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SEPTEMBER DIARY [12 ITEMS]: Chinese Masculinity; the Passing of Books; My Melanoma; ETC.
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Chinese masculinity

In recent podcasts I’ve made passing mention of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to encourage Chinese men to be more masculine.

That follows earlier ventures into this rather fraught zone. Reporting on my trip to Taiwan five years ago I posted this:

For a visitor from the States, masculinity is noticeable. (Although it is of course wicked to notice.) There is a tough, husky, aggressive variety of Chinese male much more in evidence in the homelands than in the U.S.A. Our immigration system favors the dorkier tail of the Chinese-male masculinity distribution.

I knew this, having spent some of my formative years in Chinese cities among all types, but had forgotten it in my long absence.

I once had a Chinese boss who had served in Taiwan’s equivalent of the Marine Corps. He was one of those still, quiet, scary types who gave the impression that when hungry he might chow down on a brick. His stories about basic training were as hair-raising as anything I’ve heard from Parris Island alumni.

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 has been blamed on Russian misperceptions of the Japanese character. The story goes that the Tsar’s officer class knew Japan only from reading Pierre Loti’s 1887 bestseller Madame Chrysanthème (the ultimate source for Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly). Loti’s novel portrays the Japanese as effeminate, comical, and none too bright. The Russians assumed they’d have an easy victory. In the event, they were routed.

False stereotypes can have unhappy consequences.

Yes they can. Perhaps that’s something we should bear in mind.

And the stereotypes persist. Recall the portrayal of Bruce Lee as an ineffectual braggart in the movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Perhaps the ChiComs should export more men like my old boss.

Strange connections

On our way out to the eastern end of Long Island to take the ferry, we stopped off to see the outdoor art installations at the LongHouse Reserve. One of them was Yoko Ono’s chess set.

I remember having read about this, but had never seen it. Yoko made a chess set with pieces all the same color—white. This was supposed to be some kind of “statement.” Let’s forget all our differences! No more white chess pieces fighting with black chess pieces! Give peace a chance! Imagine!

Well, there it was in Easthampton: Yoko’s chess set, the pieces all white.

I’m not sure it works nowadays. Might not visitors less clued-in to Yoko’s œuvre take it to be an assertion of White Privilege?

Whatever. Standing gazing at it, I found myself thinking of the U.S. Congress, I don’t know why.

Usage and abusage

My pal over at Post Tenure Tourettes has a good rant about misuse of the word “axiom”—by a mathematician, yet! His target is Federico Ardila, right, a math professor at the San Francisco State University.

Reading Prof. Ardila’s Wikipedia page, he seems to be the dreariest kind of wokester: “has worked to create a larger and more diverse community of members of underrepresented groups within mathematics …” Uh-huh. How to do that? By following “certain principles geared towards cultivating diversity within his field of study, which he calls Axioms.”

PTT fires a blast at that:

The ancient Greek mathematicians used the word “axiom” to mean a self-evident assertion, a claim that is so obvious as to not require a proof. Modern mathematics uses the term in a decidedly different fashion: a set of basic objects and properties they satisfy, on which a logical theory can be built. It is therefore disheartening and downright infuriating to see people who ought to know better intentionally misuse the word “axiom” for political and status gain.

Prof. Ardila’s first axiom, for example, is:

Axiom 1. Mathematical potential is distributed equally among different groups, irrespective of geographic, demographic, and economic boundaries.

As PTT observes, that is not a self-evident truth in the Greek style (e.g. Euclid’s “Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another”). Nor is it “a set of basic objects and properties they satisfy, on which a logical theory can be built” (e.g. the Axiom of Choice). It is an assertion about the nature of the world, like “the Sun orbits around the stationary Earth,” whose truth or falsehood can be determined by empirical research.

PTT is himself a mathematician. I can see how annoying it must be for him to see the professional terms of art abused in this way—and by a fellow professional!

A different mathematical friend grumbled to me recently about Joe Biden telling us we are at an inflection point. “Does the old fool have any clue what an inflection point actually is?” my friend scoffed.

In fairness to Biden—no, really—I think this is a different case. Biden isn’t a mathematician and doesn’t pretend to be. He’s just using an expression that has leaked out from mathematics into general usage, in a sense not very far removed from the mathematical sense. Yes, it’s silly and pompous and Joe is trying to sound smarter than he really is, but it’s not true word abuse, like Prof. Ardila’s “axioms.”

Nose cancer

Ah, cancer: lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer, … terrible afflictions all. You don’t hear much about nose cancer, though. Well, I’ve got it.

For many years I had a tiny fleshy lump on the side of my nose. It wasn’t any trouble and the color was just the same as the rest of my flesh, so it wasn’t particularly unsightly.

Then a small part of it changed color. It still wasn’t giving me any pain or trouble, but now it had, in my mind, crossed some threshhold of unsightliness.

Being constitutionally averse to things medical and no more vain than the mid-20th-century Anglo male average, I dithered for a few months, but at last went to see Dr. Nguyen, our local dermatologist.


Dr. Nguyen does not dither. With a clever little vibrating micro-scalpel she cut the durn thing out right there on my first visit. Gone! However, she told me she’d send it off to a lab for biopsy to see if there was anything nasty about it.

A week later she called. Yes, there were signs of melanoma. I should make an appointment with Dr. Chen at the MSK Cancer Center.

So I have nose cancer. According to Dr. Google, melanoma can be pretty mean. I find it hard to work up much anxiety when I don’t feel ill at all, but we’ll see what Dr. Chen finds.

Book fail

Nose issues of course turn one’s thoughts to Russia, the nasal nation.

I have been blessed with several Russian friends in my time, two of the dearest now sadly passed away. Both of those now-departed friends separately gifted me a book which they urged me to read, and it was the same book in both cases: Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. This, they both averred, was the great 20th-century Russian novel.

Those two books have been on my shelf for some years now. They are two different translations: One by Mirra Ginsburg from Grove Press, 1967, the other by Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor from Vintage Books, 1996.

Both are paperback editions, with lavish blurbs from respectable outlets on the covers:

“The book is by turns hilarious, mysterious, contemplative and poignant … a great work”—Chicago Tribune

“a vast and boisterous entertainment …”New York Times

“Fine, funny, imaginative … stands squarely in the great Gogolesque tradition of satiric narrative”—Newsweek

“a masterpiece …”—Library Journal

Each time I was gifted the book I had a go at reading it in one or other translation, but never got beyond Chapter Two. This month, with my dear deceased Russian friends in mind, and the fate of books in general (next segment), I suffered an unusually acute spasm of guilt, and resolved to repay my friends’ kindness by reading The Master and Margarita all through.

I have almost finished, but it’s been tough sledding and I can’t say I’ve gotten much pleasure from the reading.

No, it wasn’t all the allusions and Russianisms that put me off. I actually like that kind of thing. When I needed to have something explained to me, the Burgin-O’Connor translation anyway provides 24 pages of helpful notes. (It is also the better of the two translations. I bailed out for good from Burgin’s when she used “disinterested” to mean “uninterested” in Chapter 12.)

It’s only that the action of the novel is too fantastical, the satire too heavy-handed, the allegory too convoluted, the personalities too unlike any actual human beings I have ever encountered.

Well, not every book is for everybody. At least when I am finished I shall not suffer a twinge of guilt each time my eye falls on that corner of the bookshelves.

The passing of books

Some years ago New Yorker magazine ran a cover picture of a guy sitting in an armchair working a laptop, with behind him a whole wall full of books. Every one of the books had, on its spine, a little face drawn. The faces were sad, angry, or plaintive.

