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DERB’S DECEMBER (2016!) DIARY: Roll Over Ta-Nehisi Coates, I Have An Escalator Anecdote Too! (Where’s My MacArthur Grant?) Etc.
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Only one of these men has a MacArthur Genius Grant. Credit:

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The long (16,600 words) goodbye. For a black view of Obama as he departs the presidential stage, you might be moved to try the article by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the current (Jan./Feb. 2017) issue of The Atlantic. [My President Was Black]

If you are so moved, best set aside an hour for the reading: Coates’ piece is 16,600 words long.That’s longer than A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Supposing you have that hour to spare, it would of course be shamefully reactionary of you to give it over to one of William Shakespeare’s productions rather than to a work by Coates, who is after all the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant— which Shakespeare never was!

Like Obama, Coates fits precisely into some hungry receptors in the brains of many white Americans. Different receptors: Coates is not quite the Nice Black Guy. He actually comes across as rather sour and surly, although at a low and unthreatening level.

The fit must be a precise one none the less. Coates’ books and articles are required reading in high schools and colleges across the nation. I am sure that at any given moment in today’s U.S.A., far more people are reading Coates than Shakespeare.

Coates’ appeal is even more incomprehensible to me than Obama’s. I can at least see the attraction to others of what Obama’s selling, even though I don’t buy it myself. I can appreciate Obama’s appeal at second hand, so to speak. I don’t get Coates’ appeal at all, at any hand.

A few weeks ago I did a telephone interview with an academic who was writing something about the Alt Right. We went over the usual ground amiably enough, then got stuck on something I had written somewhere that the interviewer thought was disrespectful to Coates. For some reason he thought this particular heterodoxy of mine — out of so many! — was especially flagitious.

I responded with something like:

“For goodness’ sake, Coates is an utter mountebank. He has no topic other than his own blackness, which is not interesting to me. His prose is dull and humorless. He’s not well-read, has no math or science, and possesses no original insights into the human condition. His anecdotes are trivial and frequently, I suspect, bogus.”

The interviewer asked how did I know all that, since I’ve confessed to never having gotten very far into one of Coates’ pieces. I can’t recall what I said in reply, but I hope it was something about not needing to drink a whole bottle to know the wine is corked.

After this latest Coates effort I could have added that when a “piece” is 16,600 words long, not getting very far into it can still cover a lot of wordage.

Coates has attained fame and wealth in the U.S.A., though — far above anything he could have attained in a black country. Try getting him to admit that.

Escalator race stories. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best-known anecdote about the sufferings of blacks under the iron heel of White Privilege in present-day America is the escalator story told in his book Between the World and Me. Addressing his son, Coates writes:

Perhaps you remember that time we went to see Howl’s Moving Castle on the Upper West Side. You were almost 5 years old. The theater was crowded, and when we came out we rode a set of escalators down to the ground floor. As we came off, you were moving at the dawdling speed of a small child. A white woman pushed you and said, “Come on!”

A rude New Yorker — who could have imagined it?

As it happens, I acquired an escalator race story of my own earlier this month. It’s just as trivially inconsequential as Coates’; but since his story got him a “genius” grant and nationwide fame, I may as well make a try for the same glitttering prizes myself.

The escalator here was one at the Lexington Avenue / 53rd Street subway station in New York City. I’d taken the downtown number six train from the Upper East Side, and was changing to the downtown E train to get to Penn Station — from the IRT to the IND, for all you in the older cohort of New York subway riders. This involves going up a long escalator.

Looking up the escalator as I mounted it, I saw that it was full, with people on every step. In accordance with escalator etiquette, which even New Yorkers generally adhere to, the riders were almost all standing at the right, leaving a clear path for more energetic types like your diarist to leg it up the left-hand side.

The only riders not standing at the right were a little group of four or five twentysomething black women, occupying the full width of the escalator and in lively conversation with each other. As I reached them I said “Excuse me,” and waited for them to clear my way. They didn’t, so I just pushed my way through the group — not violently, but with some unavoidable body contact — and proceeded on up.

Their voiced reactions floated up the escalator behind me. One was particularly loud and clear. Her chosen mode was sarcasm: “WELL, AH THOTE THUH I-DE-UH OF A ESCALATOR WUZ SO’S WE COULD STAN’ HE-UH AN’ RAAHD …”

I bet that woman is telling the story to her friends in Coatesian terms: An evil old white Klansman violated her Civil Rights and abused her Black Body …

Yo, ladies: If you’re going to ride escalators, learn the etiquette; and if you stick your bad manners in a person’s face, expect to get bad manners back. And try speaking standard English: It’s “an escalator” not “a escalator.”

Could someone please pass this story on to the MacArthur Foundation for me? I don’t have their address. ?


But yes, Obama would have won. In an interview published December 26th Barack Obama claimed that if he could have run for a third term, he would have beaten Trump. [Obama Says He Would Have Defeated Trump For A Third Term,By Michael S. Schmidt, NYT, December 26, 2016 ] I think he was right.

