Radio Derb: Immigration, Death, Taxes, And Kicking The Can Down The Road, Etc.
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02m11s — No sense of urgency. (Congress dawdles on immigration.)

09m48s — Death and taxes. (And the metaphysical deficit.)

15m07s — Memento mori. (Death and dice.)

25m11s — Can-kicking news. (Another Continuing Resolution.)

32m09s — Totalitarian capitalism. (China just got there first.)

39m23s — The bollardization of the West. (Feeding elite moral vanity.)

42m16s — George Adamski lives! (When you don't know, say "I don't know.")

50m08s — Greek justice. (A more apt number.)

51m11s — Dreaming of a white campus. (My alma mater grovels.)

52m54s — The net worth gap. (It's astounding.)

55m29s — "Jingle Bells" is racist! (What isn't?)

57m12s — The Bananapocalypse. (Spoiling my breakfast.)

59m18s — Signoff. (The most American "Jingle Bells.")

[Music clip: Csengő szól]

01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your fatalistically genial host John Derbyshire.

That was "Jingle Bells" of course, sung in Hungarian.

You see, I got called in by's Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The Director, Mx Ngdabongo-Osagyefo, told me the podcast wasn't diverse enough. They suggested — Mx Ngdabongo-Osagyefo's preferred pronoun is "they" — they suggested that for the opening music, I cast my net wider than the cold, stale pool of dead white guys like Franz Joseph Haydn.

So there you go: "Jingle Bells" in Hungarian, a shout-out to all my Magyar listeners. Hagy vagy there, guys. You can't get further from Haydn than Hungarian, amirite?

I hope that satisfies them. Now, on with the week's roundup.

02 — No sense of urgency. 'Twas the week before Christmas / And all through the nation / We're waiting for government / To control immigration.

It's been a year of a Republican President with a Republican Congress, and nothing's been done.

Well, not quite nothing. I'm reading good things about interior enforcement; Trump's travel bans were a step forward towards immigration sanity; the reform proposal President Trump sent to Congress in October was worthy enough in its own limited way.

And this new head of USCIS, the Citizenship and Immigration Services component of Homeland Security, name of Lee Francis Cissna, looks like a really good pick. Cissna was only confirmed October 5th but Radio Derb has already made two favorable references to him. How much more evidence could you want that this guy is a good egg?

(If you do want more, read the December 20th coverage at Breitbart of Director Cissna, the week before, hammering abuses of the B visas for visitors. He actually understands the B-visa scam.)

Those are consolation prizes, though. Where's the strong action? More to the point, where's the legislation?

According to the GovTrack website, the President has signed just three immigration bills this year. Two of them were sponsored by Democrats, so you can be sure they make the situation worse in some manner, and you have to wonder why the President signed them.

The remaining measure, sponsored by Senator John Cornyn of Texas (a C-minus on the NumbersUSA immigration score card) glories in the title "Javier Vega, Jr. Memorial Act of 2017." What does it do? Quote from GovTrack:

A bill to designate the checkpoint of the United States Border Patrol located on United States Highway 77 North in Sarita, Texas, as the "Javier Vega, Jr. Border Patrol Checkpoint."
End quote. Hey: If you're going to name things after people, you could certainly do worse than name one after Javier Vega, a Border Patrol officer who died while off-duty defending his family against illegal alien invaders. Legislation-wise, though, and with no disrespect to Officer Vega, this is pitifully little to show for a year of total Republican control.

The fact of its being so little in fact tells us something about the current state of the Republican Party — something that stirs in my breast the determination never to vote Republican again unless they get their snouts out of the trough and start moving on some real legislation to really tackle issues related to the National Question.

The depressing thing for immigration patriots and — wait for it — for demographic conservatives, the depressing thing is that there seems to be no sense of urgency.

Government can be a mighty engine when there's a crisis to be dealt with. I recall the pride and satisfaction I felt in 1982, watching Margaret Thatcher's government reacting to Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands on April 2nd that year. Sample quote from Wikipedia:

On its return to Southampton from a world cruise on 7 April, the ocean liner SS Canberra was requisitioned and set sail two days later with 3 Commando Brigade aboard. The ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 was also requisitioned and left Southampton on 12 May with 5th Infantry Brigade on board.
End quote. I recall pictures of military engineering crews working through the night under floodlights, welding helicopter landing pads to the QE2 deck.

