03:52 Demography, destiny. (We’ve reached one-third of a billion…)
11:24 Demography, bogosity. (… or have we?)
20:47 Boycott Russian culture? (You can have my Pushkin when…)
25:17 A lesson from a teacher. (And where she learned it.)
27:41 Guerilla archeologists. (People, not pots.)
34:43 Haiti’s misery. (All the white man’s fault.)
38:01 The disappearing Y-chromosome. (You won’t miss it.)
40:41 Last man on the Moon. (Apollo 17 plus fifty.)
43:33 Those dueling banjos. (The film-maker's art.)
45:45 How to raise human fertility? (No-one knows.)
47:47 The Navy can't find recruits. (Not a promising career.)
50:08 Signoff. (Mongolia-adjacent.)
Before proceeding, just a point to clear up from last week's podcast. In that podcast I momentarily forgot a thing that all of us who offer written or spoken material to the public know. We know that some small but noisy subset of the population is immune to parody, irony, sarcasm, and satire. They don't get them; and when you offer them they take your words as expressions of true fact or sincere belief.
You or I may think that the latest offering from, say, the Babylon Bee is worth a chuckle, perhaps a guffaw; but members of that small but noisy subset will read the same item with outrage or dismay. They don't get satire.
With that in mind, I must just clarify that there is in fact no cryptocurrency named the GenghisCoin. It was a figment of my imagination. I apologize to those I misled, and for the turmoil I caused in the financial markets by my thoughtless attempt at humor.
My partiality to the nation and people of Mongolia remains steadfast, however, as does my admiration for their collective refusal to be racked with guilt over the misdeeds of their ancestors.
That admiration has in fact generated in my mind a modest proposal that I hereby offer to any entrepreneur willing to consider a business venture in East-Central Asia.
Walking my dog around the quiet streets of my middle-middle-class American suburb, I occasionally see one of those smug virtue-signalling yard signs saying: HATE HAS NO HOME HERE.
It seems to me there is money to be made in Mongolia by marketing yard signs saying: ETHNOMASOCHISM HAS NO HOME HERE.
The signs would of course need to be in the Mongolian language. The dictionaries of that language that I've consulted have no entries for "ethnomasochism" and Google Translate offers only a transliteration, which won't do. So some research will be required; but I'm sure there's a dollar to be made here … or at least a törög.
A-a-a-and … we're coming up to it … yes! Geronimo! 333, 333, 333. That is the population of the U.S.A at 27 seconds past 11:45 pm this evening, December 9th 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Clock, which I have been watching.
That's one-third of a billion—a milestone. Back in my monthly Diary for October 2016 I grumbled that the number three and its reciprocal one-third don't get the respect they oughta. Sample quote:
The under-appreciation of three is best seen in the realm of fractions. It is possible to find a ruler marked off in thirds of an inch—I own one—but halves and quarters are far more popular. We say "a quarter of an hour" all the time; when did you last hear someone say "a third of an hour"?
Working from the numbers on the Population Clock back then, six years ago, I estimated that America's population would cross the third-of-a-billion mark in January of 2020. That's three years earlier than actuality, so plainly the Population Clock back then was anticipating a faster rate of increase than has actually occurred.
What accounts for this apparent slowdown? Falling fertility? Higher mortality? Lower immigration? Higher emigration? It must be some combination of the four, but I'll leave the professional demographers to sort that out.
Pedants might quibble that 333,333,333 is not quite a third of a billion. A precise third of a billion would be 333,333,333 and a third. Given that—according to the Population Clock—our population currently has a net gain of one person every 129 seconds, I should actually have waited a further 43 seconds for the exact third of a billion.
Fair enough. The fun here, though, is in watching the numbers roll over, so that's what I went with.
Long, long ago—I'm talking about the mid-1970s here—I watched with fascination and delight as the odometer on my first American automobile, my dear old 1964 Chevy Nova, rolled over the hundred thousand mile mark.
The U.S. population at that time, the mid-1970s, was around 220 million. That was the America I knew in my salad days, the America I fell in love with.
Our population has increased by fifty percent since then. It's natural to ponder the question: Has that extra fifty percent made the U.S.A. a better country, a worse country, or what?
