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Advice to investors. In last week’s column “Don’t Sup With a FUP” I offered a golden nugget of life advice to the younger generation: Now that we know that Greece is the geographical equivalent of Lindsay Lohan, perhaps I should do another advice column, this one addressed to bankers and investors: If I do so,... Read More
This week’s column is in the noble Derbian tradition of advice to the younger generation. From the aery height of three score and ten I offer you nuggets of wisdom, wrenched with difficulty and some pain from a lifetime’s observation and reflection. Pay attention, you millennials and Gen Z-ers! There’ll be a quiz period afterwards.... Read More
T.S. Eliot’s observation that “human kind cannot bear very much reality” is surely up among the half-dozen wisest things ever said about our common nature. There is, of course, individual variation in how much reality we can bear. I flatter myself by believing I am up toward the high end. I readily admit, however, that... Read More
Every nation has, in its collective psyche, a special place for its bloodiest war: a place warmed with intense emotions and turbulent with unresolved—probably unresolvable—controversies. For Americans that place is occupied by the Civil War, the 150th anniversary of whose ending in April 1865 we have just gotten through commemorating. I have the Civil War... Read More
Here it comes, the big seven-oh. Next Wednesday to be exact; around 6:45 GMT, to be even more exact. It was quite an entrance, as I recorded in We Are Doomed. Making it to seventy is not much nowadays. “Seventy is the new fifty,” my friends assure me. As the scriptural limit, though, seventy is... Read More
Bill Nye the Science Guy gave a commencement speech at Rutgers on Sunday. Reading the speech left me thinking that if this is America’s designated Science Guy, I can be the nation’s designated swimsuit model. Up to now I have had only the slightest, vaguest awareness of Bill Nye. Readers have occasionally pointed me to... Read More
All proper congratulations to David Cameron, elected last week as Prime Minister of Britain on the Conservative Party ticket. I can’t say I repose any great hopes that Cameron will actually conserve anything; but then, Britain’s not my country, so the stakes for me are merely tribal (the Anglosphere), civilizational (the West), and sentimental (I... Read More
All of us by now, with the possible exception of some Sentinelese Islanders, are acquainted with the notion of Artifical Intelligence (AI). Most of us have read the news stories about how some alarming proportion of jobs—including middle-class careers like doctoring, lawyering, and accountancy—will soon yield to automation. It’s scary. How will our kids make... Read More
The mass drowning of eight or nine hundred—nobody knows precisely—illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean last Sunday triggered a lot of commentary about these boat people, most of it stupid. Here are some of the grosser stupidities. They’re just seeking a better life. Who isn’t? I guess there are some Lotus eaters among us who are... Read More
What was your first thought on seeing that video clip of the white cop shooting the fleeing black perp? Mine was: “What fresh lie is this?” The point of reference here is the Trayvon Martin case of three years ago, when NBC doctored George Zimmerman’s conversations with his dispatcher to make Zimmerman sound prejudiced. (The... Read More
Virtue totalitarianism. For devout Christian bakers, florists, and photographers throughout the U.S.A., the message going out from the news recently has been the one Anouk Aimee received from a helpful stranger she met while crossing the desert in the 1962 movie Sodom and Gomorrah: “Watch out for Sodomite patrols!” My impression from these recent events... Read More
[Scene: A bakery store somewhere in the U.S.A.] Customer: “Good morning!” Store clerk: “Hello. How may I help you?” Customer: “Do you do wedding cakes?” Clerk: “Yes, we do.” Customer: “Great. My partner and I are getting married. We need a cake for the reception.” Clerk: “OK, but I have to ask: Are you and... Read More
What things make us laugh? In all times and places the top draws have been sex, class, and race. The precise way these major themes tickle our funnybones varies with social trends, reflecting back to us the way we live now. This entirely unoriginal observation was prompted by watching another episode of The Big Bang... Read More
Reading Steven Goldberg’s Fads and Fallacies in the Social Sciences the other day, I got to his 1998 essay on the Clinton scandals. Steve starts off with an Oscar Wilde quote: That got a fist-pump from me. Where matters of opinion and taste are concerned, not many find me on the same page as Oscar... Read More
I’ve been observing the onward march of Cultural Marxism for a whole quarter-century now, and been writing about it for a dozen or so years. It seems to me the pace of hysteria has been picking up since the start of this decade. Outrageous violations of CultMarx norms that got all the Great and the... Read More
We live, as I have noted before, in a beggars’ democracy: There is no chance that any of us beggars out on the dissident right will have the chance to publicly quiz the 2016 presidential hopefuls. We can dream, though. If I could ask the hopefuls 20 questions each, here is what I would ask... Read More
Here’s a clip from my read-it-and-weep folder. It showed up in a February 11th Washington Post article, headline: “College sexual assault prevention has unlikely model: U.S. service academies.” Midshipmen—that is, trainee officers—at the U.S. Naval Academy are being broken to the state ideology, Cultural Marxism. We listen in on a class discussion. Speaking personally, I’d... Read More
