Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cats (part 1) - Halloween and Cats

Butte and a Pumpkin/everystockphoto.com
Black cats and pumpkins.

Common images for decorations. It seems the two, Halloween and cats, were made for each other.

As a kid, I had enjoyed Halloween. Dressing up. Going to parties. Back in more innocent days when my friends and I roamed the neighborhood. Free candy at every door. It doesn't get much better than this.

Then I got older.

I heard too many stories of cruel things done to cats, especially on Halloween. But I can't really say anything bad happened in our neighborhood. But I locked up kitty anyway. Just to be on the safe side.

But what's a cat's perspective on this human holiday?

We may have some idea. This cool tuxedo cat, Henri, shares his dim view of Halloween.

One wise cat, that Henri. As well as an internet star of short, existential films.

And if you are watching this, it's on the internet. And the secret is out.

The internet is made of cats! 

That what it says in this video. And if it's on the internet, it must be true, right? ;)

And so begins a new thread.


It could prove to be a most interesting and amusing one. For there's no shortage of cat videos. Or cats.


Other articles:

How Cats Evolved to Win the internet - New York Times (2016)

Cat Video Gallery: Henri Le Chat Noir 


photo: Butte and a Pumpkin/everystockphoto.com

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Civics (part 1) - The Electoral College

wikipedia/electoral college

Lately, there's been a lot talk about college. 

The electoral college, that is. And for good reason. As they cast the votes that really count when electing the President of the United States.

Nothing new about this. It's been in the US Constitution from the get-go.  Article II, Section I, Clause 3 to be exact. [reference: Electoral College ]

And below is an elementary lesson on civics on how our government works:

Why the electoral college?

After one of the first  Brexits, 240 years ago in 1776, the American colonies had their suspicions of rulers holding absolute power over them. Such as monarchs like King George III.

And rightly so.  As historian and moralist, Lord Acton, is credited to offer his opinion:

Power corrupts;
absolute power 
corrupts absolutely.
[reference: The Phrase Finder]

So the Constitution was designed with checks and balances for our leaders. And that included a check for the chief executive. That is evident as the founders did not trust a popular vote to elect the president.

For 230 years, there has been many debates on this system as it has its flaws as seen below:

What's the solution? 

A popular vote seems to remedy the downside of the electoral college. But the system does have an upside in protecting the interests of the country as a whole.

Consider a popular vote for president.

The candidates would concentrate only on the big cities.  New York City. Los Angeles. Denver. Seattle. Atlanta. Houston, Chicago. ... Those populations will largely will determine the elections.

Screw fly-over country. And the needs and concerns of the more rural areas will be overlooked for the denizens of big cities. And those differences can be poles apart.

Consider the electoral college.

As it is, fly-over country has more weight than the more populated states.  Such as pointed out in Adam Ruins Everything, an electoral vote per capita in Wyoming is worth three times more than an electoral vote in California.

Having lived in California, I understand the feeling that my vote didn't count much. At least for president. We were totally written off as in the tank for the Democrats. And seen a waste of time and money to court our votes. Except candidates saw California as their cash cow and stopped by regularly to milk the billionaire donors for their campaigns...in swing states.

Currently, I reside in Wyoming. More muscle for my vote, right? But we're mostly written off as in the tank for the Republicans. And we are ignored anyway. Only 3 electoral votes at stake. Who cares about us?

Time for a change?

That would require amending the Constitution. It's been done before.  Some 27 times (the first 10 being the Bill of Rights).  But the process is not easy to do. [reference: The Constitutional Amendment Process]

But that's the way it is. Under this Constitution. And it's worked remarkably well since 1787.

So begins another thread.


And this election cycle, vote your conscious. For there is more at stake than the electors we elect at the Electoral College.


Similar posts on this topic:

ZAMM (part 7) - Yes or No - Gotcha! (2012)

PC Watch (part 2) - The South Park Offense (2013)

Timeless Truths (part 6) - Magna Carta - 800 years and still going strong (2015)


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Faith (part 1) - Star Trek and Christianity

star trek/wikipedia.com

Star Trek.

 The original series, premiered September 9, 1966, 50 years ago.
[reference: Star Trek, imdb.com]

So ....

Happy 50th 

Many celebrations were/are planned this year to mark this anniversary of such an iconic SciFi series. Not to mention its many spin offs. And movies.  As well as how it's left its mark on culture and our vision of the future.

Yet through this SciFi series, we find

Faith - in unexpected places

So on that note, begins another thread.