That came to mind this month when I heard that Book Revue, my village’s independent bookstore, was closing. In their last week, the week of September 6th, they marked down all of their huge inventory. I went in to pick up some bargains, but for some reason felt no urge to buy and left empty-handed.

The following Tuesday, when I passed by, they had already cleared out the whole place. The empty shelves were a melancholy sight.

When we settled here thirty years ago the village had Book Revue and two second-hand bookstores, with a couple of the big chain retailers in nearby shopping centers. Now the nearest place to buy a book, or just browse, is in the mega-mall fifteen miles away. At any rate, there was a Barnes & Noble there when I last went, a couple of years ago …

“Oh, people just buy their books online—lots of books!” That’s what you hear if you raise the topic. I call it whistling through the graveyard, and think of that New Yorker cover. Books are dying a slow death, going the way that cuneiform on clay tablets went when papyrus came up.

It’s geezerish to grumble about it, and anyway futile. History stumbles on, and the old gives way to the new. For someone of my generation, though, for whom books have been a solace and a delight from childhood onward, it is sad, sad.

Allo-, not elo-

One more on usage. I was reading an ABC News account of court proceedings concerning the December 2019 death by stabbing of 18-year-old Tessa Majors in New York. One of the “teens” (yeah, right: I had to go to the Daily Mail for a picture) has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

What stopped my eye was this:

Lewis appeared in court in a dark suit and tie and raced through an allocution in which he said …

Never mind what he said; he raced through what? I had to look it up in Webster’s.

allocution … the act of addressing or exhorting.

(A) Have I really lived a long life, read thousands of books, journals, magazines, and websites, and actually written half a dozen books myself, without ever encountering this word before? Or (B) are my mental faculties so decayed I am losing words I once knew?

I choose (A)—”A” for Allocution.

Block Island

Suffering from cabin fever, we took a long-weekend break at the end of September. One of Mrs Derbyshire’s friends had advertised the delights of Block Island to her. We had never been there; there’s a ferry from the far eastern tip of Long Island; so that’s where we went, stopping at a couple of places of interest on the 90-mile trip from our house to the ferry dock.

It was a fun and relaxing short vacation, and we are obliged to the Block Islanders who helped make it so. We cycled the length and breadth of the island, and hiked some nature trails.

Walking up the sandy spit at the far north of the island, just to see how far we could go, we spied in the distance ahead a big cluster of wildlife—all sea birds, it seemed, congregated over and around what looked like huge dark boulders. As we got closer the birds all took off, flying away in a mass, and we saw that the boulders were in fact seals—a whole bob of seals (yes, that’s the collective noun: I looked it up), twenty or more of all sizes, including some babies.

As we approached, they all slithered off into the water. They didn’t go far, only a few yards from the open sand, just their heads above the water, following us with their strangely doggy faces as we walked by.

Chinese has two words for “seal”: hăibào (sea leopard) and hăigŏu (sea dog). From those faces, and their wary-but-non-hostile demeanor towards us, I think the latter word is much the more apt.

I’m not going to oversell Block Island, though. For a long weekend, it was perfect; but the place is small, and not over-supplied with interesting things to see or do. I think if we’d stayed a week, I would have been bored.

Oh, you want pictures? I got pictures.

New England piety fail

In a wee traffic circle at the center of Block Island’s Old Harbor stands a statue of Rebecca at the well.

Who was Rebecca, Mrs Derb wanted to know, and what was she doing at the well?

I couldn’t give her a good answer. My formal religious education is far behind me. I dimly recalled Rebecca performing some act of charity at a well, but I couldn’t remember why or to whom, or what the consequences were. I asked one of the locals, a middle-aged lady, if she could refresh my memory.

“Oh,” she explained, “That statue was put there by the Temperance movement a hundred-some years ago. They wanted to encourage people to drink water, not wine.”

But why Rebecca from the Bible?

“Well, that’s what she was doing. People were drinking too much wine. She wanted them to drink water from the well. See?”

Huh? I didn’t remember that from the Old Testament. I tried a different local, but he was just as clueless. What happened to New England piety?

The actual story of Rebecca at the well is here.

And here I read that:

The statue of Rebecca at the Well was erected by the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement, but a close look at the modern day statue (a faithful replica of the original) and her grapes and amphora hint that the late-1800s statue supply company may have mixed up the biblical figure with a more wine-friendly Greek goddess, Hebe.

I’m not sure even that computes. Hebe was cup-bearer to the gods, whose tipples of choice were nectar and ambrosia. Were they actually alcoholic drinks? If so, was she watering them down before serving them to Zeus & Co., to encourage them in temperance? I can’t find any confirmation of that, and it doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do—more like a sure way to find yourself at the business end of a thunderbolt.

The debunking rabbit hole

Anniversary of the Month was of course the one for 9/11. In my September 10th podcast I briefly chewed over some of the outstanding unknowns. In the course of doing so, I confessed, by no means for the first time, my temperamental aversion to conspiracy theories.

After a reference to Laurent Guyénot’s article 9/11 Was an Israeli Job in the Unz Review of that date, I commented:

You can read Guyénot’s piece for yourself at the Unz Review, along with Ron Unz’s own contribution to the genre. For balance, you should then read the counter-conspiracy literature, which is extensive: Popular Mechanics magazine did a whole series of debunkings. Check ’em out and make up your own mind.

That stirred a conspiracy-minded listener to respond:

In fairness, shouldn’t you give at least some attention to the supposedly crazy conspiracy theorists’ response to that so-called debunking? … There have been responses to Popular Mechanics’ so-called debunking. In particular, I would direct your attention to the work of David Ray Griffin, specifically his book titled (natch) Debunking 9/11 Debunking.

In fairness, perhaps I should. But then, in further fairness, I should have to devote some time to reading the debunkers of David Ray Griffin—which is to say, with the debunkers of the debunkers of the 9/11 debunking. Without trying hard, I turned up this example: “On Debunking 9/11 Debunking: Examining Dr. David Ray Griffin’s Latest Criticism of the NIST World Trade Center Investigation” by Ryan Mackey.

No doubt Ryan Mackey has his debunkers, too; and they have theirs; and they, theirs; and so ad infinitum. How much time does my listener think I have?


I am a priori skeptical of all conspiracy theories. For one thing, I have noticed that conspiracy theorists always explain themselves in a way that is quite creepily confessional, to the point of being quasi-religious. The conspiracy theorist always begins by telling me that until recently he accepted the common account of the event; but then, after diligent enquiry, his eyes were opened, he became receptive to the truth, and was cleansed of sin at last.

For another, people rarely believe in just one conspiracy theory. If you think that 9/11 was a Mossad job, you probably also believe one or other of the following:

  • Queen Elizabeth had Princess Di murdered.
  • Our government (and, I suppose, all other governments; although conspiracy theorists are mainly interested in casting blame on the U.S.A. or Israel or Jews in general) are concealing the truth about UFOs.
  • The Moon landings were faked.
  • Someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK.
  • The Pearl Harbor attack was engineered somehow by FDR.
  • The Lusitania was sunk by the British navy.

For yet another, one’s choice of conspiracy theories lines up with one’s general personal prejudices. I feel sure, for example, although I’ve never seen a relevant survey, that Irish Nationalists are much more likely than others to believe the Lusitania thing, Republicans more likely than Democrats to believe the Pearl Harbor thing, Holocaust skeptics most likely to believe that Mossad pulled off 9/11, and so on.

