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JUNE DIARY (11 ITEMS): Packer's "Four Americas"; "Lying Flat" In China; Notice Anything About 1967 Miss America Finalists? ETC.
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Packer’s “Four Americas”—Thumb-Sucker of the Month

Of all I’ve read this month, the opinion piece that most got me thinking (although not, in point of fact, actually sucking my thumb while doing so) was George Packer’s “Four Americas” article in Atlantic magazine.

Whoa there, Derb. Isn’t Atlantic a lefty outlet, with anti-white word-salad merchant Ta-Nehisi Coates on the masthead? And isn’t Packer himself left-progressive?

Yes and yes. Packer’s more of an old-line liberal, though (he’ll turn 61 in August) and capable of talking sense for quite long stretches before lurching reflexively into mention of the “dark energies” behind Reaganite conservatism, or “the reality of planetary destruction,” or how Donald Trump “aligned himself publicly with hard-core racists.” I took all those quotes from the “Four Americas” piece; and no, Packer doesn’t identify any of those “hard-core racists.”

So yes, he’s a Left-progressive. Further, he seems to have no acquaintance with the human sciences, a failing which normally prevents me from taking seriously anything a writer has to say about topics like meritocracy or racial inequality.

All right. Then why would I be enthusing about an article Packer’s written, a dauntingly long article? “Four Americas”—it’s actually titled “How America Fractured into Four Parts”—is 11½ thousand words, which is about ten times the length of your average broadsheet-newspaper op-ed.

Because I really like the schema Packer’s set out here, that’s why. I think it corresponds very well to reality—not a thing one normally expects from Progressives, but hey, stopped clock s.

Here is that schema in a nutshell.

  • Free America. Late-20th-century conservatism: Reagan, Limbaugh, etc.
  • Smart America. The globalist meritocracy.
  • Real America. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump: populist nationalism.
  • Just America. The Wokesters.

I’ve grossly over-simplified there, of course; but I do think Packer has performed an accurate survey of today’s social-political landscape in the U.S.A., and has supplied plausible accounts of how each of the four Americas emerged.

On Reddit, someone has come up with a map trying to see how this plays out electorally:

All four Americas are alive and well, but there are generational issues. Free America begat Real America; Smart America begat Just America (for which, says Packer: “A more accurate name would be Unjust America, in a spirit of attack rather than aspiration.”).

Read the thing for yourself at the Atlantic website. If you’ve hit their paywall, flip me an email and I’ll send you a copy I’ve made. Naughty of me, I know; but you’re not going to subscribe to a Lefty magazine anyway, so there is no actual loss to Atlantic. If you really want to get deep into Packer, Atlantic tells us that “Four Americas” is adapted from his latest book, published June 15th, available for \$16.84 from Amazon.

I should say finally that George Packer is not happy about the picture he’s drawn: “I don’t much want to live in the republic of any of them [i.e. the Four Americas].”

And then, this closing paragraph:

Meanwhile, we remain trapped in two countries. Each one is split by two narratives—Smart and Just on one side, Free and Real on the other. Neither separation nor conquest is a tenable future. The tensions within each country will persist even as the cold civil war between them rages on.

Lying flat”—ChiComs battle apathy

George Packer writes that: “The turn of the millennium was the high-water mark of Smart America.” There has, he thinks, been some falling-off in the enthusiasm for meritocracy this past twenty years, due to elite overproduction having intensified the rat race.

Some parallel development may be taking place in China, where the competition for good middle-class jobs is really intense.

There are widespread fears it’ll get even intenser when the ChiComs raise retirement ages, currently the lowest in the world: 60 for men, 50 for most women. That’s putting the country’s Social Security system under major strain, and the ages will have to be raised, but: “Young workers grumble about raising the age. They suspect they will have to wait longer for promotions as older workers occupy jobs for longer.” (Economist, June 22nd.)

A new buzz-phrase has come up on the Chinese internet this past few weeks: 躺平, tăng píng, “to lie down flat.” It’s come up, and it’s going down: the ChiComs, who practice strict control over internet content, strongly disapprove of this phrase, and are doing what they can to delete all references to it.

The BBC website ran a story about tăng píng on June 3rd. Edited extract:

Young people in China exhausted by a culture of hard work with seemingly little reward are highlighting the need for a lifestyle change by “lying flat.”

The new trend, known as “tang ping,” is described as an antidote to society’s pressures to find jobs and perform well while working long shifts …

“Lying flat is my wise movement,” a user wrote in a since-deleted post on the discussion forum Tieba, adding: “Only by lying down can humans become the measure of all things.”

The comments were later discussed on Sina Weibo, another popular Chinese microblogging site, and the term soon became a buzzword. The idea behind “tang ping”—not overworking, being content with more attainable achievements and allowing time to unwind—has been praised by many and inspired numerous memes. It has been described as a spiritual movement.[China’s new ‘tang ping’ trend aims to highlight pressures of work culture, June 2, 2021]

The invaluable WHO “Serpentza” has a good 8½-minute video about tăng píng on YouTube here.

ORDER IT NOW

Mrs Derbyshire has a wide circle of acquaintances in China with whom she keeps in touch by social media. Among them is at least one case of tăng píng. This young, single, well-credentialed professional man had a good and remunerative but demanding job. He also has some modest inherited rental property. We recently learned that he’s quit his job to tăng píng, living on the rental income. It’s nothing like as much as his old salary, but Mrs D. reports him as happy, with no regrets.

I expect soon to hear that these young Chinese Bartlebys are following the example of Taoist hermits of old, retiring to grass huts on remote mountainsides to “sip the wind and drink the dew” (吸风饮露).

