»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, October 30th, 2015


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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your ebulliently genial host John Derbyshire with some titbits from the week's news.

I owe an apology to those who prefer to read the Radio Derb transcript rather than listen to the podcast. The rule is that I archive the transcript on my website late on the Wednesday following each Friday's podcast. This week, however, I was distracted, and did not post the transcript until Friday morning. The hungry sheep looked up and were not fed. I offer my humble apologies.

So much for last week. What's been happening this week? Let's take a look.


02 — All God's chillun got a tax plan.     Wednesday this week we had another GOP Presidential candidates debate, the third. I am proud to report that I actually sat through this one, and stayed awake to the end, with the assistance of ardent spirits.

The debate was in fact quite watchable — "good TV," as they say. It needed to be: Game Two of the World Series was being played on another channel. It double needed to be, in fact, as the host channel, CNBC, advertised it as concentrating on, quote, "the economy, Social Security and numerous fiscal and global issues." Those are the kinds of things debates should be about; but stated like that, the thing looks dry and wonky.

So why was the debate good TV? In part because of the variety of personalities on the stage: ten, count 'em ten candidates, each with a different style and different things to say. We like a wide variety of personality in our human dramas — someone to cheer for, someone to boo for. Ask any novelist or playwright.

Ann Coulter thought ten were too many. I disagree. We want a new President, we've got 200 million souls to choose from, discounting for minors, felons, and the foreign-born. Let's not winnow it down to just two or three a year before the election, as the Democrats have basically done.

The other thing that made the event watchable was the interesting tension between the candidates and the moderators, who were of course all mainstream media lefties.

The candidates had much sport with these moderators. "This is not a cage match," Ted Cruz told them. Marco Rubio declared that the Democratic Party has the ultimate Super-PAC: the mainstream media. "Is this a comic-book version of a Presidential campaign?" one moderator asked Donald Trump. Trump slapped him down, politely.

The studio audience loved this, applauding when candidates took the offensive against the moderators, booing the moderators themselves several times.

Who knew there were that many Republicans in Boulder? The only time I was there it looked like Lefty Central — all Birkenstocks, bicycles, and neckbeards.

Anyway, the jousting between candidates and moderators was all good clean fun. I'll confess that my sympathies for the candidates on this were very limited. I want to see these guys asked forceful and impertinent questions. Those are the kind of questions they should be asked.

They sometimes seemed to be saying: "Why don't you give us slow-pitch softball questions like you give Hillary and Bernie?" I think that's the wrong thing to ask. I think the right thing to ask is: "Why don't you give Hillary and Bernie mean, snarky questions like you give us?" But we know the answer to that, don't we?

All that aside, what did we learn about the candidates and their positions?

Well, we learned that they all have a tax plan. "I rolled out my tax plan today," Ted Cruz told us. "My tax plan is a pro-family tax plan," said Marco Rubio. "My tax plan is unique!" boasted Rand Paul. All God's chillun got wings; all GOP Presidential candidates got a tax plan.

It was left to Carly Fiorina to throw some cold water on all this tax-plannery. The lady had obviously listened with close attention to the "tax fatalism" segment in my October 2nd Radio Derb. We've been talking about fixing the tax code for decades, she said, but, quote, "We never get it done … It never happens."

"Yes!" I was muttering to the TV at that point. "Yes! Tax fatalism — embrace it!"

It turned out, however, that Ms Fiorina's sortie into Derbish pessimism was a mere rhetorical ploy. She has a tax plan too! She will reduce the current 73,000-page tax code to three pages! Three!

One of the early socialist philosophers said that when a society of perfect justice and equality has been attained, the seas will lose their saltiness and turn into lemonade. So there are historical precedents for Ms Fiorina's promise of a three-page tax code.

Chris Christie was on good form. He has a way of cutting through romantic rhetoric to the essentials. Speaking of Social Security, Mike Huckabee said, quote: "It's their money [that is, the American people's] … It's not government money … This is a matter not of math, this is a matter of morality," end quote.

