Most of the words below are words which I encountered while reading Flashman and the Angel of the Lord and Flashman on the March.

Guerdon. Frowst. Dunnage. Veldt. Whelk. Tup. Gannet. Hawser. Doss-house. Brogue. Tucker. Voluptuary. Morion. Flawn. Ague. Fusee/Fuzee. Jimp. Anent. Skein. Fob.

Arbitrament. Whiffler. Abide. Beldam. Schiltron. Pickaninny/piccaninny. Gird/girt. Despond. Whittling. Glim. Peignoir. Gamp. Connubial. Ensconce. Confab. Trestle. Squawl. Paterfamilias. Dabble. Peal.

Buff. Duenna. Yawl. Palaver. Lateen. Felucca. Coracle. Gimlet. Tippet. Toggery. Dry-gulch. Nuncheon. Lovelock. Josser. Casque. Withy. Weir. Sonsy. Guzzle. Hearty.

Rattle. Pippin. Trencherman. Potation. Bilbo. Burly. Haulier. Roundelay. Lych-gate. Skilligalee/skilly. Labial. Dudgeon. Caravanserai. Mithridatism. Avast. Lagniappe. Thigmotaxis. Afforesting. Immiseration. Chamberlain.


October 11, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment


The words below are words which I encountered while reading the Rex Stout novels The Broken Vase, Double for Death, The Sound of Murder, Mountain Cat, and the Flashman/Fraser novels Flashman and the Dragon & Flashman at the Charge.

Asperity. Tantalus. Whizbang. Hammy. Regnant. Mordacity. Blotter. Quietus. Debouch. Acidulous. Aniline. Prolegomenon. Suasion. Spoor. Mangy. Clematis. Whittle. Palmistry. Carnality. Clangor.

Cerise. Coruscation. Fluster. Conviviality. Interstice. Chirography. Dub. Grubstake. Pilaster. Sagebrush. Pronghorn. Prognathous. Greensward. Palomino. Spelter. Puggle. Lorcha. Kampilan. Caulk. Cherub.

Thew. Effulgence. Poppet. Colander. Brolly. Bund. Pennon. Cove. Lamasery. Lamé. Patter. Gibber. Snickersnee. Blub. Beckon. Tog. Inveigle. Fuddle. Spoony. Roué.

Equerry. Gazette. Rig-out. Lashing. Clamber. Wainscot. Saunter. Tootle. Latterly. Serge. Redoubt. Charabanc. Indaba. Cess. Gotch. Bailiwick. Reveler. Exult. Hawse. Recreant.

September 27, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment


Most of the words below are words which I encountered while reading the Rex Stout books: Too Many Clients, The Final Deduction, Homicide Trinity, Gambit, The Mother Hunt, Trio for Blunt Instruments, A Right to Die, The Doorbell Rang, Death of a Doxy, The Father Hunt, Death of a Dude, Please Pass the Guilt, A Family Affair, Death Times Three, and Red Threads.

Commissure. Nonfeasance. Bodice. Binnacle. Episiotomy. Amplexus. Bayou. Jetty. Crisper. Conurbation. Splotch. Tarradiddle. Lamia. Prink/primp. Thaumaturgy/thaumaturge. Allspice. Panjandrum. Subdulous. Overweening. Perspicacity.

Jejune. Hamper. Cloche. Ulster. Bevel. Auto-da-fé. Buckram. Peccant. Fatuity. Dissension. Chipper. Analeptic. Cluck. Moll. Posy. Peeve. Wrangle. Chervil. Wile. Vim.

Huffy. Callow. Crabby. Locution. Scrapple. Jamb. Cockatrice. Wink. Spatter. Sororicide. Discomfiture. Diphthong. Twaddle. Rassle. Headcheese. Flimflam. Brioche. Doxy. Mooch. Incumbency.

Cogitable. Punctilio. Mantic. Frowzy. Burgoo. Boodle. Toplofty. Ell. Slue. Fulcrum. Piffle. Amphigoric. Subreption. Cynosure. ConcupiscenceCarceral. Descant. Pretermit. Hickory. Ingénue.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment

First Farmers (I?)


This year I have so far read 113 books and I have added 5 of those books to my list of favourite books on goodreads. I have mentioned Herriot here on the blog despite the fact that this type of book is not really the type of book I usually blog, and I blogged Yashin et al.‘s biodemography text in a decent amount of detail. I have posted a couple of posts about Horowitz and Samsom’s book and I intend to blog that book in more detail later this week. However there are a few great non-fiction books which I’ve read this year which I have not yet blogged at all, including Boyd and Richerson and the excellent book by Bellwood to which the title of this post refers. These books have one thing in common: They are ‘paper books’, not books stored in an electronic format, which means that blogging them take more time than is ideal. The extra amount of time it takes to blog paper books makes it hard for me to justify blogging such books in general, even books I think are great.

Aside from the time expenditure there are at least two other major problems I have with justifying blogging such books. One problem is that this blog is not really the proper place for me to recommend books to others, a state of affairs of which I am well aware. I sometimes do it anyway, but I know perfectly well that very few people will ever know or care that I liked a particular book if I write about that book here. If I actually wanted others to know about books like these there would be lots of other channels of communication much better suited for such purposes; such as e.g. the comment sections of large blogs/reddit threads/etc. To a first approximation nobody reads this blog, which is the way I like it. The other major problem – in the context of me justifying to myself blogging such books – is that I actually usually spend quite a bit of effort while reading such (paper) books, e.g. in the form of note taking and highlighting. A major reason I have for blogging non-fiction books is that blogging books means that the content therein gets processed a few extra times, which helps aid recall and understanding. This incidentally goes both for the stuff that eventually finds its way into these posts, and to some extent also for the content that does not. When I’m reading paper books I tend to do a lot of this work while actively reading the books. Part of the reason why is actually precisely due to the fact that I know from experience that these kinds of books are bothersome to blog; if I know beforehand that I’m not particularly likely to blog a book I’ll usually spend a bit more time and effort while reading it. That extra amount of work of course makes me even less likely to end up blogging the book eventually; at some point diminishing marginal returns really kick in.

One take-away from all of the above is, I guess, that if you’re one of those three-four(?) people who semi-regularly read my blog and you also happen to actually care about which books I like and recommend, you should keep in mind that some of the really great books I read may end up not being covered here in ‘classical book posts’, simply because blogging great books may sometimes simply be too much work to justify the effort; and those books you may spot quite easily by having an occasional look at my book collection posts (see the sidebar) or my goodreads favourites.

What made me decide to finally write this post was that I had been considering whether or not to write a post about Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies, which I didn’t really like all that much. While thinking about this stuff I realized that it would frankly be madness for me to cover that book (also a paper book) here before I’d at least talked a bit about Boyd and Richerson and Bellwood’s books, as those books are just much better and more interesting. And then I concluded that I really ought to cover Bellwood …and here we are.

I’ve read about some of the topics Bellwood covers elsewhere, e.g. here, here, and here, but the other works I’ve read on these topics have not covered the topics Bellwood covers in the amount of detail he does (if at all); one of the reasons why I really enjoyed Bellwood’s book was that it covers in a great amount of detail precisely some of the questions I’ve been asking myself while reading other works on related topics. The book covers things I had been looking for elsewhere, but hadn’t been able to find. This admittedly mainly relates to the agriculture and archaeology parts, rather than the linguistics part, but the linguistics is interesting as well.

If you’re interested in the origins of agriculture, this book is a must-read.

Below I’ve added some quotes from the book, as well as a few comments.

“This book suggests that major episodes of human movement occurred from time to time, in various parts of the world, as different populations developed or adopted agriculture and then spread farming, languages, and genes, in some cases across vast distances. […] In order to approach what often appears to be a debate in which specialists all talk past each other, concerned only with data from their own discipline, this book is framed around a fairly simple multidisciplinary hypothesis. The early farming dispersal hypothesis postulates that the spreads of early farming lifestyles were often correlated with prehistoric episodes of human population and language dispersal from agricultural homelands. The present-day distribution of language families and racially varied populations across the globe, allowing for the known reassortments that have ensued in historical times, still reflect to a high degree those early dispersals. […] [However] the early farming dispersal hypothesis is not claiming that only farmers ever dispersed into new lands or established language families in prehistory. Hunter-gatherers feature widely in this book since their lifestyle, in terms of long-term stability and reliability, has been the most successful in human history. It fueled the initial human colonization of the whole world, apart from a number of oceanic islands.”

“We have clear signs of relatively independent agricultural origins in western Asia, central China, the New Guinea highlands, Mesoamerica, the central Andes, the Mississippi basin, and possibly western Africa and southern India. These developments occurred at many different times between about 12,000 and 4,000 years ago. The agricultural systems concerned spread at remarkably different rates – some quickly, some slowly, some hardly at all.”

“This book owes its origin to a consideration of two primary observations: 1. Prior to the era of European colonization there existed (and still exist) a number of very widespread families of languages, the term “family” in this sense meaning that the languages concerned share common ancestry, having diverged from a common forebear […]. These language families exist because they have spread in some way from homeland regions, not because they have converged in place out of hundreds of formerly unrelated languages. 2. Within the early agricultural past of mankind there have existed many widespread archaeological complexes of closely linked artifactual style, shared economic basis, and relatively short-lived temporal placement. […] Again, these spreads have occurred from homeland regions, and most such complexes tend to become younger as one moves away from regions of agricultural origin […]. Most importantly, many agricultural homelands overlap geographically with major language family homelands, in highly significant ways.”