Local headlines here in New York State recently have been dominated by corruption in the state legislature. The speaker of the lower house, the State Assembly, has had to resign his position after being arrested last month on federal corruption charges. The arrest was deeply unsurprising. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was known for years to... Read More
It’s been a while—blimey, 12 years—since I did an FAQs column, so here are a few from the email bag (in responding to which I am as usual far behind, sorry sorry). How’s your health? (I had an engagement with cancer three years ago.) Excellent, thanks. I check in every six months with the oncologist,... Read More
It is now nearly a hundred years since H.G. Wells remarked in his book The Outline of History that: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” It was an odd thing to write in 1920, when the dust was still settling from a stupendous orgy of mutual slaughter led by... Read More
The age of Krapp. There went another year swirling down the plughole—one of the best ever, according to one salaried commentator. I don’t know about that. It was the year I turned 69. Salacious connotations aside, what interests a Samuel Beckett addict is that it was the age of Krapp in the play Krapp’s Last... Read More
I recently spent some time making a table for my kitchen, with the assistance of a dear friend whose hobby is cabinetry, and who is generous with his time and equipment. (Thanks, pal!) We made measurements and plans, then purchased good-quality wood. We cut, jointed and planed, glued and clamped, tenoned and mortised. We shaped,... Read More
Who was the great villain of the 20th century—the person most to blame for the evils of those decades? The stock answer is the person whose name is an anagram of “HEIL! OLD FART.” I disagree. It seems to me the title properly belongs to Lenin, the guy who really got the totalitarian ball rolling.... Read More
Eight songs, a book, and a luxury.
I was a bit surprised to learn recently that the BBC radio program Desert Island Discs (hereinafter DID) is still on the air. DID is older than I am. It’s been broadcast every week since 1942. The intro music—seagulls, surf breaking on a shore—was part of the background acoustics of my 1950s childhood in England.... Read More
Soon after Barack Obama’s November 20th amnesty announcement, I was having an e-discussion about it with a friend, a legal scholar. The precise topic of the discussion was the Los Angeles Times op-ed on citizenship by Peter Schuck, a different legal scholar. Prof. Schuck mentions “birthright citizenship.” Should the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens be... Read More
Well, that’s been a depressing few days, hasn’t it? Have you been watching the pictures on TV? Howling mobs of blacks throwing bottles; overturned cars; stores looted and burned; police in riot gear watching passively; black faces contorted with rage; furrowed-brow white liberals excusing, explaining. It’s all too drearily familiar, isn’t it? Newark and Detroit;... Read More
I have been reading Paul Johnson’s new short biography of Dwight Eisenhower. This fulfills a long-standing intention of the feebler kind—a velleity, Bill Buckley would have said. Thus: In his 1983 book Modern Times, Paul Johnson made a point of talking up U.S. presidents then regarded by orthodox historians as second-rate or worse: Harding, Coolidge,... Read More
Reflections on medicine.
Reading the November issue of Literary Review (a British monthly, somewhat like the New York Review of Books but less claustrophobically liberal), the following thing caught my attention. It’s in Donald Rayfield’s review of Stalin, Vol. 1: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928, by Stephen Kotkin: That brought to mind a remark I’ve seen attributed to Winston... Read More
I maintain some vestigial links to the old country. Among them is the inclusion of the London Daily Telegraph in my morning trawl through the online news. It’s sheer sentimentality on my part. The Telegraph was one of the first major outlets to publish me, back in the 1980s. At that time it was a... Read More
Although they probably aren't worth it.
Some boffins at Harvard University claim to have transmitted information from one person’s mind to another by telepathy. Reading through the paper, I thought the content transmitted wasn’t very impressive—just the Spanish and Italian words for “hello”—but hey, baby steps. Is telepathy a thing we should hope for? I have mixed feelings, based on long... Read More
Always look on the bright side.
I recently did a duplex book review for a respectable conservative quarterly (relevant issue not yet in print). The two books I reviewed, this one and this one, were of the boosterist type, the boosteree in both cases being the U.S.A. Our country has a glorious future, these authors say. The editor who sent me... Read More
A vote for Fortress America.
So how are you doing at keeping up with events in MENA (the Middle East and North Africa)? Can the new Iraqi government get some kind of military act together? Will the Kurds hold on to Kobani, that Syrian city under siege by ISIS? Will the big guys in the neighborhood—Iran, Israel, Turkey, the Saudis—get... Read More
Zero Shades of Gray. The U.S. Supreme Court punted on homosexual “marriage” the other day. I can’t summon up much interest, having long since sunk into fatalism on the issue. The cultural revolutionaries are going to shove this absurd notion down our throats [sic] and there’s nothing we can do to stop them. As a... Read More
Hong Kong, in long historical perspective.
History is full of strange folds, wrinkles, and repetitions. Consider for example the following true story. There was once a great empire of the despotic-bureaucratic sort. It had enjoyed centuries of glory; but at last came corruption, political paralysis, foreign incursions, and fragmentation. As the empire entered its long decline, a much smaller nation of... Read More
Future population trends.
