00m54s — What to do about Islamic terror. (The experts speak.)
10m02s — All you need is love. (It's the opposite of hate, see?)
16m38s — Brechoes. (Watching progressive heads explode.)
26m28s — Vote your age. (If Youth only knew.)
34m19s — Boris not good enough. (Failure of Churchill gambit?)
37m44s — Stone-kicker's lament. (Couldn't they just ask?)
42m44s — An autonomous first. (And a grisly superstition.)
46m12s — Bismarck's bad night. (Nowadays he'd keep quiet about it.)
47m04s — Geezer on geezer. (Snow on roof, fire in basement.)
48m48s — Signoff. (Remembering the Somme.)
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your lamentably genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you news from far and wide to curdle your milk shake.
The Beatles make a couple of muffled appearances in this week's podcast; so does their home city; so do Aristotle, Mussorgsky, the Prussian Constitution, and a rather grisly old supersition. Let's see how it all works out.
02 — What to do about Islamic terror. This week's big story was the terrorist attack on Istanbul airport at 10pm local time on Tuesday. There were three terrorists, who all died in the attack. As we go to tape here, a further 43 or 44 people are known to have died. The terrorists were, of course, Muslims.So, what do we do about this? And there is in fact a question prior to that: Should we do anything about it?
Seeking instruction, I read through the opinions offered in Thursday's New York Post by, quote, "a panel of terrorism experts." What do these experts suggest?
Expert number one: Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Boot says we need to get more militarily involved — more air strikes, more infantry, and under looser rules of engagement. Also we should "topple" — that's Boot's word, we should topple the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is a very, very bad person. No mention from Boot about how the Russians might feel about that.
Hoo-kay. Expert number two, Ralph Peters, a strategic analyst for Fox News. Col. Peters advocates ruthlessness, quote, "equal to that of our enemies." He thinks we should loosen up on worrying about collateral damage. Quote: "Civilization cannot be saved solely by civilized means."
So there are two voices for getting Roman with the jihadists. Who else we got? Expert number three, Andy McCarthy, contributing editor at National Review, whatever that is. McCarthy wants us to be proactive against radical Muslim ideology. Quote: "Domestically, we must reject a counterterrorism strategy that focuses only on action to the exclusion of ideology. Radicalism must trigger investigative attention." End quote. Well, at least someone's talking about the domestic scene.
Expert number four, Jonathan Schanzer from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The important thing, says he, is to seal the border. Well, yay … Oh, wait a minute: he means Turkey's border with Syria. Ah. Quote: "Our immediate task is to push the Turks to completely seal the southeastern border," end quote.
Yes, that's our immediate task, according to Schanzer. We've got to push those Turks to seal their border! Or else! [Team America clip: Kim Jong Il — "Or else what?" Hans Blix — "Or else we will be very, very angry with you, and we will write you a letter telling you how angry we are."]
One more expert here, number five: Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. His prescription is to, quote, "acknowledge the role that existing mainstream opposition groups will need to play in assuming at least a shared responsibility for protecting Sunni Arab-populated territory captured from ISIS." End quote. So, a words guy, then. You can tell he writes terrific memoranda, lotsa bullet points.
Mainstream opposition groups? What, like that military training program we've been running, that was supposed to produce 5½ thousand warriors by the end of last year, but when they did the actual head count had trained only, quote from our own Defense Department, "four or five," at a cost of $41 million? No, no. Lister means some other opposition groups. Uh-huh.
So those are prescriptions from our five experts. To boil them down: One, get Roman over there. Two: get more Roman over there. Three: look out for jihadists over here. Four: make Turkey seal its border, or else. Five: train and equip another four or five anti-Assad fighters at a cost of ten million dollars per.
Is it disrespectful of me to not be impressed by these experts? All right, the New York Post is a neocon paper — invade the world, invite the world. I guess you have to expect their panel of experts will lean that way.
