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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your irrationally genial host John Derbyshire, gazing out through the studio window here at the very first daffodils of spring. It puts me in mind of Wordsworth, of course; but also of a later English poet — and, I must say, one somewhat closer to my own psychic wavelength — Philip Larkin, the man who said, quote: "Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth."
Speaking of deprivation: You will be deprived of Radio Derb next week. I shall be on the road, in fact in England for a family event, and so Radio Derb will skip a week. My apologies in advance.
End of bulletin board; let's see what's been happening in the news.
02 — Visiting depredation upon the climate of inclusivity. I very nearly had another item to record in the annals of academic disinvitation — the disinviting, that is, by college presidents of outside speakers who they regard as likely to cause mental anguish to their students.
The disinvitee this time would have been political scientist Charles Murray. Dr Murray had been invited by the business school at Virginia Tech to give a talk on March 25th, one of a series of talks on capitalism and freedom.
Once the invitation became known, something called the Coalition for Justice posted a letter on its Facebook page urging the Dean of Students to cancel the invitation. Dr Murray, said the letter, has, quote, "been identified as a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center," end quote. The assumption there seems to be that the pronouncements of a sleazy mail-order racket are the gold standard for deciding who should and should not be invited to speak to students on our college campuses.
That was on March 7th. Dr Murray's speech, to remind you, was scheduled for March 25th.
I haven't been able to find any public response from the Dean of Students at the business school, whose name is Robert Sumichrast. My assumption, having myself recently engaged with some of these college-administration goodwhites, would be that he was too spineless to take a stand, and tossed the hot potato up to the college President instead.
Dr Murray is well known for his controversial and largely discredited work linking measures of intelligence to heredity, and specifically to race and ethnicity — a flawed socioeconomic theory that has been used by some to justify fascism, racism and eugenics.
Leaving aside for a moment that weasel word "discredited," which in pronouncements of this sort is merely a synonym for "unpopular with left-wing agitators," notice the phrase "has been used by some …"
Compare and contrast the following: "Marxism, a flawed socioeconomic theory that has been used by some to justify despotism and mass murder …" I wish I could think of a controversy over a Marxist being invited to speak on an American campus any time in these past few decades, but I can't.
However, President Sands did not disinvite Murray. Quote: "Even when views run counter to our Principles of Community, we cannot ignore them. We must engage." End quote. Well, one cheer for President Sands. He's a liar and an ignoramus, but not totally invertebrate. The latest I've heard is that Murray's March 25th talk will go ahead.
On the same day as President Sands' missive, March 10th, the student chapter of the NAACP at Virginia Tech posted an open letter of their own on their Facebook page, telling us that, quote, "Murray's research has been proven to be both ill-conceived and not scientific," and urging that Dr Murray's address be changed to, quote, "a panel that will allow a public forum." Translation: We want Dr Murray up on stage with half a dozen affirmative action faculty,each panel member speaking for five minutes maximum to an audience heavily loaded with affirmative action undergraduates.
On to March 13th, last Sunday. On that day came a blast from Virginia Tech's faculty, signed by 42 faculty members, mostly from the Department of Africana Studies. The actual Director of the Africana Studies program, name of Ellington Tyrone Graves, thundered that, quote, "including perspectives that visit depredation upon the climate of inclusivity is folly," end thunder.
Hold on a minute: Africana Studies? So that's about black women, right? But then, Ellington Tyrone Graves? Aren't those guy names? Looking him up on Google Images I see that, yes, Dr Graves is indeed andro-American. Shouldn't there be a female in charge of Africana Studies? Isn't this a case of cultural appropriation? Was Rachel Dolezal not available?
Whatever: On Thursday, March 17th, Charles Murray published an open letter of his own about the business. After all the postmodernist flapdoodle of the victimology crowd and the squirming and squealing of the college administration girly-men, Dr Murray's open letter is a model of civility, manliness, and affirmation of the scientific method.
