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Derb's August Diary: "Spewing" and "Spouting;" A Naked Kanaka Girl; the Passing of Toby; ETC.
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“Sp—” watch

I wondered aloud in a previous diary why, when orthodox–I mean, Politically Correct–writers want to tell us that someone or other is guilty of voicing heterodox opinions, they reach for an “sp—” word.

Heterodox Harry didn’t say the offending thing, or write it, or utter or pen or express it: He spouted it, or spewed it.

To quote myself:

Why is it that only an “sp—” word will do for remarks that journalists find unacceptable? And why do they so rarely venture beyond “spew” and “spout”? There are, after all, plenty of other “sp—” words that could be deployed for these purposes. [Yankees pitcher] David Wells might have “spritzed” those words into the phone, or “sputtered” his vile anti-endomorphist insults, or spat them out in a spasm of splenetic spite.

It’s a sad comment on our times when even sports writers can’t alliterate imaginatively.

Well, I missed one.

You’ll recall that White House speechwriter Darren Beattie got fired in mid-August for having attended the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club annual conference along with notorious thought criminal Peter Brimelow, VDARE.com’s Editor. In the CNN report on the firing, I got a mention too:

The schedule for the 2016 conference listed panels and speeches by white nationalist Peter Brimelow and two writers, John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, who were both fired in 2012 from the conservative magazine National Review for espousing racist views. [Speechwriter who attended conference with white nationalists in 2016 leaves White House by Andrew Kaczynski; CNN Politics, August 22nd, 2018.]

The verb “to espouse” is old and respectable. The online Shakespeare concordance lists four occurrences each of “espouse” and “espoused” in the Bard’s works. John Milton used “espouséd” in a well-known (and very lovely) sonnet.

It is not much used nowadays, however. In my own output of several million words across thirty-plus years, I seem never to have used it. (A scan of my website turns up seven occurrences in my archives; but every one of them is from quoted material.)

It’s just not a common word nowadays … except when some Main Stream Media reporter or commentator wants to tell us that a person holds heterodox opinions. The thought criminal, in the cant of media orthodoxy, does not in fact hold those opinions, or believe them, or express them, or affirm them, or cherish them, or promote them, or confess to them, or cleave to them, or merely have them: he espouses them.

Check it out next time you see a media report on Brimelow, Taylor, Derbyshire, Weissberg, or some other heretic: nine times out of ten we are espousing our deplorable views.

I tell you: that “sp” consonant-cluster has a mighty gravitational pull on the dull, crabbed minds of media hacks. They write in formulas because they think in formulas; and their formulas are constructed from a little tin toolbox of cant words and phrases.

Why “sp—” words, though? This ought to be something an expert in neurolinguistics could explain. On the off-chance some such expert is reading this, give us a hypothesis, please, would you?

The de-hobbying of the personal computer

Sharp-eyed readers who opened some of the links in that previous segment will have noticed that my personal website has advanced from http://www.johnderbyshire.com to https://www.johnderbyshire.com.

That “s” cost me close to $200. You have to do it, though. Keeping your website at dull old “http,” with no “s,” means that when people link to your pages, they come up with a message saying not secure at top left on every screen–a deterrent to many readers. Furthermore, the big search engines are pushing “http” websites down their rankings in favor of “https.”

That was one of my computer projects this month, upgrading the site from “http” to “https.”

(If it’s a thing you want to do, make your first call to whomever hosts your website. My people, Hostway, were helpful, efficient, and nicely in the middle of the price range.)

Another August project was to purge Adobe Flash out of my pages. Flash has been under suspicion of being insufficiently secure, how justly I do not know. In response to all the anxiety, Adobe has declared they will stop supporting Flash in 2020. Since all the audio files in my Readings pages used Flash, I’ve had to upgrade them.

To what? That’s a good question. There doesn’t seem to be any audio protocol that works for all browsers without planting a thicket of Javascript around it, which I can’t be bothered to do. Release 5 of HTML (the language in which web pages are coded) has an <audio> tag that’s supposed to solve the problem once and for all. It works fine in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, so I switched to it. Whether it works in Firefox, Opera, or whatever the hell those cool hip Mac users browse with, I have no idea.

HTML has been around for thirty years. You’d think that the people who write browsers (Chrome, Firefox, etc.) would all be in line with it by now. Apparently that’s too much to ask.

And then, OneDrive. Just shoot me, please.

OneDrive is a personal cloud service for users of MS Windows 10. It sounded spiffy when I read it up in David Pogue’s book. The Cloud is the way to go, right? The way of the future! You don’t want to be left behind, do you?

