Tutankhamun’s Tomb Desecrated

November 26, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, Non-Fiction, WRITING & LITERATURE |

26 November, 1922 at Luxor: the antechamber to Tutankhamun’s tomb is found, and the tomb is “officially” inspected the following day. Carter wrote: “Slowly, desperately slowly it seemed to us as we watched, the remains of the passage debris that encumbered the lower part of the doorway were removed until at last we had the whole door clear before us. The decisive moment had arrived. With trembling hands I made a tiny breach in the upper left hand corner. Darkness and blank space, as far as an iron testing-rod could reach, showed that whatever lay beyond was empty, and not…

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Frank, My Dear, We Don’t Give a Damn

The Nuremberg boys (Hans Frank in the dock's front row, with arms folded, wearing dark glasses)

East West Street, written by Philippe Sands (2017) “To do a great right, do a little wrong” (The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1) It was a dilemma – in the smoking ashes of WWII, there were several handfuls of Nazi insiders scooped-up by the Allied forces. What to do with them? Hitler and his main henchmen were gone, bullets in their brains or cyanide caps twixt their clenched teeth (sometimes both) – and the residue claimed the time-honoured defence, ‘Befehl ist Befehl.’  Whilst the ‘odious apparatus’ of the Third Reich assiduously documented their outrages, prosecutors yet faced awesome…

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The Football Solution

By George Megalogenis (2018) First, one disclamatory reason for liking this book. At a pub on the south side of Adelaide on AFL Grand Final day, 2017, I was the sole Richmond supporter (wearing my Glenelg Tigers scarf and barracking for my 2nd team) which earned plenty of dirty looks.  Outside a restaurant in town after the match, I caught the eye of an Adelaide Crows fan, bedecked in all the gear, packing his sullen family into a people-mover.  Without a trace of sarcasm (because I’ve seen a few losing Grand Finals, and you don’t rub it in in such…

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H. L. Mencken and Crap Towns

September 12, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Non-Fiction, TRAVEL, WRITING & LITERATURE |

H. L. Mencken (12 September 1880) There’s a splendid English book called Crap Towns.  Lovingly referred to by ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ as “The Domesday book of misery” it celebrates awful urban constructs, from Luton to Hull to Bury St Edmonds.  TVC once thought to produce an Australian edition, covering such lively towns as Mt Druitt and Wilcannia, NSW, and Millicent, SA. But the great H.L. Mencken beat us all to it.  In his 1928 article, The Libido for the Ugly, Mencken canvasses the ugliest towns in the USA: “I have seen, I believe, all of the most unlovely towns of…

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H. L. Mencken and Götterdämmerung

September 11, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, METAPHYSICS, Non-Fiction |

Wotan's ravens (by Arthur Rackham)

H.L.Mencken, 12 September, 1880 Mencken buried lots of idols, icons, and foolish ideas.  He also buried a swathe of gods: “Huitzilopochtli…was born of an apparently innocent flirtation that [his mother, a virtuous widow] carried on with the sun…But to-day Huitzilopochtli is as Marie Corelli. Once the peer of Allah, Buddha and Wotan, he is now the peer of Father Rasputin, J.B. Planché, Sadi Carnot, General Boulanger, Lottie Collins, and Little Tich.”* Mencken goes on to list some 114 gods and comments: “They were gods of the highest standing and dignity – gods of civilized peoples – worshipped and believed in by…

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