Money quote, from the end of Dr Murray's letter, quote:
For two decades, I have had to put up with misrepresentations of The Bell Curve. It is annoying. After so long, when so many of the book's main arguments have been so dramatically vindicated by events, and when our presentations of the meaning and role of IQ have been so steadily reinforced by subsequent research in the social sciences, not to mention developments in neuroscience and genetics, President Sands's casual accusation that our work has been "largely discredited" was especially exasperating. The president of a distinguished university should take more care.
End quote. Dr Murray's letter can be read in full at the American Enterprise Institute website. Set against the shallow, ignorant sputtering of President Sands, not to mention the illiterate gibberish of that Africana Studies imbecile, it speaks volumes about the life of the mind in Western society today.
This little kerfuffle of course made me think of my disinvitation from Williams College last month. It would be impertinent to make much of the comparison, though. Dr Murray is a real scholar, who has distilled vast masses of data into readable, thought-provoking books about the nature and direction of human societies; I am just an opinionator with a bachelor's degree.
We do, though, in both cases, see the corruption and decay of the modern Academy, and the dismally low intellectual and moral quality of those holding administrative power in our universities.
03 — A glacier may be somebody's mother. However bad you think things are in our universities, trust me, they're worse.
Before I get to the news item here, let me remind you of the Sokal Hoax. Twenty years ago Alan Sokal, a professor of physics, submitted a paper to an academic journal named Social Text, which reports research in Cultural Studies. The title of the paper Sokal submitted was: "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity." Sokal wrote the paper by stringing together words and phrases of postmodernist jargon, broken up with quotations from Marxists like Louis Althusser and literary deconstructionists like Jacques Derrida. The paper was deliberate nonsense; Sokal just wanted to see if it would get past the editors of an academic journal in the Humanities. It did.
OK, now to the news item. This one has a hero and a villain. The hero is, like Charles Murray, a stalwart defender of the scientific method. This is Jerry Coyne, professor emeritus in biology at the University of Chicago, specializing, his faculty website tells us succinctly, in the origin of species. Prof Coyne did yeoman work when the Intelligent Design movement came up twenty years ago, arguing always in a gentlemanly and collegial way for the primacy of empirical inquiry and respect for data.
The villain is another professor, or at any rate associate professor, this time of history, at the University of Oregon. His name is Mark Carey and his faculty web page says he, quote, "specializes in environmental history and the history of science."
So what's the academic rumble here? Just this: the latter gent, Mark Carey, together with three co-authors, published a paper in an academic journal. Jerry Coyne, on his website, tossed and gored that paper, telling us it's an incoherent dog's breakfast of postmodernist woo.
The title of Mark Carey's paper is: "Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research." The journal that published it is named Progress in Human Geography. The journal's mission statement tells us that it, quote, "enables a space for debate about questions, concepts and findings of formative influence in human geography." Should that be a "safe space," perhaps? I don't know.
The aim of the paper is to bring a feminist perspective to the study of glaciers. Sample quote:
Structures of power and domination also stimulated the first large-scale ice core drilling projects — these archetypal masculinist projects to literally penetrate glaciers and extract for measurement and exploitation the ice in Greenland and Antarctica.
End quote. Glaciers, you see, have a feminine side that glaciologists, trapped in their patriarchal mindset, have failed to acknowledge … except, I guess, when penetrating them with their drills.
Further quote from Carey's paper:
Whereas glaciologists may try to measure glaciers and understand ice physics by studying the glacial ice itself, indigenous accounts do not portray the ice as passive, to be measured and mastered in a stereotypically masculinist sense. "The glaciers these women speak of," explains Cruikshank [that's some postmodernist author] "engage all the senses. [The glaciers] are willful, capricious, easily excited by human intemperance, but equally placated by quick-witted human responses."
One's first suspicion — Jerry Coyne says it was his first suspicion — must be that this is another hoax like the one Alan Sokal pulled off in 1996: a real scientist deliberately getting a paper full of nonsense published just to show up the lunacy of postmodernist scholarship.