And I'm not actually opposed to getting Roman when it's called for, if only we'd be serious about it. Hey, I'm the guy who coined the phrase "Rubble doesn't make trouble." Sure, maybe a few Roman-style expeditions wouldn't hurt — done properly, under Roman-style rules of engagement.
That is all secondary, though. It's small stuff, and arguable. There are great big fat things we need to do, and they are not arguable: We need to control our borders, and we need to have rational policies on settlement and visa management.
First, we don't need any more people. A third of a billion is enough. Permanent settlement visas should be for spouses and dependent children of U.S. Citizens, certified geniuses, persons who've performed some meritorious service to U.S. policy goals, a few Solzhenitsyn-type high-profile dissidents, and nobody else at all.
Second, other visa categories — students, businessmen, tourists — need to be limited and properly tracked, entry and exit. With modern data management technology, this could easily be done. Muslims, other than diplomats and heads of state, should not get visas. That includes Muslim refugees. There are 49 majority-Muslim countries, some of them very rich. Let them look after their own people.
Third, we need close supervision of mosques, as Andy McCarthy says. Radical Muslim preachers who are not citizens, need to be expelled. Those who are citizens should be bribed to renounce their citizenship, and their mosques should anyway be closed as a danger to the Republic. Don't tell me about the First Amendment: the Constitution is not a suicide pact.
Manage settlement; manage inflow and outflow; manage our borders; manage visa issuance and tracking; watch the mosques. Those are great big fat things we need to do. If we don't invite so much of the world, we won't need to invade so much of the world.
It's a shame that Muslims are hacking each other's heads off five thousand miles away; but the impact of that on us could easily be reduced to zero, or way closer to zero than is currently the case.
The technology's there waiting to be used. We just need the will.
03 — All you need is love. Our federal Attorney General, honky-tonk girl Loretta Lynn, has different ideas about how to tackle Muslim terrorism.According to our nation's highest law-enforcement official and beloved troubador, actual quote: "Our most effective response to terror is compassion, it's unity and it's love." End quote. All you need is love!
This was June 21st in Orlando, Florida, whither the winsome songstress had gone to investigate the mass killing of homosexuals by a crazy Muslim the previous week.
The coal-miner's daughter further opined that, another actual quote — I'm not making this up, truly I'm not — quote: "The message of Orlando is a message of determination to remove hatred, to remove intolerance from our midst." End quote.
Elaborating further, Ms. Lynn promised that just as soon as hatred and intolerance have been removed from our midst, the federal justice department will launch a program to eradicate pride, envy, wrath, sloth, lust, avarice, and gluttony.
And because our most effective response to terrorism is compassion, she announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be renamed to the Federal Bureau of Compassion. The Justice Department will henceforth be known as the Ministry of Love.
All right, enough of the sophomore humor. I know of course that Loretta Lynn and Loretta Lynch are two different persons. One is a veteran singer-songwriter with a plaque in the Country Music Hall of Fame; the other is a career Social Justice Warrior who got an affirmative-action slot at Harvard Law School.
Our Attorney General's assurance that compassion and love will vanquish Islamic terrorism does, though, give me an opportunity to vent. One of my pet peeves is in sight here, the one I call, with a gesture of deference to Aristotle, the Law of Excluded Middle. So do you mind if I vent? Thank you.
To a progressive airhead of Ms Lynch's stripe, there is hate, and there is love, and there is nothing in between. She lives in a world that does not contain mild disapproval, grudging acceptance, resigned acquiescence, cool indifference, an open willingness to be persuaded, nor any other intermediate shade of opinion. Opinionwise, hers is a binary world. There is love, and there is hate.
The bloke who shot up the Orlando night club seems to have hated homosexuals. Since he pledged himself to ISIS, I'd guess that he hated infidels in general, perhaps just homosexual infidels especially. Whatever: rather than just shoot up any random night club, he decided to make it a twofer.