I yielded to all the propaganda and signed up for OneDrive. What a blunder! The thing is a total dog. I’m working on a file. Where is it? I mean, where actually is it? Is it on my disk drive in my PC, or is it in the Cloud? I never had a clue.There is a syncing process you can set up, but I never mastered it. When I temporarily switched off OneDrive as an experiment, half the files on my PC were out-of-date versions. Copying big files took forever.

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At last I bit the bullet: painstakingly restored from OneDrive all the files I knew to be out of date, then switched the damn thing off and uninstalled it. Good riddance! Now I know where my files are: they’re on my hard drive. For backup, I bought an 8-terabyte external drive with RAID. The hell with the damn Cloud.

So that’s some of the stuff that’s been wasting my time this month—a lot of my time. Running your own website is getting more and more difficult.

This is an instance of a universal rule applying to all technology: a de-hobbying rule. Fifty years ago the usual Saturday-morning occupation of young American males was tinkering with cars in their driveways. You could walk down an average suburban street and there they were: driveway —young guys tinkering, driveway —young guys tinkering, driveway —, …

You never see that now. To tinker with a modern vehicle you need a hundred thousand dollars-worth of diagnostic equipment and a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Automobiles have been de-hobbied. Tinkering with cars now makes as much sense as Ham Radio.

The same’s happening with personal computers and websites. When I bought my first PC I bought a book on 8086 Assembler Language along with it. I could make that machine sing and dance. When the internet came up I learned HTML in the same spirit (after a brief, disastrous detour through MS FrontPage).

Now it’s all being de-hobbied and professionalized. I guess I’ll end up with my website on WordPress or some damn thing, if I don’t fall off my perch first. I’m not sure which I’d prefer …

Hard times

I enjoyed Jim Goad’s recollections of his dysfunctional forebears: “Although both my parents were violent, my father was the hopeless alcoholic …” etc.

My own immediate forebears were comparatively well-behaved. Grandad Derbyshire did have drink issues, and Grandad Knowles (right) did engage in a little poaching to supplement the family diet; but nobody was firing off shotguns in the parlor.

A couple of generations further back, though, there is a career criminal in my family tree. This was George Paddy (sometimes spelt “Paddey”), born in 1815 or 1816 in Staffordshire, England.

George was first arrested for stealing “a quantity of wearing apparel” in 1835; he got a three-month sentence. He was convicted again in 1839 “for stealing 3 hen fowls & 20 chickens”; this time he got seven years—the authorities in mid-19th-century England were not tolerant of repeat offenders—which he seems to have served on prison hulks.

In 1848 he was convicted again “for stealing 8 fowl” and sentenced to ten years with transportation (i.e. to Australia). While in the Millbank Gaol (site of the present-day Tate Gallery) awaiting transportation, he was visited by his wife Charlotte. She brought with her their son John, then nine years old, and a ten-month-old daughter also named Charlotte. We know this because visitors to the gaol had to sign in, and a relative in England who is digging into the family history unearthed the relevant record.

The Archives Office of Tasmania has a record of George’s arrival down under in November 1850, with a brief description of the man (though it’s hard to read). He was back in England with Charlotte in the 1861 decennial census, but I don’t know when he landed.

That record of the prison visit is very poignant. Baby Charlotte died in infancy, but nine-year-old John lived to a good age and begat my maternal grandmother. I remember Grandma Knowles very well. She died when I was fifteen.

So John (of whom I possess a photograph) was my great-grandfather, and George my great-great-grandfather. (They changed the family name from Paddy to Perry at some point, I suppose because of George’s notoriety).

George’s wife Charlotte had three more children when George was in Australia. Her residence was listed on the birth certificates as “workhouse,” which means that she was destitute. I suppose the three babies were a consequence of her doing what a girl had to do to stay alive before the welfare state came up. Hard times.

Remonstrance in Peking

One of the more comical aspects of our current political environment is that Goodwhites really do, in their imaginations, see themselves as the underdogs. They still, without any apparent irony, describe themselves as “speaking truth to power,” when in actual fact all the power centers of Western society today are on their side.

Alt Right vlogger Ramzpaul caught the absurdity of this when he mocked the little knot of CultMarx demonstrators outside the 2014 American Renaissance conference. “Do you really imagine you’re sticking it to the Man?” he jeered. “You are the Man!” [Radio Derb, January 27th 2017.]

