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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, from your filially genial host John Derbyshire.
Yes; it's Father's Day this weekend here in the U.S. of A. I don't think it's celebrated on the same date over in Europe. The way things are going with birth rates over there, though, the issue will soon be moot, at least for the legacy population.
I shall get to that issue in due course. First the headlines.
02 — Progressive political violence. This week's headliner was of course the Wednesday morning shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. Congressional Republicans were in a park practicing for the annual baseball game, Democrats against Republicans.
There's been an annual congressional baseball game since 1909. I confess I didn't know that. Gate proceeds for the game go to charity. I'll give the Radio Derb seal of approval to this event; not just because of the charity aspect, but because it's encouraging to see congresscritters taking a break from their bickering to unite and do something fun and harmless together.
So here were these Republican congressfolk practicing baseball when a lunatic opened fire on them. Representative Steve Scalise and four others were wounded before Capitol Police officers took down the shooter, who is now dead. Congressman Scalise is still in critical condition as I go to tape here, and his loved ones of course have my entire sympathy.
I'm sorry to say, though — sorry, I mean, to the tens of millions who look to me as an oracle on all worldly events — that random political violence of this sort leaves me at a loss. I can't summon up much to say about it.
Obviously the shooter — his name was James Hodgkinson — was nuts. Deeds speak for themselves; and he had a record of erratic, aggressive behavior. The public issue is: How much do the actions of a lunatic tell us about the condition of our society, our culture, our politics?
There's a spectrum of opinion on that. At one end of the spectrum are commentators who see our entire condition incarnated in the lunatic. He represents all that's wrong with us! these folk say. If we were to fix all that wrong stuff, these terrible things wouldn't happen!
At the other end of the spectrum are people who say that lunatics aren't representative of anything. They're just wild sports of nature, like earthquakes or asteroid strikes. They don't mean anything; and no conceivable scheme of political improvement could reduce their incidence much.
I'm temperamentally out towards the latter end of that spectrum. Crazy people do crazy stuff, whaddya gonna say? The bloke that shot Ronald Reagan 36 years ago was trying to get the attention of a movie actress he worshipped from afar. Charlie Manson's murders were inspired by a Beatles song. These men's deeds tell us nothing about the actress and her movies, or about the Beatles and their music. They were just asteroid strikes, lunatics doing things that made sense only to their lunatic selves.
Note however that I said I'm "towards" the meh end of the spectrum, not "at" it. I shake my head at the incarnationists down at the other end, building grand narratives about the condition of the Republic from some maniac's private obsessions, but I'll allow there are nontrivial generalities to be noted in this case.
There is, for example, the fact that political violence in our age, when it's not just batpoop barmy, is overwhelmingly a left-wing phenomenon. Pat Buchanan, whom God preserve!, published an excellent column about this on Thursday. I shall enlarge upon that in the next segment.
And I don't of course deny that people on my side of political issues occasionally commit political atrocities. Precisely one year ago as I record this, on June 16th last year, a member of the U.K. parliament, Jo Cox, was shot dead by a British nationalist who was angry about Ms Cox's far-left, open-borders, multiculti positions. Yes, that happens. As Pat Buchanan documents, though, the other thing happens way more often.
(And by the way: The murder of Jo Cox puts the kibosh on the theory that stricter gun laws would stop such killings. It's not possible to imagine gun laws any stricter than Britain's are today, but the lady was shot dead none the less.)
So here I'm just calling for a sense of proportion. Political violence has been around for ever. The first Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, had an encounter with it, if memory serves. So, a couple of centuries previous to that, did the First Emperor of China.
More recently than those remote imperial events, a different member of Britain's parliament, the member elected by my home town in England, as it happens, was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons. He was Prime Minister at the time, but not many people thought that excused the deed. The shooter was driven by personal grievance, not politics.
That was in 1812. So it goes. Politics is more dangerous than office work, and always has been.
Wednesday's shooter was a Progressive, though — a Bernie Sanders supporter, in fact. Is that something worth remarking on? I'll grudgingly concede that it is.
Before pursuing that train of thought, I note with satisfaction that the congressional baseball game went ahead anyway on Thursday evening. Democrats easily defeated Republicans 11-2.
03 — Peeing on literary greatness. You've probably heard about this production called Shakespeare in the Park. The park is New York City's Central Park, and every summer since 1962 Shakespeare plays have been performed in the open there. This year's plays are Julius Caesar, from late May through mid-June, then A Midsummer Night's Dream from mid-July to mid-August.
