Uneasy Pieces: Richard Feynman

May 11, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY |

Richard Feynman born May 11, 1918 – “One of the outstanding figures of twentieth-century theoretical physics.” Thus Roger Penrose on Richard Feynman.  I think it’s hokum. Everyone knows that atoms don’t move, that the earth is as flat as a Frisbee, spaced isn’t curved, vectors don’t mean anything, maths is just a tautology, electron waves don’t do anything, and relatively speaking, relativity is meaningless. But Feynman was a great tutor for people far smarter than me, who did science well beyond high school. The physical world is and humans might do better to be satisfied with their big toy, instead of constantly…

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Christopher Priest – “Indoctrinaire” and “Inverted World”

Indoctrinaire Many years ago I was given the Pan Science Fiction copy of Christopher Priest’s novel Indoctrinaire (1971).  The ghastly cover, hinting at lurid prose in aid of a ridiculously stupid plot ensured that I would not read the book, although it moved interstate and from house to house with me – for decades. Then recently I came across Andrew McKie’s revie in The Spectator of Priest’s 2016 novel, The Gradual (“a resounding success”). He says that Priest’s prose is “apparently prosaic – provided, that is, one means unshowy straightforward and devoid of ostentation. For the cumulative effect of his plain sentences,…

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Happy Tigers Bite Back

May 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, LIFE |

Friday Night, May 4, 2018 at Richmond Oval: Glenelg Tigers v West Adelaide Bloods, Wolves, whatever… It shaped like an early battle for the wooden spoon and if this was to be the case, The Varnished Culture would rather not be there.  (Anyway, there was champagne and Impressionists on offer at the Art Gallery.)  Consistent with the bad luck charm that we are, and with the Milera Boys flying, our absence ensured that the lads lost the battle (for the Spoon – or at least it’s deferred for now) by winning the game.  We’ll let Senior Coach Mark Stone report,…

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…And the Winner is…

May 8, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, POLITICS, Ulalume, WRITING & LITERATURE |

When the Nobel made some sense...Selma Lagerlof is honoured

…Nobody! Gerald Murnane must be spitting chips. The Nobel Prize for Literature won’t be handed out this year. Not because the prize has become a global joke (recipients of the recent past: Mo Yan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Bob Dylan); not because there’s no-one worthy (now that should be a reason), but because the Committee may be under legal interdict. The criteria for inclusion in the Academy, and its selections, are obscure. Academicians must be blonde, of course. They gather at a secret location, parking their Volvos underground. Then, over herring eaten-off recyclable plates, the sound of “Fernando” tinkling gently in the background,…

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Circe by Madeline Miller

"The young man was leaning against my house, watching me. His hair was loose and tousled, his face bright as a jewel. .. I knew who he was, of course I knew...That laughing gadfly of the gods, Hermes" (Painting by Nicholas Hillliard).

“In due course we came to the island of Aeaea, the home of the beautiful Circe, a formidable goddess, though her voice is like a woman’s. She is the sister of the wizard Aeetes, both being children of the Sun who lights the world by the same mother, Perse the daughter of Ocean”.* So does Homer introduce us to the witch goddess Circe, who famously turned men to swine. After giving Odysseus’ men a potion, Homer’s Circe “struck them with her wand, drove them off, and penned them in the pigsties. For now to all appearance they were swine: they had pigs’…

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