The Answer is “What is the Green Book?”

After the kerfuffle on Jeopardy the other day, many of us ran to Wikipedia, which reads in part:

“an annual guidebook for African American roadtrippers. It was originated and published by African American New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against African Americans especially and other non-whites was widespread.”

Interesting facts include:

  1. Green’s original source of black-friendly services were fellow Post Office employees. Later he paid readers for publishable tips.
  2. Black travelers faced discrimination in the North as well as the South. Originally, the book covered the New York City area but eventually covered most of the United States and Canada, and the Caribbean and Bermuda.
  3. Esso (now Exxon-Mobil)’s role in serving black travelers, selling franchise’s to Blacks, and promoting the Green Book.
  4. Toward the end its publication, activists accused Green of abetting Jim Crow regulations by highlighting workarounds.
  5. The death knell of Green Book was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing the discrimination which made Green Book necessary.

The Wikipedia article covers more than publication. Interesting reading.

Book Review: The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin (three stars)

Book Review: The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin (three stars)

‘The Earth is a cosmic soap bubble. One pop, and it’s gone. So what is there to be afraid of?’

An anthology of early writings. Titular work among the stupidest SF premise by one of the best SF authors today. Written in 2000, long before he reached his stride. No, he didn’t redeem the premise.

‘The spaceship’s gravity will puncture the upper layers of the atmosphere. Earth’s atmosphere will be like a pricked balloon, its air escaping through that puncture, right into space! All of Earth’s atmosphere will disappear!’

Many erroneous ideas about physics and geography. Some humorous. Later offerings are better. The last work is the best. Serious readers may be misled to misjudge the author by these works; someday scholars will mine these works for clues of his coming mastery.

‘Any civilization that stays on her birth world is committing suicide! You must go into the universe and find new worlds and new homes, and spread your descendants across the galaxy like drops of spring rain.’

Learning from History

In his mind, Vladimir Putin is Russia and Russia is Putin. A threat to Russia is a threat to him. He promotes the same cult of personality as his hero and model Joseph Stalin. Putin rules by force, deceit, and brinksmanship. His modus operandi is cheat to win.

‘Former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told CNN Tuesday that “terror is the only thing left” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, “like for any miserable terrorist in the world.” Putin has launched missiles attacks at Ukraine on Monday and Tuesday because he “is desperate, because he made miscalculations.”

“He’s desperate and he returns to what he’s doing: intimidation, that is, threatening nuclear weapons — which he will not use — and terror actions in Ukraine and in Russia,” Kozyrev said. He doesn’t think Putin will use nuclear weapons. “He is human being, so he does not want to commit suicide with strategic nuclear weapons.”’ (Alex Hardle, CNN)

To Putin, Ukraine, Belorussia, and the former Soviet Republics are still part of Russia. Therefore his invasion of Ukraine was an internal police action.

Putin thinks he understands Biden as he thought he understood Trump, Obama, and Bush. He respected none of them.

Not the way Nikita Khrushchev respected Dwight Eisenhower. Khrushchev didn’t respect John Kennedy; therefore thought he could place intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. He guessed wrong. JFK went to the brink of nuclear war. Khrushchev backed down.

End of story to Americans, but Putin’s takeaway from the Cuban Missile Crisis was that Khrushchev backed down and lost power. To Putin, staying in power justifies any action.

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Winston Churchill

Movie Review: Top Gun: Maverick (four stars)

theatrical release poster

Movie Review: Top Gun: Maverick, directed by Joseph Kosinski (four stars)

“You should be a two-star general by now, yet here you are.” “I am where I belong, Sir.”

Maverick delivers. The action seldom slows, the tie-ins to the 1986 progenitor are many, but this is no re-make. Pumping music. (Bring ear defenders.) Snappy one-liners rather than real dialogue, but that’s who Maverick is. Nice action plane shots. Tries to hit all the right buttons. Easy for the audience to suspend disbelief and go with the show.

“Please don’t tell me we lost an engine.” “Alright, I won’t tell you that.”

Tom Cruise is the obvious choice to reprise his role. He nails it, but he’s getting old. And it shows. Despite often heavy makeup, the scars of cosmetic surgery are occasionally visible on the big screen.

“It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot.”

Stanley Jones, 1956 – 2021

Our good friend and brother Dan and my regular breakfast companion, Stanley Jones, died this morning.

Of Covid. He first showed symptoms a week ago. Earlier this morning, his wife Bernadine, said she “just got him to bed for the night.” Ten minutes later, she texted “with a shattered heart” that Stan had passed.

Stan was well-known and loved in his family, church, and music communities.

He played and sang at our 50th anniversary dinner in 2019. (Photo)

2021 Hugo Awards Overview, Part Two

I have abandoned my intention of reading all the Hugo Award-nominated works this year. Many of them are garbage, if not offensive.

I gave up many because they were poorly written. A few had interesting premises and/or characters, but the authors couldn’t deliver the goods. Did Covid-19 degenerate our brains, or just the accompanying malaise? If the latter, perhaps next year’s crop will be better.

Science fiction and fantasy writers seem unable to complete a work without at least one use of the f-word. Certain writers seem to strive more. Worse language abounds. And so much hate. Some authors overflow with vitriol. It hurts that people are hurting so badly.

The quality of SF/F stories has been deteriorating for years. Hopefully, it bottomed in 2020, and 2021 will bring better writing.

Book Review: Legacies by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (Three Stars)

Book Review: Legacies (Corean Chronicles #1) by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (Three Stars)

“Don’t you feel trapped? It doesn’t matter what we feel. It doesn’t matter what we want.” “That’s life. Someone always wants what someone else has. If you don’t fight for it, you lose what you have. If you do, some people die and lose anyway.”

Formulaic, but well done. Here is a master of epic fantasy starting a new series. World- and character-building two generations of fans love.

“…The brave, the craven, those who do not care, will all look back, in awe, and fail to see, whether rich, or poor, or young or old and frail, what was, what is, and what is yet to be…”

Heavy on stage directions and over-telling, but enjoyable nonetheless. It’s all too easy; never get a sense of existential crisis.

“What else could I say? What did you say?” “Same thing. I also told them you were part of the attack.” “That…and a bullet…will get them the same grave.” “You and I know that, but you’ve got a reputation.”