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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. This is your militantly genial host John Derbyshire, broadcasting to you courtesy of Taki's Magazine from Taki's private island here in the sun-kissed Aegean.
Which is a pretty good place to be with the Ebola scare coming up. Just to be on the safe side I've ordered some hazmat suits for the staff here. I'm going to sacrifice my weekend teaching the girls how to get in and out of them — drilling them in the proper procedures. It's the least a good employer can do.
I'll get to Ebola later. First, some news from Hong Kong, my old stamping grounds.
02 — Hong Kong gone wrong. Yes, Hong Kong's in the news. Streets in the main business district, which is about the same size as Manhattan's Wall Street district, have been shut down by crowds of protestors, mainly students.
What are they protesting about? Well, you need a little history here. I'll keep it short.
Hong Kong is a territory on China's south coast occupying a square about forty miles on a side. Most of that square is open sea, though; the land area's only 400 square miles and change. Three-quarters of that is geographically part of the Asian mainland, the rest is islands in the sea.
The most important island is confusingly called Hong Kong Island, close up against the mainland and sheltering a nice little harbor. That island, Hong Kong Island, and the nearest bit of mainland, protecting the harbor, were ceded to Britain in perpetuity after the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century; the rest of the 400 square miles, Britain got on a 99-year lease in 1898.
If you add 99 to 1898 you get 1997, and that's when the lease ran out. The leased parts were returned to China; and since Britain had gotten a whole lot weaker in those 99 years and China a whole lot stronger, the Brits did the sensible thing and gave back the other parts too, the ones ceded in perpetuity. Britain had no way to defend them, and the ChiComs kind of insisted.
When all that was being negotiated in the 1980s, though, the ChiComs were striving for international respectability and kick-starting their economy after the disasters of Maoism. They therefore played nice, designating Hong Kong — the whole shebang, not just the island — a Special Administrative Region with full autonomy over its internal affairs.
So: A hundred and fifty years as a British colony, then 17 years of this Special Administrative Region deal.
The Brits ruled with a very light hand, leaving the locals alone so long as they made no trouble. There was no democracy, of course. The colony had a governor sent out from London, who appointed managers as necessary after consulting with local tycoons and such. The hand was a very light one, though.
I lived there in the early 1970s, and aside from the Post Office, you'd barely know the place had a government. It was Hong Kong in fact that turned me conservative — a good practical lesson in how little government you need, given the capacity of intelligent and industrious human beings to organize their own affairs, at least on the 400-square-miles scale.
And the few things the British colonial government did do, it did well. In the great Mao Tse-tung famine of 1959-62, for example, floods of desperate refugees poured into the colony from China and needed housing. The government built it for them, quickly and efficiently, and rented it at prices they could afford.
There were downsides to life in colonial Hong Kong: a lot of corruption, although mostly of a petty kind — police asking you for money, that sort of thing. There was no welfare state: If you were old or sick or incapable, and had no family to care for you, things were rough. Crime syndicates held power in some of the poorer districts.
I don't remember any awful desperation, though. The colonial Hong Kong I knew was a pretty nice place — not just for round-eyes, but for the locals, too.
After the handover in 1997, the ChiComs mainly left Hong Kong alone, as they had promised to do. The place prospered: Current annual GDP per capita is level with the U.S.A., higher than Britain, France, or Germany.
Not bad for a bunch of bare rocks with zero natural resources and population density 17,000 to the square mile.
So, what are they protesting about?
03 — Politics in theory and practice. As briefly as it can be said, the Hong Kongers are protesting on a constitutional issue.
That needs a lot of qualification, though. Hong Kong has no constitution of its own. It's part of China; so it comes under China's constitution. Yes, the People's Republic has a constitution. It's a grand document: You can read it for yourself — just google "Constitution of the People's Republic of China" and it comes right up.
The constitution has all the things you'd want a constitution to have. Article 35, for example, quote:
Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
Freedom of religion, freedom of the person, guarantees against unlawful detention, and so on: It's all there.
So Hong Kongers enjoy all those constitutional protections. They also come under additional protections through a law, a Chinese law passed in the Chinese parliament, called the Basic Law, that came into effect at the handover from Britain in 1997. You can read that for yourself, too: google "Hong Kong Basic Law."
Here's a sentence from Article 45 of the Basic Law, which concerns "The method for selecting the Chief Executive," quote:
The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.
So things look pretty good here: guaranteed rights and freedoms under the constitution, guaranteed progress towards universal suffrage under the Basic Law.