That's how you do things when they need doing. Having won the Presidency on a promise to secure our southern border, Trump could have got the job done by summer. Israel's 400-mile security fence around the West Bank was built in a comparable span of time, and the U.S.A. has far more resources than Israel. Heck, we could just have hired the Israelis in on contract to build our wall. Alternatively, we could hire the firm that the President is hiring to build a wall around his golf resort in County Clare, Ireland.

Instead we just get these occasional picayune news stories about "prototypes" for the wall. We're trying out this, we're trying out that … but, quote, "any meaningful construction is still at least 10 months away, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials said."

That was in late October. Ten months on would be August 2018; and this is a government official talking, so you can take that ten months with a grain of salt. Most likely we'll be heading into the midterms — two years on from Trump's election victory — with no wall at all.

Imagine going in to the midterms with a great big beautiful wall, paid for by a tax on remittances from Mexicans living in the States. Imagine the satisfaction of those of us who voted for Trump in 2016, and the enthusiasm that satisfaction would translate into — enthusiasm to vote for midterm candidates Trump supports.

Instead, what did we get? A tax bill.


03 — Death and taxes. My heart sinks at having to pass comment on the tax bill.

Like, I think, most middle-class types, I'm just fatalistic about taxes. All through my working life, in two different countries and under governments with complexions from triumphantly socialist to rock-ribbed conservative, I have forked over a fifth or a quarter of my income to the tax man to pay for pensions, hospitals, schools, roads, and battleships.

I don't mind. I'm sure our governments could be a lot more efficient; but plainly they are never going to be, and by comparison with other times and places, we are on the whole well-governed. That's worth paying for.

So I haven't paid much attention to this tax bill. Adjustments to the tax regime make very little difference to middle-class drones like me.

To be precise, as best I can figure from the news reports, the Derbs will be better off by some sum of money between two and four hundred dollars a year.

There are of course citizens with much more cause to be excited about the bill. Those corporate tax cuts should perk up the economy. This is still for the most part a capitalist country … though I shall have more to say about this in a later segment — and high spirits in the boardroom are a positive for the nation at large.

And in most states, people with more income than I have will be getting a de-crease in their federal taxes. A married person in Florida with a million dollars of income will pay $31,000 less next year than this year. Unless you're an eat-the-rich socialist, this again is a boost to capitalism; and at three percent of income, not an extravagant giveaway.

That doesn't apply in my state, where the million-dollar married guy will pay ten thousand dollars more to the feds, because of changes in the rules about alowing deductions for state and local taxes.

My first reaction to that was that rich folk who live in high-tax states deserve to be shafted. If they mind high taxes, why do they live here? And why don't they deploy their wealth in support of low-tax candidates?

Peter Brimelow has pointed out another side to the story, though. It's precisely in these high-tax blue states that support for the GOP and our president need bolstering, and this bill isn't going to help.

And of course, all this tax-reducing will increase the national deficit. The official answer to that is, that the tax cuts will cause the economy to boom, the booming economy will end up contributing far more to the Treasury than was lost by the tax cuts, and all will be for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Possibly our President and the GOP boosters really believe that. No doubt some of them do. I suspect, though, that most, like me, regard the deficit as an abstraction, of interest only to students of metaphysics, and couldn't care less whether it increases of decreases.

That's all I can offer on the tax bill. As I began by saying, my core position here is just fatalism. I first paid taxes on full-employment income back in 1968. When I do my taxes for 2017, it'll be for my fiftieth year as a taxpayer.

I can't say I've noticed much difference across that half-century. If I go to my grave at last paying very much more, or very much less, than I've been paying this fifty years past, I shall go to my grave an astonished and utterly baffled man.

Death and taxes — the only certainties. There's my two cents on taxes. Oh, you want a segment on death? Glad to oblige.


04 — Memento mori. I know, it's supposed to be the season of uplift. You don't come to Radio Derb for uplift, though; you come for contrarianism. So in this segment I'm going to go way contrarian. I'm going to talk about death.

Well, not actually about death, the thing that happens to you sooner or later, but about the aftermath. What should we do with the remains?

The standard drill is, you go to a funeral parlor and make arrangements. It's all done as tastefully as possible. The corpse is freshened up to look peacefully asleep; there's a lovely polished-wood casket; lots of flowers; the mourners converse in murmurs in rooms with deep-pile carpets to absorb the murmurs; you know how it goes. There is some kind of ceremony, more or less religious according to taste. Then the corpse is lowered into a grave, or rolled off through some doors into a furnace.

