Bretton Woods v Moneygame

June 12, 2021

In this world, money is that precious stuff that poor folks perpetually chase, while rich folks play Monopoly with the real thing.

There’s no doubt that everybody needs some of it: money, that is.

Money is a fancified way of saying: Value.

What has real value?

Through the long course of our human history, value has assumed many different forms.

I suppose the first human currency was the stuff of necessity, food and shelter. Which is to say, neanderthally speaking. . . meat, crops, skins, land, shelter.

But as humans began civilizing their life style, we became more sophisticated, more complicated and even more convoluted in our ways of assigning value to everything that’s out there.

As ancient civilizations developed, a significant percentage of the population worked or connived their way into advantageous positions. Some became rich. Many could not climb out of poverty.

Meanwhile, most  people got by, whether they prospered or labored.

Those folks who achieved comfort no longer had to chase the coins of the realm because they had devised ways to make the wealth of nations flow unto their cups that runneth over. 

Rich folks having plenty of wealth to work with could spend their abundance on beautiful stuff. 

Like gold.

Methinks the original “currency” was gold: gold nuggets, gold vessels. Then the authorities that be in any given domain began stamping their identities onto the coins.

And gold, as, well. .  you know . . . long story short . . . gold became the precious metal that backed up all currencies, shekels, drachmas, florins, marks, yen, yuan, pesos, pounds, dollars. You know the drill. 

Along the way, folks who became accustomed to transferring money among themselves began using promissory notes, checks, cheques, banknotes of all kinds. You know the drill.

In recent times, we’ve arrived at a monetary crossroads where our deal with devil has produced money that has less and less value as the days tick by.

Inflation dictates that our dollars, euros, pesos, shekels, yen, yuan, etc. are worth less and less. That is, you can buy less stuff with the dollar you have this week than what you would have paid last month for the same goods.

Dollar

Perhaps you have noticed this. How much do you pay to see a movie in a theater nowadays? How much did you pay, back in the day, to see the Lone Ranger, or Superman? How much do you pay nowadays to watch. . . on the big screen. . . Frodo, Skywalker or that Harry kid or the latest Wonder Woman?

Compare the price then to the price now. What do you call it?

Inflation.

Societies have generallly learned how to deal with this devaluating devil. 

But only up to a certain point. Sooner or later, the inflation effect has to be dealt with by the powers that be so that the rich can stay rich and the poor can at least have food to eat and a roof over their head. 

The strongest currency in the world, the US dollar, is now approaching an “the emperor has no clothes” moment in which too many folks are noticing “the dollar ain’t near what it used to be.” 

After the 2008 financial debacle, I had begun noticing, on the Web, that the gold bugs and the sound money guys, the von Mises guys, David Stockman, et al were predicting the demise of the US dollar, or some such earthquake. Some of them, as I remember, mentioned a new kind of world currency in the works that might overtake the almighty dollar.

Well, of course hasn’t happened.

Yet. 

Today, I noticed on Medium a piece by Tim Denning, who keeps up with such things. His mention of SDR’s (Special Drawing Rights) is the first I have noticed lately. 

https://entrepreneurshandbook.co/behind-closed-doors-the-u-s-is-quietly-backing-a-replacement-global-currency-77048f2c1eb6

In his analysis, Tim raises the possibility that those SDRs may soon have their entry into world commerce, and they could overtake the dollar as a means of transferring wealth and value around the world.

Back in 1944, as the Second Big War began to wind down, the powers that be convened in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. They devised a new system of money for purposes of rebuilding the nations in the wake of the Big War. In that confab they established the US Dollar as the primary determinant of value in what would hopefully become a post-war recovery to normal international commerce and hopefully prosperous exchange of wealth amongst all the nations.

That arrangement is known as the Bretton Woods Agreement. Look it up on Wikipedia.

Meanwhile, today, I had this remembrance from classic Shakespearen tragedy: 

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the main character–a nobleman of ages past– is issued a mysterious warning by an old woman when she speaks a cryptic omen to him to the effect that his demise would not come until “Birnam Wood should come against (Macbeth’s castle) Dunsinane.”

