• Play the sound file
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. If you have kids you know that this few weeks at year end is like one of those Parris Island assault courses.
We're deep into it here, crawling along through the mud on our bellies, under the barbed wire, clutching our rifles. We made it okay through Halloween and Thanksgiving and are now hurtling at ever-increasing speed into Christmas.
Got the family house-lights up, got a box of Christmas cards, though I haven't actually sent any yet. The kids are making up lists and no doubt Santa is too.
Is Radio Derb going to be flagged as naughty or nice? Time will tell.
In the meantime here are some snippets of news from the past week to make you gag, weep, and tear your hair. Enjoy!
|02 — Iraq puts coal in W's stocking. You know that feeling when you're
tottering across the parking lot with a huge armful of Christmas parcels and packages, and the second package up from the bottom of the pile starts
to slip, and you sense the others above it starting to move, and you know with dreadful certainty that in less than a minute your carefully
store-wrapped gifts — and quite likely you yourself, if you lose your footing trying to save the situation — will be scattered
around in the slush.
That's the feeling George W. Bush has about the Iraq war right about now. Everything is falling apart all at once.
The dreaded Baker-Hamilton Report is coming out next week. Advance rumors are that it'll recommend pulling our troops out of direct combat, though not necessarily out of Iraq, together with a regional conference to persuade Iran and Syria to help us get off the hook. [Laughter.]
Meanwhile poor old W is doggedly repeating that he'll see the mission through, Condi Rice is going around the Middle East asking everyone, "Can we all just get along?" and Iraqis are blowing each other up at such a rate that pretty soon there'll be no one to bring democracy to.
Hey, ho. Not to worry, though. Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki assures us that Iraqi military and police will be ready to take control of the nation's security by June next year. [Laughter, more laughter …]
|03 — The problem with male contraceptives. Have you heard about this new
male contraceptive pill? It's a bit of a breakthrough.
You see, researchers have been trying to come up with a male pill for years, working on hormone-based treatments that reduce the sperm count to zero.
Of course there are all sorts of health risks and controversies associated with hormone treatments. They're are a tough sell. Now this new research group in London has taken a different line. They figured out a pill that will prevent ejaculation.
You may want to point out that preventing ejaculation is exactly what conscientious men have been trying to train themselves to do for the past few thousand years. Be that as it may, I won't be buying any stock in the company developing this new pill.
It's a pretty good rule in life that when there is some result to be prevented, the one with the most direct interest in preventing it should be the one in charge of the prevention.
Women know this perfectly well. That's why they greeted the female pill with such joy.
Do you really think the women of America are going to put all their trust in men in the matter of preventing unwanted pregnancies? They don't even trust us to find our way to the vacation hotel.
|04 — Expressing voter satisfaction in Gaza. A Palestinian Arab grandmother,
Fatima Najar, who was either 57, 64 or 68 years old,
depending on which news source you believe, and who on the same criterion had either 30 or 41 grandchildren, blew herself up near Israeli soldiers
in the Gaza Strip the other day, after first recording the usual farewell video.
As suicide missions go, this one was a bit of a flop, inflicting only light wounds on two of the Israeli soldiers. Mrs Najar of course has gone to her reward in Paradise, though what precisely that consists of is something I'd much rather not think about.
What with her suicide belt and all those grandchildren, Mrs Najar nicely incarnated in her single person both of the threats that Israel faces from neighboring Arab populations: the murderous one, and the demographic one.
She has also put into question those longstanding complaints by air travelers about swarthy young men being waved through airport security while frail old ladies are strip-searched and have their knitting needles confiscated. Hey, from now on I want to see them strip-search all the old ladies, and take away their crochet hooks and lace pillows, too. Old ladies will know what I'm talking about here.
In her farewell video Mrs Najar dedicated her self-detonation to the Hamas-led government of Arab Palestine, which was elected by voters back in January, and also to one of the Hamas leaders by name.
Presumably Mrs Najar voted for Hamas in those January elections. You could say she was just expressing voter satisfaction. The GOP could use some of that — though not, please God, in the style of Mrs Najar.
|05 — Let me have around me men who are Fat Studies majors. It all started
with ethnic studies, which, even if you don't approve of them, at least contained some fragments of actual history, literature and sociology.
Then our universities opened themselves to Women's Studies, Queer Studies and Disability Studies. You might think that exhausted the possibilities for giving claims of victimhood their own college departments and professors and budgets.
Think again. A new victim group has recently scaled the heights of academia. Yes, folks, give a warm welcome, please, to Fat Studies. The University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee is offering a course titled the "Social Construction of Obesity."
There is no such thing as being fat, you see. Fatness is just a figment of your imagination, planted in your mind by the evil forces of patriarchal capitalism for their own sinister purposes.
Nor is there any substance to claims by scientists that obesity is linked to diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease. Those are just ploys by the oppressive power structure to perpetuate discrimination and bolster the white male heterosexual skinny power structure, see?
"Fat scholars" — sorry, I'm quoting here from the New York Times — "Fat Scholars hope that one day Fat Studies will be as ubiquitous on campus as Shakespeare." End Quote.
Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that Shakespeare is still studied on U.S. campuses? How on earth do they squish them in among all those different kinds of Victim Studies?