Fifty years ago, American culture had reflected some traditional Judeo-Christian values. And one of Star Trek's 1968 episodes, season 2, episode 25, so boldly echoed that, entitled...

Bread and Circuses

Historically, the term Bread and Circuses was coined to refer to a mob control tactic used in the 1st century Roman Empire. To keep the poor working class from rioting, Emperor Augustus instituted a program of state bribery, which kept the plebeians fed and entertained - mostly for free. [reference: The Roman Empire - in the First Century: Plebeians]

In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise investigates the disappearance of a merchant ship on a planet, which is the 20th century version of the Roman Empire. There, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy find the missing ship's Captain Merik as a government pawn.

In the scene below, Spock and McCoy are forced to fight in Roman-like game - which is a small reminder of the original gladiator games and how brutal life was back then, especially for slaves:

But there are rebels, who love peace, and resist the tyranny. They are sun worshipers, who worshiped a different deity than their overlords.

After making their escape, the team discovers the identity of the sun worshipers as Son worshipers. As in they worship not the sun up in the sky, but the Son of God.

And the late Chuck Colson makes a great commentary in his Two-Minute Warning about this classic Star Trek episode and its lesson on history and our society:

Truly this SciFi testifies to the power of Christianity, which 1st Century Romans made this complaint concerning the ministry of St. Paul:

These that have turned the world upside down
are come hither also ...
Act 17:6 (KJV)

 Whether in the belly of the beast of the Roman Empire or a SciFi series set in outer space, Faith can be found in unexpected places.


For another Judeo-Christian reference in the Original series, check out...
   Live Long and Prosper: The Jewish Story Behind Spock, Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek Character 


Related post:

Proverbs (part 2) - Live Long and Prosper  (2013)


photo: star trek/wikipedia.com

Sunday, August 28, 2016

poetry (part 3) - Success

North Ridge/everystockphoto.com


We want it. Especially its fruits. But it costs us. And it's not guaranteed.

Recently, we had a international exhibition of that. The Olympics  in Rio earlier this month.

Hard work. Not giving up. Going for the gold.

As ABC sports used to hype:  The thrill of victory. And the agony of defeat. The human drama of athletic competition. [reference: ABC Wide World of Sports Intro 1981 ]

Also striving for success applies to other challenges in life. And Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011) is still an inspiration in following your dreams and doing what you love. In spite of rejection, setbacks, failures:

Forty years ago, as a youngster, I wrote a poem about this theme when I was just starting out in life.


Don't be afraid to fail
Or your dreams you'll cease to strive
Heed not the mockings of those
Who really are not alive 

Look not to the side for direction
To the lamb-skinned wolves nearby
Who say that they do speak the truth
But devour with a lie 

Look above for your direction
To the star in the sky
And don't be afraid to fail
And be not afraid to try!

© S. K. Smith, winter of 1976

40 years later?

Still trying. Still striving. And still working on being not so afraid.


Previous Posts in this series: 

Poetry (part 1) - Snow (2016) 

Poetry (part 2) - The Fool's Prayer (2016)  


Monday, August 8, 2016

Science 101 (part 5) - August Meteor Showers

2010 Perseids/wikipedia

Space can be a dangerous place. Especially when you are by things going really, really fast. Like debris. Even those those of us on earth.

One of the effects of such a collision is meteors. And below is a "crash course" on that space junk crashing into our atmosphere:

This coming August 13-14, 2016 will be a peak of the Perseid Meteor Showers.  And they can be quite awesome if you live in the neck of the woods with a dark sky.

If you are one to look at the night sky, there's plenty of advise out there, such as:

Perseid Meteor Shower 2016: When, Where & How to See It

As the late great Jack Horkheimer (the original Star Hustler and advocate for naked eye astronomy) would say:

Keep looking up!


Previous posts in this series:

Science 101 (part 1) - Vernal Equinox  (2013)

Science 101 (part 2) - The Sound of Music? (2013)

Science 101 (part 3) - From Galileo to Apollo (2013)

Science 101 (part 4) - Cosmos Continued ... (2014) 


Photo:  2010 Perseids/wikipedia

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Nostalgia (part 6) - Dear Eleanor

Eleanor Roosevelt/wikipedia.com

The 1960s were tumultuous.

Cold War. Vietnam. Counter culture. Hippies. US vs USSR Space race. Iron Curtain. Civil Rights. Assassinations. Not to mention: Drugs. Sex. Rock N Roll.

But the early 1960s were almost an extension of the perceived calmer, more innocent 1950s. Leave it to Beaver. Happy Days. Kennedy and Camelot.

