I was raised in a small country town that produced its own evening newspaper, the Chronicle & Echo, covering local events. Still in business, I see. Today's front page headline is about a fire in a Burger King near the town center. Yep, that's my dear old home town, that's about as much as ever happens there.
Not that we didn't make a contribution to history now and then. There was the occasion when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas à Becket, had to run for his life from the town after being convicted of disloyalty by Henry the Second's men in a trial at the local castle. That was A.D. 1164. The townspeople are still talking about it.
Well, one of my mother's minor pleasures was her evening perusal of the section at the back of the newspaper recording local births, marriages, and deaths — the "hatched, matched, and dispatched," Mother called it. In a town that small, on an average day there's usually some family you know with a life passage recorded in the hatched, matched, and dispatched columns.
As a child with literary inclinations I was especially fascinated by the little verses people sometimes included in these notices. Sample:
You always made us happy,
Our dear loving Pappy.
So now that you've departed
We're left here broken-hearted.
I just made that one up, but it's representative of the general standard. Hey, people do their best.
In the arrogance of adolescence I of course couldn't wait to get out of my home town. Now that I'm older and wiser, I understand that sleepy small towns are the bedrock of civilization.
I understand also that the right response to those artless memorial verses is not a condescending sneer. The right response is the one expressed by the poet Thomas Gray, reading just those kinds of verses — he called them "uncouth rhymes" — in the country churchyard. Those verses, said the poet, implore, quote: "the passing tribute of a sigh." Indeed they do.
I'm telling you all this because later in the podcast I shall develop something of a theme along those lines: the lines, I mean, of birth, marriage, and death.
Before I get to that, though, let's take a detour through the Halls of Uselessness.
02 — Immigration legislation: it's always 1986. The Halls of Uselessness is the term I used back in February in reference to the U.S. Congress. Anyone who thinks I was exaggerating should watch the exchange that took place Thursday this week on Tucker Carlson's show between Tucker and Mark Amodei, a fourth-term Republican Congressthing from Nevada.
The topic here was the failure of the Republican Party in this Congress — a Congress, you'll recall, with Republican majorities in both House and Senate, under a Republican President — the failure to accomplish any significant legislative action on immigration.
Tucker put the questions with his usual blunt clarity. Representative Amodei responded with clouds of squid ink.
Tucker led in with the observation that as the Democratic Party moves ever further to the extreme open-borders, anti-U.S.A. position, they are leaving a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk for Republicans to pick up. Poll numbers are clear: Americans want better border control and less legal immigration. The last time we elected a President, it was a guy whose signature issue was his promise to build a wall along our southern border.
So why don't Republicans in Congress pick up this hundred-dollar bill? Listen to Representative Amodei. Just listen to the guy.
[Clip: Well, I think it's a mischaracterization of amnesty bills if you're talking to the discharge petition, because that's a procedural move to get a vote on the floor. It doesn't say you're going to vote for no borders, it doesn't say you're going to support amnesty. It says: "We really want to vote." And, I expect the normal Republican process to play out in that vote. If it goes to the floor, it goes to the Rules Committee, the Speaker can have a bill … You know the nickname for the Rules Committee is the Speaker's Committee. When was the last time that Pete Sessions went rogue on Paul Ryan? So it's still firmly in control by the …]
Tucker interrupted to ask why Republicans in Congress would push for amnesty without any guarantee of a secure border.
[Clip: Well, in fairness, Tucker, somebody should probably define "amnesty" on both sides of the issue, because quite frankly, when you look at the four bills, one of them is Bob Goodlatte's, one of them is whatever Paul Ryan wants, one of them is Hurd's and one of them is the Democrats' DREAMers Act. But just like the Senate did a couple of months ago, if none of them gets to 218, nothing goes through.]
Tucker tried again. People voted for a border wall in the last election, he pointed out. Why haven't they got one? Why are Republicans in Congress pushing for amnesty with no border wall?
