01m35s — The Trumpening of New York. (The new Andy Jackson?)
09m46s — The first popular election. (Mind that vase!)
12m31s — A broad ticket. (Consider her ways.)
19m44s — Chinese hide and seek. (The spirit of Secretary Dong.)
30m03s — Blokes in frocks. (Minoritarianism goes to the bathroom.)
34m27s — Increase your word power. (Pretty in pink.)
47m00s — Happy anniversary! (ERII, Shakespeare, and me.)
49m48s — Lilo does Islam. (The prophet trap.)
52m15s — Postmodernist cartooning. (Don't try it in Germany.)
55m12s — Signoff. (A curious polity.)
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your incredibly, tremendously genial host John Derbyshire, believe me, podcasting to you from the wonderful state of New York, which may have just sealed the deal on which two major-party presidential candidates will be offered for our choice in November.
Such, at any rate, is the judgment of Bill O'Reilly, and far be it from me to gainsay the Big Mick. Let me tell you, as a person born English: Arguing with the Irish is way more trouble than it's worth.
We shall of course cover the New York result in this week's edition. Then we shall turn our attention to sundry other topics; notably, to the mighty controversy currently roiling the nation, the Great Debate of our age, on which the fate of Liberty hangs: Should guys be allowed into the girls' restroom?
On with the motley!
02 — The Trumpening of New York. Tuesday this week I had the satisfaction of casting a vote for Donald Trump. This was of course in the New York state Republican primary — a closed primary, in which only registered Republicans get to vote.Watching the likes of Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan this past couple of years, I have contemplated changing my party registration to Independent. Well, I'm glad I didn't. There was The Donald on the ballot sheet, along with Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and for some reason Ben Carson, right there in the gym at my local high school, the entrance to the polling place helpfully marked with a sign saying LUGAR DE VOTACION.
I filled in the circle, fed the sheet through the mark-scanner machine, exchanged a few courtesies with the election volunteers, and left with real satisfaction, having cast a presidential vote for the first time ever without gritted teeth.
There was a Democratic Party primary the same day. Results of the two primaries were a mix, good news and bad news.
Good news: Trump won a bigger-than-expected victory, taking 60 percent of the GOP primary vote. [Cheers]. Bad news: Hillary Clinton likewise did better than expected against Bernie Sanders, taking 58 percent of the vote. [Boos]. Turnout for some reason was lackluster.
Some of you in the rest of the country, those great spaces west of the Hudson where the buffalo roam and the fierce Apaches pitch their tepees, may be surprised to learn that there are any Republicans at all in the state of Mrs Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Bill de Blasio. There are in fact plenty of us; one-third of our congressmen are Republicans.
So this is a real boost for Trump, not only for the GOP convention in July, but also for the general election in November, assuming the GOP establishment hasn't figured out a way to lasso and hogtie him before then.
If you were to waterboard me … [Clip: "They asked me, 'What do you think about waterboarding, Mr Trump?' I said: 'I love it!'"] Thank you, Sir. If you were to waterboard me, you might get me to admit that much of my pleasure in voting for Trump was of a negative kind, a faint echo of Genghis Khan's supposed remark that, quote: "The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms." End quote. [Cackle.]
Not, please understand, that I have any fell designs on Mrs Cruz or Mrs Kasich, or on their husbands' horses; but for a patriotic conservative it has been joy indeed to watch the unpatriotic, un-conservative Republican establishment thus brought low this election season.
There's an excitement, too, in being witness to, and in a tiny way participating in, an election that could very well be historic — a turning point.
It's an odd coincidence, to my mind, that we are having a controversy over removing the image of Andrew Jackson from our currency just as the Trump phenomenon has been happening. There are some interesting parallels between the seventh president and the first Donald.
There are of course some definite non-parallels, too. Let me get those out of the way before Jacksonites send me angry emails. Yes, Jackson was a genuine war hero, a man of tremendous physical courage. Trump has not been tested in that way, and we don't know how he'd behave if he were. Jackson was also an uxorious man, passionately devoted to his wife — he killed a man he thought had insulted her. Trump has no doubt been fond of all three of his wives; but the fact of there having been three of them I think disqualifies him from the adjective "uxorious."
