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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, from your cinematographically genial host John Derbyshire, ready to serve up a few more helpings of dissidence, dismay, disgust, and defiance.
Before I commence this week's commentary, permit me to direct your attention to a 24-minute YouTube clip with a special offer at the end.
The backstory here is the one I recorded in my December Diary: my meeting with a local group of Bruce Lee enthusiasts here in New York.
One of those guys, name of Charles Damiano, recorded an interview with me. That interview is now up on Charles' YouTube channel. To watch it, just put that name, "Charles Damiano," into the YouTube search box. That's "Charles," regular spelling, space, "Damiano," D-A-M-I-A-N-O. As I said, it's 24 minutes; the special offer starts at 21m50s.
Many thanks to Charles for his time and trouble there; and thanks once again to him, Hector, Ed, Angela and the others for a really fun afternoon.
OK, let's check in on the week's news. This will not be fun.
02 — Portents and omens? Here's a tweet that got my attention. It was tweeted by Charlie Kirk on Monday, February 13th, tweet:
Trains being derailed. UFOs all over the place. Chickens struggling to lay eggs. Food processing centers on fire. Tons of people dropping suddenly.
I think many of us share Charlie's unease. A lot of strange stuff's been happening.
What came to my mind was something from a classic Chinese novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This is a historical novel. It was written in the fourteenth century but it concerns events more than a thousand years earlier.
The opening words of the novel are known to all literate Chinese people; in fact I've even heard them quoted, in translation, by fellow round-eyes.
話 說 天 下 大 勢: 分 久 必 合, 合 久 必 分 (Huà shuō tiānxià dà shì: fēn jiŭ bì hé, hé jiŭ bì fēn.)
In Moss Roberts' translation, quote: "The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide." End quote.
The author then starts off by telling us of events in the late second century A.D., when the Han dynasty was entering the last stages of institutional decay. Weak emperors had allowed eunuchs to take control of the empire.
Then all sorts of odd things started to happen. As the emperor was taking his seat for a ceremony, a great serpent appeared out of nowhere and coiled itself on the throne. There were earthquakes, tidal waves, and landslides.
As if all that wasn't bad enough, there was worse to come. I'll quote again from Moss Roberts' translation, quote:
In the first year of Radiant Harmony [that would be A.D. 178] hens were transformed into roosters. And on the first day of the sixth month a murky cloud more than one hundred spans in length floated into the Great Hall of Benign Virtue.
These were of course portents, omens. Those hens changing sex were, a wise man told the emperor, "the result of interference in government by empresses and eunuchs."
The emperor paid no attention. That wise man was framed up on a bogus charge and dismissed from court. The eunuchs took total control and things got real bad. Quote:
Court administration became so corrupt that across the land men's thoughts turned to rebellion, and outlaws swarmed like hornets.
There followed decades of civil war and disorder bringing forth many charismatic heroes, leaders, and villains. That's what the novel is about. Stories and sayings from the Three Kingdoms have become part of the national folklore of China.
Am I making an absurd parallel here? Yes, probably. I don't think our public affairs are in the hands of eunuchs; and if any serpents or murky clouds had shown up in Congress or the Oval office, I'm sure we would have been told.
All those UFOs in the news? For goodness' sake: We've been releasing floating objects into the atmosphere for two hundred years. It's not surprising it's getting cluttered up there. When I started reading Scientific American magazine way back in my teens they used to run ads for U.S. Meteorological Service high-altitude balloons. Hobbyists could buy the durn things for a few dollars. Probably they still can.
Still, on the other hand … No, our hens aren't changing sex, but a lot of our kids are. And outlaws swarming like hornets? That's not a totally inappropriate description of our major cities nowadays.
So those opening lines kind of linger in the brain. What was long united must divide …
03 — Boomercide watch. It just won't go away. What just won't go away, Derb? Boomercide talk, that's what.
The New York Times, February 12th, headline: "A Yale Professor Suggested Mass Suicide for Old People in Japan. What Did He Mean?"
The Yale Professor here is Yusuke Narita, an assistant professor of — uh-oh — economics at Yale, famous at some very low level for wearing spectacles that have one lens round and one square.
That's not what got the attention of The New York Times, though. What got their attention was statements like, actual quote from Professor Narita:
I feel like the only solution is pretty clear. In the end, isn't it mass suicide and mass "seppuku" of the elderly?
End quote. "Seppuku" is ritual suicide by disembowelling oneself.
