02m10s Afghanistan, for crying out loud. (We know how it ends … if it ever does.)
05m22s Iraq still a mess. (Leave 'em alone.)
08m15s Bolivia, cursed with diversity. (The Indios lost their president.)
12m49s Beavering away at social justice. (Down with cold, hard facts!)
15m54s Jesus rests in Japan. (A curious museum.)
19m24s Bioweapons latest. (Don't worry, it's just a social construct.)
21m12s Control yourself! (If your genes will let you.)
23m24s Dealing with dementia. (A creative approach.)
25m16s Who commits hate crimes? (A glimpse of the facts.)
27m51s Signoff. (With some real Americana.)
This week's podcast departs from our usual format. The Derbs spent yesterday evening enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at the home of some dear old friends in the next town over. It was a wonderfully convivial evening, but I was somewhat … over-served. The consequence is that today, Friday, when I put the podcast together, I am moving a tad more slowly than usual.
Our domestic circumstances here chez Derb have also undergone some changes this week—changes of a fortunate and happy kind, which I shall say more about in my upcoming monthly diary. They have, though, disturbed my normal routines.
So what with one thing and another, this week's podcast is a wee bit shorter than usual, and less well-structured. There will be no miscellany of brief items.
That aside, I have striven to maintain the high standards of reportage and commentary for which Radio Derb is world-famous. So: On with the motley!
[Clip: Ethel Merman, "Let's go on with the show.".]
In a speech to troops, Mr Trump said the U.S. was in talks with the Taliban, which he said "wants to make a deal."
Mr Trump also said the U.S. was "substantially" reducing troop numbers.
Some 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan 18 years after the US intervention to oust the Taliban following the 11 September 2001 attacks.
That was decent of the President, and he behaved properly Presidential during the visit, but it's hard to say anything more positive than that.
I briefly, without much enthusiasm, tried to pry out a logical contradiction from the President's remarks. If we're in the midst of negotiating a deal with the Taliban, why would we be reducing troop numbers? If we are reducing troop numbers, which I don't believe, wouldn't that be what poker players and master negotiators call a "tell"?
But really, what's the point of bringing logic to bear? Our Afghan policy left the world of logic and reason a decade or so ago and ascended into the cloudy realm of insanity where the rest of our foreign policy dwells.
I seriously doubt we truly are reducing troop numbers. That's probably just something some Deep State liar—one of the Joint Chiefs, or a State Department flunky—just something one of these crapweasels told Trump when he caught the President in a break between tweeting and watching TV.
We all know how the Afghanistan fiasco ends, if it ever does end. We pull out all our troops under some President who sees through the Deep State b-s—i.e. some President not named Trump. The Taliban play quiet for a few months until everyone's forgotten about their no-account craphole country. Then they move in and take over, and nobody gives a damn.
That's if our engagement with Afghanistan ever does end. Into our nineteenth year there, and counting.
03—Iraq still a mess. What was that other country we were so deeply involved in back in the Oughts, where we sacrificed such prodigious quantities of our blood and treasure? Oh right: Iraq. So how are things going there now?
Not too well. This week the Prime Minister resigned after just one year in office. This was in response to huge street protests that have been going on for two months now, with around 400 people killed by riot police—forty just the past two days.
What are they protesting about? Bad government, in a nutshell: high unemployment, major corruption, lousy public services. The protests are also against Iran, which as we all know was the clear winner from our own war against Saddam Hussein's regime.
It's not strictly a sectarian thing, either. Iraq is of course cursed with the horrible blight of diversity, the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds all nursing their own particular resentments. Iran is the Shia superpower, so you'd suppose these disturbances would be Sunnis pushing back against Iran's meddling in Iraq. These Iraqi protestors, though, seem to include Iraqi Shias targeting Iranian consulates and other buildings.
It's a mess. A cynic might conclude that the practical choice for an Arab country government-wise comes down to either (a) dictatorship under a ruthless autocrat like Saddam or Gaddafy, or (b) corruption and chronic dysfunction punctuated by spells of violent chaos.
I'm not quite that cynical. Jordan's an Arab country and they're not doing too badly under constitutional monarchy.
It's hard to argue, though, that our interventions in that part of the world have done anything good. The case for just leaving them the hell alone to sort out their own affairs as best they can, looks better with every passing year.
04—Bolivia, cursed with diversity. Of course, diversity doesn't help. It never helps. Diversity is, as I said, a blight, a curse, that any sensible nation should try to avoid—or, in the case of nations that were stuck with diversity at their founding, as ours was, at least to minimize.
Case in point: Bolivia. I don't say a whole lot about Bolivia. Why would I? I'm sure there are a lot of very nice Bolivians; but it's a small country of no great importance. Radio Derb's last extended commentary on the place was twelve years ago.
On that occasion I pointed out that Bolivia's population broke out racially as fifteen percent European, fifty-five percent Indian, thirty percent mestizo. Twelve years on, I see that Wikipedia gives a 2018 estimate of racial classification as five percent European, twenty percent indigenous, sixty-eight percent mestizo, seven percent other. I can't explain the shift in numbers there, but it's clear that what was true in 2007 is still true today: the place is deeply divided racially.
