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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, listeners, this is your intrepidly genial host John Derbyshire, tanned, rested and ready after a ten-day vacation.
I am not actually much tanned, as our vacation was at points north: the noble states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and the Atlantic provinces of Canada. The weather was good, but not in the way that gets you tanned. Vermont is in fact, as the whole world now knows, quite exceptionally white — the beating heart of white gentry liberalism, personified by Vermont's favorite son, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The people of Vermont are white as white can be; and in true white fashion, they really hate themselves for it.
Canada offered no escape from electoral politics as our neighbors to the north are having an election of their own October 19th. I haven't really kept up with Canadian politics so I can't tell you much about their upcoming election; I believe that nice Mr Diefenbaker is facing off against Neil Young to decide which one's advice Her Majesty the Queen should follow in ruling the Dominion.
I wish our Northern cousins good luck with the outcome. I am, however, aware, as all masters of the media are, that the phrase "Canadian politics" falls on American ears with a dull thud. Unfair and patronizing though it surely is, the internal affairs of our neighbor are an insomnia cure to us.
Let us therefore turn our attention to our own politics. Our next Presidential contest is a mere thirteen months away, so by now we should all be focusing on the political minutiae with unblinking zeal. What is the latest news?
02 — The issues guy and the attitude guy. The latest news is that the Democratic Party held a debate last Tuesday evening.
Once again I have to apologize to listeners for not actually having watched the debate. I was headed south down I-95 as it happened and needed to keep my eye on the road lest I should encounter a stray moose. I guess I could have listened to the debate on the car radio; but many tragedies arise from automobile drivers falling asleep at the wheel, and I figured I'd better not take the chance.
I diligently read up on the thing afterwards and it doesn't look as though I missed much. The event was hosted by lefty ethnomasochist America-hating network CNN and lefty open-borders cheap-labor ChiCom suck-up Mark Suckerberg … I beg your pardon, Zuckerberg. Five candidates showed up: public-sector billionairess Hillary Clinton, the aforementioned white gentry liberal candidate Bernie Sanders, RINO-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee, and former Senator and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb.
If, on pain of death, I had to choose a President from among this crew, Jim Webb would be the guy. That just ages me, though. Webb is hopelessly old-fashioned, a sort of Harry Truman Democrat, speaking a language that Americans under fifty can barely understand. Personally I like that antique charm, but Webb's a no-hoper presidentially.
Martin O'Malley wears his eight-year spell as Mayor of Baltimore round his neck like an albatross. Great swathes of the U.S. electorate, when they see the word "Baltimore," think "Mordor." That's not totally fair to O'Malley. He did some good things; and Baltimore is only the thirteenth most homicidal city in the country, homicide rate 37 per hundred thousand. East St Louis is eighty-six per hundred thou. Just for benchmarks here: The stat for Caracas, Venezuela is 122, for London 1.6, for Tokyo 0.4.
I'd tell you about Lincoln Chafee but I fear I have taxed your powers of wakefulness already by mentioning the Canadian election, so I'll leave you to look Chafee up for yourself. He neither said nor did anything memorable in the debate. The same applies to Webb and O'Malley.
That basically left the event as a contest between Bernie Sanders and Mrs Clinton. There was not actually much contest about it: Sanders came off as pro-Clinton, if anything. Perhaps he is really running for the second spot on the ticket.
There was thus a consensus among the pundits that Mrs Clinton won the debate. The actual data is more ambiguous. Google Trends, which tallies internet searches, says that Bernie Sanders was the most-Googled candidate in every state during the hours after the debate. Sanders was also the most-discussed candidate on Facebook.
My own takeaway is that I am hoping more and more for a Sanders-Trump election next November. These two guys are so opposites. I don't mean that in a left-right kind of way. Left-right-wise, ideologically, Trump is all over the place. That's kind of the main point of difference, though. Sanders is not all over the place. He's ideologically solid, or as close as it gets in applied politics.
