Radio Derb: Booting James Watson, Kicking Steve King, And Cheering For Hard Brexit, Etc.
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01m08s  Cold Spring Harbor Weasel Farm.  (Putting the boot in to James Watson.)

09m13s  Congressweasels turn on Steve King.  (It's been a week of weasels.)

19m58s  Derbyshire cheers for hard Brexit.  (The way back to full sovereignty.)

27m44s  Cast down your bucket where you are.  (Trump betrays American workers.)

32m42s  You left your what in San Francisco?  (Rhymes with "app.")

34m18s  Octopus off the menu.  (The most intelligent invertebrate not in the GOP.)

36m31s  Advice for dining in Russia.  (Mind your manners.)

37m43s  Signoff.  (With Peter and Sophia.)  

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome to the show, listeners. This is of course your fathomlessly genial host John Derbyshire with highlights from the week's news.

This week's highlights have been of a depressing sort, more so than usual. More than anything else, it has been a week of weasels. Those unpleasant little rodents — cowardly when cornered, but viciously vindictive when they know they have the advantage — have driven two of this week's stories and been background participants in a third.

Let me take them in order.

[Added when archiving:  The whole world emailed in to tell me that weasels are not rodents. They belong to the order carnivora, not the order rodentia (although rodents confuse the issue by including some non-herbivorous species: "Most rodents are herbivorous, but some are omnivorous, and others prey on insects," says that latter link.)

I am suitably mortified at not having checked that. They look like rodents, darn it.

Much more of this level of fact-checking sloppiness at, we'll be getting job offers from the mainstream media …]


02 — Cold Spring Harbor Weasel Farm.     First story: Cold Spring Harbor Lab stripping James Watson of his few remaining privileges and honorary positions. I learn, for example, that the lab will no longer provide a limo if Dr Watson needs to go into New York City.

Technically this is a story from last week: the lab's announcement came on Friday the 11th, just too late for Radio Derb.

Let me fill in the background here.

Two weeks ago I reported on the new PBS documentary Decoding Watson in the American Masters series. The documentary aired on January 2nd. You can now watch it on the internet.

James Watson, just to remind you, is the world-famous, Nobel-prize-sharing geneticist who co-discovered the structure of DNA in 1953. He went on to run Cold Spring Harbor lab here on Long Island. After forty years of that the lab sidelined him in 2007 for remarks he made about Africa, and about blacks in general, in a newspaper interview.

Quote on Africa: "All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really." End quote. Quote on blacks in general: There's a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true." End quote.

That's James Watson — with whom, I should say, I have some slight personal acquaintance.

In this new PBS documentary Watson doubled down on those earlier remarks. Quote: "There's a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it's genetic." End quote.

Enter the weasels. Leading the weasel pack was science reporter Amy Harmon at the New York Times. Ms Harmon had no difficulty bringing forth properly credentialed weasels to support her accusations of thoughtcrime against Watson: NIH Director Francis Collins joined in with quite a blatant lie, as I noted in my piece two weeks ago.

Scientists like Collins, in prestigious and well-financed positions, learned the appropriate lesson from what happened to Watson in 2007. If you'll excuse my mixing up the animal metaphors and slightly modifying a Chinese idiom: what happened is described to perfection by that idiom: "kill a chicken to scare the weasels." Watson was the chicken; the weasels, like Francis Collins, are duly scared.

So are the weasels who run Cold Spring Harbor Lab. The lab's CEO and head weasel Bruce Stillman and his deputy weasel Marilyn Simons, chair-weasel of the board of trustees, squealed that Watson's opinions were, quote, "unsubstantiated and reckless …reprehensible, unsupported by science … The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice."

I'm not totally without sympathy for the Cold Spring Harbor suits here. It's all too easy to imagine the dreary hours they have to spend writing funding requests and negotiating with dimwitted government bureaucrats to keep their researches going. Offenses against government ideology must make that work harder.