The answer to that hate, says the A-G, can only be love. What else is there?
Well, as I keep pointing out, there are visa restrictions, secure borders, immigration moratoria, and the rest; but those aren't the Atttorney General's thing. Love and hate are her things.
I quite frequently — you'd be surprised! — I frequently get into arguments with people who accuse me of hating immigrants. I point out patiently that I am an immigrant and my wife is an immigrant, and I don't hate either of us. The other party then says, oh well, but you hate Mexicans. I tell them truthfully that I don't know any Mexicans; that I was only in Mexico once, on a very brief tourist excursion, and people seemed very nice. "Well," says Joe or Sally, "you obviously hate illegals."
Here's my stock answer to that. "Joe [or Sally], I don't hate you. Trust me, I really don't. However, if you were to come and live in my house uninvited, I'd be seriously unhappy about it. I still wouldn't necessarily hate you, but it would definitely take the shine off our friendship. I don't want people living in my house univited. Not because I hate them, but because it's my house. I worked and saved to buy it. I've put in a lot of effort to keep it the way I like it, and make improvements. It's my house. You have your own house. You don't like it? Get to work on improvements."
That's my stock answer. To a progressive, it is apparently incomprehensible. I might as well be talking Tibetan. If I'm not in the love box or the hate box, where am I? There isn't anywhere else.
These people have the brains of eight-year-olds.wailed The Economist over Britain's decision. They were particularly upset that the flood of people into Britain from poor countries in Eastern and Southern Europe was a factor in the vote for leaving. Those stupid voters! Quote from The Economist:
Without migrants from the EU, schools, hospitals and industries such as farming and the building trade would be short of labour.End quote. Well, here's a funny thing. When I was a kid in England, back in the 1950s, immigration levels were very low. In fact there was net e-migration to Canada, Australia, and South Africa. Yet England somehow found enough schoolteachers, doctors, nurses, farmers, and construction crews. Amazing! How did we manage? I guess we defied the laws of economics somehow.
In the New York Times, hardcore progressive nitwit Roger Cohen declared himself, quote, "overcome by gloom" at the Brexit decision. Further quote from Cohen, who lives in London, quote:
It's not just the stupidity of the decision. It's not merely the lies of the charlatans who led the "Leave" campaign … It's not even the betrayal of British youth. It's far more: a personal loss. Europa, however flawed, was the dream of my generation.End quote. Mr Cohen was born in 1955. The dream of his generation, huh? Well, it was the dream of metropolitan transnationalist progressives of his generation, no doubt.
After 700 more words of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Cohen concludes, quote:
The union … will not die because of this imbecilic vote, but something broke — a form of optimism about humankind, the promise of 1989.End quote. Oh my gosh, I'm coming over all verklempt. Could we have some sad violin music, please? [Sad violin music] … OK, that'll do.
My children will not inherit the Europe I hoped for. I look at my hands and see my father's emerging, the veins now more pronounced. Life feels diminished.
The New Yorker, though of course full of contempt for the nativist rubes who want to live in a familiar and distinctive nation-state rather than a gigantic airport departure lounge, none the less managed to locate one of the key points in their July 4th issue. Quote:
The older you were, the more skeptical you were of the European project. The working-class vote in the North of England, traditionally loyal to the left, swung unmistakably away from the E.U. … Londoners leaned heavily toward the E.U., whereas, along the east coast (the stretch that faces Europe), fears about immigration engendered a vehement vote against. Rural folk, visiting London, have been known to complain that it feels like a foreign city — a Babel of competing tongues, where your latte is brewed by an Estonian and served by a Pole. That is precisely what Babel-dwellers love about the place; the hubbub, to a Londoner as to a New Yorker, is a mark of the cosmopolitan experience — ideal background noise, for the beat of a tolerant heart. If you don't like the soundtrack of otherness, go back to the land.End quote. Well, yes. There are big multiethnic cosmopolitan cities, and there's a quiet, conservative heartland. Some people prefer the one, some prefer the other. What's more, a lot of people prefer the one thing when they're young, the other thing when they're older.