That must be a lot like trying to get yourself into an airplane seat between two Fat Studies professors.
|06 — Benedict tries kissy-face with ancient enemies.
White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
Ah, "Lepanto" — always one of my favorites.
That's G.K. Chesterton'is great poem "Lepanto," which concerns a great battle of that name, fought in 1571 between the combined forces of Christianity and the heathen Turk.
Well, this week the forces of Christianity, in the person of Pope Benedict XVI, went to Turkey to do a little kissy-face huggy-poo with Johnnie Turk. The Pope went to a mosque and stood in silent prayer while facing towards Mecca.
This was by way of atoning for his remarks back in September when he quoted one of the Byzantine emperors to the effect that Islam is a violent religion.
They had some peculiar ideas, those emperors. Islam is a religion of peace, everyone knows that.
After the mosque visit the Pope had a meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, to have another go at patching up that filioque business they've been arguing about for nigh on a thousand years.
I'm not sure G.K. Chesterton would have approved of all this, and a lot of Roman Catholics actually did express disapproval; but heck, according to Mark Steyn, Europe will be Muslim in twenty years or so, so probably His Holiness thought he might as well make friends with his continent's future masters.
|07 — Your federal government at work. USCIS, which is to say the
Citizenship and Immigration Service, has just fessed up to having lost 111,000 citizenship applications.
In the true spirit of a results-oriented government agency, however, they didn't let the loss of all those documents slow them down much. They gave citizenship to thirty thousand of the applicants anyway, including apparently one guy who is a Hezbollah operative.
This, let it be remembered, is the agency that is going to thoroughly investigate and process those twenty million or so illegal aliens, once we get "comprehensive immigration reform."
Five or six years back when my own citizenship application was being processed, I happened to be doing some work that involved shipping packages via UPS. UPS has a neat little website where you can monitor the movement of your package and figure out where it's got to at each stage of its journey.
Why, I wondered, couldn't the immigration service have a similar website where I could monitor the progress of my application? There is no other way to do it since the immigration service doesn't answer letters or phone calls.
The solution I found out is that the immigration service doesn't use computers. Applications are processed on paper … until they get lost, that is.
Ah, the federal government! What a miracle of managerial competence it is, isn't it?
|08 — Rev'm Al back in favor. A plainclothes unit of the New York City
Police Department — two black, two white, and one Hispanic officer — fired fifty shots at three young men in a car. One of the
young men was killed.
The circumstances of the case are tangled and an official investigation is under way. That didn't stop Mayor Bloomberg from coming out of a meeting with race hustler Al Sharpton to say the following thing, quote:
It's hard to understand and keep in mind, I was not there at the time …
Well, I should hope not, Mr Mayor!
… why shots should be fired. To me that sounds excessive and unacceptable. There is no evidence they were doing anything wrong.
There are a lot of reasons why so many of us New York conservatives like the idea of Rudy Giuliani running for President. And here's one of those reasons: In all his time as Mayor of New York, Rudy never gave the time of day to Al Sharpton.
|09 — Miscellany. A wee miscellany to see us out.
Item: Tom Vilsack, the governor of Iowa, has declared that he will run for President in 2008. This is the first thing that's happened in Iowa since the Music Man dropped in.
Item: Pamela Anderson has filed for divorce from rapper Kid Rock after four months of marriage. The couple got married last July in France on a yacht. A yacht … the less said about that, the better, I suppose.
The divorce papers cite, quote, "irreconcilable differences."
Boy, they must really have been struggling to reconcile those differences, mustn't they? Really putting their hearts and souls into trying for reconciliation all through the last … what? Three months?
Item: A blind woman has bowled a 244 game.
That's pretty impressive. The only reason I mention it is that it allows me to fulfill a minor ambition, viz. to include a quote from The Big Lebowski in a Radio Derb segment. Quote, after the Dude was asked what he does for recreation:
Oh, the usual. I bowl; I drive around; the occasional acid flashback.
Item: A young chap named Bob Averill has been expelled from the Art Institute of Portland, Oregon for questioning a fellow student's belief in leprechauns.
Averill says he wasn't trying to disprove the other student's beliefs, but, quote, "to convince her not to insist that they were scientifically proven," end quote.
The leprechaun-believing student was offended by this and complained to the administration.
Let me tell you, Bob, you got off lightly there. Never mind leprechauns, try questioning Intelligent Design.
Item: A 2,100-year-old-gadget dug up from a shipwreck in the Mediterranean has turned out to be an ancient Greek computer for calculating the positions of the sun and moon.
A computer 2,100 years old — imagine that!
Unfortunately, when the archeologists tried to boot it up, they got a message from the operating system saying that its Microsoft license had expired.
Item: A South African man has been fined $140 for taking a week off work, telling his employers he was pregnant.
|10 — Signoff. That's the news, folks, as November swirls off down the plug
hole and December looms into view with tidings of comfort and joy, hemorrhaging credit card debt, embarrassing weight gains, and entirely new
opportunities to alienate colleagues at office Christmas parties.
Radio Derb will be here, a faithful companion, to see you through it all. Until next week this is your genial host John Derbyshire signing off for Radio Derb.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]