Katherine Johnson: A W.Va. Success Story
Posted on 01.17.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:13 pm

My wife and I watched the movie “Hidden Figures” over the weekend, and the best part was discovering that one of the three main characters, Katherine Johnson, is a West Virginia native.

Here’s what WVU Magazine had to say in a story about Johnson and other “Barrier Breakers“:

You’ve likely heard about the new biographical drama film ‘Hidden Figures,’ about a team of three black female mathematicians who helped calculate flight trajectories for groundbreaking space projects, including the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.

The leader of the group was White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., native Katherine Johnson, also the first black woman to desegregate graduate studies at WVU in 1938. At the time, she was one of three black students, and the only female, to attend graduate studies at WVU following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that required public universities to accept black graduate students if similar courses weren’t available at black colleges.

Although her stay at WVU was brief – she spent just one summer here – Johnson was awarded an honorary degree from the university in 2016 and is widely acclaimed as an American space pioneer. In 2015, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the president. Following a historic career with NASA, Johnson, now 98, lives in Newport News, Va.”

I love learning the stories of famous West Virginians, especially those whose successes shatter the stereotypes of the great Mountain State as the land of hillbillies, rednecks and rubes. You can learn more about Johnson via NASA, which ended its story about her by saying, “Not bad, for a little girl from West Virginia.”

Here’s what President Obama had to say about Johnson when awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, followed by the text of the award citation:

Growing up in West Virginia, Katherine Johnson counted everything. She counted steps. She counted dishes. She counted the distance to the church. By 10 years old, she was in high school. By 18, she had graduated from college with degrees in math and French. As an African-American woman, job options were limited — but she was eventually hired as one of several female mathematicians for the agency that would become NASA.

Katherine calculated the flight path for America’s first mission in space, and the path that put Neil Armstrong on the moon. She was even asked to double-check the computer’s math on John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth. So if you think your job is pressure-packed, hers meant that forgetting to carry the one might send somebody floating off into the Solar System. In her 33 years at NASA, Katherine was a pioneer who broke the barriers of race and gender, showing generations of young people that everyone can excel in math and science, and reach for the stars.

Citation: With her razor-sharp mathematical mind, Katherine G. Johnson helped broaden the scope of space travel, charting new frontiers for humanity’s exploration of space, and creating new possibilities for all humankind. From sending the first American to space to the first moon landing, she played a critical role in many of NASA’s most important milestones. Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.


Filed under: Government and History and Movies and People and Technology and Video and West Virginia
Comments: None

‘Sully’: The Air Traffic Controller’s Story
Posted on 10.07.16 by Danny Glover @ 9:01 pm

Originally published on the FAA’s internal website and at Medium.
By K. Daniel Glover

A few eventful minutes at work on Jan. 15, 2009, left an indelible mark in New York air traffic controller Patrick Harten’s mind. He constantly replayed those terrifying moments in his head in the weeks that followed, and although they ultimately ended with the inspiring tale known as “The Miracle on the Hudson,” Harten kept imagining the tragedy that might have been.

Now he is reliving those remarkable moments all over again — on the big screen via actor Patch Darragh, who plays Harten in the movie “Sully.” “I thought they did a great job capturing what it felt like to be there that day,” Harten said. “I’ve heard from some of the passengers, and they thought so, too. … Parts of it were tough to watch.”

The movie is based on the actual events surrounding the forced emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. It happened on a cold winter afternoon a few minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. A flock of Canada geese flew into the Airbus A320, taking out both engines at a low altitude.

Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger chose to land on the water after concluding that he didn’t have enough time to return to LaGuardia or to land at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. Harten is the air traffic controller who talked to Sullenberger that day from the terminal radar approach control facility for several airports in the New York area. The Federal Aviation Administration’s TRACONs manage the airspace near airports, and New York TRACON is one of the busiest.

Harten, who first publicly shared his account of the incident in dramatic testimony to Congress, started his shift in the LaGuardia sector of the TRACON minutes before Flight 1549 took off. But soon after he issued a routine heading for the flight, Sullenberger reported the bird strike and double-engine loss. He headed back toward LaGuardia for an emergency landing.

Harten quickly arranged runway access there and communicated the details to Sullenberger. But 35 seconds after first reporting the emergency, the pilot uttered these ominous words: “We’re unable. We may end up in the Hudson.

Sullenberger predicted that fate more definitively about a minute later, after Harten suggested a runway at Teterboro instead. “We can’t do it. … We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”

“I’m sorry, say again,” Harten responded. He then lost radar contact with Flight 1549.

“I thought I was part of one of the worst aviation incidents in modern history at the time,” Harten recounted. He imagined the plane clipping a wing on the water, cartwheeling and breaking into pieces. Even if it landed smoothly, he figured most people on board would drown or succumb to hypothermia. “I was expecting there to maybe be a handful of survivors.”

Read the rest of the story at Medium.


Filed under: Aviation and Government and History and Movies and News & Politics and People and Video
Comments: None

Why We Home-School, Lesson #50
Posted on 02.02.15 by Danny Glover @ 7:48 pm

We believe imagination is a part of education and don’t like to see it quashed like this:

Tolkien’s one ring won’t be used to rule the playground anytime soon. A 9-year-old in Texas was suspended after Kermit Elementary School officials called it a threat when the boy, Aiden Steward, told a classmate he could make him “disappear” with a ring forged in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional Middle Earth’s Mount Doom, the Odessa American reported.

The Stewards had just watched “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” days earlier and Aiden was just using his imagination to reenact some of his favorite scenes on the playground.

