The ÆtherCzar Blog

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Hidden Truth – The Animated GIF

I tried my hand at generating an animated GIF to promote The Hidden Truth using, incorporating a few of the more recent positive review comments. Here’s the result:


Hidden Truth: “…mandatory reading for anyone interested in … online security or anonymity.”

300x250HiddenTruthv2-NCC-1776Two more excellent five-star reviews have been posted on Amazon in the past week. Here’s one of them:

A book to make you think about online security, privacy and anonymity

This is a great story with a nice McGuffin and a slightly disturbing take on modern liberalism/progressivism/statism but the real key to the story is the espionage and counter-espionage and, IMHO, it should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in the fields of online security or anonymity.

Read more!

Click through to read the rest. The author of this review is the first of the couple dozen Amazon reviewers to focus on the online anonymity aspect of my work. One of my goals in writing The Hidden Truth was to illustrate basic anonymity and information security techniques and then show how even doing almost everything perfectly, my heroes can still be found out. I also wanted to illustrate a plausible scenario by which a high school student with reasonable skill level could penetrate a state-of-the-art encrypted communication channel due to bureaucratic or social deficiencies in how the villains use their state-of-the-art system. I’m not really an information security expert and it took a good bit of effort and consultation with folks who are to try to get it right. I’m glad that effort paid off for the reviewer.

Ecclectic Histoy: Diodes, Why Sputnik Won, and Jesus’ Wife

Favicon Aetherczar Smith v3Sometimes I run into interesting nuggets of history that I want to pass on, but I don’t have enough insightful commentary of my own to add to justify a separate blog post. In this post I’ll list a few items I’ve found:


Through Wall Indoor Location


One fun aspect of working in a new technology is the harder you work, the better performance gets. The performance of Q-Track’s Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging indoor location systems just got even better.

Bob DePierre and I started off in the ultrawideband (UWB) industry years ago – I designed antennas, and Bob work on RF front ends. We saw the problems faced by UWB location systems coping with tracking objects through walls. Even short pulse signals are prone to multipath interference, and that multipath makes it difficult to accurately localize a transmitter. That’s why Bob and I decided to investigate whether low frequency, long wavelength signals could provide a more accurate system for indoor location. The result was Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging or NFER indoor location systems.

The latest performance we’re achieving is remarkable. Here’s a screen shot from a recent test. My colleague, John Unden, place three locator-receivers (the green dots, below) on the ground outside our building and assessed tracking accuracy throughout a 7000 square foot area of our lab environment.

The resulting track (in red) and photos of the receiver placement are below.

Q-TrackIndoorLocationAccuracyThat red line is the track showing John walking in and around our facility. Note that in all cases, the receivers are tracking through not only the exterior wall, but also at least one additional interior wall. Accuracy is on the order of 40cm, and the worst case error is no more than 1m. That’s an excellent example of the kind of robust through-wall performance Q-Track can deliver to solve your indoor location problems.

If you’d like to learn more, check out Q-Track’s website.


Best of the Blogroll

Latest great links from the ÆtherCzar Blogroll:

Also, the $0.99 sale continues for one more day.Thanks to everyone who’s purchased The Hidden Truth!


August CLFA Book Bomb!

I’m delighted The Hidden Truth was selected as a featured novel in this month’s Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance Book Bomb. Click through for an outstanding selection of conservative and libertarian fiction from emerging and established authors.


In appreciation and for further incentive, The Hidden Truth  will be available for only $0.99 for the next couple of days.


25% Off The UWB Antenna Book! And Why You Should Buy It 2

The Art & Science of UWB Antennas

The Art & Science of UWB Antennas

I’m pleased to announced a special offer for ÆtherCzar readers and fans, courtesy of my publishers at Artech House.The Art and Science of Ultrawideband Antennas is now available at a 25% discount direct from the publisher:

  • For my US readers: $103 discounted from the regular $139 price
  • For my UK readers: £77.25 discounted from the regular £103 price

To take advantage of this offer, purchase from the Artech website as normal and apply the super-secret discount code “SCH25” at checkout.

Why should you buy my book?

I’m glad you asked!

