The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

February 15, 2008

Inhering characteristics of matter, let us say substance.

Let us say substance without differentiation, by which we mean, cohering
matter, the phenomenology of the _same_ without transitivity (as in for
example Irigaray). One is always lost in the same. At the limit, one might
consider the same a manifold without geodesics, striations, closed upon
itself, windowless, sightless, catatonic. But this is only a limit, never
found, incapable of seeing or being-seen; it is the limit of death, the
maw that absorbs us all. Now to open it up a bit:

"RECAPITULATION. -- The common or essential properties of bodies are, Im-
penetrability, Extension, Figure, Divisibility, Inertia, and Attraction.
Attraction is of several kinds, viz. attraction of Cohesion, attraction
of Gravitation, Capillary attraction, Chemical attraction, Magnetic
attraction, and Electrical attraction.

The peculiar properties of bodies are, Density, Rarity, Hardness, Elastic-
ity, Brittleness, Malleability, Ductility, and Tenacity."

(J L Comstock, A System of Natural Philosophy, 1854 and earlier.)

Electrical attraction is of one or two kinds, positive or negative, aus-
tral or boreal. It is an inhering fluid which gathers, puckers, expends.

Shape comes: "FIGURE OR FORM _is the result of extension, for we can not
conceive that a body has length and breadth, without its also having some
kind of figure, however irregular._" Fractals come: "Some solids are so
irregular, that they cannot be compared with any mathematical figure. This
is the case with the fragments of a broken rock, chips of wood, fractured
glass, &c.; these are called _amorphous._" Inversion comes: "A single
grain of musk will scent a room for years, and still lose no appreciable
part of its weight. Here, the particles of musk must be floating in the
air of every part of the room; otherwise they could not be every where

What parts of the whole subtend figure, location, differentiation from the

Attraction might be said to construct the other, the other's construction
of the self, both and neither, imaginary, chimera. Gravitational attrac-
tion is like to like; magnetic and electrical like to anti-like, but of
the otherwise same; capillary, specific like to specific other, of which
both adhere to their essential characters; chemical, unary or mutual
transformation of specific like to specific other; and cohesion, like to
like or like to specific other.

The peculiar properties inhere. "RARITY. -- This is the quality opposite
to density, and means that the substance to which it is applied is porous,
and light. Thus air, water, and ether, are rare substances, while gold,
lead, and platina, are dense bodies." Today this is in fact density, and a
peculiar property in general might be considered that which is related to
the atomic or molecular constitution of matter, or rather the particle
constitution of matter, hence for example the neutron star, or rather the
constituating configuration of matter, hence for example the black hole,
or rather nearly decomposable phenomena, hence possibly dark matter or
strings, or whatever preserves at least the very weakest of phenomenologi-
cal structures in the true world and its descriptive messay/anysign.

From William Peck's Introductory Course of Natural Philosophy for the Use
of Schools and Academies, edited from Ganot's Popular Physics, 1873:

"Physics is that branch of Natural Philosophy which treats of the general
properties of bodies, and of the causes that modify these properties.

The principle causes that modify the properties of bodies are: _Gravita-
tion, Heat, Light, Magnetism,_ and _Electricity._ These causes are called
_Physical Agents._"

There are solid and fluid bodies. Bodies have mass and density. The gener-
al properties of bodies include Magnitude, Form, Impenetrability, Inertia,
Porosity, Divisibility, Compressibility, Dilatability, and Elasticity. Be-
yond Gravity, there are molecular forces which include Cohesion, Adhesion,
Capillary Forces, Absorption, Imbibition ("the absorption of a liquid by a
solid body"), Tenacity, Hardness, Ductility, and Malleability.

The book, "Peck's Ganot," is based on Ganot's elementary version of his
Traite Elementaire de Physique; I have the 3rd 1854 edition. Here, physi-
cal agents are as follows: "l'attraction universelle, le calorique, la
lumiere, le magnetisme et l'electricite." Under general properties of
bodies: "l'impenetrabilite, l'etendue, la divisibilite, la porosite, la
compressibilite, l'elasticite, la mobilite, et l'inertie." Particular
properties are those observed in certain bodies or certain states of bod-
ies, such as solidity, fluidity, tenacity, ductility, malleability, hard-
ness, transparency, and coloration; there is density, weight, various
forms of elasticity, etc.