No: Coyne has checked: the paper is for real. It has in fact created a bit of a stir in the academic cloisters, and Mark Carey has been out on the road defending it. Jerry Coyne links to an interview Carey did with Science magazine. Sample quote from Carey in that interview:
Ice is not just ice. Glaciers become the platform to express people's own views about politics, economics, cultural values, and social relations (such as gender relations). The attention during the last week proves our point clearly: that glaciers are, in fact, highly politicized sites of contestation. Glaciers don't have a gender.
Actually, prof, glaciers do have a gender. They're masculine in German, French, Italian, and Spanish, but neuter in Russian. I think I'm missing his point, though.
OK, you ready for the punch line? Mark Carey's work, including this paper on the need for a more sensitive, nurturing approach to the study of glaciers, is funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, to the amount so far of $413,000. That's our tax dollars, of course.
I'm looking now at the picture of Mark Carey on that faculty web page. It's one of those healthy, happy goodwhite faces: very much like Virgina Tech President Tim Sands — I think in fact they both have the same designer spectacle frames — or Williams College President Adam Falk.
Quote from Mark Carey in the interview at Science, quote:
Social scientists like myself work to understand those complex societies, their politics and economies, their cultures, and, yes, their gender relations because patriarchy and sexism marginalize certain segments of the population, just as racism marginalizes indigenous, Latino, and other peoples.
These are the goodwhites, the nice white people. Why do they dislike themselves, their own race, their own ancestors, their own sex, so much? Why do they speak and think such nonsense? Why do I so yearn to smack Mark Carey across his pleasant, smiling, nice white face with a two-by-four?
04 — Anti-Trump riot: Trump to blame. Wait … I think I hear the Radio Derb audience getting restless. I hear the chair legs scraping on the floor as you fidget. I see you glancing at your smartphones. I hear the muttering: Come on, Derb: enough of this academic inside baseball. Give us some POLITICS!
All right, all right. You want politics, I got politics.
The biggest political story this past week was the cancellation of a Donald Trump rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago. This happened last Friday, just after Radio Derb had gone to tape, so we missed it by a whisker.
The cause of the cancellation was mob violence. Here's a commentator at Reddit, quote:
I was listening to the police scanner throughout. Two people were shot in one of three separate shooting incidents … There were multiple assaults happening everywhere. It came over the scanner that a group of black protestors were targeting and assaulting white Trump supporters. Rioters were stealing Trump signs from supporters and ripping them up. They were throwing bottles and rocks at police. They managed to climb the walls of the parking garage and up on the third floor were hitting cars with bats and hammers smashing in windows. Two police officers were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. They were blocking highways and side streets trying to prevent people from leaving so they could attack them … It was insane. Even crazier was the fact that the media wasn't reporting on any of it.
When the media did get around to reporting it, they blamed it all on Trump. At a rally back in February Trump had said of a protestor that, quote, "The guards are being very gentle with him. I'd like to punch him in the face … We're not allowed to punch back any more … You know what they used to do to a guy like that in a place like this? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks."
"Aha," said the media, "you see? It was Trump that started it!"
Some of the air went out of this when it turned out that Barack Obama, back in the 2008 campaign, had told one of his rallies that, quote, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."
In fact this mini-specimen of Narrative Collapse has happened in previous campaigns. If your political memory goes back to the 2010 midterm you will recall the fuss about Sarah Palin putting out a map showing congressional districts she'd targeted as especially vulnerable marked with crosshairs, as if seen through a rifle scope. There was screaming and wailing about that for a day or two … until bloggers dug up similar maps from Democrat campaigns. Gun metaphors and military metaphors have been routine in politics just about for ever.
The Chicago protestors were the usual rabble of lefty students and black street thugs under the leadership of trained agitators on the George Soros payroll. Most of those attending the Trump rally were working- and middle-class white suburbanites, often family groups with children. It was a confrontation between anti-America and America, or to put it more bluntly, between barbarism and civilization. Barbarism won, and the media applauded.
