Thursday, September 27, 2018

Space (part 1) - NASA at 60

NASA Seal/wikipedia.com


What was happening 60 years ago?




And this October 1st, NASA
-- National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
--  
first opened its doors
60 years ago.



NASA's Vision: 

We reach for new heights
and reveal the unknown
for the benefit of humankind.

[reference: About NASA ]


Want to hear more?



And in the words of Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear:

"To infinity…and beyond!" 


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Picture: NASA Seal/wikipedia.com

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Biblia Files (part 8) - What's Yom Kippur?

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur/wikipedia.com


What's Yom Kippur?

It's the Day of Atonement. Its origins found in Leviticus 16 as well as other places in the Old Testament. And it's still observed. This year, the most holy day falls on September 19, 2018.  After the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.
[ reference: Jewish Holidays 2018-2019 ]

For a good summary of its history and modern observances, here it is in 60 seconds...



Yesterday was a shadow...

The law is only a shadow
of the good things that are coming—
not the realities themselves. 

For this reason it can never, 
by the same sacrifices
repeated endlessly year after year, 
make perfect those
who draw near to worship. 
Hebrews 10:1 (NIV)

Today, full atonement through faith...

God presented Christ
as a sacrifice of atonement, 
through the shedding of His blood—
to be received by faith.
He did this to demonstrate
His righteousness, 
because in His forbearance 
He had left the sins committed
beforehand unpunished— 

 He did it to demonstrate
His righteousness at the present time, 
so as to be just and the One
who justifies those
who have faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:25-26  (NIV)


Blessings for the New Year of 5779!

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Photo: Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur/wikipedia.com

Monday, August 20, 2018

ED (part 1) - Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!

Bennet School 1912/everystockphoto.com

It's the end of August...

For most students, that means the start of another school year.

The classroom is open. So let's begin with a history lesson and some music and irony. A protest song from 1979 against the rigid education system:


Actually, Another Brick in the Wall.
(
It fits the theme of the old brick schoolhouse, above, doesn't it?)




We don't need no education 
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher leave those kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
...

Another Brick in the Wall was Pink Floyd's only number-one single. So this one must have really hit a chord with the people and resonated.

Lots of talk. Much has been discussed about public education. What's being taught. Who dictates the curriculum. Why little Johnny and Susie can't read. And why kids are exposed to mature and sensitive topics beyond their tender years.

Reforms? In 1979, President Jimmy Carter had signed a law to create a Department of Education. Just what we needed. Another layer of bureaucracy between the government and the people. More money thrown at the problem.

Since then? Common Core. Some charter schools. Homeschooling. Private schools for those who can afford them. Or are lucky enough to get scholarships. But most of the America's children are educated in public schools.

We don't need no thought control...Teacher leave those kids alone...

Conformity. It still seems to be the norm. Though the norms have shifted--some say a radical shift to the Left--since 1979. Creativity still stifled. Beat out of kids in grade school. Dissent not tolerated in the name of tolerance.

Diversity.  It's championed big time. But only certain kinds. Like physical attributes of perceived oppressed victim groups. But diversity of thought punished and censored. Only sanctioned group think seems to be rewarded.

Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!

Other experiences? Here's what another musical artist said about education when he was a child,

“When I was 5 years old, 
my mother always told me 
that happiness was the key to life. 

When I went to school, 
they asked me what I wanted to be 
when I grew up.
   
I wrote down ‘happy’. 

They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, 
and I told them they didn’t understand life.” 


Amen.

Sadly, John Lennon was murdered in 1980, a year after the release of Another Brick in the Wall.

Instead of Another Brick in the Wall,
may there be Doors!
 (The Doors is another iconic band of the times. It's a joke.)

So begins another rip roaring thread -- Education or ED

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Similar posts in the series:

LOL (part 3) - Year in the Life of a Teacher  (2017)

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

ZAMM (part 3) - Chautauqua, then and now  (2011)

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photo: Bennet School 1912/everystockphoto.com

Sunday, July 8, 2018

CC2 (part 2) - Trinity

Trinity Detonation/wikipedia.com

Near Socorro, New Mexico
July 16, 1945


The first atomic bomb exploded at the Trinity Site. 

