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—————————[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Greetings, ladies and gentlemen! That was one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches and this is the genial and self-effacing John Derbyshire with more news and views from the past week.
I'm sorry to report that we're still having technical difficulties with Derb TV, as is inevitable with such a vast and multifaceted project involving so much complex equipment. I can assure you, in any case, that there is no substance whatsoever to the rumors you may have heard about the National Review suits thinking that I'm just too ugly to represent the magazine on TV.
Nor is there any truth to the report in People magazine that I was recently seen entering the office of a well-known plastic surgeon in Manhattan. Lies, lies, all lies, I tell you!
|02 — Viewing choices in Somalia, N. Korea. One of the great rules of human
is that if a society gets disorderly and violent enough, citizens will accept pretty much any government — even one that's unjust,
oppressive, or crazy — so long as it's strong enough to restore some order and peace to their lives.
Case in point: Somalia. You remember Somalia: Black Hawk Down, that Somalia. Right. Well, after fifteen years of road-warrior chaos, Somalia's had a sort of semi-coup.
What happened was, jihadist fanatics seized the capital city, Mogadishu, and another big city, and declared an Islamic republic.
That's not the end of the story, as Somalia still has an official government in another city, but it doesn't look as if it wants to give up. In fact, this official Somali government has called for foreign peacekeepers to come in and deal with the jihadists.
Oh yeah — we'll be right there, guys … not.
Anyway, these jihadist insurgents have banned cinemas from showing the opening games of the soccer World Cup. Fact, they even cut off power so the matches couldn't be seen.
I'm not sure of the Islamist angle here. Perhaps they don't want their people to get inflamed from seeing all those men's bare knees. Or perhaps they just read the TV schedules wrong and thought it was the World Coup. You know how it is when you've pulled off a coup; you don't want anyone upstaging you with a bigger coup, least of all a World Coup.
Meanwhile in North Korea, state TV is broadcasting the entire World Cup series. Of course, if you cheer for the wrong team, you end up playing water polo in Kim Jong Il's shark pool. Still, it tells you something about jihadis that even North Koreans have more viewing choices that their subjects.
|03 — Excuse my tmesis. Gentle listener, are you suffering from
How faint soever — if you'll excuse my tmesis — how faint soever your kundalini may be, if you have any interest at all in our koine you could hardly fail to be thrilled when Katherine Close, an alopecoid thirteen-year-old from New Jersey showed her mastery of the Ursprache by winning the National Spelling Bee the other day.
This year's contest didn't have the drama we've seen in previous years when contestants have fainted at the microphone, or barfed, or been sruck with stage fright; but there was a nice little flap over the word hechsher, a loan-word from Yiddish, when a contestant was eliminated in error after spelling it correctly. I'm sure I don't need to remind you that it's H-E-C-H-S-H-E-R.
As an old Scrabble player, I find these things irresistible … though I'll admit I don't want to play Scrabble with any of the finalists.
Why are there so many loan-words from foreign languages though? Isn't English already supposed to have the biggest vocabulary of any language in the world?
|04 — Ségolène no Mélissa. The French have a presidential election
every six years and next year's the year, so the candidates are getting into position.
The leftist candidate to succeed Jacques Chirac — who, incredible as it may seem, is a conservative by French standards — is a lady named Ségolène Royal.
Mademoiselle Royal — I think it's Mademoiselle; she has a partner and four kids by him, but they don't seem to be married — Mademoiselle Royal has been doing some Clinton-Blair-type triangulation, saying a few mildly non-leftist things in the hope of copping some bourgeois votes from Nicolas Sarkozy, the likely right-wing candidate.
But you don't care about of that stuff. Here's the news item you'll remember.
Mademoiselle Royal has been voted the sixth-sexiest woman in the world by FHM magazine. Considering she's fifty-two years old, that's no mean achievement. When I was fifty-two I entered myself for the world's sexiest man contest, but I lost a very close race to Jonah Goldberg.
Anyway, there's your incentive for working up some interest in French politics. I must say, though, the lady's charms escape me. She looks pretty good for fifty-two, but she's no Mélissa Theuriau. And if you don't know who Mélissa Theuriau is, you're living in a cave, or you might as well be.
[Phony French accent.] Oh, Mélissa, zut alors! Je t'aime, je t'aime, je t'adore, ma chérie … [Sound of door opening.] Oh, hi, Rosie … Ah, nothing, Honey. Just, you know … just some editorial stuff.
|05 — He's Canadian and he's okay. I have to be a bit careful when talking about Canada, I've
A couple of weeks ago I made some snide comments about Neil Young, who is Canadian, never having bothered to take U.S. citizenship in the forty years he's lived here. Well, we got a bag full of mail about that.
A lot of abuse too. You know, moose droppings left in our mailbox, stuff like that. Angry telephone calls demanding to explain what my comments were supposed to be aboot … and so on.
Well, now here's another story from the Friendly Giant to the North: the seventeen terrorist suspects arrested in Toronto the other day.
Five were minors whose names couldn't be released. Here are the first names of the twelve adults. Fahim, Zacharia, Assad, Shareef, Qayyum, Mohammed, Yasim, Jahmaal, Amin, Abdul, Achmad, Saad. You with me here?
