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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb here, ladies and gents! This is your happy host John Derbyshire with a roundup of the news from this third week in September 2007.
I mentioned that because this particular broadcast of Radio Derb has been selected for placement in a time capsule to be buried deep beneath Buckley Towers for recovery, we hope, sometime in the far future. I should therefore add greetings to my remote descendants down there in a.d. 4007, and I hope you didn't muck around too much with that DNA I handed down to you.
And to the remote descendants of O.J. Simpson: I really hope that by the time you hear this, the real killers of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman have been found.
|02 — Squinty comes calling. Li'l Squinty's coming to town!
Yes folk, the Poison Dwarf of Tehran, the Cross-eyed Crusader of the Crescent is taking time out from dispatching squads of bombers into Iraq to blow up American soldiers, and dropping in on New York City for some sightseeing and speechifying.
Original plans had the tiny terrorist paying a visit to the World Trade Center site, presumably to offer a prayer for the souls of the brave martyrs who flew planes into those buildings; or possibly in search of ideas as to how Shiites could do a better job of infidel-slaying than those al-Qaeda amateurs.
However, the Ground Zero visit seems to be off, on account of the fact that a couple of million enraged New Yorkers have sworn to tear the diminutive despot limb from limb if he goes anywhere near the site. As a consolation prize, the Imp of Iran has been invited to give an address at Columbia University.
Columbia President Lee Bollinger offered a respectful invitation to the Mad Midget of Mullahdom and the invitation was respectfully accepted. That makes Columbia friendlier to the IED planters of Iran than it is to the U.S. military, which is not permitted on campus.
I just hope Ahmedinejad's people will brief him properly on topics he absolutely must not try to raise when addressing an American University audience: illegal immigration, innate differences between men and women; affirmative action leading to high dropout rates; … you know, inflammatory stuff like that.
Stick with the safe topics, Mahmoud, the ones they all agree with you about: the wickedness of the U.S.A.; the evil nature of the Bush regime; the complete lack of evidence for any so-called Holocaust; Islam's message of peace and brotherhood; the need to wipe Israel off the map; … All the non-controversial stuff. Just stick with that.
|03 — Airline staff as hall monitors. Here is an airline story, one having
nothing whatever to do, I assure you, with certain shameful and utterly false stereotypes about the supposed inclinations of male airline flight
The airline in question here is Southwest, which flies out of Dallas's Love Field and has LUV as its ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. Back in the carefree 1970s, Southwest dressed its female flight attendants in hot pants and advertised itself as "the love airline."
Well, apparently Southwest is striving to expunge all that giggling seventies libertinism from its record. In recent weeks two young ladies have reported being reprimanded by Southwest flight attendants for being improperly dressed.
First, Kyla Ebert, a 23-year-old Hooters waitress — what's more respectable than that? — was prevented from boarding a Southwest flight from San Diego to Tucson because her skirt was deemed too short and her sweater too low.
Then 21-year-old Setara Kaseem was made to cover herself with an airline blanket when her green halter-style dress scandalized cabin staff on a flight from Tucson to Burbank.
So even as the list of things we're not allowed to take on planes grows ever longer, we now have a whole new set of sartorial rules to attend to and comply with. What next? Cabin attendants standing outside the toilets demanding to know if you washed your hands after flushing? The pilot barking at passengers over the PA system to eat their greens?
At this point, I'd like to launch into a rant about the infantilization of our society and the exploding number of people who think they have a right to boss us around. I can't though. I'm … I'm too upset. I'm going to go sit in the corner and cry and hug my blankie for a while.
|04 — Himalayan aerospace technology. Well, here's another airline story.
They seem to come in batches.
And in fact it's also another spot of news from the Himalayas. Last week, you may remember, I took you to Bhutan; or rather, I alerted you to the fact that Bhutan — no doubt with the President of Mexico as a special consultant — has started shipping its unwanted citizens here.
Well, next door to Bhutan is Nepal, a kingdom of 27 million people stuck up there between India and occupied Tibet. Nepal is not without its problems. It's ranked 121 out of 163 on the World Corruption Index with only really hopeless cases like … let's see … Chad, Haiti, and — uh oh — Iraq ranked lower.
Well, like any self-respecting Third World Country Nepal has a national airline with two Boeing 757s as stars of the fleet. Unfortunately one of the 757s has been plagued with mechanical problems.
The ingenious Nepalese hit on a solution. They sacrificed two goats to Akash Bhairab, God of the Sky, right there on the tarmac in front of the plane.
That did the trick. The plane took off for Hong Kong and arrived without any further snags.
The definitive headline to this story was supplied by a blogger who calls himself Galloping Beaver, and since I can't improve on it, I'll quote it to you. Quote: "Akash Bhairab is my copilot."
|05 — DHS protects us from Welsh terrorists. Oh, the Welsh, the Welsh of
[Clip of Flanders & Swann singing their Song of Patriotic Prejudice.]
That was Flanders and Swann singing their Song of Patriotic Prejudice. I regret to inform my U.S. listeners that these prejudices are widespread among the English. This is unfair since, after all, it was our ancestors who stole their country.
