For my sins I lived in Brisbane, capital of the Northern State of Queensland, during the 1970s, producing over 40 radio plays for the ABC during the two years I was there, including a play (‘Corruption in the Palace of Justice’, by Italian Ugo Betti) that ran over two hours and was in full stereo. But the important thing in Brisbane was not radio drama: it was the beer, known as 4X, brewed at the Castlemaine and Perkins Brewery.
I drove into the bottle shop there one Friday afternoon. The bloke on duty looked crestfallen. “No beer, mate,” he said. ‘They’ve had a strike at the brewery. Beer’s off’.
‘No beer?’ I cried. ‘Jesus, that’s tough.’
‘Sorry, mate. There’s nuthin’ I can do. All out.’
‘Ah, bugger it,’ I said, and prepared to drive away.
‘Of course I can let you have some of that Southern Beer,’ he called after me. ‘Victoria Bitter, stuff like that. We’ve got plenty of that.’
I saw a couple of Chinese-Australians (well, that sounds better than calling them Chinese people) driving a modern car called a (Subaru, or Ford, or Chevy, or Dodge, whatever) “TriBeCa” the other day. I wonder if they have any idea of what “TriBeCa” means? It’s a term borrowed from New York real estate speak, meaning “the triangle below Canal Street”. To a New Yorker it’s meaningful, to anyone else less so. To an Australian-born couple or a Chinese-born couple in Sydney, Australia it must be well-nigh incomprehensible. It’s like “Soho”… South of Houston Street, pronounced “Howston street” by the locals. No, “LoCal” doesn’t mean anything, though it may well mean “Lower California” to someone from the west coast. The West Coast of the USA, that is.
It seems that the Hispanics of China have developed another string to their bow. In an article on the front page of Saturday’s ‘Business News’ (21 January 2017) in Rupert Murdoch’s paper The Australian, Alan Kohler’s ‘Letter from Davos’ mentioned Xi Jinping’s talk (at Davos, naturally) that was sprinkled with ‘peons to the wonder of free trade, globalisation and innovation.’
Alan Kohler also appears on the ABC television, Business Spectator, the Eureka Report, and from time to time as an adjunct professor at Victoria University, and has been editor of The Age newspaper in Melbourne. I wonder why he can’t spell paean? I can.
Back to his musings, which forced me to have a mental image of lots of peons — according to my dictionary, Spanish-American day labourers or unskilled farm workers — walking up and down Money Avenue in Davos wearing a billboard advertising the wonders of capitalism. Like a GorillaGram, or a StripperGram, only with a peon: HispanoGram, perhaps.
I hope the idea catches on with those fat cats in Switzerland; we need more variety and more literature on the glittering streets of Davos.
A Theory of Twentieth-Century Poetry
Edited & introduced by Gareth Farmer
Published by Shearsman UK, October 2015. Paperback, 223pp, 9 x 6ins £14.95
First published posthumously in 1978 by Manchester University Press, this volume turned sharply against critics of the previous generation, notably William Empson, and against emergent strains of historicism. The book is an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) defence of “all the rhythmic, phonetic, verbal, and logical devices which make poetry different from prose.” According to the author, such devices are responsible for poetry’s most significant effect—not pleasure or ornament or some kind of special expressivity, but the production of “alternative imaginary orders.”
Veronica Forrest-Thomson – Collected Poems
Paperback, published by Shearman UK, 188pp, 9x6ins Download a PDF sampler from this book here.
This volume brings back into print the complete poems of Veronica Forrest-Thomson (1947–1975), whose work remains a touchstone for those interested in radical poetry in the 1970s. The book contains all of her published collections, plus poems that remained in manuscript, and contains work that has come to light since the publication of the Collected Poems and Translations (Allardyce, Barnett, 1990) as well as a number of corrections to the first edition.
Also see Jacket Magazine 20 for more on VFT and gossip
on the Cambridge Leisure Factory and the Aspidistra Cult,
not to mention Tom Clark: Letters home from Cambridge (1963–65) and Parataxis magazine (Cambridge, UK), Editors: Drew Milne & Simon Jarvis, and Five poets and an essay from Quid magazine, Cambridge, UK, Editor, Keston Sutherland; and Hugh Sykes Davies — ‘a lioness in the sidecar’ — and a breathless amount of other British Things!
Including a photo of the young William Empson, Salvador Dali in a diving helmet, and so on and so forth.
Leo, the trademark of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films, looks less than enthusiastic about his forthcoming leap into the age of the talkies. 14 February 1929 was the date of the recording of his unmistakable roar, which was to open countless millions of evenings at the cinema. Photo from Curious Moments, archive of the century. Das Fotoarchiv, page 62. Copyright photograph: SVT Bild / Das Fotoarchiv. Restoration MGM Movie Logo on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVCxJ1aT24A of which they say in their peculiar English: Uploaded on Jul 17, 2009 – The MGM Logo went through a complete restoration last year (i.e. 2008), every element including the sound was refreshened. This is also the original :14 version that was first used when “Leo” was introduced in 1957. It was later shortened to :10 in the late 50s. The shorter :10 restoration made it’s world debut on the 2008 release of “Quantum Of Solace”.
Why do I try the Quick Crossword in the Sydney Morning Herald every weekday — often failing to fill it all in — except Friday?
Because Friday is the day that David Astle takes it over.
Last year CONTRAIL (or perhaps JETSTREAM) was the required answer, yet Mr Astle’s clue mentioned jet engines, as I recall. ‘Can’t be “contrail”, or “jetstream”‘ I remember thinking, as neither contrails nor jetstreams have anything to do with jet engines. See the photo of contrails below: 1943, and not a jet engine in sight. They hadn’t been invented yet. And the various jetstreams (high altitude winds) have existed for millions of years.