We ragged legions of the Dissident Right are the ones really speaking truth to power in the Western world today. We are, thank goodness, still free to do so. We may have trouble booking a hotel conference center, and the CultMarx information moguls of Google, Facebook, and Twitter may do all they can to depreciate or ban our voices, but we don’t yet face physical danger from agencies of the State (unless you want to argue that the Antifa is an agency of the State—a defensible position, I’ll grant).

Speaking truth to power in a nation under despotic government is much more hazardous to your health. If there are any dissidents from state orthodoxy alive in North Korea, they are chained in deep dungeons and given daily beatings.

China is an interesting case. The government is certainly despotic and intolerant of dissent. However, Chinese people are encouraged to take pride in their nation’s long intellectual history, a major component of which consists of treatises on statecraft.

A key notion running through that tradition is remonstrance (諫勸 jianquan, pronunciation here). What is remonstrance? It is speaking truth to power, that’s what: lower-level court officials, or even scholars from outside the court, telling the Emperor when they think his policy is wrong.

The concept of remonstrance is so ingrained in Confucian statecraft, it was sometimes a major nuisance to the despots. Any policy was displeasing to someone. If that someone was a scholar ambitious to get his name in the history books as a fearless critic of Imperial policy—and there were plenty like that—he could harass the Emperor with petitions.

When there were enough of these nuisances and the Emperor was weak or badly advised, the Son of Heaven must have felt he was being attacked by a swarm of wasps. One of the Ming emperors, fed up with it, ordered 146 remonstrators to be beaten with whipping clubs, thirty strokes each. Eleven of the remonstrators subsequently died of their injuries. You read this stuff, a canceled hotel bookingdoesn’t look quite so bad. (You can read about that particular episode in Chapter 3 of Ray Huang’s little classic 1587, A Year of No Significance.)

Well, the principle of remonstrance is still alive in today’s China under the rigid, intolerant despotism of Xi Jinping’s Communist Party. On July 24th this year Xu Zhangrun, a professor of law at Tsinghua University in Beijing, published a long and scathing remonstrance against China’s current rulers.

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You can read Geremie R. Barmé’s translation at ChinaHeritage.net. I don’t recommend doing so, though. The text is hard to follow, pedantic and dense with allusions. This is not the translator’s fault. The Chinese text is just as difficult: Prof. Xu really knows his Confucian classics, as well as recent Chinese political history.

Fortunately Prof. Xu’s remonstrance was widely noticed and written up by reporters like Chris Buckley in the New York Times. (This is Chris Buckley the China-watcher, not Chris Buckley the novelist son of William F.)

In his essay, Professor Xu challenged another political taboo, urging the government to overturn its condemnation of the pro-democracy, anticorruption protests that erupted in Chinese cities in 1989 and ended after the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Next year is the 30th anniversary of that bloody upheaval, and promises to be a tense time for the government. [As China's Woes Mount, Xi Jinping Faces Rare Rebuke at Home by Chris Buckley; New York Times, July 31st 2018.]

Next year also marks the centenary of the May Fourth Movement, a key turning-point in modern Chinese history. There’s a chance—not a certainty, but a fair chance—that China may not look quite so arrogantly monolithic this time next year.

Book of the Month

Isles of Illusion by “Asterisk.”

This book was recommended to me by a friend who read it some years ago. He: “Never has any expatriate so vividly documented his own failures and frustrations in Asia and the South Pacific.”

It wasn’t easy to find a copy. Amazon has one of those on-demand photocopied jobs, but I’ve been disappointed with those and now steer clear of them.

(This one, for example, whose title proclaims it as containing both the Collected Poems of James Elroy Flecker and Flecker’s play Hassan, in fact has only Hassan; the Collected Poems are represented by a single page, a photocopy of a short notice in the New York Times, no poems at all. Grrr.)

Abebooks came through with a real edition of Isles of Illusion (Century Hutchinson, 1986) at a second-hand booksellers in Amsterdam, one of those deals where the postage costs more than the book. I bought the item anyway and read it with much pleasure.

Isles of Illusion is about the Melanesian islands in the southwest Pacific, where “Asterisk,” an Englishman, lived for some years. The book consists of letters he wrote to a friend from 1912 to 1920. Nowadays these islands are the nation of Vanuatu, but at that time they were the New Hebrides, co-administered by Britain and France.

Says Gavin Young in his Introduction to this edition:

We know now that poor Asterisk was not at all happy when he learned that Lynch had edited his personal letters and had them published. All the same, Isles of Illusion sold well and was translated into several languages.

