Sunday, July 26, 2015

CC (part 4) - Stories and the Brain

Welcome to Part 4 of my The Commander and the Chief thread, known more succinctly as CC. It follows anything related to ... you guessed it ... The Commander and the Chief series.

Today's topic is books, any books, and what's inside ... the story.  When engaged with a reader, ...

Stories are good for the brain.

Stories are nourishment for the mind, body, and soul. And scientific research backs up that claim. Evidence of positive effects on the brain includes heightened connectivity and neurological changes which are likened to the exercise of  "muscle memory"Brain function 'boosted for days after reading a novel' - Science - News - The Independent 

Throughout history, we've discovered ...

The Power of Story 

 ... as a way to remember who we are and explore what we can be. And such power is extolled in this clip below:

Also, some research suggest that for a book in print, we gain all these benefits:

1.  Increased intelligence
2.  Brain power boost
3.  Increased empathy
4.  Increased understanding of what is read
5.  Possible way to fight Alzheimer's disease
6.  Help in relaxation
7.  Help in getting to sleep
8.  Reading habit that is contagious to our neighbors

[reference:  8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book | Real Simple ]

On the topic of the Power of the Story, I've crafted a novel in my latest eBook, His Tribe of One, the first in The Commander and the Chief series.  And now that story is available in paperback.

It can be purchased directly as a paperback on

* His Tribe of One
 ( )

Or found in these links :

* His Tribe of One
(paperback and Kindle)

* Barnes and Noble: His Tribe of One
(paperback and Nook)

Also for more information, please feel free to check up on the website for the latest updates in the series:  S. K. Smith - The Commander and the Chief  at

Remember, reading is good for the brain - especially on paper, and I hope I have spun a good yarn that you would enjoy.

Your readership is appreciated!

Blessings .... S. K. Smith


Photo from:  Story/

Friday, July 10, 2015

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

70 years ago .... July 16, 1945

It was a lifetime ago, 70 years. It was then the world's first atom bomb exploded. It was a test in the desert of New Mexico, near the end of World War II. And the silent film below shows what happened :

Ground Zero ... Trinity

A few years ago, I visited the Trinity site and stood at Ground Zero. I wrote about it here: The Trinity Site: Where the first atomic bomb was exploded

Less than a month after this atomic test, Japan was bombed with this new weapon: Hiroshima on August 6th, and Nagasaki on August 9th. And Japan's Emperor Hirohito unconditionally surrendered on August 14/15, citing this "new and most cruel bomb." This date became known as V-J Day (Victory over Japan) and was followed by the formal surrender was on the US battleship Missouri off the coast of Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, officially ending World War II.  [reference: Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - World War II - ]

The Casualties:

Some calculate the causalities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as much as 200,000. And of course, there was more after the literal fallout.  [reference: Total Casualties | The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki | Historical Documents | ]

What history overlooks is the B-29 firebombings of Japan the previous months of March - August 1945) under command of General Curtis LeMay. Those bombing killed far more combatants and civilians than the two atomic bombs.  [reference: Curtis LeMay | World War II Database ] Yet, because of the shock of this "new and most cruel bomb" those deaths seemed eclipsed.

Yet, the bombing ended the war, most likely the most terrible war in recorded human history. Some put the total deaths of World War II over 70 million, with virtually no part of the planet untouched by this global conflict. [reference: World War 2 statistics ]

The Enormity of that War:

The one nation that really took a hit was the former Soviet Union at 25 million deaths, followed by China at 15 million, and Germany at 8 million.

The video shows the perspective of World War II death counts. It compares to other wars and ongoing conflicts since World War II:

Also, here is a reference the interactive of this presentation:

The Long Peace?

Since then, in the United States we had conflicts and wars:  Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I and II, as well as the Cold War and other conflicts throughout the world.  All these are tragic, especially to those who lost loved ones. But the video shows these were minor in comparison to World War Two.  Same case can be made for the other countries of the world.

Professor John Gaddis referred to this period of lack of major conflict among the world's great powers as "The Long Peace." [reference: An assessment of Gaddis’ suggestion that MAD secured a ‘long peace’ ]

The Long Peace is debated, but it asks the question: Are we living in a modern Pax Romana?