In a later plot twist, a frightened servant reports to Lord Macbeth that, while maintaining his watch of the castle perimeter, he thought he saw the woods of Dunsinane moving. Which was to say. . . enemy soldiers, camouflaged in woods greenery, were approaching the castle, Dunsinane, to attack it.

In our present world drama, we may behold a similar plot unfolding as the earlier agreement of Bretton Woods doth move against the Moneygame.

Glass Chimera

Common Mon Econ

June 1, 2021

Since the crash of ’08, I have generally thought of that financial downfall as something like the crash of 1929.

But we do know that the crash of ’29 was actually far worse in its actual effects than the subprime-mind debacle of 2008. 

And, being realistic, as a 70-year-old baby boomer I must admit that we have generally had a smooth ride, except for the Vietnam disaster. 

Looking back on the  history of my parents’ generation . . .what Tom Brokaw called the “greatest generation” because they recovered from the Depression strongly enough to rise up in mighty armor and drive the damned nazis back into their holes. . . I must admit  that the victories they accomplished over the Depression and the  War were far more dangerous than the slings and arrows of outrageous misconception that we spoiled boomers had to endure.

But we did have to suffer through the crash of 2008. And that seemed like quite a destructive big deal at the time because the Federal Reserve and the US Congress had to bail out wallstreet from their outrageous misfortunes of MBS, CDO and derivative malicious malfunctions.

But as the dust settled in 2009ff, we crawled back into a semblance of economic normalcy, a brave new world of financial wizardry. And in the midst of our creeping back to a stready-stream, negative-interest rates semblance of normalcy, I was reading online mucho contrarian opinionation about how the Fed was devaluing our precious currency in such a way that we would never recover.

And it did seem, come to think of it, that for the last two decade or so it’s just the speculators on wallstreet shooting craps with corporate buybacks and mechanized HFT money machines cranking out their lala land profits, who have made any real dough. 

Meanwhile, the advocates for traditional economics were predicting the downfall of the western world or some such disaster while their nemeses the keynesian tinkerers at the Fed and their kissin’ cousins, the Davos crowd and the EEC were whirlygigging up their magic money cloud of electrons swirling ‘round and ‘round to project the dream world of everything’s coming up roses and its all gonna work out and blah blah . . .

And whereas initially I was so skeptical about the value of money, and asking myself what is it—just what is it really—that really has value? Is it gold, or is it Dutch tulips or south-sea island froth or is it Iowa corn or California cabbage or a Cayman Island bank account  or a Swiss chard or credit card or a wild card or what? Just what is that has real value? Fort Knox? a doctorate from the School of Hard Knox, a bank account with a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills in somebody else’s name?

But just today I figured it out.

Yes today, in the midst of this most recent wave of federal deficit spending and Fed/Treasury ponzi-pushing wizardry of electrons whirring and purring to reassure us that yes, Virginia, there is free money out there, and a free lunch, which everybody thought was just a fairy tale but it turns out to be true and all we have to do is keep our nose to the grindstone and our pedal to the metal and it’ll all work out. 

No worries!

No need to worry our pretty little Keynesian heads about money. Forget about the Moses von Mises Austrian school and the Beatle-blustering fool on the hill with his head in the Cloud and the trumpish man with a thousand voices talking perfectly loud.

It’ll all work out! It’s just electrons flowing around the world, propelled by the swipe of every credit card and every  slickery smart-phone scheme. As long as we all keep spending, the perpetual motion machine will keep whirring along and the magical mystery tour will keep us entertained with net-fixed patches and the amazing Amacon con and hooloo voodoo and what’s it to you?

No worries!

Well that’s my Common Man Econ musing for the day. As Uncle Walter used to say, that’s the way it is, June 1, 2021. Wish here were here!