[Clip: Well, I think there's a few more facts out there. First of all the administration asked for 74 miles of wall in the last Omni that ends on September 30th; they got 90. The administration got a ten percent increase in DHS funding. So that's not, "We don't care about borders." I think you'll be surprised to find out, if we ever get the chance to vote on something, 'cause the House never has — even the Senate's voted on this, and I've been critical [of] the Senate about what they don't do. If we ever get a chance to vote on immigration and border security together, which I would expect would happen, I think you'd be surprised to know how many people support border security.]
Tucker expressed frank disbelief. The congress-squid squirted on in the same vein for another minute or so, telling us how eagerly he and his Republican congress-colleagues yearn to step up and vote on immigration issues, if only there weren't these darn procedural issues in the way.
To an ordinary American watching that exchange, Rep. Amodei might as well have been speaking in Ancient Sumerian. How many of us know, without looking it up, what a discharge petition is, or who Pete Sessions is, or what the Rules Committee does? Who's Hurd? What's an Omni? What did the Senate vote on? Why is the guy boasting about 90 miles of wall, when the border runs two thousand miles?
What does it mean to, quote, "define 'amnesty' on both sides of the issue"? Amnesty just means that illegal aliens get to stay here indefinitely instead of being deported. That's what it means, on both "sides of the issue." The ruling class, including most Republican congress-reptiles, wants it, the rest of us don't.
So, whaddya think? Taking Rep. Amodei as, well, representative: Is "Halls of Uselessness" an apt description for the United States Congress?
The only argument I can see against my usage, from a strictly semantic point of view, is that Congress is actually quite use-ful to the ruling class. The ability to smother necessary legislation in the cradle under great puffy layers of procedural folderol like those that Mark Amodei extruded, serve their purposes wonderfully well. It's only in the area of turning voters' expressed desires into legislation that Congress is use-less.
If you're wondering what is actually hidden behind all that squid ink, it's a plan by open-borders Republican congress-roaches like House Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Chamber of Commerce front man Jeff Denham to kill off once and for all Rep. Bob Goodlatte's immigration reform bill.
The Goodlatte bill, you may recall, is a proposal to trade off, on the one side, amnesty for the DACA recipients and expanded guest-worker programs, with, on the other side, an end to chain migration and the diversity visa lottery, and somewhat improved enforcement measures — most notably, mandatory E-verify.
The Goodlatte bill is pretty tame by the standards of what voters actually want. It doesn't, for example, fund a border wall. Even this milquetoast compromise is pure poison to the cheap-labor lobbies, though, mainly because of the enforcement measures. Mandatory E-verify? [Scream.] So Ryan, McCarthy, and the forty or so GOP congress-rodents who line up with them are desperate to kill it.
That's what all this procedural kabuki is about. The GOP bosses know the voters are looking for legislation, so they intend to give it them. The legislation they're planning to bring out, though, is another 1986 fix: mass amnesty garnished with vague promises about border security and reduced inflow. That's as much as donors will accept, so that's as much as the Republicans will give them.
To congressional Democrats the Goodlatte bill is of course a hate-filled white-supremacist neo-Nazi outrage; but there's plenty of opposition to it in the donorist wing of the congressional GOP, too — certainly enough to make passage impossible in this Congress.
The Goodlatte bill has no chance of becoming legislation. If it were put to the voting public in a referendum, though, it would pass by a landslide. Hence all the procedural obfuscation; hence all the squid ink.
Immigration legislation-wise, it's always 1986.
03 — Hatched …. OK, that's enough out of the Halls of Uselessness. It's depressing, I know, to watch the congressfolk striving so mightily to ignore the popular will. I don't set out deliberately to depress you in these podcasts. It's just that that exchange with Rep. Mark Amodei was such a gem, I couldn't resist it.