Looking at it from the funeral directors' side, it's a good business to be in. The stock market ebbs and flows; factories go offshore; H-1Bs steal all the programming jobs; automation wipes out travel agents and tax preparers; but people go on dying at a pretty steady rate.

"Plastics," was the career advice given to Dustin Hoffman by Walter Brooke in The Graduate. For a really stable, secure, remunerative career in the 21st century, the word I would offer to a young graduate nowadays should be: "corpses."

I'll just note as a sidebar, from some cursory browsing on the internet, that the corpse business seems to be racially segregated. There are, for example, two national professional associations.

One of them, the National Funeral Directors' Association, operates out of Brookfield, Wisconsin. So far as one can judge from photographs of their conferences, the Association is as hu-white, or at any rate as nonblack, as Wisconsin itself, which is to say 94 percent. Being nice midwesterners the Badgers of course darken up the site as best they are able, but those conference pictures give the game away.

Then there is the National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association, Inc. which operates out of Union City, Georgia. Georgia is the third blackest state in the Union (I'm not counting Washington, DC) and it shows. Radio Derb hereby offers a modest prize, a handsomely-bound set of the collected works of Ta-Nehisi Coates, to the first listener who can spot a white face on the NFDMA website.

"Death and dice level all distinctions" said the poet. Well, apparently not all.

That's by the bye, though. And I can hear listeners grumbling: Are you going anywhere with this, Derb, or just being gratuitously morbid again? Is there a news story here somewhere?

Of course there is. Listen and you shall hear.

In an increasingly irreligious age — and, I suspect, one in which the concept of "tasteful" is being steadily submerged by the concept of "cheesy" — in an age like this, there's a rising demand for alternatives.

Traditional methods of corpse disposal are also bumping up against environmental sensitivity and shortages of land. Burial, I'm reading here in the December 18th Guardian, releases methane, 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, while cremation uses 2,000 cubic feet of natural gas and four kilowatt-hours of electricity per corpse.

You can, of course, donate your body to science. By all means do so if you choose. The college I attended had one of England's largest teaching hospitals attached, so I mixed considerably with medical students and heard their stories. I choose not to offer my cadaver for dissection practice.

Well, now there's another alternative: resomation, also known as "liquid burial."

No, you don't get dropped into the nearest bit of ocean like Sir Francis Drake. Burial at sea is in fact a legal option, but it's even more expensive than regular burial, needing special licenses, hired boats, steel or concrete ballast to keep you down there, and long overland journeys if you live far from the coast.

With resomation what they do is slide your body into a machine called, naturally, a resomator. Once inside the resomator you are submerged in an alkaline solution, heated to 152 degrees Centigrade, then simmered for three hours. By that time — I'm going to quote here from the Guardian, quote — "the chamber is reduced to a nice bouillabaisse — 'a tea-coloured liquid' which can be harmlessly flushed into the local water system," end quote.

Now that's tasteful. Even the color of the liquefied remains is tasteful. Tea is tasteful, isn't it? The Queen drinks tea. Everybody's maiden aunt drinks tea. I drink tea. If the liquid were bourbon-colored, or Pepsi-colored, or Mountain Dew-colored, we'd be back in the cheesy zone; but "tea-colored"? Tasteful!

I assume that you can still have the funeral parlor melodrama if you want it, so nobody's being put out of business here; and the resomator machine costs north of half a million dollars, so it's not likely funerals will get any cheaper.

Resomation comes dressed up in a lot of New Age-y flapdoodle about returning one's spirit to the waters and so on — all done much better by William Cullen Bryant two hundred years ago, if anyone wants my opinion — but it seems like a sensible advance in the technology of corpse disposal.

Janet Street-Porter, writing an op-ed about this in a different British newspaper, tells us that, quote: "Water burials are highly controversial but they are legal in three provinces in Canada and 14 states in the USA," end quote.

That in fact is the news story. Resomation is not yet legal in Britain. Fans of the process are waiting for a decision from the government on whether or not it will be allowed. One British municipality wants to resomate, but the local water company is refusing to allow the tea-colored bouillabaisse to be flushed away.

Where the disposal of my own remains is concerned, my very faint preference — why bother with having a preference? I won't know anything about it — is to be eaten by wild beasts. Not only is that environmentally unobjectionable, it would also, it seems to me, be extremely cool.

