Just a few.
• Brainteaser solution. The July brainteaser has a solution here. The solution is the one posted by Dr. Winkler, who posed the puzzle. It left some open issues, though, at any rate for me. See my notes at the end.
• Proper credits. My playing ”The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” to close the August 11th podcast brought in emails scolding me—politely of course, and correctly—for not having mentioned that the vocals there were from Levon Helm, the only actual Southerner in The Band.
• Name that Laotian. On a different point of onomastics, a correspondent has set me straight about Laotian naming customs.
The name of the Laotian-American judge in your article is in the same order as your name above.
The only complication is that while most sources follow the standard Western convention, the Laotian Times follows the Laotian convention of referring to a person by his or her given name. See this Wikipedia article on Thai names, which are close enough.
Thai names follow the Western European pattern of a given name followed by a family name.
Because family names are relatively new in Thai society, dating only to 1913, Thai people are primarily known by their given names. According to Segaller, some Thai who have been friends for long periods of time do not know their friends’ family names, and ”The first-name habit is so deeply ingrained in Thai society.”
• Fight Newspeak! In my August 11th podcast (third segment here) I said, in reference to the British Labour Party, that: "personally I wouldn’t trust them to boil an egg, well-infiltrated as they are with college-educated spinsters and resentful blacks."
My use of the word "spinster" there awoke the ire of a listener. Apparently the use of this word nowadays signals that the user is a person of Toxic Masculinity.
Fiddlesticks. It’s a fine, sound old English word. My maternal grandmother was listed on her marriage certificate as a Spinster aged 16.
To avoid "spinster" while conveying its meaning you have to resort to something like "never-married female," inflation from two syllables to six.
I'm sick of these progressive midwits trying to foist their Newspeak on us. So is Adam Ellwanger, Professor of English at the University of Houston. He posted an excellent piece on the topic August 14th at The American Mind. Sample:
Only a few decades ago, the phrase “illegal alien” was common and accepted. However, many uneducated Americans were ignorant of the older usage of the word “alien,” so it sounded to some like we were dehumanizing Mexicans or Hondurans by comparing them to spacemen. We switched to using the term “illegal immigrant.” But there were still problems. After all, “no human is illegal,” as they say. Further, “immigration” is something that the government is formally tasked with regulating, and leftists don’t want it to be regulated. Obviously, then, more changes were in order.
Next, they went with “undocumented persons,” which was extremely vague and neutral, hinting that the person in question had made a simple mistake like leaving home without a wallet. But still… “un” has a negative connotation, and undocumented begs the question of which documents they don’t have (and worse, why they don’t have them). By the time of the Obama Administration, the official phrase was “migrant workers.” A “migrant” is just someone who moves around, and Americans highly value freedom of movement. But what are they doing while they move around? Working! The Protestant work ethic that has been at the core of American identity insists upon the virtue of hard work. Thus, the “illegal alien” is reconstituted as a paragon of industry and individualism. Is it any coincidence that as we softened and neutralized this terminology, and thereby valorized the persons to whom it referred, our nation became less and less able to meaningfully address the problem of illegal immigration? Rhetorical manipulation is a power that the Left has applied to issue after issue, and it is a gambit that we need to grow more courageous in resisting.
• Prediction time? This year has the form 4N-1. A friend in Sweden has reminded me that it was at about this point in the last U.S. presidential election cycle that I predicted Donald Trump losing the 2020 election. Time for this cycle’s prediction?
Uh, lemme think about it.
• Theophrastus Such on nationalism. Three years ago in my VDARE diary I recorded having read Middlemarch after 37 years of procrastination. Me: "A lovely book: rich and deep, with a strong narrative thread and sound psychological insight."
There are still a few of George Eliot’s books I haven’t read, though. One of them is her last, published in 1879: Impressions of Theophrastus Such. Project Gutenberg has the whole book online.
I was pointed to Impressions by Brien Downes, an email correspondent who has rejected with proud scorn my usual offer of anonymity. He sent me an extract from the book’s lo-o-ong (8,453 words) final chapter—just three paragraphs that I’ve reproduced below.