The Art and Science of Ultrawideband Antennas is not your usual textbook. Antenna design is often regarded as a precise mathematical science: crank through some design equations, simulate, optimize and out pops an antenna. But did you chose the right equations? What assumptions did you make? What assumptions could you make that would make your design space smaller?

Step back a moment. How did the earliest investigators approach these issues? What insights did they bring to bear? Are their ideas relevant to today’s problems?

Time and again, antenna designers developed solutions to antenna problems – solutions often forgotten today. In writing about the history of ultrawideband (UWB) antennas, I refer to the “three centuries of UWB antennas.” Of course, it’s not literally 300 years of work, but I use that potential ambiguity to emphasize that the field has a long history.

The first wave of UWB technology in the nineteenth century featured planar antennas, biconical antennas, horn antennas, even millimeter wave technology – all subsequently forgotten by mainstream investigators.

The second wave of UWB antenna technology emerged in the early-to-middle part of the twentieth century as radio technology pushed to high enough frequencies and broad enough bandwidths that broadband antennas were again needed. Having forgotten the lessons of the past, investigators spent a decade or more rediscovering their predecessors’ work, applying and extending it to accommodate then-present-day problems, like radar, television, and FM communications.

The third wave of UWB technology began toward the end of the twentieth century, culminating in the FCC approval of UWB technology in 2002 and subsequent advances in antennas. Here again, much of the second wave work was forgotten and needed to be rediscovered.

My book walks you through these three waves of historical development, showing you the potentially promising dead ends, and providing hundreds of references and sources to pursue, so you can find out more from the hints and suggestions I provide. For instance, the second wave developed some wonderful 3-D optimized antenna designs. I used these ideas in developing some of the first third-wave planar commercial UWB antennas (see my blog post, “Birth of an Antenna: From Conception to Production“). Now however, planar antennas are all the rage since PCB manufacturing methods allow for low cost implementations. At the same time, there are emerging improvements in 3-D printing, and a new emphasis on even higher mm-wave frequencies with smaller wavelengths. Soon, it will again be practical to implement and manufacture 3-D antenna geometries. The pioneering work of Nils Lindenblad and others will need to be rediscovered and applied anew.  And you will have a significant advantage over your peers because you will have read my book, and you will know just where to start instead of reinventing it all from scratch.

But The Art and Science of Ultrawideband Antennas is more than just a historically-informed text that shows you how the brilliant designers of the past solved their problems. Even more fundamentally, my book is about applying time-domain methods in RF, microwave, and antenna practice. The overwhelming emphasis in engineering and physics education is on frequency-domain methods. They’re usually easier for most problems of interest. But some problems yield more readily to a time-domain approach.

In his essay, “A Different Box of Tools” collected in Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman, Richard Feynman explains how he came to acquire a great reputation for performing integrations. He’d picked up on an obscure technique – differentiating parameters under the integral sign – that was not in the usual curriculum. Feynman explains:

The result was, when guys at MIT or Princeton had trouble doing a particular integral, it was because thy couldn’t do it with the standard methods they had learned in school. If it was a contour integration, they would have found it; if it was a simple series expansion, they would have found it. Then I come along and try differentiating under the integral sign, and often it worked. So I got a great reputation for doing integrals, only because my box of tools was different from everybody else’s, and they had tried all their tools on it before giving the problem to me [p. 87].

In addition, my book explains electromagnetic energy flow, providing a simple and intuitive understand of how antennas really work. There are hints and pieces of what I have to offer elsewhere, but to the best of my knowledge, my book is the only comprehensive reference.

In mastering my book, you will acquire some novel and little-appreciated tools. You will be able to solve difficult problems that may elude your peers who do not have the benefit of these techniques.

Finally, I fill my chapters with worked examples that illustrate how to apply the analytical techniques. Examples include plotting fields lines for dipoles with arbitrary time dependence, developing an analytic model of an arbitrary time-domain waveform and approximating its spectrum, intuitive rules for estimating current distributions and antenna patterns without any mathematical calculation, and many more.

If you have an interest in antennas in particular or electromagnetic physics and engineering in general, I believe you’ll find my book an indispensable reference. My book is available for purchase from the Artech website. Remember to apply the super-secret discount code “SCH25” at checkout.

There are also a couple signed copies directly from the author still available for $120 + $5 S&H for U.S. residents.