“Asterisk” was eventually unmasked as Robert Fletcher (1877-1965), an uncle of the novelist Penelope Mortimer. Dissatisfied with his career as a schoolmaster and inspired by the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, who had spent the last years of his short life in Samoa, Fletcher headed for the South Seas.

He did not find what his reading of Stevenson had led him to expect. Isles of Illusion in fact belongs to the subgenre of ill-natured travel writing—imagine a more misanthropic version of Paul Theroux on a bad day.

Fletcher is displeased with most of what he sees and experiences, is unimpressed by the scenery, regards the natives with disgust and local expats (mainly Australians) with undisguised snobbery. This cranky negativity is what makes the book so enjoyable. The only thing he’s positive about is the cuisine: “I must confess to liking native food and cookery.”

To make allowances, the author is ill much of the time: frequent malaria, dysentery, prickly heat, dhobie itch (I had to look that up, eiuw), etc. Bugs? Hoo yeah:

This very night I caught and slew over 30 fleas inside and outside my trousers … That’s why I don’t keep a dog. The poor brute’s life would be one long martyrdom. Young Ashby … keeps Irish terriers, and I have seen the poor things with their bellies literally black with fleas.

Fletcher takes in a local woman. This is just for sexual relief, but, while his feelings for her never rise much above a mix of paternalism and contempt, she softens his misanthropy somewhat.

I grieve to confess to you that the thing is rather growing on me. The oddness and quaintness of the little person appeals to me. I didn’t believe Kanakas were capable of affection; but I have had two rude shocks lately. One was when the lady hit a lady friend over the head with an axe for trying to steal a handkerchief of mine from the wash …

Fletcher even gives the impression that for occasional short spells, at least, he was not miserable:

We splash about on the reef—she stark naked, I clad in lava lava to protect the non-sunburned parts of my body—spearing fish, catching trocas [? troca is a shellfish—JD] and generally playing the Kanaka.

Not even an Englishman can be disgruntled all the time.

A quiet passing

Heartfelt thanks yet again to the numerous listeners and readers who—by email, tweet, and in a couple of cases snail mail—offered us condolences on the passing of Toby.

The little fellow died as he lived: quietly, making no fuss, and causing us no inconvenience. He had been fading for some weeks and on Thursday, August 23rd, stopped eating altogether. We squirted fluids into his mouth with a rubber ear-wash bulb, but it was plain he was going. I told the Mrs I’d be surprised to see him still alive Friday morning.

He was, though; and on Saturday morning and Sunday morning, too. As a wise friend observed: “He really doesn’t want to leave you.”

We’d agreed, as I’m sure pet owners always do, that if he was in pain or distress, we’d take him to the vet for what was necessary. He never was, though: just lay there very quietly, making occasional little snuffling sounds.

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He passed precisely at noon on Sunday August 26th, lying out in his bed, in a shady spot on the deck. Again, no fuss. We checked: he was breathing. We checked ten minutes later: he was not breathing. There’s a thing that is not vouchsafed to many of us, alas: to die quietly in our own bed, in our own house.

It happened just by chance that our daughter was on her once-a-month visit to us from the South Shore, so the whole family was present for the interment, along with a kind neighbor. Junior had dug a fine deep grave, drawing on his military experience. Chatting with him while he worked, I learned that there is an Army regulation size for a foxhole: two rifle lengths side to side, one rifle length front to back, deep to the nipples of the tallest guy in the platoon. Those weren’t the dimensions of Toby’s grave; it’s just a thing I learned from Junior.

Now Toby is sleeping out there under the trees in the back yard, together with his favorite toys, blankies, and bowls, a few yards away from Boris. Goodnight, old pal.

Math Corner

I have two cool websites for you, and an unrelated brainteaser.

The websites, brought to my attention by readers (thank you!) concern polyhedra—solid 3-dimensional geometrical objects with plane faces. I have a longstanding fascination with these little blighters, confessed in Chapter 13 of my book Unknown Quantity.

Making physical models of geometric figures was … a favorite pastime for mathematicians and math students through most of the 19th and 20th centuries, and I regret that it seems no longer to be done. I myself spent many happy and instructive hours at it in my adolescence, practicallywearing out a copy of H. Martyn Cundy and A. P. Rollett’s 1951 classic Mathematical Models. My pride and joy was a card model of five cubes inscribed in a dodecahedron, each cube painted a different color.

Well, here are two neat websites. The first is part of the excellent Math Is Fun series; it includes stellated polyhedra. The second is a stand-alone classification of convex polyhedra, no stellations. You can, on both websites, rotate a polyhedron for inspection using your mouse cursor.

