»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, August 10th, 2007

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

01 — Intro.     Well, here we are once again, ladies and gents, with Radio Derb, your infallible source for all the news you'd rather not hear. This is your regular Radio Derb host, the ever-genial John Derbyshire, here to bring you up-to-date with all the affairs of the world.

First, let's take a wee trip to the ivy-clad precincts of academia to see what our college kids are getting for the fifty thousand dollars a year or so we shovel into those precincts via fees and taxes.

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02 — Killing Ethnic Studies, one prof at a time.     Ethnic Studies is of course a bogus academic discipline. You can't name anything they do in an Ethnic Studies department that couldn't be — and probably is — done a whole lot better in a department of History, Sociology, Anthropology, or Linguistics.

When you set up a bogus department like that, you're going to attract bogus people. That is what the University of Colorado learned from having employed Ward Churchill for seventeen years — seventeen blessed years, listener! — as a Professor of Ethnic Studies.

They would have employed him for another seventeen years, too, if Churchill hadn't shot himself in the foot by writing in a published essay that the office workers who died in the World Trade Center attacks were, quote, "little Eichmanns" who had it coming.

That comment made Churchill high-profile and all of a sudden people were examining his work and his background. Now there's a thing your average Professor of Ethnic Studies definitely does not welcome, investigations into his work and background.

The Indian tribes that Churchill had claimed for his ancestry all disowned him. The records of his Vietnam War service didn't agree at all with the claims that he'd made about that service. Some of his writings and his artwork turned out to be plagiarized from others, and some of his so-called historical research was just made up.

It was all too much even for the jello-spined lefty bed-wetters who run our modern universities. The University of Colorado has now fired Churchill.

Explaining this action to the Wall Street Journal the university's president, former United States Senator Hank Brown, said, quote:

If you are a responsible faculty member, you don't falsify research. You don't plagiarize the work of others, you don't fabricate historical events, and you don't thumb your nose at the standards of the profession.

End quote.

President Brown did not explain to us why it took seventeen years and an army of bloggers and conservative talk-radio hosts to uncover Ward Churchill's malefactions. Nor did he say the thing that really needs saying here, which I am now going to say.

If Churchill hadn't drawn attention to himself with the Eichmann remark, he would have been happily ensconced in his professorship at the University of Colorado, faking and plagiarizing and lying about his background, until the time arrived for him to slip into an honorable retirement on a big fat pension paid for by the taxpayers of Colorado.

How many other Ward Churchills are there at universities across America? Who knows? Hundreds, very probably. Still, we brought down one of them, and that's some small cause for satisfaction.

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03 — A market for virtue.     Can you buy virtue? This issue seems to be cropping up more and more, and here it is again.

Some high-school students in Tucson, Arizona are being paid to stay in high school —paid, that is, not to drop out. Seventy-five students from low-income families, it says here, at Amphi High School and one hundred from Rincon High School were picked for this program which is being funded by, quote, "a local nonprofit."

This seems to be part of a trend: paying people to behave like responsible citizens. Mayor Bloomberg in New York City is keen on it. He wants to give people cash for making sure their kids go to school, and so on.

Whatever happened to negative reinforcement? Instead of paying people to do the right thing, we used to punish them for doing the wrong thing. I guess that's unacceptably old-fashioned nowadays.

Once you start paying money for something, though, you have established a market and the laws of economics kick in. The market here is for good behavior, with citizens as sellers and those local nonprofits as buyers.

Anyone like to guess which direction prices will move in? Anyone like to guess how long the funding will be left to local nonprofits before citizens' states start contributing? In the case of New York, in fact, Bloomberg has already said he wants the city to take over the program if it's successful, whatever "successful" means in this context.

Wait a minute: Did I say "citizens" just then? Isn't Tucson just fifty miles away from the world's least-defended national border?

Let's just hop over to GreatSchools.net and look up the student statistics for those two schools.

Amphi High School: 53 percent Hispanic. Rincon High: 49 percent Hispanic.