Unfortunately China is a communist state ruled by a Leninist party determined to keep itself and its nomenklatura in power while they and their relatives sock away the national wealth in Swiss bank accounts and foreign property markets. Words like "constitution," "parliament," and "law" mean whatever they need to mean at any time to keep the party in power. They have no other meaning.
A state, as Aristotle noticed, may be perfectly democratic in theory but a tyranny in practice, or vice versa. China and Hong Kong illustrate this sad truth. On paper China is a law-governed democracy: In practice it's an ATM for the communist rulers. Contrariwise, Hong Kong under British colonial rule was in theory an absolute monarchy, yet in practice perfectly free, as the youthful Derb saw.
So back in August China's "parliament" — and you have to imagine scare quotes around that word, as it's only a pretend parliament, a façade for communist power — China's "parliament" adopted a motion that in 2017, when the next step towards universal suffrage is due, the only candidates Hong Kongers will be allowed to vote for will be people approved by the communists.
That's what the protestors are protesting about. Hong Kong has prospered under minimal government and fair laws honestly administered. The ChiComs feel they've put up with that for long enough, and want to move the place towards Leninist norms, where the state can do what it wants and judges take their orders from the party.
There are some cultural complications in there. There's not much love lost between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese. When I lived there forty years ago mainlanders were looked down on as backward country cousins good for nothing much but sitting around talking politics. Mainlanders on the other hand saw Hong Kongers as spoiled, stuck-up lackeys of foreign devils who'd seized the place as an opium warehouse.
Nowadays the tensions have shifted somewhat. My impression is, they've sharpened. Forty years ago mainlanders were scoffed at in Cantonese as daai-luk jai — "mainland kids" — which is rude but not brutally offensive. Nowadays the term is wong-chung, which means "locusts." Yep, that's what it means. Hong Kongers tell you for example that pregnant mainland women come to the city, give birth in the emergency room at one of Hong Kong's excellent hospitals, then slip back to the mainland without paying the hospital bill. Locusts.
Some of this is probably Hong Kongers' fear of losing their place as the richest Chinese city. Some of it is still the old snobbery about the crude manners and poor hygiene of the country cousins. A lot, though, is desire to hold on to freedom and openness against the encroachments of Leninist apparatchiks. Hard for an American not to sympathize with that.
In the other direction, some mainlanders see the Hong Kong students as spoiled brats, and are thinking in the backs of their minds: "Why shouldn't they put up with the crap we other Chinese have to put up with?"
Some more comes from old Chinese race pride and xenophobia, which the communists work hard to keep alive. Yet there is mainland support for the protestors too, a steady buzz of sympathy on the internet that mainland censors never quite keep up with.
How will all this play out? My guess is, I'm sorry to say, that it will end like the 1989 protests in Peking. I'll be very glad to be proved wrong, though.
04 — Life among the nomenklatura. From one of the world's great cities to another. How is New York city getting on under its communist mayor?
A friend objected to me repeatedly referring to Mayor de Blasio as a communist. For one thing, my friend said, de Blasio is not an actual Party member. OK, I replied, how about I say "Marxist-Leninist" instead of "communist"?
My friend rolled his eyes. Look, he said patiently, "communist" sounds quaint and old-fashioned in this day and age, and likewise "Marxist-Leninist." What do these terms even mean any more? People like de Blasio aren't mad about capitalists oppressing the proletariat. They're mad about straight white males with guns oppressing helpless, gunless women, homosexuals, blacks, and Mexicans. The up-to-date reactionary, he told me (pausing a moment to let me savor the phrase "up-to-date reactionary") doesn't say "communist," he says "Cultural Marxist."
Well, po-tay-to, po-tah-to. De Blasio was raised by leftists, worked for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua (which I bet he pronounces Nee-hah-rah-hwah like a good commie), honeymooned in Cuba in violation of a U.S. travel ban, joined every leftist-activist cause that would let him in, and never saw a redistributionist program he didn't like. Communist, I say.
Be that as it may, de Blasio's administration in New York City looks like a classic late-communist nomenklatura of favored toadies living high on the hog and not bothering much with the rules ordinary mortals have to live by.
Case in point: Rachel Noerdlinger. Who she? She Mrs de Blasio's Chief of Staff. "That's a job?" I hear you muttering. Chief of Staff to the mayor's wife? Yes, it's a job, and a very well-paying one. Rachel Noerdlinger is on salary of $170,000 a year.