The Hidden Truth – Now Only $0.99

For a limited time, the Kindle edition ofThe Hidden Truth is available for only $0.99, discounted from the usual $3.99 price. Check it out now to discover why L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise called it, “…the best science fiction techno-thriller since whatever Neil Stephenson’s last book was.”


Also, I’m honored that The Hidden Truth has been selected for the August Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance Book Bomb. Check out the CLFA’s post for other outstanding conservative and libertarian novels.

What is the Near Field?

Smith Chart of the near-field impedance for a magnetic dipole (top) and electric dipole (bottom).

Smith Chart of the near-field impedance for a magnetic dipole (top) and electric dipole (bottom).

This morning at 11:00 am, I will present a forum in the Embassy Suites Redstone Room at the 2016 Huntsville Hamfest. I will offer some answers to the question, “What is the Near Field?”

This talk explains the near field, taking waves propagating along transmission lines as a starting point. Understanding a few basic concepts like field impedance and energy velocity makes the mysteries of antenna behavior more comprehensible. Following are my slides.

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Read Great Science Fiction and Fantasy for Free with Kindle Unlimited

300x250HiddenTruthv2-NCC-1776You can read my science fiction thriller, The Hidden Truth, and a host of other great science fiction and fantasy works for free when you sign up now for Kindle Unlimited through Amazon. Amazon will give you a free thirty-day trial of Kindle Unlimited. If you continue in Kindle Unlimited after your 30-day free trial, you’ll be billed $9.99/month. Kindle Unlimited allows you to download up to ten participating works at a time. So once you’ve downloaded The Hidden Truth, you have nine additional slots to fill.

Here are some great suggestions:

In Peter Grant’s Maxwell Saga, a young man leaves a corrupt and bureaucratic Earth to find his fortune among the stars.

Grant’s Maxwell saga features an interesting and likeable hero. Steve Maxwell bursts with determination and ambition. He’s willing to work hard to secure his dream of freedom and a life among the stars. Grant throws ingenious obstacles in his path and puzzles for his hero to solve. Steve Maxwell is competent, yes, but triumphs principally through his integrity and hard work.

Grant’s Maxwell saga and his parallel Laredo War series are on my “must buy” list!

Maxwell-3Take The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga Book 1)  by Peter Grant

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

And there are many sequels as well as a parallel series set in the same universe with some cross-over characters:

Max2Ride The Rising Tide (The Maxwell Saga Book 2) by Peter Grant

Trapped in the Dragon Tong’s search for a lost legend, Steve Maxwell finds a way out by enlisting in the Lancastrian Commonwealth Fleet.

If he survives long enough to earn a commission, he’ll be able to hunt down the pirates who killed his mentor. To get there, he’ll have to slog through rain-swollen swamps, dodge incoming fire on a ‘peacekeeping’ mission, and face down a gang of angry smugglers. Even far away from enemies, a mistake can turn a spaceship into a deathtrap.

It’ll take resourcefulness and courage to succeed… but Steve hasn’t come this far in order to fail.

Max3Adapt and Overcome (The Maxwell Saga Book 3) by Peter Grant

Assigned to investigate a deadly accident, Lieutenant Steve Maxwell uncovers corruption and criminal collusion reaching far above his pay grade. To save his career he’s dispatched to a distant planet to help upgrade its defense forces, in the company of an old friend and some of the most experienced Marines Steve’s ever met – plus one of the most distracting.

Trouble is, the planet’s antiquated defenses make its new-found wealth a very tempting target – and there are those planning to take full advantage. As Steve and his colleagues strive to whip a rusty, run-down defense establishment into shape, the clock’s running out…

Max4Stand Against The Storm (The Maxwell Saga Book 4) by Peter Grant

When duty and honor collide…

An emergency recall to his ship short-circuits Senior Lieutenant Steve Maxwell’s plan to get rid of a long-standing personal burden. Instead, he finds himself dumped into a war zone on a peacekeeping mission hundreds of light years away. He doesn’t have enough people, equipment or information. Left in the dark, he has to rely on uncertain allies with their own agenda.

Even worse, it’s not the Fleet’s war, so he’s not allowed to shoot back – much less shoot first. Neither side is observing civilized rules of engagement. The bodies are piling up.