Part of the charm here is the names. Breathes there the man with soul so dead he has never wanted to check out the Hebesphenomegacorona and the Metagyrate Diminished Rhombicosidodecahedron?

The brainteaser is from a three-year-old news report I missed at the time, about then-eighth-grade math prodigy Wentinn Liao of Tracy, California. I don’t know what has subsequently become of young Wentinn, but here’s the report.

Quick, the arithmetic sequences a1, a2, a3 … and b1, b2, b3 … consist of 40 distinct positive integers, and a20 + b14 equals 1,000. Compute the least possible value for b20 + a14.

Stumped? A math problem such as this one can bring along headaches and dread, but to 12-year-old Wentinn Liao, such mathematical problems are easy. [12-year-old likes LEGOs, music, advanced calculus by Nicholas Filipas; RecordNet.com, June 10th 2015.]

What is the solution to the problem stated in the first paragraph there?

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(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Rational says:

    CNN SHOULD BE RENAMED CON

    Sir, when it comes to news media, the US media is a total failure.

    The purpose of the news media is to convey the NEWS. The word NEWS comes from the root NEW, and means new facts, such as there was an earthquake in so and so place and so many people are missing.

    The old rule of the news media is that the journalist must not let his opinion on the topic be known. As soon as he shows his opinion, the report is polluted and cannot be trusted.

    90% of the time, CNN, NYT, etc. spews opinions of various left wingers. It is not news at all. CNN should change its name to Cable Opinion Network, ie. CON.

    • Replies: @MBlanc46
  2. “China is an interesting case. The government is certainly despotic and intolerant of dissent.. under the rigid, intolerant despotism of Xi Jinping’s Communist Party”.

    Come, come. If China had a despotic government, the intolerant despot of Xi Jinping would have the sole power to:
    – declare war unilaterally and frequently;
    – issue 300,000 national security letters, administrative subpoenas with gag orders that enjoin recipients from ever divulging they’ve been served;
    – control information at all times than any monarch in history under the National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions.
    –torture, kidnap and assassinate anyone anywhere at will.
    – Direct the military to detain, arrest and secretly execute American citizens.

    And personal freedom in a despotic and intolerant state would be limited by
    – secretly banning 50,000 people from flying and refusing requests for an explanation
    – imprisoning 2,000,000 people witout trial
    – executing 2,000 people each year prior to arrest.

    In a real an despotic and intolerant state there would be
    – warrantless surveillance of private phone and email conversations by the NSA;
    – SWAT team raiding homes;
    – shootings of unarmed citizens by police;
    – harsh punishment of schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance;
    – endless wars;
    – out-of-control spending;
    – militarized police;
    –roadside strip searches;
    – roving TSA sweeps;
    – privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans;
    – fusion centers that collect and disseminate data on citizens’ private transactions;
    – militarized agencies with stockpiles of ammunition

    No Chinese leader, including Mao, has ever had one such power. The US President has and exercises all of them. Regularly.

    Dissent?

    The only intolerance of dissent in China might charitably be called ‘sponsored dissent,’ from guys grandstanding to earn their US Government incomes. Heroes like Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiabo, who advocated the Iraq War and decolonization of China and took $2.2 million from the NED between 1987 and 2010.

    Otherwise, people are as free to criticize in China as elsewhere–a fact that researchers have repeatedly confirmed–so long as they obey the published censorship rules: no infringing, fake accounts, libel, disclosing trade secrets or invading privacy; no sending porn to attract users; no torture, violence or killing of people or animals; no selling lethal weapons; no gambling, phishing, scamming or spreading viruses; no organizing crime, counterfeiting, false advertising, empty promises or bullying; no lotteries, rumor-mongering, promoting superstitions; no content opposing the basic principles of the Constitution, national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity; no divulging State secrets or endangering national security.

    Harvard’s Gary King found, “Contrary to much research and commentary, the purpose of the censorship program is not to suppress criticism of the State or the Communist Party. Indeed, despite widespread censorship of social critics, we find that when Chinese people write scathing criticisms of their government and its leaders the probability that their post will be censored does not increase. Instead, censored tweets were equally likely to be against the state, for the state, irrelevant, or factual reports about events. Negative, even vitriolic criticism of the state, its leaders and its policies are not more likely to be censored”. https://harvardmagazine.com/2013/09/reverse-engineering-chinese-censorship

    • Agree: Per/Norway
    • Replies: @Per/Norway
  3. anon[678] • Disclaimer says:

    Why “sp—” words, though? This ought to be something an expert in neurolinguistics could explain. On the off-chance some such expert is reading this, give us a hypothesis, please, would you?