Let me spell that out for you again, in case you didn't get it. The wife of New York City's mayor — a very worthy and admirable person, I have no doubt, but elected to no position, with no duties or responsibilities in law or the constitution — has a Chief of Staff paid north of 32 hundred dollars a week out of city tax revenues. Talk about nomenklatura!
In Chapter 3 of We Are Doomed I marveled that the wife of the U.S. Vice President has a Chief of Staff. This Noerdlinger person is Chief of Staff to the wife of a city mayor! A hundred and seventy grand a year! For what? Keeping her Google Calendar up to date? How did she get the job — competitive examination? [Laugh.]
All right, so what's the story with this Noerdlinger parasite … er, public servant? The story is, she has a live-in boyfriend, name of Hassaun McFarlan, and the boyfriend has some history. Quote here from MailOnline:
Hassaun McFarlan, the son of a drug dealer from Harlem, has been arrested at least five times since 1993, when he shot dead Kenneth Carter, 18, over a jacket at a housing project.
Just to fill in some details here: Rachel Noerdlinger is 43, a single mother, and black. Hassaun McFarlan is 36, i.e. seven years younger, and also black. The couple live in New Jersey.
That brings us to another aspect of nomenklatura privilege. New York City employees are required to live in the city. So how come Ms Noerdlinger lives in New Jersey, not even in New York State? Ah, well, see, it's because of her son Khari, age 17. Young Khari has multiple medical conditions arising from two serious traffic accidents in 2012. Because of these disabilities of her son, Ms Noerdlinger was granted a waiver on the residency rule.
Fair enough, right? Well … the New York Post reported October 2nd that young Khari has made a remarkable recovery; so much so, he's been playing football for his high school team this past two seasons at the physically demanding position of linebacker. In the 2013 season — so this was before de Blasio took office as Mayor — Khari racked up 41 tackles and two sacks, whatever that means.
So how about that residency waiver? Quote from the Post:
Noerdlinger … did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The Mayor's office also did not return calls.
Ah, the nomenklatura! Sure beats working for a living. But don't you dare call it "privilege." In this racist society of ours, only white people have privilege.
05 — The doctor will kill you now. Let's talk about death.
Radio Derb doesn't cover this topic much, but we really should. It's a normal part of the human condition, indeed of the condition of all living things.
Golden lads and girls all must
That's Shakespeare, and you can't argue with him.
So, then, death. Could we have some death music please, Dmitri? [Clip: Hank Williams, "The Angel of Death."] There you go. I do like Radio Derb listeners to come away from the show cheered and uplifted.
So here are two death stories.
First story: A chap named Ezekiel Emanuel, who is 57 years old — and whose brother, by the way, is Mayor of Chicago — wrote in Atlantic magazine, September 17th, an article titled "Why I Hope to Die at 75." Sample quote:
Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.
Dr Emanuel is head of the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
What do I think of this? I'm not totally unsympathetic. One aspect is of course that old age can be tiresome and troublesome to other people, especially one's kids. In seeking to spare his own kids that bother, Dr Emanuel is being unselfish. On the other hand he may be thinking of his own parents, in which case he's being selfish.
As well as being tiresome and troublesome to other people, it can be that way to yourself, too. I have certainly known people who've lived longer than they wanted to. My maternal grandmother lived to 86. Towards the end of her life, my mother reported her as saying: "I'm weary, our Esther, so weary." As well she might have been, having raised thirteen kids on a coal miner's wages.
An English poet expressed Granny's thought more eloquently:
Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas,
On the other side of the ledger we can all think of people who've lived full and worthwhile lives into their eighties and beyond — starting with Plato, who I believe was over eighty when he died, and writing a book. Seventy-five's a bit arbitrary.
You may say that all sorts of other ages are arbitrary too. In my state the legal age for buying liquor is 21. I've known people I'd trust to buy liquor at 16. I've known others who should not have been allowed to buy liquor at 45.
All right; but I submit that if we're going to legislate here, 75 is too low.
Of course it depends where you're standing when the question comes up. In Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World, if memory serves, people die off gracefully around age sixty. Huxley was 37 when he wrote the book. If he'd been 57, I don't think the citizens of Brave New World would have been dying at sixty.
Second death story: Here are a couple, husband and wife, in Belgium. We know them only as Francis and Anne. He's 89, she's 86, and they have three adult children. They sound like a devoted couple. They always go out shopping together, we're told, for fear that if only one goes out he or she might not return.
Well, Francis and Anne want to be euthanized, together. Doctor-assisted suicide is legal in Belgium, but the patient is supposed to be in intolerable distress. Neither Francis nor Anne is 100 percent well, but they don't seem to meet that standard. They just don't either of them want to be left alone when the other dies.