I’ve had an extensive acquaintance with conspiracy theorists over many years. Some of them are my friends. Most are nice, normal people, except for that one bee in their bonnet.

Conspiracy theorism is just a cast of mind, a way of seeing the world. The attraction of it is gnostic: You are possessed of hidden truth, with a deeper insight into reality than the poor dumb credulous masses.

My own outlook is that:

  • Well-nigh no big historical event was ever proven to be more than it seemed to be.
  • No agency of any government could find its rear end with both hands and the Hubble Space Telescope, let alone successfully execute a complex, layered conspiracy and then keep the secret for decades.
  • The hundreds of hours that would be necessary to acquaint myself with all the debunkings of debunkings of debunkings of debunkings … of debunkings of the official 9/11 narrative would be more fruitfully and enjoyably spent learning to play the banjo.

Conspiracy theorizing is a mild psychological aberration, like OCD or agoraphobia, probably genetic in origin.

(Dave Thomas at Skeptical Inquirer did a good roundup of 9/11 conspiracy theorizing on the tenth anniversary in 2011; but no doubt everything he says has since been debunked, and …)

Math Corner

That wonderful monthly magazine The New Criterion entered its fortieth year of publication this month. Among the commemorative events has been the publication of a book, The Critical Temper, containing 54 pieces from the magazine’s last fifteen years. (Mine, ahem, on page 269.)

To launch the book the publisher, Encounter, of course had a party. It was great fun: lively talk, many old friends, exceptionally good finger food.

I got chatting with some of the magazine’s younger staffers. One of them expressed a wish to be better acquainted with math. Could I recommend any books?

My own knowledge of books likely to fire up an interest in math is sixty years in the past and my memory is shot, so I wasn’t very helpful. I did mention Gamow’s One Two Three … Infinity, Cundy & Rollett’s Mathematical Models, and E.T. Bell’s Men of Mathematics, all of which had excited my own youthful interest; and on the way home I recalled Kasner & Newman’s Mathematics and the Imagination (which coined the word “googol”).

However, the original publication dates of those books were, respectively, 1947, 1961, 1937, and 1940. Much mathematical water has flowed under the seven bridges of Königsberg in the decades since. Probably there are newer, perhaps better, books of this kind available. If any readers of this diary have suggestions, I shall pass them on to the interested parties.


Here’s a cute one from Dr. Peter Winkler at the National Museum of Mathematics. This one was posted to subscribers of the weekly “Mind-Benders for the Quarantined” on September 12th.

What is the first odd number in the dictionary?

More specifically, suppose that every whole number from 1 to, say, 1010 is written out in formal English (e.g., “two hundred eleven,” “one thousand, one hundred forty-two”) and then listed in dictionary order, that is, alphabetical order with spaces and punctuation ignored. What’s the first odd number in the list?

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Acilius says: • Website

    I’m sure the answer to the brainteaser can’t be as easy as it seems to me, but my guess is eighty nine.

  2. Acilius says: • Website

    No, no, not eighty nine- eight hundred and five.

    • Replies: @GeoffS
    , @Gross Terry
  3. A racist diagnosed with Melanoma – hilarious there’s a god after all only thing funnier would be a Jew with nose cancer.

    • Troll: YetAnotherAnon
    • Replies: @songbird
    , @Anon
  4. “Gifted”? Is that a word? What is wrong with “given”? It’s common among people who wouldn’t know the difference between disinterested and uninterested, but you are better than that Mr D. Best wishes from one grumpy old man to another.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  5. dearieme says:

    E.T. Bell’s Men of Mathematics: I have fond memories of that. If your friend’s interest extends to mathematical physics let me recommend the ancient but excellent The Strange Story of the Quantum by the magnificently monikered Banesh Hoffmann.

    There’s also a wonderful book for the intelligent schoolboy (as we used to be allowed to say) on Special Relativity – it must have been published in the late 50s or early 60s I suppose. The title and author escape me but I still remember the thrill of it.

    Both those books on math phys combine the theory with a good historical account of how the ideas developed. That sort of history is almost always omitted from university instruction but makes new stuff much easier for the beginner to follow, in my experience.

    P.S. I disagree about “inflection point”. The ignoramuses of the media and corporate life use it to mean either (i) turning point, or (ii) look at me, don’t I use fancy words? Or both.

    • Replies: @MPO
  6. dearieme says:

    I’ve remembered one case that argues against your general anti-conspiracy mindset. Years ago the climate sceptics had decided that the climate fraudsters were indeed frauds, and had formed a conspiracy to keep themselves in gravy while keeping the sceptics out of the best journals.

    Then came the “climategate” hack, or leak, of emails that showed the sceptics had been right in general and also right in many particulars.

    No other example springs to mind, though, unless you include such cases as the conspiracy to avoid blame for the Waco debacle/mass murder. Presumably everybody admits that governments (and corporations) will frequently organise conspiracies to avoid blame?

    • Replies: @james wilson
  7. “According to Dr. Google, melanoma can be pretty mean. I find it hard to work up much anxiety when I don’t feel ill at all, but we’ll see what Dr. Chen finds.”
    Hey John? Excuse the unsolicited advice — but melanoma is an utter — utter shit of a disease.
    It’s a bit like those old V. C tunnels — on the surface, a little entrance, but once thru it a whole city appears, miles & miles of tunnels, hospital wards, rooms for this, rooms for that.
    Point is — tiny thing on your nose can wind up in a whole mess of secondaries all over the internals of your body.
    Look out for yourself, Derb.

  8. MPO says:

    I suspect that most “newer” expositions on popular mathematics are likely to do more harm than good.

    A couple of titles in the vein of your examples would be:

    Great Ideas of Modern Mathematics, Their Nature and Use by Jagjit Singh, Dover, 1959

    A Long Way from Euclid by Constance Reid, Thomas E. Crowll, 1963

    The latter author also published From Zero to Infinity which I do not have but suspect it too fits the bill.

  9. Best Wishes and Godspeed on your duel with the melanoma; my Grandfather (farmer) had one removed from his right ear in his early 60’s and had no ill recurring effects; he lived until 80.

    For a good primer on mathematics, I picked up Ian Stewart’s (professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick) In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World while strolling through Barnes and Noble about a decade ago. I think it’s a good survey of the key math ideas over the course of history, explained easily enough for a non-math person like me who is nevertheless fascinated by math.

  10. MPO says:

    I believe the book on Special Relativity that you remember is possibly Relativity for The Million by Martin Gardner, Macmillan, 1963.

    Mr. Gardner was also the long running author of the Mathematical Games section in Scientific American back before that periodical went completely woke and subsequently into meaninglessness. It still saddens me to see what has become of that once great publication.

    I can also recommend Mr. Gardner’s The Ambidextrous Universe, Left, Right, and the Fall of Parity, Basic Books, 1964. The book is a fascinating read that is inherently mathematical but with numerous examples from a broad spectrum of the real World.

    • Thanks: dearieme
    • Replies: @Anon
  11. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to read the first 9 comments that WERE not written in reply to your (anti-) conspiracy theory segment. Let me be near the first, but not nearly they last. Your points on this sound very much like what I’d read in the most recent Fred Reed column here.* I hate to write that comparison, as there’s a huge difference between your well-written and well thought-out articles vs. the arrogant, know-it-all-wanna-be writing of Fred Reed.

    Here we go:

    First of all, I’m glad you qualified your “probably also believe” statement with “one or more of the following” or it’d have been way off the mark.

