• Play the sound file
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your helpfully genial host John Derbyshire. I have battled my way through winter storms and mountainous snowdrifts to make it to my studio here on Long Island's north shore, to bring you news and views from the past week. You're welcome!
This week's podcast weaves together a number of themes: China, sport, and what people are doing with their time. I shall start and end with China. Here we go.
02 — The world-important Winter Olympics. Tuesday was New Year's Day on the traditional Chinese calendar, so that today, Friday, is the fourth day of the first lunar month. That's 立春 (lìchūn), the official first day of Spring.
It's also the official first day of the Winter Olympics, being held this time around in and near Peking. The opening ceremony was held Friday evening local time, which is Friday morning New York time; which is good, as it means I can snark about it.
From dancers waving giant green glow sticks like freshly sprouting grass to six ice hockey players covered in psychedelic colors slapping pucks toward the Olympic rings, the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games were meant to represent unity and a new beginning.
End quote. Nobody does kitsch like the ChiComs.
Snark aside, I'm coming at this from a position of well-nigh total indifference to the event. If I were to tell you that my eyes will be glued to the Olympic broadcasts until two weeks on Sunday when the whole show wraps up, I would be telling you an untruth.
Ladies' beach volleyball aside, I'm just not a sports fan; and winter sports are a niche within sports at large. I'm sorry if that sounds snobbish. I actually approve of sport in a theoretical sort of way. Sport keeps lots of people fit and channels off a lot of aggression that would otherwise find much more negative outlets. God bless all you winter sports fans!
I'm just sedentary and bookish by nature. My notion of wintertime physical activity is splitting firewood and shoveling snow off my driveway. No offense at all to any listeners differently inclined, honestly.
The main interest of the Winter Olympics for me is political. A key event in Chinese politics is coming up this Fall: The 20th congress of the Chinese Communist Party. A key feature of this key event is expected to be President Xi Jinping's bid for a third term, in defiance of customary rules.
These congresses are held every five years. Xi was made General Secretary of the party at the 18th congress in 2012, and declared President the following year at a different gathering. He got his second term at the 19th congress in 2017. Third time's a charm.
Well, Xi hopes it will be. If the Winter Olympics turn out to be any kind of fiasco, though, that will weaken his position in the party.
We don't really know — well I sure don't know — how strong or weak that position currently is. ChiCom internal politics is a shark tank, and there are surely ambitious younger men — Xi is 68, in a country where sixty is the usual retirement age for men — hungry for the senior positions currently occupied by Xi and his yes-men. (Yes, men: there are almost no women in this picture.)
There's plenty of low-level discontent in China at large over the very drastic covid restrictions, and over Xi's program to tackle wealth inequality, which has negatively affected economic growth. There are looming financial issues, too, with provinces and cities massively in hock to the central government and unable to service their debt because of the aforementioned economic slowdown.
Whether these negativities are enough to inspire those ambitious younger cadres to coalesce as an anti-Xi faction; and whether, if that were to happen, Xi would be able to slap down the challenge, I shall not venture to speculate. It would sure help Xi, though, for the Winter Olympics to be a success — or at any rate, what is really important, to look like a success to the Chinese public.
Should the games disappoint, leaving Xi weaker, he might be tempted to take some bold action prior to the congress this Fall, to show that he's the nation's rightful leader. What would count as a bold action in this context? See if you can guess.
So with all that in mind, the Winter Olympics may not be merely Chinese-political, they may be of world-political importance. Hm, maybe I should watch …
In the news currently is a lawsuit against the NFL by Brian Flores, a black guy who was formerly coach of the Miami Dolphins. The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that NFL teams systematically discriminate against Black applicants for coaching and front-office positions.
David French sputters over this at the Atlantic website, quote:
The lawsuit contains statistical and anecdotal evidence. It also tells a story. The statistical evidence demonstrates extraordinary underrepresentation of Black coaches and executives. While 70 percent of NFL players are Black, only one out of 32 teams employs a Black head coach; six out of 32 teams employ a Black general manager.
Prompted by a Radio Derb listener, I ran the math on that bit about only one out of 32 teams employing a black head coach. Here's the math.