None the less there is — or there should be — a purity and clarity to scientific endeavor that occasionally need to be preserved by standing courageously out in front of a howling mob and defending science, even if it means being dragged off to the stake for burning.

That's a lot to ask of average human beings, and perhaps most of us would fail the test. History does bring forth martyrs, though. Bruce Stillman is a credentialed scientist — a biochemist by training — and he surely knows that James Watson's observations are reasonable.

The black-white IQ gap is one of the most stable and best-supported facts in the human sciences. Its causes aren't definitively known, but that they arise from the laws of population genetics is a perfectly plausible hypothesis.

That's what scientists do, bring forth plausible hypotheses for other scientists to test. Sometimes rigorous testing disproves the hypothesis, which is then discarded.

This has not yet happened with Watson's hypothesis because we don't understand enough of the underlying genetics. It's an open hypothesis — but a plausible one on circumstantial grounds.

This is science. Bruce Stillman, as a scientist, should understand it. If he doesn't, he's not fit to be head of a laboratory.

And just look at the shameful, shoddy, disgraceful spectacle here. James Watson is coming up to his 91st birthday. He's been in hospital following an automobile accident. And here are these administrative bureaucrats and hack journalists gleefully kicking him in the ribs.

Here's a research project for some zoologist or neuroscientist: Are weasels capable of feeling shame?

I think I know the answer. At any rate, on the strength of this week's events, I can put forward a strong hypothesis.


03 — Congressweasels turn on Steve King.     Here's another nest of weasels: the congressional Republican Party.

Monday this week Republican leaders in the House of Representatives removed congressman Steve King from his posts on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Agricultural Committee. This followed a meeting Steve King had with GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy.

In the senate, at the same time, GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Rep. King to "find another line of work," while Mitt Romney told King he should resign his seat.

This all followed a remark Steve King made in a January 10th interview with the New York Times. The remark was, quote: "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?"

Steve King insists that the last six words there — "how did that language become offensive?" — applied only to the previous two, "Western civilization." The way the Times punctuated it, though, it looked as if they covered "white nationalist" and "white supremacist," too.

So here we are in the ideological equivalent of angels dancing on the heads of pins; or at any rate, the ideological equivalent of the old schoolyard quip about helping your Uncle Jack off a horse. I have no patience with this kind of thing myself, but it's been enough to get Romney, McCarthy, and the other schoolmarms of the congressional GOP clutching their pearls and reaching for the smelling salts.

The Times, flushed with their success at getting Rep. King stripped of his committee assignments and likely still fired up from their mugging of James Watson, piled on Tuesday with, headline here: A Timeline of Steve King's Racist Remarks and Divisive Actions.

This is a fascinating piece. It's a complete charge sheet of Steve King's thoughtcrimes. You could put it in a time capsule and bury it so archeologists of the future could acquaint themselves with the intellectual pathologies of our age … although you might save those archeologists some mental labor by translating it into Chinese first.

Some items from the charge sheet at random, with my comments interwoven.

Charge: In 2005 he introduced into Congress the English Language Unity Act, a bill to make English the official language of the United States.

Comment: Say what? Excuse my ignorance; I though English is the country's official language. Wasn't the Constitution written in English? Aren't congressional debates conducted in English? Isn't the State of the Union address delivered in English?

And when immigration romantics — you know, the Ellis Island crowd who love to tell us how their great-grandfather landed with five dollars in his pocket and labored to become American — when those people are waxing sentimental, isn't one component of their waxing the bit about how great-grandpa struggled to master the English language?

Charge: In 2011, concerning the Obamacare mandate to cover contraception, Steve King said, quote: "Preventing babies being born is not medicine. That's not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birthrate get down below the replacement rate, we're a dying civilization."

Comment: Well, duh. Even setting aside the "dying civilization" bit, public funding of healthcare should not include items like contraception, which just manage the lifestyles of healthy people. The government may as well cover the cost of our toothpaste.