They've found a doctor willing to do the deed by lethal injection, and it looks as if the law will allow it. The date is set for next February 3rd, their 64th wedding anniversary. Quote from their daughter:
They are talking about their deaths as eagerly as if they were planning a holiday.
I'm totally libertarian on people disposing of themselves if they like, but ambivalent about the role of the doctor here. Is that really what doctors are for? If the issue came up for a vote by referendum in my state — should doctors be allowed to do this? — I'd want to think long and hard about it.
One thing I'm certain of, at least: Doctors who don't want to do it, shouldn't have to. I can't see that it's within the proper scope of doctoring.
[Clip: more Hank Williams.]
06 — Ebola patient zero. More medical news: The U.S.A. now has its first case of Ebola, in Dallas, Texas. Ebola patient zero is 42-year-old Thomas Duncan of Liberia.
Mr Duncan arrived in the U.S.A. September 20th. He was admitted on a non-immigrant visa, most likely a B-2 visa, which is what you get as a tourist, or for visiting friends and relatives, attending a conference, that sort of thing.
He moved in to an apartment in Dallas. The apartment belongs to a woman named Louise Troh, also presumably Liberian, relationship to Mr Duncan unclear. Ms Troh's apartment is home to a shifting cast of children, cousins, older females, and twentysomething male friends. There seem to have been half a dozen people living in the apartment at any given time.
Six days later, the 26th, Duncan showed up at the hospital with fever and stomach pains. He was given a prescription for antibiotics and sent home. That was Friday the 26th. Sunday he was worse. Ms Troh's daughter called 911. Two paramedics arrived and took Mr Duncan away in an ambulance. He's now in an isolation unit while investigators try to track down the hundred or so people they think might have had contact with him.
The main takeaway from this story is the utter gibbering insanity of our immigration system. It's not just: "Why are we allowing anyone in from Liberia when there's a deadly epidemic raging there?" It's: "Why did we let this guy in?"
Over at the Center for Immigration Studies website, Jessica Vaughan asks some pertinent questions. Longish quote from her:
According to his Facebook page and other reports, Duncan is a 40-something, single, unemployed Liberian living in Ghana who applied sometime in the last year for a visa to visit his sister in the United States.
I'd actually replace Jessica's closing question with a slightly different one: Who gets denied a non-immigrant visa nowadays?
Just a footnote to all that: Why would Liberians want to come and settle here? Wasn't that country established so that American blacks could escape from the hellish oppression of white supremacy? And wasn't that, like, 200 years ago? Don't they have a thriving, harmonious, prosperous nation going there now — a West African Denmark? If not, why not? Oh right: "legacy of slavery." I always forget about that.
07 — Payton has two mommies. More medical news here, sort of.
Two lesbians in Uniontown, Ohio decided it would be neat to have a baby. They tried and tried, but no matter what they did, neither got pregnant. So they signed up with a sperm bank.
When you sign up with a sperm bank you get to specify what characteristics you'd like your sperm donor to have. Apparently the sperm banks didn't get the memo about eugenics being the most evil idea anyone ever had in the history of the world, and the first step down a slippery slope to Nazism, gas chambers, and the invasion of Poland.
So these lesbians chose Donor 380, listed as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white man. Unfortunately the registration clerk mis-transcribed the number, writing 330 instead of 380. Donor 330 was not a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white man. He was in point of fact a black man. Don't you hate when that happens?
In the fullness of time the baby was born, a healthy little girl. She is now two years old. She's not actually very black: an octoroon at the blackest, to judge from her pictures. She is definitely not blonde-haired and blue-eyed, though.
The lady who played hostess to the sperm, name of Jennifer Cramblett — I mean, that's the name of the lady, not the name of the sperm — is not pleased about this. She is in fact suing the sperm bank. Quote from her:
We had to take this into our hands because I will not let this happen again. I'm not going to sit back and let this happen to anyone ever again.
Ms Cramblett says she has, quote, "limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans," end quote. She worries that her daughter will not be accepted in Uniontown, which is only 0.7 percent black.
Here's a quote from the lawsuit she's filed:
Payton [that's the infant] has hair typical of an African American girl. To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.
"Not overtly welcome"? Perhaps she's co-vertly welcome? But never mind that. Ms Cramblett further fears, according to the lawsuit, that Payton will be the only non-white child in class when the time comes for her to attend school.