Not that he would have got my vote. I can’t say I have ever warmed to Obama. I see no reason to add or subtract anything from the opinion I published two years ago in The Great Purge:

The U.S.A. then elected its first Affirmative-Action president, a law-school nonentity with no executive experience and nothing in his head but 1980s college-radical sociobabble and the endless rancor of the blacks.

That said, I don’t think Obama was making an empty boast in that interview. His popularity in early November was the same, within polling error, as it had been just before the 2012 election. Trump was widely disliked. His thin victory margins in key states were due to Mrs Clinton’s being disliked more. There was a lot of nose-holding in this year’s election.

Deroy Murdock got to the essence of the matter, I think, in his December 25th column at the New York Post. The current devastated condition of the Democratic Party is, says Murdock, a “repudiation … not of Obama himself, but of Obamaism, today’s Democratic gospel.” Obama himself remains well-liked.

A big part of that is Obama’s appeal to an old and deep-seated American ideal: the Nice Black Guy. This ideal dwells on one side of our national schizophrenia about race.

On the one hand we all know at some level that there is, as Abraham Lincoln said, “a broader difference” between us “than exists between almost any other two races.” (Southerners were more blunt: google “Robert Lewis Dabney.”)

On the other hand, most white people can name particular blacks they like or admire; and I’m sure the same is true in the other direction. As some white showbiz person or other — can’t find the quote — said, or sighed, of the gentlemanly black crooner Nat King Cole: “If only they were all like him!”

For a great many white Americans, although obviously not for me, Obama is a perfect fit for those mental receptor slots yearning for an attractive, unthreatening black. He’d have won easily.

The end of books. “Of making many bookes there is no end,” said the Preacher. Oh yeah? It’s beginning to look as though there is an end, and it’s not far off.

Whether there is or not, book stores are vanishing fast. A friend tells me that there is now no bookstore in New York City’s Grand Central Station. I haven’t checked, but I expect it’s true. There has for a year or so been no bookstore in the Long Island Railroad concourse at Penn Station. (I think there is still one in the Amtrak concourse.)

“Oh,” people say when you grumble about this, “it’s just that books are so easy to buy online, that’s all.”

Maybe; but I had a disconcerting experience just before Christmas that left me thinking there is something in the air — an invisible anti-book miasma potent enough to affect even me, as bookish a person as it is possible to be.

Disconcerting experience: It has been our family custom for twenty-plus years — since the kids were in diapers — to visit the local mega-mall the week before Christmas, to buy presents for ourselves and each other, and eat a family meal in the food court. The place has a big Barnes & Noble, and that of course is where I end up.

This year’s visit, though, there was something wrong. I browsed, but self-consciously: not just blithely browsing, as I’ve done all my life, but browsing while simultaneously thinking I’m browsing in a bookstore. Self-consciousness is of course the enemy of desire: I didn’t feel like buying any books at all.

However, the family would have thought it odd if I’d emerged from my Christmas Barnes & Noble visit with no books; so I concentrated, deliberated, and purchased two good-quality paperbacks, one each of nonfiction and fiction.

I had felt the icy breath of the zeitgeist on my soul, though. Without the spur of family custom to prompt me, I would have left the mall bookless. If a chronic bibliophile like me is losing interest, what future is there for books?

Middlebrow fiction of the month. So what were my two book purchases? They were Walter Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin and Phillippa Gregory’s The White Queen.

I haven’t yet opened Isaacson’s book, which I bought on the strength of (a) having enjoyed his biography of Einstein, and (b) thinking that Franklin is an interesting guy I don’t know half as much about as I’d like to. I’ll report back.

I bought The White Queen because a friend had recommended the TV miniseries of it as being the kind of thing I’d like. That was a year or so ago. I made a mental note to look up the miniseries on Netflix but never did.

Then, seeing the book on our Christmas mall trawl, I thought I’d try that instead. I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and you can’t go wrong with the late Plantagenets, as William Shakespeare amply demonstrated.

The White Queen is good well-researched historical fiction. It’s very much a woman’s book, though, framed as a first-person narrative by Elizabeth Woodville, the wife (or possibly just Number One Mistress: the history is murky) of Edward IV, a champion of the Yorkist cause — the white rose in the Wars of the Roses.

How much of a woman’s book is it? Well, I broke off reading when Mrs D called me into dinner. How was I liking my book? she asked. I said I liked it well enough, but she might like it more, as it was written by a woman for (I assume) a mostly female readership.

After dinner I picked up and commenced reading where I had left off. The very next sentence (page 152) was this one:

He takes me as he has always done, passionately, as a dry man slaking his thirst.

No, it’s not all like that; and I’m a tolerant reader. I enjoyed The White Queen. If estrogen vapors rising from the pages of a book annoy you, though, try a different author.

The war lover. One book I seem to have lost in my travels and is now wellnigh unobtainable is Peter Kemp’s Mine Were of Trouble.

(Clarification of “wellnigh”: Amazon has no copies available. Abebooks had just one when I looked in late December, priced \$269.95, “a darn nice ex-library copy.” Darn nice? For that darn price, I should darn well hope so.)

Peter Kemp (1915-93) and his autobiographical book came up in a conversation about the military virtues. “There are some guys,” I said, “who really like war. They’re drawn to it. They can’t stay away from it. If their country isn’t involved in any wars, they’ll go to some other country that is, and sign up.”


