02:37 Confirmation theater. (Mediocrities interview a mediocrity.)
08:46 Halls of uselessness, cont. (It wasn't supposed to be this way.)
17:05 The Don't Touch My Hair Act. (Vitally important!)
21:16 Call a deer a horse. (Call a man a woman.)
27:46 Demography notes. (South Korea disappearing.)
32:50 Google's diversity paradox. (Crump's latest grievance lawsuit.)
34:52 Two beautiful English ladies. (Remembering our Mums.)
36:31 Taking the whiteness out of science ed. (Or is it a spoof?)
40:05 Doors or wheels? (Controversy rages.)
41:45 Signoff. (No place like home.)
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was a snippet of Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 played by organist Peter Gould on the fine old organ of Derby Cathedral. This is of course your cerebrally genial host John Derbyshire with VDARE.com's random selections for commentary from the week's news.
With regard to the war between Russia and Ukraine, I can think of nothing to say that I haven't already said.
It's a pretty good life rule that when you have nothing to say, you should say nothing, so I shall follow that rule; although if you listen carefully, the word "Ukraine" does show up later in the podcast in a different context.
Similarly with this week's great movie anniversary: the 50th anniversary of The Godfather. There is no lack of interest on my part here. I agree wholeheartedly with the general opinion that The Godfather was a very good movie indeed, a small masterpiece of American culture. After half a century, though, everything that can be said about it has been said. I have nothing to add.
(Movie-wise, someone just reminded me that later this year — October, I think — comes the sixtieth anniversary of the first James Bond movie. There have been a lot more Bond movies than Godfather movies, and I have a few months to prepare, so I shall try to think of something pithy to say about that … unless I forget.)
Enough of this inconsequential rambling. What's been going on? Confirmation theater, that's what.
02 — Confirmation theater. The Senate Judiciary Committee, as I'm sure you know, has been holding confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the president's nominee to replace retiring justice Stephen Breyer in October.
I can't say I've followed the hearings closely … or at all, really. My longstanding opinion, which I enlarged on here a few weeks ago, is that Supreme Court justices are not chosen for their wisdom or learning; they are chosen for political acceptability.
That favors mediocrities, and mediocrities is mostly what we get. Our political establishment does not want anyone with an interesting mind on the court. They made that most vividly plain in the case of Robert Bork.
So these Judiciary Committee hearings usually consist of mediocrities interrogating a mediocrity, with the result a foregone conclusion anyway — Republican senates voting to confirm Republican nominees, Democrats Democrats. Zzzzzzz.
From scattered things I'd read about Judge Jackson I figured her hearing would not be one of the exceptions, so I watched reruns of Two Broke Girls instead.
However, browsing my breakfast-time New York Post on Wednesday I did spot the episode where Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee asked Judge Jackson, quote: "Can you provide a definition for the word 'woman'?" End quote.
After some brief to-ing and fro-ing the judge replied, quote: "Not in this context. I'm not a biologist." End quote.
Judge Jackson came in for much mockery over that. My favorite among the mockers — I think everybody's favorite — was the British lady who fielded the same question by saying: "I'm not a vet, but I know what a dog is." Tucker Carlson tracked the lady down and gave her a spot on his show Thursday. Her name is Kellie-Jay Keen.
In all fairness to Judge Jackson, there's more to be said than that. She was asked for a definition, and that is indeed a matter of biology. Kellie-Jay Keen knows what a dog is, but can she actually provide a definition for the word "dog"?
One of my schoolmasters told us that the great 18th-century lexicographer Samuel Johnson, in his magisterial dictionary of the English language, defined "dog" as, quote: "a familiar quadruped." That is not actually true. The first folio edition of Johnson's Dictionary is online, and I checked. The first meaning under "dog" is, quote:
A domestick animal remarkably various in his species; comprising the mastiff, the spaniel, the buldog, the greyhound, the hound, the terrier, the cur, with many others.
With all proper respect to the learned Dr Johnson, I don't think that's even a definition in the strict sense, only a description. I guess I could pursue the matter by looking up Johnson's definitions of the words "definition" and "description" … but I've been down enough rabbit holes in my life and don't feel like going down another.
