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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, one and all, from your penitentially genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you the week's news from VDARE.com, the thinking American's website of choice.
Listeners are curious to know how our grandson's christening went last Sunday. Answer: It went splendidly! The appropriate ceremonies were conducted in an exceptionally beautiful church; then we all gathered at the house of the baby's other grandparents for a reception in the garden.
There were heaps of food, the weather was glorious, and everyone was in good spirits. We had a great time. Many, many thanks to the deacon at St. Peter the Apostle Church for the service, and to the other side of baby Michael's family, who worked so hard to make the event a memorable success.
Just one other housekeeping point. In last week's podcast I gave the speed of light at sixty-seven million miles an hour. I'd misplaced a zero; I should have said 670 million. I'm going to adopt my usual strategy in such situations and blame the editors for not spotting the error.
Let's not be too hard on them, though; Homer nods; and so, occasionally, do we here at VDARE.
Much more embarrassing to me was a mispronunciation in my Confucius quote. That was me speaking, so I can't blame it on the editors.
It was one of the more pardonable kinds of mispronunciation, but I shall do appropriate penance anyway: an hour's daily study of the teachings of the Master for the coming month.
If you want the details of my transgression, I have added a note to the archived version of the transcript.
OK, that's it with the housekeeping. Let's take a look at the news.
02 — Millennials are serfs. Sunday's happy festivities with our in-laws' big, prolific, generous family left me reflecting, for the umpteenth time, on my own great good fortune in being born when I was.
In one of my monthly diaries a couple of years ago I noted the fiftieth anniversary of my buying my first house. That was in the context of Bernie Sanders making a strong play for the Democratic Party 2020 nomination, and the support he had among young people. Quote from that:
Fifty years ago this month, I bought my first house, in London. To be precise, I and my then-girlfriend co-bought it. It was a three-bedroom row-house in a quiet street, with a garden out back. We easily got a mortgage.
London house prices haven't gone down any in the two years since I wrote that. Starting computer programmers are paid around £40,000. So for an equivalent house today a young adult would be paying not three times his annual salary but more than eleven times it.
The same month I wrote that, February 2020, although I didn't notice it at the time, Steve Bannon was interviewed by some progressive bimbo on PBS. Here's a clip from that.
[Clip. Remember, here's the thing with millennials: They're like 19th-century Russian serfs. They're in better shape, they have more information, they're better dressed, but they don't own anything.
My own two kids are both late-millennials, born 1993 and 1995. Both of them, including baby Michael and his parents, live in rented rooms in other people's houses. They can't even dream of buying houses of their own; not today, not in the foreseeable future. They have supportive families and we help out any way we can, but there's no way we could buy houses for them.
Steve Bannon was right: middle-class life for young Americans is way harder than it was fifty years ago.
Russian serfs? Eh; with all respect to Steve, I think that's overstating it some. Young Americans can't be bought and sold, or publicly flogged for stealing turnips, or shipped to Siberia for getting uppity.
That said, comparing my own twenties to my kids', it doesn't look at all like progress. Not even a little bit.
03 — The case for real-estate nationalism. Is globalism part of the problem? It sure is.
Here's a story from the business pages of The New York Post, July 20th. Headline: Chinese spent $6.1B on U.S. real estate last year.
The story tells us that buyers from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong spent an average of just over $1 million per transaction to purchase existing homes, almost a third of them in California.
It's not just the Chinese, either. Other big players here are Canada, India, Mexico, and Brazil. Foreigners all told spent $59 billion to buy nearly a hundred thousand American homes. These numbers are all from April last year to March this year.
What are they buying them for? Nearly half — forty-four percent — are for rental, or as vacation homes, or both.
Now, OK, I'll allow that I'm an ignoramus where Economics is concerned. And yes, I understand that globalism has its upsides — comparative advantage and all that.
Still, these are American houses on American soil; and young Americans looking to start a family can't afford to buy houses.
I've been making occasional pleas for "real-estate nationalism" for at least five years. They go along with my promotion of "academic nationalism."
A brief digression on academic nationalism. Higher education, I have argued, is a precious but limited resource; and our own citizens should have first call on it.
They don't. Foreign students pay full tuition, cash on the nail. That's highly agreeable to our universities, on whose priority lists money ranks far higher than patriotism. Plus, our open-borders ruling class hands out student visas for the asking.
If you're an American applicant for a slot at an Ivy League university — most especially if you're a white male one — get to the back of the line: it's foreigners first.
OK, back to real-estate nationalism. It's our land that we are selling off so blithely to foreigners, including representatives of nations who wish us no good at all.
A General in the ChiCom armed forces owns 200 square miles of land in Texas next to Laughlin Air Base. A mainland-Chinese company, probably a front for the ruling Communist Party, just recently purchased 300 acres of farmland near Grand Forks, North Dakota, a 20-minute drive from Grand Forks Air Force Base, where the U.S.A.'s most sophisticated military drone technology is under development.