Now the parallels. Trump inspires the same sort of disgust in our political establishment that Jackson, a rough frontiersman, did among the Virginia gentry and the stuffed shirts of New England.
Trump's rough and ready speaking style likewise echoes Jackson's. Some quotes from Arthur Schlesinger's The Age of Jackson, quotes:
Jackson's intelligence expressed itself in judgment rather than in analysis. "He had vigorous thoughts," as Benton put it, "but not the faculty of arranging them in a regular composition." … "He had never studied the niceties of language, said Taney" … "A man of the keenest and surest intuitions, in respect to men and measures, but with no power of reasoning out his conclusions, or of imparting them intellectually to other persons." (That was Nathaniel Hawthorne, who by the way was a Jackson supporter. Continuing quotes:) … When Jackson had triumphed, no one could be certain that his administration would not duplicate that of Madison or Monroe or even of Adams.End quotes. Here's another non-parallel, though. Jackson had a superb campaign manager in the person of Martin van Buren, who among other innovations gave us the campaign button. Trump's been lackadaisical in this regard, although he seems to have woken up now, after Ted Cruz stole all those delegates from him. He's hired experienced consultant Paul Manafort to run his campaign, and Mr Manafort started off this week by schmoozing the Republican National Committee.
I hope it helps. At the same time, I hope Trump doesn't go too native in the GOP. Andy Jackson's administration did not duplicate those of Madison, Monroe, or Adams. Heaven forbid a Trump administration should turn into a replica of George W. Bush's.
03 — The first popular election. I can't resist inserting here an account of the events immediately following Andy Jackson's first inauguration in March 1829. After the ceremony at the Capitol, Jackson got on his horse and rode to the White House. The crowd followed him. I'll let Paul Johnson take up the story. Long quote, with many inner quotes:
Suddenly, to the dismay of the gentry watching from the balconies of their houses, it became obvious that the vast crowd in its entirety was going to enter the White House. It was like the sansculottes taking over the Tuilleries. A Supreme Court justice said those pouring into the building ranged from "the highest and most polished" to "the most vulgar and gross in the nation — the reign of King Mob seemed triumphant." Soon the ground floor of the White House was crammed. Society ladies fainted, others grabbed anything within reach. A correspondent wrote to Van Buren in New York: "It would have done Mr Wilberforce's heart good to see a stout black wench eating a jelly with a gold spoon in the president's house." Clothes were torn; barrels of orange punch were knocked over; men with muddy boots jumped on "damask satin-covered chairs" worth $150 each to see better; and china and glassware "worth several thousand dollars" were smashed. To get the mob out of the house, the White House servants took huge stocks of liquor onto the lawn and the hoi polloi followed, "black, yellow and grey [with dirt] many of them fit subjects for a penitentiary." Jackson, sick of it all, climbed out by a rear window and went back to Gadsby's to eat a steak, already a prime symbol of American prosperity.End long quote. Having read that, I think I'll pass on the Trump inauguration; but I wish him good luck anyway.
disapprove of homosexuality? That's not even to mention Muslims, the progressive alliance's new pet group. Why do white men vote for a party that's explicitly anti-white and anti-male? And so on.
From the numbers I've seen out of the New York primary exit polling, there's not much sign of fraying. Hillary did do better with women than with men. She got 63 percent of the female vote, but split 50-50 with Bernie among men. Similarly with blacks. She got 75 percent of the black vote; but again split 50-50 with Bernie among whites.
Hillary's biggest deficit was with the 18-29 age group. She lost them 35-65 to Bernie, but won all other age groups easily. Youngsters just like unfiltered socialism. I'm not going to crow about that; I liked it too at their age.
We don't get much data on the homosexual vote. The New York primary exit polls didn't break it out. The closest I can get is a blog post by the Audacious Epigone. He starts from an interview with Milo Yiannopolous, who argues that homosexuals are waking up to the fact that, quote, "the left is not their friend."
Pondering that, Audacious digs out some data from a Reuters poll matching up Mrs Clinton with Donald Trump in a general election scenario. Of those homosexual respondents who declared a choice, 83 percent favored Hillary. That, as Audacious says, is even worse than the 76-22 Obama-Romney split among the shirt-lifters in 2012.
So Yiannopolous is whistling Dixie. All in all, the coalition of the fringes is looking pretty solid.
