that of Vinnie Lunesta, the accountant at WGSR-Star 39 (the TV station I work at). This was from the evening Lunesta went on Monday Night Live and explained how the show had given away more than $400,000 in prizes.

(I'm using the "beta" version of the new Blogger stuff... I had to test this with something :-P )

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A hearty hello to everyone from the TAPS Forum!

The past few days or so my blog's meter has been going crazy with hits, and yesterday I found out why: I'm getting a LOT of visitors from the TAPS Forum! Some of you might remember my post last October about the best ghost photographs ever taken. Well the good folks on the TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society, the same outfit you see on Sci-Fi Channel's Ghost Hunters) boards found that article and made a thread out of it on their board. How much traffic are they sending this way? About three-four times the normal flow :-) I peeked my head in to check 'em out and I was mighty impressed with the camaraderie over there, so I registered on the board and sent them a hello there. Anyways, they're a good crew and I wanted to commemorate their being here, so... hey guys! :-)

Monday, August 21, 2006

I was the first fan ever to listen to Weird Al's new song!!

Well like I wrote about this afternoon, a few minutes ago "Weird Al" Yankovic posted the first single from his new album Straight Outta Lynwood on on his Myspace page. And ironically it's titled "Don't Download This Song". It's HILARIOUS!! And wonder of wonders: I was the very first fan to post on Al's Myspace page that I was listening to it!! Don't believe it? Here's the link to where's it at on his comments page (must be logged-in to Myspace to see it). It's the entry dated Aug 21, 2006 5:59 PM where I say '"Don't Download This Song" listening now!!!' Is that cool or what? :-)

Joe Rosenthal passes away: WWII photographer shot most famous image of the war

On February 23rd, 1945, after four days of fighting on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, United States Marines from the 28th Regiment of the Fifth Division took the high ground on Mount Suribachi. There had been a flag-raising atop the hill earlier that day but it was then taken down because it was thought too small. A short while later six servicemen began raising a much larger flag. As they lifted the staff Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the Associated Press who had been attached to the American forces as a field correspondent, snapped the following photograph:

It's being reported this afternoon that Joe Rosenthal has died at the age of 94. His photo of the raising of the flag atop Suribachi on Iwo Jima will forever be regarded as the most well-known image ever taken during the long conflict of World War II.

TONIGHT: First single from new Weird Al CD will be ANOTHER free download!

It was announced about two weeks ago that tonight "Weird Al" Yankovic will release the first single from his new upcoming album Straight Outta Lynwood on his official Myspace page. The upload is scheduled for 6 p.m. Pacific/9 p.m. Eastern and yes, it will be another free MP3 download like he did with "You're Pitiful" a few months ago. No idea which song from the CD this is going to be but rumor is that this might be "White and Nerdy": Weird Al's parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'". My guess is that it might be one of his new originals and that it'll be a style parody (his "Wanna B Ur Lover" from his last album Poodle Hat was a dead-on Prince-style spoof and was one of the most risque things Al's ever done). But there's also supposed to be parodies of Green Day, Usher, R. Kelly and Taylor Hicks on this thing, so I guess anything's possible tonight. I'll make an update to this post later on tonight after I've had a chance to listen to the new song.

UPDATE 10:14 PM EST: I've listened to "Don't Download This Song" probably a dozen times now since it appeared online a little over an hour ago and it just keeps getting funnier and funnier! I would say it's definitely a style parody along the lines of "We Are The World": it's not hard at all envisioning dozens of recording artists getting together and singing this. So go be a hypocrite and download "Don't Download This Song" from Al's Myspace page. Do it. Do it now now now!!

And the news just keeps getting better: the video for "Don't Download This Song" is going to premiere on Yahoo! Music Videos two days from now!

Oh yeah, and I wound up being the very first fan to listen to the song and comment about it on Al's Myspace page, too :-)

Campaign issues: The theory of "Intelligent Design"

On the website for my school board campaign there's a page called "Qualities and Qualifications". Up 'til earlier today on the part where I talk about being a Christian - which I believe anyone who's considering voting for me should bear in mind before they cast their ballot - there was a brief blurb about "intelligent design" theory. I had written this:
"... I have issues with the teaching of "intelligent design" in the public schools. If anyone wonders about why that is, write me an e-mail and I'll explain as best I know how."
I removed that small bit earlier today, because I had started to feel like it didn't really adequately address my beliefs well at all. Well, earlier this evening (okay, it's past midnight as I write this right now so this'll be late yesterday) a gentleman wrote me and asked for some elaboration. I gave it to him, as best I knew how. And it sort of confirmed something that had been growing in my mind all day long: that I should provide more about my beliefs on "intelligent design" (i.e. teaching the theory of creationism per the Judeo-Christian model in public schools) on my website.