When I was eighteen I couldn't wait to get out of the sleepy provincial town I grew up in. I moved to London; and thereafter, through my twenties and thirties and some of my forties, I lived mostly in the … hubbub of big cosmopolitan cities: Hong Kong, London again, New York, London again, New York again.
Then I decided to start a family, so I moved to the 'burbs — to one of those places that progressives sneer at as "white-bread."
So what had happened to my heart there? According to the New Yorker, it went from being tolerant to being intolerant at age 47. What, I got a heart transplant? And, again according to the New Yorker, I suddenly stopped liking "the soundtrack of otherness." But no I didn't. I just thought that for raising kids, somewhere quieter, more stable, more uniform, more … Go ahead, say it, Derb! Say it! — more white-bread would be better.
Of course an editorial writer for the New Yorker favors that cosmopolitan hubbub. The name of the magazine is New Yorker, duh. But not wanting that doesn't make you an evil person with an intolerant heart. And if you want it when you're 27 but not when you're 47, you didn't become an evil person with an intolerant heart by some kind of physiological transformation, like a menopause. Good grief, it's like talking to little children here.
And no, it's not so much the Estonian brewing their coffee or the Pole serving it that Brexiteers mind so much. It's whole neighborhoods purged of white English people, turned into Little Pakistans, Little Bangladeshes, Little Somalias. No, those aren't immigrants from Europe; but if Angela Merkel has her way, they soon will be, tens of millions of them. That's what people voted against.
When you're young and carefree and not very serious about anything, a cosmopolitan city is a fun place to live. As you get older, more settled, and wiser, the heartland pulls you back — unless, like Roger Cohen, you never knew it in the first place.
Brits voted to leave the EU because they saw their heartland disappearing, swamped by strangers. It dawned on them that the transnational elites who run the world hate heartlands and want to destroy them. They want everwhere — every town, every village, every street — to be just like a big cosmopolitan city.
The elites are uniformitarians. They know what they like, and they insist everyone else like it too. Well, sorry, but a lot of us don't like it. Some of us never liked it. Some of us liked it in our twenties but don't like it any more. Is this so hard to understand?
05 — Vote your age. Every so often some pundit predicts a generational war, when resentment on the part of struggling, overtaxed young people against the lavish social benefits going to seniors breaks out into open conflict.The Brexit vote has breathed some new life into this genre of punditry. Everyone noticed how younger voters leaned globalist, voting against Britain leaving the EU, while older voters were more nationalist.
My own explanation of this I've already given. Those vibrant cosmopolitan cities look way more fun when you're 25. When you get to 45, you're looking for something more solid, more rooted.
That's a generalization of course. Individual temperament counts for something too. There are young nationalists and old cosmopolitans. When millions of people vote, though, it's the generalizations that show up.
So a lot of young people are mad as hell at us old farts for crushing their cosmopolitan dreams.
Here's one of those people: Heath Pickering, a Research Assistant at the University of Melbourne School of Government, down under there in Australia — where, by the way, they're having a general election this weekend.
Quote from him, writing on Vice.com, June 27th, quote:
The democratic principle of "one person, one vote" is fundamentally flawed. The way Baby Boomers and beyond are voting the world over is evidence that old solutions often aren't adept at tackling new problems. Old people keep gutting the future of young people. And it has to stop.End quote. "Gutting," eh? We Boomer geezers, sitting here in our bath chairs listening to old Beatles records and fantasizing about Ursula Andress, we're heartlessly gutting your future!
The solution, says Mr Pickering, is weighted voting. Quote:
To ensure the youth aren't shafted, a citizen's vote should be proportionate to their age …End quote.