Hey, if it reduces China’s global competitiveness, it’s all good.

One-piece bookends: a bleg

Way back in the early days of blogging, before blogs speciated into vlogs, MABs, microblogs, substacks, and so on, I coined the word “bleg.” That’s a blog post begging for assistance from readers. Well, I have a bleg.

The subject here is bookends. My desk is a mess. Significant components of the mess are little clusters of books, half a dozen or so per cluster, that I’m using for reference, or have pulled from the shelf to look something up in and haven’t yet re-shelved, or want close at hand for some other reason.

These clusters stand on my desk, each kept upright by bookends. The bookends are of two types, both metal.

  • A one-piece item, one of the retaining ends just a vertical, the other a springy coil.

The history of these items is as follows.

  • The one-piecer I’ve had for decades. I brought it from England with me in the early 1980s, so it’s around forty years old, probably more. (And, yes, it looks it.)
  • The two-piecers I’ve acquired in recent years. Any time I’m in a stationery store—usually my local Staples outlet—with the need for bookends on my mind, I hunt around for the one-piece type. I can never find any, so I end up buying two-piecers.

Now, the two-piecers are much inferior to the one-piecer where a cluster of just a few books is concerned. If I remove a large-ish book from the cluster in a one-piecer, the coil just closes up to compensate. If I do that with a cluster in a two-piecer, the big books fall over and push the little books and their retainer across the desk, sometimes right off it.

The solution is plain: I need to buy myself a couple more one-piecers. Never having seen any on the shelves at Staples, I figured I may as well just look online.

After trying a few different search arguments, I found one-piecers at etsy.com. They have one at \$32.99, billed as: “Mid-century Steel Flex Coil Bookend, made in England,” but only one available. And then they have another one for \$55.05: “Vintage 1960s Modernist Coiled Steel ‘Bookworm’ Bookend, England,” again only one available. Oh, and this one for \$75: “Vintage Mid Century Modern Bookend—Orange Metal Bookshelf 1950s 1960s Library Home Office Decorations,” but again only one available.

My question: What the hell is going on here?

When I purchased my one-piecer all those decades ago, it was a routine office item that you could pick up at any stationery store for three or four dollars. Now it’s an antique? Selling for seventy-five dollars?

Apparently so. The listings at etsy.com come with the kind of precious language you get from antique dealers: “an exquisite, vintage bookend … steeped in Mid Century Modern 1960s style” … “sleek and ingenious mid-century … with original felt pad to base” … “Pop Art Warhol Retro Design” … They practically lisp: lisping listings. [Siren sound.] Whoops, sorry, I set off the PC alarm.

How did a three-dollar item of desk furniture get elevated to Art Heaven to sit at the right hand of Andy Warhol? And why is such a useful item no longer made?

It’s not just etsy.com. I googled around until my patience ran out: It’s all like that.

I understand about inflation of course; but the Inflation Calculator tells me that a three-dollar item purchased forty years ago should still cost less than nine dollars. A four-dollar item would be nudging twelve dollars; but surely for simple manufactured stuff like this I could get a Chinese knock-off for less than ten.

Hence my bleg. Does anyone know where I can buy these things for a dollar price per item that only has one digit to the left of the decimal point?

Cancel culture, 1966

I’ve been somewhat “steeped in Mid Century Modern 1960s style” myself this month. My next-door neighbor is leaving New York for—yes!—Florida. He’s been emptying out his house, and I’ve inherited some of his discards.

Among them is a pile of original issues of Life magazine’s last ten years, 1963 to 1972. (Life ceased publication at the end of that latter year.) I’ve been browsing them in my spare time. They offer a treasure trove of insights into the U.S.A., and how we have changed across half a century.

Sure, I know: They are all online nowadays. Probably I would have gotten around to browsing them online sooner or later, after sampling a few hundred of the internet’s other delights. Having them in my study as an actual physical mass, though, they are handy to dip into now and again when screen fatigue sets in … which I find happens more and more as I age.

Here is a story from the issue dated November 11th, 1966. Headline: The Coy Mistress Caper.

As you might guess, the story concerns Andrew Marvell’s poem from the 1650s, “To His Coy Mistress,” in which the poet urges his lady to seize the hour … by letting him seize her.

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime …

Etc., etc. An instructor in English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (“a sophisticated literary center of the South,” says Life), had set his freshman class the task of rephrasing Marvell’s poem in modern prose.

Some of the male students apparently carried out this assignment with too much enthusiasm. There was embarrassment and stifled mirth in the class readings. Someone snitched to Jesse Helms about this. Not yet in Congress, Helms was working as a conservative commentator for a local TV station. He made a fuss, and the college chancellor suspended the instructor.

Note the differences between then and now.

  • I doubt any freshmen today are given 17th-century poets to study in English classes. They’re kept too busy reading Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Amanda Gorman. Marvell’s not just 17th-century, either: He’s a 17th-century heterosexual white male Christian. Euiw!
  • What aroused Jesse Helms’ wrath was the likelihood that “the boys enjoyed the vicarious frolic of talking about erotic matters in the presence of girl students.” I bet they did. Nowadays they wouldn’t dare; or perhaps just … wouldn’t.
  • Life: “Nobody was surprised at Helm’s reaction. But almost everybody was astonished at the university’s.” In 1966, apparently, it was generally assumed that college administrators came equipped with backbones. Today we know better.

Looking up Marvell for his dates, I note that he was born 400 years ago this March 31st just gone. I wish I’d known that at the time. I would have raised a birthday toast to the poet on behalf of men everywhere to whom he has supplied rhetorical ammunition for use on reluctant women.