Now Hillary has her party's nomination locked up, there's speculation about who her running mate will be. There's serious speculation, in fact, that this may be an all-girl ticket. John Podesta, Mrs Clinton's campaign chairman, said on Wednesday that, quote: "We'll start with a broad list and then begin to narrow it. But there is no question that there will be women on that list." End quote.
"A broad list …" get it? There will be broads on that list. Lefty squaw Elizabeth Warren is getting heap plenty mentions in this context, followed by the petite and extremely feminine former Arizona Governor and open-borders enforcer Janet Napolitano.
So this could be a broad ticket. And if you'll forgive the pun, abroad is where you'll want to be if these screeching harpies take over the federal government.
Following Tuesday's result, Mrs Clinton zipped over to Pennsylvania, a big one for her next Tuesday, with 189 delegates at stake. No, she doesn't need them at this point, but I refer you to that Genghis Khan quote in a previous segment. She wants to crush Bernie Sanders, to drive him before her, to take from him all he possesses, to ride his horses, etc.
So there she was in Philadelphia Wednesday, at a black church with black supremacist Eric Holder, playing the white guilt card. Sample quote: "We have to be honest about systemic racism and particularly the responsibility of white people, not just people in public life but all of us." End quote. Yes, we must speak honestly about race, and encourage others to speak honestly. Then the counter-revolutionary wreckers will reveal themselves and we can hound them out of their jobs!
I don't have the stomach to watch an actual clip of the event, but presumably the lady put on her black voice for the occasion. Unfortunately her command of ebonics is less than fluent.
Blacks apparently have a phrase: "ride or die." When a black woman says she will "ride or die" for her man, that means she will stick with him no matter what.
Well, there was a group at this event called The Mothers of the Movement: black women whose relatives have been shot by the police — while attacking the police, of course, or committing other crimes — or whose relatives died in police custody, like the lady in Texas who hanged herself in a police cell. One of these women told Mrs Clinton she expects the candidate to "ride or die" for her.
Responded Hillary, quote: "I think that these women are asking us all to ride and die."
No, no, lady, it's not "ride and die," it's "ride or die." You're not supposed to die unless prevented somehow from riding — perhaps because the party of the second part has ridden off without you, leaving you behind with the three kids he fathered on you.
05 — Chinese hide and seek. Forty-three years ago I was teaching English at a college in provincial China. This was the early post-Mao period, and foreigners were a rarity outside the big cities. I think I was the only one resident in that town since the Russians had left twenty years previously.I was on friendly terms with some of the older students. When no-one else was around, they'd pass on things the college's party secretaries had said in Political Study sessions, which were compulsory for all students and faculty.
One day one of these students told me that the chief party secretary, whose name was Dong, had told a political study class that I was a spy. "How do you know Mr Derbyshire's a spy?" asked one of the bolder spirits among the students. Replied Secretary Dong: "Of course he's a spy! All foreigners are spies! Why would they come to China, if not to spy on us?"
That kind of mentality is still current among China's rulers, as we shall see.
Perhaps we could use a little of it ourselves. Here's an illustrative quote, quote:
Chinese espionage, both online and old-fashioned, represents a serious threat to American security and prosperity, as Washington, DC, has stated many times. Cyber theft and online pilfering of American intellectual property was castigated as "the greatest transfer of wealth in history" by the director of the National Security Agency back in 2012, and things have only gotten worse since then, with China taking the lead in stealing our secrets for profit and strategic advantage.End quote. That's from an April 22nd column by counterintelligence expert John Schindler in the New York Observer. Schindler's actually writing about the case of Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin, arrested last summer while about to board a plane for China, now relaxing in the brig at Norfolk, Virginia on two charges of espionage and three of attempted espionage.
The Lin case is stranger than usual, to the degree the Navy has told us anything about it, of which more later. Lin was apparently born in Taiwan in 1976. He came to the U.S.A. at age 14 in 1990. He enlisted in 1999, aged 23, and was commissioned three years later.
A key milestone in his life came in December 2008, when he spoke at a naturalization ceremony in Honolulu. He'd been in the Navy nine years at this point, commissioned as an officer for six years.
