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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, ladies and gentlemen. I hope I find you not too somnolent from your Thanksgiving dinners.
This is of course your expressively genial host John Derbyshire with news and commentary from a skeptically reactionary viewpoint.
This week we cast our net wide, from the conundrums of geostrategy to the celebration of glamour. On with the motley!
02 — An old imperial conflict. Let's start off this week with a spot quiz.
This is for all you history buffs, folk music buffs, and Irish grievance buffs. I'll play you a few bars of an Irish ballad. You have to tell me which war it's associated with. You ready? Here we go, the Dubliners.
[Clip] One mornin' in March I was diggin' the land
So there we have a poor Irish peasant lad enlisting in Her Majesty's armed forces. Which war was he enlisting for? The clock is ticking. [Ticking.]
Give up? I don't blame you. That was the Crimean War, 1853-56. A bit later Bob Lynch sings:
[Clip]: Well, the first place they sent me was down by the quay
The Crimean War has now, after 160 years, been pretty much forgotten, except for the Charge of the Light Brigade, but it was a huge deal at the time. Britain alone sent 200,000 troops into the conflict, from a British population of twenty million. That would be like today's U.S.A. fielding three million men. And Britain was just one member of an alliance, along with the French, Italians, and Turks, all fighting against Russia.
What was it all about? Well, the Russian Empire and the Turkish Ottoman Empire shared borders, up in the Caucasus and down in the lower Danube. The Russians and the Turks had been fighting wars with each other for ever; Wikipedia lists twelve Russo-Turkish wars from the 16th to the 20th century.
Now, in the 1850s, the Ottoman Empire was sinking into Imperial decline. The Russians, who had ancient claims to Constantinople, saw an opportunity to make their move. The British and French thought Russia already had all the territory she should have. So, off to war.
The result was mixed. Technically it was a loss for Russia; they had to forget about Constantinople, which is why it's still Istanbul. They also had to pull back from the lower Danube, permitting the birth of the modern nation of Romania. Their Black Sea fleet was put under allied control. It didn't help that the Tsar died in mid-hostilities.
On the other hand, the Crimea, for which after all the war is named, was Russian when hostilities began, and was still Russian when the dust settled; so there's that.
The question for today is: Shall we have a new Crimean War: that is, a new conflict with Russia on one side and Turkey on the other side with Western allies?
03 — Syria, Turkey, Russia, and us. The news here is of course Turkey shooting down a Russian military plane on Tuesday. The Turks say the Russian plane, on operations against rebels in Syria, violated their airspace.
Well, maybe they did and maybe they didn't; but the incident has shaken up the Syrian kaleidoscope.
Executive summary here for those who aren't keeping up. Syria has a dictator, Bashir al-Assad. When the Arab Spring came up in 2011, he clamped down hard on Syrian protestors. Various of his opponents took up arms, and a civil war got under way.
Russia has supported Syria from way back: The previous dictator of Syria, Assad's father, a military pilot in his youth, trained on Soviet Migs. Russia has a big naval establishment at Latakia, up towards the Turkish border, near where the Russian plane was shot down this week. Warm-weather ports are important to Russia, which has too few of its own. This is probably one factor in Russia cozying up to Iran: they do joint naval exercises in the Caspian sea, which Iran and Russia both border; and there are arms deals and suchlike.
That works nicely because Iran and Assad's Syria are on the same side of the Sunni-Shia split in Islam. Assad's government is pretty secular, but the tribe he comes from follows a splinter sect of Shiism. Turkey on the other hand is Sunni; as, matter of fact, are most Syrians; and so are ISIS.
Everybody in this game has their eyes fixed on one particular crystal in the kaleidoscope. Assad's eyes are fixed on staying in power; Putin's on regional hegemony. Israel's eyes are fixed on Iran; the Israeli nightmare is Iran getting nukes.
Turkey's eyes are fixed on the Kurds, a big national minority in Turkey and getting bigger, with a much higher birthrate than Turkish Turks. Recep Erdoğan himself, the Turkish President, made an alarmist speech five years ago warning his countrymen that Turks will be a minority in Turkey by 2038 — "a disaster for us," he said.
Kurds are mostly Sunni: So the Sunni Turks are at loggerheads with the Sunni Kurds, who in turn have been fighting very valiantly against the Sunni ISIS where ISIS encroaches on Kurdish territory.
