»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, June 3rd, 2016

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, fife'n'drum version.]

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome to the show, ladies and gentlemen. This is of course your celebratorially genial host John Derbyshire with our weekly roundup of the news from a skeptically reactionary viewpoint.

But what, I hear you ask, am I celebrating? My birthday, that's what. I'm 71 years young today. [Applause.] Thank you, thank you.

That's a prime number, of course. It is in fact one of the very rare prime numbers that divide exactly into the sum of all lesser primes. We only know five such numbers. If there is a sixth one, it's bigger than a hundred trillion, so lotsa luck finding it.

Today is also my 25,934th day on earth. That's not a prime: my birthday hasn't fallen on a prime day number since 2012. It is, though, the double of a prime. I'll take what I can get.

I know: I'm rambling. It's my birthday. I can ramble. When it's your birthday, you can ramble. OK?

OK, let's see what shape the world's in while I'm scarfing down chocolate cake and bourbon.

This current U.S. election cycle is royal fun, of course, and I'm enjoying it as much as the rest of you. Here at Radio Derb, though, I try to keep tabs on the big things that are happening in our time: the social, cultural, and scientific tides that shape our world.

This week I'll ignore politics and pass comment on some of those big things: on the great movements of people from poor, dysfunctional countries into prosperous, stable ones; on the future of labor, as gadgets do more and more of what humans do; and of the crisis in education, as our efforts to make silk purses out of pig's ears become ever more frantic.

02 — The world capital of ethnomasochism.     So first, those great migrations. Here are some news stories from Sweden, a major destination for the hordes of blacks and Muslims "seeking a better life" as the saying goes — as if any human being ever went out from home seeking a worse life.

Six years ago I reviewed Eric Kaufmann's book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? My review included the following quote from the book, from a passage where Kaufmann has been crunching demographic numbers, quote:

Most large Western European countries will be between 10 and 15 percent Muslim in 2050, though Sweden may approach 20-25 percent.

I remember being a bit surprised at that. Sweden? France or Britain, sure, but Sweden?

Well, that was six years ago, and the numbers Kaufmann was using were from earlier than then; perhaps from ten years ago, but at any rate before the current great movements really got going.

Last year Sweden took in 163,000 self-identified "refugees," the great majority of them Muslims. That's into a country of less than ten million. That's a 1.6 percent increase in your country's population in just one year.

And that doesn't really tell the story. If you break down Sweden's population by age and sex, males aged 15 to 24 numbered 617,000 in mid-2014. I don't know what proportion of last year's inflow were males in that age range, but from news pictures of them it looks pretty darn high — eighty or ninety percent, I'd say. I'll give all benefit of the doubt to the other side, though, and assume it's only three-quarters.

That would be 120,000 males aged 15 to 24 coming into Sweden last year. As a proportion of the 2014 numbers in that cohort, that would be near enough twenty percent. Males aged 15 to 24 in Sweden increased by twenty percent, on a conservative estimate, just last year.

Did I mention that of last year's 163,000 inflow, less than 500 got jobs, though practically all are eligible for work under Swedish law? Well there, I mentioned it. Did I mention that two-thirds of incomers are illiterate even in their own languages? Well, now I've mentioned that too. How about that of those classified as refugees, only one in three can support themselves after fifteen years in the country? There you go.

Didn't Sweden just introduce border controls, though? Yes they did. As a result of those controls, the country's Migration Agency says it expects only between 70,000 and 140,000 this year.

If they get the high end of that range — and actual numbers have a nasty tendency to come out at the high end, if not above it: you could ask Britain's Prime Minister Cameron about that — and if the age and sex profile is the same, Sweden's 15-to-24 male cohort could have increased by close to fifty percent in just two years.

Two spinoff stories on Sweden. First story: There are now more men than women in Sweden, for the first time since records began 200 years ago.

Human populations almost always have more women than men, on Mother Nature's principle that sperm is cheap but eggs are expensive. Men get killed off by fighting, hunting, dangerous kinds of work, and diseases related to higher testosterone levels. As P.J. O'Rourke sagely observed: "We men die earlier than women do. That's our revenge."

Well, Sweden's bucking that near-universal trend. Quote from the Associated Press news report, May 30th, quote:

Statistics officials say Sweden's demographic shift is mainly due to men catching up with women in terms of life expectancy. But the arrival in recent years of tens of thousands of unaccompanied teenage boys from Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa is also having a significant impact.