What Mark Amodei's performance most brought to my mind was a comedian named Stanley Unwin, who appeared on British TV in the sixties and seventies. Unwin's specialty was gobbledygook. Here he is doing Goldilocks and the Three Bears. [Clip: Unwin on Goldilocks.] If you'd like to hire in a gobbledygook routine like this for your next children's birthday party, I'm sure Rep. Amodei would oblige.
Enough, enough. Let's look at larger issues: hatched, matched, and dispatched. First let's visit the hatcheries.
What's mainly happening in the hatcheries is a slowdown of business. We're not making as many babies as we used to. Headline from msn.com: Births plunge to record lows in United States. The report is about the latest numbers on fertility from the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control.
The key number here is Total Fertility Rate, or TFR. That's the average number of children a woman will have in her reproductive lifetime at present rates. So we assume that when she's twenty-five, she'll reproduce at the rate twenty-five-year-olds are reproducing at today; when she's thirty, she'll reproduce at the rate thirty-year-olds are reproducing at today; and so on. That's the TFR. For a stable population, one that's neither increasing nor decreasing, you want a TFR a tad higher than two per woman, to allow for people who don't reproduce.
Last year the overall rate for the U.S.A. was 1.76. That's down from 1.82 the year before, a three percent drop in just one year.
I should say the math here is not straightforward. From the definition of TFR that I gave, you can figure, if you think about it, that TFR as calculated might be misleading if, for example, women switch from mostly giving birth in their twenties to mostly giving birth in their thirties. This actually seems to be happening. Quote from the MSN report:
The only group that saw an increase in births were women aged 40-44, said the report. Whether they can't afford children, or they have access to contraception and simply prefer to wait, women in their 20s and 30s continue to put off having children in America. This is a general trend that has been visible in the data — with a few ups and downs — since the 1970s.
End quote. What's that? — you want to know the breakdowns by race? Shame on you! Since you ask, though, here's a different summary of the CDC figures at the Institute for Family Studies website, headline there: Baby Bust: Fertility is Declining the Most Among Minority Women.
That's right. Where the baby bust is concerned you can bring out the old New York Times cliché: "minorities hardest hit." The biggest decline across the last decade has been among Hispanics, who went from 2.85 to 2.1, a drop of 36 percent. Hispanics started high, though. Aborigines — American Indians and Alaska natives — started lower, with a TFR of 1.62, and dropped to 1.23 across the decade, nobody's sure why.
Black fertility dropped from 2.15 births per woman to 1.89. Non-Hispanic whites went from 1.95 to 1.72, a comparable drop from a somewhat lower start point.
As you can tell, the CDC report is a treasure trove for us math geeks. You could get a couple of Ph.D. theses out of these numbers.
There's a political angle, for example. As that second study, the IFS study, reports, the TFR has fallen in every state, except, mysteriously, North Dakota. However, it's fallen more in states Hillary won in 2016 than in Trump states. The old conservative jeer against liberals, that we'll just out-breed them at last, may actually be coming true.
The general decline of interest in sexual intercourse must also be playing in to these numbers somehow. I have often reflected on how odd it has been, across my own lifetime, to see the general decline in libido all over the Western world. Fifty years ago — I was there, listener, I was there — when not one citizen in a hundred had a gym membership, and halitosis and body odor were common, and the male-female imbalance in workplaces, clubs, sports, schools was way more marked than it is today, making it harder to get to know the opposite sex; back in those benighted days, with all those disadvantages and deterrents, the people of the West were going at it like rabbits.
The young adults of today, contrariwise, with their buff bodies, perfect dentition, and daily showers, with sex segregation actually outlawed almost everywhere — heck, we even have women on submarines today — they can't be bothered. From a report in Maxim magazine last July, based on a different set of numbers from the CDC, quote:
Between the ages of 15 and 19, 42 percent of women and 44 percent of men reported having sex, relative to … 51 percent of women and 60 percent of men in 1988.
It's fascinating to watch these strange currents in human tastes and behavior. What do they tell us? What, if anything, should we do about them? This is an area where any thoughtful person can develop opinions and arguments.
