01m28s — The torch has been passed. (But geezers still have a role.)
05m07s — The world comes to AmRen. (Poetry and prose from three continents.)
11m46s — So long, farewell, political center. (Tree-huggers vs. nationalists.)
18m26s — That's what separate countries are for. (Culturism the new racism?)
27m37s — The Trumpening. (Hillary runs out the clock.)
33m37s — Keep hate alive! (A Roots for our time.)
43m57s — Why blacks don't hike. (It's dendrophobia.)
46m25s — A problem posing as a solution. (But more immigration will fix it!)
48m03s — What's my name? (Do your best.)
50m27s — Sneer not lest ye be sneered. (But do economists know finance?)
52m15s — Signoff. (Summer is icumen in.)
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your delinquently genial host John Derbyshire, back at the home studio in Long Island after last weekend's sortie into Middle Tennessee for the American Renaissance conference.
Concerning which, I must apologize for my delinquency. I posted a brief pre-conference podcast on Friday the 20th, with the stated intention to add a post-conference summary on Monday the 23rd. However, arriving home on Monday evening after 960 miles on the road, I was too pooped to podcast. The hungry sheep looked up and were not fed, for which I offer abject apologies.
Let me therefore start off this week's Radio Derb with some retrospective notes on the conference.
02 — The torch has been passed. The American Renaissance conference was a great success, fizzing with energy and optimism. This is the fourth conference I've attended, and far and away the most memorable.For one thing, there were the sheer numbers of people attending — a seventy percent increase over last year. The venue was Montgomery Bell State Park in Tennessee. The park itself is lovely; and in the middle of it there's a conference center, with meeting rooms, a restaurant, and 120 guest rooms plus several cabins.
Those accommodations were nothing like enough for the number of attendees, and people who registered late for the conference had to stay in motels outside the park. I told Jared Taylor if his numbers go on increasing like this, five years from now he'll have to rent Yankee Stadium.
And then there was the number of young people attending. At events like this you get the regulars, who show up every year, and you get some new faces. The new faces this year in Tennessee looked to me to have a median age around thirty.
Yes, listeners: [JFK impersonation] The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.
To us of the older cohort of Alt Right subversives, that happy thought comes with a small dark shadow attached. As younger Americans flock to the cause, we geezers have to move to the back of the wagon and let them take the reins.
But then that reflection itself comes with a counter-reflection. It's the energy and vitality of youth that drives events forwards; but as well as being exuberant and ingenious, youth is often reckless and silly. It needs tempering with some quiet words of sense and moderation from the elders of the tribe — not too much tempering, but a little, at key junctures. Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait. So the world turns.
One good thing about being part of a conservative insurgency is that the younger insurgents are respectful of the tribal elders. Jared Taylor, the onlie begetter of American Renaissance, who's been doggedly plowing the white-advocacy furrow for a quarter of a century now in the teeth of all kinds of difficulties and obstacles, was received as a hero by the conference attendees last weekend, with a long standing ovation for his Saturday afternoon speech.
Likewise Sam Dickson, who traditionally gives that last address of the conference on Sunday morning. Thanks to both of them, and to Jared's staff, for making it all happen.
03 — The world comes to AmRen. The other striking feature of this year's AmRen conference — other than its youthfulness, I mean — was its international flavor.There were ten speakers. Subtracting out Jared's address and Sam Dickson's traditional benediction, the other eight broke out by nationality as: a Mexican, a South African, an Estonian, two Belgians, and three Americans.
Yes, you heard that right: We had a Mexican speaker, Fernando Cortés, a Mexican nationalist. Mexicans, he told us, like most people everywhere, would rather stay in their own country, in a familiar place with a familiar culture; but the crooks in charge of Mexico run the place for their own enrichment, using emigration to the U.S.A. as a safety valve so that discontented poor Mexicans don't become too much of a menace to them. Our own elites are happy to help them keep the racket going.
Those crooks have so messed up the Mexican economy, Mr Cortés told us, that the country is now a net importer of beans. That sounds to me like a real crisis.