Sweden's biggest male surplus is in the 15-19 age group, where there are 108 boys for every 100 girls. That imbalance could grow to 115-to-100 this year when the impact of last year's record number of asylum-seekers … is reflected in the population statistics.

End quote.

Second spinoff story: Sweden now leads Europe in sexual assaults. By some reports, Sweden leads the world, ahead of such contenders as Jamaica and Brazil.

Those numbers need taking with a pinch of salt. Sweden is the most aggressively feminist country in Europe. Early in the last decade they passed a raft of laws widening the definition of sexual assault, to the degree it became a joke elsewhere on the continent. When I was in London in 2005, if you stepped on a woman's toe in the elevator, she'd say, "That's rape in Sweden!" and everybody would laugh.

Even discounting for that, though, the situation in Sweden is dire. A newspaper report early this year found widespread fear among Swedish women. And of course, just as here, there's a taboo on news outlets reporting the race or ethnicity of criminals, unless they're indigenous whites.

That prediction Eric Kaufmann made six years ago, Sweden 20-25 percent Muslim by mid-century, I'd say needs seriously revising.

Whether or not Sweden is truly the rape capital of the world on sensible definitions, it is surely the ethnomasochism capital of the world.

03 — Burglar falls down basement steps, breaks neck.     Down in the Mediterranean, meanwhile, the weather's warmed up and the boats are being launched.

Sample quotes from a Washington Post report, June 3rd, quotes:

With warmer weather and seas, smugglers have been packing migrants into unseaworthy boats by the tens of thousands, launching off from North Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to try to reach Europe …

The spokesman for Libya's Red Crescent says the death toll of migrants whose boat sank off Libya's shore has reached 107, including 40 women and five children. All but a few are from African countries …

Libya's navy spokesman says that more than 100 bodies of migrants have been retrieved from the Mediterranean after a smuggling boat capsized off Libya's shores … He blamed Europe for "doing nothing but counting bodies" to stop the massive illegal migration from Libya.

End quotes. There's a line of commentray you get from liberal commentators on these African boat people: that it's all a human tragedy, these people drowning in search of a better life, and we really should do something, because of them.

Here for example is Father Tom Smolich, Director of Jesuit Refugee Service International, talking on Vatican Radio, quote:

To keep letting people drown in the Mediterranean Sea is a scandal and it is immoral.

I have issues with that approach. No, of course I don't wish a drowning death on anyone, certainly not little kids. On the other hand, the people we're talking about, including the parents of those kids, are drowning in attempted performance of a criminal act — breaking into someone else's country without permission. If a burglar looting my house falls down the basement steps and breaks his neck, well, I wish he hadn't, but I don't think the word "tragedy" is appropriate.

And if it happens again, and again, and a fourth or fifth or tenth time, I get to the point where I shrug and say, "He had it coming." That's how normal human emotions work.

If I want to apply the word "tragedy" at this point, I'd rather apply it to situations like Sweden's, where some terrible collective character flaw in a nation's people makes them yield passively to an invasion by unfriendly aliens from backward cultures.

The utter cluelessness of the Europeans about what they're up against was beautifully illustrated last week by a Dutch architect, name of Theo Deutinger. This chap has proposed building an artificial island in the Mediterranean between Africa and Italy.

The name of the island will be EIA, which stands for Europe in Africa. It will be, quote, "a separate state with its own constitution, economic and social system, complete with a university, a football stadium, airport and local government," end quote. The population will consist entirely of African boat people. The headline in the London Daily Mail says, quote, Architects design a city incorporating the best of Europe and Africa.

The sheer level of denial there is breathtaking. "The best of Europe and Africa"? I don't have much trouble coming up with candidates for the best of Europe: cathedral architecture, symphonic music, parliamentary government, orderly social life, mathematics and science, drama and literature. Best of Africa? … Sorry, I'm drawing a blank.

The African boat people don't want an island where they can plant a society as corrupt, dysfunctional, and poor as the ones they have left. What they do want is to live in orderly, prosperous European countries. To put it very bluntly, as I did once in a VDARE.com article that had the PC crowd shrieking and swooning — to put it bluntly, they want to live under white supremacy. Life under white supremacy is the good life, and they know it.

