The Corner

Derb Catching Up

Just some catching-up to do here. This is a portmanteau post, its parts bearing no necessary relation to each other.

[1] My end-year Radio Derb comment on that poll to find the greatest Russians got an interesting response from one Russian reader. I’ve added it to the transcript. Reading up on Nevsky, I see that my reader has a point, though a debatable one. For Nevsky, prince of a small Russian principality, to make war against the ascendant power of the Mongols looked a bit ticklish, even with the pope offering him troops. Coming to terms with the Mongols, while fending off attacks from the Germans and Swedes, looked, from a cold-blooded point of view, like a better option. (Though surely it wasn’t necessary to help the Khans in their tax-gathering and census-taking efforts against their Russian suzerainties.)

Nevsky gives of a strong odor of Putinism, though: concentrating Russia’s hostility against the West, while making nice with great powers to the South and East … Did I mention that the TV station that ran the poll is state-owned?

[2] Elizabeth Alexander (the inaugural poetess). Obama’s selection of a race- and “gender”-whiney free-verse blatherer was not inevitable. (It was predictable, but that’s not the same thing.) He could, for example, have chosen the current U.S. Poet Laureate to read his inaugural poem. That’s what a Poet Laureate is traditionally for. (“expected to compose poems for court and national occasions” — Webster’s Third … and yes, I know, “Poet Laureate” isn’t the official title, but that’s still what everybody calls it.) It’s not like the current P.L. isn’t transgressive enough: she’s a lesbian. Just the wrong color, I guess.

[3] Oh! Oh! Oh! I ***SO*** want to do this! I just keep watching it over and over, not quite believing it. “More like a dream than a waking dream.”

[4] Pinter. A couple of dramaturges have written in to tell me that Pinter’s stuff is wonderful fun to produce, when you can stop the actors from laughing. I can see that, and think I might still enjoy a Pinter, his extramural screeching leftism notwithstanding. On the whole, though, if I want to see plays about Nothing, I’ve got my Beckett collection.

[5] Politics (a). No Senator Jeb Bush? Perhaps there really is a God.

[6] Politics (b). Panetta for D-CIA? Note to spooks: Never go anywhere without your attorney. Video-record everything you do.

[7] Politics (c). Gupta for surgeon general. Fine with it, so long as he doesn’t follow the Joycelyn Elders playbook.

[8] Politics (d). Signs recession is bottoming out. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Good one, Larry!

[9] Politics (e). Getting minorities to vote GOP. Let’s all sing along, why don’t we?

[10] Galaxy getting bigger. That was just me exhaling, Jonah, after finally getting another book off to the publisher. For at least a short while now, I have nothing to procrastinate about.

[11] Note to fellow Sinogynephiles in the readership: Please stop sending me those beach pics of Zhang Ziyi with her boyfriend. I’ve seen ‘em …

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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