This met with some skepticism from the company (my wife, a Gen-X friend, and a couple of millennials). Could I give an example? I named Kemp. Nobody had ever heard of him. I went looking for his book in my study, but couldn’t find it. I haven’t picked it up since about 1980, several moves of residence ago, so its loss is not surprising.

Mine Were of Trouble (the title comes from a Housman poem) is an account of Kemp’s service in the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s, in which, very unfashionably, he fought on the Francoist side until a mortar bomb blew up in his face. He was fit for combat again when WW2 broke out, performed numerous dangerous missions, and wrote a book about all that (which I haven’t read).

There is an obituary from one of the British newspapers here. It summarizes Kemp’s post-WW2 adventures thus:

He went to Hungary during the rising in 1956, nominally as the Tablet’scorrespondent, and helped some students escape to Austria. He was present during the troubles in the Congo that led to its independence as Zaire; he fought intermittently in Vietnam; he visited and reported on revolutions in Central and in South America; he could even bear to revisit Albania, where he predicted further racial clashes between Albanians and Serbs.

This human type, the war lover, used to be better known than it now is. Steve McQueen starred in a 1962 movie actually titled The War Lover.

If the type is going extinct, is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess your answer depends on how dangerous a place you think the world is. I can’t say I’m a war lover — too fond of my own skin — but in broad, general outlook I’m with Housman, if not quite with Kemp.

Refusing treatment. My buboes were showing signs of misbehavior, so I ran off to the oncologist.

Backstory: I have an incurable variety of blood cancer, went through chemotherapy in 2012, have had no problems since, but need watching. Although mild by itself, my kind of cancer turns seriously, fatally nasty in a small minority of cases.

Tests were done. It was a false alarm, thank goodness, the beast just shifting in its sleep of remission, then settling back down into passivity. It did, though, get me looking up stuff on the internet. That’s what we do when we’re unwell nowadays, isn’t it? This must be mighty annoying for doctors — every patient an amateur diagnostician.

What got my attention this time around in all that browsing was people who refuse treatment. A surprising number do; some of them have written books about it.

There have even been reports that most physicians refuse chemotherapy for themselves when diagnosed with something terminal, though it has to be said that those reports come mostly from outfits promoting “natural” or “spiritual” cures.

I’m a skeptic about that stuff. Temperamentally I have a high level of respect for science. I share George Orwell’s disdain for sandal-wearing vegetarians and their quack cures — homeopathy, moxibustion, anything beginning with “natural.” Cancer’s “natural,” isn’t it?

So my inclination is to trust the medical professionals. Yes, some skepticism is in order on that side, too; but nothing like as much as you should nurse towards people who tell you that dosing yourself with a solution of hen’s bane diluted to a strength of one molecule per cubic mile will fix your asthma.

Sure, chemotherapy is horrible. It’s getting less horrible all the time, though. More effective, too, according to my oncologist, an upbeat fellow.

He: “The pace of new discoveries is amazing! Imbruvica! Zyledig! We’re getting great results! At this summer’s conference I was actually hearing the ‘c’ word!”

Me (puzzled): “What, ‘cancer’? Isn’t that what oncologist talk about, like, all the time?”

He: “No, no: ‘c’ for ‘cure’!”

Equipped with such a mindset, when faced with decisions about treatment I look up probabilities on the internet, feed ’em into Bayes’ Theorem, and take the appropriate course of action.

Which is still, at the end of it all, either to accept or refuse the treatment on offer. When you have people who care about you and depend on you, this can’t help but be a moral conundrum.

What if I’m inclined to refuse treatment but the Mrs. urges me to accept? I could try to explain Bayes’ Theorem to her, I guess.

Silver cloud, dark lining. An alternative, longer-term approach to ridding us of cancer is to fiddle with our genomes so that no-one any longer will inherit a predisposition to cancer.

Fiddling with genomes has been getting a lot of press recently. The current (January 2nd) issue of The New Yorker has a long article about editing genomes using the new CRISPR technology. The genomes of mice, for example, “to make them immune to the bacteria that cause Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.” The fiddlers have malaria in their sights, too — by fiddling with mosquito genes, of course.

There’s a Faust Factor — isn’t there always? Fiddling with genomes can do harm as well as good.

The authors of a report on gene drives issued this year by the National Academy of Sciences wrote, “It is not inconceivable that rather than developing a resistant mosquito, one could develop a more susceptible mosquito capable of transmitting a specific pathogen.” In other words, terrorists might be able to add to the saliva of a mosquito a gene that makes toxins, which it would transmit along with malaria. Just before Thanksgiving, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology warned the White House directly that it is no longer difficult to imagine how somebody might, simply by editing a gene, transform a common virus into a biological weapon.

One more damn thing to worry about.

Stamping out oddity. Here’s another.

Messing with genes could WIPE OUT geniuses from the earth says this headline in the Daily Express. The argument rests on the old connection — it goes back at least as far as Aristotle — that genius and various kinds of mental oddity travel together. If we wipe out depression, schizophrenia, and Aspergers (they say), we might no longer produce a Thomas Edison or a Tennessee Williams.

