Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Signs of the Times (part 8) - #JustPray

Lord's Prayer/everystockphoto.com

The Church of England has launched a new site, Just Pray, to offer advice on what prayer is and how to pray. The campaign is geared for the digital age, and one of its chosen venues to promote the new site is to advertise in theaters.

The clip below (which was cleared by the Cinema Advertising Authority and British Board of Film Classification) was scheduled when the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, debuted a week before Christmas.

But the Digital Cinema Media, which handles most of the cinema advertising in the UK, barred the ad. They believe it "carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences".

[reference: Church 'bewildered' by refusal to screen Lord's Prayer adU.K. Theaters Deny "Just Pray" Ad In Front of 'Star Wars' Screenings ]


As our Lord said, after He taught us to pray:

But I tell you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:44 (NIV)


Let us 


for these are just

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)

Signs of the Times (Part 7) - Leap Second - the new Y2K? (2015)


photo from: Lord's Prayer/everystockphoto.com

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Physics (part 3) - 100 years of Einstein

wikipedia/GPB circling Earth
November, 2015 marks the centennial of Einstein papers that rocked the world and withstood the test of many experiments. Let me tell of story of a couple of these.

Gravity Probe B and Me ...

Briefly, I worked on the Gravity Probe B (GP-B) project. I say briefly because budget cuts curtailed my tenure, though I moved on to other projects. And that is another story.

Yet the decades old GP-B soldiered on and its satellite was launched in 2004. The experiment tested two elements of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity.

(1)   The Geodetic Effect, a precession (like that of  a spinning top) in curved space-time.

(2)   The Frame-dragging Effect, space-time getting pulled out of shape by a rotating body.

For more  information on this project and its results, please check out the official Stanford website: Gravity Probe B | Testing Einstein's Universe

Below is a good video that sums it all up.

But let's start at the very beginning ....

November, 1915, was a watershed month for physics. Einstein submitted four papers, one per week, to the Prussian Academy in Berlin. They launched the gravitational revolution of general relativity, overthrowing Newton's theory of the universe. [reference: Einstein's genius changed science's perception of gravity ]

Meanwhile, during this time, astronomers were on a serious

Search for the planet Vulcan ... no kidding

Newton's classic view of gravity led scientists to believe there was a hidden planet, which they called Vulcan, that caused Mercury's perturbations. But it took Einstein to crack this mystery, as explained below:

As Gravity Probe B in the 21st century would provide more evidence to vindicate general relativity, explaining the anomalies in Mercury's orbit gave convincing validation at the birth of this theory in the early 20th century. 

Also,  I wrote about this search for this planet that wasn't there and posted it on my website in the article: Mr. Spock and Dr. Einstein

As Einstein's General Relativity turns 100, it seems the theory will ...

Live long and prosper!


Previous posts in this series:

Physics (part 1) - Picking Feynman's Brain (2013)

Physics (part 2) - Flat Earth? It depends ...  (2015)


Photo from:  wikipedia/GPB circling Earth

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pop Culture (part 2) - Halloween Martian Invasion

wikipedia/War of the Worlds

Eve of Halloween: October 30, 1938 

Now that was a night my mother remembered.  As a young teenager listening to the radio, she heard the breaking news:

Martians invaded Earth ... and they landed in New Jersey!

She was scared, captivated by the Orson Welles broadcast based on the H.G. Wells science fiction novel - The War of the Worlds.   Though disclaimers were given that this was only fiction, many in the audience missed it, and panic ensued. [reference: 1938 Welles scares the nation ]

An abridged audio of that broadcast is here below -

The generation that first heard this broadcast knew something about troubling times. In 1938, they had lived through most of the Great Depression, many remembering the Great War and hearing the rumblings of more wars to come.

From Wars of the Worlds to World Wars

Ironically, H. G. Welles wrote The War of the Worlds  in 1898, sixteen years before World War I (1914 - 1918). And Orson Welles broadcast the radio version within a year of World War II (1939 - 1945). Both these World Wars surpassed the horror of science fiction.

Often society, science, and tech imitate art...

From book to radio to the big screen

The SciFi novel jumped from radio to the movies: The War of the Worlds (1953). And its remake in 2005 is shown in its trailer below:

And there have been countless stories about life on Mars and their invasions of Earth.  Now, it's our turn, for real, as science and tech continue to follow SciFi.

Earthlings invade Mars

Humans via their robots have invaded Mars from 1976 with Viking 1 to the 21 century's  Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Curiosity Rover.  Their findings are still in the news: MarsNews.com

As we plan to colonize Mars, more SciFi hit the big screen as The Martian (2015), still in theaters:

So our fascination with Mars continues in Pop Culture as science and tech follows SciFi.