So did Trump's rivals for the GOP nomination. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich all explicitly blamed Trump.
Notice that we're still actually in the Academy here. The rally venue was the University of Illinois. There have been complaints from the University police that they weren't properly equipped or prepared, were told to leave pepper spray in their lockers, and so on. Out of curiosity I just pulled up a picture of the UIC President, Timothy Killeen. He doesn't look like quite such a Pod Person as Mark Carey, Tim Sands, and Adam Falk; but he does, in the accompanying text, use the words "diverse" and "vibrant" without apparent irony. I'm guessing not a Trump voter.
The big question when the dust had settled from that Friday-night fracas, was whether this taint of street violence would stick to Trump and dissuade people from voting for him. The results from the week's primaries say not. Trump won Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina, all by decent margins. In Missouri he's neck and neck with Ted Cruz; as we go to tape here, they're still counting votes.
Trump's biggest victory, though, was in the North Marianas Islands, a U.S. territory up there in the northwest Pacific. He got 73 percent of the vote there. Now, you may not think that worth mentioning; but I'm working up a theme here, and I shall circle back to the Marianas after another segment or two.
05 — White trash lives matter! My old National Review colleague Kevin Williamson has been frightening the horses with a piece he posted at the National Review website the other day. It's a subscription website; you have to pay a quarter to read the article. I gritted my teeth and paid.
Kevin's theme is white trash. They're complaining, he says. They think their jobs were stolen by immigrants or shipped abroad by rapacious capitalists. They think they should be able to go on living in the place where they grew up, even after the jobs have left. They nurse, quote, "poorly informed and sentimental ideas about what those old Rust Belt factory jobs actually paid," end quote. They cherish, quote, "the concept of the nation as an extended family," end quote; and that's a European concept, not an American one. So says Kevin.
And look at what's happening to their lives, says Kevin, wandering over into Charles Murray territory. Their families have disintegrated. Divorce, drug addiction, suicide … Here we get to the politics. Longish quote:
It is easy to imagine a generation of young men being raised without fathers and looking out the window like a kid in an after-school special, waiting for Daddy to come home … Some of them end up grown men still staring out that window, waiting for the father-führer figure they have spent their lives imagining, the protector and vindicator who will protect them, provide for them, and set things in order.
End quote. Shall I pause for a nanosecond while you figure out who Kevin has in mind as the father-führer figure? R-i-ight. These are Trump voters!
It's all just victimology, says Kevin. Quote: "nobody did this to them. They failed themselves." Another longish quote — sorry, I just want to give you the full flavor of the piece. Quote:
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets … The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump's speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn't analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
This article of Kevin's generated a lot of outraged criticism, some of it fair, some not.
Among the fair criticism were people saying that Kevin would never write so scathingly about poor blacks; and, if he did, National Review would not publish it. Both things are true.
It is further true that, as dysfunctional as the white underclass may be, they are nothing like as antisocial, certainly nothing like as homicidal, as the black underclass. Nor are they anything like as big a proportion of the white population as underclass blacks are of the black population.
See, Kevin? I can say these things but you can't. Eat your heart out, pal.
I know Kevin fairly well. My rather strong impression is that he's a race realist, in an intuitive sort of way. I mean, he has no math or science, and understands nothing about the quantitative study of human nature; but at some level, he knows the score.
He is, though, young and ambitious. He can't take the kind of risks that a geezer like me, at the other end of life, can cheerfully take. He knows what happened to Jason Richwine, and he's not going to let it happen to him.
Further, he wants to cut a figure. Last week, you'll remember, I said there are really four political parties in the U.S.A. today:
Each party has its own dedicated commentariat. Well, Kevin wants to position himself as the Bad Boy of the donorist-capitalist-neocon commentariat, the one who says out loud what others merely think.
That does not, or course, mean saying unkind things about blacks: donorist-neocon types are just as prissy and hypocritical about race as liberals are, if not more so. Saying unkind things about white trash, however, works fine in those precincts.
