The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

September 29, 2005


not since the beginning of fodder have I felt the necessity of reinventing
the protozoan against a background of the natural world, already a
reconstitution from the presence of what had been merely a cultural

     But most of all good eating cheers the brain,
         Where other joys are rarely met -- at sea --
     Unless, indeed, we lose as soon as gain --
         Ay, there's the rub so baffling oft to me.
     Boiled, roast, and baked -- what precious choice of dishes
         My generous throat has shared among the fishes!

     'T is sweet to leave, in each forsaken spot,
         Our foot-prints there -- if only in the sand;
     'T is sweet to feel we are not all forgot,
         That some will weep our flight from every land;
     And sweet the knowledge, when the seas I cross,
         My briny messmates! ye will mourn my loss.

-- Thomas Ward, quoted by Edgar Allen Poe -- the subject is sea-sickness.

(Computer History) - Thomas Wright's 1861 essay on the medieval abacus

See the images below. The description of an abacus tradition, complete
with different names/graphemes for 0-9, is fascinating. The images
indicate it may have been something qualitatively different from the
abacus as we know it - perhaps to the base 10 itself.

This material, I think, should be better known. The book is: Essays on
Archaeological Subjects, And on Various Questions Connected with the
History of Art, Science, and Literature in the Middle Ages., by Thomas
Wright, John Russell Smith, 1861. The essay: On the Abacus or Mediaeval
System of Arithmetic.

Please note the images might not be up longer than a week or so; space
is limited.

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