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JULY DIARY: Law-Enforcement Algorithms, the Knot of Ethnomasochism, and Yet It Moves, Etc
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Notes from underground

Well, from the lockdown. I hope readers are bearing up OK under confinement.

The Derbs are keeping busy. Paid employment aside, she has her beloved flowers and innumerable contacts on WeChat, the ChiCom messaging app. I have home-improvement chores: this month, stripping out and rebuilding a bathroom closet for maximum accessible shelving—nearly 28 square feet of shelf in a closet 3′×2′4″×8′. This was the last interior space still untouched since we bought the house in 1992. It takes me a while to get round to things …

Husband and wife also collaborated on translating a Chinese poem: See Segment Four below.

And then of course there’s been reading.

Supernaturally smart

Through the middle days of July I read Cheryl Misak’s biography of the English mathematician, logician, philosopher, and economist Frank Ramsey. It’s an astonishing story. Ramsey must have been one of the smartest people that ever lived. He was staggeringly, breathtakingly, supernaturally smart.

Here he was translating Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which Misak, who is a Professor of Philosophy, describes correctly—I’ve tried it—as “immensely difficult.”

Ramsey went to Miss Pate’s secretarial agency in the winter of 1921-22 and translated the manuscript. He read it off an Annalen offprint to a shorthand writer who then typed it up … It is hard to adequately convey how astounding an accomplishment it was to more or less straight away translate this immensely difficult text from the German to English. Ramsey turned nineteen in the middle of the translation, in January 1922.

Those last italics are mine. Wittgenstein, who could read English, went over the translation carefully and was pleased with it. He and Ramsey became friends, to the degree it was possible for anyone to be friends with the pathologically prickly Wittgenstein.

For a few months in 1927-28, encouraged by John Maynard Keynes, another friend, Ramsey concentrated his thoughts on economics, producing two scholarly papers on that subject. Misak tells us that:

When the Economic Journal celebrated its 125th anniversary with a special edition in 2015, both of Ramsey’s papers were included. That is, looking back over a century and a quarter, one of the world’s best journals of economics decided that two of its thirteen most important papers were written by Frank Ramsey when he was twenty-five years old.

My italics again.

Having then had his fill of economics, Ramsey turned back to math and founded Ramsey Theory, which concerns the occurrence of order in situations of generalized dis-order. This is still an active field of inquiry, with obvious connections to Artificial Intelligence research.

So why isn’t this tremendous genius world-famous? Because, as you know if you clicked those links, he died at age 26—January 19th, 1930—from an infection of the liver.

Should you ever be tempted to think of yourself as smart, Cheryl Misak’s book is a wonderful corrective, a real humility check. Recall what you were capable of intellectually at ages 19 or 25. By comparison with the Frank Ramseys of the world, the rest of us are stumbling, mumbling dullards.

Ramsey was no spergery introvert, either. Big-built and active—swimming, hiking, tennis—he was also genial and gregarious, the far opposite of Wittgenstein. (Whose nephew Tommy described Ramsey as “the most natural, good-natured, kind-hearted person you could imagine.”) He had a successful—although, by mutual agreement, “open”—marriage and was a loving father to two children, with sex affairs along the way.

Then he died, a month short of his twenty-seventh birthday.

My Ramsey connection

I can claim some faint personal connection with Frank Ramsey.

At my English secondary school we specialized early, dropping most general subjects at age 15. For my senior three years, ages 15 to 18, the only academic subjects I took were Pure Maths, Applied Maths, and Physics*.

Our main textbook for Applied Maths was Dynamics by Arthur S. Ramsey, a math professor at Cambridge University in the early 20th century. Our class teacher, “Pug” Richmond**, referred to this book reverently as just “Ramsey,” as in: “All right, gentlemen, open your Ramsey to page 97 …”

This Ramsey, I learned from Cheryl Misak’s book, was Frank Ramsey’s father. He wrote several other textbooks, including Statics, a companion of course to Dynamics. I think we engaged briefly with Statics***.

For a room full of dirty-minded adolescent boys, the favorite section in Ramsey was the one headed “Impulsive Motions of a Rigid Body.” Prof. Misak tells us that Arthur Ramsey was a stiffly puritanical Congregationalist church deacon, so I imagine he would have been horrified to hear us sniggering**** over his text. Frank Ramsey himself was an atheist, although a cheerful one. His younger brother Michael became Archbishop of Canterbury.

* The joke about this early narrow specialization, by contrast with the wider American system, was that we Brits, as we advanced through secondary and tertiary education, learned more and more about less and less, until eventually we knew practically everything about pretty much nothing. The Yanks, on the other hand, learned less and less about more and more, until at last they knew well-nigh nothing about approximately everything.

** Pug, at center here, number 60 in my 1961 school photograph, signed his observations in my school reports as “CAR.” He was a formidable character who had no trouble at all keeping his classes orderly. Before WW2 he had been a street cop in the slums of Glasgow. He would occasionally enliven his lessons with grisly cop stories.

*** Dynamics is the math of things moving under Newton’s Laws. Statics concerns the math of stresses and strains where nothing is actually moving: dull stuff by comparison with the glamor and thrill of dynamics, but of compelling interest to architects, bridge builders, and such.

**** The verb “to snigger,” which the OED tracks back to 1706, is nowadays very seriously out of favor with the editors at respectable books, newspapers, magazines, and webzines. I have been told that they increasingly, without consulting the author, replace “snigger” with “snicker.” I beg editors to stand firm against this deplorable trend.

Conjugal collaboration

I shall have a note on Ramsey Theory in my Math Corner at the end of this Diary. Meanwhile, I hope I may be forgiven just one more connection to the Ramsey biography.

This is another tenuous one. Mrs Derbyshire and I have collaborated on the translation into English of a Chinese poem. To see my translation, hear my lady’s reading, and understand the Ramsey connection, see here.

Yeah, yeah; but how are you filling your time under lockdown?

Mr Sai and Mr De

Just 99 years ago as I write, in late July 1921, the Chinese Communist Party was founded. I imagine today’s Party bosses already have plans for a big celebration one year from now.