Let's say the current U.S. population is 333 million. On the usual definitions and percentages given, that breaks down as 43.3m self-identifying blacks, 216.5m whites, 73.2m other. I'll ignore the other, just deal with blacks and whites.
It's reasonable to suppose that being head coach of an NFL-level team needs some smarts above the average. I have no idea how much more, but let's say one standard deviation above the white-American mean. That means an IQ of 115 or more — by no means a genius, but smart enough to get through the average course at an average college.
How many of America's 43.3m blacks does that fit? Well, taking mean IQ to be 85 and standard deviation 15 and assuming a normal distribution, the Microsoft Excel NORMDIST function tells me that 2.274 percent of blacks have IQ 115 or more. That is 985,000.
Doing the same arithmetic for whites: with mean 100 and standard deviation 15, NORMDIST says 15.865 percent of whites have IQ 115 or more. That percentage of 216.5m is 34.35m.
Divide that by the corresponding number for blacks gets you a white/black ratio of 34.87. So on a perfectly fair, meritocratic basis, on the assumptions I've made, you would expect around one black head coach per 35 teams. The number quoted by David French, one in 32, is a slight over-representation of blacks.
[Added when archiving: That 35 should be 36. The white/black ratio is 35, near enough. That's 35:1. You have to add both sides of the colon. If the ratio were 1:1, that would mean one black head coach per two teams. Doesn't affect the argument, in fact strengthens it slightly.]
The numbers I have just worked out should be of interest to the NFL's attorneys. I have of course taken the precaution of registering them as copyright. If the attorneys want to get in touch with me to negotiate terms, I can be reached via VDARE.com.
04 — Antiworkers of the world, unite! To continue the Chinese theme for just a couple more sentences: Readers of my monthly diaries will remember that in June last year I alerted you to the phenomenon in China of tăng píng, which translates as "lying flat."
That's a movement — although "movement" is totally the wrong word — in which overworked, overstressed young Chinese professionals just step out of the rat race, dial down their living expenses, stay home, and … lie flat.
I even summoned up an example from my own second-order acquaintance, quote:
Mrs Derbyshire has a wide circle of acquaintances in China with whom she keeps in touch by social media. Among them is at least one case of tăng píng. This young, single, well-credentialed professional man had a good and remunerative but demanding job. He also has some modest inherited rental property. We recently learned that he's quit his job to tăng píng, living on the rental income. It's nothing like as much as his old salary, but Mrs D. reports him as happy, with no regrets.
Well, something similar may be taking off here. Thanks to Jesse Watters at Fox News we have been introduced to the Antiwork movement. A Reddit page for this movement has, Jesse told us, 1.6 million subscribers.
January 26th Jesse actually ran an interview with Doreen Ford, described as a "moderator" of the Reddit group, whatever that means. Doreen, who is actually a guy who thinks he's a woman, does in fact work 20-25 hours a week as a dog walker. However, quote from him:
I think laziness is a virtue in a society where people constantly want you to be productive, 24/7.
Doreen didn't come out of the interview well. He was inarticulate and unkempt. His room, in the background, was a mess. Outsiders of course mocked him mercilessly; but even group members were mad at him for being a poor representative of their movement … phenomenon, whatever. "That interview was so embarrassing," one member wrote, "it made me go back to work."
Now the Antiwork group has fired Doreen as moderator. As numerous commentators have pointed out, this will give him more leisure time, which is what he wants, isn't it?
Press coverage of the interview was not all mockery. The Guardian ran a piece sympathizing with Doreen and the Antiwork movement from a Marxist, anti-capitalist point of view, and scolding Jesse Watters as a bully in the service of Fox News plutocrats. It makes a kind of sense. From what I know of Karl Marx's own lifestyle, he would have been totally on board with Doreen and the Antiworkers.
Antiworkers of the world, unite!
Really, though, the U.S.A. is just the wrong place for this kind of movement. We are an industrious people, who take seriously the inclusion of Sloth as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
The tăng píng-ers of China can at least appeal to their ancient literature for support. In Chapter 37 of the fourth century B.C. Morality Classic the philosopher Laozi tells us that "by doing nothing there is nothing that can't be accomplished."