To conclude, let’s raise our aspirations for a moment; we’ll  have a listen at the melodic opus that America’s greatest orchestrician offered orchestrally to sanctify the plight of of us Common Man meanderers who wander through this marvelous modern money wonderland.

Commons

Glass half-Full

Their Last Full Measure of Devotion

May 29, 2021

 In 1863,President Abraham Lincoln commemorated the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers at Gettysburg, when he declared his purpose–our purpose–in honoring them:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Many years later, in my 2011 novel, Smoke, we find a character, a young American whose father had never returned from World War I. In the story, in 1937, Philip Morrow is en route to the gravesite. Shortly before  arriving at the battlefield,   Philip poses a question to his companion, Mel Leblanc, because . . .

 . . . something was moving deeply inside of him. “Mel?”

“Yes?”

       “How could this place have been a battlefield for a world war?”

The old Frenchman cast his eyes on the passing landscape, and seemed to join Philip in this musing. He answered slowly, “War is a terrible thing, an ugly thing. I did not fight in the war; I had already served my military duty, long before the Archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo and the whole damn world flew apart, like shrapnel. But I had many friends who fought here, and back there, where we just came from in my France, back there at the Somme, the Marne, Amiens. Our soldiers drove the Germans back across their fortified lines, the Hindenberg line they called it. By summer of 1918 the Germans were in full retreat, although it took them a hell of a long time, and rivers of spilt blood, to admit it. And so it all ended here. Those trenches, over there in France, that had been held and occupied for two hellish years by both armies, those muddy hellholes were finally left behind, vacated, and afterward . . . filled up again with the soil of France and Flanders and Belgium, and green grass was planted where warfare had formerly blasted its way out of the dark human soul and the dark humus of lowland dirt and now we see that grass, trimmed, manicured and growing so tidily around those rows of white crosses out there, most of them with some soldier’s name carved on them, many just unknown, anonymous, and how could this have happened? You might as well ask how could. . . a grain of sand get stuck in an oyster? And how could that oyster, in retaliation against that rough, alien irritant, then generate a pearl—such a beautiful thing, lustrous and white—coming forth in response to a small, alien presence that had taken up unwelcomed residence inside the creature’s own domain? The answer, my friend, is floating in the sea, blowing in the wind, growing green and strong from soil that once ran red with men’s blood.”

Half a century later, soldiers of our nation served in Vietnam on behalf of an expanding “new birth of freedom” about which Lincoln had earlier spoke. In Washington today, you will find their memorial:

VNMem

And there have many other men and women who, since those times, have fallen while defending “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” . . . including those police who were killed while defending our US Capitol against an attempted coup  on January 6 of this year.

King of Soul

Common Sense about Covid

May 26, 2021

As the dust of the Covid19 media storm settles, we find credible scientific evidence that the virus was more likely a result of some laboratory mishap than a natural occurrence of transmission between us and some animal species. 

Public panic and media overreaction subsides to a dull roar and we can remember the firestorm that ensued, following two opposing media/social media explanations for the pandemic and what should be done to stop it.

The great Covid disagreement of 2020 centered around two strategies for fighting the spread of the disease. 

One strategy was the Mask and Distance strategy, generally favored by citizens who are left of center.

The other strategy was the Herd Immunity strategy, generally favored by citizens who are right of center. 

The Mask and Distance crowd placed significant—if not absolute—faith in whatever strategies were promulgated by scientific  authorities such as the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control.

Proponents of the Herd Immunity strategy were generally mistrustful of scientific or political efforts to restrain public liberty that would limit or prevent public meetings and/or commerce.

Associated with these two fundamental strategies were two opposing theories about whether the escaped Covid was a result  of a lab mistake or a natural transference from bats or some other animal.

Now, in late May, 2021, evidence for the lab origin of Covid is mounting. As the more scientific data is brought forth and analyzed, several questions arise to complicate our public discourse about the disease.

