Before 1958, There Was No Way to Say That Something Was Stackable

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While I wait for someone to deliver a bomb to my door,¹ I have been distracted once again by somebody pointing me to Merriam Webster’s list of words that first appeared in a given year. I’ve looked at this before, but it must have been a while ago because I didn’t notice one word in particular that’s been living in my head rent-free for the past four years:

dexamethasone: a synthetic glucocorticoid C22H29FO5 used especially as an anti-inflammatory agent

The evil dex turned 60 this year, just like me! Well, 61, anyway, according to Wikipedia. But nobody wrote about it until 1958.

Merriam Webster also claims that 1958 was the first time that several mathematical terms were seen in print: Cartesian product, linear regression, multiplicative identity, multiplicative inverse, percentage point, and two’s complement. I can buy the last one, but the others seem unlikely to have first been written down in 1958.

Allegedly, my birth year also lays claim to sex kitten, software, tesla, prequel, and stackable. I wonder what prequel was written in 1958 that gave rise to this neologism? I suppose that these days it takes less time to look it up than it does to actually ask the question. And here it is:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “prequel” first appeared in print in 1958 in an article by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, used to describe James Blish’s 1956 story They Shall Have Stars, which expanded on the story introduced in his earlier 1955 work, Earthman Come Home.

And there you have it.

¹Marian does not appreciate this joke, by the way.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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