The Julius Caesar production is in the news because it's done in modern dress, and the actor playing the part of Caesar is made up to look like Donald Trump. Caesar of course gets assassinated in the third act. In this production the assassination is done with maximum gore.
There's not much doubt what the producers had in mind. Their promotional material for the play says the following thing, quote:
Rome's leader, Julius Caesar, is a force unlike any the city has seen. Magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power. A small band of patriots, devoted to the country's democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him. Shakespeare's political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary.
That's a stretch. Shakespeare's play is far more subtle than just patriots v. a megalomaniac. To the degree it takes any "line" at all on Caesar's character, which isn't much of a degree, Shakespeare's play is pro-Caesar, definitely not anti-Caesar. And was Caesar any more "irreverent" than the average Roman of his time?
The Roman chronicler Suetonius observed that, quote:
In the time of Julius Caesar the barriers of public liberty were become too weak to restrain the audacious efforts of ambitious and desperate men. The veneration for the constitution, usually a powerful check to treasonable designs, had been lately violated by the usurpations of Marius and Sylla. The salutary terrors of religion no longer predominated over the consciences of men.
As for "democratic traditions"; well, we Americans exercised our democratic traditions last November by electing Trump our President. Respect for those traditions doesn't, it seems to me, sit very comfortably with portrayals of Trump being murdered by, quote, "a small band of patriots, devoted to the country's democratic traditions," end quote.
Should the Shakespeare in the Park producers be allowed to get away with this? I'd say yes, they absolutely should. They're not breaking any laws. Being rude about politicians, and even openly fantasizing gory deaths for them, isn't illegal and shouldn't be.
"But it'll incite lunatics to commit atrocities," people say. Nah; I don't think lunatics need any inciting. To the degree they do, we have to choose between that degree and shutting down one kind of public speech. But when you shut down one kind of speech, it's easier to shut down another. I like my freedom of speech, and I'll take my chances with the lunatics.
And since I've quoted Suetonius back there, I'll just add this further comment from the old boy for you to reflect on, quote:
It is to the honour of Caesar, that when he had obtained the supreme power, he exercised it with a degree of moderation beyond what was generally expected by those who had fought on the side of the Republic.
The main emotion this Shakespeare in the Park story stirred in me was a sort of weary disgust. What these people are doing is shallow and juvenile; and I don't think the phrase "shallow and juvenile" belongs in the same county as the name "William Shakespeare."
Talk about "irreverent"! — these nitwits are peeing on literary greatness, and giggling as they do so. They should show more respect, or find another line of work.
The story tells us something about our times, though, and about the issue of political violence. To get at that, permit me to conduct a Gedankenexperiment.
04 — Authoritarian progressivism. Conduct a what?
Gedankenexperiment is a term of art in philosophy of science, in plain English: "thought experiment." What would happen if you were to fall into a black hole? Well, that's an experiment we can't conduct; but we can work the math and the physics and get an answer none the less.
Thought experiments can be very fruitful. Einstein got the first inklings of his relativity theories by imagining himself riding along with a beam of light. One of the best-known experiments in quantum theory is the one involving Schrödinger's cat; but the experiment has never been carried out, so far as I know. It's a thought experiment, a Gedankenexperiment.
So let's do a thought experiment here. Let's imagine Mrs Clinton won last November's Presidential election, and was inaugurated this January. And let's suppose that four months later the Shakespeare in the Park organizers stage Julius Caesar with the title part played by a pear-shaped female in a pantsuit, and showed her being stabbed to death in the third act.
The first thing to be said is that the premise there is a mighty implausible one. Theater production, like all the other arts, is staffed entirely by the progressive left. It wouldn't even occur to anyone in that world to stage any such production. If it did occur to some producer, he would never get actors, stage designers, or promoters to participate.
Nor would he get any corporate sponsorship. As I keep telling you, the current Mode of Production in our society is antifa capitalism. The big banks, corporations, and media conglomerates who finance events like Shakespeare in the Park live in terror of boycotts and shakedowns by progressive activists. Whatever their CEOs may think or say in the privacy of their chambers, they would never allow a breath of anti-progressive thought to taint their public presentations.
But this is a thought experiment. Let's set those factors aside and just suppose this production could be staged, to run from late May through mid-June. What would happen?