Well, there's a brief (for me anyway) capsule synopsis of my stance on intelligent design on the Issues page of the site. But just for sake of further clarity, I thought it might be a good idea to post the entirety of what I wrote this gentleman here on my blog, and invite any questions of comments about it from my readers (all three or four of them :-)

That said, here it goes...

My beliefs on teaching "Intelligent Design" in public schools

I believe that God created the world. As a Christian, as someone who's studied science for most of my life, as a historian who's made biblical history a major part of my personal research, and for a lot of reasons I hold to the Judeo-Christian belief that we are not here by accident. I believe we are here for a purpose. And that purpose is established by Someone higher and greater than we are.

Now, about "intelligent design". Which I've pretty much stated that I *do* believe in an intelligent design to the universe already...

If we are to teach intelligent design in the science classroom, we should also be prepared to teach evolution as well, because each of them, in the strictest scientific definition of the term, is considered a theory. You and I believe that God established this world... but that's not something that is absolutely testable and verifiable by scientific experimentation. Neither for that matter is evolution (and I would be the first to point out in a science class that an increasing number of scientists are now saying that Darwin's theory of evolution is a very bad theory according to everything we now know about biology and genetics). Both "intelligent design" and "evolution" are ideas that must be accepted by faith on the part of the individual. And that's not something that we can or even should attempt to use the powers of the temporal realm in forcing another person into accepting: he or she must choose for himself, or herself, what it is they believe about how it is we came about.

I do not believe in the slightest bit that evolution is the answer to how we got here. In fact, it takes *more* faith to hold to the evolutionary model of things than it does for the creation model. But in terms of what materials we have with which to observe and make quantifiable measurements from, neither are concepts that we can either prove or disprove. Again, both come down to being things held by faith. Thus, if we are to discuss "intelligent design" (which I have no personal belief against) as a theory in the classroom, we should also be ready to discuss evolution as a theory also. And any other theory that someone might hold to (including panspermia, as much as I've always thought that was the most ridiculous theory ever postulated).

So how do we teach how it is that we got here, from both the physical and biological perspectives? The short answer is: we don't. And we don't pretend to have an answer for that either. What we *can* do as educators is admit to our students that there are several theories regarding how existence came to be and how we are where we are today. In that context, a teacher absolutely *CAN* discuss his/her personal beliefs on the subject, including if he/she believes in intelligent design (as a matter of fact, every teacher I had in a science class who did discuss his/her personal beliefs admitted that they *did* believe in creationism). If the opportunity arose in the classroom, I would certainly admit that I believe that there is a created structure to the universe that was put in place by God.

Here is the root of my personal problem with "intelligent design" in the classroom. It's not really about the theory at all, because I am a creationist. But it's how it has come to be used and pursued in many jurisdictions across the country. Instead of being something to be promoted as a legitimate theory in opposition of evolution for the students to consider, it has become a weapon to be wielded against those whose beliefs deviate from that of the Judeo-Christian mindset. All too often, the battles fought in our school systems are not about giving our students the best education possible, but rather they are about coming to possess a power over those students. As a Christian, I believe that using "intelligent design" in this context can do nothing other than corrupt unto self-destruction the testimony we are called to have of Christ. Having power over others - in the slightest bit - is not what we are called to do as ambassadors of Christ in this world. So I think in some ways how intelligent design is used has become something of a trap that diminishes us and our mission here.

We are here to convince those outside of Christ by virtue of our character and our humility. Lacking the desire for temporal power is something that markedly separates us from the rest of the world. Having that kind of peace without feeling we must possess power to keep it is something that all too many people in this world are craving in their own lives.

That is why I am suspicious of the promotion of "intelligent design" in our classrooms. Not because I disagree with the theory (as I've said, I do believe in creationism). But far more so, I fear what can and has been done with this theory in the name of God, but in reality has been for the glory of mere men.

This is something I've thought long and hard about, in the event that were to I win election to school board. I can not be a board member and proclaim that my beliefs in creationism are something that must be adhered to by the students of Rockingham County without question, because that would just be me serving my own interests. But I can be a presence on the board suggesting that in teaching science, if we absolutely must discuss the origins of existence then we *should* present "intelligent design" as as theory as viable as evolution.

