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January Diary: Celts, Lenin, Stalin, Hollywood, Pre-Diversity Britain, Etc.
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It can’t be just me, can it?

I recently learned from Peter Brimelow the right way to wear a scarf.

For the previous seven decades I had just draped the scarf round my neck with one end hanging longer than the other and then either (a) tossed the long end over my shoulder, or (b) tied a simple over-and-under at the throat.

The right way is: Fold the scarf in two, hang the doubled scarf round your neck, then push the open ends through the center loop. British Prime Minister Theresa May seems to know this.

How come I didn’t? How on earth did I get this far along in life without knowing such a simple thing?

Is it usual for an intelligent, well-read, well-traveled adult human being past retirement age to not know something so utterly elementary? Please tell me it is.

Non-nits mis-picked

Don’t go into the commentary business if you have a low tolerance for nit-picky readers.

I actually, honestly, appreciate them. I write a lot—way too much, in the opinion of some visitors to these monthly diaries—and inevitably make mistakes now and then. Readers email in to point out the blooper; I post a correction. It all helps keep us bloviators honest.

I now know, for example, and shall never again forget, that weasels are not rodents. I know, all right? I’ve got it—thank you! Now please stop with the emails!

Even when I think a reader has picked a nit in error—mis-picked a nit; picked a non-nit; whatever—the result is often to clarify my thought, or get me looking up stuff I otherwise wouldn’t. So … thanks! Really.

Here are two cases in point from the January email bag.

Celtic confusions

First case: A Radio Derb listener challenged my pronunciation of “Celt” with a hard “C,” as if it were a “K.” He wondered why so many Brits make “Celt” the lone exception to the rule that when an English word begins with “ce-,” the “c” is always pronounced as “s,” with a tiny handful of borderline exceptions like “cello.”

He allowed that there’s a case for the hard “c” to be made from etymology: ancient Greeks and Romans pronounced “Celt” with a “K.” But then, a Roman of the first century b.c. would have pronounced “Cicero” as Kee-keh-ro. Is that how Ipronounce it? No, of course not.

I ran off to check with my dictionaries. Both the British one (full OED, 1949) and the American one (Webster’s Third, 1993) allow both soft and hard “C” in “Celt.” To be sure, both list the soft “C” first; but I figure I’m in the clear lexicographically none the less.

My reader’s strongest point was that “Celt” with a hard “C” smells of the lamp. That is, it is fussily pedantic.

It only became hip to say Keltic about 30-40 years ago when some academics decided it was proper. This is why the Boston Celtics and the Scottish football club use the old pronunciation. Repeating the academic pronunciation seems to be an affirmation or acceptance of their superiority.

My reader’s dates are off there, at least where Britain is concerned. I’ve been hearing “Celt” with a hard “C” for as long as I can remember—about sixty years.

I started school Latin in 1956. We were taught to use the “German” pronunciation (that’s what I heard it called, I think because it had been worked out by 19th-century German scholars) when reading Latin texts aloud in class: hard “c,” “v” as “w,” and so on.

I don’t know when that style of teaching Latin was taken up in England. Evelyn Waugh wrote in A Little Learning that he and his schoolfellows were making fun of it circa (or kirka) 1916, so that was probably soon after the changeover from soft-“c” “medieval” pronunciation in Latin teaching.

Sellar and Yeatman, in their spoof history classic 1066 and All That, were still milking the topic for laughs fourteen years later:

Julius Caesar … having defeated the Ancient Britons by unfair means … set the memorable Latin sentence, “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” which the Romans, who were all very well educated, construed correctly.

The Britons, however, who of course still used the old pronunciation, understanding him to have called them “Weeny, Weedy, and Weaky,” lost heart and gave up the struggle …

Perhaps all those decades of Latin lessons—in England until the 1960s you could not be admitted to a university without an exam pass in Latin—influenced Brits when faced with uncommon words that possessed some classical connotation. “Cicero” and “Caesar” would have to count as not uncommon enough.

Or perhaps something else. The actual Celts are still numerous in the British Isles, and they seem to be the strongest partisans of the hard “C” in “Celt.” Perhaps it’s been that working its influence on the rest of the Brits.

The following tale is told of both Richard Harris, who was Irish, and also of Richard Burton, who was Welsh. Harris version:

He had little time for fools. One apocryphal story has an American wittering on to Harris about his own third-generation Irish heritage or some such, but using a soft “c,” pronouncing celt “selt”: “I’m a celt just like you,” says the American. “No sir, you are a sunt,” replies Harris.

