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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, to another edition of what I am sure must be the world's longest-running dissident-right podcast — edition number 785, and coming up to our 17th anniversary next month.
[Added when archiving: Slip of the tongue there: This is number 786.]
Personal promotion aside, I am recording this on Good Friday, April 2nd, the day after Maundy Thursday (the last day of Lent), two days before Easter Sunday. As it happens, Sunday is also the last day of Passover, at any rate in the U.S.A.; I'm told the last day is tomorrow, Saturday, in Israel, I don't know why.
And, as well as being Easter and the last day of Passover, Sunday is also Qingming, the Clear and Bright festival, in the traditional Chinese calendar. As I've noted elsewhere, there's a curious symmetry here: Our Christian calendar is mostly solar, but it has this one big festival, Easter, determined by the Moon. The traditional Chinese calendar is mostly lunar, but it has this one big festival determined by the Sun. So Chinese New Year wanders about between our January 21st and February 20th, but Qingming is always on our April 4th or 5th. This year it's the 4th, Sunday.
On Qingming you pay respect to your ancestors. In particular, you sweep their graves. If you're a white person in the Western world today, that probably sounds strange. Respect to your ancestors? Weren't our white ancestors evil people — slave-holders and colonial oppressors practicing toxic masculinity? Well, yes, of course they were. If you are a well-adjusted, properly-educated white person, you hate your ancestors. The Chinese have a different outlook, that's all …
Oh wait, have I dissed Muslims there? Isn't it Ramadan right about now, for a full deck? [Keyboard clicking.] No, not quite: April 12th is the start of Ramadan. Phew — dodged a fatwa there.
02 — Law-breaking is dangerous. This White House press secretary Jen Psaki sets my teeth on edge. Apart from having a name that looks like something out of P.G. Wodehouse and sounds like the Japanese for "repo," she has a manner, a style of delivery, that could curdle milk.
Here she was on Thursday in some exchanges with Fox News' Peter Doocy. The topic here was people-smugglers dropping children into the U.S.A. from the top of a 14-foot border wall. The whole thing was recorded on video then tweeted by a BorderPatrol agent. The children were little girls, aged five and three.
Doocy asked Ms Psaki what the Biden administration was doing to prevent this kind of thing. Psaki, quote:
Are you concerned more about the kids' safety, or are you concerned about kids getting in? Tell me more about your concern.
My milk curdled right there. "Tell me more about your concern"? What a low, repulsive way to field that question! The implication was that Doocy is an unkind person, more interested in stopping people entering our country illegally than with the well-being of these two tots. His "concern" is heartlessly nationalistic, not warmly humane like Ms Psaki's and (by implication) the administration's.
Doocy buckled, replying that, quote: "The kids' safety is, as you've just mentioned, the main concern." End quote.
Actually it isn't. Of course no normal person wishes harm to infants; but the main concern of our government and its spokespersons ought to be the security of our country and the well-being of its citizens. Preventing harm to Guatemalan children is the concern of Guatemala's government and of international charities.
This is all of a piece with the hand-wringing we get from politicians and the media about how dangerous it is to trek north hoping to break into the U.S.A. "These poor migrants! They die of thirst in the desert! The smugglers prey on them! It's so dangerous!" Over in Britain citizens get the same pap from their ruling class in regard to illegals crossing the English Channel in flimsy rubber dinghies. "Some of them drown! Little kiddies! It's dangerous!"
Yes, I guess it is. Again, though, that is no proper concern of our governments. It's a big planet, and bad stuff is happening all over. If you find yourself losing sleep over that, make a donation to some appropriate international charity.
I want my politicians to manage our public institutions in ways that minimize danger to Americans. Whatever dangers are faced by Mexicans, or Guatemalans, or Congolese, or Cambodians — however regrettable, however distressing to contemplate — are no public business of America's. If I am a humanitarian I may wish to make it my private business, and I should be free to do so; but that's not what politicians are for.
There are neighborhoods near me, here on Long Island, that are dangerous, having been taken over by MS-13, a criminal gang from El Salvador, illegal aliens or the offspring thereof. I'll make the welfare of Central Americans my main concern when the politicians I've hired do something about that.