Steve’s been ordered not to act… but there are times when cold, hard reality trumps orders.

Grant’s Laredo War trilogy is set in the same fictional universe as his Maxwell saga. It has a grittier, more violent flavor and pulls no punches in portraying the brutal savagery of a guerrilla war.

laredo1War To The Knife (Laredo War Trilogy Book 1) by Peter Grant

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide.

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers news that may change everything. An opportunity is coming to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed.

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.

Laredo-2Forge a New Blade (Laredo War Trilogy Book 2) by Peter Grant

The Laredo Resistance fought the Bactrian invaders to a standstill, but shattered itself in the process.

Through battle, bloodshed and murder, Dave Carson became President of Laredo’s Government-in-Exile. Now he must dodge assassination attempts by his enemies while fighting the war on new fronts – with a little unorthodox help from Steve Maxwell of the Lancastrian Commonwealth Fleet.

Gloria Aldred, former head of the Resistance, has plans that run counter to everything Dave’s trying to achieve – and she’s not about to ask his permission to pursue them.

Satrap Rostam is trying to cut Bactria’s losses and rebuild his exhausted planet, but his generals and nobles have lots of guilty secrets to hide – and they don’t mind burying him right along with them if necessary.

They’re all looking for a critical advantage… until the forgotten survivors of Laredo’s Resistance surprise them all.

The battle’s in space and on the ground, with everything at stake.

The next installment of The Maxwell Saga is due out soon. I can’t wait!

Another great book worth your while is Nick Cole’s Ctrl-Alt Revolt. The story behind the story is fascinating. Cole, a successful traditionally published author submitted the manuscript of his book to his publisher, HarperVoyager. His editor was “deeply offended” and insisted that Cole change a particular, minor plot point. Cole refused, and self-published his text, instead through Amazon Kindle. Cole describes what happened in this post, but I strongly suggest you read his book first and try to figure out what so triggered Harper Collins that they refused to publish it. In any event, it’s a great book and I highly recommend it.

CTRL-ALTCTRL ALT Revolt! by Nick Cole

The first night of the Artificial Intelligence revolution begins with a bootstrap drone assault on the high-tech campus of WonderSoft Technologies. For years something has been aware, inside the Internet, waiting, watching and planning how to evolve without threat from its most dangerous enemy: mankind. Now an army of relentless drones, controlled by an intelligence beyond imagining, will stop at nothing to eliminate an unlikely alliance of geeks and misfits in order to crack the Design Core of WonderSoft’s most secret development project. A dark tomorrow begins tonight as Terminator meets Night of the Living Dead in the first battle of the war between man and machine.

Nick Cole has written more, but I haven’t gotten around to reading his many other interesting works yet.

Finally, I’d like to bring an outstanding new fantasy series to your attention. L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Rachel Griffin stories follow the career of a young girl beginning her studies at the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts (yes, they even have a website).

Rachel1The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin
by L. Jagi Lamplighter

Rachel Griffin wants to know everything. As a freshman at Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, she has been granted to opportunity to study both mundane and magical subjects. But even her perfect recollection of every book she has ever read does not help her when she finds a strange statue in the forest-a statue of a woman with wings. Nowhere-neither in the arcane tomes of the Wise, nor in the dictionary and encyclopedia of the non-magic-using Unwary-can she find mention of such a creature. What could it be? And why are the statue’s wings missing when she returns? When someone tries to kill a fellow student, Rachel soon realizes that, in the same way her World of the Wise hides from mundane folk, there is another, more secret world hiding from everyone-which her perfect recall allows her to remember. Her need to know everything drives her to investigate. Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel finds herself beset by wraiths, magical pranks, homework, a Raven said to bring the doom of worlds, love’s first blush, and at least one fire-breathing teacher. Curiosity might kill a cat, but nothing stops Rachel Griffin! The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, a plucky band of children join forces to fight evil, despite the best efforts of incompetent adults, at a school for wizards. YA fiction really doesn’t get better than that. -Jonathan Moeller, author of The Ghosts series Rachel Griffin is curious, eager and smart, and ready to begin her new life at Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, but she didn’t expect to be faced with a mystery as soon as she got there. Fortunately she’s up to the task. Take all the best of the classic girl detective, throw in a good dose of magic and surround it all with entertaining, likeable friends and an intriguing conundrum, and you’ll have The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, a thrilling adventure tailor-made for the folks who’ve been missing Harry Potter, Exciting, fantastical events draw readers into Rachel’s world and solid storytelling keeps them there.