    The “sp” beginning brings up the image of spitting, which is vulgar, especially if a person is spitting as an act of contempt or hatred. And you don’t need a neurolinguist to explain this – any good English major will do. If they studied prosody they are still good for something.

  4. Biff says:

    Toby looked like a nice lad.

    Don’t know how to get the YouTube video up but here’s the link “Rainbow Bridge”

    • Replies: @Johann
  5. Sp___… Could it have something to do with it being a phoneme that literally approaches spitting, as if spitting on your subject?

  6. Isles of Illusion in fact belongs to the subgenre of ill-natured travel writing—imagine a more misanthropic version of Paul Theroux on a bad day.

    This brings to mind the novels of W. Somerset Maugham, one of Britain’s best known playwrights and novelists through much of the twentieth century, but now, like George Bernard Shaw, almost forgotten.

    A good part of Somerset Maugham’s oeuvre was ill-natured travel fiction—accounts of the misery that English expatriates end up in, when they follow their dreams and flee overseas.

    Asterisk’s Isles of Illusion sounds a bit like Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence, a work of fiction loosely based on Paul Gauguin’ s life and escape to the South Seas.

  7. On the Steve Hilton show on Fox Sunday night, Ben Shapiro congrautlaed NR for dumping you some years ago. Shapiro also bragged about having once been a fellow at some Straussian place in SoCal.

    Which nicely fits the picture I always had of Little Ben.

    Of course, any publicity is good if they pronounce your name right — except I am pretty sure Ben misprounced “Derbyshire”!

  8. Okay. I’m not really good at math, so I apologize if what follows is confusing due to me using the wrong notation, and I apologize even more if I’m wrong. I’d bath you all in apologies. Anyway.

    We know a20 + b14 = 1000.

    We want to find out the LEAST possible x, with x = a14 + b20. (Or x = b20 + a14, doesn’t matter)

    (a1, a2, … a14, … a20) and (b1, b2, … b14, … b20) are all distinct positive integers.

    We can deduce the least possible value for a14, since the least possible value for a20 is equal to 1 by the definition above.

    We can write:

    a14 = a20 – 6A.

    With A = a2 – a1 = a3 – a2 = a4 – a3 … and so on. In other words, A is the difference between consecutive terms in the (a1, a2, … a20) arithmetic sequence.

    Going from a20 = 1, the least possible value for a14 happens when the sequence has A = -1, so that a14 = a20 – 6A = 1 – 6*(-1) = 1 + 6 = 7.

    The least possible value for a14 is thus 7. It only occurs in the sequence if a20 = 1. (And if a20 = 1, then a14 is necessarily equal to 7)

    The (a1, a2, … a14, … a20) sequence would then be (20, 19, … 7, … 1).

    But if a20 = 1, and a20 + b14 = 1000, then b14 = 999.

    We can write:

    b20 = b14 + 6B.

    With B = b2- b1 = b3 – b2 … and so on. In other words, B is the difference between consecutive terms in the (b1, b2, … b20) arithmetic sequence.

    Now we have to find the least possible value for b20 when b14 = 999.

    For that, we have to find the first integer, going down from 999, which can be divided by 6. That is 996. And we get that 996 / 6 = 166.

    Note, therefore, that to get the least possible value for b20 when b14 = 999, we need to have B = -166.

    The (b1, b2, … b14, … b20) sequence would then be (3157, 2991, … 999, … 3).

    So the least possible value for b20 would be 3.

    Finally, the least possible value for x, given x = a14 + b20, would be x = 7 + 3 = 10.

    But I could be wrong.

    (Also, peace be with Toby)

    • Replies: @blake121666
    , @pyrrhus
  9. 5371 says:

    [There’s a chance—not a certainty, but a fair chance—that China may not look quite so arrogantly monolithic this time next year.]

    IMO the chance is zero. As for Xu, next year he will be where he belongs, in a labor camp, where he can remonstrate till he is blue in the face – if his duties allow him the leisure – but nobody will be the wiser.

  10. Anonymous[266] • Disclaimer says:

    This is an instance of a universal rule applying to all technology: a de-hobbying rule. Fifty years ago the usual Saturday-morning occupation of young American males was tinkering with cars in their driveways. You could walk down an average suburban street and there they were: driveway —young guys tinkering, driveway —young guys tinkering, driveway —, …

    You never see that now. To tinker with a modern vehicle you need a hundred thousand dollars-worth of diagnostic equipment and a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Automobiles have been de-hobbied. Tinkering with cars now makes as much sense as Ham Radio.

