Radio Derb: Republicans: Dawn Of The Trumpening, Democrats: The Search For Survivors, Etc.
02m41s — Republicans: Dawn of the Trumpening. (Trump builds his team.)
10m48s — Democrats: the search for survivors. (Wormwood and gall.)
18m41s — Keep despair alive! (Dum spiramus, desperamus.)
24m54s — Two minutes hate on Steve Bannon. (The Times does its best.)
33m56s — Detweeting the Alt Right. (Enjoy this Golden Age.)
40m23s — Blackety-black overload. (How to generate ill will.)
48m18s — An audacious enterprise. (But easier than jumping the Channel.)
49m18s — You say Roo-al, I say Row-ald. (The mysteries of onomastics.)
51m41s — The Naked Slice Burglar. (One for the crime pantheon.)
52m30s — Is Trump the Messiah? (Or just Good For The Jews?)
54m10s — Sheep kills man. (A well-known troublemaker.)
55m05s — Signoff. (Remembering a great reactionary.)
All eyes this week have been on Trump Tower in Manhattan, where our President-Elect has been interviewing for positions in his cabinet.
He’s been meeting with some other people, too. Wednesday he had a one-hour face-to-face with New York City’s communist Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow German-American. We don’t know what they discussed, but it surely wasn’t a cabinet post for Bill.
Most likely it was the problems being caused for New York City by having the President-Elect holding court in midtown. Massive security has been imposed around Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. What with the security and mobs of protestors blocking the street, surrounding businesses — upscale restaurants and retail stores like Tiffany and Gucci — are being badly hurt.
Di Blasio told reporters, at a presser after the meeting with Trump, that he doesn’t care. Quote: “I will not tell you that Gucci and Tiffany are my central concerns in life,” end quote.
Perhaps he’s also not concerned about the millions of dollars those stores pay in taxes to the city, to fund the extravagant social programs favored by Bolshevik Bill. Perhaps they should just stop paying them.
Enough of these petty parochial concerns, though. Let’s lift our eyes to the bigger picture. How fares the Republic on this, the eleventh day of the Trumpening? Pretty well.
02 — Republicans: Dawn of the Trumpening. Yes, the sun is shining, the birds are singing (those of them fool enough to stay around on Long Island in November), Trump’s in his tower and all’s well with the world.
Latest news as Radio Derb goes to tape here is that Senator Jeff Sessions has been offered the post of U.S. Attorney General. Imagine: an Attorney General who doesn’t hate white people! Just a few weeks ago this would not have seemed possible.
The CBS News report says that, quote, “Sessions was also considered for secretary of defense,” end quote. Hey, far as I’m concerned Trump can make Senator Jeff Secretary of Everything. That would sure clear some space around the cabinet table; and I don’t see how the limited-government crowd could be anything but ecstatic. A President, a Vice President, and a Secretary of Everything: government couldn’t get more limited than that! Bring it on, I say.
Senator Jeff is 69. This means that, like me and The Donald and no doubt some of you, he grew up before modern speech codes settled in. This means it’ll be easy for the CultMarx propagandists, when he comes up before the Senate for confirmation, to retcon him as a seething cauldron of malice and … what’s the word they’ll use here? Oh yes: “bigotry.” Or possibly “hate.” Most likely both, in fact.
Making things easier for the character assassins, Senator Jeff is a white guy from Alabama, which is practically a hate crime all by itself. And making things even easier will be the willingness of the anti-Trump mainstream media to believe any kind of story about something the Senator was overheard saying back in 1976, however unsubstantiated.
And then there are all those bimbos the media paid last month to accuse Donald Trump of having groped them; perhaps the bimbos will be recycled to say that no, it wasn’t Trump after all. In the agony of the moment they mis-identified the groper. It was in fact Senator Jeff. Hey, it’s worth a try, guys!
For sure, if they’re going to derail the Senator’s confirmation, they’ll definitely need something stronger than what has so far been produced.
Samples of which: Some black government apparatchik, now deceased, claimed thirty years ago that Sessions had addressed him as “boy.” When asked for some confirming evidence, a black lawyers’ organization wrote a letter to the confirmation committee saying that the same apparatchik had told them the same tale. Uh-huh.