(Although if it’s a daughter you’re raising, make sure she knows her Dryden.)

The end of sex

Andrew Marvell was not only a poet but also a public man: He served as Member of Parliament for the city of Hull (properly Kingston upon Hull), in northeast England, close to his own birthplace.

Another British poet associated with the city of Hull is Philip Larkin (1922-1985). Larkin worked for most of his adult life managing the library at Hull University. (Whence “Onan the Librarian.”)

Larkin’s poem “Annus Mirabilis” opens with the lines:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) —
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

When I was looking up that link for the second bullet point in the previous segment, I was surprised to see how many news stories there have been recently about young people losing interest in sex. Link-wise, I was spoiled for choice.

In light of that, Larkin needs an update. Mine starts off:

Sexual intercourse died out
In twenty twenty-one
(though geezers still had fun) —
Between the Donald’s parting shout
And the end of COVID’s run.

At that point the Muse left for an appointment elsewhere and hasn’t returned. Feel free to add stanzas of your owm.

Nonfiction Book of the Month

In last November’s Diary I enthused about British opinion journalist Ed West, Deputy Editor of UnHerd.com. This month I read his latest book Small Men on the Wrong Side of History, listed at Amazon.com for some reason as Tory Boy: Memoirs of the Last Conservative. I can now reveal (because I’m listed in the bibliography) that Ed West is a fan of my 2009 book We Are Doomed. We have exchanged cordial emails.

West’s a Brit and the book is considerably Brit-centric, but there is still plenty in it to engage the attention of Americans. He sets the keynote in his introduction.

There are today very few important areas of British or American society in which progressives do not have complete dominance.

How did this happen? What does it mean for our lives, families, wealth, work, culture? Where are we headed? Those are his themes.

ORDER IT NOW

I should say before proceeding that while West considers himself a conservative, and on key indices is a conservative, by George Packer’s schema he’s more Free than Real. He doesn’t like Trump (“a man who seems to possess the unique gift of having no redeeming human qualities whatsoever”), was ambivalent towards Brexit (he gives over most of a chapter to telling us why), and probably finds race realism shocking (although he doesn’t write about it at all). West’s is a very British style of conservatism: idiosyncratic and tormented, but heartfelt and deeply thought out none the less.

As the book’s title suggests, West is strongly inclined towards the notion that History really does take sides, and that Anglosphere conservatives today are on the losing side.

Like pagans in the later Roman Empire when Christianity took over, or Catholics when post-Reformation England turned decisively Protestant, or the West African villagers in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart when white missionaries arrived, we and our beliefs are doomed to extinction, or at best sidelined into irrelevance.

So, what, Left-progressivism is a religion? You won’t get any originality points for saying so. I’ve been commenting on the notion for at least five years, on that occasion inspired by a column John McWhorter had published the year before; and there are of course precedents from much further back: C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, Nietzsche, …

Ed West knows all that—he is exceptionally well-read—but gives over two full chapters to the topic anyway—chapters 18 and 19—with many new (to me) insights.

He draws on his own experience to illustrate some of his points, but the book is not irritatingly autobiographical. The personal asides show a commendable degree of self-knowledge.

In fact, as I got older I came to accept all my political stances are effectively based on irrational feelings of annoyance about smugness and sanctimony, or other forms of negative partisanship. Even my increasing scepticism of capitalism was probably partly driven by the fact that big business was getting irritatingly right-on about everything.

That would have received an approving nod from David Hume.

“Smugness and sanctimony,” yes. Also snobbery. If I take out my own political positions and scrutinize them carefully, underlying them I see my own early hatred of class snobbery, which was brazen and rampant in the England of my young years. It is, as Ed West notes, by no means unknown in today’s U.S.A.

Who said “Courage lost, all lost”?

One thing that stopped my eye in Ed West’s book was at the end of chapter 25. He’s been writing about having been offered a job at Breitbart in 2014. He had mental struggles with himself over whether or not to accept, knowing that acceptance would lose him some of the high-status dinner invitations he enjoys.

Was he, West wondered, just being cowardly?

That’s the true definition of decadence, knowing we’re all going to hell and yet feeling so fatalistic about it that you just want to enjoy the ride. As the Yiddish proverb goes: “Money lost, nothing lost; courage lost, everything lost.”

Say what? “Yiddish proverb”? Wasn’t that actually Goethe? I pulled down my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations—the good, old (1953) edition, not one of the crappy later ones.

They don’t list anything like that among their nineteen quotes from Goethe. Going to the topic index for “courage,” I only find this:

Courage is the thing. All goes if courage goes.

That’s from a Rectorial Address given to the University of St. Andrews in May 1922 by Sir James Barrie, who was, duh, Rector of that institution, but who is much better known as the author of Peter Pan. Ctrl-F for “Goethe” on the text of that address gives no hits.

I went to my back-up, W. Gurney Benham’s Book of Quotations (1924). Aha! Under Dutch quotations Benham has:

Goed verloren, niet verloren; moed verloren, veel verloren; eer verloren, meer verloren; ziel verloren, al verloren.*—Money lost, nothing lost; courage lost, much lost; honour lost, more lost; soul lost, all lost. Traditional.

However, that asterisk leads to a footnote:

* A variant of this proverb is found in Goethe’s lines:

Gut verloren, etwas verloren;
Ehre verloren, viel verloren;
Mut verloren, alles verloren.

—Wealth lost, something lost; honour lost, much lost; courage lost, all lost.

Those lines are apparently taken from one of Goethe’s poems: full text, with translation, here.

