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.’

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)

Operation Desert Storm: 1991

“First-Wing; First In”

Thirty years ago today, I pulled a 36-hour day as the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing deployed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia launched the air war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Our role was to clear the air of Iraqi fighters. That took less than a day. My one thousand maintainers continually loaded, launched, recovered, re-loaded, re-fueled, and re-launched our 48 deployed F-15C/D Eagles all night, day, and the next night in that rapid sortie generation effort.

I was later awarded my second Bronze Star Medal for my role as 1TFW Deputy Commander for Maintenance preparing and deploying and supporting the five months of continuous air cover for Operation Desert Shield which preceded as well as for Desert Storm and re-deploying home later in 1991.

1 TFW maintenance leaders deployed “somewhere in southwest Asia”

Dhahran Air Base, on the Persian Gulf, was home to the Royal Saudi Air Force premier F-15 squadron, our hosts. Hence the Saudi markings on the model behind us in the photograph. LtCol Joe Harrison, right, 1st Aircraft Generation Squadron commander, was also awarded a Bronze Star Medal.

Book Review: Tales of the Flying Mountains by Poul Anderson (Three Stars)

Book Review: Tales of the Flying Mountains by Poul Anderson (Three Stars)

“I don’t care who writes the nation’s laws,” he misquoted, “if I may program its computers.”

Better than average collection of stories written mostly in the 1960s. Like Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, Anderson wrote many future history short stories—some of which were connectable. The framing story, presumably added later, is inept. Readers won’t miss much by skipping it.

“Harleman knew that Emett’s gang were discovering things. He hoped those things would justify enlarging their division next year. Other than that, he was too busy to care.
Until the day when the CIA man came.”

Got many things hilariously wrong, but several shrewd guesses. Male chauvinism is on full display, though Anderson has several well-drawn female characters. Slide rules, card catalogs of computer tapes, and clattering computers are still in evidence. Anderson, of course, didn’t know about Cere’s frozen ocean, but he did posit lots of ice available in a asteroid belt. Most everyone smokes: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.

Quibbles: “Her faded eyes seek Polaris—but it’s Earth’s, not ours anymore.” No, the parallax as they approach Alpha Centari would not suffice to displace Polaris, especially as they were headed almost due south. “The self-sealing hull was thin magnesium …” What idiot would construct a battle ship out of magnesium?

“Isn’t that, the real universe, isn’t that enough? What more do we need?”
“Do you mean,” Lindgren asks, “that we may as well tell the undisguised truth about what brought us here?”
“Yes,” I reply, “because the only thing that matters is that we are here.”
“Sure. Go ahead. Let them have the truth. When they grow up, they’ll gloss it over anyway.”

Cuban Missile Crisis Remembered

One of the first U-2 reconnaissance
images of missile bases under
construction shown to President
Kennedy on the morning of
October 16, 1962 (Wikipedia)

I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was thirteen. We’d just moved to Virginia.

My father worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency at Arlington Hall Station, Virginia, working with reconnaissance photography of the missile buildup. He was gone a lot, and when he was home he was grim. He thought we were going to war.

There seemed no way the Soviets would back down, and we would be attacking Cuba with mostly Korean War vintage weapons, not to mention the potential of Soviet retaliation.

Khrushchev did back down. Score one for JFK.

The crisis raised awareness of the possibility of nuclear war. No, we didn’t get under our desks thinking it’d protect us from radiation, but from the flying glass. Remember, schools in those days weren’t air conditioned and had huge windows.