Why go to the trouble of creating a land where the boat people can live? They already have lands where they can live. The lands have names like Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, and Chad. Those places aren't overpopulated. Senegal has 194 people per square mile: Denmark is twice as densely populated as that, India nearly six times as densely. Even Nigeria, at 500 to the square mile, is less densely populated than Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Britain, or Japan.

At this point a naughty commentator says to the boat people: "Fix your own countries, you people!"

I'm naughtier than that. I doubt Africans can fix their own countries. If they could, wouldn't they have done so by now? They don't have the human capital. They don't have enough smart people, a state of affairs not improved when the smart people they do have are allowed to settle in Europe and America.

So what's the solution? I don't know. I do know what is not the solution, though: for Europe to continue tolerating the boat people.

Here's my suggestion: smart landing craft. I'm talking about landing craft like those that took the Normandy beaches on D-Day, but made smart with some cheap 21st-century technology: GPS, basic steering, small slow tamper-proof motors. Pick up the boat people, load 'em into the landing craft, then point the thing back at North Africa, programmed to avoid rocks and seek out a decent beach, and send 'em home.

No doubt there are problems you might raise with my smart-landing-craft plan. Please admit, though, that by comparison with that Dutch architect's bizarre scheme for an artificial island, it's a very model and exemplar of cool sanity. So if his idea made newspaper headlines, why shouldn't mine?

04 — The coming jobocalypse.     Here's a different big issue of our time. It's one that I bang on about a lot, I know. Here I am banging on about it some more.

This is the issue of work, and the displacement of human beings by smart machines. It's been going on in slow motion for a while now. Assembly lines are long gone, replaced by robot factories. The supermarket checkout line has nearly disappeared. The job title "warehouse worker" is on the endangered list. Driverless vehicles are buzzing around California highways. We book our plane tickets and car rentals online, and auto-check-in at the airport.

True, airport security is still in human hands. We've been having some severe issues with that, though — issues of the kind that call out for automation and spur the designers of smart machines.

I'll confess I have trouble imagining a machine as smart as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Sir Isaac Newton; but a machine as smart as the average TSA employee? Come on, how hard can it be?

Economists are the very last people to go to for insights into this issue. They all learn in their undergraduate courses about buggy-whip makers. Once upon a time, their professors tell them, we rode around in horse-drawn buggies. We needed whips to keep the horses alert, and buggy-whip makers to supply the whips. Then the automobile came in, and buggy-whip makers were out of work. What did they do? They got jobs as auto mechanics!

It's a great story, and they all drink it in from the professor's teat at Economics 101. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in my world-bestriding bestseller We Are Doomed, it doesn't necessarily scale up. Not all sequences are infinite sequences. Sometimes there is no following term. Quote from myself:

What is the next term in the series: farm, factory, office, …? There isn't one.

So, what shall we all do? Most urgently, what will the left-hand side of the Bell Curve do?

A sort of solution, if we can get the financing aspect worked out, is guaranteed, unconditional basic income. I noted in our May 13th podcast that Switzerland is holding a national referendum on this June 5th, this Sunday, which is why I'm bringing it up again. We should watch that referendum closely, as a straw in the wind.

The main argument against the guaranteed basic income is exactly in the financing of it. Swiss voters seem aware of this. How would we pay for it? they're asking; and this seems to be the main reason the proposal will probably fail in referendum.

I'm not going to gainsay the good people of Switzerland on that point. They have the fifth richest nation in the world, in spite of zero natural resources, so presumably they know a thing or two about finance. I would say, though, that financing doesn't look to me to be an insuperable problem. Haven't we already mostly solved it, actually? Don't our current welfare systems essentially supply something very much like a guaranteed basic income, only very inefficiently — via a confusing tangle of different programs that smart moochers can game and dumb helpless poor people get lost in?

It's not just Switzerland, either. The Netherlands is starting up some local experiments in guaranteed basic income next year, and the goverment of Finland published a report in March suggesting a partial model, restricted again by the financing issue.

Our own beloved New York Times ran a discussion of the topic back in March, between business writer Farhad Manjoo and economist Eduardo Porter. The economist was, as I would have predicted, pretty clueless. Sample quote from him:

The lack of good work is probably best addressed by making the work better — better paid and more skilled — and equipping workers to perform it, rather than offering a universal payment unrelated to work.

End quote. How do you make work better, Mr Economist? I'm a doctor's receptionist, or a paralegal, or a crane operator, or a cop, or a nurse. How are you going to make my work better?

