84 years ago. 56. 28. It’s a pattern! Or is it …..

Yes, Tuesday Oct 29 1929 was the infamous Black Tuesday of the stock market crash that many think brought on the great depression.  Read more about it here. In fact it was preceded by several days of free fall and mild recovery, and in fact the causes of the depressions were far more complicated. None-the-less, it remains one of the few days in history for which many people who did not live through it can still identify both the date and the day of the week on which it occurred.

This allows me to point out the fun fact that dates and the day of the week reliably repeat themselves every 28 years. Luckily historical events themselves have no such cycle. Twenty eight years after the stock market crashed,Tuesday October 29, 1957 saw no major economic turmoil. Rather the day brought the disturbing event of the Israli prime minister and five of his cabinet members being injured by a hand grenade tossed into Israel’s parliament. On the much lighter note, the number one song in the US that day was “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley.

Another twenty eight years later, Tuesday October 29, 1985 boasted as its biggest news event that Samuel Doe was announced the winner of the first multiparty election in Liberia. Sounds like a nice calm day in the world. The number one song in the US that day was “Part-time Lover” by Stevie Wonder.

And what of today, October 29, 2013? The main headline is that there are six people dead in a shooting in South Carolina.  The top hit in the US comes from New Zealand singer Lorde’s “Royals”.

You may wonder what was the biggest musical hit back in 1929? Yes, they had music back then. Looks like it was Eddie Cantor’s “Makin’ Whoopee” and it really can be seen in video. The styles and costumes have changed a lot over 84 years. But the subject of the songs? Like and ebb and flow of the news, not so much.

And that’s the way it was ….. er, is …… er, will be

crystal ballI’ve just finished chapter 3 of my fifth novel, d4, and am already engrossed in this story about the future. I am so caught up in it, in fact, that I’m beginning to neglect this blog, which is centered around a book that focuses on the past. Yet past and future are at their root the same topic, aren’t they?

In that spirit, tonight I am pretending that I live in the year 1013, and can peer a thousand years into the future. Tomorrow, on October 16, what will I see?

In 384 years, a woman named Jadwiga will be crowned King of Poland, although she is a woman. A woman can run a country?
In 793 years, a French queen named Marie Antoinette who is famous for her extravagance, will be guillotined. Sounds a bit drastic.
In 869 years, England will found its first residential college for women. It is going to take over eight hundred years for me to be able to live in a dorm?
In 916 years the first family planning clinic will open in the United States. Wait, one can plan their family?
In 964 years, China, now home to amazing fireworks displays, will detonate its first nuclear weapon. I’m guessing that these nukes aren’t just bigger and better firecrackers.
In 978 years, Wanda Rutkiewicz will be first Pole and the first European woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. What is Mount Everest? And why are women climbing it? October 16 seems to be a very good day for Polish women.

How do you think I’m going to feel about the direction the human race is headed?

Sad fact is stranger than fiction.

I made up Early Gulch High School, where much of the novel z2 takes place. I did not make up confederate officer Jubal Early, for whom the school is named. He is a real person who founded the Lost Cause movement after the civil war. This is a group that to this day glorifies the Old South and down plays slavery as a benign institution. I made up the outrage of teachers and students once they discovered that their school was named after such a person, but I like to think that real people would respond with the same indignation.

These students deserve better

These students deserve better

A friend recently sent me one of those petitions anyone can start at change.org. This one, submitted by Omotayo Richmond of Jacksonville, Florida says “Jacksonville is home to Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, named in honor of a Confederate general who infamously slaughtered Black Union soldiers who’d already surrendered and who was a founding member of the original Ku Klux Klan. The school got its name in 1959, when white civic leaders wanted to protest a court decision that called for integrating public schools.”

Sadly, five years ago the local school board actually voted to keep this school’s name. Have things changed for better in those five years? I sure HOPE so.

View Omotayo’s petition and consider signing it here. I just did.