It's complicated, I know. And what I've shared with you probably isn't half of my complete thoughts on the subect. In coming to my conclusions I really have sought to honor God and present Him as best I can possibly witness for Him to a very secular world.

But in a nutshell: it would be best not to speculate on how we got here, because we can't go back and observe how that came to be. Science can only show us how to observe the here and now. If discusson compels it, intelligent design should be presented but we also must accept that evolution can and will be presented also. We can admit to what we believe in regarding the subject but it's not given to us to compel our students to believe likewise. Rather we should do what we can to encourage them to come to their own beliefs on the subject... even if the answers for those questions can only be found in spirituality. And if we are to present intelligent design in the classroom, we - and I mean the Christians who would be given such authority - must resist the temptation to use it according to our will and understanding, rather than God's.

Okay, if I write anymore I'll risk once again being referred to as a "wordy wordy monkey". Feel free to discuss or write me or whatever :-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Plight of the Bumblebee: the 'bots in TRANSFORMERS announced

Back in May I posted my list of which Autobots and Decepticons should be in the live-action Transformers movie due out next July. Well this past Friday the writers of the movie did an online "press conference". And considering that they're making some departures from "old school" Generation 1 Transformers, the Autobots and Decepticons we'll be seeing are pretty close to what I'd called for. From the Autobots we'll be getting Optimus Prime (who'll be sporting some HIDEOUS flame decals on his truck form), Bumblebee (depicted in robot form at left), Jazz, Ratchet, and Ironhide. The Decepticons will be represented by Megatron, Starscream, Brawl, Bonecrusher, Barricade, Scorponok, Frenzy, and Blackout. A lot of fans are outraged that Soundwave will not be one of the Decepticons, but I can sort of understand it: when the first Transformers came out in 1984, Soundwave was one of the most popular Decepticons... but he transformed into a tape deck. How many times do you see someone carrying around a tape deck anymore as opposed to a CD player or an iPod? Actually, there's an idea: Ravage or Rumble could turn into an MP3 player. And sorry all of you who were hoping we'd see a "gestalt" robot like Devastator: although Bonerusher has traditionally been a Constructicon, there's no mention of the five other 'Cons with which he combines to form the massive robot with.

But who knows: maybe if sequels are made we'll get to see a lot more Autobots and Decepticons. Maybe one of them will be Grimlock so his fanbase (who are some of the scariest Transformers fans I've ever known) will be happy. And I'd love to see Astrotrain or Blitzwing, if nothing else than to see how a robot that transforms into two vehicles translates on-screen.

"Take me out to the ballgame..."

This past Friday night Lisa and I did something that I haven't done in over twenty years: we went to a real live baseball game. It was the Greensboro Grasshoppers at home in First Horizon Park against the Lexington Legends.

And we had a really darned good time! The staff at the park really went all-out to give the eight-thousand-some in attendance some lively entertainment. One of the highlights of the night was the newest addition to the Grasshoppers team: Miss Babe Ruth, an 8-month old black Labrador Retriever who just start work as the team's "bat girl": she's trained to pick up the bats that the Grasshoppers use. After the game she ran through all four bases and then, ummmm... provided some other "entertainment" (well she's just a puppy after all :-P ) After the Grashoppers beat the Legends 9-3, there was a fireworks show launched from deep center field... and one of the better shows that I've seen at that. I ate two hot dogs with plenty of mustard while we were there and the food is pretty delicious too. It's all enough to make me wish I'd gone to a Grasshoppers game already in the two years that they've been playing in Greensboro. I'm really looking forward to going again sometime.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Once again, sensationalism overwhelms in Ramsey case

It was about 5 this afternoon that we got word at the station that there had finally been an arrest in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. We wound up going to breaking news around 5:30 and that's practically all that was talked about for the next 45 minutes.

I guess maybe local interest (I'm writing from north-central North Carolina in case anyone's ever wondered where I am geographically) in the Ramsey case has something to do with the Short family murders, which happened four years ago this week. To this day, the killer of nine-year old Jennifer Short has not been found and there seem to be very few leads in the case. JonBenet Ramsey was murdered almost ten years ago... so I guess there is kind of a hope in these parts that if there has been a substantial break in that case after so long, that we might see justice meted out somewhere along the line on whoever it is that killed Jennifer and her two parents. I can pretty well understand that.