    Back in the day, smart American boys would tinker with radios, go-karts, and rockets. And men would tinker with tools, cars, trailers, and household carpentry projects. And both men and boys would fantasize about real women.

    Nowadays smart boys code according to prescribed parameters, work on school-sanctioned robots, and engage in sanctioned activities. And men are into craft beers, fantasy sports leagues, and egalitarian relationships with their females partners with whom they spends weekends going to farmers markets and ethnic restaurants.

  11. Johann says:
    @Biff

    I was more touched by your description of the passing of your Toby than I was by that giant freak show in the Imperial capital for that warmonger. Toby like most of our beloved pets comes across as a better person than most persons are. My dachshund is getting on in years and I know that I dread that day of his passing but hope it will be as peaceful as your dog’s was.

  12. Gracebear says:

    Very moving and quietly understated about Toby—perfect.
    I don’t know what to make of Ben Shapiro. Had liked some of what he said or wrote but definitely did not like what he said on the Hilton show (which I stumbled on for a few minutes by accident ). I hate the firing of so many good people by NR and ended my subscription after Trump, whom I support and am grateful for. I am also so grateful for Derb and all his wisdom over so many years.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    , @MBlanc46
  13. @Godfree Roberts

    Stop noticing those annoying facts! that is rayzizz… And you must be well aware that the US only kill, maim, steal and torture bc they are so moral and exeptional, your noticing of truth and facts wont trump my feelz comrade.
    (sarc of)
    Best comment on unz today!

  14. Re Section II: Since you mentioned China, I wanted to chime in that I believe a lot of DIY aptitude, along with DIY infrastructure (good hardware stores, etc.) has been rapidly decreasing in America as it’s been increasing in China. I wrote about this in China vs. America and the local hardware store – excerpt:

    I was very impressed in China to just see all the work that was going on in everyday life. There were guys tack-welding burglar bars out on the sidewalk. It was not exactly OSHA compliant, but they were too crowded inside the shop so had to expand on out. (Yep, burglar bars, because this is not the 1970’s and now there IS plenty to steal.). I’m sure the stores there didn’t need a year of dealing with permits and getting 10 government agencies on board with their plans to sell the burglar bars. Just do it! That was whose motto again? Whoever’s, it is just a big lie in modern America.

    On the other hand, you may be surprised how many American guys are still into tinkering with computers. Though the laptops are going away, they look formidable inside, but loads of parts are interchangeable and can be bought and sold on ebay and elsewhere. I wrote in a self-rebuttal post about a friend who’s been doing that. The next step is the cell-phone world.

    Yeah, it is different now. Parts are small if not tiny, and the work doesn’t take so much mechanical knowledge and dexterity at a high-strength level. However, it still takes dexterity of the hands, skill at categorization of parts, and maybe some electronic knowledge.

  15. That was a funny link to the parody on amateur radio but it’s unfortunate that some people think that it’s an obsolete hobby that’s left in the past with vacuum tubes. The reality is that amateur radio has always kept on the forefront of technology and is into everything that’s computerized. The American Radio Relay League is the largest ham radio organization in the world and their publications are so professional that they are used as reference material in college electronics courses. The most important work that amateur radio does today is attending public events and helping in times of disaster. When cell phones, police radio, and computers don’t work, the only people that can get out are hams due to the mobile nature of their equipment. Ham radio has proven itself over and over again getting people in touch with their loved ones and assisting first responders in times of disaster. http://www.arrl.org/home

  16. @Gracebear

    Gracebear wrote:

    I don’t know what to make of Ben Shapiro. Had liked some of what he said or wrote but definitely did not like what he said on the Hilton show (which I stumbled on for a few minutes by accident ).

    Attacking the Left is now a target-rich environment: they have gone so far off the deep end that they are not so slowly losing one relatively sane adherent after another — first, they lose guys like Alan Dershowitz, then it gets down to Kanye and Roseanne.

    So, of course, guys like Shapiro can get off some good shots at the Left now and then. Anybody can.

    But, Little Ben is still an obnoxious little jerk, as he proved on the Hilton show — he’s actually proud that he is connected to a bunch of crack-pot West Coast Straussians and brags about it in public!

    Sort of like a six-year-old who brags in public that he is still not toilet-trained.

  17. MBlanc46 says:
    @Gracebear

    Very well said on all counts.