Christie, who favors raising the Social Security eligibility age and means-testing recipients, quote:

The only way we're going to be moral … is start by following the first rule we should all follow, which is to look at them, treat them like adults, and tell them the truth. It isn't there anymore, Mike. They stole it. It got stolen from them. It's not theirs anymore. The government stole it and spent it a long time ago.

That's plain speaking. I like that.

What about the National Question, though, on which Christie is clueless?

It turns out they are all just as clueless. The only halfway sensible thing said on immigration was said by Marco Rubio, who wants to limit chain migration in some way he didn't specify. Rubio, however, is known to favor massive increases in H-1B guest-worker visas to replace American workers with cheaper foreigners. He's actually put forward a bill to do just that; and contrary to some of the things he said on Wednesday, the bill has no protections for American workers and no safeguards against abuse.

Rubio is an obedient and shameless shill for the cheap-labor lobbies. Heck, he was one of the movers of the Gang of Eight amnesty bill two years ago. No-one who gives a fig about American workers, American living standards, or American national cohesion should even think of supporting Rubio.

H-1B visas have actually been in the news this week after a Florida TV station aired interviews with two IT workers at Disney who were replaced by cheaper H-1Bs from India and forced to train their replacements on pain of losing their severance packages.

This is deeply shocking to Americans who've heard of it, though it's not news to those of us on the National Question beat. None of the candidates on Wednesday night had anything to say about it.

What about Donald Trump, though? He's stolen the limelight in previous debates. How did he do in this one?

That's going to need another segment. An ego the size of Trump's really needs a whole podcast, but I think I can hold it down to a segment.


03 — Bad faith and biology.     Trump broke hearts here on the patriotic Right by repudiating his own immigration position paper, which we've been sighing and swooning over for the past few weeks. He did it clumsily, too, with a bare-faced lie.

One of the moderators had asked him, quote: "Mr. Trump … you had talked a little bit about Marco Rubio. I think you called him Mark Zuckerberg's personal senator because he was in favor of the H-1B."

Replied Trump: "I never said that. I never said that." End quote.

Well, if you want to be Clintonian about it, that is strictly speaking true: Trump did not say it. He did, though, include it in that position paper on his campaign website, and it's still there. Quote:

Mark Zuckerberg's personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.

End quote.

Referring to the loathsome, reptilian Zuckerberg, Trump also said this in Wednesday's debate, quote:

I was not at all critical of him. I was not at all. In fact, frankly, he's complaining about the fact that we're losing some of the most talented people. They go to Harvard. They go to Yale. They go to Princeton. They come from another country and they're immediately sent out. I am all in favor of keeping these talented people here so they can go to work in Silicon Valley.

End quote.

That adds ignorance to bad faith. Foreigners who graduate from Ivy League universities are not "immediately sent out." Most of them go back voluntarily to their own countries, where a Harvard degree is highly prized. Any who want to stay and settle here have no difficulty doing so.

There has been much speculation on National Question websites about what's happened to Trump here. Is he trying to get respectable with GOP elites by switching to the party line of "illegal immigration bad, legal immigration wonderful"? Did he not read his own position statement? Is he, as his detractors have been telling us, just a shallow airhead who will say one thing on a Tuesday and the opposite thing on Wednesday, without noticing the contradiction?

My own take is that there are two things going on here. One is that Trump, a very talented man in many ways, is just not good at thinking on his feet. I bet he suffers from staircase wit — driving home in the limo tormented by thoughts of: "Damn, why didn't I say this?" or "Damn, why did I let them get away with that?"

In this, Trump has my entire sympathies. I'm not much good at thinking on my feet, either. That particular talent, though, while not a deal-breaker in a Presidential election — not for me, anyway — is a lot more important in the job Trump's aiming for than it is in my job, so his weakness here is a negative.

The other thing that's going on is Trump schooling himself to be nice. For weeks all the people around him have been telling him: "Be nice! Be nice!" He's trying to rein in his street-fighter instincts; and at age 69, reining in the instincts of a lifetime isn't easy.

