Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review of "The Right Stuff" + Early Liberal Token Moves

There needs to be a section of the bookstore with a bookcase titled "Books for Young Boys who Want to Kick Ass at Life". Sure, the nerd culture has won with the rise of Silicon Valley, and yes, it seems most movies now have the protagonist be the nerdy, shy guy, but goddammit, guys young guys who succeed and kick ass still exist!!! "The Right Stuff" would be front and center on that bookcase. Tom Wolfe writes a fantastic review of the test pilot culture of the post-war era, and how it influenced the space program.

There are countless bits in this book that are small historical facts, which will entertain as well as educate. My personal favorite tidbit was Wolfe's explanation that the 'airline pilot voice' we are all familiar with is the pilots of America wanting to imitate the ace of aces, Chuck Yeager. Had I read this book in high school, I'd have gone to the Naval Academy or Air Force academy to become a pilot. Reading this book, I loved how Wolfe distilled the test pilot lifestyle down to that mix of machismo, intelligence and luck that gets a man through life. Being a test pilot does involve a set of intangibles, but in reality, all fields of play that men compete in involve their own mix of traits that could be called 'the right stuff'. This book will fire you up as passages about flame outs, saves, crashes and flying on the edge of space are littered throughout the book. I recommend it for anyone interested in the space race, flying and just being a man.

One thing I did notice, which maybe Paul Kersey or someone else will want to read more about is a potential astronaut mentioned late in the book named Ed Dwight. Ed Dwight was a test pilot, and ranked well behind a crop of pilots lined up for the space program. Kennedy was pushing the test pilot + NASA training people to move Ed Dwight to the next group of astronauts for optics with the civil rights issue. Yeager fought this as he questioned why he would put Dwight ahead of a dozen or so pilots all testing better than him. Now Dwight and black groups can claim NASA couldn't handle a black astronaut in the '60s, which is why he didn't get to space, but in reality, Kennedy and the government wanted to push him as much as possible but he just wasn't good enough. Yeager had Justice Dept lawyers on him, and this was the dawning of the affirmative action era. Just this small section caused me to look into the space program after Apollo, and I'll have a post that ties in this Dwight issue to the modern space shuttle era. Because Kennedy was a gutless politician who wouldn't pass civil rights legislation as he fear his re-election chances, wanted to boost it by a propaganda type move with a black astronaut in the Gemini or Apollo programs. We see it today with the oddly high percentage of black MDs on Grey's Anatomy and handsome gay men just dying to get married and adopt kids. The liberal figures will always want optics to push the ideological narrative that reality cannot deliver.

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