    (1) Who cares?! If you are not a weekly reader of the National Enquirer or British, or both, why would you care? I remember right when this Lady Di thing happened, and I do remember that I was pissed about it after a while. That was due to, my brother and I trying to watch Saturday Night Live, and after 2 minutes we were both yelling at the TV: “Enough of this crap! Put the show back on!”

    (2) Ridiculous.

    (3) Equally ridiculous.

    (4) That’s the one. There are so many political reasons someone or some entity would have wanted to get rid of JF Kennedy, that it’s almost hard NOT to believe it was the just the one guy acting alone. Additionally, it’s not like this was some complicated deal for which one would need to be an expert on aviation, structures, impact, computational fluid dynamics, and MORE, just be be able to make one’s own fair judgement. There’s no physical evidence that would disprove plenty of avenues of speculation about the assassination.

    (5) (Same as Fred Reed column, again). You are perhaps exaggerating what many have written. How about “… warnings of the Pearl Harbor were ignored and it was LET to happen by the Roosevelt administration” instead?

    (6) I hate to say it, but see (1). No, not “who cares?!” because this was a trivial piece of infotainment, like Lady Di’s death. It was far from it. However, it is so far back in time now that I’m not sure if too many of the 9/11 CTs would be interested.

    More in another comment or two.

    BTW, thanks for the other interesting segments, as usual. I’ve never been to Block Island, but I’ve taken the car of the ferry from Long Island out to, where does it go, New London, New Haven (??) for one thing, to avoid the whole NYC area while heading from the deep South to Boston. Another reason is that I totally enjoy the ferry boat rides.

    If you ever get out to western Washington, you could take any number of ferries (with or without your car) from the Seattle area and points north over to one of the big islands in the Sound to just visit or get you over to the beautiful Olympic peninsula. I am miffed by those sitting in their cars for the 20 min to 40 minute ride – they obviously do it daily – vs. going out on the bow or stern and seeing the beauty (well, for 1/3 of the year when you can see) and doing that “I’m king of the world” bit – with selfies, of course!


    * I could be tempted to believe, in fact, that you, Fred Reed, and Ron Unz are conducting a little experiment to see whether this type of discussion always leads to Max Comments.

    • Replies: @jamie b.
  12. There are two ways of starting out on the road to doubt of the mainstream stories and further down, detailed conspiracy theories that debunk the narratives.

    Either you start from the political angles showing why everyone and his brother would want to off this guy or do this deed, or you start from the event itself, trying to show evidence that it either couldn’t have happened as described in the mainstream narrative or must have happened differently per evidence and your noticing of certain details. If the 2 can be related in some way, well, that sure helps.

    Regarding 9/11, I have so little respect for, and faith in, the US Feral Government and its Deep State anymore that I could see very many political motivations. My problem is with picking one side or another based on the physical happening, which was no simple bullet through the top of the head, as with JFK. In “At Peak Stupidity club, YOU! DO! NOT! TALK! ABOUT! 9/11!, my point was this:

    I read and listen to ideas about what happened, but I can only be really sure of the specific parts of the speculation when it’s about a subject I know well. In this case, it’s the aviation portion. I hate to read some of the very reasonable theories by guys like James Corbett, etc., when they start off with material that is not factually correct regarding aviation. Or, I should just say, they are relying on multiple other sources who should know, but with varying views, pick their favorite, but don’t know really what they are talking about.

    Once I read or listen to a portion of a conspiracy theory explanation that I know is said with a lack of real understanding, I cease to believe any of the rest of it. Though I know a little about structures, I don’t feel qualified to make a definite call.

    I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to believe that their are entities within or adjacent to the US Feral Government that would have been above killing thousands of Americans to help implement the Police State and/or start up more Middle East warmongering.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  13. GeoffS says:

    Eight hundred fifteen…but I am trying to decide whether there’s a trick answer. That cut off at 1010 seems arbitrary.

    • Replies: @Acilius
  14. Voltarde says:

    “One of them expressed a wish to be better acquainted with math. Could I recommend any books? …

    …Probably there are newer, perhaps better, books of this kind available. If any readers of this diary have suggestions, …”

    Not math books (sorry!), but I really liked the visualizations and explanatory material in “3blue1brown”, which acknowledges its indebtedness to the efforts of the “art of problem solving” organization.

    • Replies: @Voltarde
  15. dearieme says:
    @Empty Vessel

    “Gifted”? Is that a word?

    It’s certainly a word in Scots English. It makes a useful distinction: compare “he gave it to his son” which could be accompanied by “I want it back before midnight”, and “he gifted it to his son”.

  16. Mr. Derbyshire falls into the same small minded trap as Fred Reed in his rejection of so-called “conspiracy theories.” Lionel Nation loves to quote Gore Vidal in debunking those who debunk conspiracy theories. Per Lionel, Vidal said that he was a “Conspiracy Analyst,” not a conspiracy theorist. Just changing one word opens your mind up to the endless possibilities.

  17. Woodsie says:

    The closing of The Book Revue is sad sad news. We’re literally out of reasons to go to Whitman’s home town now! I have many treasured books from the great indie store, but now only The Strand in the city remains. Sure, there are some junkue shops out east that will have a shelf or two of books, but The Book Revue was a mecca for old book collectors. Terrible news, but thanks for the heads up. We would have been devastated to pull up and find the place empty.

    The first blow was the shuttering of Cooke’s Inn, which had the best fried chicken, a unique gumbo, and the entertaining old fellah playing piano. That was over ten years ago. Then IMAC gave up the ghost, the best live music venue on the island. Now the Book Revue. To mis-quote Chrissie Hynde, I went back to Long Island and my city was gone.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  18. Acilius says: • Website

    Ah, yes, eight hundred fifteen. I’m surprised at how confusing I found it, it was like I was trying to rub my head while scratching my belly.

    • Replies: @GeoffS
  19. songbird says:

    Pearl Harbor was badly bungled, IMO. Those ships should not have been there. The defense of Hawaii was better handled by the army. They should have been on the West Coast of the US, where surprise attack would have been near about impossible.

    But that’s probably true of nearly every first engagement that the US has ever fought. For example, Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico.

    • Replies: @SafeNow
  20. GeoffS says:

    Eight hundred eighty five, I just realized when you replied…Probably still not there.

    • Replies: @Acilius
    , @Anon
  21. jamie b. says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    If you ever get out to western Washington, you could take any number of ferries… to one of the big islands in the Sound…

    Ha! Will be doing that with the family this weekend.

  22. songbird says:

    “Racism” is just any positive segment of a scalar spectrum of ethnocentrism, for Euros. All values past zero.

    While “antiracism” is all values before zero, for Euros. I.e., negative ethnocentrism for Euros, or the active and infinite preference for the stranger, even to the point of complete abnegation of one’s own nation.

    Choosing zero is not a moral course, for Euros, but a libertarian delusion. The only moral course is to choose racism, because otherwise you are just adding your zero to a negative value and not working to cancel the negative value out.

    I will add the obvious: many non-Euro anti-racists are just super-ethnocentrics for their own people. Their “anti-racism” is really just a tactic to further their own interests, at the expense of Euros. “Anti-racism” is not a moral universal, that is why it is so popular and powerful, and othering of “racists” so frequent and severe.

    True morality is universal, not to be confused with universalism, which is really just “anti-racism.”

  23. SafeNow says:

    “surprise attack”

    “sneak attack” until that wording was PC changed . Japanese diplomats were concurrently in D.C. professing peace, therefore, “sneak” became the adjective. All (except Israeli leaflets) attacks are surprise attacks; the term is not logical.