Another bureaucrat said that Senator Sessions had called the NAACP “un-American” and “communist-inspired.” So what? That’s fair comment. We can argue about the “un-American,” I suppose, but I don’t see that “communist-inspired” is much of a stretch. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who was and remained a very respectable historian, said the same thing about the NAACP in Life magazine.
Most educated black Americans are communists, or as near as makes no difference. W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson were communists. Barack Obama’s parents were communists, to a good approximation, both the black one and the white one. His early mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, was an actual paid-up, card-carrying member of the Communist Party, according to the FBI.
So how wrong was Senator Jeff, assuming he said the thing he’s accused of saying, which he has no memory of but charitably allowed he may have said?
Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State — who, foam-flecked extremist that he is, favors the enforcemnt of our immigration laws — Kris Kobach was being spoken of as a possible Attorney General pick earlier in the week. I’m not clear what his status is at week end, after the news about Jeff Sessions, but he’s definitely in the inner circle there at Trump Tower, and I’d be delighted to see him get some appropriate post.
If the Senate committee succeeds in proving that Jeff Sessions forgot to feed his goldfish back in 1953, thereby derailing his nomination for A-G, I hope Kris Kobach will be put forward as a replacement. If on the other hand Senator Jeff gets confirmed, I want Kobach as Secretary for Homeland Security.
Some of the other names being thrown around for possible cabinet posts are less thrilling. I shall for ever love Rudy Giuliani for refusing to meet with Al Sharpton when Rudy was Mayor of New York, but I don’t want him as Secretary of State.
Rudy’s an open-borders Republican. That matters at the State Department. For one thing, State oversees our chaotic and subversive refugee resettlement programs, all of which need closing down. For another, State runs our embassies and consulates abroad, which issue visas — far too many visas, with far too little scrutiny of applicants. An open-borders guy at State could do serious damage to the Trump administration’s efforts to make our immigration system pro-American.
And then, John Bolton, the neocons’ neocon. What’s he doing in the lists? If John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani both get positions, you’ve got Mr Invade-the-world and Mr Invite-the-world grinning at each other across the cabinet table. We may as well just hire in George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, get it over with.
On the whole, though, things look promising; and these are early days in the hiring process. Let’s trust to the good sense of Trump and his advisors, and see what develops.
03 — Democrats: the search for survivors. Most delicious of all remains the sorry plight of the losers and their party. Watching them suck down their wormwood and gall is worth having waited all these years for. Bliss is it in this dawn to be alive; to watch Rachel Maddow choking back her tears, is very heaven.
And beyond the fiasco of the failed Clintocalypse is the cratering of their whole party, the Democratic Party. You’ve seen the numbers, but I’ll give them to you again for another gloat.
The U.S. House and Senate both remain Republican controlled. Out in the states, three state governorships — Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont — flipped from Democrat to Republican, bringing the GOP up to 33 governorships, with North Carolina still undecided.
For the governing trifecta — that is, control of the governorship and both houses of the state legislature, the Republican Party now has 24, while the Democrats have six, with New York still in play. New York! In play!
It’s an amazing thing to see. The Democrats have all the cultural winds behind them. The media, the academy, the churches, the corporations, the banks — all solidly Democrat. Yet voter-wise, they can’t catch a break, except in places like New Mexico where they’ve imported an electorate from south of the border.
It’s like James Fulford’s story about the dog-food manufacturer whose product isn’t moving. Why are our sales so bad? ask the execs. Did we screw up on advertising? On distribution? Is the pricing structure all wrong? Back came the answer: “The dogs don’t like it!”
For us out here on the Dissident Right, it’s all wonderfully intoxicating, exhilarating. It won’t last, of course; joy never does. You can’t blame us for enjoying it while we can, though. Personally I’m quite giddy — almost to the point of Schadenfreude overload, which I think in full German would be Schadenfreude Überlastung.
I played right into the hands of the CultMarx bedwetters there, of course. “See!” they’re screeching. “Derbyshire’s talking German! The Nazi language! He’s a Nazi! They’re all Nazis, and Trump is literally Hitler!” In response to which, I chortle: “Yes! Yes! When do we invade Poland?” Oh, this is so much fun!