Then, when the business guy suggests that computer programmers, at least, have jobs for life, the economist switches sides for a moment, quote:

I've read about robots that can program. So maybe the programmers aren't safe either.

End quote. For goodness' sake: Self-correcting code has been around for ever. It's inherent in the von Neumann architecture that all our computers work from. Machine learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence are huge and busy fields. And this guy gets to opinionate in the New York Times? Pshaw!

Well, we'll see what the cheese-heads up in the Alps come out with on Sunday. Most likely they'll vote the guaranteed basic income down. That won't be the last you hear of the topic, though. That is guaranteed.

05 — I see you, and I know who you are.     Getting into the upcoming birthday spirit last Thursday, I did what we often do at such times, now that the internet makes it easy: I revisited my wasted youth.

The particular way I wasted my youth — well, one of the ways — was reading science fiction. So on Thursday I was browsing some collector websites showing old issues of sci-fi magazines from the 1950s and 1960s.

What should I find myself looking at but the cover of the May 1959 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction. I remembered that cover! Cover story: "I See You," by Harry Harrison. The story was about a world of the future where everybody was under video surveillance all the time.

I can't find text of the story on the web, but as I recall it ends with the hero breaking into the data center and trashing the computer that runs all the video monitors.

Whatever: The world of that story, of "I See You," is here, 57 years later. Story from MarketWatch, June 3rd, headline: Facial recognition will soon end your anonymity. Sample text, quote:

Nearly 250 million video surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the world, and chances are you've been seen by several of them today. Most people barely notice their presence anymore … We accept the fact that we are constantly being recorded because we expect this to have virtually no impact on our lives. But this balance may soon be upended by advancements in facial recognition technology.

Soon anybody with a high-resolution camera and the right software will be able to determine your identity …

End quote. The MarketWatch story goes on to describe the fast progress being made in facial recognition software. Yep; they've not only got your picture, they know who you are. Further quote:

A new app called FindFace, recently released in Russia … allows anybody to snap a photo of a passerby and discover their real name — already with 70 percent reliability.

End quote. So, goodbye to anonymity.

I'd actually come across this a couple of weeks ago, before reading that article. I've been running Microsoft Windows 7 on my laptops for the past few years. I never tried Windows 8 — everyone told me it was a complete turkey. However, I at last took the free upgrade to Windows 10, which has been getting good reports. To help me master it I bought David Pogue's book Windows 10: The Missing Manual.

On page 571 I learned that I can log in to my Windows 10 account without any password or fingerprint nonsense. Windows 10 can do the job by face recognition. Quote from Pogue, who I've found pretty reliable as a tech writer, quote: "You can't fool it with a photograph, a 3D model of your head, or even an identical twin!" End quote. You do need a gizmo from Intel, something called a RealSense camera, but they're already available in some laptops.

Nineteen fifty-nine looks pretty innocent, doesn't it? They don't just see us; they know who we are.

A few months back a British TV station ran a reality show about getting off the grid — dropping out from the database society into full, anonymous independence. The only couple that really pulled it off closed all their bank and credit card accounts, sold their house and car, kept great wads of cash, traveled by bicycle, and lived in the woods.

I was impressed at the time. Now, just a few months later, with universal face recognition coming up over the horizon, seems to me that couple would have to up their game somehow.

Perhaps there's a case to be made for the burka after all.

06 — Black privilege watch.     Next big socio-cultural topic: black privilege, with special reference to our college campuses.

Living as a white guy in America after having grown up elsewhere, I must say, I don't see much ill-will towards blacks among my fellow whites. There are traces of it, I know; I read the comment threads. The vast majority of white Americans, however, wish no harm to blacks, nor any restriction of their civil rights. I never hear that from people I mix with, and I mix with all sorts.

What I do hear is a constant, steady, undercurrent of resentment, expressed in guarded tones for fear of the taboo enforcers — resentment of what you can only call black privilege.

That's what I hear: resentment of black privilege. You know what I mean: the affirmative action slots and set-asides, the excuses and free passes, the mealy-mouthed newspaper reports about "the robber was a tall man in his thirties," all that.

You don't file your taxes, you end up in jail; Al Sharpton doesn't file his taxes, he's invited to the White House. Black privilege.

It makes for resentment. It goes against the American grain. We're supposed to be a country without a privileged class.