Whatever you think of his main thesis, Mr Cortés is surely right that Mexico and the U.S.A. are stuck with each other as neighbors. The best way to manage that relationship is the same way we cope with the family in the house next door: with good manners and consideration, respect for each other's privacy and property, mutual help in emergencies, and good stout fences.
Both of the speakers from Belgium were elected politicians: Filip Dewinter, a member of the European Parliament, and Anke Van dermeersch, a member of Belgium's senate.
At present, even with the upsurge in interest and enthusiasm already noted, Jared Taylor can still only dream of getting elected American politicians to speak at his conference. In Europe, though, the great conflict of our age, the conflict between nationalism and globalism, is much more acute.
It's especially acute in Belgium. For one thing there are two nationalities in Belgium: Dutch speakers and French speakers, in a 60-40 ratio, with Dutch speakers mostly in the north and French speakers in the south. It would make sense for the place to be administered as two separate countries. The Dutch speakers are keenest on this. They have a political party, Vlaams Belang, to which both of the AmRen speakers belang … sorry, belong.
For another thing, Belgium has been afflicted with massive Muslim immigration. The capital city, Brussels, in one-quarter Muslim. We saw the consequences in the airport and subway attacks of March 22nd, when Muslim terrorists killed 32 people in Brussels.
Belgium is thus the cockpit of the struggle for national identity in Europe, and it wasn't surprising to see two speakers from that small country addressing the conference.
The South African speaker, Dan Roodt, is of course an Afrikaner. The language of the Afrikaners is Afrikaans, closely related to Dutch, and so only a bit less closely to English. You can sort of make sense of Afrikaans when you see it on the page. Mr Roodt told us about a book written by a colleague of his with the title Afrikaners zijn kanaries in de kolenmijn which translates as, yes, "Afrikaners are canaries in the coalmine."
You might think that white South Africa is a lost cause. Mr Roodt allowed that indeed, it may be the first European nation to go extinct. On the other hand, he offered some alternative possibilities. The place might fall apart, giving white South Africans the chance to carve out some territories of their own. Or, rather surprisingly, Mr Roodt said that South Africa may end up being dominated by China or India.
The Estonian guy, Ruuben Kaalep, was the youngest speaker ever to address an AmRen conference; just 22 years old. He spoke in the high diction of romantic nationalism — mystic chords of memory and so on; but there was some prose in among the poetry. Sample, quote: "You can only have tolerance and friendly relations when you have homelands," end quote.
Well, AmRen will put all their conference proceedings up on the internet, though it takes a while, and I leave you to explore them for yourselves. It was a great weekend, and we all enjoyed ourselves.
If you're interested in National Question issues and can spare a weekend next Spring, sign up for the American Renaissance conference. I'll see you there.
04 — So long, farewell, political center. Staying on that European theme for a while, there have been some developments over there worth noting.The most newsworthy one was in Austria, where there's a presidential election every six years, on a straight popular vote.
They just had that election. The winner was a chap named Alexander Van der Bellen, who ran as an independent. That was surprising enough in itself, as political power in Austria tends to belong to one or other of the two biggest parties, one center-right and one center-left.
In this presidential election, both of those parties were eliminated in the first round of voting a month ago. The center-left placed fourth, the center-right placed fifth. The two leading candidates went to a run-off election, and that's the one we had last week.
The winner, and so the new president, ran as an independent; but in practice he's a left-liberal environmentalist. Austria's a very pretty country — think mountains, lakes, edelweiss, lederhosen, and so on. Naturally environmentalism is strong there.
As I said, it's surprising enough by itself for an independent to win the presidency. What's even more surprising is that Mr Van der Bellen won by just a whisker over his runoff opponent, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party. The actual size of the whisker was 0.7 percent, or about one vote out of 150.