I said there were some unfair reactions to Kevin's article. Mostly people picked on him for saying that economically derelict white trash communities deserve to die. This, said the critics, is sheer Tim-Wise-ery. Die, white trash!
Come on, guys, let's have a little respect for the meaning of words. Kevin said the communities should die. What he wishes for the people is that they should rent U-Hauls and get out of there.
My biggest problem with Kevin's piece is the glib conflating of Trump voters with the white underclass. Meth-addled white underclass types with chaotic lives don't vote, Kevin. Even if they did, there's nothing like enough of them to give Trump the numbers he's been getting. Trump voters, as I said up above, are mainly working- and middle-class suburban types — like me, and my next-door neighbors here. Just on those grounds, I'm going to call nonsense on Kevin's piece.
I'll have more words on it later. As I said, I'm cultivating a theme here, so let me work my way through one more news story first, then circle back.
06 — From the back of beyond. Here's a story from a very remote place — so remote that I am pretty sure Radio Derb has never before reported anything that happened there.
This remote place is the Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal. If you imagine yourself standing on the southeast coast of India looking eastwards across to Burma, the Andaman Islands are two-thirds of the way across, closer to Burma.
They belong to India, though, and it's the Indian authorities who have a problem there. The problem is on South Andaman Island, where there is a big reservation — 300 square miles — for the Jarawa, an aboriginal people whose ancestors have lived there very likely since the out-of-Africa event fifty or sixty thousand years ago. The reservation is guarded by a buffer zone patrolled by the local, that is Indian, police. Contact with the Jarawa is strongly discouraged. Policy is to leave them alone practicing their hunter-gatherer lifestyle in peace.
It doesn't always work out that way in practice, of course. For one thing, there is great curiosity on both sides. Tourists will pay good money to see the Jarawa up close, and Indian police are not best known for their reluctance to take bribes. And then of course the Jarawa, like any other human group, include some curious souls who want to get better acquainted with the strange machines and costumes of their civilized neighbors.
These latter, once they have snuck off the reservation for a look around, bring out with them their utter ignorance of the principle of private property, so things go missing. In the other direction, poachers find their way into the reservation and trade with the Jarawa, paying them — sometimes with alcohol — for help in finding shellfish beds and the like.
And the government has welfare officers to keep an eye on the tribe, to try to keep them isolated, and to ship serious medical cases to outside hospitals.
Well, someone from outside the reservation, probably a poacher, impregnated a Jarawa woman. She gave birth to a half-caste baby (the Jarawa are very black). The Jarawa don't like half-caste children, and generally kill them. So it happened here. Witnesses in the tribe identified a Jarawa man who'd snuck into the mother's hut one night and taken the baby. The witnesses later found the baby's body on the beach, drowned.
The baby's body has since disappeared. The Jarawa won't say what happened to it. Two outsiders have been arrested; the impregnator for rape, and a guy who gave liquor to the tribesman who abducted the baby. That tribesman, however, hasn't been arrested. Quote from the news story:
For now, the case does not seem headed for a swift resolution … The police superintendent … overseeing the case from the islands' capital, Port Blair, said it was straightforward enough from a constitutional perspective: "Nobody is above the law."
End quote. A sad little story, then. But why, of all the world's sad little stories, did this one get my attention? Because of Charles Murray, Mark Carey, Donald Trump, and Kevin Williamson, that's why.
Let me try to explain.
07 — The fatal impact. One of the great tragedies of history, repeated many times over, has been the fate of less-civilized people who have the misfortune to come into contact with more-civilized ones.
There are many books you can read about this. Alan Moorehead's The Fatal Impact, about the Pacific, is generally reckoned a classic. Charles Mann's books 1491 and 1493, which of course deal with the Americas, are also good. You need a strong stomach, though. These episodes are hard to read about.
The Marianas Islands, for example, where Donald Trump just won 73 percent of the Republican vote, were the territory of Micronesian hunter-gatherers until Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521. They actually stayed that way for a century or so more, until Spanish settlers showed up in numbers. Then diseases and miscegenation took over, and now the original Micronesians are barely a third of the population in the Northern Marianas.