I was at a party the other day chatting to a middle-aged white American guy I know, a teacher in a New York City public school. He was complaining about the difficulty of disciplining kids. Quote: "He does something truly outrageous, you send him to the principal's office; an hour later he's back at his desk, laughing at you."

In situations like that, I try to encourage people to be more frank, which most people won't be without encouragement. So I asked straight out if this was the result of official guidelines — city, state, or federal — about easing up on disciplining blacks. "Oh yeah!" said the guy, relieved to be with someone he could open up to. "A white or an Asian kid, they'd get suspended for sure. A black kid, same offense — right back in his desk an hour later."

That's the resentment, resentment at unfairness. I hear it all the time.

I read it, too. Here I am reading it on CampusReform.org, an excellent and very fair website, by no means Alt-Right. The story is dated June 2nd, headline: Dartmouth gives BLM students pass for profane library protest.

BLM is of course Black Lives Matter, George Soros's latest front in the war against normal life in the U.S.A. The profane library protest occurred last November 12th — you may remember it — when 150 BLM activists descended on the Dartmouth college library where students were engaged in quiet study and research.

The activists made a lot of noise, addressing white students with well-documented screams of "F*** you, you filthy white f***s!," and "F*** you, you racist s***!" There was a certain amount of touching and shoving, although no-one seems to have been socked in the jaw — a sad fact by itself, in my personal opinion.

Well, the administration of Dartmouth college conducted a lengthy investigation of this outrageous incident. Their conclusion was spelled out in a letter to Dartmouth alumni from Meg Ramsden, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations. Sample quote:

The College … after concluding its investigation with respect to the complaints and studying what was seen in the video in Baker-Berry Library … determined that there were no specific violations of the Standards of Conduct. In essence, no rules for which there are recorded and communicated sanctions were broken.

End quote.

Translation: Nothing to see here, folks. Move along, please.

I leave you to imagine the consequences if 150 nonblack students had occupied the library and screamed obscenities at blacks trying to study. Blacks, however, get away with it. Why? Black privilege.

07 — Freedom of screech at Yale (cont.)     In related news, also from CampusReform.org, we hear about Mr and Mrs Christakis of Yale University. Radio Derb reported on them last November. The Christakises, you may remember, supervised Silliman College, one of Yale's residential facilities.

The occasion of that November report was a protest by black students against Mrs Christakis. The Intercultural Affairs Committee had sent out a campus-wide email warning students to be sensitive when selecting their Halloween costumes, so that nobody's feelings would be hurt by seeing a turban, a feathered headdress, or a sombrero, or — oh, heaven forbid! — anyone in blackface.

Well, Mrs Christakis had pushed back gently against that email, sending out an email of her own to Silliman students, saying, inter alia, quote:

American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition … Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?

That got the protestors out, screeching and wailing at Mrs Christakis for her shameful, unthinkably insensitive defense of free expression.

That was last November. The protests never stopped. Mr and Mrs Christakis have been under some level of harassment ever since. At the Silliman College graduation ceremony May 23rd, several students refused to accept their diplomas from Mr Christakis.

Now the Christakises have had enough. Mr Christakis has withdrawn from his administrative duties at Silliman, and will concentrate on his teaching and research. Mrs Christakis is quitting college work altogether, resuming her previous career in early childhood education because, actual quote from her, "preschool students don't try to get you fired." Hey, be careful, lady; don't give them ideas.

The Yale administration has of course been vigorous in defense of the Christakises, and in disciplining the black students who have been harassing, intimidating, and insulting them this past seven months. [Laughter.] Just kidding there, of course. In fact Yale admin has cringed and whimpered before Black Privilege as colleges always do.

It is of course redundant to point out that if the races were reversed here, black administrators driven to resignation by screeching white brats, Interstate 95 would be backed up all the way to the New York state line with carloads of investigators and prosecutors from the Federal Department of Justice determined to root out the perpetrators and wreck their lives.

Black privilege: We're fed up with it. Is there a way back to equal, impartial treatment for all Americans? Not outcomes: innate race differences will always prevent that, but treatment?

08 — Blank Slatism at the Times.     Just one more while I'm on the education beat. This is from the other end of the Ed Biz spectrum, infant education.

The item under scrutiny here is an Op-Ed in the New York Times, June 2nd, by bigfoot reporter and social pundit Nicholas Kristof. Title: Too Small to Fail.