It's natural to ponder that, but not very fruitful.
For one thing, as any real demographer will jump in to tell you, the size of a population is less important—from most points of view, certainly from the economic one—than its shape. What does the population pyramid look like? That's the diagram that shows the population broken out by age categories.
For another thing, your genial host here has himself moved up the population pyramid some since 1975. Back then I was a young buck, full of piss and vinegar, a willing customer for any kind of harmless excitement or cultural innovation. Now I'm a geezer—Hey, get off the lawn! Naturally I'm going to smile more fondly on the America of my youth.
All that being allowed for, though, I'm pretty sure something has been lost—something important to a person of nationalist temperament.
Sure, there was plenty of bickering and division back then. The elites of 1975 hated Richard Nixon just as much as the elites of 2022 hate Donald Trump. The race business was as salient then as now … although, I'd argue, less hypocritical. Our foreign policy was as FUBAR then as now: We left Saigon in 1975 as ignominiously as we left Kabul in 2021.
It's my impression, though, that there was a kind of national solidarity back then that we have lost today. Is that a true impression, or just geezer talk? I don't know.
The U.S.A. of the mid-1970s was a country that a healthy young white male from a different country couldn't help but fall in love with. Is it still that way? I don't know. You'll have to find a healthy young white male alien and ask him.
I'm talking about the numbers. I was working entirely from the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Clock. How accurate is it? Not very, is my best guess.
If you bring up the Population Clock it gives you two headline numbers right at the top there. One is for the U.S.A., the other is the world population.
As I'm looking at it this evening the world population shows as seven billion 938 million and change. Whoa! Weren't we told, and didn't Radio Derb report that world population would increase past the eight billion mark in the middle of November? Yes, we were. And didn't subsequent news stories tell us that baby Vinice Mabansag, born 1:29 am November 15th in Manila, the Philippines was the actual eight billionth person? Yes, they did.
So isn't the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Clock running a few tens of millions short on world population numbers? Maybe.
Here's a news story from Tuesday this week that may shed some light. It's about Papua New Guinea, a nation known to its friends, who are not very numerous, as "PNG." PNG occupies one half of a big island in the Indonesian archipelago, just south of the Equator and just north of Australia.
On the PNG government's own numbers, the country's population was understood until last week to be 9.4 million. That's an increase of nearly thirty percent over the 2011 number; so PNG has a booming population. This is not likely due to immigrants flocking to live there. The Daily Mail story, which I'm working from here, tells us that, quote:
The country is … one of the world's most dangerous and violent nations, with large areas ruled by tribal gangs.
So if you were thinking of booking a summer vacation in PNG for yourself, the spouse, and kids … I'd advise against it.
Anyway, to the main story here. As I said, PNG's population was understood until last week to be 9.4 million. Well, the United Nations—precisely, the U. N. Population Fund—did a census of their own. That census came up with a PNG population of 17 million, nearly twice the official number.
To quote the Daily Mail story again, quote:
Papua New Guinea's prime minister James Marape had to admit that he didn't know how many people lived on the Pacific island nation he governed.
Moral of the story here: Demography is a noble science, and an important one, but not an exact one.
I have written sympathetically about demography myself. Sample quote from me back in 2011, quote:
Demography, along with its cousin discipline of economics, was "in the air" during the later eighteenth century … Of these two cousin disciplines, it is a nice point for argument which better deserves to be called "the dismal science." I would vote for demography. It must be hard to maintain a cheerful composure while scrutinizing the ceaseless, often inexplicable ebbs and flows of nativity and mortality.
So, with all proper respect to demographers working hard at their science, don't trust the numbers. PNG, with all its problems, is not the most chaotic and ill-governed of the world's nations, yet they have, according to the U.N., been underestimating their population by almost half. What is the population of, say, Congo? I doubt anyone has the faintest idea.
I am happy to welcome little Vinice Mabansag into the world, over there in Manila. Whether her birth brought the world's population up to precisely eight billion, though, or only up to 7.9 billion and something, or 8.1 billion and something, I do not know. Nor does anyone else.