03 — Kamala tackles root causes. Elsewhere on the immigration front, things continue to go from bad to worse.
Wednesday this week was a milestone down the dark road we're traveling.
President Trump last year put freezes on both immigrant and nonimmigrant admissions where they would impact American workers.
(Just to remind you, the word "immigrant," properly used, refers to people entering the U.S.A. for permanent settlement, with the right to apply for full citizenship after five years. "Nonimmigrant" is all other legal entrants: tourists, students, business exchanges, and guest workers like the H-1B.)
Joe Biden killed the freeze on immigrants proper with one of his early executive actions, but the freeze on nonimmigrants like the H-1Bs was left in place. Just last December Trump had extended that to March 31st — this Wednesday. For the freeze to continue, Joe Biden would have had to extend it again. He didn't, of course.
This is a slap in the face to the 19 million Americans out of work and college students about to graduate into the job market. As Robert Law over at CIS says, quote:
President Biden's decision to reopen the pipeline of cheap foreign labor is a win to his tech industry donors who value profits over fair market wages. This move will jeopardize the economic recovery and further diminish the ability for many qualified and willing American workers to secure decent jobs.
Meanwhile we have learned that Kamala Harris will not, after all, be heading down to the border to deal with the crisis there, as President Biden said last week. On Monday this week White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told us that there'd been a misunderstanding. The Vice President is only going to address the "root causes" of the invasion.
How lefties love those root causes! No need to bother with actual human beings engaged in actual illegality. There are reasons for what they are doing! And the reasons have root causes! Fix the root causes with a spot of social engineering, the reasons disappear and the people will be law-abiding. Easy!
What are the root causes for tens of thousands of people from crap-hole countries pouring in across our southern border? My guess would be, that they can earn far more for a day's labor in the U.S.A. than they can back home, with free medical care and schooling for the kids, too. Plus, any new kids get birthright citizenship!
That's just my naivety talking, though. The true root causes, says the administration, are "violence, corruption, poverty and climate change" in the home countries.
Vice President Harris is going to fix all that, in all those home countries; which is to say, according to our Department of Homeland Security, not only the nations of Central and South America but also Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Haiti, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iran, Tunisia, Turkey, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and no doubt others.
That's quite a burden — a challenge — the Vice President has taken on there: violence, corruption, poverty and climate change all over the world. Can she meet the challenge? Let's see.
There are, I should say, some faint glimmers of light in the immigration darkness. Thursday we heard that Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama has introduced a House bill to permanently reauthorize the E-Verify program and make its use mandatory. That would of course make it much harder for illegal aliens to get work. I hope, although I haven't yet read the bill, it would include stiff penalties against employers who break the law.
Co-sponsors of the bill are Matt Gaetz and Bill Posey of Florida, Lance Gooden and Brian Babin of Texas, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Jeff Duncan and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Jody Hice of Georgia, and Bob Good of Virginia. God bless them all!
There is of course not the slightest chance this bill will pass the House. I doubt it could even get a majority of GOP representatives, with the Chamber of Commerce breathing down their necks. In fact, come to think of it, given that the signatories all know the bill has no chance, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that some of them signed up in a spirit of cost-free virtue signaling to the GOP's nationalist base. Whatever: God bless them, anyway.
And here's Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia floating the idea of a moratorium on immigration. Don't get excited, though; this is only a 90-day moratorium, and Manchin jumbled it all together with Gang of Eight-style flapdoodle about "immigration reform" and a "path to citizenship."
My impression here, as always when Joe Manchin turns up in the news, is that he's not too smart. Am I being unfair? Whatever again. I'll take what I can get, and be grateful.
Manchin looks like the only senator who might take a stand against the lunacies his 49 colleagues are planning, so I'll forgive him not having much of a clue on immigration. Just having given the moratorium idea a bit of air time is worth a round of applause. [Applause.]
04 — Big ship gets stuck. The saga of the cargo ship Ever Given getting stuck in the Suez Canal was finally resolved on Monday. Along the way we learned a few things — well, I did.
One thing I learned, which I didn't know before, is how almighty big these cargo vessels have gotten. This one is 1,300 feet long and nearly 200 feet wide. That's longer than the Empire State building is high, if you don't count the spire and aerial at the top.
