About Me

by Marvin French

I am a retired aerospace engineer and long-time duplicate bridge enthusiast. Born in Waukegan, IL (1927), grade school in Chicago, IL, high school in Lake Forest, IL, college at Brown University and San Diego State University. Resident of San Diego, CA since 1947. World War II US Navy veteran, member of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).

Update: In 2011 I resigned from ISPE in protest of their journal Telicom, which has continually printed unintelligent articles, such as those taking parapsychology seriously, implying Intelligent Design (another name for Creationism) in evolution, seriously saying that cars can run on water (just separate the hydrogen from oxygen and burn it), and so on. The final straw was a political diatribe saying that Fox News Network is a right-wing propaganda machine that is duping those of us who watch it. How insulting!

I have a naturalistic worldview, believing in nothing supernatural or anything natural that is not based on very strong evidence.

Aerospace Experience, all in San Diego, CA:

General Dynamics Corporation (26 years)

Mass Properties (Weight & Balance) engineer for F-102 & F-106 interceptors, Convair 880 and 990 jetliners, Atlas Advanced Ballistic Reentry System, Reusable Space Launch Vehicle studies, Space Transportation System studies, and the Space Shuttle mid-fuselage section (manufactured at the Convair Division).

Generated a series of weight/size/performance/payload synthesis computer programs for design of Advanced Cruise and Launch Vehicles, Reusable Orbital Transport Second Stage, Reusable Near-Term Launch Vehicles, Convair VL-3A Variable Geometry Spacecraft, S-5 Multipurpose Reusable Spacecraft, and Integral Launch and Re-Entry Vehicle. The programs provided answers for tradeoff studies evaluating the effects of multiple design variations in order to reach an optimum compromise among conflicting operational factors.

Senior Software Engineer for a Cruise Missile video image-processing program and a real-time aerial dogfight tracking program (like that used in the Top Gun film).

Design-to-Cost Engineer for Air-Launched Cruise Missile.

Cubic Corporation (8 years)

Software Specialist working on various military projects dealing with training simulators. Authored a Cubic Software Development Manual for military projects.

All this was a bit of a struggle, as I had never taken an engineering, programming, or computer science course in college and didn’t even have a degree. But then, classrooms are for the learning disabled.

Duplicate Bridge

Life Master ranking (LM number 1023) in 1956, author of many articles on the game in Popular Bridge and Bridge World magazines and in the American Contract Bridge League's Bridge Bulletin. An ACBL casebook “expert panelist,” critiquing the performance of tournament directors and appeals committees in regard to disputed table rulings at North American Bridge Championships.

Blackjack

Played Blackjack for profit during the 1980s, writing many articles for Arnold Snyder's Blackjack Forum under the name of Marvin L. Master.

Ancestry

My paternal line of ancestors can only be traced back to a Henry French, born about 1755, who obtained a land grant for veterans of the Revolutionary War from North Carolina. He may have purchased it from a veteran, however, as we have no certain record of his having served.

Update 2011: There is evidence that Henry’s paternal grandfather was John French, an immigrant who came from England to Pennsylvania in 1728.

The Frenches of that time were not of French descent, but came mostly from the British Isles. I suppose they may have been descended from the French Normans, who swarmed over the British Isles after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

From Henry my line passes on to William L. French (1795-1864), John Peter French (1836-1912), James GENTRY French, (1855-1939), Claude French (1879-1951), Marvin M. French (1901-2002), and myself Marvin L. French (1927-2014).

Gentry’s descendants have formed the United French Organization, web site www.familytreemaker.com/users/f/r/e/Marvin-L-French

My mother (1906-1999), maiden name Marie JESSIE St. Andre, was indeed French, actually French-Canadian going back a few generations. Both her maternal (Lajoie) and paternal ancestors originally came from southwestern France.

Going a little further back, analysis of my DNA by National Geographic’s Genographic Project shows that my Y chromosome (passed through the male line only) identifies me as a member of haplogroup G, a lineage defined by a genetic marker M201. This haplogroup is the final destination of a genetic journey begun some 60,000 years ago with an ancient Y chromosome marker called M168.

The very widely dispersed M168 marker can be traced to a single individual—“Eurasian Adam.” This African man, who lived as many as 79,000 years ago, is the common ancestor of every non-African person living today. His descendants migrated out of Africa and became the only lineage to survive away from humanity’s home continent.

An offshoot of the M168 population, M89, produced 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans. It appeared 45,000 years ago in Northern Africa or the Middle East. From there this line scattered over most of the world, eventually even reaching the Americas.

An offshoot of M89 was my M201 group designated haplogroup G, whose descendants are rarely represented in population frequencies greater than a few percent. Genealogists believe this line of descent first appeared in northern India’s Indus valley, and subsequently dispersed during the past 10,000 to 20,000 years.

Currently little is known about haplogroup G’s history. Learning more about such unusual lineages is a primary goal of the Genographic Project of National Geographic and IBM. Those men wanting to participate in the project can have their DNA analyzed (for $100) and receive information about their origins. Go to www.nationalgeographic.com/genographic for more on this subject.