From Derb's Email Bag: Math, Kneeling On Suspects, Looting And Dinas Vawr, And White People's Fear Of Blacks
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Just a few:

(1) My worked solution(s) to the brainteaser in my May Diary are here. There was a bigger-than-usual response to this one. That gladdens my heart. I was taught plane geometry along the traditional Euclidean lines (so to speak), and the affection lingers.

One particularly diligent correspondent notes some interesting spinoffs from the puzzle, and a nifty, very Coxeterian, alternative proof: See here and here.


(2) On Officer Chauvin's kneeling on George Floyd's neck, I got the following from a listener, which I have edited and anonymized.

Regarding the comments by Federale about kneeling on a criminal suspect's neck, as referenced in your podcast. If I understand Federale, he said that this is an accepted practice, at least where he worked. It was not an accepted practice anywhere I worked, and in fact was strongly discouraged, with certain exceptions not met in the Floyd case.

I don't know Federale's CV; perhaps it is extensive and impressive. As for me, I served as a police officer from 1992 to 2015, with over 20 of those years in the high crime, majority-minority city of [name of northeastern city]. I also did two years with the US Customs Service uniformed division (now CBP); and my last year, a "retirement job," was at a sleepy university police department in [name of midwestern state].

I made thousands of arrests, many, many of them against resistant subjects. I was taught at all three agencies not to do what ex-Officer Chauvin did, precisely because of the results in the Chauvin/Floyd case: You can kill someone. To kneel on someone’s neck is potential deadly force, and you'd better be able to articulate why you were in fear of your life if you do it: e.g., a powerful, violently resistant suspect who could grab my gun and shoot me with it if he won the fight. Like Federale, I did kneel on suspect's heads, but again only against very violent suspects. I was careful as I could be, given adrenaline and often anger, to modulate the amount of weight I put on a suspect’s head, and I got off the guy once the cuffs were on.

If I kneeled on someone's neck, and I am sure I did, it was only with an actively resistant suspect, and I kept my knee there only long enough for the handcuffs to go on. In the Minneapolis case, Floyd was passively resistant, throwing himself to the ground and such, and he was already handcuffed. He was little threat to the four officers at that point, and was not much more than a pain in the ass. If Chauvin thought Floyd was still a threat of some type, he could have "hobbled" Floyd by binding him at the ankles, either with shackles or a dog leash, things most competent patrol cops carry precisely for situations like this, which are common.

I watched that video in dismay, almost yelling at the screen "get off him, dummy, you're going to get yourself jammed up." I don’t know why Chauvin kept his knee there so long: Perhaps it was bad training, his own incompetence, and an obstinate "FU" to the crowd of onlookers telling him to get off Floyd. I also think that even Federale might agree that knees to neck are only for actively resistant, unhandcuffed suspects, and only for a short time, not for someone acting as Floyd did that day.

Bottom line: Chauvin screwed up.

Thank you, Sir. There's a clear difference of opinion here; not just with Federale, but also, as I noted in my podcast, with at least one law-enforcement periodical. If Federale wants to rebut, the site is of course open to him. Anyone else with law-enforcement experience who want to join the discussion can email in. I'll post anything that is succinct and informative.


(3) In my June 5th podcast I made passing mention of linguistics professor John McWhorter's 2017 column "Antiracism, Our Flawed new Religion." On a Bloggingheads chat with Glenn Loury just recently, McWhorter mentioned that he's working on a book, due out next spring, about ... bad language


(4) A couple arising from my June 10th "Social Distancing" vidcast with Jared Taylor. First, Thomas Love Peacock's poem "The War-Song of Dinas Vawr."

On the vidcast I confessed to not knowing this poem—shame-facedly, as I fancy myself well-versed [sic] in English poetry—until I learned about it from Christopher Caldwell's new book The Age of Entitlement. In Chapter 8 Caldwell has a section headed "Manliness and Crime" which includes the following.

As the Harvard philosopher Harvey C. Mansfield explained, black culture had remained mostly immune to the purging of manly virtues that white culture had undergone in the age of feminism. That was a plus. You might be right to call gangsta rap crass, but you would be shortsighted to ignore that its Beowulfian braggadocio had once been a hallmark of the "high" European culture that other Americans were heedlessly throwing out. America's white upper middle class was producing so many "tough-minded" computer scientists and so few English majors that it had lost sight of some simple lessons that ten minutes spent with "The War-Song of Dinas Vawr" will teach you: Under certain circumstances, women prefer, and men follow, the kind of men who burn cities.

You can read the poem, and hear me declaim it, here.


(5) Also when talking to Jared I mentioned a 1998 book titled A Thread of Years by one of my favorite historians, the late John Lukacs. I have just imaged the relevant pages here, here, and here. (From my reviewer's copy, not necessarily identical with the finished publication. My Washington Post review of the book is here.)

Lukacs is writing about a successful New York stockbroker who, in 1968 at age 63, decamped from that city to live full-time in Bremen, Maine.

....he witnessed something like a mugging. It happened in broad daylight, at a shining noon hour in mid-town Manhattan, on Forty-Fifth Street, between Madison and Park. A black deliveryman and a white deliveryman were fighting on the pavement while shouting obscenities. People watched. Another black climbed down from a truck. Together they kicked and pummeled the white one; in the end they pushed him down to the pavement, laughed and spat at him, then jumped into the truck and drove away. No one stopped them. He wanted to stop them (he had been in the Navy), but his wife screamed and held him back. What upset him was not the brutality and ugliness of the scene. He suddenly realized that whites are now afraid of blacks.



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