Author Topic: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online  (Read 1397 times)

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #80 on: April 18, 2017, 06:27:21 PM »
Yes, this is a hard book to discuss.  TMI!!

Jean, it can't be very comfortable when people point out mis-read actions.  Why are some men so intimidated when a woman is in charge.

I am getting to the end of the book and so glad we have read it.  I really liked how Katherine's hard work was so appreciated especially John Glen and by the men she worked with.

Pat, does this mean you are moving to Portland? Remember to get measurements for each room and then you will know what to part with!
 I am going to have to do that soon when my apartment becomes available. I am on the list for a one or two bedroom size in a retirement village.  The list is long so it won't be ready very soon. 

My DIL has offered to spend a day or two every month helping me to decide what to take with me.  EGAD!! I do need help!🤓🤓🙏🙏
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #81 on: April 18, 2017, 06:51:17 PM »
PatH, sending lots of ❤❤❤ and 🙏🙏🙏🙏!
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2952
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #82 on: April 18, 2017, 07:55:00 PM »
I just finished the book today.  I have to admit I scanned and skipped a lot of the pages.  I was telling my hubby how I feel the author took on way too many subject matters causing this book to read more like a research book.  The author crammed way too much info into the book so much so it bogged me down.  I am glad I watched the movie it was so much more enjoyable.  I felt like I was able to connect to Dorothy, Mary and Katherine on a more personal level in the movie.  In the book the author skims over the lives and professions trying to hit the high points leaving me feeling like I would never connected to them if I had only read the book.

Jean,  I hope you do get a chance to read this book.  You being a History teacher and a woman's activist in teaching your classes I think this will prove to be an excellent source of information to help encourage, inform and inspire women of all ages, race and creed.

These three black women and all the computers may be considered an exception to the norm at this time in the 1940s, but then again maybe there were far more women like them, and the women of atomic city, and even Henrietta Lacks who just got overlooked or as this title suggests "Hidden". 

Annie, If you get the chance see the movie.  It has a part in it where John Glen goes up to these ladies and shakes their hands.  It was very moving for my husband and me being from Ohio as I know you are too, and the pride we have for John Glen being from our state.  He put his trust, faith and life in the hands of Katherine, trusting her final calculations above everyone else's.  She did not falter, she never let him down.  She had complete faith, trust and certainty in herself. 

PatH., My prayers are with you that all works out with your move to Portland.  It seems it's been a long process for you but you will be so happy to finally be near your family.
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #83 on: April 19, 2017, 03:09:05 PM »
Bellamarie, you've summed up nicely what's wrong with the book.  And Annie--TMI.  When you read about where one more character went to high school and college, you know that by the time she reappears you won't remember her.  And it's hard to get a feel for what the characters are really like.

I hoped things would tighten up with the space race, but that doesn't seem to be happening so far.  We are getting a more vivid picture of Katherine though, with her fierce intellectual drive, her determination, and her way of defusing conflict.

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #84 on: April 19, 2017, 03:26:07 PM »
Since it doesn't seem easy to discuss the book in depth, let's all read the rest of it,mor whatever fraction we're going to, and make whatever comments we want.

The space race is starting.  What does anyone remember about it?

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #85 on: April 20, 2017, 10:33:04 AM »
Here is an interview of Dorothy Vaughn:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8gJqKyIGhE
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #86 on: April 20, 2017, 10:34:55 AM »
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

mabel1015j

  • Posts: 3556
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #88 on: April 20, 2017, 12:07:12 PM »
You may be interested in what Shatterly is up to now. This was in a women's history newsletter I recieved this morning......

https://www.bustle.com/p/hidden-figures-author-is-writing-two-more-books-about-overlooked-black-americans-50113

Thanks for the links to the interviews, very interesting.

Jean

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2952
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #89 on: April 20, 2017, 02:38:41 PM »
Annie and Jean thank you for  the links.  When I have some free time I will go watch them.  My grandkids are here on Spring break and I can't find a few seconds to myself. 

PatH.,  It takes us all the way to chapter twenty-one to finally get to the space mission and the author only allows a few pages for it.  This was a huge disappointment for me.
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

JoanK

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8618
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #90 on: April 20, 2017, 03:06:19 PM »
Where I've gotten to, the book is coming up to the sixties, when  I left programming for other things. they still seem to be "computing" by hand -- surely NACA (now NASA)had real computers by then. I'm confused.

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #91 on: April 20, 2017, 03:08:13 PM »
In the final pages of this book, the study of Fluid Dynamics, is finally mentioned.  My granddaughter and her husband are reading the book to each other and his PHd studies are not mentioned until then!  He is a "rock star" in his field!  He and my hubby became close friends because they both knew about these studies. 
I just noticed that I don't have the right link up for Mary Jackson.  I will try to find it now!
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #93 on: April 20, 2017, 03:47:50 PM »
Thanks for the links, Annie.  I started with Katherine Johnson.  My, her quality shines out.  I can see why, whatever his motives in walking away from her the first day, her office mate became a good friend.  She's gentle and elegant, with a soft-spoken dignity.