Eskimos likewise. In my favorite travel book, An African in Greenland, the narrator, a West African Negro named Tété-Michel Kpomassie, is shocked by the squalid lives of Greenland's Eskimos under Danish rule. They've given up hunting, curing seal skins, canoes, igloos, and all the other Eskimo things, and mostly just sit around drinking, fornicating, and drawing welfare.
American Indians the same, of course. As recently as the mid-20th century there were earnest projects, both public and private, to lift reservation Indians out of their alcoholism and despair, give them some education, get them off welfare. Those efforts have mostly faded away. For the vast majority of Americans, our Indian policy is: Out of sight, out of mind. We go from one year's end to the next without thinking about Indians, except for the occasional casino joke.
In darker moments I wonder if at last we'll get to a reservation-type solution with the black underclass: just get tired of trying to help them, fence them off in their ghettos and try hard not to think about them, while of course welcoming the Talented Tenth among us as tokens of our humanity.
It's a story that's been told a thousand times over, from the aborigines of Australia to the highland Scots.
You belong to a people, with a territory, and a way of life that's suited you and your people for generations. Then along comes some other people with way better technology, including military technology. Suddenly the way of life your people cherished for all those generations, without even really thinking about it — it was the way of life — suddenly it's pointless. The gods have fled; you have no protection.
A few of your people, the smartest ones, will cross over to live among the new people, as they live. Far more of you won't or can't do that. For these, there is no good solution — nothing to do but yield to drink, despair, suicide.
And there we are with Kevin Williamson and the white underclass — not, I repeat, a synonym for Trump voters.
And here we are also with Charles Murray, who wrote about the problems of the white underclass in his 2012 book Coming Apart.
And yes, with Mark Carey too; for one of the responses to these recurring civilizational tragedies is for the conquerors to romanticize the conquered. The 18th century's Noble Savage; Sir Walter Scott's fearless highland warrior; the Indian brave of a thousand Hollywood B features; Gaugin's Polynesian maidens; even Australian Aborigines have had the treatment. Mark Carey's postmodernist blather about, quote, "other ways of knowing," and, quote, "folk glaciologies," and such, are in a venerable tradition.
The white underclass are the aborigines of the postindustrial age. It's absurd for Kevin Williamson to tell them to get a U-Haul and move out of their dying communities. They'll just be underclass whites somewhere else, with lives just as empty. There is no solution for them, any more than there is for Eskimos or aborigines, other than the one they've found in drink, drugs, and despair. The smart, capable, and energetic ones will escape and get lives, as always happens; the rest will sink into squalor.
Charles Murray is at least more honest about this than is Kevin Williamson. Last July I reviewed three social science books in a column for VDARE: one of them was Murray's Coming Apart, another was Robert Putnam's Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. I linked to a televised debate between Murray and Putnam, where Murray says this:
[Clip: Bob has already referred to my take-away from all this with the ways in which we really need a civic Great Awakening. However, I've got to say that the fact is, civic Great Awakenings have about as much chance of transforming what's going on as a full implementation of Bob's "purple" programs does.
And if you think that's the bad news, talk to an AI alarmist — one of those people, I mean, and the category includes some very smart people indeed, like Elon Musk and Steven Hawking — one of those people who think that Artificial Intelligence will advance to a point where all of us, our entire species, is the aborigines, our culture superseded by one much more advanced, Homo sapiens shuffled off into reservations to drink ourselves to death.
Yesterday, the Eskimos and Apaches; today, the white underclass; tomorrow perhaps you and me. Who knows? Perhaps genetic engineering will save the day; though it could equally well, of course, make the whole thing worse.
Like Charles Murray, I hope for a better outcome, but I do not expect it.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Speaking of Charles Murray and Virginia Tech back there, I mentioned the Williams College fiasco of last month. I promise not to make this a running feature on Radio Derb, but I do have some news that may be of interest.