Giving Peace a Chance

Peace is hard to quantify as it has a qualitative meaning as well as lack of immense global conflict. But during the 1960s and 1970s this theme of peace was echoed in the Baby Boomer generation. There was no World War III, at least on the scale of World War II, but it seemed we all seemed to live under a specter of an imminent nuclear holocaust during the Cold War.

John Lennon's music, Give Peace a Chance (1969), reflects some of this angst:

Anyone who watches the news - if it bleeds, it leads - sees we still are fighting each other. But the scale is nothing like it was over 70 years ago.

May the Long Peace continue as we Give Peace a Chance ...


Other posts in this series:


Photo from: Wikipedia/Trinity

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Signs of the Times (Part 7) - Leap Second - the new Y2K?

Wikipedia/Leap Second - June 30, 2012

Remember 1999?  

You must be an old timer then.  :)  It was last century. Actually last millennium. Back then, we were all bracing for the dreaded ...

Y2K - the year 2000

For some, it was the End of the World. And for grins, here are some of those predictions of Armageddon, nuclear holocaust, the End Times:  10 Failed Doomsday Predictions (2009)

Side note:  It's interesting when Jesus spoke of the End Times while on earth, He said He didn't know the date. Only the Father in Heaven knew the day and the hour.  (reference: Matthew 24)  Amazing how many people claim to know more about this than Jesus!

Back to Y2K, 2000 years after Jesus ...

For others, Y2K meant the Millennium Bug (which could have meant the end of the world). Our computers, which we have become so dependent upon for everything it seems, were not ready to handle the roll over from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000. [reference: Y2K bug from Encyclopaedia Britannica]

This clip, a parody on the cartoon Godzilla, expresses the concern, humorously.

Time marched on. And there were glitches as the calendar rolled from 1999 to 2000. But  we survived. Since we are still here, the end of the world didn't happen ... yet.  :)

Next scare ...

December 21, 2012 - End of the World 

At least according to the Mayans. Or so they say. [reference: The Mayan Calendar - predicting the end of the world?]

And the Mayan calendar spawned this disaster movie - 20122012 | Sony Pictures

Yet, there were skeptics that it was just another day:

We're still here. And there is an explanation for that: Mayan Calendar And The End-Of-The-World Explained

Now, in the coming week we are facing a ...

Mini-Y2K, the Leap second - midnight, June 30, 2015 

To adjust our standardized clocks, a second will be added to our year. An extra second should be no biggie.  Again, it's the old we-are-so-dependent-upon-computers thing.  This extra second could really screw us up:  Leap second on June 30 will be 'mini-Y2K'

The dreaded leap second, coming this June 30, is explained here:

But this has happened 25 times since 1972 and the last time was 2012,  which caused computer problems. Yet, we survived the 2012 leap second and the Mayan calendar scare.  It wasn't the End of World ... yet ;)

See you on July 1 ... Lord willing ...

Timing is everything in this world of hi-tech, which is just another one of the ....

Signs of the Times ....


Previous posts in this series:

Signs of the Times (part 1) - Camping in the Parks (2012)

Signs of the Times (part 2) - Layaway (2012)

Signs of the Times (part 5) - Staycations (2013)

Signs of the Times (part 6) - Fear of Missing Out (2015)


Photo from:  Wikipedia/Leap Second - June 30, 2012

Saturday, June 13, 2015

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

Magna Carta/

Timeless Truths explores, June 15, 1215 AD - a watershed year. And we still feel it effects in 2015. What happened 800 years ago?

In 1215, failed foreign policies and heavy taxation spurred an uprising of powerful English barons against King John. Under duress, this successor to his brother Richard I, the Lion Heart signed a document which put all future monarchs under the rule of law.

It was called the Great Charter. Perhaps it's better known for its Latin name, the Magna Carta. [reference:  Magna Carta - British History - ]

And here's how it happened:

The signing of the Magna Carta rippled throughout history, setting the basis for English Common Law, and inspiring the American Revolution as well as the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

The principles placed limits on what our government can do. Thus governments were to be in chains of their Constitution, not the people in chains to their government.  Politics shifted from a government of men to a government of laws.

