Radio Derb: Zone Of Chaos, Self-Defense And Race, Supremes, EPA, And Confucius, Etc.
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00:58  In the zone of chaos.  (Again.)

10:04  BoJo's transgressions were of style.  (Not substance: he had none.)

22:05  Self-defense, race, and Tucker.  (The José Alba story.)

29:40  The Supremes, the EPA, and Confucius.  (Legislators, legislate!)

40:01  Coal rises.  (You need a heart of stone not to laugh.)

41:54  True inflation.  (Worse than we're told.)

43:00  CRISPR at ten.  (Towards the AI-genomics apocalypse.)

45:25  Signoff.  (Seventies nostalgia.)  

01—Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your transformationally genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you some commentary on the week's events, courtesy of

What have I got? I've got madness, resignation, law enforcement, coal, more coal, inflation, CRISPR, and some seventies nostalgia. Brace for impact.


02—In the zone of chaos.     July 4th was a perfect summer's day here on Long Island. We had a very happy barbecue with a group of old friends here at the Derb Mansion. Our son and daughter were both present, so of course the star of the show was baby Michael, now five months old. His christening is coming up July 17th. A very happy and convivial gathering; thanks to all who came.

Elsewhere in the Republic there was, as I'm sure you all know, madness and horror. This happened in Highland Park, Illinois, a town 25 miles north of downtown Chicago.

Highland Park is a pleasant and modestly prosperous little place, median family income $147,000 in the 2020 census, two and a quarter times the national median. Ninety percent white, 76 percent of adults have a college degree. I can relate: I live in a pleasant little town 36 miles from the Empire State Building. We're not as prosperous, white, and educated as Highland Parkers, but in the same general demographic.

Highland Park had a July 4th parade Monday morning to celebrate the great day, citizens out on the streets to march or applaud. It was all as cheerful and convivial as our own much smaller gathering in the back yard here …

 … until Robert Crimo, a 21-year-old white man, perched on a rooftop overlooking the parade, opened fire with a rifle. He fired at least 83 rounds, killing seven people, ages 35 to 88, and wounding more than thirty, ages 8 to 85. The eight-year-old, a little boy, was shot through the spine and may never walk again.

Crimo, the shooter, was arrested that evening and charged the next day with seven counts of first-degree murder.

Nobody's come up with any clear motive for this horror. The shooter is nuts; you can't say much more than that.

When pictures of him came out my first reaction was: "FLK." That's slang used by special-ed teachers, or at any rate it was in 1960s England. "FLK" stands for "Funny-Looking Kid." If Robert Crimo had been included in an identification parade of 21-year-old white males, I'd have put all my money on him as the shooter.

When I uttered the words "you can't say much more than that" just then, they should really have been: "I can't say much more than that." Other pundits have been less reticent.

Commentators gotta commentate, and we've had the usual output of reform proposals from right and left: better identification of lunatics, stricter laws on gun ownership, and so on.

Yeah, fine. I don't have anything to add that I didn't cover in my May 27th podcast after the Uvalde killings, so I'll leave you to look up those if you're interested.

For sure there isn't anything peculiarly American about a nutter shooting people at random. Just two weeks ago there was a mass shooting in Oslo, the capital of Norway: two dead, 21 wounded. Norway was also, of course, the site of the grisliest one-man mass killing in the civilized world this century, eleven years ago this month, 77 dead.

And last Sunday, the day before the Highland Park horror, a 22-year-old man shot up a shopping mall in Copenhagen, Denmark, killing three people and wounding at least seven others. That was right after I'd posted in my monthly diary about the, quote, "happiness, relative equality and sense of cohesion," end quote, that Danish society is blessed with. I sure hope the shooter there wasn't trying to make me look a fool.

Then this morning, putting this podcast together, the news was all about the shooting this morning of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Norway … Denmark … Japan … not countries we customarily think of as populated by leering rednecks with goiters and gun racks on the rear-window shelf of their pickup trucks. In Japan, the BBC tells us, quote:

Owning a gun in Japan is extremely difficult. It requires no criminal record, mandatory training, psychological evaluation, and extensive background checks including police interviewing neighbours.

End quote.

Shinzo Abe's killer got around that by making a gun himself out of steel piping and duct tape. We don't yet know how he put together a trigger mechanism or where he acquired propellant, but somehow he did.

How crazy were these shooters? The deeds themselves tell you they are crazy, although there are degrees of motivation.