So what did he mean? As far as I can figure, he meant what he said, and has in fact been saying for a while. In Japan, at any rate, he's famous for saying it. Sample quote from The New York Times reporter, quote:
While he is virtually unknown even in academic circles in the United States, his extreme positions have helped him gain hundreds of thousands of followers on social media in Japan among frustrated youths who believe their economic progress has been held back by a gerontocratic society.
Professor Narita, I should tell you, is 37 years old. When the Times reporter checked with him he said his statements have been taken "taken out of context." Yeah, right.
This is a zone of public policy that's only just starting to enter the realm of open discussion in the West. We got a fleeting glimpse of it in the State of the Union speech last week, when Joe Biden infuriated the Republican Party by insinuating that they wanted to reduce Social Security, a thing GOP congresscritters denied loud and angrily from the House floor.
The fundamental issue here is of course the rising proportion of geezers in First World populations because of (a) falling fertility giving us fewer youngsters and (b) major improvements in healthcare giving us longer lifespans. Japan is way out front in open discussion of the issue just because Japan has been the first advanced nation to start sliding over this demographic cliff.
I can preen a bit here. I've been writing about this for a couple of decades. In Chapter 11 of my cosmos-bestriding bestseller We Are Doomed I gave it a good airing, concluding that, quote:
It is a plausible general principle that, when the human race in its overall development comes to some kind of bridge, the first nation to cross the bridge successfully has a great advantage over other nations. Britain was the first nation to industrialize, and dominated world affairs for a century afterwards. If demographic decline is inevitable — which of course it is: the Earth must have some maximum carrying capacity — the first nation to get through the transition intact, and conquer the associated problems, will be at a huge advantage. On current showing, that will be Japan.
And I have of course had things to say about it in my online commentary. A quick search of my archives turned up a National Review column from 2003, a Radio Derb segment from 2012, and Diary entries from March 2020 and August 2022. I'm on it!
(I was particularly pleased with the title I put on that 2020 Diary entry: "What time does the next ice floe leave?" You have to read the entry to understand the reference.)
Now the mainstream media are catching up with me. It's not just The New York Times, either. This last two or three years I've been noticing more and more media outlets peeking into the box that Professor Narita has opened. The COVID pandemic has been a loosening factor.
Back in 2020 at the very beginning of the pandemic Dan Patrick, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, then aged seventy, told Tucker Carlson that rather than shut down the whole country, geezers like himself — the age group most likely to die from COVID — should take one for the team. Quote from him:
Let's be smart about it and those of us who are 70-plus, we'll take care of ourselves. But don't sacrifice the country, don't do that, don't ruin this great America.
That caused much shrieking and pearl-clutching among the righteous classes, but last time I checked Dan Patrick is still Greg Abbott's Lieutenant Governor.
It's an emerging issue, one we should be talking about more. For the good of our nation, how should we best allocate our national resources by age cohort? Less to the old? More to the old? Less to prime working-age citizens? More to them?
There's an anti-white issue lurking here, too. The geezer cohort is a lot whiter than younger ones; and work in geezer care, which is not very physically or mentally challenging, is even more disproportionally nonwhite than the youngster average. Hence those horrifying clips that show up on social media of black orderlies beating up helpless old white people.
One economically optimal solution, for listeners who have wondered why Economics is called "the dismal science," is the one in Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World.
In that novel, citizens of the World State are kept artificially balanced at a, quote, "youthful equilibrium" via drugs and blood transfusions until they're sixty. Then it all stops and they're allowed to die — with, it's hinted, some physician assistance. Quote from Bernard Marx in Chapter Seven:
Youth almost unimpaired till sixty, and then, crack! the end.
End quote. The end.
04 — The case for child labor. Along with demography (and not totally unrelated to it), another topic that we should talk about more, and more honestly than we currently do, is education.
Believing that, I was encouraged to read this article in The Washington Post, February 11th. Headline: "In a tight labor market, some states look to another type of worker: Children."
The states mentioned in the article are Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Only New Jersey has actually passed a law relaxing the rules on child labor. Iowa and Minnesota have bills before their state legislatures but they haven't yet been voted decisively up or down.
Wisconsin's legislature passed a bill but the state's Governor, career educrat Tony Evers, vetoed it. The Ohio state Senate passed a bill but it died in the lower house.
A big problem here is that the phrase "child labor" triggers a romantic narrative in many citizens' minds, a narrative similar to what I have called "the romance of American blackness."
Black Americans? Oh yes: toiling away in those cotton fields under the leering eye of a brutish gap-toothed white overseer with a whip; scurrying in fear through city streets in terror of meeting a trigger-happy white cop.