So, Yiddish proverb? Well, maybe. Benham’s recording it as a Dutch proverb means that there were likely equivalent folk sayings in other Germanic languages: perhaps one in German, whence Goethe picked it up, and possibly one in Yiddish, too. (Leaving aside the unkind remark by a friend with whom I discussed this: “It doesn’t sound very Yiddish.”) Who knows?

Perhaps some student of language does know. If so, I’d like to hear from him (her, xer, whatever).

Oh: West didn’t take the Breitbart job.

Fiction of the Month

The only novel I read this month was Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto (2001), which I spotted it in my street’s Little Free Library.

I had never read any of Ann Patchett’s books, nor even heard of her. I took Bel Canto home in the vague belief it would be about opera singers. Having worked that territory myself, I’m naturally curious to see how other novelists handle it.

In fact the novel is about Stockholm Syndrome. There is only one opera singer in it, and she doesn’t sing much bel canto.

Here, with no spoilers, is what happens.

The action takes place entirely in the very large, well-appointed house of the Vice President of Peru. (The country isn’t actually named, only identified as a poor, mountainous country in South America whose president was “born of Japanese parents.” Hoo-kay.) There is an elaborate party for more than two hundred A-list guests: ambassadors, tycoons, and so on.

It’s a birthday party: Japanese business mogul Katsumi Hosokawa is 53. The host country very, very much wants Mr Hosokawa to invest, set up some training for their workers, perhaps build a factory. Knowing him to be an opera lover, and a particular fan of American soprano Roxane Coss, they have hired her to sing six arias as after-dinner entertainment, and thus lured Mr Hosokawa to the party.

While the lady is singing the house is invaded and occupied by revolutionary terrorists from the mountains. The guests become hostages.

ORDER IT NOW

Negotiations with the country’s government commence. The terrorists make demands which the government won’t agree to. This goes on for weeks. As it does, relations develop between party guests and terrorists. We think of Stockholm Syndrome as something that happens only to hostages; but here, a few of the terrorists succumb, too.

It’s all drawn very skilfully and convincingly, with proper attention to practical details like food supply and sleeping arrangements. I thought the whole thing very well done, and shall look out for the author’s name when I need a good undemanding middlebrow novel to read.

A movie of the novel was released in 2018, directed by Paul Weitz, the viewer reviews at IMDb somewhat mixed; but we’ve rented the DVD from Netflix anyway and I’ll post a review of my own when we’ve watched it.

Miss America 1967

Just another one from Life magazine.

Go to the issue for August 18th 1967. Click on “Preview this magazine” then scroll down to pages 58-59, about three-quarters of the way down the elevator shaft. There you will see a two-page spread sponsored by Toni hair products, showing the smiling faces of fifty young women.

These are to be the contestants in the 1968 Miss America pageant.

Notice anything about them?

Math Corner

First, a word about The College Mathematics Journal, hereinunder CMJ.

I regularly bitch and moan in this spot about the appalling Wokeness of the journals Monthly and Focus from MAA (the Mathematical Association of America) and the Notices of AMS (the American Mathematical Society). Permit me to redress the balance a little.

The CMJ is an MAA publication, like the MAA Monthly and Focus, but it’s nothing like as Woke as those other periodicals. The May 2021 issue, from which I’m taking my brainteaser, has nothing in it but math, math, and math. There is no ideology at all, unless you count a brief notice of Catrina and Zilli’s December 2020 article Disagreement Networks in a different math journal.

(Catrina and Zilli attempt to quantify the degree of ideological difference in the U.S. Supreme Court by using “the components of a specific eigenvector of the transition probability matrix” of a certain reversible Markov chain “as an ideology metric for quantifying the judges’ judicial philosophies.” I have forwarded a link to the Senate Judiciary Committee, who I am sure will be able to make good use of Disagreement Networks in their deliberations.)

So here’s a word of support for the College Mathematics Journal, doing what a math journal should do: print interesting articles about math. Water in the desert!

Interesting, and often practical. Lead article in the May issue: Distances Between Factorizations in the Chicken McNugget Monoid. Further on in the issue is The Sock Problem Revisited, opening sentence: “Every job of doing laundry ends with the process of matching the socks.” Who says mathematicians are unworldly?

I can’t forbear noting that the CMJ is edited by a male, unlike MAA Focus, MAA Monthly, and AMS Notices. How long will it be, I wonder despairingly, until the Woke Bimbos invade and occupy the offices of the CMJ, like those Peruvian terrorists crashing Mr Hosokawa’s birthday party?

Brainteaser: Bailey’s Triangle.

This month’s brainteaser is from the “Problems” section of the May 2021 CMJ. As is usual with these journals, it’ll be a few months before they publish a worked solution.

It was proposed by Herb Bailey of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. With a respectful nod to the shade of Frank Morley, I hereby christen it the problem of Bailey’s Triangle.

An isosceles triangle has incenter I, circumcenter O, side length [i.e. for each of the two equal sides] s, and base length w. Show that there is a unique value of s/w so that there exists a point P on one of the two equal sides such that triangle IOP is equilateral. Find this value.

This is another one of those problems I’ve diddled with for half an hour on and off through the month, but never solved to my own full satisfaction. I mean, I solved it in the sense of figuring out the answer (I am pretty sure), but I did so by the breaking-rocks method, i.e. brute-force algebra. I feel sure there is a much smarter geometric proof, but I couldn’t find it.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: China, Donald Trump 
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  1. UNIT472 says:

    Old mass market, ad supported magazines are time capsules. A pity they don’t extend back much further than the turn of the 19th century. How interesting a 600 year old issue of an Italian version of Life would be or a Greek “People” magazine with an interview of Archimedes!

