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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, everyone; welcome to our first Year of the Dog broadcast.
I was going to make a cute segue there. You know, something like: "And speaking of dogs …" just to lead into my first item; but Hillary seems to have quiesced since that speech a couple of weeks ago where she called Congress a plantation, so I have no material to segue to here …
Let's press on, shall we?
|02 — Advice to Muslims. The Europeans have stirred up a fuss by poking fun
at Islam in their newspaper cartoons. This, the immigrant Muslim populations are telling them very angrily, is disrespectful.
Now I've got myself in trouble once or twice with NRO readers by failing to have any problem with Islam as a thing. On balance, and with many qualifications, I think human beings and human societies are better off with organized traditional religions. Islam is organized, it's traditional, and it has sustained and consoled millions of people over many centuries. Yes, I'm fine with Islam in those places where it has long since taken root.
However, having said that, I would like to offer a word of advice to the Muslims of Europe and the Middle East. If you don't like Western civilization with all its occasional vulgarity and irreverence, then don't go to live in a Western nation.
And if you're already living in a Western nation and you find its traditional and customary values offensive or intolerable, go find a Muslim nation to live in. You will be much happier, and so will your current host country.
And while I'm offering suggestions here is one for Western governments and electorates: Large-scale Muslim immigration is a really, really, really bad idea.
|03 — Where's my gasoline-powered toothbrush? The United States is addicted
to oil, says the President, and it's got to stop.
This passage of the State of the Union speech generated more sarcastic commentary, especially from conservatives, than any other. I have to tell you though, it's true.
When I first became a suburban homeowner here in the States, I went looking for a lawn-mower like the one I'd had in England: that is to say, a contraption that runs on electricity that is light enough to pick up with one finger and that floats gently and quietly over my grass on the hovercraft principle while the blades pulled away gently at their work.
No such luck. All I could get was a gasoline-powered thing the size and weight of a howitzer that generates more noise than a fleet of jumbo jets taking off.
I watched with amazement the first time I saw a guy blowing leaves with a gasoline engine strapped to his back, one that made even more noise than my lawn-mowing Pratt and Whitney behemoth.
When my wife suggested we buy electric toothbrushes for the family, I fully expected to find a selection of gasoline-powered models down at the pharmacy.
My fellow Americans, you are nuts about gasoline. A neighbor of mine has an SUV too big to fit into his 40-year-old garage.
The President is right. As a conservative, I have no doubt that any government solution will make things worse, and I hope and pray that the free market can get us out of this; but I have to say, on the plain point of fact, the President was right.
|04 — Cindy does Caracas. And here comes
When this woman first showed up, I felt mildly sorry for her loss and I assumed that after a week or two she'd go away. No such luck. Ol' Cindy, with a strong tailwind from the hate-Bush lefty crowd pushing her on, has turned out to have more self-promotion savvy than Madonna.
She was down in Venezuela the other day at some beards'n'sandals lefty shindig, the kind of thing the old U.S.S.R. used to stage, with "World Peace" somewhere in the title. There Cindy got a hug from Hugo Chávez, current standard-bearer for the theory, always popular down in Latin America, that all the ills of the world are caused by wicked Norteaméricano capitalists and their White House stooges.
Chávez, as a point of interest, recently got his parliament to pass a law decreeing up to thirty months in jail for any Venezuelan who, and I'm quoting here from the law, "in words or writing, disrespects the president," end quote.
I mentioned this because no sooner was Cindy back from canoodling with Hugo Boss than she showed up at the State of the Union speech wearing an antiwar shirt. In Venezuela that would have got her two and a half years in the slammer. All she in fact got was, escorted off the premises by the Capitol police, who later apologized to her for the indignity. Oh, and she also got a ton more publicity, which of course was what she wanted.
Fame is a drug, so they say, and Cindy is hooked. Next thing you know she'll be showing up on reality TV.
|05 — An author's confession. Listeners, I have a confession to make.
Three years ago I published a nonfiction book titled Prime Obsession. In that book I told the story of how, back in the middle 19th century, a young German mathematician named Bernhard Riemann, investigating the issue of how many prime numbers there are up to any given number, came up with a challenging hypothesis that no one has been able to prove. I tracked the attempts of mathematicians to prove this hypothesis through the 19th and 20th centuries down to the present day.
Well, folks, I made it all up. Bernhard Riemann was not the son of a German country parson. He was, in fact, the illegitimate love child of Jane Austen by Sir Walter Scott.
He did not grow up to be a shy scholar toiling away at higher mathematics in Göttingen University. He was in fact a prize-fighter, a trapeze artist and rodeo-rider who emigrated to the U.S.A. during the 1849 Gold Rush and eventually became the gay lover of bachelor President James Buchanan.
He did not die of TB in the Italian Alps; he succumbed to absinthe addiction and shot himself in a fit of despair while attending a performance of Meyerbeer's Dinorah at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
And furthermore, his hypothesis did not concern the distribution of prime numbers at all. It was only a conjecture about where flies go in the winter.
There now, my conscience is clear. I'm sorry, Oprah; sorry, sorry, sorry. Please don't make me come on your show to be humiliated.
|06 — Berlusconi forswears amore. Here's a new thing in campaign
promises. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has promised he will abstain from sex until after the April 9th elections in his country.
The pledge was given at a campaign rally in Sardinia after a popular local TV preacher praised the Prime Minister for his promotion of family values.
Well, I am moved to song. [Clears throat. Sings, to tune of That's Amore.]
When you're looking for votes
|07 — The School Bus Nazi. We Americans all love our liberty. We cherish it;
we preserve it; we'll fight for it if we have to.
Yet if you've read any political philosophy you'll know that there is a case against liberty. In fact, you don't even have to read anything to know this. All you have to do is ride a school bus.
On the typical American school bus, the kids do as they please while the minimum-wage English-language-challenged bus driver puts in his hours and ignores the Lord of the Flies re-enactment going on behind him.
I was therefore cheered to read about school bus driver Michael Cianci of Staten Island. Mr Cianci ran a tight bus. He referred to himself as "Emperor" and "Supreme Leader." He organized his passengers in a twelve-tiered ranking system, the ranks ranging from Lord for one of his right-hand men down to Sped for someone in a Special Ed class. The high ranking kids kept the other kids in order by means of headlocks, or in one case by slicing up a kid's jacket with scissors as punishment for horseplay.
The Emperor had a set of rules posted by his cup-holder, the preamble reading, quote:
As hereby proclaimed by Emperor Mike of the Death Cheese Bus Unit Five, Six or Seven of the Gamma System. These laws are laid down upon us to hold order and restore power.
End quote. Well, as you may imagine, Emperor Mike is in trouble. The parents of his passengers are outraged that their little darlings are not free to throw lunchboxes out the window and shout obscenities at pedestrians. They want Emperor Mike cashiered. "The School Bus Nazi," they're calling him.
Now look: I love my liberty as much as anyone, but as a parent of two kids who ride the school bus every day, I say this guy is a national hero. If he lived in my town, I'd want him in charge of the whole fleet.
I don't myself want to spend my life under North Korean-style discipline, but a little taste of it won't hurt the kids. It might even give them some insight into the nature of power and the fundamentals of social order.
|08 — Signoff. Well, there you are.
That was the week that was. (A little nostalgia touch there for British baby
boomers. It's over, let it go.
More madness, rudeness and pessimism next week from the one — the only! — Radio Derb.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]