Digging around idly, taking care to avoid rabbit holes, I see that my schoolmaster had only misplaced his source by a few years. A lexicographer of the generation before Johnson, a chap named Nathaniel Bailey, actually did define the word "dog" as: "a quadruped well-known."
What was Dr Johnson's definition for the word "woman"? Here it is, quote:
The female of the human race.
If Dr Johnson had offered that definition to Senator Blackburn I suspect she'd have asked him to define "female." Knowing the good doctor's low level of tolerance for imbeciles with important titles, I'm pretty sure he would have stormed out of the hearing at that point, perhaps having first hurled a copy of his dictionary at Senator Blackburn's head.
Considered just as a human being, she seems pretty normal. She's been married to the same guy for 26 years — a white guy — and they have two kids. In the normality ranking that puts her out ahead of cat ladies Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. And so far as I can gather Judge Jackson's an ADOS, an American descendant of slaves, not an exotic black like Barack Obama or Kamala Harris.
So, points for normality. How about smarts?
Well, as mentioned in the previous segment, I don't expect smart nominees to the Supreme Court, although it occasionally happens by accident. Of the current court, Alito and Thomas strike me as decently smart; they got through the sieve somehow. People tell me that Elena Kagan, cats aside, is pretty intelligent; but never having read any of her opinions, I'll have to take that on faith. That's two or three out of nine, which is as good as it gets.
I doubt Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation will raise the court's mean IQ. Any black of course comes under suspicion as an affirmative-action hire; and as VDARE.com's own correspondent Federale wrote in a blistering piece on March 6th, Judge Jackson's score on the Law School Admissions Test is a closely-guarded national secret. So like Obama, this is a person who has been wafted up into the ruling class on warm thermals of race favoritism.
And as well as having benefited herself from race favoritism, there are signs she has been practicing it. Republican members of the Judiciary Committee have been making much of the very lenient sentences she's approved for defendants in child-pornography cases. Our own James Fulford went digging into one of these cases — the most-discussed one, in which Judge Jackson ignored the eight-to-ten-years federal sentencing guidelines and gave the guy three months instead. It turns out the defendant was black.
So what we have here is likely not Judge Jackson failing to take kiddie porn seriously, it's Judge Jackson showing partiality to black perps. Might Republican Committee members explore that aspect of the issue? … Hello? That's funny; they've all dived under their desks …
As Federale also points out, for a member of a profession that is supposed to take the utmost care with words, Judge Jackson doesn't. In a 2019 ruling on an immigration case she used the expression "undocumented non-citizens" in place of "illegal aliens." That isn't just clunky and euphemistic, it's inexcusably wrong. As Federale explains, quote:
The correct legal term for any person not a citizen or national of the United States is "alien," not "non-citizen," as there are persons who are nationals of the United States, but not citizens. Those persons, generally persons born or naturalized in American Samoa and the Swains Islands, are "non-citizens," but are nationals of the United States, have almost all the rights and privileges of citizens, but not all rights and privileges, yet are not aliens.
So you can be a United States national without being a United States citizen. I'll confess I did not know that.
You may think that for me, a commentator on an immigration-restrictionist website, not to know that fact is shameful, or disappointing, or perhaps pardonable. Wherever you stand on that, you have to admit that for a U.S. District Court judge not to know it, and to expose her ignorance for the world to see when writing her opinion on an immigration case, is outrageous. Judge Jackson compounded the offense by including, in the very same sentence, the precious little cant phrase "lived experiences."
And yes, of course she is a Cultural Marxist. No surprise there: To a good first approximation, all educated black Americans are Cultural Marxists.
So I don't expect anything good to come from Judge Jackson's confirmation, which will of course happen. The most I hope for is that we may perhaps get some discussion going about the degree to which we've allowed these kritarchs to take on so much power.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. Article III of the Constitution clearly gives Congress the last word on radical legislative changes. If the people want affirmative action, or same-sex marriage, or legalized abortion, let them instruct their representatives accordingly, and vote them out if they don't co-operate. It's not for judges to impose such things.