“The expansions of early farming populations that form the subject matter of this book reflect two consecutive processes: 1. the periodic genesis of new cultural (archaeological) or linguistic configurations in homeland circumstances; 2. the dispersal of such configurations into surrounding regions […] The transformations within such configurations, both during and after dispersal, can occur via adaptive or chance modifications to the inherited pattern (thus giving relationships of descent, or phylogeny), or via interactions with other contemporary human populations, including culturally and linguistically related as well as unrelated groups (thus giving rise to a process termed reticulation). […] One of the suggestions that will dominate the chapters in this book is that short bursts, or “punctuations,” of dispersal by closely related populations over very large areas have occurred from time to time in human prehistory, especially following the regional beginnings of agriculture or the acquisitions of some other material, demographic, or ideological advantages. Punctuations also occurred when humans first entered regions previously uninhabited, such as Australia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. These bursts have actually occupied very little of the total time span of human history. Often their effects are confusingly hidden beneath the reticulate interactive networks that have linked varied populations through the long millenia of subsequent history. But their underlying impact on the course of human history and on the generation of subsequent patterns of human diversity have been immense.”

“Many hunters and gatherers of the etnographic record have resource management skills that can mimic agriculture, and some have even adopted minor forms of casual cultivation. […] Resource management […] can be defined as any technique that propagates, tends, or protects a species, reduces competition, prolongs or increases the harvest, insures the appearance of a species at a particular time in a particular place, extends the range of or otherwise modifies the nature, distribution, and density of a species […]. Resource management is not synonymous with agriculture or cultivation and it has obviously been practiced to some degree by all plant and animal exploiters since long before agriculture began. Cultivation, an essential component of any agricultural system, defines a sequence of human activity whereby crops are planted […], protected, harvested, then deliberately sown again […] Domesticated plants […] are those that show recognizable indications of morphological change away from the wild phenotype, attributable to human interference in the genotype through cultivation […] For animals, the concept of domestication is invoked when there are relatively undisputed signs of human control and breeding of a species. Such signs can normally be claimed in situations where animals were transported out of their homeland regions […] In putative homeland areas for such animals, especially where there was exploitation of wild ancestral species in pre-agricultural times, it can often be difficult to distinguish animal husbandry from hunting in early agricultural contexts. […] the term agriculture will be used to apply in a general sense to all activities involving cultivation and domestication of plants.”

“In general, whereas a family of hunters and gatherers might need several square kilometers of territory for subsistence, an average family of shifting cultivators will be able to get by with a few hectares of crop-producing land. A family of irrigation agriculturalists will normally be able to manage with less than one hectare. Thus, along the scale of increasing intensification of production, less land is needed to feed a standard unit such as a family or individual. […] The reason why agriculturalists can live at much higher densities than hunters and collectors is because food is produced, on average, more intensively per unit of exploited area. Food-collecting mothers also tend to space births more widely than sedentary cultivators for reasons believed to relate in part to factors of mobility and diet2, leading in combination to biologically reduced frequencies of conception. This form of birth control maximizes the number of hunter-gatherer children able to survive to adulthood, but keeps the overall populations small.”

“With the Holocene amelioration of climate to conditions like those of the present, a rapid change that occurred about 11,500 years ago, the world’s climates became warmer, wetter, and a good deal more reliable on a short term basis […] It was this reliability that gave the early edge to farming […] Holocene climate was clearly the ultimate enabler of early farming, but it was not the proximate cause behind individual transitions. [The importance of climate was also emphasized in Boyd and RichersonUS.] […] A combined explanation of affluence alternating with mild environmental stress, especially in “risky” but highly productive early Holocene environments with periodic fluctuations in food supplies, is becoming widely favored by many archaeologists today as one explanation for the shift to early agriculture. […] It is necessary […] to emphasize that the regional beginnings of agriculture must have involved such a complex range of variables that we would be blind to ignore any of the above factors – prior sedentism, affluence and choice, human-plant co-evolution, environmental change and periodic stress, population pressure, and certainly the availability of suitable candidates for domestication. […] most suggested “causes” overlap so greatly that it is often hard to separate them. […] there can be no one-line explanation for the origins of agriculture.”

“[M]any recent hunter-gatherers have been observed to modify their environments to some degree to encourage food yields, whether by burning, replanting, water diversion, or keeping of decoy animals or domesticated dogs […] Most agriculturalists also hunt if the opportunity is presented and always have done so throughout the archaeological record. […] there is good evidence in recent societies for some degree of overlap between food collection and food production. But the whole issue here revolves around just what level of “food production” is implied. […] any idea that mobile hunters and gatherers can just shift in and out of agricultural (or pastoral) dependent lifestyle at will seems unrealistic in terms of the major scheduling shifts required by the annual calendars of resource availability, movement, and activity associated with the two basic modes of production. There are very few hints of such circumstances ever occurring in the ethnographic record […] Mobile foragers must give an increasing commitment to sedentism if agriculture is to become a successful mainstay of their economy […] In general for the Old World, we see that hunters and gatherers may practice a small amount of agriculture, and agriculturalists may practice a small amount of hunting and gathering, but the two modes of production most decisively do not merge or reveal a gentle cline. […] both Old and New World populations evidently found it problematic to shift in and out of agricultural dependence on a regular basis.”

“In order to approach the ethnographic record systematically and to extract useful comparative information, it is essential not to treat all recorded ethnographic hunter-gatherer societies as being one simple category, or as having had the same basic historical trajectories stretching back far into the Pleistocene past […] Hunter-gatherers have had histories just as tumultuous in many cases as have agriculturalists”.

Bellwood favours in his coverage of this topic a model with three different groups of hunter-gatherers. I’m not sure ‘favours’ is the right word; perhaps it’d be more accurate to state that he uses such a model to illustrate one of the ways in which different groups of hunters and gatherers are dissimilar, and why overlooking such dissimilarities may be problematic. In the model he presents in the book one group of hunter-gatherers consists of hunter-gatherers who live/d in close proximity to agricultural societies. These people tend to live in marginal areas where it’s hard to make agriculture work and they tend to be surrounded by agriculturalists (‘encapsulation’). Many places where you’d encounter such people, what you’d see/saw is/would be some sort of established exchange system, where farmers trade/d e.g. cereals in exchange for e.g. meat procured by the hunter-gatherers. One thing to always keep in mind here is that although long-term the hunter-gatherers were displaced and circumscribed by agricultural societies far from all interactions between these groups were hostile; mutually beneficial arrangements could be arrived at, even if they might not have been stable long-term. A related point is that hunter-gathering was probably a much more attractive option in the past than it is today, as the encapsulation process was not nearly so far advanced as it is today; they had better land, and despite not being farmers they might still benefit from the activities of some of those farmers who lived nearby. Bellwood is of course very interested in why agriculture spread originally, and he mentions in this context that although some such circumscribed hunter-gatherer societies may adopt agriculture eventually, such hunter-gatherer societies are not the place to look if you’re interested in the question of how agriculture originally spread throughout the world – which seems very reasonable to me. As he puts it in the notes, “while low-level food production can exist in theory, my feeling is that it has always been a child of marginal environments, where farmers necessarily retracted into food collection or where foragers were able to invest in minor cultivation without too much competition from other farmers. Such societies represent the ends, rather than the sources, of historical trajectories of agricultural expansion.”

The second group in Bellwood’s hunter-gatherer ‘model’ are ‘unenclosed’ hunter-gatherers. A few quotes:

“This group comprises those hunter-gatherers who inhabited agricultural latitudes in Australia, the Andaman Islands, and many regions of North America, especially in West Coast and Florida, but who (unlike the members of group 1) lived lives generally apart from farmers prior to European colonization. Many of these societies in North America lived in coastal regions with prolific maritime resources […] Some were also in periodic but non-threatening contact with farmers in adjacent regions in prehistory and thus had opportunities, never taken, to adopt agriculture […] Socially, […] such groups overlapped greatly with agriculturalists, indicating that social complexity of the chiefdom type can relate in terms of origin more to the intensity and reliability of resources and population density than to any simple presence of food production as opposed to hunting and gathering. […] The ranked and populous hunter-gatherer societies of norther California were no more interested in adopting agriculture than were Cape York Aborigines or the Semang, and perhaps even the majority of hunter-gatherers in prehistory. It does not follow that hunter-gatherers who have “complex” social institutions will necessarily become farmers whenever they are introduced to the farming concept.”