    Years ago I was doing some electrical work in the attic of what had been summer house of the owner of the San Francisco Chronicle. It had been built in 1889 and behind what had been the cistern I discovered some magazines and letters and evidence of an ancient scandal. The oldest magazines were from 1912 and included a Saturday Evening Post and magazine called ‘Leslies’. It wasn’t the stories that were fascinating it was the ads. Electricity was becoming standard in middle class homes and the American Gas Association didn’t like that and was advising people to go with what they were familiar with and required no expensive modifications to their home to enjoy light, cooking and heat. They didn’t mention refrigeration but I’m not sure how common that was in 1912.

    Along with the magazines I found a bottle of Johnny Walker Scotch with a bit left in it but I didn’t try it. Smoked cigars and cigarettes with lipstick on them along with a maid’s apron. Aha! the butler and the maid were sneaking off to the attic in 1912!

    Around 1917 the house was donated to a Catholic Women’s College and became a dormitory and, once again the attic became a place to seek privacy. Here I found some love letters between a student and her boyfriend then attending the US Army Balloon School in Pasadena, Ca. as the US prepared to enter WW1. He had been prescient enough send his girlfriend a pamphlet on the activities then taking place in the world of military balloons. Hopefully he found another military occupational specialty before he was deployed because Target was all Balloons were by t917.

    I gathered my discoveries together sans the evidence of the butler and maid and gave it college archivists to see if they cared to track down that long ago student and her boyfriend.

    • Thanks: Marshal Marlow
  2. SafeNow says:

    “In 1966, apparently, it was generally assumed that college administrators came equipped with backbones.”

    Not at my very-“elite” New England university, which was precisely where and when the unraveling all started. As Roger Ebert wrote about protagonist Woody Allen in his review of Annie Hall: “He was not the VICTIM of forces beyond his control, but their AUTHOR.” Ebert described the Woody Allen character as a liberal, and, “seeker of the unobtainable.”

  3. Packer’s map and divisions are preposterous. I’m too tired to explain why. Having lived long enough in diverse regions of America to have come to understand the local concerns and having looked at the presidential election returns by county and having studied that map published a few years ago about the seven (was it?) different Americas I can tell you that Packer’s method of classification has no bearing on reality on the ground. This must be what it’s like to be a field officer who has received orders that were issued by Generals who were perusing maps while smoking cigars and drinking coffee in a headquarters situated far from the front.

    Washington and Oregon treated as single East/West entities? C’mon. He’s not even trying. Minnesota and Wisconsin different? Michigan as part of Smart America. Bwahahahahahahaha! The Adirondacks in Upstate New York different from Vermont? What the……..?

    Besides, the whole notion that the Globalists constitute some sort of cognitive Elite is laughable. Just try to talk to one of them about anything cultural or sociological. They’re know nothings. Sure, they can read a paragraph and then correctly answer five multiple choice questions about what they read but they display a dismaying lack of ability to link anything they read to what’s going on in the world around them. To them, college was an exercise. A way to get a job. They don’t remember most of what they read and couldn’t apply it to the world they live in if their lives depended on it. I see and hear it every day. I’ve talked with friends and spouses of relatives etc. who function at very high levels in American society. They’re dullards. They know one thing, their job and possibly, a hobby–which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. Beyond that, they have no intellectual curiosity.

    Also, you can’t get a reasonably priced book springy thing because making a thin sheet of uniform-springiness steel requires real technical know how and a commitment to quality that is expensive. (I would guess that it came from the Sheffield region of England) A piece of spring steel has a “just right” chemical composition. Then it must be rolled to just the right thickness. Then the steel has to be exposed to just the right amount of heat and in just such a way as to impart the tendency for the steel to coil. All of this is actually quite exacting stuff and its unlikely that the money to be made for such a minor niche can offset the expense of creating a line that could make such things. Books are disappearing, so, one would imagine, would too the use of devices for managing books.

    And finally, any such product made in China would LOOK like the real thing, but the steel would not coil properly for any length of time. After a few uses, the steel would have taken a set and refused to coil into a tight coil. This is just the way Chinese stuff is made. It looks like the real thing, but that’s all it does and since the ordinary consumer can’t tell the difference in alloying and heat treatment just by looking at the product, the Chinese stuff finds a market. All too often, the consumer ends up unsatisfied by the low quality which manifests after a few uses.

  4. Jimbobla says:

    So (I hate it when someone starts a sentence with “so”, don’t you?) The Miss America contestants: Pretty, short haired, female (just a guess), and, oh yeah, white. No negroes. Let’s see that happen today. I don’t even know if they still have this contest. I would imagine it would be Mx/y/z America. No white heterosexual female need apply.
    I remember the movie Bel Cantos. Pretty good. Never read the book though.

  5. My favorite fiction novels:

    Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    The Paperboy by Pete Dexter

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
    , @Truth
  6. MEH 0910 says:

    “Young workers grumble about raising the age. They suspect they will have to wait longer for promotions as older workers occupy jobs for longer.”