The Freedom Party is the one you see tagged with the epithet "far right" in the mainstream media. Since they just got 49.7 percent of the popular vote against Mr Van der Bellen's 50.3 percent, it seems a bit odd to call them "far" anything. There were seventeen American presidential elections in which the winning candidate got less of the popular vote than did Mr Hofer. The list includes, for example, Harry Truman in 1948, Bill Clinton in both '92 and '96, Woodrow Wilson in both 1912 and 1916, and of course Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Do those presidents get an epithet beginning with the word "far"? If not, why not?
Mr Hofer's Freedom Party gets called "far right" because they're national conservatives who want to stop the Third World invasion of their country. The left of course will tell you that, no, it's because among their supporters are fans of the 20th century's most famous Austrian — and I'm not talking about Maria von Trapp.
I'm sure they're right. I have worked in politics at the ground level, attending constituency meetings for my local chapter of the Conservative Party back in the Margaret Thatcher years. Let me tell you, in case you don't know: Politics at the base level attracts a fair number of lunatics.
Most people, however, even most constituency activists, are not lunatics. Should Austria's Freedom Party win the next parliamentary election two years from now, Austria will not invade Poland or start erecting gas chambers. Trust me on this.
Austria of course, with no offense to anyone, is not a very important place. What happened there this election, though, is happening all over. The center left and center right are losing market share. They're losing to, on the one hand, tree-hugging anti-capitalists like Mr Van der Bellen and Bernie Sanders — another politician from a small, pretty, mountainous place — and on the other hand to secure-borders nationalists like Mr Hofer and Donald Trump.
The pattern is unmistakable. Manual workers in Austria went 86 percent for Mr Hofer; he only got 40 percent of white-collar workers. Over to the U.S.A., where analyst Thomas Edsall reported in the New York Times on Wednesday that Mrs Clinton's support among white men without college degrees is at fourteen percent.
That is a simply sensational figure. This is the Democratic Party, remember — the lunch-pail party, the party of the little guy. White men without college degrees, fourteen percent for the party's presumptive nominee. That's pretty much a lunatic fringe. Fourteen percent.
I note in passing, by the way, that Edsall's column I just quoted bears the title: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Trump? Looks like Edsall has Austria on his mind, too.
05 — That's what separate countries are for. Here are a couple of footnotes to that last segment.The first footnote concerns Slovakia. That's the eastern bit of what we Cold War survivors recall as Czechoslovakia. Before it was Czechoslovakia it belonged to the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary, so we're hanging on by our fingernails to the Austrian theme here.
Radio Derb devotees will recall us covering Slovakia back in February as one of the Visegrad Four nations: Poland, Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia, all of them robustly nationalist. I swooned over Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico saying back then that, quote:
We will never make a voluntary decision that would lead to the formation of a unified Muslim community in Slovakia … Multi-culturalism is a fiction.End quote. I mentioned that Slovakia had an election coming up in March. They duly had it. Mr Fico is still Prime Minister, though now as head of a four-party coalition.
He's still nationalist, too. Thursday this week, in an interview with a local newswire service, the Prime Minister said, quote: "It may look strange but sorry … Islam has no place in Slovakia," end quote. The European Union is trying to force quotas of so-called "asylum seekers" on all the countries of Europe. Prime Minister Fico is firmly against those quotas.
Again, it's a small and inconsequential country, but it's giving a big lesson. Mr Fico's party actually is center left. It's a social democratic party. He himself was once a Communist Party member. So here's an alternative for the center left and center right: Instead of watching your working-class support drain away to nationalists, steal some of the nationalists' clothes.
Slovakia actually does have a strongly nationalist party: Marian Kotleba's People's Party. In those March elections they got eight percent of the vote, up from less than two percent last time around. Thay now have seats in parliament for the first time ever.
That's why center-left Prime Minister Fico is stealing their nationalist clothes. It's roughly like Hillary Clinton calling for strict enforcement of our immigration laws, if you can imagine that. Message to the centrist parties on nationalism: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Second footnote: Northward to Germany, a much more consequential country. The new party on the block here is Alternative for Germany, AfD for short. AfD is a national conservative party, and they are racking up double-digit percentages in local elections.