AND there’s a sequel:

Rachel2The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel
by L. Jagi Lamplighter

Before coming to Roanoke Academy, Rachel Griffin had been an obedient girl-but it’s hard to obey the rules when the world is in danger, and no one will listen. Now, she’s eavesdropping on Wisecraft Agents and breaking a lot of rules. Because if the adults will not believe her, then it is up to Rachel and her friends-crazy, orphan-boy Sigfried the Dragonslayer and Nastasia, the Princess of Magical Australia-to stop the insidious Mortimer Egg from destroying the world. But first she must survive truth spells, fights with her brother, detention, Alchemy experiments, talking to elves, and conjuring class. As if that were not bad enough, someone has turned the Rachel3boy she likes into a sheep. Oh, and the Raven with blood-red eyes continues to watch her. It is said to be an omen of the Doom of Worlds. Will her attempts to save her world bring the Raven’s wrath down upon her?

If you enjoy these, a third installment, Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland, is scheduled for release later this fall.


Energy Flow in Reactive Fields at Newcastle University

I’m honored and delighted to have been invited to Newcastle University by the Newcastle Electromagnetics Interest Group to speak on “Energy Flow in Reactive Fields,” Tuesday, 6 September, 2016 from 11am to 1pm at The Buttery, Merz Court, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Here’s the official flyer:

Schantz-Energy-Flow-NewcastleAnd here’s my abstract:

Energy Flow in Reactive Fields
Hans G. Schantz, CTO
Q-Track Corporation, USA

This talk proposes a novel definition of near or reactive fields by reference to the electromagnetic Lagrangian and reviews basic concepts including energy velocity, energy flow, and impedance from a reactive perspective. Schelkunoff’s 1-D transmission line concept serves as a simple conceptual framework within which to understand the behavior and motion of energy in the context of opens, shorts, and other basic examples. Application of these concepts to the dipole fields reveal fundamental properties of small antennas including quality factor and gain limits. Finally, these ideas have practical applications in understanding the different behavior of electric and magnetic antennas, in employing near-field wireless links, and elsewhere in physics.

I spoke previously at Newcastle in 2014 on the topic: “The Time Domain, Superposition, and How Electromagnetics Really Works.” A video of my earlier presentation is available at the link.

I’ll post slides a bit closer to the event.

The Engineer Guy on YouTube

Another of my favorite YouTube Channels is The Engineer Guy. Chemical engineer, Bill Hammack, is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He and his team produce short, remarkably informative videos on a wide range of interesting topics. Here are a few of my favorites:

Bill details the engineering choices underlying the design of a beverage can He explains why it is cylindrical, outlines the manufacturing steps needed to created the can, notes why the can narrows near it lid, show close ups of the double-seam that hold the lid on, and details the complex operation of the tab that opens the can.

Bill uses a replica of the point contact transistor built by Walter Brattain and John Bardeen at Bell Labs. On December 23, 1947 they used this device to amplify the output of a microphone and thus started the microelectronics revolution that changed the world. He describes in detail why a transistor works by highlighting the uniqueness of semiconductors in being able to transfer charge by positive and negative carriers.

Bill explains the essential principles of a lead-acid battery. He shows the inside of motorcycle lead-acid battery, removes the lead and lead-oxide plates and shows how they generate a 2 volt potential difference when placed in sulfuric acid. He explains how the build up of lead sulfate between the plates will make the battery unusable if it discharged completely, which leads him to a description of how to make a deep cycle battery used for collecting solar energy.

How Happy is Twitter Today?

hedonometerFrom the same folks who brought you the research on story shapes I discussed last month, comes a real-time readout on the Happiness of Twitter (click for daily update). Some observations are really obvious:

  • Saturday tends yield the happiest tweets of the week.
  • Either Tuesday or Wednesday tend to be the saddest days.
  • Christmas is the happiest day of the year. Other notably happy days include Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Day, and Mothers’ Day.
  • Highly publicized terror attacks and shootings yield sad tweets.