Fascinating. If I could have my time over again, I'd become a demographer.
The match at the front of this week's news is of course the one between Prince Harry, sixth in line of succession to the British throne, behind his Dad, his brother, and his brother's three children, and American starlet Meghan Markle.
There are a number of oddities here driving the tabloid gossip. The bride is three years older than the bridegroom. The classic formula, stated I think by Aristotle, is that the lady should ideally be half the gentleman's age plus seven. Harry's 33; half of that is 16½, add seven, you get 23½. Ms Markle is in fact 36. We're not exactly in the Emmanuel Macron zone here, but it's a slight oddity none the less.
Then there's the race factor. Ms Markle is officially black. I say "officially" because she doesn't look obviously black. Her Dad's white, her Mom looks to me like a quadroon, so I'm guessing Meghan is an octoroon, or perhaps a high yaller.
This is a new thing for the British royals. It's also, again, a bit of a statistical oddity. As Steve Sailer reported twenty years ago, black-white marriages break about 72 percent black guy with white gal to 28 percent the reverse. Steve also noted the curious fact that white-Asian marriages go the other way in exactly the same proportion, 72 percent white guy with Asian gal.
Some people think there's a question mark over Harry's ancestry, too, from the fact that he bears no physical resemblance at all to his father, and that his parent's marriage was known to be on the rocks well before he was born. I'm not sufficiently interested in the royals to have an opinion one way or the other about this. From a quick browse of the reportage on it, I'd say the case for Harry having emerged from the wrong side of the blanket is not made; but by all means form your own opinion if you care.
The bride here is also a divorcee. That's no longer uncommon among the royals. Harry's Dad Charles is divorced, and so are two of Charles' three siblings. It does, though, add some poignancy if you're currently watching the Netflix series The Crown.
The tremendous ructions over Queen Elizabeth's sister Margaret wanting to marry Peter Townsend are well within living memory. Heck, I can remember them. Notwithstanding that Townsend was a war hero, he was thought an unsuitable match for the Queen's sister because he was divorced. The marriage was quashed by the British establishment.
Further back than that, of course, although still within living memory, was the liaison between Edward the Eighth, Harry's great-grand-uncle, and Mrs Simpson, another American divorcee, which ended with Edward abdicating the throne in 1936.
So the royals have loosened up a lot from the stiff formality of the middle 20th century. Taking the historical long view, of course, that buttoned-down reserve was somewhat of an anomaly. British royals have misbehaved more often than not, sometimes quite sensationally. I'm currently reading Ed West's book 1215 and All That, which is about the late Norman and early Plantagenet kings. Hoo-ee.
Being of course the very soul of geniality. I wish Harry and Meghan all the best. Wishes aside, however, there are some nontrivial reasons to wonder about their prospects. Lance Welton spells out some of those reasons in an article going up on the VDARE.com website this weekend.
He points out that bride and groom both come from parents whose marriages were dysfunctional; and at least one of the partners in each of those parental marriages seems to have had an unstable personality. From what we know about behavioral genetics, which is more than most people realize, Harry and Meghan's union faces unpromising odds right there.
Lance Welton also argues that the interracial factor works against this marriage being successful. Here he's drawing on Life History theory from biology.
Some critters — fish, for example — produce great numbers of offspring but invest little effort in raising them since most will die. Others — think of elephants — have fewer offspring but invest more in nurturing them, expecting most will live. That's Life History Theory in a nutshell. Within our own species, different races seem to practice slightly different life history strategies — not as different as fishes and elephants, but … different.
In the Harry-Meghan case, if that's a factor, I think it's likely a very minor one compared with the individual personalities in play. Heck, Meghan is only just barely black. And the "live fast, die young" life history strategy that is characteristic of blacks, at any rate under the heavy disease loads of the black homelands, seems to fit Meghan's white Dad better than her blackish Mom.
Well, we'll find out … very shortly after they do, unless tabloid fascination with the royals becomes a thing of the past.
