Towse: views from the hill

January 26, 2007

[URL] An elementary dictionary of the English language. By Joseph E. Worcester, LL. D.

Filed under: books,history,information,URL,wordstuff — Towse @ 10:20 pm

From the Making of America collection comes a link to An elementary dictionary of the English language. By Joseph E. Worcester, LL. D. (1865).

I love old dictionaries. The actual wordstuff for this one begins at page 31, after all the frontal matter regarding pronunciation and all that.

Seeing how a word was used in 1865 gives one a glimpse at how the current day definition evolved. Some words in Worcester’s dictionary have evolved beyond recognition. Some no longer exist.

e.g. p 168 (lacerable – lapful)

laconism – pithy phrase or expression
Lady-Day – 25th March. The Annunciation.
laic- a layman; — opposed to clergyman.
lamantine – an animal; manatee or sea-cow.
lambative – a medicine taken by licking
laniate – to tear in pieces; to lacerate
lanuginous – downy; covered with soft thin hair

Some of those words are still in use today, although perhaps not in as common use as they were 142 years ago. “lanuginous” was used in the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals.

Fun stuff, words.

[URL] MIT OpenCourseWare

Filed under: information,URL — Towse @ 12:02 am

Found a link to this site from someone I know who is working through the Japanese language course and thinks highly of the experience.

MIT OpenCourseWare is

a free and open educational resource (OER) for educators, students, and self-learners around the world.


  • Is a publication of MIT course materials
  • Does not require any registration
  • Is not a degree-granting or certificate-granting activity
  • Does not provide access to MIT faculty

Japanese, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, French, tralala come under “Foreign Languages and Literatures” as do classes about cultures and texts written in those languages such as “A Passage to India: Introduction to Modern Indian Culture and Society,” “Twentieth and Twentyfirst-Century Spanish American Literature,” “East Asian Cultures: From Zen to Pop.”

The Chinese I class, f’rex, includes a downloadable textbook and other study materials. The course assumes you know absolutely NOTHING about the language.

The purpose of this course is to develop:

  • Basic conversational abilities (pronunciation, fundamental grammatical patterns, common vocabulary, and standard usage)
  • Basic reading and writing skills (in both the traditional character set and the simplified)
  • An understanding of the language learning process so that you are able to continue studying effectively on your own.

Or you could take Introduction to Aerospace Engineering and Design, Computational Cognitive Science, Urban Design Politics, or Special Seminar in Applied Probability and Stochastic Processes.

The list of Readings for Bestsellers: Detective Fiction changes each time the class is given but the Fall 2006 session uses the following books:

  • Doyle, Arthur Conan. Six Great Sherlock Holmes Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1992. ISBN: 0468270556.
  • Nabokov, Vladimir. Pale Fire. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1999. ISBN: 0679723420.
  • Poe, Edgar Allen. Tales of Terror and Detection. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1995. ISBN: 0486287440.
  • Cain, James M. The Postman Always Rings Twice. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1989. ISBN: 0679723250.
  • Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1989. ISBN: 0679722645.
  • Christie, Agatha. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. New York, NY: Berkley Publishing, 2004. ISBN: 0425200477.
  • Weber, K. J. Five Minute Mysteries. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press, 1989. ISBN: 0894716905.
  • Sobol, D. J. Two Minute Mysteries. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1991. ISBN: 0590447874.
  • Browning, Robert. My Last Duchess and Other Poems. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1993. ISBN: 0486277836.
  • Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1991. ISBN: 0486268772.

The world is my oyster and MIT Open Courseware is a pearl.

January 24, 2007

[URL] Making of America – 19th c primary sources

Filed under: books,history,information,URL — Towse @ 8:52 pm

Making of America — 19th c primary sources (and some 20th c too)

Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The collection currently contains approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints. For more details about the project, see About MoA.

Amazing collection of stuff.

I was wandering around today trying to see if I could find some written context for “The man who doesn’t read books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them” (and variations), attributed to Mark Twain — a discussion that popped up yesterday on Project Wombat (formerly, the Stumpers list).

I never did find confirmation or attribution for the alleged Twain quote, but I did find an essay — patronizing to say the least — explaining to the dear little women what sorts of books they should be asking for their husband’s permission to buy and read: a six-page article titled, “Reading,” by L.L. Hamline, found in “The Ladies’ repository: a monthly periodical, devoted to literature, arts, and religion.”

Whoo boy.

With the thousands of books and thousands of articles the MOA folks have scanned and continued to scan, you could spend a long while in these archives.

Maneuverability is good. The search is FAST and can be simple, Boolean, &c. MOA pulls up matches giving title &c. and number of pages your search terms are on. You can wend through the pages of a given work or ask for those specific pages within the work that have your search term(s).

The app doesn’t highlight the found word on the page, which is unfortunate when you have a dense page filled with tiny print.

Interesting stuff. A peek into where we’ve come from.

January 13, 2007

[URL] World Cultures – an overview

Filed under: information,URL — Towse @ 7:57 pm

From WSU, the archived coursework and resources for the university freshman-level World Cultures class.

Texts, maps, &c. Ignore the “available for distance learning registation” [sic] notices and the links to discussion areas. This site is archival only.

Want to read up on Bhagavad-Gita? You’ll find yourself here. Click “contents” and you’ll get to an online text (a downloadable version is also available) or click “resources” and you’ll get a list of hyperlinks to other online texts, essays, commentaries and such like.

While away the afternoon.

No search functionality, alas.

(Found when searching for the etymology of “no retreat, no surrender” — the title of DeLay’s new book– which drew me toward Sparta, which brought me here. Could any of the erudite readers reading this tell me whether there was a Spartan rule which translated as “no retreat, no surrender”? Thanks much.)

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