Heat, steam, hydraulics, magnetism, electricity, fluids, gas: the world is
in flux, numerous solids are porous, some transparent to magnetism, x-rays
and other out of directly perceivable bandwidth radiations and receptors -
all challenge the muteness of amphiboles, some absorb others, some gener-
ate others, some construct others as problematic, some are coherent, some
inhere, some leak into Freud's hydraulic model, some are id-messy or

As I have pointed out, electrical fluid inhabits the spherical; the point,
punctum, drains it. Harboring matter is puckered, withdrawn. The fluid
seeps off in due time. It can be gathered in leyden jars, spewed from
voltaic piles (dynamic or galvanic electricity), generated from machines
(Wimhurst, von Guericke, etc.) with glass disks or cylinders or small
furnaces and stem or cat fur, pith, resin, tin foil (see the electrophor-
ous). It is social, the subject of "electrical recreations" led by men for
young women holding hands, sparking one another, hair stood on end, short-
circuiting jars and condensers. It's the men who electrocute dogs and
birds, test the apparatus against the limits of life and death. It's the
pith-man and pith-woman who jump up and down in funny embrace in a small
electrostatic entertainment. It's the woman who demonstrates the magnetic
swan to a small boy.

There's ectoplasm, outside the ken of these books, these models, as are
all sorts of spirits. Still, Peck/Ganot states right at the beginning:
"The Universe may be regarded as made up of _mind_ and _matter._ MIND is
that which thinks and wills; MATTER is that of which we become cognizant
through the medium of the senses. Science admits of two corresponding
divisions, _Science of Mind,_ or METAPHYSICS, and _Science of Matter,_ or

Three simple points from all of this: Much coheres, inheres, to matter;
some of what coheres or inheres is in problematic relation with an other
(general or specific); and much of these relatively early dialogs empha-
size a simplicity of fluidic substance and magnetic/electromagnetic
experimentation. While the science and technical characterization of the
world is clearly outmoded, the _phenomenology_ emphasizing a blurring of
static and dynamic, force and presence, circuit and stasis, state and
operator, and self and other, is rather sophisticated and uncannily
resonates with the messy and problematic distinctions among analogic and
digital/discrete domains, emanent and organic life, and real and virtual
as well as sign and anysign, all within the true world. We can't stop now;
we're just beginning to understand that the question isn't how many angels
are dancing on the head of a pin - the question is, how many angels are in

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 08:04:27 -0600 (CST)
From: Internet Scout Project <>
Subject: The Scout Report -- February 15, 2008 -- HTML Version

                                 The Scout Report

   Volume 14, Number 6

   February 15, 2008

     A Publication of the Internet Scout Project

       Computer Science Department, University of Wisconsin

     Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries.


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   Research and Education

  *  Legacy: Spain and the United States in the Age of Independence
  *  Digital Library for Earth System Education
  *  Rhetoric for Engineers
  *  The Road Not Traveled: Education Reform in the Middle East and North
  *  Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students
  *  Studies in the History of Ethics
  *  Library of Congress: Science Reference Services
  *  MIT Security Studies Program

   General Interest

  *  AFSCME, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1968 Memphis Sanitation
  *  Frontline: The Mormons
  *  21st Century Music
  *  Art and Literature in Siena, 1250-1600
  *  Johnson's Island, Unlocking a Civil War Prison: Interactive Dig
  *  Hoover Institution: Uncommon Knowledge
  *  Rose and Chess: Discover Two Reunited Medieval Manuscripts

   Network Tools

  *  Freebie Notes 3.16
  *  Save2pc 3.25

   In The News

  *  Ornithologists continue quest to locate the ivory-billed woodpecker


   Research and Education

Legacy: Spain and the United States in the Age of Independence 1763-1848
[Macromedia Flash Player]

During the eighty-five year period after the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Great
Britain, Spain, France, Native Americans, and the young American republic
engaged in a number of conflicts, alliances, and battles on the North
American continent. Drawing on primary source materials from the
Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and numerous other organizations,
this delightful exhibit looks at the crucial Spanish contributions to the
American cause during the Revolutionary War and the presence and
influence of Hispanic culture in Florida, Louisiana, California, and the
Southwest. Visitors can begin their exploration through the site by
clicking through the five primary sections, which include "War of
Independence" and "Spain in the American Imagination". Upon arriving at
each section, visitors will be presented with an interactive "wall" of
portraits, maps, treaties, and other items of historical ephemera.
Additionally, the site also includes an interactive catalogue and a map.
Needless to say, the site's materials are also available in Spanish.