One of the prime movers in the CCP’s founding was Chen Duxiu. Although unable to attend that founding congress, he was none the less elected first General Secretary of the CCP in absentia. Chen was later booted out of the Party for Trotskyism; but he avoided the executioners somehow and died in obscurity in WW2 Chungking.

I was reminded of Chen when browsing some reference books for background on our poet in my previous segment. What reminded me was a passing mention of “Mr Sai and Mr De,” which I have always thought one of the oddest, yet cutest expressions in modern Chinese.


Mr Sai and Mr De are not people but personifications. They were introduced into the Chinese language in a 1919 essay by Chen. Putting his hopes for the modernization of China in science and democracy, Chen anthropomorphized these two concepts by writing their first English syllables with Chinese characters having the same sound: 賽 (sài, “competition”) and 德 (, “morality”). So: Mr Sai and Mr De, Sài Xiānsheng and Dé Xiānsheng.

Now here we are a hundred years later. Mr Sai seems to be doing pretty well in China, but Mr De never showed up. Sad!

Virus news

After a mild sore-throat’n’coughing episode, I yielded to Mrs Derbyshire’s nagging and got tested for COVID-19.

This was just a test for the active virus. Testing for antibodies is harder to arrange, with a lot of paperwork and waiting around. The hell with that. Do I have the durn virus, or don’t I?

Our local hospital has testing set up as a very brisk and efficient drive-through operation, thirty-five minutes from start to finish, no need to leave your car. May Heaven forgive me for any unkind words I have written about America’s health-care sytem.

As a bonus, I was attended at my driver-side car window by two very pretty and personable young nurses, both of whom chirruped happily over my British accent. (But neither of whom begged me to say: “My name is Bond, James Bond,” as American girls used to back in the seventies. Sigh …)

I got my result a few hours later via the hospital website: negative. I guess that means either I got infected and came right through COVID-19 and out the other side without anything much in the way of symptoms, or have never been infected at all. I am sunk so deep in fatalism I don’t care much either way, but at least this takes care of the nagging.

Thanks again to the hospital staff—especially Teresa and Colleen—for an exceptionally well-run operation, and for standing out there attending a line of cars in ninety-something heat.

And yet it moves

Steve Sailer has been getting some race-realism mileage out of the words Galileo is supposed to have murmured in 1633 after formally abjuring Copernicus’ idea that the Earth moves around the stationary Sun: “and yet it [the earth] moves.”

You can, Steve is telling us, blather and bluster all you like about “social constructs,” poverty, redlining, and the legacy of Jim Crow. It still remains the case, after decades of effort and trillions in expenditure to close the race gaps, that blacks fill up the jails while East Asians fill up the AP classes, with whites intermediate on both scales—Rushton’s Rule of Three. And yet it moves.

Leaving aside the fact that scholars doubt Galileo actually said the famous words, the parallel is not a good one. Heliocentrism went against observation and ordinary intuition. The notion that the Earth, with all its cargo of oceans, atmosphere, mountains, forests, cities, and us, is zipping through space at nineteen miles a second sounds preposterous. Nobody feels the Earth to be moving, other than when there’s an earthquake, and … no, can’t think of any other situations.

As I pointed out in that review, the balance of real scientific understanding did not swing decisively in favor of heliocentrism until the matter of stellar parallax was resolved in 1838. There are fringe groups clinging to geocentrism even today.

Race realism, by contrast, is hard to deny. The Rule of Three is in plain sight everywhere you look. It jumps out at you from all over. Presidents come and go; Republicans and Democrats rise and fall; mighty social programs are enacted; scads of money are spent; the Constitution is tied in knots; yet still, after it all —decades of it—the gaps remain.

Not just in the U.S.A., either. Haiti is a desperate slum after 200 years of self-government while South Korea, after a brutal colonization, a massively destructive war, then barely 70 years of independence, is stable and smugly prosperous, … and so on.

(Yes, yes, I know: North Korea is a crazy despotism. It’s a high-IQ crazy despotism, though, with missiles and nukes. When Haiti has missiles and nukes, let me know.)

Might that all be an illusion, like the stationary Earth? Might it all be the work of invisible forces—systemic racism, white privilege?

I suppose it might, although I have yet to see the race denialists give a convincing account of East Asian success. “It’s their culture,” is their common response; to which an old friend of mine is wont to reply: “Culture? Culture? What are the upstream variables?

And most of the world’s large phenomena are what they seem to be. Your lying eyes don’t actually lie much. The tides do rise and fall with the moon; thunder and lightning do happen together, cause and effect; living creatures do breed true, lions begetting lions, sparrows begetting sparrows. The stationary-Earth illusion is an exception, not the rule.

True, population genetics has not yet had a stellar-parallax moment to consign race denialism once and for all to the kooky fringes of scientific thinking. Still we understand enough that our understanding, together with daily evidence from our senses, make race realism, as a description of the world outside our skulls, a far, far better bet than socially-contructed, no-such-thing-as-race, culture-culture-culturism.

So why isn’t race realism the default belief for all educated people, as heliocentrism was even before 1838?

I guess the answer has to be: Because thinking about our fellow human beings is, in some deep way, unlike thinking about celestial mechanics. The one engages our social emotions; the other does not—at any rate, not since the Inquisition shut up shop.

And yet it does move …

The logical knot of ethnomasochism

In my July 17th Social Distancing exchange with Jesse Lee Peterson I mentioned the “logical knot” of ethnomasochism, but the conversation moved on before I had a chance to enlarge on the concept. Some viewers want to know what I meant.

Just this: That by grumbling about white ethnomasochism—about the way white Social Justice Warriors bemoan their own “white privilege” and hold nonwhites to be their moral superiors—I am myself practicing a style of ethnomasochism.

I once published a column titled “White People are Pussies.”

On a call-in radio program recently, we had been airing my infamous assertion in a Taki’s Magazine column back in April that white people should avoid large concentrations of blacks as likely to be dangerous.