Though it's not totally unfair since it was the incompetence, arrogance, and unpreparedness of the British ruling classes that allowed the Angles and Saxons to come pouring in to lowland Britain unopposed, eventually to take it over completely, pushing the poor old British up into the mountains of the West, where the British eventually became the Welsh. It was an early instance of the perils of uncontrolled mass immigration, you might say.
Anyway, the Welsh have been festering away up there in the mountains with their resentments and their sheep for the past fifteen centuries while we English look on them as sore losers.
Also as slightly comic. Well look, they eat leeks and seaweed. They dress up as witches. They play a weird game where they take turns to push a huge ten-foot puffball around a yard. They play another weird game, the idea for which they obviously got from our noble game of football, except that they don't wear any padding. They sing too much, as Flanders and Swann noted. They bestow feudal titles on the more useless members of the British royal family. They live in places with names twenty syllables long and they speak a dialect of Cambodian. Their favorite song is about a saucepan and they are one of the very few nations never to have invented an alcoholic drink.
Is it any wonder there's anti-Welsh prejudice? It's been going on for a while too. You remember that movie A Man for All Seasons, where the slimy Richard Rich perjures himself against Thomas More? More asks the court what that grand chain of office is that Rich is wearing. Rich, they tell him, has been appointed Attorney General for Wales.
"For Wales?" says Sir Thomas. "Why, Richard: It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for Wales?"
That line always gets a big laugh from English audiences. I don't know how it goes over in Cardiff and Llanelly.
Well, having comprehensively unloaded on the poor Welsh, I shall now stand up for at least one of them. This is Ms Nalini Ghuman, a Welsh-born musicologist who's been teaching at a college in California for several years. Ms Ghuman took a trip back home for some fresh supplies of seaweed. When she tried to return, she was refused entry by security officials at San Francisco airport. The officials tore up her visa, which was valid; interrogated her for eight hours; and listed her in their reports as Hispanic.
That was over a year ago. Ms Ghuman, who is an expert on the music of Sir Edward Elgar — you know, the bloke who wrote [hums a few bars of "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1"] Daa, Daa, Da-da-da, Daa-da … Er, Ms Ghuman still can't get into the U.S.A. and she still doesn't know why.
Well, I guess Homeland Security was having a special on Welsh terrorists that week.
Memo to Ms Ghuman: It's private enterprise that gets things done in North America, not Government. Take a plane to Tijuana and contact one of the local coyote outfits. They'll have you inside the U.S.A. before you can say "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch."
|06 — Radio Derb is GLBTTSQQI-friendly! You know those hands you sometimes
end up with in Scrabble, the ones you stare at for ages and you still can't see any way to get more than four points out of them?
Well, that's what I thought I was looking at the other day, reading an article from the University of Washington's website.
The article concerned a gift to the university's Q Center. What's the Q Center? Well, I'll read from their mission statement;
The Q Center exists to create an inclusive and celebratory environment for people of all sexual orientations.
End quote. So it's a club for homosexuals.
Well, this Q Center got a million-dollar gift from alumnus and former professional football player, David Kopay, who is homosexual. Speaking in gratitude for this gift, the director of the Q Center, a person named Jennifer Self, said that it is, quote: "a clear directive to the university regarding the health and wellbeing of its GLBTTSQQI students, faculty and staff." End quote.
Did you get that? "GLBTTSQQI." That, it turns out, stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, queer, questioning and Intersex.
What's the difference between gay and queer? What are the questioning types asking questions about? How does anyone get to be two-spirited? What on earth is intersex?
Do I really want to know? No, not really. I do want to be respectable though, so I hereby declare Radio Derb to be GLBTTSQQI-friendly.
|07 — U.N. Special Rapporteur finds racism in … Sweden!
Switzerland! I'm sure I don't need to tell you that when it comes to the issue of racism, the United Nations is all
over it like … well, I was going to say "like white on rice," but if I said that you might think I was being facetious, which of
course I never would be. Like black on caviar, perhaps? No, that doesn't sound quite right either. Let's go for something totally innocuous here. The
U.N. is all over racism like green on beans. There, now.
How all over racism are they? Well down there in the bowels of the U.N. building is a bureaucrat — no doubt with a staff of dozens and a budget of millions — who rejoices in the title Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance. Now there's glory for you! And to think you wanted to be an astronaut when you grew up. Ha!
What's he been up to, this panjandrum of pluralism, this doge of diversity, this invigilator of inclusiveness? Well, it would seem he's been working his way down an alphabetic list of nations that are offending against the U.N.'s strict standards of tolerance.
He's quite some way down the list. In fact, he's reached the S-W's. Having passed in silence over Sudan, Suriname, and Swaziland, nations that apparently have no issues with racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, the rapporteur's eye fell upon Sweden and Switzerland.
Ah ha! — What have we here?
In Sweden, cartoonist Lars Vilks wrote … er, drew the prophet Mohammed's head on a dog's body and put it in a cartoon. Mr Vilks is now in protective custody, al-Qaeda having put a hundred-thousand-dollar price on his head and called for him to be, quote, "slaughtered like a lamb."