Academic nationalism, real-estate nationalism; I would rejoice, publicly and noisily, if our ruling class were to display nationalism of any kind, even if it were just to give us a flash of nationalist ankle.
Is there anyone in our Uniparty elites who believes that first dibs on America's resources, human and natural, should go to, you know, Americans?
It doesn't look like it to me. What it looks like is, that our rulers regard us non-elite Americans the way the nobles, the Boyars, of old Russia regarded their serfs: as two-legged draft animals whose only social function was to "tremble and obey."
Whoa. Maybe Steve Bannon got it right after all …
Among current practitioners of those arts I know of none more skillful, erudite, and eloquent than Roger Kimball, editor of The New Criterion. I have just been enjoying an opinion piece Roger published on Wednesday at the website of the London Spectator.
Vituperative? Oh yeah. Sample, the subject here being our most prestigious institutions of higher education, quote:
The educational establishment in its highest reaches is today a cesspool, contaminating the society it had been, at great expense, created to nurture.
The subject of Roger Kimball's article is the ongoing effort by the University of Pennsylvania Law School to kick out Professor Amy Wax, who has been teaching there for twenty years. Prof. Wax has tenure, which makes firing her difficult. The law school is very determined, though. Where there's a will, there's a way, and there is a mighty will at work here.
Tenured academics can of course be fired for grievous offenses — I think homicide would probably do the trick. Prof. Wax hasn't done anything that serious, though. What has she done?
What she has done, of course, is to utter heterodox opinions — opinions contrary to regime ideology. She has said and written things that displeased black activists at the university and their white … what's the word? … yes: allies, their white allies.
Five years ago, in a podcast interview with Economics Professor Glenn Loury (who is black, but sane), Prof. Wax said, apropos affirmative action, quote: "I don't think I've ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely in the top half." End quote.
The Dean of the law school, a typical academic-administrative reptile named Ruger, said that was false, quote from him: "Black students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law," end quote. When asked to provide supporting data from the law school's records, however, Dean Ruger refused to do so.
To this day no-one at U. Penn has provided factual refutation of Prof. Wax's observation, although they could easily do so if the observation was false. The irresistible conclusion is that it is true, and Dean Ruger is a liar.
Prof. Wax has committed other offenses against regime dogma. She has praised bourgeois virtues like thrift, restraint, and hard work, said that some cultures are better than others at building stable, harmonious societies, and written that, quote, "the United States is better off with fewer Asians," end quote.
She may — I don't know, I'm only speculating — Prof. Wax may, when making that last remark, have had in mind the pieces I have posted here at VDARE.com warning against the dangers of importing an overclass.
Be that as it may, I apparently have a bit part in the Amy Wax drama. Dean Ruger has drawn up a list of indictments against Prof. Wax and sent it to U. Penn's Faculty Senate, which makes the decisions on faculty disciplinary matters. Roger Kimball tells us that, quote:
Dean Ruger's list of Wax's violations is funny because it consists largely of truisms, laced here and there with evidence of guilt by association. For example, Wax has said nice things about John Derbyshire, a distinguished author but one who also has fallen foul of the cringing woke commissars in our culture.
Thank you for that, Sir. I had in fact already seen Dean Ruger's reference to me in Steve Sailer's VDARE post last weekend. It's the very first bullet point in Dean Ruger's list of crimes, quote:
Telling Black student Ayana Lewis …, who asked whether Wax agreed with panelist John Derbyshire's statements that Black people are inherently inferior to white people, that [inner quote] "you can have two plants that grow under the same conditions, and one will just grow higher than the other," [end inner quote].
(The word "panelist" there refers to me having been on a panel in 2010 to discuss a book Prof. Wax had published. You can read my opening remarks to the panel at johnderbyshire.com; click on "Opinions," then "Human Sciences," then scroll down to April 2010.)
Nothing in the subsequent bullet points — the list of Prof. Wax's offenses — is any less picayune than that one. This is the kind of thing that creates a hurricane of outrage at our premier universities nowadays.
As Roger Kimball notes in his closing paragraph, though, Prof. Wax is "at the beginning of a long, wearying, and expensive legal fight." She has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with the expenses. Please donate if you can.
05 — Re-institutionalize America! (cont.). Not only is Philadelphia home to the pathologically woke University of Pennsylvania, it also boasts the wokest of all the woke big-city District Attorneys gifted to us by George Soros.
The name here is Larry Krasner, who has been District Attorney to the City of Brotherly Love since January 2018. D.A. Krasner has been one of the busiest and most outspoken advocates for shorter prison sentences, especially in the case of crimes of violence.
