• Play the sound file
—————————[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your host John Derbyshire with your weekly roundup of sadness, badness, and madness.
Before we get going with this week's show, I'd like to … [Phone rings] … uh, excuse me, got a call coming in here … Hello? … This is who? … Rudy? Rudy who? … Oh, Rudy.
Oh, hey, Rudy, this is an honor. I … What? Sorry? … A job? What kind of job? Speechwriter? … Oh, hey, I'd love to. I do have a family, though. I mean … what kind of compensation are we looking at here? … You're kidding! Oh, wow.
Hey, look, I just have to do a couple of chores here, and I'll be on the next train into town, okay? Thank you so much, Rudy … No, no, really, I can't wait to get started. [Sound of phone hanging up.]
Er, okay, listeners, sorry about that. Let's get right ahead with the show here. This may be a short one.
|02 — Chimps with spears (not Britney). Chimps are in the news. Chimps: our
nearest relatives on the tree of life. Some zoologists down in Senegal, West Africa have spotted chimps running around with spears.
No, it's not what you think. This is not another Britney story. Our Gal is safely at home in California, keeping us entertained by depilating every part of herself she can reach in order to flash the parts at us, and trashing her ex-husband's cars, and popping in and out of rehab clinics like the proverbial prairie dog out of its burrow.
These chimps were deploying the sharp pointy kind of spears and using them to hunt with. I'd always thought chimps were herbivores, so I was a bit nonplussed by this story. What were they hunting? Rutabagas? But no. I see from Wikipedia that the common chimp is in fact omnivorous; and there they are hunting with spears — in packs.
And then I pick up a science magazine and I see a story about researchers working on the chimp genome. Turns out that humans and chimps parted company much later than we thought, perhaps less than four million years ago.
So there you are. Chimps and humans are not as different as we thought; which, if you follow the showbiz news, is not really all that much of a surprise.
See, this segment was about Britney after all.
|03 — Longevity through smoking (cont.). I reported to you a couple of weeks ago on the nationwide smoking ban in France, and I raised the splendid example of French lady
Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122 after giving up cigarettes at age 117. Well, here's a follow-up story.
A villager in Hong Kong's New Territories — that's the belt of countryside that stretches out twenty miles or so back of the built-up city area — is a hundred and seven years old and still enjoys an occasional cigarette.
Mr Chan Ji attributes his longevity to sexual abstinence. "I have lived a sexless life for many years, since I was thirty," Says Mr Chan.
There's something a bit fishy here, though. The report I'm reading — it's a Reuters dispatch from Hong Kong — says that Mr Chan's youthful bride perished, quote, "during the Japanese invasion in World War Two."
Well, now. The Japanese invaded Hong Kong in December 1941 when Mr Chan would have been 41. They invaded Guangdong province, across the border, in 1938 when he was 38. Yet he tells us he's been celibate since age 30. If his young wife died in or after 1938 or 1941 when he was 38 or 41, you've got to think that was some strange kind of marriage.
I think Mr Chan is just making up the whole celibacy business. What's really kept him going has been the cigarettes.
|04 — Supersizing humanity. Forbes magazine has been going around
the earth, measuring people to see how fat they are.
The actual measurement here is Body Mass Index, which is to say weight relative to height. Forbes has tabulated the results for 194 nations and territories.
The top ten — that's the fattest — are all teeny little Pacific island nations except for two, which I'll get to in a moment.
The fattest nation of all is Nauru, a little rock down there in the Pacific — a rock which, if memory serves, is made entirely of guano, which is a polite word for accumulated bird poop. Ninety-four point five percent of Nauruans are overweight. Let's hope the bird poop can take the strain.
Now, it seems to me that if your nation is a rock made of bird droppings in the middle of nowhere, you need to work all the publicity angles you can just to get noticed.
In that spirit, I suggest that the authorities on Nauru rename their country to reflect the distinction that Forbes has awarded them.They could rename it Obesia perhaps, or Lardbuttistan, or something of that sort. That should bring the tourists flocking in.
Working down the Forbes list, the only two countries in the top ten that aren't Pacific islets are Kuwait at number eight, and yes, the dear old U.S.A. at number nine. Among advanced nations Singapore at number 162 and Japan at number 163 are the leanest.
It seems to me the Asians aren't, well, pulling their weight here in this wonderful project of supersizing the human race. Let's open a few more fast-food franchises over there in the Far East and get a few more Mountain Dew bottling plants online there before all that embonpoint down in the South Pacific causes the Earth to shift on its axis.
|05 — Derb estate business plan. We've been getting into a wee bit of
financial trouble down here at the Derb mansion. We've had to let three gardeners go just this past month; and the yacht club seems to think there is
no limit to how high they can raise the annual dues.
So I've come up with a plan to replenish the domestic resources. Here's how it'll work.
I got some discount centrifuges from a mail-order from in Pakistan and I've installed them in the basement of my house. Once I get the things working right, I'll load them up with uranium hexafluoride gas and start up the refining cascade. Couple of years, I figure we'll have enough fissionable to bring down the Chrysler building, or maybe the Eiffel Tower, or Big Ben — I haven't quite decided.
However, I am willing to suspend all this activity if the United States and the European Union give me some money, or some stuff that I can sell on eBay. I'm not asking for much, just a couple of million. You guys will never miss it. What do you say?
Mind you, I'm not going to let you into the basement to inspect my equipment, not without a few months advance notice, anyway. Privacy still counts for something in this country, you know. But I promise, word of honor, I'll stop the processing if you send me some money and some stuff.