The lefties’ wormwood and gall is nectar to our parched tongues. If you want to squeeze out a few more drops of that nectar, I commend to your attention the post-election issue of The New Yorker magazine. It’s the issue dated November 21st; but that’s the first post-election issue, trust me. I’m a subscriber — just for the cartoons, you understand, just for the cartoons!
That post-election issue from CultMarx Central comes from the presses practically tear-stained. The cover art is unusually minimalist: just a wall of red bricks going four fifths of the way up, with a sliver of blue sky at the top. I suppose this is meant to signal the wall Trump has promised to build along our southern border, so cruelly excluding the wretched of the earth from access to our bounty. Either that or it’s some kind of statement that the New Yorker editorial staff are planning to commit collective suicide by immuring themselves in their offices there at the World Trade Center.
The gem in this issue is a piece titled “Aftermath,” in which sixteen writers offer short pieces — five or six hundred words each — of reaction to the election result. A lot of it is of course unreadable, but the bits that make any sense at all are hilarious — unrestrained lefty hysteria.
Here’s just a sample, from Hilary Mantel, a Brit novelist, and actually rather a good one — she wrote the Wolf Hall novels, which I enjoyed. Being a good novelist is of course no guarantee that you hold sensible political opinions, as innumerable cases illustrate. You can even be a great novelist while holding daft opinions: I offer Leo Tolstoy in evidence.
So, quote from Ms Mantel’s piece, after a long stretch in which she describes having once mistakenly thought she was pregnant, with what significance to the main point, I could not divine. I guess she’s just asserting her womanness in some way; or denying it, or something. Don’t ask me. Then we get this, longish quote:
As the polls were closing, I was somewhere over the Atlantic. As we flew into the light, one of the air crew came with coffee and a b ulletin, with a fallen face and news that shocked the rows around. They don’t think, she said, that Hillary can catch him now. I took off my watch to adjust it, unsure how many centuries to set it back. What would Donald Trump offer now? Salem witch trials? Public hangings? The lass who had prepared us for the news was gathering the blankets from the night’s vigil. Crinkling her brow, she said, “What I don’t comprehend is, who voted for him?”
No one we know — that’s the trouble.
End quote. Yes, Hilary: that’s the trouble.
What these whiny losers are bellyaching about …
I beg your pardon, I’ll start again. What these thoughtful listeners are taking objection to is, that Radio Derb has become too upbeat. They were originally drawn to my output, they say, on account of my pessimism, as distilled in my world-shattering 2009 classic We Are Doomed. Now, they complain, since the election of Mr Trump, I’m going all Pollyanna on them. So are we not doomed, after all?
Well, there is much to be glad about in last week’s election result, and I shall not hide my gladness. As I pointed out elsewhere on VDARE.com, one of the joys of pessimism is that for a pessimist, pleasant surprises are so much more pleasantly surprising.
I would urge listeners to heed the words of Sir Winston Churchill on V-E Day, quote: “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing.” That said, and as Sir Winston certainly knew, History’s chess tournament never ends. After a game is won, another game starts immediately.
So once the present glow has faded, turn that smile into bile, toss that grin in the bin, and keep your peckers down. Dum spiramus, desperamus: Where there’s life, there’s despair.
There are, after all, many things that could yet go wrong with the Trumpening.
It may be, for example, that we have over-estimated our man. Trump’s been moving in high-status circles for several decades. As British commentator Ed West wrote the other day, the left-liberal narrative is the high-status faith of our times, like Anglicanism was for the English gentry in centuries past. Some of it is bound to have rubbed off.
Indeed, tracking The Donald’s published remarks across those decades, while there have been a few contrarian spasms like the Birther business, it’s hard to find much that stands consistently athwart the left-liberal narrative. Most of his voiced opinions have been pretty conventional.
The main exception to that, and the main cause of all the rejoicing on websites like this one, is Trump’s firm, strong line on enforcing immigration law and protecting American workers. That seems to be of recent coinage, though. The story I’m told is that he read Ann Coulter’s 2015 book ¡Adiós America! and it opened his eyes to the stupidity and injustice of the current system.
All right; and where patriotic immigration reform is concerned, I’ll take what I can get, and rejoice in the taking. Still, illegal immigration has been a running sore for forty years, and our legal system has been FUBAR for fifty. Did a person with an interest in public policy not notice any of that until Ann’s book came out last year?