Unfortunately, the great divide between Left and Right was a significant factor in each person’s, or social group’s assessment of the information and disinformation that was being brought forth at the time. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci was one of the main proponents of the Mask and Distance strategy. There was good reason for his position on those issues and his advocacy of public health controls.

Dr. Fauci had a job to do, and he did it. His job was to do everything he could to stop the spread of the disease. sc

His job was not to explain the origin of the escape of a mutant virus because that volatile information would have clouded the issue so heavily with he did/ she did and he said/ she said blather that Dr. Fauci’s capacity to do his job effectively would have been covered in a tsunami of public argumentation.

It is obvious to us all that there was indeed a flood of political and social media blahblah that acted as a cloud to obstruct public agreement about what the hell to do about Covid19.

In the midst the Covid tsunami, the former president displayed an attitude of ridicule toward the scientists and the citizens who believed them. The result was a widespread confusion that contributed to the spread of the disease and intensified our public disagreements to the point of ridiculousness.

Had our former president taken his executive duty seriously, instead of manipulating information for the purpose of intensifying his own control of political events, he might have contributed to our great 2020 battle against Covid. 

But the 2020 loser ridiculed appropriate efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic. Referring to Covid as the “Chinese” virus was an attempt to manipulate public information, twisting it into crude, unproven-at-the-time, propaganda to advance his agenda of political control and re-election.

But his obfuscation strategy backfired on him and he lost. As if that wasn’t enough offense against the peace and safety of this nation, he persisted in his unproven accusations even to the point of inciting a riot at our nation’s Capitol.

Now, after the dust has settled, public evidence of the Covid’s escape from a US-funded laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology can be reasonably evaluated; it may prove useful in future control of risky scientific research to understand and prevent future epidemics.

Politics and propaganda aside, we may be able to figure out a few effective strategies for preventing future pandemics on this internetted planet.

Glass Chimera

Points of Viral Information

May 15, 2021

Many thanks to Nicholas Wade for his informative article, 

  https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/, which provides a multitude of covid origin facts.

Here are some Points of Interest for contemplating or initiating an informed, responsible public discussion:

~ When scientists in various parts of the world had understood the possibility of using gain of function research to anticipate—and thereby prevent—pandemic spread of a killer disease, they began their gain of function gene-snipping experiments.

~ Scientists understood that generating a novel coronavirus capable of attacking humans would enable them to use the virus’ spike protein as the basis for a vaccine. This was their rationale for tolerating risky micro-procedures for the sake of preventing disease. 

Homo Sapiens are full of good intentions.

~ People are also known for being unable to anticipate in advance just what could, or would, go wrong in the best laid plans of humanized mice and mice-splicing men.

~ The extreme discomfort of space-suit lab clothes and working in ultra-safe, closed laboratory conditions discouraged scientists. In an effort to simplify their scientific procedures, they relaxed lab safety standards from BSL4 conditions to a less restrictive, but more hazardous, BSL3 level. In some cases, standards of cautionary control were  lowered even further, for convenience, to BSL2 levels.

~ Snipping certain genes from humans and then injecting them into lab mice produces a chimera creature, which is then adapted more suitably for  experiments that would be effective in humans for preventing viral infections. Such chimeric mice are loosely referred to as “humanized” mice. The special mice are then used in research, including gain-of-function research.

~ This field of scientific endeavor is generally known as “genetic engineering.”

~  In the WIV laboratory, the “humanized” mice research yielded an unusual enhancement to the new SARS-related beta-coronavirus: a furin cleavage site, including a double arginine codon unknown among earlier beta-coronaviruses.

Covidmicro

~ NIH/Eco/NIAID/WIV researchers were able to reprogram the SARS virus’ spike protein through that furin cleavage site mentioned above.  Thus they were able to generate chimeric coronaviruses capable of infecting humanized mice. Such was the bridge that enabled a bat-borne pathogen to infect another species of creature.

~ These experimental procedures they did in spite of a 3-year US ban(2014-2017) on gain-of-function research that could/would increase the pathogenicity of the flu, MERS or SARS viruses.

