DERB'S JANUARY DIARY: [14 ITEMS] Race Realism Primer; The Four Ws Of Wokeism; Remembering Kathy Shaidle, Etc.
02/01/2021
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A race realism primer.     Race realism is of course deeply taboo. Expounders of race realism are mere squeaking mouse voices off in a corner of the room, inaudible in society against the roaring and shrieking of race denialism. Even in the dwindling number of social spaces where some limited dissent from ideological orthodoxy is still allowed, you will not hear race realism. Tucker Carlson will never have Jared Taylor as a guest on his show, nor any of the names in the next paragraph, nor me.

Race realism is true none the less, rooted in the desire to understand the world, while race denialism is a lie, rooted in the desire for social approval. All honor and glory, therefore, to those scholars who, driven by the love of truth — that "faintest of all human passions"—have labored to improve our understanding of race as a biological phenomenon: Greg Cochran, Richard Lynn, Helmuth Nyborg, Tatu Vanhanen, E.O. Wilson, Michael Woodley of Menie, and others no longer among us, notably the late J. Philippe Rushton.

Given the fierce obloquy and sometimes violent physical assault that comes upon any academic working in this area, it's remarkable that our understanding has made any progress at all. It has, though, and Ed Dutton, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Asbiro University in Łódź, Poland, has given an excellent up-to-date summary in his book Making Sense of Race.

Ed himself wrote a column for the book here at VDARE when it came out a few weeks ago, and that column gives the general idea: the book is a primer of race realism. You should buy a copy of your own, though. It's available on Amazon, although for how much longer in the current climate of intensifying censorship, I wouldn't venture to speculate.

(Can anyone tell me why in America we pronounce "primer" as if it were spelled "primmer"? Or is that just an impertinent question from an obnoxious immigrant old-timmer? Never mind.)

I read Making Sense with pleasure and instruction. It filled in many gaps for me—things people ask to which I didn't know the answer.

For instance: according to Rushton's application of Life History Theory to our species, human populations living for thousands of generations in harsh Arctic conditions will, from dealing with the challenges of their environment, perforce evolve to higher intelligence than others more comfortably situated. This, according to Rushton, accounts for the mean-IQ difference between Northeast Asians (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, mean 105) and sub-Saharan Africans (mean 70).

Hold on there, though. "Arctic peoples" (by which Ed means Eskimos) have mean IQ only 91, well below Europeans, and even further below Northeast Asians, to whom they bear a strong physical resemblance. What's up with that? Ed's answer, which I found plausible, is on pages 117–118.

If we lived in a sane country, Ed's little primer would be on the recommended-reading list for high-school seniors nationwide. Instead they get Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi. Heaven help America!

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In hora mortis nostraeRemembering Kathy Shaidle   Still with Ed Dutton: in a January 28th post here at VDARE.com Ed used the term "mortality salience," which I had never seen before. A respectable psychology website describes mortality salience as "a psychological state in which a person is consciously thinking about his or her own death."

Personally, I'm not in that state very often, and would be content never to be in it at all. Other people's deaths can be food for thought, though.

Kathy Shaidle died early this month. James Fulford posted a notice here at VDARE.com on the 9th. It includes Kathy's own self-written obituary, which shows a spirit of cheerful resignation. I always admire that.

And envy it. It is unfortunately not granted to many of us to know, with our mental faculties all intact, that we shall die at some point in the near future. Some of us will go unexpectedly, more or less instantaneously: stroke, heart attack, accident. Others will sink into drawn-out senility, until neither death nor anything else has much meaning to us. That was the fate of my own poor parents.

To have time to compose yourself, to put your affairs in order and prepare a dying that accords with the way you have lived—that seems to me ideal, at any rate since modern drugs came up to suppress the final pains.

If you do have that time, the alternative to cheerful resignation is angry defiance of the kind Dylan Thomas urged on his father:

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Sorry, Taff, I don't see the point. Sure, it's honorable to give Death the defiant finger; but that's what Kathy Shaidle was doing too, just with more class.

I don't recall ever meeting Kathy, but we knew a lot of the same people and were e-friends from, according to my email log, early 2013 on, with many exchanges.