The Norwegian shooter was a Muslim immigrant, so I guess he just hated infidels. Anders Breivik, the 2011 Norwegian shooter, was an Alt Right type who really, really hated lefties. We're not fond of them ourselves here at; but if one of us shot up a lefty summer camp the rest of us wouldn't hesitate to tell you he was nuts.

The Copenhagen mall shooter has, according to the cops, no connection with terrorism. He was known to mental-health authorities, so perhaps another FLK; but the Danish authorities haven't told us much. He had no permit for the rifle he used.

We don't know much about the Japanese killer either at this point. He's 41, had served three years in the Navy. That's about it.

If you can extract any serious policy recommendations from all that, you're smarter than I am. Quoting myself again, quote:

I'm skeptical of talk about causes and solutions. I don't believe this is a zone of cause and effect, of problem and solution: I think this is a zone of chaos; a zone where stuff happens, without any rhyme or reason we can comprehend at the present state of our knowledge.

End quote.


03—BoJo's transgressions were of style, not substance.     This week's other headliner was the resignation on Thursday of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson became Prime Minister three years ago when Theresa May resigned after failing to implement Brexit. There was a general election in December that year. Johnson's party, the Conservative Party, won in a moderate landslide against the main opposition Labour Party.

Since the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was a communist, or as near one as makes no difference, Boris Johnson did his country a service by getting elected there two and a half years ago. He then did them a further service by implementing Brexit. It took full effect in January last year.

Those two achievements aside, there is nothing positive to say about Johnson. True, I start out with a mild personal prejudice from back in 2005, when he was editor of the London Spectator. That was a very minor abrasion, though, and I don't think it has seriously warped my judgment.

The proximate reason for Johnson's resignation is that members of his government have been resigning en masse: fifty-something of them by midweek, including fourteen cabinet officers. The proximate reason for all that was that Johnson was caught out, for the umpteenth time, telling little pork pies.

These particular porkies concerned Johnson's close colleague Chris Pincher, a Member of Parliament who had groped two men at a private club—information delivered in the inimitable style of the New York Post as, quote: "An ill-timed pinch by a man named Pincher." End quote. When first tickled … sorry, I mean tackled, when first tackled about the incident Johnson had claimed no knowledge of it, but he later had to admit he had known all along.

Not a big deal really. Johnson was always regarded as a colorful character, operating on the edge of respectability. However, two and a half years of colorfulness—most memorably, wild boozy parties when the nation was under lockdown and Mrs Johnson's carefree use of public money for private satisfaction—all of that had a cumulative effect. The little untruths about Pincher's groping—or Groper's pinching, whatever it was—were just the last straw.

For us National Conservatives, the words that came most readily to the tongue on hearing of Johnson's resignation are: Good riddance!

Our problem with Johnson is not that charge sheet of petty offences against truth and respectability: it is that in spite of his party officially being the Conservative Party, we cannot think of a single thing he tried to conserve.

Sure, he accomplished Brexit at last—a clear victory for nationalism over globalism. Having restored Britain's independence, though, he did nothing to fortify that independence, to conserve it. To the contrary, most of his actions in government weakened it.

This was most obviously the case in the matter of immigration, although here it was perfect lack of action that did the damage.

I've been telling you about the swelling floods of Third World opportunists crossing the English Channel illegally from France in boats supplied by organized syndicates of smugglers. Boris Johnson never showed the least concern about this. It was two and a half years before his government took any action on it at all; and then the action was a mere gesture that everyone knew would have no practical effect.

And that is only to speak of illegal immigration. In 2020, the first year of Johnson's Prime Ministership, the population of the U.K. increased by 356,000. In the second year, 2021, it increased another 321 thousand. For 2022 there looks to be another 291 thousand increase. Figure a million new people every three years.

Most of those numbers are from legal immigration. Practically all of the increase has been in England and Wales.

[When reading population stats for the U.K., in fact, you always have to be mindful as to whether the numbers are for the U.K. as a whole, for Great Britain (which means the U.K. minus Northern Ireland), for England and Wales (Great Britain minus Scotland), or just for England.]

Migration Watch, the main immigration-monitoring organization over there, tells us that for England and Wales, 350 thousand a year was the average annual increase from 2011 to 2021.

The U.K., especially England, is bursting at the seams. In 2020 almost ten million U.K. residents were born abroad—more than one in seven. Population density in England is now 1,114 per square mile. That is almost twice the figure for Germany (588), and nearly four times the density of France (303).

The consequences are dire: for healthcare, housing, roads, schools, welfare, the environment, and law enforcement. Everyone knows it. Native British people—including the children and grandchildren of 20th-century immigrants—gripe about it constantly.