Here's what would happen. After one or two performances, when news of the pantsuit Caesar getting assassinated on-stage had leaked out, the production would be interrupted by hecklers.
If the producers somehow persisted in putting on the play, convoys of antifa activists from all over the country would arrive and take over the audience area. Non-antifa types who just wanted to see the play would be scared away.
Eventually the antifa would rush the stage and smash up the set with 14-lb hammers. The producer's home address would be leaked out, and he'd be mobbed in the street and beaten up. The New York Times would run a stern editorial blaming him for poisoning a fine city tradition with "hate."
That's what would happen, you know it. Our culture — not just our political culture but our cultural culture — is totally, seamlessly, implacably dominated by the progressive left.
There is very little space for any other outlook — a few odd corners of the internet like this one (for a while longer), one or two cable news shows, a country singer or two, very occasionally a movie like American Sniper, but nothing else of any weight in the larger society at all.
And in defending all this territory they have conquered, the left doesn't hesitate to use violence. The actual production of Julius Caesar, the one with President Trump getting killed, is sailing on happily to its close date this Sunday. It hasn't been disrupted. The audience hasn't been scared away by hecklers wearing masks. Nobody's mounted the stage and smashed up the scenery.
What I call the Cold Civil War is in fact awfully one-sided. The Goodwhites run the media, the corporations, the churches, the schools and colleges, even the military; and when they need some muscle, they can call on antifa mobs to do the wet work.
We Badwhites control nothing, and we have no lawless mobs to enforce our ideology. If we did have them, and were of a mind to deploy them, the media would not cover for us the way they do for the antifas.
Remember last fall, when Richard Spencer's NPI Conference was all over the news? What was not all over the news was the antifa attack on a pre-conference event at Maggiano's restaurant in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Quote from an antifa website, quote:
Anti-fascist protesters stormed the restaurant and made it up the stairs to the second floor where NPI was meeting before they were blocked, although a few got in by elevator. At some point, a foul smelling liquid was thrown on Richard Spencer, forcing the White Supremacist to discard his shirt and spend the rest of the evening only wearing his suit vest …
The throwing of the liquid was an assault, in fact I think a battery. Storming the restaurant as described is a major act of civil disorder, possibly a criminal trespass. And you never heard about this. All you heard about was half a dozen of the NPI attendees making Nazi salutes.
Richard's people weren't storming any place or throwing anything. Why did they come out the bad guys in this story? Because that fits the progressive narrative, and Progressives run the media; that's why.
The antifa thugs are the Goodwhites' muscle. We don't have any muscle. If we developed any, it would be arrested and prosecuted faster than you can say "anarcho-tyranny." In the Cold Civil War, one side controls all the strategic assets.
All we have — those of us on the other side — all we have is our vote, and the Progressives begrudge us even that. When we manage to get a candidate elected, the full force of authoritarian progressivism is turned against him.
How dare we reject the left's chosen candidate! Who do we think we are? I wonder how much longer we'll be allowed to vote.
05 — Eternal recurrence in the poetry world. Here's another one on the high-culture beat, the high culture here being poetry.
Well, poetry used to be high culture. The crafting of memorable verses, shaped by traditional forms and techniques, was once a high literary endeavor whose results were appreciated and enjoyed by millions. I'm not sure what it is nowadays, but it certainly isn't that. For sure it's not enjoyed by millions, not even by any sizable number of Americans who take literature seriously.
Here I offer my usual challenge to listeners: Take a pause to summon up and quote out loud four consecutive lines from any poem written by any American poet in the last fifty years. And no, I'm not going to count song lyrics, not Bob Dylan's nor anyone else's.
Well, Wednesday this week the Republic acquired a new Poet Laureate, appointed by the Library of Congress. The name is Tracy K. Smith, 45 years old, a Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University. Congratulations to Professor Smith.
The Radio Derb listener who alerted me to this attached a link to the PBS.org website, which has the text of two of Prof Smith's poems and video clips of her introducing and then reading each one.
Neither poem rhymes or scans; neither is in a traditional form. They are not even free verse, which at least attempts some rhythmic quality. These are just prose pieces broken up on the page to look like verse, I guess so that the author can call herself a poet.
And both pieces — I refuse to go on calling them poems — are blackety-black. Professor Smith is herself black, and that's what she's writing about. What else do black people write about?