Charge: In 2012, on a panel at CPAC with Peter Brimelow, a notorious thought criminal, Mr. King referred to multiculturalism as, quote: "A tool for the Left to subdivide a culture and civilization into our own little ethnic enclaves and pit us against each other."

Comment: Which is exactly what multiculturalism is. What else is it? Peter Brimelow's name there is tagged by the Times with a hyperlink to — can you guess? — yes: the Southern Poverty Law Center mail-order racket.

Charge: In 2016 King met in Austria with leaders of the Freedom Party, which was, quote from the Times, "founded in the 1950s by former Nazis."

Comment: A good proportion of Austrian adults in the 1950s had been members of the Nazi Party or one of its youth organizations. Should they all have been excluded from participation in politics? Wasn't our own Democratic Party the party of segregation in the 1950s, with a garnishing of intellectual pro-Soviet Leninism?

Charge: In 2017 and again in 2018, Steve King praised Jean Raspail's 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints, which portrays a future Europe psychologically helpless against non-European invaders.

Comment: From a strictly literary point of view I can't praise the novel, which I have never been able to finish. Concerning the psychological self-disarmament of Europeans against Third World invaders, though, Raspail was spot-on. Look at any day's news stories from Europe.

Charge: As well as being pally with Austria's Freedom Party, Steve King has publicly expressed support for Marine Le Pen of France, Geert Wilders of Holland, Viktor Orbán of Hungary, and other European nationalists.

Comment: Austria's Freedom Party polled third in the most recent election, with 26 percent of the vote. They are a member of the coalition government currently running Austria. Le Pen's party in France is polling ahead of President Emmanuel Macron's, 21 percent to 19. Geert Wilders' party holds 20 seats of the 150 in the Dutch lower house, nine of the 75 seats in the upper house. Viktor Orbán's party is actually in charge of Hungary.

These aren't lunatic-fringe factions. They are solid, well-established parties with firm bases of support. They are not led by weasels, either, as our own wretched GOP is. Geert Wilders has had numerous fatwas issued against him by Moslem clerics; he lives under 24-hour police protection.

Well, you can read the full charge sheet for yourselves. It's picayune stuff, nothing an honest patriot could object to.

That time-servers like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy and skulking cowards like Mitt Romney should be trying to destroy a congressman's career at the urging of leftist front organizations like the Anti-Defamation league and the SPLC tells you everything you need to know about the congressional GOP.

Yes, the Washington D.C. swamp of bureaucrats and lobbyists needs draining. While we're talking political hygiene, though, there's also a separate nest of weasels that needs cleaning out down there. The name of the nest is the congressional Republican Party.


04 — Derbyshire cheers for hard Brexit.     The fuss about Brexit over in the U.K. is of only indirect interest to us Americans, but it does show another aspect of the slow political revolution taking place all over the Western world.

As our own correspondent Robert Henderson posted here at on Thursday, the Brexit vote of June 2016 — the vote by British people to leave the European Union — was of a piece with the election of Donald Trump five months later. Both events represented a revolt by ordinary citizens against entrenched Deep State elites and their media, corporate, and academic shills.

Two-plus years on, it's clear on both sides of the Atlantic that those entrenched elites were more entrenched than the revolutionaries supposed. Both in the U.S.A. and Britain, they have put up a mighty resistance to the loss of their power and influence.

So which revolution is doing better, ours or theirs? On the evidence of this week, I'd have to say Britain's is ahead.

British Prime Minister Theresa May had negotiated a deal with the EU, a package of conditions under which Britain could finally leave the EU on March 29th. It was a lousy deal for the Brits, keeping the nation chained to the EU bureaucracy in a hundred ways. "BINO" I called it back in December — Brexit in Name Only. Robert Henderson prefers BRINO, and I'm okay with that: the perception is the same.

Tuesday this week Britain's parliament finally got to vote on Mrs May's deal. They voted it down. That generated a mini-crisis as the opposition party in parliament called a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. That vote, however, went Mrs May's way, so she remains in power.

But since parliament's rejected her deal, what are the terms under which Britain will leave the EU on March 29th?