In my view, age-weighted voting would work best if voters are broken down to five key age groups: 18-24, 25-34, 35-49, 50-69, 70-plus …
Anyone 18-24 years old would receive one whole vote. For each following age group, this would decrease by a fifth. So someone aged 35-49 years old would get 60 percent of one vote. Anyone over 70 would get 20 percent of one vote.
If this system was implemented, young people would be more fairly represented — under the logic that because they have to live with the consequences of political decisions the longest; they should have a greater say than older voters …
Interesting; although I couldn't help thinking of Jerry Seinfeld's proposal that we abolish all speed limits and just let people drive their age. You're 85 years old? Hey …
I don't think weighted voting by age has been tried anywhere, unless you count all those societies where public decisions are made by a Council of Elders. That actually worked pretty well for a few millennia.
Other kinds of weighted voting surely have been tried. I've been listening to Professor Steinberg's lectures on European Lives in the 18th and 19th centuries. In his lecture on Bismarck he mentions the Prussian Constitution of 1850, which was based on the idea that everybody had the vote, but representation depended on the share of taxes paid. So one third of the parliament was elected by the top five percent of taxpayers, who voted on one list; the second third was elected by the next ten percent, and eighty-five percent voted for the remaining third. That worked too: The system was in place through to 1918.
Age-weighted voting, though … I don't know. The great rule of human life, stated often here on Radio Derb, is Henri Estienne's observation: Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait — "If Youth only knew, if Age only could." Young people are great for getting things done, but they don't know squat. Old people know it all, but they can't do much.
If that's right, it would make more sense to weight voting the other way, giving more weight in public decision-making to the elders of the tribe.
And the idea that young people have to live longer with public decisions has a leak in it. The leak is, that young people don't actually care much about the future. When I was young I smoked a pack of cigarettes every day. I knew it was bad for me, but I didn't care. By the time it mattered (I figured) I'd have given up, or medical science would have cures for the things I'd done to myself, … or something.
If I'd sensibly saved and invested my first few years' wages, I'd be a rich man now. I didn't, though. I spent them.
That's what young people are like. I actually worry far more about the future now than I did fifty years ago. I worry about it on behalf of my kids, and on behalf of the civilization I've come to know and appreciate over years of reading and learning.
"If Youth only knew …" One of the things Youth doesn't know it how much the future matters.
So fie! to Mr Heath Pickering of Melbourne, Australia; and one more cheer for Brexit, and the wise geezers who made it happen.I mentioned in last week's podcast that Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London — which is not, by the way, the same thing as Lord Mayor of London, for reasons it would take much too long to explain — I mentioned that Boris Johnson was being spoken of as the likely next Prime Minister over there, David Cameron having said he will step down as leader of his party, and therefore as Prime Minister, when there's a replacement ready.
I murmured my disapproval of this, as Boris Johnson was an open-borders guy last time I looked. I also had some slight personal intercourse with Mr Johnson when he was editor of the London Spectator ten years ago. What with one thing and another, my impression of him is of an unprincipled lightweight.
I might of course be doing Johnson an injustice there. If so, he'll have to strive to bear the injustice as best he can.
Well, midweek Johnson took himself out of his party's leadership contest, which means he won't be the next Prime Minister of the U.K. The official reason for withdrawing was that he couldn't find enough support from colleagues. Boris, if you'll excuse an operatic pun, was not good enough.
I'm skeptical about that; but maybe just because I'm skeptical of anything this guy says. Whatever: his dropping out makes me happy, to the very slight degree that I care one way or another.
If there truly is an afterlife, it will also make the shade of Sir Winston Churchill happy. Apparently aware of the fact that a great many people, not just me, regarded him as light as a feather, unreliable, and not a team player, Boris Johnson seems to have been trying to work the analogy with Churchill.
It's been forgotten now, except by historians, that Churchill was not a popular figure in his party before WW2. Many of the unkind things being said about Boris Johnson were said about Churchill. World War Two gave Churchill's reputation a total makeover.
