01m37s Jeffrey Epstein is brown bread. (I assume.)
06m34s Did race denialism kill Jeffrey Epstein? (Who was in charge?)
13m27s Knife crime and fried chicken. (It's not Cypriots anymore.)
22m32s Hong Kong v. China: an anecdote. (Inter-ethnic antipathies.)
29m20s The yield curve has inverted! (It's the economy, and we're all stupid.)
31m36s Fried chicken footnote. (A movie gem.)
32m56s News from Bavaria. (It's Fingerhakeln good!)
34m03s Signoff. (With a very American gal.)
I have reverted to Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 there. The snippet from No.1 that I opened with last week proved too disorienting for some listeners, reminding me that Radio Derb fans are deeply conservative in their tastes and need to be coaxed very gently towards any changes. With proper respect to the fan base, I shall henceforth proceed more cautiously.
The big news this week was of course the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Last month I was expounding on what a very mysterious fellow Mr Epstein was. Nobody seemed to know how he got so darn rich.
Well, now the mysterious fellow has died a mysterious death. Let's take a look at that.
02 — Jeffrey Epstein is brown bread (I assume). The Jeffrey Epstein story came to an end sometime in the small hours last Saturday morning, when Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Manhattan.
More precisely, Jeffrey Epstein himself came to an end; the story will run and run.
Assuming, that is, that Epstein is actually dead. Among the innumerable conspiracy theories, there is a subset telling us that Epstein is happily tucked away on a remote luxurious island somewhere having plastic surgery to change his face, while some poor hobo look-alike lies in the Manhattan morgue toe-tagged with Epstein's name.
It's hard to rule out anything in this case; but I'm going to assume in my commentary that the guy really is brown bread, and draw what deductions I can on that assumption.
The manner of death itself makes you wonder. Here's the account from Tuesday's New York Post, quote:
Jeffrey Epstein was found hanging in his lower Manhattan jail cell with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck and secured to the top of a bunk bed, The Post has learned.
The convicted pedophile, who was 6 feet tall, apparently killed himself by kneeling toward the floor and strangling himself with the makeshift noose, law enforcement sources said Monday. He hadn't been checked on for several hours, sources said.
Say what? I'm six feet tall. I don't have a bunk bed handy, but I can simulate one from the fixtures in my garage, and the geometry of the thing just doesn't work.
And that's leaving aside the fact that jailhouse bedsheets are not much stronger than tissue paper, precisely to prevent suicides, or the classic escape from upper-floor windows via tied-together bedsheets.
It's all very peculiar. I don't say that lightly. Temperamentally I am the coldest kind of empiricist, the last person you should come to with a conspiracy theory. I always default to the assumption that things are what they seem to be and I need a mighty lot of persuading to believe otherwise.
Pearl Harbor was an FDR plot? The CIA killed Kennedy? The moon landing was faked? Nine-eleven was a Mossad operation? Sorry, no sale.
Clever conspiracy theories in the Epstein case go double against my personal grain, in fact. Where the operations of government agencies, carried out by government employees, are concerned, I have another default: I default to the assumption that any surprising event is caused by stupidity and incompetence. This second default kicks in even more swiftly and firmly if the government in question is our federal government.
Which in this case it was. Epstein was in jail on federal charges, and the Metropolitan Correctional Center is a federal lock-up.
Is there evidence of incompetence? Is there ever! Epstein was on "special observation status." That required him to have a cellmate, but … he didn't have one. It also required checks on him every 30 minutes by two separate guards, but … the checks weren't made.
Yep, sounds like a gubmint operation.
Who was in charge at the Metropolitan Correctional Center when Jeffrey Epstein died, still assuming he actually did die? That's an interesting question all by itself.
The warden at the center, who has since been reassigned, bears the name Lamine N'Diaye. For a guy with such a responsible federal position, though, Mr N'Diaye is strangely invisible on the internet.
The name looked like a black name to me, but I went looking on Google Images for a picture to make sure. All I got was pictures of a famous soccer coach in Senegal, a West African nation. Same spelling exactly; but surely not the same guy. Weird coincidence? Who knows? Perhaps "Lamine N'Diaye" is the Senegalese equivalent of "John Smith."
Be that as it may, Mr N'Diaye has now been reassigned to the Bureau of Prisons Philadelphia office. If there have been any statements from him, or interviews with him, or news pictures of him, I have not been able to find them.
As temperamentally loth as I am to see hidden meanings and conspiracies lurking behind visible reality, I am still not totally convinced this guy exists.
To further confuse issues, the first reports from the jail following Epstein's death mistakenly gave the warden as being a lady named Shirley Skipper-Scott. Ms Skipper-Scott was in fact either the associate warden or acting warden, depending on which news story you read — there are more uncertainties in this case than there are in quantum mechanics. Like Mr N'Diaye, assuming he exists, Ms Skipper-Scott is black.