I wouldn’t have chosen Tennessee Williams to make the point — his plays send me to sleep — but they’re probably on to something.


Cultural Marxists would approve. Their aim, like that of actual Marxists, has always been to stamp out every kind of eccentricity and nonconformity, to get everyone thinking the same thoughts and speaking the same words. What the gene fiddlers fear as a possible result of their fiddling, progressives hope for as the end point of their social and educational programs.

That’s why, as I keep pointing out, the diction of Cultural Marxism is so flat and lifeless. It’s a cant, intended not to stimulate thought but to discourage it, or at least flatten it out into a bland conformity.

There is an argument that liberal democracies tend naturally towards this result. The argument is made in Ryszard Legutko’s book The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. I haven’t read the book yet, only the review at From which:

The book is an intense read that argues that liberal democracies are succumbing to a utopian ideal where individuality and eccentricity might eventually be banned. As liberals push us towards a monoculture where there is no dissent, no gender, and no conflict, the unique and the great will eventually cease to exist …

Legutko’s thesis is that liberal democracies have something in common with communism: the sense that time is inexorably moving towards a kind of human utopia, and that progressive bureaucrats must make sure it succeeds.

Legutko was raised and educated in communist Poland, and taught college there. Having a personal history like that, under the strict thought control of the great 20th-century communist utopias in their prime, gives you deep insights into the relation between language and reality.

If you don’t mind my indulging a conceit, I think the same is true (though the insights not so deep) if (as I have) you’ve just lived for a few months in one of those societies, listened daily to their propaganda, taught from their textbooks, and observed their social interactions.

With the relaxing of those very strict styles of thought control over large territories — with the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of communist China — those insights are harder to acquire. The generations that did acquire them are old (Legutko is 67) or dead.

That means there are fewer voices left to speak out against the creeping “soft” totalitarianism of the modern West, which plays the same games with language. It plays them in a less brutish way; but, as Legutko argues, with the same end in mind.

I guess that is a small price to pay for the ending of despotic totalitarianism. But it’s a price, and we’re paying it.

Math Corner. (1) I wish I could tell you that the world of mathematics remains an oasis of rationalism, insulated from the lies and nonsense that infect our broader social environment.

Alas, I can’t. To be sure, the math competitions remain strictly meritocratic, illustrating plainly that the highest achievers in math are 99 percent male and 70 percent Asian (East or South), with 29 of the non-Asian 30 percent white European. This isn’t a bad thing, a wrong thing, or a deplorable thing, and it isn’t anyone’s fault, other than Mother Nature’s; it’s just so, a fact in the world.

Yet math teachers, promoters, and administrators are as thoroughly invested in the silly “diversity” fad as any college Grievance Studies department.

Consider for example the current (January 2017) Notices of the American Mathematical Society. It features a 15-page “2017 Lecture Sampler,” previewing nine of the forthcoming presentations in the AMS’s Joint Mathematics Meetings lecture series.

Of the nine lecturers featured, five are female. Of the four males, two are black.

To drive the point home, the issue opens with a two-page editorial titled “Diversity in Mathematics,” boasting of the editors’ promotion of women and minorities.

If we can’t yet breed out geniuses by genetic manipulation, or stifle them with cant, at least we can ignore them.

(2) A brainteaser, passed on by a friend. Says she (yes, my friend is a Gyno-American): “It’s of the Diophantine variety — more unknowns than equations but with only integer solutions.”

I found pennies, nickels and dimes for a total of 18 coins. The total monetary value was 73 cents. How many of each denomination did I find?

As usual in math there is an elegant solution and a merely enumerative one. Go for elegance.

(3) As traditional in a December Diary, you are challenged to find anything interesting to say about the number 2017.

Yes, it’s a prime, the 306th. (The 2,017th prime, which I know you’re now wondering about, is 17,539. The last prime year was 2011; the next is 2027; the gaps there, average size 8, are what you’d expect, since log (2017) = 7.60936653795.)

Find something else.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjectsfor 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’s had two books published by FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Blacks, Ta-Nehisi Coates 
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  1. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website

    log (2017) = 7.60936653795.)

    Did you meant ln?

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @roadrunner
  2. AKAHorace says:

    Do you think that the experience of communism has made eastern Europe more resistant to the social justice warrior message.?

  3. Marty says:

    Derb’s scepticism about the claimed escalator incident is justified because women don’t push people, let alone kids. However, I once witnessed this on a Muni bus in S.F. in 1982. A Ralph Kramden lookalike, about 220 lbs., pushed a 12 year old black kid through the rear exit doors because he thought the kid was dawdling needlessly. I was quite offended at the time, although the guy was probably right on the merits. I once saw Richard Pryor do a bit about the contrast in black and white moving styles, the black part being excruciatingly slow. Incidentally, in S.F. nobody under 35, of any race, moves to the right on an escalator. For millennials, courtesy = weakness.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @SMK
  4. FD says:

    Ugly solution below. What does the clean one look like?

    The number of pennies must be 3 modulo 5. If we use 3 pennies, we need at most 14 nickels – too few coins. If we use 13 pennies, we need at least 6 dimes – too many coins. Thus there must be 8 pennies precisely. So we need 65 cents with 10 nickels and dimes, and it is straightforward to arrive at 3 dimes, 7 nickels, 8 pennies.