But I've never understood the sensationalism that has surrounded the Ramsey case from the very beginning. It's something that I've always believed has hampered the legitimate investigation into the crime. It doesn't matter who her parents were or that she was a beauty contestant, or anything else like that. At the risk of coming across as sounding cold and callous: this was just another murder case. And it should have been approached as any other murder case is supposed to be: with solemnity and seriousness of mind. But from day one this has been like chum thrown to the sharks of a headline-hungry media. It's been treated like a daytime soap-opera storyline far too much. And it's something that no doubt has prevented this case from making any significant progress until today's developments.

This isn't the first time this has happened by far. We saw it happen in the O.J. Simpson case over ten years ago. In our grandparents' day it was the Lindbergh kidnapping case of 1932: to this day there is grave questioning as to whether Bruno Hauptmann really went to the electric chair a guilty man. If cooler heads had prevailed among the press - and fame-happy prosecutors - the real murderers might actually have been found in the course of due process. But that didn't happen... or was allowed to happen at all.

So I'm glad that, apparently, there may have been a real break in the Ramsey case and a prime suspect has been found. We might have finally taken a major step toward seeing JonBenet's killer brought to justice. I just can't help but think that it could have come an awful lot sooner than now. And I wonder now just what the press is going to do this time now that it's got a second wind.

This week's sign that the Apocalypse is upon us...

I want a Mac.

That is the very first time in my life that I've found myself lusting after one of Apple's computers. And after going so long calling them "Macin-craps" too. But, it's true: I would love to have a Mac computer.

Now, I am and always will be, I guess, a Windows user. Ever since Windows 3.1 well over ten years ago. For me, it's just plain fun to get into the guts of Windows and tinker with stuff, the way we used to edit AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files in old-school MS-DOS. And it's just too practical for me to stick with Windows anyway. It's what I know how to use the most.

But in spite of all that, at long last... I'd love to own a Mac. Because as good as Windows is, there are some things that Mac can do just as well. And I'll now admit, maybe even better.

What finally did it for me is Garageband, a Mac program that lets even music-illiterate types like me make some pretty astounding audio tracks. We have Garageband loaded on a G5 Mac at our TV station and I'm really impressed with it. So much so that for the past few weeks I've been trying my darndest to find a Windows equivalent that does the same thing.

But alas... there isn't one.

And Macs also run Final Cut Pro, which I'm amazed at what some of the other guys at the station can do with this software package. When I was putting Forcery together I used Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5 for the editing and After Effects 6.5 for all the visual effects. If I'd been working on a Mac loaded with Final Cut Pro, I could have streamlined the entire process so much more smoothly.

I'm starting to seriously consider eventually getting a Mac, because if I'm going to pursue filmmaking any more it might be well worth getting a multimedia platform as well-suited to so many production tasks as the Mac is. I can see where it would make a huge impact on my work.

If my friend Deborah ever reads this she's going to be laughing her head off, because she's long been telling me how good Macs are... and I've finally come to believe her.

So that might be something I'll be looking into getting in the not too distant future. And I'm sure it will work just fine alongside my Windows XP machines, or Vista if Microsoft ever gets that piece of bloatware off the ground. That's one thing I've always admired about Macs though: they don't have the excess baggage that every new iteration of Windows seems to bring with it. Sometimes less is more.

Okay, I've made my confession. Now it's time for me to go to work and do penance at the iMac that holds all of our station's TV commercials :-P

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


A few minutes ago I went to this blog to check on something and noticed the meter...
The Knight Shift has now hit fifty thousand visitors! Not the most visits I've ever seen for a blog - heck the Drudge Report gets a few million a day - but for a humble little blog like it is, it's a pretty neat milestone to have reached. Thanks to everyone who helped it achieve this.

Monday, August 14, 2006

U.S. government sends Blade Runners to look for Replicants at Knoxville airport

Don't you just hate it when real life starts to imitate the movie Blade Runner too much?

Here's the story from the Wall Street Journal:

Which Travelers Have 'Hostile Intent'? Biometric Device May Have the Answer
August 14, 2006

At airport security checkpoints in Knoxville, Tenn. this summer, scores of departing passengers were chosen to step behind a curtain, sit in a metallic oval booth and don headphones.

With one hand inserted into a sensor that monitors physical responses, the travelers used the other hand to answer questions on a touch screen about their plans. A machine measured biometric responses -- blood pressure, pulse and sweat levels -- that then were analyzed by software. The idea was to ferret out U.S. officials who were carrying out carefully constructed but make-believe terrorist missions.