It was the culmination of The Manhattan Project which birthed the weapon designed to bring an end to World War II.

smithsk


Today 

There is a brass plaque on an obelisk that reads – “TRINITY SITE WHERE THE WORLD’S FIRST NUCLEAR DEVICE WAS EXPLODED ON JULY 16, 1945.”

But back then

Here is the story of what happened that day in the words of  Elsie McMillan, wife of physicist Edwin McMillan, who worked on the Manhattan Project:


In 2008, I visited the site (opened twice a year to the public) at White Sands. And I wrote about it in the article reference below:

*  The Trinity Site: Where the first atomic bomb was exploded
     (published in   TravelThruHistory.com. November 18, 2009)


The same Trinity site is mentioned in Counting Coup: Book 2 of The Commander and the Chief series: 


Dr. Nova Orlovic, "The Chief," rendezvouses with Premier Yasser Nasser--Dictator of the Desert--in his massively complex bunker. She is escorted by her nephew,  freelance journalist Nick Orlovic III.

Nova comes bearing Native American gifts and Yasser tells her what he wants from her:



“What’s that in your other hand?”

“A present from my people.” Nova held up Kaya’s dream catcher.

The Premier invited Nick to his other side. An aide snapped a picture of Nova presenting the Dictator of the Desert with her Native American artwork. After the camera flashed, Yasser bowed. “I’m most honored by this precious gift, Chief Orlovic. Made this yourself?” 

“I’m afraid I’m not that crafty, Premier.” Nova returned a self-deprecating smile. “It was made by a dear friend, a Cheyenne Indian lady.”

Then Yasser gushed forth praise for his guest of honor. As Nova was a Native American Indian, he considered her a victim of the white male oppressors of the West. Yet Yasser overlooked that her father was a white man. And Nova didn’t think it prudent to remind him of that right now.

Following the Premier’s lead, Nova and Nick settled into a couch and partook of tea and hummus appetizers, set before them on a coffee table. From a drawer, Yasser pulled out the Ms. Indian Summer issue of Gentleman’s Delight. He wanted the Chief to autograph it, and Nova did so, using the moniker, Dr. No.

After a good belly laugh, Yasser explained that from Ms. Indian Summer, he had learned many things about her. He flipped to a picture of Nova in a white leather bikini holding a Geiger counter, asking, “When August Adolf chose you for his Gentleman’s Lady, you were nuclear physicist, no?” 

“I guess seeing me squat in front of that Ground Zero obelisk at Trinity, New Mexico—which just so happens to be the place where the world’s first atomic bomb exploded,” Nova let out a chuckle, “that gave me away.”

from Part 6: In the Belly of the Beast, Chapter 2: Tiger Lily

More?

The book is available in paperback or eBook (kindle, Nook) form. Likewise, the first book, His Tribe of One, and its sequel, Peacemaker.


Details here: The Commander and the Chief Series



Cheers! 
Your readership is appreciated.

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Peacemaker, Book Three:

CC3 (part 1) - Peacemaker  (2017)



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photo: Trinity Detonation/wikipedia.com

Saturday, June 30, 2018

America's Story (part 22): Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor

Independence Day/everystockphoto.com

Did George Washington sign the Declaration of Independence?

Short answer. No.

Actually, he was very busy at the time. As Commander of the the Continental Army, General Washington was defending New York City in July 1776. But on July 9, 1776, as directed by John Hancock,  Washington read The Declaration of Independence to the Army.

[reference: Did any of our "Founding Fathers" NOT sign the Declaration of Independence? ]

Here is the reenactment:

Note the last line:

“And for the support of this Declaration, 
with a firm reliance on the protection
of Divine Providence, 
we mutually pledge to each other 
our Lives, 
our Fortunes, 
and our sacred Honor.”


So what happened to the 56 signers and their families?

The late Paul Harvey tells us the rest of the story:


The signers were prosperous men, with everything to lose. But they considered liberty much more important than security. So they pledged--

Their lives,
their fortunes,
and their sacred honor

Today, may we remember what they were fighting for


We hold these truths to be self-evident: 
that all men are created equal; 
that they are endowed by their Creator 
with certain unalienable rights; 
that among these are 
life,
liberty, 
and 
the pursuit of happiness. 