If that can't be arranged, I have told my wife — who is a keen gardener — that she is welcome to put me on her compost heap. After a few months I should compact down nicely; and it will save her a ton of money in funeral expenses.


05 — Can-kicking news. After that little detour into the macabre, I shall circle back to immigration issues.

My recurring theme this past few weeks has been the linkage between, on the one hand the constitutional obligation of Congress to approve federal spending, and on the other, the determination on the part of congressional Democrats that the 800,000 illegal aliens who've benefited from Barack Obama's un-constitutional DACA order be given amnesty.

Thursday this week that particular can was kicked down the road again — for the third time — when Congress passed yet another Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government's operations funded through to January 19th. The resolution was signed by President Trump today, Friday.

One factor in the passing of this resolution is the understanding that seems to have been reached between the White House and Congress that a bill giving amnesty to the illegals will be passed and signed before the President's extension of the DACA order expires on March 5th next year, conditional on the pro-amnesty forces yielding to, quote from "border security and other policy changes," end quote.

That's the framework for a deal. The details are still vague enough that "border security and other policy changes" could mean anything from merely cosmetic adjustments to procedures all the way up to an immigration moratorium and an eighty-foot border wall.

My guess is that any deal actually cut will be way down at the lower end of that range. The best I'm hoping for is an end to chain migration and the diversity lottery in return for amnesty.

My hopes aren't high. For Democrats, ending chain migration would mean the annihilation of their next cohort of voters. The mainstream media would portray it in terms of wailing infants being ripped from their mothers' arms. The mechanics of chain migration — that colossal multiplier effect — are poorly understood by the general public, and our liberal media intend to keep it that way.

The diversity lottery may be easier to kill. It is so absurd, a skillful propaganda operation by the White House could easily make it very unpopular.

But then, amnesty for the DACA illegals without an end to chain migration, would mean that today's 800,000 would swell to eight million early in the next decade, to eighty million by mid-century. A successful propaganda effort on that would involve getting the electorate to do mental arithmetic … so forget it.

I'm therefore going to predict that the deal we get in January or February will be amnesty for the DACA illegals in return for an end to the diversity lottery plus some cosmetic changes at the southern border — making the border post restrooms transgender, something like that. Changing the paint scheme, perhaps.

And even if I'm wrong and we somehow get chain migration killed off, even that is only a foot in the door of real reform. There is, of course, no prospect for the abolition of birthright citizenship being part of the upcoming deal.

Peering forward past the January-February deal, in fact, looking out all the way to the horizon, I see no prospect at all of the administration tackling birthright citizenship. In the 70-point proposal President Trump sent to Congress in October, the topic wasn't mentioned. Apparently it doesn't even form one-seventieth of the administration's thinking about immigration reform.

So this particular abuse, this cynical belittling of U.S. citizenship, will continue into the indefinite future.

That's good news for the anchor baby industry, at least. We got a reminder of that particular sector of the national economy this week when the Wall Street Journal ran an article about Saipan, a small U.S. territory in the western Pacific.

A regulatory change in 2009 meant that Chinese and Russian tourists could visit Saipan for a spell of up to 45 days without a visa. The idea was to pep up the island's economy, which depends heavily on tourist hotels and casinos. So a lady from those countries with a bun in the oven can just hop on a plane, check in to a Saipan hotel, give birth, and become mother to a U.S. citizen.

Quote from Breitbart:

The good news is that the visa waiver is a regulatory policy, not a law so that it can be changed by the President Donald Trump's Department of Homeland Security.
End quote. That's only good news if someone at DHS is paying attention, and gives a damn.


06 — Totalitarian capitalism. I promised back there that I'd have something to say about capitalism. Here I am saying it.

I'm a bit embarrassed just to type out the word "capitalism." It sounds so antiquated. Fifty years ago the lines were clearly drawn. In the West we had capitalism, modified to be sure by a measure, in varying degrees, of democratic socialism. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, and in Mao's China and some scattered hell-holes like Cuba and North Korea, there was totalitarian socialism.

Now what have we got? There are more billionaires in Beijing than in New York City. Is China a capitalist country? You can get an argument going. Perhaps you can say that just as the mid-20th-century West was capitalist with a side order of socialism, China is socialist with a side order of capitalism.