And similar qualifications apply to that number for the U.S. population. Sure, it was fun to watch the threes line up on our Census Bureau's Population Clock; but that they represent an accurate head count, I seriously doubt. The phrase "good enough for government work" comes to mind.
Random quote from today's news, actually from the December 9th New York Post, quote:
Over 2 million migrants crossed the U.S. southern border in the 2022 fiscal year [that's the year ending September 30th] a record never seen before. That's compared to just 1.7 million migrants that crossed in 2021, according to [U.S. Border Patrol] statistics.
Those numbers are expected to increase once Title 42, a Trump-era COVID policy used to expel about 40 percent of migrants who enter the country illegally, ends Dec. 21.
Yet politicians have been telling us for years now—I think actually for decades—that the number of illegal aliens living in the U.S.A. is eleven million. Chuck Schumer used that number just last month; although to be fair to the Senate Majority Leader his actual words were: [Clip of Schumer: "eleven million or however many."]
I repeat: the numbers on the Census Bureau's Population Clock are good enough for government work, that's all. For sure they are good enough for a government run by, and for, people who are perfectly indifferent to how many foreign scofflaws live in our country [Schumer: "however many"]—who, indeed, think that the bigger the number is, the better.
Tuesday this week our president went to Arizona to give a speech about the national economy. As he was leaving Washington, D.C. reporter Peter Doocy asked him if he would take the opportunity to visit the border. The Chief Executive replied, actual quote: "There are more important things going on." End quote. So no, he did not visit the border.
To the people who rule us, nothing is less important than the integrity of our nation's borders.
04—Should we boycott Russian culture? It says here—I'm looking at The Guardian for December 7th—that the Culture Minister of Ukraine, a bloke named Oleksandr Tkachenko, wants us, the people of the West whose governments are supporting Ukraine, it wants us to boycott Russian culture. That should include performances of Tchaikovsky's music; so no Christmas Nutcrackers this year.
Having just, in my November Diary, included a longish quote from Pushkin, I guess I just got in under the wire there. Hey.
I'm kidding. Nobody should pay attention to this demand. Russian culture includes some of the splendors of Western civilization in both the arts and sciences. We see and hear too little of those splendors in our current de-civilizing state; let's cherish what we've got.
And my sympathies in this war are with Ukraine, although I wish we'd stay the hell out if it.
Sure: our own unfathomably stupid foreign policies have contributed to the disaster. We should have gotten out of NATO thirty years ago and left the Europeans to organize their own collective defense: EUTO.
And sure, Russia's foreign policy has been brutish and dumb. Whatever differences they had with Ukraine, couldn't they have resolved them peacefully? Did they try very hard? War is a terrible thing. It should be a last resort.
And sure: Prewar Ukraine, as a nation, was nothing much to admire. As I observed back in April, this has been a war between the world's two most corrupt white nations.
Given all of that, however, as a nationalist, I think if the people of Territory X don't want to be ruled by Nation Y, they shouldn't have to be. Consensual self-rule is the foundation of nationhood. Ukrainians should be left alone to govern themselves, however badly. So should Tibetans and Uighurs and Taiwanese; so should have been the Confederate States.
Sure, things can get nasty if some of the people in Territory X don't want to be ruled by Nation Y but some others do: Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, … Sure. That was only the case in some small limited regions of Ukraine, though, and intelligent diplomacy should have been able to sort it out. There was no need for war.
It's plain from Putin's words and deeds that he wants to exert imperial authority over Ukraine. Good luck to the Ukrainians in resisting him, and to the other nations of Europe in supporting them. I still don't see why it's our business, though.
I certainly don't see why we should give up our Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Tchaikovsky. None of it is their fault.
Now go to the "Readings" page of my personal website, Ctrl-F "Remembrance," and listen to me read the master in his own beautiful Russian language, with only a couple of pronunciation bloopers.
Minister Tkachenko can have my Pushkin when he's pried it from my cold dead fingers.
[Clip: So this is the start of my series on the teaching of linguistics in high school.
As an educator I'm constantly worried if I am part of the problem. What do I mean by that?
Well, public education is an institution that upholds lots of problematic systems in our society like white supremacy and misogyny and colonization, et cetera.
In my role as an educator I try to undermine that b.s. in my classroom as much as I possibly can.