The first piece is in 19th-century black dialect, addressed to Abraham Lincoln, and cut'n'pasted from letters and statements by black Union soldiers in the Civil War complaining about mistreatment.
The second piece is … well, I don't know what it is. Introducing it, Prof Smith tells us it is dedicated to the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters, a group of blacks who perform Ring Shouts. If you don't know what a Ring Shout is, I'll let Wikipedia explain, quote:
An ecstatic, transcendent religious ritual, first practiced by African slaves in the West Indies and the United States, in which worshipers move in a circle while shuffling and stomping their feet and clapping their hands.
In other words it's one of those monotonous African chants that you could cut up and sell by the yard. Here's a sample. [Clip: Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters.]
The poem — no, sorry, I mean the piece — makes reference to a performance, so I guess it's a Ring Shout performance the Professor's writing about. Beyond that, I can't figure out what's going on.
Halfway through, though, we hear about, quote, "rusted iron chains someone was made to drag." Or rather, to put in the line breaks:
Further on we get:
Which suggests, though without any context, a female slave on the run.
Now, I have not looked any further into Prof Smith's works than these two specimens on the PBS website. Possibly she has written odes, sonnets, villanelles and sestinas on subjects from blossoms in springtime to the heat death of the universe — I couldn't say. Perhaps she has written an epic in heroic couplets about the Korean War — I just don't know.
These two blackety-black pieces are, though, presumably the ones she chose to showcase her work to the PBS audience, so it's not outrageously audacious of me to assume that she is just another pampered, whiny affirmative-action solipsist parlaying the white guilt and gullibility of academics and college administrators into a nice middle-class livelihood for herself. You go, girl!
Isn't this kind of a crowded field, though? When black poetess Elizabeth Alexander was booked for Barack Obama's first inaugural, I looked her up and wrote down my impressions. Sample, from my December 2008 diary, quote:
Nothing worth remembering, nothing striking, nothing amusing, nothing of universal appeal, nothing that owes anything to the magnificent centuries-long tradition of English verse; only the monotonous, structureless, sub-literate whining of nursed and petted victimhood.
Sixteen years before that a different whiny black female poetess, the late Maya Angelou, performed at the first Clinton inauguration. I didn't have a writing outlet at that time and had to content myself with a scathing letter to the New York Post.
So that was 24 years ago — an entire generation. Does anything ever change? Will black female con artists just go on scamming guilty white liberals for ever with their bogus, narcissistic pseudo-poetry?
Is there any point writing about this one, as opposed to just recycling what I wrote about the last one? Probably not. Blackety-black, blackety-black, blackety-blackety-blackety-blackety-blackety-blackety-blackety-blackety-black, …
06 — The Cosby trial: anarcho-tyranny in action? Here's another black American: Bill Cosby. As I go to tape here the jury is still deadlocked, after 46 hours of deliberation, in Cosby's criminal trial in Pennsylvania for drugging and then sexually molesting a young woman thirteen years ago.
Cosby was 67 years old at the time — this was the year 2004. The woman, name of Andrea Constand, was thirty. She was a sports bureaucrat at Temple University in Philadelphia. Cosby had gone to Temple on a sports scholarship back in the early sixties. He didn't graduate, but kept up some kind of connection with the place as an alumnus. Ms Constand says he took an interest in her, and encouraged her career. Uh-huh.
My default assumption in cases like this is that the woman is scamming for money or publicity, combined probably with some neurotic compulsion. Stupidity may also be a factor. Why did Ms Constand think he was so interested in her?
She actually knew: In court testimony she told us that prior to the alleged assault Cosby had twice made suggestive passes at her, which she'd rebuffed.
Yet still she went on seeing him in private. It was at Cosby's home that the alleged drugging and sexual assault took place. This is a woman who has no clue how to take elementary care of herself; or else it's a woman looking for a payout from a rich guy.
I don't have any trouble believing that Bill Cosby is a dirty old dog. I don't know that he is one, I'm just saying I have no trouble believing it. He's a big name in showbiz: are there really sentient adults who don't know what that implies? The phrase "casting couch" mean anything, Andrea?
There is a moral obligation on attractive young women to practice basic caution in relationships with powerful older men: the obligation, to use the rather coarse expression current in the English midlands during my own salad days — and I apologize for the coarseness — the obligation to "keep yer hand on yer ha'penny." Ms Constand neglected that obligation, or traded it in for the joys of victimhood.