That is in fact what the ChiComs say: "Socialism with Chinese characteristics." That means: Make as much money as you like, but don't even think of challenging the supremacy of the Communist Party.

Way back then — I'm talking about the early 1960s, when I started paying attention — there was a school of thought among economists and political scientists called Convergence Theory, linked in the United States with the name of John Kenneth Galbraith — not altogether fairly, according to people who know this intellectual territory well.

The rough idea was that the USSR would allow more and more private-sector activity while government power in the West would expand, leading eventually to a situation is which the two systems were indistinguishable. They'd have converged to a common political-economic mean.

I sometimes think I see evidence that something like this is happening, after all. Galbraith & Co. weren't wrong; they were just premature convergence-ists.

Exhibit A: The purge of Dissident Right accounts carried out by Twitter this week. It wasn't as dramatic as some of us had feared, and as the antifa of course had hoped.

The list of names banned didn't actually have much logic to it. I mean: Jared Taylor yes, Richard Spencer no? It almost looks as though the most thoughtful, sober, intellectual Dissident Right tweeters are the ones being targeted. That can't be right, though, otherwise we at would have been banned.

Well, never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity. I doubt anyone at Twitter is sufficiently au courant with Dissident Right thinking — or with any thinking — to make those kinds of distinctions.

Probably what happened is that some 17-year-old intern or diversity hire was assigned to make up a list; after asking around the office, he, she, or xe pulled up the Southern Poverty Law Center website and picked some victims at random.

This grubby little episode does, though illustrate once again how easy it is, in a society where news and opinion are broadcast by a handful of big monopolies, for dissident ideas to be shut out of the public sphere.

It's only a few steps from here to the situation in China, where hundreds of thousands of government security personnel monitor the internet 24/7, pouncing on any kind of heterodox opinion. Here it likely won't be the government doing it, it'll be the internet monopolies; but what, functionally, is the difference?

When you bring this up in conversation someone says: "What we need to do is build an alternative system of outlets." The Twitter-style alternative Gab is usually quoted in this context.

The problem here is the same one the Dissident Right has booking hotel rooms for conferences or getting noticed on big mainstream outlets like Fox News. Fundamentally, we have no real financing. American Renaissance, like, depends entirely on private donors. The Dissident Right doesn't have a George Soros or a Rupert Murdoch. We don't have any seriously wealthy, seriously powerful supporters.

It's a totally unequal contest. All the money is on the other side: not just capital, but also venture capital. Try pitching a Dissident Right version of Facebook to some West Coast VC. He'll probably call the police.

Money doesn't just talk in the Western world today, it swings a big heavy nightstick. It swings it against anyone who questions political orthodoxy — globalism, multiculturalism, Cultural Marxism.

It's convergence. In China, make as much money as you like, but don't even think of challenging the supremacy of the Communist Party. In the West, make as much money as you like, but don't even think of challenging CultMarx orthodoxy.

That's what we're heading to: totalitarian capitalism. China just got there first.


07 — The bollardization of the West. Las Vegas Review-Journal, December 20th, headline: First wave of safety posts installed along Las Vegas Strip.

From the story, quote:
Clark County on Wednesday finished installing close to 800 steel posts between the street and sidewalks along the Las Vegas Strip to increase pedestrian safety.

The posts, known as bollards, are interconnected by underground steel frames. They can withstand a head-on collision from a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling 50 mph.

End quote. This is one example of what I call the bollardization of the West, a side-effect of our elites' enthusiasm for keeping our countries wide open to crazy Islamists keen to kill as many infidels as they can by driving trucks at them.

It's happening all over. Here in New York there are bollards in Times Square and bollards on Fifth Avenue around Trump Tower. Central Washington, DC is thoroughly bollarded. The city of Nice in France, where an Islamist killed 86 people last year, has responded with some serious bollardization. Cities in Britain are getting bollarded up.

Next big customer for bollards: the city of Melbourne in Australia. Thursday this week in that fine city, a 32-year-old man intentionally drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians, injuring 19 of them. The driver there was a refugee from Afghanistan. A senior police officer on the site told the BBC that the perp had, quote, "attributed his actions to perceived mistreatment of Muslims."

I guess that's "mistreatment" as in "letting Muslims come live in our countries and leech off our public welfare systems."

If you're a recent graduate looking for a career choice, and you think plastics are passé and corpses are icky, you might want to consider getting into the bollard business. It's booming right now.