Back in 2015, preparatory to quoting her on Radio Derb, I emailed to get the correct pronunciation of her name. Did that first vowel sound rhyme with "hay" or with "high"? Or, I asked, given the Canadian connection, with "eh"? Was the "dle" done with lateral plosion or as "dul"?

Kathy told me "Shaidle" rhymed with "cradle." Apparently not minding my unkind quip about Canadians, she added: "Please send me the link to the audio and I will post everywhere."

A lady, and a fellow dissident. RIP, Kathy.

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My first ChiCom shill.     These diaries get cross-posted to The Unz Review, which carries comment threads. Any time I post something about China, as I did last month, it brings out the ChiCom shills, mocking me for my ignorance of China, praising Mao Tse-tung, and scoffing at those fairy tales of massacres and famines.

I can't be bothered to engage with these types. The truth is out there in plain sight for anyone who wants to know it. Head to your local library, or mix with Chinese people of the older generations.

However, as a kind of oblique riposte, and in hopes of showing that there is more here than just sloth on my part—that my acquaintance with ChiCom shills stretches so far back I can be forgiven for no longer wanting to bother with them—I thought I would just record for posterity my own very first encounter with a ChiCom shill.

Time: Early 1966.

PlaceFriends' Meeting House in Euston Road, London WC1.

Dramatis personae:

• Derb, 20 years old, final-year student of mathematics at University College, London.

• Han Suyin, 48 years old, bi-racial (Chinese father, Belgian mother) novelist, mainly famous for her 1952 novel A Many-Splendored Thing, which spun off a 3-Oscar movie and a chart-topping (Billboard No. 1, 1955) pop song.

• Anonymous Londoner, possibly a China scholar from the nearby School of Oriental and African Studies.

• Audience, a hundred or two gentry-liberal types.

Ms. Han had recently published an autobiographical book, The Crippled Tree, to favorable reviews in the British press (well, the segment of it that I patronized). I had read the book and liked it. Now the author was doing a promotional tour for the book. One of the events was a talk at Friends' Meeting House, five minutes' walk from my college. I went along to hear what Ms Han had to say.

I was not intensely political—higher math doesn't leave much mental energy for anything else—but left-wing in the 1960s student-ish way: a member of the college Socialist Society, vaguely approving of the U.S.S.R., very critical of America's rising involvement in Vietnam, had actually attended one of the earliest antiwar demos the year before.

I knew next to nothing about China, but in accord with my general opinions as above, assumed that Mao Tse-tung was a Good Thing, on the right side of history, lifting up his country from poverty and chaos to justice and harmony.

Han Suyin was already a cheerleader for the ChiComs. Having spent her childhood and some of her young-adult years in the disorderly, corrupt Republican China of the 1920s and 1930s, she regarded the communists as a cleansing force, banishing old evils and lifting up the poor. It wasn't an unusual point of view among people at a low information level—people like me.

Han Suyin herself can't be excused for lack of information, though. One of the obituaries — she died in 2012 at age 95 — tells us that:

She had been invited regularly to China since 1956, when she had her first of many private meetings with Premier Zhou Enlai.

She must have known about the atrocities at some level, but had willed herself to discount them. Can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, y'know. Or, as my own dear mother used to say: "There's none so blind as those who don't want to see."

There were other ChiCom shills doing the rounds at that time, although I didn't know their names until later: Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett and sinologist Joseph Needham were among the most prominent. In 1965, the year before this event, Needham had co-founded SACU, the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding, an early British prototype for the ChiCom-promoting Confucius Institutes that plague American and European universities today.

The crowd at the Friends' Meeting House event was overwhelmingly on Han Suyin's side, dominated by gentry liberals—some of them likely already SACU recruits. This is not at all surprising. There is a lot of Higher Ed. in WC1: not just my college, but Birkbeck College, Bedford College (where I studied Mathematical Logic under Professor Kneebone)**, the British Museum, the administrative buildings and main library of the University of London, and many lesser institutions. For historians of literary culture, WC1 is a near synonym for Bloomsbury.

Furthermore, China was not newsy. We heard very little about it. The communists kept the country closed; there was little trade and no tourism. The only Westerners getting visas were those sympathetic to the regime, who could be depended on to write favorably about it in the Western press—people like Burchett, Needham, and Han Suyin. Mao's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution did not get under way until later that year. (When it did, Han Suyin was a loud cheerleader for it. Needham, who was much more intelligent and had a stronger attachment to traditional China's high culture, fell into disillusion.)