(Burton version here.)

I note in passing that there is no soft “c” in either written Irish or written Welsh. Perhaps that has something to do with it.

The soft “C” in the name of the Glasgow soccer team remains to be explained. My guess would be that it’s part of the 1,500-year campaign by the Scots to try to make the rest of us forget they are really just Irish colonists with a better class of whiskey (or “whisky” if you’re Scottish).

There may be other explanations for all this confusion. If there are, though, I have to ask, as Kee-keh-ro might have: Ubi sunt?

Disagreement ≠ disapproval

Second case: A reader praised my January 24th piece on Charles Murray, but thought I had been unfair to Kathryn Paige Harden when I wrote:

It is the case, however that all three co-authors [of a piece at] are on the political Left. (And then some, in Dr. Harden’s case: In a New York Times op-ed published July 24th 2018 she quoted Lenin with approval!)

In that op-ed, my reader observed, Dr Harden had actually disagreed with Lenin.

Me: Hmm.

Here’s the relevant graf from Dr Harden’s op-ed:

This has led people who value social justice to argue that, when it comes to issues like education, genetic research should simply not be conducted. For instance, in response to an earlier study on the genetics of education, Dorothy Roberts, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, asserted that this type of research “cannot possibly be socially neutral—and in fact will intensify social inequities.” She joins a long tradition of left-wing thinkers who considered biological research inimical to the goal of social equality. Lenin himself wrote that “the transfer of biological concepts into the field of the social sciences is a meaningless phrase.”

But this is a mistake …

So in that graf the good doctor is setting up her disagreement with some “people who value social justice”—people who Dr Harden, as a self-declared progressive, surely approves of.

She names two of those people: Dorothy Roberts of U. Penn. and Lenin.

Then she states her point of disagreement with these “people who value social justice”: She disagrees with them about the value—that is, to the cause of social justice—of conducting certain scientific inquiries.


That’s not disapproval, that’s disagreement. I have lots of disagreements on particular points with people I approve of. I disagree with Charles Murray’s position on immigration, for instance, which strikes me as naive; yet I strongly approve of Murray as an honest inquirer, a meticulous scholar, and an exemplary American gentleman.

For progressive Dr Harden to number Lenin among “people who value social justice” sounds pretty approving to me.

I guess you might nitpick this right down to the metal by observing that Dr Harden did not approve the actual thing she quoted from Lenin. OK, but then you are really fudging the disapprove/disagree distinction, devaluing our language thereby.

It’s as plain as eggs that Dr Harden counts Lenin among “people who value social justice.”

The secret police squads? The torture chambers? The mass killings of harmless people? The slave labor camps? The censorship and thought control? What Bertrand Russell—a progressive of an earlier, saner type—called Lenin’s “Mongolian cruelty and bigotry”?

Oh, but that was all in pursuit of “social justice,” wasn’t it? Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, dontcha know?

(Steve Sailer’s comment thread has some relevant remarks.)

No enemies on the left in Tinseltown

At some point in mid-month I watched the 2002 movie version of Tom Clancy’s 1991 thriller The Sum of All Fears.

The villains who are trying to ignite nuclear war between the U.S.A. and Russia are neo-Nazis. They hope that when the two superpowers have annihilated each other they will be able to establish fascism in Europe.

That’s funny, I thought. I was sure I recalled that the villains in the book were East German communists in cahoots with Palestinian Arab terrorists. The Arabs wanted to punish us for supporting Israel; the Germans wanted to punish Russia for abandoning Marxism-Leninism. Wasn’t that the story? The book’s Wikipedia page confirms my recollection.

Ah, Hollywood!

Acronym of the month

I did a long video interview with Josh Neal on January 7th, one of Josh’s “No Apologies” series.

Along the way there—actually starting at 1h18m12s in the video—we got the following question from a viewer: “Do men like women with English accents?”

I replied that I personally don’t much like the female English voice when it comes from generations younger than mine. These younger female Brit voices fall a bit harshly on my ears, laden as they are with glottal stops and tortured diphthongs and apparently incapable of performing either nasal or lateral plosion in final syllables (“Bri-tern” for Britn, “hospi-tool” for hospitl).