The diction is, to a 21st-century reader, dense and difficult. It’s supposed to be that of the fictional scholar named in the book’s title. He has been chewing over the concept of a nation, a people, by comparing the manifestation of that concept among the English and (mainly) the Jews.
The "one great State" that "has been added to European councils" in the second paragraph is Italy, which had attained unification and freedom from foreign rule just a few years before.
Let it be admitted that it is a calamity to the English, as to any other great historic people, to undergo a premature fusion with immigrants of alien blood; that its distinctive national characteristics should be in danger of obliteration by the predominating quality of foreign settlers. I not only admit this, I am ready to unite in groaning over the threatened danger. To one who loves his native language, who would delight to keep our rich and harmonious English undefiled by foreign accent, foreign intonation, and those foreign tinctures of verbal meaning which tend to confuse all writing and discourse, it is an affliction as harassing as the climate, that on our stage, in our studios, at our public and private gatherings, in our offices, warehouses, and workshops, we must expect to hear our beloved English with its words clipped, its vowels stretched and twisted, its phrases of acquiescence and politeness, of cordiality, dissidence or argument, delivered always in the wrong tones, like ill-rendered melodies, marred beyond recognition; that there should be a general ambition to speak every language except our mother English, which persons of style are not ashamed of corrupting with slang, false foreign equivalents, and a pronunciation that crushes out all colour from the vowels and jams them between jostling consonants. An ancient Greek might not like to be resuscitated for the sake of hearing Homer read in our universities, still he would at least find more instructive marvels in other developments to be witnessed at those institutions; but a modern Englishman is invited from his after-dinner repose to hear Shakspere delivered under circumstances which offer no other novelty than some novelty of false intonation, some new distribution of strong emphasis on prepositions, some new misconception of a familiar idiom. Well! it is our inertness that is in fault, our carelessness of excellence, our willing ignorance of the treasures that lie in our national heritage, while we are agape after what is foreign, though it may be only a vile imitation of what is native.
This marring of our speech, however, is a minor evil compared with what must follow from the predominance of wealth-acquiring immigrants, whose appreciation of our political and social life must often be as approximative or fatally erroneous as their delivery of our language. But take the worst issues—what can we do to hinder them? Are we to adopt the exclusiveness for which we have punished the Chinese? Are we to tear the glorious flag of hospitality which has made our freedom the world-wide blessing of the oppressed? It is not agreeable to find foreign accents and stumbling locutions passing from the piquant exception to the general rule of discourse. But to urge on that account that we should spike away the peaceful foreigner, would be a view of international relations not in the long-run favourable to the interests of our fellow-countrymen; for we are at least equal to the races we call obtrusive in the disposition to settle wherever money is to be made and cheaply idle living to be found. In meeting the national evils which are brought upon us by the onward course of the world, there is often no more immediate hope or resource than that of striving after fuller national excellence, which must consist in the moulding of more excellent individual natives. The tendency of things is towards the quicker or slower fusion of races. It is impossible to arrest this tendency: all we can do is to moderate its course so as to hinder it from degrading the moral status of societies by a too rapid effacement of those national traditions and customs which are the language of the national genius—the deep suckers of healthy sentiment. Such moderating and guidance of inevitable movement is worthy of all effort. And it is in this sense that the modern insistance on the idea of Nationalities has value. That any people at once distinct and coherent enough to form a state should be held in subjection by an alien antipathetic government has been becoming more and more a ground of sympathetic indignation; and in virtue of this, at least one great State has been added to European councils. Nobody now complains of the result in this case, though far-sighted persons see the need to limit analogy by discrimination. We have to consider who are the stifled people and who the stiflers before we can be sure of our ground.
The only point in this connection on which Englishmen are agreed is, that England itself shall not be subject to foreign rule. The fiery resolve to resist invasion, though with an improvised array of pitchforks, is felt to be virtuous, and to be worthy of a historic people. Why? Because there is a national life in our veins. Because there is something specifically English which we feel to be supremely worth striving for, worth dying for, rather than living to renounce it. Because we too have our share—perhaps a principal share—in that spirit of separateness which has not yet done its work in the education of mankind, which has created the varying genius of nations, and, like the Muses, is the offspring of memory.