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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, ladies and gents, this is your unctuously genial host John Derbyshire with news and views from the past week.
All quiet here on the Aegean Front; and I say that consciously as there is a slight but noticeable WW1 theme in this week's broadcast. Not inappropriate, given the coming centenary, and brought to mind by Mrs. Derbyshire's latest report from the home estates in Long Island. All the snow has melted at last, she tells me, but only to reveal the lawns in such a dire state her description sounded like Flanders, 1917, but without the trenches.
Well, well, no doubt our loyal staff of gardeners will soon have matters in hand. Meanwhile … on with the show! [Ethel Merman.]
02 — People shape countries. The Heritage Foundation blog ran a report March 31st titled Why the Hispanic Media Are Biased and What to Do About It.
Heritage, you'll recall, is the foundation that fired Jason Richwine for passing on the true fact, in his Harvard Ph.D. dissertation, that Hispanics have a lower mean IQ than non-Hispanic white Americans. The core of Heritage's policy line is to promote conservative principles while keeping the borders wide open to millions of incomers who will never in a million years vote for those principles.
This Heritage blog piece concerns a study by the Media Research Center that came out this week, dealing with Hispanic TV. Seventeen percent of the population is now Hispanic, one in six, and they don't want to watch no steenkin' Gringo TV. They watch their own channels, like Telemundo and especially Univision, which reaches 97 percent of Hispanic households and actually beats the English-language networks regularly in ratings.
On TV watching, by the way, blacks are way out ahead at around seven hours a day average, whites next at five hours, Hispanics close behind at four and a half, and Asians last with three hours a day.
The Media Research Center finds that commentary on Hispanic TV is way left. Sample quote:
The top three U.S. domestic policy topics covered by both newscasts were immigration law enforcement, immigration reform legislation in Congress and ObamaCare. The majority (59 percent) of Univision and Telemundo's stories on these three issues tilted left/liberal.
End quote. What. A. Surprise. Look, you don't need a study to tell you this. Hispanics come from Latin American countries. All those countries are state-corporatist or outright left-socialist. The parsimonious assumption is that they're that way because that's the way their populations have shaped them over the centuries. If those populations come here in great numbers, which they have, they'll shape us the same way.
Peoples, the populations of nations, have group characteristics. Little towns in the north Midwest are run like little towns in Scandinavia, because the people in them are descended from Scandinavians. Black-majority cities are run like African cities, with a Big Man dispensing favors and pocketing cash bribes. Orthodox Jewish communities center around their synagogues and schools, because that's how Orthodox Jews do things. It's amazing that these things even need saying. Import forty million Mexicans, you just Mexicanized your country to some degree.
The Heritage nitwits are having none of that. What we conservatives have to do, they tell us, is get converting all these Hispanics to conservatism. They even, Heaven help us, have their own Heritage Spanish-language blog, libertad.org.
Here's a suggestion for the Heritage people. Would it be too much to ask, before we import another forty million Mexicans and Central Americans, would it be too much to ask that you demonstrate some actual success in actually persuading any large number of Hispanics actually to vote for conservative politicians?
It would be too much to ask? That's what I thought.
03 — We hate socialism … not. I'm starting to feel guilty about never saying anything much about Obamacare. I know, it's important; I know, I should have an opinion. I just can't engage with the thing.
The two root facts about healthcare in a civilized country are, one, that a lot of citizens won't be able to afford much healthcare, and two, that we're not going to let sick people go untreated.
From those two facts some kind of socialist solution follows by pure logic. If a sick person can't afford healthcare and we're not going to let them suffer, then someone else is going to have to pay for them. That's socialism: robbing Peter to pay Paul — or in this case, Paul's family physician, radiologist, anesthesiologist, orthopedist, ophthalmologist, urologist, gynecologist, cardiologist, otolaryngiologist, and proctologist.
I think we Americans are in denial about this. We hate the word "socialism" and we think we hate the thing too, but of course we don't. Try shutting down welfare or social security. In healthcare the opportunities for self-deceit are maximal. We can have this rickety structure of insurance that isn't really insurance, just pretend insurance, and these thousand of pages of regulations, and health exchanges where we can pretend to engage in market transactions with pretend insurers … It's all bogus. Obamacare just made it boguser.
We flatter ourselves that we're exceptional because we don't have that horrid socialized medicine that other countries have. Well, we sure are exceptional. No other country has a lobby for a U.S.-style healthcare system in its domestic politics.