A caller-in asked me why I would not be similarly fearful of a large concentration of whites. I made the obvious reply — that the element of racial animus, of black hatred of whites, would be missing. Then I added, off the cuff: “Anyway, why would anyone be scared of a crowd of whites? Whites aren’t going to do anything to you. Let’s face it, white people are pussies.”

That brought in a few irate emails from white people: “I was with the Marine Corps at Khe Sanh, three months under heavy fire. Who you calling ‘pussy,’ Pussy?” Etc., etc.

Well, yes. The question I always end up at in discussing the race issue—”What’s the matter with white people?” — is implicitly ethnomasochistic, isn’t it?

I can try to weasel out of the charge by arguing that ethnomasochistic whites—the SJWs — are only a subset of whites at large; so I’m not accusing the entire race of moral failure, as Robin DiAngelo and her imitators do.


To judge by that lady’s book sales, though, ethnomasochistic whites are a mighty big subset of whites in general. As long as that’s so, and I can’t resist grumbling about it, I guess I have to confess to some degree of ethnomasochism myself.

So, yes: a logical-philosophical knot. I wonder what Wittgenstein would have said.

Math Corner

(1) Boycotting law-enforcement algorithms. Friends have sent me this link to a July 20th story in Popular Mechanics. Opening paragraphs:

Several prominent academic mathematicians want to sever ties with police departments across the U.S., according to a letter submitted to Notices of the American Mathematical Society on June 15. The letter arrived weeks after widespread protests against police brutality, and has inspired over 1,500 other researchers to join the boycott.

These mathematicians are urging fellow researchers to stop all work related to predictive policing software, which broadly includes any data analytics tools that use historical data to help forecast future crime, potential offenders, and victims. The technology is supposed to use probability to help police departments tailor their neighborhood coverage so it puts officers in the right place at the right time.

I am sure this letter will be given pride of place in the next issue of Notices. That journal is now so thoroughly woke, it is unusual to see a white male face in the photo boxes, other than in the Obituaries section.

(Picking up the June/July issue just to check that I am not misleading you there, I was momentarily embarrassed to see that the first two contributor photo boxes are in fact both of white males. Then, reading the accompanying byline text, I saw that they are “Alexander Hoover and Alexander Wiedermann, Board Members of Spectra, the Association for LGBT Mathematicians.” Ah.)

There is a lot to be said, on both sides of the argument, about these “social algorithms.” For my part, I can’t think of anything to add to the remarks I passed in my review of Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Math Destruction which you can read—the review, I mean, not the book—here. Sample:

Programs for social justice, including O’Neil’s, rather frequently display this damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t, aspect. Here was Jesse Jackson complaining in 2012 about under-policing in poor Chicago neighborhoods: “More police have been dispatched to neighborhoods where the murders have spiked, but citizens there still aren’t protected as well as our … uptown businesses are.”

On the other hand, O’Neil grumbles that policing algorithms like New York’s Comp-Stat and Los Angeles’s PredPol send too many cops into poor, crime-prone neighborhoods. She writes:

How about crimes far removed from the boxes on the PredPol maps, the ones carried out by the rich? … We have every reason to believe that more such crimes [i.e., like those that led to the 2008 crash] are occurring in finance right now … Just imagine if police enforced their zero-tolerance strategy in finance.

How soon they forget! I refer Ms. O’Neil to Daniel Fischel’s 1995 book, Payback: The Conspiracy to Destroy Michael Milken and His Financial Revolution, about the vengefully politicized arrests and prosecutions on Wall Street in the 1980s, when traders were led away from their desks in handcuffs.

Doesn’t Add Up, Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2017

(2) Back to Frank Ramsey. Just one more time, I swear.

One of the gems of Ramsey Theory, although it emerged after Ramsey’s time, is the stupendously colossal Graham’s Number, which for a while in the 1980s was given in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest number ever to have been used in a published mathematical proof.

Graham’s Number, which dwells far, far, unimaginably far beyond the realm of mere trillions and quadrillions, is the upper bound for the solution of a particular problem in Ramsey Theory. That is, we don’t know the exact answer to the problem, but we have proved it can’t be bigger than Graham’s incredibly humongous Number.

For the longest time mathematicians thought the actual solution to this problem is 6. It’s now been proved that it must be at least 11.

Ah, math!

(3) Brainteaser. Speaking of big numbers …

You probably know the factorial function. For any positive whole number N, the factorial of N — commonly written N!, pronounced “N-shriek” — is 1×2×3×4×5× … ×N.

You may also know that the factorial function gets out of hand rather quickly. So while

3! = 6


6! = 720,

we soon get

10! = 3,628,800,

and then, just a bit further along,

100! = 93,326,215,443,944, 152,681,699,238, 856,266,700,490, 715,968,264,381, 621,468,592,963, 895,217,599,993, 229,915,608,941, 463,976,156,518, 286,253,697,920, 827,223,758,251, 185,210,916,864, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000. Which is to say, 93 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion and change.

That last one, although not even remotely as big as Graham’s Number, is none the less quite impressive from just a three-digit argument. When non-mathematicians talk loosely about something-or-other increasing exponentially, it would actually be more forceful to say “factorially.” The common exponential function of 100 is a trifling 26 million trillion trillion trillion and change.

OK, here’s a factorial-related brainteaser from the July 26th “Mind-Benders for the Quarantined” out of the National Museum of Mathematics.

Consider this number, which you might call a super-factorial, or factorial-factorial:

1!×2!×3!×4!×5!× … ×100!

Now that’s a big number, although still the merest speck of dust compared with Graham’s Number.

Referring to the individual factorials that make it up as “terms,” so that 2! is a term, 37! is a term, and so on, can you remove one term in such a way that what is left is a perfect square?

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for 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 has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Blacks, China, Coronavirus, Political Correctness, Racism 
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  1. *** Dynamics is the math of things moving under Newton’s Laws. Statics concerns the math of stresses and strains where nothing is actually moving:

    No, not quite. Statics is simply dynamics with the sum of all forces and moments on a body set = 0, still Newton’s 2nd law, but a simple case – the 3rd law is used too. In Dynamics, one must set the sum of forces and the sum of moments equal to linear and angular acceleration, respectively.