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Digital Library for Earth System Education [pdf]

The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) is a clearinghouse
of high-quality materials for educators, students and scientists "working
together to improve the quality, quantity, and efficiency of teaching and
learning about the Earth system at all levels." First-time visitors will
want to look at the "Getting started with DLESE" section, as it provides
a bit of background information, along with a guide to searching the
library. Visitors can also get a better sense of the site's content by
looking at the "Resource of the Day" featured on the homepage. More
advanced users can also take advantage of the embedded search engine to
look for educational resources by type, grade level, or relevant
educational standard. The site is rounded out by a "News" area, which
features items that are of interest to the Earth science community. [KMG]

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Rhetoric for Engineers

As a field of study, rhetoric has enjoyed a popular resurgence in at the
college level, and when deployed effectively, various rhetorical devices
can make any piece of writing much more compelling. Ron Graham has
created this site designed to help engineers and "other practical people"
with the practice and art of rhetoric. The site includes a summary of
basic rhetoric, along with some "Two-Minute Drills", which are designed
to help engineers with developing answers to questions like "Are
engineers made or born?" and "Define 'reliability'". Visitors can also
look over the site's complete contents via an interactive guide which
covers everything from abstraction to workplace distractions. [KMG]

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The Road Not Traveled: Education Reform in the Middle East and North
Africa [pdf]

The World Bank has long been interested in looking at education
throughout the world, and this recent report pays close attention to
education systems across the Middle East and North Africa. The report was
released in February 2008, and offers a comprehensive economic analysis
of the impact of education investments in the region. The report notes
that while most of the countries in this region have made great strides
in recent decades, they will need to place a premium on so-called "soft
skills" (such as problem solving) in order to compete in a global
economy. Additionally, the report recommends that policy-makers should
use incentives, public accountability, curriculum and labor market
reforms in order to make the region's economies more dynamic. [KMG]

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Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students

Crafting meaningful and articulate lab presentations and correspondence
can be difficult for anyone, including engineers and other scientists.
This particular set of resources is deigned to teach engineering and
science students about creating and writing materials such as resumes,
formal laboratory reports, presentation slides, and so on. The guidelines
are gathered into several different sections, including "Introduction",
"Presentations", "Correspondence", and "Formal Reports". There is
material for instructors here as well, and the offerings include pieces
on the design of writing assignments, the interactive teaching of
writing, and the evaluation of writing assignments. Finally, the site
also contains a number of writing exercises on grammar, punctuation, and
word usage. [KMG]

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Studies in the History of Ethics [pdf]

Started in 2005, Studies in the History of Ethics is a peer-reviewed
electronic journal and research portal focused on publishing articles and
reviews which deal with the history of ethics. First-time visitors can
use the homepage to look over more recent works, such as a symposium on
the ethics of John Stuart Mill which includes pieces from scholars at the
University of Utah and the National University of Singapore. Further down
the page, users can also read up on the journal's calls for works to be
included in future symposia. Moving on, visitors can click on the
"Archives" section to read past pieces published online and they can also
use an embedded search engine to look for specific works. The site is
rounded out by an RSS feed and contact information for the journal's
editors. [KMG]

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Library of Congress: Science Reference Services

As one of the world's premier libraries, the Library of Congress has many
staff members dedicated to helping members of the general public find the
information they need. Along with providing in-person assistance in
Washington, D.C., they also maintain this nifty site designed for persons
looking for science reference material online. There is not much that
isn't included on the site, as visitors can view webcasts on creating a
school garden, look over research guides, and learn about "Everyday
Mysteries". The "Everyday Mysteries" feature provides answers to
questions such as "Who invented electric Christmas lights?" and it can be
quite addictive. Visitors should also click on over to the "Science
Reference Guides" area. Here they can look at comprehensive research
bibliographies on chocolate, astronomy, electric power, and dozens more.
With all of this material, visitors may also want to sign up for their
RSS feed. [KMG]