The third group in Bellwood’s model was really interesting to me, as it’s a group I’d previously wanted to read about and find quite fascinating. This is hunter-gatherers who used to be agriculturalists, i.e. former agriculturalists who later ‘reverted’ to hunter-gathering for one reason or another. A few quotes:

“Some hunter-gatherers appear to have descended from original farming or pastoralist societies, via specializations into environments where agriculture was not possible or decidedly marginal. Some also exist in direct contact with agriculturalist groups closely related in terms of cultural and biological ancestry. […] Some of the rain-forest hunters and gatherers of Island Southeast Asia […] descend from original agricultural populations, if the linguistic and biological data are any guide.16 In this view, the ancestral Punan and Kubu became hunter-gatherers, especially wild sago collectors in the case of the Punan, via conscious decisions to move into interfluvial rain-forest hunting and gathering in regions that riverine agriculturalists found hard to penetrate. Other hunter-gatherers descended from cultivators include some Bantu speakers in southern Africa, possibly the honey-collecting Dorobo or Okiek of the Kenyan Highlands of East Africa, probably [as he notes elsewhere, “this is a difficult group to deal with in terms of authentication”] some marginal sago-collecting groups […] in the Sepik basin of New Guinea, and some Indian groups such as the Chenchu and Birhor. […] the Numic-speaking Uto-Aztecan peoples of the Great Basin and adjacent areas […] appear to have abandoned a former agricultural lifestyle around 1,000 years ago. These people, linguistic descendants of original maize-cultivators in Mexico and the Southwest, eventually found themselves in a dry region where maize agriculture had become marginal or no longer possible [Joseph Tainter covers the collapse of the ‘Chacoans’ in some detail in his book – US] […] Group 3 hunter-gatherer societies are of especial interest because it is far easier for a relatively marginal food-producing community to turn to hunting and gathering than it is for hunters and gatherers to move in the opposite direction. Thus, it is a fair expectation that members of this third group of hunter-gatherers will always have been quite numerous, particularly around the ecological margins of expanding agricultural societies. […] the group 3 societies offer one trajectory of cultural evolution that can terminate for ever the idea that evolution from foraging to farming is a one-way street.”

“[I]t is certainly not being suggested here that ancient hunter-gatherers could never have adopted agriculture from outside sources. But they would only have been likely to do so in situations where they had some demographic or environmental advantage over any farmers in the vicinity, and where there would have been significant reasons why the normal hunter-gatherer disinterest in agricultural adoptions should be overturned. We cannot assume that hunter-gatherers would automatically adopt agriculture just because it was sitting under their noses. We also need to remember that many populations of hunters and gatherers survived alongside agriculturalists in many parts of the world for millenia, without adopting agriculture […] The following chapters will demonstrate that the spread of agriculture in the past could not simply have occurred only because hunter-gatherers everywhere adopted it. Agriculture spread in Neolithic/Formative circumstances mainly because the cultural and linguistic descendants of the early cultivators increased their demographic profiles and pushed their cultural and linguistic boundaries outwards.”

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Anthropology, Archaeology, Books, Language, Personal | Leave a comment

A few diabetes papers of interest

i. Eating Disorders in Girls and Women With Type 1 Diabetes: A Longitudinal Study of Prevalence, Onset, Remission, and Recurrence.

If these results can be trusted, then the prevalence of eating disorders in young female diabetics is disturbingly high. Some quotes:

“The prevalence, clinical characteristics, and medical consequences of disturbed eating behavior (DEB) and eating disorders (EDs) in individuals with type 1 diabetes has received increasing attention since case reports of this dangerous combination were first published in the 1980s (1,2). Although the specificity of this association was initially unclear, systematic research has demonstrated that teenage girls and women with type 1 diabetes are at significantly increased risk of DEB compared with their nondiabetic peers (3). Such DEB includes dieting, fasting, binge-eating, and a range of compensatory and purging behaviors that can directly interfere with optimal diabetes management. […] Deliberately underdosing or omitting insulin to induce hyperglycemia and loss of glucose in the urine, and thereby control weight, is a unique purging behavior to control weight that is available to individuals with type 1 diabetes (4). This is an important mediator of the association of DEB and EDs with poorer metabolic control (5,6) and contributes to an increased risk of a range of short-term and long-term diabetes-related medical complications. These include abnormal lipid profiles (7), diabetic ketoacidosis (6), retinopathy (8), neuropathy (9), and nephropathy (10), as well as higher than expected mortality (11).”

“Bryden et al. (13) assessed a group of individuals with type 1 diabetes in adolescence and then again in early adulthood. […] They found EDs or other significant eating problems in 26% of participants, as well as significant associations between eating problems, insulin misuse, and microvascular complications (14). Goebel-Fabbri et al. (15) assessed 234 adult women with type 1 diabetes twice over an 11-year period. They found insulin omission for weight control to be very common (reported by 30% at baseline). Insulin omission frequently persisted over the lengthy follow-up period and was associated with higher rates of diabetes-related medical complications and tripled risk of mortality.”

“This study describes the longitudinal course of disturbed eating behavior (DEB) and EDs in a cohort with type 1 diabetes. […] A total of 126 girls with type 1 diabetes receiving care for diabetes at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto participated in a series of seven interview-based assessments of ED behavior and psychopathology over a 14-year period, beginning in late childhood. […] Mean age was 11.8 ± 1.5 years at time 1 and 23.7 ± 2.1 years at time 7. At time 7, 32.4% (23/71) met the criteria for a current ED, and an additional 8.5% (6/71) had a subthreshold ED. Mean age at ED onset (full syndrome or below the threshold) was 22.6 years (95% CI 21.6–23.5), and the cumulative probability of onset was 60% by age 25 years. […] The average time between remission of ED and subsequent recurrence was 6.5 years (95% CI 4.4–8.6), and the cumulative probability of recurrence was 53% by 6 years after remission.”

“In this longitudinal study, EDs were common and persistent, and new onset of ED was documented well into adulthood. […] [The] rates provide evidence that disordered eating is a common and serious concern among girls and young women with type 1 diabetes. Although adolescent and adult women in the general population also frequently report dieting, rates of more extreme weight loss behaviors and clinical eating disorders tend to be lower than those that occurred in this study (22,2830). […] The point prevalence for DEB and ED continued to increase across the study, largely because of marked increases in reported insulin omission for weight loss. Of particular concern, insulin omission as a weight control method was reported by 27% of participants at time 7. This dangerous method of purging directly compromises metabolic control and confers both short-term and long-term medical risk. Other researchers found it to be highly persistent among adult women with type 1 diabetes and associated with increased morbidity and mortality (10,15). […] In this study, both DEB and EDs tended to be persistent, with a mean time from observed onset to detected remission of 6.0 and 4.3 years, respectively, and significant estimated risk of recurrence among those whose eating disturbances initially remitted. […] The high prevalence of DEB and EDs among women with type 1 diabetes, in addition to high incidence of new ED cases continuing into the young adult years, suggests that sustained efforts at prevention, detection, and treatment of eating disturbances are needed across the adolescent and young adult years among women with type 1 diabetes.”

ii. Excess Risk of Dying From Infectious Causes in Those With Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

“Individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are widely considered to be more prone to infections than those without diabetes (1). […] The underlying pathology for an increased risk of infections among people with diabetes is not fully elucidated and is probably multifactorial. However, there are some data to suggest that it could, in part, relate to a compromised immune system. Short- and long-term hyperglycemia may disturb immune functions such as neutrophil bactericidal function (13), cellular immunity (14), and complement activation (15). These defects in the immune system, along with vascular insufficiency, render patients with diabetes at higher risk for a variety of severe or invasive infections compared with those without diabetes (16).”

“While there is a reasonably good understanding of the biological link between diabetes and infection, there are few data quantifying the excess risk of acquiring an infection or dying from infections associated with diabetes. […] the objective of this study was to examine the excess risk of death from several infectious causes in those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes compared with the general population and to see if this excess risk differs by age and over time. […] A total of 1,108,982 individuals with diabetes who were registered with the Australian Diabetes register between 2000 and 2010 were linked to the National Death Index. Mortality outcomes were defined as infection-relatedA-B death (ICD codes A99–B99), pneumonia (J12–J189), septicemia (A40 and A41), and osteomyelitis (M86). […] During a median follow-up of 6.7 years, there were 2,891, 2,158, 1,248, and 147 deaths from infection-relatedA-B causes, pneumonia, septicemia, or osteomyelitis, respectively. Crude mortality rates from infectionsA-B were 0.147 and 0.431 per 1,000 person-years in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, respectively. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were higher in type 1 and type 2 diabetes for all outcomes after adjustment for age and sex. For infection-relatedA-B mortality, SMRs were 4.42 (95% CI 3.68–5.34) and 1.47 (1.42–1.53) for type 1 and type 2 diabetes (P < 0.001), respectively. For pneumonia in type 1 diabetes, SMRs were approximately 5 and 6 in males and females, respectively, while the excess risk was ∼20% for type 2 (both sexes). For septicemia, SMRs were approximately 10 and 2 for type 1 and type 2 diabetes, respectively, and similar by sex. For osteomyelitis in type 1 diabetes, SMRs were 16 and 58 in males and females, respectively, and ∼3 for type 2 diabetes (both sexes).”