The trial of the Israeli-developed system represents an effort by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to determine whether technology can spot passengers who have "hostile intent." In effect, the screening system attempts to mechanize Israel's vaunted airport-security process by using algorithms, artificial-intelligence software and polygraph principles.

Neither the TSA nor Suspect Detection Systems Ltd., the Israeli company, will discuss the Knoxville trial, whose primary goal was to uncover the designated bad guys, not to identify threats among real travelers. They won't even say what questions were asked of travelers, though the system is generally designed to measure physical responses to hot-button questions like "Are you planning to immigrate illegally?" or "Are you smuggling drugs."


How is this not the Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner?! Here's the user's end of the machine:
And here's the description of the test from Wikipedia:
The Voight-Kampff is a polygraph-like machine used by the LAPD's Blade Runner units to assist in the testing of an individual to see if he or she is a replicant. It measures bodily functions such as respiration, "blush response", heart rate and eye movement in response to emotionally provocative questions. In the film two replicants take the test: Leon (played by Brion James) and Rachael (played by Sean Young). In Blade Runner, Deckard tells Tyrell that it usually takes 20 to 30 cross-referenced questions to distinguish a replicant. With Rachael it takes more than a hundred.

Description from the original 1982 Blade Runner presskit:

"A very advanced form of lie detector that measures contractions of the iris muscle and the presence of invisible airborne particles emitted from the body. The bellows were designed for the latter function and give the machine the menacing air of a sinister insect. The VK is used primarily by Blade Runners to determine if a suspect is truly human by measuring the degree of his empathic response through carefully worded questions and statements."
There's no word yet on how many "skinjobs" have been nabbed in Knoxville so far.

Peter the YouTuber gaining a devoted following

A few days ago I posted a YouTube video featuring a 70-ish man making some "geriatric gripes and grumbles". Well in the past week or so since that first video, which he titled "first try", Peter - aka "geriatric1927" - has gained a massive following especially from the younger crowd that dominates YouTube. He's now posted eight videos of himself so far. He talks about growing up before World War II, entering the British armed forces as a radar mechanic, meeting and marrying his wife, his lifelong love of motorcycles, the passion for blues music that he shares with his audience... he's definitely one of a kind in the world of Web 2.0. Here's one news story I found about him and here's yet another. I'm highly recommending checking this guy out if you haven't already.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"I want to ride my bicycle..."

So... I got a new bicycle.

Lisa and I spent the past few weeks looking for one (although the extreme heat we've had lately put a damper on that for awhile). She brought her bike with her a few weeks ago when she came back from visiting her parents in Georgia. And there's a great bicycle/jogging trail that goes by our place. So of course being a good young married couple that does everything together, she made me get one too so we could go ridin'.

We finally found a good one today at the Super K-Mart in Greensboro, made by Mongoose. So we went out for a "test drive" on the trail this evening after dinner. And I really need to figure out the gears on the thing 'cuz my legs got a way horrid workout going uphill the hard way. But I think this is going to prove to be a very wise investment in the long term. It's great exercise, and it's going to help me work toward a goal that my friend Chad has convinced me to go for: running a full marathon, like he's done twice now.

But that's a ways off still. I gotta train first and start a real running regimen like he's got. In the meantime, I'm trying to get "Bicycle Race" by Queen out of my head :-)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Best YouTube video I've seen in awhile

You've just got to watch this. He's a first-time YouTuber:

Report on my campaign: "I am NOT a committee!"

I've been thinking about making reports here whenever things warrant them, about my running for Rockingham County Board of Education. Not so much to toot my own horn but just to give other people who've never run for office an idea of what exactly is involved with trying to get elected. So far I've filed the paperwork to be on the ballot, sent out a press release, and created a website for my campaign.

This morning I filed the paperwork pertaining to my political campaign committee. By law I must have a committee with a treasurer, even though that committee and treasurer is actually just me. I shouldn't have to file any more stuff between now and the election, unless I somehow wind up spending/raising more than $3,000. In the meantime all I have to do is keep meticulous records of everything that gets raised or spent. Which so far the expenditure just a little over $65, the bulk of which was registering knightforboard.org as my website domain name.

So I needed to come up with a name for my committee. It had to be something unique. I tried to make it something both practical and memorable. I made attempts to find something that would turn into a neat acronym, but came up with nothing. For awhile I seriously thought of naming it "The Vote Knight for School Board Committee (There's No Real Committee)"... but this is a serious thing so I didn't do that.