    Senior Service · Elvis Costello & The Attractions

    [MORE]

    http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/Senior_Service

    Chorus:
    Senior service
    Junior dissatisfaction
    It’s a breath you took too late
    It’s a death that’s worse than fate
    Senior service
    Junior dissatisfaction
    Though it may be second hand
    It’s by no means second rate

    I want your neck
    I want the seat that you sit at
    I want your cheque
    Because they told me I would get on
    I wanna chop off your head and watch it roll into the basket
    If you should drop dead tonight then they won’t have to ask me twice

    (Chorus)

    They took me in the office and they told me very carefully
    The way that I could benefit from death and disability

    (Chorus)

    I want your company car
    I want your girlfriend and love
    I want your place at the bar
    Because there’s always another man
    To chop off your head and watch it roll into the basket
    If you should drop dead tonight then they won’t have to ask me twice

    (Chorus)

  7. I was surprised to see how many news stories there have been recently about young people losing interest in sex.

    Two causes:

    Heterosexual sex, particularly men pursuing women, is violence against women. (See #MeToo)

    The second cause, actually related to and a by-product of the first, is the turning of heterosexual men into if not outright homosexuals, extremely effeminate “men.” Checked into a hotel, dealt with customer service, ordered a coffee, or gone into a shoe store, you’ll know what I mean. Male heterosexuality exists in the private consumption of porn, or in the outlandish world of homosexuality. Unless you immerse yourself in either of these worlds, you won’t see much interest in sex.

    These are to be the contestants in the 1968 Miss America pageant.

    I think the following year, 1968, was the first year some feminists organized a protest outside of the Miss America venue in Atlantic City.

  8. We recently learned that he’s quit his job to tăng píng, living on the rental income. It’s nothing like as much as his old salary, but Mrs D. reports him as happy, with no regrets.

    He’s a loser.

    大丈夫处世,不能立功建业,不几与草木同腐乎!

    I challenge you Mr. Derbyshire, to cite the source of this quote from a well known literary reference.

    View post on imgur.com

    • Replies: @John Derbyshire
  9. “Merit” is one of the last things that comes to my mind when talking about “Smart America”. Most of the “elites” have no common sense or useful skills and could not be relied upon to poor urine from a boot, even if you wrote the instructions on the bottom.

  10. @The Anti-Gnostic

    The Little Friend is better.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  11. Jtgw says:

    Is anyone else reminded of the “four folkways” from David Fischer’s Albion’s Seed when they look at Packers schema?

    • Replies: @Hapalong Cassidy
  12. Derbyshire continues to puff the ludicrous Ed West, as ever.

    Ed West is an author, journalist and blogger, who is the deputy editor of UnHerd. He was previously deputy editor of The Catholic Herald and a columnist for The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator. He began his career with the lads mag Nuts Magazine,[1] and has also written for the Evening Standard,[2] The Guardian,[3] The i,[4] The Week,[5] and Spiked.[6]

    Guys who have worked at Nuts magazine can’t really get away with sneering at Trump. 60 years ago Nuts would have been on the Index of Banned Books, West would have been excluded from the MSM and would have ended up writing for some 60s soft porn publication.

  13. Currahee says:
    @ThreeCranes

    “I’ve talked with friends and spouses of relatives etc. who function at very high levels in American society. They’re dullards. They know one thing, their job and possibly, a hobby–which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. Beyond that, they have no intellectual curiosity.”

    Yea verily, indeed!

  14. Currahee says:
    @Jimbobla

    Just crowned Miss Nevada is a male negro. Honest!

  15. dimples says:
    @ThreeCranes

    This chap sounds like he thinks he is living in the 19th century or earlier when steel was made by hand. None of the reasons he gives for the difficulty in finding such an item are valid. They probably went out of fashion and nobody makes them any longer, there being less bookshelves in the modern era. The coil thing is also rather odd looking. It’s not a thing I would buy myself.

  16. @Jtgw

    Indeed, Fischer’s Puritans (or more specifically, their modern-day heirs) with their “ordered liberty” are the bane of our existence. While Fischer’s Borderers with their love of individualism and decentralized government are the only thing standing between us and a socialist dystopia.

    • Replies: @Jtgw
  17. AceDeuce says:
    @dimples

    By incorrectly writing “less bookshelves” instead of the correct term “fewer bookshelves”, I can tell that you are, most indisputably, a product of the 21st century.

    • Replies: @Sollipsist
  18. @Bernard Franklin Brandt

    He wants a coil bookend.

    Derb is incorrect that a bookend such as he shows there sold for \$3 40 years ago – maybe 50 years ago but not 40. A \$3 bookend from 50 years ago would be about \$20 today. And that is what they are now.

    Go to ebay.com and search for “coil bookend” and then sort on price+shipping. They’re about \$20 nowadays.

    Or you could search for “adjustable bookend” – which look pretty neat to me – and are also in the \$15-\$20 range.

    If you get them from Amazon.com, there’s usually some sort of free shipping over a certain price point. That might be a better bet than ebay in this case.

  19. @dimples

    I said, “All of this is actually quite exacting stuff and its unlikely that the money to be made for such a minor niche can offset the expense of creating a line that could make such things. Books are disappearing, so, one would imagine, would too the use of devices for managing books.”

    Exactly what you accuse me of not saying. Methinks you need to hone your reading comprehension skills.

    But honing too is a lost art. Can you, by the way? Hone your own knives? Are they Sheffield steel? Can you personally handle any of the tools needed to repair (let alone make) any of the stuff you consume? Do you understand how any of the stuff in your apartment is made?

  20. @AceDeuce

    I can’t figure out why this is so widespread, with such an easy rule of thumb to get it right. It’s on the verge of being misused into official acceptance.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  21. anonymous[409] • Disclaimer says:

    Eighteen-years ago John Derbyshire was screaming at us to get off our asses and send ourselves or failing that at least our sons to go off and fight those dastardly Muslims. Sunni,Shia ,Persian or Arab whatever it doesn’t matter.We would have been hopelessly bogged down in Iran by 2008 if foreign policy were left up to him.

    By the way the Jews and Chinese have high IQ’S. So what are you complaining about you idiots?