“This prospective study of more than one million people with diabetes provides evidence that individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are more likely to die of infection-related death, in particular death due to pneumonia, septicemia, and osteomyelitis, compared with the general population. These data show that infection in those with diabetes is an important cause of mortality. […] the increased risk appears to be greater for type 1 than type 2 diabetes. […] Patients with diabetes have a higher case fatality from infections than those without diabetes (17,30), which is both due to altered host immunity and due to having a higher prevalence of comorbidities, which places them at increased risk of death.”

iii. Effects of Acute Hypoglycemia on Working Memory and Language Processing in Adults With and Without Type 1 Diabetes.

“Cognitive function is impaired during acute hypoglycemia and frequently affects people with type 1 diabetes (1,2); elucidation of which cognitive domains are affected and by how much is of practical importance. Although cognitive domains do not function independently of each other, it is pertinent to design studies that investigate how everyday activities are affected by hypoglycemia as this has direct relevance to people with diabetes. Previous studies have demonstrated the effects of hypoglycemia on specific cognitive domains, including memory, attention, nonverbal intelligence, visual and auditory information processing, psychomotor function, spatial awareness, and executive functioning (314). However, the effects of hypoglycemia on language processing have seldom been explored.”

“Slurred speech and language difficulties are recognized features of hypoglycemia, but to our knowledge, the effects of hypoglycemia on linguistic processing have not been studied systematically. The current study used transient insulin-induced hypoglycemia in adults with and without type 1 diabetes to examine its effects on three aspects of language: the relationship between working memory and language (reading span), grammatical decoding (self-paced reading), and grammatical encoding (producing subject-verb agreement). Tests of these issues have been used extensively to understand the nature of language processing and its relationship to other cognitive abilities, specifically working memory (17).”

“Forty adults were studied (20 with type 1 diabetes and 20 healthy volunteers) using a hyperinsulinemic glucose clamp to lower blood glucose to 2.5 mmol/L (45 mg/dL) (hypoglycemia) for 60 min, or to maintain blood glucose at 4.5 mmol/L (81 mg/dL) (euglycemia), on separate occasions. Language tests were applied to assess the effects of hypoglycemia on the relationship between working memory and language (reading span), grammatical decoding (self-paced reading), and grammatical encoding (subject-verb agreement). […] Hypoglycemia caused a significant deterioration in reading span (P < 0.001; η2 = 0.37; Cohen d = 0.65) and a fall in correct responses (P = 0.005; η2 = 0.19; Cohen d = 0.41). On the self-paced reading test, the reading time for the first sentence fragment increased during hypoglycemia (P = 0.039; η2 = 0.11; Cohen d = 0.25). […] Hypoglycemia caused a deterioration of subject-verb agreement (correct responses: P = 0.011; η2 = 0.159; Cohen d = 0.31).”

“[We] demonstrated a significant deterioration in the accuracy of subject-verb agreement and also in reading span, a measure of working memory. This latter finding is compatible with the results of a previous study by our group (14) that used a different cognitive test battery but had an identical study design. In the current study, performance in the TMB and DST was significantly impaired during hypoglycemia, consistent with previous observations (57,1012,24) and confirming that adequate hypoglycemia had been achieved to impair cognitive function. […] Different mental functions have been shown to vary in their sensitivity to neuroglycopenia. […] higher-level skills are more vulnerable to hypoglycemia than simple cognitive tasks (1). In addition, during hypoglycemia, speed is usually killed in order to preserve accuracy (1). […] results strongly suggest that hypoglycemia induces difficulties in seemingly easy linguistic tasks such as correctly reading aloud a simple sentence fragment and its completion. Compared with other clamp studies exploring the effects of hypoglycemia on cognitive function, this was a large study that recruited both participants with and participants without diabetes. The fact that similar results were obtained in both groups suggests that these effects on language relate to acute hypoglycemia rather than to a chronic alternation of glycemic status in diabetes.” [My bold – US. These observations seem to corroborate observations I’ve made myself in the past.]

iv. Current State of Type 1 Diabetes Treatment in the U.S.: Updated Data From the T1D Exchange Clinic Registry.

Figure 1 from this paper is the sort of image which is worth a 1000 words.

Some observations from the paper:

“Data from 16,061 participants updated between 1 September 2013 and 1 December 2014 were compared with registry enrollment data collected from 1 September 2010 to 1 August 2012. […] The overall average HbA1c was 8.2% (66 mmol/mol) at enrollment and 8.4% (68 mmol/mol) at the most recent update. During childhood, mean HbA1c decreased from 8.3% (67 mmol/mol) in 2–4-year-olds to 8.1% (65 mmol/mol) at 7 years of age, followed by an increase to 9.2% (77 mmol/mol) in 19-year-olds. Subsequently, mean HbA1c values decline gradually until ∼30 years of age, plateauing at 7.5–7.8% (58–62 mmol/mol) beyond age 30 until a modest drop in HbA1c below 7.5% (58 mmol/mol) in those 65 years of age. Severe hypoglycemia (SH) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) remain all too common complications of treatment, especially in older (SH) and younger patients (DKA). […] Although the T1D Exchange registry findings are not population based and could be biased, it is clear that there remains considerable room for improving outcomes of treatment of type 1 diabetes across all age-groups.”

“[M]ean HbA1c values showed a gradual decline until ∼30 years of age, plateauing at a level of 7.5–7.8% (58–62 mmol/mol) beyond age 30 until a modest drop in HbA1c below 7.5% (58 mmol/mol) after 65 years of age. The ADA HbA1c goal of <7.5% (58 mmol/mol) was achieved by only a small percentage of children and adolescents <18 years of age (17–23%), and even fewer 18–25-year-olds (14%) met the ADA goal for adults of <7.0% (53 mmol/mol); this percentage increased to ∼30% in older adults […] across all age-groups, HbA1c was highest among non-Hispanic black participants, participants with lower annual household income, and those who performed SMBG less than four times per day […] On average, participants using an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor tended to have lower HbA1c values [….] Among the subset of 2,561 participants who completed the participant questionnaire, 6% reported having had a seizure or loss of consciousness due to hypoglycemia in the prior 3 months, with the highest occurrence being among those who were 50 years old or older.”

“The most troubling aspect of the data is that the mean HbA1c level of 9.0% (75 mmol/mol) in 13–17-year-olds in the registry is only slightly lower than the 9.5% (80 mmol/mol) seen in 13–17-year-olds at the start of the DCCT in the 1980s (15). Clearly, advances in diabetes management over the past two decades have been less successful in overcoming the special challenges in managing teenagers than adults with type 1 diabetes. Our data also indicate that the majority of “emerging adults” in their 20s do not fully emerge with regard to glycemic control until they reach 30 years of age. […] In a cross-sectional comparison, the average HbA1c at the most recent update was higher than at enrollment (8.4 vs. 8.2% [68 vs. 66 mmol/mol]), suggesting a worsening in glycemic control over time. The greatest increase in HbA1c was observed in the 13–17 (9.0 vs. 8.7% [75 vs. 72 mmol/mol]) and 18–26-year-old (8.7 vs. 8.3% [72 vs. 67 mmol/mol]) groups. Although this could reflect differences in age and type 1 diabetes duration, the results nevertheless indicate that there certainly is no indication of improving glycemic control in these age-groups.”

v. Prevention and Reversal of Type 1 Diabetes — Past Challenges and Future Opportunities.

“Over the past three decades there have been a number of clinical trials directed at interdicting the type 1 diabetes (T1D) disease process in an attempt to prevent the development of the disease in those at increased risk or to stabilize — potentially even reverse — the disease in people with T1D, usually of recent onset. Unfortunately, to date there has been no prevention trial that has resulted in delay or prevention of T1D. […] Since the completion of the early trials, particularly during the past decade, a number of additional randomized, double-masked, adequately powered, controlled clinical trials have been conducted using many different immunological strategies. For the most part, these have been disappointing, with none showing unambiguous benefit in preserving β-cell function. […] [M]ost immune intervention trials in T1D have either failed to achieve success in preserving β-cell function or have met that hurdle but have nonetheless shown only a transient effect.”

vi. Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Compromises Balance During Daily Activities.

“Patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) have an altered gait strategy (13) and a fivefold increased risk of falling (46). Falling is a major health risk in many developed countries; for example, in the general U.K. population, over a quarter of accidents that required hospital treatment were the result of a fall (7). A fall is preceded by loss of balance, which may be recoverable in some individuals, but requires rapid responses and a high level of strength from the lower-limb muscles (8,9). Nevertheless, the more likely an individual is to lose balance, the more likely they will at some point experience a fall. Therefore, quantifying balance control during every day gait activities may be considered one of the closest proxies for the risk of falling.”

“During walking activities, when an individual transfers their weight from one limb to another there are brief periods of large separation between the center of mass and the center of pressure. High levels of muscular strength are required to maintain balance during these periods. These large separations between the center of mass and center of pressure experienced during the single stance periods of dynamic gait activities may be a contributing factor toward understanding why the risk of falling during gait activities is much greater than during quiet standing. Few studies, however, have attempted to address the issue of balance during walking in patients with diabetes, and none have addressed the much more physically challenging activities of stair ascent and descent, during which the risk of falling is known to be very high (7). We therefore investigated a more “dynamic” measure of balance during stair ascent, stair descent, and level walking — three activities with the highest risk of fall-related injury (7) — with the hypothesis that individuals with peripheral neuropathy would display greater separations between their center of mass and center of pressure (i.e., poorer balance), thereby contributing to explaining why they are at high risk of falls.”