Trump is trying especially hard to be nice to his fellow candidates. I think what flashed into his mind when they hit him with the Zuckerberg thing was: They want me to turn on Rubio! They want me to be mean to the other candidates! He'd decided he wasn't going to do that, so he side-stepped clumsily.

Personally I would have stood up and cheered if Trump had crossed the stage, taken out a box-cutter, opened up Marco Rubio from the nave to the chaps, and played skippy-rope with the little rat's entrails. I'm not the average voter, though, so that doesn't signify. There is a case, even from my point of view, for what Trump's trying to do; he's just not doing it very well.

Post-debate, Trump walked back towards his original position paper in an interview with Breitbart.com.

All right, but damage was done. What is the ratio of numbers here: people who watch a prime-time televised debate versus number of people who read Breitbart.com? A thousand to one is probably close.

Trump lost a lot of votes there — the votes of people who thought that at last — at last! — there was a credible candidate who believes that, to quote again from Trump's immigration position paper, quote: "Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first — not wealthy globetrotting donors."

As a footnote here: The other thing this incident shows is how incompetent these big news network moderators are. They're just not much good at their jobs. The moderator who hit Trump with the Zuckerberg quote should have had a printout of Trump's immigration position paper right there, with the Zuckerberg section yellow-lighted. She should have quoted it right back at him, chapter and verse.

Instead she melted away with, quote: "So this was an erroneous article the whole way around? … My apologies, I'm sorry."

The lady is, says her profile on the CNBC website, quote, "known for her hard-hitting interviews and profiles of some of the world's richest and most influential investors," end quote. Oh yeah? "Hard-hitting"? I say she's been missing her workouts on the punch-bag.

Perhaps I should make allowances here. That moderator is a hot youngish blonde while Trump is an alpha male with published testimonials to his sexual prowess. Possibly that moderator was disarmed by him. Possibly there was something other than fact-checking going through her mind … or some other region. Who knows? Never ignore biology.


04 — The Great Wall of Sand.     From the minutiae of domestic policy bickering to the grand Metternichian generalities of global strategy.

Tuesday this week the U.S.S. Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, steamed by two little atolls in the South China Sea. These specks are part of what people are starting to call "The Great Wall of Sand." A lot of them are only just barely above water; in fact some are entirely below sea level at high tide. China's been selectively building them up, though, with huge power dredgers sucking up sand from the sea bed and depositing it on the specks, making them real solid islands. Then China builds military installations on these new islands: harbors, helicopter pads, airstrips, radar.

The general rule in international law is that a nation's sovereign territory includes waters twelve nautical miles, which is fourteen regular miles, out from its shores. Foreign seagoing vessels, including military vessels, have the right to enter those waters, though, provided such passage is not, quote, "prejudicial to the peace, good order or security," end quote, of the sovereign nation.

You can see that, as usual with international law, there's a lot of wiggle room there for the lawyers. Also for prickly nations that are out strutting around looking for a fight.

Well, the aforementioned American destroyer, the Lassen, deliberately sailed within that fourteen-mile limit of these new islands. Why did they do that? First, to demonstrate that China can't unilaterally repeal international law. Second, to reassure nearby countries that we are still the Big Dog in the Western Pacific.

China, you see, has been claiming these specks and building them up into military bases in order to assert her control over the entire South China Sea. Be clear, please, that China is not claiming the South China Sea as sovereign territory — that would be preposterous. She does, though, claim that islands and atolls in the Sea are her territory, all the way out from China to a line that at some points is twelve hundred miles from China's shores, right up against the beaches of Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. And there are so many of these specks China might as well be claiming the whole sea.

Those countries, which in some cases have counter-claims against the specks, naturally are worried about this. We're worried about them being worried. Hence the Lassen's little trip through what China claims as her territorial waters. Note that we're not denying that claim, although it's highly deniable; we're just asserting a long-standing principle about territorial waters.