The problem is that Congress doesn't want to fulfill its responsibilities. It's as loth to restrain the Judiciary as it is to restrain the Executive. We are coming up to the 80th anniversary of Congress declaring war on Bulgaria — June 5th 1942. That was the last time Congress declared war on any nation, yet we seem to have fought a great many wars in the interim.
Last Friday, for example, the House of Representatives passed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act. This is one of those dumb acronyms: C-R-O-W-N-H spells "crown," see? Well, actually it doesn't, not with that "h" at the end there; but, as the "Duke" told the "King" in Huckleberry Finn, quote: "these country jakes won't ever think of that."
There are folks in this society who think because your hair is kinky, it is braided, it is in knots or it is not straightened blond and light brown, that you somehow are not worthy of access.
Apparently there was a case four years ago of a high school wrestler being forced to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his match. He was of course black. Referring to that case, Rep. Coleman gushed that, quote:
This bill is vitally important. It's important to the young girls and the young boys who have to cut their hair in the middle of a wrestling match in front of everyone because some white referee says that your hair is inappropriate to engage in your match.
"Vitally important" — so important it needs federal legislation.
Foreigners are pouring unchecked across our borders; our own tech workers are being laid off so their jobs can be given to cheaper guest workers from abroad; our big-city police forces have been stood down so that criminals can roam free; the annual inflation rate is heading for ten percent; we're begging for oil from the Russians, Iranians, and Arabs, having shut down our own production from plain spite; but banning discrimination based on hairstyle is vitally important.
All 221 Democrats present voted for this CROWNH Act, along with — wait for it — fourteen Republicans. It now goes to the Senate, who I am sure will give it their most earnest consideration and pass it, with support from the usual GOP suspects: Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, … President Biden has already said he'll sign it.
Several states and other jurisdictions — including New York City — have already banned hairstyle discrimination. Apparently that's not enough. Congress believes this issue needs national legislation. I await the call for a Constitutional amendment.
05 — Call a deer a horse. That issue about defining what is a woman has come to the fore recently because of this competition swimmer guy Lia Thomas pretending to be a girl so he can win medals.
Some of the consequences in this case have been positively Soviet. Here's a headline from Fox News, March 22nd, headline: Women's advocacy groups silent on transgender swimmer Lia Thomas' domination at NCAA championships.
Why are they silent? Why do you think? They're scared. They know that anyone who speaks up will suffer consequences. Other swimmers will of course lose their place on competition teams; but non-swimmers too will meet the wrath of the woke establishment. You could lose your Twitter account, your job, even your bank account. You could be branded for all time on the social-media databases as a hateful hater filled with hate.
As somewhat of a connoisseur in the matter of Chinese idioms and allusions, I know exactly where I am here. I told you all about it in my monthly diary for December 2020. Permit me to tell you again.
If you know anything at all about ancient Chinese history you know about Qín Shĭhuángdì, who founded a dynasty in 221 B.C. and called himself First Emperor — that's what "Shĭhuángdì" means.
This Emperor of course had a staff of senior officials to run the Empire; and these senior officials of course schemed among themselves for advantage.
The most ambitious of these schemers was a fellow — well, a eunuch — named Zhào Gāo. When the Emperor died, Zhào Gāo saw the chance to seize supreme power for himself. The succession should have gone to the Emperor's oldest son, whom the Emperor himself had favored; but there was bad blood between Zhào Gāo and this oldest son, so Zhào Gāo got rid of him by a trick and enthroned the Emperor's younger son as Second Emperor.
Second Emperor was none too bright, and that suited Zhào Gāo just fine. Maneuvering behind the scenes, he gathered up more and more power to himself, with Second Emperor as a mere figurehead, a puppet Emperor.
Zhào Gāo's ultimate ambition was to put himself on the Imperial throne, but he knew that some of the senior officials would oppose him. He therefore devised a stratagem.
Here comes the story. I'll give it to you straight from the Chinese historian who first recorded it. Story:
One day Zhào Gāo presented a deer to Second Emperor. Pointing to the deer, he said: "I offer Your Majesty this horse!"
Second Emperor laughed and said: "Is the Prime Minister joking with me? This is plainly a deer. How can you say it's a horse?"