As an instance of the unattractive female Brit voice I raised Katie Hopkins. Katie is, as far as I’m concerned, a pretty good egg. I agree with most of what she says about multiculturalism, mass immigration, and our other issues. Her voice, however, is as devoid of charm as Iceland is of snakes.

To soften the blow I added the following: “I actually think she’s quite hot for a woman of her age.” (Ms Hopkins is 43.)

A friend who watched the video emailed in with enthusiastic agreement—a tad over-enthusiastic, I thought. He suggested I try to float the acronym “PILF.” That would be like MILF, but with “P” for “pundit.”

I don’t think I want to try very hard; but if “PILF” ends up in common usage, you heard it here first.

Totally unjustified and improper smile of the month

In the middle of preparing something to say about the re-defenstration of James Watson I had to go to the local post office.

I stood in line a few minutes until called to a vacant counter. There I was dealt with by a perfectly polite young black man. Transaction done, I thanked him and stepped away. He called up the next in line and began engaging with him …

… just as I realised I needed a receipt, and he hadn’t given me one. I stood at one side in the counter area until the black guy had finished with Next-in-Line, then went forward and asked—politely, of course—for my receipt.

He apologized for not having given me a receipt. The manners on display here, on all sides and at all points, were, I emphasize, faultless.

OK, so now the clerk had to print off a receipt for the transaction before last. On the post office counter software this is apparently nontrivial. He dabbed at the screen, at the keyboard, at the screen again, frowning in frustration.

After a minute or two of this the clerk at the adjacent counter noticed that her colleague was having difficulties. She came round to help. This lady is a first-generation immigrant from China. She asked what was up. My man told her. She made a few quick dabs at the screen and my receipt rolled out of the printer. I thanked them both and left.

As a former teacher of statistics I know of course that nothing can be deduced from this entirely anecdotalencounter. All sorts of things could be in play here. Possibly the young black guy is a rookie, not used to the systems, while the Chinese lady—she is well into middle age—is a seasoned veteran. The guy may have been suffering from a hangover while the lady was fresh from gym class … Who knows?

Yet I guiltily confess that as a twenty-year follower of, and participant in, debates about human biodiversity, I could not restrain a smile as I walked across the parking lot to my car.

Two Boris Zeldovich stories

In my January 11th podcast I noted the passing of physicist Boris Zeldovich. Here are a couple of memorial anecdotes.

First anecdote: Boris’s father was also a physicist, a principal in the Soviet nuclear weapons program. (He was also co-author with Isaak Yaglom of a rather good 1982 math textbook of which there is an English translation currently priced on Amazon at \$869.56 for a used copy. Who on earth sets these prices? I will sell you my used copy for \$850 plus postage.)

I don’t know how much Zeldovich, Sr. spoke about his work across the family dinner table, but Boris had some interesting perspectives on Stalin and his gang.

For example: I recommended the 1991 movie The Inner Circle to him. The movie is a dramatized account of Stalin’s private projectionist.

Boris was not impressed. He took particular exception to Bob Hoskins’ portrayal of Beria, Stalin’s secret-police chief, as a leering boor. I had assumed from my own reading—from Khrushchev’s memoirs, for example—that Beria was much worse than that, a monster of cynical cruelty.


Boris said that while Beria undoubtedly committed atrocious crimes against lesser citizens, he was a strong defender of talented scientists like Boris’s dad. Stalin would have anyoneshot on suspicion of disloyalty or “unreliability” without regard to how important their work was to the nation. Beria (said Boris) was more discriminating where key personnel were concerned, and saved many lives among his dad’s acquaintances, to the great advantage of their country.

Second anecdote: Like most educated Russians, Boris felt a passionate, protective attachment to his native language.

In 2012 I recorded one of Pushkin’s poems for the “Readings” section of my website. I emailed the link to Boris, asking him for an opinion on my pronunciation of Russian.

Of the several dozen emails I exchanged with Boris over many years, I believe that was the only one he did not reply to.

Normalizing the f-word

My son has introduced me to the sci-fi series Black Mirror, now owned by Netflix but originally shown on Britain’s Channel 4 TV network. If you’re not familiar with Black Mirror, it’s an upgrade for the current decade of The Twilight Zone: stand-alone one-hour stories on sci-fi themes.

Not bad; although to judge from the few episodes I’ve so far viewed, some of the classic themes of Golden Age science fiction—telepathy, time travel—seem to have been dropped.

A thing that got my attention, though, was the frequent and casual use of the f-word.