In the end, I settled on Knight for School Board 2006 Committee. Just something plain and simple. And short enough to hopefully fit on one line at the bottom of the screen when I start doing the TV commercials.

Tune in next time, when Our Hero talks about the intricacies and hurdles that come with looking for contributions.

More DOCTOR WHO on Sci-Fi next month

The latest season of Doctor Who - the first with David Tennant as the Doctor - will start running on the Sci-Fi Channel on September 29th, according to the Chicago Tribune. That's about 8 months earlier than a lot of us were expecting Season 2 (or 28 if you're counting from old-school Who) to broadcast in America. No word though on whether "The Christmas Invasion", the first real episode with Tennant, will be part of the set. I hope it will be.

This season of Doctor Who was a real mixed bag: the episodes that were good were very good (like "The Girl in the Fireplace", "The Age of Steel" and "Doomsday") while the ones that were bad were absolutely atrocious: the final scene of "Love & Monsters" made that episode the single most disturbing/disgusting thing I might have ever seen on television. Well anyway, if you didn't end up downloading them off the 'net for the past few months, you'll get your chance to see the newest Doctor Who episodes starting next month and then you can judge for yourself :-)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

About the "no liquids rule" that was imposed on airline passengers today...

So now all liquid products are banned from carry-on luggage if you board a plane, except for baby formula and bottled breast milk. This is all because a major plot was foiled to blow up British airliners using liquid explosives.

Here's the thing: explosives don't have to be in liquid form. They can also be solid, like plastic explosives.

So if another mad scheme is stopped to blow up a plane, only this time using C4 plastique, will that mean that ALL plastic items - like combs and Game Boys and credit cards - will be banned from carry-ons from then on?

"POLICE SQUAD! In Color" and on DVD this November

Arriving this November 7th is one of the most hotly demanded DVD sets ever: Police Squad!, the complete six-episode series.
Everyone knows about the Naked Gun movies but this is the show that started it all. This was definitely a show that was ahead of its time when it aired on ABC in 1982. Too bad it only lasted six episodes 'cuz this is some of the funniest television I've ever seen (I caught the entire series back in 1991 when CBS ran it for a few weeks). Something you absolutely should consider either pre-ordering or picking up at the store when it comes out.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My political campaign now has a website!

Awright, I spent all night working on this (mostly just writing stuff) but my first-ever political campaign now has its very own website! Head over to www.knightforboard.org to get the lowdown and more information about me than you'll ever want to know :-P

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


They're re-running last week's episode right now on Sci-Fi Channel. I don't usually go in for "reality" TV shows but I'm having too fun a time watching this one. In case you don't know, Who Wants To Be A Superhero? is a show where a dozen or so would-be costumed heroes compete - under the watchful eye of comics legend Stan Lee - for the ultimate prize: be a hero in a published comic book. See if you don't giggle a bit after hearing the names of some of these people: Major Victory, Monkey Woman, Iron Enforcer, Fat Momma (wearing donuts on her utility belt), Cell Phone Girl. The first week's big challenge was to change into costume without being gazed upon by onlookers, then run a short distance through an archway... and too many of the prospective heroes ignored the little girl crying for help on their way to the goal. This past week's involved being brave enough to withstand being assaulted by two vicious attack dogs (I'm still laughing at how they dragged Creature across the lawn). Is this thing contrived? Possibly. Is it watchable? Heck yes! Can't wait to see the next episode when the remaining heroes face their first supervillain.

Monday, August 07, 2006

First press release about my run for school board

This is the first press release to come out of my campaign to be elected to the Rockingham County Board of Education. It'll get faxed to all the local media today.



August 7 2006

Christopher Knight has announced his candidacy for one of the at-large seats on the Rockingham County Board of Education after filing to run on August 3rd.

"I believe that I will bring a fresh and unique perspective to the Rockingham County school board," Knight said. "The realm of education is one that I have experienced much during my young life, from studying to be a teacher to actually running a classroom. I'm looking forward to contributing a new voice toward school policy-making."

At the top of Knight's list of priorities if elected to the school board is finding ways to reassert local control over Rockingham County schools. He cites the No Child Left Behind Act as an example of the federal government determined to micromanage local school systems. "There may not be much we can do at this level toward changing that legislation, but we can at least try to adapt ourselves around it," Knight said. "We are presently very much a system focused on outcome-based education because of the end-of-grade testing, and I believe that's wrong. We should encourage our teachers to be proactive instead of reactive." Knight also said that he is a firm believer in fiscal conservatism and is a supporter of such programs as the arts.