    • Replies: @roadrunner
  5. Lot says:

    I saw the White Queen and liked it. I did not feel it was aimed at women, though it had less war and fighting than a typical historical series like Rome or the Borgias.

    Speaking of the latter, have a look at this shot

    View post on

    • Replies: @Barnard
  6. Lot says:

    As usual in math there is an elegant solution and a merely enumerative one. Go for elegance.

    I am not one for elegant solutions. But I found the answer via the enumerative method in less than two minutes, I am pleased that my initial guess was close so the answer was found with a minor adjustment.

    • Replies: @roadrunner
  7. Realist says:

    “That said, I don’t think Obama was making an empty boast in that interview. His popularity in early November was the same, within polling error, as it had been just before the 2012 election.”

    Which shows the the folly of Democracy. Allowing stupid people to vote is not smart.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  8. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Excluding the pennies, the sum of money must end in either a 0 or a 5. So starting at 70, and excluding pennies, the possible sums are:


    and so on…

    We can exclude all items in the above list that are below 70, for if we didn’t, we’d need to use 18 or more pennies to reach 73, which we are not allowed to do.

    So the solutions involve either 13, 8 or 3 pennies. In fact, we can exclude the 13 penny solution, because it leaves us with only 5 nickles and dimes, which isn’t enough to get to 73.

    So the possible solutions involve 3 or 8 pennies. Now you have two variables and two equations, so you can find the nickles and dimes easily.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Realist
  9. anon • Disclaimer says:

    ‘We can exclude all items in the above list that are below 70,’

    I mean 60.

  10. JackOH says:

    ” . . . [C]reeping “soft” totalitarianism of the modern West . . .”. Yep, and my feeling is we’re already there. I’ve used “Fascism Lite”, “idiopathic fascism”, “Council of 25,000” (the K St. lobbies), and similar phrases. Just one more law, one more regulation, one more agency to “incentivize” the behaviors we want and punish those we don’t, and, by gosh, we’ll get to that utopia. It’s pure horsepuckey, of course, but it makes for a strangulating smother State. Thanks, John, for the Legutgo reference.

    “For goodness’ sake, Coates is an utter mountebank.” I don’t know Coates’s work except for the snippets quoted in UR , and his mention in a Supreme Court decision, plus his mention in a Yale scholar’s book written for a popular audience. FWIW-I’ve had a sordid pet theory that reasonably talented Blacks of the past two generations have done a masterful job of exploiting internalized White fear of Black rioting and internalized White fear of Black-on-White crime to extort political tribute from a hapless (still) majoritarian Euro-ethnic society. I know the idea’s hardly new. But, my thinking, such as it is, is that White fear is the only force that propels the whole apparatus of Afro-centrism, Black Supremacism, court Blacks, and so on. As I said, it’s not a theory I’m proud of.

    Best wishes for the New Year, John.

    • Replies: @SMK
  11. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    I’ve worked in a school recently. I can easily see how garbage like Coates gets on the curriculum. Most teachers are female and a lot of the men are gay. IME the women are good at their jobs – natural empathy, good stamina, high discipline – but there are certain things only high IQ men are good for. Women are herd animals and extremely susceptible to PC propaganda. Even the ones I respected had very little sense of what is good writing, high quality, honest etc. and what is just nonsense written by idiot, rancorous, impulsive, AA scamsters like Coates.

    The bane of any teacher’s life is To Kill a Mocking Bird. Just the most sanctimonious, preachy and substitute sleeping pill of an anachronism. But ubiquitous because (((SJWs))) on exam boards love its Hate YT message.

  12. Randal says:

    I found pennies, nickels and dimes for a total of 18 coins. The total monetary value was 73 cents. How many of each denomination did I find?

    Needs a translation for native English speakers. A vital few seconds googling would be needed to find out how many cents are represented by exotic creatures such as [US] pennies, “nickels” and “dimes”.

  13. Corvinus says:

    “Which shows the the folly of Democracy. Allowing stupid people to vote is not smart.”

    The foolishness is believing that citizens you think are other than smart are incapable of exercising their liberty to select political candidates. You sound like Alexander Hamilton.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
    , @Realist
  14. Svigor says:

    I too have an escalator story. And I’ve barely spent any time in the City of New York. I was standing in the Port Authority terminal, waiting to wait on a bus or a train. I can’t remember which, as it was the mid-nineties. In any event, I was overlooking the escalators, people-watching to pass the time.

    That is when I saw a black superhero. There is no other way to describe him. He was reasonably well-built, and afflicted with an extreme case of lordosis. He was clad all in black, head to toe. Some of it was leather, some synthetic. He had bracers and greaves, a breastplate, and tight leather pants and shirt. His worked-up boots and long, flared gloves alone would take some time to describe. The overall effect was to make of his synthetic headwrap a helmet, to make of his long black leather trench coat a cape. Complete with black sunglasses, of course. I fear I must sell him somewhat short, given the passage of time, and the fuzziness of memory (if not impression). He rode the escalator up in perfect stillness, his posture taking up far more of the escalator than was necessary (the clear path Derb imagines was not at all in evidence).