The Black Mirror scriptwriters are awfully free with that word. Is British network TV all like that nowadays? I remember the cosmic fuss over there 54 years ago when Kenneth Tynan became the first person to utter the word on TV. (Although that was the BBC, still at that time mocked as “Auntie,” and Tynan’s primacy has been disputed.) Now it’s there in the common flow of drama-series talk.

It seems to me in fact that the f-word is being normalized all over, with Social Justice Warriors in the vanguard. If Twitter is anything to go by, today’s SJWs can’t compose a sentence without an f-word in it. (Not that National Conservatives are altogether blameless.)

The f-word isn’t only used for vituperative purposes, though. Often it’s just a mild intensifier with little or no emotional load. I overheard it used that way the other day in a New York subway train. The speakers were two well-dressed professional-looking young women having a not-very-vituperative conversation about work colleagues.

Perhaps we’re heading for complete normalization. Perhaps—to bring the theme back round to sci-fi—the next generation of military trainees in boot camp will, like the ones in Joe Haldeman’s Forever War, be taught to respond to their drill instructors not with “Sir, yes Sir!” but with a lusty “F— you, Sir!” (“One of the army’s less-inspired morale devices”, according to Haldeman’s narrator.)

Administrative bloat in Ed Biz

In the education chapter of We Are Doomed I noted the administrative bloat in our schools.

My daughter’s modest suburban high school held an orientation session for parents of freshmen last fall. There all we parents were in the school auditorium facing a phalanx of school employees up on the stage, not one of them a teacher. Administrators, Directors, Advisors, Psychologists, a Dean, five guidance counselors (under, of course, a Director of Guidance), Administrative Assistants … All this for eleven hundred students. I cornered the Director of Mathematics, a very cordial fellow, to ask if he himself did any, you know, teaching. No, he regretted to say, he didn’t. No time!

I then reminisced about my own high school days in England sixty years ago.

I got a first-class education at a good boy’s day school in England. We had about a thousand students. There was a Headmaster, who did not teach. He was helped by a Second Master, who taught modern languages to juniors. The Headmaster also had a secretary to do his typing and filing. There was a mysterious fellow called the Bursar, occasionally glimpsed scurrying from his own tiny office to the Headmaster’s. A groundsman looked after the playing fields. “Dinner ladies” came in part-time to serve the cafeteria lunches, and there was a caretaker with a couple of cleaners, also part-time. The other forty-odd adults on the premises were all full-time teachers. The place seemed to work very well.

This came to mind a couple of weeks ago when, out of the blue, I got an email from someone in England trying to put names to faces. The faces belonged to staff and students of my school, laid out for display in the 1961 school photograph; my correspondent is trying to put names to the staff members’ faces.

There we all are.

[Click to enlarge, original is 7200 by 905]
[Click to enlarge, original is 7200 by 905]

I seem to have under-estimated staff numbers: my correspondent lists sixty-four. The headmaster is at number 39; “Pop” Payne at 38 is the Second Master. That lone female at position 3 is the headmaster’s secretary; the fellow next to her at number 2 is the Bursar.

Everyone else in the picture, I’m pretty sure, is either a student or a teacher. (I am scowling away in the sixth rank above number 12.) The senior boys with braid on their jackets are prefects, charged with minor disciplinary powers.

In fairness to administrators everywhere I should note that some of the paperwork tasks done in a present-day American public school were carried out at the Local Education Authority offices in the town. Those offices were not spacious, though—a single two-storey building the size of a large house, is my recollection—and they served all the schools in the town. Northampton’s population at that time was a hundred thousand.

And yes, every single person in the picture is a white European, the great majority native English of native English stock. I think the darkest complexion there belongs to German teacher “Siggy” Buchwalter (number 45), an Austrian Jew. We didn’t have even a single Dean of Diversity and Inclusion—can you believe it?

This was before the great demographic catastrophe of the late 20th century—Britain’s strange, inexplicable, unforgivable act of national suicide by uncontrolled mass immigration.


(Those lo-o-o-ong school photographs were made by a special camera mounted on a mechanism. We all had to keep dead still while the camera panned slowly left to right through 120 degrees. Folklore had it that one year a naughty boy stood at the leftmost end of the crowd as the camera started its pan, then ran round the back to be at the right-hand end before the camera got there, thus putting himself in the picture twice. I suppose this might have happened, but I’ve never seen any evidence of it.)