And America's dedication to hard work may not outlast this century. As robots take over more and more of the work, what shall we all do with our time? Perhaps we shall just tăng píng. More likely we shall amuse ourselves in the Metaverse, the simulated reality that Mark Zuckerberg is betting all his chips on.
Things may be even wierder than that. We may actually be in a simulation. This may be the, or a, Metaverse. I'm saying that under the influence of this book I am reading, just published last month: Reality + by the philosopher David Chalmers.
I met Chalmers at the 2014 "Toward a Science of Consciousness" conference in Tucson. He's a super-smart guy with a ready answer for any question, but some alarming ideas about what is and isn't real. I'm not very far into the book yet, though, so I shall put off commenting properly on it to my February diary.
05 — Mascot slain. It is at any rate indisputable that some citizens have way too much time on their hands.
Case in point: A task force of seventeen people assembled by an elite prep school in New York City to update the school's brand.
This is Collegiate School in the Upper West Side of Manhattan: boys only, Kindergarten to 12th grade, annual tuition $57,800. Collegiate is one of the oldest schools in the country, founded in 1628.
Why does Collegiate want to upgrade their brand? Quote from them:
To combat … the institutional and other racism that pervades so much of our society.
So this is not so much a makeover as a woke-over.
The main targets of this task force's efforts were the school's mascot and its motto.
The mascot is a cheerful Dutchman in 18th-century dress, carrying a cane and sporting a wooden leg. It's generally assumed to be a representation of Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of the New Amsterdam colony, which is what New York was called in 1628.
The Dutchman is white, and of course that won't do. The task force wants to revise the mascot to a rather creepy sketch of a figure holding up a lantern, his face entirely hidden by his hat. He could be any race, you see? No white supremacy here!
The school's motto, prominent on the school seal, is Nisi Dominus frustra — "Unless God, then in vain." The seal also displays the words "Founded A.D. 1628, "A.D." of course meaning Anno Domini,"Year of the Lord."
So that's two mentions of God, which of course was two too many for the woke warriors of this task force. The motto is being changed to "Wisdom, Community, Kindness," to be put into Latin when they can find someone who knows Latin. The "A.D." I guess will become "C.E.," which does not stand for "Christian Era." Christians are white and therefore evil. Correct your thinking, Comrade!
Reading about this in my New York Post, the thing that stuck me most forcibly was the sheer amount of time and effort that went into this rebranding. The task force, as I said, has seventeen members — including, by the way, David Letterman's wife. They deliberated over this rebranding for three years — three blessed years, listeners. Their final report on their deliberations runs to, wait for it … four hundred and seven pages!
So yes, there are a lot of people in America with wa-a-a-a-ay too much time on their hands. Scoff all you like at Doreen Ford, but dog-walking is at least useful work.
06 — Seventy years of Elizabeth II. Last Saturday, January 29th, was my twenty-eight thousandth day on earth, counting the day of my birth as Day One. It's sobering to reflect on how few of those 28,000 days I can remember with any clarity. It's double sobering to reflect how few of that few I remember because of something large and public that happened, as opposed to mere personal joy or sorrow.
Here's one of that lesser few: February 6th, 1952, a Wednesday, and my day number 2,440. My sister and I came home from school for lunch that day to find our mother sitting by the shelf where the family radio stood. (Except that we called it the "wireless.")
Mum was weeping, a thing I'm pretty sure I'd never seen before. What was she weeping about? we asked. "The King has died," she told us through her hanky.
King George VI had been found dead in bed that morning by his servant. He'd been in poor health for a while, and a heart attack sometime that night had carried him off at age 56. His older daughter Elizabeth took over the British monarchy.
So this Sunday Elizabeth has been on the throne seventy years. She has sat in discussion with fourteen British prime ministers and thirteen U.S. presidents.
Whatever your opinion of constitutional monarchy — I have my reservations — if there must be such a thing in the world, I don't see how it could be done any better than Elizabeth's done it.
The worst thing she can be accused of is sentimentality about the British Empire, which probably restrained her from protesting, in those private sessions with Prime Ministers, against the mass Third World immigration that has been so destructive of British society and such a gift to power-crazy totalitarians.