    My neck served as a swivel to keep him in view, from the time he arrived, until his passage from sight, my mouth open enough to breathe through.

    I will never feel obliged to tell this story in Coatesian terms. I think it stands well on its own, though it is much better told in person, with pantomime.

    Oh, if we’re going to be quoting Hussein on the subject of his popularity with voters, we might quote him from the campaign:

    Obama Sees ‘Personal Insult’ if Blacks Don’t Rally for Hillary Clinton

    With Democratic leaders increasingly worried about a lack of passion for Hillary Clinton among young black voters, President Obama is rolling out a new and more personal campaign message: “It’s about me.”

    The president told African-Americans this weekend he would consider it a “personal insult” if they did not vote for Mrs. Clinton, implicitly putting his name on the line as his former secretary of state struggles to replicate the coalition that delivered him victories in 2008 and 2012.

    “My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot,” Mr. Obama said on Saturday night at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala dinner in Washington, where Mrs. Clinton also spoke. “Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot.”

    Mr. Obama has previously made the case for Mrs. Clinton during campaign stops and in his speech at the Democratic National Convention. But his remarks on Saturday carried a more personal tone, and a tacit acknowledgment that he may be the only one who can bring out the coalition of young, black and Latino voters who Democrats are counting on on Nov. 8.

    Black America sure screwed that pooch, good and hard.

    in which, very unfashionably, he fought on the Francoist side

    How long before “unfashionably” resides alongside “justly,” “honorably,” “admirably,” “commendably,” etc? I’d guess we’re about 90% there, already. I hope he sent many communists and leftists to Hell.

  15. @Corvinus

    Try to keep up. They are capable of selecting political candidates, which is precisely the problem.

    • Agree: Realist
    • Replies: @Corvinus
  16. Sean says:

    Understand: both Obama and Trump beat Hillary to become presedent. It is questionable whether either could have beaten a man.

  17. Realist says:

    “The foolishness is believing that citizens you think are other than smart are incapable of exercising their liberty to select political candidates. ”

    Oh I know they are capable of exercising their liberty to select political candidates….just not intelligently.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  18. Realist says:

    Yes, the answer is 8 pennies 7 nickels and 3 dimes.

  19. Corvinus says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    “Try to keep up. They are capable of selecting political candidates, which is precisely the problem.”

    As opposed to your fiery brand of Alt-Right activism, complete with absolutely monarchy and patriarchy to boot.

    The problem is not selecting political candidates by “dumb shits”. The issue is that people such as yourself, and Derbs, and Sailer, and a number of Alt Right commentators, is you are long on ideas but short of actively putting them into practice through the political system.

    Run for office, even it if is for dogcatcher in your community. Be on the front lines and see how far you are able to advance your ideology.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  20. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    If you don’t really like numbers skip this comment. 2 quick ways to find something interesting about any four digit number: assess its remainders with respect to some mix of small fun numbers (like 7, 23, and the always fascinating 113 – the first three digit number to stand alone in its decade as a prime)…I pointed this out years ago (2010 or some year like that) but the comment did not go through….so I will try again now that 2017 has rolled around – Some numbers jump out at you immediately as having very few remainders when you do the arithmetic over the primes from, say 3 to 113 (Wolfram could tell you in a minute which spectacular number does the best, between 1000 and 9999, on this parameter) and some numbers have breathtakingly dizzying variances (let us say that 1883 is the absolute first (first in 9,000) among the four digit numbers on the scale of having the fewest remainders when divided by every prime from 101 to 109 and is the last on the scale (last in 9,000) of having the fewest remainder when divided by every non-prime from 101 to 113 (113, more than 1883, being the agens hero – not agen – in this scenario, our friend 1883 – which actually is extremely unlikely to have this particular attribute, since I picked it out of the ether (well it is the year my grandfather started school) – being merely a good team player.) Well, either you like numbers or you don’t. That was quick way number one. I learned trick number two reading a poem by Yakov Polonsky, years ago, describing the way a moonbeam (a literal moonbeam, a straight line reflection of a dollop of sunlight from the moon to the earth) was followed by the sort of semi-fictional creatures who follow moonbeams – every four digit number precisely corresponds to one, and only one, date in our past (measured one calendar day at a time). Once you reach the age of 40 or so, the question of which four digit number precisely corresponds to both the best day of your life (measured in number of days ago) and the best year of your life (if you are reading this, that will be a number between 1898 or so and 2017) has exactly, for about a third of a week or so, a one in 9,ooo chance of being the same four digit number, although earlier in life (until the mid-30s: and later in life: the mid-50s on – the odds are, for most of us, extremely likely to be clearly less than one in 9,000 (youth) and clearly more than one in 9,000 (post-middle aged years). If we lived 160 years on average instead of 80 years, those neighborhoods would shift to the right (one hopes!). When it is cloudy for more than a third of a week this analogy is impossible to, at the given moment, concretely visualize.