Earlier this month the AfD, at its annual conference, inserted the sentence "Islam does not belong to Germany" into its official policy platform. That of course got the globalists gasping and sputtering.
Here for example is German pundit Anna Sauerbrey, sputtering in English for the New York Times, May 26th. Sample quotes:
[AfD] refers to German culture as the "einheimische Kultur" — native culture — and describes the German nation as "a cultural unit" under threat from immigrant cultures. Its program for the state election in Baden-Württemberg in March stated: "Germany's cultural foundation is being smashed by immigration." …End quotes. See how far the left has traveled here? Time was they would scream and sputter at you for saying that some races are better than others. "It's nothing to do with biology," they'd shriek, "it's just culture!" Now they scream and sputter if you say that some cultures are better than others.
It follows, at least for the new German right, that cultures can be compared and ranked — some are worth preserving, while others are invasive and inferior. German culture is under constant risk of losing its purity, and its defense is a core role of the state. It is a thinly veiled update of the old racist ideologies: culturism as the new racism.
What people like Ms Sauerbrey seem unable to grasp is that it is possible — in fact it's rather common — to be against mass immigration without holding any opinion at all about whether one culture is better or worse than another.
I for example am fine with Islam. If people want to be Muslims, that's absolutely OK with me. I don't mind a bit. Jolly good luck to them. There are fifty-odd majority-Muslim nations where they can live out their lives in Islamic culture. Far as I'm concerned, they're welcome to do so. I wish them joy.
We have a saying here on the Alt Right. You might want to write it down, so I'll pause while you get a pencil and a piece of paper … OK, ready? Here's our saying: That's what separate countries are for.
If you want to be a Muslim, or a Zoroastrian, or an anarcho-syndicalist, or a blood-drinking head-hunter — go ahead. I wouldn't dream of trying to interfere. Just please stay in your own countries and be those things. Leave me in my country to enjoy the culture I grew up in and am familiar with: Modern, Western, not-very-religious, sexually egalitarian, easy-going, English-speaking social-democratic culture.
Is my culture better than yours? Pass. Is Islam a stupid, cruel, and wrong-headed religion? No idea. Does Sharia law entail a shackling, an enslavement of the human spirit? Beats my pair of jacks. Just, please, leave me the heck alone with the culture I know and am happy in; and I'll return the favor.
And just one footnote to the footnotes there. I used the phrase "asylum seekers" a few minutes ago. That young Estonian fellow at the AmRen conference suggested that a more accurate descriptor would be "fortune seekers," since that's what most of them are. I second the suggestion.
06 — The Trumpening. Hero of the week: John Trandem, who owns a small automobile business near Fargo, North Dakota.Mr Trandem is a Republican Party activist and one of the 28 delegates North Dakota will be sending to the GOP nominating convention in July. North Dakota doesn't have a primary or caucuses, but it does of course have delegates, who are officially not bound to any particular candidate unless they publicly declare themselves to be. Well, on Thursday Mr Trandem declared his support for Donald Trump. That made him Trump's 1,237th committed delegate, sealing the deal on Trump's nomination.
The Donald thanked North Dakota's delegates at a press conference in Bismarck — a town named for another famous person of German extraction.
At the same event, Trump agreed to debate Bernie Sanders prior to the June 7th California primary, if a big enough venue could be found at such short notice, and a TV outlet willing to donate the broadcast revenues to charity.
That, if it comes off, will be, as they say, great television. In fact Mr Trump did say that, quote: "We would have such high ratings," end quote.
They sure would. I'll watch that debate for sure, if it comes off. Can you imagine? — Old Bernie croaking "Get off the lawn!" while Trump demands to know the size of his package.
There are of course some crabbed spirits who disapprove. "This would be a complete circus," honked Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. He further honked, quote: "To me, it shows more than anything else that American politics has become entertainment."