Or if we haven’t overestimated our man, perhaps we’ve overestimated the intelligence of the voting public. Did 61.6 million people really approve Trump’s policies, including his immigration policies? Or did some large number of them vote for him because he’s rich, loud, and on TV a lot? — the way some unknown millions in 2008 and 2012 voted for Barack Obama because they thought it would be neat to have an unthreatening black guy as President?
Did the November 8th result show that the nation has a sincere desire for change? Or is it just another data point on the trivialization of our culture?
And then, the stuff you hear about the Presidency being the world’s most powerful position is hokum. The Founders didn’t want another king. The U.S. Presidency is rather a weak office — nothing like as powerful as the Prime Minister in a parliamentary system. In modern times, with the vast entrenched interest of the federal bureaucracy ranged against him, it’s hard for a President to get much of anything done, as Ronald Reagan found out.
See? I know how to make your flesh crawl. We may yet be doomed. Keep despair alive!
05 — Two minutes hate on Steve Bannon. And then, of course, the Trump administration will be moving forward as best it can into a headwind of hostility from all the panjandrums of our culture — the media, the academy, et cetera.
Trump’s people are getting a taste of this already, before an administration has even been formed. This week was marked by a Two Minutes Hate against Steve Bannon, Trump’s designated adviser on strategy.
The opening shot was fired Tuesday in the editorial columns of — where else? — the New York Times, under the headline Steve “Turn On the Hate” Bannon, in the White House. The epithet “Turn On the Hate” is in quotes there because it’s a thing Bannon said in an email to one of his editors at Breitbart.com. Full quote from that Bannon email: “Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that’s the only thing that will make them do their duty,” end quote.
The “they” being targeted there was the Republican leadership. You have to read 439 words into the editorial before they tell you that, though. It’s headlines that make the lasting impression; so the lasting impression Times readers will come away with is that Bannon wants us to turn on the hate against the left’s Designated Victim Groups: blacks, illegal aliens, homosexuals, and so on.
To further make their readers swoon, the Times editorialists quote three Breitbart.com headlines, presumably the worst they could find out of hundreds scanned.
First headline: Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage, which the Times notes was published two weeks after a lunatic who owned a Confederate flag murdered nine people in Charleston, South Carolina.
OK; but up until that lunatic gave the CultMarx commissars an excuse to ban it, the Confederate flag was no big deal. It happened that a couple of weeks before the Charleston murders, my wife and I had been on a tour of Civil War battlefields. I noted with interest at the time that the visitor’s center at the Gettysburg battlefield — run by the Federal Parks Service — sold the Confederate flag in several sizes. We saw a party of teenagers coming out of the center with one of the bigger sizes, wrapping it round themselves and laughing merrily. Nobody thought anything of it.
The old consensus, which I liked, was that the American Civil War was fought with dignity, courage, and sacrifice by brave and honorable men on both sides; the one side for the right to secede, the other side — which included slave states, let’s remember — for the union. Those who fought, on both sides, and the symbols they fought under, are entitled to respect from those who came after.
The essay at Breitbart.com under that headline follows that old dispensation. It’s a good, robust, thoughtful piece. The Times’ objection to it is that they favor the new dispensation, the one imposed on the country by the commissars after Charleston. This new dispensation says that Confederates were loathsome scum, whose descendants should have been eating dirt for the past 150 years, and had better start eating it now if they know what’s good for them.
Second headline: Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy. This was a December 2015 piece by Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo’s not really my cup of tea, and this one’s a bit silly; but it’s by no means fact-free. He links for example to an academic study that found some forms of birth control cause weight gain.
Third headline: Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield. This is a Breitbart.com piece from March last year. Executive summary: Giffords, who was shot by crazy guy Jared Loughner in 2011, wants Congress to extend background checks to a broader category of gun buyers. Yet Loughner obtained his gun after a background check; so Giffords would have been shot even under the new laws she’s promoting.
That’s a nice point. It’s something people should know before lobbying their representatives to vote for or against these new laws. Breitbart.com was doing a useful public service there.
As you can tell, the Times editorial against Bannon left me neither shaken nor stirred. Its heavy hints that Bannon is an anti-semite were especially preposterous, as detailed in a scathing rebuttal from David Goldman at PJMedia. Sample quote from David, quote:
Not a single article appeared in Breitbart.com during the past two years that could not have appeared in Israel Hayom, the leading Israeli daily.