Hmm. Maybe that local nonprofit could put its funds to better use by financing a local chapter of the Minutemen.

Oh, and I note in passing that the GreatSchools.net website shows a public school named Aztec Middle College in Tucson. Aztec Middle College. Someone better call the PC police.

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04 — A rearguard victory on immigration?     The defeat of the appalling senate immigration amnesty bill a few weeks ago was of course a victory, but it may have been a rearguard victory — the kind of victory a retreating army sometimes wins.

The Bush administration, which hates even the thought of enforcing the people's laws on immigration, put up a not-very-convincing show of law enforcement when it seemed possible the amnesty bill might go through; but now that the bill has gone down, the administration is reverting to type.

This week we learned that the numbers of National Guard troops on the southern border are going to be cut back. In fact, they're going to be halved, and this is a year earlier than promised. In Arizona, which is the most popular corridor for the smuggling of drugs and illegal aliens from Mexico, troop numbers will be cut from 2,400 to 1,200.

Janet Napolitano, the Arizona Governor, is not happy about it. Writing to Defense Secretary Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, the Governor said, quote, "the drawdown of Operation Jumpstart's strength level is ill-timed and should be halted and re-examined," end quote.

Yes, well, lots of luck there, Governor. We wouldn't give the elites their damn amnesty bill so they won't enforce our damn laws. That's how it's working out.

Meanwhile the Hispanicization of America proceeds apace. I went into New York City by train Tuesday afternoon for, as it happens, an immigration-related event. I drove to my local railroad station here in the far outer suburbs of New York, twelve hundred miles from the southern border. I bought a ticket. I walked along the crowded train platform, overhearing the people standing there talking, and they were talking more Spanish than English.

I looked down at the lot where the local taxi company, which is named Orange and White, park their vehicles; and doing so, I learned the Spanish word for "orange" because the taxis now have the words Naranjado y Blanco painted on one side.

Turning to GreatSchools.net again, I see that the local elementary school that my kids attended is now 31 percent Hispanic. A neighborhood parent tells me that the school posts all their notices in Spanish and English, sometimes in that order.

But of course it is disgracefully bigoted of us even to notice all this, never mind object to it. I am ashamed of myself and I truly repent. Heck, I always wanted to live in a bilingual country.

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05 — Trapped in the dark.     Six coal miners were trapped deep underground after a tunnel collapse in Huntington, Utah on Monday. At the time of recording on Thursday evening, rescuers are still trying to drill down to the place where the miners are thought to be trapped, fifteen hundred feet below the ground.

I myself come from an English coal-mining background, so I grew up listening to stories like this, and the Utah disaster has some special resonance for me. It seems to have for a lot of other people, too, though.

A friend asked me why we pay so much attention to stories like this when the number of people in danger is around forty minutes worth of national traffic fatalities.

Well, I think part of it is the horror that we all have of being trapped in a small dark space. Submarine calamities elicit the same horror. Older listeners might remember the U.S.S. Thresher; and then there was the Kursk just seven years ago this weekend.

Kids trapped in wells, and in disused mine shafts, and so on … The same horror, the same fascination.

Well, I hope by the time you read this, the Utah miners have been rescued and restored to their loved ones.

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06 — Whither China's currency?     Will the U.S. Congress impose trade sanctions on China, possibly precipitating a recession in China? Will China dump its trillion dollars or so of dollar reserves into the international currency markets, likely precipitating a recession in the USA? Will China properly float its currency, the renminbi, which everybody thinks is pegged too cheap against the dollar?

My bets would be no, no, and maybe; but those are poorly-informed guesses, as are everyone else's at this point.

You see, if a dollar buys you ten renminbi and you make a car here in the U.S.A. for $10,000 and export it to Shanghai, your Chinese customer is going to have to pay 100,000 renminbi to cover your $10,000 cost.

If the Renminbi is raised to five to the dollar, though, Mr Zhang over in Shanghai will cover your costs with only 50,000 of his hard-earned renminbi. More exports for our manufacturers, you see?