For goodness' sake. When was Anglo-Saxon politics not entertainment? Read the election chapter in Pickwick Papers. In case you don't know the text, the name of the parliamentary constituency being fought over is Eatanswill.
Jay Leno said that politics is, quote, "show business for ugly people." Donald Trump is actually not an ugly person; but the "show business" part of Leno's aphorism still applies. Concerning the projected debate, Trump said, quote, "We could have a lot of fun." That's a big part of the Trump appeal right there. The guy's obviously enjoying himself.
Different Americans want different things from their politicians; but not many of us want to be lectured at by humorless scolds and prune-faced schoolmarms.
That brings us to Mrs Clinton. I'm getting close — as close as I shall ever get, I do believe — to feeling sorry for Hillary. She's a simply terrible campaigner. Trump is just so much better.
Peggy Noonan nicely captured Hillary's charmlessness the other week, writing that the Trump show is, quote from Peggy, quote: "better than Hillary's grim and horrifying attempts to chuckle like a person who chuckles," end quote. Great line, Peggy!
When Trump announced his willingness to debate Bernie Sanders, the sound of Hillary's teeth grinding could be heard coast to coast. Trump is his party's nominee; Hillary's her party's nominee; shouldn't he be debating her? Well, it was Bernie, not Hillary, who challenged Trump to debate; and Hillary seems to have backed out from debating Bernie. Great strategizing, Hillary.
Hillary's reticence is even dumber than it looks, as she's polling way ahead of Trump in California — fifty percent to forty. Bernie polls even better than she does: 53 percent to Trump's 36.
So not only does the lady have nothing to lose here, she has something to win. It can only be that Mrs Clinton knows what a lousy candidate she is, figures she'll get the nomination anyway on support from minorities and public-sector unions, and intends to just run out the clock.
Regardless, that Democratic honker got it right: This is great entertainment. I can't remember when I've enjoyed politics so much.
07 — Keep hate alive! The national appetite for stories — books and movies — about white people being beastly to black people is apparently insatiable.A blockbuster of this genre was the novel and TV movie Roots, back in the 1970s. The book, written by professional black guy Alex Haley, was published in 1976; the TV show aired in 1977.
There was great enthusiasm at the time about both book and mini-series. I'll confess, I was caught up in that enthusiasm. I hadn't been in the U.S.A. very long; I hadn't shaken off my youthful naïvety about race; and look, it was 1977 — forty years closer to Jim Crow than we are today.
All right, I'm making excuses. Confession is good for the soul, though. I fell for the whole thing, including the flapdoodle about it being the result of Haley's researches into his family history. In fact he made most of it up out of whole cloth.
Now, forty years on, you'd think that the vein of white guilt had been thoroughly worked out. Well, here's a bunch of people betting it hasn't. A&E Networks, a media conglomerate that owns a bunch of TV and cable channels, has spent $50 million on a remake of Roots. Not just a straight remake, either: Hollywood Reporter tells us that it is, quote, "a more violent and more accurate remake."
I'm certainly willing to believe it's more violent, given how TV standards have loosened up since 1977, but I'm not sure what "more accurate" means. It can't mean historically accurate, since the thing was fiction anyway. Perhaps it means closer to the book; in which case the right adjective would be "faithful." This is Hollywood Reporter, though, so I guess we shouldn't ask for literacy.
Hollywood Reporter was reporting on a day-long event at the White House for the cast and producers of the eight-hour epic. The event included a screening — surely not of all eight hours? it's not clear — and a panel discussion. This whole thing was hosted by Valerie Jarrett, "President Obama's closest adviser" and a leading light (if you'll pardon the pun) of America's Mulatto Elite.
This was ahead of the movie being aired on Memorial Day simultaneously on the History Channel, Lifetime and A&E. Along with these all-day airings, the show will also be transmitted to smartphones everywhere, shown as a feature in America's seventeen remaining cinemas, made compulsory viewing in all the nation's schools and colleges, and projected onto the surface of the Moon.
OK, I made some of that up; but media-wise, this is a very big deal.