If elected, Knight has pledged to visit every school in the Rockingham County Consolidated School system and to meet with principals and teachers in order to listen to them and discuss how to improve county-wide education.

Knight is a freelance website designer and works part-time as a master control technician at WGSR-Star 39 in Reidsville. He is also the co-founder of KWerky Productions, a North Carolina-based film production company whose first major work, Forcery, gained rave reviews and has been shown in countries as far away as Norway and Argentina. Knight is a 1992 graduate of Rockingham County Senior High and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Historical Studies from Elon University. He is also an Eagle Scout and an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 797 in Reidsville. He has been married to his wife Lisa for four years. This is his first campaign for public office.

There's also going to be a website going up in the next few days that will have more of my take on some things.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dining at Kabuto Japanese Steakhouse

Last night I took Lisa out to something she's never been treated to before: a live performance by a chef in a Japanese steakhouse. We went to Kabuto Japanese Steakhouse in Greensboro: a place that I've heard of for at least twenty years now but had never actually gone to before. We had a few things worth celebrating so Friday I made reservations (highly recommended at Kabuto) and were taken to our seats at 6 on the dot... just before we were about to order some squid from the sushi bar.

We were seated at one of those combination dinner table-and-stovetop along with several other people, and it wasn't long before our chef for the evening came out with his cart containing our dinners to be cooked before our very eyes. He squired something on top of the stove and lit it up with a match: flames burst out and threatened to burn us all... well that's what it looked like for a second or two anyway. The chef wasted no time preparing to cook while simultaneously entertaining us: one thing he did was arrange a sliced onion into a "mini-volcano" that spat out fire. He was also pretty quick with the jokes.

Well, Lisa had the ribeye with shrimp and I had the ribeye with chicken, along with generous helpings of rice and vegetables. For dessert our chef made sliced banana covered in a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon. The entire meal was delicious: I can still taste the bananas when I think about them.

Kabuto is a pretty reasonably priced place. Well worth checking out if you're in the Greensboro area and want to try a different dining experience sometime. We'll definitely be paying another visit to the place in the future.

Friday, August 04, 2006

ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm now a candidate for public office

Readers of my blog are the first people from the general public that are going to hear about this. The official announcement is going to come early next week: I'm still trying to figure out where I should hold the press conference.

I filed late yesterday morning. I am now officially on the ballot this coming November as a candidate for an at-large seat on the Rockingham County Board of Education. This is the first time that I've ever run for public office (Lord only knows if it'll be the last time too, but I'm gonna try for this).

You can find a complete list of filed candidates here. I'll be writing more about this in the next few days or so, including why I chose to run, what my beliefs are in regards to public education, and maybe a little about what to expect from my campaign committee (there's no real committee... it's just me but by law I have to have a campaign committee for the paperwork).

Awright, any questions? :-)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Something I'm watching with considerable interest

According to the Israeli news service Haaretz, Muslims in Jerusalem are demanding that Jewish groups be kept off the Temple Mount today, the Ninth of Av on the Hebrew calendar.

What they're really trying to do is prevent the Temple Mount Faithful from coming anywhere near the Al Aqsa mosque - i.e. the "Dome of the Rock" - and do what they've set out to do for the past several years now: set about rebuilding the Jewish Temple.

Some years ago when I was a reporter I interviewed Gershon Salomon, the founder and leader of the Temple Mount Faithful. Ever since then I've kept my ears open to anything pertaining to him and the Temple Mount Faithful, especially when it comes to their attempts to approach the Temple Mount. Every time over the years when they've tried to come to the Mount to set the cornerstone of the temple, they have been foiled by their own government. This time the Supreme Court of Israel has ruled that anyone can visit the Mount on the Ninth of Av. I can see Salomon - by far one of the most extraordinary men I've ever met - girding up now with his fellow believers to make one more go at it.

You may want to watch this in the next few days, especially with what's going on right now between Israel and Hezbollah. Particularly with Ehud Olmert at the helm in Israel. Who knows... but this may finally be the year when the Temple Mount Faithful are able to begin rebuilding the temple.

All hell will break loose like Jerusalem hasn't seen before if they try to do it.

I say, let 'em build. It's their land anyway. The Muslims didn't even care that much for the site until Israel was established in 1948 anyway, then it became "sacred" to them.