And yet Johnson's government had no immigration policy, unless "just let it rip" counts as a policy.

Johnson has always been a naive multiculturalist; he often made cheery speeches to that effect when he was Mayor of London, 2008-2016, hailing the gorgeous mosaic that London has become—which is to say, the dwindling number of white British people living there.

The closer you look at Johnson, in fact, the more you wonder what he's doing in a party that calls itself conservative. In the Group of Seven summit a year ago he actually borrowed a phrase from Joe Biden, urging the other attendees to be sure that they were "building back better."

And then he pushed that phrase still further to the left, adding, quote:

And building back greener. And building back fairer. And building back more equal. Maybe in a more gender neutral, a more feminine, way.

End quote.

Would you excuse me for a moment? [Retching sounds.] Sorry about that.

I'd like to tell you that all this open-borders blitheness, all this Bidenry and greenery and equality and gender-neutrality, put Johnson at odds with his party and helped precipitate his downfall.

I'd like to tell you that, but I can't. The center of gravity of Britain's Conservative Party is approximately at Nancy Pelosi's belly-button. It is a party of metropolitan progressives—like Boris Johnson. The two main opposition parties, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, are even worse, if you can imagine worse.

Britain, like the U.S.A., is ruled by a Uniparty. At the level of the national government, there is no real dissent, no substantive differences of opinion. They all want the same things.

British people who want anything different—for example, the majorities who have for decades been favoring less immigration—are shut out from government, the media, and the academy. Sounds familiar, right?

If Boris Johnson trangressed against that orthodoxy, his transgressions were of style, not substance. He never had any substance.


04—Self-defense, race, and Tucker.     Planning out this podcast, I figured I'd be performing a public service by including a segment on José Alba. It's been a local story—local, I mean, to New York City and environs. I assume the U.S.A. at large pays no more attention to New York City than it has to; so José Alba would be an unfamiliar name out there that I could introduce you to.

Then last night Tucker Carlson featured the José Alba story at the head of his show on Fox News. I'm guessing there is a big fat overlap between Tucker Carlson viewers and Radio Derb listeners, so Tucker stole my girl there.

No hard feelings, Tuck. I'm actually, honestly glad to see the case get more national coverage than I could give it. I still want to give it what I can, though, so here is the story.

José Alba is either 51 or 61 years old, depending on which edition of the New York Post you read. Judging by his pictures I'll go with 61. He's a white guy who moved here from the Dominican Republic 30 years ago and became a naturalized citizen in 2008. He's married with three kids.

At some point in those 30 years Mr Alba had a small business of his own. Last Friday night, however, he was working as a counter assistant at a relative's bodega on 139th Street in the Bronx. A young woman, race unknown, came in to buy potato chips for her child. The balance on her EBT card wasn't enough to cover the cost of the chips, though, so Mr Alba took back the item.

That enraged the woman. She knocked down a counter display, stormed out, and returned ten minutes later with her boyfriend, a 37-year-old black man named Austin Simon. Mr Simon was a career criminal, out on parole after doing prison time for assaulting a cop. He had at least seven other arrests on his rap sheet; I don't know how many led to convictions. José Alba had no criminal record at all.

Austin Simon and his lady attacked Mr Alba. Simon came round the counter and knocked him down, screaming at him. At some point the female stabbed Mr Alba in the shoulder and hand with a knife she carried in her purse.

Trapped against the store's shelves, Mr Alba saw a knife there. He grabbed it and stabbed Austin Simon at least five times, with fatal effect. He was still holding the knife when police arrived.

The cops arrested him, then booked him on charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Prosecutors asked that he be held on half-a-million dollars bail or bond. The judge lowered that to a quarter-million-dollars bail and half-million bond.

The villain in this story is, by general agreement, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a George Soros-funded progressive fanatic in the same mold as George Gascón in L.A., Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Kim Foxx in Chicago, and the rest of the Soros pack.

I'm not sure how much of a race angle there is here, but I bet there's some. District Attorney Alvin Bragg is black and of course anti-white. Supposing José Alba had been black while Austin Simon and his girlfriend were white, I doubt there would have been a murder charge and I'm certain there wouldn't be quarter-million-dollar bail.

Latest news is that in a hearing yesterday, Thursday, after a lot of public outrage, Mr Alba's bail was reduced to fifty thousand. That means he can be sprung from jail on a five-thousand-dollar bond, and he has been. He has to wear an ankle monitor and stay within New York City, but José Alba's back home with his family.