If you really want a window into Steve Bannon’s thinking, I recommend the long post headlined This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World, posted at BuzzFeed, November 15th. It’s a transcript of a talk Bannon gave to a conservative Roman Catholic group called the Human Dignity Institute in the Vatican two years ago.
Bannon’s Vatican talk defies brief summary, but his strongest theme is the need to imbed capitalism in some kind of firm ethical order based on patriotism and Christian morality. Without that imbedding, he says, what you get is Third World-style crony capitalism or Putinesque state capitalism.
You might agree or disagree, but it’s good thought-provoking stuff, and hateful only of things we should hate, like crony capitalism.
So, weighing Steve Bannon in one pan of the balance, and the New York Times editorial board in the other, who exactly is “turning on the hate” here? I think I know the answer, and it’s not Steve Bannon.
06 — Detweeting the Alt Right. I have to confess I’ve never really got Twitter. I opened a Twitter account because people told me I should, to promote my stuff. When I post a new Radio Derb, or a significant article or review, I send out a tweet saying so (except when I forget). I see I have 4,738 followers on Twitter. Sincere thanks to all of them, but I’m amazed it’s that many.
So I’m not really a Tweeter. If I come up with any thoughts that I believe might have general interest, I speak them aloud here, or jot them down for use in a future article.
I’m a writer. I want to be paid for my thoughts. What kind of thoughts can you squinch into 140 characters, anyway? An average Radio Derb runs to about five thousand words, and when I sign off I feel I’ve just been clearing my throat.
Steve Sailer, a fellow Twitterphobe, says that reading Tweets is like being bombarded with ping-pong balls. I’m with you, Steve. I really don’t get it. OK, OK: old dogs, new tricks. All right.
So the news that Twitter has shut down a raft of Alt Right accounts did not shake me to my core. It does, though, raise some interesting issues.
Twitter management said they made the move as a crack-down on “hate speech.” “Hate speech” is of course just a weasel phrase for anything contrary to the left-liberal narrative which, as already noted, is the high-status confession of our times.
There is no necessary component of hate in “hate speech” thus understood; and contrariwise, so long as you stick to the left-liberal and anti-white narrative, you can be as hateful as you please, and nobody important will mind.
Certainly Twitter won’t mind. A Twitter user field tested that this week, complaining to Twitter about a tweet he’d concocted, under a separate account, that insulted white people.
Twitter replied that the offending tweet had not violated their terms of service. The user then cooked up a tweet identical in wording except that “white” was changed to “black.” When he complained about that, Twitter agreed, and suspended the account he’d posted it from.
So Twitter is PC left-liberal compliant. Does this matter?
There are some nontrivial legal and constitutional issues here which I’m not really competent to address. Is Twitter providing an essential public service, like the phone company? Or is it just a vehicle for published opinions, like a magazine publisher? If it’s OK for Twitter to refuse to have Richard Spencer as a customer because Richard argues for a white homeland, why can’t a bakery refuse to bake a cake for customers who want to celebrate buggery?
My gut instinct in these cases is always towards liberty — liberty of association for private transactions. I don’t think bakers hould have to serve customers they don’t wish to serve. I think landlords who don’t want to rent to blacks, or to whites, or to homosexuals, or to heterosexuals, have every right not to. I’d strike down all statutes against private discrimination. So if Twitter doesn’t want Richard Spencer as a customer, I’m fine with it, though Richard’s a friend of mine.
There’s a meta-issue lurking beyond that, though. Powerful people hate liberty of opinion, and will thwart it when they can. I nurse the suspicion that we are living in a golden age of internet freedom; and that like all golden ages, this one will be brief.
Everything you read, hear, and see on the internet is data; and data is physically located somewhere. Usually nowadays it is located on some humongous server farm — an actual installation, located on the actual property of some actual person or organization, in some actual sovereign territory.
There are thus many, many ways to shut down freedom on the internet. The Communist government of China has found a great many of them, and has huge teams of researchers working to find more.
I fear that twenty years from now, when the internet is under rigid governmental and corporate control, and your favorite Alt Right websites are fading memories, long gone, Twitter’s shutting down of Richard Spencer’s account will seem like very small potatoes in retrospect.