Sanders vs. Trump would be the issues guy against the attitude guy: the wussy, fussy Social Justice Warrior up against the street fighting instinctual patriot. Trump would tear Sanders' arms and legs off and beat him over the head with them, and we'd end up with a President who actually gives a damn about his country, her sovereignty and her citizens.
I'm probably dreaming here … but what a sweet dream!
03 — The wisdom of Robespierre. We listened to some lectures from the Great Courses company during those long hours on the road. The actual lectures we listened to were those by Prof. Desan on the French Revolution.
You can never know enough about the French Revolution. So much of modern politics and culture has its origins there in the 1790s. Arithmetic, too, as I was reminded when driving around in Canada, trying to convert gas prices in my head from Canadian dollars per French-revolutionary liter to U.S. dollars per gallon.
One thing from those lectures that stuck in my mind was a quote from the revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre. The point at issue was whether the French revolutionaries should soldier out into neighboring European countries to spread their radical ideals by force of arms. Robespierre did not think they should. Said he, quote: "Personne n'aime les missionnaires armés." Translation: "No one loves armed missionaries."
The full paragraph bears quoting, in fact. Here it is in English, quote:
The most extravagant idea that can be born in the head of a political thinker is to believe that it suffices for people to enter, weapons in hand, among a foreign people and expect to have its laws and constitution embraced. No one loves armed missionaries; the first lesson of nature and prudence is to repulse them as enemies.
Here's my question: If Maximilien Robespierre had figured that out in 1792, how come the American politicians of 200 years later still didn't know it?
The topic here is of course our missionary wars in West Asia. Latest news on this is that our war in Afghanistan, now entering its fifteenth year, is to go on for a couple of years more, contrary to President Obama's promise to get all troops out of there by 2017.
Fifteen years! Common sense suggests that if you can't win a war in fifteen years, the War Gods are trying to tell you something. But then, common sense also suggests the thing that Robespierre said: Yet there we've been, slogging around the Hindu Kush for fifteen years, trying to get mountain tribesmen to reorganize themselves on principles we hold dear, but which are incomprehensible to them.
There are two kinds of power-seekers among the Afghans: Those like the current puppet government, who see government service as a looting opportunity, and those like the Taliban, who want to impose a strict religious dictatorship. Neither group cares about us or our ideals. Most of them hate us, on the Robespierre principle.
The stupidity of our Afghanistan war is compounded by cynicism. Does anyone in the Obama administration actually believe that things will improve over there? Does anyone care whether they do or not? I doubt it. What Obama and his people care about is there not being a 1975-Saigon-style fiasco on Obama's watch. As Obama bluntly said in his October 15th announcement, quote: "We will continue to evaluate this going forward, as will the next President." Translation: Let's run out the clock on this one.
Here's my humble suggestion to the next President. If some no-account nation hosts a nest of our enemies, and watches benignly while they hatch and execute a plot to murder thousands of our people on our soil, then strike that nation with major force. Kill their people and break their stuff. Do that for a few weeks, then stop. Tell them: "If you ever do such a thing again, we'll come back twice as hard." Then leave them to tidy up the wreckage and get on with their own barbarous lives in their own barbarous way.
And here's another suggestion, if President Trump won't think it impertinent of me. Have that Robespierre quote — "No one loves armed missionaries" — have it carved on a humongous slab of granite and install that slab on the White House lawn.
04 — The whining minority. Fifteen years ago — fifteen blessed years, listeners — I wrote a piece titled "The Whining Minority." That was at the time of the Wen Ho Lee brouhaha, for those who remember it, and the minority I was writing about was Americans of Chinese descent.
Permit me to quote myself from the yellowing parchment of September 2000, quote:
Asians in America, and most particularly Chinese in America, are in danger of getting themselves a reputation as the whining minority. From a tiny number of instances of "discrimination," many of them of very questionable significance, "Asian-American" activists are building a case for special treatment like that accorded to blacks, homosexuals and so on. They are, they want us to believe, victimized. They are, they claim, "distressed" by words they find "demeaning."