That's the romance of American blackness. The romance of child labor is similar: little urchins in rags pushing wagons full of coal in the mines, or working dangerous machinery in the Lancashire cotton mills, or crawling up inside chimneys to clean out the soot.
Sure, that stuff happened … a hundred and fifty or two hundred years ago. Does anyone think that minor adjustments to child-labor laws will take us all the way back to it, though? Does the romantic narrative really have that strong a grip?
Yes it does. Quote from the Washington Post story:
[Inner quote.] "Do you remember the images of children in manufacturing and other dangerous work situations from the early 1900s?" [end inner quote] Connie Ryan, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, said in testimony to state lawmakers, according to Radio Iowa. [Inner quote.] "There is a reason our society said that it is not appropriate for children to work in those conditions." [End inner quote.]
So what are these bills proposing? They want to send little Tom back up the chimney and little Susie back to the garment-district sweatshop?
Not really. The Iowa bill would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work certain specified jobs in meatpacking plants and laundries. Fifteen-year-olds could be lifeguards and do limited kinds of assembly-line work. The Minnesota bill would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work construction jobs. All these bills have restrictions on hours worked during the school year.
Unromantic and narrative-immune as I am, I see nothing but good here. For one thing I strongly resist the idea that 16- and 17-year-olds are children. They are young adults. In a majority of states (and Washington, D.C.) you can get married at 16. At age 16 Henry V of England commanded the English Army fighting the Welsh.
Fourteen- and 15-year-olds are more borderline, but plenty of them are capable of adult work and would welcome the opportunity. And plenty of them don't want to go on doing book-work after age 15, and will learn nothing from it. It's a waste of their time and public money.
Education in the U.S.A. today is a huge, malevolent, and extravagantly expensive racket, from the poisoning of infant minds with homosexualist and anti-white propaganda to the cold-cash gangsterism of the teacher-union cartels to our colleges bloated with more administrators than teaching faculty.
Where elementary and secondary education is concerned, there are untold numbers of schools in which no education gets done. We get news reports on this all the time.
Here's one from Tuesday this week at Daily Mail Online. An analysis just released found that in ten Baltimore high schools, eight elementary schools, three Middle/High schools and two Elementary/Middle schools, not a single student reached the required math standard. The CEO of Baltimore Public Schools, Sonja Santelises, was paid $444,875 last year. Nice going there, Ma'am.
Is it wildly speculative to think that the students at those ten high schools would have been spending their time more wisely — and, from both their personal point of view and that of the national economy — more productively doing paid work than dozing at their desks learning nothing?
05 — Capital punishment? One minor annoyance of reporting on politics in recent years has been the total reversal in meaning of the word "red." Politically, "red" used to mean communist or radical-progressive. The other thing was "blue" — conservatism in some variety or other.
Nowadays in the U.S.A. the references have flipped. "Red" refers to conservative or populist constituencies, "blue" to the social-justice progressive folk.
The switch seems not to have happened in our cousin nation across the Atlantic, although I don't pay close enough attention to British politics to say for sure. The expression "Red Wall" at any rate seems to cleave to the older usage.
The Red Wall, in British politics, refers to the poorer and historically more industrial regions of the English North and Midlands that traditionally voted for the Labour Party, Britain's main left-wing party.
The Red Wall has been in the news a lot in recent years. The Labour Party, like our own Democratic Party, has morphed from being the home of working-class and union voters — the party of the little guy — to being the party of metropolitan elites, college-educated progressives and cat ladies.
The transformation accelerated with Brexit, which working-class people hoped might protect their jobs and their familiar culture from incoming floods of foreigners.
They have become disillusioned about that; but before disillusion set in, a lot of those Red Wall proletarians switched to the Conservative Party as being more likely to accomplish Brexit.
One person who made the switch was a chap named Lee Anderson, currently 56 years old. Anderson comes from the English East Midlands, as I myself do. His father was a coal-miner, as both my grandfathers were. He himself worked as a coal-miner for ten years. Until age 51 he was a Labour Party member. He got elected to a local council on the Labour ticket.
In 2018 he finally got fed up with the Labour Party's globalist-progressive-anti-white direction, switched to the Conservative Party, and got himself elected to Parliament, where he still sits.
Since then he's been a sort of Matt Gaetz of British politics, although a bit more forthright in the British style. He's declared, and demonstrated, open disrespect to all the totems of social-justice progressivism.