So whatever happened between these two, my sympathy for the plaintiff here is extremely limited.
My own impressions aside, the interest of the case is in what I think is called its intersectionality, or lack thereof. He's male, she's female. In the current dominant narrative, males are bad and females are good. On the other hand, he's black and she's white; the narrative says black is good but white bad.
The jury is ten whites and two blacks. The blacks are one male, one female: The whites break six male, four female. Hung jury? What. A. Surprise.
Cosby's probably getting some jury sympathy on account of his age, too. He'll turn eighty in a couple of weeks. I suppose in pure logic that shouldn't factor in a criminal trial, but likely it does, and I'm personally sympathetic to its doing so.
Cosby faces ten years in the slammer on each of the three charges. Putting a geezer away for years, possibly decades, because of something unpleasant but not harmful he may have done thirteen years ago to a woman who was gullible, or designing, or both, seems shameful to me.
I'd hate to see us sink to the depths they're at in Britain, as exemplified by the outrageous treatment of entertainer Rolf Harris. Harris, 87 years old, after a lifetime of giving harmless pleasure to millions, is spending his sunset years as a jailbird and full-time defendant because he put his hand up some girl's skirt back in 1970-something.
This is anarcho-tyranny in action. The public authorities, too crippled by multiculti ideology to protect their people from invasion by Third World rapists, turn the full force of the law instead on harmless First World geezers.
If a mistrial's declared in Pennsylvania and Cosby faces a do-over, my recommendation to him would be to convert to Islam. That'll get you off the hook, Bill.
07 — Afghanistan (continued … for ever). I can't believe I'm still writing about Afghanistan.
For a measure of how whacked-out crazy our continuing involvement in Afghanistan is, I refer you to the June 5th column by Ralph Peters. Opening grafs, quote:
In Afghanistan, we're the Redcoats. And for a substantial portion of the country's ethnic-Pashtun majority, the Taliban, however cruel and odious we find them, are the Minutemen.
That's from Colonel Peters, the neocons' neocon. If even he's given up on us accomplishing anything at all in Afghanistan — much less doing something conclusive like, oh, winning a war — then who could possibly be supporting our continued involvement?
President Trump, that's who. So at any rate reported the Associated Press on Thursday. They told us that Trump will be sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan possibly as early as next week.
Friday however the Pentagon denied the AP story, saying no decision has yet been made.
All right; but it's scary and crazy enough that we're even pondering sending more troops there. Sixteen years, for goodness' sake? What do we have to show for it?
As I said, I can't believe I'm still writing about the filthy godforsaken place. Here's an Afghan policy for you, Mr President — one I actually thought you had in mind on the campaign trail: Get our guys the hell out of there. If you want to make a nice gesture, give green cards to Afghans who have personally, certifiably put their lives on the line to help us. Tell State to stop issuing visas to any other Afghans. Just close the embassy, in fact — what do we need an embassy in Afghanistan for?
If the Afghans misbehave again like they did in 2001, smack 'em good and hard upside the head, and tell them there's plenty more where that came from. Even Ralph Peters is on board with that. Ralph Peters!
Colonel Peters puts a neocon spin on it, of course. Further quote from him:
Sending a few thousand more troops to Afghanistan sounds like small change, but it would tie down many more. That matters because Afghanistan is strategically worthless to us, even as we face a grave challenge from North Korea, an all-but-inevitable clash with the Revolutionary Guards holding Iran and the Middle East hostage, and a civilizational threat from Russia's reinvigorated barbarism.
So Peters worries that more troops in Afghanistan means fewer to fight with Iran, North Korea, and Russia, none of whose affairs are any of our damn business. Neocons, gotta love 'em.
A stopped clock's right twice a day though, and Colonel Peters is right about Afghanistan. If even he can see what a foolhardy waste of blood and money our Afghan involvement is, why can't our SecDef? Why can't our President?
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: There was a ghastly fire in London Wednesday morning. Grenfell Tower was a block in West London with 23 residential floors housing 600 people. The whole thing went up in smoke, with a number of dead not yet known but at least seventy.
Looking at the names and pictures of the dead and missing, the striking thing is how very few of them are legacy white British. Here, for a random short sample, are the seven people currently confirmed dead from the 20th floor.
Omar Belkadi, Farah Hamdan, Leena Hamdan, Jessica Urbano, Mary Mendy (she's black), Khadiya Saye (also black), Heshen Rahman.