So Ms. Han had a mostly sympathetic audience that evening at Friends' Meeting House. Fifty-five years on, my own memory of the event is naturally very dim. I recall the speaker as earnest and humorless, but have retained nothing of what she actually said in her address.

The way human memory works, though, discord and embarrassment register much more strongly than harmony and ease. So it was here. In the Q&A that followed Ms. Han's address, I clearly recall a few moments of awkwardness when an audience member asked her about the rumors of a great famine a few years earlier. Was there any truth to those rumors? he asked.

I don't know who that audience member was. Among those lesser institutions I mentioned as being in the neighborhood was SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, which had some real China experts on its faculty—scholars who had been studying China their whole lives and had access to good up-to-date information, for example from diplomats and refugees. I have often wondered, without any way of knowing, whether that speaker was one such scholar.

Whoever he was, he was polite but persistent. In some to-ing and fro-ing with Ms. Han following his original question, he spoke with quiet authority and seemed well informed. We now know, beyond any doubt, that there had indeed been an appalling famine in the years 1958–62 as a result of misguided government policies. It had hardly been noticed in the British press, though. I can't recall having read any news of it at the time of Ms. Han's address.

This questioner seemed to know all about it. Under his polite insistencies she was visibly uncomfortable, fumbling with the words of the approved Party line: "Natural disasters … bad harvests … American propaganda …" Then she found a footing. The government had, she said, instituted a nationwide system of food rationing to alleviate suffering. Yes, there were difficulties; but amidst them all, everyone in China was adequately fed! She clung grimly to that for two or three more exchanges until the questioner sat down amid murmurs of disapproval from the surrounding gentry.

So now I shall tell you that my eyes were opened and my undergraduate leftism, at least in regard to China, fell away, never to return—right?

Of course not. That's not the way our minds work. I left Friends' Meeting House that evening as well inclined to Ms. Han and the ChiComs as when I had entered. I didn't engage with Chinese people at any significant level until two years later; I didn't live among them until my Hong Kong years, 1971–73.

Then, in those latter years, I heard about life in Mao's China from people who had lived it and escaped from it. These weren't hired shills talking for money from a memorized script in some ChiCom playbook. They were small, unimportant people—teachers, workers, nurses—speaking freely about their own or their parents' lives. I listened, and started to do some serious reading.

I've continued that reading down to the present, half a century on. I've lived in Chinatraveled all over the place, and gotten to know dozens of Chinese people well enough to evaluate what they tell me.

That's how I got my China knowledge. The shills are not for me. They're for gulls and useful idiots.

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** Bedford College is nowadays Regent's University.

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Introduction to The Four Ws.     In all that reading of and about Chinese communism, I picked up the habit of thinking as ChiCom propagandists do, in terms of numerically tagged slogans.

Opening my copy of Kwok-sing Li's Glossary of Political Terms of the People's Republic of China (The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1995) a few times at random, I find:

  • The Two Basic Points (两个基本点),

  • The Three Togethers (三同)

  • The Four Olds (四旧),

  • The Five-Anti Campaign (五反运动),

  • The Six Political Criteria (六条政治标准),

  • The Seven Evils (七害),

  • The Eight Model Plays (八个革命样板戏),

  • The Nine-Point Policy (九条方针), and

  • The Ten Major Relationships (十大关系).

It doesn't stop at ten: there are The Nineteen Questions (十九个问题), The Fifty-Word Line on Party Building (五十字建党方针), and many, many more. Sometimes two numerals are jammed together in one slogan: The Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention (三大纪律、八项注意).

You wanna be a good commie, you gotta know your numbers.

Mulling over some of the doctrinal and rhetorical aspects of our own nation's current state ideology the other day, it dawned on me that the major themes thereof could all be tagged with words or phrases whose initial letter is a "W." The rather silly term "woke," which I think is wearing out rapidly from over-use, is only the most prominent case.

For the general enlightenment therefore—you're welcome!—and in that numericized ChiCom spirit, I'm going to give over the next four segments to The Four Ws of today's Cultural Marxism.