Zhào Gāo replied earnestly: "Who would dare play a joke on His Majesty? It's clear this is a horse. If you don't believe it, ask the others."
Second Emperor thereupon asked the ministers present: "Is this actually a deer, or a horse?"
Those ministers who were trusted followers or toadies of Zhào Gāo all said it was a horse. Some others who feared Zhào Gāo's power and influence also said it was a horse. Of the few honest ministers, some were silent, but a few insisted that it was in fact a deer. Zhào Gāo inwardly noted the names of those honest ministers. Later he found a pretext to have them all killed.
This story is known as "Call a Deer a Horse." Ever since the story was recorded that phrase, "Call a deer a horse," has been used as an idiom, applicable when those in power make you assent to ridiculous falsehoods for fear of the consequences if you don't.
That's what political power can do, if you have enough of it. Two-oh-seven B.C.: "Call a deer a horse." A.D. 2022: "Call a man a woman."
Does anything ever change?
Working this beat a couple of podcasts ago I included the following about China.
Mrs Derbyshire, who is plugged in to Chinese social media, reports that a common lament from her old high school and college classmates is that their kids, now in their late twenties and early thirties, have no interest in starting families. "Shall I ever be a grandmother?" the classmates moan.
Well, here's confirmation of that. South China Morning Post — that's an English-language Hong Kong paper — March 20th, headline: Marriage on the rocks in China as women rethink their options and Covid-19 limits take toll. Sub-heading: "In 2021, the lowest number of couples tied the knot since records began in 1986."
Sample quote from a Chinese demographer:
In a Communist Youth League survey of unmarried urban residents aged 18 to 26 in October, 43.9 per cent of women respondents said they either had no intention of getting married or were unsure if it would happen. That was 19.3 percentage points higher than the unmarried male respondents.
Demographers predict that China is entering a period of negative population growth, nine years earlier than forecasts by the State Council's national population development plan.
Oh, here's another story, also from East Asia. Mercatornet.com, March 21st, headline: South Korea: the world's worst birth dearth. Sub-heading: "On their way to oblivion."
The story here is a new batch of statistics from the South Korean government demographers. Remember that for a stable population, neither increasing nor decreasing, and ignoring immigration and emigration, you need a Total Fertility Rate of 2.1 children per woman. South Korea's TFR for year 2021 was 0.81 That's quite sensationally low; and it marks South Korea's fourth straight year of less than 1.0 fertility.
Yep: On their way to oblivion.
I've done this before but it bears doing again. Here are the ten highest and ten lowest nations listed by Total Fertility Rate in the World Bank population review.
Ten highest: Niger, Somalia, Congo, Mali, Chad, Angola, Burundi, Nigeria, Gambia, Burkina Faso.
Ten lowest, from the lowest: South Korea, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Malta, Singapore, Macau, Ukraine, Spain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, San Marino.
I'm pretty sure Taiwan should be in there with the lowest; but probably the World Bank doesn't want to tick off the ChiComs by listing Taiwan separately.
Demography-wise the later 21st century is going to be … interesting. I'm sure the Nigerian, Somalian, and Congolese historians of the 22nd century will get many, many Ph.D. theses out of it.
Imprimis: There are no companies on Earth more woke than the big Silicon Valley software giants; and among them, none is more woke than Google. A whistleblower told Breitbart News in 2017 that senior leaders at Google, quote, "focus on diversity first and technology second," end quote.
A problem there is that in the work at the heart of these firms' business models — writing software — some races perform much better than others. East Asians do it best, with whites and South Asians considerably behind. Not many blacks can do it to a high standard.
So there's been a contradiction lurking there waiting to explode.
Well, it may have exploded. Breitbart reports, March 21st, that a black female employee is suing Google for engaging in "systemic racism" against her. The lady alleges inter alia that Google has, quote, "never, and I mean f***ing never," end quote, hired a student from a historically black college into a tech role.
She has hired master race-grievance attorney Benjamin Crump to represent her, so this should be a real circus show. Break out the popcorn!
I noted back in my diary for October 2018 that when I got my DNA results back from 23andMe, listed among my third-to-fifth cousins was John Brimelow, Peter Brimelow's twin brother.