So if the answers to all the questions being asked are stupidity and incompetence, we may just be looking at the fruits of affirmative action.
Being warden of a federal lock-up requires a decent managerial skill-set. If you recruited for jobs like that on a strictly meritocratic basis, probably less than one percent of your hires would be black, because of the different distributions of cognitive and personality traits among blacks and nonblacks.
Following the late-20th-century panic over racial discrimination, that is unthinkable. If only one percent of managers were black, that would be taken by everyone — including the judiciary, all the way up to the innumerate nonentities on the U.S. Supreme Court — as evidence of malicious racial prejudice.
Unthinkable! Hey hey, ho ho, meritocracy's got to go!
All that applies with extra force where law enforcement and corrections are concerned. Let me explain the logic behind that.
If race differences in managerial ability are taboo, race differences in criminality are doubleplus taboo.
These differences are real and huge. They leap out at you from all the crime statistics — including not just arrest and conviction statistics, but crime victimization surveys where the police may not even be involved. Blacks commit crimes at multiples of the nonblack rate — in the case of some crimes, like robbery, double-digit multiples.
That's the biggest taboo of all. The guardians of our culture go to infinite pains to prevent us noticing those differences. So your local newspaper tells you that "the robber was described as a tall man in a red jacket."
To further distract you from noticing the huge race differentials in crime, the authorities crank up affirmative action to the max for senior law-enforcement positions. That's why so many big-city police chiefs are black, although again, on a strictly meritocratic basis, it would be one in a hundred.
It's therefore not surprising that the only two senior management names we've been given as being on-site and responsible at the Metropolitan Correctional Center when Jeffrey Epstein died are the names of blacks.
So on my default supposition of stupidity and incompetence adequately explaining most of what goes wrong in federal operations, among the numerous possible explanations for Jeffrey Epstein's demise, we have to include the possibility that Epstein was killed by affirmative action.
And since affirmative action is just the administrative-slash-judicial instantiation of race denialism, another way to say this is that Jeffrey Epstein may have been killed by race denialism.
The notion that race itself is a sort of optical illusion; that different races can, after a bit of social engineering, be brought to present the same statistical profiles on all traits; that when they present different profiles the only possible explanation is malice on the part of white people; these are the great dogmas of our age, carved on stone slabs and worshipfully preserved in the temples of our culture.
Here's a cute example from the Mother Country.
The background here is the epidemic of knife crime that has been plaguing Britain for several years past. Guns are hard to get in Britain (although not that hard), so the more commonplace types of lethal interpersonal violence — notably underclass gang warfare — are stabbings with knives.
This is quite a new thing. Yes, yes, I know about Jack the Ripper. Statistically, though — culturally — knife crime has not been a British thing. Growing up working-class British in the years before mass immigration, I absorbed the idea that fighting with knives was sneaky and unmanly.
Knife crime was practised only by lurking weaselly types from the outer fringes of the civilized world. Englishmen fought with their fists, Irishmen with the stout blackthorn, the Welsh and Scottish … I forget, but it wasn't knives.
In the mid-1960s, when I lived in London and got my first real encounters with multiculturalism, knife crime was associated with Cypriots.
I don't know why this was so and have never tried to check the historical statistics, but it was an article of faith with Londoners back then that it was wise not to tick off a Cypriot (which mainly, in this context at that time, meant a Greek Cypriot) unless you wanted to feel a blade sliding between your ribs.
The native British seem to have maintained their prejudice against knife fighting down to the present day, but black and Muslim immigrants have taken up knives with enthusiasm. A high proportion of the names of knife-crime perps are Muslim; and on the rare occasions the media offer a picture of a perp, it is much more often than not a black guy.
Britain's knife-crime epidemic is mainly a black and Muslim thing, one of the consequences of unrestrained mass Third World immigration.
To notice this is of course very strictly taboo. That's the background to this latest story from the Sceptered Isle. I'm reading it from the BBC website, August 15th. Headline: "Chicken takeaway boxes warn young people of knife crime danger."
What's happened is, the British government has a campaign going on to discourage young people from carrying knives. They're promoting this campaign via public-service announcements on Twitter with #KnifeFree.
Well, a company that provides packaging for fast-food outlets has signed up to help with this campaign. The nature of their help is, they have distributed boxes to fried chicken outlets — the boxes your take-out food comes packed in — carrying messages from the government campaign against knives.
Did you get that? To fried chicken outlets! Is that racist, or what?