Not a Smith, Jones, or Derbyshire in sight. Perhaps there aren't any left in London any more.
Current best theory about the start of the fire is that is was caused by a badly wired refrigerator belonging to Behailu Kebede, who lived on the fourth floor. Mr Kebede is a cab driver from Ethiopia. I guess there couldn't be found any native Brits to drive cabs any more, they had to import drivers from … Ethiopia?
Poor construction and human misbehavior seen to have been contributing factors also. According to the Financial Times, there were exposed gas pipes in the building's main stairwell where, quote from an official complaint by residents to fire marshals, quote, "vandalism and antisocial [behaviour] are daily occurrences," end quote.
Another day, another disaster in Third World Britain.
Item: Who said the following thing, actual quote:
If you're in this country illegally and you committed a crime by being in this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried.
Come on, who said it? Was it (A) Richard Spencer, (B) Jared Taylor, (C) literally Hitler, speaking from the Afterlife, (D) me, or (E) none of the above?
The answer is (E), none of the above. The speaker was in fact Thomas D. Homan, acting director at ICE, that's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testifying to the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.
Such blunt talk about illegal aliens of course sent Democrat congresscritters to the fainting couches. Representative Nita Lowey of New York, the ranking Democrat on the committee, when she'd recovered from her swoon, brought out the latest local illegal alien sob story, the case of a 19-year-old in New York who was arrested on the day of his high school prom while waiting at the school bus stop.
Mr Homan pointed out that the perp had committed a crime when he sneaked across the border, and then had ignored an immigration judge's order to be removed from the U.S.A. Quote from Acting Director Homan, quote:
He lost his case, and because we don't like the results of that case we forget about it? I don't know where else in the American justice system any other agency is told to ignore a judge's ruling.
Mr Homan: I love you, and I want to have your babies.
What's with Acting Director, though? Why can't this guy be the permanent Director of ICE? I mean "permanent" as in, like for ever?
Item: I mentioned last month the curious tendency for leaders of European countries to be childless. France, Britain, Germany, Holland, all have political leaders — President or Prime Minister — with no kids. The Prime Minister of Luxembourg is a homosexual; so was the previous Prime Minister of Belgium.
Well, this trend picked up speed this week. Tuesday the parliament of the Irish Republic voted themselves a new Prime Minister, the previous one having stepped down voluntarily. The new Taoiseach is 38-year-old Leo Varadkar, and he's a homosexual.
If you think that "Varadkar" doesn't sound very authentically Irish, you're half right. The guy's mother is an Irish girl from Waterford, but his father is an Indian from Bombay. Leo was born in Dublin and raised a Roman Catholic.
And then on Thursday we learned that Serbia, down there in the Balkans — the former Yugoslavia — is going to have a lesbian Prime Minister. This is 41-year-old Ana Brnabić, a graduate of the University of Hull in England, where the poet Philip Larkin was the college librarian, though before Ms Brnabić's time. I wish Larkin were still among us to write a poem about this … although, come to think of it, Larkin was childless, too, in fact positively hated children.
So apparently do the Euros now. Say what you like about the blacks and Muslims pouring into Europe, they're at least willing to make babies. As Mark Steyn likes to say: The future belongs to those who show up for it.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening; and please try to perform some small act of filial piety this Sunday, Father's Day.
Filial piety is one of the major virtues in Confucianism. Children in old China learned the basics from a short book titled Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety. The book used to be included in the peasant almanacs you could buy in Hong Kong forty years ago (and perhaps still today, for all I know). I learned half of what I know about Chinese culture from browsing those almanacs.
My favorite exemplar was Yu Qianlou, whose father was gravely ill. The attending physician said it was either a passing fever or something terminal. The only way to tell was to taste the patient's poop. If the taste was bitter, he'd recover; if the poop tasted sweet, he was a goner. Yu Qianlou did the taste test for his dad. I tell you, they set a high standard in old China.
You don't have to be that filial this weekend; but if the old boy's still among us, a card would be nice. If not, read something he wrote, or summon up happy memories. My vague impression from talking to other dads is that most of us worry that we're not very good at the dadding business. We do our best, though; and a little appreciation is welcome.
Lounge singer Julie London never made a mark on Chinese literature, but if they'd known about her, she might have. Here she is with her filial tribute.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Julie London, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy."]