My first movie

Someone on the Internet was asking people what was the first movie they were taken to see.

Mine was The Red Shoes, a huge hit in late-1948 Britain. I only retained the foggiest memory of the thing: a lot of dancing, something unpleasant in a railway station.

Curious, I ordered the DVD from Netflix. The Mrs and I watched it last Saturday evening.

Well, tastes change. There was some good vigorous acting, but I thought the plot didn’t make much sense. My wife, however, liked it very much, so perhaps I was too critical.

It must have been rated as suitable for kids, but I’m baffled to know why I was taken along. It’s not at all a kid’s movie, certainly not a three-year-old kid’s. Perhaps my mother thought the Hans Christian Andersen theme might hold my attention; more likely, she just couldn’t get a babysitter.

Math Corner

Just a couple.

(1) A friend gifted me a Triazzle—a jigsaw puzzle with sixteen triangular pieces.

As a hardened veteran of months-long campaigns with 9,000-piece puzzles, my first reaction was: “Sixteen pieces—are you kidding me?”

Then I tried to tackle the thing. After a couple of hours trying I had to be physically restrained from pounding it into papier-mâché with my fists.

I’m trying to work out a strictly mathematical approach via Group Theory. Trying … trying …

(2) “Let’s face it: 2019 is nondescript,” I wrote in last month’s Diary. I should have known better. From a reader:

Mr Derbyshire: I’m afraid I have to demur on the number 2019. I think it’s really quite descript.

For starters, the sum of its proper factors is 676, which, in addition to being a perfect square, is also a palindrome.

If that’s not enough, the sum of the prime factors of 676, two 2’s and two 13’s, is 30; and 2030 is the next year in which 2019’s calendar can be reused.

Now how often does that happen?

Me: Uh …

Furthermore 2019 = [2 × 22 + 2/2)²] − 2 − 2 − 2

and 2019 = [1 + (1 + 1)11] − [(11 − 1) × (1 + 1 +1)]

and much more here.

That reader also blessed me with a morsel of math humor.

A microbiologist, a statistician, and a mathematician were observing a house. After a while one person entered the house. Several hours later two people left.

The microbiologist commented that there must have been cell division.

The statistician said no, that there had to be an error in the data.

The mathematician countered that the only thing we really know is that if another person goes in, the house will be empty.

Thank you, Sir, and a belated Happy New Year!

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Britain, Political Correctness 
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  1. “Is it usual for an intelligent, well-read, well-traveled adult human being past retirement age to not know something so utterly elementary? Please tell me it is.”

    My goodness me, I hope it is!

    I learned the word ‘naïve’ when somebody asked me if I was naïve and I asked what that meant; granted I was ten years old at the time, but it was funny nonetheless. The scarf thingy I learned past the age of forty and only after I had permanently decamped from America, where I don’t think they teach these things, for foreign lands.

  2. Tyrion 2 says:

    For the previous seven decades I had just draped the scarf round my neck with one end hanging longer than the other and then either (a) tossed the long end over my shoulder, or (b) tied a simple over-and-under at the throat.

    I had exactly this discovery yesterday. It makes wearing a scarf so much less annoying. Indeed, I never liked them previously and now I know one reason why.

  3. Tyrion 2 says:

    Is British network TV all like that nowadays?

    To some extent, but you’ll never hear a black character called “lazy, a female “crazy”, or, worse, she call to a man “save me.”

    That is unless it is layered in irony/the taboo breaking character is irredeemably evil.

    The Beeb is more Aunty than ever, only Aunty has a lot more cats and a virulent Toxoplasma Gondii infection.

  4. “Kelt” as a pronunciation of Celt was used by archaeologists about a hundred years ago to prevent confusion with the neolithic axes and adzes they curated so keenly, referred to as “stone celts”. In academic circles, particularly among linguists, it stuck. Possibly due to the assumption that that was the correct Latin sound for the Celtae.
    But Glasgow Celtic FC has always been soft “c” ; since 1881.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  5. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says:

    How come the media elites moralize about the ‘poor refugees’ but remain silent about how US neo-imperialist Wars for Israel led to much of the refugee crisis? Somehow, it’s immoral not to take in refugees but apparently moral and even necessary to force millions into refugee-status in service of Israeli interests.