I teach high school English and—hoo!—the white supremacy runs deep. What do I mean by that?
Well, let's look at how we write essays. Start with an introduction that includes a thesis. Always cite your sources. Use transition words like "however" and "therefore."
These are all made-up rules. They're arbitrary. They were created by Westerners in power.
In Linguistic Justice, April Baker-Bell calls this "the language of respectability" or "the language of power."
She got me thinking. What if I started my school year with a unit honoring how we talk rather than teaching students how to write properly …
Tthe speaker mentioned there a book titled Linguistic Justice by an author named April Baker-Bell. Ms Baker-Bell, who is black, is described on the website of Michigan State University thus, quote:
Dr. April Baker-Bell is a transdisciplinary teacher-researcher-activist and Associate Professor of Language, Literacy, and English Education in the Department of English and Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University.
These are the people who are educating your children, and your children's teachers.
Do you have small children? If so you should quit your job; sell everything you own; buy a trailer in some rural area of some red state; and homeschool. It's your kids' only hope.
The English word "guerilla," let me remind you, comes into our language direct from the Spanish. We borrowed it in the early 19th century when Napoleon's armies had invaded Spain and Portugal and destroyed those nations' armies.
No longer having organized armies to defend their countries with, the people of Spain and Portugal took matters into their own hands. Readers of Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe novels know all about this.
The entry under "guerilla warfare" in Webster's Third dictionary defines it very well. Quote:
military actions carried out by small forces in the rear of an enemy with the object of harassing the enemy, interrupting his lines of communication, and destroying his supplies.
The academic equivalent today in our institutions of higher education is not as aggressive as that, but it's taking on some of those sneak-attack characteristics. Here's an example that turned up December 3rd at Unherd.com. The particular corner of academia under discussion here is Archaeology. The author of the piece is anonymous, but we're told he is himself a professional archaeologist.
What does he tell us? Well, if you've followed archaeology at all you'll know that in recent decades, as political correctness took hold, students of archaeology were taught to think in terms of "pots not people." When new styles of artefacts like pots appear in the archaeological record, you must not (students were told) suppose that meant some one group of people came in and subdued or vanquished some other group. No! Peoples' taste in pottery just changed, that's all.
All that of course fits in nicely with the notion that there aren't really different peoples at all—certainly not different races. Good heavens, no—absolutely not! Styles change, that's all. "Pots not people."
Quote from our author, the guerilla archaeologist, quote:
What seems obvious to the general public—that prehistory was a bloody mess of invasions, migrations, battles and conflict—is not always a commonplace view among researchers. Worse, the idea that ancient peoples organised themselves along clear ethnic and tribal lines is also taboo. Obvious statements of common sense, such as the existence of patriarchy in the past, are constantly challenged and the general tone of academia is one of refutation: both of established theories and thinkers and of disagreeable parts of the past itself.
The orthodox, woke position is a refashioning of the old Noble Savage myth. Human beings in the remote past were not aggressive and patriarchal like white people in modern times. They didn't invade each others' territories, kill their men and take their women, or practice slavery. No, no, no, they just changed their style of pottery.
Then along came modern techniques of genetic analysis, which can be applied to the fragmentary remains of ancient corpses. What do they tell us? They tell us that, guess what: prehistory was a bloody mess of invasions, migrations, battles and conflict.
This article is so good and so relevant, I kept marking up passages to quote on my podcast, but ended with well-nigh the whole thing marked up. This anonymous guy, this guerilla archeologist, is very quotable. Just one more, quote:
The value divide between the layman and the academic frequently clashes over this endless push towards progressive politics. Queer Vikings, transgender skeletons, female warriors … not a week seems to go by without some new claim that today's morality has always been the norm. For the British public, perhaps no single phenomenon better demonstrates this than the "discoveries" of black people in British history and prehistory. The infamous Cheddar Man fiasco, where a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer was identified by geneticists as having black skin, a claim quietly retracted afterwards, was perfect debate fodder and was exploited by anti-Brexit campaigners.
I do urge you to read the whole thing over at Unherd.com, title: "The rise of Archaeologists Anonymous." And if there is a guerilla academic of any scholarly discipline among your personal acquaintance, give him what encouragement you can. Buy him a dinner!