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Whataboutism    The charge of Whataboutism has, by a kind of rhetorical jiu-jitsu, undergone an inversion.

When I first came across it, Whataboutism was a way of mocking totalitarians.

Soviet citizen to commissar:  "Tell me, comrade, is it true that an engineer in America makes four times the salary of an engineer here in the Soviet Union?"

Commissar:  "What about it? In America they lynch Negroes!"

Now the totalitarians themselves have picked up the term to use as a cudgel against the badthinking enemies of orthodoxy.

Badthinker:  "Why all the drama about a few clowns breaking windows in the Capitol? Last year Antifa and BLM were burning city centers."

Goodthinker:  "Feugh, you're just peddling Whataboutism. That was mostly peaceful protests. This was an assault on the People's House! An assault on democracy!"

Setting aside the particular issues there, and setting even further aside the fact that if a mob were to burn the U.S. Capitol to the ground, a great many of us would not mind very much, this is a small rhetorical victory for the totalitarians.

Look on the bright side, though: when you hear the word "Whataboutism" emerge from the mouth of some talking head on TV or the internet nowadays, you know to stop listening right there.

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Whateverism.     I have previously—in fact more than once—advertised my fondness for the late ChiCom leader Hua Guofeng and his Two Whatevers doctrine.

We will resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made, and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave.

There is an argument to be made, by someone much better versed in theoretical political science than I am, that all systems of total power trend towards, and eventually arrive at, Whateverism in a more general sense: state dogma is whatever the rulers say it is this week.

Current Chinese state dogma has certainly reached a pure form of Whateverism. Marx? Lenin?

I met one professed Marxist over dinner in Beijing a couple of years ago, a pleasant fellow who taught Marxist-Leninist doctrine at the Communist Party's cadre school. His daughter had just graduated from a top American university, and he asked me if I could help her get a job on Wall Street [You Will Be Assimilated: China's Plan to Sino-Form the World by David Goldman (2020), page xiv.].

The literary archetype of a totalitarian state ideology is of course Ingsoc, the Party dogma in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Is Ingsoc Whateverist? It surely is. As that link tells us:

Ingsoc is a word that can mean whatever the Party wants it to mean at any given moment: it has been severed from its historic roots.

The slogans of Ingsoc are: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. The first two of those are frank assertions that words mean whatever the rulers say they mean, and you'd better not argue—brazen Whateverism. The third slogan has been a staple of totalitarian statecraft since the Tao Te Ching, a classic of Chinese philosophy, was written down in the fourth century B.C. (probably).

Thus under a wise man's rule
Blank are their minds
But full their bellies.

The globalist-progressive ideology now being enforced on the U.S.A. is not—not yet—Whateverist. It actually has some doctrinal principles. There are, for example, the anti-white dogmas of Critical Race Theory, now standard teachings in our schools, colleges, and big corporations: white people are bad, black people are good.

There are some Whateverist tendencies, though—on immigration, for example.

Progressives used to be immigration restrictionists. Bernie Sanders was still carrying that torch as late as 2015. "Open borders? No, that's a Koch brothers proposal …" Then Bernie got a call from the Center; now he's for open borders. Whatever.

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Who-We-Are-ism.     If there is Whateverism in our future, Who We Are-ism is now a fixed feature of our present. Like Whataboutism, though, it has been undergoing some interesting rhetorical transformations.

Who-We-Are-ism is almost always invoked negatively, some politician or licensed bloviator telling us that such-and-such a thing, generally some manifestation of hostility to the ruling class, is Not Who We Are.

The January 6th disorders at the Capitol brought forth a flood of these Not-Who-We-Are-isms from the Great and the Good. I missed a lot of it, mainly because I find it more and more difficult to engage with the news, or "news." I did catch Joe Biden's Not-Who-We-Are-ing that afternoon, and I think I saw Nancy Pelosi drop a Not-Who-We-Are on TV that evening, but that was it.

Ibram X. Kendi was more diligent, as befits one of our leading public intellectuals. Writing at The Atlantic January 11th, Prof. Kendi logs Not-Who-We-Ares from Senator Ben Sasse, Representative Nancy Mace, and ex-President Jimmy Carter.