    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  6. Rich says:

    It’s an amazing thing to look at Derb’s old school photo and see that sea of Pale faces, probably never be allowed to have a class like that again in England, oops, I mean “Britain”. The class photo from my Catholic school in Queens is almost all European faces, Italian, Irish and German. That’s why parents in NYC sent their kids to parochial, or private, schools. I graduated High School from a public suburban school, and it was all Pale, too, back in the 80’s. That’s why parents moved out to the suburbs back then. Can’t get away anymore.

  7. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says:

    In the video below, the Derb says the notion that the West is taking in Third World hordes due to post-imperialist guilt has been discredited because even European nations that never took part in imperialism(and if anything were victims of imperialism) are now pushing for Diversity.

    True. The West is acting this way not out post-imperialist guilt bur neo-imperialist cult pushed by globo-homo US hegemony. The world went from imperialism to post-imperialism to neo-globo-homo-imperialism where non-whites(esp blacks) are celebrated as the People of the Future and where homomania is the new faith(that elevates minority homo privilege[closely allied to Jews] over staright super-majority values and interests).

    After the Cold War, the US became the lone superpower. Its money, military, universities, media, and entertainment have spread Diversity as religion, ‘inclusion’ as necessity, feminism as a good, homomania as faith, blacks as demigods, Jews as the masters, and etc. Because the elites around the world as status-hungry toadies of The Power and because the US has the most power and prestige(and coolness pts), all elites and their shallow kids ape globo-homo-Americanus-ism. This is why Deep State hates Trump. As the US sets the template, as the US goes, so goes the world. Populism in the US certainly has inflamed populism elsewhere. And elites around the world hate Trump because he rouses up the masses in their own nations.

    We are again living in the Age of Empire. This time, the top imperialists are not Brits or French. If anything, UK and France are mere colonial outposts of the the New Imperialist Masters, the Globo-Homo masters of the US. Then, it’s no wonder that feminism, homomania, diversity, and etc have spread to Finland and Japan as well as to UK and France. They are all puppet-colonies of globo-homo hegemony. Also, unlike Jews, most goy elites lack the chutzpah to see far head with prophetic vision. As Jews come up with the grandest visions(good or ill), those deficient in vision just serve the vision of Jews. It’s like those in the engine room just trust the direction of the ship to those in the captain’s tower. Those with micro-vision leave it up to those with macro-vision. Same in music. As blacks got most volume in music, those with less volume just imitate blacks.

    Derb calls for Arctic Alliance because of the low birthrates in the North, but low birthrates are one of the reason why the North is turning to the South for workers. Even Japan cracked and let in tons of foreigners cuz it’s no longer producing life. Universalized Elitism is destroying rich nations. In Japan, people only want to marry the best and have kids who will do well in school and have fancy jobs. They look down on ‘dirty labor’. This anti-socialist attitude is leading to status-supremacism and materialism over life and family.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  8. dearieme says:

    In my Primary School there were nearly 500 of us. We had a Principal who taught a full class and did his principalling after we’d gone home. During the school day the people in charge were (i) his secretary, and (ii) the janitor. And that was the lot. Presumably cleaners swept up in the late afternoon or early morning. Presumably repairs were done in the school holidays. There was a school nurse but I think she only visited occasionally.

    If the Principal’s responsibilities extended to the infant classes, housed several hundred yards away, you can add on another couple of hundred pupils.

    I assume that the mental defectives were someone else’s responsibility: they also were taught a few hundred yards away.

    No groundsman required: our playgrounds were concrete or tarmac.

    Our loos were all outdoors. Presumably the teachers had indoor loos.

    The schooling, it need hardly be said, was better than our offspring got.

    • Agree: Cortes
  9. dearieme says:

    Apparently nowhere in ancient literature is there a reference to the people of the British Isles being Celts. They did speak tongues recognised nowadays as belonging to the Celtic language group; the notion that they were members of a “people” called Celts is apparently an invention of a Welshman in the 18th century.

    Some historians dismiss altogether the idea of there having been a “people” who can usefully be called Celts, spanning the British Isles or on the Continent.

    It’s all rather tricky, not least because the number of inscriptions in early Celtic languages are so few and so short.

  10. Derb, I think that God invented Huns and Mongols in order to deal with the problem of “administrative bloat.”

    But then why would He invent the welfare state? Just His little joke?

  11. Tsigantes says:

    About the scarf, don’t worry!
    The double-and-loop is a european style that goes in and out of fashion. It’s been out of fashion for about 7 years now…but Mrs. May doesn’t know that.