This guy isn't just against capital punishment for murder, which would be no surprise; he's against life sentences. That's awkward because life is the mandatory minimum sentence for first- or second- degree murder in Pennsylvania. No prob.: Leniency Larry has just been downgrading charges from first- and second- to third- or manslaughter.
Here I get to mount one of my hobby-horses: the one about how we don't lock up anything like as many people as we should, for anything like as long as we should.
This is a tricky area to navigate. In this sweet land of liberty, depriving a citizen of his liberty is a serious business, to be done only after strict and well-defined procedures have been followed.
For example: I'd like to see more mad people locked up. The mumbling, stumbling, stinking, occasionally violent characters living and sleeping in our city streets, who are plainly incapable of taking care of themselves, need to be locked up in clean, humane conditions.
But then, there is a wide and murky zone between madness and mere eccentricity. I'd hate to see people locked up just for being odd, or obnoxious in some way not harmful to themselves or others. The Soviets put political dissidents in asylums. Don't think our elites wouldn't do that if we let them.
So as I said, it's tricky to get right. You can lock up too many people. Still, getting the right balance between personal liberty and rampant destitution ought not be beyond the wits of an advanced nation like ours.
And wherever that point of balance is, we have drifted w-a-a-ay too far over to the permissive side of it. There needs to be a correction.
Where violent criminals are concerned, likewise. Every morning, every blessed morning, I open my New York Post and see headlines like this one this morning: At least 4 shot, one fatally, across NYC overnight.
This is no way for civilized people to live. Yet time and again we read of career criminals with long rap sheets being set free with no bail.
Why even give the guy a chance to develop a long rap sheet? Lock him up! — for a good long time.
I therefore responded positively to this article in Monday's City Journal. The subject is recidivism, the probability that a person who's been in jail will, after completing his sentence, return to crime.
Progressive dogma says that longer prison sentences either have no effect on recidivism or make it more likely that the criminal, once released, will commit more crime. Longer sentences, more crime! Shorter sentences, say progressive criminologists, actually reduce future offending.
Well, quote from Monday's City Journal article, quote:
The United States Sentencing Commission put this question through a rigorous statistical testing procedure involving thousands of inmates over multiple decades and came up with a clear result: length of incarceration matters for recidivism — a lot.
That clear result of this humongous statistical study is not one that will please progressives like Larry Krasner.
The researchers created groups of prisoners convicted of the same crimes, and divided each group into two subgroups: those who'd received shorter sentences and those who'd received longer ones. Then they checked to see which of the released prisoners committed new crimes during an eight-year follow-up period.
Results: For prisoners who'd served less than five years, there was no difference in recidivism. For those who'd served more than five years, recidivism was eighteen percent lower for the groups with the longer sentences. For those who'd served more than ten years, recidivism was twenty-nine percent lower for the longer-sentence groups.
So there's a double benefit from longer sentences. Not only is the criminal locked up for longer where he can't be a threat to law-abiding citizens — well, other than Corrections officers — but after he's released, the freed longer-sentence guy will be less of a threat than otherwise.
I note, by the way, that the Sentencing Commission did a very similar survey back in 2005. Results back then were the same: longer sentences, less recidivism. This study that just came out is a replication. In the world of statistical studies, that makes it all the more persuasive.
The City Journal piece — it's by former federal prosecutor Thomas Hogan, by the way — makes the point that this survey was done by a federal agency during the Joe Biden administration. Quote:
Like Bill Clinton in the 1990s, even Joe Biden's own experts are telling him that longer sentences help curtail crime.
Bill Clinton listened, and acted. Will Joe Biden do likewise?
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: My word of the week: "polypharmacy."
Probably this word has been around a while and I'm just slow coming to it. It caught my eye, though, because I have long had the impression that we — especially those of us in the geezer demographic — take far too many pills. That's what polypharmacy means: too many pills.
The actual place where it caught my eye was in a web link a friend sent me after I wrote in my May Diary about my three daily medications.
"Three?" he scoffed. "Only three?" And then the link, from which, quote:
Did you know that more than 40 percent of older Americans regularly take five or more prescription drugs, and nearly 20 percent take more than ten medications?
It's a problem. I found several studies online showing that careful dis-continuing of medications reduced mortality rates and improved the quality of living.
No offense to the pharmaceutical companies, but I'm going to do my best to hold the line at three.
Time to recycle one of Bill Buckley's favorite jokes. A distinguished astronomer is giving a talk to some citizens' group. He mentions that eight billion years from now the Sun will die, leaving the Solar System frozen and lifeless.
In Q&A at the end, a little old lady stood up to ask: "Excuse me, Sir, when did you say the Sun will die?"
"Eight billion years from now," replied the speaker.
The little old lady sank back into her chair with an expression of great relief. "Eight billion? Thank goodness! I thought you said eight million."