    But yes, bungled. Message to pearl: “This is a war warning.” Pearl’s reply: “Have executed a defense against sabotage.” People in Washington, upon receiving that non-sequitur reply, should have said WTF?! and acted accordingly. Unless something else was going on.

  24. Dutch Boy says:

    I believe most Chinese in America came from southern China, where the people are shorter and more slender than the northerners. This may be the source for the idea that they are effeminate (lacking perceived masculinity, as Steve Sailer might put it). I am not confident that the stereotype is correct, for the short and slender Japanese made ferocious soldiers not long ago.

    • Replies: @Ed Case
  25. Svevlad says:

    I have a strange view of conspiracy theories. I don’t really care about them, but I support them, exactly due to that whole debunk-rebunk endless loop.

    In their eternal mutual chasing to find the truth, they might dig up something actually useful. The only flaw is, I’d have to watch and listen to both sides, and conspiracy theories are annoying enough, but the debunkers make them seem bearable in comparison.

  26. SafeNow says:

    1. What the heck is “signs of melanoma”? It’s transitioning but is not there yet? The doc was being gentle? Derb was being gentle?

    2. if you wish to research this further, do not use Dr. Google. Just add, to your search terms, the initials ncbi. that will get you into the actual journal articles. These are not difficult to read for an educated smart person, especially someone who had a bookstore in his village for years.

    3. A wonderful family album of photos, thank you. if you ever need an additional and unofficial member of the family let me know. I am anti-illegal immigration, pro-Chinese-Americans, and, an expert at taking out the trash. I confess worry however, that the family album appears at the same time as the medical situation. It is as if you were writing your memoirs. Cheer up.

  27. Truth says:

    For a visitor from the States, masculinity is noticeable. There is a tough, husky, aggressive variety of Chinese male much more in evidence in the homelands than in the U.S.A. Our immigration system favors the dorkier tail of the Chinese-male masculinity distribution.

    I knew this, having spent some of my formative years in Chinese cities among all types, but had forgotten it in my long absence.

    Old Sport; allow me to remind you…

    • Replies: @Alfa158
    , @anon
  28. @dearieme

    Government conspiracies are easier to organize and easier to maintain than they ever were. The public, when they are not stupid, read or listen to five or ten sources for information and believe they are well informed. It seems ridiculous to consider that they are the same source.

    Climate “science”, Russian election collusion, Church of Covid, it’s all become so easy that it is on autopilot now. But even back in the day it wasn’t difficult. The Lusitania was a munitions ship. But you could only push a piece over the edge that was already on the edge. No longer the case.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  29. JMcG says:
    @james wilson

    I’ve often wondered why the Royal Navy repeatedly depth-charged the wreck of the Lusitania so often after the Second World War.

  30. Alfa158 says:

    Wrong clip Chief, John was in these scenes:

    • Replies: @Truth
  31. 1. I’m surprised John D never heard of a plea allocution statement. According to the American Bar Association:

    After pleading guilty, a defendant is typically offered a formal opportunity to address the court to express remorse, and explain personal circumstances that might be considered in sentencing. This is known as an allocution statement.

    2. John D asks:

    Hebe was cup-bearer to the gods, whose tipples of choice were nectar and ambrosia. Were they actually alcoholic drinks? If so, was she watering them down before serving them to Zeus & Co.?

    The answer is yes, Hebe would have watered down the wine, which was the normal practice in ancient Greece and Rome. From the Wikipedia article on wine in ancient Greece:

    Wine was almost always diluted, usually with water (or snow when the wine was to be served cold). The Greeks believed that only barbarians drank unmixed or undiluted wine and that the Spartan king Cleomenes I was once driven insane after drinking wine this way.[2] They also believed that undiluted wine could even kill the drinker: the Gallic chieftain Brennus was recorded as having committed suicide by drinking wine full-strength.[14] Greeks asserted that the dilution of wine with water was a mark of civilized behavior, whose contrast was embodied in the myth of the battle of Lapiths with the Centaurs, inflamed to rape and mayhem because of wine drunk undiluted with water.

  32. Well, I have been told, time and time again, that I know nothing of science by “scientists” on the internet.
    SAD! The people who said that had no idea who they were insulting ….. but I don’t care, human stupidity amuses me.
    That being said, if I were to recommend one math book to someone who wants to understand how the sad people (with a few exceptions) who picture themselves as mathematicians picture themselves as (to be fair, I am probably the only person in the world who thinks of that poor little recreational mathematician from Budapest who so so many people VENERATE, even to the silly extent of measuring their connections to the poor guy, without knowing he was just someone who liked numbers BUT WHO DID NOT UNDERSTAND SCIENCE OR MATHEMATICS all that well …. just a little guy who was to math what he would have been in the poker world if he had more balls ….), I would recommend the circa 200 page book on calculus riffs by Silverman, published most recently by Dover Press.
    That being said, Derbyshire’s book on the Riemann hypothesis is also really good, if you can figure out what the author says early on about the (and if you have read Newton or Liebnitz in the original, that was the best part of the book) leaning towers of card decks, and the interesting and not too hard to understand principles of math underlying the proposed solutions to the Riemann hypothesis conjectures (to date – for the record they are all wrong, the correct one is probably a little more difficult to understand) – if you are not too confused, you should be all right.

    • Replies: @very old statistician
  33. @very old statistician

    “Essential Calculus with Applications”
    Merci pour avoir lu.

  34. Truth says:

    Hey the Derb was part of a multi-racial crime gang.

    It’s too bad he isn’t 20 years younger or he would have been a shoo-in to get caste as “Shaggy.”

  35. Anon[369] • Disclaimer says:

    I’ve returned to reading print books exclusively. I spent a lot of time, wasted many years, buying and reading only ebooks— on a Kindle Paperwhite, iPad, and iPhone. Gradually it dawned on me that both my attention and retention was all but gone. I had attributed it to my aging brain (in my 40’s) but came to realize that it was just digital amnesia.

    Memory expert Anthony Metivier explains:

  36. How does Block Island compare to its freshwater competition? Mackinac in Huron, Madeline in Superior, Washington in Michigan, South Bass in Erie?

    Thorstein Veblen spent his summers on Washington Island learning Icelandic. Can’t do that everywhere.

  37. Stones says:

    Derb fan here. But, where does the attempted sinking of the USS Liberty fit in?

    A coverup from day 1. No conspiracy there? Enough info in the open for an open and shut conviction of the criminal cons from Johnson on down. Yet, nothing. Shouldn’t things like this rightfully weigh on our thinking in matters that might also involve the government? – ZOG?

    I think the best mental posture for a conscientious citizen should be to be very wary of all official alibis.

    BTW – old enough to remember Pearl Harbor. Much of the sealed info was released in 1992 on the NYT back pages after a 50 year court ordered embargo. The only thing that FDR didn’t know about the attack was the exact time and maybe the pilot’s menu on board the Japanese carriers.

    And, oh yes. Had a nose job like Derb, but it was a lesser cancer. Also by an Asian expert, but after an equal opportunity doc had said it was “nothing”. Lesson: get a 2nd opinion and more.

  38. Welshman says:

    Dear Mr Derbyshire, I am not sure that you have to worry unduly about the future of physical books – bookshops are closing because people are buying physical books – and most certainly not ebooks – online. (I resist citing, here, that infamous South American river.) Recent research – I am sadly unable to recall the reference – found that Kindle readers were predominantly in their 30’s and 40’s. The future of the paperback and hardback – although not, unfortunately, the future of leisurely browsing and of coming across unexpected delights – books seems assured.