I have to be circumspect here, for reasons that will be immediately clear. Suffice it to say that some people who know me — Williams alumni and outside persons active in support of academic freedom — tried to set up an off-campus event where I could speak to any students and faculty that cared to attend. They asked me if I would speak under those circumstances. I said I would.
Nothing came of it, however. I assumed, in my self-effacing way, it was just lack of interest. Talking with one of the people involved, though, he said no, students had been scared off by all the fuss. They were worried that their college careers might be affected by association with me.
Now that is scary. I'm a mild-mannered sort of fellow. Like Thomas More in the play, "I do none harm, I speak none harm, I think none harm." If you can get socially ostracized on campus for listening to me, there is something badly wrong somewhere.
Item: Is it just me, or is cruising out of control? No, this is nothing to do with Ted Cruz — pay attention, please. This is cruising as in huge ships with great mounds of food stacked up in all the public places and small friendly brown people catering to your every whim.
I've been reading about this newest behemoth, Harmony of the Seas — "an astonishing feat of engineering," it says here. The thing cost over a billion dollars to build. It has 18 decks and 16 restaurants, and includes, among other wonders, a scaled down version of New York's Central Park. Hmm … wonder if that comes with muggers?
Fully booked, Harmony of the Seas will carry 6,200 passengers and 2,400 crew. Some halfwit at the Royal Caribbean publicity department said the ship is so big, you'll need a GPS to find your way back to your cabin; which, if you think about it, makes no sense once the thing is under way, unless Royal Caribbean is deliberately trying to dump passengers in the sea.
All right, I know, I'm a wet blanket, but I can't help wondering how long it'll be before some terrorist fruitcakes figure out how to infiltrate and take control of one of these seaborne leviathans. If they send one of those to the bottom, with eight and a half thousand people on board, it'll kill the cruise industry stone dead.
I really hope this doesn't happen. People I love and admire are regular cruisers. As the saying goes, though, the crazies only have to get lucky once; the cruise operators have to stay lucky for ever.
Item: Finally, just one more outrage from the Academy. Students at the University of California-Davis rented a pair of sumo suits for a campus party. Sumo suits — did you know there was such a thing as a sumo suit? I didn't.
A sumo suit is just a huge padded yellow thing you wear to appear really fat, like a sumo wrestler. It comes with a shiny black wig, complete with sumo wrestler top-knot. So you get a couple of these suits and pretend to sumo wrestle, while your fraternity buddies stand around cheering you on.
For the grievance lobbies this was a twofer. One, there's the cultural appropriation of white kids dressed up as Japanese. Then two, there's the whole fat-shaming thing. The quantity of grievance here was enough to bend light.
Quote from student Phil Jones on his Facebook page, quote:
I was shocked. February 19th was Remembrance Day for Japanese internment during WWII, and some of my Japanese friends were heavily traumatized by seeing their culture mocked in such a clearly racist fashion. Not to mention, as a heavy-American, I don't appreciate the blatant Fat-Shaming involved with caricaturing one of the few sports traditionally enjoyed by Heavy individuals.
End quote. Mr Jones went on to demand, quote, "reparations payments" for, quote, "affected individuals."
That's the first time I've seen the phrase "heavy-American" in print, hyphenated. I doubt it'll be the last. What next? A Department of Heavy Studies? An NAAHP? Heavy Lives Matter? It can only be a matter of time.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening; and may I mention once again that I shall be in a remote location next week, unable to record the podcast. I beg your forgiveness.
Listeners who are mathematically inclined will know that Monday this week was Pi Day in the American calendar, written three point fourteen. In England, where they write the day before the month, Pi Day doesn't occur until July 22nd, written 22-slash-7.
In honor of Pi Day, here is Ned Raggett's 2004 recording of himself reciting the first thousand digits of pi. Ned manages to accomplish this in less than a minute … with some assistance from my sound editing software.
More from Radio Derb next week. Take it away, Ned.
[Music clip: Ned Raggett, Pi.]