    That makes Statics sound easy, but it’s a weed-out class in Mechanical/Civil Engineering, no matter who the Prof. is. In Statics and Dynamics (the basic courses, I mean) all the objects involved are considered “rigid bodies” (not like in the tool catalogs). That means deformations are assumed to be zero, meaning strains and stresses are not considered at this stage of learning. You may be thinking of what’s called “deformable bodies”, “strength of materials”, or “solid mechanics”, shortened to just “solids”, depending on what the kids at the school like to call it.

    Hey, it’s just a footnote, so don’t feel bad about a correction. If it makes you feel better, I don’t even attempt any of your math problems.

    … reading on, now…

  2. North Korea is a crazy despotism and Haiti is a desperate slum.

    And what do both countries have in common, children?

    Right! Both are tiny countries with few natural resources under constant attack by the USA and its jackal pack.

  3. After reading your short review of the Ramsey biographer, I immediately went online and purchased that book. Thank you for the tip. I probably owe you a finder’s fee. A very thoughtful and entertaining blog this week, thanks.

  4. “How soon they forget! I refer Ms. O’Neil to Daniel Fischel’s 1995 book, Payback: The Conspiracy to Destroy Michael Milken and His Financial Revolution, about the vengefully politicized arrests and prosecutions on Wall Street in the 1980s, when traders were led away from their desks in handcuffs.”
    Not a very useful rebuttal of the claim that financial crime goes largely unpunished.
    Your reference is to history — , in time, not that long ago, but almost a galaxy away in terms of Elite evolution. Back then, the 80’s & early 90″s there was still some (fast declining) sense of the “social good”, that both rich & poor should be exposed to legal consequences. The best example of this is the S & L scandal. This massive set of financial crimes was not only properly investigated, but led to (from memory) 170 or so convictions & jail of big financial players.
    Then compare this to the GFC — were ANY big (or small) financial players investigated ? tried ? convicted ? go to jail ?
    So yes, I think we can still “Just imagine if police enforced their zero-tolerance strategy in finance.”

  5. What would Wittgenstein say? Probably something along the lines of, “If I’m reluctant to bend the knee for God, what makes you think I’ll take a knee for my social inferiors?”

    The verb “to snigger,” which the OED tracks back to 1706, is nowadays very seriously out of favor with the editors at respectable books, newspapers, magazines, and webzines.

    I enjoy sniggering at the reaction I get from people when I tell them not to get their knickers in a knot.

  6. @Achmed E. Newman

    No, not quite. Statics is simply dynamics with the sum of all forces and moments on a body set = 0, still Newton’s 2nd law, but a simple case – the 3rd law is used too.

    Thanks, Achmed. Once again, an idiocy reality check. With ‘simply dynamics’ you guys made me into an idiot with the simple stuff. Well, my mother was a smoker throughout all her pregnancies after all. A thought I hang onto, it keeps me from drooling all over my mouth-breathing chin. Ah well, at least no one ever accused me of not knowing what I do NOT know, heh..

    Happy Sunday, old man!

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  7. Sean says:

    Ramsays father was a mathematician and his grandfather a clergyman…

    *Life Finds a Way, Andreas Wagner (2019) Page 16
    “[Sewall] Wright noticed something odd: that selecting the best animals for reproduction–Fisher’s formula for breeding success–when repeated over and over for multiple generations, did not always work well to create a superior breed. For example, during ongoing selection to create one trait like beef quality or milk yield, other traits often deteriorate. And when that happens a breeders greatest hope may have become just another evolutionary dead-end. Wright also investigated a hundred years of pedigrees and records kept by breeders. All this data helped him see what the theoretician Fisher had missed: genes interact in mind-bogglingly complex ways. A gene that increases milk yield can reduce meat quality, another one that increases meat quality may reduce fertility, and a third one that increases fertility may also increase a cow’s risk of dying of disease.

    Which brings me to.

    I got my result a few hours later via the hospital website: negative. I guess that means

    Here it is: you have no antibodies and so have definitely never ever been infected. Consequently you have no immunity. The COVID-19 virus is likely becoming less less dangerous (Paul Ewald), so the longer you manage to avoid it the better chance of not being floored by it when you eventually get infected. (Unless you are 100 years old by then).

    “More police have been dispatched to neighborhoods where the murders have spiked, but citizens there still aren’t protected as well as our … uptown businesses are.”

    Sounds like murder spikes are not Blacks’ greatest concern, so if you use it as a criterion better than their own don’t be surprised if the pressure build up until what has happened happens. These are their areas and the dead whether gangsta or innocent bystander their’s too. Why not let them have–within limits– their own special policing. Native Americans have already been allowed it.

  8. dearieme says:

    pronounced “N-shriek”

    That’s how we said it at school – I didn’t know it was universal. I suppose you’d have to be a very bold boy to try pronouncing it “facN”.

    • Replies: @Macumazahn
  9. Rich says:

    I understand famed British actress Sophie Okonedo has been signed to play Ramsey in an upcoming production. The daughter of a Jewish Pilates teacher and a Nigerian father she at least checks a couple of the necessary boxes. A spokesperson from BBC said “it would have been better if she were differently-abled, but we think that if not for white privilege and systemic racism as well as colonialism and capitalism, Frank Ramsey would have been a crippled half-Nigerian Jewess.”