  39. Renoman says:

    Sorry for your troubles John, foot forward brother.

  40. Anon[369] • Disclaimer says:

    Martin Gardner also edited and annotated Silvanus P. Thompson’s classic Calculus Made Easy.

    Marilyn vos Savant once wrote in her Parade column that Martin Gardner was her favorite mathematician. Later Gardner wrote an introduction to her book The World’s Most Famous Math Problem on the history of Fermat’s Last Theorem.

  41. Anon7 says:

    I enjoyed looking at Yoko’s chess set. Clever.

    On the other hand, I used to play pick-up basketball on dirty courts surrounded by ten foot chain link fences with guys I mostly didn’t know. We’d play five on five, first to fifteen points by ones wins. No harm, no foul.

    When it came time to decide who was shirts and who was skins, sometimes it was hot outside and we’d all play skins.

    We always knew who was on who’s team.

  42. Anon7 says:

    Thanks for sharing this video. I feel the same way about physical books, particularly those with content worth remembering and thinking about and connecting to other things you know.

    I find that, even if I don’t remember the page, I remember roughly where in a book I read something and I often remember whether it’s on the right or left side, top or bottom of the page.

    It’s possible that some kinds of content, like a story, that I’m fine with reading it on a device, which is kind of like pouring out the content from a vessel rather than seeing it as part of a structure. If that makes sense.

    Anyway, thanks again.

  43. If you believe the official story about 9/11, then you believe in a conspiracy theory. Nineteen Arab Muslims hijacking planes and flying them into buildings is a conspiracy theory. Here’s why I have come to lean toward a different conspiracy theory: Arab Muslims just didn’t have much to gain by doing it. There was a 100 percent chance they would be identified as the perpetrators, and how would Arab Muslims benefit from that? All right, being the decadent and absurd cesspool that it is, the US increased Muslim immigration after 9/11, but that was hardly foreseeable. On the other hand, if Jews were to do it and pretend Arab Muslims had done it, there would be a 100 chance they would not be blamed for it because blaming them for anything is like pushing them into the Auschwitz gas chambers all over again. Moreover, Jews had lots to gain, starting with the certainty the US would go to war against their Arab Muslim enemies.

    So I’m not sure who did 9/11, but Jews make more sense than Arabs.

  44. Dear John,

    concerning conspiracy theories/false flags, according to the current “canon”:

    –Marco Polo Bridge incident was a false flag
    –Soviet Unions start of the winter war was based on a Soviet false flag
    –Hitlers invasion of Poland was based on a false flag
    –The Maine was most assuredly not sunk by Spain
    –Golf of Tonkin
    –Bost tea party is also, strictly speaking, a false flag attack.

    False flags do happen historically, and they also get aknowledge as such whenever the nation/faction that made use of them gets defeated.

    If one defines “false flag” broadly, as if to include flying under another nations flag (but with the blessing of that nation), well, both the Soviets and the Americans had people flying under Nationalist Chinas flag, the Yanks with the flying tigers and the Soviets over Wuhan.

    Yes, most conspiracy theories are rubbish, but the odds of there being a conspiracy go up drastically whenver a Casus Belli to be generated is involved.

    • Replies: @BlackFlag
  45. AceDeuce says:

    I agree with your post. There are still a few decent bookstores in NYC besides the Strand. Argosy Books on E. 59th is an excellent one.

  46. AceDeuce says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    What’s the old joke:

    How do we know for sure that the U.S. Government wasn’t involved in the JFK assassination?

    He’s dead, isn’t he?

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  47. Anon[323] • Disclaimer says:

    Eight billion eight hundred eighty-five

    • Replies: @GeoffS
  48. Mr. Derbyshire,

    Ardila’s “axioms” should be called “Articles of Faith.”

    Because Ardila is a priest of a secular quasi-religion.
    It’s all a matter of faith. Most definitely not of a matter of facts, logic, falsifiability, experiments.

    • Agree: James N. Kennett
  49. Papinian says:

    I haunted Quillette for a year and a half, never getting a whiff of . What led me here was Post Tenure Tourette’s discussions of Sailer and Cole. I’m glad to know others read his blog too, because the comments are pretty dead.

    I hope that your melanoma did not spread before it was removed, Mr. Derbyshire. When you cannot continue, what you do will end forever. My dad had me read your essay on a hypothetical talk to have with a white child—I was shocked, and did not heed it at the time. If he had not, if he’d had nothing of the sort to show (direct, neither vulgar nor hateful, proudly cultured and still acculturating, impatient of folly), I may have followed the rest of my generation into their insanity.

  50. BlackFlag says:

    Of course Derb doesn’t mean literal conspiracy theories, otherwise he wouldn’t believe in things like D-Day or the official 9/11 version. He’s using Ron Unz’s definition which iirc was something like: any explanation of an event that contradicts the mainstream (government and important institutions) explanation.

    But it’s not that either cause he regularly talks about the Chinese government lying about all kinds of things. And surely during the Cold War he wouldn’t have unquestionably believed every explanation championed by the Soviet Pravda newspaper. He probably has doubts about America’s founding myth as well.

    So what he really means is that he doesn’t believe any explanation of an event that occurred during the past 100 years or so that contradicts the mainstream narrative set forth by US institutions. Though he probably makes some exceptions for things like crime and immigration stats and maybe even for The Great Replacement conspiracy theory.

    But to be fair, it’s not a dogmatic refusal to believe in alternative explanations, but rather that he is “allergic” to investigating them cause doing so would require too much effort.

    In summary, except in fields where he has expertise, such as immigration and heritability, Derb refuses to consider explanations of events during the past 100 years that contradict the mainstream US narrative because doing so would involve too much work.

  51. Anon[381] • Disclaimer says:

    I love Derb, but that comment made me LOL.

  52. Anonymous[285] • Disclaimer says:

    I have advanced metastatic cancer. My oncologist at Dana Farber is a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. In addition to my traditional treatment— surgery and chemo— which I’ve completed, I was told to avoid sugar, which is a cancer catalyst, and to consume tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, et al.), which are cancer fighters. My oncologist said that they don’t know why/how tree nuts fight cancer just that they do. Nb: peanuts are not tree nuts and not cancer fighters (they are cancer catalysts).

    • Thanks: Happy Tapir, Art Deco, JMcG
    • Replies: @anon
    , @JMcG
  53. That was a great diary. I tend to like books that are heavily allegorical and those that use a florid style, so I might like master and margaritta. For example I loved Kim by Kipling. I would like to know—not sure if derb reads these comments—what would derb’s fiction top ten list be? I mean, not a precise ranking, but which books has he read and reread with pleasure during his life? I know the list may be skewed, but I agree with him on most things poetry, like up Longfellow, down Whitman! Lol, shouldn’t it be whitperson or whitxem?

  54. Oh for math books of the popular variety, I would recommend Journey Through Genius by William Dunham. I think it would be good even for serious math majors. I never understood the structure of mathematics fully until I read that book. It’s a little weak on calculus maybe because it aims at a precalculus audience, but I would recommend it and it’s sequels above the ones derb lists.

  55. Art Deco says:

    So I have nose cancer. According to Dr. Google, melanoma can be pretty mean. I find it hard to work up much anxiety when I don’t feel ill at all, but we’ll see what Dr. Chen finds.

    Melanoma can be lethal, but less so than almost any other coarse type of cancer. Best of luck with it.