As I also pointed out back then, quote from myself:
Unfortunately these groups aren't spread smoothly across the landscape of Bolivia. The highlands of the West and South, which include the capital, are heavily Indian. The broad lowlands of the East and North are much more European and mestizo.
Economics cuts unevenly, too. The Indians are poorer and less educated, while the taller, paler lowland people are better off.
That at any rate seems not to have changed. Quote from the Wall Street Journal, November 19th, quote:
Bolivia's ethnic rift between indigenous people of the high mountains and those of European origin or mixed race in the lowlands has deepened after Ms Añez, a Roman Catholic who denies she is racist, took office.
That Ms Añez mentioned there is the acting president of Bolivia following the November 10th resignation of Evo Morales, the president.
Morales, the guy who resigned—with an assist from the Bolivian military—is a Yanqui-go-home Latino leftist in the mould of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, etc. He is also extremely indigenous. Ms Añez by total contrast is European. She is in fact a leading contender for the title of Hottest Female National Leader So Far This Century, edging out previous title-holder Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand. Ms Añez is also business-friendly.
The Indios are mad as hell at losing their president, Morales. Protests continue. It looks as if there will be new elections; but it also looks as though Morales will be excluded from standing.
Ah, diversity! Manifold are thy blessings!
05—Beavering away at social justice. Did you know that Iceland has a penis museum? It's one of the biggest tourist attractions in Reykjavik. Quote from their website:
The Icelandic Phallological Museum contains a collection of more than two hundred and fifteen penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals that can be found in Iceland.
And yes, the collection includes specimens from Homo sapiens, although how they were acquired I don't know. Perhaps Lorena Bobbit could shed some light on the matter.
Once the existence of that museum penetrated the awareness of feminists, it naturally aroused indignation among them—what perhaps Sigmund Freud would have classified as penis envy. Their indignation climaxed November 16th in London with the opening of the Vagina Museum.
While the Iceland establishment is rather boringly zoological, this new London museum is explicitly a social justice project, intended to cut a gash through the patriarchal complacency of bourgeois norms.
I'll just quote a snatch of what Sarah Creed, the museum's curator, told the New York Times on November 18th, quote:
The anatomy has such complex politics around it, that we found it was best to first engage people through what they know, so we can teach them things they don't know.
Dilating on her theme, Ms Creed further told the Times that, quote:
We can talk about cold, hard facts all we want, but that's not going to change people's minds. It's all about unpacking social constructs and changing perspective through engagement.
Of course it is. Away with those cold, hard, dry facts! What the world needs is warm, soft, moist social constructs.
The reason for the existence of this museum is a small mound nearby which is, according to local legend, the burial place of Jesus of Nazareth.
I know, I know: the New Testament tells us that Jesus was crucified and his body sealed in a cave; God restored him to life and freed him from the cave; he met with his disciples, then ascended up to Heaven in a cloud.
That's all wrong, though, according to this Japanese legend. Back in 1935 a local scholar named Kiyomaro Takeuchi claimed to have found ancient texts that solved the problem of what Jesus was doing between ages 12 and 29—the so-called "lost years" that go unmentioned in the Gospels. The texts said Jesus went to Japan to study theology, then returned to Jerusalem.
After he was sentenced to crucifixion Jesus fled back to Japan and lived out the rest of his life there as a rice farmer. Why not a carpenter, I'm wondering, since that was his original training? Perhaps there were union rules against foreign scab labor, I don't know. Anyway, his brother took his place on the cross, and is appropriately honored at the Shingo museum alongside the Messiah.
Well, hey, who knows? It's no more implausible than Joseph Smith's golden tablets and magic spectacles.
Religionwise, I'm in the category of reluctant unbelievers. That is, I am too empirical by nature to believe the kinds of things organized religions insist you believe; but I see that I'm an oddity in that regard, that most people are not like me. They get structure for their lives in normal times, and consolation in distress, from believing those things that I am temperamentally unable to believe. I wish them good luck, and quietly envy them that structure and that consolation.
And if I ever find the leisure and money to do a grand tour of all the world's museums, this one in Shingo would be way higher on my list than the London museum in the previous segment.
The idea is that when we know enough about the human genome we shall be able to make toxins or disease agents that kill members of just one race, leaving other races unharmed. Irwin Shaw wrote a short story about this back in 1967, and I included some extracts from the story in one of my monthly diaries.
Hedge funder Kyle Bass raised the alarm on this again the other day in a podcast discussion with technology and finance geek Demetri Kofinas. The podcast is behind a subscription firewall, but from the partial transcripts I've seen, Kyle Bass is alarmed. Sample quote:
China has the genomic sequence of every single person that's been gene typed in the U.S., and they're developing bioweapons that only affect Caucasians.
I really don't see what's to worry about. Even assuming the ChiComs actually are doing this kind of research, once they realise that race is just a social construct, they'll stop.