You confused yet?
The Kurds have a militant independence movement, the PKK, which of course the Turks try to suppress. Here's how obsessed the Turks are with the Kurds: Back in October this year ISIS pulled off a terrorist operation in Ankara, Turkey's capital, killing a hundred people. In retaliation the Turks bombed … the PKK! Nobody thinks the PKK had anything to do with the Ankara incident; but when it comes to bombing Kurds, any excuse will do.
That's just the geostrategic and religious-slash-ethnic angles. Economics is also in play: e.g. the Turks are heavily dependent on Russian natural gas, and at the same time want better access to the European market. Then there's the military angle: Turkey's a member of NATO, an organization the Russians hate. And then, the refugees: Turkey is hosting over two million of them, and uses them to threaten the increasingly refugee-shy Europeans.
Strategic, religious, ethnic, economic, military, demographic: As I said, it's a kaleidoscope.
What is America's national interest in it all?
To be blunt about it, I'm darned if I can see one. It would be good to keep the Persian Gulf open to shipping; but nobody has any interest in closing it — certainly not the Russians or Iranians, with their sub-replacement fertility rates and their economies driven by selling oil.
Personally I'd like to see Western Civilization survive over there for another century or so; and my definition of "Western" includes Russia and Israel. The determinants for that, though, are demographic and cultural — factors over which the U.S.A. has no control.
I have no idea why NATO continues to exist. The EU has fifty percent more people than the U.S.A.; why do they need us to defend them?
The Obama administration's bleating about human rights and what a wicked, wicked man Syria's Assad is, leave me cold. The world is full of brutish dictators. We have been active in getting rid of three of them this past fifteen years; in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Have the results been encouraging? Do the Obama people really think so?
Turkey, Syria, Russia, Iran: I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with them. Let's secure our borders and entry points, shut down the immigration and refugee rackets, expel foreign troublemakers, and take care of our own people.
04 — Who they are. Regular listeners and readers know that if there's one thing guaranteed to have me reaching for the barf bag it's some fool politician or pundit saying, "That's not who we are."
"That's not who we are." [Different voice.] "That's not who we are." [Different voice.] "That's not who we are …" You just know, when you hear that phrase, you know the speaker is pushing some item of the Cultural Marxist agenda — stirring up class resentment, making whites feel guilty about something, sowing discord.
Well, here is not a speaker saying it, but the Speaker, the actual Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Heaven help us, Open Borders fanatic Paul Ryan, proud owner of a D-minus grade from NumbersUSA on immigration votes in the House.
Ryan was speaking to Sean Hannity on November 19th. Hannity asked him whether it's smart to permit settlement in the U.S.A. of great numbers of people from a culture as different and hostile as Islam. How do we know if they want to assimilate? Hannity asked. How do we know who'll turn terrorist?
That gave crapweasel Ryan his opening. "Well, first of all, I don't think a religious test is appropriate," he honked. Then he added — wait for it: "That's not who we are. We believe in the First Amendment of religious freedom." End honk.
Back in July of 2013 Ryan told a roomful of Latino scofflaws that, quote:
Look, put yourself in another person's shoes, which if you're in elected office, that's what you kind of have to do that almost every single day. The job we have — and what we do is we take different people's perspectives. The gentleman from India who's waiting for his green card. The DREAMer who is waiting. We take all these different perspectives. We process it through our values and our morals and our principles. And then we come up with the answer to try and solve this problem. That's basically what we do in our jobs.
As Julia Hahn pointed out in her Breitbart.com commentary at the time, a great many of us think that the job of a U.S. Congressman ought to be to put himself in the shoes of the citizens who elected him, giving their needs and wishes greater priority than the desires of someone in a foreign country.
President Obama lines up precisely with Speaker Ryan on this. What, you thought we had two different political parties in this country? [Laugh.] On November 18th the President tweeted thus, quote:
Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values …
And then, wait for it. All together now, you know the tune:
… [Chorus] That's not who we are.
According to the Gallup polling organization, November 25th, sixty percent of Americans oppose the President's plan to take in 10,000 so-called Syrian so-called refugees, versus 37 percent who approve. That's very nearly two to one. On the matter of these so-called Syrian so-called refugees, you might say that's who we are.
