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An Occasional Quotation from Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary – Just What the Doctor Ordered!

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Today is January 12, 2009, in the United States of America, and the following are four "D" words:

Defame: v. To lie about another.  To tell the truth about another. 

And  

Defenseless: adj.  Unable to attack. 

And 

Degenerate: adj. Less conspicuously admirable than one's ancestors.  The contemporaries of Homer were striking examples of degeneracy; it required ten of them to raise a rock or a riot that one of the heroes of the Trojan War could have raised with ease.  Homer never tires of sneering at 'men who live in these degenerate days,' which is perhaps why they suffered him to beg his bread – a marked instance of returning good for evil, for if they had forbidden him he would certainly have starved. 

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And 

Distance: n. The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs and keep.     

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(Read a few biographical words about Ambrose Bierce, from the 1958 Dover paperback edition of The Devil's Dictionary, here.)

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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
 

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