It's racist! Don't take my word for it: here is an accredited authority, black Member of Parliament David Lammy, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Idi Amin of Uganda [Clip: the Idi Amin song] … sorry, sorry, that just lurched into my mind there. Where was I? Oh yes, David Lammy. Tweet from him, tweet:
Is this some kind of joke?! Why have you chosen chicken shops? What's next, #KnifeFree watermelons?
Since this news story comes from the sober, professional, magisterial BBC, you might think they'd offer some balancing numbers to prove that blacks are not especially prominent in the knife-crime statistics. I mean, you might think that … if you've been in a deep coma for the past thirty years.
To be perfectly fair, the BBC story is not totally numbers-free. Four hundred words into the story we do get this, quote:
Recent figures showed most perpetrators of knife crime were over the age of 18.
That little nugget of irrelevant information came with a link to a BBC story from last month, headline: "Ten charts on the rise of knife crime in England and Wales." None of the ten charts deals with race or ethnicity; but the accompanying text between Chart Four and Chart Five does let slip the following factlet, quote:
The figures also show 25 percent of victims were black — the highest proportion since data was first collected in 1997.
Since only three percent of Britain's population is black, that's a massive over-representation — a multiple of more than eight.
Ah, but those are victims, you see — probably innocent black bodies, very likely carrying bags of Skittles, stabbed by hate-filled white supremacists filled with hateful hate. That must be it.
05 — Hong Kong v. China: an anecdote. Because I've lived in Hong Kong, and written about the place with some feeling, I've been getting a lot of requests to comment on the protests and demonstrations there this past few weeks.
I'm holding back because, in the first place, my knowledge of Hong Kong is decades out of date and I haven't kept up with the situation there; and in the second place, I'll be spending most of September in mainland China among Chinese relatives and old friends, so I'll be able to take the temperature of the situation much better than I can at a distance.
In lieu of any real commentary until then, I'll just post a little sample, an anecdote that's stuck in my mind from a brief visit we made to Hong Kong three years ago.
My point here is to illustrate a relevant fact: the fact that, speaking in all generality, Hong Kongers don't like mainlanders, and this dislike is fully reciprocated — mainlanders, in the broad generality, don't much like Hong Kongers, either.
OK, here's my anecdote. On that visit three years ago we met up with an old friend from Northeast China — Manchuria, my wife's home region. I'll call this friend Wu Ming, which is nothing like his actual name. Wu Ming is not just a real mainlander, he's a real Northeasterner — blunt, opinionated, combative, and plain-spoken.
So we're in Hong Kong meeting with this Manchurian pal Wu Ming, going somewhere — I forget where — that requires us hailing a cab. So we hail a cab. Cab pulls over, the Mrs and I get in the back, Wu Ming gets in the front.
The cabbie addresses Wu Ming in Cantonese: Heui bin-douh a? — "Where are you going?" This would be totally different in Mandarin: something like, ni yao dao na-li qu? or just a brusque na-er qu? or dao na-er? Here's the Cantonese once again: Heui bin-douh a? Sometimes Cantonese and Mandarin just don't sound anything like.
Our friend Wu Ming just squinted back at the cabbie uncomprehendingly. "What?" he said in English, for our benefit. "What, what?"
Sitting in the back seat there, I laughed and put it into Mandarin for him.
The joke here is that Wu Ming had been living in Hong Kong for four years at that point. He'd been living there four years, and hadn't bothered to pick up the most elementary bit of Cantonese, a phrase that he must have heard hundreds of times.
Or just as likely he actually had understood the cabbie's question, but wanted to flaunt his superiority, as a mainlander, to this uncouth local dialect, by affecting not to have understood it.
The obverse — the other side of this little coin — is all the complaining and eye-rolling you get from native Hong Kongers about how mainlanders are rude and pushy, talk too loud, spit too much, and let their kids crap in the street.
That's my anecdote. I leave it there for the record, with a caution not to make too much of it in a wider international context.
When there is no existential threat from outside the ethny, and even the memory of past such threats has faded, what Freud called the narcissism of minor differences kicks in, and people direct their antipathies towards their own co-ethnics. But in the case of the Chinese, these regional antipathies are in tension with a deep underlying racial solidarity.
I recall conversations with Hong Kong friends in the years before the British handed the place back to China. A very common topic of conversation was, naturally, speculation about how things would go after the handover.
At some point one of the Hong Kongers — usually one of the younger ones — would say: "Oh, we'll work things out. We're all Chinese, aren't we?" And everybody would nod agreement, or at worst just shrug in resignation.
That's my Hong Kong contribution. I'll have more to say when I get back from China at the end of September.
(If you want to read some further insights into the Hong Kong-China situation, I refer you to the excellent blog called The Scholar's Stage, to a longish August 14th posting there under the headline "Chinese Are Partisan Too." The author, whose name I don't know, got my attention right away by opening with a quote from an excellent book titled The Enigma of Reason, which I myself had things to say about when it came out two years ago.)