“Gait analysis during level walking and stair negotiation was performed in 22 patients with diabetic neuropathy (DPN), 39 patients with diabetes without neuropathy (D), and 28 nondiabetic control subjects (C) using a motion analysis system and embedded force plates in a staircase and level walkway. Balance was assessed by measuring the separation between the body center of mass and center of pressure during level walking, stair ascent, and stair descent. […] DPN patients demonstrated greater (P < 0.05) maximum and range of separations of their center of mass from their center of pressure in the medial-lateral plane during stair descent, stair ascent, and level walking compared with the C group, as well as increased (P < 0.05) mean separation during level walking and stair ascent. The same group also demonstrated greater (P < 0.05) maximum anterior separations (toward the staircase) during stair ascent. […] Greater separations of the center of mass from the center of pressure present a greater challenge to balance. Therefore, the higher medial-lateral separations found in patients with DPN will require greater muscular demands to control upright posture. This may contribute to explaining why patients with DPN are more likely to fall, with the higher separations placing them at a higher risk of experiencing a sideways fall than nondiabetic control subjects. […] balance is markedly impaired in patients with DPN during the gait activities of level ground walking, stair ascent, and stair descent. […] During the gait tasks, we found no significant balance impairments in patients with diabetes without DPN, clearly emphasizing that the link between diabetes and instability is a symptom of peripheral neuropathy.”

August 26, 2017 Posted by | Diabetes, Infectious disease, Language, Neurology, Studies | Leave a comment


The words below are words which I encountered while reading the Rex Stout novels Three Men Out, The Black Mountain, Before Midnight, Three Witnesses, Might as Well Be Dead, Three for the Chair, If Death Ever Slept, And Four to Go, Champagne for One, Plot it Yourself, and Three at Wolfe’s Door.

Colloquy. Chouse. Crass. Carnation. Geste. Jalopy. Squall. Dinghy. Indelibly. Totter. Crock. Chuckhole. Squatty. Paramour. Raceme. Brassy. Scuttlebutt. Ruffle. Lug. Bevy.

Autokinesis. Lilt. Convene. Stole. Chives. Squab. Derogation. Entice. Demimondaine/demirep. Mortarboard. Flattop. Gainsay. Skit. Fraternal. Yowl. Pimiento. Dunce. Ruffian. Creel. Minnow.

Roly-poly. Larrup. Ignominy. Herpetology. Brawny. Scalawag. Mulish. Chartreuse. Moot. Indomitable. Braise. Loll. Peculate. Jostle. Factotum. Billingsgate. Croak. Ramekin. Shirr. Shuck.

Dalliance. Ineluctable. Mull. Fogy. Panicle. Mimeograph. Gimcrack. Blacktop. Capon. Stymie. Impervious. Headlong. Aristology. Fleer. Imputation. Cress. Bestir. Cinch. Cantle. Sudadero.

August 24, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment


Most of these words are words I encountered while reading Rex Stout novels. To be more specific, perhaps 70 out of these 80 words are words I encountered while reading the Stout novels: And Be a Villain, Trouble in Triplicate, The Second Confession, Three Doors to Death, In the Best Families, Curtains for Three, Murder by the Book, Triple Jeopardy, Prisoner’s Base, and The Golden Spiders.

A few of the words are words which I have also included in previous posts of this kind, but the great majority of the words included are words which I have not previously blogged.

Percipient. Mantlet. Crick. Sepal. Shad. Lam. Gruff. Desist. Arachnology. Raffia. Electroplate. Runt. Temerarious. Temerity. Grump. Chousing. Gyp. Percale. Piddling. Dubiety.

Consommé. Pentathlon. Glower. Divvy. Styptic. Pattycake. Sagacity. Folderol. Glisten. Tassel. Bruit. Petiole. Zwieback. Hock. Flub. Shamus. Concessionaire. Pleat. Echelon. Colleen.

Apodictical. Glisten. Tortfeasor. Arytenoid. Cricoid. Splenetic. Zany. Tint. Boorish. Shuttlecock. Rangy. Gangly. Kilter. Caracul. Adventitious. Malefic. Rancor. Seersucker. Stooge. Frontispiece.

Flange. Avocation. Kobold. Platen. Forlorn. Sourpuss. Celadon. Griddle. Malum. Moot. Albacore. Gaff. Exigency. Cartado. Witling. Flounce. Glom. Pennant. Vernier. Blat.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | 2 Comments


Almost all of the words included below are words which I encountered while reading the Rex Stout books: Too Many Cooks, Some Buried Caesar, Over My Dead Body, Where There’s A Will, Black Orchids, Not Quite Dead Enough, The Silent Speaker, and Too Many Women.

Consilience. Plerophory. Livery. Fleshpot. Electioneer. Estop. Gibbosity. Piroshki. Clodhopper. Phlebotomy. Concordat. Clutch. Katydid. Tarpon. Bower. Scoot. Suds. Rotunda. Gab. Floriculture.

Scowl. Commandeer. Apodictically. Blotch. Bauble. Thurl. Wilt. Huff. Clodhopper. Consignee. Épée. Imprecation. Intransigent. Couturier. Quittance. Dingus. MetonymyChintzy. Skittish. Natty.

Intrigante. Curlicue. Bedraggled. Rotogravure. Legatee. Caper. Phiz. Derrick. Labellum. Mumblety-peg. Flump. Kerplunk. Portage. Pettish. Darb. Partridge. Cheviot. Jaunty. Accouterment. Obreptitious.

Receptacle. Impetuous. Springe. Toting. Blowsy. Flam. Linnet. Carton. Bollix. Awning. Chiffonier. Sniggle. Toggle. Craw. Simp. Titter. Wren. Endive. Assiduity. Pudgy.

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment


Many of the words below, though far from all of them, are words which I’ve encountered while reading Rex Stout‘s Nero Wolfe novels. I’ve read roughly 20 of Stout’s books over the last month or so and I like them a lot.

Scofflaw. Vulnific. Brisance. Delitescent. Scrunch. Tosspot. Flaneur. Crenellation. Autotelic. Decoupage. Gulosity. Bray. Modish. Cloddish. Vermiculate. Logy. Instar. Amatory. Coddle. Rayon.

Impedimenta. Mosey. Mucilage. Lulu. Contrariety. Loam. Lath. Sumac. Excelsior. Crotalid. Tonneau. Rotogravure. Dicker. Quixotism. Twill. Sill. Rumpus. Avoirdupois. Tarragon. Flummery.

Extempore. Rodomontade. Piddling. Dainties. Dingy. Aplomb. Gullery. Mash note. Carom. Flue. Traipsing. Contumacy. Hoosegow. Modicum. Snooty. Phiz. Acarpous. Gob. Scraggly. Spiff.

Frazzle. Burlap. Ruction. Apodictic. Clepe. Craichy. Fricandeau. Rut. Scuff. Querulous. Escutcheon. Dolichocephaly. Pestiferous. Caravansary. Coquin. Klieg. Gump. Herringbone. Ebullience. Confraternity.


July 5, 2017 Posted by | Language | Leave a comment


Orthoepy. Elucubrate. Lachrymatory. Ephectic. Palilogy. Sempiternal. Anadrome. Entelechy. Paracosm. Amerce. Syndactyly. Ustulation. Darrein. Mesority. Busker. Philematology. Episiotomy. Codger. Dacite. Obliviality.

Vermiculate. Temeritous. Buckler. Gormless. Vaginismus. Twerp. Décolletage. Wimple. Buccal. Anadromous/catadromous. Seraglio. Theriomorphic. Hypogeum. Sempervirent. Chinwag. Belonephobia/aichmophobia. Blepharospasm. Vigesimal. Eonism. Grandisonant.

Tiddly. Dactylography. Fulgurous. Oppilate. Xerophagy. Ostler. Skeuomorph. Lubricity. Yclept.
Dyspareunia. Sthenic. Magnalium. Vigil. Sejunction. Tonology. Tussle. Radix. Natatory. Obsidional.

Quillet. Elutriate. Runnel. Energumen. Mullered. Aquatint. Wyvern. Undine. Hectograph.
Traction engine. Custrel. Ochlagogy. Saturnalia. Querent. Tucket. Custrel. Sanguinolent. Abaisse. Clavis. Scenester.

Stonker. Ramus. Anfractuous. Scrumptious. Ctenoid. Enfleurage. Lamina. Worsted. Schlemiel. Erubescent. Clachan. Vinew. Dottle. Armlet. Kernel. Quitclaim. Avulsion. Dehisce. Zephyr. Kenning.

May 30, 2017 Posted by | Language | Leave a comment


Sciolism, amative, hypocorism, leiotrichouslatitudinariancircumlocutionary, daedal, ceruse, wimple, doyen, fuscous, jorum, groupuscule, gelid, hadal, palfrey, malum, cachou, fellmonger, susurrus.

Zeteticeirenicon, dystocia, vicereine, brachiation, odalisque, daglock, galumph, plantain, insufflation, marquetry, névé, samite, pangram, whisk, hamiform, addeem, oeillade, daggle, teratophilia.