And it was loaded up to a degree that makes you wonder, looking at it, how they stop it from rolling over sideways in anything but a flat calm. I counted ten layers of shipping containers above the deck level. A standard 40-foot container is 8½ feet high, so that's 85 feet right there.
Good grief! The news pictures we were getting of the ship's colossal bulk towering over the earth-moving equipment trying to free her, put me in mind of the Saturn V rocket on its transporter vehicle headed for the launch pad, with full-size fire trucks alongside looking so tiny they're barely visible.
That's a seriously big ship. I'm surprised behemoths like that don't get stuck more often in the Suez and Panama canals.
And then, the weird complexity of the vessel's ownership and staffing. The actual owner is a Japanese holding company, which leases the ship to a Taiwanese conglomerate who have it registered in Panama. It is sailed by German operators, says the Washington Post, but the 25-man crew are Indians. I'm sure there's a lawsuit brewing there somewhere; but how do they know who to sue?
What about the actual cargo? What is it? The Washington Post story mentions household furniture bound from factories in the Far East to Ikea stores in Europe.
Wednesday's Wall Street Journal has an interesting bar chart showing "Seaborne imports to the United States in February, by select industry." By far the longest bars are the one for home furnishings and the one for food, drink, and tobacco. There's a bar about half as long for textiles and apparel, a couple of short ones for household appliances and healthcare equipment, then the rest.
That long bar for home furnishings, which seems to embrace the Ever Given cargo, is very striking. You have to think it's covid-related. Stuck at home under lockdown, people are remodeling. Perhaps, too, people are moving out of city apartments to suburban houses, setting up home offices to work from.
Whatever: The Journal's bar chart compares February 2021 to February 2020; there's been a huge increase in shipping.
And it's not just the Suez Canal that's backed up. About a third of the U.S.A.'s imports by container ship arrive at the ports in Los Angeles and nearby Long Beach. The Journal report says that an unprecedented 24 ships are at anchor outside those ports, waiting for space to free up. One of the ships has been waiting twelve days.
05 — Living in the material world. A larger and more general lesson from the Ever Given story is the continuing importance of solid objects.
We are so absorbed in the abstract, digital world of flickering screens and beeping hand-held gadgets, of Twitter and YouTube, and Facebook, and email, it's easy to forget how much of civilization rests on those solid, heavy objects, some of them with basic designs figured out millennia ago: picks and shovels, hammers and nails, ropes and chains, wheeled vehicles and ships full of cargo.
Archeologists sometimes bring up cargoes from ships that sank three or four thousand years ago in the Mediterranean or the Persian Gulf. The masters of those ships from so long ago would have marveled at the size of Ever Given, but they would have known exactly what she is for. Trying to explain to them what Microsoft Excel is for would be more of a challenge.
I often wonder if our increasing failure to engage with the commonplace reality of the physical world results from the rise of the internet. Gen Z, otherwise known as the Zoomers — persons born from the middle 1990s on, so now aged in their mid-twenties and down — Gen Z grew up with the internet, living in a world of digital abstraction. Knocking a nail in with a hammer is something they have to think hard about before attempting it.
Does their blithe approach to biology — there's no such thing as race, I can be whatever sex I want to be, all that stuff that seems so strange to so many of us older folk — is all that a consequence of their digital upbringing?
Yet the internet itself isn't the aery abstraction we so easily, so carelessly take it to be. It depends on huge data centers, half a million square feet of metal and plastic gadgetry, chugging stupendous quantities of energy. That energy comes from coal or oil or nuclear power from rare elements, dug or drilled from the earth by strong backs and big, heavy machines; or from hydro power made possible by huge dams.
We engage with the internet as an abstraction; but it's rooted in big, solid objects, just as international commercial transportation is.
The abstract and the concrete; civilization depends on a proper balance between the two, widely understood. Have we tipped too far towards the abstract? Was the stranding of the Ever Given sent to remind us that big solid objects need attention, too — and proper, careful management?