(Read previous “Why We Home-School” lessons.)


Filed under: Books and Movies and Why We Home-School
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‘This Is Target!’
Posted on 12.05.14 by Danny Glover @ 8:04 pm

If you’re a manager at a Target department store and deliver a rousing pep talk to your staff before the store opens on Black Friday … you may be an enlightened redneck.

The entertaining redneck in this case is Scott Simms, a manager at the Target in Westminster, Md. His colleague Chole Frebertshauser captured the pep talk on film, and it’s making the rounds via YouTube to the tune of nearly 2.5 million views as of now.


Filed under: Business and Holidays and Movies and Social Media and Video
Comments: None

Revenge Of The Phony Nerds
Posted on 07.30.14 by Danny Glover @ 8:38 pm

I remember the ancient time — back in my high school years — when nerds became the heroes of Hollywood plot lines. Movies and television shows celebrated the geeks who were scorned by the jocks, cheerleaders and other cool kids.

This helps explain why so many people embrace the “nerd” label these days. But as Charles Cooke explains at National Review Online, today’s nerd are pretenders. They have corrupted the word for political purposes, and they are the anti-type of Hollywood’s heroic dweebs, plagued by the very air of superiority the nerds in cinema resisted.

And who are the targets of their bigotry? Rednecks, of course. As Cooke says:

“Nerd” has become a calling a card — a means of conveying membership of one group and denying affiliation with another. The movement’s king, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has formal scientific training, certainly, as do the handful of others who have become celebrated by the crowd. He is a smart man who has done some important work in popularizing science. But this is not why he is useful. Instead, he is useful because he can be deployed as a cudgel and an emblem in political argument — pointed to as the sort of person who wouldn’t vote for Ted Cruz.

“Ignorance,” a popular Tyson meme holds, “is a virus. Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason. For the sake of humanity, we must be that cure.” This rather unspecific message is a call to arms, aimed at those who believe wholeheartedly they are included in the elect “we.” Thus do we see unexceptional liberal-arts students lecturing other people about things they don’t understand themselves and terming the dissenters “flat-earthers.” Thus do we see people who have never in their lives read a single academic paper clinging to the mantle of “science” as might Albert Einstein. Thus do we see residents of Brooklyn who are unable to tell you at what temperature water boils rolling their eyes at Bjørn Lomborg or Roger Pielke Jr. because he disagrees with Harry Reid on climate change.

Really, the only thing in these people’s lives that is peer-reviewed are their opinions. Don’t have a Reddit account? Believe in God? Skeptical about the threat of overpopulation? Who are you, Sarah Palin?

I was fortunate to find a happy medium in my youth. I was a “band baby” for two of my four years at Paden City High School and a “football animal” for one. I was never quite talented enough to get much playing time in any of the official school sports I tried, but I also wasn’t among the last people picked when I joined my peers for backyard football, pickup basketball and the like. I ranked among the top 10 percent of my small class but also opted to study to be an electrician at a vocational school rather than take college prep classes my junior and senior years.

I was part nerd and part jock. I enjoyed intellectual pursuits yet also appreciated the folksy wisdom of those who were educated at the University of Hard Knocks. In other words, I was — and am — an enlightened redneck. And that’s the worst nightmare of the Neil deGrasse Tysons of the world.


Filed under: Culture and Education and Entertainment and Hatin' On Rednecks and Movies and People and Rednecks and Sports and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

Misguided Religion In ‘Red America’
Posted on 04.26.04 by Danny Glover @ 4:29 pm

Today’s Washington Post features a story on “Red America,” the catchphrase used these days to describe the conservative, family-values slivers of the United States.

The intro on the front page describes a man from Sugar Land, Texas, as someone with “21 crosses in the main hallway” of his home and as a husband and father who “believes in God, prays daily and goes to church weekly.” Jump to the rest of the story on pages 8-9, and you see a man chugging beer with the boys at Hooters. You read about his “lovely drive home” after four beers. And then there is the anecdote about one of his teenage daughter’s watching “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

That’s not quite the image the Bible paints of righteous living. True worship involves more than belief (even the demons believe and tremble, James 2:19), daily prayer and weekly church attendance — and it definitely does not include drunkenness (Gal. 5:21), frequenting restaurants whose mission is to encourage the ogling of well-endowed women (Matt. 5:28) or raising children in the nurture and admonition of Hollywood’s gratuitous violence and profanity.


Filed under: Culture and Movies and Religion
Comments: None

The Passion Of The Christian
Posted on 03.29.04 by Danny Glover @ 4:09 pm

“The Passion of the Christ” has both the religious and secular world abuzz with chatter about the less-than-wonderful details of the story of Jesus, and the movie’s focus on Christ’s passion, or suffering, may well prompt millions of people to realize just how much the perfect Savior endured for a world full of corrupt men and women.

As Christians, though, let us also seize this moment of religious awakening to ask ourselves this question: How much am I willing to suffer, what passion will I endure, for the sake of Christ?

Christ not only expects us to endure passion but also expects us to rejoice when we do. “Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).

Peter, the apostle who thrice denied Jesus as our Lord faced His passion, did not understand that teaching while Jesus lived, but the message sank in later. “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed,” Peter wrote, “because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. … [I]f anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God” (I Pet. 4:14, 16)

Lord willing, we will never face the kind of excruciating punishment and persecution imposed upon Jesus and His followers like Peter. But if that day comes, we must be prepared to take it like the Son of Man.


Filed under: Movies and Religion
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