End quote. The particular word they had found demeaning was, as I had just noted, the word "Chinaman." That word had been declared taboo at some point in the later 20th century by whomever it is that gets to declare these things, though to my knowledge there was never any offense in it, direct or implied. Rather the contrary. My father, an Englishman born in 1899, whenever he had a stroke of good luck, used to say: "I must have shaken hands with a Chinaman!"
In that fifteen years another half-generation of delicate little human snowflakes has come to maturity, or at any rate legal drinking age. We are now in the era of microaggressions and four-hour sensitivity-training sessions in the workplace. Asian-American whining has gotten correspondingly louder.
There is a story on this in the current issue of The Economist (issue dated October 3rd 2015). Headline: The model minority is losing patience. Subhead: "Asian-Americans are the United States' most successful minority, but they are complaining ever more vigorously about discrimination, especially in academia."
Much of the material in the body of the story will be familiar to listeners. Chinese-Americans do very well in academics, but the Ivy League universities have quotas on their admission numbers, holding them firmly down in the range 15 to 20 percent of admissions even as numbers of college-age Chinese-Americans have risen. Chinese-Americans have no trouble getting middle-class jobs, but they do have trouble getting up into senior executive ranks — the so-called "bamboo ceiling" … and so on.
As is normal — in fact compulsory — in mainstream news reports in this age of science-hating ignorance, actual facts about human nature are ignored or denied in the Economist article. Sample quote:
Why do they do so well? Amy Hsin of the City University of New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan examined the progress of 6,000 white and Asian children, from toddlers through school, to find an answer. They rejected the idea that Asians were just innately much cleverer than whites: there was an early gap in cognitive abilities, but it declined to insignificance through school. The higher socioeconomic status of Asian parents provided part of the explanation, but only a small part. Their data suggested that Asian outperformance is thanks in large part to hard work. Ms Hsin and Ms Xie's study showed a sizeable gap in effort between Asian and white children, which grew during their school careers.
That sounds authoritative, but you need to remember a few things.
The underlying issue here is therefore differences in the statistical profiles of the different races on factors of behavior, intelligence, and personality. In a multiracial society these differences will naturally express themselves in statistical differences in educational and athletic attainment, occupational categories, and social dysfunctions.
That is all perfectly normal, natural, and unsurprising. Across the past few decades, however, Western societies have engaged in a concerted effort to deny what is normal and unsurprising about human nature. Hence public policies of racial set-aside and affirmative action; hence jurisprudential juju like "disparate impact."
The grievances of Chinese Americans reported in the Economist article are a consequence of that denial. The equalist dogmas of our state ideology validate and encourage the kind of whining on display here. If innate race differences do not exist, then observed differences in life outcomes must be due to social or environmental factors that can be corrected. Why don't we set about correcting them?
Here's a more interesting question: How is it that decades of effort to correct them have delivered such slight and feeble results?
The other way is to spread a calm acceptance of the realities of human nature, as attested by well-replicated results from science; to abjure pretty lies; to discard administrative practices and jurisprudential doctrines based on pretty lies; and to let every individual live in freedom under equal laws equally applied, letting the statistical chips fall where they may.
But that is of course too horrible to contemplate. So … let the whining continue!
05 — A new education cargo cult: It's the zip codes! There is no region of our culture where determination to ignore the realities of human nature is more doggedly pursued than education.
Headline from America's Newspaper of Record, October 7th: Study says city's racial achievement gap gets worse in college.
An analysis released Tuesday by Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter group, says only 12.7 percent of this year's African-American high-school freshmen and only 12.1 percent of Hispanics will end up with four-year bachelor's degrees.
End quote. That's the numbers for four-year college degrees. Those for high-school graduation rates from New York City public high schools show the same pattern: Asians 83 percent, whites 81, blacks 64, Hispanics 61.
The newspaper report blames the usual suspects. Quote: "Half a million children — almost all of color — are trapped in failed schools," end quote. Yeah, right. "Trapped": the poor kiddies are chained to their desks while the bricks and mortar of those "failed schools" give forth enstupidating invisible vapors that cause them to fail the tests.