Could this turn nasty? Is China strutting around looking for a fight?

My answers to those two questions: One, yes, it could turn nasty; but two, probably not yet. Deng Xiaoping's policy, which I believe the ChiComs still adhere to, was to smile and play nicely while building up strength. Then, when you are strong enough, let out your inner bully.

Is China yet that strong? Or more to the point: Do the ChiCom leaders think they are?

Answers: No, and I doubt it. Guided-missile destroyers? We have 66 of those suckers; China has less than 30, and some of those are just pretending. So I'm not losing sleep right now. Ten years on, I will be.


05 — A vote for Metternich.     Did I use the adjective "Metternichian" back there? I believe I did.

Metternich, full name Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Fürst von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein — they don't make names like that any more! — was a nineteenth-century Austrian diplomat who was instrumental in restoring order in Europe after the twenty-five chaotic years that followed the French Revolution. The order he restored was one of powerful nation-states in rough equilibrium, none seeking to dominate the others, none being allowed to trample too much on the small, weak nations among them. "Balance of power" is the catch-phrase in school history books.

It was a pretty good system. It kept the peace, mostly, for a hundred years. Oh, there was the Crimean War and the Franco-Prussian War, and some lesser eruptions; but nothing on the Napoleonic or Hitlerian scale.

We should hope to live in a Metternichian world, with a handful of great powers mostly respecting each other, and mostly not invading and looting the small fry.

To get to that world, though, is going to need some mental adjustments on the part of America. Post-WW2 we were Top Dog. Europe was a wreck, Asia was dirt poor, the U.S.S.R. was a military second-rater and a cultural and economic fifth-rater.

That's not the case any more, and won't be again. We are strong enough to be the hegemon in our own sphere — the Americas and the Caribbean — but we need to seek equilibrium with other hegemons: China in the Western Pacific, Russia in North and Central Asia, India in South Asia. We need some unified policies with them to damp down trouble among the small fry: the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, North Korea.

China wants hegemony in her sphere. We should cautiously yield it to them. That we still have tens of thousands of troops stationed in that sphere — in Japan and South Korea — is preposterous.

I can't see any principled objection to Chinese hegemony. True, the Chinese Communist Party is a corrupt, unelected clique of gangsters. Some of the nations of Metternich's Europe weren't beauty pageant contestants either; but they got along with each other, that was the main thing.

History's full of accidents and blunders. There are no guarantees. The ChiComs could do something aggressively dumb tomorrow, something that sends us all up in thermonuclear flames. It's not a risk-free world and never will be. We should strive for as much stability and security as we can get, though; and a Metternichian equilibrium between roughly equal powers is the best hope for that.

My main point here is those mental adjustments we need to make. They don't come easy to us Americans, who had the twentieth century pretty much to ourselves. We are not natural Metternichians. We are too moralistic and too romantic: huddled masses, shining city on a hill, hope of the world. It's all meant well, and not at all ignoble; but it hinders us thinking Metternichianly. The greatest Metternichian thinker we've produced recently, Henry Kissinger, is widely disliked on both the right and the left.

So I think mental adjustments are needed. In particular regard to China, we should let them know that we don't mind their hegemony in the Western Pacific, but we expect it to be conducted in a civilized, collegial fashion. We want them to be good Metternichians, too.

There are pressure points and sanctions we can apply by way of persuasion. As Pat Buchanan often points out, our trade policies are a huge favor to China; we could make that less huge.

Here's another suggestion from me. Thursday this week I went to a function at New York University in downtown Manhattan. I can tell you that the modal language in the corridors and elevators of NYU, and in the streets and subways feeding it, is Mandarin.

Published statistics on the NYU student-body say nineteen percent of full-time undergraduates are Asian, though with no separate breakdown on how many are U.S. citizens. That was for 2013, the latest numbers I can find. I dunno; mooching around the place, it looks and sounds to me like way more than that.