A strong possibility now is: no terms. This is the so-called "hard Brexit." Britain just walks out, leaving the bureaucrats and businessmen to sort things out among themselves as best they can.

There would be chaos and confusion; but, as Adam Smith said, there's a deal of ruin in a nation. The Brits have faced far worse within living memory. When the dust settled they'd have their sovereignty back, and could set their own laws in their own parliament for their own people again. That would be worth a bit of chaos.

A great many Brits agree. Here's a sound clip from last week. It's from a weekly show on BBC-TV called Question Time, in which a panel of pundits and politicians takes questions from a studio audience. This being the BBC the panels are slanted left-liberal, making it usually a pretty dull show.

This Thursday's Question Time panel, however, included political journalist Isabel Oakeshott. Following those earlier events of the week, the question of course came up: Is there now any alternative to a "hard Brexit"? Ms Oakeshott took the question. Here's the sound clip.

[Clip:  Oakeshott:  Well, the answer … look, I can save everybody a lot of time here …

Emcee:  Oh, do! Because it's been two years, so, so, …

Oakeshott:  The short answer is: No, there isn't. And that is why it seems to me the only option for Theresa May now — and I'm going to admit that it is a sub-optimal position — is to walk away. That is all she can do.

Emcee:  So to leave with no deal.

Oakeshott:  Yes, absolutely, because that isn't … (Drowned out by prolonged cheering and applause from the studio audience.)]

Just listen to that studio audience! Hard Brexit? They love it! The TV coverage is even more telling. They're happy, with the happiness of people who just heard an authority figure — Ms Oakeshott is the privately-educated offspring of an upper-class family — an authority figure taking their side against the elites.

I can't forbear adding that Question Time is a peripatetic show, set in a different city each week. Thursday's show was set in Derby, which is of course the capital city of Derbyshire …

It's worth adding also that the Brits seem still to have some of their resourcefulness in the face of impending chaos. The London Daily Mail, January 18th, reports a severe shortage of warehouse space in Britain on account of British firms stockpiling all kinds of goods, including food. The firms fear that chaos over the absence of customs rules at ports of entry following a hard Brexit will slow down or stop entry of goods.

That's private action, not government action; but I'm reminded of Margaret Thatcher and the crisis with Britain's coal miners in the early 1980s. When the miners' union leaders first started acting up, Thatcher appeased them with soft talk. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, she called in her Energy Secretary Nigel Lawson and told him to start stockpiling coal.

When the stockpile was big enough, Thatcher turned on the miners and confronted them boldly, from a position of strength. She was a smart lady, and that's smart government. You listening, Mr President?


05 — Cast down your bucket where you are.     Another week, another cause to be disappointed with our President.

The topic here is legal immigration, in particular guest-worker visas. I'll note before I start that the term "guest-worker" is misleading, and is meant to be. The rule for U.S. immigration, legal as well as illegal, is: Once you're in, you're in. As I wrote — good grief! — twelve years ago, quote:

Unless your immigration attorney is seriously incompetent, you will never have to leave.

Phrases like "temporary worker" or "guest worker" are thoroughly bogus. They are in fact boob bait for the bubbas. There is no such thing as a temporary worker. There never has been and there never will be.

End quote. Twelve years ago! Is it any wonder we immigration restrictionists have a weary, frazzled look about us?

Well, last Friday, January 11th, our President tweeted the following thing, tweet:

H1-B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship. We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.

End tweet.

As John Miano pointed out over at CIS, this is a flagrant betrayal of the American workers displaced by cheaper foreigners via the H-1B program. Some of those workers campaigned with Trump at his rallies in 2016, when he seemed to understand the issue.

That tweet wasn't entirely out of the blue, either. It followed on Trump's January 4th press conference when he called for bringing in more skilled workers. Sample quote, addressing CBS correspondent Major Garrett, quote:

And we need people, Major. We have to have people. Because we have all these companies coming in. We need great people. But we want them to come in on a merit basis, and they have to come in on a merit basis.