  10. But neither of whom begged me to say: “My name is Bond, James Bond,” as American girls used to back in the seventies. Sigh …

    When I see a Brit, I ask them to say “falkin mash ‘is ‘ed in, falkin do ‘im, the dir-ee li–ul ‘oddible nonce immigrant bastad”

  11. Consider the following finite product
    1! x 2! x 3! x 4! … x 97! x 98! x 99! x 100!
    re-write the product as
    1! x (1! x 2) x 3! x (3! x 4) … x 97! x (97! x 98) x 99! x (99! x 100)
    where (2n)! is replaced with ((2n-1)! x 2n) throughout.
    Re-write the product as
    (1! x 1!) x 2 x (3! x 3!) x 4 … x (97! x 97!) x 98 x (99! x 99!) x 100
    Re-write the product as
    (1!)^2 x 2 x (3!)^2 x 4 … x (97!)^2 x 98 x (99!)^2 x 100
    Rearrange terms to obtain
    ((1!)^2 x (3!)^2 … x (97!)^2 x (99!)^2) x (2 x 4 … x 98 x 100)
    Note that the first part (odd terms) is a perfect square and re-write the product as
    (1! x 3! … x 97! x 99!)^2 x (2 x 4 … x 98 x 100)
    Factor out the 2 from the second part (even terms) to obtain
    (1! x 3! … x 97! x 99!)^2 x ((2 x 1) x (2 x 2) … x (2 x 49) x (2 x 50))
    Note both the number of terms (50) in the second part and their simple form.
    Rearrange the second part and re-write the product as
    (1! x 3! … x 97! x 99!)^2 x ((2^50) x 1 x 2 … x 49 x 50)
    Recognize the factorial in the second part and re-write the product as
    (1! x 3! … x 97! x 99!)^2 x ((2^50) x (50!))
    Note that 2^50 is a perfect square and rearrange the product as
    (1! x 3! … x 97! x 99! x 2^25)^2 x 50!
    So the term 50! can be dropped, leaving behind a perfect square.
    There’s probably a “Gaussian” way of pairing 1! with 100!, 2! with 99! et cetera but this is what came to me.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    , @Macumazahn
  12. @dearieme

    Hardly universal – I’d never heard it before today.
    We said “n-factorial” or sometimes “factorial-n”.
    That was in the 1980’s though, and I haven’t been in a math lecture since. Times change – but I won’t. To be honest, I dislike “n-shriek” – it is far from euphonious, at least to my ear. To each, his own.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  13. @Macumazahn

    Oh, I’d always thought those probability/statistics books were just written by people who were very very excited about their subject matter. I had no idea …

    Perhaps my Dad was exaggerating after all when he used to yell “I told you a thousand! times …” I thought he meant 1,000 but could not count so well, Did he mean 1000 factorial? “How was I supposed to know?”

    BTW, for the author, if you think “rigid bodies” was a little lewd-sounding, “shaft work” in Thermodynamics would always get a few sniggers from the students. I don’t know how professors keep a straight face sometimes. When you start trying to explain male, female, and sometimes hermaphroditic electrical connectors, it gets totally embarrassing.

  14. SafeNow says:

    Speaking of very large numbers, and ethnomasochism, I am reminded of my personal experiences involving .999… (that is, nines on and on endlessly, into infinity.) Mathematicians agree that .999…equals 1; it not merely gets darn close to 1, but rather, actually equals 1. I was a good math student (captain of the math team in high school; I thought it would be a chick magnet; I was mistaken), but nonetheless, I was, and I remain, a “darn close” adherent. It was only mildly painful when actual math teachers told me that I was therefore limited in this field. But it is very painful when a non-math person tells me, in so many words, I must be an idiot if I fail to grasp this. I think that perhaps when someone like a dentist or lawyer or grievance-studies major tells me this, he or she is lying, and is actually a “darn close” person, secretly.

    • Replies: @Macumazahn
  15. conatus says:

    Wikipedia says Hitler and Wittgenstein went to the same school.

    Wittgenstein entry:
    “The issue has arisen in particular regarding Wittgenstein’s schooldays, because Adolf Hitler was, for a while, at the same school at the same time.[84][85]”

    That surprised me because I always had the impression that Hitler grew up in sort of a trailer park while Wittgenstein was from one of the wealthiest families in Austria. But the winners write the histories and the losers disappear.

  16. So, yes: a logical-philosophical knot. I wonder what Wittgenstein would have said.

    That you’re making the knot of the ethnomasochistic whites’ self up in which you then think you’d be bound by. In other words: Mr. Derbyshire is bewitched by his own words. – Btw. – I wouldn’t say that to find oneself in this kind of problem would be a white privilege.***

    *** For those who doubt this: You could try Nigel Barley’s fabulous books: A Plague of Caterpillars – a Return to the African Bush and – Toraja: Misadventures of a Social Anthropologist in Sulawesi, Indonesia

    Upcoming in September 2020 with a promising title: The Man who Collected Women

  17. @SafeNow

    I think what trips up many members of the “darn close” camp is that they get caught up in the ever-lengthening sequence of 9’s. In the .9, .99, .999, .9999 … sequence, there is no doubt that every element, every member of the sequence, is less than 1. But the limit is another thing entirely. It is in a sense an emergent property. The ultimate value is 1 because of the definitions of the terms you’re using. When you say “into infinity” you mean “limit”.
    You are by no means an idiot. If you’re unaware of non-standard analysis, permit me to bring it to your attention.

    • Thanks: SafeNow
  18. @Achmed E. Newman

    Dynamics is considered one of the most difficult courses in college.

    For you guys who want a sample: describe (mathematically) from the perspective of the Sun, the motion of a fly that is sitting on the shoe of a guy who is riding a bicycle on the Moon around a circular track located at the Moon’s equator. Assume the Moon’s and Earth’s orbits are true circles (not ellipses).

    It’s not really this bad but you have to become adept at using frames of reference that are moving linearly or rotationally with respect to smaller and/or larger frame of reference. So, nested frames of reference.

    So above, that’s the pedal’s circle within the track’s circle within the Moon’s orbit within the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

    Speaking personally, I wouldn’t stake my life on my answer.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    , @Realist
  19. @Macumazahn

    See everybody? Easy. My man Macumazhan here got it in an instant.

    Just kidding, just kidding.

  20. @Macumazahn

    It turns out that the pairing approach from the apocryphal Gauss story isn’t fruitful here. Unlike in the addition case, where Gauss’s pairings lead to identical sums, in this case the useful relationships are instead between successive terms.
    The argument presented in the comment above applies in general to the 2n case, where in this instance n=50. It turned out that n! (in this instance 50!) could be removed to leave a perfect square. But… can n! itself ever be a perfect square? Unless I’m mistaken, Bertrand’s postulate says “no.”