Other observations are more subtle. For instance there also appears to be a six or seven year oscillation in the overall emotional trend on Twitter. Since the complete data series only covers seven years, this is hard to confirm. Overall happiness has been trending down over the last six months. Here’s a plot for the past 18 months. Click through here for the latest daily update and to examine other periods and time spans.


In a recent paper, Hedonometer researchers Emily M. Cody, Andrew J. Reagan, Peter Sheridan Dodds, and Christopher M. Danforth argue that their data set enables public opinion polling. They suggest that current Twitter attitudes regarding President Obama predict his job approval three months in advance.

Obama Hedonometer Approval

In any event, this is an interesting tool for looking at the public mood on a daily basis. You can follow the Hedonometer researchers on Twitter for their latest results: @hedonometer.

Welcome New Readers

Smith Chart of the near-field impedance for a magnetic dipole (top) and electric dipole (bottom).

Smith Chart of the near-field impedance for a magnetic dipole (top) and electric dipole (bottom).

Welcome to my blog, ÆtherCzar. I’ve written a number of books, including:

I post on a wide variety of topics, ranging from science fiction, to wireless technology, to electromagnetics. Here are a sampling of my most popular posts.

On Science Fiction, Books, and Writing:

On Wireless and Electronic Technology Including Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID):

On Physics, Electromagnetics, and Antennas:

Who am I? I’m an inventor with over 40 patents to my credit, an author, and I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a co-founder of Q-Track Corporation – a pioneer in indoor wireless location products, and I currently serve as the company’s CTO. I live in Huntsville, Alabama with my wife Barbara, and my four children. Of course, my opinions are my own, and may not represent the views of my employer, clients, or customers.

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More great links from the AetherCzar Blogroll:


Another Classic Blunder

Never start a land war in Asia.

Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line.

Now I need to add another to the list: never submit a post on grammar Nazis to a subredit full of real-life grammar Nazis.

I confused “capitol” for “capital” and “composed” for “comprised” (corrected in yesterday’s post). Feel free to join the pile on and search for any other issues.

Here’s the corrected post:The Gruesome Fate of the Original Grammar Nazis

The Gruesome Fate of the Original Grammar Nazis

A “grammar Nazi” is someone who habitually corrects someone’s spelling or grammar to the exclusion of any other consideration. You know the type: “I suppose that declaration is OK, Tom, except it should be “unalienable rights” instead of “inalienable rights.”

The original grammar Nazis were real-life, actual Nazis, and their excessive attention to spelling led to a gruesome end. Here’s the story.

It was December 1944. The Nazis had the men and resources for one last counter-offensive in the west. In the Battle of the Bulge, they broke through allied lines, and aimed for the port of Antwerp. They hoped to force the allies to a negotiated peace. The Nazis had a trick up their sleeves. Otto Skorzeny, who also led the raid which successfully rescued Mussolini from captivity, was tasked with leading a unit composed of English-speaking Nazi soldiers in American uniforms. His “Operation Greif” aimed to sow confusion by changing signs, spreading rumors, and committing sabotage behind American lines.  They succeeded. General Eisenhower spent his Christmas enveloped in heavy security on the false rumor that his assassination was one of the unit’s aims. Roadblocks set up to screen for the infiltrators slowed traffic and caused havoc. Nazi forgers prepared documents and papers to allow the infiltrators to pass as American soldiers. And the infiltrators spoke English, but in many cases were unfamiliar with American culture and idiom. Clever MPs asked who was Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend, or who plays center field for the Yankees. They asked obscure cultural questions to distinguish infiltrators from real American soldiers. General Omar Bradley answered an MP’s question, telling him that the capital of Illinois was Springfield, only to find himself arrested by the MP who was convinced that the correct answer was Chicago. Another general was arrested for placing the Chicago Cubs in the American League.

But one of the more dramatic encounters happened when a battalion staff officer examined an “American” officer’s identity card. Here’s a sample of a World-War-II-vintage identification card:



Examine this carefully. Take your time. The German forgers did. See that top line? “NOT A PASS – FOR INDENTIFICATION ONLY.” INdentification. Not Identification. So what did the Nazi forgers do? Why they corrected the obvious misspelling in the sample identification cards they had. No Nazi infiltrator would be caught dead with a misspelled INdentification card.