Item: The commentator "Tocharus" over at Substack has a withering post about the, er, withered people who rule over us nowadays — our gerontocracy.
He reminds us how very young the Founders of our nation were. Quote:
Take some of the ages of the founding fathers for example during July 4th 1776.
The point is a good one, and I have more than once expressed my desire not to be ruled by people my age. I would like to just add, though, that, to paraphrase King George the Fifth: I may be ugly but I'll be damned if I'm weak.
Item: Speaking of British royals: Monday, July 18th, was Nelson Mandela International Day. To mark the occasion, Queen Elizabeth's grandson Prince Harry made a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. You can read the whole speech at the Newsweek website if you've a mind to, or if you need a really good, effective insomnia cure.
The expression "word salad" is enjoying a spell of popularity. Harry's speech wasn't so much a word salad as a phrase salad: every threadbare phrase from the Wokester's Manual stitched together in no particular order: "a time of global uncertainty and division" … "climate change wreaking havoc on our planet" … "the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States" … "our world is on fire" … "resistance from powerful interests" … "activists for equality and justice" …
Oy oy oy. I did Ctrl-F on the word "existential" and was astonished not to find it.
I won't be too hard on the boy, though. At least he was in the right place: a useless parasite addressing a hall full of useless parasites. God forbid this moron ever gets real political power.
Item: There was a panic at the CIA last week. CIA agents everywhere were put on high alert, DefCon Four I think it was; the President was hustled down to the White House bunker; and our embassies round the world were ordered to shred their key documents.
What had happened? Well, according to The New York Times, July 18th, quote:
What appeared to be a noose was found outside a secret facility used by the agency in Virginia.
I'm just wondering: Shall I ever again live in a serious country?
Item: In last week's podcast I noted that July 12th, on Tuesday that week, aside from being my Dad's birthday, is a great celebration day for Northern Ireland Loyalists, commemorating the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Ed West over at Substack easily topped that with a historical fact I never knew: July 12th is England's birthday.
This goes back nearly eleven hundred years, to when England was a mess of petty Anglo-Saxon kingdoms mixed in with portions the Vikings had conquered. One of the petty kings, a young fellow named Æthelstan, brought them together under his rule, or as near as it could be done, under the Treaty of Eamont, signed by all concerned on July 12, A.D. 927. Æthelstan then declared himself First King of England.
Ed West tells the story very well. I'm obliged to him for the instruction, and for one more excuse to get tipsy on July 12th.
Item: Getting tipsy, yes. My tipple of choice is, as longtime listeners know, bourbon. Well, here's some bourbon news.
The New England shoreline has long been plagued by an invasion of green crabs, brought over from Europe 200 years ago. These critters are mean. Quote from the Daily Mail, July 18th, quote:
Female green crabs can produce more than 175,000 eggs over a lifetime, making it possible for the species to quickly overwhelm habitats wherever they are.
Not to worry, though. A firm in New Hampshire has figured out how to turn these crabs into bourbon whiskey. A bottle of it will cost you $65 and contains about a pound of green crabs.
Hoo-kay. De gustibus, I guess but now I'm wondering what goes into my Old Crow.
07 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening. I hope you're all bearing up under the heat; and, with the fate of poor Ivana Trump last week in mind, I hope my senior cohort of listeners will remember the Prime Directive of life after seventy: DON'T FALL!
I learn something new every day. In last week's podcast I recycled something I said in my diary a few months ago on the subject of ethnic guilt. East Asians, I observed, don't seem to go in for ethnic guilt. By way of an example I mentioned the Mongolians, quote:
You can make a case that, with due allowance for available population numbers and low levels of killing technology, the worst mass murderer of all time was 13th-century Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan. How do the free Mongolians of today feel about him? They LOVE him!
They sure do. I mentioned them naming their airport after him, and their university, and their premier hotel.
What I did not know about, until a listener emailed in to inform me, was that, quote from him: "There are several rock groups from Mongolia that have become quite popular worldwide particularly The HU," end quote.
No, that's not Pete Townshend's The Who. These guys are all Mongolian and their group is spelled H-U, the HU. What do they sing about? Well — among other things, I'm sure — they sing about Genghis Khan. Do they like him? Of course they like him: they're Mongolians.
Here's just a snippet. I note in passing that, yes, they have a lot of fans worldwide. This video had nearly eleven million views on YouTube when I downloaded it. The entire population of Mongolia is a bit over three million.
The lyrics are in Mongolian, of course. Translated, they go something like this:
Knees be knelt and heads be bowed:
Well, you get the idea. Tengri is the ancient God of the Mongols.
To put it very mildly indeed, today's Mongolians seem not to be wallowing in historical guilt.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Over to The HU.
[Music clip: The Hu, "The Great Chinggis Khaan."]