And below is a lesson as to how the Magna Carta influenced the American government:

As US President Abraham Lincoln echoed the Declaration of Independence, which was echoed by John Locke, which echoed the Magna Carta:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

It's no wonder the Magna Carta is considered one of the Five Documents that Changed the World.

Indeed, the pen is mightier than the sword.

Happy 800 years!


Previous posts in series:

Timeless Truths (Part 1) - A Cup of Cold Water (2013)

Timeless Truths (part 2) - Love (2013)

Timeless Truths (part 3) - Hakuna Matata - No Worries? (2013)

Timeless Truths (part 4) - A Mother's Advice  (2013)

Timeless Truths (part 5): Always Assume Positive Intent (2014)


Magna Carta/

Monday, May 25, 2015

ELM (part 5) - Jane Austen and Blackadder Austen Library ...

Welcome to another post on the thread:  ELM -  English, Literature, and Musings ....

Comedy can be a great teacher.

And the comedy Blackadder gave me an introduction to English history and literature as well as helping me recall what I had learned in school.  This BBC series and its specials followed the Blackadder line as it slithered through time from the Middle Ages to World War One.

Let's look at one these periods:

The Times of King George III

The reign of King George III was an interesting time in ...


The American colonies declared their independence in 1776; William Pitt, the younger, and William Wilberforce worked to abolish slavery in the British Empire, Napoleon met the Duke of Wellington in battle as well as his Waterloo.


The rise of the London coffee houses fostered creativity of such poets and writers - like Samuel Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelly. Dr. Samuel Johnson published his comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language.

And during the reign of King George III was ...

The Regency Period

In 1811, Parliament appointed the Prince of Wales, George Augustus Frederick, as Prince Regent to his father King George III.  (George III is remembered in children's history books as the mad king who lost America.)

But what does this have to do with Jane Austen?  She comes in at season 3 during the Regency period in the BBC comedy ....

Blackadder the Third 

An impoverished ex-aristocrat, Mr. Edmund Blackadder becomes the butler and personal servant to the Prince Regent, son of mad King George III. In this scene from Ink and Incapability, Dr. Samuel Johnson presents his English dictionary to the Prince Regent, while the butler makes sport of the pompous doctor.

Why is Prince George's butler so snarky to Dr. Johnson? If you are a writer, you may know the sting of being rejected, or worse totally ignored by a publisher.  So does Mr. Edmund Blackadder

Commenting to his dogsbody Baldrick, Mr. Blackadder laments about his novel, which he had sent to Dr. Samuel Johnson:

"Edmund: A Butler's Tale" by Gertrude Perkins.
A huge rollercoaster of a novel crammed with sizzling gypsies"

Blackadder :

He might at least have written back, but no, nothing, not even a 
"Dear Gertrude Perkins, 
 Thank you for your book.
Get stuffed.
Samuel Johnson."


Gertrude Perkins? 


Yes, I gave myself a female pseudonym.
Everybody's doing it these days: Mrs Radcliffe, Jane Austen 


Jane Austen's a man?


Of course.
A huge Yorkshireman with a beard like a rhododendron bush.

[reference: Blackadder s03e02 Episode Script | SS ]

Which brings us to the subject that during this period spawned ...

Women Authors of Classic Literature

The Regency period was a time when many women writers broke on the scene. Here are a few that are classics today:

*  The Bonte sisters - Charlotte, Emily, and Anne

     * Emily's Wuthering Heights (1847)
     * Charlotte's Jane Eyre (1847)
     * Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

* Elizabeth Barrett - also known as Elizabeth Barrett Browning

   * author of Poems (1844)

* Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly - and wife of poet Percy Shelley.
    * author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818)

* The works of Jane Austen (1811 - 1818)

  *  Northanger Abbey (1818)
  *  Sense and Sensibility (1811)
  *  Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  *  Mansfield Park (1814)
  *  Emma (1815)
  *  Persuasion (1818)

Back to Blackadder the Third, ...