-- Thomas Jefferson, 1776


Have a Blessed Independence Day!


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Other posts in this series:



America's Story (part 19) - Trinity and "The Long Peace"  (2015)

America's Story (part 20) - Patton's Weather Prayer (2015)

America's Story (part 21) - Is America Great?  (2017)


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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Science 101 (part 7) - Sun Henge

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge 2005/wikipedia.com


The Summer Solstice 

As of this posting, it's coming up June 21, 2018.

When the day will get as long as it will get this year. At least in the northern hemisphere.

The Science?

It's explained in this video:



An intriguing spot to observe the solstice is in England.

Stonehenge

Many gather there for various reasons to observe and experience the turning point of the seasons. For the Solstice can not only be reduced to a scientific fact. But also one of myth and lore and wonder.

The video below relives the longest day of the year at Stonehenge with sunset on 20 June and sunrise on 21 June, 2017.




For many, the Solstice is a mystical, spiritual, even religious experience. 

And in that vein of thought, let's go back to the revelation of the origin of the seasons:

In the Beginning...


As in Genesis 1:

And God said, 
Let there be lights
 in the firmament of the heaven 
to divide 
the day from the night; 
and let them be 
for signs, 
and for seasons
and for days, 
and years:

And let them be for lights 
in the firmament of the heaven 
to give light upon the earth: 
and it was so.

And God made two great lights; 
the greater light to rule the day, 
and the lesser light to rule the night: 
He made the stars also.

And God set them 
in the firmament of the heaven 
to give light upon the earth,

And to rule over the day 
and over the night, 
and to divide the light 
from the darkness: 
and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:14-18 (KJV)

And for a Summer Solstice that is really out of this world, check out the view from the International Space Station:




And God saw 
every thing
 that He had made, 
and, behold,
 it was very good. 
...

Genesis 1:31 (KVJ)


So marks the changing of the seasons.

Have a blessed summer!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

CC (part 11) - Tying the Knot Across Both Sides of the Pond

Prince Harry/Meghan Markle/wikipedia.com
It's the stuff fairy tales are made of. 

A hard working woman, a commoner,  marrying a royal prince. Like Cinderella.

And on May 19, 2018, life imitated art in the royal wedding of Meghan Markle--an actress, an American, a divorcee--to Prince Harry, now fifth in the line to the throne of England.

For more details, check out: The Love Story of How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Actually Met

The royal wedding in a nutshell is shown below:



But this is not the first time an American divorcee married a British royal. In the 20th century, an American socialite, Wallis Simpson, divorced twice before, was set to marry the King of England, Edward VIII.

To avoid a constitutional crisis of marrying a woman with two living ex-husbands-- this was 1936-- Edward abdicated the throne to marry "the woman I love."

More info: Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

Part of that story is shown here:



And it was because of the King's abdication, Edward VIII's younger brother ascended to the throne as George VI, father of the current reigning monarch (and longest reigning monarch to date in England), Queen Elizabeth II, grandmother of Prince Harry.

And there have been some comparisons between Wallis Simpson and Meghan Markle. But also great contrasts. As the Wallis Simpson story seems darker and filled with intrigue, especially in the days leading up to World War II.




Yet, tying the knot across both sides of the pond can bond two nations even tighter and make them stronger.

During World War II, there was a son born of a father of British aristocracy and an American mother. That would be Lord Randolph Churchill and New York native, Jennie Jerome.

Their son? Sir Winston Churchill.

And as Prime Minister, Winston Churchill forged an alliance with the United States to defeat Nazi Germany in World War II.

More info: Winston Churchill

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In the first book of The Commander and the Chief series, His Tribe of One, there is a mention of  Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

The British Commander Reginald Barrett shows a love interest in his client, the Chief, Dr. Nova Orlovic. And he asks her about her major-domo Lord Frederick Wise, who had arranged their expedition into the Forbidden Area of the Middle East in search for answers about Nova's late husband. As they are heading back to base camp with the leader of the expedition, Colonel Jack Sheffield, is driving their hi tech Jeep.