  21. @ThreeCranes

    Once the Prof derives the big long vector equation (6 terms or so), and you understand where it all came from, it’s all downhill from there. (No, if I were the fly I would not be at all confident, due to the many inertial frames that one must set up, not to mention numerical uncertainties.)

    What make Statics the weed-out course is the Free Body diagrams. One just has to actually understand what is going on and cannot simply plug-and-chug into some equation that solves for his value. That’s a big, big hurdle. After you set it up, the math is easy.


    Fuentes is right. Depending on the police is like East Germans depending on the East German police to protect them from commie thugs and commie system.

    All this talk of Police Reform is total nonsense. It’s like discussing Soldiers Reform. While cops and soldiers can be trained and pressured to act more professional, most of what they do is following orders from ABOVE. In other words, even if soldiers commit no ‘war crimes’ or ‘atrocities’, they will invade, bomb, mass-kill, and destroy entire nations at the behest of their superiors who, in turn, take orders from the Deep State. (Democracy is about politicians doing the bidding of oligarchs while pretending to represent the people. After all, politicians are vetted and funded by oligarchs than arise from the people.) Same with the police. Even if all cops were 100% professional(or composed of foolproof robots) and didn’t commit acts of police brutality, problems will arise from the fact that they’re doing the bidding of the elites and the propertied class. (The case of Michael Brown was a classic example of this. It turns out the cop acted 100% professionally, but the ghastly Negro died and this upset a lot of blacks and all those do-goody naive whites who get their ideas of blacks from movies like GREEN MILE and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.) The elites want safe streets and safe neighborhoods. That means using the police to get tough on criminal elements. Many such offenders are black. Also, blacks call the police to protect themselves from other blacks. So, tensions between blacks and police will be a fact of life in the US. And no police reform can fix this problem that mainly arises from black genetics, a natural propensity toward thuggery. After all, it’s far more likely George Fentanyl Floyd died of drug overdose than police abuse. Police exists because the elites and law-abiding people want protection. Also, even the criminal class often rely on the police to protect them from other criminals. Even the mother of a gang-banger will call the cops if her gang-banger son is gunned down by other gang-bangers.

    So, if tensions between the police and blacks are a problem, then it makes no sense to speak of ‘police reform’. Policemen, just like soldiers, follow orders and do as told. Did the US military go into Iraq or drop bombs on Libya because soldiers went rogue? No, the soldiers did as ordered by higher-ups who, in turn, took orders from politicians who are in the pockets of Jewish oligarchs. The worst crime of the Iraq War was not Abu Grahib, bad as it was. The far bigger crime was that the US military was made to invade another nation on false pretext. And this decision was cooked up at the top by Jewish Neocons, Liberal Zionists, and their white cuck allies. Even if Abu Grahib and other atrocities hadn’t happened and even if every US soldier had acted totally professionally, they still would have invaded another nation on bogus propaganda. And in doing so, US soldiers would have had to drop tons of bombs and shoot a lot of people just the same.


    In the aftermath of the Iraq Debacle, do we talk of Soldier Reform? No, soldiers didn’t make the decision. The orders came from the politicians owned by oligarchs. So, if there needs to be reform in US foreign policy, it must be at the top. Soldiers always do as they’re told. When they’re told to drop bombs to kill countless people, they do so. And when US soldiers were told to stand down when orgies of looting broke out all across Baghdad, they did as ordered and did nothing as the whole city was stripped clean. The responsibility belongs at the top. Sadly, there was no political reform after Iraq. Barack Obama spoke of a new foreign policy but, as just another puppet of Jews, expanded the mayhem even further, even inflaming Ukraine, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. And Donald Trump promised a new chapter but just became another stooge of the Deep State. US troops are still illegally occupying Syria and continuing with the ‘Afghan War’ which is now just plain and simple occupation. In all this, US soldiers just did as told. No amount of Soldier Reform can fix the problem of US foreign policy that is decided at the top. US soldiers do not, of their own volition, decide to keep occupying Okinawa, South Korea, European nations, Central Asia, and much of Middle East. US soldiers are there under the orders of politicians who do the bidding of the Deep State and Military-Industrial Complex. But notice that even so-called ‘leftist’ Democrats are totally for more money for Pentagon. Both parties hail the US military as heroes when, in fact, it kills countless more innocent victims than the US police does. Also, if the role of police is law and order, the role of US military is neo-imperialism and lawless disorder around the world for the sake of Jewish Power and Israel. What is called “US foreign policy” or “American Interests” are all about “Is it great for Jewish supremacists?” After all, if US had a neutral and fair policy toward all the world, it would not favor Zionist tyrants over Palestinian victims.

    All this talk of ‘police reform’ is a dirty ploy of shifting the blame on the cops(who did as ordered) away from the politicians, elites, and affluent folks who valued a police force that would effectively deal with black crime, violence, and thuggery. Crime is more a racial than economic thing as plenty of poor whites and browns aren’t big on crime. While poor people tend to commit more crime than rich people, the out-of-control pathology of crime is mostly a black phenomenon in the US, and this has little to do with history and mostly to do with biology, i.e. blacks evolved to be warriors, hunters, and thugs in hot savage Africa where hippos wanted to stomp them to death and hyenas wanted to tear them apart. African beasts were the first to lament, “There goes the neighborhood”.

    So, if ‘good’ and ‘anti-racist’ Americans are really troubled by the conflict between the police and blacks, what they should call for is POLITICIAN REFORM, ELITE REFORM, and JEWISH POWER REFORM. The rich and the powerful gave orders and made demands on the police to get tougher on blacks. The proof that the police only follows orders can be seen in how it does little to arrest Antifa in cities like Portland and NY while working with Antifa against white nationalists at Charlottesville. Why do the police leave BLM and Antifa vandals alone while arresting the St. Louis couple that only protected their own private property? Why do the police allow Antifa and BLM thugs to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ all over but arrest people for painting over such signs? Again, the police has no agency. It does as told. If the US were communist and if cops were ordered to arrest capitalists, cops will do just that. If the US were antisemitic and if cops were ordered to arrest all Jews, they’ll do just that. Cops are like dogs, just like soldiers. They look powerful because they got guns and clubs, but they must do as told. If they’re ordered to stand down amidst Antifa violence, they will do just that. If they’re ordered to arrest Proud Boys who only defended themselves from Antifa thugs, they’ll do that.

