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S s

See $.


Salutem dicit. Latin for `sends greetings.' For details, see the S.D. entry.

Sec-. When long chemical names are abbreviated, the sec- indicating a secondary carbon is often abbreviated to s-. I suppose you can think of sec- itself as an abbreviation for secondary, but if you want to be fussy you can say it's a symbol based on the word. Whatevah. Cf. t-.

Senate. A bill proposed in the US Senate is designated by S followed by a number, as for example ``S1043.'' A resolution of the Senate, which may concern internal matters (e.g., parliamentary procedure) or sense-of-the-senate votes, is labelled SRES. The bipartisan agreement on rules for the impeachment trial of President Clinton, for example, passed unanimously on Jan. 8, 1999, was SRES16 of the 106th Congress.

Sentence. The kind written, not served, is the one I've seen abbreviated (in linguistics and grammatical literature).

Serine. Also abbreviated Ser. An amino acid (2-amino-3-hydroxy propanoic acid):
               /       NH
               \      /  2
                       === O

Shilling. A twentieth of a pound.

Sierra. Not a geographical abbreviation here, just the FCC-recommended ``phonetic alphabet.'' I.e., a set of words chosen to represent alphabetic characters by their initials. You know, ``Alpha Bravo Charlie ... .'' The idea behind the choice is to have words that the listener will be able to guess at or reconstruct accurately even through noise (or narrow bandwidth, like a telephone).

The problem here is that the sierra doesn't have enough of what we linguists refer to technically as ``oomph.'' Use ``Succotash'' instead.

Even on the best phones, ``ess'' sounds almost indistinguishable from ``eff.'' Most people just use ``Sam'' and ``Frank'' to distinguish these. You can try ``Foxtrot'' and ``Sierra,'' but people will just become confused, so if you're really not going to use the standard Sam and Frank, then you get more mileage from the SBF recommendations (Fandango and Succotash) than from the boring old FCC recommendations.

s., s, (s)
Solid. In chemical formulae, the fact that a substance is in the solid state may be indicated by a parenthesized ess (always lower case) following the chemical formula. For example, ``C (s)'' appearing in a chemical equation represents solid carbon (whether diamond, or graphite, or some other allotrope is not specified; similarly unspecified is whether the solid is crystalline or microcrystalline or what). Dry ice is CO2 (s); carbon dioxide gas is CO2 (g).

A symbol related to (s) is the downward-pointing arrow. For reactions that take place in a fluid solution, this indicates that a reaction product ``precipitates out.''




Latin, Spurius. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina. Also ``Sp.'' I'd be willing to assert that the latter abbreviation was less common, but what would that mean today?

The other two common praenomina are Servius (Ser.) and Sextus (Sex.).

Subject. I.e., an individual person in, say, a sociological study.

Substantive. Another, older, word for noun, q.v.

Chemical symbol for sulfur. ``Brimstone.'' Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Many volatile sulfur compounds stink, and hell is traditionally scented with the stuff. Thomas Carlyle wrote of Napoleon III

His mind was a kind of extinct sulphur-pit.

(Historically, the predominant spellings in English have used ph. However, today sulfur is the standard spelling in the US and nowhere else in the English-speaking world. You've gotta love it: some patterns are consistent.)

Super. A productive prefix in elementary-particle physics. Don't you know SUSY?

Supersaturation. Solution beyond the concentration that produces a second phase. E.g.: crystal growth takes place in solutions which are supersaturated with material that would form a precipitating phase. It's not just a concept, however: S is the symbol for the ratio of solute concentration to the saturated concentration (i.e., to the solute concentration that would be in thermodynamic equilibrium with precipitate).

You're not stupid (and even if you are, you prefer to be flattered that you're not) so I don't have to tell you that when S > 1, a solution is supersaturated, and now that I have, you feel condescended to. It's an occupational hazard of glossary compilers.

For a supersaturated vapor, S is the ratio of the gas (i.e., the pressure of the vapor) to the vapor pressure of the liquid phase (at the same temperature). At 0 °C, and atmospheric pressure, one can achieve supersaturations as high as 5 (i.e., relative humidity of 500%) in clean air. [Dirt of any sort nucleates.] Cool it further (increase S by decreasing equilibrium vapor pressure) and homogeneous nucleation takes place (fog).

Portuguese: `Saint': the female form of São (q.v.).

Sans atout. French for NT.

(Domain code for) Saudi Arabia. ``Saudi'' here is a proper noun in genitive case. If the UK (q.v.) were similarly named, it would be ``Windsorite Britain.'' Officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Their ISU (Internet Services Unit) looks kind of central.

The domain code for Saudi Arabia, as well as the ISO country code generally (SA), is often mistaken for that of South Africa. South Africa's ccTLD is <.za>.

Savings Association.

Scientific Atlanta. A company. Their name is on a bunch of satellite dish TV receivers. They also make cable converter box innards.

Self-Activating. Term characterizing certain donor-acceptor complexes. Terminology dates back to as late as the fifties, when acceptors were called `activators' and donors were called `co-activators.' This usage arose from studies of electroluminescent (EL) materials -- phosphorus, and II-VI materials that were studied as possible replacements for phosphorus in CRT's. When electroluminescent materials were first studied, it was understood empirically that very pure bulk materials would not electroluminesce before the reason (need for doping) was understood. The impurities that would activate the electroluminescence of phosphorus were thus called `activators.'

German siehe auch -- `see also.'

Sino-Atrial (node). A group of fast-cycling Purkinje cells near the sinus venosus.

S.A., s.a., SA
Anonymous Society (i.e. commercial association), initialism in various Romance languages. E.g.: Fr.: Société anonyme; It.: Società Anonima; Pt.: Sociedade Anónima; Sp.: Sociedad Anónima. Name arises from the fact that stock in the company is (or originally was) directly transferred. Authority to vote belongs to whoever holds the stock.

Take care in Italian not to confuse this with S.p.A., or with another S.A.

In Dutch the term corresponding to anonymous society is naamloze vennootschap (NV).

Source Address.

South Africa. (.za)

South America. In Spanish Sudamérica.

South Asia. This term is conventionally applied to the Indian subcontinent, rather than all of southern Asia (Indochina is at the latitudes of India and the longitudes of China). As I'm sure you recall, the sea floor beneath the Indian Ocean exhibits some of the fastest geological drift on earth -- over 10 cm/y. The Indian subcontinent is on a tectonic plate that is thrusting into the soft underbelly of the main Asian land mass, uplifting the Himalayan mountains in the process. I apologize. I really didn't want to use language like ``soft underbelly,'' but I-- I simply couldn't help myself.

Hello, my name is Al and I am-- I am a logophile. I confess that I am powerless against the overwhelming force of words. The terrible state that my life has reached can be explained completely by words, and yet, so abjectly addicted am I that I still cannot bring myself to renounce words (in so many words), and I continue to resist total abstinence from words. (You may have noticed this yourself.) Finally, let me say that words cannot express my gratitude for the words of support you have given me here today, and for the stories you have shared.