Are we handing out too many student visas? Are there American kids missing out on higher education to all these foreigners? Maybe that's another pressure point we could use to nudge China towards Metternichian reasonableness. Just a thought.


06 — Race fundamentals.     I'm a race realist. What does that mean?

It means I don't doubt that race is a real and important thing; more than that, it's fundamental to biology.

The foundational text of modern biology is Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, subtitle: "The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle For Life." By "races" Darwin meant local varieties of a species.

Any widely distributed species exhibits local varieties — races. If local varieties are left alone for long enough, breeding mainly within their local groups, they diverge. If left alone for way long enough, they diverge so far that members of local group A over here can no longer interbreed with members of local group B over there. The different races have then become different species. That's the origin of species. That's what Darwin's book is about.

How long is long enough? That depends how intense is the pressure of selection driving the divergence. Animal breeders, practicing artificial selection, can get noticeable divergence in a few tens of generations. The Russian zoologist Dmitry Belyaev bred tame Siberian foxes from very wild ones in just forty generations. He got significant tameness in just five generations.

Natural selection doesn't work that fast; but if selection pressures are strong enough, tens of generations are enough for observable divergence. And it depends on what you mean by "natural." Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending have argued that the high mean IQ of Ashkenazi Jews developed across a thousand years — say forty generations — as a result of rigidly-enforced social practices and norms.

The major continental-scale human races have been more or less separated, often in very different environments with different selection pressures, for hundreds of generations. The really big split, between the group that left Africa and the group that stayed there, happened from fifty to seventy thousand years ago — two or three thousand generations. Expect lots of divergence between the human races.

Darwin didn't know how heritability worked. He knew that some traits are heritable — everybody knows that — but he didn't know the mechanism. Now we know it: The mechanism is genetics.

We also know much more about what traits are heritable. Starting with the Minnesota twin study thirty-five years ago, and now with a mountain of data from twin, sibling, and adoption studies, we know that pretty much anything you can quantify about human personality, behavior, and intelligence is to some degree heritable, average-average at around the fifty percent level but sometimes much higher. We now in fact have a busy and exciting field of study called "behavioral genetics."

Given that all these traits are heritable, it follows from the ordinary laws of biology that different races will exhibit different statistical profiles on them. That's not astonishing, mysterious, or horrible: It's just first-floor-level science.

Unfortunately it's also in contradiction with our state ideology. Forced to choose between science and ideology, most of the big institutions of our society have chosen ideology.

An exceptionally clear example of this choosing was offered by the American Anthropological Association five years ago. At their annual meeting, the Association voted to drop the word "science" from their mission statement. You can't get any more clarity than that. Academic anthropology in America is now a political movement in support of the state ideology.

Well, I'm a race realist. I think science is the bee's knees, and the state ideology is nonsense. That makes me close to unemployable, but psychologically serene. To quote from that great movie Animal House: Knowledge is good.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I have a point to make about words — which I'm also rather fond of — and current news reporting.

I've gone on at a bit too much length with these prefatory remarks, so let me give the main point its own segment.


07 — Magic Dirt.     So here's the thing. Given all that I just said, and supposing it was all correct, how do custodians of the state ideology explain the obvious issues that arise from race differences — for example, the huge and stubbornly persistent black-white gaps in criminality, educational attainment, and so on?

The short answer is: They fall back on magic.

Magical thinking is hard-wired into human cognition, and I doubt anyone is completely free of it. I am, as Radio Derb listeners know, the very soul of ice-cold rationality; yet every day when I walk my dog I have to pat my lucky tree at the end of the street. Why? Because it feels right. If I don't pat the lucky tree, I feel uneasy for a few minutes. Why endure that unease?

Magical thinking in official, academically-sanctioned explanations for phenomena generally gets dropped when good solid replicable scientific results become available. This can take a while, though, as the history of science amply shows. When the phenomena to be explained are social phenomena, resistance is especially strong.