Strange to say, Who-We-Are-ist-in-Chief Barack Obama was mute. So far as I'm aware, he didn't issue a single Who We Are, either positive or negative. Ctrl-F tells me that not one of Prof. Kendi's 2,600-words is "Obama."

This may be just a case of Obama's having exhausted his ammo. Perhaps, after eight years of telling us Who We Are (or Are Not), he has just run out of Who We Ares. Isn't there some kind of recharging station in D.C. where he can load up?

Prof. Kendi, however, is practicing more jiu-jitsu in that Atlantic piece. Political violence, he says, is Who We Are, along with corruption, terrorism, assassination, mass incarceration, and of course white supremacy. The U.S.A. is a really awful place, so unlike those honestpeacefulnon-oppressive black-run countries!

The carnage has no chance of stopping until the denial stops. This is not who we are must become, in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol: This is precisely who we are. And we are ashamed.

This illustrates the fact that the progressive left is rhetorically quite agile; not what you'd expect from people promoting theories of human nature based on child-like magical thinking.

Not that non-progressives are totally bereft of rhetorical agility. Here was Mike Pompeo tweeting on January 19th, his last full day at the State Department:

Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms—they're not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker.

The New York Times was outraged by that, probably feeling that Pompeo was stealing their progressive clothes: Hands off, pal! Who-We-Are-ism is OURS, not yours.

Sorry, guys, but Who-We-Are-ism has gotten away from you. I expect to see more people from outside the radical left Not-Who-We-Are-ing against social phenomena they don't like.

And why not? In a nation with constitutionally-enshrined freedom of speech you can't keep nifty rhetorical figures caged up as the exclusive property of one political faction. That's Not Who We Are.

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Who-whom-ism    For a full set of W-isms, I should add a few words about Who-Whom-ism.

According to Wikipedia, Lenin got the Who-Whom ball rolling on October 17th 1921, so we are coming up to the centenary. That original usage of Lenin's, though, was less memorable than Stalin's chiselled-down 1929 version. Lenin seems to have been speaking of success in competition; Stalin reduced it to conquest and domination: who gets to be the master over Whom?

(I note in passing that in the matter of seizing and keeping total power, it was no small achievement to have been more reductionist than Lenin.)

In the context of today's U.S.A., Who-Whom-ism is the practice of assigning commercial or civil rights and criminal-justice outcomes based not on stale, outmoded white-supremacist doctrines of so-called "civic equality," nor on anything a citizen may have done, but on what he thinks.

If you have bad thoughts, as indicated by the company you keep or by your spoken, written, or online utterances, then companies can deny you access to their goods and services, the government can curtail your rights, the media can malign you, and the courts will deal harshly with you. Contrariwise, if your thoughts are reasonably well aligned with ruling-class ideology, then no company will shun your custom, government will zealously defend your rights, the media will smile on you, and you will get a pass from the courts.

They—corporations, the government, the media, the courts—are the Who, the ones who can do stuff to others; you are the Whom, the one to whom stuff is done.

It's in the court system that Who-Whom-ism is most glaringly apparent, thanks to our politicized law schools and Soros-funded prosecutors. We at VDARE.com have reported on many instances: the 2017 inaugural riots (the trial of the rioters sabotaged by a radical judge), the four-year sentences on two Proud Boys for defending themselves against Antifa thugs (Antifa thugs not charged), the barbaric 419-years-plus-life sentence on James Fields (Charles Holliday-Smith not charged), the prosecution of the McCloskeys (for defending themselves), and so on.

It's all being played out again in the case of the Capitol Hill intruders. They should certainly be charged with damaging public property (as of course should those defacing or destroying statues), and with whatever the offense is for entering a government office without permission, but does anyone think the charges will stop there? I doubt the courts will go full James Fields on them, but they will be handing down double-digit sentences. Never mind what the intruders did: these people have bad thoughts!

Yet the intruders did no harm, other than to the dignity of our congress-roaches, who cowered under their desks while unarmed guys with face-paint and weird costumes capered and took selfies. That, I guess, is the point.

Meanwhile Antifa and BLM burn and loot with impunity. Every day, every damn day, I'm looking at reports like these.

Jovanni Garcia, of Beaverton, Ore., was arrested last year at a violent #antifa protest but those charges were dropped.

