Thursday, December 20, 2018

Space (part 2): Earthrise - 1968

Earth Rise/

Fifty years ago - 1968 

Earth was a troubled place

Some highlights in America at that time:

* The unpopular Vietnam War and more unpopular draft

* Assassination: Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy

* Riots at the Chicago Democratic National Convention

* Counter-culture hippie movement

* President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Elect Richard M. Nixon

A popular TV show at that time was The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967 - 1970). The show featured s labor of love by filmmaker Chuck Braverman, described as:

A quick trip through the USA during the turbulent 1968

But in December 1968, Apollo 8  sent astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, orbiting the moon for the first time in history.

On their Christmas Eve broadcast, the crew transmitted the iconic Earthrise photo while reading from Genesis, as shown below: 

Back to the future, 50 years later, these still are troubled times.

As we finish the year 2018, words from a hymn, This is My Father's World come to mind. And the last verse, not always included in other renditions, gives the reason we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world:

This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

And in the closing words of astronaut Frank Borman:

"And from the crew of Apollo 8, 
we close with good night, good luck, 
a Merry Christmas, 
and God bless all of you -
 all of you on the good Earth." 


Other post in the series:


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Music (part 5) - Over There : Remembering World War I

WWI Montage/wikipedia

100 years ago...

World War I ended.

November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. Hence, November 11th had been observed as Armistice Day.  [reference: This Day In History | November 11, 1918 - World War I ends ]

For me, World War I has a special meaning as my grandfather fought in this war. Fortunately, he lived another 50 years after it ended.  Fathered my mother, who brought me into the world. And I still have his dog tags from his service.

Bur back in 1917, one of the popular songs to rally the troops was George M. Cohan's Over There:

And we won't come back till it's over
Over there.

After the Great War was over, Over There, its remembrance Armistice Day was first observed in 1920. But in 1954 after the Korean War, it was changed to Veterans Day to honor veterans of all wars. [reference: Why Armistice Day Became Veterans Day ]

Now, 100 years later: Veterans Day 2018 Marks Centennial of End of World War I 

The Great War
The World War
The War to end all Wars... though it hasn't lived up to this name, unfortunately
World War One
World War I
The First World War

Whatever we called it.

Over There has been a defining song to boost morale home and abroad in the 20th century.

Especially during World War One and World War Two.

For other selected blog posts about World War One:

America's Story (part 10) - Sergeant York  (2014)

Culture 101 (part 14) - World War I - that Golden Summer of 1914  (2014)

ELM (part 6) - The Boys Going West  (2016)

Veteran's Day 2011 - final homecoming of the WWI vets  (2011) 


Previous posts in the series:
Music (part 2) - All You Need is Love (2016) 

Music (part 3) - Passover (2016)

Music (part 4) - Armed Forces Medley  (2016)


Photo:  WWI Montage/wikipedia

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Physics (part 5) - Be Curious, Don't Give Up

Curiosity Cat/

Curiosity killed the cat
But satisfaction brought her back

Curiosity and Perseverance

In the world of science, these attributes can lead to breakthroughs. Rewrite text books. Create paradigm shifts in our thinking.

Let's spotlight two prominent physicists of the late 20th century, who exemplified those qualities.

* Dr. Stephen Hawking

* Dr. Richard Feynman

Stephen Hawking is considered one of the greatest physicist of recent times. And he passed away this year (2018) on March 14th, the same day as Einstein's birthday. [reference: Stephen Hawking ]

Yet perseverance helped him overcome the physical challenges of ALS.  With perseverance and curiosity, he pursued a distinguishing career in cosmology and theoretical physics, as shown below:

Likewise, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman was driven by curiosity. Which drove him to learn new things. Get out of his comfort zone. Search for answers. Solve nature's puzzles. Connect the dots.

While a graduate student days at Princeton, Feynman developed a method that served him well. He started with an empty notebook titled -


He filled the pages as he reorganized his thoughts in the concrete form of pen and paper. Trying to find the essential kernel of each branch of physics. This discipline may have paved the way to his Nobel Prize.

* Check out:  The Feynman Notebook Method  and the video below:

Learning new things can be hard.  It takes work. Most resist it. Yet, through curiosity and perseverance, as Stephen Hawking said -

 It can be done

Regardless of vocation, avocation, hobby, interests, passions...

Stay curious
Don't give up


Previous posts in this series:

Physics (part 1) - Picking Feynman's Brain (2013)
Physics (part 2) - Flat Earth? It depends ...  (2015)

Physics (part 3) - 100 years of Einstein (2015) 

Physics (part 4) - Einstein and Pi  (2016)


Photo: Curiosity Cat/

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Space (part 1) - NASA at 60

NASA Seal/

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!" 


Similar posts:

Picture: NASA Seal/

Sunday, September 9, 2018

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

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur/

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!


Photo: Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur/

Monday, August 20, 2018

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

Bennet School 1912/

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.” 


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


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)


photo: Bennet School 1912/

Sunday, July 8, 2018

CC2 (part 2) - Trinity

Trinity Detonation/

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.



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 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


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

Your readership is appreciated.


Peacemaker, Book Three:

CC3 (part 1) - Peacemaker  (2017)


photo: Trinity Detonation/

Saturday, June 30, 2018

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

Independence Day/

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 
the pursuit of happiness. 

-- Thomas Jefferson, 1776

Have a Blessed Independence Day!


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)


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Science 101 (part 7) - Sun Henge

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge 2005/

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.


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!