Let's face it, this is ridiculous. The initial A has been enormously over-used in naming continents: Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America, and Antarctica. (The rare term Southern Antarctica is roughly equivalent to the more common Central Antarctica. The Republic of North Antarctica has a website, but no ccTLD yet.)

South Australia. The name of a state in the federation (but not republic, after all) that is officially The Commonwealth of Australia. Adelaide is the state capital. Considering that Australia already means southern land, this name is effectively southern southern land. I find that amusing, but then I am easily amused.

Space Available [passenger]. A kind of ticket (and passenger) also called standby.


Structural Analysis. I've seen the abbreviation in linguistics literature, at least.

Student Association. Productive suffix. Visit the NASO entry for an exception.

German, Sturmabteilung. Literally `storm division.' Members were known as `storm troopers.' The term originated in WWI, to describe small commando units using infiltration tactics, first employed on a large scale by the German general Oskar von Hutier.

The term became well-known in English after the Nazis used it as the name for their paramilitary organization. (It started out as a group of bodyguards for Nazi leaders, and evolved into a uniformed group of street hooligans tasked with intimidating the party's political enemies. Over time, the leadership security tasks were taken over by the SS. After the Nazi party came to power, the socialist-leaning SA worried Hitler's supporters among nationalist businessmen, and posed the threat of a coup. Evidence of a coup plot was manufactured by Himmler and Heydrich for Hitler's edification, just as the SS was being reengineered into a secret police. The SA was decapitated on the Night of the Long Knives (Saturday night to Sunday morning, June 30-July 1, 1934), during which the SS murdered probably a few hundred targets (SA leaders and socialist-leaning members, and scattered conservative potential problems).

Sua Altezza. Italian, ``your highness.'' Note that feminine grammatical gender is used uniformly in formal address.

Service-Adaptive Access.

Society of American Archivists.

Spondylitis Association of America.

[dive flag]

Sub-Aqua Association. A multinational organization (brings together member organizations from Scotland and England, at least).

Syria Accountability Act of 2003. An act of the US Congress to ``halt Syrian support for terrorism, end its occupation of Lebanon, stop its development of Weapons of Mass Destruction, cease its illegal importation of Iraqi oil and illegal shipments of weapons and other military items to Iraq, and by so doing hold Syria accountable for the serious international security problems it has caused in the Middle East, and for other purposes.'' According to its section 1, the short title of the act is ``Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003.''

The act gave the the US president broad authority to impose a range of economic sanctions and restrictions on Syria. The White House was initially reluctant to use the authority granted in it, but there was an apparent change of policy in early 2005.

South Asian Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry.

SAAB, Saab
Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget. A maker of ugly automobiles (a division of GM since 1990) and small aircraft (pictures here). The car company advertises that it makes cars for the thinking person. Saab is one of the few words which takes a derivational infix in English: snaab (pronounced ``snob''). In Swedish, snabb means `fast.'

The acronym expansion given (in Swedish) above stands for `Swedish Airplane Stock Company.' Hardly anyone now thinks of Saab as an acronym to be expanded, any more than one thinks that of laser. Hence, the company name is now an AAP-assisted pleonasm: Saab Aktiebolag.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Comprises India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal on the Indian subcontinent, and the islands of Sri Lanka and Maldives. Founded in December 1985, it replaced SARC. SARC had comprised the same seven nations, but was a failure.

SAARC publishes an Encyclopaedia of SAARC Nations, one volume for each country. It has the thick glue and coarse cloth binding that are the marks of any authentic South Asian publication (unkerned fonts are characteristic only for SA publications in Western alphabets). The last and least volume is for the Maldives.

Slow-Acting AntiRheumatologic Drug.

(NASA Space) Shuttle Aerosurface Actuator Simulation.

Successive-Approximation ADC.

Signaling ATM Adaptation Layer.

Indigenous people of northern Scandinavia.

Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute.

Separate Absorption and AMplification Photodiode.

Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. This is already a pretty amusing entry, and I've hardly done any work on it yet.

Saturday Afternoon At The Opera. A public service of CBC 2. Because publicly funded entertainment is not limited by crass commercial profit motives, it is able to provide the classy entertainment that is desired by all people (okay, maybe just most people -- in the tonier parts of Newton, MA). It is important for this entertainment to be publicly supported, because the great masses of people (I count four) who yearn for opera can't afford to pay for it all themselves.

I have to point out that there are some who don't see the wisdom of nonprofit broadcasting. They point out, with some justice, that a small town with only five stations playing top-40 and four playing classic rock'n'roll simply cannot afford to waste spectrum space on a rare musical taste. If fifty percent of the disposable income that is listening to the radio on Saturday afternoon needs to hear Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion, then by God fifty percent of radio stations should be playing Sweet Emotion on Saturday afternoon.

South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Is that a weird web-page sound effect, or is that my stomach? It's my stomach.

The SABC website gets a lot of its copy from Sapa.

South African Business COalition against HIV and AIDS.

Société Anonyme Belge d'Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne. [A bit recherché, if you ask me.] Belgian airline.

Alternative spelling of sabrmetrics (q.v.).

South American Business Information.

This name is suggestive. In Spanish, sabio is `wise' and sabe is `he knows.'

Also in Spanish, tonto means `stupid' (the word estúpido is also available). Tonto used to call the Lone Ranger ``Kemo Sabe'' (originally spelled ``Kemo Sababay''). It sounds like a gringo mispronouncing quimo sabe, which means `gastric juice knows.' In the early episodes, the Lone Ranger also called Tonto ``Kemo Sabay.'' Actually, quimo (`chyme' in English) refers to the entire mix of stomach juices including partially digested food as well as enzymes and hydrochloric acid. The same word is used in Portuguese. But in Portuguese the word for stomach (estómago) is written without an accent. Can you believe we also have an entry for bolo? No one knows (nadie sabe) what ``Kemo Sabe'' really meant, although there is no shortage of guesses. (That link might expire; google the question.)

You probably thought that quimo meant `chemo.' You complete idiot! ¡Estúpido! The Spanish for chemo is quimio.

Actually, SABI itself (remember SABI?) is a bit of a misnomer. It's a ``news service that covers the South American market and Mexico. SABI provides extensive and comprehensive abstracts of articles from the main business Latin American newspapers. This daily newswire service covers newspapers, business and trade journals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Mexico.'' (My italics.) Then again, in business circles, Miami is half-seriously called ``the capital of South America,'' so it stands to reason. More at the MIA entry.

You know (¿Sabes?), as I was rereading this entry later, I thought that the ``No one knows (nadie sabe) what'' was leading into a ``Shadow'' reference. Who knows -- maybe it was, in a shadowy way. The Shadow knows!

SAudi Basic Industries Corporation. This is the national monopoly for petroleum derivative industries (primarily plastics) rather than for the basic extraction and refining operations. (I don't know Arabic, but I'm pretty sure they don't pronounce SABIC as ``'tsa bitch.'')

sable, le
French, `sand.' Explain that!