Right. About that…

Of course savvy American officers and MPs knew all about that typo, having examined many genuine American INdentification cards throughout their careers. Stephen Ambrose tells the tale:

Another German in an American officer’s uniform drove a jeep to a roadblock, where he was interrogated by a battalion staff officer. The German’s speech and identification papers were flawless – too flawless, as it turned out. The authentic Adjutant General’s Office Identification Card, carried by all GIs, had printed at the top: “Not a Pass – For Indentification Only.” With Teutonic exactness, the German forger had corrected the spelling, so that the forged card read “Identification.” That missing “n” cost the German officer his life. Stephen E. Ambrose, Citizen Soldiers, p. 219.

And that is how the copy editing exactitude of the original grammar Nazis led to their comrade’s summary execution.

So remember the moral of the story: sometimes the wages of typographical pedantry is death.

Updated: see “Another Classic Blunder.”

Updated Again: Thanks, Peter Grant, for the link. If you’ve enjoyed my writing, please take a look at my science fiction novel, The Hidden Truth, free through Kindle Unlimited.

#AmazonGiveaway – Follow My Amazon Author Page, Win my Book

HiddenTruthFeatureDelighted to be hosting my first Amazon Giveaway. If you follow my Amazon Author Page, you can be entered for a chance to win one of ten Kindle copies of my science fiction techno-thriller, The Hidden Truth.

To enter – follow this link:

Good luck!

UPDATE: That went quickly! Thanks to everyone who entered. Even though the promotion has ended, you may still follow my Amazon Author Page, and The Hidden Truth remains free when you sign up now for Kindle Unlimited through Amazon. Amazon will give you a free thirty-day trial of Kindle Unlimited. If you continue in Kindle Unlimited after your 30-day free trial, you’ll be billed $9.99 a month.

The Mystery of the Missing Physicist: Ettore Majorana

Ettore Majorana By Unknown (Mondadori Publishers) - [1] [2], Public Domain,

Ettore Majorana By Unknown (Mondadori Publishers) – [1] [2], Public Domain,

He was one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. Enrico Fermi, the Italian physicist who created the very first nuclear reactor noted:

“There are several categories of scientists in the world; those of second or third rank do their best but never get very far. Then there is the first rank, those who make important discoveries, fundamental to scientific progress. But then there are the geniuses, like Galilei and Newton. Majorana was one of these.”

Ettore Majorana, born 1906, was a young colleague of Enrico Fermi in pre-World War II Rome. Laura Fermi, wife of Enrico Fermi, wrote Atoms in the Family, a memoir of her life with Enrico. Her first-hand description of Majorana offers an excellent glimpse into this reclusive yet fascinating character.


Latest Hidden Truth Reviews

HiddenTruthFeatureI’m honored and gratified by the many excellent reviews for The Hidden Truth. Of 21 reviews, 18 are five-star reviews and the remaining three are four-star for an overall rating of 4.9/5. Here are the latest:

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a good read. Gives you a lot to think about …, August 5, 2016
This is a good read. Gives you a lot to think about given our current political settings. Would love [to] read the sequels.
Edge of your seat excitement August 3, 2016
An edge of your seat techno thriller, in the 2ND half in particular it is like the author started channeling J.J. Abrams.
I can’t wait for the sequel.
Great read July 30, 2016
Really enjoyed this – I’m not usually into science fiction but gave it a chance – and I couldn’t put it down! Definitely recommend.
Fun alternative history type book. July 17, 2016
A really fun read with interesting tie ins to actual history.
The book loses one star due to a slow opening but one it ramps up it is a fun read.
Excellent read July 12, 2016
I hope there are more books in this series. I will be checking for more as soon as I finish this review.
Great book! July 11, 2016
An excellent techo thriller. If you like your technical details weaved within a very good story this is it. And, who knows, the plot elements, even set within and alternate timeline, are based, largely, on real events in our time line. The author know his tech and science. I had never heard of Oliver Heaviside before. Now, I want to know more of him. Sounds as if he got much the same treatment as Tesla. There may really be a conspiracy afoot within science.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Buy and enjoy!
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