October 2, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY |

Born 2 October 1869 Whether he was making yarn or making salt (Gandhi in Dandi), he was usually making trouble.  When the Brits offered the Congress Party of India a deal – help to the allies in WWII in exchange for Indian independence afterwards – Gandhi described it as a “post-dated cheque drawn on a crashing bank.” George Orwell, in a 1949 essay reviewing the autobiography and reflecting on Gandhi, wrote: “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent…In Gandhi’s case the questions one feels inclined to ask are: to what extent was Gandhi moved by vanity…

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Leonardo da Vinci

(by Walter Isaacson) (2017) We picked up this heavy tome in Washington DC and carried it all the way home. It’s well put-together, beautifully illustrated, and fairly well organised. Whilst Leonardo the Man remains opaque, this book manages to avoid drowning in the sea of speculation, as a disastrous recent work on Beethoven does not. Leonardo da Vinci lived and died 500 years ago, and left behind a tantalising body of mostly incomplete work, in particular, some startlingly radical and luminous paintings, fanatically detailed drawings, and thousands of pages from inspired commonplace books.  Although his siege engines and tanks and…

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21 August 1911: To Steal the Mona Lisa

August 21, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY |

On this day early last century, Vincenzo Perugia entered the Louvre in a worker’s smock and spirited the Mona Lisa away. Nowadays, you can hardly see her, imprisoned behind a wall of thick glass…

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John Dryden

August 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Dryden (born 9 August 1631), England’s Poet Laureate before that office was fairly soon debased, you can set aside his works that tediously extol public virtue and look instead at his poetic struggles between Religion and Reason, or Now and Then: “Dim, as the borrow’d beams of Moon and Stars To lonely, weary, wandring Travellers, Is reason to the Soul; And as on high, Those rowling Fires discover but the Sky Not light us here; So Reason’s glimmering Ray Was lent, not to assure our doubtfull way, But guide us upward to a better Day. And as those nightly Tapers…

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“Utter Carnage”

August 7, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, AUSTRALIANIA, HISTORY, LIFE |

7 August 1858: The First Game of Australian Rules Football is played. Victoria’s Cricket Captain, Tom Wills, is credited as the main inventor, developer and driver of the Australian Game. (He wanted something to keep the cricketers fit during the winter off-season). On 7 August 1858, the first ever recorded match was played between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, held (appropriately) at the Richmond Paddock. The game ended in a draw (a goal apiece). One hundred and fifteen years later, of course, the ne plus ultra of the sport would play out in Adelaide… It has become something of…

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