Society for American Baseball Research. It's pronounced ``saber.'' ``The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) was established in Cooperstown, New York in August, 1971. Our mission is to foster the study of baseball past and present, and to provide an outlet for educational, historical and research information about the game.'' It is ``an international organization headquartered in Cleveland, OH.''

SABRmetrics, sabrmetrics
Baseball statistics. The term is based on SABR (supra), yet a pronunciation-based spelling (sabermetrics) is also used. Some people make a distinction, and use ``SABRmetrics'' in some restrictive sense such as ``computer-generated baseball stats,'' or baseball statistics in the usual sense of collective averages or figures of merit, and excluding the kinds of individual stats that ``baseball stats'' normally refers to. I'm not sure these senses of the term are used very consistently.

Steel Arch Construction.

Strategic Air Command.

Strong-Acid Cation-exchange. The SAC resins common in water treatment have sulfonic-acid functionality. Cf. SBA.

Subscriber Acquisition Cost. The average cost of acquiring a new paying subscriber. Marketing costs divided by the number of new paying subscribers.

South African Council of Churches.

Southeastern Association of Colleges and Employers. An affiliate of NACE.

You're probably wondering what colleges are not employers, and who handles admissions and teaching and such at those institutions. Actually, all these ``Association[s] of Colleges and Employers'' are actually associations of colleges and prospective employers of the colleges' graduates.

Supreme Allied (NATO) Commander EURope.

Selective ACKnowledgment.

sack of Rome
3-, 5-, or 10-pound bag of red apples.

Supreme Allied Commander AtLANTic. NATO acronym. The SACLANT is a U.S. Navy admiral nominated by the President of the United States and approved by the North Atlantic Council (NAC), NATO's highest governing body. He receives his direction from the NATO Military Committee. The Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic is a UK Navy vice admiral.

SACLANT undersea research CENter.

South American Community of Nations.

South African Communist Party. It is a partner in the Tripartite Alliance (national parliamentary coalition) with the ANC and the COSATU.

As an adjective: pertaining to the sacrum and ilium (the upper part of the pelvis, from hip to hip around the back), or more typically to the articulation between sacrum and ilium, or to the associated ligaments. Used as a noun, ``the sacroiliac'' is the sacroiliac region or cartilage.

A triangular bone, made up of five fused vertebrae, which forms the back section of the pelvis. I haven't any more to say here, so you might as well go back to the sacroiliac entry and see if there are any interesting links to follow there.

Oh yeah -- sacrum is cognate with the English word sacred. It's New Latin, short for Late Latin [os] sacrum (`sacred [bone]'), itself a translation of the Greek heiron [osteon]. How this bone came to be considered sacred, I am tempted to say, God only knows.

Southern African Customs Union. Members, as of 2004, were Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.

Sub-Atmospheric (pressure) Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Related term LPCVD.

Unhappy. Somber. Suffering from a mirth deficit. Denied one's affective rights.

Seasonal Affective Disorder. Feeling sad during the winter from lack of cheering sunshine. This might happen in the snow-belt parts of Buffalo, but here in Amherst we're just as peppy as can be. I mean, we've got, like, more sunny days per year than, um, Bismarck, North Dakota! And our latitude is more than two degrees balmier than Paris, France. So there. For a related thought, see the London entry.

Students Against Drugs.

South African Data Archive. Looks like Brooklynese for sadder, or maybe it's just that floppy Afrikaanse spelling.

SAD campaign
Sodomy, Abortion, and Divorce campaign. See VID.

Students Against Driving Drunk. Founded in 1981 by former high school coach Bob Anastos (sp.?).

Sociedad Argentina de Escritores. `Argentine Writers' Society.'

Structured Analysis and Design Technique.

(Once the) Society of Automotive Engineers. The organization now styles itself ``SAE The Engineering Society For Advancing Mobility Land Sea Air and Space.'' They're at
400 Commonwealth Drive, Warrendale, PA 15096-0001.

You can get there by car.

Wait! There are a bunch of student homepages, but I don't see an official page. Found it.

Standard American English.

Standard Average European [languages]. Coined by the famous professional insurance adjuster and amateur linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf (the same fellow who is most responsible for the urban legend about multiple terms for snow in the ``Eskimo'' language).

Despite the ugliness of the term, it has not just a usage but a meaning. For examples of the former, see Theories of Human Communication, 4th edn., by Stephen W. Littlejohn (Wadsworth, Belmont, 1992), p. 190 (ch.9).

Sumboulio Apodêmou hEllênismou. Official translation: `World Council of Hellenes Abroad.'

Scandinavian Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.

Selective Area Electron Diffraction. A mode of TEM in which an aperture restricts the region of sample contributing to the diffraction pattern. (Some call it ``Selected Area ... .'')

Société des Anglicistes de l'Enseignement Supérieur.

Second Amendment Foundation.

Student for Academic Freedom. Associated with CSPC.

Save Animals From Exploitation. A New Zealand organization.

Secure All-around Flotation-Equipped. A kind of boat manufactured by SAFE Boats International, very popular with the US Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies. They look like RIB's, but there's nothing inflatable about them. They have chambered aluminum hulls and a foam collar along the gunwale for ``flotation, stability, and fendering.'' (I thought that what fenders do, etymologically at least, is fend, but I'm happy to welcome a new verb into the vocabulary. By contrast, both ``to broke'' and ``to broker,'' with similar meanings, are attested back into the first half of the seventeenth century.)

SAFE Port Act
Security and Accountability For Every PORT ACT. SAFE here is a grammatically unusual and interesting acronym. Most acronyms expand to noun phrases, and most function either as adjectives (i.e., as attributive nouns) or simply as nouns. Occasionally such nouns are verbed. Here we have an acronym that doesn't even expand to a standard part of speech, but instead to part of a noun phrase. Specifically, ``Security and Accountability For Every'' is a noun phrase and part of an adjectival phrase that modifies it. It is mildly interesting to consider what results if one completes the object of ``For'' differently. Because of the ``Every,'' some singular noun is needed. One could have subsequent SAFE Port Acts, but not a SAFE Ports Act. Inconveniently, this implies that the SPA might, at least in principle, assure safe ports, but only SAFE port.

This cleverly named law was first introduced in the US House of Representatives (as HR 4954) on the 127th anniversary of Einstein's birth. It was signed into law on Friday, the 13th of October 2006. One day and 514 years previously, a sailor aboard the Pinta had sighted land. On the 13th of October 1492, three Spanish ships made port, such as it was, on the Bahamian island of Guanahaní.

safety pin
First patented as ``Pin,'' in the year of the California (CA) Gold Rush. US Patent #6281 issued 1849.04.10 to W. Hunt.

safety tip
Don't carry your workstation monitor by the power cord while wearing in-line skates in a china shop very often.

safety warning
To minimize risk of serious injury, do not use this product.