Watching Tucker Carlson's coverage of this story, I was curious to see how he'd play the race angle. Tucker usually keeps race at arm's length. He hardly ever says "race" in fact, only "skin color."

So I guess if I were to spend all summer at Jones Beach and get a deep tan Tucker would count me African American, while an immigrant albino from Central Africa would have White Privilege. Because, you see, there is no such thing as biological race. It's just a social construct! Skin color!

All right, I'm sure Tucker does the best a guy can do with no scientific education. I watch his show when I can, and only break to wash the dishes when he has one of his segments about flying saucers.

And last night, covering the José Alba story, Tucker was quite bold. At one point he used the phrase "privileged group," referring to blacks. That's progress.

Hey Tuck: Now that you've discovered the virtues of self-defense, how about a segment on Ahmaud Arbery and the judicial lynching of the Brunswick Three in Georgia this January? A lot of us think that was the worst anti-white outrage of the past several years, but I don't recall you giving it any coverage.

Tucker? Hello, Tucker? …


05—The Supremes, the EPA, and Confucius.     I don't give anything like as much coverage as I should to environmental issues, so here's a whole segment on them. It may not be very long as, to be perfectly truthful with you, I don't care that much about these issues; but at least you won't be able to say I've neglected them.

This was inspired by one of those end-of-term rulings out of the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling emerged June 30th, but I had no time to cover it in last week's podcast.

The case is West Virginia and others v. Environmental Protection Agency and others. West Virgina is of course a state, the home state of The Environmental Protection Agency is a federal government agency—an independent one, not reporting to any of the big cabinet-level federal departments, but issuing lots of regulations on topics connected to the environment.

So what is West Virginia's beef with the EPA? Coal, that's what. Coal is important to West Virginia—so much so, coal is the state rock. Coal employs two percent of West Virginians; the state is second only to Wyoming in coal production.

If I may interrupt myself for a moment here: I didn't know until looking that up that our states have state rocks. The state rock of New York, I see, is garnet. Wow. Coal is also the state rock of Kentucky … So much to learn!

Sorry, that was a digression. Back to the Supremes.

The issue in this case was the degree to which the EPA can regulate coal-fired power plants. The agency is of course, like the rest of the federal government, locked in to the climate-change hysteria. From that point of view, coal is an enemy—the least climate-friendly way to generate power.

The EPA therefore wants to set strict limits on how much carbon these coal-fired plants may release into the atmosphere. They claim they have authority to do so under the Clean Air Act.

What's that? It's a law passed by Congress in 1963 and amended several times since, most recently in 1990. The EPA's connection to it is that they have to come up with regulations that implement the changes mandated by the Act.

Well, then the EPA does have the authority to tell coal-burning plants what to do—don't they?—under the authority of this Clean Air Act.

Not necessarily. In the matter of relations between federal agencies and written law, there is a legal term of art: the "major questions" doctrine. A "major questions" issue in this sense is one that will cause transformational changes; changes of, quote, "vast economic or political significance."

For transformational changes like that, Congress has to pass new laws. Agencies can't just go ahead and implement them.

So do the new regulations that the EPA wants to impose on coal-burning power plants rise to that transformational level? The Supremes ruled six to three that yes, they do. The regulations will only be valid if Congress passes new laws. West Virginia stood up and cheered.

The comment on this ruling that I liked best came from Harvard law professor Richard Lazarus, an expert on environmental law and a leading climate-change alarmist. Quote from him:

That's a very big deal because they're not going to get it from Congress because Congress is essentially dysfunctional.

End quote.

The editorial cartoon I liked best was the one by Michael Ramirez in my Tuesday New York Post.

Two frames in the cartoon. Left frame: the front of the Supreme Court building, with a speech balloon coming out from the roof saying, quote: "The EPA has exceeded its jurisdictional authority. We return the legislative power back to Congress." End quote.

Right frame: the U.S. Capitol dome, with a speech balloon coming out the top saying, quote: "The Supreme Court wants us to do our job? Why, that is outrageous!" End quote.

Both Professor Lazarus' comment and Michael Ramirez' cartoon reinforce what I have been saying for what seems like ever: That a great many of our nation's problems arise from Congress not carrying out the tasks assigned to it by the Constitution, preferring to leave them to bureaucrats and judges. Well, here are the judges—six of them at any rate—saying to Congress: "No, the work to be done here is yours."

