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[Music clip: from Carmen, Act 1 Prelude.]
[My voice] This is John Derbyshire with snippets of news from the last few days.
|02 — Funeral enslabment. Fans of the late Evelyn Waugh cherish the
mortician's sales pitch in Waugh's novel The Loved One, quote:
Normal disposal is by inhumement, entombment, inurnment or immurement, but many people just lately prefer insarcophagusment.
End quote. Well, you're going to have to think of your own noun for the morticians' latest offering.
For as little as 1,500 dollars you can have your cremated remains mixed up with concrete and used to make a slab. This slab will then be made part of Atlantis Memorial Reef, an underwater fantasy city to be built on the sea floor off the Florida keys.
The company offering this service will, it says here, encourage relatives to don scuba gear and pay their respects to the loved ones' submarine remains.
"Oh look, honey, see that pillar over there? That's got uncle Barney's ashes in it." Of course, this would come underwater as: "Glub blub glublublub blubglublub blub …"
|03 — El-Jo's fears. Ninety-two year old pop singer Elton John peered out
from under his rug to tell an interviewer for New York magazine that there is, quote, "an atmosphere of fear in America right now that
Well, yes. I admit to being a bit fearful that some plane I'm flying on will be hijacked by lunatics and steered into a tall building. That, however, is not what El-Jo is talking about.
Another quote: "There was a moment about a year ago when you couldn't say a word about anything in this country for fear of your career being shot down by people saying you are un-American."
Oh, he means that kind of fear. The fear that if you dare to whisper the truth about how Bush lied, men died, then you will never eat lunch in this town again.
Well, last time I looked, Michael Moore seems to be eating pretty well. Elton John, too, come to look at him. In fact if not being able to eat in America is a mark of political courage. Mary Kate and Ashley must be the Nathan Hales of our time.
|04 — Martha and the Fed Fellas. Domesticity diva Martha Stewart got five
months porridge and a fine of $30,000 for … what, exactly? Can you tell me?
For insider trading? Nope. That wasn't the charge. Perjury? Nope. Martha was not charged with either insider trading or perjury. What was she charged with?
I turned to America's newspaper of record, the New York Post. Quote: "lying to government agencies during the course of an investigation," says the Post.
So lying is now a crime? Sheesh, better watch what you say.
But of course we have a duty to help the authorities when they are investigating a crime, don't we? That's good citizenship, isn't it?
Well, it would be if the authorities had been investigating an actual crime. Unfortunately, nobody has been able to show that any crime was committed.
Over to the New York Post again for further enlightenment. Quote: "By dumping her stock beforehand, Stewart saved some $51,000, but someone else lost that much by buying it unwittingly and then watching its price plummet." End quote.
That's a reason to applaud this pointless and vindictive prosecution? So what about all those people who saw their stock in Martha Stewart's own company dive when the feds started leaking false rumors about her "crimes." Oh, they don't count. Leaks from the feds that affect stock prices don't get investigated, you see? There's nobody to investigate them. Anyone on the wrong side of a federal investigation deserves anything that happens to him or her.
Martha, meanwhile, striving mightily to turn our sympathy for her into wormwood and gall, compared herself to Nelson Mandela.
That is also no fair. Mandela went to prison for an actual crime, the one we nowadays call terrorism.
Me Generation narcissism versus the unprincipled arrogance of federal power: sometimes it's really hard to take sides on an issue. On this one though, I'm still with Martha.
|05 — Rapping with the Derb. The rapper who records under the name
Jadakiss — his real name is Jason T. Phillips, and because I loathe rap and rappers, that's the name I shall
use — has a new song out titled "Why?" The song asks, among other things, "Why did Bush knocked down the Towers?
This is Mr Phillips's first venture into political commentary. Up to now, his recordings have mainly featured musical sketches of street life. You know: "Send a pig to Heaven with your .357," that sort of thing.
His explanation for this new interest is, quote, "I'm growing up, I'm getting a little older. I've got two kids. I'm almost 30 years old." End quote. He's watched Fahrenheit 9/11 twice and has registered to vote in November's elections.
Inspired by Mr Phillips. I have started writing my own song, also titled "Why?" So far I only have a couple of lines worked out, as follows.
Why do we let antisocial morons vote?
|06 — Newsday caught with its pants down. Those of us who live on
New York's Long Island are served by an organ named Newsday, a daily newspaper with an editorial line slightly to the left of Pol Pot.
Newsday specializes in preachy editorials, sometimes masquerading as new stories, scolding Long Islanders for wanting to keep so much of their own money when they ought to be cheerfully handing it all over to local bureaucrats for "services" — you know, publicly funded poetry workshops for disabled lesbian vegetarians, that sort of thing.
Well, well, it now turns out that this newspaper, this paragon of high minded civic rectitude, has been cooking the books, inflating its circulation figures, and then overcharging advertisers based on the phony figures.
This kind of story comes under the heading "virtue caught with its pants down," and it is hard to read without smiling.
The late Philip Larkin said that the Left was the party of idleness, dishonesty, and treason. He was right, of course, but it's always nice to see this confirmed yet again.
|07 — Clintonian calculations. One of the fascinating sidebar stories this
election year concerns the Clintons.
The Nub of the matter is that Hillary Clinton — who, to put it very mildly indeed, wants to be president — will be sixty-one when voters go to the polls in November 2008 and sixty-five on the corresponding date in 2012.
Would Americans put a Golden Girl in the White House? Nobody knows. Nobody knows, either, just what calculations the Clintons are making about John Kerry's chances in 2004 and John Edwards' chances in 2008 or 2012.
Anyone who thinks that the Clintons are making no calculations at all, though, just hasn't paid much attention to the Clintons and their methods. Watch your backs, John and John.
|08 — Profiles in senatorial courage. The US Senate voted on whether the
chamber should continue to ponder a constitutional amendment stating that marriage is what everyone always thought it was until a year or so
ago — namely, a contract between one man and woman not close blood relatives and neither concurrently married to anyone else.
This amendment is referred to in all the media as one that bans gay marriage, though it might with equal truth be said to ban marriage between a man and his sister, between me and my village softball team, or between human beings and wildebeests.
The Senate voted 48 to 52 to drop the whole subject.
Now Kerry and Edwards, our courageous, principled, plain-spoken candidates for the Democratic presidential ticket this fall, are both US senators. One is naturally curious to know how they voted on this issue. So … how did they vote?
Well, neither of them showed up. They were in fact precisely the two missing votes.
There's nothing like letting people know where you stand, is there?
[Music clip: more Carmen]