    • Agree: GazaPlanet
    • Replies: @MEH 0910
  22. Jtgw says:
    @Hapalong Cassidy

    Yeah “ordered liberty” only works in decentralized system with free exit. Today’s Puritans want to make sure there is no escape. But I’d say also Borderer “natural liberty” thrives best at the local level; when nationalized it just turns into fascist warmongering.

    • Replies: @Hapalong Cassidy
  23. “There are today very few important areas of British or American society in which progressives do not have complete dominance.”

    How did this happen?

    Oy vey, Fellow Whites, it’s a mystery not worth examining. Oh look, Buffy Loves DeSquarious is on!

  24. @Jimbobla

    Gee, I missed all that stuff — only thing I spotted was (what appears to be) a shocking discrimination against blondes. That’s really not fair.

    • Replies: @WhiteWinger
  25. @Sollipsist

    Sorry, sollipsist, but “rule of thumb” has/will be disappeared – as it refers to the century’s old practice of gauging how thick a piece of wood maybe before you can beat your wife with it. 98.7% of modern women know this fact, so exercise some empathy, guy (you horrible sexist :~))

    • Replies: @David
  26. Mr. Derbyshire, I can’t read nearly the quantity of books that you have been reading. However, all of the handful of book recommendations from you have panned out well for me, so I have Bel Canto on the way from the “free”, as in 80 million dollar bond issue debt covered for renovations to buildings that were perfectly fine before, uhh, where was I, library! (There you go.)

    We do have the FreeLittleLibraries all over my neighborhood though. Most have either books for children, which we’ve taken advantage of on probably 10 to 15 occasions, or some self-help books, women’s novels, and lefty stuff. I did find one book on sailing I liked that I’ve been carrying around for a while.

    There’s lefty stuff, mildly that is, not Das Kapital or Mao’s book, because there is a lot of that woke stuff going around the neighborhood. I think there’s a silent majority, but we’ve got our share of BLM, “We Believe”, etc, signs. I thought about leaving some of my old books for other people, but I don’t know if that is part of the deal – putting our own one up would be a waste, as there are a couple right near here. This LittleFreeLibrary thing was a great idea by some creative person, and not something that could possibly have originated in certain other low-trust areas and nations.

  27. David says:
    @animalogic

    You might want to look that up.

    • Replies: @Sollipsist
  28. @Jtgw

    Yes, the Borderer Achilles heel is their enthusiasm for supporting any war, no matter how stupid it is.

  29. The 1967 beauty pageant chicks were all white, all thin, all feminine, and all virgins.

    Less than 20 years later black slut Vanessa Williams — who had already posed for porn by that point — won the competition, and then had her crown taken away when the porn pictures were discovered.

    No matter; the black porn slut was celebrated by Hollywood and became a big star with three ex-husbands. Because in our current culture, morality doesn’t matter.

    • Replies: @Truth
  30. sorry, all coloureds to the back of the pageant, please.

    good times, huh?

    stupid humans.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  31. @David

    “Facts don’t do what I want them to.”

  32. Serpentza is good. Good to see his vid on Taiwan…..

  33. Ha, my principles run something like:

    Courage lost; good riddance
    Honor lost; who cares
    Money lost—-holy crap!

    Who took my money!!!??

    • Replies: @Anon
  34. Anon[381] • Disclaimer says:
    @Happy Tapir

    ‘Who took my money?’, perhaps it was the aforementioned yiddish.

  35. uncamons says:

    BTW,

    Although the specifics of the story may be fictional, the setting of Bel Canto is based in a famous episode of Peru’s history, when a guerrilla group -I think it was not Sendero Luminoso, though- invaded a high-society, maybe a diplomatic party. This might explain the fact that the logistics were correct.

  36. It’s unfortunate that “Free America” is identified with Reagan and Limbaugh, two of the most flagrant serial liars ever. And “Real America” is located within the borders of the old Confederacy, which was created by an arrogant aristocracy angered by a free and fair presidential election they weren’t able to steal? Sorry, there is nothing “real” or “American” about that unfortunate episode at all.

    Also, never forget that a piece of worthless old crap being offered online as an antique for seventy-five bucks is not the same thing as a piece of worthless old crap selling for seventy-five bucks.

    • Troll: Achmed E. Newman
  37. @animalogic

    Yes! Almost the polar opposite of the ((( typical leftist ))) propaganda / narrative, regarding the USA before the 196660s racial and cultural revolution; they love to portray the US, pre-1967ish, as Blonde and Blue Eyed-ruled as Nazi Germany. We’ve all seen enough leftist sketch TV shows,and movies, over the last 50 years, WE REMEMBER!!!!

    But why let reality get in the way of good old , “destroy everyone and everything White” ,jealous jewish racist propaganda, no matter how childish and 1 dimensional ????

  38. Derb, it’s interesting to me that three of the Four Americas are all part of the cognitive elite. Only Real America is middle class. Where are the “oppressed peoples” of whom we’ve heard tell?

  39. Truth says:

    Notice Anything About 1967 Miss America Finalists?

    Yes, none of them would have given you a second look back then, and now in their 70’s, the ones who are still alive would rather do Fred Reed.

  40. Truth says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    Dude, I’m am truly hoping that you’re a broad.

    • LOL: Old Prude
  41. Truth says:
    @R.G. Camara

    The 1967 beauty pageant chicks were all white, all thin, all feminine, and all virgins.

    OK, so you’re still a 75% student, I guess we are the same people we were in high school…

    • Troll: R.G. Camara
    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
  42. These are to be the contestants in the 1968 Miss America pageant.

    Notice anything about them?

    If you had asked this question a decade ago, I might have remarked that they all appear to be White. Nowadays, I’d add that they all appear to be actual women, although Miss Vermont, Miss West Virginia, Miss Delaware, and Miss California have some mannish features. Surprisingly, Miss Oregon looks normal … those were the days, my friend.