End quote. Mr President, the U.S.A. has a third of a billion people. With half that number we put men on the moon. We don't need any more people. If there is a shortage of workers in some particular area of talent, there's a very straightforward way to address that shortage: raise wages in that area.

Bypassing that and just bringing in cheap foreigners, is a contemptible hack, and a fraud on American citizens. That's not to mention the morality of strip-mining poor countries of their already too-small supplies of talent— a thing no-one but me ever seems to talk about.

To these bogus claims of worker shortage, Booker T. Washington gave the proper response a century and a quarter ago: "Cast down your bucket where you are."

There's plenty of good middle-class talent in the U.S.A. Businesses don't want to hire it because foreigners are cheaper. That can be stopped, and it should be, with proper limits on immigration.

We thought you understood that, Mr President. Shame on you for betraying American workers!


06 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  Here's one from last year that I somehow missed. I don't live on the West Coast and I don't own a smartphone, so it's not directly relevant to me personally. That's probably why I missed it. I pass it on to less fortunate readers as a public service.

The city of San Francisco has a problem with human poop on the sidewalks. I don't know why this is, and I really don't want to know. I assume it's something to do with the nice climate and the lavish welfare services attracting a lot of addicts, lunatics, and other categories of person who can't control their bowel movements.

Well, last fall the city fathers addressed the issue by putting out a smartphone app that lets users take pictures of human poop on city sidewalks and send them to the Public Works Department to initiate a cleanup.

The name of the app? Yes, you got it: SnapCrap.

Did we really invent powered flight, defeat nazism and communism, and put men on the Moon? Hard to believe.


Item:  The president of a college in Oxford University has banned octopus from the menus at the college refectory, apparently on grounds of class and/or race.

Baroness Royall, head of Somerville College, tells us that she wants to, quote, "widen access" to the college and, quote, "increase the intake of students from disadvantaged backgrounds." I think that's college-administrator-speak for "more blacks and Muslims," but I'm not sure. I have trouble keeping up with diversity jargon.

Octopus on the menu, she said, quote, "might not be quite right for everyone."

I guess octopuses might thank her, at least. They might really thank her, with actual gratitude.

Octopuses are the most intelligent of all invertebrates, unless you count the congressional GOP. That's in spite of them — the octopuses, not the congresscritters — in spite of octopuses not being very social and so not having what philosophers call a Theory of Mind: the ability to guess what the other octopus is thinking.

A year or so ago I reviewed a book about that in my monthly diary — a book about octopus intelligence, written by a philosopher.

I offer you the closing sentence of that review, quote from me: "I must say, while octopuses may not have a very well-developed Theory of Mind, they taste delicious."


Item:  From a different culinary tradition, here are two stories from Russia that sort of cancel each other out.

In the province of Smolensk, a 43-year-old man lost his temper when his wife served him a cabbage soup that was, in his opinion, insufficiently tasty. To teach the wife a lesson, he decapitated her.

Four hundred miles east of that, in Penza, a different Russian chap, a keen fisherman, complained that a dish his wife had served to himself and guests wasn't salty enough.

This one went the other way. The fisherman's wife waited till he was asleep, then stabbed him to death with his angling knife.

Moral of these stories: If you want to stay alive and out of jail in Russia, eat what's put in front of you and don't complain.


07 — Signoff.     That concludes this week's podcast, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and I hope the New Year is going well for you.

Let's have some sign-out music. How about a novelty song — haven't played one of those for a while. What have I got in my novelty-song library here? … Oh, yes.

I was working up a sort of culinary theme towards the end of the podcast there, so here's something along those lines. The cuisines at issue here are English and Italian, and they are definitely at issue — at loggerheads, in fact.

It's 1960. Peter Sellers is yearning for his mother's pork sausages with mashed potatoes; Sophia Loren — still with us, bless her — wants to feed him pasta.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Here are Peter and Sophia.


[Music clip: Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren, "Bangers and Mash."]

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