Boffin, paraph, girandole, stramineouscusp, telishment, lenition, paludous, phoresy, foramen, zymurgy, pinion, clusivity, gnomon, enallage, zymogram, autopoiesis, bradyseism, appurtenant, dealation.

Peen, chamfer, siphonapterology, onomastics, stridulate, whinging, irrorate, amnion, pectination, sturt, anthelminthic, arrhinia, aprosopia, viscidity, periotic, constat, muffler, ostosis, petrichor, scelidate.

Thalassochorykex, engastration, braw, urbicolous, armillary, clanger, crith, enteron, mullion, quag, hooch, enounce, congé, bdelygmia, catenative, falx, cotyledon, egret, pericyte.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Language | Leave a comment


Almost all the words included in this post are words I encountered while reading the Flashman novels Flashman and the Mountain of Light, Flash for Freedom!, and Flashman and the Redskins. Almost all the words are words I have not included in similar posts in the past, but I decided to include a few words (2 or 3 words, something like that) I already included in similar posts in the past because I like those words and the fact that I had taken notice of them while reading these novels indicates to me that they haven’t yet stuck in my mind the way I’d like them to do; I usually only mark out words with which I’m either unfamiliar or words the meaning of which I have trouble remembering.

The post includes 6 segments of 20 words/concepts each.

Duff. Coparcener. Chunter. Haver. Sop. Purdah. Bedewing. Paynim. Conniptions. Pap. Tiffin. Aigrette. Whippet. Grandee. Caparison. Howdah. Mahout. Malediction. Tipple. Slantendicular.

Collogue. Hocussing. Sobersided/sobersides. Grog. Ramage. Hutment. Peradventure. Truckle. Caracole. Hustings. Gamester. Barracoon. Bowsprit. Gorget. Midge. Mumchance. Kurbash. Mudge. Unchancy. Mizzenmast/mizzen.

Wiseacre. Cully. SibilantHummock. Gloaming. Clew. Bestride. Dragoman. Lanyard. Binnacle. Stevedore. Corn pone/pone. Bawd. Spavin. Plaintiff. Wickiup. Julep. Holystone. Crimp. Melodeon.

Bitumen. Reticule. Roustabout. Teamster (Interestingly what this word means seems to have changed over time. In the Flashman setting the word is used to describe someone who’s handling teams of slaves; i.e. a slave driver). Serape. Crupper. Stockman. Carter. Clodpole. Tenderfoot. Chevron. Doss. Coonskin. Roué. Bight. Ferrule. Bodkin. Pelf. Pother. Ford.

Concourse. Dixie. Tobyman. Kedgeree. Prepossess. Rivet. Clubbable. Bower. Pottle. Clog. Waft. Lariat. Bargee. Gallus. Navvy. Papoose. Levee. Minatory. Wend. Statuary.

Fustian. Blatherskite. Escritoire. Twanging. Tippet. Wanton. Convivial. Blandishment. Quirt. Coulee. Guidon. Sorrel. Arrant. Contumelious. Depilation. Magnate. Vatic. Grimalkin. Manciple. Banns.

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment


Lately I’ve been reading some of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books, which have been quite enjoyable reads in general; I’m reading the books in the order in which the actions in the books supposedly took place, not in the order in which the books were published, and a large number of the words included below are words I encountered in the first three of the books I read (i.e. FlashmanRoyal Flash, and Flashman’s Lady); I decided the post already at that point included a large number of words (the post includes roughly 120 words), so I saw no need to add additional words from the other books in the series in this post as well. I have reviewed a few of the Flashman books I’ve read on goodreads here, here, and here.

Havildar, gimbal, quorum, unmannerly, tribulation, thalassophobia, kiln, sheave, grody, contemn, arcanum, deloping, poulterer, fossorial, catamount, guttersnipe, nabob, frond, matelot, jetty.

Sangar, palliasse, junoesque, cornet, bugle, fettle, toady, thong, trollop, sepoy, wattle, hardtack, snuffle, chunter, ghillie, barker, trousseau, simper, madcap, ramrod.

Welt, landau, declaim, burgomaster, scupper, windlass, maunder, sniffy, sirdar, randy, dowager, toffs, pug, curvet, pish, scriveners, hoyden, manikin, lecher/lechery, busby.

Ruck, leery, ninny, shillyshally, mincing, ringlet, covey, pip, munshi, risaldar, maidan, palankeen/palanquin, forbye, feringhee, cantonment, puggaree, pannikin, dollymop, snook, cordage.

Suet/suety, strumpet, kenspeckle, magsman, scrag, chandler, prigger, chivvy, décolleté, dundrearies, assignation, bruit, purblind, trull, slatterncoffle, doggo, cellarette, cummerbund, agley.

Sampan, wideawake, popsycollation, déshabillé, pinnace, pennant, murk, sprig, linstock, tassel, bangle, trammel, prau, shellback, shako, clobbertaffrail, crinolinetaffeta, commonalty.

April 15, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading James Herriot’s books and yesterday I finished the last one in the series. The five books (or 8, if you’re British – see the wiki…) I read – I skipped the ‘dog stories’ publication on that list because that book is just a collection of stories included in the other books – contain almost 2500 pages (2479, according to the goodreads numbers provided in the context of the editions I’ve been reading), and they also contained quite a few unfamiliar/nice words and expressions, many of which are included below. If you’re curious about the Herriot books you can read my goodreads reviews of the books here, here (very short), here, and here (I didn’t review The Lord God Made Them All).

Eversionskeevy, censerknout, byreelectuary, trocar/trocarization, clogirascible, gilt, curvet, bullock, niggle, scapegrace, cur, pantile, raddle, scamper, skitter, odoriferous.

Dewlap, seton, muzzy, stirk, shillelagh, borborygmi, omentum, fettle, guddle, cruciate, peduncle/pedunculated, ecraseur, curlew, gabble, gable, festoon, cornada, lambent, lank.

Lope, billet, casement, scree, caliper, dale, stoup, puisne, tumefy, scamp, probang, famble, footling, colostrum, towsle/tousle, loquacious, dapper, cob, meconium, locum.

Mullion, roan, slat, dustman, carvery, abomasum, rostrum, zareba, flithackle, tympanites, pewter, opisthotonos, concertina, miliarylief, spay, otodectic.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Books, Language | Leave a comment


The great majority of the words below are from books I’ve recently read, I’ve almost not spent any time on since my last post of this kind; the guys add new words much too slowly, and most of the words they’ve recently added were not in my opinion all that interesting.

GelidCicatrization. Caudal. Stanchion. Saurian. Griddle. Branks. Purlieu. Arras. Slicker. Insipidity. Sedulously. Splay. Traipse. Gaff. Costive. Depauperate. Quaver. Homiletic.

Anemometer. Flagitious. CarboyMatutinalCognizance. Crispation. Doughty. Crepuscular. Giblets. Venery. Collier. Charnel. Dirge. Natter. Lintel. Disquisition.

Papuliferous. Vespertine. Lusciousness. Damask. Vaunt. Cicatrix. Integument. Heresiarch. Traducement. Apotheosis. Sardanapalian. Vocable. Desiderium. Leucocholy. Compathy.

Callosity. Skosh. Hellacious. Jouncy. Scilicet. Benignancy. TenebrificIpseityHoydenish. Quean. Handsel. Piton. Belvedere. Yenta. Officinal. Sanative. Umbra. Abaxial. Idiographic.

March 6, 2017 Posted by | Language | 4 Comments


I’ve usually in the past combined these lists with other stuff, but I am now strongly considering making these lists into posts of their own in order to make a potential lack of ‘other stuff’ to include in such posts less likely to stop me from posting the words; stuff I don’t blog is more likely to get lost to my memory, so I don’t want to give myself any more excuses not to blog stuff I want to remember/learn than I have to. Most of the words are from books I’ve read over the last weeks, I rarely spend time on these days (I don’t encounter enough new words on the site these days to justify a significant amount of activity there; there are too many review questions, likely a result of me having mastered words much faster than they’ve added new ones..).

I’ve by now decided to stop (more-or-less…-) systematically checking in each case if I’ve already included a word on a similar list in a previous post; not all the words on these lists from now on will necessarily be ‘new’ to me (to the extent that the words on the previous lists have been, that is…) – so some of these words (and the words to come, assuming other posts will follow) are likely just words I’ve forgot about, and some are words I simply consider to be ‘nice’/’unappreciated’/’not encountered often enough’… I decided to split the words in this post up into smaller groups of words, as one big chunk of words looked slightly ‘scary’ and unapproachable to me. There’s no system to the groupings, the words were originally randomly added to a list I keep of words I knew I’d want to get back to at some point and the cut-offs I later applied when writing this post were more or less completely arbitrary. If you want non-arbitrary groups of interesting words, I refer to the goodreads lists.

Saudade, malapertauriferousfrissonanchorite, lacquerermisoneismcamarilla, cloy, cooper, prevaricatory, impugn, prestidigitation, compeer, lapidary, contumely, contumelious.

Dotard, creel, parricide, assonance, habiliment, assail, mimesis, investiture, irruption, tenuity, tribulation, analectic, succour, augercanker, apophthegm, haruspex, rapine.