Most insane of all is the yoking of healthcare to employers. This has to be a huge drag on U.S. businesses, impacting our competitiveness. It started accidentally in WW2, when companies weren't allowed to give pay raises, so they gave perks like health insurance instead. Yo, people: WW2 ended 69 years ago.
Not only are employer-based policies a millstone round employers' necks, they create rancorous and unnecessary social conflicts, like the ones over Obamacare's "contraceptive mandate" that the Supreme Court heard arguments on last month. What a huge waste of time and resources, including judicial resources!
In 2012 the healthcare dollar broke down this way. Twenty-eight cents came from private households, 26 percent from the federal government, 21 percent from private businesses, 18 percent from state and local governments. Put it another way 44 percent — getting close to half — came from government at some level. And we hate socialism? Ri-i-ight.
I say lets go single-payer, with plenty of private options for those who can afford them, and a true system of insurance on actuarial principles for those who want something better than the socialized provision — which, of course, won't likely be more than adequate. Let's drop the fake exceptionalism. It's exceptional to stagger around all day with a 100-pound slab of concrete strapped to your back. It's also stupid.
04 — Climate science, climate politics. The IPCC, that's the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has come out with a new report, the first one for seven years, and it's a doozy. Quote: "No one will be untouched by climate change with storm surges, flooding and heatwaves among the key risks of global warming in the coming decades, claim scientists," end quote.
At the same time, a contrarian group of scientists called the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change, the NIPCC, brought out a report of their own taking issue with the IPCC report, whose main content has long been known in advance.
Here's a sample of the different conclusions you get from the two reports.
IPCC: "Risk of severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding."
NIPCC: "No changes in precipitation patterns, snow, monsoons, or river flows that might be considered harmful to human well-being or plants or wildlife have been observed that could be attributed to rising CO2 levels. What changes have been observed tend to be beneficial."
Each of these reports is over a thousand pages long, and I'm going to confess right now that I won't be reading them, though I may glance through the executive summaries.
The Radio Derb take on this issue, once again. There's a science of global warming and a politics of global warming. The science says we're in a decades-long warming trend and human activity contributes to it. Hardly anyone disagrees with that. Even climate-change contrarians agree that yep, we're warming, and yep, human activity is partly responsible. There are a lot of differences about the degree of warming and the mechanism involved, but on the outline facts the science is, as they say, settled.
And then there's the politics. The central idea here is that a major international effort is needed to stop the warming trend. The IPCC people lose me there. When I hear the words "major international effort" the thing I hear right after is the sound of money sluicing from the pockets of middle-class taxpayers in prosperous countries — people like me — into the salaries of arrogant globalist bureaucrats and Third World corruption pits. That's what "major international effort" means, what it always means.
If I'm arguing with an IPCC fan, at that point he says something like: "But what if there were an asteroid heading straight for Earth? Wouldn't you want international action, if that was the only way to stop it?"
My reply: I might, if you could convince me of that "if." It wasn't international action that put men on the Moon, was it? In any case, the two situations aren't comparable. Climate change is slow, even on the doomiest models. A capable nation can deal with whatever it brings us.
Less capable nations might indeed have a hard time of it: but again, efforts to help them would end up in some dictator's Swiss bank account. It's up to the civilized world to keep civilization going. The rest must shift for themselves as best they can. The expression "swamping the lifeboat" comes to mind.
As the NIPCC report reminds us, warming will have some upsides. I can't believe the downsides are beyond our ability to cope with. We're a tough little species. We've survived much worse things than a gradual warming trend. Whether we shall survive if civilized nations surrender their sovereignty to globalist bureaucrats, is a different matter.
05 — Liberal escapes diversity, feels guilty! Every so often I find myself thinking how radically strange Western liberals are. A lot of them are very intelligent — hey, the faculties of our universities are stuffed with them — yet there are quite a lot of areas of knowledge they just can't engage with. Statistics, for example: Try telling a liberal that on average, men are taller than women. There's a good chance he'll respond with something like: "Oh, so you hate women, do you?"
This essay-piece on Slate.com put me in that frame of mind. Title: Teaching Tolerance: How white parents should talk to their young kids about race. That's the title. The author is Melinda Wenner Moyer, not otherwise known to me.
I have ventured into precisely this territory myself, so naturally I was interested to see what Ms. Moyer has to say.