  21. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    addition to comment at 10:14: a clearer writer would have said “the sum of its remainders” in line 2 where I said “remainders”, and would have said “the range answer to the domain question of which four digit number might precisely correspond” instead of “the question of which four digit number precisely corresponds”. Also, the second trick (the Yakov Polonsky trick) is phrased worse than even the Monty Hall problem is usually phrased. (also I left out the important qualification of “best day” as being always “post-best-year” for this scenario: working out the opposite scenario is trivially different). That being said, we all know people who can say the best day of their lives was exactly 19xx or 200x or even 201x days after some day in the best year (same number) of their life: and my best guess is that every day tens of thousands of people are in that 3 day window where the chance of that happening (if it is going to happen) is 1 in 9, 000.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  22. To a pure mathematician, the natural log is “the” logarithm. Other bases are just variations on a theme.

  23. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Final “anonymous at 10:14” comment: as to be commemorated in the NY Post Valentine’s Day 2017 edition — “Maxine my love you made me so happy a year ago today when you said yes I will marry you & your yes made me the happiest man in the world”, my best day was February 14, 2016. Subtract 2016 days from that day and you find yourself somewhere in the middle of the year I met Maxine, the best year (to date) of my life. What are the odds? (She is better at than numbers than I am, not surprisingly…).

  24. Svigor says:

    “The foolishness is believing that citizens you think are other than smart are incapable of exercising their liberty to select political candidates. ”

    Consider the meaning of this gibberish: “Thinking they can’t vote is dumb.” Moron, he was lamenting that they can, that was the whole point of his comment: that they exercise their liberty in stupid ways. Christ, you’re tedious.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  25. Svigor says:

    The problem is not selecting political candidates by “dumb shits”. The issue is that people such as yourself, and Derbs, and Sailer, and a number of Alt Right commentators, is you are long on ideas but short of actively putting them into practice through the political system.

    Run for office, even it if is for dogcatcher in your community. Be on the front lines and see how far you are able to advance your ideology.

    The issue is your tedious, plodding intellect, and your tedious, plodding comments, and your tedious, plodding finger-wagging.

  26. @Corvinus

    We’ve just elected a President who’s moved the Overton window our way–what did you accomplish in 2016?

    We left the dogcatcher slots for the Constitutional Conservatives.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  27. @FD

    x + 5y + 10z = 73
    x + y + z = 18

    subtract equations
    4y + 9z = 55
    4y + 8z + z = 52 + 3 => z is 3 modulo 4

    only z = 3 fits (z = 7 is too big)

    y = (55-27)/4 = 7, and
    x = 73-35-30 = 8

    I did this in my head, but couldn’t write it in words.

    Your solution is not ugly, follows the same technique, only needs more tries. I wonder is there is a more elegant one. Let’s wait for professor’s grading.

  28. @Andrei Martyanov

    It’s a matter of convention, in Calculus is “ln”, in programming (C and Java) is “log”. Seems that the professor did a lot of programming recently.

  29. @Lot

    Because you started with the dimes, and they cannot be more than 7. Try one, two, three, bingo!

    But you need to try them all, anyway, there can be more than one answer.

  30. Corvinus says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    “We’ve just elected a President who’s moved the Overton window our way–what did you accomplish in 2016?”

    Perhaps his range of policies will be considered politically acceptable by the general populace, but Trump is NOT a conservative, he faces stiff opposition by the GOP, and he made substantial promises as an elitist through his populist message to the working class, who is generally fickle. We shall see if he is able to at worst sustain his momentum or at best ramp it up to Mach 10 in the first two years in office.

    How cute for you to ask me what I achieved this past year, but at least I didn’t shit over people to get ahead like you lawyers.

  31. Corvinus says:

    “…that they exercise their liberty in stupid ways.”

    You mean like you demanding that white people ought to embrace “race realism” and refrain from mixing with non-whites? Yeah, how stupid for us white folks to live our lives in this manner. I mean, what would God say about how we conduct ourselves?

  32. Corvinus says:

    “Oh I know they are capable of exercising their liberty to select political candidates….just not intelligently.”

    And what makes YOU this political savant? What qualities do YOU possess compared to tens of millions of whites and non-whites?

    • Replies: @Realist
  33. Amasius says:

    Even if the escalator incident happened as he says it did, it actually isn’t “racist” at all. The woman treated the irritating black kid like any other irritating kid. On the contrary, it would have been “racist” to treat him differently i.e., don’t even think about touching him because one of his black parents might literally kill you if they saw you doing it. The woman treated him with assumed racial equality.

  34. Barnard says:

    I watched a few episodes of the Canal+ version of the Borgias when I had Nexflix. It might be a stretch to say it was good, but I thought it was better than the Showtime version. I couldn’t even make it through a whole episode of that.

    • Replies: @Lot
  35. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I firmly disagree that the black white difference is the widest gap there is. Asians, especially northeast Asians like the Japanese, probably find whites to be the same animalistic sex obsessed barbarians that whites think blacks are. The east Asian -black gap is probably the widest of all.

    • Replies: @Realist
  36. Happy Year of the Rooster, John!

  37. OutWest says:

    I was a dumb kid (learning problems with the mind) during the first half of grade school. The teachers recognized this and didn’t waste time on me. Good decision. When I figured out my problem and took corrective action (along with just maturing)I still wasn’t a “good” student but I was a rather good learner.