The Classic Halloween Scary Story?

This October 31st, treat yourself to the original  radio broadcast. For the full broadcast (its an hour long), see below:

 And that one Halloween almost 80 years ago, 
 Orson Welles said 
to the entire nation.


Previous Post in the series:

Pop Culture (part 1) - Only Time and 9/11 (2015)


Photo: wikipedia/War of the Worlds

Friday, October 16, 2015

Biblia Files (part 6) - Crowns and Frowns

everystockphoto.com/crown and frown
Hee Haw was my Dad's favorite show, second only to Gunsmoke. I clearly remember the lament from their Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me segment, such as seen below:

Even 40 years ago, they all were "first world problems." Though this Hee Haw segment is humorous, it expresses a tinge of sadness, dissatisfaction in this life.

Dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and such are maladies throughout the ages.  As King Solomon said -

... there is no new thing under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV)

Crowns and Frowns

As the wisest man and greatest fools in some estimations, Solomon knew something about this gloom, despair and agony on me.  This king had "everything" in this life from riches; his unfettered search for knowledge, wisdom, and meaning in this life; wanting more and getting more. Yet this king lamented his "first world problems" as so stated below:

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 1 (KJV)

What a Gloomy Gus!

This dissatisfaction is not new for "the man under the sun."

In the clip below unhappiness is seen as a malady of the modern age:

What is the cure for this dissatisfaction?

At the end of the day, Solomon comes to terms with his unhappiness:

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12 (KJV)

But Father knows best  

Solomon's father, David,wrote in the psalm below during his trials in the desert of Judah. For more information on the background, check out: Psalm 63: Longing to Worship the LORD While in the Wilderness

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
Psalm 63 (KJV)

The balm for dissatisfaction and unhappiness is joy and praise. And this song praises David's greater son, Jesus, who blesses us in the heavenlies.

We are no longer the man under the sun, but ...

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2 (KJV)

And to beat the blues:

... the joy of the Lord is your strength
Nehemiah 8:10 (KJV)


Recent posts in this series:

Biblia Files (part 1) - Thru the Bible (2013)

Biblia Files (part 2) - What is the Bible Basically About? (2013)

Biblia Files (part 3) - Gideon - weakness, warts and all (2013) 
Biblia Files (part 4) - Holy Hyperlinks (2014)

Biblia Files (part 5) - Waiting .... (2014)


Photo from: everystockphoto.com/crown and frown

Friday, September 25, 2015

CC (part 6) - Pavle Orlovic

Wikipedia/The Kosovo Maiden, 1919
The picture above is Uros Predic's 1919 painting, inspired by the Serbian poem - The Maiden of Kosovo. During the aftermath of the Battle of Kosovo (1389), the maiden, who is seeking her fiance, gives the fatally wounded Pavle Orlovic some water. At this moment, this Serbian knight gives her the news that her beloved and her brothers are dead. Then Pavle Orlovic dies and passes into legend as well as an epic poem and a famous painting.   [reference: Kosovo Maiden Painting]

Below is a video clip from the movie, The Battle of Kosovo (1989), made for the 600th anniversary of the event.  The scene when the sultan was killed by a Serbian noble dramatizes this long struggle between the Serbs and the Turks:

From the 14th into the 21st century, the battles of Kosovo continue.   Most recent are the Kosovo conflict (1998-1999) and the continuing reprisals into the new century. [reference: Kosovo Conflict]

And if you read some of the comments in YouTube video above, the battle (with words) goes on and on.

Part 6 of the Commander and the Chief (CC) thread looks at this Balkan history.

In this excerpt from Book 1: His Tribe of One, the heroine Dr. Orlovic "the Chief"  and her lineage (she is half Cheyenne and half Serbian) are discussed. Her agent Lord Wise is briefing Colonel Jack Sheffield on Nova's expedition to find her missing husband, Admiral Connor Quinn.

Jack questions Wise about his proposal:

“Remind me, again, why have you come to me with this mystery and not the Americans?”

“I come at the request of Dr. Orlovic.”


“Admiral Quinn’s widow, my client, Dr. Nova Orlovic.” Then Wise presented her business card for Chief Rainmaker Winery. A silhouette of an Indian maiden in a war bonnet held a goblet with stars and galaxies bubbling out and surrounding the quote: The whole universe is in a glass of wine.

“Yes, yes, your boss, of course. I forget this bird didn’t take the Admiral’s name.” Jack twirled the card in his fingers. “Orlovic. That’s quite ethnic sounding.”