When did he become a naturalized citizen, though? The U.S. Navy account of his speech implies it was nine years previously, the same year he enlisted. The Washington Post report on his arrest, however, says he was naturalized at that 2008 ceremony.
I don't know which account is correct. I'm inclined to trust the Navy over the Post. I sure hope I'm right. If we're allowing non-citizens to serve as officers in our Navy, then our laws and rules on citizenship and military enlistment aren't just wrong, they are screaming insane.
As John Schindler says in that Observer report, another quote:
The most challenging part of how China spies on the United States is that Beijing's modus operandi relies overwhelmingly on co-nationals. Chinese intelligence agencies seldom stray far from working with ethnic kin and Beijing-related spy cases here that do not involve ethnic Chinese are very much an exception.End quote. The moral of the story is plain. Because communist China has a hostile posture towards the U.S.A., and is unscrupulous about stealing military, diplomatic, and commercial data; and because they almost exclusively use Chinese-Americans and Chinese in America to do so, by ethnic appeals and threats to loved ones in China, nobody with any connections to China should have access to sensitive data.
It would be less wearisome to say this if I hadn't already said it before. Here I was saying it in year 2000, in reference to the Wen Ho Lee case. I repeat, this was the year 2000 — sixteen years ago, Heaven help us. Quote from self, with an inner quote from Chinese-American novelist Gish Jen, who'd published a whiny op-ed about "discrimination" in the New York Times, longish quote from me:
When we are faced by a power like China, which is violently anti-American in its propaganda to its own people, which has deployed a full triad of nuclear missiles, many of them aimed at us — whose government officials have, in fact, openly threatened us with nuclear attack — I think our own government is perfectly within its rights to deny employment in classified facilities to persons who have connections in China. This may cause some hurt feelings among U.S. citizens; but do hurt feelings really outweigh the rather obvious dangers of a contrary policy? Ms Jen [inner quote]: "Since the Wen Ho Lee case began, the number of Asian and Asian-American scientists applying to work in our nation's weapons labs has declined dramatically." [End inner quote.] Well, good. I think our nation's security problems have therefore diminished in proportion — for which benefit, putting up with all that whining is a small price to pay.End longish quote. Political correctness is bad enough when it hampers law enforcement on our streets. When it threatens our national security, it's collective suicide.
Political correctness is probably also the reason the U.S. Navy has been sitting on this case for eight months and releasing only the sketchiest details about their diversity poster boy and his acts of treason.
For a clue as to how these things should be handled, the Department of the Navy might care to look at China herself. New York Times, April 19th, headline: China Sentences Man to Death for Espionage, Saying He Sold Secrets.
Story, executive summary: A 41-year-old Chinese citizen named Huang Yu worked for a research institute in interior China specializing in cryptography. He sold around 150,000 classified documents to an unspecified foreign power, apparently just for money. The material included military codes. He's been sentenced to death. Given that the news came out earlier this week on Chinese TV, the way they do things over there, he has most likely been shot already.
In related news, China has instituted a National Security Education Day, starting the ball rolling with warnings to female government workers not to talk to, quote, "handsome and romantic," end quote, round-eye men because, quote, "they are probably spies after state secrets."
Ah, the spirit of Secretary Dong lives on!
I'm no fan of the Chinese Communist Party; but they are not such damn fools as to let political correctness hinder them in dealing with national security threats.
As with people, so perhaps with nations. In the decrepitude of decline, when all has been done and boredom's set in, our thoughts sink back towards basic body functions. Well, that's my attempt at an explanation. If you have a better one, let's hear it.
The topic here is of course the bathroom rights of transgender persons, known at Radio Derb as blokes in frocks. The current storm center is the state of North Carolina, whose legislators on March 23rd approved House Bill 2, a new law obliging persons to use only the restroom that corresponds to the sex shown on their birth certificate.
This legislation, which for the preceding 240 years of the Republic would have been considered an unnecessary statement of the plainest common sense, and which a majority of North Carolineans support, this law has caused a terrific fuss. Big corporations are threatening to boycott the state; likewise sports organizations and burned-out third-rank pop singers like Bruce Springsteen.
