From Derb's Email Bag: Tulsi, Iceland, Free Speech, Shakespeare, Meghan, Etc.
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Just a few.

  • Tulsi Gabbard is not Indian.
I don't think Tulsi Gabbard is actually Indian. She's part Samoan and mostly European, but she adopted Hinduism. While she is on the masculine side, she's not hirsute like a lot of subcontinentals are. That's why she is prettier than a similarly proportioned Indian woman!

Hm. I'm not clear about Gabbard's ancestry. "Samoan" need not exclude "Indian," though. Indians were brought to the Pacific islands as indentured labor in the 19th century. The population of Fiji, just a short outrigger-canoe ride from Samoa, is 38 percent Indian or mixed Indian-local.

Do many non-Indian Pacific islanders adopt Hinduism? I wouldn't have thought so, but I really don't know.

As to the lady's appearance: my sole acquaintance with Polynesians is through the paintings of Paul Gauguin. If that's a reliable guide, I vote Indian; but of course it may not be.


  • Icelanders are not Scandinavians.

A correspondent in Norway, who makes a point of telling me: "This email was composed whilst listening to Norwegian patriotic songs."

Last week you described the people of Iceland as Scandinavians. This is incorrect. Scandinavians are only the people of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

Icelanders are counted as people of the Nordic nations—a superset of Scandinavia: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland, along with some outliers like the Faroes, Greenland, and the Svalbard archipelago.

Iceland was settled mostly by Norwegians bringing their Gaelic thralls (slaves), so about 1,000 years ago your statement about Hiberno-Scandinavians would be correct! Not today, though. Modern Icelandic is closer to old Norse than Norwegian—which was Danified under 300 years of Danish rule.

Interesting. Do Icelanders mind being called Scandinavian, I wonder? If there are any readers of in Lyngtungnafjallshjalli, Hvalvörðugilslœkur, Vatnsleysustrandarhreppur, Snjóölduvatnskjaftur or Fremri-Hrútaskálarhnjúkur,  I'd be interested to hear from them. 


  • Free speech does not cause hate crimes.

A correspondent was involved in the Trump administration's drafting of a report on this topic. Getting the report to Congress—it was delivered at 1118 AM  January 20—was, he tells me, "a fierce battle against squish Republicans and the deep state, which then buried it." Allum Bokhari at Breitbart wrote a brief account here, with a link to the full report. 


  • The ultimate Shakespeare concordance.

My comments on Love's Labour's Lost in the February diary brought this from a reader.

A few years ago in now-defunct Borders, I came across a reprint of an amazing two-volume, 1500-page work titled Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary.  I had to buy it.  It is nothing less than the definition of every word, articles and conjunctions included, that appears in Shakespeare’s plays, along with a listing of each location (play, act, scene and line) where it is used.  Additionally amazing, it was compiled by an Austrian gentleman named Alexander Schmidt and was first published in 1874.

Luckily, late nineteenth century English is not very different from twenty-first century English.  The definitions adhere to Victorian standards, though:  clyster-pipe is defined as "a tube used for injections";  but as is clear from its only appearance, in Othello, it explicitly means enema tube.  Iago uses it while he is muttering to himself while watching Cassio carrying on a conversation with Desdemona and kissing his fingers in some sort of gesture:  "Yet again your fingers to your lips? I would they were clyster-pipes …"

Those standards lingered on long after Victoria. My own Complete Pelican Shakespeare, published 1969, just gives "syringes" for "clyster-pipes." The OED, however, confirms my reader's interpretation. 

You can of course read Schmidt's concordance online nowadays.


  • Mistaken identity.

This picture was sent to a friend with the question: "Is this Derb?"

Certainly not. There is some facial resemblance, I'll allow, but I have way better legs. 


  • If Browning knew Meghan.

Robert Browning's wonderfully mordant poem "My Last Duchess" inspired a friend to parody.

That Blasted Duchess

(Not by Robert Browning)


That blasted Duchess Meghan paints us all
As bullies. If she weren’t alive, our small-
Brained grandson Harry’d be in better hands;
She poorly worked that Oprah business, though, and stands
To displease who sat and looked at her. We said
“That Oprah” by design, for never fed
Stranger thoughts to that pixeled eminence
(A queen herself of packaged common sense)
Than Meghan and that dunce she's turned (put by
The thought the Windsor blood was weak; blame Di),
The whining pair who took the Firm to task, immersed
In self-regard and -pity; though not the first
Were they to turn and task us. Meghan’s not
Her husband’s pleasant homey, that little snot;
And her man-child Sussex has some cheek; perhaps
Prince William said to Harry, “Your Meghan snaps
At chambermaids’ mistakes too much,” or “Kate
Would never think a butler to berate”;
You’d think they’d tried to slit Meg’s throat! “Go stuff
Your royal selves,” she thinks, and cause enough
For calling up the press. She’ll always have
A way—how shall we say?—too soon made chav,
Too easily provoked; and he whatever
Does she says to do, and moves as by her lever.


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