One good omen for the marriage is that when Meghan was a schoolgirl, she visited with her Dad on the set of the TV sitcom Married with Children, where he worked as a lighting technician. As I pointed out many years ago in a review of that show, it was fundamentally conservative — pro-marriage, pro-family. Quote from me:
Al [Bundy] hates his work, but he goes to work every day none the less. The Bundys' marriage is stale, but they stay married anyway. The kids are slaves to their own libidos, but it's hard to imagine them doing anything unkind or seriously illegal, or turning into dope addicts.
Let's hope Meghan absorbed some of that conservative ethos on the set of Married with Children and brings it with her into this new union. All best wishes to them both.
Well, while weird things have been happening to birth rates and marriage is no longer what it used to be, death is also getting an overhaul. I'll offer a couple of data points here.
First data point: the passing of notable Australian biologist David Goodall at age 104. Goodall checked in to the Dignitas assisted-suicide clinic in Switzerland May 8th. Then, two days later, he checked out of the material world under Switzerland's very liberal right-to-die laws.
The noteworthy thing here is that Goodall was not terminally ill, nor even in serious distress physically or mentally. He'd been having mobility issues and problems with his eyesight; but you and I both know people in worse shape than he was in who none the less wish to go on living.
David Goodall just didn't. He'd had enough. He told reporters that his life stopped being enjoyable, quote, "five or 10 years ago."
Goodall's last meal was, by his request, fish and chips with cheesecake dessert. He then listened to a recording of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, passing away shortly after the music ended.
The thing that surprised me there was his being able to get decent fish and chips in Switzerland. Perhaps there was an Arthur Treacher's near the clinic, I don't know.
He'd had to go to Switzerland to die because assisted suicide isn't legal in Australia. I'm betting it soon will be; and that there'll be a sea change in attitudes here all over the civilized world.
Second data point: Meet Koku Istambulova of Chechnya, in Russia. This lady is claimed to be 128 years old. If the claim is true, she's the oldest living person ever, so far as we know. It may not be true: As every well-researched article about extreme longevity warns, this is a zone in which false claims are abundant.
From the pictures of the lady though, I'm willing to believe that she is certainly real old. More to the point here is what she has to say about life and longevity.
What does she have to say? Quote:
I have not had a single happy day in my life. I have always worked hard, digging in the garden. I am tired. Long life is not at all God's gift for me, but a punishment.
End quote. Sounds like another customer for that clinic in Switzerland.
A lot of people feel like that. I've known some, and probably you have too. An eighty-something friend of mine is fond of quoting Bette Davis' observation that: "Old age is not for sissies."
As belief in the afterlife ebbs away and the things that once filled up our lives — work, socializing, marriage, offspring — matter less to us, you'll hear much more like this. As I said, we're heading into a sea change here, one connected with the other great changes in the hatched and matched areas.
Are these things good or bad? Like all great historical processes, they are two-faced: good in some ways, bad in others. Nuclear weapons are quite seriously bad if somebody drops one on you, but they've kept the peace between great powers for my entire lifetime. I've been listening to Professor Armstrong's lectures on the Black Death — an appalling catastrophe for humanity at the time; yet many scholars think it made the Renaissance possible, and therefore at one remove our comfortable modern world.
I pass no opinion. Things move as they will. You can't second-guess History.
Imprimis: A follow-up on my comments last month about the Stephen Lawrence case in Britain. Lawrence was the young black man murdered by white punks in London 25 years ago and now revered as a saint by British progressives. His mother sits in the House of Lords.
I quipped in those comments that perhaps London will soon be renamed Lawrence. Or perhaps the entire United Kingdom will become Lawrencia.
Neither of those things has actually happened yet, but they're getting closer. This week came news that Lawrence's friend Duwayne Brooks, who was with the Holy Martyr on the night of the murder, and who is regarded with some of the same superstitious awe as Saint Lawrence himself, this guy Duwayne Brooks is running for Mayor of London.
