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Ordinary, everyday reading often presents you with words you could add to your vocabulary. To demonstrate this, I like to periodically offer a theme of "Words Found in Recent Reading". At least that's my rationale for such themes. (They're also easy for me to prepare.)

Doing so, I was struck by how many of my quotes came from book reviews. Could it be that book reviewers like to display their erudition by using fancy words? For whatever reason, finding good words it book reviews is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
    In the Middle Ages, a simple military innovation helped to create an entirely new social structure. By introducing saddle stirrups made out of flexible leather rather than rigid metal, Charlemagne enabled mounted soldiers to keep their balance while moving freely—and to fight more formidably. To give these "knights" an income, he granted them their own territories from which they could collect rents. Thus was born feudalism. It is a useful instance of a small material change having big effects.

    The Internet is our own era's big disrupter. When it comes to the digital revolution, Mr. Downes says, our laws have not kept pace with the changes that it has brought about. Governments levy taxes, oversee intellectual property and regulate communications as if we all lived in a prelapsarian world—with a land-line phone, a typewriter and a library card.
    – review of The Laws of Disruption by Larry Downes, in Wall Street Journal, Oct. 13, 2009 (ellipses omitted)
prelapsarian – relating to the period before the fall of Adam and Eve; hence, innocent, unspoilt, carefree
 
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triumphalism – a smug or boastful attitude of your own side's victory or superiority
(such as in the supposed superiority of one's religion, nationality or ideology)

From the same source as our last quote:
    For the most part, Mr. Downes says, regulators should leave the Web alone and simply protect it from interference. He quotes federal judge Frank Easterbrook, who once observed that "the blind are not good trailblazers."
    . . .Mr. Downes's libertarian instincts are admirable. Still, Mr. Downes can be a bit of a free-market triumphalist. It's obviously true, for instance, that the market for communications is far more competitive than it was, but he exaggerates when he suggests that all "consumers around the world have multiple choices for how to transport their bits."
 
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    Living as we do on a darkling plain where ignorant armies clash by night, it's oddly heartening to discover that two of the most dyspeptic voices on each side of the battle have so much in common.
    . . .Now, perhaps you … enjoy life, are hopeful about your family's prospects, and feel confident that America is exceptional and will stay that way. If so, you are just the delusional individual whom Barbara Ehrenreich (from the left) and John Derbyshire (from the right) seek to set straight. … Ms. Ehrenreich and Mr. Derbyshire are well-known polemicists, and it's a fair bet that if they dined together the conversation would turn wintry, possibly resulting in hurled glasses.
    – review in Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2009
darkling – dark; dim; also, occurring in the dark
dyspeptic – suffering from indigestion (dyspepsia – indigestion); but more commonly figurative: morosely irritable, as if suffering from indigestion
polemicist – one aggressively attacking the opinions or principles of another; a controversialist
 
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fissiparous – tending to break up into parts; divisive [akin to fission]

Quoting further from yesterday's source. Talk about being dyspeptic!
    "Things are bad and getting worse, any fool can see that," warns Mr. Derbyshire. … Mr. Derbyshire wishes us to face … that biology increasingly really does seem to be destiny; that Diversity … does not strengthen societies but makes them worryingly fissiparous; that foreigners cannot be trusted to share our interests; [etc.] … . "Happy talk and wishful thinking," Mr. Derbyshire says, "are for children, fools, and leftists."
 
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Merriam-Webster says of "dyspeptic:"

Etymology: Latin, from Greek, from dys- + pepsis digestion, from peptein, pessein to cook, digest.

From that we get the common meaning of "pessimistic."

In the case of Mr. Derbyshire, we should consider whether he truly is dyspeptic, or has perhaps better digested the implications of current macroeconomic and demographic trends.


RJA
 
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When I look pessismistic up, it says: "[French pessimisme (on the model of optimisme, optimism), from Latin pessimus, worst; see ped- in Indo-European roots.]
 
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or has perhaps better digested the implications of current macroeconomic and demographic trends.

His seems like the kind of stomach that can tolerate only the bland and flavorless without filling with bile. I'll take my chances with the children and leftists; fools, alas, are everywhere.
 
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pessismistic

Pessimistic and dyspeptic are not etymologically related.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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