LeVar Burton starred in the original TV mini-series back in 1977 as the young Kunta Kinte, a West African lad who was living an idyllic life in his peaceful village, among nurturing women, dignified hunters, and wise elders, when he was kidnapped by coarse, brutish white men and taken to British North America as a slave.
Let me repeat, please: I am really ashamed I fell for this stuff. Eighteenth-century white slavers didn't venture further into West Africa than they had to because (a) they were terrified of the diseases, and (b) they didn't need to, Africans being only too willing to sell their own people for a bag of glass beads. Why wouldn't they be? Slavery was the norm in Africa.
In parts of Africa, it still is. A 2012 report from CNN says that ten to twenty percent of the population of Mauretania lives in slavery. I wonder if that got a White House screening? My guess would be, not. And perhaps this, quote "more accurate" remake of Roots shows the true state of affairs in 18th-century West Africa. Again, I'm guessing not.
But really, why a remake? One reason seems to be that the white people in the original weren't evil enough. Quote from Hollywood Reporter, quote:
The original Roots has its deficiencies. It hasn't aged well at all … At times, it's … overly sentimental and historically dubious. A handful of white characters diverge seriously from Haley's novel, most conspicuously a benevolent slave-ship captain played by Ed Asner. And the white actors … though their roles were peripheral, were prominent in the network promos.A benevolent slave-ship captain! White actors prominent! Plainly that 1977 original was hijacked by white supremacists!
Hollywood Reporter quotes black guy Thomas Carter, one of the movie's four, count 'em four, directors, quote:
Many black people don't know the details of some of this history because we don't teach it in general. We know that there was slavery, but the particulars of the brutality of American slavery — the destruction of family, the dehumanization, things that have continued to affect us — we just don't even talk about it.Excuse me: You don't talk about it? My rather strong impression is, you talk about little else.
It's possible you were talking about the Peloponnesian War, or cytoplasmic determinants, or the heat death of the universe, or Fermat's Last Theorem when I wasn't paying attention; but all I ever hear black showbiz types talk about is what a rotten deal it is to be black in America and how cruel and racist white people are.
Hollywood Reporter goes on to tell us that, quote:
That is beginning to change; social media, the exposure of police brutality … overwhelmingly lopsided incarceration rates among minorities, and the willingness of Hollywood to embark on projects like Roots is advancing the racial justice dialogue.End quote. Ah, that dialogue! When you hear that phrase "racial justice dialogue," you know the shakedown artists can't be far behind. Sure enough, here comes the Reverend Dr Al Sharpton, Jr, the IIIrd, Esquire, or however the hell the old charlatan styles himself nowadays. Quote:
"I will be talking it up," says Sharpton. "If we can create the conversation, [Roots] will not only get a wide viewership, it will evolve the discussions about race — hopefully, from yelling at each other to really talking about the pain and what we're going to do in the post-Obama era."End quote. Well, here's a suggestion for something you might do, Reverend Dr Al: You might pay your taxes, like an honest citizen.
It can't be just me, can it? Please tell me it's not just me that wants to take to the hills, with camping gear and a year's supply of food, ammo, and reading matter, any time I hear someone talk about "advancing the racial justice dialogue" or "evolving the discussions about race." It's not just me, is it?
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.Imprimis: Just a shout-out here to one of the best bloggers in the business, Daniel Greenfield. He runs a blog named Sultan Knish. That's a damn stupid name, if anyone wants my opinion, but nothing else about the blog is stupid.
May 16th Greenfield ran a post about Mickey Fearn, the affirmative-action hire in charge of Communications and Community Assistance for the National Park Service. Mr Fearn has figured out why black people don't patronize our national parks much. It's the trees.
Blacks, you see, associate trees with slaves being lynched by their masters. That's Mr Fearn's theory. Or not precisely his: as Greenfield shows, there's a whole mob of academics, celebrities, judges and activists pushing this stuff.
