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Author Topic:   Hidden Figures Movie
jar
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Posts: 29183
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
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Message 31 of 53 (809839)
05-21-2017 2:44 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by Faith
05-21-2017 1:03 PM


Re: Other geniuses
And that is exactly how such evils exist. For the most part all the parties just continue because "that is how it is".

My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

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dwise1
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Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 32 of 53 (809840)
05-21-2017 2:51 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by Faith
05-21-2017 1:03 PM


Re: Other geniuses
The main difference is that the racism was out in the open instead of being implicit and unnoticed by everyone whom it does not personally affect. Yes, "white male privilege" is undoubtedly being overused, but there is something to it. Daily life, including dealings with the police, is often quite different for a white person than for one of color, so the white person doesn't even realize that any racism exists. Daily life is also different for a woman than for a man, even just the act of walking down the street, not that any man would ever realize it. After my divorce, a good female friend schooled me about it (also, when I started dating my ex-wife, she would always palm her steel nail file when walking out to her car -- she would also lecture me not to park next to a van nor to leave a drink unattended).

Basic point: since we don't experience the results of racism, we don't even notice that it's there.

The difference is that in the South that racism was institutionalized through the Jim Crow laws and similar measures, such that the white and colored facilities were clearly defined and marked with appropriate signage as we saw in the movie. As the blacks moved north to escape that racism, the segregation became less blatantly obvious and lacking any clear signage.

Since I used to be Mexican (lost it in the divorce), I should mention a few bits of racism in California. Before I watched the movie, Mi Familia (1995), I never knew about Operation Wetback (1954) in which Mexicans were rounded up on the streets and deported. While it was targeting illegals, many US citizens were also deported.

Mendez, et al v. Westminister [sic] School District of Orange County, et al, 1947. The practice was to segregate Mexican children into special schools which prepared them for the only work they would ever be capable of: girls learned home economics in order to become house maids and boys learned horticulture in order to become gardeners. That lawsuit fought to get Mexican children into the normal schools that could lead to college. It succeeded.

I had learned about Mendez, et al v. Westminister [sic] School District of Orange County, et al on NPR. Through Wikipedia, I learned about the earlier incident at Lemon Grove, Calif (1931):

quote:
The Lemon Grove Case (Roberto Alvarez vs. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District), commonly known as the Lemon Grove Incident, was the United State’s first successful school desegregation case. The incident occurred in 1930 and 1931 in Lemon Grove, California, where the local school board attempted to build a separate school for children of Mexican origin. On March 30, 1931, the Superior Court of San Diego County ruled that the local school board’s attempt to segregate 75 Mexican and Mexican American elementary school children was a violation of California state laws because ethnic Mexicans were considered White under the state’s Education Code. Although often overlooked in the history of school desegregation, the Lemon Grove Case is increasingly heralded as the first victory over segregative educational practices and as a testimony to the Mexican immigrant parents who effectively utilized the U.S. legal system to protect their children’s rights.

The only difference between what the movie depicted and the rest is how blatantly displayed and institutionalized the racism in the movie was. Again, I would "credit" the Jim Crow Laws et alia for that. In the rest of the country, racism had not such laws to draw on and instead had to become more cultural and less visible, less visually blatant.

BTW, the toilets at NASA were not segregated. That part is a fiction, but it was a very effective bit of film-making nonetheless. Plus it did reflect the situation at the time.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2913
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


(1)
Message 33 of 53 (809841)
05-21-2017 3:25 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Faith
05-19-2017 3:43 PM


My friend and I went to see it as well in the theatres. Two things I noticed: 1) the audience applauded it, and 2) nearly everybody stayed to read the credits, which of course offered follow-up history.

It also made me wonder about my own racism that I would never have imagined a black woman mathematical genius. Let alone a whole department full of them all working at NASA. It's a very "consciousness-raising" movie, and for me thoroughly enjoyable as well as educational and inspiring. I wouldn't have imagined a whole department of white women genius mathematicians either though, and they were there too. In their own department. Segregation was a reality in those days and it's a main part of the story.

Oh so much to say! I have worked as a software engineer since 1982, about to retire. I have also looked into the history of my profession. I have also learned that the prejudicial denial of women's ability to do math is complete and utter bullshit.

For example, my ex-wife. Absolutely hates math and will go into a tirade should you make the mistake of mentioning the "A"-word (algebra). Also I would freely consider her to be more intelligent than I am, disregarding her obvious character flaws. Yet one day I observed her coaching our son on performing mental calculations where were purely algebraic (eg, x * 18 is the same as x*20 - 2 * x). Around the same time, she won a "Guess How Many Beans are in This Jar" contest. She described her method to me. She not only used a method from third semester calculus (multiple calculus), but she had reinvented it to boot. So don't try to tell me that women cannot do math!

The rest of this is covered in other messages, so be seeing you.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2913
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 34 of 53 (809843)
05-21-2017 4:12 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Faith
05-19-2017 9:15 PM


Re: Other geniuses
There are certainly white women geniuses who also deserve recognition. I think of the women of "Bletchley Circle" as geniuses, the English women who worked as codebreakers on Nazi communications during WWII. There's a TV series based on them.