Imprimis: Back there in my segment about how untrustworthy population numbers are I mentioned PNG, the nation of Papua New Guinea. I told you that it occupies one half of a big island in the Indonesian archipelago, and that with all its problems it is not the most chaotic and ill-governed of the world's nations.
Well up in the competition for that title is a different country that also occupies one half of a big island in an archipelago, but in the other hemisphere—our Western hemisphere. That would be Haiti. How are things going down there?
Not well. I resort again to the excellent Daily Mail, reporting on Monday this week. Opening lines of the story, quote:
It was once a symbol of hope. Haiti: the first black republic and first Caribbean state to declare independence. Now, it symbolises only death and despair.
Yeah, Haiti's in a bad way. The president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in July last year at his own home, probably by narcotics traffickers. There has still been no arrest.
The country today is run by criminal gangs who, says the Daily Mail, quote, "are free to kidnap, murder and commit atrocities such as gang rapes at will," end quote. There's been a cholera epidemic, apparently brought in by troops of a U.N. peacekeeping mission. That mission not only failed utterly to keep any peace, it ended with allegations of sexual abuse by the peacekeepers.
Natural disasters have made things worse: a colossal earthquake in 2010, a major hurricane in 2016. Still, a country with any kind of organized government and spirit of law-abiding civic nationalism should, in a few years, be able to recover from such misfortunes. Japan has major earthquakes; Florida has serious hurricanes.
Haiti's story is appalling and depressing. Read the Daily Mail report and weep for them. Then go to Ibram X. Kendi or any other purveyor of Critical Race Theory and learn how it's all the fault of white people.
As you probably know, human females have two X chromosomes while males have one X and one Y. You may not know that the same is true of most other mammals.
You may also not know that the Y chromosome is a bit of a mystery. It only has fifty-something genes coding for known functions, including one that kick-starts male development in the embryo. The X chromosome, by contrast, has about 900 genes coding for all sorts of things unrelated to sex.
Just looking at the genetic architecture you might almost think that femaleness is the norm, while maleness is a freakish kind of mistake … but that way madness lies.
Anyway, this news story tells us that, quote:
The human Y chromosome is degenerating and may disappear in a few million years, leading to our extinction unless we evolve a new sex gene.
I'm sorry to say that what came immediately to my mind when reading that was one of William F. Buckley's favorite jokes. This was the one about the old lady who attended a public lecture given by a famous astronomer. At one point the speaker told his audience that the Sun would die and grow cold around nine billion years from now.
In the Q&A after the lecture the old lady put up her hand and asked: "Professor Finkelheimer, when did you say the Sun will die and grow cold?"
"In nine billion years," replied the speaker.
"Nine billion? Oh, thank goodness! I thought you said nine million."
Item: Speaking of matters astronomical: next Wednesday, December 14th, marks fifty years since American astronaut Gene Cernan stepped off the surface of the Moon to re-enter the Apollo 17 Lunar Module for return to Earth. That was the last time any human being walked on the Moon.
If you had told us—those of us following the progress of the Apollo program at the time—that fifty years would pass with no further human beings stepping on the Moon, we'd have thought you were nuts.
So it has been, though, notwithstanding tremendous advances in the sciences of rocketry and computing. Gene Cernan himself passed away in 2017 at age 82; his companion on the lunar excursion, Harrison Schmitt, is still with us and still active at age 87, bless his heart!—The last man still alive to have walked on the Moon.
Different opinions are possible here. In a column at National Review on the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing, I tried to encompass both sides. Yes, I wrote, you can argue that Apollo was a folly, a gross waste of public funds to no practical purpose. Quote from myself:
Grandiose public-works projects of no practical value should be left to states of the imperial-despotic variety. [Inner quote.] A monument to the insufficiency of human enjoyments, [end inner quote] said Dr. Johnson of the Great Pyramid.
But I closed the piece with this, quote:
Apollo was an extravagance, a folly. But what a glorious, soul-stirring folly!
Yes, it was. Now, fifty years on from when it all ended, I'd love to have my soul, and the collective soul of my nation—well, most of it—stirred the way Apollo stirred it.
