»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, May 12th, 2006

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

01 — Intro.     Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, everybody, from our lofty perch on the 63rd floor of Buckley towers here in the heart of Manhattan. Plenty of shock, outrage, and mispronounced foreign languages for you this week, so let's get straight to it.

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02 — From the bestseller lists.     Have you read The Da Vinci Code? I haven't. I'm starting to feel pretty darn lonely on this score as I think I may soon be the only person in the United States who has not read the darn thing.

I feel no inclination to either. My appetite for clerical fiction was entirely satisfied by the late J.F. Powers, and by that Great 1970s weepie The Thorn Birds. I just ain't going to read anymore.

And some of the reaction to The Da Vinci Code is surely overblown. Here is the Greek Orthodox church printing up leaflets to be handed out to all its churchgoers, warning them that the book's author wants to, quote, "damage faith in the Church and in Christ as perfect God and perfect man," end quote.

For Heaven's sake, guys, it's fiction. Can't people be trusted to know whether a book they are reading is fiction or nonfiction?

Well, in this literal-minded but illiterate age, possibly not. After all, a lot of people think that Bill Clinton's autobiography is nonfiction.

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03 — Hard to sympathize with W.     The Way George W. Bush's poll numbers are falling, pretty soon we won't have to retype the digits when reporting new polls, just move the decimal point a couple of spaces to the left.

It's not nice to kick a man when he's down and I'm just as petrified as you are by all those articles about who will be chairman of which committee if the Democrats get control of Congress back this fall.

Still, the President only has himself to blame. Couldn't he have vetoed something coming out of Congress in all these past few years? Did he have to keep us hanging around in Iraq when once the regime had been smashed up; or, to put it in his own words, once we had "mission accomplished"?

Did he have to create vast new federal bureaucratic extravaganzas for education and the old folks — who are Democratic constituencies anyway? Couldn't he wipe Vicente Fox's shoe Polish off his tongue before appearing in public?

W, I'm trying real, real hard to summon up some sympathy. Honest I am, but so far without any result.

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04 — Americans the beautiful.     Uncle Sam wants us to help improve America's image abroad, where anti-Americanism is rife. A couple of U.S. corporations working with the State Department have produced an etiquette guide for Americans abroad.

What do they recommend? Be Modest and courteous. Express interest in local culture, sports, topics. Be a good listener. Stay off religion.

What a crock! That business about the Ugly American has been way oversold. When I was a kid in England, we all loved Americans. Now it's true that our love was not exactly disinterested. We mainly loved Americans because they gave us stuff — most especially chewing gum, of which every American seemed to have an infinite supply.

Americans are popular employers too. At any rate, when I lived in Hong Kong, the saying among local Chinese office workers was that if you had an American boss, you were in Heaven. A British or a Japanese boss might be okay too. To have a Chinese boss, though, was a fate worse than death.

So let's knock off this Ugly American stuff. Foreigners who hate us do so for abstract and ideological reasons. Actual Americans are, in my experience, liked and admired by most people in most places. We are seen as polite, generous, and eager to learn.

Ugly American? Phooey! And, heck, who cares what foreigners think anyway?

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05 — Meet new U.N. body, same as old U.N. body.     To prove to us that it can reform its corrupt and wicked ways, the United Nations has thrown out the ludicrous Human Rights Commission. You know, the one that used to have countries like China, Cuba, Pakistan, and Algeria sitting on it.

After months of soul searching, mountains of feasibility studies and position papers, expenditure of thousands of man hours and millions of dollars, and colossal bureaucratic convulsions, that rotten old Human Rights Commission has at last been replaced by a totally reformed and revamped spanking new Human Rights Council.

Are you getting this? Was — Commission. Now — Council.

So who's sitting around the table at this new guardian of the world's human rights? Well, let's see. We have, er, China and, mm, Cuba and … oh, Pakistan, and … oh yes, Algeria.

And they say reforming the U.N. is hopeless. That'll show them!

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06 — Berlusconi steps down.     Three weeks after losing in Italy's general election, Silvio Berlusconi has finally stepped down.

This seems like an opportune moment to replay a musical tidbit from radio derbe back in February. Here you go. [Applause.]

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
There's no time to devote
To amore.

If it's office you seek
Just endure a few weeks
Purgatory.

When you're out on the trail
Don't be caught chasing tail,
Berlusconi.

Keep your pants on, Signor.
All the voters adore
Sanctimony.

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07 — Let's arm the border smugglers!     The outrage of the week was of course the news that the U.S. Border Patrol has been tipping off the Mexican authorities to the location of our citizens' patrols so that illegal immigrants and narcotics traffickers coming in from our friendly neighbor to the south won't be inconvenienced by them.

Quote of the week in the same context came from U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Mario Martinez, and here it is. Listen and savor. This is what the man said, quote: "We will not allow any lawlessness." End quote.

I'll just read that again in case you didn't get it the first time. The U.S. government official charged by our administration with the task of keeping the flow of illegal narcotics and illegal aliens pouring into our country said, "We will not allow any lawlessness."

Here's a modest proposal for the feds. Why stop with these half measures? Since we're obviously co-operating with the smuggling gangs, why not take our co-operation a step further and arm them?

I mean, of course they already have rifles and sidearms, but surely they could use a few tanks, planes, hand grenades and artillery pieces? Then they could just cut right through our citizens' patrols without bothering about them at all.

Just a suggestion, you know, in the interest of efficiency and neighborly co-operation.

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08 — A hundred degrees of thought control.     Over there in Red China, which I think I'm supposed to call just "China," over there in Red China, I say, an online user-generated encyclopedia modeled on Wikipedia has been launched.

This has proven necessary because the ChiComs — who I think I'm supposed to call modern-minded, internationally-acceptable, increasingly-liberal technocrats who are going to let their people vote them out of office any day now — the ChiComs, I say, have actually blocked Chinese internet users from accessing Wikipedia.

The ChiCom replacement for Wikipedia is to be called Baidupedia. "Baidu" means a hundred degrees, which will be the temperature in the eight by eight jail cell you'll be sharing with fifteen other people if the ChiComs catch you trying to access Wikipedia.

Pronounced with different tones by do might also mean "ferry," "defeat poison," "greet belly," or "white tripe," but I'm pretty sure in this context it means a hundred degrees.

The people running Baidu, which is to say the ChiCom secret police, have barred users from including, quote, "any malicious evaluation of the current national system, any attack on government institutions or any promotion of a dispirited or negative view of life," end quote.

I guess that last one shuts me out. Be interested to see the Baidu entry on Samuel Beckett when they get to the b's.

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09 — Signoff.     That's a wrap, kiddies. Tune in again next week for more death, destruction, and mayhem from Radio Derb.

And watch out for Derb TV, coming to you in a week or so — just as soon as we finish putting together a world-class team of cameramen, sound and lighting engineers, makeup artists, designers, and so on.

Watch out, Katie, we're hot on your tail … Which I say, of course, with no disrespect at all.

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[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]