07 — Blackety-black overload. Headline from the New York Times, November 17th: Colson Whitehead Wins National Book Award for “The Underground Railroad”. The story comes decorated with a photograph of Mr Whitehead: a forty-something American mulatto in white pants and black T-shirt, his hair done in dreadlocks.
What’s The Underground Railroad about? The Times story describes it as, quote, “a hallucinatory novel about the horrors of American slavery and the sinister permutations of racism,” end quote.
Hoo-kay. Now look: I’ve been reading novels since the Truman administration. I’ve reviewed dozens, and written a couple. I have utmost respect for literary skill, and will reserve judgment on any novelist until I’ve read a couple of his books, which in Mr Whitehead’s case I haven’t. Quite possibly he is the new Thackeray, or — which would be by no means an ignoble thing, and certainly worthy of my respect — the new Dick Francis. Sincere congratulations from me to him on the National Book Award.
All that said, I want to register the fact that my reaction, after seeing that headline and reading the first half-dozen paragraphs of the article, was a heartfelt: “Enough, already!”
American race slavery was cruel and unjust, to be sure, and — as Dr Johnson pointed out — it was in rather glaring contradiction to the Founders’ declarations of belief in liberty and equality.
You can say — and you’d be right — that slavery operated in a world that contained many other kinds of cruelty and injustice, and that was rife with other contradictions. Sure, some historical imagination is in order. Slavery was a bad thing, though, or at very least an anachronism, and we’re better off without it.
(Although we are not altogether without it. The 13th Amendment not only did not abolish slavery, it explicitly allows it, quote, “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”)
Still and all, I think Radio Derb listeners, and likely a great many other Americans, understand and agree with my reaction to that New York Times story.
I know very few white Americans who bear any ill will towards their black fellow-citizens. I know none at all who want to bring back plantation slavery. I do, though, know a great many who are fed up with hearing their race, their ancestors, their families, and themselves insulted and belittled as morally inferior to blacks.
You’d think, 150 years after abolition and fifty years after the end of legal segregation, you’d think that the anti-white propaganda would be diminishing. To the contrary, it just gets more intense. To be anti-white is passing from being respectable to being compulsory, if you wish to be considered a virtuous citizen.
Recently I was in conversation with a friend who helps run a small-town historical society in one of the Atlantic states — not New York. She told me that the public authorities who fund the society are insisting that the historical sites it manages and the literature it puts out need to put more emphasis on blacks, their past sufferings and contributions, or else funding will be cut off.
I ran two errands this morning. One was to my bank’s ATM. The ATM greeting screen displayed a still picture advertising their Private Client service. The picture showed a black bank officer in suit and tie counseling a man-woman couple. The man was a white hipster type with a neckbeard; the woman, presumably his wife, was black. Two out of three.
The second errand was to the commuter railroad station in my Long Island town. In the waiting room there, one entire wall was covered with displays about the town’s, quote, “African American history,” of which of course there is practically none.
Enough already! One American in eight is black or blackish. Good luck to them all, and may they have the same fair shot at success in life as the rest of us have.
Does everything have to revolve around them, though? Do they have to be so dramatically over-represented in advertisements, TV news anchor slots, books and movies and school lessons? Can black novelists think of nothing to write about except black black black blackey-black?
You don’t need to feel uncharitable towards blacks to resent the constant, in-your-face promotion of them everywhere you turn. I’ll suggest, though, that if you wanted to generate uncharitable feelings towards blacks, endless anti-white and blackety-blackety-black propaganda is a pretty good way to do it.
Imprimis: A word of encouragement from Radio Derb to 38-year-old Ben Hooper of Britain, who last Sunday embarked on his attempt to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.
The route Mr Hooper has chosen, from Senegal in West Africa to the easternmost tippy-tip of Brazil means swimming through two thousand miles of open water. He aims to finish his swim sometime next March.
It’s an audacious enterprise, although not quite as audacious as that of Ron Obvious in the Monty Python sketch, trying to be the first person to jump across the English Channel. We wish Mr Hooper luck anyway.
Item: The writer Roald Dahl, who died 26 years ago next week, had a moment in the news this week. The news item is, that we’ve all been pronouncing his Christian name wrong. It’s not “Row-ald,” it’s “Roo-al.” His parents were Norwegian, you see, and that’s how Norwegians pronounce “R-O-A-L-D.”