The gross intolerance here is plain to see: not the intolerance of al-Qaeda for wacky cartoons, but the intolerance of Mr Vilks for the universally-acknowledged right of Muslim fanatics to not suffer any offense to their fantastically hypertrophied sensitivities.
Meanwhile in Switzerland, as reported on Radio Derb last week — you heard it here first, folks! — the People's party, that's Schweizerische Volkspartei, is riding high in the polls ahead of next month's election after calling for a ban on the building of any more minarets in Switzerland, and in spite of, or possibly because of, an election poster they put out which some white sheep kicking a black sheep out of a field with the legend "for more security."
This is in the context of a debate about deporting foreign criminals, most of whom come from the Middle East and Africa. As you may well imagine, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance is all over this like, uh, like wool on sheep. Said he, at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva — which is in Switzerland — said he, quote:
Islamophobia today is the most serious form of religious defamation. We see the initiatives and activities of many groups and organizations which are working hard to bring about a war of civilizations.
The Special Rapporteur added that right wing groups were trying to equate Islam with violence and terrorism. No! How dare they?
Oh, did I mention the name of the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance? I didn't? May I mention his name please? Thank you.
His name is Doudou Diène of Senegal. Senegal: a nation so prosperous, contented and free of social or economic problems that its educated classes can travel the world at public expense telling the rest of us how to live. Thanks, Doudou!
Oh, and don't even think of making fun of the Special Rapporteur's name. If you do-do … I'm sorry: I mean if you do, you'll be in deep … in deep … in deep something-or-other. I can't find the mot juste here.
|08 — Secrets of the news biz. Speaking as a news anchor myself —
look, this is news, isn't it? — I'm going to give away a wee little secret, a fact that you would never, in a million years, have figured
out for yourself.
Here's the secret: This line of work is pretty easy. What we news anchors do is, we try to get a decent shave; we put on a nice tie; we get to the studio on time, read a bunch of stuff off a teleprompt, and then head for the bar.
That's about it. I mean, it's not heavy lifting. Listener, you could do it.
It is therefore very unfair that we news anchors command such extravagant salaries. My own remuneration is a closely-guarded secret and will remain so, but we do know that Dan Rather's last contract with CBS, which he signed in 2002, specified a base salary of six million dollars a year.
Dan left CBS last year after suffering, he claims, various indignities at the hands of CBS management. Those indignities followed his stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News in March of 2005, and that followed the incident in September 2004 when Danny-boy treated viewers to some documents pooh-poohing President Bush's National Guard service, documents that turned out to be bogus.
Well, now Dan has filed a lawsuit against CBS asking for twenty million compensatory damages and fifty million punitive. I'll confess to having raised an eyebrow at the modesty of the numbers there. To star anchors like me and Dan, twenty million dollars is just dinner and a movie.
Still, I feel obliged to take a stand in solidarity with my fellow newsman. I have no ulterior motive in doing so, since the kind of scandal that engulfed Dan could never, never happen here at NRO. Nothing goes out on the air here until our teams of researchers have checked and checked and checked again.
|09 — France tries immigration control. The government of new President
Nicolas Sarkozy has been settling in in France and I must say I rather like the cut of their jib.
Sarkozy's party — which is called UMP: that's U-M-P, that's Union pour un Mouvement Populaire — is described as center-right: which, making due allowance for the general tenor of French politics, I had assumed meant that they are a couple of ticks more conservative than the Khmer Rouge.
Not so. If restrictionist immigration policies are the benchmark, Sarkozy and his UMP are more conservative than George Amnesty-or-Bust Bush and Larl Nothing-but-Desk-Jobs-for-My-Kids Rove. Except I suppose when it comes to Welsh musicologists, who I'm guessing Sarkozy is just as determined to keep out of his country as we are out of ours.
More recently UMP, which controls both houses of the French legislature, has passed a bill to tighten the entry conditions for relatives of immigrants in France. The bill requires immigrant family members older than sixteen to demonstrate a good knowledge of French language and values by taking a test in, oh my God, their country of origin.
Can you imagine how many lawsuits the ACLU would get out of that? And how many sub stories about divided families we'd be seeing on the evening news?
Applicants would also have to prove that their family in France could support them and earn at least the minimum wage.
An amendment to further insist that visa applicants write an eight-thousand-word essay on the structuralist hermeneutics of Michel Foucault was, I am sorry to say, defeated.
|10 — Signoff. Well, there you are, Radio Derb listeners. Now you know
what's been happening in the rest of the world while you've been following the fortunes of O.J. and Britney.
Tune in again next week for a special edition of Radio Derb, when I shall have as my studio guest the President of Iran, Mr Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. He's a good sport, is Mahmoud, and he's taken no offense to all those remarks of mine about his height and his strabismus. In fact, if the interview goes well, he's promised to divulge to me a couple of Iran's most closely guarded secrets: Who cuts his hair, and who makes his suits.
So until next week, this is your humble host, John Derbyshire, signing off for Radio Derb.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]