Saffir-Simpson scale
A five-point scale for hurricanes. A hurricane at point foo on the scale (foo = 1,2,...5) is said to be ``a category foo hurricane'' or ``a category foo.''

Category Central Pressure Wind Speed Storm Surge Damage
1 >28.94 in. Hg 74-95 MPH 4-5 feet minimal
2 28.50 to 28.93 96-110 6-8 moderate
3 27.91 to 28.49 111-130 9-12 extensive
4 27.17 to 27.90 130-155 13-18 extreme
5 <27.17 >155 >18 catastrophic

La Superintendencia de Administradoras de Fondos de Jubilaciones y Pensiones. An autonomous agency of the Argentine government, functioning within the Ministerio de Trabajo, Empleo y Seguridad Social (`ministry of labor, employment, and social security'), with the role of monitoring AFJP compliance with the SIJP.

Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship. Canadian sister organization of the US National Academy of Scholars (NAS).

Screen Actors' Guild. A union that Ronald Reagan and the voice of God have been head of.

Self-Aligned Gate. A beautiful idea. Originally, MOS transistors really were metal-O-S devices. Source and drain were (doped regions) defined by diffusing or (originally less commonly) implanting dopants to either side of the MOS gate, in an operation separate from the deposition of the gate. Since the masking that defines these regions is inaccurate at some level, the source and drain might either overlap the gate or not reach it. Since the latter case is equivalent to an open, it is necessary to design to err on the side of caution: to overlap the gate. This has two general kinds of disadvantage: (1) increased parasitic capacitances, which increase time delays, and (2) shorter effective gate lengths, with consequent greater sensitivity to gate-length variations. Either way, the effective yield is reduced, or equivalently (i.e., engineering to preserve yield), one has larger and slower devices.

When poly-Si gates began to be used, a clever way was found between the horns of this dilemma. The poly-Si gate is laid down before the source and drain, and the implantation mask contains a window that exposes the whole region from source to drain, including the gate. When the source and drain are created by ion implantation, the MOSFET channel beneath the gate is not doped because it is shielded from the ion beam by the poly-Si gate. The channel (i.e., the undoped region between source and drain) is thus ``self-aligned'' with the gate. [Strictly speaking, the channel is rarely ``undoped.'' It is simply doped to the appropriate level and not further doped by the source and drain implantations. In fact, because of surface states and gettering of impurities to the surface, the channel region may need pre-treatment before the gate is deposited. But in general, the channel is less heavily doped than the source and drain regions.] The self-alignment game also works with diffusion, but not as well: see DSA.

Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage.

Semi-Automatic Ground Environment. The SAGE air defense system was begun in the 1950's.

Senior Action in a Gay Environment. The environment will probably be warmer, but may not be very gay if all the ice melts. I suppose the seniors can look forward to not being around to find out.

Okay, that was then (as recently as 1997, if my printed source is correct), and this is now. Well, by the time you read this it will also be then. The entry will be more recent, but you will be older. That's what it's all about. This SAGE has become a sealed acronym: ``SAGE - Mozilla Firefox.'' Oops, that was the title bar. It's ``SAGE Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders.''

System Administrators Guild. A USENIX special interest group for sysadmins. Perhaps the E in the acronym came out of a special file that you can't access without sysadmin privileges. I can understand if SAG was not deemed a very positive acronym, but failing to come up with a creditable and publishable expansion for the SAGE backronym looks unsagacious.

Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons.

Related links: ASGE, NOSCAR.

Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy. Located at the University of Binghamton (part of SUNY).

sag pipe
US synonym for inverted siphon (q.v.). An inverted siphon is not a siphon.

Society of Architectural Historians, founded 1940. A constituent society of the ACLS since 1958. ACLS has an overview.

Architektur ist überhaupt die erstarrte Musik.
[Architecture in general is frozen music.]

-- Friedrich von Schelling (1775-1854)
in Philosophie der Kunst [Philosophy of Art] (1809)

In Eckermann's famous record of conversation with Goethe, Gespräche mit Eckermann, the 23 Mar. 1829 entry quotes ,,Ich habe unter meinen Papieren ein Blatt gefunden ... wo ich die Baukunst eine erstarrte Musik nenne.'' [I have found among my papers a sheet ... in which I call architecture frozen music.]

In the preceding, I have given standard translations which translate erstarren as `to freeze.' It's worth noting that the semantic fields of the two words are not quite equivalent. The verb frieren is a closer match to its cognate freeze, being the preferred word to describe the solidification of liquid associated with cooling. Although erstarren has a similar meaning, and is used in the expression corresponding to my blood ran cold, it is closer to `gel' or `congeal,' in the sense that lowered temperature is not a necessary component of the concept. Hence, given the ambiguity of such metaphors, a less poetic translation that nevertheless captures different aspects of the original expressions would be ``Architecture is music made solid.''

It is a commonplace among classicists that

A translation is a commentary.
(Or ``the shortest commentary'' or ``the best commentary,'' but that seems to imply that it is impossible to have more than one translation.) The mot is often attributed to Wilamowitz (Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff). Oral tradition at Oxford attributes it to his student Eduard Fraenkel (``best commentary'' variant), who was at Oxford from 1934.

SubArachnoid Hemorrhage.

Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science.

Systems Application Institute.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago. School associated with the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC). A number of buildings between the AIC museum and the L are draped with ``School of the Art Institute of Chicago'' banners across the outside of the second or third floor. Some of these buildings seem unlikely to be classrooms, studios, living quarters or anything else directly associated with the school. Maybe they're boosters.

Science Applications International Corporation. ``[T]he largest employee-owned research and engineering company in the'' US, as of 2002.

Saudi Arabian International Chemical Sciences Chapter of American Chemical Society. There's also a Saudi Chemical Society.

An article appeared November 14, 2005, in the Arab News (``[Arab] Middle East's Leading English Language Daily'' based in Saudi Arabia), dateline Jeddah: ``Teacher Charged With Mocking Religion Sentenced to Jail.'' A high-school chemistry teacher was sentenced to three years in prison and 750 lashes -- 50 lashes per week for 15 weeks. The lashes are to be given in the public market in the town of Al-Bikeriya in Al-Qassim, so at least he gets out of the prison occasionally. If the article link expires, let me know and I'll put up some more details.

Suid-Afrikaanse Inkomstediens. Afrikaans name of the South African Revenue Service.

Studies in American Indian Literatures. A scholarly journal, published quarterly (in most years since its founding in 1977) by ASAIL. The journal offers reviews, interviews, bibliographies, and new works (including transcriptions of performances). Reportedly (and I have no reason to doubt) it is the only scholarly journal in the United States that focuses exclusively on American Indian literature. Oh, sorry: literaturesssss.

French: first-person, singular, present-tense form of savoir, `know.' (I know, I know: I could simply have written `[I] know.')

Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

Spanish, `hall.' (It is also used for `lecture hall,' but unlike English, in this use it needs no qualifier.)