He's refused to watch the English soccer team play because they take a knee before matches. He's scoffed at the idea that the boat people crossing to Britain from France are refugees and said he would send them all back to France on military ships. He has publicly used the phrase "cultural Marxism" as a synonym for progressivism, … and so on.
In short, Lee Anderson is one of us. The London tabloid Daily Mirror, a strong supporter of the Labour Party, last year named him Worst Man in Britain for refusing to support the nation's soccer team taking the knee. Anderson took it in the right spirit, quote:
I would like to thank my team, back-room staff, and the local Labour Party who made all this possible.
I really like the cut of this guy's jib. I congratulate him on having been appointed deputy chairman of the Conservative Party last week.
Yeah, yeah, I understand: The appointment is a cynical move by the Party bosses to regain those Red Wall converts. Those converts have been telling pollsters they'll flip back to Labour at the next election because of the utter failure of the Conservatives to secure the nation's borders against alien invaders. I doubt the move will work, but I applaud it anyway.
Never mind applauding: I stood up and cheered reading Anderson's interview in The Spectator, February 11th. The interviewer asked him about crime. Would he support the return of the death penalty? Replied Anderson, quote:
Yes. Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed. You know that, don't you? A hundred percent success rate.
End quote. That was where I stood up and cheered.
So did The Daily Sceptic. They posted a flattering notice about Lee Anderson the same day.
A few days after that Noah Carl had things to say about capital punishment, inspired by Lee Anderson's remark.
What Carl mainly has to say concerns the notion that the possibility of an innocent person being executed is a decisive argument against the death penalty. No, it isn't, Carl argues very calmly and reasonably. Sample quote:
There are already circumstances where we grant the state the power to use lethal force despite the risk of innocent people dying.
Which of course is true; or why do cops have guns? Other commenters have observed, although Carl himself doesn't say, that modern forensic science has greatly reduced the risk of executing an innocent person. You can't get the risk all the way down to zero, but it's tiny and getting tinier.
None of that will sway Josh Shapiro, the progressive Governor of Pennsylvania. The Governor told us yesterday that he will not issue any execution warrants while he's in office. Quote: "I will sign a reprieve every time." End quote.
06 — The case of Amy Wax: Latest. We at VDARE.com have posted before on the case of University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Amy Wax. How is that case going?
Aaron Sibarium posted a good update at the Washington Free Beacon, February 13th. It makes it more clear than ever that the driving spirit behind the university's vendetta against Professor Wax is the law school dean, Theodore Ruger.
It also makes it clear that Theodore Ruger is a very nasty piece of work indeed, a vindictive liar and fraud.
And so on. It really is a vendetta. It's also a vivid illustration of how very, very seriously these academic ideologues take their bizarre, infantile, unscientific theories about human nature and human society. As Aaron Sibarium points out, quote:
The last time Penn axed a tenured faculty member, it was because he killed his wife.
Yes: to these crazed ideologues, Prof. Wax's speaking some mild opinions about racial and cultural differences has the same moral weight as manslaughter.
Latest development: On January 16th this year Prof. Wax, through her attorneys, struck back against Ruger, filing a 24-page grievance and demanding eight items for relief. I smiled to see that Number Five of those items was, quote:
Dean Ruger is ordered to comply with all of the requests for information found in Prof. Wax's Aug. Memo, including but not limited to arranging for an outside examination of student grades by race, as pertinent to his allegations that Professor Wax spoke "falsely" on the topic.
Just that one item, if granted, will expose Dean Ruger for the lying Stalinist weasel he undoubtedly is.
As I noted in my last posting on the case, Prof. Wax has a legal defense fund you can donate to at GoFundMe.com. If you care about liberty of speech in the academy and can afford to donate, by all means do so.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items. I'm up against my time budget, so I'll keep 'em very brief.
Imprimis: Raquel Welch died on Wednesday at age 82. My first instinctive reaction was: "That can't be right. Eighty-two? It's not possible."
I had the same reaction four years ago when Burt Reynolds died, also at 82. These movie stars of the sixties and seventies — my own salad days — had a visual presence that impressed itself on us so strongly we can't imagine them being 82, then dying.
It happens, though. Timor mortis conturbat me. Rest in peace, Ma'am.
Item: Canada, that Friendly Giant to the North, is sunk even deeper in anti-white lunacy than we are. A ruling from the country's highest court two years ago requires judges to consider systemic racism when sentencing nonwhites. Judges are obediently doing so.
Equality under the law? Fuhgeddaboutit … Eh.
Item: The Super Bowl this week opened with the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing," also known as the Black National Anthem. It was followed by the actual National Anthem.
