The GRID: The Fraying Wires Between Americans an Our Energy Future
                                                                               By Gretchen Bakke (Bloomsbury)

The United States was an innovator in the generation and availability of electrical power. The Direct Current system promoted by Thomas Edison and Alternating Current System promoted by Nikola Tesla changed the way Americans lived in the latter part of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. A national grid was developed (or actually two enormous grids for east and west coasts, and one large grid, for Texas.) The man who basically turned electrical generation in a massive industry was Samuel Insull. He created the kind of monopoly like US Steel or Standard Oil.

America’s incredible electrical grid was a magnificent achievement that offered reliable service in a very democratic manner in the 20th century. Our energy needs are different in the 21st century, and the manner of generating electrical power has changed, as well.  Solar and wind power are providing larger percentages of electrical power generation each year, which saves on “fossil fuels” and avoids producing pollutants. But no system is perfect. Solar works great when the sun is shining, and wind power works great when the breezes blow, but we rely on electrical power to be available consistently. With few exceptions, that is still best produced by burning oil or coal.

The problem is storage. We need to be able to take all that wonderful power generated by Solar, Wind, and Water, and store it for the time when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.  Innovation is the key once again. For example, in McIntosh, Alabama, electrical power is generated during the day by renewables, and the excess is used to condense air and force it into the nearby massive salt caverns that stretch from north of Mobile across southern Mississippi. This is released when needed to spin a turbine to regenerate an electric current.  Compressed air is a 24-hour cycle, and it’s been working since 1991. This book tells of other creative solutions.

The author, an experienced researcher in the field, admits, “There are thus three problems of different kinds that meet at the grid and get stuck there: How to deal with the combined interests of many different players; How to deal with the legacy technology, the grid we’ve got; and how to deal with the fact that’s made and run by humans.“ Part of the solution is to build and design places, things, and machines that are more energy-efficient; the other is to create a massive series of mini-grids that can operate a home or a factory but don’t necessarily rely on a massive national grid.

The Cat’s Eye-- In the President’s Service Series: Episode 13​

​By Ace Collins
(Elk Lake Publishing)
Ace is back with a new series, new heroes and new villains. Helen Meeker works for the President in 1942. Her old team is scattered or dead; her new team consists of a mysterious American Indian woman named Teresa Bryant, and two young men, Napoleon Lancelot and Dizzy Vance. They are looking for Nazi spies in the USA, but a bigger assignment is pending. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the precursor to the CIA) wants to send them behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany to help the Underground to destroy a Nazi research center. 

Before they get to Germany, they have to find a Nazi mole in America. That takes Meeker and Bryant to a greasy spoon diner, a bookie joint, a dangerous alley, a gunfight, and the investigation of either a suicide or murder of a Japanese-American woman. Her husband is sure that it was the act of someone who hated the Japanese since Pearl Harbor. He sets a trap for those he considers suspects, and Meeker’s team comes along undercover. They discover there is a bomb on board, which ups the ante a little. They 

The team eventually gets to Germany, where they rendezvous with a grimly-determined Underground resistance. They plan to destroy the to-secret nuclear bomb research facility. Its proximity to a Nazi breeding camp for Aryan warriors and the large number of captive workers in the atomic bomb plant mean many innocents will die.

Of course, the odds are good that some of the Resistance and Helen’s team might not make it back alive, either, but they are willing to take the chance to stop Germany from developing an atomic weapon. It will take all their skill and savvy to pull off this mission. But they find a silver lining in the discovery of a kidnapped girl thought by her father to have been killed, if they can get her back to America.

Helen and Teresa get the opportunity to talk about the Bible, Christian faith, and the way the white settlers brought that along with guns and death. Meeker is a dedicated believer, and she wonders about the actual age and identity of Bryant. Another mystery to be solved, IF they survive.

Ace Collins pulls out all the stops in this, his first full-length novel since The Yellow Packard. It’s a solid read, well-researched and creative, filled with twists and turns, losses and gains. The Cat’s Eye, by the way, is the name of several important plot points in the three inter-related accounts. All are excellent reads!​

“Captain Pike Found Alive!”