Yes, the position of constitutional monarch requires the Queen to keep her political opinions to herself in public. She has been scrupulously correct about that. However, I don't think that restraint applies to those private one-on-one meetings with Prime Ministers. I don't see how it could. And the immigration disaster was in plain sight by the mid-1960s. Thoughtful patriots like Enoch Powell could see what was happening.
Elizabeth should have seen it too, and registered protests against successive government's lax immigration policies.
Just possibly she did: we don't know, but I doubt it. If she did, the Prime Minister was under no necessity to act on her wishes, so her protests would likely have been ineffectual; but she should have spoken up anyway. If a constitutional monarch won't do what she can to avert the demographic transformation of her country against the wishes of its citizens, there's not much point to having one.
Now it's done and can't be undone. There was some hope that Brexit might restore full sovereignty to Britain, but it only made things worse. Now the European countries are unloading all their illegal aliens across the English Channel, and Britain, outside the EU, has no way to return them. Britain's being colonized as surely as it was sixteen hundred years ago when the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes swarmed in to destroy the older Romano-Celtic order.
I can see my Mum now, weeping by the radio that Wednesday lunchtime. I can see her on her deathbed forty-six years later, too, and remember her words in one of the last conversations we had.
"I don't mind dying, John. At least I knew England when she was England."
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: The Metaverse is enough of a thing now, we're starting to get news stories from it.
Here's one I saw in the British tabloid Daily Star, February 3rd. Headline: Woman "gang raped" in VR Metaverse says tech advances made it feel like real life.
This unfortunate lady, name of Nina Jane Patel, logged into "Horizon Venues," a virtual reality world owned by Meta (formerly known as Facebook). Before she could even get her bearings, she told the Daily Star, edited quote:
Three or four male avatars, with male voices … virtually gang raped my avatar and took photos. As I tried to get away they yelled: "Don't pretend you didn't love it."
I note, however, that Ms Patel is the vice president of research for a rival Metaverse company. So perhaps this is a commercial false flag. Who knows? Who knows anything? [Clip: Nothing is real …]
Item: I think we can say with fair certainty that death is real — with the proviso, of course, that if this world is actually a simulation and you die in it, you may wake in a different Metaverse one level up.
The authorities in the great state of Alabama aim to keep it real. They are about to join Oklahoma and Mississippi in allowing the death penalty to be carried out by nitrogen suffocation.
This is a pretty painless method of execution; heck, ordinary air is eighty percent nitrogen already. Nitrogen suffocation is in fact an increasingly popular method for assisted suicide. Edited quote from a website out of Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal:
The person will feel a little disoriented and may feel slightly euphoric before they lose consciousness … There is no panic, no choking feeling.
Nitrogen suffocation is also a whole lot less of an insult to our sensibilities than lethal injection, which pretends that what's happening is some kind of medical procedure. As the old quip goes: "Do they swab the injection site before putting the needle in?"
The execution chamber in Alabama is all set up, and should be ready for action in late April or early May. That will be too late for Matthew Reeves, who the state executed by the older method, lethal injection, on January 27th.
Mr Reeves, a black man, was on his way to a robbery with some other hood rats back in 1996 when their car broke down. A passing motorist stopped and offered to tow their vehicle. They robbed the guy then Mr Reeves shot him dead. So this was a Good Samaritan killing; I refer you to my 2012 column "The Talk, Nonblack Version," item (10h).
Item: An HBD item here. That's "Human Bio-Diversity," for you newcomers.
The social sciences, one often suspects, exist to tell us, with lots of graphs and tables, things we have always known.
That was my reaction to this story at American Greatness, February 3rd. Headline: Study Reveals That Women Are Less Likely than Men to Choose STEM Careers.
STEM, S-T-E-M, means "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math." Researchers at the Institute for Family Studies, working with data gathered from eighty countries in 2018, found that, quote:
Women prefer "people-oriented" professions along the lines of being a nurse or a teacher; meanwhile, men are five times more likely to prefer "things-oriented" jobs such as STEM, blue-collar jobs, and other occupations.