You see this in our current official explanations for the social issues arising from race differences. "Institutional racism," "stereotype threat," "white privilege": If you look closely at these concepts you see that they are essentially magical — mysterious emanations or vapors, invisible and unquantifiable, known only by their results, like the messages sent from the spirit world to a ouija board.

In the past couple of decades we've seen the rise of one particular explanatory strategy. That strategy recently acquired a name — or possibly it's had the name for a while and I only just recently noticed. Whatever, I really like the name.

The name of this explanatory strategy is: Magic Dirt. The core idea is that one's physical surroundings — the bricks and mortar of the building you're in, or the actual dirt you are standing on — emit invisible vapors that can change your personality, behavior, and intelligence.

That's why, for example, you read so much about "bad schools" or "failing schools." The thing to be explained is that schools whose students are overwhelmingly non-Asian minorities — blacks and mestizos — get much worse results on academic tests than schools whose students are majority white and East Asian. This has been so for decades, defying even extravagantly expensive efforts to change it, like the Kansas City fiasco of the 1990s.

Parsimonious explanation: innate differences in behavior, intelligence, and personality between the races.

Magical explanation: Bad schools! The bricks and mortar of these schools, the asphalt of their playgrounds, are giving out invisible noxious vapors that enstupidate the kids!

Bob Weissberg tossed and gored the whole "bad schools" flimflam in his 2010 book Bad Students, Not Bad Schools, which I recommend to your attention.

Another aspect of the Magic Dirt theory is the current popularity of economist Raj Chetty's researches on social mobility. Analyzing millions of individual tax returns from the 1990s, then the returns of those individuals' now-adult children fifteen years later, Chetty found there's more social mobility in some places than in others. Who woulda thunk it? Sample quote:

For children growing up in places like Salt Lake City … the odds of moving from the bottom fifth of the national income distribution to the top fifth are more than 12 percent … In contrast, in cities like Charlotte, North Carolina … a child's odds of moving from the bottom fifth to the top fifth are less than 5 percent.

End quote.

Parsimonious explanation: Those places have different proportions of the various races, so race differences in average behaviors cause different outcomes.

Official explanation: Magic Dirt! Salt Lake City's dirt has beneficial qualities that Charlotte's just doesn't.

A very cynical person — not me, you understand, but a hypothetical extreme cynic — might surmise that Prof. Chetty's research is funded by the real-estate industry as part of their plan to reclaim America's cities for upscale whites by driving out minorities and scattering them to distant towns and suburbs — so they can improve themselves by living on better dirt, you see?

Magic Dirt theory is a key component of immigration romanticism, too. Sure, Mexico and Central America are messed-up places, and presumably their inhabitants played some role in messing them up. If we just move thirty or forty million of those people to the U.S.A., though, our Magic Dirt will transform them into civic-minded Jeffersonian yeomen!

Our hypothetical extreme cynic might again wonder if there isn't some commercial interest at work behind the scenes there. Central Americans work for very low wages — especially when they're here illegally and dare not complain.

Magic Dirt: the explanatory power of it is truly wonderful. Perhaps we can use it to elucidate String Theory, or the Mystery of Consciousness. I wouldn't be surprised if the Higgs boson is implicated somehow …


08 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  Austria is punching above her weight in this week's podcast, with a whole segment there on Metternich, and now this. Headline from Russia Today: Austrians snapping up shotguns as thousands of Mideast refugees enter country.

The substance of the story is that Austrians are trampling flat the edelweiss in a stampede to arm themselves as young Muslim men pour into their country. You can buy a shotgun in Austria without a permit; for rifles and handguns there is paperwork. Applications for that paperwork have soared; shotguns are walking off the shelves of gun stores.

Austrian women are especially keen to arm themselves, apparently having heard that the Koran sanctions the rape of infidels. There's plenty of room to conceal a SIG 9mm in a dirndl.

As a gun-owning American, I can't repress a pleasant shiver of Schadenfreude here. How many times have we heard Europeans lecturing down their noses at us about our coarse, crude, ungebildet gun culture? Now the hills are alive with the sounds of shooting practice. It's wonderful what a little dash of reality will do.