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MIT Security Studies Program [pdf]

Based at the Center for International Studies at MIT, the Security
Studies Program is interested in "the integration of technical and
political analysis of national and international security problems."
Visitors to the site can look over their research agenda, learn about
their degree programs, and also look at their interactive calendar.
Scholars will definitely want to make their way to the "Program
Publications" area. Here they will find the Program's annual report,
their research journal, and a monthly newsletter titled "Early Warning".
Moving on, visitors should also take a look at some of their working
papers, which include "Transforming the Rewards for Military Service" and
"The Political Science of Agent Orange". The site is rounded out with a
search engine and information about relevant conferences. [KMG]

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   General Interest

AFSCME, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis to support
striking sanitation workers. On the evening of April 3, King delivered
his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech to strikers and their
supporters. The very next day, he was assassinated. This site takes
visitors through the experiences of those who were there and also through
the words of Dr. King during his time in Memphis. Visitors can begin
their journey through the site by looking over the "Memphis: We Remember"
section. Here they will find video clips, a chronology of the 1968
strike, and a transcript of King's famous speech. Moving on, visitors can
also view selected articles from "Public Employee" magazine culled from
the spring of 1968. Finally, the last section includes retrospective
pieces which bring together the recollections of strikers and others.

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Frontline: The Mormons

Many people around the world aren't terribly familiar with the history of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was founded in
1830. In this insightful and probing documentary, Frontline looks into
the world of the Mormon Church by talking to current church leaders, as
well as dissident exiles, historians, and scholars. Visitors to the site
can watch the entire four-hour program online, and then move on to their
helpful FAQ section and interactive timeline. The "Themes" area is a real
gem, and visitors can move through different themes, including "The
Mormon Faith", "Polygamy", and "The Mormon Missionaries". Within each
section they can read pieces on each subject offered by members of the
Mormon Church, along with those of leading writers and historians.
Finally, the site also includes a collection of relevant links and
suggested readings. [KMG]

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21st Century Music [pdf]

For those not familiar with the world of new music, this very compelling
journal may be just the place to start. The journal is edited by Mark
Alburger, "an eclectic American composer of postminimal, postpopular, and
postcomedic sensibilities." Since the journal's inception in January
2000, Alburger and his colleagues have drawn on a wide range of experts
to craft their publication. In each issue, users will find concert
reviews, interviews, recording reviews, as well as other pieces of
miscellany. Users can download each issue for convenient consultation,
and they may also use the contact information provided to send a note to
Dr. Alburger. [KMG]

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Art and Literature in Siena, 1250-1600 [Windows Media Player]

Located in the hills of Tuscany, the city of Siena was a buzzing hive of
cultural activity from the 13th to 16th century. At the heart of the city
was the University of Siena, founded in 1203, and scholars and others
flocked to hear lectures on law and medicine. Of course, the city also
had its famed Duomo, which is one of the premier examples of Italian
Romanesque architecture. Recently, the University of Leeds placed four
lectures online that deal with the art and literature of Siena, and
visitors will be delighted to listen to them as they see fit. They
include "The City as a Work of Art: Making and Meaning in the Italian
Renaissance", "Duccio and the Flowering of Sienese Art", "Theater in
Renaissance Siena", and "Art, Power and Patronage in Renaissance Siena".

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Johnson's Island, Unlocking a Civil War Prison: Interactive Dig

Johnson's Island in Ohio is arguably the state's best known Civil War
landmark. In 1861, the U.S. Army leased 40 cleared acres of the island in
order to create a prisoner of war depot. The depot was in operation from
1862 to 1865, when the site began new life as an agricultural station.
Recently, David Bush and some of his archaeology colleagues began an
excavation on the site in order to locate the barracks that once housed
Confederate POWs. This site, offered by Archaeology Magazine, allows
users to journey along as the team performs their work. Visitors can look
over the field reports filed by the team, read an interview with David
Bush, and also read letters and diary notes from the original prisoners
and their guards. [KMG]