I also watched that show. Loved it too. Pattern-finding.

Have you ever encountered those posters with "hidden 3-D images", AKA "stereograms"? We are all mean-lean-pattern-seeking machines. We see patterns even where there aren't any. I learned the technique on an ACDUTRA ("Active Duty for Training", our reserve two-weeks annual active duty) in San Francisco in a shop on Pier 39 (circa 1990). We three (one LCDR pork-chop and two CPOs) had worked it out for ourselves, then a young couple came up and couldn't see anything. So we coached them and then there was that moment when she suddenly started seeing it.

What I especially liked about "Imitation Game" and "Bletchly Circle" was the connection that they had made between code-breaking and a penchant for solving puzzles.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2913
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 35 of 53 (809849)
05-21-2017 5:04 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Faith
05-19-2017 9:15 PM


Re: Other geniuses
"Hidden Figures" is also about the first days of computers as one of the women makes herself a programming expert.

Uh, no, not really.

Computers have been around for centuries. They have always been people. People who performed the calculations. For centuries before NASA. Charles Babbage's revolution was to try to remove the people and their inherent errors from the calculations.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2913
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 36 of 53 (809855)
05-21-2017 8:02 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Faith
05-19-2017 8:55 PM


Re: the movie is good-enough, it's the story that's important
But the movie shows the hardship of it in her having to go all the way to the Colored Women's Restroom which is half a mile away so that she's always late back to work.

This has been established as a dramatic embellishment. But it is still such a grand embellishment to illustrate the arbitrary limitations being imposed on ordinary people solely because of their race.

Also her coworkers give her a coffeepot of her own so that she won't have to share theirs, and they don't even bother to make the coffee for her.

I am a Californian. Growing up in California, everything I saw in the movie was foreign to me. But I was assigned to Keesler AFB, Biloxi, MS, for about half a year for USAF tech school. Throughout our time there, we could not help but feel the undercurrent of racial tension.

My inclination would be to interpret the "colored coffee pot" as a really bad co-worker hazing joke in very poor taste, though I admit to not ever knowing about any segregated interracial coffee mess protocols that may or may not have required separate-but-equal coffee pots. Suffice to say, the scene at the end where she types the report that includes her name and Jim Parsons brings her a cup of coffee when picking it up did elucidate applause.


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Faith
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Posts: 25864
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 37 of 53 (809857)
05-21-2017 8:11 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by dwise1
05-21-2017 2:51 PM


Re: Other geniuses
BTW, the toilets at NASA were not segregated. That part is a fiction, but it was a very effective bit of film-making nonetheless. Plus it did reflect the situation at the time.

The people involved in making the film said all the facts in it are true, though often dramatized to get the point across. Yes even if not true it's a good piece of filmmaking, but since the producers of the movie said they're all true I would assume you are mistaken about that fact in that era. NASA was known to be liberal but that was the South during segregation; it isn't hard to believe they had separate bathrooms when it's clear they had separate work facilities.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


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Faith
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Posts: 25864
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 38 of 53 (809859)
05-21-2017 8:22 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by dwise1
05-21-2017 3:25 PM


I also "absolutely hate math" -- started bogging down in Advanced Algebra, never took another math class. I wonder if a different approach to teaching it would have made a difference.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2913
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


(1)
Message 39 of 53 (809885)
05-22-2017 1:09 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by Faith
05-20-2017 9:40 PM


Re: Other geniuses
And yes NASA had figured out that it was more important to have Katherine Johnson's mind at their disposal than to further racist attitudes.

My impression from the movie was that NASA was at a complete loss about the racist attitudes of the region they were operating in. They didn't have to adopt different attitudes about the capabilities of their workers, but rather could not understand the impediments being imposed upon them by the local racist culture.

It wasn't part of the movie but it turns out that one of the three women hacked into NASA's computers at some point and found out that black women and I think women in general were being seriously underpaid, and got their pay raised.

Now this is much more serious.

Despite popular mischaracterizations, women can be very good at math. In many cases, women have proven to be very good at math.

A few years ago on Netflix, there was a low-budget PBS documentary, "Top Secret Rosies"?, about these women. The earliest electronic computers were designed by men, but it was the women who actually made them work and who actually understood how they worked. It was women who formed the basis of the computer industry.

Now for the economics of it all. WARNING: this is a real downer.

Men are the bread-winners. What women earn, since all women are married to a bread-winner, is just extra income, so we can pay them less. Any woman who was not married to a male bread-winner don't really count since she didn't really exist.

Seriously, my father taught me that what HE earned was THEIRS, while what SHE made was HERS, something extra not needed for the family. In my own experience, we had to operate as a two-income family in which we delegated our financial obligations equitably, thus falsifying my father's experience. However, I feel that my father's attitudes still inspire the attitudes towards women's wages.

I think that this is a part of the thinking that keeps women's wages lower than men's. It actually kind of makes some sense for the time, but is several decades out of date. I personally advocate equal pay for equal work. Personally, my wages paid for the mortgage, utilities, and insurance while my wife's paid for food and clothing; neither of us could have done it completely on our own.

