The Man on a Donkey

Christ Walking on the Waters by Sergius von Klever

Christ Walking on the Waters by Sergius von Klever

By H. F. M. Prescott (1952) David Foster Wallace started his speech “This is Water” with that old but salutary saw,“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’” In 16th century Britain and Europe, the Christian religion was like water to fish. To doubt the existence of God would be…

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Uncomfortably Close…the Lawyer in the Freezer

Derrence

This story is one of the many lurid crime sagas that feature in staid and leafy-green Adelaide. And whilst The Varnished Culture staff all have impeccable alibis, this being Adelaide, we are far-away-so-close to the macabre events of 1979 and beyond. Unfortunately, it is one of several local causes célèbre where the jury’s verdict is in question because they may have been led to rely on tainted evidence – not corrupt evidence; just misleading, or dead-wrong. THE PLAYERS: Derrence Stevenson, specialist criminal lawyer (the victim); David Szach, Stevenson’s teenaged boyfriend; Dr Colin Manock, forensic pathologist, who gave crucial evidence at trial…

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BDS on Wagner

May 16, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, MUSIC, POLITICS, Ulalume, WAGNER |
AHbayreuth

Forget the picket at Max Brenner’s, the Jewish chocolatiers!  There’s a Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement against the playing of Wagner‘s works in Israel.  We learn from an interesting piece in ‘The Australian’ of 13 May 2017, by Vic Alhadeff, the chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, that there is a longstanding unofficial ban, despite recent attempts to overcome it by such luminaries as Daniel Barenboim. Mr Alhadeff refers, as part of his case, to the repulsive pamphlet, “Jewry in Music” which is certainly strident and virulent, but might more properly be seen as a reflection of Wagner’s…

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Monkeying About

water-colour of Charles Darwin by George Richmond

water-colour of Charles Darwin by George Richmond

May 5, 1925: Teacher John Scopes is charged with having taught evolution in a Tennessee school. Originally designed as a means of putting the town of Dayton on the map, the case became a circus when Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan rolled into town as defence and prosecuting counsel.  The whole affair became a hoary old film of which The Varnished Culture has previously spoken. Scopes was convicted and fined $100 (which was overturned on appeal because, unusually, the penalty had to be stipulated by the jury rather than the trial judge). But Dayton did great business that summer….

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The Worst Laid Plans

April 25, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, AUSTRALIANIA, HISTORY |
Fish in a barrel

Fish in a barrel

April 25, 1915: The Gallipoli gambit As Robert Burns had written, to a mouse, a mere 130 years before, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley.”  So it was with the British venture into the Dardanelles. (We described this catastrophe in detail on the 100th anniversary). Described as “a brilliant idea in theory“* it was a complete botch in practice, the donkeys in British Army central-planning winging it as they went. After all, attacking fortified cliffs with minimal support, troops “pinned down on the rocky shore, unable to reach the top of the hills and move into open…

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