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Hoover Institution: Uncommon Knowledge [Real Player, Windows Media

The Hoover Institution has placed a wide array of multimedia content
online for over a decade, and recently they created a site for their
"Uncommon Knowledge" program. Hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson, the
program features interviews with political leaders, distinguished
scholars, and leading journalists. First-time visitors to the site can
browse the archives by topic, date, or guest. Currently, the online
archive contains programs from 1997 to 2005, along with webcasts from
2006 to the present. Recent conversations added to the site include a
discussion with Shelby Steele and a talk with Michael Barone about tax
reform and various health-care proposals. [KMG]

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Rose and Chess: Discover Two Reunited Medieval Manuscripts

Bringing together medieval manuscripts is always a good thing, and
recently the University of Chicago brought two fascinating volumes back
together. The first is a courtly romance (Le Roman de la Rose) and the
other is a treatise on medieval society that uses the game of chess as
its framework (Le Jeu des �checs moralis�). The two volumes were bound
together, perhaps soon after they were created (ca. 1365), and stayed
together for over 500 years. In 1907, they were divided into two volumes
and sent their separate ways. By bringing them back together, The
University of Chicago Library hopes to make it possible for scholars to
study the two manuscripts together to learn about their shared origin and
production history. Visitors to the site can view each manuscript in its
entirety, and they can also look over a brief essay which gives a bit of
context about their history. Additionally, visitors should not miss the
piece titled "A Tale of Two Manuscripts Reunited", which offers some
background on how the two manuscripts were brought back together in one
place. [KMG]

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   Network Tools

Freebie Notes 3.16

Sometimes it can be difficult to remember where one has left an important
note or reminder. For people experiencing such a difficulty, it may be
helpful to try out Freebie Notes. Freebie Notes 3.16 allows users to
create electronic sticky notes that can be used to remind them of
important deadlines, meetings, and birthdays. Users can also customize
the appearance of these electronic notes as they see fit. This version is
compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

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Save2pc 3.25

Save2pc is an application that allows users to download videos from a
number of popular sites (such as Google Video) so that they can be used
in different settings. Visitors can paste the URL of a video into the
application and the selected video will be downloaded. This version is
compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

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   In The News

Ornithologists continue quest to locate the ivory-billed woodpecker

The Great Woodpecker Hunt [Free registration may be required]

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Chat [Real Player]

The Search for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Audubon: Ivory-billed woodpecker

Ivory-billed woodpecker [pdf]

Big Woods Conservation Partnership

Three years ago, a bird scientist claimed to have seen an ivory-billed
woodpecker in Arkansas. It was an unusual sighting, mostly because the
bird was supposedly extinct, and had been so since the 1940s. The alleged
sighting set off a flurry of activity among ornithologists, and even
those with little interest in bird watching became interested. The quest
for this rare bird continues, as a team of researchers from Cornell
University was recently dispatched to the White River National Wildlife
Refuge in Arkansas to continue the search. To look for the bird, they
have brought along tools like GPS coordinate monitors, automatic cameras,
infrared flash strobes, and sensitive audio recorders. Of course, there
are some in the birding community who remain convinced that there are no
ivory-billed woodpeckers left at all. There are a number of believers
however, and groups like the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, and
even NASA have provided support and technical assistance. Even noted
biologist E. O. Wilson has chimed in on the subject, noting that while
the bird may be gone forever, "Great science discoveries have come from
longer odds." [KMG]

The first link leads to a fine piece from this Sunday's Boston Globe
which reports on the quest to locate the ivory-billed woodpecker. The
second link leads to a chat with author Phillip Hoose, who wrote a book
about the ivory-billed woodpecker. Moving on, the third link leads to the
homepage for the research expedition sponsored by the Cornell Lab of
Ornithology. Here, visitors can learn more about the expedition and read
dispatches from the field. The fourth link will take visitors to a
drawing of the ivory-billed woodpecker by noted naturalist John James
Audubon. The fifth link will lead visitors to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service's site dedicated to the ivory-billed woodpecker. Here visitors
can read a draft recovery plan and also learn more about the bird. The
last link will take visitors to the homepage of the Big Woods
Conservation Partnership. [KMG]

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