Flower Girl: the Brilliant Rachel Ruysch

February 28, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY |

Michiel van Musscher "Portrait of the artist Rachel Ruysch in her studio" (1675-85)

(3 June 1664 – 12 October 1750) Until the Dutch were sent mad by tulips, the Dutch Golden Age had Rachel Ruysch to thank for the luscious still life gallery of flowers.  Her minute observations of each flower, each stem, each inquisitive insect, in an extremely naturalistic way, but according to an elaborate arrangement or composition, are close to miraculous. Simon Schama suggested that this flower genre was a product of male oppression: “There were certainly women painters in the Republic, but just as opportunities for women writes and poets were available so long as they obeyed male assumptions about ornamental…

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Love You Long Time: The Earl of Louisiana

“The Earl of Louisiana” by A. J. Liebling (1961) Liebling’s witty and nostalgic book shows us something of the old time politics and how it seems fresher and more vibrant than the sterile and shrill shenanigans of today. True, he had to travel to Louisiana (where the citizenry don’t expect corruption, they demand it) and he had a ringside seat to the Long legacy (the famous ‘Kingfish,’ Huey Long, Governor from 1928 to 1932 and a U.S. Senator until his death by gunfire in 1935, had been followed by younger brother Earl, Governor from 1939 to 1940, 1948 to 1952,…

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The Belt and Road to Serfdom

(“The Road to Serfdom” by Friedrich Hayek) (1944) [and why it matters now] “While the last resort of a competitive economy is the bailiff, the ultimate sanction of a planned economy is the hangman.”# The Argument In 1933, the year Hitler came to power in Germany, there was a view that the fascists’ National Socialism model (as the joke went, neither nationalist nor socialist) constituted the lees of the empty vessel of capitalism, and that socialism and centrally planned economies represented the vibrant new vintage for the future. That year, Hayek, a Newby at the London School of Economics, wrote…

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Sandro Botticelli

December 17, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY |

(1 March 1445 (?) to 17 May 1510) The great Florentine painter of the early Renaissance, Botticelli was not as technically accomplished as either Leonardo or Michelangelo, but he often excelled those men in the sheer preternatural beauty of his works.  Consider the Birth of Venus, with its anatomical eccentricity and stage-like rendering of form and nature: “The secret is this, that in European painting there has never again been an artist so indifferent to representation and so intent upon presentation.“^ While he painted plenty of religious pictures, he was also inspired to create by works of classical antiquity and…

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Murder by Decree

November 16, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, HISTORY, POLITICS |

22 October 2020 Another serving of much-needed food-for-thought from the John Bray Alumni Network of the University of Adelaide: this one from Bill Smith AM, former plod and police prosecutor in Whyalla (country SA) who came to the Big Smoke, got his degree, and found himself immersed in the frustrating but fulfilling world of international criminal justice. Modern crimes against humanity, in reflection of the new world order, have been somewhat inverted in practical application. Whereas a whole new jurisprudence had to be developed in the wake of the crimes of the Nazi regimes, the end of WWII, the development…

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