I used to know what this meant. Hell, I got paid for knowing: I worked fifteen years for a Wall Street bond brokerage. Now, another twenty years further on, my poor addled brain can just barely dredge up the basics, and that's a struggle.
Wait a minute; I can do this. … … Yeah, it's coming back to me. … Stocks, dividends: bonds, coupons. Is that right? I think that's right.
Wait, there's more. … … Interest rates go up, bond prices go down. And vice versa! Hey, it's all coming back! Maybe I can still get work on the Street and not have to read the damn stupid political news any more.
All that's by way of saying that I'm not going to attempt any long and deep commentary on the economic prospects. Even when my memories were fresher than they are now, I generally got things wrong. Check out the Radio Derb transcripts from eight or nine years ago, when I talked about the economy a lot. I was confidently predicting a fiscal catastrophe around the middle of this decade. It didn't happen.
And, shucking off false modesty, I'm going to declare that nobody else in the economic-prediction game has a batting average much better than mine. A national economy — not to mention an inter-national economy — is a complicated machine, with millions of moving parts.
Shall we be in recession this time next year? I don't know. Nor, I am pretty sure, does anyone else.
Item: This item really belongs with the fried chicken segment, but a VDARE colleague who works with me on the podcast just brought it to my attention when that segment was already nailed down, so I'm including it here as an afterthought, just because it's too good to leave out.
The reference — for which by the way my colleague and I are both indebted to the indispensable Steve Sailer — the reference is to the 2005 movie Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. Rob Schneider, who is, duh, white plays the title character; Eddie Griffin, who is black, plays his buddy T.J. Hicks. T.J.'s on the run in Amsterdam; Deuce finds him in a chicken-and-waffles joint.
Deuce: T.J., Thank God you're here.
T.J.: How d'you find me?
Deuce: It's the only chicken and waffles place in all of Holland.
T.J.: So a black man's gotta be at a chicken and waffles place. That's racist!
Deuce: But you are here.
T.J.: Yeah, but figuring it out is racist.]
Item: Finally, for those listeners who share with me a vague suspicion that Germans are actually a race of space aliens, I refer you to the 2019 finger-wrestling championship finals, being played this week in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria.
I was hoping to be able to bring you the name of this year's Grand Champion, but it seems not to have been announced as we go to tape here. There have, though, been some video clips posted. I venture to say that the clips I have seen do nothing to diminish the aforementioned suspicion.
(The best clips are from German-language sources. Into your Google search box you need to enter the German word for "finger-wrestling," which is of course Fingerhakeln.)
07 — Signoff. That's it, listeners. Thank you for your time and attention; and as always thanks for the emails, with apologies for being unable to answer them all. Everything gets read and plagiarized.
This week's signoff music comes with a story. The story has two hinges.
First hinge: My Mum was a hospital nurse, so I grew up listening to her and her nurse friends talking nurse talk. I thus got imprinted at a very early age with an affinity for nurses, and indeed for medical people in general. I like their calm, unsentimental approach to birth, death, and all the stuff that happens to our physical substance in between, and their matter-of-fact attitude to the human body and all its astonishing functions.
Second hinge: In the early 1960s when I was a teenager there was a show on TV, an American show, titled The Roaring Twenties, starring a lady named Dorothy Provine. Ms Provine was what English people at the time called "very American": pretty, perky, and sassy. I in fact thought she was beautiful, and developed quite a crush on her, although she never answered any of my letters.
Dorothy Provine retired from showbiz in her thirties and lived a quiet, unblemished private life until she died in 2010. So far as I can gather from scattered notices on the internet, she seems to have been a classy American lady.
Those are the hinges. Here's the story.
A few days ago I went to the local hospital as an outpatient for a minor surgical procedure. So there I was wearing one of those gowns open down the back, lying on a gurney with curtains all round, being attended by four or five friendly and professional young female nurses, every one of them nontrivially attractive. So it seemed to me, anyway. We should probably make allowance for the fact of my being under mild sedation.
Well, I engaged in some light banter with these angels. One of them, it turned out, had the unusual name Hannah. Deep in my semi-sedated cerebral cortex there lit up some neurons that had been dormant since the John F. Kennedy administration. I heard the voice of, yes, Dorothy Provine singing the old 1920s song "Hard-Hearted Hannah."
I sang a few bars from memory for the nurses. I got the impression that Nurse Hannah herself was not altogether pleased; but the sedation was really kicking in at this point, so I can't be sure. It was a big success with the other nurses, anyway. Thank you, ladies; and Heaven bless all nurses everywhere!
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Here's Dorothy Provine.
[Music clip: Dorothy Provine, "Hard-Hearted Hannah."]