Was the U.S.A. a place of such intolerable injustice this time last year, when nobody ever heard of "transgender rights"? Who are these people who are happy to think of strange men — or even familiar men — barging in to the restroom where their daughters are performing intimate functions? How many of these "transgender" nuisances are there, anyway? Why does the overwhelming majority have to bow to the will of a tiny minority? How did that tiny minority cope in those preceding 240 years? And so on.
And once again I ask: If persons who fancy themselves to be a different sex than the one they chromosomically are, must be treated as the sex they fancy themselves to be, not as the sex they actually are, then what about people with Cotard's Syndrome? That's a mental condition where you believe yourself to be dead. Shouldn't such people be buried, or cremated?
How is it that tiny minorities of fantasists can so manipulate our society, including major corporations? What on earth is the matter with us?
I don't want to see harmless minorities persecuted, and I don't believe any large number of citizens does want to. The other side of the social bargain, though, should be that minorities — especially vanishingly small ones like people who don't know what sex they are — should have a decent respect for the sensitivities and liberties of the majority.
All of this brings to mind a word I've just encountered, which deserves a segment all to itself.
07 — Increase your word power. I've had my attention snagged by a new piece of social jargon. I'm probably late coming to this one — I usually am — but I think I have now incorporated it correctly into my vocabulary.The attention-snagger is the verb "to pinkwash." At least I assume there's a root verb in the present active infinitive form, "to pinkwash"; although so far I've only seen the present participle, "pinkwashing." Because that's the form I've been seeing, I'll mostly stick with it in what follows.
Let me share with you my slow-dawning awareness of this new word "pinkwashing." I saw an occurrence of it last month sometime; but it was in an item I was reading just at the point where I was sufficiently bored or irritated — I honestly can't remember which — I was sufficiently ticked off in some dimension of ticked-offness by what I was reading that my mental circuit-breakers tripped a millisecond or two later, causing me to click out and go seek reading matter more to my taste.
Then a day or two later I saw "pinkwashing" again in something I was reading; but again, the material the word was imbedded in was too dull or annoying — and again, I can't remember why: it's in the nature of dulness or low-level annoyingness that you can't recall much about it — the meh factor was too high for the material to stick in my mind, except for that one new word.
Listen: In my line of work you have to sift through a lot of potato peelings, lint-trap lint, used Kleenex, and discarded junk mail to find the occasional news or opinion gem.
The third or fourth time I saw the word "pinkwashing" I finally did my commentariat due diligence: I googled it. What did I get?
Urban Dictionary, quote: Pinkwashing — The act of using breast cancer to guilt consumers into buying a product which, if it had not been for the advent of aiding the cure for cancer, they would not have bought. End quote.Say what? "Advent of aiding"? That doesn't seem to fit the context in which I spotted "pinkwashing." Let's try a different google hit.
Wikipedia, quote: Pinkwashing (LGBT) — Pinkwashing is a portmanteau compound word of the words "pink" and "whitewashing." In the context of LGBT rights, it is used to describe a variety of marketing and political strategies aimed at promoting a product or an entity through an appeal to queer-friendliness, primarily by political or social activists.OK, so apparently Urban Dictionary is behind the curve here. "Pinkwashing" started out in the breast cancer zone, but it's been generalized.
The phrase was originally coined by Breast Cancer Action to identify companies that claimed to support people with breast cancer while actually profiting from their illness. End quote.
I think I'm getting the idea. There's an overlap here with the very useful phrase "virtue signaling," which I've promoted here at VDARE.com.
Virtue signaling is when you offer up words or gestures to signal that you're one of the good people, not one of the bad people. If someone starts off a sentence by saying: "There's this African American family on our block, really nice people …," the speaker is most likely virtue signaling. Just using the phrase "African American," in fact — going to the trouble to vocalize seven syllables when just the one-syllable word "black" would convery the same information, just going to that extra bit of effort is virtue signaling by itself.
Usually the approving thing they want to tell you about their neighbors would be just as conversationally valid if they left our the race marker; it just wouldn't signal the speaker's virtue. And of course, if they wanted to tell you something dis-approving about their neighbors — the guy had been arrested for embezzlement of church funds — it would be obligatory to leave out the race marker, as in those stories on TV news where they tell you: "The attacker was described as a man in his twenties wearing a red shirt." This is the etiquette of our times.