Wise raised his brown eyebrows. “Her father’s side goes back to the Serbian knights. She’s quite proud of that name.”

“Orlovic, yes. Stuff legends are made of. And I recall that name in War College studying the Battle of Kosovo.” Then Jack raised a corner of his mouth. “But that first name—Nova? Sounds explosively stellar. And I can just imagine what she must be like in bed.”

“No doubt many have, but I assure you she’s a woman of virtue.” Wise returned a fatherly look. “Her name has nothing to do with exploding stars. It’s Indian as in Native American Indian. She has quite a fascinating family history. Father’s side from the Balkans, mother’s side Native American. But that’s another story.”

from Chapter 3: Soldier of Fortune

What about the name of Orlovic, the stuff legends are made of?

Some claims indicate one of Pavle Orlovic's notable descendants is the legendary scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla. [reference: Origin Orlovica]

To find out more about Pavle Orlovic's fictional descendant, Dr. Nova Orlovic, "the Chief" in "The Commander and the Chief," please read the book and its coming sequels.

His Tribe of One, now available:

* Paperback:  CreateSpace

* eBook:   Kindle

Your readership is much appreciated.

S. K. Smith


For other posts in this 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)


Photo from:  Wikipedia/The Kosovo Maiden, 1919

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pop Culture (part 1) - Only Time and 9/11

Montre gousset/Wikipedia.com

Pop Culture reflects the mood and spirit of the times. So during a traumatic event, the right song can become a balm for healing.  Such was the case for this turn-of-the-century song.

In November of 2000, Irish singer Enya released the album, A Day Without Rain. And one of the  singles on that album was - Only Time

* Official video here:  Only Time
* Lyrics: here

In 2000, Enya explained its meaning in an interview:

"I had to stop putting the pressure on myself, because of relationships coming and going, but if relationships aren't working that means they're not right. That's what the single Only Time is about."  [reference:  Enya News: A Day Without Rain Article ]

Then less than a year later, CNN showed scenes of the collapse of the World Trade Center accompanied with Only Time.  [Reference:  Music in American Crime Prevention and Punishment ]

And the video below shows a montage of the events on September 11, 2001:

In response to the terrorist attacks, Only Time resonated with those seeking solace from the storm and looking forward to normalcy as the nation's psyche healed from this wound.

Later, Enya produced a remix of Only Time and donated the earnings of that single to the Uniform Firefighters Association Widows' and Children's Fund. This charity helped the families of those who gave their lives that day.  [reference:  http://enya.sk/a-day-without-rain/only-time.php ]

September 11, 2001

Never forget! 

But ... Only Time will heal.


Related Posts:

Dancing on Top of the World Trade Center (2010) 

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012) 


Photo from:  Montre gousset/Wikipedia.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

CC (part 5) - Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy/wikipedia.com
"Ah, Audie Murphy died!"

I clearly remember that day of the Memorial Day weekend in 1971. My mother looked at the morning newspaper and said that, mourning a loss of a great American hero, who perished in an airplane crash.

Frankly, a teenager at the time, I really didn't know anything about Audie Murphy. Yes, this dates me as a baby-boomer, whose parents were, as Tom Brakow coined the word: The Greatest Generation. My parents lived through the Great Depression, which ended with the onset of World War II.

I later learned one of the greatest heroes of that war was Audie Murphy.  In fact, he was the most decorated World War II combat soldier, perhaps in all American history. [reference: Audie Murphy Facts]

And this soldier is the subject of part 5 of the CC (The Commander and the Chief) thread.

The first book of The Commander and the Chief series, His Tribe of One, makes a reference to Audie Murphy.

In this scene, Lord Wise briefs Colonel Jack Sheffield about another American hero, Admiral Connor Quinn, at a London tavern. The Admiral had died mysteriously and his widow is assembling a team to get to the bottom of his accident.

“Back to Admiral Quinn,” Jack continued when they were alone, “word is, as a POW, he talked Yasser Nasser out of deploying his nukes, surrendering to the allies, and destroying all his weapons of mass destruction. That feat is legendary. Surely it’ll go down in the annals of military history.”
“Quite.” Wise put away his reading glasses. “And not long after the war, the Admiral and Yasser Nasser were awarded the Alfred Peace Prize.”

“With much pomp and ceremony.” Jack wiped the brew from his blond mustache. “But the Admiral’s death. Why would an admiral be flying alone? Into hostile air space? Especially where he’d previously been shot down? You send a drone, or one of your lackeys, someone more expendable. Not the Hero of the Dust Devil War.”