Item: Still on the topic of anniversaries, I shouldn't let 2022 slide by without noting that it was the fiftieth anniversary of a very memorable movie: Deliverance.
The main thing everyone remembers from that movie—ahead in memorability, I think, of Ned Beatty being told to squeal like a pig—is the "duelling banjos" scene. I don't know why it's always remembered as that since it wasn't two banjos duelling, it was a banjo and a guitar … but let that pass.
A thing I didn't know until I looked it up in a moment of nostalgia was that Billy Redden, who played the FLK in that scene …
Sorry: back in the 1960s, before Political Correctness came up, "FLK" was British schoolteachers' slang for "Funny-Looking Kid," meaning a child who, judging from the look of him, was going to be really difficult to teach.
Well, Billy Redden, who in appearance, although only in appearance, was a perfect FLK—that's why they cast him—Billy could not actually play the banjo at the time the movie was filmed.
He had a "hand double" parked behind him with his arms reaching round Billy to the banjo, the arms made to look like they were Billy's arms by some skillful camera positioning. The "hand double" didn't actually play the music we hear, either; that was dubbed in later.
I suspect this is one of those things that I'm the last person to know, but I'm glad to know it anyway. Knowledge is good!
If you follow the subject at all you know that advanced, civilized nations almost all have below-replacement levels of fertility. That means swelling numbers of geezers to look after and dwindling numbers of young workers to pay for the looking-after.
The problem is especially acute in East Asia, and double-especially acute in South Korea, which has just broken its own record for the world's lowest fertility rate. The average number of children a South Korean woman will have in her lifetime is down to just 0.79, way below the 2.1 you need for a stable population. (The U.S.A. is at 1.6.)
Hey, no problem. It's all a matter of incentives, right? Cash incentives, rewards for bigger families, housing subsidies, … How hard can this be?
Real hard. South Korean governments have spent $200 billion dollars over the past sixteen years trying to boost fertility, and still it's gone steadily down in defiance of all their efforts.
The whole culture seems to be tilted against reproduction. There was a long report at the CNN website, December 6th.
Other countries—Hungary, Russia, Japan—have similar stories to tell. Reversing the decline in fertility looks to be really really difficult.
Item: I reported back in July on the trouble our Army is having meeting recruitment goals. Well, here comes the Navy, same problem.
The Navy Times reported November 7th that they're struggling to find recruits just as much as the Army is. In hopes of meeting the problem the Navy has raised its maximum enlistment age to 41 as of November 4th.
That means the Navy is now accepting the oldest enlisted recruits of the four services. Maximum enlistment age for the Army is 35; for the Air Force 40, for the Marines 28. (There are lower maxima for some special units like the SEALs.)
So if you're at a loose end and haven't yet seen your 42nd birthday, join the Navy and see the world.
I'm kidding again. I do not actually recommend a naval career. At the very least, before heading off to the recruiting office, read the posts that science blogger Steve Hsu has been putting up at his website and on Twitter.
With modern developments in missile technology and satellite imaging, surface military vessels are effectively obsolete against major military powers like China, and submarines not far behind.
It's not just Steve Hsu, either. Quote from David Goldman at Asia Times, December 6th, quote:
Surface ships, including aircraft carriers, can't defend against modern missiles that can downlink guidance data from reconnaissance satellites.
Goldman says the Pentagon agrees with that. I hope they've told the politicians.
08—Signoff. That's all, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and thanks to the many kind people I've met at this week's round of Christmas parties who have listened to my output, or read it, and had flattering things to say to me. Thank you! I really should get out more.
To sign us off this week I thought I would favor you with some Mongolian music. Unfortunately none of the Mongolian music I could find appealed sufficiently strongly to me. I am therefore going to sign out with something not precisely Mongolian but Mongolia-adjacent. This is from the people of Tuva, a region of Russian Siberia just north of Mongolia.
The Tuvan people are Turkic, not Mongolian. Their lifestyle is very Mongolian, though. They live in tents out on the steppe, ride horses, and herd cattle, sheep, and deer. The reason I have conscripted them for my signoff music is, they practice a peculiar kind of vocal skill called "throat singing." Here is an example.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Tuvan throat singing.]