By Sean Kenney (A Highlight Book/Outskirts Press)

The opportunity for me to talk with one of the original cast members of the iconic STAR TREK series was serendipitous and providential:  my son Scott sat next to him on a business flight last year, they got to talking and the ST conventions, and I got a contact number. He sent me a book! My interview with Sean Kenney airs this Sunday ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM.
Sean Kenney was in the USAF stationed in London in 1963 when he met an actress who awakened in hi a desire to be an actor. A year and a half later, out of the service, Sean was a sound effects technician in West Hollywood. When the lead actor was unable to go on, Sean volunteered. He did so well that a talent agent came backstage after the play and signed him as a client.
She had a lead role in mind for him in a new show being created by Gene Roddenberry. In Oct. 1966, at age 24, Sean Kenney was cast was former Starship Captain Christopher Pike, who had been horribly injured in a crash. Paramount had paid four million dollars for the pilot, called “The Cage”, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Capt. Pike. They didn’t use it because it didn’t test well and they wanted to change the cast, retaining only Leonard Nimoy and Majel Barrett. They rewrote the pilot into a two-part episode, and hired Sean Kenney to play the injured former captain. Roddenberry was so pleased he cast Kenney as the recurring role of Lt. DePaul, the ship’s first helmsman.

Under pressure to add a Russian to the cast, Roddenberry told Kenney his character was being replaced, but promised to call all his buddies in town to be sure than Sean get another acting job asap. He was a man of his word, and Sean had plenty of acting jobs. He also became a professional photographer, a model, a husband and a dad. Through all his changing roles, Sean Kenney saw the hand of God at work in his life.

Sean Kenney talks about the famous (and a few infamous) people with whom he worked and interacted. He writes about acting techniques, traveling in the service and as an actor, and his wife and son. He tells of being in a series of westerns and how the rugged cowboy look got him a gig as “The Winston Man” and how that led to his becoming friends with Tom Selleck (who was the Marlboro Man in ads in those days. Neither man smoked.) He also was adopted by a Native American tribe!

Kenney found out about STAR TREK conventions in 1988 and quickly became a fan favorite. He still guests at them and loves talking to fans and visiting with fellow sci-fi icons. Sean Kenney writes with a joyful attitude that is infectious. His book “Captain Pike is ALIVE!” is a great read, lots of fun and interesting stories.

​​“Few Call It War—Religious Terrorism: Then and Now”

By Robert Michael Hicks (Morgan James Publishing)

Who are we fighting in our 16-year “War on Terror”? People who are not confined to one region of the world; who are not just angry at the USA for our political decisions; and who are not jealous of our affluence. We are fighting militant Muslims whose motivation is religious in nature, yet our government has consistently ignored the religious aspect.

In the 11th century a Shia Muslim sect called the Ismailis established an entire Order of Assassins, active throughout Persia, Syria, and Palestine. They weren’t the only religious terrorists: our English word “thug” comes from the thugee who murdered people as sacrifices to their goddess Kali. The Balkan wars that preceded 9/11 were of a religious nature, yet we ignored that fact. Violence in Indonesia, genocide in Sudan and Rwanda, attacks in modern Israel by Jews and by Muslims, Buddhists vs. Muslims in Myanmar, all have religious motivation. The US State Dept. lists 47 terrorist groups: 34 distinctively religious, and the rest old-style Marxist.

There have been all kinds of terrorists who were motivated by religious beliefs, but none more dangerous than Sunni Muslims, who have committed 70% of all terrorism. Islam is not a “religion of peace”; reading the Quo’ran illustrates that. To pretend that isn’t true is to deceive oneself, as many politicians have for 16 years. Dinesh D’Souza observes, “Christianity in all its history has never had suicide bombers and neither has Judaism, Hinduism or Buddhism.” Christian martyrs die for their faith; Islamic martyrs kill others for it.

But that doesn’t mean that all Muslims are terrorists or not peaceful. The best way to stop terrorism is to pray that God will convert the Muslims, which He has been doing. In fact, more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 40 years than in the 1400 years that preceded it! We can help by welcoming the immigrants and befriending them, show them the love of God. Tell them we don’t want our families corrupted by sinful examples in movies and TV, either.

Due to the secularization of culture, “there is no clear political vision for the world. In the gap, world alliances have tried to fill the vacuum with new economic and military agreements. None of the attempts have provided a comprehensive, sensible ideological vision for the world. Terrorism is a faulty view of the world. The enlightened age of the west world somehow has imparted the view that all religions are equal if not the same”, a reflection of the humanistic view that all people are basically good. This is opposed to the Bible, which states that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The Bible teaches we need to be rescued from our own evil impulses and sinful nature, and only Jesus can do that. 

​Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughn​

 By Elaine M. Hayes
​​ecco, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
She was one of the greatest jazz singers of the 20th century, a voice so well-controlled and so flexible that she sang like a trumpet or sax. The story of this highly-acclaimed musician is told here in a vibrant manner that befits her enormous talent. It is not too hyperbolic to call “Sassy” a genius. As a well-trained amateur musician myself, Sarah Vaughn’s voice was like no other in its time. She had exquisite tone, “full and rich like velvet or oozing honey yet agile and supple”, a simply beautiful voice with a four-octave range which she could fly effortlessly. She thought like a jazzer, a bebopper, with lightning-quick lines, completely new melodies improvised on the spot.

Sarah grew up singing in the church, and was an excellent pianist and organist, too. She became a part of the Newark, NJ jazz scene as a teen. Sarah was seen as a worthy peer by other iconic musicians who would change musical history: Billy Eckstine, Ella Fitzgerald, John “Dizzy” Gillespie and Charlie “Bird” Parker. Sarah was hired as second pianist and later vocalist with the Hines band in 1943. They traveled all over the country, and faced racism everywhere they went. It was particularly obvious in the South; every trip had a new series of indignities. Conditions were miserable, and after the 1943 tour, Gillespie left the Hines band to form a new one, the world’s first bebop band, and he hired Dizzy, Bird, and Sassy. After a successful partnership, she later played and sang with Count Basie.

She was treated like a lady by her bandmates, but she still did have romances. (Sadly, none of her marriages or love affairs brought her much lasting happiness.) 

A constant problem professionally for Sarah was getting a record released. Most producers wanted her to sing the blues, thinking that’s all audiences wanted black women to perform. But Sarah Vaughn could not be held to one style of music. Her talent and her imagination were too big. Mitch Miller of Columbia never understood her abilities and wasted her great talent on bad, racist novelty records or strings-laden ballads. She never quit trying new things, and found great joy in singing with orchestras in concert settings late in her life. Check her out on to hear and see her hits from the late 1940s and 1950s as well as her later musical work. It’s all great.

Doc interviews author Dr. Elaine Hayes, America’s greatest living expert on Sarah Vaughn, ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM 

Check her website,


“The Trial of Kermit Gosnell: The Shocking Details and What It Revealed About the Abortion Industry in America”​

by Cheryl Sullenger (World Ahead Press, a WND Company)

Whenever a serial killer is caught, questions of motivation invariably arise. In the case of Kermit Gosnell, “public officials ignored decades of warnings, up to and including suspicious deaths. Once his monstrosities were discovered, the press expressed zero interest.” His brutal and horrific crimes were only brought to trial because of his involvement in illegal scripts for OxyContin.

He murdered thousands of unborn babies, then kept body parts in his home freezer and scattered around his apartment. Some he put in crab pots at his boat dock. The Pennsylvania Departments of Health and of State, the State Boards of Medicine, and the Philadelphia Dept. of Public Health received numerous complaints about his negligence, malpractice, and ghastly clinic conditions, and did nothing. Even the National Abortion Federation refused to credential him, but they said nothing. The staff of Philly’s Planned Parenthood knew and said nothing.

Gosnell got a pass from officials and the press because he was an abortionist. But he “displayed a sadistic fixation on babies and women as early as 1972”, when he was the co-creator of an abortion device made of razor blades coated with a hardened gel that dissolved upon insertion into the uterus of his victims and spring the razors all around! This is the “twisted world of abortion support, where rules of human decency don’t apply.”

When babies didn’t die in his abortion clinic but were born alive, he suffocated them. He specialized in partial-birth abortions, snipping the spinal cords with scissors. The conditions of his office were horribly filthy and dangerous. When the jury saw it, they were appalled. The DA, Set Williams, called Kermit Gosnell “a monster. Any doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is a murderer and a monster. He knowingly and systematically mistreated female patients for years, which ultimately resulted in the death of Karnamaya Mongar.” Gosnell got convicted of manslaughter in her death, and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences of First Degree Murder for the deaths of three babies who were born alive but were killed by his severing the spinal cords. He got 30 more years on the drug charges. At age 72 he will die in prison, yet showed no remorse whatsoever. His staff members pled guilty to various charges: 3rd degree murder, conspiracy, performing medical procedures without a license, & racketeering.