This word is cognate with the Old English word sæl (`hall'). The direct etymons of this word in English petered out early in the sixteenth century, but the Germanic root had been adopted in Romance, giving rise to the Spanish head term (spelled identically in Portuguese and Italian), and salle in French. The Italian augmentative form salone was adopted as salon in Spanish and French, and as salão in Portuguese, eventually giving rise to the English word saloon. Of course, the French salon is also used in English, though it's not completely assimilated. What this little history shows is that even when English loses, it gains. A word may try to sneak out of the language, but one or two of its descendants or cousins a few times removed will be sucked in. Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.

Statistical Abstract of Latin America.

Two or more sausages, with or without garlic, and an island southwest of Athens, pronounced differently (final sibilant unvoiced). I put this entry here because during the Reagan-Gorbachev summit at Reykjavik in 1986, a suspicious package was found and blown up. It was two salamis. This is important; I vow to track down the details.

Okay: the salamis belonged to Assistant Defense Secretary Richard N. Perle. He was regarded as the Pentagon's top arms control expert. He is a gourmet, and like a good Cold Warrior he came prepared. In particular, he came prepared for the reported inadequacy of Reykjavik's restaurants and the expectation of all-night sessions, with the two salamis. He kept them cold by putting them on the window sill of his hotel room (fourth floor), where they were apparently blown off by a storm. Icelandic security guards successfully repulsed the aerial attack. Perle was quoted in an October 15 article as saying that the salamis were ``smashed to smithereens.'' They were ``Hebrew National'' brand.

On April 25, 2004, two teenagers in Lee County, Florida, were arrested on arson-related charges. The unidentified minors (a high school and a middle school student) had reportedly placed an incendiary device in a wooded lot near some houses a few blocks from Interstate 75 in Fort Myers, but it had failed to go off. Local residents were evacuated after it was found, and authorities said it could have started a serious fire. The Southwest Florida Bomb Squad blew up the device around 11 a.m. the same morning.

The device itself sounds like one of those science experiments you do with stuff you find around the house. It consisted of a twenty-ounce beverage bottle filled with ``homemade napalm'' (not clear if this wasn't just gasoline) and two aerosol spray cans, tied together using kielbasa links. News reports described it as a ``kielbasa bomb'' and ``sausages of mass destruction.''

Considering the degree of sophistication of the device, I wonder if they weren't counting on it to become some hungry stray's suicide bomb. The entire episode sounds just stupid enough that it might reflect a technical conception based on sympathetic magic. You know -- soda bottles and spray cans both contain liquids under pressure that can sometimes like, you know, go boom! Did the bomb squad really check the ``homemade napalm'' thing? Maybe this was just a snack: soda, kielbasa, and spray cheese. Yum. (Preferably a diet soda, to neutralize the fat in the other foods.) The brand of kielbasa was not identified.

At 4:30 pm on April 18, 2005, an incident occurred involving sausage as a missile, but no explosive. A 46-year-old man was driving home from work. It was a nice day and he had the window down. As reported by Brian Farmer of the PA, he saw a car coming the other way and suddenly ``felt a searing pain in his nose. He managed to stop his car without hitting anyone else'' and passers-by came to his aid. He had been hit by a frozen sausage. A spokesman for the Essex Ambulance Service said that ``[h]is nose was undoubtedly fractured and he had lost quite a lot of blood ... he decided not to go to hospital but has been left with a very painful and swollen nose.'' The AP reported from London that the Ambulance Service spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity, but this is probably just an interpolated conjecture. According to the Essex Evening Echo, Essex Ambulance Service paramedic Dave Hilton said he had not come across an incident like it in 30 years on the job. The victim's decision leaves me with questions about the UK's NHS. Absent further details on his assailant's vehicle, I suppose that this was a left-handed shot. There was no further information on the sausage.

You know, this kind of story is a headline-writer's bonanza. Here are some of the better headlines under which the last story was reported:

Alright, enough about sausage ordnance. Here's an item out of Massachusetts, a highly advanced blue state. In Newton, a dormitory community for Harvard and some other nearby universities, there was a domestic dispute on January 13, 2005. A woman showed up at about 12:30 am at the home of her ex-boyfriend's female friend. She argued with the two, striking him in the face and kicking him, and threatening to kill her. This story earned its place in this entry on account of the female friend's car. The ex-girlfriend apparently placed several slabs of salami on the trunk of the friend's car. By the time officers investigated, they found the car's paint peeling. According to Newton Police Sgt. Ken Dangelo, chemicals used to preserve the meat had damaged the car's paint job. Initial charges were assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for using the heel of her shoe during the fight (stilettoes?), threats to commit a crime, and malicious destruction of property.

salami tactics
One slice at a time. Geopolitical conceptual cousin of the death of a thousand cuts.

sal ammoniac
Old name for ammonium chloride (NH4Cl), in use since the Middle Ages. The word sal is Latin for `salt'; the adjective ammoniac (and hence the word ammonia) is a locative ultimately derived from the name of the Egyptian god Amon (or Ammon or Amun, or Jupiter Ammon in a Roman syncretism). The corresponding entirely Latin name of the salt was sal ammoniacus; the corresponding French is sel ammoniac.

The salt has the somewhat unusual property that the pressure of its liquid-vapor critical point is below atmospheric pressure. Hence, when heated it sublimates. Ancient manuscripts contain a number of recipes for producing sal ammoniac, but many of these appear to be either ignorant or purposely misleading. The primary method for producing it was essentially distillation from camel dung: when camel dung was burned, the smoke contained fumes of the sublimated salt. The salt would condense as a solid white film on a surface (glass was convenient) placed in the smoke. (The salt is water-soluble, but like ordinary salt it does occur in natural deposits. See salmiac.)

I've had a tough time getting ahold of detailed information on camel dung, but it is not surprising that ammonia salts should be present. The camel's unusual and extreme metabolism is adapted to dry conditions, and an important adaptation is to urinate as little as possible. The main reason that mammals urinate is to get rid of the nitrogen waste from protein breakdown various comes indicates the origin. Interconversion among different inorganic nitrogenous compounds is not too difficult metabolically. Birds eliminate nitrogen through the cloaca in the form of uric acid (so wash your car), mammals (most of them, anyway) eliminate it in the form of urea. (I'll have to look it up again, but in the interests of publishing this page soon I'll rely on memory to assert that fish generally eliminate nitrogen through their gills as ammonia.) Many micro-organisms can convert urea and uric acid to ammonia. Presumably camels have evolved ways to eliminate nitrogen in their dung in relatively dry form. It might be eliminated as urea and be converted to ammonium chloride by bacteria in the camel gut.

A lot of camel dung was collected in the deserts east of the Egypt and south of Cyrene. In an oasis of this desert there was a temple of the god Amon (you will recall that Alexander took a side trip there before founding or rechristening the Egyptian port of Alexandria). The desert took its name from that oasis temple, and the salt took its name from the desert.