One other thing that comes to mind from this story is the hope and promise of global warming. As the polar ice melts and retreats, we'll be able to route some of this seaborne container traffic through the Arctic Ocean. That wouldn't have been any help to the Ever Given, which was headed from Malaysia to Holland, but it would be a big saver for shipping from Japan and Korea to Europe; and ships too big for the Panama Canal could go from our West coast to Europe without having to round Cape Horn.
There are stock tips in here somewhere, if I could only figure them out.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Here's a handy bit of Latin for you: damnatio memoriae. That translates as "condemnation of memory." Someone who's been subjected to damnatio memoriae is an unperson, in the sense coined by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Wikipedia gives as an example from recent times the ChiCom politician Zhao Ziyang, Prime Minister and then General Secretary of the Party, who was unpersoned after he took the side of the students in the 1989 protests. Zhao got hit with damnatio memoriae. In extreme cases like that you can get in trouble just speaking or writing about the victim.
It looks as though Donald Trump is to be subjected to damnatio memoriae. The ruling class hates him so much, and are so full of confidence after getting him out of the White House, they are going to expunge him from the national record.
Trump and his daughter-in-law Lara made a video of her interviewing him. They posted the video on Facebook. Facebook removed it, sneering that, quote:
In line with the block we placed on Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts, further content posted in the voice of Donald Trump will be removed and result in additional limitations on the accounts.
I await in full expectation the first news story about an American being fired from his or her job for having mentioned the 45th President by name.
Item: News from our Cultural Revolution: Oxford University in England is considering banning traditional musical notation — staves and time signatures, crotchets and quavers — on the grounds that it's, quote "too colonial," end quote, and guilty of, quote, "complicity in white supremacy," end quote.
Of course it is! Away with it! Down with old things! 破四旧!
Chatting with a friend just after Joe Biden's inauguration, he asked me what I had thought of the inaugural poem read at the ceremony. I replied that I thought Amanda Gorman's composition was in the same relation to poetry as whacking on a hollow log with a stick would be to a Beethoven string quartet.
It seems that Oxford University is going with the log and the stick. How long can it be before they offer their Chair of Poetry to Ms Gorman?
Item: I keep telling you I am, on balance, pro-cop, but I'm finding it more and more difficult to get the words out.
If you read my February Diary you know about my travails with the local police department's Pistol Licensing Bureau, who I'd be happy to see defunded. Happy? I'd be thrilled. I'd be ecstatic! I'd throw a party.
From the same county, my county, here's an item from the March 28th New York Post.
Out on the far eastern end of Long Island is the village of Southampton, population 3,307. It's pretty tony, very little crime. There hasn't been a homicide since 2008. Last year there were no rapes, robberies, or aggravated assaults at all. Although, quote:
It did have two car thefts, one burglary, and 42 non-violent larcenies, according to state Division of Criminal Justice Services data.
There are thirty sworn police officers covering the village, under a police chief named Thomas Cummings. One of those thirty sworn officers is Chief Cummings' son.
Would you like to know how much Chief Cummings got paid last year? You would? Then I shall tell you, though you might want to hold on to something solid here.
Chief Cummings was paid $441,945.82 last year, according to village documents. That is more than is paid to the Police Commissioner of New York City, population 8.3 million, with 36,000 sworn officers to manage.
Let's be fair, though. With only one burglary last year and only one homicide in thirteen years, Chief Cummings is obviously doing a terrific job out there.
07 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and a happy Easter, Passover, or Qingming to you all, according to your confession.
Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
So we have just entered "showery." Actually the sky is clear and the sun bright here on Long Island, and daffodils are out all over. We Americans have obviously gotten ourselves into a pickle nine different ways recently; but, try as I may, I can't be downhearted at this time of year. Let's count our blessings and look to better times.
Here's Eydie Gormé with the perfect song for the day, and for my mood. This recording's from 1958, but the song itself goes back to the 1920s; it is in fact almost exactly a hundred years old. Al Jolson recorded it in October 1921.
I like Ms Gormé's rendering because she sings the little four-line intro at the beginning, technically called the "verse." Not all singers include the verse, which I think is a shame. The verse is often as memorable as the main song; listen to the ones Ella Fitzgerald opens with for the American Songbook classics.
Take it away, Eydie! There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Eydie Gormé, "April Showers."]