Socialism as Religion

Be careful who you give awards to...the Reverend Jim Jones, 1977's Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian award winner

Born May 13 (1931), the Reverend Jim Jones is famous for his deep Christian-Socialist beliefs, his humanitarian impulses, his Peoples’ Temple in San Francisco where he organised leftist demonstrations, and of course, the workers’ paradise he established at Jonestown in Guyana.  His passionate commitment to equality and fairness drew inspiration from thinkers such as Jesus, Buddha, Lenin, Marx, Castro and Mao, and won him kudos from the likes of well-known lib-labs Walter Mondale, Rosalynn Carter, Jerry Brown, and Harvey Milk (who called the Reverend “a man of the highest character.”) In any case, the socialist paradise shuddered to a halt…

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911 Memorial

April 8, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, HISTORY, TRAVEL, USA History |

April 2018 At Ground Zero, after much hand-wringing and kvetching, the powers that be have achieved a pretty decent edifice to commemorate the infamous acts of 9 September 2001.  Conspiracy theorists aside, for most attendees there is balance in the museum exhibits and an overly pious attitude has thankfully been stowed. The most powerful aspects are the remembrance wall, containing the names of those who perished, in clear graven font, and two enormous infinity pools, cut deep into the sites of the twin towers, oddly recalling the gashed landscape of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. While the Pentagon and…

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Not For All the Money in the World

December 15, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, Drama Film, FILM, HISTORY, USA History |

December 15: John Paul Getty III, kidnapped and ransomed, turned up alive near Naples on this day in 1973. He’d been missing for months.  A letter had arrived the previous month with an accompanying parcel and the curt message: “This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits.” His grandfather, J Paul Getty Snr., who was worth over $2 billion US, was a tad parsimonious about paying the ransom (although with 14 other grandchildren and a loathing of appeasement, he must have thought…

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Murders on the Orient Express

November 30, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

By Agatha Christie (1934) Directed by Sidney Lumet (1974) Directed by Kenneth Branagh (2017) The Varnished Culture has been a fan of Agatha Christie novels for yonks – she’s really terrific – but surprisingly for her very theatrical books, they don’t tend to translate to the screen too well.  Whether Poirot is played by Peter Ustinov, David Suchet or Albert Finney, he doesn’t seem to be just right.  And his supporting casts, possibly from snobbishness, act like a bunch of rejects from a provincial repertory company. The scenery-chewing is entirely superfluous in filming a Christie – certainly she deployed ‘types’ as characters, so why slice…

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The Lawyer in the Freezer (Part II)

August 25, 2017 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | AUSTRALIANIA, CRIME, Non-Fiction |

Unley Town Hall, 24 August 2017 We have written previously on this strange case: see our earlier piece here. The Varnished Culture had a representative at this lecture by Tom Mann, re-visiting his book on the Stevenson / Szach case.           There’s not not too much new in Mann’s thesis: the forensic evidence as to time of death is wobbly – the distance travelled by Szach to Coober Pedy overnight is inconsistent with his presence about the time of the killing – the execution-style and surfeit of possible suspects – the dodgy identification evidence – the…

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