Not that alternative explanations aren't available. Here is a chap named, really, Aloe Blacc in the next day's edition of the newspaper. Headline: Hip-hop star Aloe Blacc speaks out in support of charter schools. Quote from him, quote:
For too many kids in this city, ZIP code determines destiny. There are 478,000 mostly black and Hispanic students trapped in a system of schools that are failing them.
End quote. So maybe it's not the bricks and mortar of these bad schools that are causing the different graduation rates, it's the zip codes. What we need to do is hire in some mathematicians to figure out how to change the zip codes to reduce or eliminate their malign influence on the minds of New York City students. Eliminate the prime numbers, perhaps?
I tell ya, the cargo cults of Polynesia have nothing on modern educational theorizing.
In fact, if you know anything about the quantitative human sciences, the only surprising thing about those numbers is that Hispanics do worse than blacks. The late psychometrician John Philippe Rushton laid down his Rule of Three: Pretty much anything you can quantify about human nature shows a spectrum, with East Asians at one end, sub-Saharan Africans at the other, and whites in between, towards the Asian end. A corollary to the Rule of Three says that Hispanic populations with a big proportion of Amerindian ancestry fall between whites and blacks on the spectrum.
Yet here we are with these New York City figures showing Hispanics below blacks. What's up with that?
It may be that New York City Hispanics are atypical of Hispanics at large. They are still mostly Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, although Mexicans and Central Americans are coming up fast.
Or it may, as Mr Blackety-blackety Blacc argues, be caused by the zip codes. Possibly Hispanics are being herded into the very worst zip codes, the ones whose evil sequences of digits have the most dire effects on inhabitants' cognitive abilities.
Let's get hiring those mathematicians to sort the zip codes out!
06 — Playboy goes plaid. OK, let's talk about sex.
I hasten to reassure Radio Derb listeners that we are, and shall resolutely remain, a genteel and family-oriented podcast, with nothing here that would being a blush to a maiden's cheek.
Our duty is to report the news, though; and one news item this week has been the decision by Playboy magazine to no longer publish pictures of naked women. It's news, so let's cover it.
It was not so much the news story itself that prompted this segment as an October 13th column about it by libertarian commentator Megan McArdle of Bloomberg News. Megan is one of those writers I regularly read and enjoy, even though there are large areas where our opinions differ.
I read and enjoy her because she's a witty and fluent writer who sometimes has penetrating social insights. I disagree with her on immigration and National Question topics, although she is my no means as batpoop crazy as most libertarians in that zone. She is also ignorant of science, math, and statistics, so on subjects where that matters she is clueless; but she seems to know this, and mostly avoids those subjects.
This October 13th column of Megan's caught my eye because I have myself written a column about Playboy. That was nine years ago, on the occasion of Hugh Hefner's 80th birthday. May I quote myself again, please? Thank you. quote:
The main impulse to my buying the May 2006 Playboy was indirect: not to peruse the ads for ideas about how to spend my pitiful quantity of disposable income, nor to read the interview with Ozzie Guillen (of whom I had never heard), nor even to cast a lustful eye on the naked girls (honestly!) I was mainly just curious as to where the thing had gone to since the last time I looked into it — which was, I think, around 1977. And the short answer is: nowhere. I suppose there have been tremendous advances in printing technology since 1977, and three or four revolutions in magazine layout, ad design, and so on. Content-wise, though, Playboy is one of those curious, and oddly reassuring, instances of stasis in human affairs, like Pez dispensers, the standard big-house opera repertory, or Fidel Castro's speeches.
Well, here was Megan the other day writing about Playboy magazine's decision to eschew female nudity. She mentions the "pickup artist" subculture of today, "PUAs" for short, with scorn and disapproval. Sample quote:
Sexual conquest has … moved down market, as pornography did, first with the introduction of raunchier Playboy competitors, and then in the move to the Internet, where sheer volume trumps production values. Playboy spoke to the moment between two sexual moralities: the age when sex was forbidden, and the age when sex became ubiquitous. In the moment between, the sight of men openly pursuing lots of sex had a sort of glamour, and a status, that it has now entirely lost.