On #J20, he was arrested again at a riot & charged w/attempted assault. He was released without bail & had his charge dropped again.

Also arrested at the #J20 BLM-antifa Portland riot:

Christopher Arthur Lundrigan, 26: charge dropped … Andre Marks; charge dropped … Trevor D Colter, 26: felony riot, resisting arrest & more; immediately bailed out …

Who, whom? Equality before the law is a fast-fading memory. If you hold opinions much to the right of Angela Davis, you are an enemy of the people—a terrorist!—in today's U.S.A. In tomorrow's, if current trends continue, you'll be in a camp.

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Exit minimalism.     One more on preparing yourself for the arrival of Azrael.

January 13th the feds executed 52-year-old Lisa Montgomery for a horrible crime she committed in 2004. This was the first federal execution of a woman in nearly 70 years.

The detail that got my attention was Ms. Montgomery's last words—actually just wordThe New York Times reported that:

Shortly before Ms. Montgomery's death, a female prison staff member gently removed Ms. Montgomery's face mask and asked if she had any last words, to which Ms. Montgomery responded, "No," according to a report from a journalist in attendance.

I guess you could argue that Ms. Montgomery's simple negative was just as defiant, in its own minimalist way, as the approaches displayed by Kathy Shaidle and Dylan Thomas.

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A sane transsexual    Speaking of Welsh people: In my December 4th podcast I noted the passing of the Anglo-Welsh writer Jan Morris, originally James Morris. James made a full transition to Jan in his/her mid-forties, surgery and all. She then wrote a book about it: Conundrum (1974). I confessed that, although a fan of Morris' writing, I had not read that particular book.

That preyed on my mind for a couple of days, so I up and bought the book.

It is of course well written. Morris comes across as a likable person, and an invincibly good-natured one. She has the cold eye, too. Her book is not an advertisement for sex-reassignment surgery.

I do not for a moment regret the act of change. I could see no other way, and it has made me happy. In this I am one of the lucky few. There are people of many kinds who have set out on the same path, and by and large they are among the unhappiest people on the face of the earth.

So what did I learn about transsexuals from reading Conundrum? Mainly, the thing that I'd expected to learn from it, being well-acquainted with Morris' travel and historical writing. I learned that a sane, clever, well-read, civilized, socially-useful person can honestly believe him- or herself to belong not to his physical sex but to the other one.

Doesn't transsexualism encompass a lot of much less appealing types, too? It surely does. Morris herself refers to them:

… the poor castaways of intersex, the misguided homosexuals, the transvestites, the psychotic exhibitionists, who tumble through this half-mad world like painted clowns, pitiful to others and often horrible to themselves.

Naturally those are the ones who get our attention and form our common prejudices. The Jan Morrises, normal in all but that one inward thing, pass by unnoticed.

I should however confess that along with improving my attitude to transsexuals, Conundrum also stirred a different mild prejudice of mine. This is a common and very old prejudice among the English—around 1,500 years old, I'd guess. It came to mind when I was typing those lines from Dylan Thomas.

What is it? Just that there is something a bit … peculiar about the Welsh.

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Morrisiana.     If you haven't read anything by Morris, my main recommendation is his** three-volume history of the British Empire.

It's a big read—1,318 pages of narrative, not counting introductions, tables of contents, indices, and so on—but not at all dry. There are many odd facts and personalities. My favorite of the latter is of course John Derbyshire, who in the 1890s "travelled to the Kimberley diggings [i.e. diamond mines in South Africa] from the Natal coast on a tricycle fitted with a triangular sail." (Vol. II, Ch. 6).

If that's too many pages, and you're not interested in transsexualism, my secondary recommendation would be Manhattan '45, a neat evocation of New York City in 1945, when American civilization was at, or close to, its zenith. Plenty more odd facts. Did you know that the executive dining room of the New York Times used to have a custom grace printed up for guests invited to lunch?

O Lord, the Giver of all Good,
In whose just hands are all our Times,
We thank thee for our daily food,
Gathered (as News) from many Climes.
Bless all of us around this Board,
And all beneath this ample roof; —
What we find fit to print O Lord
Is after all the pudding's proof.
May those we welcome come again,
And those who stay be glad, Amen.