Never mind that no rational slaveowner would destroy an item of valuable property without a very good reason; and never mind that the Tuskegee Institute logged four years in which more whites were lynched than blacks. Never mind any of that: there are jobs and money at stake here! Ask Rev'm Al.
Someone in that activist mob has further claimed that national parks alienate Latinos too, because Park Ranger uniforms look too much like the Border Patrol.
I think the activists are missing a couple of tricks here. Chinese-Americans don't go to national parks because the shapes of the hills remind them of coolie hats. Homosexuals don't go into the woods because it would remind them of the butt-rape scene in Deliverance. Transgender people … oh, give me time, I'll come up with something.
Item: In another excellent column last Sunday, Greenfield took on the narrative, which you hear a lot now, that moderate Muslims are, to quote Barack Obama, "our most important partners in the fight against violent extremism," and that restricting Muslim immigration would turn all our moderate Muslims into extremists. Over to Greenfield, longish quote:
Even if Muslim communities were an asset, [this] narrative is that they benefit us by helping us deal with the problems that they cause. The obvious question would be to wonder why we need them in the first place to help us cope with a problem that wouldn't exist without them.End quote. Daniel Greenfield, blogging at Sultan Knish. Check him out.
Obama insists that we need Muslim immigration so that Muslims will help us fight Muslim terror. But if we didn't have Muslim immigration, we wouldn't need Muslims to help us fight Muslim terrorism.
Muslim immigration isn't a solution. It's a problem posing as a solution. And we are told that we need to make the problem bigger in order to solve it.
Item: I was reading this article in Monday's Guardian by some bird named Mona Chalabi, title: Say my name, say my name: why the "correct" pronunciation is whatever I decide.
Apparently Ms Chalabi's Arabic-speaking parents pronounce her name "Mu-na." She herself prefers "Mo-na."
If I use the Arabic pronunciation, I'm staying true to my roots and being "authentic." If I suggest an English-sounding variant, I'm trying hard to assimilate in an English-speaking society.She goes for "Mo-na," to show she's assimilated. My first thought there was: Good for you, honey. My second thought was: WHY THE HELL AM I READING THIS?
The answer to that is that I had just got back from the AmRen conference; and as always in big gatherings like that, I'd fielded approximately eighty queries about how I pronounce my name.
Please don't think I'm complaining. People are just trying to be polite, I know; and I appreciate the courtesy. It's just that I don't care how people say it, within fairly wide bounds of approximation. Furthermore, I can never remember how other people like their names pronounced — the author of The Righteous Mind, for example, who I've actually met a couple of times: is he Jonathan Height or Jonathan Hate? — so I'm forgiving towards alternate pronunciations of my name.
I say "DAH-bi-shuh." I've heard my American kids say "DER-bi-shire," though. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for anyone. Just do your best with it. I don't mind.
Item: Finally, an erratum. In my May 13th podcast I reported on the economist who aroused the suspicions of airport security by sitting in his seat on the plane doodling differential equations. They thought it was terrorist code, and questioned him.
I wondered aloud whether they were ordinary differential equations or partial differential equations. Then I sneered that, quote, "My guess is that they were ODEs. An economist wouldn't be smart enough to handle PDEs."
Well, sneer not lest ye be sneered. A friend asked: What about the Black-Scholes Equation for pricing stock options?
I struggled to recall details of the Black-Scholes Equation. I thought it was an ODE, I said. No, said my friend firmly, it was a PDE.
Back home I looked up the derivation of Black-Scholes in the appendix of George Szpiro's excellent book Pricing the Future. Yes, dammit, it uses PDEs.
Serves me right for sneering, I suppose. Although wait: Does financial engineering really count as a branch of Economics? Eh? Hah!
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and I wish you a peaceful and reflective Memorial Day, preferably not dominated by the eight-hour remake of Roots. Try not to look up at the Moon.I'm still excited from the success of last weekend's conference, capped by Donald Trump's delegate count going over the top. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and life is good. Here's Gracie to sing us out in appropriately upbeat style.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Gracie Fields, "Sing As We Go."]