You'd think, wouldn't you? that the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House of our representatives would take a break from, to use the Speaker's diction, from "processing" the desires and dilemmas of Indians, Arabs, and Guatemalans to attend to the wishes of Americans — the people who vote for them and pay their salaries.
Alas, no. That's not who they are.
05 — Campus ructions explained. A few days ago I had the honor of sitting at a dinner gathering across the table from James Watson, the world's greatest living geneticist, joint winner of the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of the DNA molecule.
It was a private gathering so I'm not offering any specifics; but I can report that Dr Watson is still vexed about his public shaming eight years ago after he told a newspaper interviewer that he was, quote: "inherently gloomy about the prospects for Africa because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really," end quote.
Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in his 2012 book The Righteous Mind, argued that the human moral faculty is built around five axes. He gave them names like "Care/Harm" — that is, caring about others is at one end of this axis, harming them at the other. Another axis is "Fairness/Cheating" with fairness at the positive end and cheating at the negative. Later Haidt added a sixth axis. Haidt and his colleagues worked up a Moral Foundations Questionnaire they could give to test subjects, to see where they placed on each axis.
Well, one of these basic axes — Haidt actually calls them "foundations" — is "Sanctity/Degradation." Haidt argues from the case of the German guy who advertised on the internet for someone willing to be killed, cooked, and eaten by him. He got hundreds of responses, interviewed likely applicants, made a selection, then killed and ate the guy — all on video, to prove the thing was totally consensual. So, Haidt asks, did anyone do anything wrong there? Your answer tells us where you are on the Sanctity/Degradation axis.
And while you can of course rationalize your position — the human mind is a wonderful rationalization machine! — your place on that axis owes much more to intuition than to reason.
Similarly with cognitive scientist Bruce Hood's experiments, asking a roomful of people whether they'd like to wear a sweater he's waving in front of them — a sweater that once belonged to a serial killer. Very few people would; furthermore, quote, "in large lecture halls, members of the audience will physically recoil from the few people who say they are willing to wear the sweater."
It doesn't make sense. The sweater's been dry cleaned. You're not going to catch serial killing from wearing it. Reason is not in play. That's the power of moral intuition.
Jonathan Haidt discovered from his questionnaires that people who are politically liberal register big positive scores on the Care/Harm axis and the Fairness/Cheating axis — that is, they are very keen on Care and Fairness — but not so much on the others; conservatives had much better balance, with positive scores on all the axes, on things like Authority/Subversion and, yes, Sanctity/Degradation.
It happens that I read Haidt's book shortly after my own public shaming in 2012. Reading about those questionnaire scores, I was shaking my head at the book. It seemed to me that liberals are not so much light on regard for Sanctity, they just attach it to different objects.
To blacks, for example. The late Larry Auster said that blacks are sacred objects in the modern West. He was right. To say negative things about blacks, or to be thought to have negative thoughts about them, is a blasphemy. It's like someone in 13th-century Europe speaking ill of the Virgin Mary. The reaction is just the same. You have violated a sacred object. That's what James Watson and I did.
This sacralization of blacks is lurking behind a lot of the campus shenanegins we've been reading about the past few weeks. A mulatto girl at Yale shrieks foul abuse at the master of her residential hall, a white guy. Another harpy, this one blacker, dishes the same treatment to the president of Princeton University.
Instead of saying, "Shut up, you obnoxious little brat," and having the students suspended, the white authority figures whine and grovel.
When black students went on a rampage at the Dartmouth college library, yelling foul-mouthed racial and sexual abuse at white students trying to study, the president of Dartmouth emailed that the library ruckus was, quote, "a powerful expression of unity in support of social justice."
[Added later: My speed-reading was a tad too speedy there. President Hanlon was actually praising the pre-rampage demo. I posted a correction at VDARE.com.]
These white college bureaucrats are all far-left liberals, of course, with moral intuitions over on the negative side of the Authority/Subversion axis. They can't help admiring subversion. Their moral intuitions tell them to. I beg leave to doubt, though, that they would have groveled so low if the shriekers and rampagers had been white.