Johnson's been mining that little vein for all it's worth. Two years ago he actually published a book about Churchill. "You see," he's been saying, "they were dubious about this guy, too, but he won the war and got a state funeral at last!"
If that was indeed Johnson's strategy for self-promotion, and if it's true that he dropped out for lack of support, then the strategy didn't work. Once again, I'm glad, and so is Sir Winston, if he is still sentient somewhere.
07 — Stone-kicker's lament. The Pew Research Center conducted a survey, mostly in March and April this year, about Americans' attitudes to race relations. Results have just been published. The sample size wasn't impressive: 1,800 white respondents, 1,000 blacks, and a few hundred Hispanics; but the results agree with my own unsystematic observations.Main takeaway: Serious disagreement between whites and blacks over how fairly blacks are treated, whether we shall ever get to racial equality, and the reasons for different statistical life outcomes between blacks and whites.
For example: Has our country made the changes — I assume they mean social changes — necessary to bring about racial equality? If it hasn't, will it ever?
Thirty-eight percent of whites but only eight percent of blacks think the changes have been made. Forty-three percent of blacks think the changes haven't been made and never will be; only eleven percent of whites think that.
And then this one. Question: Which of these is a major reason that some blacks have a harder time getting ahead? You get six possible major reason listed, thus:
For a person of the stone-kicking persuasion like myself, the remarkable thing about this survey was its utter lack of any references to race realism — to the notion that different races are bound to express different statistical patterns on any heritable traits, which would include traits of behavior, intelligence, and personality.
If they had offered me that list, for example, the list of possible reasons some blacks have a harder time getting ahead, I would have declined to mark any of the possibilities offered. The major reason by far for all the statistical disparities between blacks and whites, as also between whites and East Asians, or between north-European white gentiles and Ashkenazi Jews, is that their ancestors followed different paths through evolutionary space. They're difference races, for crying out loud.
All right, you don't have to agree. I'm not a stupid guy, though, and I know a lot of other thoughtful, non-stupid people are race realists like myself. Couldn't the Pew people at least have asked? Is plain race realism really so far outside the boundaries of polite discourse? Even if you don't agree with it, doesn't it belong to the category of things that might be true, and that people think might contribute to different statistical outcomes?
And as has often been pointed out — it's a favorite theme of Jared Taylor's — if race realism is not the case, then black statistical underperformance can only be the result of white malignity. Isn't race realism a socially more healthy position? If the fault is not with Mother Nature, it must be with the white devils!
I guess there's something big that I'm just not getting here. I guess I must, after all, be pretty stupid.the first person to die while travelling in a self-driving car on autopilot. He was unmarried. He is survived by his parents and a sister.
The fatality happened May 7th in Williston, Florida when a tractor-trailer made a left turn at an intersection right in front of the Tesla autonomous vehicle that was carrying Joshua Brown. Tesla engineers have explained that the vehicle's sensors couldn't distinguish the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brakes weren't activated. Yo, guys, a word in your ear: RADAR.
I don't suppose it's much consolation to Mr Brown's loved ones, but he is in distinguished company. Many, many years ago, having been accepted for a postgraduate course at the University of Liverpool in England, I went up there to find lodgings. I stayed a couple of nights at the lodge of a friendly society one of my uncles belonged to, in Huskisson Street, close by the university.
With the curiosity of youth, I enquired about Huskisson. Who or what was he or she? William Huskisson, it turned out, was an early 19th-century English politician who served as Member of Parliament for Liverpool, and in executive positions under various Tory administrations of the 1820s.
Much more to our point here, though, William Huskisson was the first person we know of to have been killed by a steam locomotive. This was in September 1830 at the opening of the Liverpool-to-Manchester line, generally considered the world's first serious, fully-equipped railroad.
Thinking about this awoke my superstitious instincts somehow.
Our remote ancestors, when they put up any substantial building — a tower, a bridge, even a chapel, would bury a live human being in the foundation, to serve as a good-luck charm or guardian spirit over the structure.