Wise glanced about, then lowered his voice. “Precisely. The press reported it as an unfortunate accident. They likened it to the death of Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of World War Two. Murphy, too, was tragically killed in a plane crash, years later after the war.”

“And that should be the end of the story.” Jack finished his brew.
“But it’s not.” Wise continued, “The US Navy SEALs were alleged to have retrieved the Admiral’s remains in the desert—in the Forbidden Area. The Admiral’s body was apparently badly mangled. That’s why he had a closed casket funeral. He ostensibly has been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in a very public display on American television.”

Jack squinted at Wise. “Sounds like you have doubts.”

“My client…she has many unanswered questions.” Wise rubbed his chin. “Dr. Orlovic has exhausted her resources at home. All her inquiries have been met with stonewalling and threats as she digs for answers. She believes the Todd Administration is covering up something terrible.”

from His Tribe of One, Chapter 3, Soldier of Fortune

So who was Audie Murphy?

The clip below gives a summary of his heroics and his life after the war:

Back to the book:

Lord Wise seals the deal with Colonel Sheffield with a reference to one of Audie Murphy's movies, To Hell and Back.

“Dr. Orlovic is waiting at the Gladstone Hotel as we speak. Indeed. She has serious doubts. And she’s wholly committed to do all she can to find her husband. Or at least find out what really happened to him.” Wise finished his brew. “The logistics are in place. I’ve hired other agents. They know only what they need to know. But you’re a critical piece, Colonel. An experienced soldier I can trust to lead this mission to hell and back.
“Why should I meddle in this American affair? What’s in it for me?”

“First of all, we gambled that you’d take this job.” Then Wise showed a page on his mobile display. “But I’m counting on my client’s offer being one you cannot refuse.”
Jack’s blue eyes opened as wide as the Atlantic Ocean when he saw the seven-figure offer. “I’m in!” And they shook on it.

from His Tribe of One, Chapter 3, Soldier of Fortune

To Hell and Back:

And below is clip from the biographical movie, To Hell and Back (1955),  showing the heroism of Audie Murphy, starring Audie Murphy as himself:

(reference:  https://youtu.be/zWt3_E1ouMI  )

After the war, Audie Murphy went to Hollywood.  It took him a while to break into show business, but from 1948 to 1969 he made 44 films, a TV series, and other appearances.  [reference:  Audie Murphy - IMDb] He was also a successful songwriter (1962 - 1970). [reference: Songs by Audie]

This snippet from 1955 on What's My Line, before the movie To Hell and Back was released, tells what a big movie star he was in his day:  Audie Murphy What's My Line on 3 July, 1955  

But his life was not a bed of roses after the war ...

Audie Murphy and PTSD 

Audie Murphy suffered from what we call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with symptoms of insomnia, nightmares, depression.  He battled addictions and suffered a tumultuous first marriage, which ended in divorce. But later he championed the returning Vietnam veterans and lobbied the government to extend health care to treat their PSTD and mental health problems. [reference: Audie Murphy and PTSD]

No Fairy Tale Ending

Gambling, womanizing, bad investments, bad publicity took their toll on this hero. In the late 1960s, Audie Murphy was bankrupt and his reckless actions had tarnished his public image.  [reference: Audie Murphy Facts]
Audie Murphy grave/wikipedia.com

Like General Patton who survived World War II, but died in a car accident, Lt. Murphy survived the war, yet died in a plane crash on a business trip.

So was it announced that day on May 28, 1971 on the various evening news programs:
Audie Murphy Announcement of Death (NBC, ABC, and CBS)   

He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  And his grave is the most visited site, only second to President John F. Kennedy.  [reference: Audie Murphy Places]

70 years later ...

Shortly after this blog is posted, we will pass the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on September 2, 1945.
[reference:  End of World War II]

And what better tribute than to soldiers like Audie Murphy would fought and suffered, even many years after the war.

Here are some pages:

* From the military:  Welcome to Audie Murphy Tribute Page

* His Memorial Page: Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website

My favorite site, The Audie Murphy Story:  oldbluejacket.com/AudieMurphy

One final thought of bravery:

"Loyalty to your comrades, when you come right down to it, has more to do with bravery in battle than even patriotism does.  You may want to be brave, but your spirit can desert you when things really get rough.  Only you find you can't let your comrades down and in the pinch they can't let you down either."

Audie Murphy

And in the spirit of honoring those in World War Two, we are grateful for all veterans who have served and for those who still serve to keep us safe, home and abroad.


For other posts in this 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)


photos from:  Audie Murphy/wikipedia.com
                      Audie Murphy grave/wikipedia.com