But then at ten renminbi to the dollar, a shirt made in China for 10 RMB sells here for a dollar. If you up the renminbi to trade at five to the dollar, the American customer has to pay twice as much for the same shirt. Less exports for China!

So what is the right value for the renminbi, or any other currency? Well, it's what currency traders would exchange the currency for in a free market, based on what their back office researchers tell them about the relative strengths of the different nations' economies … which, everyone seems to think, makes the renminbi about forty percent cheaper than it, quote, "ought" to be.

I don't have a solution here, folks. My intuition is that the Chinese will back down slowly and reluctantly by inches and eventually float their currency.

Meanwhile, let's all just remember that a mere thirty years ago China was certifiably insane and barely trading with anyone, and had just got through starving thirty million of her own citizens to death under the instructions of a deranged megalomaniac.

It's awfully hard to like the Chinese government, but they have been worse, way worse.

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07 — Are nerds hyper-white?     We all know about nerds: those highschool brainiacs with pocket protectors holding five different colors of pens in their shirt pockets, with pants at half mast to display white socks, with thick-lens spectacles, facial blemishes, and annoying ways of laughing.

There is in fact a sort of Nerd Pride movement, fueled, I suppose, by the sensational success of über-Nerd Bill Gates. The 1984 movie Revenge of the Nerds has generated no less than three sequels.

So I guess we shouldn't be surprised to read in our New York Times that nerdishness has attracted some learned academic investigation. Linguist Mary Bucholtz of the University of California has been studying nerds for the past twelve years, bless her.

Her conclusions, reported in the Times last week: It's all about race. Well, what do you know?

Nerds, you see, according to Ms Bucholtz, are hyper-white. In fact, she says, quote:

By cultivating an identity perceived as white to the point of excess, nerds deny themselves the order of normality. That is usually one of the perks of being white.

End quote.

What a load of rubbish! In the first place there are, and always have been, black nerds. I know there are because I used to work with one; and for sheer nerdy nerdishness, he made me look like Patrick Swayze.

Even leaving aside black nerds, though, common observation suggests that the classic white nerd is in fact an endangered species. The nerds of today and tomorrow are increasingly Asian.

The company I used to work at, Credit Suisse First Boston, employed a whole floor full of nerds — "quants" they are called in Wall Street jargon. I used to have to go down there to deal with them. It was like rush hour at Beijing Central subway station.

People tell me that South Asian kids are coming up fast now, though — nerds from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Could we end up with ethnic turf wars on the quant floor, like those black v. Hispanic rumbles you get in prisons?

Well, it's possible I suppose; but what will they fight with? It's pretty hard to slice up your opponent with a math calculator.

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08 — Presidential debates losing their appeal.     What would happen if they held a Presidential candidates debate and nobody came? Well, we may find out.

I'm looking here at a spreadsheet from Nielsen Media Research showing the viewing figures for the eight Presidential candidate debates so far.

Starting at a pretty good level back in April, the figures went up to a peak at the Democrats' debate on CNN June 3rd; and then there was a secondary peak for the YouTube debate on July 23rd; and then for this latest effort by the Democrats on August 7th, a steep descent into limbo land. Nine hundred and sixty thousand total for this August 7th debate, compared with 2.7 million for the June 3rd one: that's a drop of 65 percent — a bi-i-ig drop, even if you allow for a lot of people being on vacation in August.

Among the active working-age group — that's ages 25 to 54 — the drop was even bigger: sixty-eight percent.

Could it be that the American people have better things to do than worry about an election that's a year and a half in the future? Ya think?

Of course, it all had novelty value back in the Spring, but the novelty's worn off. Now it's just a bunch of pols, and the audience is remembering how much money goes into it all and how much rehearsal and preparation.

Who was it called politics "show business for ugly people"? Whoever it was, that's the mood we're in right now: and frankly, real show business — the show business with beautiful people — is starting to look better and better as a way to spend our dwindling amount of free time … the time, that is, between the two or three jobs we have to do to support the vast money-laden government and corporate establishments that are behind these carefully groomed, carefully spoken, carefully dressed robots giving oh-so-careful answers to dumb questions in TV debates.

