From Derb's Email Bag: Brainteaser Solution, Men On The Moon, And Measuring Corruption, Etc.
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Just a few. 

•Brainteaser solution.  The solution to the brainteaser in my November Diary is here.

•Erratum. In my December 9th podcast I committed the following: ”Gene Cernan himself passed away in 2017 at age 82; his companion on the lunar excursion, Harrison Schmitt, is still with us and still active at age 87, bless his heart!—The last man still alive to have walked on the Moon.”

That’s totally wrong; I really should have checked. At the time I spoke there were four men still alive who walked on the Moon. Youngest to oldest, with their ages, they are: Charles Duke (87), Harrison Schmitt (87), David Scott (90), and of course Buzz Aldrin (92). God bless them all!  

•Bum Bum Cream. My brief promotion of Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream in the December 2nd podcast  stirred a surprising amount of interest.

Listener A:  I believe I will cash out my holdings of GenghisCoin in order to purchase a huge quantity of Brazilian Bum Bum Cream.

Listener B suggested a supplement to the Bum Bum cream, expanding bum bum care into the realm of… odor.   Uh, I’m sure the makers of Lume are acting from honest commercial motives, but… there are some doors Man was never meant to open.

Listeners C through Z instructed me that the “j” in Portuguese is pronounced as in French, not as in Spanish.

(I don’t speak a word of Portuguese. On my one and only very brief visit to Portugal I recall that listening to the people around me speaking the language, it sounded strangely Slavic. Portuguese is of course a Romance language, not Slavic at all. It just sounded that way to my unaccustomed ears—something about the consonants.)

•Also on pronunciation: A friend who keeps a close eye on Congress as part of his job tells me that Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Open-Borders Lunacy) pronounces her forename to rhyme with ”Joe,” not ”Joey.”

Sorry about that, Ma’am. I’m more used to hearing it as ”Zoey.” Perhaps it’s a Brit thing. Over there some ladies put an umlaut on the ”e” so you know for sure: ”Zoë.”

And I complained somewhere about everyone referring to this latest legislative monstrosity as ”the EAGLE Act.” It only becomes an Act, I grumbled, when it’s been passed into law. While going through the legislative process it’s just a Bill. That’s what I was taught, anyway.

The same friend passed the following comment on that:

Bill? Act? Does anything Congress do matter anymore? As Gibbon wrote: ”The senate of Rome, losing all connection with the Imperial court and the actual constitution, was left a venerable but useless monument of antiquity on the Capitoline hill.”

•Measuring corruption: another inexact science? Since scrutinizing Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index back in April  I’ve had fun telling Radio Derb listeners that the Russia-Ukraine War is being fought between the world’s two most corrupt white nations.

Then in my December 9th podcast I expressed skepticism about the numbers we’re given for World and U.S.A. populations, concluding that  

Demography is a noble science, and an important one, but not an exact one.

A friend who read that applied similar skepticism to the figures for corruption by Transparency International.

I wondered how these [country corruption rankings] were actually done. What I found did not impress me. I did not find a very clear explanation, other than the fact that they are apparently very subjective and determined by a small selected group of those supposedly familiar with the issue. I didn’t see anything that tried anything remotely objective. As far as I can tell, all this comes from a single organization, Transparency International. Apparently the originator of the Corruption Perception Index no longer believes in its validity. It would not surprise me that the politics of the rankings is significant and can highly distort reality.

Furthermore, my impression is that it probably is heavily weighted towards low-level corruption. E.g., low-level government functionaries with their hands out to perform their duties. There is great doubt it takes into account very high-level corruption. I’d argue the problem in the United States is high-level corruption in the media, academia, finance, and the upper reaches of government that designed to funnel enormous amounts of money into special interests. It appears little or none of that corruption is seen by the index. (I have long said that the US has four large rackets: Education, Health, Military Industrial Complex, and Finance.) I have to say that I now give these rankings little credence.

Hm. There are matters of definition here. Education is certainly a racket in which vast numbers of people are paid good salaries to do nothing at all useful.  That’s deplorable, but does it count as corruption?  I’ve worked in finance with the SEC looking over my shoulder. Corruption? Here and there, maybe, but not systemic.

My friend is closer to the truth with the fortunes amassed by so-called ”public servants” like the Clintons, Obamas, Bidens, and Pelosis. Not much of that is corruption in the Third World sense, though—paying money to a government official to make him look away as you do something illegal. A lot is just lawful donations in return for legislative efforts, plus book deals, lecture deals, foundation directorships, and the like.

I’ve lived in Third World countries; I’ve seen really brazen corruption, both high- and low-level. That’s not us… yet.


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