Let's be thankful for small mercies. At least they didn't open with "Kill the Boer."
Item: Speaking of killing people, the naked corpse of Susana Morales, a 16-year-old Hispanic female, was found dumped in some woodland near Doraville, GA on February 6th. Ms Morales was apparently murdered and dumped there last July. I don't want to think about what condition her corpse must have been in.
So who done it? Well, a black police officer, 22-year-old Miles Bryant, has been charged with her murder.
Officer Bryant may have done the killing — I'll let a court decide — but the real culprit here is white people. So we are instructed by Penny Poole, the local NAACP President. If Ms Morales had been white her poor corpse would have been found sooner, says Ms Poole.
They hate us, they really hate us.
Item: Last week I noted welcome stirrings of resistance to demographic replacement in Ireland.
This week I'm happy to report that the resistance may be spreading across the Irish Sea to the neighbor island, the one called "Britain."
As you surely know, criminals and opportunists from poop-hole nations have been flooding into Britain in the tens of thousands recently, crossing the English Channel in smuggler-supplied rubber boats from France and claiming to be "asylum seekers" — absurdly, since France is a perfectly safe country.
The British authorities, who are fools and traitors without a spinal vertebra between them, do nothing about it. In fact they put up these invaders in comfortable hotels while they pretend to scrutinize their bogus "asylum" claims.
Well, February 7th a British schoolgirl, fifteen years old, was harassed by one of these illegal aliens outside the hotel he'd been assigned to in Liverpool. The girl took a video of the event and posted it on social media.
Word went round and last Friday evening, February 10th, there was a major demonstration outside the hotel. Protesters — all white British, of course — were shouting "Get them out!" and "This is our city!"
The protesters are wrong, of course. It's not their city. Like all the other cities of the Western world, it belongs to George Soros and his globalist hirelings, which number includes the entire British establishment, with the possible exception of Lee Anderson.
The Great and the Good sprang into action. Many arrests were made, and those arrested will get the full January 6th treatment. The city fathers of Liverpool are handing out yard signs saying HATE HAS NO HOME HERE.
Curious to see the comment thread on this story, I scrolled down to the bottom. Uh-oh: "Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article." Hmm, I wonder why not …
Item: In related news, a February 13th report, also at Daily Mail Online, tells us that four boys from Afghanistan, aged 13 to 16, have been arrested in the gang rape of an English girl in the town of Dover, on England's south coast.
And yes: the four boys came across the Channel illegally from France last year, unaccompanied.
And yes: The report carefully describes them as "asylum seekers."
And yes: When I scroll to the bottom I'm greeted with: "Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article."
Item: North Korean despot Kim Jong Un appears to be positioning his daughter Kim Ju Ae as his successor in the leadership. So says the February 8th Washington Post, anyway. The Post tells us that the lass is, quote, "believed to be about 10 or 11 years old," end quote.
I've been trying to come up with some smart-ass linkage of this story with my segment on child labor, but … it's just not coming. If it eventually does, or some smart-ass listener supplies a plausible linkage, I'll include it in a future podcast.
08 — Signoff. That's all I have for you, ladies and gents. Thank you for your time and attention, for your donations and subscriptions, and for your emails, which I am even further behind with than usual on account of having to prepare my damn bloody stinking taxes.
OK, some signout music. It seems to me that the shadow of the Grim Reaper lingered there once or twice on this week's commentary. I apologize if that made anyone feel uneasy. I'm English by birth: we have a melancholy streak.
In hopes of banishing such thoughts I offer a brief but nicely defiant song current among British servicemen in the trenches of WW1. That was an arena of death for sure. You can refresh your memory, if necessary, and if your stomach is strong enough, by watching last year's remake of the classic movie All Quiet on the Western Front.
The Tommies borrowed their defiance in part from the Apostle Paul, who, in I Corinthians Chapter 15, asked rhetorically: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" The Tommies were by no means the first to use St Paul's words defiantly. Well-read listeners will recall Mr Valiant-for-Truth wading into the River of Death on his way to the Celestial City in Part II of The Pilgrim's Progress, quote:
When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the Riverside, into which as he went he said, Death, where is thy Sting? And as he went down deeper he said, Grave, where is thy Victory? So he passed over, and all the Trumpets sounded for him on the other side.
The death-weary Tommies of WW1 made a comic ditty out of St Paul's words. I heard it at the London production of Joan Littlewood's satirical stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War! back in my student days and it's been stuck in my mind somehow ever since. Lyrics:
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Oh, What a Lovely War!, "The Bells of Hell."]