It's interesting how she downplays difficulties.  Was this a deliberate philosophy?  And her teaching philosophy is what you hope to find in teachers and too seldom do.

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #94 on: April 20, 2017, 03:56:12 PM »
Mabel, thanks for finding out what Shetterly is doing next.  Those are stories that need to be told.  I hope she learns to tighten her narrative.

Annie, a rock star fluid dynamics man.  I'm impressed.  Did your granddaughter meet him through your husband?

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #95 on: April 20, 2017, 04:34:07 PM »
No, we met him when he visited to tell us that he and Sarah were getting married. They are the
couple who were tangoing in front of the Eiffel Tower In Paris. Remember that pic?
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2952
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #96 on: April 21, 2017, 12:51:34 PM »
For all you who have not checked into the Library section recently I just want to let you know that HBO has a free week end offer and the movie The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with Oprah Winfrey playing the daughter Debra is on various times Saturday and Sunday.  I have Direct TV but I would imagine all providers will be having this same FREE HBO week end.  You do not pay anything or need to sign up it is automatically available Fri - Sun.  I am taping it.  I can't wait to watch.  I saw Oprah on The Talk last week promoting it and it looks really good.

Here is a link for the trailer and  times:

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS722US722&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=the+immortal+life+of+henrietta+lacks+movie
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

JoanK

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 8618
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #97 on: April 21, 2017, 05:34:16 PM »
BELLAMARIE: thank you. I'll go for it.

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #98 on: April 23, 2017, 03:44:10 PM »
So finally, in the last chapters, we get to the space race, and see what a big part Katherine's calculations played.  Every bit of each trajectory had to be exact.  One near miss and the astronauts would have been stuck in space, or crashed.  One thing I don't understand: during the actual moon landing, Katherine is calculating by hand, comparing with the huge computer, which had also done all the calculations.  JoanK, do you know why this was necessary?

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2952
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #99 on: April 23, 2017, 08:24:24 PM »
PatH., In the movie John Glen was adamant that Katherine double check the computers calculations by her own method.  He had complete confidence in her moreso than those who entered numbers into the computer.  My understanding is one decimal point could make a difference of life and death and her doing it by hand was more trusted. 

I hope you get a chance to see the movie you will be amazed at the walls of calculations Katherine worked on by hand daily.  Every day the calculations would change.  She used a floor to ceiling mobile ladder to reach to the top.  The book does not do her justice, nor does it give the space race the attention it so deserved. 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #100 on: April 23, 2017, 11:30:51 PM »
That makes sense.  Can't get good answers if your input is bad.

That section reminded me of how exciting the space race was at the time, and how closely we followed it.  When Grissom's capsule disappeared from tracking and communication, we couldn't leave the radio until we knew what went wrong.  He managed to come down safely, which made it ironic that he was one of the three killed in a capsule fire later.

More later.


bellamarie

  • Posts: 2952
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #101 on: April 24, 2017, 09:38:00 AM »
Watching the movie when John Glenn goes off radar and communication after he says it's beginning to get hot in there, makes you realize how in an instant something could go wrong and a life could be lost.  Knowing Glenn was successful before this part of course let's you breathe a little easier, but knowing he could have burnt up inside that capsule still gave me goose bumps. 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #102 on: April 24, 2017, 11:33:53 AM »
So many times their lives were hanging by a thread.  In the epilogue, Shetterly describes the Apollo 13 near disaster.  An onboard explosion messednup the electrical system, making the computer unusable.  Katherine and Al Hamer had worked out a backup plan for computer failure--navigation by the stars.  Unfortunately, although they had the necessary calculations, they couldn't use the method.  Debris from the explosion made a field of glittering bits that looked just like stars.  Fortunately, astronaut Lovell had checked out another method on a previous mission--using the boundary between light and dark on the earth's surface as a navigation tool--and knew how to do the calculations.  So plan C got them home.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2952
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #103 on: April 25, 2017, 02:58:50 PM »
Yes, they were only 40 miles off their calculated trajectory when it landed!!  Amazing how it all worked out.
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #104 on: April 25, 2017, 04:20:42 PM »
Well couldn't resist putting this story about Hedy Lamar and her invention(having to do with WWII and the Allies.  Amazing story!  We were discussing her over in the Library.  So here you go:

Inventor[edit]
Main article: Frequency-hopping spread spectrum
Although Lamarr had no formal training and was primarily self-taught, she worked in her spare time on various inventions, which included an improved traffic stoplight and a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink. The beverage was unsuccessful; Lamarr herself said it tasted like Alka-Seltzer.[20]


Copy of U.S. patent for "Secret Communication System"
During World War II, Lamarr learned that radio-controlled torpedoes, which could be important in the naval war, could easily be jammed, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course.[22] With the knowledge she had gained about torpedoes from her first husband, she came up with the idea of somehow creating a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed. She contacted her friend, composer and pianist George Antheil, to help her develop a device for doing that, and he succeeded by synchronizing a miniaturized player-piano mechanism with radio signals.[21] They drafted designs for the frequency-hopping system which they patented.[23][24] Antheil recalls:

We began talking about the war, which, in the late summer of 1940, was looking most extremely black. Hedy said that she did not feel very comfortable, sitting there in Hollywood and making lots of money when things were in such a state. She said that she knew a good deal about munitions and various secret weapons . . . and that she was thinking seriously of quitting M.G.M. and going to Washington, D.C., to offer her services to the newly established Inventors’ Council.[14]

Their invention was granted a patent on August 11, 1942 (filed using her married name Hedy Kiesler Markey).[25] However, it was technologically difficult to implement, and at that time the U.S. Navy was not receptive to considering inventions coming from outside the military.[20] Only in 1962 (at the time of the Cuban missile crisis) did an updated version of their design appear on Navy ships.[26] The design is one of the important elements behind today's spread-spectrum communication technology, such as modern CDMA, Wi-Fi networks, and Bluetooth technology.[5][21]

In 1997, they received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award and the Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award, given to individuals whose creative lifetime achievements in the arts, sciences, business, or invention fields have significantly contributed to society.[27] She was featured on the Science Channel and the Discovery Channel.[10] In 2014, Lamarr and Antheil were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[28]

Wartime fundraiser[edit]
Lamarr w
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2832
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #105 on: April 26, 2017, 11:31:11 AM »
Did this come up?
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

mabel1015j

  • Posts: 3556
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #106 on: April 27, 2017, 05:42:23 PM »
I ran into this book review today as I revise my "Women Scientists" presentation for next week. I originally formulated this one about a year ago before I heard about the NASA women, so I'm revamping the narrative and the powerpoint. I'm sure there will be others, if they have any different information, I'll pass them along

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/hidden-figures-the-true-story-of-the-black-women-at-nasa-daring-fearlessly-to-pursue-their-dreams/

Jean

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2952
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #107 on: April 27, 2017, 09:30:59 PM »
Nice interview, thank you Jean.  I think this sums up my feeling about reading the book:

"Melfi’s much buzzed-about adaptation, on which Shetterly served as an executive producer, has inspired fans to seek out the book — which spans from World War II through the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, and the Space Race — and to delve deeper into these women’s stories. But readers must be forewarned: Shetterly references a lot of technical aeronautical terms and procedures. The jargon is there to better illustrate the work these women actually did, but some may find it pace-stalling."


This explains why in the book Shetterly's emphasis is more on Dorothy, although the movie is focused more on Kathrine.

" I am most emotionally attached to Dorothy Vaughan. She was ambitious but didn’t see all of her ambitions realized. She really helped fuel the careers of Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson, both of whom got a lot of credit. Until now, Dorothy Vaughan hasn’t gotten a lot of credit. So I was determined to create this platform to tell her story."
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #108 on: April 28, 2017, 03:56:19 PM »
Thanks for the interview, Jean.  Indeed, it illuminates some of what Shetterly was about.  You can see how she was caught up in all the stories (rightly so; each one was important) and couldn't bear to cut stuff out, which made the book confusing.

I don't quarrel with the amount of technical stuff in the book, but I do quarrel with the presentation.  I think it could be described in a way that would make clearer what was actually going on, which would make that part more approachable.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2952
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #109 on: May 01, 2017, 11:30:12 AM »
Where did the Library section go in our Home section?  Is there a glitch?

I see the May discussion is carrying on with Sci Fi.  I'm not a fan of sci-fi so I will opt out. 

PatH., and Joan I want to thank you for moderating the Hidden Figures discussion.  It turned out to be a very difficult book to discuss due to the author's over zealous need to cover so many interesting topics all in one book.  I'm glad you brought this book to the book club because I never would have went to see the movie had we not had this for our April read.

"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9499
Re: Hidden Figures ~ Margot Lee Shetterly ~ April Book Club Online
« Reply #110 on: May 01, 2017, 02:04:24 PM »
It wasn't one of our more successful discussions, but I'm glad to have learned more about these remarkable women.  nthanks, Bellamarie, for sticking with it to the end.

The May discussion isn't your cup of tea, but I think you'll like the June-July and August discussions.