The opening theme ends with the butler finding a Romance Regency paperback (it's an anachronism) with a Jane Austen-like episode title, such as seen here:

All the episode titles for season 3 are Jane Austen-esque, shades of Sense and Sensibilities:

* Dish and Dishonesty
* Ink and Incapablity
* Nob and Nobility
* Sense and Senility
* Amy and Amiability
* Duel and Duality

There is a good reason for this.

The real Prince George was a fan of Jane Austen and suggested she dedicate a book to him.  And when the son of King George III (and future King George IV) makes a suggestion, you had better do it.  And she did.  So Jane Austen dedicated Emma to the Prince Regent, with these words:

"To His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, this work is, by His Royal Highness's permission, most respectfully dedicated to His Royal Highness by His dutiful and obedient humble servant, the Author."

[reference: Regency Period of Jane Austen]

Comedy can be educational after all.

And for the last word   ...

“What a shame, for I dearly love to laugh.” 

― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice



Monday, May 4, 2015

America's Story (part 18) - VE Day - 70 years ago

May 7, 1945

Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies:  Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies at Reims - May 07, 1945 -

And the following day ...

VE Day - May 8, 1945 

Both Great Britain and the United States celebrated VE Day, Victory in Europe DayVictory in Europe - May 08, 1945 -

This was the beginning of the end of World War Two, which was the most deadly war of the twentieth century.  But it would not officially end until after VJ Day, Victory over Japan Day, when Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945:  V-J Day - World War II -

One of the largest conflicts in recorded history

Some estimates put the casualties of World War Two over 70 million, making it the most deadly war in modern times: World War Two Statistics

World War Two was sparked by Hitler's invasion of Poland.  And the map in the video below give a summary of the conflicts in Europe:

For more information, check out:  World War II - Battles, Facts, Videos & Pictures -

As we approach the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, here is a tribute to our veterans, of which over 400,000 gave their lives:

70th Anniversary:

Here are two celebrations to mark this day:

* UK:   VE Day 70th anniversary - GOV.UK

* USA:  Friends of the National World War II Memorial, Washington DC - V-E Day 70th Anniversary


Thank you, veterans as well as those on the home front who also served.

And your sacrifices are part of

America's Story, 

to be continued ...


Other posts on this topic:

Dr. Who and World War Two - VE Day is coming. (2010)

A kiss immortalized in August 14, 1945 (2010)

Culture 101 (part 15) - Persevering and Prevailing during Dark Days (2014)


Other posts in this series:


Photo from:  wikipedia/Churchill

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pray4America (part 18) - Australia Prays for America

wikipedia/valley forge

April 30 - May 6, 2015:

Australia Calls World to Pray Fast for 7 Days for USA as noted in the following press release:  Pray USA 2015 | National Day of Prayer & Fasting

Please check out one their prayers for America as shown in the clip below:

And the week's call for prayer and fasting ends on the eve of

May 7, 2015:

Designated in America as the National Day of Prayer

And Franklin Graham offers these guidelines:  How to Pray for America 

For this week, I offer this prayer:

Heavenly Father –

Thank you for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Australia as well as the rest of the world, who are burdened to pray for America.  We petition for Your mercy and grace as well Your blessing.

Forgive us, Lord, for our sins as we have lived our lives as if You don’t exist.  Give us a heart of repentance and send revival to our souls.  One by one, family by family, church by church, community by community, state by state, may revival sweep our nation and ignite another Great Awakening.

Bless all those who sacrifice and put themselves in harm’s way – home and abroad – to keep us safe.  Protect them from the enemy on all fronts. Give a special grace to all those who suffer and are persecuted for Your Name’s sake.

May we return to the faith of founders so that our nation may glorify Your Name.

In Jesus Name we pray,

Amen us rejoice as a nation

Give thanks to the Lord,
for He is good;
His love endures forever.
Psalm 118:1 (NIV)

Keep praying for America



Photo  from:  wikipedia/valley forge
             us rejoice as a nation