“The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege”

​by Ken Wytsma (IVP)

What does “white privilege” mean? How do we learn to celebrate our diversity without racial barriers? As the author states, “The central thesis of this book is that a misunderstanding of the gospel leads to a false dichotomy: we prioritize the spiritual and personal aspects of faith and devalue or nullify the material and communal dimensions that bind us to God’s creation and to our brothers & sisters made in the image of God. This twisting of faith has resulted in historic injustices that have terrorized and handicapped generations of minorities. Racism in the US is worse than worse than we (whites) thought, its lasting consequences are more significant than we think, and our responsibility is greater than we’ve been taught.”

For example, The Naturalization Act of 1790 institutionalized racial preference in legal immigration. The naturalization Act of 1870 opened things for blacks but excluded Chinese. Racial exclusion was a staple of US immigration policy until 1952’s McCarran-Walter Act, which eliminated race as a basis for exclusion. 

What about “White privilege”? “It doesn’t mean that your life isn’t hard. It means that if you are a person of color, simply by virtue of that, your life might be harder.” In the same way, racism is about power. It really isn’t found in human history until about the 17th century.“ As with racism itself, the concept of slavery was deeply affected by the Age of Exploration and subsequent colonial exploitation of newly-discovered lands.” Slavery and its Jim Crow cousin, convict leasing, were ways to steal someone’s labor.

We can’t eliminate racism until we discover its origin and its pervasive nature, then take steps to change things. As Christians, we know that in Christ all are equal. Americans proudly proclaim that all men (people) are created equal. But we often have not lived up to either goal, and we have celebrated individualism too much. Remember, “Jesus did not strive for or cling to privilege, and because we are called to be like Him, neither should we.”

The author states, “If the center of our faith doesn’t speak to justice, then it becomes easy to ignore or lose sight of it amid life’s day-to-day challenges. Justice isn’t just a good thing but a necessary thing.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and martyr, was profoundly affected during his time in America by worshipping in Harlem. He was the only prominent white 20th century theologian to speak about racism as a Christian problem. Christians who are white can’t get defensive about racism in America without cutting off honest dialogue;  we need to communicate if we are to overcome racism.​

On the bookshelf

“From Cairo to Christ: How One Muslim’s Faith Journey Shows the Way for Others”

By Abu Atallah and Kent A. Van Til (IVP Books)

First, some wonderful news: in the past 40 years, more Muslims have converted to Christianity than did during the previous 1400 years! Abu Atallah is one of those converts, and has been instrumental in bringing hundreds of Muslims to Christ through his various ministries and outreaches. He founded a church in the predominantly Arab-populated city of Dearborn, Michigan. He became a consultant on Islam for a major mission agency in London. He is currently a missionary for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Europe, working with millions of Syrian refugees. But Abu can’t go back to his home nation of Egypt for fear he will be killed as an apostate. 

He came to Christ as a young Egyptian man, and partly because he saw how Coptic Christians were treated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and partly because he went to a Christian meeting because Christian women would be there that he wanted to date. There he heard that God loves. The difference between Allah, a god of law & justice, and Jesus, a god of love, would change his life. The difference in how Muslims and Christians prayed also affected him: Christians prayed as though they were talking to a friend who cared about them; Muslims used prescribed prayers to beg for mercy.

Abu found a Bible that his older brother had hidden in a clothes drawer, and began reading it. He became a Christian, and tried to hide it at first because it was very dangerous in Egypt. But his new Christian friends and his new attitudes convinced his family to expose his apostasy. Abu was arrested, badly beaten, and harangued to get him to recant. He refused. They released him and he left town. His family disowned him, except for his mother. Abu came to America, and his outreach ministries to Muslims began.

Abu is very honest about the attitudes and actions which put barriers between Christians and Muslims. For example, Islam is NOT peace, despite what several Presidents have said; it is ‘submission”, and usually boot-on-the-throat variety. “To Muslims, the West is the Christian West: decadent, arrogant, and violent.” They base their opinion on American movies and TV shows. The Qur’an treats women as second-class citizens, good only for the use of a man. “Islam is submission to an impersonal lawgiver who honors his fallen warriors, whereas Christianity honors those who follow the personal and living God of love. In Christianity, heaven came down to us.”

What should Christians do about the threat of radical Islam? This author says we should show them the love of Jesus in our attitude, our life, and our relationships, including with Muslims in America.