From the website:
Why so many photos of contrails in WWII, and not so many from the 50s and 60s? The simple reason is that contrails only form at very low temperatures, which are normally found at high altitude, and in peacetime there was NO REASON TO FLY THAT HIGH until the advent of commercial jet travel a few decades later.
The only reason these planes are flying that high is so they can avoid anti-aircraft fire. The bombers fly as high as they can, and then their fighter escorts fly even higher, so they can see incoming aircraft targeting the bombers, and swoop down to attack. This type of escorting is called “Top Cover”. The most classic example of this is the famous photo “Top cover over J-Group”, a photo taken over Emden, on September 27th, 1943, by Stanley M. Smith.
This week the required word was PARCHMENT, yet Mr Astle’s clue talked about an ‘Animal skin formerly used in bookbinding’. Surely parchment had never been used to actually “bind” books — it has always been used to write on in place of papyrus. Perhaps ‘formerly used in the craft of bookbinding as material for the interior pages of a book’, but isn’t that a bit of a stretch? I thought of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope’s dreadful punning lyrics in the movie “Road to Morocco”… “Like Webster’s Dictionary (four syllables, to fit with the song rhythm), we’re Morocco bound”, but ‘morocco’ (goatskin from goats reared in Morocco) and ‘goatskin’ didn’t fit. When I looked up ‘parchment’ in an encyclopaedia, I discovered its strange connection with the name of the city of Pergamum in Ancient Greece, now in Turkey: “Pergamum was home to a library said to house approximately 200,000 volumes, according to the writings of Plutarch”, according to Wikipedia.
Further: “Pergamum is credited with being the home and namesake of parchment (charta pergamena). Prior to the creation of parchment, manuscripts were transcribed on papyrus, which was produced only in Alexandria. When the Ptolemies of Africa refused to export any more papyrus to Pergamum, King Eumenes II commanded that an alternative source be found. It has been conjectured that the Pergamenes may have discovered that “by simplifying the composition of the pelt preparation bath, allied with a special mode of drying wet unhaired pelts (by stretching them as much as possible) smooth taut sheets of uniform opacity could easily be obtained.”  This led to the production of parchment, which is made out of a thin sheet of sheep or goat skin. Parchment reduced the Roman Empire’s dependency on Egyptian papyrus and allowed for the increased dissemination of knowledge throughout Europe and Asia. The introduction of parchment also greatly expanded the holdings of the Library of Pergamum”
As for the Cryptic Crossword — forget it. Poetry is cryptic enough, thanks.
Last year, University of Pennsylvania researchers Alexander J. Stewart and Joshua B. Plotkin published a mathematical explanation for why cooperation and generosity have evolved in nature. Using the classical game theory match-up known as the Prisoner’s Dilemma, they found that generous strategies were the only ones that could persist and succeed in a multi-player, iterated version of the game over the long term.
But now they’ve come out with a somewhat less rosy view of evolution. With a new analysis of the Prisoner’s Dilemma played in a large, evolving population, they found that adding more flexibility to the game can allow selfish strategies to be more successful. The work paints a dimmer but likely more realistic view of how cooperation and selfishness balance one another in nature.
“It’s a somewhat depressing evolutionary outcome, but it makes intuitive sense,” said Plotkin, a professor in Penn’s Department of Biology in the School of Arts & Sciences, who coauthored the study with Stewart, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab. “We had a nice picture of how evolution can promote cooperation even amongst self-interested agents and indeed it sometimes can, but, when we allow mutations that change the nature of the game, there is a runaway evolutionary process, and suddenly defection becomes the more robust outcome.”
The university (of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) contracted with Cray to build the National Science Foundation-funded supercomputer Blue Waters after IBM backed out in August 2012. Blue Waters will be capable of sustained performance of one quadrillion calculations per second and peak performance of more than eleven quadrillion calculations per second. The system also boasts the largest online storage system in the world with more than 25 petabytes of usable space. The university whimsically celebrated January 12, 1997 as the “birthday” of HAL 9000, the fictional supercomputer from the novel and film 2001: A Space Odyssey; in both works, HAL credits “Urbana, Illinois” as his place of operational origin. [More at Wikipedia]
The tone is uncompromising. The language is harsh. The sovereignty and integrity of India has been attacked with impunity, the court documents claim. The unity of the nation has been undermined. But the source of the alleged threat to the world’s largest democracy is a somewhat surprising one: a cinematic remake of Hamlet. Shakespeare’s great tragedy has always provoked strong emotion but it is rare that anyone seeks to ban productions of it on the grounds of national security.
[More at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/27/hamlet-remake-provokes-outcry-india-something-rotten-in-state]
Maybe Barbie should have gone to school in Australia:… Back in 2010, “Computer Engineer Barbie” was released… The book shows Barbie attempting to write a computer game. However, instead of writing the code, she enlists two boys to write the code as she just does the design. She then proceeds to infect her computer and her sister’s computer with a virus and must enlist the boys to fix that for her as well. In the end she takes all the credit, and proclaims “I guess I can be a computer engineer!” A blog post commenting on the book (as well as giving pictures of the book and its text) has been moved to Gizmodo due to high demand: at http://gizmodo.com/barbie-f-cks-it-up-again-1660326671
And in Australia? “Teenage boys are often thought to be the geeks of the computer world. But a major international study released Thursday found Australian girls are more computer-literate than their male classmates. Year 8 students from Australia performed higher than students in almost all 21 education systems on the 2013 International Computer and Information Literacy Study – the only exception being the Czech Republic…” More at http://m.smh.com.au/national/education/australian-girls-ahead-of-boys-in-computer-literacy-20141120-11qiu7.html