Okay. Here's the punchline. The Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, at a news conference, said that the suspects, quote, "represent the broad strata of our community."
Well, my own most indelible impression of the Mounties came from the Lumberjack Song in Monty Python.
So here, in a spirit of gentle, friendly mockery … no, the heck with it: here in a spirit of total disgust with those weenies up there on the tundra north of Buffalo, here is an updated version of that song.
|06 — The case for Constitutional Monarchy. King Bhumibol of Thailand
celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his accession the other day.
Goodness knows how the King made it through sixty years. His country's politics is a mess, and always has been. Military coups, fake elections, violent street demonstrations, stupendous corruption, uprisings and rebellions and incursions — you name it.
Thailand hasn't had much good luck either. In the past decade the Thais have endured a horrible financial crash, a tsunami, jihadist terrorism, very high levels of AIDS infection, and now bird flu.
If Thailand hasn't been blessed with good government or good luck, though it has been blessed with a very good king. Bhumibol is a shining advertisement for constitutional monarchy, and his beautiful wife Sirikit is another one. It might well be that without Bhumibol's steady, calm presence and the tremendous prestige he has among his people, there would be no Thailand today.
Quiet and unostentatious, hardworking and intelligent — he knows Latin and Greek, among other things — this great-grandson of King Rama IV (that's Yul Brynner for you moviegoers) has traveled to every remotest corner of his nation. He's started countless non-governmental relief projects for the poor, and he's kept the generals and the crooked politicians firmly at arm's length.
I'm a republican myself, small "r" as well as big "R"; but if you want it to live under a constitutional monarch, you could hardly do better than Bhumibol.
My few scraps of the Thai language are far behind me and anyway, I have a feeling that Sawat-dee krap is too informal a way to address a monarch, so I'll just say to His Majesty: May the Lord Buddha grant you many more years of life, good health, and service to your people.
|07 — California voting not just for citizens. Let's hear it for big
"R" Republican Brian Bilbray, who won the special Congressional
Eelection for California's Fiftieth District.
Bilbray's opponent, Democrat Francine Busby, alienated — if you'll pardon the expression — those voters who are actually U.S. citizens by telling a gathering of Latinos that, quote: "You don't need any steenkin' citizenship papers in order to vote.
Plainly Ms Busby has read one too many Wall Street Journal editorials. Under the circumstances, it's amazing that Ms Busby managed to get 45 percent of the vote; although considering the Fiftieth Congressional District is just three miles from the Mexican border, perhaps it's not all that amazing.
|08 — The awesome Stephen Hawking. You have to be in awe of Stephen Hawking.
Now sixty-four years old — which means he's even older than I am, if you can believe it — and quadriplegic from ALS for the past several decades, Hawking is one of the world's leading theoretical physicists, not withstanding the fact that he can only communicate via a speech synthesizer, which he operates by switching his right cheek.
Back in 1991, when he was already so totally paralyzed he needed to be cared for by a round-the-clock team of nurses, Hawking managed to get involved with one of those nurses, as a result of which his wife divorced him.
Last week Hawking zipped around the world from his home in Cambridge, England — where he holds Sir Isaac Newton's old chair — to give a lecture via voice synthesizer in Hong Kong.
He mentioned in passing that when he'd met the late Pope John Paul II a few years ago, the Pope told him that it was wrong to look into the origins of the universe because that was God's handiwork. I must say John Paul was even braver than I thought. I would never have the nerve to tell Hawking what he could or could not theorize about.
Hawking's slogan is that if you have a severe physical disability, you can't afford to have any mental weaknesses. It sounds straightforward, but I'm not sure many of us could keep to it through decades of total infirmity.
What a guy! Any time you find yourself thinking that you got dealt a bad hand in life, just stop for a minute and think of Stephen Hawking.
|09 — Mullarkey in Colorado. Well, it wouldn't be Radio Derb without an
immigration story. I went looking for one, and boy, let me tell you, it's a target-rich environment out there right now.
Here's one from the Denver Post. The Supreme Court of the Centennial State has ruled that a citizen initiative to deny state services to illegal immigrants is unconstitutional and will not be permitted on the November ballot.
Just to give you the lay of the land here: There are seven justices on the court, but one resigned earlier this year. Of the six remaining, two are Republican appointees and four Democratic. The four Democratic appointees formed the majority that nixed the initiative. One of the Republican appointees dissented; the other didn't vote.
I note that the Chief Justice, one of the four Democratic appointees, is named Mary C. Mullarkey
The key point that swayed Chief Justice Mullarkey and her colleagues was apparently the possibility that the initiative might prevent illegal immigrants from taking title to property they'd paid for.
Gosh, we couldn't have that, could we? I mean, if you gatecrash our country and violate the law by working until you have enough money to buy a house, you ought to be able to take possession of that house, oughn't you? After all, who's better entitled to own a little bit of America than someone who acquired it as a result of breaking the law, eh?
Those darn mean-spirited immigration-restrictionists never think of basic points of fairness like that.
|10 — Signoff. That's your ration of madness and mayhem for this week, lads and lasses. More from Radio Derb next week, if global warming hasn't wiped us all out by then.|
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]