A new study on world population trends came out last week from the University of Washington in Seattle. If you’re one of those people who worry about an overpopulated world, the news is bad: total human population, currently a tad over seven billion, will likely be eleven billion by the end of the century and... Read More
If there is hope for England, it lies with the separatists.
An opinion journalist is expected to take a stand on newsy issues, even ones he doesn’t much care about. This is especially so when the issue relates to the British Isles and the journalist podcasts with a British accent; to be precise in my particular case, a mid-20th-century educated-lower-lower-middle-class East Midlands accent. So, all right,... Read More
I have taken another trip on my syllogismobile to an alternate universe. Among the artifacts I brought back with me was A.J. Braithwaite’s History of Britain (2011 edition), a standard text for British schoolchildren in that universe. The following extracts are from the final chapter, titled “Britain since 1945.” Britain and Ireland became Soviet satellites... Read More
Visiting the Last Frontier.
The Derbs—Mr., Mrs., and Missy—spent two weeks in Alaska. Here are some random observations. Positively the last family vacation. Most people who visit Alaska nowadays arrive on cruise ships, which seem to get bigger every time I see one. Juneau’s harbor is a cruise ship parking lot. There were five of the behemoths there when... Read More
The ups and downs of Depressive Realism.
Do I get downhearted? Yes I do. You think it’s easy, living on the red pill? In that world-bestriding bestseller We Are Doomed I introduced readers to the theory of Depressive Realism, launched by psychologists Taylor and Brown in 1988: If it’s well-adjustedness you want for yourself, and a minimum of subjective distress, take the... Read More
Who? Whom?
From the police blotter: Sounds nasty. In this or any other particular case there may be circumstances we don’t know—but there is no doubt that rape happens. The law codes of civilized countries consider it a heinous crime, and rightly so. If events transpired as reported, Mr. Rodriguez should do serious time. Now consider the... Read More
Orwell and Waugh: the same man?
I have just finished reading David Lebedoff’s 2008 book The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War. No, this isn’t a book review—it’s a bit late for that—only some loose reflections on what Lebedoff wrote, as it relates to our present circumstances. Orwell and Waugh are the two big names in... Read More
You can’t faze a New Yorker. After all these years in the Big Apple, I really should know better than to try conclusions with the natives. Place: Track 8 platform at the Long Island Railroad hub in Jamaica, New York City. Time: May 20, 11:50 P.M. Derb’s condition: Seriously over-served. As I emerge from the... Read More
Breaking Bad.
A few columns ago I mentioned in passing that the Mrs. and I had been watching Breaking Bad. This brought some inquiries about whether we got to the end of it, and what I thought. Here are the answers. Yes, we got to the end, after four months or so of Saturday-night marathons via Netflix.... Read More
The title I wanted for my 2009 call to pessimism was We Are Doomed, Doomed. The publisher thought that was too dark, though, so I settled at last for just one “Doomed.” A good thing, perhaps, as the original title is now available to authors reaching for a deeper level of despair. David Archibald might... Read More
Visiting the 9/11 memorial & museum.
I’ll admit I went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with a bad attitude. Why are we memorializing a humiliation? Two of our proudest buildings were leveled and some 3,000 of our people were killed—unarmed, going about their workaday business—by a gang of foreign religious fanatics. Why should we memorialize this? I know, there’s a... Read More
… to politics in a postindustrial society.
Wednesday this week marks the 25th anniversary of the Chinese army’s retaking Tiananmen Square from anti-regime protestors, an event known to Chinese by the date as “6/4.” The first thing to be said about this is that if, like me, you welcome summer by reading a good thick middlebrow novel, here’s just the thing. Not... Read More
Debate debased.
After all these years of bloviating, I still can’t tell in advance what will get people riled up. I’ll spend hours in research for a good deep thumb-sucking piece on Pacific theater geostrategy, and it falls dead-born from the press. Another time I’ll procrastinate until an hour before deadline and then, half drunk and yearning... Read More
Wading for clams.
So I was in the downstairs study, idly surfing the Web while the Mrs. watched TV in the next room. The door was open—gotta keep ’em in sight—so TV noises drifted in. Among the indrift I caught the tail end of a commercial. I don’t know what was being advertised; some labor-saving device, I guess.... Read More
Hope, our grandmothers told us, makes a good breakfast, but a poor supper. My guess is that where hope for convergence of the races in America is concerned, it’s around 6 p.m. on that schema. Not suppertime yet, but it’ll soon be getting dark. This gloomy thought was inspired by a couple of news stories.... Read More
Gerry Adams helps police with their inquiries.
One summer’s day 32 years ago, during a spell of employment at the U.K. offices of Marathon Oil Corp. in London’s Marylebone Road, I was taking lunch at a nondescript greasy spoon near those offices when from the near distance there came an almighty THUD. Startled, I looked across at the proprietor of the place,... Read More