And the year 1962 is the setting for Dear Eleanor (2016). The recently released movie, on DVD and internet, captures the spirit of those times.

It begins in California as the Ellie Potter's mother leaves the house that day to give an introduction to former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Only Ellie's mother is killed in a car accident along the way. The same day Marilyn Monroe died.

While Ellie's dad shrugs off his parental responsibilities and sinks into depression,  Ellie takes on the roll as Little Mom as the oldest girl. But Ellie's best friend Max the Wax has ideas. And convinces Ellie to ditch school for a road trip cross country. From California to New York.  To deliver her mom's speech to Eleanor Roosevelt in person.

During this "Thelma and Louise" type road trip, the Cuban Missile Crisis grips the nation, the girls unwittingly find company with an escaped convict from Alcatraz, and they pick up Max's Aunt Daisy, a dancer in Las Vegas. That is, Las Vegas, New Mexico. Not Nevada. Meanwhile, Ellie's father and the boy next door discover the girls' plans and are on their tail to bring them back home.

The extended movie trailer below sums it up pretty well.

It's a shame the movie didn't get a wider release. Based on what I've seen in the theaters these days, this would make it in the top ten percent or higher. And much of the songs, pop culture, news of the times, are interwoven in the story. At bit of nostalgia. Like Forrest Gump (1994). Only far more realistic of a story.

It was an uplifting movie with a good message. During difficult days, the heroines dream big and they go for it. Though it didn't turn out as they had hoped, they all were enriched by the journey.

And this movie has a special meaning for me. One of its writers  is Amy Garcia. Before I retired, I had the privilege of working with Amy's father. And I learned from him that his daughter had worked very hard over the  years, overcame many obstacles and setbacks, to see this project through.

To all creatives out there, this is encouraging. Take the risk! Go for it!

And never give up!


Previous Posts in the series:
 Nostalgia (part 1) - A Father's Thanksgiving Prayer  (2014)

Nostalgia (part 2) - Christmas Past in War and Peace (2014)

Nostalgia (part 3) - Something Old, Something New  (2014)

Nostalgia (part 4) - VJ Day Kiss - 70 years ago (2015)

Nostalgia (part 5) - Big Band and World War II  (2015)


Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt/wikipedia.com

Friday, July 15, 2016

CC2 (part 1) - Counting Coup

cover art by Davis Creative

Counting Coup?  

What the heck is that?

As you see from the cover above, it is a Native American Indian kind of thing. Here is a definition, according to the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains: Counting Coup

And below is an excellent explanation in this Montana History Minute as the prerequisite of a Chief and ranking within a tribe:

And that gives an insight to the theme of Book 2 of The Commander and Chief series called ...

Counting Coup

Here is a teaser as to what it's all about.
Art by Davis Creative

Dr. Nova Orlovic, known as "the Chief" - she's half-Cheyenne - is on the warpath again. After her team uncovered the inconvenient truth as to how her second husband had died, President Lincoln Todd circles his wagons in major damage control. And it's payback, big time, for the Chief when she's indicted for the murder of her first husband eleven years ago.

Then a tyrant, eager to rebuild his weapons of mass destruction, gives Nova an offer she can't refuse. In exchange for her expertise in nuclear physics, he tempts her with new revelations about both her husbands' deaths, perhaps clearing her name. But by "counting coup" with her enemies on both sides of the ocean, will the Chief lose the Commander, her latest love, as well as unwittingly unleash the dogs of war? 


The coup stick, Star of David, British and American flags in the image above have meaning in this latest story.

If this has piqued your interest, please feel free to read the book.

Counting Coup, now available:

* Paperback:  CreateSpace

* eBook:   Kindle

And please check out the First Book of the series,

His Tribe of One, now available:

Paperback:  CreateSpace

eBook:   Kindle

Latest news at: smithsk.com/cc.htm

Your readership is much appreciated. 

S. K. Smith


For other posts in His Tribe of One, Book One of the series:

CC (part 1) - The Commander and the Chief: His Tribe of One (2014)

CC (part 2) - Universe in a Glass of Wine  (2014)

CC (part 3) - Happy Bill of Rights Day  (2014)

CC (part 4) - Stories and the Brain (2015)

CC (part 5) - Audie Murphy  (2014)

CC (part 6) - Pavle Orlovic (2015)

CC (part 7) - Buzz Aldrin  (2015) 

 CC (part 8) - Little America (2016)    

CC (part 9) - Buffalo Bill's Wild West (2016)

CC (part 10) - Little Big Man (2016) 


Photos: art work by Davis Creative