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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O Captain! My Captain!

April 14, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, HISTORY, POLITICS, USA History |
Post mortem image taken by John B. Bachelder

Post mortem image taken by John B. Bachelder

Bad Night at Ford’s Theater, Good Friday, April 14, 1865. Our great pal Torrie reminds us that since 1865, Good Friday has fallen on April 14 only in the years 1876, 1911, 1922, 1933, 1995 and 2006.  And now again. It marks the seventh such Good Friday since a Great Man was felled by an assassin’s pistol, less than a week after the Confederate surrender had restored the Union of the American States.                       As citizens of a world in which America has played such a dominant part for over…

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Being Nixon

DickStump

Being Nixon – A Man Divided by Evan Thomas (2015) Sentimentality – which friend and foe agreed Nixon had in spades – was probably the trait that betrayed him.  The Peter Sellers of politicians, Nixon (9 January 1913 – 22 April 1994) never got comfortable with his own skin, so he posed as – machismo, family-man, kindly, bold, psycho, sucker and reclusive seer, etc., those personas he schmaltzily thought would play with the silent majority, or make him feel better.  In this very balanced and readable book, Mr. Thomas gets fairly close to the enigma of ‘Tricky Dick‘ without vituperation or high-falootin’ prose. Nixon’s life is…

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Prohibition Ends

December 15, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, HISTORY, LIFE, POLITICS, Ulalume, USA History |
Party

The Twenty-first Amendment was adopted on December 5, 1933 and became became officially effective on December 15. The (1920) 18th Amendment (that “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited”) was thereby repealed and such activities (albeit subject to regulation) became legalised.  This wowser-inspired law conclusively demonstrated that when you wish to ban a well-established vice, be careful what you wish for… Repeal was enough to justify reaching for the nearest bottle of really good…

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Red Sails in the Sunset

November 27, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | American Politics, HISTORY, POLITICS |
(photo by Marcelo Montecino)

(photo by Marcelo Montecino)

Fidel Castro (13 August 1926 – 25 November 2016) Like his father, Angel Castro (who was certainly not angelic), Fidel was never particularly faithful.  A communist from his student days at Havana University, he and his followers were generally wealthy scions, the kind of folks that formed the vanguard of the French Revolution.  They were not Communists; they were ‘Marxist-Leninists’.  So on taking power in 1959, Castro and his cohort set about doing to Cuba what Marxist-Leninists do best: economic liquidation by the trashing of large scale private enterprise, ‘agrarian reform’ through the forced appropriation and division of land into meagre allotments, monopoly control…

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