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09 — Iraq update.     Troop levels in Iraq have spiked at an all-time high: 162,000. Add to that another 180,000 contractors at work for the U.S. forces or the Iraqi government. Yes, that's right: there are more contractors at work in Iraq than there are U.S. troops.

What are those contractors all doing? Beats me. What they should be doing is getting Iraq's oil production back to where it was when we invaded four and a half years ago. That is, up to two and a half million barrels a day.

In fact, Iraqi oil production is just about at two million barrels a day.

Dick Cheney told us at the time we invaded that it would be over three million at the end of that year, the year 2003; but hey, that Cheney, he's a joker, you know. He just loves kidding around with us.

Meanwhile, what are our troops doing? Sweating, mainly, I should think. It's 130 degrees at midday in Baghdad right now, and body armor ain't beach wear.

Our troops are in fact doing well at their assigned mission, which is to restore some level of security to the population so the Iraqi government can take control of things. Well, places that were insecure a year or so ago are secure now, and some are positively flourishing. So nobody can fault General Petraeus or the guys for not doing what they were assigned to do.

How about the Iraqi government though? Are they holding up the other end of that big fragile pane of glass called "Iraqi national integrity?"

It's hard to say since they've all left town for a month's vacation. Well, I'm sure they'll all come back rested and ready to roll up their sleeves and start building a new Iraq.

I'm sure they will. Aren't you? Of course you are.

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10 — The ChiComs' Olympic validation.     You know, I think I was a little bit too kind to the Chinese Communist Party back there, so let me try to redress the balance.

The ChiComs held an elaborate ceremony in Beijing the other day to mark the opening of the 2008 Olympic Summer Games …

Wait a minute. Isn't this still 2007? Well, yes it is; but the 2008 Olympics are such a huge thing for the ChiComs, they thought they'd have a ceremony to celebrate the actual opening being just one year away.

I caught some of this ceremony on one of the ChiCom satellite channels and all I can say is: "Leni Riefenstahl, thou shouldst be living at this hour." Talk about totalitarian kitsch!

For the commies the Olympics are a validation, a symbol of respectability — like a Mafia boss holding a block party for the kids.

For the ordinary people of China, the Olympics are a patriotic display, and it's hard to begrudge them that after all that they've suffered the past few decades.

Still the worst of their suffering came at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, which is using the Games to legitimize itself; and we — and, I wish, the Chinese people — should bear that in mind.

The totalitarian brutality that is still at the heart of Chinese governance was in fact on display just last week when the Communists issued an edict concerning tulkus.

The tulku, in the religious tradition of the Tibetan people, is a reincarnation of Buddha. He's a living Buddha. So believe the Tibetans, whose country has the misfortune to be under Chinese military occupation. Tibetan priests have traditional methods for identifying tulkus, who then become figures of great reverence to the faithful.

The Communists, of course, don't want anyone revering any person not appointed by themselves. As the old Chinese saying goes: There can only be one Emperor in the capital, only one Sun in the sky.

Well, as of September 1st, says this new edict, any tulku not approved by the Communist Party will be, quote, "illegal and invalid."

Such unauthorized reincarnations will also be very unfortunate, if the past is anything to go by. Back in 1995 the exiled Dalai Lama anointed a six-year-old Tibetan boy, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, as a senior tulku. The communists were furious. They kidnapped the boy and his entire family and none of them has been heard from since. Most likely they were murdered by Party executioners.

This is the regime the world's athletes will be legitimizing next year.

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11 — Signoff.     There, now; I've run over my time allotment, so there's no wrap-up miscellany this week. I hope I leave you better informed than you were half an hour ago; and if not, well at least you're half an hour closer to that retirement condo.

Keep smiling, America, don't take any wooden nickels, and tune in again next week for more news and views from Radio Derb.

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[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]