Kristof's Op-Ed is a plea for more resources for early-childhood education. How early? What, like preschool?

Kristof is way beyond that. Quote:

Actually, preschool may be a bit late. Brain research in the last dozen years underscores that the time of life that may shape adult outcomes the most is pregnancy through age 2 or 3.

"The road to college attainment, higher wages and social mobility in the United States starts at birth," notes James Heckman, a Nobel-winning economist at the University of Chicago. "The greatest barrier to college education is not high tuitions or the risk of student debt; it's in the skills children have when they first enter kindergarten."

End quote, end quote.

This is pure blank-slatism, contrary to decades of research in human intelligence and personality. Fifty percent of "what shapes adult outcomes" is genetic. We know that from twin and sibling studies going back forty years.

And "the greatest barrier to college education" is not being smart enough to handle college-level material, which means not being in the top quartile of the IQ distribution … That's the greatest barrier to college education. IQ is of course highly heritable. We know that beyond any reasonable doubt.

Bearing in mind my previous two segments, it's not anyway clear that college education is an unqualified good: not now that colleges have been pressed to offer dumbed-down gibberish subjects with names ending in the word "Studies," and to hand out athletic scholarships to lower-quartile meatheads.

To date we don't know of any early-childhood interventions that, if applied to one of a pair of identical twins but not the other, will ensure a better life outcome for the first twin.

James Heckman's name has been coming up in this context for over twenty years, since The Bell Curve came out and he published a much-advertised critique of it; through twenty years accumulated, replicated evidence that early programs like Head Start have no lasting effect at all.

I've been reporting on Head Start myself for years now. Quote from my latest commentary, January 2013, following an HHS study on the program, quote from me:

Since Head Start began in 1965, U.S. federal taxpayers have spent nearly 200 billion dollars on a program that does nothing at all … except, of course, for the bank accounts of the program administrators.

End quote. On and on it goes: and all Heckman can tell us is that our interventions are not starting early enough. As Steve Sailer scoffed, also back in 2013, quote:

Heckman's focus on preschool is too late. The real gap in environment that leads to different IQs is prenatal. It begins exactly 8 months and 29 days before birth. But not a day earlier!

We peg away, we human-sciences commentators — myself, Steve Sailer, JayMan, Steve Hsu, James Thompson — we peg away at trying to bring forward sound, well-replicated studies showing the futility of all these expensive interventions. And the New York Times keeps publishing breezy Op-Eds by journalists with law degrees assuring us that if we can just get the kiddies young enough, we can mould them into anything at all.

It's frustrating. Here's a super-high-prestige newspaper, and their human-science reporting would disgrace a high-school newsletter. Couldn't they have got someone who actually knows something about human development? Wasn't Nicholas Wade available? Oh wait …

09 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  Here's an interesting article at the Neuroskeptic blog. It's about Pathological Déjà Vu.

You know what déjà vu is: that creepy feeling we all get sometimes, when we're in a place or a situation we've never been in before yet which seems familiar. Well, in some people it's a chronic disorder. Every place they go, everything they see or hear, seems weirdly familiar.

To sufferers from pathological déjà vu I extend my sincere sympathy. I know how they feel. I get that same disorienting sensation every time I see Mrs Clinton on TV.

Item:  Remember the acronym BRIC, B-R-I-C? It stood for Brazil, Russia, India, China — countries that went through ugly stuff in the 20th century but were supposed to have emerged into the sunlit uplands of stability and prosperity, ready to lead the world in the 21st.

Well, if Brazil is representative of the BRIC nations, the people selling us that prediction were making BRICs without straw. [Laughter.] The place is a mess.

The president of Brazil is Dilma Rousseff, currently a year and a half into her second four-year term. She's been impeached for corruption, and her powers have been suspended until her trial is over. It started this week.

That is terrible timing, as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second-biggest and most famous city, is the venue for this year's Summer Olympics, scheduled to start August 5th.

Not that Ms Rousseff's impeachment is the worst problem facing the Olympics organizers. That would be the Zika virus, which is running rampant in Brazil — five thousand cases of infant microcephaly reported so far. Or if it's not that, it's the badly polluted waters in which the boating events are supposed to take place. Or if it's not that, it's riots and unrest because of Brazil's cratering economy.