Computers were primarily women. When most projects are planned they estimate the effort in man-hours, how many men would need to work for how many hours. When a computer project was planned, it was in girl-hours. That was because they could do it more cheaply by using women whom they could pay less.

The irony is that women are not going into computer fields. It was women who pioneered the computer field.


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dwise1
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Posts: 2913
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


(1)
Message 40 of 53 (809887)
05-22-2017 1:36 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by Faith
05-21-2017 8:22 PM


I also "absolutely hate math" -- started bogging down in Advanced Algebra, never took another math class. I wonder if a different approach to teaching it would have made a difference.

I also got bogged down there. Never could figure out how to do word problems. But then Leonard Bernstein showed me the way and it all became so very easy.

At the same time in high school I started learning German, so when I started college I chose a major I was good at, German (foreign languages more generally). Then in the early 1970's PBS aired a series of lectures by Leonard Bernstein on a pet project of his, musical linguistics -- The Unanswered Question. In it, he presented a linguistic spectrum of more and less metaphoric language in which music was highly metaphorical.

From that, I reasoned that math was also a language which was far less metaphoric. For example, drawing from analytic geometry, you have a very concise statement of every single point on a circle. Or an ellipse, or a parabola.

The immediate benefit of this approach was that I could do word problems that used to stump me. All I had to do was to translate from English to algebra. Translating from one language to another was something that I was very skilled at, having studied about a dozen human languages. Then later when I switched to computer science, I was just learning more languages albeit computer languages -- while the other beginning students were reduced to making near-random changes in their attempts to debug their code, I was reading my code for what it was actually telling the computer to do.

Really, all that algebra classes are for is to teach you how to work with algebra, which is the basic language for working with the rest of mathematics. Basically, it's two years of "La plume de ma tante est sur le table.", exercises in learning to work with the language that is the key to the rest of mathematics. I went on to teach myself the first semester of calculus in which my breakthrough was with the fundamental theorem because it made perfect sense algebraically.

BTW, just for fun with "la plume de ma tante ... ", check out Eddie Izzard's video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1sQkEfAdfY&t=221s back in his transvestite days. All those impossible situations you learned to express in French he tried to create. Of course, if you never had studied French, it might not go over so well.


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Faith
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Posts: 25864
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 41 of 53 (809890)
05-22-2017 2:45 AM
Reply to: Message 40 by dwise1
05-22-2017 1:36 AM


Sounds like you hit on something important about language and math.
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Son Goku
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Posts: 1075
From: Ireland
Joined: 07-16-2005


Message 42 of 53 (809893)
05-22-2017 3:08 AM
Reply to: Message 40 by dwise1
05-22-2017 1:36 AM


Math and Language
That's an interesting take on things, I'm bilingual myself (really want to get the time to learn a third language) and have done a lot of mathematics and I don't really think of maths as a language I have to say. In fact I find switching between languages nothing like switching to maths or converting a word problem to a mathematical problem. And from the computer languages I know (low-level like C to higher-level like Haskell) I also find that a completely different skill.

Basically they're mostly independent to me.


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2913
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 43 of 53 (809896)
05-22-2017 3:30 AM
Reply to: Message 41 by Faith
05-22-2017 2:45 AM


Read Herman Hesse's Nobel Prize winner, "Das Glasperlenspiel", AKA in English "The Glass Bead Game", AKA "Magister Ludi" ("The Master of the Game"). The glass bead game started as a way to improvise musical melodies with glass beads on wires which quickly evolved into a complex linguistical notation which showed that everything related to everything else in oh so subtle and wonderous ways. When I started college in 1969, that was my attitude and it has never failed me yet.
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Faith
Member
Posts: 25864
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 44 of 53 (809898)
05-22-2017 3:33 AM
Reply to: Message 43 by dwise1
05-22-2017 3:30 AM


I tried to read that book after "Steppenwolf." It didn't take.
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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2913
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 45 of 53 (809906)
05-22-2017 3:51 AM
Reply to: Message 42 by Son Goku
05-22-2017 3:08 AM


Re: Math and Language
... I'm bilingual myself (really want to get the time to learn a third language) ...

After my divorce, I had a friend in the dance community who was wary of trying to learn a second dance. With the first dance, you have also learned the basic skills for learning a dance, so the third dance will be easy.

Having learned a second language (USA experience without considering any pre-puberty acquisition), the third and fourth and fifth languages are so much easier. Part of learning that second language involves learning how to learn another language, which itself can be considered a skill.

I only know my own experience. Yours appears to be different in ways that I cannot comprehend.

Language is all about communication. We attempt to communicate ideas. We attempt to communicate our ideas from one human language to another. Sometimes, we attempt to communicate our ideas to our computers, in which case we translate our ideas to a specific programming language.

Sometimes we wish to communicate our ideas with greater precision, so we do so mathematically. It is still language, it still seeks to communicate ideas.

Everything is still inter-related in so many and wonderous ways.


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