That was of course a horrible superstition, and William Huskisson's death was entirely accidental. I can't help noticing, though, that it did nothing to slow the success of railways, which had a tremendous blossoming in the following years, beginning right there in 1830, and quickly became one of the best investments of the 19th century.
Item: In that lecture of Professor Steinberg's that I mentioned, the one about Bismarck, the good prof. gives us a story told by Christoph von Tiedemann, Bismarck's personal assistant.
Greeting his boss one morning, Tiedemann expressed the hope that Bismarck had enjoyed a good night's sleep.
Replied the great statesman,quote: Ich habe nicht schlafen können, ich habe die ganze Nacht gehaßt: "I couldn't sleep, I spent the whole night hating."
It's a good thing Bismarck didn't live in today's America. The FBI would have a file on him, for sure.
Item: Finally, some funny goings-on in the pretty little hamlet of Tiverton, out there in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island.
On June 13th one Edward Acquisto of that place shot and killed John Cloud of Kingston, Massachusetts. The shooting occurred in a Tiverton cemetery; so at least the undertakers didn't need to ask directions for the pickup, I guess.
Why is this noteworthy? Well, because Mr Acquisto, the shooter, was 80 years old, while Mr Cloud, the shootee, was 81. This was a geezer-on-geezer homicide.
Mr Acquisto — that was the shooter, pay attention, please! — Mr Acquisto led police in a car chase, which concluded with the cops shooting him dead.
Condolences to the loved ones of the two deceased gents, of course, but I confess that reading this story lifted my spirits a bit. No, I don't approve of people shooting each other; but I am glad to know that you can still, in your ninth decade, muster strong enough feelings over what was apparently an unpaid loan, to get into a lethal fight about it. If that particular passion is available to octogenarians, I assume others are too. Hey.my home page on johnderbyshire.com. I was getting tired of the Huckleberry Finn quips, and I wanted to show off my new tie, for reasons explained in my upcoming June Diary.
To see us out now here in the signoff segment, I'm going to go all British on you.
No, this is nothing to do with Brexit. Today — July 1st 2016 — is the centenary of the bloodiest day in British military history, the first day of the Battle of the Somme in World War I. The Brits suffered almost 60,000 casualties in that one day, with the usual meaning of "casualties": killed, wounded, and missing. The number actually killed was close to twenty thousand — again, in just that one day — for essentially no gains. The battle continued for a further four months.
Here is a reading from Paul Fussell's 1975 book The Great War and Modern Memory. The Times and Telegraph he refers to are London daily broadsheet newspapers, both still in business, though I don't know if these notices still appear. You also need to know that before attackers climbed out of their trenches to assault the enemy lines, artillery back in the rear tried to "soften up" those lines with a massive barrage of shells to destroy fortifications and demoralize the enemy.
Again, this was written in 1975, quote:
Every day still the Times and the Telegraph print the little "In Memoriam" notices — "Sadly missed," "Always in our thoughts," "Never forgotten," "We do miss you so, Bunny" — the military ones dignified by separation from the civilian. There are more on July 1 than on other days, and on that date there is always a traditional one:End quote.
B.H. Liddell Hart, who was in the 9th Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, explains. Just before the Somme attack,
9th AND 10th BNS., K.O.Y.L.I. — To the undying memory of the Officers and Men of the above Battalions who fell in the attack on Fricourt (Somme) on July 1, 1916.
"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts."
the officers assembled in the headquarters mess, in a typical Picardy farmhouse. Recent strain between the commanding officer and some of the others led to an embarrassing pause when the senior company commander was called on to propose a toast to the C.O. On a sudden inspiration, he raised his glass and gave the toast with the words: "Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts."The battalion attacked with some 800 men. Twenty-four hours later its strength was 80 men and four officers.
[Music clip: Marilyn Hill Smith, "Keep the Home Fires Burning."]