And let's face it: Much, probably most, of these recent disturbances are a consequence of affirmative action. Before I spoke to the the Black Law Students' Association of the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2010, by way of preparation I did some quantitative analysis on the LSAT statistics, that's the Law School Admission Test. On the basis of a simple LSAT cutoff score, I found that the expected number of blacks in the law school would be four. The actual number was 57. And that's ignoring the phenomenon of the highest-prestige law schools sucking up all the brightest black applicants.
From a misguided altruism we admit to our universities big numbers of blacks who can't do university-level work. Disappointed and frustrated, they act out. The moral intuitions of the universities' left-liberal white administrators leave them poorly equipped to cope. Favoring subversion over authority, they rather admire the shriekers and library-trashers. Regarding blacks as sacred objects, they dare not criticize them for fear their peers will turn on them for blasphemy.
That's our current campus ructions in a nutshell. And it is, of course, blasphemy to say so.
Back in the early 20th century, when China was still reeling from its failure to compete with the West, the Chinese writer Lu Xun remarked that his countrymen could not look on Westerners as equals. "We Chinese are always," he said, "either looking down on Westerners as uncouth barbarians, or else looking up to them as superman masters of science and democracy. We can't look them straight in the eye."
It's the same with white attitudes to blacks. They are either dimwitted coons or sacred objects.
Whatever happened to the idea of treating people on their individual merits and faults? What happened to that? Why can't we look each other straight in the eye, citizen to citizen?
Well, personally, I believe some of us can; but why can't liberals? Because their moral intuitions won't let them.
06 — A hero of our time. Sixty-six-year-old Bruce Jenner, a former Olympic athlete who is nowadays mixed up with the famous-for-being-famous Kardashian clan in some way I can't be bothered to research, put on a dress, grew his hair long, took some hormone shots, and said, "Look at me — I'm a woman."
Well, no, Bruce, you're not; you're a bloke in a dress, with shoulders like an ox, a jaw you could drive fence posts in with, and a voice register down below Yul Brynner's. Look, I'm fine with it on libertarian grounds, so long as you don't cost me any money; but please don't expect me to be interested.
For reasons incomprehensible to me, a great many Americans are interested. Some large subset of them are more than interested: They think Bruce is a hero.
The editors and proprietors of Glamour magazine, for example, who chose Bruce as their Woman of the Year the other day.
Former awardees include movie actress Reese Witherspoon, tennis player Billie Jean King, pop singer Victoria Beckham, and, the awardee for the year 2001, Moira Smith.
Who she? Moira Smith was a New York City police officer who was killed helping to evacuate people from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Officer Smith was 38 years old at the time. She left behind a husband and a two-year-old daughter. Glamour gave her their Woman of the Year award posthumously.
That husband — his name is James Smith and he's also a New York City cop — when he heard about the award to Jenner, he sent his wife's award back to Glamour with a stinging covering letter. Sample quote:
I was shocked and saddened to learn that Glamour has just named Bruce Jenner Woman of the Year. I find it insulting to Moira Smith's memory, and the memory of other heroic women who have earned this award.
Radio Derb salutes Officer James Smith for standing up against the tide of decadence and frivolity that threatens to engulf our culture, and for speaking up on behalf of the sterner civic virtues. Honor and gratitude to him and his brave wife; a Bronx cheer to Bruce Jenner and the fools at Glamour magazine.
07 — Narrative collapse hits mathematics! I'm going to take the opportunity here to advertise my monthly diaries, published here at VDARE.com at the end of every month.
I've been posting diaries at various outlets since — Heaven help me! — Summer of 2001. The editors here at VDARE.com have kindly allowed me to continue the practice, even though most of what I post in a diary is off-topic.
One more or less regular feature of my diaries is a Math Note at the end. I pass comment on news from the world of math when there is any, which isn't often; or I post a wee brain-teaser to kill ten minutes of your time in coffee break.
No, don't worry, I'm not going to introduce Math Notes into Radio Derb. A few days ago, however, there actually was some news from the math world, and it was peripherally on-topic. Here you get one of those shelving problems that plague anyone with a lot of books: Do I shelve a book on Spanish literature with my Spain books or my lit-crit books?
This recent news story was about math and on-topic. Does it belong in my diary with math stuff, or in Radio Derb with on-topic stuff?