  12. There are two basic latin pronunciations: high or classic Latin and Church or the People’s Latin, aka the Vulgate for vulgar people. (The Olde Time Deplorables?)

    In high latin, c before a vowel was hard, like a k. Thus Caesar was pronounced Keyezar, similar to the German form. In the Vulgate, it was pronounced as ch thus Caesar was chayzar. Note the diphthong ae was pronounced eye in classic but a as in hay in the vulgate.

  13. Cortes says:
    @Expletive Deleted

    That’s a neat trick Celtic (not Glasgow Celtic) performed: to have a pronunciation pre-dating foundation by seven years.

    Mind you, their local rivals claim to be a continuation of a company whose liquidation is ongoing since 2012.

    Smiley thingy.

  14. Cortes says:

    Basil Cottle (Geograher and linguist- see “Names” “Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames “) uses “Kelt” to distinguish…

  15. BobX [AKA "Bob who regrets this should get his attention"] says:

    The ears on that poor bastard in the middle front to back on the far right. I should burn in in hell for noticing it is like laughing at a man with a polio limp. Derb, please tell me he grew up to have the power to make every bastard that sat behind him and flicked them squirm.

  16. The letter “c” is ordinarily pronounced /k/ before the letters a/o/u, and pronounced /s/ before the letters e/i; “Celt” is an exception.

    Similarly, the letter “g” is ordinarily pronounced hard, as /gh/, before the letters a/o/u. The only exceptions I know of are “gaol” and “margarine”. Are there any more?

    • Agree: atlantis_dweller
  17. swamped says:

    “The soft “C” in the name of the Glasgow soccer team remains to be explained. My guess would be that it’s part of the 1,500-year campaign by the Scots to try to make the rest of us forget they are really just Irish colonists with a better class of whiskey (or “whisky” if you’re Scottish)”…no, it’s because you’d have to be soft in the head to support those freakin’ sheepshaggers with a lower class of football!

    “Have you seen the Glasgow Rangers
    Have you seen the boys in blue
    They’re admired by all who know them
    If you knew them so would you
    Oh they have played way in Monaco
    They have played in the USA
    But the greatest game in history
    Is the game on New years day

    For it’s the home of famous heroes
    And their praises have been sung
    Willie Waddell, Torry Gillick
    Alan Morton and George Young
    And when all my life has ended
    And when death has made it’s mark
    Will you scatter all my ashes
    On the slopes of Ibrox Park

    And with the Angels I’ll be singing
    Up in heaven there up above
    I’ll be singing Follow Follow
    To the Rangers that I love
    And with my flute I will be playing
    In the valleys and the glens
    I’ll be happy and contented
    When the Rangers win again”

  18. Completely idiotic anecdote. Every time I go to the supermarket, the white checker has to call the white supervisor over to make the computer work.

    Cheesis K. Rist. Don’t you have ANY self-awareness?

  19. @obwandiyag

    How’s the RSA navy doing now it’s black?

  20. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Priss Factor

    How about Israel takes in some refugees? After all, diversity is supposed to be a strength!

    Heck, it wouldn’t even be a threat to Israel’s Jewish majority if Israeli Jews will intermarry with these refugees en masse.

  21. Mr. XYZ says:

    Dear Mr. Derbyshire,

    This is off-topic, but have you considered using the name “Ivan Dobisha” to refer to yourself in Slavic language publications?

    • Replies: @John Derbyshire
  22. Anonymous [AKA "Wonko the Sane"] says:

    Celtic is pronounced with hard ‘C’ at both ends.

    The Book of Kells [which any calligrapher who has studies his art is aware of].
    Not The Book of Sells.

    I rest my case.

    • Replies: @Truth
  23. @obwandiyag

    Your story is as believable as Jussie Smollett’s.

  24. Anent the normalisation of the F-word. I believe the process is fairly complete in Australia. I heard a story, told, IMMSMC, by John Cleese about a visit of the Queen and Prince Philip to an agricultural show in Australia. There was a “tree-felling” competition in which the competitors felled a number of telegraph poles set up for the occasion and then chopped them up into firewood in 15 minutes.

    After the winner was declared the royal couple went to talk to him. It seems that although he had won, he was not happy that he had not broken his previous record.
    “How much have you cut up previously? asked the Duke.
    “A ton and three fucking quarters!” came the reply.
    “I say! Steady on, old chap!” exclaimed the Duke.
    “Well, a ton and a fucking half, anyway!”

