»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Thursday, July 28th, 2005

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]

01 — Intro.     Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, this is John Derbyshire once again, bringing you all the news that's fit to waste time listening to when you really ought to be working. Not that you should feel bad about listening: At the end of this webcast, you will be wiser, happier, healthier, and better equipped to face your daily tasks. Vesti la giubba!

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02 — The War on Something-Or-Other.     The War on Terror has been rebranded, the name "War on Terror" apparently having failed to get the required seal of approval from the sensitivity police. Administration spokespersons are now addressing the issue as a, quote, "global struggle against violent extremism," end quote.

I'll give this one about a year before it morphs into something even more flaccid. The word "struggle," after all, implies crude physical force, which of course is unacceptable. "Violent" is surely a value judgment. One man's violence is another man's attempt to free himself from the shackles of racist, colonialist oppression, don't you know? And who gets to define "extremism"?

No, no, this won't do. A year from now, I predict, Don Rumsfeld will be up there at the podium giving progress reports on the Global Outreach Effort to Disaffected Persons of Absolutely No Particular Faith Tradition Whose Views and Actions, While We May Not Altogether Approve of Them, Are Certainly Entitled to a Hearing in the World Marketplace of Ideas.

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03 — Jap robot gal.     Japanese scientists, it says here, have unveiled the most human looking robot yet devised: a female android called Repliee Q1. Shouldn't that be "Lepliee?" … Oh well.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner. I'm just reading this off the report. She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe. She is designed to look human; and although she can only sit at present, she has 31 actuators on her upper body powered by a nearby air compressor programmed to allow her to move like a human.

Hm. Nothing in the lower body apparently. O-kay.

I don't know how this qualifies as news, though. I dated that robot back 1972. And in 1973 to come to think of it … and then in 1974 as well …

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04 — Free rides on the New York subway ….     Visiting New York City? Want a free ride on the subway? Here's what you do.

City police are supposed to be randomly searching the bags of people going through the turnstiles into the subway. Those civic-minded New Yorkers are so happy about this, they have been going up to the police and volunteering to have their bags searched. And the cops are so happy with that, according to the New York Post (which of course is America's newspaper of record), that after searching the volunteers' bags they've been opening the turnstiles for the volunteers to give them a free ride.

Asked to explain exactly how this helps with catching or deterring suicide bombers, an officer said: "It's a courtesy. We ask people for a little time, so we try to give something back."

Er, doesn't this all sort of defeat the entire purpose of the bag searches? Ah, who cares? Everybody feels good. That's the main thing, isn't it?

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05 — … But don't jump the turnstile in London!     You do not want to try jumping the turnstile at a London subway station. Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician living in London, did just that and got eight pistol rounds in the head from one of those friendly English bobbies.

This of course was in the days following the subway bombings. Mr de Menezes was staying at a house that was under police surveillance. He was wearing a bulky coat on a hot day and he ran like a rabbit when the police challenged him. It later turned out that in spite of all these things, he was not connected to terrorism.

In accordance with the zeitgeist, however, which dictates that every horror story in the news must have something to do with illegal immigration, it turns out that Mr de Menezes was, yes, an illegal immigrant, having overstayed his visa by more than two years. Possibly that is why he ran from the police.

Well, I hope poor Mr de Menezes will rest in peace. As our own Jonah Goldberg said, incidents like this just have to be considered friendly fire in the War on Terror … Oops, sorry: I mean the Global Campaign Against Unkindness and Intolerance by Anyone of Absolutely Any Religious Persuasion Whatsoever.

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06 — The Shuttle's main mission.     The Space Shuttle got into orbit at last, taking off on Wednesday in a shower of departing foam insulation and protective tiles. So far, its first day in space has been given over to inspecting the damage by very carefully manipulating a camera at the end of the shuttle's cargo boom.

The main task on Thursday will be to approach the International Space Station v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y so the occupants of the Space Station can take more photographs of the damage.

So now you know why our nation has a Space Shuttle: to get it into orbit so it can inspect the damage it suffered getting into orbit.

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07 — Zimbabwe: the China angle.     I'm sure you've heard about the bulldozing of entire neighborhoods by the police in Zimbabwe. What has happened is, the districts in Zimbabwe's towns and cities that voted for the opposition in the country's last election have been flattened, and their inhabitants shipped out to desolate areas of the countryside to shift for themselves; rather as Pol Pot did to urban Cambodians in 1975 — sort of African-style redistricting.

Well, it now turns out that there is a China angle to this story. Since no Western nation will give him aid any longer, Robert Mugabe, the President-for-Life of Zimbabwe, has been kissing up to the ChiComs.

The ChiComs are fine with this and they're shipping people into Zimbabwe. Turns out that the purpose of some of those clearances may have been to remove local competition so China can set up commercial outlets. The Daily Telegraph reports that ten thousand Chinese citizens are now living in Zimbabwe

See, just because his country is an international pariah and his people are jobless and starving, there's no reason why Cap'n Bob shouldn't be able to get a decent moo goo gai pan when he feels like it.

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08 — Trans golfer wants to switch to the other team.     Mianne Bagger was a guy, but is now a woman, thanks to surgery. When she was a guy, she was a golfer. Now that she's a woman, she naturally wants to continue playing golf.

Nobody could have any problem with that, but should she be allowed to play in pro women's golf tournaments for prize money?

I say no, she shouldn't; not because I am seething with hate for her, which would be the official explanation, but because I don't underestimate the appeal of athletic success.

There are guys out there — believe me, they are out there, and I'm talking about 240-pound guys with 22 inch biceps — there are guys out there who would cheerfully undergo the same surgery Ms Bagger underwent, if it meant that instead of spending the rest of their lives as Walmart greeters or security guards, they could obtain fame and fortune as female athletes.

They're out there and they'll go it, I want a chromosome test. XX — female; XY — male; others, form your own cheering section.

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09 — Eleven wives, 77 children, and he's broke.     All right, now let's talk about Ayattu Nure, a resident of Giwe Abossa village in the nation of Ethiopia.

Mr Ayattu has 11 wives and 77 children. He used to be rich, he says, so he thought it would be great to have as many wives as he could afford. Then the kids started arriving and the expenses built up. You know: orthodontist's bills, summer camp, tennis lessons. So now the guy's broke.

Says Mr Ayattu: "People see me as a funny man, but there is no fun in my condition. I am a desperate man struggling to survive."

Oh, I feel your pain, brother, I feel your pain. One wife and two kids is more than I can handle.

Look, why don't you get yourself 89 plane tickets to Mexico and just slip into the U.S.A. over the border.? You'll get free health care at the ER. Your kids will get free schooling. And if anyone grumbles you can sic the Wall Street Journal, John McCain and the ACLU on them.

Come on — I'll pay you twenty bucks to mow my lawn.

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10 — Signoff.     That's all, folks. There will be a brief hiatus while I take the Derb family off to see the Old Country, but I shall return in a few days with a searching in-depth report on the opinions of London cab drivers, waiters, car rental clerks, and my relatives.

Over to you Franz Joseph.

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[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]