Can we deal? You can get my phone number from National Review. I'll be waiting; and those centrifuges will be spinning.
|06 — Oscars report. I'd say something about the Oscars, but, well, what can
Jack Nicholson has lost his hair. Helen Mirren doesn't wear knickers. Al Gore has been spending a lot of time on Nauru, I think. And Ellen DeGeneres has just been kidding us about being a comedienne.
That was my overall impression, though I have to confess I ran out of NoDoz tablets around the three-hour mark.
How come Idiocracy didn't get any prizes? That's what I want to know. Perhaps it just hit too close to home.
There, that's my Oscar segment. I'm pressing ahead here because I have a really important appointment to get to after I've done recording.
|07 — Private school teaches socialism. There are some news stories
that you read and you think, wait a minute, I can't have read that right. Then you read it again. Then you bite down on the cyanide capsule and
commend your soul to God. Here's one of those stories.
A private school in Seattle — it's called the Hillside Children's Center — suspended the use of Lego by their pupils in order to teach the kiddies that private property ownership is evil.
The little ones had built an elaborate Lego town, but it was accidentally destroyed. Seizing the moment, the teachers decided that this was an excellent opportunity to, quote from one of the teachers, "promote a contrasting set of values, collectivity, collaboration, resource sharing, and full democratic participation." End quote.
You see, what the tots had been doing was incorporating into their Lego-building assumptions that, quote from the teacher again, "mirrored those of a class-based capitalist society, a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."
They gave the kids a stern lecture about the wickedness of private ownership. Then they brought the Legos back in and had the children build new buildings on the principles that, quote, "all structures are public structures," and, quote, "all structures will be standard sizes."
I did not make this story up. I got it from Tech Central Station February 28th; and yes, I checked the copy.
Again, it was a private school.
Perhaps as the next phase in their socialist education the kids might use their Lego blocks to build a labor camp, or a mockup of the Berlin Wall.
|08 — The Deplorable Word. The New York City Council has passed a symbolic
resolution calling on city residents not to use the n-word.
Presumably the ban applies to all the equivalents to the n-word in the hundred-odd languages other than English spoken in New York City.
I couldn't help smiling at this quote from Councilman Leroy Comrie, the sponsor of the bill. Quote: "People are denigrating themselves by using the word." End quote.
Excuse me? People are what themselves?
Anyway, the n-word is a big talking point nowadays. Other municipalities have passed similar ordinances, and a historically black college in Alabama recently held a four-day conference to discuss the word. Four days!
I'm assuming, and councilman Comrie's wording seems to confirm, that this is all a matter of African Americans talking to each other.
I've lived for twenty-five years in the U.S.A., practically all of it among white people, and I can only recall two occasions when I heard a white American use that word in ordinary conversation — I mean, other than when talking about the word itself or when telling an ethnic joke, which I think is fair exclusion.
As far as white Americans are concerned this is, as far as I can tell, a dead issue. It's true, however, that I'll admit I don't hang out much with Michael Richards.
|09 — Illegals out of space. Another story along the same depressing lines.
A state legislator in Florida wants to forbid the use of the term "illegal alien" in state documents. Senator Frederica Wilson, a Democrat — no kidding! — said, quote:
I personally find the word "alien" offensive when applied to individuals, especially to children. An alien to me is someone from out of space …
That's what she said, "out of space."
… They are immigrants through no fault of their own, not aliens.
So it wasn't anything they did, you see. They just woke up one morning and, shazam! — they were immigrants, like the bloke in the Kafka story who woke up to find he had been turned into a beetle. And we're definitely not talking about aliens — oh, no!
I guess that little laminated thing that I carried around in my wallet for eight years, the one labeled Alien Registration Card was just a fig newton of my imagination.
Oh, and surprise, surprise: Senator Wilson says she doesn't like the word "illegal," either. She prefers — can you guess? — "undocumented." These dimwit lefty types don't go in much for originality, I'm afraid.
Here's a modest proposal. Let's start rounding up people who are in this country illegally — or undocumentedly, if you prefer — and let's calmly, humanely, but swiftly send them back to their home countries
Then we wouldn't need to think up euphemisms for "illegal alien" because there wouldn't be any.
|10 — Signoff. Well, folks, just like the place that those aliens come
from — the ones that Senator Wilson is so agitated about — I'm out of space.
Tune in again next week … [Phone rings] … Oh, darn it. Excuse me again, just just one moment.
Hello? … Rudy? … Yes … Yes, I'm just finishing up here … I'm sorry … Questions? Sure, shoot … Gay Marriage? Right. Uh, I'm opposed to gay marriage on Burkeian grounds. Shouldn't mess with long established key social institutions, you know? …
Uh, sorry? … Gun Rights? Oh, I'm a strict Second Amendment guy. You know, like the NRA says: It maybe the Second Amendment, but it's our first freedom. If we lose that one, all the others will soon follow. And …
Uh, sorry? … Oh, immigration? … Yeah. Yeah, I'm a total restrictionist. Expel illegals, you know, cut way back on legals, end birthright citizenship, border fence, … Yeah, on board with all of that. And furthermore …
Uh, sorry? … Sorry, what do you mean? … "Not really on the same page"? I'm not getting you, Rudy. I … really. I'm totally on your page, Rudy … "Offer withdrawn"? What do you mean, "withdrawn"? … Hello? Rudy? Hello? … Hello, Rudy? Hello? Rudy? …
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]