    Being constitutionally averse to things medical and no more vain than the mid-20th-century Anglo male average, I dithered for a few months, but at last went to see Dr. Nguyen, our local dermatologist.

    Mid-20th century Anglophone men weren’t walking around with monochromatic brown hair at age 76.

    It still wasn’t giving me any pain or trouble, but now it had, in my mind, crossed some threshhold of unsightliness.

    What’s amusing about the British sense of style would be the things they fancy are not unsightly:

    • Replies: @Truth
  56. pyrrhus says:

    The phrase “conspiracy theory” is a phrase invented by the CIA and fed to its captive network anchors to suppress dissent on matters like the JFK assassination and UFOs…Using that phrase is not a sign of intelligence…There is loads of evidence that UFO’s are not of Earthly origin, and that JFK was not killed by a single man with a $13 rifle and no motive, but I am sure that Mr. Derbyshire prefers to remain innocent of that evidence…

    • Agree: Truth
    • Replies: @Art Deco
  57. Ed Case says:
    @Dutch Boy

    Up until mass immigration started in the 1980s, over 99% of Chinese in Australia descended from the area in a 20 mile radius of Canton.
    I remember them from 50+ years ago as shopkeepers, definitely phlegmatic but not timid.

  58. Yoko made a chess set with pieces all the same color—white. This was supposed to be some kind of “statement.” Let’s forget all our differences! No more white chess pieces fighting with black chess pieces!

    Should’a’bin “statemented” is my view on the pair of ’em. The LIOBs (Paulistas mostly) concur.
    It was a cheeky and knowing reveal though.
    All our pieces are White. And now all of yours are.

    Bribe-bribe is cheaper than war-war. Your entire “elite”, security apparatus including military chiefs, and even persons as insignificant as elected officials in any position are on our side.

    All your rook are belong to us.

    And first monkey to utter “traitors” has all family die. Ha ha!
    I read the news today – oh boy.
    About a lucky man ..

  59. I am sure Derb will get rid of that melanoma annoyance. He is not one of those lucky people who go in their 70s; I guess he will have become mummified in a sort of autogenous vacuum in his 90s.

    As for Bulgakov- completely agreed. To give Russians their due, and dismissing long thick books, I’d recommend (although Derb has probably read something, perhaps all of them)

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  60. Truth says:

    Hey Derb;

    What if your wife’s nephew rolled up on you alpha-style and started ridiculing your Ingrich and told you to go back to the UK?

  61. Dumbo says:

    This thing about masculinity, I think it’s sort of a double-edged sword. Not sure about the Chinese, but Asians in general and in particular Koreans are very androgynous looking, due to the fact that they have less sexual dimorphism, and not only in looks, but also in terms of behaviour I think, but that doesn’t mean all that much. Both the Japs and the Korean were quite tough and ruthless in war (WWII and Korean War).

    Also, there are different types of “masculinity”, fighting and kicking ass maybe is one (warrior type), or sports, but also science (nerds) and even certain artistic pursuits are more masculine that they are feminine. Autism is almost 100% masculine.

    Stereotypes in this are a bit silly. The problem is not so much masculinity or lack of it, as it is extreme sedentary lives (online lives) and Globo-Homo propaganda 24/7.

  62. anon[157] • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks for the generous comment, and best wishes to you. Death is not the end.

  63. Art Deco says:

    No ‘dissent’ was ever ‘suppressed’ on the subject of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories. Over 1,000 books have been published on the subject and people who traffic in fanciful things have been given ample opportunity to make clowns of themselves. What they haven’t done is to engage in inductive reasoning which builds a case for the hypotheses in which they’re emotionally invested. And no, there isn’t ‘loads of evidence’ that UFOs are not of ‘Earthly origin’ except in your imagination.

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
  64. @Art Deco

    No ‘dissent’ was ever ‘suppressed’ on the subject of Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.

    It’s mind-boggling that this philandering, drug-addled white version of Obama somehow had this Arthurian myth wrapped around him. The only thing missing is the Lady of the Lake, although this was indirectly supplied in a less uplifting form via his ne’er-do-well kid brother.

  65. anon[283] • Disclaimer says:

    This is just choregraphed fake fights with stuntmen and extras
    There were more realistic fighting by the women in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    • Agree: Old Prude
    • Replies: @Truth
  66. Truth says:

    Tha Derb was in the movie, that’s the point.

  67. You can buy books online. You’ve just got to tip Bezos for the convenience.

    • Replies: @GenFranco
  68. In the course of doing so, I confessed, by no means for the first time, my temperamental aversion to conspiracy theories.

    Temperament aside, rejection of conspiracy theories is a good null hypothesis. The burden of proof is on the proponent of conspiracy.

    Well-nigh no big historical event was ever proven to be more than it seemed to be.

    Yep. The Girl In The Polka-Dot Dress who accompanied Sirhan Sirhan to the Ambassador Hotel was a mass hallucination, and was definitely not the wife of a CIA officer who worked on MK-ULTRA. No Lee Harvey Oswald lookalikes were ever seen in Dallas on 11-22-63, and certainly not the one who was witnessed boarding a CIA plane. The CIA did not have tapes of John McCain’s radio broadcasts from North Vietnam, and did not use these to encourage him to cover up CIA misdeeds. The sinking of the USS Liberty was a tragic case of mistaken identity. The USA entered WWI in 1917 because of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Russia’s October Revolution was not assisted by the Germans and Austrians, nor by Jacob Schiff. And the Iraq war was a search for Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

  69. GeoffS says:

    Sorry, @Disclaimer, but I think he stipulated the range 1 to 1010.
    I still haven’t come up with anything else

    • Replies: @Patrick Sullivan
  70. Jett Rucker says: • Website

    My cast of mind, for one, impels me to credit conspiracy theories revising most significant events of history.
    And my cast of mind likewise impels me to doubt and dissect all accepted history.
    Yes, of course. This leaves me little time for anything else.

  71. JMcG says:

    Good luck- I hope you’re with us a long time yet.

  72. @GeoffS

    That seems to have been a formatting issue with the superscript not working. It should read 1010.

    So yeah, eightbillioneighthundredeightyfive, 8,000,000,885.

    • Replies: @GeoffS
  73. GeoffS says:
    @Patrick Sullivan

    Wow, that number 1010 did seem arbitrary to me..nice.

  74. dearieme says:

    The most important event in the 20th century was the assassination in Sarajevo. It was the result of a conspiracy.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  75. Art Deco says:

    Something known right away. The onanists have had 57 years to construct an alternative model of the Kennedy assassination from original materials. Still waiting.

    • Agree: David In TN
    • Replies: @David In TN
  76. Men of Mathematics is pretty dry – I’d suggest In Mathematical Circles by Howard Eves instead.
    H. E. Huntley’s The Divine Proportion might serve, as might Nagel and Newman’s Gödel’s Proof.
    Perhaps Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid isn’t too difficult?
    Not to mention any of Martin Gardner’s many books.

  77. Were they actually alcoholic drinks? If so, was she watering them down before serving them to Zeus & Co., to encourage them in temperance?

    Others may have mentioned this: as I recall wines of the ancient Mediterranean were typically diluted with water before being served. Homer is full of references to this custom.

    Whether this was done for reasons of temperance or sanitation appears to be a matter of some dispute, as here:

  78. @Acilius

    a thousand and five… the extra 10 is so you can make it odd.

    You were correct in seeing there was a gimmick

  79. @Art Deco

    There were several assassination conspiracies since 1865. Lincoln in 1865, Tsar Alexander II in 1881, Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Hitler in 1944, de Gaulle in 1962. In the first three, the target was killed, in the last two he escaped.