    When all these Jewish elites and mayors call for Police Reform, they are deflecting blame from themselves and scapegoating another. It’s like the corporate sharks in Akira Kurosawa’s BAD SLEEP WELL who use underlings as sacrificial scapegoats while they themselves remain unscathed. In all these blue cities, it was the affluent class and Jewish Power(and homo gentrifiers) who demanded tougher policing to deal with black crime and thuggery. And they were happy to see the crime rates go down. It was Bill Clinton who ordered cops to arrest more blacks. And the courts convicted more blacks. Cops had no say in this. Cops were mere cogs in the system. But the Power never wants any blame. They just blame the police and call for ‘police reform’ when blacks explode in rage. Or, even worse, the Power encouraged black rage explosion this time around to undermine Trump’s presidency and use BLM/Antifa rage as fuel for yet another Maidan-like color revolution. (But as Trump supported such in Venezuela, he too is a scumbag.)

    Though there are surely rogue cops, the main problem in the US is that TOO MANY BLACKS act like thugs, and the affluent class(and everyone else) relies on the police to keep black thuggery under control. The police exists because people who fear for their lives and value their private property demand it. And the police ends up in contentious encounters with blacks because blacks are the main thugs. What was Stop-and-Frisk about but Get-the-Negro, and it was a policy that was cooked up in so-called ‘progressive’ cities? It was mainly a way of dealing with blacks. And it worked. And the police only did as told.

    So, if the elites and the affluent class really care so much about black lives and feel it’s wrong for the police to use tough means to handle black crime, then the REFORM must happen at the top. After all, police policy is downstream from elite interests and policy. If black lives are indeed so precious or even priceless, then it is up to the elites to dissolve the police and expose themselves to the brunt of black violence. The Power said Fentanyl Floyd, a noted armed-robber, is a saint. Then, it is downright hypocritical for the elites to use the police to protect their lives and property from black thugs but then to call for Police Reform when black rage explodes about the police. Just like, “Don’t blame the soldiers, blame the politicians who sent them to war”, we need, “Don’t blame the police, blame the elites who recruited them to wage war against black criminality.”

    Of course, BLM is a lie, mainly the product of Jewish control of academia and media. And American Morality is just vanity and hypocrisy. So many of these white ‘liberals’ jumped on BLM only as yet another excuse to hurl turd at Trump. Much of ‘moral outrage’ in the US is just proxy for partisan politics. White ‘liberals’ who never cared about Russia or Ukraine were suddenly OUTRAGED that Evil Putin is the mastermind behind Trump. Or, ‘conservatives’ who never cared about China are suddenly alarmed that Biden is “China’s candidate” or that “Uighurs are being oppressed”. The so-called ‘anti-war progressives’ who threw a fit under George W. Bush were suddenly acquiescent and even supportive of Obama’s wars. ‘Conservatives’ who supported Trump’s relatively anti-war rhetoric against Hillary applauded his gangland murder of Soleimani. It’s all BS morality to justify partisan politics.
    If indeed these good decent white ‘liberals’ really cared about innocent lives, why the silence about all the victims of US wars? Why are they okay with politicians of both parties praising US ‘men and women’ in the military when so many people have been killed in wars based on lies and misinformation? Why hasn’t there been any call for PLM or Palestinian Lives Matter? Just like most moral issues in Divorce Court are nonsense — both parties will dig up any dirt and sling mud to give moral cover for personal vendetta — , political morality is mostly utter BS, and it’s truly vile and disgusting to see all these people desperately pretending to CARE about justice when they really care only about Power and partisan politics.

    That said, the white Jungle Faith in blackness is not entirely posturing. White spirituality in the post-Christian age is largely shaped by white sensuality. In a world where Pop Culture and Sports are the main culture, white sense of value derives mainly from who wins in sports and dominates pop culture/music, which is highly sexualized and porny even at Disney. As whites grow from young age admiring black rappers, ball-players, orators, and studs, they have a special thing for blacks that turns quasi-spiritual. It is then fitting that Fentanyl Floyd, thug and porn performer, is now the holy icon of ‘wokeness’ among whites. When whites feel they must favor FEELINGS over FACTS when it comes to blacks, it is proof that Afromania is the religion of whites(along with Jew Worship and Globo-Homo) — religion is, after all, about faith than facts even if there is no evidence that God exists or cares for you; in our day and age, we must have faith in the Magic Negro, we must favor the Icon and Narrative over reality and truth, just like brainwashed minions in USSR had faith in Stalin despite his great crimes against humanity; both the state religion and corporate cult of the US revolve around Jew-worship, Globo-Homo, and Magic Negro. It doesn’t matter that blacks are top thugs and do so much harm. Because blacks are badass as athletes, rappers, and studs, they must be admired, and therefore, their historical suffering matters more than all the other sufferings(except the Shoah of course), and that means everything wrong with the black community must be blamed on whites who, in the sin of all sins, dared to oppress the superior race of stud-rappers-athletes. In other words, white Superego is downstream from the white Id. Jungle Fever led to Jungle Faith.
    In contrast, what do most white people care about Palestinians and Arabs? Let those ‘sand ni**ers’ die by the bushel as they lack the smarts/money of Jews or the badassness/toughness of blacks. In other words, there is victim-supremacy, and the past/present suffering of those with visible superiorities matter more than the sufferings of others. Even the discussion of reparations is skewed this way. Jews deserve endless reparations for the Holocaust but never mind all the Slavs who lost so much under Jewish communism. Indeed, it would be ‘antisemitic’ even to point out that Jewish communists were mass-killers or that Jews were top sellers of opium to the Chinese(and opioids to ‘white trash’). And there is constant talk of reparations for blacks but no one calls for reparations for the brown natives of the Americas. 90% of brown natives were wiped out by disease from the Old World, and their history is one of servitude and peonage under Spanish Conquistadors and their descendants. But those people must now pay taxes in the US to pay for reparations for blacks. That’s the essence of white morality, which is mostly BS: Making browns(who suffered by far the most in the New World) pay taxes to pay for reparations for blacks. And notice there is no talk of reparations for all the mayhem the US has caused in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Only Jews, blacks, and homos matter.