Radio Derb won out here, quite arbitrarily, so here's the story. Headline, from the November 17th edition of the London Daily Telegraph — a very respectable broadsheet newspaper and former employer of me. Headline: Nigerian professor claims to have solved 156 year old maths problem. Text, quote:
A Nigerian professor has claimed to have solved a maths conundrum that had stumped scholars for more than 150 years.
This story is of interest to me because I wrote a book about the Riemann Hypothesis — still to date my best-selling book, and the only one to have won an award.
To explain why the story is on-topic, I need to give you some inside baseball about the world of higher mathematics.
Here's the thing: There are a lot of math cranks. No, really; you'd be surprised. Where some math topic has penetrated the general public consciousness, especially if there comes a prize attached to it, it gathers around itself a cloud of latrine flies: cranks and obsessives who are sure they have found a key to whatever is vexing professional mathematicians. These people pester the professionals at conferences and via mail and email.
Heck, they even pester journalists who write pop-math books: I have an entire email folder of claims to have proved the Riemann Hypothesis. Curiously, no-one has ever sent me a claim to have dis-proved it. It's a hypothesis: It might be true, it might be false. Its falsehood should in fact be easier to prove than its truth: You just need to produce a single counterexample.
These cranks have always been with us. A hundred years ago their attention was caught by Fermat's Last Theorem, for the proof of which a German industrialist had bequeathed a 100,000-mark prize. The great German mathematician Edmund Landau got so many "proofs" of Fermat's Last Theorem in his mail, he had a form letter printed up saying: "Dear [blank], Thank you for your proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. The first error is on page [blank], line [blank], and it invalidates the proof. Sincerely, Edmund Landau." When a "proof" came in he would hand it off to one of his graduate students together with a copy of the form letter, and tell him to fill in the blanks.
It's been the same in recent years with the Riemann Hypothesis. Claims to have resolved it are quite routine. I captured and pinned one of them in the blog for my book back in 2004, but there are many others.
Here's why this story is on-topic for VDARE.com. Our main topic is patriotic immigration reform. Our desire for an honest, rational immigration policy is driven in part by race realism. We understand that Homo sapiens, like any other widely-distributed species, comes in varieties. The varieties do not always mix well in quantity, with obvious consequences for immigration policy.
The reality of race differences is most plainly manifest in the U.S.A. in the different statistical profiles exhibited by blacks and whites on scholastic achievement and social dysfunction. These are taboo topics in polite society. We violate those taboos in hopes of bringing race realism to the attention of the general public.
We take particular glee in recording "narrative collapse." That is what happens when a sinkhole opens up in the prevailing, taboo-dominated dogma of zero race differences.
That's what happened here with this story about the Nigerian professor. Given, as I have explained, the quantity of math cranks out there, and the regular appearance of bogus "proofs" of the Hypothesis, why did this particular one make newspaper headlines?
We are not short of claims to have proved the thing. I myself have, as I have said, an email folder of them. I bet there are professional mathematicians with bigger folders than mine. So why did this one make headlines?
Was it because Dr Enoch published in a professional journal? No, he didn't do that. He did post on a sort of academic Facebook website; but the "proof" he posted was (a) plagiarized and (b) fake.
Was it because he presented his work to a conference of his peers? Not really. He did give a presentation at a Conference on Mathematics and Computer Science in Vienna; but the abstract of the presentation doesn't mention or imply a proof of the Hypothesis.
And concerning that conference, here's some more inside baseball for you.
Mathematics today is a huge field. Specialists in one area of math can barely understand what specialists in another area are talking about.
If you had a proof of the Riemann Hypothesis you'd want to present it to people who really know this corner of the mathematical universe — people working in analytic number theory. This Vienna conference was non-specialist. It looks to me to have been targeted at undergraduates. If I had a proof of the Riemann Hypothesis, this is not the gathering I'd present it to.
So, once again, why did Dr Enoch make headlines? Why do you think? He's black.
The desire to think the best of blacks, and to confound stereotypes about them — stereotypes like, they can't do math at the highest levels — this desire is so strong, charlatans like Dr Enoch can ride it to a moment's fame.
And if you let loose a chuckle when the narrative collapses, as this one has, you are a blasphemer.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just to continue the math theme for a moment longer: Everybody knows that E = mc2. That's the signature equation of Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity.