08 — George Adamski lives! My literary hero Samuel Johnson was a deeply skeptical man. His friend Hester Thrale reported that, quote: "Mr. Johnson's Incredulity amounts almost to Disease … He is a sad Mortal to carry a Wonder to," end quote. It took Johnson's friends six months to convince him that the 1755 Lisbon earthquake had actually happened.

I'm of the same kidney. Don't come to me with miracles, ghosts, visions of the afterlife, or conspiracy theories. I have a rooted conviction that the world is no more than it seems to be, and that people who think otherwise are suffering from poor digestion, or else are on the make.

It wasn't always thus. When I started on my reading career in the early 1950s, flying saucers were in the news. An uncle of mine owned a copy of the 1953 book Flying Saucers Have Landed by George Adamski. I thought it was fascinating, and believed every word. Ah, the innocence of childhood!

Adamski went on to become the king of ufologists, and wrote a shelf-full of books on the topic. He was of course on the make, and I don't think anyone now seriously believes his tales.

UFOs are still with us, though. The Pentagon this week confirmed that they had run a top-secret initiative to study UFOs from 2007 to 2012, with a budget of $22 million. The New York Times reports suspicions that even though the program's funding was stopped five years ago, the program itself continues, folded into general Pentagon operations.

The Pentagon's admission prompted a former Navy pilot, Commander David Fravor, to speak out about a UFO he had encountered on a routine training mission in 2004 off the California coast. He described it as looking like a white Tic Tac forty feet long with no wings.

It's a pity George Adamski's no longer with us; he'd have gotten a book out of that.

Quote from the New York Times story:

The shadowy program … was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time … Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid's, Robert Bigelow …
End quote. You don't say.

In related news, our solar system is being visited by a peculiar object from interstellar space. Oumuamua is cigar-shaped, about 800 ft by 100 ft. It whipped by the Sun at around 200,000mph on September 9th, well inside the orbit of Mercury, and is now headed out of our system on a hyperbolic trajectory.

The fact of Oumuamua's being interstellar, and its peculiar shape, led to much speculation in the tabloid press that it might be an artefact from another civilization. The London Daily Mail quoted a chap named Nick Pope, former head of the British Ministry of Defence's UFO project — I guess they have a Harry Reid over there, too. This fellow claims that our scanning of Oumuamua may have, quote, "awoken the intelligence inside," end quote, and that aliens may now be watching our every move.

Uh-huh. Cue TV astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson. I'd better confess that I've always taken Tyson for an affirmative action lightweight, and so not paid much attention to him. Well, he just went up in my estimation.

I can't find a record of Tyson saying anything about Oumuamua, but he did respond to a CNN query about Commander Fravor's UFO. Quote from him:

The evidence is so paltry for aliens to visit Earth, I have no further interest. Call me when you have a dinner invite from an alien.

The universe brims with mysteries. Just because you don't know what it is you're looking at doesn't mean it's intelligent aliens visiting from another planet. Scientists live in mystery every day of our lives. People are uncomfortable not knowing, not the scientists. I'm fine. We don't know what it is. Keep checking it out.

End quote. There speaks a man after my own heart. Pascal said that all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. I'm not so sure about that; but I do think the quantity of flapdoodle in the world would be much reduced if people could just say "I don't know" when they don't know something.

Is there life elsewhere in the universe? I don't know, and neither does anyone else. Our current understanding is compatible with life being fantastically rare, as Michael Hart has argued. It is also compatible with life being abundant.

We don't know. Perhaps next week, or next year, or sometime in the next millennium, we'll find out. Right now we don't know; and if odd-shaped rocks from the interstellar void or Tic Tac-shaped blobs over the California coast are evidence for anything, they're evidence for the fact that not all junk is on the earth's surface.


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

Imprimis: Here's a story that warmed my heart. A 54-year-old man in Greece has been sentences for 1,489 years in prison for smuggling Middle Eastern illegals into his country.

Then I read a bit further and saw that under Greek law you never have to serve more than 25 years, however long the sentence imposed by the court.

Darn it. Still, it's an appropriate sentence for working to destroy European civilization.

What would have made it even more appropriate would have been a sentence of, not 1,489 years, but 1,453. History buffs will get the reference.


Item: Back there a ways I mentioned my alma mater, University College London. Well, UCL was in the news the other day.