  43. @Truth

    That’s not what your mom said last night.

    BURN!

    • Replies: @Truth
  44. Truth says:
    @R.G. Camara

    You’re right, she rated you an F-.

  45. Old Prude says:
    @Jimbobla

    My 1981 graduating class from Indiana: 600 students. One negro, one dot-indian, and a handful of orientals. The the rest all white folks. 300 eighteen year-old white girls: Paradise.

    • Replies: @Truth
  46. Old Prude says:
    @dimples

    I agree the thing is ugly. At first glance I thought “Why did Derb glue that PVC Pipe to a bookend? But it is clever, and clever has its own attraction, as does functionality. Though clever, functional and attractive need not be mutually exclusive. Mrs. Derb comes to mind.

    • Replies: @John Derbyshire
  47. Truth says:
    @Old Prude

    Paradise.

    …Not for the 47 closet homos.

  48. dually says:

    Sexual intercourse today,
    now that blaming race is a thing of the past,
    is in thinking of new and creative ways
    to keep f-king the working class

  49. macilrae says:

    Meanwhile, back at Bailey …

    An isosceles triangle has incenter I, circumcenter O, side length [i.e. for each of the two equal sides] s, and base length w. Show that there is a unique value of s/w so that there exists a point P on one of the two equal sides such that triangle IOP is equilateral. Find this value.

    … and, discarding the brutal use of tangents of half angles, let’s work the problem backwards.

    The solution depends only on the angle of the isosceles triangle so let’s draw a vertical line of indeterminate length to represent its axis of symmetry; with two arbitrarily spaced points on it to represent I and O – scale is irrelevant.

    Construct the required equilateral triangle IOP on IO and draw a line through P perpendicular to OP and allowing this to intersect IO, produced, at A – PA is the top half of one of the equal sides of the isosceles (its perpendicular bisector OP is the construction line to find O).

    Angle PAI is 30 degrees which is half the isosceles apex angle – making it also equilateral with s/w=1.

    Since I and O have to be coincident in an equilateral triangle – and here they aren’t – we can bet that I won’t be the centre of the incircle.

    If I understand it right, the construction isn’t possible – but I’m seeing more impossible possibles in recent years – go on, then, straighten me out!

  50. MEH 0910 says:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Piece_(TV_series)

    One Piece (stylized as ONE PIECE) is a Japanese anime television series based on Eiichiro Oda’s manga series of the same name. The story follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a boy whose body gained the properties of rubber after unintentionally eating a Devil Fruit. With his crew of pirates, named the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy explores the Grand Line in search of the world’s ultimate treasure known as “One Piece” in order to become the next Pirate King.

    [MORE]

    • Replies: @David Davenport
  51. @Truth

    Work on your mad math skills, Truth. 2% homos is generous to them, and that’d make 6, not 47. That is, unless you knew some of these 47 people from OP’s high school and have “inside” information.

  52. @Old Prude

    Thanks, Old Prude. My lady has a great sense of humor, too. At a Fourth party last night someone told the Chinese detective joke. https://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/928898-joke-chinese-detective/ She’s still giggling.

  53. dearieme says:

    tăng píng? Tant pis.

  54. @MEH 0910

    MEH 0910 has a point. The problem is poorly worded.

    By definition, all three sides of an equilateral triangle have equal length. The two opposite sides of an isosceles triangle are equal length, but the third, base leg does not share this length.

    Using a drawing compass, on can easily mark the lengths of the the two opposite sides of the new, equilateral triangle, and then the height above baseline center at which the opposite sides need to intersect. Of course the lengths of the opposing sides or perhaps the length of the base need to be changed to complete this construction.

    • Replies: @MEH 0910
    , @macilrae
  55. MEH 0910 says:
    @David Davenport

    MEH 0910 has a point. The problem is poorly worded.

    I was just making a joke about a “one-piece bookend”, heh, heh.

  56. macilrae says:
    @David Davenport

    The problem is poorly worded.

    It’s worded perfectly correctly – I’m just saying it isn’t possible to construct an equilateral triangle as described. And I believe I proved it.

  57. @ThreeCranes

    Who do you think the “average steel consumer” is?

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
  58. Hibernian says:
    @Truth

    47/300 is greater than Kinsey’s 10%. Then again, Indiana was Cole Porter’s native state. (And Kinsey’s adopted state.)

  59. @Triteleia Laxa

    You and I. Anyone without access to a lab where they can perform destructive testing under controlled conditions.

    • Replies: @Triteleia Laxa
  60. @ThreeCranes

    You must be quite eccentric. I don’t buy steel. I buy consumer goods. Most people who buy steel are procuring it for their industrial concern and are perfectly capable of discerning good quality from bad.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
  61. Antiwar7 says:

    I think tăng píng is a good sign for Chinese workers. If some feel they can reject too-demanding work hours, that will improve the relative power of the remaining workers. And it’s good if the ones who do it are physically and mentally comfortable. Seems like a win-win for the people there.

  62. @Triteleia Laxa

    You don’t buy steel?

    Then you don’t own a car, lawnmower, set of kitchen knives, lamp, heat pump, furnace or air conditioner, refrigerator, stove, electronic equipment, rifle, pistol, jacket with snaps or buckles, bicycle, scooter, roller blades, fan, fuse box, nail, screw, screwdriver, chisel, saw, hammer, skilsaw, drill, boat etc. etc.

    And you call me eccentric!

    Clue me in. How do you whittle your trunnels without a steel knife?

    Ah, of course! A flaked, stone hand axe.

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