Uh-huh. I can’t say I ever engaged much with Mr Dahl’s literary output. I read a few of his short stories back in the day. The ones I read dwelt in the borderlands where whimsical meets creepy, and weren’t bad if you like that kind of thing.
My own taste for it is limited, and was mostly sated in my teen years by reading a different author, Saki — not to be confused with Taki — an early 20th-century British writer in the same vein as Dahl, who died a hundred years ago this week, fighting on the Western Front in WW1.
If you’re a Roald Dahl fan — if you like the kind of short stories where there turns out to be a weasel under the chaise longue — I suggest you pay tribute to a brave patriot on the centenary of his death and try one of Saki’s stories. Which one? If you like “Sredni Vashtar” you’ll like the others.
I mainly remember Roald Dahl for a mock campaign run by the satirical London magazine Private Eye at the height of his fame, to raise donations for a fund to buy an “n” for his Christian name. Turns out that not only did he not need the “n” that was missing, he didn’t need the “d” that was present. The mysteries of onomastics.
Item: News from Maryland … I beg your pardon: Murr-luhn. A pizza parlor in Towson was broken into in the small hours of November 10th by a naked man who proceeded to burgle the place.
It’s not clear from the surveillance video whether the intruder’s clothes got left behind when he forced his way in through a small roof aperture, or whether nudity is a deliberate part of his modus operandi. In either case, he has now entered the pantheon of noteworthy criminals under the epithet Naked Slice Burglar. Supply your own jokes.
Item: If you thought my opening last week’s podcast with a clip from Handel’s Messiah was mildly blasphemous, I refer you to Arye Deri, Chairman of Israel’s Shas Party and Secretary of the Interior for that nation.
Mr Deri is an Orthodox Jew. Commenting on the election of Donald Trump, Mr Deri said that it heralds the coming of the Messianic Age. Precise quote from him, as reported in the Jerusalem Post, November 10th, quote:
If such a miracle can happen, we have already reached the days of the Messiah. Therefore, we are really in the era of the birth pangs of the Messiah when everything has been flipped to the good of the Jewish people.
End quote. How does this square with all the stuff you’ve been hearing from liberal American Jewish commentators about Trump being literally Hitler? Beats me.
On the question of what is or is not Good For The Jews, I’m inclined to trust an Orthodox Jew in Israel over a New York Times columnist in Manhattan … but that’s probably antisemitic of me.
Well, I don’t have a Man Bites Dog story for you, but here’s something in approximately the same zone.
A 94-year-old Frenchman, out for a walk in the Bordeaux countryside, was killed by a sheep. Local villagers described the sheep as, quote “a well-known troublemaker” — not a thing you hear about very many sheep.
I can’t improve on the Daily Mail headline to this story, quote: “A baaaaa-d way to go.”
Thanksgiving is my favorite of all the particularly American holidays; and if my experience is typical, that must be a common feeling among immigrants.
I came to the U.S.A. the first time in August 1973; the second time, into a very different environment, in October 1985. On both occasions, when Thanksgiving came round, I was a single man working among people I’d only known for a few weeks. Both times I learned a wonderful thing: that if you’re new and alone in America, with no family here, it’s impossible to be alone at Thanksgiving. Americans just won’t let it happen. People you’ve just barely got to know invite you into their homes for Thanksgiving dinner, and treat you as a member of the family.
I’m immune to most forms of sentimentality, but I still go misty-eyed over Thanksgiving. Thanks, America, for taking me in.
Well, I somehow got two mentions of death anniversaries into this week’s podcast. Three’s a charm, so here’s a third.
There is another anniversary next week, noted by Professor Paul Gottfried at the Mencken Club conference. Monday, November 21st marks the centenary of the death of Franz Joseph of the house of Habsburg, who was Emperor of Austria for nineteen years and then Emperor-King of Austria-Hungary, the Dual Monarchy, for a further 49 years.
In a book review recently I referred to Franz Joseph as, quote: “a sensible and effective ruler, one of history’s great reactionaries,” end quote. Let us pause in respectful remembrance of the Emperor-King as we listen to his anthem.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Haydn’s Gott erhalte.]