Sward, chafferer, argol, sprightly, disport, eyas, garishly, teeter, flocculent, crick, dandle, picaresque, newelanamnesis, imprecateemically, mulch, sommelier, julienne.

Logomachy, chockablock, fusty, diarchy, perfervid, estivationlogy, tumescence, portcullislox, unprocurable, admonitory, kelp, enjambment, lithography.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | Language | Leave a comment

Random Stuff

i. On the youtube channel of the Institute for Advanced Studies there has been a lot of activity over the last week or two (far more than 100 new lectures have been uploaded, and it seems new uploads are still being added at this point), and I’ve been watching a few of the recently uploaded astrophysics lectures. They’re quite technical, but you can watch them and follow enough of the content to have an enjoyable time despite not understanding everything:

This is a good lecture, very interesting. One major point made early on: “the take-away message is that the most common planet in the galaxy, at least at shorter periods, are planets for which there is no analogue in the solar system. The most common kind of planet in the galaxy is a planet with a radius of two Earth radii.” Another big take-away message is that small planets seem to be quite common (as noted in the conclusions, “16% of Sun-like stars have an Earth-sized planet”).

Of the lectures included in this post this was the one I liked the least; there are too many (‘obstructive’) questions/interactions between lecturer and attendants along the way, and the interactions/questions are difficult to hear/understand. If you consider watching both this lecture and the lecture below, I would say that it would probably be wise to watch the lecture below this one before you watch this one; I concluded that in retrospect some of the observations made early on in the lecture below would have been useful to know about before watching this lecture. (The first half of the lecture below was incidentally to me somewhat easier to follow than was the second half, but especially the first half hour of it is really quite good, despite the bad start (which one can always blame on Microsoft…)).

ii. Words I’ve encountered recently (…or ‘recently’ – it’s been a while since I last posted one of these lists): Divagationsperiphrasis, reedy, architravesettpedipalp, tout, togs, edentulous, moue, tatty, tearaway, prorogue, piscine, fillip, sop, panniers, auxology, roister, prepossessing, cantle, catamite, couth, ordure, biddy, recrudescence, parvenu, scupper, husting, hackle, expatiate, affray, tatterdemalion, eructation, coppice, dekko, scull, fulmination, pollarding, grotty, secateurs, bumf (I must admit that I like this word – it seems fitting, somehow, to use that word for this concept…), durophagy, randy, (brief note to self: Advise people having children who ask me about suggestions for how to name them against using this name (or variants such as Randi), it does not seem like a great idea), effete, apricity, sororal, bint, coition, abaft, eaves, gadabout, lugubriously, retroussé, landlubber, deliquescence, antimacassar, inanition.

iii. “The point of rigour is not to destroy all intuition; instead, it should be used to destroy bad intuition while clarifying and elevating good intuition. It is only with a combination of both rigorous formalism and good intuition that one can tackle complex mathematical problems; one needs the former to correctly deal with the fine details, and the latter to correctly deal with the big picture. Without one or the other, you will spend a lot of time blundering around in the dark (which can be instructive, but is highly inefficient). So once you are fully comfortable with rigorous mathematical thinking, you should revisit your intuitions on the subject and use your new thinking skills to test and refine these intuitions rather than discard them. One way to do this is to ask yourself dumb questions; another is to relearn your field.” (Terry Tao, There’s more to mathematics than rigour and proofs)

iv. A century of trends in adult human height. A figure from the paper (Figure 3 – Change in adult height between the 1896 and 1996 birth cohorts):


(Click to view full size. WordPress seems to have changed the way you add images to a blog post – if this one is even so annoyingly large, I apologize, I have tried to minimize it while still retaining detail, but the original file is huge). An observation from the paper:

“Men were taller than women in every country, on average by ~11 cm in the 1896 birth cohort and ~12 cm in the 1996 birth cohort […]. In the 1896 birth cohort, the male-female height gap in countries where average height was low was slightly larger than in taller nations. In other words, at the turn of the 20th century, men seem to have had a relative advantage over women in undernourished compared to better-nourished populations.”

I haven’t studied the paper in any detail but intend to do so at a later point in time.

v. I found this paper, on Exercise and Glucose Metabolism in Persons with Diabetes Mellitus, interesting in part because I’ve been very surprised a few times by offhand online statements made by diabetic athletes, who had observed that their blood glucose really didn’t drop all that fast during exercise. Rapid and annoyingly large drops in blood glucose during exercise have been a really consistent feature of my own life with diabetes during adulthood. It seems that there may be big inter-individual differences in terms of the effects of exercise on glucose in diabetics. From the paper:

“Typically, prolonged moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (i.e., 30–70% of one’s VO2max) causes a reduction in glucose concentrations because of a failure in circulating insulin levels to decrease at the onset of exercise.12 During this type of physical activity, glucose utilization may be as high as 1.5 g/min in adolescents with type 1 diabetes13 and exceed 2.0 g/min in adults with type 1 diabetes,14 an amount that quickly lowers circulating glucose levels. Persons with type 1 diabetes have large interindividual differences in blood glucose responses to exercise, although some intraindividual reproducibility exists.15 The wide ranging glycemic responses among individuals appears to be related to differences in pre-exercise blood glucose concentrations, the level of circulating counterregulatory hormones and the type/duration of the activity.2

August 13, 2016 Posted by | Astronomy, Demographics, Diabetes, Language, Lectures, Mathematics, Physics, Random stuff | Leave a comment

Random stuff

I find it difficult to find the motivation to finish the half-finished drafts I have lying around, so this will have to do. Some random stuff below.


(15.000 views… In some sense that seems really ‘unfair’ to me, but on the other hand I doubt neither Beethoven nor Gilels care; they’re both long dead, after all…)

ii. New/newish words I’ve encountered in books, on or elsewhere:

Agleyperipeteia, disseverhalidom, replevinsocage, organdie, pouffe, dyarchy, tauricide, temerarious, acharnement, cadger, gravamen, aspersion, marronage, adumbrate, succotash, deuteragonist, declivity, marquetry, machicolation, recusal.

iii. A lecture:

It’s been a long time since I watched it so I don’t have anything intelligent to say about it now, but I figured it might be of interest to one or two of the people who still subscribe to the blog despite the infrequent updates.

iv. A few wikipedia articles (I won’t comment much on the contents or quote extensively from the articles the way I’ve done in previous wikipedia posts – the links shall have to suffice for now):

Duverger’s law.

Far side of the moon.

Preference falsification.

Russian political jokes. Some of those made me laugh (e.g. this one: “A judge walks out of his chambers laughing his head off. A colleague approaches him and asks why he is laughing. “I just heard the funniest joke in the world!” “Well, go ahead, tell me!” says the other judge. “I can’t – I just gave someone ten years for it!”).

Political mutilation in Byzantine culture.

v. World War 2, if you think of it as a movie, has a highly unrealistic and implausible plot, according to this amusing post by Scott Alexander. Having recently read a rather long book about these topics, one aspect I’d have added had I written the piece myself would be that an additional factor making the setting seem even more implausible is how so many presumably quite smart people were so – what at least in retrospect seems – unbelievably stupid when it came to Hitler’s ideas and intentions before the war. Going back to Churchill’s own life I’d also add that if you were to make a movie about Churchill’s life during the war, which you could probably relatively easily do if you were to just base it upon his own copious and widely shared notes, then it could probably be made into a quite decent movie. His own comments, remarks, and observations certainly made for a great book.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | Astronomy, Computer science, History, Language, Lectures, Mathematics, Music, Random stuff, Russia, Wikipedia | Leave a comment

Random Stuff

i. Some new words I’ve encountered (not all of them are from, but many of them are):

Uxoricide, persnickety, logy, philoprogenitive, impassive, hagiography, gunwale, flounce, vivify, pelage, irredentism, pertinacity,callipygous, valetudinarian, recrudesce, adjuration, epistolary, dandle, picaresque, humdinger, newel, lightsome, lunette, inflect, misoneism, cormorant, immanence, parvenu, sconce, acquisitiveness, lingual, Macaronic, divot, mettlesome, logomachy, raffish, marginalia, omnifarious, tatter, licit.

ii. A lecture:

I got annoyed a few times by the fact that you can’t tell where he’s pointing when he’s talking about the slides, which makes the lecture harder to follow than it ought to be, but it’s still an interesting lecture.

iii. Facts about Dihydrogen Monoxide. Includes coverage of important neglected topics such as ‘What is the link between Dihydrogen Monoxide and school violence?’ After reading the article, I am frankly outraged that this stuff’s still legal!

iv. Some wikipedia links of interest:


Steganography […] is the practice of concealing a file, message, image, or video within another file, message, image, or video. The word steganography combines the Greek words steganos (στεγανός), meaning “covered, concealed, or protected”, and graphein (γράφειν) meaning “writing”. […] Generally, the hidden messages appear to be (or be part of) something else: images, articles, shopping lists, or some other cover text. For example, the hidden message may be in invisible ink between the visible lines of a private letter. Some implementations of steganography that lack a shared secret are forms of security through obscurity, whereas key-dependent steganographic schemes adhere to Kerckhoffs’s principle.[1]

The advantage of steganography over cryptography alone is that the intended secret message does not attract attention to itself as an object of scrutiny. Plainly visible encrypted messages—no matter how unbreakable—arouse interest, and may in themselves be incriminating in countries where encryption is illegal.[2] Thus, whereas cryptography is the practice of protecting the contents of a message alone, steganography is concerned with concealing the fact that a secret message is being sent, as well as concealing the contents of the message.”