For goodness sake, doesn't this woman understand anything about race in America? If you're the only black child in class you get pampered, fussed over, and elected Class President. It's only when the numbers cross 25 percent that the For Sale signs go up. I am famously clueless about race in America, but even I know that.
In any case, there is no such thing as race. So … what is this story about, again?
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: One of the great heroines of patriotic immigration reform is Ann Corcoran, whose blog titled Refugee Resettlement Watch relentlessly chronicles the follies and crookedness of America's refugee policy.
Ann also covers other countries when there's a point of general interest. The other day she had a post about Australia, which poses a very interesting question I've never heard posed before, what Winston Churchill would have called a naughty question.
Australia's been plagued by illegal immigrants arriving by boat. The Australian government has taken a pretty stern line with these people, called "asylum seekers" in the mainstream media, but in the great majority just illegal economic migrants. They've put them in camps on remote islands, that sort of thing.
Well, back in April the Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison asked the naughty question, which is: Why do we assume that asylum seekers have a right to resettlement in a first-world country? If, as they claim, they just want to escape from persecution, why not let other smaller, less-developed countries give them a home?
Mr Morrison has answered his naughty question with action: He has cut a deal with Cambodia to accept some of the "asylum seekers."
The so-called charities who rake in fat government grants for settling these bogus refugees are all spitting mad at Mr Morrison, which is good. And as Ann says, quote:
Can you just imagine how ticked-off [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] Antonio Guterres must be at Australia! He likely fears that some other countries might grow a spine!
I don't think he has much to fear from the U.S.A.
Item: You remember the referendum on Scottish independence a couple of weeks ago. The Scots decided against independence, but the event gave other people ideas.
So now here's a group in England that wants to restore the Danelaw. At least I think that's what they want: my knowledge of Saxon England is sketchy.
In brief: The Angles and Saxons moved in to England after the Roman legions left in the early 400s. By a.d. 800 most of England had been settled. Then the Vikings showed up from the east and conquered a big swathe of north and east England under leaders with splendid colorful names like Ivarr the Boneless.
This territory the Vikings had conquered was known as the Danelaw. That's what this group wants to restore. Quote from the London Daily Mirror, October 1st, quote:
The Campaign for the North, chaired by former Tory MP Harold Elletson, wants [devolved] power from Westminster to bring the traditional counties of Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland into one democratic state …
Well, lots of luck with that, guys. The Vikings certainly made an impression, as well they should have with names like Erik Bloodaxe. My home town was right on the edge of the Danelaw. A few hundred yards from our house was an old Iron Age hill fort. It appears on maps as Hunsbury Hill, but the locals all called it Dane's Camp. After eleven hundred years they still remembered the Vikings.
Mr January, for example, spends his weekends travelling around the country photographing traffic circles, which he finds fascinating. Mr February is Ken McCoy of Leeds in Yorkshire, who has sent the same valentine card to his wife for the last 35 years. He made the card himself! Mr March is Archie Workman, a drain spotter. Quote from him:
I find drain covers so interesting. There's a lot of history behind them. It's interesting to observe the geometry of the drains and how they interconnect.
And so on. You get the idea, if you're still awake.
I must say I find this story quite interesting. I might spring for one of those calendars. It would look good in the study next to my collection of rubber bands.
09 — Signoff. I figure after that Ebola segment we need some scary music, so here's the scariest music I know to see us out.
Now I've said that, I know I'll be getting listener emails telling me that Schnuckelgreiber's eleventh symphony has a passage that's way scarier. Great. I'm not going to dispute the issue. The scariness here is planted deep and personal.
When I was a little lad in England, back in the Upper Paleolithic, TV was a modern marvel. We didn't have a TV, and no-one we knew in our town had one. When I was eight, though, my mother was hospitalized and I was sent to stay with Aunt Muriel and Uncle Fred in Birmingham, fifty miles away. Muriel and Fred didn't have a TV either, but Fred's parents, who lived a few blocks away, did. I guess they were what we nowadays call "early adopters."
Now Fred was a science fiction enthusiast — it was he who got me hooked on the stuff. Saturday nights he insisted on us going over to his parents' place to watch a sci-fi drama serial on TV. The show was named The Quatermass Experiment. It was the first written-for-TV sci-fi drama in Britain. If I were to see it now I'd probably think it hopelessly cheesy; but hey, I was eight years old, and a TV virgin. It scared me witless. A guy turning into a cactus while scaling the outside of Westminster Abbey, right there in Auntie Annie's living room? — how scary is that?
Scariest of all though was the music. I still break out in cold sweat when I hear it.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Gustav Holst, Mars, Bringer of War]