I have mentioned before somewhere, I'm sure I have — yes! here it is in the archives, February 2001 — one of my favorite quotes from the Analects of Confucius. Quote: 君 君 臣 臣 父 父 子 子  (jūn jūn chén chén fù fù zĭ zĭ). That's four words, each one repeated for a total eight.

What does it mean? Well, the first word of the four, 君, means "prince." The second word, 臣, means "a minister" — a high goverment official. The third word, 父, means "father." And the fourth word, 子, means "son," s-o-n. A literal translation of the apothegm would therefore be: "Prince prince minister minister father father son son." Say what?

You need to know that parts of speech in classical Chinese are rather fluid. A noun can double as a verb; an adjective as a pronoun. Here the first word in each pair is a noun in the vocative case: "Hey, prince!" The second word in each pair is a verb in the imperative mood: "Be a prince!"

So the old sage is saying that a prince should behave like a prince, doing the things a prince ought to do. Likewise a minister, likewise a father, and likewise a son.

If Confucius were among us today I think he'd address our constitutional authorities in a similar way. "Executive: execute! Judges: judge! Legislators: legislate! Regulators: regulate!"

I'd put that into classical Chinese for you, but … I've mislaid my dictionary.


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

Imprimis:  One more on coal. As the grandson of two colliers, I'm naturally attracted to coal stories.

This one's from ZeroHedge on Wednesday. The headline, which got my keen attention right away, quote: Coal Emerges Victorious As Sanctions And Green Policies Backfire Spectacularly.

Yes, coal is booming. Spot prices at one Australian supplier—supplying mainly to Asia, of course—last month hit $400 for the first time.

As Oscar Wilde would have said, you'd need a heart of stone not to burst out laughing while reading this piece. ZeroHedge shares the mirth, quote:

Hilariously, the push for coal is being led by Europe, ground zero of the "green movement" which finally realized that one can't burn fake virtue or melt posing in front of camera in the winter to keep warm, and is boosting coal purchases to ensure it can keep power flowing to homes and factories after Russia cut gas supplies to the continent.

End quote.

Somewhere up high above I can hear my grandads joining in the laughter.


Item:  The indefatigable David Goldman at Asia Times notes that the rate of inflation we are told about—eight percent annually is the current number—seriously understates the problems faced by normal Americans. Quote from him:

Rent, food, energy and automobiles account for 63 percent of the US Consumer Price Index (CPI), but for the majority of US families, they make up the vast majority of monthly expenditures.

End quote.

Twenty percent is a lot. If twenty percent inflation continued for five years, what costs a dollar today would cost two fifty.

It's awful; but all Vladimir Putin's fault. Nothing to do with our administration!


Item:  In my June Diary I repeated a remark a friend had made, a friend very knowledgable in both the human and the computing sciences. Quote from him:

Twenty, twenty-five years from now, when AI (that is, Artificial Intelligence) engages with genomics in a serious way, the world will end.

Clarifying that, he didn't mean a destructive cataclysm necessarily; only a worldwide change so radical that we can't even imagine what's on the other side of it.

That's been ringing in my ears ever since. It was ringing in them when I read this piece from the June 27th New York Times. Headline: CRISPR, 10 Years On: Learning to Rewrite the Code of Life.

CRISPR, you may know, is a technique for editing DNA, including human DNA. Just ten years ago the first paper describing successful gene editing using this technique was published in the journal Science. The title of the paper was: A Programmable Dual RNA—Guided DNA Endonuclease in Adaptive Bacterial Immunity.

With CRISPR, or its descendants, to edit our genomes and Artificial Intelligence to read, interpret, and act on the vast amount of information in that genome—to figure out all the myriad tangled paths from genome to phenome—yes, I believe my friend is right: there will be a stupendous transformation in human affairs.

Shall we be wise enough to steer that transformation in a way that benefits all? Or, if we aren't wise enough, will the AI be? I look at little baby Michael and wonder.


07—Signoff.     That's all, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your time and attention, and for your emails.

For signoff music, please permit me a nostalgia trip. For reasons that don't matter, I was recently thinking about the world of fifty years ago. What was happening? Well, of course a great deal was happening; but for a young guy with no responsibilities, popular music featured large.

Here's one of my favorites from those long-ago days: folk-rock singer-songwriter Lobo. I loved you, Lobo, and I'm glad you're still with us, not least because you're older than me.

Here is a Lobo hit from 1972; or rather, a fragment of one to keep me in the fair-use boundaries. Thanks, guy! Keep singing.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week.


[Music clip: Lobo, "Don't Expect Me To Be Your Friend."]

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