H. H. Holmes. A really nice guy.

Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), better known under the name of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes or more commonly just H. H. Holmes, was one of the first documented serial killers in the modern sense of the term.[1][2] In Chicago, at the time of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Holmes opened a hotel which he had designed and built for himself specifically with murder in mind, and which was the location of many of his murders. While he confessed to 27 murders, of which nine were confirmed, his actual body count could be up to 200.[3] He brought an unknown number of his victims to his World’s Fair Hotel, located about 3 miles (4.8 km) west of the fair, which was held in Jackson Park. Besides being a serial killer, H. H. Holmes was also a successful con artist and a bigamist. […]

Holmes purchased an empty lot across from the drugstore where he built his three-story, block-long hotel building. Because of its enormous structure, local people dubbed it “The Castle”. The building was 162 feet long and 50 feet wide. […] The ground floor of the Castle contained Holmes’ own relocated drugstore and various shops, while the upper two floors contained his personal office and a labyrinth of rooms with doorways opening to brick walls, oddly-angled hallways, stairways leading to nowhere, doors that could only be opened from the outside and a host of other strange and deceptive constructions. Holmes was constantly firing and hiring different workers during the construction of the Castle, claiming that “they were doing incompetent work.” His actual reason was to ensure that he was the only one who fully understood the design of the building.[3]

Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

“The Minnesota Starvation Experiment […] was a clinical study performed at the University of Minnesota between November 19, 1944 and December 20, 1945. The investigation was designed to determine the physiological and psychological effects of severe and prolonged dietary restriction and the effectiveness of dietary rehabilitation strategies.

The motivation of the study was twofold: First, to produce a definitive treatise on the subject of human starvation based on a laboratory simulation of severe famine and, second, to use the scientific results produced to guide the Allied relief assistance to famine victims in Europe and Asia at the end of World War II. It was recognized early in 1944 that millions of people were in grave danger of mass famine as a result of the conflict, and information was needed regarding the effects of semi-starvation—and the impact of various rehabilitation strategies—if postwar relief efforts were to be effective.”

“most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression.[1]:161 There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally).[5] Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation.[1]:123–124 […] One of the crucial observations of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment […] is that the physical effects of the induced semi-starvation during the study closely approximate the conditions experienced by people with a range of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.”

Post-vasectomy pain syndrome. Vasectomy reversal is a risk people probably know about, but this one seems to also be worth being aware of if one is considering having a vasectomy.

Transport in the Soviet Union (‘good article’). A few observations from the article:

“By the mid-1970s, only eight percent of the Soviet population owned a car. […]  From 1924 to 1971 the USSR produced 1 million vehicles […] By 1975 only 8 percent of rural households owned a car. […] Growth of motor vehicles had increased by 224 percent in the 1980s, while hardcore surfaced roads only increased by 64 percent. […] By the 1980s Soviet railways had become the most intensively used in the world. Most Soviet citizens did not own private transport, and if they did, it was difficult to drive long distances due to the poor conditions of many roads. […] Road transport played a minor role in the Soviet economy, compared to domestic rail transport or First World road transport. According to historian Martin Crouch, road traffic of goods and passengers combined was only 14 percent of the volume of rail transport. It was only late in its existence that the Soviet authorities put emphasis on road construction and maintenance […] Road transport as a whole lagged far behind that of rail transport; the average distance moved by motor transport in 1982 was 16.4 kilometres (10.2 mi), while the average for railway transport was 930 km per ton and 435 km per ton for water freight. In 1982 there was a threefold increase in investment since 1960 in motor freight transport, and more than a thirtyfold increase since 1940.”

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Biology, Cryptography, History, Language, Lectures, Ophthalmology, Random stuff, Wikipedia, Zoology | Leave a comment

A couple of lectures and a little bit of random stuff

i. Two lectures from the Institute for Advanced Studies:

The IAS has recently uploaded a large number of lectures on youtube, and the ones I blog here are a few of those where you can actually tell from the title what the lecture is about; I find it outright weird that these people don’t include the topic covered in the lecture in their lecture titles.

As for the video above, as usual for the IAS videos it’s annoying that you can’t hear the questions asked by the audience, but the sound quality of this video is at least quite a bit better than the sound quality of the video below (which has a couple of really annoying sequences, in particular around the 15-16 minutes mark (it gets better), where the image is also causing problems, and in the last couple of minutes of the Q&A things are also not exactly optimal as the lecturer leaves the area covered by the camera in order to write something on the blackboard – but you don’t know what he’s writing and you can’t see the lecturer, because the camera isn’t following him). I found most of the above lecture easier to follow than I did the lecture posted below, though in either case you’ll probably not understand all of it unless you’re an astrophysicist – you definitely won’t in case of the latter lecture. I found it helpful to look up a few topics along the way, e.g. the wiki articles about the virial theorem (/also dealing with virial mass/radius), active galactic nucleus (this is the ‘AGN’ she refers to repeatedly), and the Tully–Fisher relation.

Given how many questions are asked along the way it’s really annoying that you in most cases can’t hear what people are asking about – this is definitely an area where there’s room for improvement in the context of the IAS videos. The lecture was not easy to follow but I figured along the way that I understood enough of it to make it worth watching the lecture to the end (though I’d say you’ll not miss much if you stop after the lecture – around the 1.05 hours mark – and skip the subsequent Q&A). I’ve relatively recently read about related topics, e.g. pulsar formation and wave- and fluid dynamics, and if I had not I probably would not have watched this lecture to the end.

ii. A update. I’m slowly working my way up to the ‘Running Dictionary’ rank (I’m only a walking dictionary at this point); here’s some stuff from my progress page:

I recently learned from a note added to a list that I’ve actually learned a very large proportion of all words available on, which probably also means that I may have been too harsh on the word selection algorithm in past posts here on the blog; if there aren’t (/m)any new words left to learn it should not be surprising that the algorithm presents me with words I’ve already mastered, and it’s not the algorithm’s fault that there aren’t more words available for me to learn (well, it is to the extent that you’re of the opinion that questions should be automatically created by the algorithm as well, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet at this point). The aforementioned note was added in June, and here’s the important part: “there are words on your list that can’t teach yet. can teach over 12,000 words, but sadly, these aren’t among them”. ‘Over 12.000’ – and I’ve mastered 11.300. When the proportion of mastered words is this high, not only will the default random word algorithm mostly present you with questions related to words you’ve already mastered; but it actually also starts to get hard to find lists with many words you’ve not already mastered – I’ll often load lists with one hundred words and then realize that I’ve mastered every word on the list. This is annoying if you have a desire to continually be presented with both new words as well as old ones. Unless increases the rate with which they add new words I’ll run out of new words to learn, and if that happens I’m sure it’ll be much more difficult for me to find motivation to use the site.

With all that stuff out of the way, if you’re not a regular user of the site I should note – again – that it’s an excellent resource if you desire to increase your vocabulary. Below is a list of words I’ve encountered on the site in recent weeks(/months?):

Copaceticfrumpyelisiontermagantharridanquondam, funambulist, phantasmagoriaeyelet, cachinnate, wilt, quidnunc, flocculent, galoot, frangible, prevaricate, clarion, trivet, noisome, revenant, myrmidon (I have included this word once before in a post of this type, but it is in my opinion a very nice word with which more people should be familiar…), debenture, teeter, tart, satiny, romp, auricular, terpsichorean, poultice, ululation, fusty, tangy, honorarium, eyas, bumptious, muckraker, bayou, hobble, omphaloskepsis, extemporize, virago, rarefaction, flibbertigibbet, finagle, emollient.

iii. I don’t think I’d do things exactly the way she’s suggesting here, but the general idea/approach seems to me appealing enough for it to be worth at least keeping in mind if I ever decide to start dating/looking for a partner.

iv. Some wikipedia links:

Tarrare (featured). A man with odd eating habits and an interesting employment history (“Dr. Courville was keen to continue his investigations into Tarrare’s eating habits and digestive system, and approached General Alexandre de Beauharnais with a suggestion that Tarrare’s unusual abilities and behaviour could be put to military use.[9] A document was placed inside a wooden box which was in turn fed to Tarrare. Two days later, the box was retrieved from his excrement, with the document still in legible condition.[9][17] Courville proposed to de Beauharnais that Tarrare could thus serve as a military courier, carrying documents securely through enemy territory with no risk of their being found if he were searched.” Yeah…).

Cauda equina syndromeCastleman’s disease, Astereognosis, Familial dysautonomia, Homonymous hemianopsia, Amaurosis fugax. All of these are of course related to content covered in the Handbook.

1740 Batavia massacre (featured).

v. I am also fun.

October 30, 2015 Posted by | Astronomy, History, Immunology, Language, Lectures, Medicine, Neurology, Personal, Physics, Random stuff, Wikipedia | Leave a comment