By the way, Gershon Salomon obliged me with an autograph. Would be neat to know someday that I have the signature of the man who led the effort to build the third Jewish temple.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

KWerky Production update at the front end of August

Well, we tried. Honestly, we did. But in the end there was no way we could really get The Charles Schulz Code done. The biggest obstacle was that we couldn't find anyplace suitable to be where we would shoot the art gallery scenes, which were crucial (and demanded some unique specifications). The real hurdle though was how bad The Da Vinci Code bombed at the box office, at least in terms of all the hype that it had generated before it even came out. This was supposed to be a $300 million monster blockbuster right out the gate - something like the newest Pirates of the Caribbean - when instead it creaked its way toward, I think it's something around $200 million after all these months, or maybe less. And general interest in the whole Da Vinci Code thing is finally beginning to wane bigtime. A few years from now a lot of people who bought this book will be asking themselves why did they even bother to pick it up in the first place. However it is, it ended up just not being that good a material for a satire like I was aiming for. Maybe I'll post the script for it sometime though, to let anyone who might be interested see what was going to happen.

Meanwhile, work continues on other projects. And I'll post more about those as they develop.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What I think about the whole Israel/Lebanon mess

Tonight I was on the phone with a friend, and he asked me what I thought about what's going on right now between Israel and the Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. It was the first time that I gave some ventilation to what's been going through my head about this ever since it started... what... three weeks ago?

In the past month or so I haven't posted that much "serious" stuff on this blog. Not like I usually do. There's a lot of reasons for that. I've been thinking deeply on a lot of subjects lately and rather than blab about them on the fly here, I've been letting them percolate more. In the meantime this blog seems to have become about nothing else other than entertainment and minor trivia. Now it's starting to shift back to "real world" stuff.

So, what do I think about this mess in Lebanon right now? I don't believe the United States should become involved in it whatsoever, because this has become a conflict with bad guys but no real good guys either. Yes, Israel has the right to defend itself against those that have actively been trying to destroy her... but that does not mean that Israel has to stoop to the level of killing innocent civilians wholesale in order to get to those bad guys. So of course our "brilliant" leadership is practically giving its blessing to Israel to keep putting innocent Lebanese in the line of fire.

Think about it: would the United States government be in the right, at all, if it supported Great Britain if that country began to carelessly slaughter Irish women and children just to get back at a handful of IRA members?

And this may mark me as a strange Christian, but I can't honestly say that I support the state of Israel as many of my brethren do. Yes, we are instructed in the Bible to honor our Jewish forefathers and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem... but nowhere is it written that we are to thoughtlessly acquiesce to whatever the government of Israel chooses to do. There is a difference between the Jewish people and the government of the Jewish people in their own homeland, just as there is a difference between the American people and the government of the United States: one is not necessarily representative of the other.

So no, I don't completely support the Israeli government in this. And I believe that too many Christians should reconsider why it is that they are blindly supporting that government. No government is that perfect and let's face it: the Old Testament is 60% - or more - about times where the then-Israeli government botched things up. Why should we expect any greater from its present-day incarnation?

So chalk me up as someone who thinks that Hezbollah should be ended as a threat... but also thinks that Israel is fast destroying - if it hasn't completely done so already - its moral credibility in this matter.

Iraq war vets suffering mentally, study finds

This is what I've feared most during the past three years: the long-term effects of the war in Iraq on our returning military personnel. According to the results of a new study, veterans of Iraq suffer feelings of confusion and even mental lapses at a rather common rate.

I'm afraid to say this, but I expect the suicide rate among those returning from this ill-conceived conflict will rise markedly in the years to come. Especially after President Bush leaves office and whoever is next finally starts to withdraw our soldiers... then it'll finally start to be asked by practically everyone just what were we doing there in the first place. Realizing that one fought in and suffered for a meaningless war is going to pack an emotional whallop, no doubt.

From the creative mind of George Lucas...

George Lucas really hasn't released that many movies over the years when you think about it. So when one of his greatest triumphs ever reaches a milestone it's a fitting thing to commemorate it. It was twenty years ago today - August 1st, 1986 - that Howard the Duck was hatched in theaters. Yes the summer of 1986 gave us many great cinema classics - Aliens, Transformers: The Movie, etc. - but Howard the Duck certainly stands out as... well, something. Anyway, happy 20th birthday Howard!

Only twelve posts for the month of July

Must have been a slow month or something.