There were some trivial variants of the term sal ammoniac (including, in English, sal ammoniack, sal ammonyak, sal amoniak, etc.). There is a large subgroup of old names with the adjective beginning in arm- (e.g., sal armaniac, sal armaniack, and even sal armagnac). These seem to have arisen from a Latin spelling hammoniacum (with silent aitch) that was interpreted as a misspelling of harmoniacum.

For centuries, sal ammoniac was used as a cleanser. My grandmother was still using it in pre-WWII Germany. Here's another application:

A race should be held on hard snow. The snow should, if possible, be so hard that no holes are made when contestants fall. If snow falls during the race, the Chief of Course shall ensure that the newly fallen snow be packed or swept from time to time. Course maintenance should be done continuously and indiscriminately throughout an alpine race. Recommended as a snow additive to lower the freezing point and harden the snow is ammonium chloride for above freezing conditions and sodium chloride (rock salt) for below freezing conditions. These preparations should be added to the snow on the course at least one-half hour before race time.

Salary: Negotiable
  1. If you will settle for less than we're willing to pay, that's okay with us.
  2. We don't want our less-well-paid employees to learn what we're paying our better-paid-employees. Management understands that knowledge is power, and stupid as they are, they realize that that knowledge has to be the secrets they keep.

Self-aligned silicide. After deposition of poly-Si MOS gate and exposure of S and D regions for implantation or diffusion, metal is deposited over source, gate, and drain. This is subsequently sintered to form silicides on each, and an etch removes unreacted metal while leaving silicide. (Side walls of poly-Si gate are oxidized to form oxide separator before metal deposition.)

One reference: C. K. Lau, Y. C. See, D. B. Scott, J. M. Bridges, S. M. Perna, and R. D. Davies, IEDM Technical Digest, p. 714 (1982).

salmiac, salmiak
A term used for naturally-occurring ammonium chloride. The term is borrowed from German, which is the source of many mineralogical terms in English. The German term was a contraction of the Latin sal ammoniacum. The Latin term itself was borrowed in English as sal ammoniac.

Salmiac is found as a sublimate at active volcanoes. (It can also be found at inactive volcanoes if you can just keep it dry.

You can get an idea of how the formation process by pouring out saucers of ammonia and (carefully!) hydrochloric acid, and placing them next to each other. The ammonia vapor and hydrogen chloride gas react to form sal ammoniac:

                         NH  (g)  +  HCl (g)  -->  NH Cl (s) .
                           3                         4
The salt will precipitate and coat any surface suspended above the saucers (petri dishes would be nice). Use glass or a transparent plastic sheet and see it turn white. Don't wait for it to get thick. If it has any chance of becoming thick, then you've poured out way too much of the reagents. This reaction is not necessarily what is occurring at volcanoes. At normal pressure, ammonium chloride sublimates at 338°C.

A late nineteenth-century medicine prepared from SALicylic and carbOLic acids. (To be a little more directly informative, it was the ester phenyl salicylate.) By 1879 (date of the earliest attestation of the term listed by the OED), the -ol suffix was being used fairly systematically in analytic chemistry to indicate alcohols (which carbolic acid is but which salol is not). However, -ol was already (as it still is) used as a fairly uninformative ending in drug names, so it's not clear whether the ol was intended as a reference to carbolic.

salicylic acid
2-hydroxybenzoic acid or orthohydroxybenzoic acid (or 2-carboxyphenol or 2-hydroxybenzenecarboxylic, if you want to be that way). Used as a callus remover.

Spanish for `sauce.' The word sort of implies `spicy' or at least `flavorful,' and is used as the name of a dance. I can't think of an expression parallel to the Shakespearean ``saucy wench.''

Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003. See SAA.

Society for Applied Learning Technology. What did we learn about applied technology from the SALT Talks?

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. Almost always an AAP pleonasm (``SALT talks''). Cf. START.

  1. An ionically bonded compound. The product, with water, of the reaction of an ordinary acid and base. For example, with A and C representing an anion and cation of valence -1 and +1:
    HC (acid) + AOH (base) --> AC (salt) + H2O

  2. A particular salt that gave this class of compounds its name: NaCl. NaCl is the main ingredient in table salt. This is the kind you sprinkle on eggs.

    Pure NaCl is hygroscopic: it forms a hydrate and cakes. In order to prevent this and allow for smooth pouring, table-salt manufacturers add an ``anti-caking agent'' such as magnesium carbonate.

    When salt is used for its hygroscopic properties, the Mg(CO3) is excluded. One such application is in deicing sidewalks and roads: salt is effective both because of the molal freezing point depression of water and because salt is hygroscopic. (A solution of water and salt freezes at a lower temperature than pure water. The molal freezing point depression constant of water is 1.86 C/m. m here stands for molality: a one-molal (1m) solution has one mole of solute per kilogram of solvent.)

    Jewish dietary law (kashrut) proscribes the consumption of blood, and so requires animals to be kashered (or, increasingly, ``kasherized'') -- that is, the blood must be removed. ``Kosher salt'' is used for this purpose. It's not called kosher because it's kosher -- all salt is kosher. It's called kosher because it's used to make meat kosher. Since hydration begins at the surface of the salt crystal, coarse crystals keep better. And since this salt isn't intended for sprinkling on food, there's no reason to make it fine, so kosher salt is coarser than table salt. Some people taste and dislike the anti-caking agents in table salt. Frankly, if the salt you're using is going to be dissolved in water before it reaches the table, there's likely no need for you to use table salt. Use kosher salt or pickling salt (same product, different purpose).

    Ice cream salt also uses no anticaking agents (and is sold coarse), but since it's not intended for ingestion (it doesn't go in the ice cream; it goes in the ice-water slurry around the ice-cream maker), maybe you shouldstick to the other products for cooking. Popcorn salt is an even finer grade of table salt.

    There's a Salt Institute where you can learn more.

The Salt Archive has as its stated purpose ``to collect evidence to support the theory that Common Salt and its short supply from the then known sources had catastrophic influence on the development of ancient civilizations.'' I would take this with a grain.

The unqualified word saltpeter has always been used for potassium nitrate. A couple of other nitrates have been given what one might call ethnic saltpeter names:

salted peanuts
According to Snack Food Technology (p. 201; bibliographic details at the snack food entry), peanuts
can be salted in the shell, by applying a salt solution and then drying. To speed penetration of the solution through the shell, a small amount of wetting agent may be added to the water. Generally, pressure and vacuum are applied intermittently to increase the rate at which the solution reaches the interior of the shell.