  18. @adreadline

    Well the link says the answer is 10. But 3 is not distinct in your sequences – it is found in both your a sequence and your b sequence, isn’t it? The problem claimed “40 distinct positive integers”. You have 39 distinct positive integers.

    I think you are correct if it had stated that EACH sequence consisted of 20 distinct positive integers. And I think that is what was intended to be asked.

    The answer to what is actually asked HAS to be 21 or greater – not 10.

    • Replies: @adreadline
  19. I agree that OneDrive blows dead dogs. I have a Synology Diskstation with 2 3 terabyte drives raided.
    Synology software backs up my pc and then uploads that data to Amazon’s cloud which is $60/year for 1 terrabyte. Works great.

    2) Steve Jobs is responsible for much of the death of Flash. Most people thought it was a buggy POS, and he said it would NOT be on the iPad.

  20. @blake121666

    Yes, you’re right that I’m mistaken. I overlooked that the question did state both sequences had between them 40 distinct positive integers. So my solution is wrong.

    The answer is 10, though. I kicked off equating a20 to 1. This messed up everything. I should have equated b20 to 1. I just got with another fellow, who worked it out and confirmed the authors’ solution. (I hadn’t looked at the link)

    Thank you for pointing my mistake out. The correct answer is below. (I don’t know for how long this imgur link will hold)

    • Replies: @blake121666
  21. anecdeedy says:

    The “sp-” word-onset consonant cluster is referred to in linguistics as a “phonoaestheme.” Phonoaesthemes are sound sequences that are associated with particular meanings but do not qualify as full morphemes, nor are the words they appear in necessarily etymologically related. For example, gl- is associated with light as in glitter, gleam, glow, etc. and str- is associated with long narrow things as in stripe, stretch, stream, etc..

    It is clear that /sp/ in English is associated with outward-moving propulsion as in spurt, spit, and spill in addition to the aforementioned spew and spout. Even the word spam , which suggestively has the sense of being propelled at high velocity into your inbox, was a neologism from a Monty Python skit that quickly displaced the extant term “junk email” and probably triumphed because of its phonoaestheme onset.

    Among phonoaesthemes, ones beginning with sibilants– that is, [s] or [ʃ]– are disproportionately “expressive,” that is, charged with emotionally-laden connotations. (For a book-length treatment of derogatory shm- onsets in disparaging phrases such as “harvard, shmarvard,” see Southern, Mark R. V., 2005, Contagious Couplings: Transmission of Expressives in Yiddish Echo Phrases). That explains why /sp/ onset words are especially favored by media hacks who want to disparage the spewers and spouters of heterodox opinions. Well spotted Mr. Derbyshire.

    For more on /sp/ and other phonoaesthemes, see:
    Bergen, Benjamin K. (2004.) “The Psychological Reality of Phonaesthemes.” Language,
    80(2).
    Bloomfield, Maurice. (1895.) “On Assimilation and Adaptation in Congeneric Classes of
    Words.” The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 409-434.
    Bolinger, Dwight L. (1940). “Word Affinities. American Speech 15:1, pp. 62-73.
    Feist, Jim. (2013.) ‘‘Sound symbolism’’ in English. Journal of Pragmatics 45, 104—118.
    Käsmann, Hans. (1992.) “Das englische Phonaestheme sl-.” Anglia, vol. 110: 307-46.
    Philps, Dennis. (2011.) “Reconsidering Phonaesthemes: Submorphemic invariance in English
    ‘sn- words’.” Lingua 121: 1121-1137.
    Wales, Katie. (1990). “Phonotactics and phonaesthesia: the power of folk lexicology” in Susan
    Ramsaran, ed., Studies in the Pronunciation of English: A commemorative volume in honour of
    A.C. Gimson, pp. 339-51.

  22. @adreadline

    Yeah, I did almost the exact same thing as the solution you’ve quoted here. It’s obvious that the solution, x, is of the form 4 + 6n since 1000 – x is divisible by 6. and b20 = 1 LOOKS like it would give the smallest answer. But I didn’t think to start the “a” sequence in this way. I foolishly made the “b” sequence the monotonic one – not the “a” sequence. I came up with 40. But it looks like yours is correct.

  23. pyrrhus says:
    @adreadline

    Assuming a constant and positive increment of increase I for each, the difference between the two sums is -6 IA +6 IB = 6 (IB-IA)…so we want to make to make a’s increment as large as possible, and b’s smallest. b’s smallest is 1, so b14 = 14, a20=986 and a20=a1 + 19 IA, a1=12 and IA =52, so a14=688 and b20=20, the total sum being 708.

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