~ The first three years of EcoHealth-funded research (2014-2017) were conducted overseas at WIV in spite of a US moratorium on gain-of-function research.

~ There are indications that several researchers at the WIV lab became sick in autumn 2019, having symptoms consistent with both covid19 and common seasonal illnesses.

~ The SARS2 virus, a single-strand RNA virus that had erupted in 2002, was an object of gain-of-function research in WIV laboratories, funded largely by (US) NIH/NIAID through EcoHealth Alliance.

~ Why a natural epidemic would break out in the WIV location is a question that, to date, has not been accurately explained.

~ Nevertheless, the Covid19 pandemic just happened to break out in the vicinity where WIV genetic engineering experiments were being conducted.

~ How the SARS virus acquired a furin cleavage site, using human-preferred codons, is a question that, to date, has not been accurately explained.

~ But there was an experimental site nearby, at the ground-zero of covid19.

~ The chief overseas WIV virologist had been trained by French and American virologists; she was following international rules for the containment of coronaviruses.

~ Bottom line: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. That ancient Tree of Knowledge bears, in these high-tech times, some dangerous fruit, including the explosive mushroom that we unleashed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. 

Now we have been advised to be on guard whenever venturing out into the garden of earthly delight. Perilous times require masking, distancing, and a certain tolerance of public pandemic paranoia (ppp), which we strive to neutralize with ppe.

I suppose that is why someone named this contemporary arrangement the Brave New World. You’re taking a chance just to go out in it. 

Good luck with that.

Glass Chimera

Sun to Sand

May 12, 2021

Solar sun spitteth igneous earth

Igneous earth speweth lava lake

Lava lake maketh magma mound

Magma mound mounteth metamorphic mountain

Mountain

Metamorphic mountain spilleth sedimentary stone

Sedimentary stone sheddeth shifting sand

SandBlow

Shifting sand groweth green

SandGreen

Growing green seeketh solar sunshine.

Selah.

Smoke

Story at Tahoe

May 10, 2021

Yesterday we were adventuring at Lake Tahoe, California. 

On this crystal clear spring day, we hiked up the mountain above Emerald Bay. Departing on foot from the road we ascended up to Eagle Lake.

When we arrived at the lake, I was reminded of John Denver’s mentioning the “serenity of a clear blue mountain lake. 

While we were traipsing up that trail, the mountain told me a story.The story was a silent, evidentiary account of how new, rough mountains, such as the Sierras, gradually deteriorate into old, smooth mountains like our Appalachians back home in North Carolina.

In the center of this picture, notice at the water’s edge the pile of rock rubble. The pile widens from its top to bottom, to form a rough triangular shape.

RubbleFlow

The rubble comes from mountains being broken into bib rocks that tumble down and break into smaller rocks.

The forces of nature—volcanic activity, earthquakes, freezing rain, snow—dislodge those big mountain chunks from on high and cast them down into lower regions where they become rubble.

As geologic time creeps slowly onward, the rubble gets broken further down, as rocks get dislodged and tumble down to some lower stopping point. Big chunks become smaller as the forces of nature weaken their integrity.

RockJaws

Boulders tumble down and split into rocks, accompanied by the sonic rumble of ancient rock musicians such as Led Zep and Jeff Airplane doin their thing. 

StoneBroke

Further down in that great ancient concert of change, rotting trees . . .

TreeRot

 and other organic stuff—dead animals, poop, trillions of leaves, mosses, lichens tossed around by raging waters and furious storms, before you know it . . .

Ages and ages down the river of time we find gravel and dirt, and plants growing in the dirt, and homo sapiens eating the plants after using sharpened stones from the mountain to cut up his food.

Someday these Sierras will lose their rough character; then they will appear to the distant human eye as gentle lumps of Appalachian-style, tamed, mellowed out mountains like we have back home in the Blue Ridge.

BRPgrandvw

And we all live happily ever after.