Shotguns, pistols, rifles, ammo clips? [Clip:  "These are a few of my favorite things."]


Item:  Here's an upbeat item, a small reminder that we do, for all our grumbling, live in a country with a real belief in the equality of all before the law and a real respect for each other as fellow citizens of a free republic.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey took the Amtrak express train from Washington, D.C. back to New Jersey last Sunday morning after appearing on "Face the Nation." Now, you need to know that the express has a quiet car, where passengers can read or doze without being disturbed by other passengers conversing or gibbering into their cell phones.

Christie got into the quiet car. He wasn't quiet, though. When he got on the train he was yelling at his state trooper detail for some mix-up in seating arrangements. Once he sat down he started talking into his cell phone.

Passengers complained, the conductor had a word with Christie, and Christie got up and left the quiet car — whether or not with good grace, accounts differ.

He left, though; that's the main thing. My wife put this into perspective for me. She grew up in Communist China, and is fully acquainted with the arrogance and entitlement of public officials in the Third World.

She thought the Christie story was wonderful. She was chuckling about it for days. "Imagine," she marveled, "The Governor of a state! And he just got up and left! On orders from a train conductor! In China — unthinkable!"

Count your blessings, Americans. We're not Third World yet.


Item:  Just one more China-related item. The heading here I think is "Microaggression of the Week."

The microaggressor is veteran BBC-TV sports commentator Mitch Fenner, covering the World Gymnastics Championships. At one point the cameras went to some Chinese spectators waving a Chinese flag enthusiastically. Said Fenner, in what was interpreted as a mock-Chinese accent: [Clip:  "Oh wow, they say, look at that, we're from China."]

The mountains heaved, the oceans boiled, and to prevent the Earth from crashing into the Sun the BBC hastened to issue an apology. Fenner had acted inappropriately, they honked, and he had been reprimanded. Fenner himself did the full multiculti cringe. Quote from the Beeb: "The commentator has been advised that the tone of his commentary on this occasion might be considered offensive to some people, which he has acknowledged."

My latest information is that Fenner is being shunned by his colleagues, and made to feel ronery, so ronery.


Item:  Finally, yes, the Miss BumBum pageant, not to be confused with the Golden Globes.

The invaluable MailOnline website, which describes the pageant somewhat ambiguously as "tongue in cheek," reports that the 15 finalists have now been locked up together in the Miss BumBum Mansion in São Paulo, where they are filming a reality show in preparation for the finals next month.

Relations among the contestants are, the MailOnline reports, frosty. They may in fact have hit rock bottom. Quote: "There is a distinct lack of small talk among the contestants at the Miss BumBum mansion." Oh rear … er, dear.

My own favorite contestant, 27-year-old Sabrina Boing Boing, explains, quote from her:

When we all met four months ago on the first day we were all the best of friends. But by the second day that had all gone, and the daggers started … Most of the women can't bear to even look at each other in the eyes. But when they have passed they take a good look at their bumbum, to check out the competition. We might not have got to know each other, but everyone knows very well the other girls' bottoms. A lot of the women spend their time bitching about them on social media, saying this one doesn't have a bum, that one is all cellulite … There is a lot of bottom in the house, but not much personality.

End quote.

A lot of bottom but not much personality, eh? Quelle surprise!

Well, let's hope for some Metternichian equilibriun there among the ladies at the Miss BumBum Mansion. Once violence breaks out in a situation of close confinement like that, it's just a race to the bottom. [Boo, hiss.] Oh, come on: That's nothing like as bad as "tongue in cheek."


09 — Signoff.     That's all for this week, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening.

There was somewhat of an Austrian theme in this week's show, and also somewhat of a Chinese theme. See how deftly I have woven the two themes together for our signoff music: a very pleasant choral rendering of "Edelweiss" in Chinese.

More from Radio Derb next week!


[Music clip: (Unknown ensemble) "雪绒花."]