End quote. I'm not sure Megan has got that quite right. I actually know some devotees of pickup-artistry, and they are not short on glamour or status. Every one of them, in fact, drives a much nicer car than I do.
PUAs, furthermore, are scientifically well-informed. Their ideas are founded on biology and evolutionary psychology. I wouldn't swear that they always draw the correct conclusions from their reading; but I am sure that the average PUA knows more about the cold facts of human nature than Megan does.
That aside, Megan's column got me thinking about the trajectory of attitudes to sex across my adult lifetime, the past fifty years.
It really has been a revolution. We have gone from an era when women were ashamed to get pleasure from sex to an era when they are ashamed not to; from an era when it was expected that a man's primary pleasures would be physical and intellectual while a woman's would be social and emotional, to an era when it is shockingly blasphemous to assert that there are any differences in proclivity between men and women; from an era when male-male buggery was universally regarded as a disgusting perversion to an era when it is a style of conjugal bonding to be "celebrated" by all good citizens.
There have been pluses and minuses from the sexual revolution. As a reactionary by temperament, I favor the older ethic of reticence and restraint; but for all the absurdities, stupidities, and dishonesties of the new order, I think there has probably been a net increase in human happiness. David Kynaston, in his fine multi-volume history of postwar Britain, quotes some surveys of people's sexual lives in the 1950s. The commonest attitude of married women to sex at that time was, they found, one of, quote, "passive endurance." All right, that was Britain; but I doubt it was only Britain.
Where is sex going, though? In my book We Are Doomed I expressed the opinion that sexual intercourse is losing its market share among human activities. I still think so.
From my observations of the younger generation, they don't seem much interested in sex: nothing like as interested as we were fifty years ago. The social formalities you have to go through to get to coitus are still pretty demanding, and people are less and less inclined to do demanding things. Who needs Playboy when internet porn is freely available? Who will need human sex partners when sexbot technology has gone through a couple more upgrades? I predict a low-sex future.
A footnote here. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s there was a keen competition between Playboy and the rival skin mag Penthouse to see which could push the envelope furthest on depictions of female nudity. This competition was jocularly known as the Pubic Wars.
The climatic … if you'll pardon the expression … the climatic battle in those wars was fought over whether or not to show the external female genitalia in their full uncloaked glory.
Penthouse made the first moves in that direction; and the jargon at the time in mens-magazine publishing circles was that they had "gone pink." There followed much predicting and counter-predicting about whether or not Playboy would also "go pink."
I forget whether or not Playboy did actually "go pink." My main point here is only that there ought to be some equivalent piece of insider jargon to describe the move Playboy made this week in the opposite direction. "Go gray"? "Go dark"? "Go … plaid"?
Suggestions on a postcard, please, to Radio Derb, c/o VDARE.com.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Flatulence is not a topic we have given much coverage to on Radio Derb. That's remiss of us, as flatulence is a feature of the human landscape in all times and places. It has generated noteworthy remarks and even lengthy commentary from such historical luminaries as Elizabeth the First of England and Benjamin Franklin.
Well, flatulence is in the news. From website The Smoking Gun, October 2nd, quote:
A Pennsylvania man was fired from his job at a pork roll producer due to extreme flatulence brought on by gastric bypass surgery, according to a discrimination lawsuit filed by the man's wife.
End quote. The gravamen of the case is that this Pennsylvanian gent, 70-year-old Richard Clem, finding himself in a condition of morbid obesity, underwent bypass surgery. The flatulence is a result of that surgery, claims the lawsuit.
We are not told why the lawsuit is being filed by Mrs Clem rather than by the victim himself. I did form the intention of calling on the Clem household to clarify the matter, but had second thoughts. There are some doors man was never meant to open.
Item: Tipping. What do we think about tipping?
The news story here is that Union Square Hospitality Group, which encompasses thirteen of New York City's restaurants, will eliminate tipping from its properties as of November. There will be an across-the-board increase in prices to make up for the extra remuneration to tipless wait staff.