Last summer, my family moved from Brooklyn to a small town in the Hudson Valley. We love our new life, but one thing about the community is not so great: It's predominantly white.
End quote. According to her byline, Ms. Moyer lives in Cold Spring, which is indeed in the Hudson Valley: a town of 2,000 people, 0.45 percent of whom are black. Let me see, 0.45 percent of 2,000 … I make that nine people. One thousand nine hundred and ninety-one white people, nine black people. That's just barely enough blacks for a basketball team.
A few minutes with my gazeteer showed me that Ms. Moyer could easily have found a much blacker community than that. Wappinger's Falls is only ten miles away, 7½ percent black, and original home of Tawana Brawley — what more recommendation could you have than that? Peekskill, ten miles in the other direction, is 25½ percent black — twice the national average. If you don't mind a longer commute, Ms. Moyer — and hey, these are quiet country roads, and it's a small price to pay for some vibrant, enriching diversity — twenty miles north there's Poughkeepsie, which is 36 percent black, nearly three times the national average!
Perhaps Ms. Moyer wasn't diligent enough in her house-hunting.
And what's "not so great" about the town being predominantly white? The U.S.A. is predominantly white, Ma'am. Is the U.S.A. "not so great"? No, please don't answer that.
Ms. Moyer's main question is, what can she do to, quote, "instill racial sensitivity and acceptance," end quote, in her kids when they're growing up among all this not-so-great whiteness?
Keen to find an answer, Ms. Moyer read lots of books and, quote: "talked to developmental and social psychologists, race-relations researchers, and Africologists," end quote. She doesn't tell us whether she also talked to some Europologists, Asiologists, Americologists, Australiologists, and Antarcticologists. Perhaps she did, I don't know.
I was only two paragraphs into the piece at this point, but the will to live was draining out of me fast, and I gave up. In search of something — anything! — to put Ms. Moyer's hypocritical ethnomasochism out of my mind, I idly started reading the headline teasers down the right-hand side of the Slate.com page.
Headline: Some of America's Toughest Soldiers Are From a Black Regiment No One Has Ever Heard Of. Wha? Do we still have segregated regiments? Oh, it's about WW1.
Headline: The Devastating, Sneaky Genius of John Roberts' Opinions
Headline: Paul Ryan Says, "I Don't Have a Racist Bone in My Body." Why Does Every Famous Person Accused of Racism Say That? I guess I don't really count as famous, but I have been accused of racism, and I didn't say the thing that Slate.com says Paul Ryan said. Matter of fact I do have a racist bone in my body. It's one of my dorsal vertebrae, the eleventh actually, and it gives me hell when there are black people around. I have to carry Ibuprofen if I'm going anywhere vibrant.
Headline: If You're Against Gay Marriage, You're a Bad CEO
Headline: Even in Preschool, Black Students Are Much More Likely to Be Suspended Than White Students
Headline: Do LGBTQ Students Deserve a Special Graduation Ceremony?
Headline: How Schools Discourage Some Girls From Pursuing STEM
Headline: The Disturbing Reason Why Nearly Twice as Many Whites as Blacks Support the Death Penalty. Oh, wait, wait, I can guess this one. It's because white people like killing black people, right? [Ding!]
Headline: Even in Preschool, Black Students Act Up Way More Than White Students
Headline: The Single Fact That Explains Why Black Americans Have Such a Hard Time Climbing the Economic Ladder
One of those headlines I just made up. See if you can guess which one.
06 — Wind and water … and mud. This seems to have been everyone's favorite story of the week, and I have to admit I couldn't resist it either. I say that uneasily, though. Six people are dead here, and no doubt their friends and families are grieving for them. So I guess this comes under the heading schadenfreude, although I'm not feeling any freude, which means "joy," only a mild, wry, guilty amusement.
So here's the story. A chap in south China died at age 75, which is a good age — no tragedy there. South Chinese people are generally conservative, and this guy's family did what traditionalist conservative Chinese people do in the circumstances: they went to the local cemetery to pick out a plot.
If you're a traditionalist Chinese that's no small matter. In fact you need an expert to tell you which plot is the most auspicious, based on the surrounding scenery, gradient, rocks, plants, and so on. You need a fengshui man. Fengshui means "wind and water." It's a body of traditional ideas — I refuse to say "knowledge" — about which places, heights, orientations and so on are lucky.