Glass half-Full

Work to Do

April 29, 2021

Here’s a timely excerpt from my new novel project, Search for Blue, now being composed. This passage, written in the monologue style of an ole mountain feller,  pertains to what happened to our America during the 1930’s:

            . . . But in October of ’29 the whole damn thing just stalled out, real sudden like, stone-cold dead in its tracks, or so it seemed at the time.

            By that time, marauding, machined-up manufacturing and rabid farming had stirred up a dust bowl in the wide prairies and a cloud of manifest debilitation over our formerly manifested destiny. Monetary manipulation absconded the bold thrust of old-fashioned capital-driven progress; frantic philandering pushed quaint front-porch watch-the-world-go-by domestic tranquility into a ragged soup line.

            1920’s roaring jibber-jabber got lost in 1930’s Depression regression.  The country had shifted from financed euphoria to unemployed stuporia.

            And so in the election of ’32 we rolled Mr. Roosevelt into the White house on a Democrat wheelbase of socializing progressivism;  The new President, formerly a well-connected and very shrewd  governor of New York, wasted no time in arm-twisting the nation right on over into his New Deal to put people back to work.

            Because now it was time for work. The stock market’s whirligig  blown-up speculatin’, ticker-tape chaisin’ had elevated itself out of the realm of real-world responsibility. America had reached its peak of riches; now it was time for us to be constrained to some long-neglected corrections. Do not pass Go and do not collect $200. Maybe a coupla bucks if you’re lucky.      

            As the dust of dystopia settled, some forlorn Americans pined for the good ole days. Ah, they said, those were the days. Wish we’d seen it coming! 

            It didn’t take them New Dealers too long to figure out that what was needed was some guvmint programs to get  people working again, and fast.

            Congress, shell-shocked by the deadening thunder of an American business-industrial dynamo self-destructing,  got themselves hellbent on a string of programs to shorten–if not eliminate–the    lengthening unemployment lines. Their legislating fervor reached way, way far–even as far as somewhere over the rainbow–and so they set themselves to lay hold of the pot of gold!

            But when that legendary vessel was recovered, it turned out to be–not a pot of gold, but–a soup pot, and a damn-near empty one at that.  So they set themselves to re-filling that pot at the end of the rainbow, although not with gold. There wasn’t, by that time, much of the precious yellow stuff around. They had to  begin filling the empty rainbow pot with . . . soup!

            Out on the street, maybe while waitin’ in line for the soup, Joe Blow–or maybe it was Jane Doe–came up with a name for the collection of work and improvement programs that Congress was dishing out: “alphabet soup.” Take a gander at this list: FERA, FCA, NIRA, PWA,  FFMC, CWER, AAA, EBA, FDIC, FHA, NRA, NLRB, RA, REA, SEC, SSA, TVA, to name just a few, and we’ll certainly not fail to mention the two work outfits destined to be the most productive in our present scouting-out-the-land, search for Blue expedition: CCC  and WPA, which is the easy way of sayin’ Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration.

            Since Mr. Roosevelt had proclaimed we had nothing to fear but fear itself, one of Congress’ first assaults against the dreaded enemy actually took aim at that “fear itself.”

            In an inspired idea to nullify the power of that fret-falootin’ enemy attitude, our  lawmakers scrambled the word “fear.” They appropriated the letters. . . f, e, a, and r, reassigned them to a nobler cause, and came up with  the Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933, which came to be known as: FERA!

            That was one of the early servings of the alphabet soup; it got  ladled into the bowls and cups of millions of unemployed Americans.

            Most of the work was cranked up in the urban districts; city folks were much more dependent on the system than country folk. Out on the farms, people might be broke, and they might be deprived of some of the so-called necessities of modern life, but at least they had some ground out back to scratch a few seeds into the good earth and thereby harvest unto themselves some corn, beans, or potatoes to serve at dinner time. They might even still have a hog or two or a cow or at least a few chickens peckin’ around to have for some future supper time embellishment.

            All that said, the farm folks did have their share of the alphabetizing bonanza that Congress was serving: AAA, FCA, FFMC etcetera etcetera. One way or another, everybody got a little help.

