Slaughterhouse 58

February 14, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY |

We recall the bombing of Dresden on 13-15 February 1945 By then, the War had reached a point where cruelty and violence was indiscriminate, a mad point born of seemingly ceaseless battle. And Auschwitz had been ‘discovered’ shortly before. And Dresden did have some sorts of military value as a target.  And the German army were fighting a spirited rear-guard action. “And so it goes.” “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall…

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The Unmaking of a Mayor

All smiles; Candidates Beame, Buckley & Lindsay

By William F. Buckley, Jr (1966) New York may well be the greatest city in the world. The Varnished Culture loves it, as we have said again and again and again and again. But we are unlikely to have loved it in 1965. Then, as erudite Tory gadfly Buckley pungently puts it in his floridly verbose and fascinating account of that year’s Mayoral election, “You can’t walk from one end of New York to the other without a good chance of losing your wallet, your maidenhead, or your life; or without being told that white people are bigoted, that Negroes…

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Tasmanian Art Gallery

November 11, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, AUSTRALIANIA, HISTORY, TRAVEL |

November 2019 If you’re still reeling from the inanities of MONA, why not check out Hobart’s more staid collection, on Davey Street (but enter on the landward side), a stone’s throw from the docks? The Gallery combines artistic works with natural history pieces of local significance: For instance the famous Thylacine, a carnivorous marsupial otherwise known as the Tasmanian Tiger, due to the stripes along its coat. Although last seen alive in 1933, we like to think the wily animal exists and flourishes somewhere in the wild western half of the island (there have been some unverified sightings in recent years)….

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The Wall Comes Down

November 9, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, POLITICS |

Wall Up 13 August 1961: East German police and troops occupied the dividing line between that Soviet satellite and West Berlin, to stop the hemorrhaging of its citizens to the West of that city. Four days later, they started building the Berlin Wall. President Kennedy put US forces on alert and took diplomatic steps, but copped criticism for what was tagged a weak response. Possibly 200 people were killed trying to get over the Wall from the East to the West; probably many more of the tens and tens of thousands making the attempt over the years were dealt with…

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Sir Vidia on El Dorado

August 15, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Non-Fiction, WRITING & LITERATURE |

V.S. Naipaul (17 August 1932 – 11 August 2018) was fairly down on colonialisation, perhaps because he correctly divined its attendant psychology.  Here he is on Columbus, Robinson Crusoe and the quest for El Dorado: “The facts about Columbus have always been known. In his own writings and in all his actions his egoism is like an exposed deformity; he condemns himself. But the heroic gloss, which is not even his own, has come down through the centuries…In this adventure, as in today’s adventures in space, the romance is something we ourselves have to apply…But the black legend of Spain…

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