This is from a scholarly journal titled Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, dated May this year. Title of the paper: "The heritability of self-control: A meta-analysis." The authors are four researchers in Biological Psychology, all Dutch.
A meta-analysis is a study of studies. You sort through all the studies that have been done on some one particular topic, comparing their methods and results to find common understandings.
These guys analyzed 31 studies of twins, comparing identical with fraternal twins to tease out the genetic contribution to self-control. The studies covered more than 30,000 twins. The meta-analysis concluded that self-control is sixty percent heritable, and so under strong genetic control.
One swallow doesn't make a summer; and in the human sciences, one paper doesn't make an ironclad conclusion. This paper is, though, one more pebble on the pile that is gradually, remorselessly burying the Blank Slate ideology on which are based all our educational programs, all our college humanities courses, all the soft sciences like sociology and anthropology, and all our public discourse on social issues.
This story is also from Holland. It's about a village in that country, a rather special village called Hogeweyk. It's a small place: only 23 homes, with six or seven people in each. There's one supermarket, one restaurant, a café, a pub, and a theater. There are—I'm quoting from the promotional material—"streets, squares, courtyards and a park where the residents can walk safely in freedom."
So what's special? Well, all the permanent residents are old people with severe dementia. There's a staff of professional caregivers to help them cope, but they're encouraged to manage for themselves as much as they can. The village even has its own currency for shopping at the supermarket.
That strikes me as a good, humane way to deal with old people afflicted with dementia. It's a big and growing problem, none of us needs to be told that. I'm glad to know someone somewhere is trying to deal with it creatively.
In that world, racial violence is mainly a matter of evil, leering white supremacists picking on helpless minorities. The delusion is fortified by media refusal to report the true facts of the matter.
This week we New Yorkers were permitted a glimpse of those true facts when the New York Police Department published its hate-crimes report for this year's third quarter. Some quotes from the New York Post's story about that report. Bear in mind that New York City is 25 percent black. Quotes:
Blacks comprised 24 of the 34 (71 percent) perpetrators arrested for all hate crimes … Blacks comprised seven of the nine anti-Jewish hate-crime perpetrators arrested during the third quarter … Black perpetrators are especially prominent in anti-LGBT crimes, comprising 10 of the 12 arrested for those crimes in the latest quarterly report. Overall, since the beginning of 2017, blacks comprised 56 percent … of those arrested for anti-LGBT hate crimes.
Given the political pressures on police from the administration of communist mayor Bill de Blasio, I'm betting that those numbers are under-estimates of the black contribution to so-called hate crimes. The numbers are bad enough as they stand, though.
Unfortunately they are not bad enough to penetrate the ideology-addled skulls of progressive Goodwhites.
11—Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Another week slinks away into the mist. Thank you for listening; and heartfelt thanks this Thanksgiving weekend to those who toiled and suffered and died to build up this beautiful country I'm proud to be a citizen of.
For signoff music this Thanksgiving weekend, here's something as American as it could be: "Buffalo Gals." I've known this song in a vague and occasional way for as long as I can remember. I've been assuming it came out of the old West, where the buffalo roam. The Buffalo Gals, I supposed, were the women who cured the buffalo hides … or something. Maybe they wore outfits made from buffalo hides—I really had no clue.
Such careless ignorance we dwell in for decades at a stretch! In fact the song, first published 1844, refers to the city of Buffalo, way upstate there in Western New York, close by Niagara Falls. The city's name may have something to do with the humpbacked bison, or may derive from the French beau fleuve, "beautiful river." Nobody seems to know for sure.
Buffalo had become important when the Erie Canal was opened in 1825, with Buffalo at its Western terminus. The city soon developed a very lively red-light district—bars, music-halls, and knocking-shops. The Buffalo Gals were the females employed therein.
I learned this and more while looking up "Buffalo Gals" on the internet. In fact the looking-up cost me a good part of my morning. It went off in many different directions, mostly new and fascinating to me. I couldn't stop reading.
I never knew, for example, what a tremendous, audacious construction project the Erie Canal was, in those last years before the railroads came up. It's a great American story, and relates directly to the words I started this segment with, about those who toiled and suffered and died to build up America: and those who imagined, planned, argued, and brought to reality great projects like the Erie Canal.
Wikipedia's list of "Further Reading" about the Erie Canal has sixteen books and articles. My interest is so worked up, I'm in a mood to read them all. Life's too short, however. I'll take recommendations from Radio Derb listeners who know my general outlook as to which one book about the Erie Canal would suit me best. Thank you in advance.
And then, when I went to YouTube for a clip of "Buffalo Gals" to post here, I found that the song has been so deep imbedded in our culture for so long, wellnigh everyone seems to have recorded it, from Bing Crosby to Bruce Springsteen, and every mid-20th-century Country act that ever trod the boards at the Grand Ole Opry.
I settled on this clip at last, for no strong reason—most likely just because the two ladies performing in the video here, Kate and Maggie O'Connor, are both easy on the eye and look as though they thoroughly enjoy what they're doing, playing a fine lively old American tune on their fiddles.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Kate and Maggie O'Connor, "Buffalo Gals."]