On December 11th, with snow forecast, the college tweeted that, tweet:

Dreaming of a white campus? Our campuses will be open and operating fully today, Monday 11 December, so please make your way in as planned. (We can't guarantee snow but we'll try!)
End tweet.

Outrage followed. One unidentified Twitter user responded, tweet: "You know who else dreamt of a white campus? Hitler, that's who. Disgusting." End tweet. Another one, whose name we do know, tweeted that if anyone does not understand why the comment is offensive, they should, quote, "look into the history of the oppression of the PoC," end quote. That's "people of color," and the tweeter's name there is Kumail Jaffer.

UCL of course groveled, issuing an ankle-grabbing apology to the snowflakes.

Wait a minute, though? Aren't snowflakes white? All right, let's just say "flakes."


Item: Blacks and Hispanics are poor. Let's set aside just for one podcast the question of why they are poor, and just look at the numbers on how poor they are.

Those numbers are quite amazing, if this 2015 report out of the Federal Bank of Boston can be believed.

The report is called "The Color of Wealth in Boston." It breaks out Boston's population by race and Hispanic origin nad looks at the median net worth in each group.

Median net worth of whites: $247,500 dollars. Median net worth of American blacks: $8. That's what it says, $8. Caribbean blacks do somewhat better, median net worth $12,000. Puerto Ricans are at $3,000, other Hispanics $2,700.

December 10th this year the Boston Globe, in a report on blacks in the city, dug out this report and quoted the $8 figure. Many readers wrote, emailed, or tweeted in to ask if that was a typo. The newspaper had to explain next day that, no, it wasn't a typo: native black Bostonians at the median own eight dollars more than they owe.

The median is the statistic that divides the subject population, sorted on that statistic, into two equal parts. So half of native black Bostonians have less than eight dollars in net worth. Most of them presumably owe more than they own.

The Globe of course puts this down to racism, although the $12,000 figure for Caribbean blacks suggests there may be a fault in the reasoning there.


Item: Racism of course permeates our society. Did you know, for example, that "Jingle Bells," the tune I opened this podcast with, is a racist tune? You didn't? Well, be enlightened.

This story is also from Boston. Possible that city is even more permeated than the rest of the country, I don't know. Anyway, a white professor at Boston University, name of Kyna Hamill, researching the history of "Jingle Bells," discovered that it was first performed in blackface for a Boston minstrel show in 1857.

Wrote Professor Hamill in her research paper, quote:

Attention to the circumstances of its performance history enables reflection on its problematic role in the construction of blackness and whiteness in the United States.
End quote.

You thought it was incredible that native black Bostonians have median net worth of only eight dollars? I think it's incredible that you can get paid a professor's salary for writing gibberish like that. What, is she trying to compete with Ta-Nehisi Coates?

My news sources have no information on Prof. Hamill's net worth.


Item: Finally, my word of the week: Bananapocalypse. This is from Bloomberg News, December 21st, headline: The Bananapocalypse Is Nigh.

The gist of the story is, that the world's bananas are threatened by a fungal disease that may wipe them out in the next few years.

It doesn't help — in fact it's the white fleshy heart of the problem — that all the world's commercial bananas are bred from one single variety, known as Big Mike. Worse yet, Big Mike is sterile. Growers take a cutting to become the basis of a new plant. So each banana plantation is populated not only with a single variety of banana, but with bananas that have the exact same genetic material as one another.

I shall lament the passing of Big Mike. After rising in the morning I enjoy a Five Fruit breakfast: a bowl of oatmeal with raisins in it (that's one fruit) and a banana cut up over it (that's two), a glass of orange juice with a squirt of lemon in it (that's four) all followed by a portion of prunes (making five). If Big Mike passes from the Earth I'll be down to a Four Fruit breakfast, with who knows what consequences for my health and mental stability.

I still like the word, though: Bananapocalypse. All our pleasures have to be paid for, I guess.


10 — Signoff. That's my Christmas offering, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, and a very Merry Christmas to you all!

We need Christmas music to see us out, of course. I think I'm going to stick with "Jingle Bells," unrepentant racist that I am; but, with absolutely no offense to the Hungarians, let's close with a real American rendition.

Here is the most American "Jingle Bells" I could find: The United States Navy Band playing "Dueling Jingle Bells."

There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Take it away, guys!

[Music clip: U.S. Navy Band, "Dueling Jingle Bells."]

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