And of course virtue signaling stops at the signaling, at the gesture. You don't have to do anything, like send your kids to a majority-black school or do voluntary work in an AIDS hospice. The gesture's the thing.
So "pinkwashing" is a style of corporate virtue signaling, with sexually eccentric consumers as the target of the signal. Some commercial enterprise is broadcasting the message that …
Hold on a minute. "Broadcasting" — that's not a microaggression, is it? I mean, "broad" as in dame, chick, babe, gal, cutie, … Could you look that up for me on the microaggression app? … … It's OK? Thanks.
So some commercial outfit is broadcasting the message that, quote: "If you're sexually weird, we're fine with it! Buy our products! Use our bathrooms!" End quote. But, they're just putting out that message to avoid boycotts. In their inner hearts they're homophobic and transphobic. In the privacy of their boardroom the company's execs tell fag jokes and snigger about Caitlin Jenner …
Hold on again, sorry. "Snigger," can I say "snigger"? … … Oh, that's out of bounds? How about "snagger"? I used the word "snagger" a couple of minutes ago. Is that OK? … … It is? Thanks. So, "snagger" — good, "snigger" — bad. Got it. Sorry, listeners. It's just so hard to keep track nowadays.
The underlying issue here is one political scientists have been alert to for a couple of centuries, already, but that still confuses a lot of people. In a nutshell: capitalism is no friend of social conservatism.
This makes for some odd discordances on both the left and the right. It highlights, in fact, how unhelpful the terms "left" and "right" are when analyzing political trends. The left is traditionally supposed to be socially liberal and egalitarian, but suspicious of corporate influence and generally hostile to capitalism. The right should be socially conservative but supportive of private enterprise.
Consider, for example, what happened after the Georgia state legislature last month passed a religious freedom bill so that bakers could no longer be sued for refusing to make cakes celebrating same-sex marriages. Big-name corporations like Disney and Time Warner, fearing boycotts of their products, threatened to pull their business out of the state. So those evil capitalists that Bernie Sanders rails against are on the good side of this argument, the progressive side. The same of course applies to the corporations and performers threatening to boycott North Carolina over blokes in frocks using the ladies' restroom.
If you're progressive yourself, that makes for a nasty case of cognitive dissonance.
To take the edge off the pain, you can lay a charge of "pinkwashing." Those corporate fat cats aren't sincere in their enthusiasm for buggery; they're just pretending, to keep their profits up. So Capital is still evil, you see? It's just evil in a different way. They're not openly homophobic any more, because the righteous anger of the laboring masses intimidates them; but they are still dishonest and hypocritical.
It's not just corporations and celebrities that are pinkwashing, either. National governments can pinkwash, too. If you google the word "pinkwashing," half the hits that come up refer to pinkwashing by the government of Israel, promoting itself as friendly to homosexual tourists in the hopes people won't notice its totally unjustifiable refusal to hand the West Bank over to ISIS.
Here for example is an article titled Israel and "Pinkwashing" in the New York Times, November 2011. Good lord, I really am slow on the uptake. Sample quote:
In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the Middle East was "a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted."End quote, end quote.
The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation has named these tactics "pinkwashing": a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians' human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that "gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool," even though "conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic."
"Pinkwashing" — you heard it here first … well, unless you were reading the New York Times five years ago. Look, I'm a conservative; I'm supposed to be out of date.
Patriots' Day but also the fourteenth anniversary of my own naturalization as a U.S. citizen.
I wished Her Majesty happy birthday last week, so I won't over-egg the pudding.
Shakespeare I confess to nursing a guilty ambivalence about. I have dutifully watched at least half the plays at some time or other, and read about the same proportion of the sonnets. Yes, the guy surely had a way with words, and deep insights into our human nature. I'll confess, though, that I have only occasionally experienced pleasure at a Shakespeare performance, and I'm pretty sure I've never actually laughed at one of his jokes.
In my English schooldays we were force-marched through three of the plays, one each of the Tragedies, Histories, and Comedies. Then we took a national examination, which I just barely passed. My year did Macbeth, Henry V, and Twelfth Night. The only humor I got out of those three plays was thanks to the character named Pistol in Henry V. His lines were marked by the abbreviation P-i-s-t. The boy assigned to read out Pistol's lines would deliberately fail to do so, causing the Master to call out impatiently: "Come on, now, who's Pistol?" That of course was a cue for one of the class Beavises and Buttheads — not me, Sir, I swear — to call out: "Who's Pist.?"