    • LOL: another fred
  25. Truth says:

    Wrong, my understanding is that Brothers were right when they used to talk about “Lah-ruh Bird and them Honkeh ass Boston Seltis.”

  26. Is it usual for an intelligent, well-read, well-traveled adult human being past retirement age to not know something so utterly elementary? Please tell me it is.

    Of course it’s usual for something like that to happen, John, so don’t feel bad. I feel like an idiot myself because I’d avoided wearing scarves my entire life due to worries about being mistaken for some gay French fashion designer. I stand corrected ….


    … right?

  27. On the bad words, Mr. Derbyshire (I had time to come back and ready your whole, as always, interesting “Diary”), here’s the deal in America: The FCC has rules that banned the cusswords over the air. I don’t know if they are still in place, as I don’t watch ANY TV of any kind (over the air, cable, whatever) and hardly ever listen to the radio.

    Once cable came into being, all bets were off, as the signal was not around “in the ether” for everyone to capture if he wanted to. Since you were paying, the deal is, it’s up to you whether you want to put up with that shit. Oh, and there were to be no commercials, cause, you know, you were ALREADY paying. Hahaaa, joke’s on y’all.

    Now, someone I know well was a disc jockey, back when you talked live on the air. He had been cussing to keep up a storm, in general to keep up with the rest of us, as teenagers. However, he loved the radio job and took it seriously. He decided not to cuss anymore, out of worry about doing that accidentally on the air. He never cussed again in his life. Dammit, that should have been me!

  28. You’re gonna like this one, regarding your segment on lower-ed bureaucracy. Our kindergartner was sick for 3 days straight. Though we texted the teacher each morning, we apparently didn’t know the right procedures to avoid an un-excused absence. Then, a certified letter came in the mail – they cost a few bucks, as you may know, having been to the post office recently.

    This letter told us we needed to attend a mitigation session of some sort, to work out a plan to avoid this terrible streak of unexplained (to the school) feverishness in the future. When we both went into this room in the school, a man and a woman were there with their laptops out with about 10 pages of paperwork in front of them. I couldn’t help it, but I muttered “so that’s where our tax money ‘s going!” We spent a half hour in there working on paperwork.

    Then, they have the nerve to have fundraising efforts for school supplies. Sorry, we’re not on the air, so fuck these people – they’re not getting a cent.

  29. That mathematics professor whose website is linked under ”Let’s face it: 2019 is nondescript” is the only Indian one I know of who taught in my country and apparently liked it enough to become a citizen. I’ve seen several Russian Jews, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, Chileans, Sub-Saharan Africans, Bolivians and even a few Brazilians giving calculus and linear algebra classes here, but no Indians. Maybe it’s stuff on some whole ‘nother level. Cabal-like. Only for the initiated.

  30. songbird says:

    Someday, I shall have to rewatch “Die Hard” and see what treatment they gave the German terrorists.

  31. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    “Totally unjustified and improper smile of the month”

    Pretty banal racebait from someone apparently obsessed with such things who’s had a month to come up with something. But the carp must be chummed.

  32. Anonymous [AKA "Roknroller"] says:

    Hollywood has a simple formula nowadays….Bad guy is a ruthless greedy white corporate big shot (Look for him to be a real estate developer next) thwarted by a good guy or 110 lb girl with a gun and a badass minority for a boss.

  33. Corvinus says:
    @Priss Factor

    “Its money, military, universities, media, and entertainment have spread”

    You mean the citizens of the United States through these institutions have spread.

    “Diversity as religion”

    Except diversity is not a religion, it is a way of life. You do realize that when the Alt Right calls for white unity, they are also peddling diversity.

    “‘inclusion’ as necessity”

    Inclusion as being humane. Did you not read your Bible?

    “feminism as a good, homomania as faith, blacks as demigods”

    It’s not like that at all.

    “Jews as the masters”

    According to who?

    “This is why Deep State hates Trump.”

    Trump on his own accord leads people to hate him.

    “And elites around the world hate Trump because he rouses up the masses in their own nations.”

    Because he is a showman and is pandering to his base. You do realize that prior to 2016 that he did not care about such issues. Only when he realized it would stroke his ego did he magically become the head honcho for anti-immigration. Ironic considering he employed illegals for years.

  34. MEH 0910 says:


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