You have to feel sorry for Brazil's Minister of Tourism, Henrique Eduardo Alves. You should feel even sorrier for the previous Minister of Tourism, Alessandro Teixeira. He was appointed on April 22nd but fired just three weeks later after his wife posed naked in front of the parliament building.

"Never mind all that," you're asking. "This is Brazil you're talking about, right? Isn't there a Miss BumBum angle?"

There certainly is. The aforementioned Mrs Teixeira won the Miss BumBum 2013 title.

Did you think I'd let you down on a Miss BumBum connection? I'm sorry I made you wait to the bottom of the story, though.

Item:  I've described myself somewhere or other as "a freedom of association absolutist." I'll allow for a small number of exceptions in public institutions like the military, but my default position is that nobody should have to associate with persons, or classes of persons, they'd rather not associate with.

That position is of course outrageously at odds with current social and political dogmas. All the power centers of our society have been working for decades now to stamp out freedom of association as I understand it.

Here's the latest example: Harvard University. Many Harvard students belong to social clubs: the usual Greek fraternities and sororities, but also a dozen or so so-called "final clubs," of which the most famous is the Porcellian, which dates back to the 1790s.

Most of these clubs are single-sex. That's got the Harvard administration mad, because … Well, let College Dean Rakesh Khurana explain. This is a quote from a May 6th letter he wrote to Harvard President Drew Faust. Quote:

The discriminatory membership policies of these organizations have led to the perpetuation of spaces that are rife with power imbalances.

End quote. Yes, there really are people who talk like that. "Spaces" … "power imbalances" … This is the cant of our age.

There's not a whole lot Harvard can do about these clubs, which are privately owned and administered. What they can do is hit out at the students who patronize them. That's what they're doing.

Starting with the 2017 freshman class, students in these clubs will no longer be qualified for leadership positions — captain of an athletics team and such. They'll also be shut out from fellowships, like Rhodes and Fulbright Scholarships.

Sure, it's petty and spiteful. We have to make sure those spaces aren't rife with power imbalances, though.

Item:  As a true-born Englishman I was of course raised, and quite possibly weaned, on Marmite, that delicious savory spread made from yeast extract.

Imagine my delight, therefore, on learning that a company — British, of course — named Joe & Seph's, launched in 2010 with a mission — I am quoting from their website — "to produce the best tasting popcorn in the world," this company has brought forth a brand of Marmite popcorn.

Quote from the promotional material, quote:

It will include an innovative, Willy Wonka-style flavour sequencing technique that unlocks different taste elements, one after the other as you crunch.

End quote. Other flavors of popcorn on offer from Joe & Seph's include Gin and Tonic, Cheese on Toast, and Madras Curry with Black Onion Seed and Lime. Is your mouth watering? I know mine is.

Item:  Here's an interesting article at the Neuroskeptic blog. It's about Pathological Déjà Vu.

You know what déjà vu is: that creepy feeling we all get sometimes, when we're in a place or a situation we've never been in before yet which seems familiar. Well, in some people it's a chronic disorder. Every place they go, everything they see or hear, seems weirdly familiar.

To sufferers from pathological déjà vu I extend my sincere sympathy. I know how they feel. I get that same disorienting sensation every time I see Mrs Clinton on TV.

10 — Signoff.     That's the news for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and may all your birthdays be as replete with affection, congratulations, self-indulgences, and treats as mine has been today.

You may have been puzzled at my not having mentioned the gorilla story from Cincinnati, that seems to have divided the nation more than any issue since the Civil War. Well, here I am mentioning it. I saved it until the signoff segment for a good reason, which I shall reveal in the fulness of time.

For the record, since a pundit should declare his position on a matter of such vital national interest, I'm with the zoo authorities. I put humans before animals every time. I understand that the gorilla's intentions may have been benign; but we don't know for certain that they were, and you can't take chances with the life of a 3-year-old.

Were the kids' parents derelict in their parenting duties? Possibly; but if they were, that's not the child's fault. Was the zoo at fault? Maybe; if so, charge them and fine them. The kid's alive, that's the main thing.

Pick of the pundits on this: Ed West in the London Spectator, who deftly spins the story into a case against democracy.

So why did I leave Gorillagate to the signoff segment? Why, so that I could play us out with Stanley Holloway's reading of Marriott Edgar's poem "The Lion and Albert," which came irresistibly to mind when I heard the Cincinnati story.

More from Radio Derb next week.

[Music clip: Stanley Holloway, "The Lion and Albert"]