OK; so why doesn't everybody likewise know that G = 8πT?
G = 8πT is the signature equation of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, first published a hundred years ago this week.
The G and the T there are not numbers but tensors: mathematical objects into which you can package whole bundles of information that don't resolve into numbers until you decide on a co-ordinate system. G packages up everything that defines the shape of 4-dimensional spacetime at some point; T packages up the precise distribution of all kinds of energy, charge, and mass at that point. So physical laws describing the behavior of energy, charge, and mass are equivalent to statements about the geometry of spacetime.
That's why your GPS works. That's why we observe gravitational lensing. That's why we can make intelligent speculations about black holes and the Initial Singularity (know to hoi polloi as the Big Bang).
In my own college days the equation was actually G = −8πT; at some point since the Lyndon Johnson administration they changed the sign on one of the tensors, I have no idea why. I very much hope there were no harmful consequences for the structure of spacetime. It would be annoying to see the cosmos turn into a photographic negative of itself.
The General Theory is one of the great creations of the human mind, with compelling power and elegance. It's the kind of thing bright young people once strove to understand and appreciate through hours spent in a college library.
Nowadays a college library is a place where bright young people have abuse screamed at them by black hooligans. So we regress.
Item: What's our pal Bernie, the Socialist from Vermont, what's he doing? Listen:
[Clip: Dr Hook] We take all kind of pills
Yes, that's right: Bernie Sanders has made the cover of the Rolling Stone.
After that, getting elected President, if Bernie can pull it off, will just be anti-climax.
Item: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year … the festive season comes upon us. With one eye on the news, let's take a glance at the other end of the season: at Burns Night, January 25th, when we honor Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland.
As every caledonophile knows, on Burns Night you eat a dish of haggis with neaps and tatties, washed down with a dram or two of a good single malt. OK: neaps are turnips and tatties are potatoes; but what is haggis?
When I was a child in England, one of my uncles told me that haggis was a variety of goat that lived in the mountains of Scotland. The legs on one side of the goat were longer than the legs on the other side, he told me, so that the haggis could stand on the steep mountain slopes without falling over.
I went on believing that well into my adolescence. It is not true. Haggis is a comestible, something like a small American football in appearance. The outer part is the membrane of a sheep's stomach; inside is a mix of chopped-up sheep's heart, liver, and lungs, mixed with oatmeal and onions and made savory with pepper and other spices. Trust me, it's delicious. If you haven't tried it, you really should.
Haggis has always been available in the U.S.A. I've been getting mine from a firm in New Jersey. However, American haggis leaves out the sheep's lung, which has been prohibited under federal food rules since 1971. Because of those pettifogging rules, Scottish firms haven't been able to export haggis to the U.S.A. This has had a serious negative effect on Scotland's economy.
No more! Scotland's rural affairs secretary, Richard Locchead, has been over here with a delegation trying to get the ban lifted. After long and arduous negotiation, it seems they may succeed, with some slight adjustments to the recipe.
Quote from Mr Locchead, Scottish accent not attempted, quote:
I think our own producers here in Scotland are up for tweaking the recipe so that U.S. customers can still get as close as possible to the real thing. And if we managed to get into that market that would create jobs back here in Scotland and millions of pounds to the Scottish economy.
There's an economics lesson there, something to do with comparative advantage, but I haven't thought it through.
Whatever; save some of your festive spirit for January 25th and a good haggis dinner!
09 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, and I hope Thanksgiving left you properly braced for the coming season.
Let's end where we began, with the Russians and the Turks glaring at each other in cold hostility — and let's hope it stays cold.
The classic poetic expression of Russo-Turkish hostility, at any rate in English, was composed by another Irishman, Percy French, during a different war between those two empires, twenty years after the Crimean conflict. It's a little gem of narrative verse.
The poem became a song, gramophone records came in, and ninety years ago the American vaudeville star Frank Crumit made a hit recording of the song. The title, and the name of one of the principals, is "Abdul Abulbul Amir." Abdul's Russian counterpart is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar. Ivan steps on Abdul's toe in the marketplace; Abdul takes umbrage, and it all ends badly.
Listen: and then, remember to listen to Radio Derb this time next week.
[Music clip: Frank Crumit, "Abdul Abulbul Amir"]