The current Mayor is a Pakistani Muslim. Since there are no white Britons left in London outside a few billionaire precints, I'd say Mr Brooks — or the Apostle Duwayne, whatever the correct appellation is — may be a good bet for next Mayor.
You ready for the punch line? Punch line: Brooks is running on the Conservative Party ticket.
The city of Sheffield, in Northern England, got a new Lord Mayor this week. Oh, I can hear your eyes rolling already. "What are you going to tell us about the guy, Derb? He's black? He's Muslim? What?"
BOTH! Magid Magid from Somalia is also Sheffield's youngest ever Lord Mayor, only 28. He's no conservative, either: In fact he's a small-r republican, who says he would refuse to drink a toast to the Queen.
Quote from Hizzoner: "Minority ethnic groups are doing amazing things in this city," end quote.
I'm sure they are. In other cities, too. The city of Rotherham, for example — right next door to Sheffield, twenty minutes away by municipal bus.
Item: Some statue news. Every state of the Union gets to choose two statues for the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, DC. Missouri is currently represented by statues of Francis Preston Blair, Jr and Thomas Hart Benton. Both men were U.S. Senators, back in the 19th century; both opposed slavery.
However, before he was anti-slavery, Benton inherited two slaves. And while Blair was strong for the Union during the Civil War, he once referred to blacks as a, quote, "semi-barbarous race." Oh dear. Plainly one or other of these hateful haters has to go.
Which one has not yet been determined. We know who's going to replace him, though: Harry Truman, by a vote last week of the Missouri state senate.
Surely no-one could object to Ol' Harry, could they? I wouldn't be too sure.
Actual quote from a letter the 27-year-old Harry Truman wrote to Bess Wallace, his future wife, in June of 1911, quote:
I am strongly of the opinion that negroes ought to be in Africa, yellow men in Asia, and white men in Europe and America.
Jersey City boasts a monument to the Katyn Forest massacre of 1940, when Stalin's secret police murdered 20,000 or so Polish prisoners taken in the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland the previous year. Most of those murdered were Polish army officers. They were killed individually, each with a shot to the back of the head.
Now the city wants to build a waterfront park where the statue stands. They want to move the statue into storage while development takes place. There is talk, though, that the statue won't be placed back in the park, for fear the story of the massacre might trigger little children and adult snowflakes visiting the park.
Over in Poland, a senator of that country, speaking on Polish radio, objected to the moving and likely relocation of the statue. Jersey City's Mayor, who is Jewish, tweeted that this guy is an antisemite and white nationalist, without offering any evidence.
This ignited an unseemly little spat, with Poland's ambassador to our country calling on the Mayor to apologize, and the Chief Rabbi of Poland taking the side of the senator against Jersey City's Mayor.
I don't know how this will play out: not, I hope, with the Jersey National Guard attempting another invasion of Poland. I am glad, though, to see one of the worst Soviet atrocities getting some air time, after watching Progressive morons in London celebrate May Day with banners portraying Stalin.
And while I'm mentioning the horrors of Soviet communism, let me drop a reminder that this July marks the centenary of the very brutal murders, on Lenin's orders, of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. There are full descriptions of those murders online, though I recommend not trying to read them all through, unless you have a really strong stomach.
Item: Just one more. Richard Remme, 51 years old, of Fort Dodge, Iowa, was shot by his dog.
Man and dog were rough-housing on the couch, we are told, when the dog, whose name is Balew, stepped on the trigger of a handgun in Mr Remme's belt, causing Mr Remme to suffer a gunshot wound in the leg.
"Man bites dog" is proverbially newsworthy (as opposed to "Dog bites man," which isn't), but I think "Dog shoots man" has it beat.
Frank Sinatra died just twenty years ago this past Monday. Since I mentioned the TV show "Married with Children" back there, we may as well have the theme tune for that show from Frank to play us out.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Frank Sinatra, "Love and Marriage."]