The idea behind the alternating cycle of pressure and vacuum is similar to the idea behind repeated flushing of a vessel that can't be completely emptied. Since the air inside the unbroken peanut shells can't be completely removed in a single step, it is progressively forced out. At the beginning of a cycle, water might be applied at, say, 120 psi. This is about 8 times atmospheric pressure. (It's going to be exactly 8.000 at some moment as a cold front pushes through after a warm day, okay? We're going to take it as exactly 8 for purposes of explanation.) Assuming (it's a fairly accurate assumption) that air behaves as an ideal gas, then under maximum pressure the gas is compressed to one ninth of its atmospheric-pressure volume. The pressurization is usually applied for about 4 to 8 minutes (that would be about one quarter to one half of a kilosecond, for all you good people who don't understand stuff that isn't in metric units). If this is enough time for mechanical equilibrium to be achieved, then water (incompressible to a good approximation) has filled 8/9 of the initial air volume in the shell.

[I'm also ignoring the fact that the peanut is compressible and that the shell has nonzero thickness. If the peanut is substantially more compressible than water, then the air's fraction of fluid (gas plus liquid) volume is reduced by a factor even greater than 9. I do not have peanut compressibility data handy, sorry. And yes, I'm ignoring the solubility of air in brine and in peanut, and of water in air and in peanut. Look, it's approximate, okay? Science is like that.]

  1. A Latin adjective (ablative neuter singular of salvus) meaning `uninjured, intact, safe.'
  2. In medieval Latin, it occurs as a sort of preposition (really a prepositive adjective, but the gender isn't controlled by the noun, as it should be; let's call it a function word), in legal expressions like salvo servicio forinsico (`foreign service excepted'), salvo jure (`without prejudice to the right of ...').
  3. In Spanish, a preposition with essentially the medieval Latin sense, which can usually be rendered in English as `with the exception of' or `save for,' and occasionally `save.'
  4. In Spanish also, salvo means `I save,' a conjugation of the verb salvar, from the Latin verb salvare. Note that the saving here has a more restricted sense than the English cognate. To save money is ahorrar dinero.
  5. In English, the legal Latin word was naturalized as a noun, so the salvo of a right is a provision that a certain engagement or ordinance shall not be binding if it would interfere that right, and more generally a salvo is reservation or a saving stipulation or legal provision.

Nickname for SAMantha and for SAMuel.

Sample Analysis at Mars. A chemical analysis instrument that is part of the rover Curiosity that was landed on Mars in 2012.

SAM, Sam
Scanning Acoustic Microscope. Surface and sub-surface mapping of elastic properties using ultrasonic pulse/echo lenses in the frequency range 30 MHz to 1 GHz. Sample must be immersed in or at least wetted by a fluid.

Scanning Auger Microscopy. A kind of Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES, q.v.).

Security Account Manager. Used in NTFS for Windows NT.

Self-Assembled Monolayer. Search this site.

Serial Access Memory.

Service-Access Multiplexer.

Sigma Alpha Mu.

Society for American Music, founded 1975. It was previously known as the Sonneck Society, and as the Sonneck Society for American Music. They still respect Oscar George Theodore Sonneck, but they probably just got tired of saying
``SonnECK, not sonic.''
(You know how ess and eff sound the same over the phone -- people would reply ``Oh, yeah, phonic, sure.'') But they can't win for losing. Now they have to explain that `` `America' is understood to embrace North America, including Central America and the Caribbean, and aspects of its cultures elsewhere in the world.''

You can avoid these problems by joining the Society for EthnoMusicology, but you may have to shift the orientation of your scholarship. (But that's nothing, my friend Lee started out as a composer of art [classical] music, and ended up as a music theorist. It's just as well, he didn't really look like a composer.) Also consider the American Musicological Society (AMS).

A constituent society of the ACLS since 1995. ACLS has an overview.

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

-- William Seward Burroughs

-- or maybe Thelonius Sphere Monk, I dunno.

See also the Society of Architectural History (SAH) and the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS).


Society for Ancient Medicine. (Should that not bee ``Þe Society for Antient Physic''?) Holds a meeting during the bigger annual joint meeting of the APA and AIA.

``The Society for Ancient Medicine fosters the scholarly study of ancient medicine broadly understood: not only Greek and Roman medicine, but also ancient Near Eastern, medieval European, Arabic, Armenian, and traditional Indian medicine, and indeed medicine from all pre-modern cultures.''

And then the witch doctor
He told me what to do:

He said that

Oo-ee, oo ah ah ting, tang,
Walla-walla, bing bang --
Oo-ee, oo ah ah ting tang
Walla-walla bang bang!

(``Artist'': David Seville; Song: ``Witch Doctor'')

Surface-to-Air Missile.

South African Medical Association. ``[T]he representative body for medical practitioners in South Africa.''

Southern African Maintenance Association. ``SAMA was formed in 1997 to promote the interests of maintenance and asset management professionals in Southern Africa. We are a registered Section 21 company (not for profit).''

Japanese postfix particle that functions like Mr./Ms., but indicates greater respect than -san. Cf. -chan.

S. Amer.
South AMERica. In Spanish: Sudamérica.


Society of Ancient Military Historians. Affiliated with the APA. Look, I don't have anything interesting written on this just yet. Go see SAM.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (of HHS). How Kafkaesque, Grigor. Also of interest: American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

Alas, there does not appear to be a ``SAMHSARA.''

Service-Access Multiplexer Interface.

Solar Array Manufacturing Industry Costing Standards.

Solar Array Manufacturing Industry Simulation.

South Atlantic (US) Modern Language Association.

Original name of the famous act that is now better remembered as Amos'n'Andy. Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll started broadcasting this in fifteen-minute weekday segments on the Chicago radio station WGN in 1926. The station owned the rights to the name, so they changed it when they moved on. It was blackface humor without the video. It's already possible today to enjoy the jokes Swedish-Americans and Finnish-Americans used to tell on each other, but I suspect that by the time we can all safely enjoy Amos'n'Andy again, we'll hardly be able to understand the jokes any more.

Sensitivity Analysis of Model Output. Sensitivity analysis based on model. This is really no more sensitivity analysis of the output than of the input: the sensitivity matrix is simply the matrix of partial derivatives of output with respect to input, with obvious significance for control and stability.

Stacked-Gate Avalanche-injection Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (field-effect transistor) (MOS). Cf. SIMOS.

sample issues, free
Let us send you two free issues of our wonderful magazine with ABSOLUTELY no obligation! ``No Obligation!'' After you have been sent the first wonderful issue of our wonderful magazine, you will be sent a wonderful offer to continue the subscription at a wonderful rate. You will ignore this offer, or the wonderful postal service will somehow magically fail to deliver it, and after the second issue you will receive a wonderful letter alerting you that our records show that you have not remitted payment for your one-year subscription and that you should SEND PAYMENT NOW to avoid DAMAGE TO YOUR CREDIT when we involve a COLLECTION AGENCY! Of course, if you have already sent payment you may ignore this letter, but if you believe our records are in error then you should contact us immediately. Use the phone number that is not included in the dunning letter, but which you might with some difficulty find on our website. [Information for the convenience of our customers outside the US: don't bother looking. With some exceptions, the 800 number probably doesn't work for you.]

I'm sure you'll want more. Get it from Calvin Broadus.