    • Replies: @Old Prude
  23. MEH 0910 says:

    Steve Sailer has been getting some race-realism mileage out of the words Galileo is supposed to have murmured in 1633 after formally abjuring Copernicus’ idea that the Earth moves around the stationary Sun: “and yet it [the earth] moves.”

    Amy Harmon got that going with a Twitter thread:



    Isn’t it time for separate leagues?

    White league, black league, brown league, etc.

    Let black league have their own black anthem and let them kneel all they want.

    Other leagues will do their thing.

    That way, more races will participate and play, and each race can do as it wants.

    • Replies: @Sya Beerens
  25. Heliocentrism went against observation and ordinary intuition

    I’ll give you ‘ordinary intuition’, but heliocentrism was very much based on observation (by Aristarchus of Samos in the 3rd century BMJ[1]) and Plutarch tells us that 100 years or so after Aristarchus, Seleucus of Seleucia demonstrated why heliocentrism was not just a hypothesis but an actual fact.

    (Leave aside that Archimedes claims that Aristarchus thought that the Sun was the literal centre of the universe, and that the stars were sun-like objects that also orbited the Sun at a much greater distance than the planets).

    [1] BMJ: not ‘British Medical Journal”… Before Mythical Jeebus.

  26. It’s a high-IQ crazy despotism

    Yes, the paradox of North Korea is that it can only continue as it does (an isolated hermit state with no true allies and surviving on its own resources and some international criminal activity) because it is populated by intelligent industrious people. It would have collapsed decades ago if it were inhabited by Cambodians, and Haitians would have never gotten the country off the ground in the first place after the devastation of the 1940s and 50s.

  27. dearieme says:

    Apparently the Dynamics analysis of how bicycles work that we were shown as freshers isn’t right.

    Moreover, the writer who told me this said that no satisfactory replacement had been developed. I must have read this twenty years ago: any advances since?

  28. I’m not a math guy. Just give me an equation that shows how many police are required to prevent an unknown black guy from shooting another unknown black guy at an unknown location at an unknown time. Whatever number it is, lets provide them. If the number required squeezes out the potential for the two unknown black guys from occupying the space required for the shooting to occur,…..success!

  29. Realist says:

    Dynamics is considered one of the most difficult courses in college.

    Nothing compared to quantum mechanics.

    • Replies: @FPD72
  30. Mr. Derbyshire has given the math geeks an opportunity to show off in the comments. I’m not sure if I can ever forgive him for that.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  31. 49! ?

    Macmuzen up there may be right, but I cant follow his reasoning. I just realized that the even numbers have odd exponents, but one can get a surplus of 2s if the substrate is itself a perfect square.

    A great Derbs diary, a symphony for the mind and soul! That Ramsey book is expensive but I’ll have to get it. Now you see, the average iq of unz readers must be the highest anywhere excepting certain theoretical physics or math academic sites!

  32. Time to call newspapers Narrative Rags.

  33. @Strike Three

    He does that every month in his diary. I tried one that seemed like simple geometry with 5 equations and 5 unknowns (something involving a six-side table), and then it wasn’t so easy as that. I threw up my hands a year or more ago.

  34. FPD72 says:

    I took them both (QM was combined with relativity) the same semester; it almost got me drafted.

    • LOL: Realist
  35. After a mild sore-throat’n’coughing episode, I yielded to Mrs Derbyshire’s nagging and got tested for COVID-19.

    Imagine, a virus so deadly, you neet a test to see if you even have it.

    The billionaire CEO of the drug company that won the contract to supply the tests appreciates your hypochondria.

    • Thanks: Sya Beerens
  36. @Happy Tapir

    “I cant follow his reasoning”
    That stings.

    • Replies: @Happy Tapir
  37. @John Derbyshire

    That solution is confusing – it’s looking at the product in reverse order, relative to the original statement of the problem.
    “The product of N ‘s first two terms, for example, is 100 × 99!^2” – hmmm, those are the last two terms of the product as originally presented.
    FWIW that solution is the same as mine, just in reverse order.

    • Replies: @Macumazahn
  38. @Macumazahn

    In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess… I must also criticize that solution for its inclusion of “(which happens to be a perfect square since 100 = 10^2)” which is a red herring. The fact that 100 happens to be a perfect square has nothing at all to do with the solution. The fact that 100 is divisible by 4 is what’s important about 100 in this context.
    Thanks for mentioning this cool problem. I’m still thinking about the measure L you brought up last August…

  39. @Macumazahn

    I didn’t understand the karat symbol. No in fact it’s perfect and most elegant.

    • Replies: @Macumazahn
  40. @Happy Tapir

    Thanks, and your point is well taken; I should have been explicit about that caret/karat notation.
    Truth be told, I was rushing to post my solution before some other Unz reader could beat me to it.

    • Replies: @Happy Tapir
  41. @Macumazahn

    I think you should get a prize. Derb should send you a free copy of the Ramsey book. And one for me too for second place 😉

  42. Smart deep thinkers make the world go round?

    We can’t survive without scientific progress and complex abstractions……everything that’s wrong with the world is created by scientific maniacs.

    ~I am become death, the destroyer of worlds~

  43. @Priss Factor

    This charade’s still keeping the easily amused apathetic and obedient?

    Where I live people are beyond sick and tired of all the exhausting bs.

    The “news” is taboo.

  44. Old Prude says:
    @Priss Factor

    I agree with the first 2,000 or so words. I guess the other 17,000 are good too. It must have been a relief to get it all out. Oy!

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