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**  Or "her." The first two volumes are copyright James Morris (1973, 1968; and no, I don't know why Volume Two was copyrighted first). The third volume, Farewell the Trumpets is copyright Jan Morris (1978). Amazon lists the trilogy in hardcover as by James, but the individual paperbacks as by Jan. Changing sex makes for a lot of complications.

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Math Corner    Solutions to last month's brainteaser are as usual posted on my personal website.

• Outrage.  Before teasing your brain again I have an outrage to report. Several readers sent me this.

What did I think? they asked. Is it even legal?

To the first question: As a long-time recipient of the AMS monthly Notices, I am deeply unsurprised. The AMS is now a temple of Cultural Marxism. I've been grumbling about this for years: see herehereherehere, and here.

To the second question: Is it legal? Of course it is. In fact, if it fawns on black people, insults white people, and carefully omits to mention East Asian people, it's not merely legal in the U.S.A. today, it's compulsory.

For more on this particular issue, my mathematician pal at the posttenuretourettes blog has a post here and a follow-up here. From the comment thread to that follow-up, I particularly liked this VDARE-relevant sentence from commenter "STEM Caveman":

"Diversity" rhymes with "H-1B," as Google HR has noticed, and pays the regulators to not notice.

Bullseye!

• Brainteaser.  I'm not sure I have a true brainteaser for you this month. Let me explain that.

I belong not only to the AMS but also, for my sins, to the MAA, the Mathematical Association of America. Every month I get the MAA Monthly. This is more seriously mathy than the AMS Notices. Once you get past the Letter from the Editor on page three, it's pretty much all hard math.

Not that the Monthly doesn't make clear it's on board with wokeness. The only picture of a human being in the January 2021 issue is this one, on the inside front cover. The editor is of course a female; in fact she tells us in her January Letter that she will be handing off the editorship in 2022 to another female. Inexplicably, both females are white. I hope this won't inspire a BLM fire-bombing of MAA headquarters.

These minor virtue signals aside, the MAA Monthly is, as I said, solidly mathematical. Among its treasures is the "Problems and Solutions" section at the very back of each issue. Seven (usually) problems are proposed by readers of the Monthly. After that come seven (usually) worked solutions to problems proposed in previous issues.

The time lag between a problem's being posed and its solution being posted is considerable; average about fifteen months, I think. So if you are stumped by a problem in this January 2021 issue, you'll probably have to wait until Spring of 2022 to be destumped.

If I were to tell you that I work diligently at solving all seven of each month's problems, I'd be telling an untruth. To be perfectly honest, most of them are too hard for me, and much harder than my typical Diary brainteasers. If, at peril of my life, I had to attempt solutions to all seven, I could probably crack them all, but it would take me every waking hour of the month and leave me hospitalized in a condition of utter mental exhaustion.

Sometimes a problem catches my fancy, though, and I fiddle with it for a couple of hours. My batting average for these occasional efforts is around .500. For the ones I don't solve I have, as previously explained, to wait a year or so for the worked solution … by which time I've usually forgotten all about my unsuccessful assault.

Hence my perplexity as to whether this is a real brainteaser. It's one of the problems in the January issue of MAA Monthly, submitted by Jovan Vukmirovic of Belgrade, Serbia.

(Most of the submitters give foreign addresses or have seriously foreign—mainly East or South Asian—names: five of the January seven, four of December's seven, six of November's seven, six of October's seven, … For reasons I don't understand, Romania punches well above its weight: six of the twenty-eight submissions in those four issues were from Romania.)

OK, here is Jovan Vukmirovic's submission.

Problem:  Let x1x2, and x3 be real numbers, and define xn for n ≥ 4 by  xn =  max{xn−3xn−1} − xn−2. Show that the sequence x1x2, … is either convergent or eventually periodic, and find all triples (x1x2x3) for which it is convergent.

Well, that caught my eye so I fiddled with it for a couple of hours … and got absolutely nowhere. Usually I can at least glimpse a way to the solution, even when I can't be bothered to slog my way through to the end. Here I got no handle on the thing at all.

So now I have to wait until next year for a worked solution, unless some reader more mathematically adept than I am—not a high bar—can help me out.

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John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by VDARE.com com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at VDARE.com for no charge. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.

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