Now this week here was Peter Brimelow posting a lovely picture of his mother on Twitter. The lady is no longer among us, but Tuesday, March 21st, was her birthday. She was born, Peter tells us, on March 21st 1921.
As it happens, this week was also my mother's birthday, although she too is no longer with us. My Mum was born March 22nd, 1912. She would have been 110 years old on Wednesday.
If those two beautiful English ladies still exist somewhere, in some shape or form, I hope they can get together and enjoy a merry chuckle over the fact that their two sons are now both American, and are both busy trying to do something positive for the U.S.A.
Item: One of the problems with exponents of Critical Race Theory and the associated field — or subfield, don't ask me — of Whiteness Studies is figuring out when they are actual human beings trying to tell you something they think is important, and when they are spoofers sending up the whole racket.
I was just looking at an article in a science journal that left me uncertain. Name of the journal: Physical Review Physics Education Research, published by the American Physical Society. So this is a journal for professionals in Physics Education.
Name of the article: Observing whiteness in introductory physics: A case study.
At the risk of triggering cerebral aneurisms in people who like physics and think it's interesting, I am going to read you the entire abstract of the article. You might want to sit down for this. Here we go. Quote:
Within whiteness, the organization of social life is in terms of a center and margins that are based on dominance, control, and a transcendent figure that is consistently and structurally ascribed value over and above other figures. In this paper, we synthesize literature from Critical Whiteness Studies and Critical Race Theory to articulate analytic markers for whiteness, and use the markers to identify and analyze whiteness as it shows up in an introductory physics classroom interaction. We name mechanisms that facilitate the reproduction of whiteness in this local context, including a particular representation of energy, physics values, whiteboards, gendered social norms, and the structure of schooling. In naming whiteness and offering a set of analytic markers, our aim is to provide instructors and researchers with a tool for identifying whiteness in their own contexts. Alongside our discussion, which imagines new possibilities for physics teaching and learning, we hope our work contributes to Critical Whiteness Studies' goal of dismantling whiteness.
Either that is some Babylon Bee employee in his lunch break having a little fun with the American Physical Society or the named authors, Amy D. Robertson and W. Tali Hairston need intensive interventions from trained psychiatrists.
Here is the latest controversy sundering lifelong friendships, setting brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor: Are there more doors in the world, or more wheels?
Some fellow on Twitter ran one of those online polls. Respondents split 46 percent for doors, 54 percent for wheels.
That inspired a user of TikTok (whatever that is) to work the math, based on what he said were reasonable assumptions. He came up with 145 billion doors to a mere 68 billion wheels — a clear victory for doors.
Team Wheels were outraged by that and fought back vigorously on TikTok, challenging the methodology of the Team Doors guy.
As Radio Derb goes to tape here the dispute still rages hot. I understand the United Nations has a team of peacekeepers at the ready in case open war breaks out. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
08 — Signoff. That's all I have, Ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and for your many kind words and contributions. The rule on incoming email remains: Everything non-abusive is read, pondered, and when suitable plagiarized.
I hope I may be excused a small personal note for this week's signoff. Along with the anniversaries afore-noted, this week marks the Derbyshires' 30th year in our house. We were brought out here from our previous habitation, a tiny apartment in New York City, in a van driven by a Chinese guy Mrs Derbyshire had hired. All our belonging were stuffed in the van, our mattress tied to the roof: March 22nd 1992.
We've been very happy here. We love our house; we love our neighbors … well, most of them; we love our neighborhood and our town; we have no desire to live anywhere else. We've raised two kids here and enjoyed the loving companionship of three dogs.
The house itself is not far from its centenary. It was built in 1927 by a Swedish fellow named Albert Petersen. First he built the stand-alone garage out back. Then he moved his family in there and lived there while he built the house. I've left some of his original wallpaper preserved in one corner of the garage. When we moved here thirty years ago some of the oldest neighbors remembered Albert. They called him "Poppy."
So thanks, Poppy, for the house we love. Thanks also to my clever wife who found it. She was the search committee while I toiled full-time in Manhattan. So much to be thankful for! Life is good.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Peggy Lee, "The Folks Who Live on the Hill."]