Pearls before swine, I guess.
As to my own anniversary, I contemplate it with gratitude and satisfaction. Looking across at events in the U.K., also with relief. If you think having your country turn into Mexico is bad, try watching the nation of your birth turn into a blend of Pakistan and Jamaica seasoned with Romanian Gypsies. God bless America!
Item: Following on from that, sort of, I note that Lindsay Lohan is contemplating conversion to Islam.
The wayward starlet was sentenced to 125 hours of community service following a conviction for reckless driving in 2012. After much procrastination, last year she finally got down to working off those hours at a preschool daycare center in Brooklyn, New York. Imagine how pleased the parents of those kids must be! Well, on her way to the daycare center last May, she was spotted carrying a copy of the Koran.
Interviewed this week in the British tabloid The Sun, Ms Lohan confirmed her interest in the teachings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and further told us that, quote: "I'm a very spiritual person and I'm really open to learning … It's good to be open-minded." End quote.
Well, yes; but as the old injunction warns us: "Don't keep you mind so open that your brains fall out." It would of course be unkind of me to add that Ms Lohan's brains would not made a very resounding thud if they did fall out, so I shall not say it. Instead, I shall quote Dr Johnson, quote:
We ought not, without very strong conviction indeed, to desert the religion in which we have been educated. That is the religion given you, the religion in which it may be said Providence has placed you.End quote. On the other hand, The Sun notes that celebrities including Janet Jackson, Mike Tyson, Cat Stevens, Jemima Khan and Cassius Clay have all previously chosen to become Muslims. Who wouldn't want to join that party?
Item: I may have mentioned before that I subscribe to the New Yorker, which has a rabidly Cultural Marxist editorial line but occasional interesting and informative articles.
And cartoons, of course. I like cartoons, and the New Yorker's are mostly of a high standard; although if anyone can explain to me the joke in the cartoon on page 58 of the April 11th issue, I'd be much obliged.
Well, the cartoons in the current issue of New Yorker, the issue dated April 25th, are wall-to-wall Trump. There are seventeen cartoons, every one mocking Donald Trump in some fashion.
One of them, on page 88, adds a nice self-referential twist. A cartoonist's at work in his home office when his wife has just opened the door. She's saying, caption: "Stop — that Trump cartoon you came up with this morning just happened." End caption. I await the New Yorker book of postmodernist cartoons.
I don't mind this, and I feel pretty sure Donald Trump wouldn't mind it, either. Most of the mockery in these cartoons is gentle, and some of them are clever. Public figures should be mocked; although I am of course not holding my breath for a New Yorker issue full of cartoons mocking Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
If you want to live in a country where public figures can't be mocked, try Germany. Germans not only can't mock their own politicians, they can't mock foreign ones, either. Recep Erdoğan, the sensationally thin-skinned President of Turkey, was offended by a poem written and read out on German TV by a comedy host, a smirky leftist in the Jon Stewart mould, suggesting that he, Erdoğan, enjoys unnatural relations with goats. Erdoğan demanded that the German government prosecute this comedian, and Angela Merkel has agreed to do so.
So take a break from grumbling about what irks you here in the U.S.A. and give thanks you live in a country where the word "liberty" has not yet been drained of all content.
For the past few weeks, in aid of something I plan to write, I've been reading up on Austria-Hungary, a/k/a/ the Dual Monarchy, a/k/a the k.u.k., a curious polity that existed from 1867 to 1918. Curious, and ethnically improbable: at the time of its dissolution in 1918, ethnic Austrians and Hungarians together made up only forty percent of the population of the Dual Monarchy.
Austria-Hungary is a fascinating study, an odd mix of grandeur and melancholy. It was presided over for almost its entire duration by a single monarch, Emperor and King Franz Josef — who reigned for nearly 68 years. Betty Windsor has three and a half years to go to catch up with him.
Here to see us out is one of the Dual Monarchy's favorite tunes, the Radetzky March. Bonus listener points, and a free Radio Derb coffee mug, if you know who, where, or what Radetzky was without googling.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Richard Strauss, "The Radetzky March"]