So this family, who must have a bit of money, hired the best fengshui man in south China, a chap named Zheng Guoqiang, surname first of course. They brought him up from Hong Kong, over a hundred miles away, and took him to the cemetery. Mr. Zheng did a diligent survey and at last announced he'd found just the right spot for the grave, a spot where all the forces of wind, water, earth, and sky were in harmony.
He gathered key family members in that spot and began explaining to them all its harmonious perfections. Before he could get very far, there was a sudden mudslide on the slope above him. Seven people were buried alive. Six of them, including the fengshui master, died before they could be dug out.
The death toll was given in the press as two of the relatives, three cemetery workers, Mr. Zheng, and, quote, "a Taoist named Wu."
"A Taoist named Wu" … Isn't that a Johnny Cash song?
Further quote from the news story, quote:
A friend of Mr. Zheng's, metaphysician Lee Chengze, told TomoNews [that's a Taiwanese newswire] he was "puzzled" as to why Mr. Zheng had decided to visit the cemetery as that particular Sunday "was a bad day" to go there.
Yeah, yeah, hindsight's 20-20, pal. But what's that with "metaphysician"? I wonder what kind of credentials you need before you can call yourself a metaphysician. Is there a licensing board? Do you have to carry liability insurance? "I could have sworn that mudslide was a purely mental phenomenon; but no, it was material … Sorry!"
As I said, no psychologically healthy person will get joy from this story. On the other hand, you can't help feeling — well, I can't — that sometimes the universe is trying to tell us something.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Headline of the week, from the London news aggregator Metro, quote: Masturbating yogi throws dead animal at passing car. This happened in George Washington Memorial Park in the lovely Commonwealth of Virginia.
Sixty-eight-year-old Bill Kachle was holding a Yoga pose among the trees there when two women walked by on a hiking trail. The sight of the women caused Mr. Kachle to emerge from his meditative state and enter a masturbative one, in full sight of the ladies. So he ceased holding his yoga pose and commenced holding his wife's best friend — and in fact not just holding it but, says the police report, stroking it with no attempt at concealment.
The arresting officer further reported that, quote: "The subject then picked up a dead animal, ran into the northbound lanes of travel on the George Washington Memorial Parkway and threw the dead animal at a passing car. He then returned to the trail, pointed at both women and masturbated again." End quote.
We are not told what he pointed with, nor the species, genus, family, order, class, or phylum of the thrown animal. A chicken, would be my guess.
The police have been interrogating Mr. Kachle for several hours, trying to get him to confess, but my information is that so far he's holding his own.
Item: Still time to sign up for the running event of the year: the Pyongyang Marathon, to be held in the North Korean capital April 13th, with runners from all over the world welcome. As it happens, I have a sound clip here from last year's event; the very beginning, when they fire the starting gun. [Clip: Machine-gun fire, screaming.]
Just kidding there. Mind you, if you do sign up for the Pyongyang Marathon, you need to be a really fast runner. You know, to keep ahead of the dogs.
All right, insert your own North Korean jokes here. First prize, a week in Pyongyang; second prize, two weeks in Pyongyang, … et cetera, et cetera.
Item: There was a curious little piece in last week's Economist about military medals. There's a whole philosophy behind medals, and it needs rethinking.
The highest form of medals, the one we're usually thinking about, is the medal for acts of great courage: the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, and the crosses given by the various service branches. Then there are medals for hardship and suffering, like the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge. Then there are medals for just being in a combat theater, like the ones my Dad brought home from WW1, and campaign medals for special wars, and medals for achievement, even if outside a combat theater.
Well, it's all being looked at. Our Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has launched a review of the medal system, to start in June and last a year. One motivation here is to find some way to honor the guys who sit at computers out in the Rockies guiding drones on to targets thousands of miles away. They do great work in seeing off the enemy, but at no risk to themselves.
It's not a new thing to give medals to desk jockeys, but these have always been considered lower-ranking than combat medals. The touchstone for ranking medals has been, and should be, courage and effectiveness under physical danger. As the Economist says, a single-minded focus on results is troubling. Quote: "By that logic more medals would go to snipers and assassins than to soldiers who saved comrades' lives." Good luck with that review panel, guys.
08 — Signoff. There you have it, gentle listeners. Did you catch the WW1 references? They were a bit thin, I'll grant you, but enough to give me an excuse for some WW1 music to see us out. Here's the great Irish tenor John McCormack, keeping the home fires burning.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: John McCormack, "Keep the Home Fires Burning."]