    From this viewpoint it seems to me that concentrating on the poorest students –both senses- is a terrible waste. It’s the outstanding intellects that are capable of distinguishing our culture and economy. These are the people that should be brought along at a pace that excites them. They will make the advancements that drive the whole economy.

    If everyone is made equal all will be equally dull.

  38. Realist says:

    ” What qualities do YOU possess compared to tens of millions of whites and non-whites?”

    Intelligence….of course.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  39. Realist says:

    “The east Asian -black gap is probably the widest of all.”

    The Ashkenazi-black IQ gap is considerably greater.

  40. Corvinus says:

    “Intelligence….of course.”

    Anyone on a blog can claim to possess a high IQ. Even if it was in the 120’s or 130’s, that does not necessarily mean your political decisions are inherently better than those with lower IQ’s.

    • Replies: @Realist
  41. Calogero says:

    The Ashkenazi – Aborigine gap is the widest of all.

    • Replies: @Realist
  42. Realist says:

    I did not say I had a high IQ. I stated I was intelligent.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  43. lavoisier says: • Website

    Please stop focusing on the trivial algebra problem. It is easily solvable, regardless of elegance.

    Derb too often puts in these mathematical distractions in his articles that detract from the far more important issues that he has courageously raised.

    The critical point (in my mind) of this article is why does our society celebrate a fool like Coates as a genius? I suspect that the answer tells us far more about us than it does about Coates.

  44. Lot says:

    I was not aware there was a French/Italian version of Borgias. The Showtime English version however has Jeremy Irons and likely a much bigger budget, as you can see from that still.

  45. vinteuil says:

    Charles Murray linked to this diary on twitter, citing it as an exemplar of perfect indifference to p.c.

    Much grunting & squealing ensued.

  46. Anonymous [AKA "Onthebus"] says:

    Mildy interesting might be that the worst pushing problems I have on MUNI are women, notably Chinese women. (And having lived in SF for decades I can tell the difference between most Asian ethnicities. They don’t “all look the same to me”. And I am often on the 1-California through Chinatown, thus this story.) I was regularly shoved out of the way at the same stop even though the line was less than five or six people boarding an empty bus. I got fed up with this after months of rudeness, and height differences bringing our respective body parts onto the same level, one morning allowed my elbow to drift into the face of the worst offender as she crashed the line. Oops, so sorry! The behavior ceased, at least at that stop, when I was there…

    And Millenial Rudeness Syndrome has become a feature of life in this city. The sense of entitlement is astonishing sometimes.

  47. Corvinus says:

    “I did not say I had a high IQ. I stated I was intelligent.”

    Regardless, you can make that claim on a blog, no one knows here if your claim is entirely accurate.

    • Replies: @Realist
  48. SMK says: • Website

    Yes, it’s reasonable to assume that most, perhaps almost all, of his anecdotes of white malice and bigotry are invented, embellished, or interpreted and contrived as expressions of “racism” that he views as systemic and ubiquitous but which exists only in his twisted and paranoid imagination -in a country that has made him rich and famous, e.g., mandatory reading in schools and colleges and a MacCarthur “genius” award, for his hatred of whites and America and his obsession with “racism” and black victimization.

    Assuming, purely for the sake of argument, that his escalator anecdote is true, I’m sure this women would have said and done the same things to a white boy with blue-eyes and blonde hair or would have been even more rude and assertive.

  49. SMK says: • Website

    Yes, Coates is an “utter mountebank,” a mediocre psuedo-intellectual like Michael Eric Dyson and Cornell West and sundry others who plague and poison the media and academia with their canards and delusions of systemic and ubiquitous white “racism” and black victimization; a radical leftist, cultural Marxist, black racialist, white-hating, anti-American demagogue, psychotic, and liar, halfway between Obama and “Rev. Al,” more execrable than Obama but not as egregious as Sharpton; a beneficiary and symbol of black privilege, a paramount symbol presently, now even more so than Obama, the quintessential avatar of half a century of black privilege, the preferential treatment and double-standards and “affirmative action,” a corollary of white guilt and mendacity and cowardice and deference and masochism. Ironically, his fame and riches and “genius” award confute his lies and fantasies, his excoriation of whites and the nation and culture which has anointed him.

  50. J1234 says:

    I found pennies, nickels and dimes for a total of 18 coins. The total monetary value was 73 cents. How many of each denomination did I find?

    I did it in my head in the most inelegant way possible. I figured the “8” in 18 and the “3” in 73 were related (had some purpose) by the person posing the problem, because 8 is 3 more than 5, and both nickels and dimes are divisible by 5.

    I figured eight pennies would be a good place to start, if the remaining ten coins could be some combination of nickels and dimes. I could increase the number of coins by one every time I converted a dime to two nickels and decrease the number of coins by one every time I converted two nickels to a dime. Then just proceeded until I got the right combination of ten coins – 3 dimes and 7 nickels – which equaled the balance needed.

  51. Realist says:

    “Regardless, you can make that claim on a blog, no one knows here if your claim is entirely accurate.”

    That is true of all blog comments.

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