Fetch a Rope!

July 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian Politics, LIFE, RELIGION, Ulalume |

Historical sex charges are problematic.  These types of antique sexual allegations are awfully easy to make, awfully serious, and awfully hard to refute. There always are metaphorical torches carried in the streets (in the middle of the day) for those charged. People write with relish at the thought of a show trial; they say they have always known the truth about the accused, whom, while ladled with qualifications that “X denies the charges, which are yet to be proven,” nevertheless are pinned with labels such as “paedophile” and “monster.” These witch hunts (“Gee, a high-placed religioso is charged, so let’s throw him in a pond to see…

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Monkeying About

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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A Hung Jury on Global Warming?

February 20, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, POLITICS, RELIGION, Ulalume |

"What did South Australians use before Tom gave them candles? Electricity."

16 February 2017. Twelve years to the day since ‘implementation’ of the Kyoto Protocol.* You and I sit in a jury box. We have only just met. We bring to our mutual task our life experience and understanding of the ways of the world, our endogenous prejudices, and our gut feelings. The Judge sends us into our room charged to answer whether we are amid an interglacial, or, rather, is the globe warming – are anthropogenic CO2 emissions causing or contributing to this warming – and does this pose a clear and imminent danger, on the balance of probabilities? So we…

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A Mighty Heart

February 1, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, POLITICS, RELIGION, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Michael Winterbottom) (2007) Daniel Pearl was an American Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal, based in India, who had gone to Karachi in January 2002 for what he thought was an interview, but was probably a set-up.  He was abducted and held hostage by Al Qaeda-linked terrorists, ostensibly for ransom, probably for terror.  Nine days later, on 1 February 2002, Pearl was beheaded, and the atrocity was captured on film. A Mighty Heart is a film that concentrates on the frantic efforts of his wife, Marianne, to find him during those nine days.           Adapted from the…

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French Connection

January 7, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, POLITICS, RELIGION |

Pope Innocent X (who held the Keys to the Kingdom from 15 September 1644 to 1 January 1655) and whose name, in the world, was Giambattista Pamfili, died today (7 January) in 1655. A wily operator in the Age of Absolutism, Innocent flailed vainly against the rise of nations and decline of Catholic hegemony – his papal bull directing ripping-up of the Treaties of Westphalia was simply ignored. P is not so keen on Innocent as he was rather anti-Bernini (L would be favourably disposed to His Holiness for the same reason). On the other hand, the Holy See had…

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