    In each of the above, the conspiracy and the names of the participants were uncovered “right away.”

    Oswald managed to escape from the building after shooting JFK. There was no one to pick him up and take him away. He was by himself with no help. After capture (and killing a policeman), Oswald had two days to say something that could buy his life.

  80. @Bardon Kaldian

    Cancer Ward also features a melanoma patient, a young man facing the removal of a leg, who has a bittersweet encounter with a young girl facing a mastectomy.

    Prognoses are much better now, my uncle had one removed from his head and is still going.

    Some large scale conspiracies can be kept for decades – like the breaking of Enigma in WW2, only revealed 29 years after the war’s end. That involved tens of thousands of people.

    There may be some even more successful ones that are still hidden – we just don’t know.

    Seals. It’s the time of year they have their pups. Best and politest not to disturb them. The pups need to put on a lot of fat to survive their first winter, so the less energy they use avoiding us, the better.

    The cows can lose around 4kg per day when feeding their pup. Many lose up to 50% of their body weight giving birth and feeding their pups. They use about 30,000 kcal/day. To replace that energy they would need to eat 70 cream buns per day.

  81. Dumbo says:

    I prefer bookshops to buying online, and paper books to anything electronic. Actually, I can’t read ebooks, unless they are very short.

    I don’t think books will disappear, they will just become an even smaller niche. But so what? They were always a niche. For centuries most people were illiterate.

    Most people are really dumb and are happy with only TikTok, fart videos, Jewlywood blockbusters and porn.

    But, sad about the small bookstores – Amazon is evil.

    However, there will always be a minority of people who like paper books and prefer to buy in small local bookstores. There is one nearby, it hasn’t gone out of business yet, even with Covid.

  82. ‘If you think that 9/11 was a Mossad job…’

    Whether or not one would fall into that category would depend on precisely what is meant by ‘a Mossad job.’

    Do I believe it was indeed al Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks and that these attacks caused the collapse of the Twin Towers. Yes; to believe otherwise involves accepting several absurdities and improbabilities.

    Do I believe that — at a minimum — the Mossad was aware the attacks were going to occur, did not inform us, and watched benevolently as they took place? Also yes; to believe otherwise involves accepting several absurdities and improbabilities.

    By the way, I do not think that Princess Di was murdered, that the moon landings were faked, etc.

  83. I’m averse to conspiracy theories myself; I’d say that the human mind can’t really cope with uncertainty, and absent a belief in God, some other unseen hand has to be controlling and explaining events. It’s actually faintly troubling that we could just be careening along at random, perfectly likely to plunge off the the road entirely.

    However, it doesn’t follow that the official story is therefore instead always the truth. Israel really did deliberately attack the USS Liberty, knowing it was an American ship.

    Remember how we were supposed to believe that the Corona Virus had a natural origin, and it had nothing to do with the lab in Wuhan? Even if history is not a series of hidden plots, sometimes people attempt to make us believe things were other than they in fact were.

  84. I have noticed that conspiracy theorists always explain themselves in a way that is quite creepily confessional, to the point of being quasi-religious. The conspiracy theorist always begins by telling me that until recently he accepted the common account of the event; but then, after diligent enquiry, his eyes were opened, he became receptive to the truth, and was cleansed of sin at last.

    This is essentially how Ron Unz begins every single one of his ‘Pravda’ articles. Is this intended to be a subtle nibbling at the hand that feeds?

    • Replies: @Anon
  85. GenFranco says:

    Depends on what books you want to purchase. Thousands have been removed from Amazon (with more to come, I’m sure) because they didn’t meet the standards of the Anti Defamation League, or some other such group. For a while Barnes & Noble dot com was a place to grab certain books after they were purged from Amazon. That option seems to be going away.

    For almost a decade now ebooks — produced outside the Bezos universe — were the easiest option to procure books whose authors were deemed guilty of WrongThink. Now there appears to be a number of independent publishers willing to reprint purged books in nice print editions. They just have to find a financial institution willing to process payments.

  86. John

    Ol Book Review…the memories…

    Almost got into a fist fight with Bill O’Rielly after I accused him of being a WAR HAWK CHICKEN HAWK DRAFT DODGING COWARD during the Vietnam era…

    Archie Bunker gave me an Irish handshake…Who shook the hand…Who shakes the hand of the great Archie Bunker….

    The Actor from Planet of the Apes shook my hand..He called himself Chuck…

    Saw the filthy Hollywood fucking slut Jane Fonda talking about her teenage girl days walking round downtown Huntington….Henry Fonda had his home in Llyod Neck…

    Belly busting laughs during the talk by Bruce what’s his name from the hilarious movie ARMY OF DARKNESS…

    Belly Busting Laughs during Monty Python’s Terry Jones’s PowerPoint about his book Who murdered Chaucer…Terry got his affliction one year later…

    Bought your book on the Riemann Hypothesis there….

    Walked from Hecksher to Book Review with my brother who was dying from Lou Gherig’s disease….we saw Hillary from the street upstairs signing books….Hillary wore a scarf that night…

    Eva the beautiful Finnish Engineer who worked in the coffee section and was studying fashion design at FIT told me after Bill Clinton just signed books…..that as Bill passed the Book Review coffee shop window outside turned around and gave Eva a big goodbye wave….

    Had a 15 minute conversation with Comrade Pat Buchanan outside in front of Book Review before Pat jumped into his limo…

    True story….used to be a used math-science-engineering bookstore across the street owned by an eccentric fat man who went to engineering school with Israel PM Moshe Arons…Books stacked high in severely mutated DNA spirals…one of these monstrosities collapsed on my head one Saturday afternoon…I think what hit my on the top of my Irish head where the complete volumes of the MIT Radiation Lab series…

    Last book given to me free by Richard was the Scientific America Book on Lasers….which I read this past Sunday up in Utica Coffee Roasters which is walking distance from the Bosnian Muslim Mosque in Utica NY…The Mosque took over a very old Methodist Church with Christian graves in the back….Fuck all you Methodist Cucks…

  87. John

    If it’s not malignant you have a high chance of survival….avoiding sunlight your whole life will put the pasty skin at risk for melanoma….

  88. @War for Blair Mountain

    Should honor Tyson Fury’s victory:”fell upon my fooking Oyrish head…”

  89. Anon[381] • Disclaimer says:

    Funny, I was thinking the same thing about Ron’s introductions.

  90. MEH 0910 says:

  91. MEH 0910 says:

    • Replies: @MEH 0910
  92. In the course of doing so, I confessed, by no means for the first time, my temperamental aversion to conspiracy theories.

    And your temperamental attraction to the most outlandish conspiracy theory of all; that promulgated by the State.

  93. Art Deco says:
    @War for Blair Mountain

    Almost got into a fist fight with Bill O’Rielly after I accused him of being a WAR HAWK CHICKEN HAWK DRAFT DODGING COWARD during the Vietnam era…

    He’d have had a student deferment for five semesters (1967-69). His lottery number in the 1969 drawing was low enough (71) that he’d have been called in for a physical. It’s a reasonable wager he was disqualified, categorically (IV-F) or contingently (I-Y). About 1/4 of the people examined for service were disqualified during those years. About 1/4 had student deferments for a time. It would be useful in future discussions if you were familiar with what is meant by the term ‘draft dodger’. While we’re at it, there were 162,000 inductions in 1969, at a time when coming-of-age male birth cohorts were around 1,9 million.

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