I think most people feel as I do: That tipping is a bit silly, but it's one of those harmless minor features of the social world we've all gotten used to and can barely be bothered to have a real opinion about.
If I must have an opinion, I say let's get rid of tipping. Unless the waiter has been exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, I just divide the bill amount by seven then round up to get the tip amount; but performing mental arithmetic after four or five slugs of Pinot Grigio is a chore I'll be glad to dispense with.
I'm not sure this will work at the really high end of the business, though. It used to be the case, and for all I know still is, that places like the London Waldorf hired wait staff on negative salaries. That is, instead of the employer paying the employee to do the job, the employee paid the employer for the privilege of working there, the tips easily covering that with a living wage left over.
Those highest-end places may soon be the only establishments that have wait staff. What waiters do can easily be robotized, with great cost savings to the restaurant. There is already a fully automated restaurant in San Francisco. Middle-class diners of 2025 will order on an iPad and get their food by drone. Perhaps restaurants will just disappear, as cinemas are doing.
Skivvy labor is headed for extinction. Someone please tell me again why we need mass unskilled immigration …
Item: Back there in the Playboy segment I mentioned the world of the pickup artists, the PUAs. My interest in pickup artistry is entirely academic. I am way too old and way too married for the skills they promote to be of any practical use to me.
I do admire the realism and gross political incorrectness of the PUA promoters, though, and am a regular visitor to one of their foremost blogs, the one that calls itself Chateau Heartiste. The author of the blog has a forthright way with language that tickles my fancy. This is a minority taste, I'm sure, and I don't expect all listeners to share it with me, but it makes a lively change from the anodyne droning of politicians.
Here's a sample, the lead two paragraphs of the Chateau's October 13th post, whose title is: "The Black Lives Matter Narrative Is Bogus," which of course is true. Quote:
Black Lives Matter is the name of a political/social bowel movement pushed out into the toilet bowl formerly known as America by a diarrhetic alliance of Talented Tenth high yellas and pathologically ethnomasochistic and xenophilic white equalist leftoids. Its premise is the belief, outright asserted or heavily implied, that White cops are gunning down innocent dindu nuffins for the crime of having a black body, as Ta-Nigesi Coates might put it.
End quote. The blog post goes on for another eleven hundred words, ending with, short quote: "Race creationism kills. It is time to kill the lies that animate the race creationists," end quote. Which is also true.
As I said, the Chateau style is not to everyone's taste. Give the guy this, though, at least: He doesn't sugar the pill.
Item: One more restaurant item to finish with. A Subway sandwich restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska was destroyed on October 13th by a naked woman.
Thirty-five-year-old Nikki Abrell of that municipality went into the Subway around 5 p.m. Tuesday and locked herself in the bathroom for two hours, refusing to come out. When at last she did come out she was as Nature intended, though I'm not sure Nature intended it in Alaska. Anyway, the naked Nikki nuked the joint. She smashed the furniture, pulled down ceiling tiles, threw food around, set off fire extinguishers and smeared the premises with her own waste products.
Ms Abrell is now in jail, charged with third-degree criminal mischief, harassment and resisting arrest.
Other than fitting in with a vaguely scatological theme in the Miscellany here, this story isn't particularly newsworthy. We don't get many stories out of Alaska, though, so we have to take what comes.
08 — Signoff. That's all for this week, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening.
Those Atlantic provinces of Canada where the Derbs were traveling last week were formerly, back in the 17th century, a part of French Canada, known collectively as "Acadia." Then, as hostility between Britain and France heated up through the first half of the 18th century, the Brits expelled the French settlers from Acadia en masse, shipping a lot of them to British colonies like Georgia and the Carolinas. The deportees were Roman Catholic, though, which made them unpopular in British America. Seeking somewhere more congenial, a lot of them resettled in Louisiana, which was Spanish until 1801. And that's how the Acadians became the Cajuns.
Forgive me if you already knew all that, as I'm sure my erudite listenership mostly does. It's just an excuse to give you some Cajun music, or at least Cajun-inspired music, for signoff.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Hank Williams, "Jambalaya."]