Here's an excerpt from Part 5: The Badlands, Chapter 12, The Wise Empire Builder:


During the final stretch, Reggie asked Nova, “What’s between you and Lord Wise if I may ask?”
  
cover by Becki Davis
Nova turned to Reggie. “Let’s say we have a wonderful working relationship.”
  
“Any romantic feelings between you two?”
  
Jack raised his eyebrows. “Is someone jealous?”
  
“It’s okay to ask, Commander.” Nova tittered. “As you know, I’m Fred’s employer … that was after he left UK Geophysical, and he left with a bang. He got from me the exclusive oil contract on all the mineral rights owned by the Sapphire Mountain People Trust. And since then, he’s done marvelous things managing my ranch in Wyoming, the tourist sites, reviving the Wild West shows, starting up the winery in California.”
  
“Wise is a builder of empires. So it says in his book,” Jack said.
  
Reggie leaned toward her. “I’m surprised he didn’t ask you to marry him. That is, after you were widowed.”
  
Nova looked into Reggie’s soft brown eyes. “He said he’d love to marry me, but–”
  
“But what?” Reggie asked. “You must be one of the most eligible women in America, if not the world right now.”
  
“But for all the wrong reasons.” Nova flexed her left hand in her sling. “Number one reason is money.”
  
Jack straightened up. “That’s a good reason.”
  
“But I fear it’s just the money that makes me attractive. I’m not sought out for who I am, but what I have. I’m always suspicious my suitors are false-hearted lovers. Same problem my mother had, which was why she married so late in life.” Nova sighed. “And I know that Frederick deeply love me, but he said his father, a baron or something–”
  
“The Baron of Summerset,” Reggie said. “My parents know him.”
  
“Then you must know something about Fred’s father. He wishes his son to marry an English girl with a title, though Fred seems to have settled on perpetual bachelorhood.”
  
Jack squinted at her. “But you have many titles: Doctor, Counselor, Indian Chief, Boss Lady.”
  
“But Fred’s father would disown him for marrying an American. And Fred’s attached to his ancestral property and a title that goes back for some eight hundred years, he said.”
  
Reggie shrugged. “But the British don’t let things like that stand in our way of love. King Edward abdicated the throne of England to marry an American. Ever hear of Wallis Simpson?”
  
“Of course. But I understand being attached to the land. And, at one time, it looked very bleak as so many conspired to take my land from me. That’s why I fought so hard to keep the ranch when the odds were stacked against me.”
  
Reggie arched his dark eyebrows. “So is that why you paid off all his father’s debts before the Wise ancestral property went into foreclosure?”
  
“Who told you that?”
  
“You just did, darling.”
  
“You tricked me–”
  
“If it’s any consolation, that was a most noble thing to do, darling.” Reggie returned a pleasant smile. “And I see why Wise is so loyal to you.”
  
Then Nova confessed, “Actually Frederick said he’d throw his title away and marry me, anyway … like King Edward did to marry Wallis Simpson. But after much thought, he’s quite a logical man, we both knew we didn’t love each in that way.”
  
Reggie raised an eyebrow. “Then is he … gay?”
  
“Gay? Oh, my, no.” Nova chuckled. “From his stories, he’s had many dalliances. But Fred doesn’t like to be tied down. And there’s much of his life before UK Geophysical that’s secret. Though I may have guessed some of it from his stories.”
  
Reggie smirked. “So you two, you’re just … friends?”
  
“Very good friends. He’s my chief confidant and counselor.” Nova raised her shoulders. “And I trust my life and my fortune with him.”
  
Jack raised his blond eyebrows. “Indeed, we all do at this point.”

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More?

The book is available in paperback or eBook (kindle, Nook) form. Likewise, its sequels: Counting Coup, and Peacemaker.


Details here: The Commander and the Chief Series


Cheers! 

Your readership is appreciated.

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Peacemaker, Book Three:

CC3 (part 1) - Peacemaker  (2017)


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Photo: Prince Harry/Meghan Markle/wikipedia.com