These researchers didn't just cast their net wide in space, but also in time. A similar study had been done a hundred years earlier, in 1918, with practically identical results.
This study also confirmed a theory I mentioned in Chapter Five of We Are Doomed: the theory that, to quote from that world-shaking book, that:
Modern post-industrial society is taking us back to the Pleistocene. Once again we are egalitarian in our treatment of each other; but our inner Mars and Venus are freer to express themselves without restraint than in those laced-up millennia of agricultural-industrial patriarchy.
That's what the researchers found. In what we think of as the most socially advanced countries, the most prosperous and free — Norway and Sweden, for example — the male-female gap in career preferences is largest. Without the economic, cultural, and religious restraints of the old agricultural and industrial order, we can follow the call of our own maleness and femaleness.
That is of course contrary to the ideology of equity, according to which, in the human world, everything must be equal to everything else. We can confidently expect these researchers to be shunned as thought criminals.
Item: Finally, my reading recommendation of the month is Ted Noel's February 2nd column at American Thinker, title "Why Donald Trump Should NOT Be the Republican Nominee."
Executive summary: Trump just isn't ruthless enough. Sample quote:
Regardless of the candidate, it's necessary to cut off the head of the snake. Without that, all is lost. In the White House, the first task must be to fire everyone not involved in the logistics of the edifice. Gardeners, cooks, and housekeepers would be safe. Then trusted lieutenants could be brought in to do the minimal amount of work that must be done. Hundreds of staff are not needed. Ron Paul famously suggested that, if elected, he'd fire all but the essential sixteen.
A man after my own heart. The federal apparatus is full of people who, at best, do nothing useful, and at worst spend their working hours doing things destructive of our rights and liberties.
Fire them all! If they whine that they won't know what to do with themselves all day long, direct them to the Antiwork website.
08 — Signoff. That's all I have, ladies and gentlemen, on this, my 28,006th day in this very realistic simulation. Did I mention that 28,001, my day number last Sunday, is a prime? Next prime is day number 28,019, falling on February 17th. All right, all right, it's eccentric, I know.
Thank you for listening. Those of you who are keen on winter sports, enjoy the Olympics. To those who aren't I offer my own example: Settle down with a good book in an armchair by a nice log fire.
That's for the older generation, mind: you millennials and zoomers might prefer to slip off into the Metaverse. Ladies just be careful who you're talking to in there.
Having celebrated Chinese New Year this week, I'll sign off with some traditional Chinese music. This piece is as traditional as it gets. Its Chinese name is 出水蓮 (Chū Shuĭ Lián), which translates as "Lotus Emerging from the Water" or "Water Lotus."
I can't tell you who wrote it: As is the case with most traditional Chinese music, it's court music, handed down from teacher to student. It was probably originally picked up from a folk melody, the folk in this case being inhabitants of the region around Shantou on China's south coast.
Nor can I even tell you who's performing. I've taken the audio from a beaten-up old CD of Mrs Derbyshire's which doesn't list the name of any performer — not even the one on the principal instrument, which is a gŭzhēng, a Chinese zither. I call that taking self-effacement too far, but in China they do things differently.
If you'd like to see other performances of the same music, wait for the Radio Derb transcript to be posted, then cut'n'paste the Chinese name into the YouTube search box, and help yourself — it's a popular piece.
And if you want to know more about "Lotus Emerging from the Water," do the same cut'n'paste into a general Google search for Chinese-language coverage, then hit the link that says "Translate this page" to get it in English.
I just did that. Sample quote, which strikes me as very Chinese:
The good character of human beings is the profound theme of the song "Water Lotus." In "Water Lotus" one should learn to find the lost self in the beautiful music and improve one's own moral cultivation. To appreciate "Water Lotus" you should experience it with your heart, not only to feel the beauty of the music, but also to start thinking about it, and use it as a bridge to explore the philosophy of life.
End quote. You can just see the whiskery sages of antiquity all nodding in agreement.
If you want to know more about traditional Chinese music in general, I recommend David Liang's excellent book Music of the Billion.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Performer unknown, Lotus Emerging from the Water]