            Back in that day and time, most men could still wield a shovel or a hoe. Even if they hadn’t done much with such tools as that, they or their kin were probably close enough to the land to at least know something of how to handle an implement.

            As it turned out, a lot of them programs that the New Dealers came up with did involve shovels and hoes and rakes and such.

But some serious planning was required along the way:

PlanBRP

My my, how times have changed! 

Or have they? We might still yet have serious conservation work to do in this country. Take a look around. We might need a few improvements, here, there and yon. Have you ever planted a tree?

Glass half-Full

Linn Cove Thoughts

April 26, 2021

Earth rocks.

EarthRocks

Man concocts.

Earth bestows.

Man shows

ViaductCurv

his mighty works

with human quirks.

Creekside

Earth weeps.

Earthweeps

Man heaps.

Man adds on.

Viaduct

Life goes on.

We did it. It only took fiftyears

through trials and tears.

Who knew? it’s all in the

Search for Blue.

Historic Tragedy at Kent State

April 19, 2021

The anniversary date of an historic American tragedy is approaching on our calendar watch.

On May 4, 1970, four students were shot dead at Kent State University while  Ohio National Guard soldiers were enforcing the Riot Act.

The students, Allison Beth Krause, 19, Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20, Sandra Lee Scheuer, and William Knox Schroeder, 19, were gunned down in the midst of anti-war demonstration. 

In the upcoming remembrance of this tragic event, I post here an excerpt from my 2017 novel, King of Soul

KingScov

The excerpt depicted here is lifted from chapter 24, a scene in which protagonist Donnie Evans, a traveler who just happens to be there on the fateful day, witnesses the unfolding of a tragedy.

Out in the field, a National Guard Jeep moved slowly in front of the unruly assembly. From the passenger seat, a campus policeman announced through a bullhorn repeatedly: “This assembly is unlawful. This crowd must disperse immediately. This is an order!”  Catcalls, boos, cursing accompanied the officer’s repetitive announcements as he persistently proclaimed the riot act into that charged-up atmosphere of student discontent. The angry young people jeered; all around them, from distant approaches, hundreds more were peering, observing firsthand the mounting release of pent-up generational angst.  There must have been a thousand of them.  Fear was condensing in the atmosphere, perhaps most of all within the stoic countenance of the Guardsmen, whose dreadful assignment was to curb the rebellious urges of their fellow baby booming disquieted soulmates.

         High noon found a rising crescendo of unprecedented enmity. The Guard  was ordered to launch a barrage of tear-gas canisters, and that is what they did. Suddenly metallic canisters zipped through the air in parabolic arcs. The surprise trajectory immediately cast a pall of shock, and scattered panic in foggy confusion upon the ill-prepared  juveniles. Most of the students had no idea of what was coming. But a few knew, and several of them plunged forward, grabbed the fuming tear-gas canisters, and hurled them back at the soldiers. In the clouding  melée, the soldiers advanced. Donnie noticed, to his far left, through the fogged embattlement a tall, wiry student running down the hill directly to the Victory Bell monument. A bushy-haired zealot grabbed hold of the bell, clanging it loudly. The sound of it produced a startling effect, as a call to battle, a ringing proclamation that the insurrection had begun. 

       All hell broke loose. Chaos was suddenly the order of the day, until such time as fate would soon put an end to it.

Also in remembrance of that fateful day, an upcoming drama will be presented later this week at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where I live.

 Dr. Ray Miller, professor of Drama at Appalachian State University, will stage the debut of his drama, Kent State: Then and Again, beginning on Thursday, April 21. 

Registration to witness the virtual event online can be obtained at: 

theatreanddance.appstate.edu/news/kent-state-then-and-again-dr-ray-miller.

Historic information about the Kent State tragedy can also be obtained through reading James A. Michener’s book about what happened on that fateful day in 1970. This book is the primary source that I used while researching the tragic event:

King of Soul