A representative sample of a larger set (what statisticians call the or a universe) is an unbiased sample. Journalists seek samples that are representative in another sense: they represent what the journalist wants to report. For example, my friend Louis, who works in mental health, received a call from someone at NPR who was looking for people who were unhappy with services they had received.

Of course this is unbalanced reporting, but it might not be unfair. It can be perfectly reasonable and efficient for journalists to look exclusively for the man who bites the dog. On the other hand, in a large enough universe of men, there will always be some man that bites a dog. To report an event is to imply that it is newsworthy. Hence, in that large universe, to report an instance of something that anyone could predict would be bound to happen occasionally may be understood to imply that it is happening unexpectedly frequently. That is what can make reporters' selective sampling irresponsible and dishonest.

Kurt Schlichter is a lieutenant colonel in the California National Guard. A veteran of the first Gulf war, he's now stateside and commands the 1-18th Cavalry, 462-man RSTA (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition) squadron attached to the 40th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The last media representative he spoke with before I contacted him was a New York Times stringer who wanted Schlichter's help in tracking down guardsmen who were ``having trouble because they got mobilized.''
(Quote from ``The 9/11 Generation: Better than the Boomers,'' by Dean Barnett 07/30/2007, Volume 012, Issue 43 Weekly Standard cover story.)

SAMS is a major publisher of computer manuals. It isn't immediately obvious SAMS stands for. Last year I happened to pick up a copy of Computer Dictionary and Handbook, by Charles J. Sippl, published in 1966, and discovered that it stands for the last name of the publisher Howard W. Sams.

SAn Mateo (county, CA) TRANSit. Bus operator.

Japanese postfix particle that functions like Mr./Ms. Cf. -chan, -samao.

Standard Address Number[ing]. Signifies a specific address of an organization in or served by the publishing industry. R. R. Bowker offers information.

Storage Area Network.

Styrene/AcryloNitrile (plastic).

Spanish, `heals.' That's a third-person singular present-tense verb form, not a plural noun. The Spanish sana is also the feminine form of the adjective meaning `hale, sound.' (Male form sano. For too much more about that, see the são entry.)

Syrian Arab News Agency. In French, that's ``L'Agence arabe syrienne d'informations / SANA.''

Once (from 1918) the capital of North Yemen (the Yemen Arab Republic from 1962, though there was a royalist insurgency for years afterwards), now (since 1990) the capital of the Republic of Yemen. There's a bit about the pronunciation of the name in the aa entry.

Spanish, `you heal.' (Not `you heel!'!)

Swiss Association for North-American Studies. (Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Nordamerika-Studien.) SANAS is a constituent association of the EAAS; cf. AISNA.

I'd like to add that, refreshingly for a Swiss organization, they don't force you to read everything three or four times (in German, French, Italian, and maybe Swiss German or Romansch). The first time I visited, the default German webpages also had French Doppelgänger (in a folder named frz, presumably for französisch). When I checked again (2006) they'd come up with an even more clever idea: ``All SANAS information is in English.'' Except for scattered titles and links like Nouvelles and züruck. I trust the scholars of Mexico, Quebec, and the Navaho Reservation are up in arms.

One of those treasured self-contradicting words. The word contranym has been coined for the class of words that have at least one pair of senses that are contradictory, but the word has so far (writing in Summer 2004) not been widely accepted. Part of the problem is that contra- is a Latin root and -nym is Greek, so the compound isn't kosher.

To sanction a practice, situation, or event is to approve it officially or formally, while to sanction a country (more often ``to impose sanctions'') is to disapprove using similar authority, typically with the institution of formal impediments. (Trade sanctions are in the news.)

Sanguine, meaning both sanguinary and healthy, is similar to these. In this case as in that of sanction, the usage of the word in its different senses tends to take different forms or have different collocations.

Of course, you knew all this. You may not have been aware that to table has opposite meanings in US and Commonwealth parliamentary usage: In Canada (.ca), a law to be taken up for discussion is tabled -- one imagines the bill placed upon a table for examination. In the US, when discussion of a bill under consideration is to be suspended, the bill is also tabled -- one imagines a bill that was being read to be put down on a table for possible future consideration.

Semiconductor All-optical Nonlinear Dichroic (optical switch). [See I. Gontijo, D. T. Neilson, J. E. Ehrlich, A. C. Walker, G. T. Kennedy, and W. Sibbett, Appl. Phys. Lett. 66, 1871 (1995).]

Although New Rome, Ohio, got all the bad press as a speed trap, it's really I-80/90 in Sandusky County, Ohio, that has the really aggressive policing. Sandusky is pronounced with stress on the second syllable, and a shwa vowel in the first: ``sun DUSS key.''

I'm not exactly sure this was an acronym. It was originally created in 1957 by Norman Cousins, editor of the late great Saturday Review, under the name National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, with the stated goal of promoting causes such as disarmament in general. The group published some NYTimes advertisements and grew from the publicity. In 1959, SANE staged its first demonstrations, culminating in a rally of 20,000 in New York City in 1990.

Benjamin Spock, the author, eventually became chairman of the national board, which changed its name to SANE, A Citizens' Organization for a Sane World. The group eventually split over an internal rule excluding members of the Communist Party from also being members of SANE. The Spock faction was against the rule; the Cousins faction in favor. The Spock faction won and the group became marginalized.

Norman Thomas was another prominent member.

Sexual-Assault Nurse-Examiner. It's usually written without hyphens, presumably to designate the person who examines assault nurses who are sexual.

Society of Americans for National Existence.

This will give you an idea:

Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Laura Ingraham are all Great Americans but they are each, individually and collectively, participating in the destruction of our national political discourse and national existence simply. I make this statement with all due care and regard because each of these media pundits has achieved noteworthy and important attention and audience from a large segment of average Americans. Just a few short years ago, prior to Limbaugh's breakthrough radio program and the subsequent appearance and explosive growth of conservative weblogs, these same Americans were subjected to a steady diet of a monopolized media-generated and media-dominated liberalism. The media-drumbeat in America, and the West generally, advocating directly or indirectly for a Liberal-Progressive World State, has been and continues to be supported by a university-trained Elite corps of ``professorial intellectuals'' and ``experts.'' These Elites in turn very often end up in diplomatic, bureaucratic, and technocratic positions throughout government at all levels, further exacerbating the problem of the Liberal bias in America. Granted, without the Limbaugh and Hannity voices, Dan Rather would still be anchoring CBS; but without the Limbaugh and Hannity rhetorical seduction, Americans would see the danger of the World State as very much imbedded in the discourse of democracy, which is simply another name for the Open Society.

Maybe I should have started with this: ``The far more dangerous Liberal bias is found today throughout the Democratic Party and in the far left advocates of the anti-America crowd as well as the moderate to conservative wings of the Republican Party and even on conservative talk radio.''

Selective ActiNide EXtraction.

  1. The ability to stay calm in a crisis or catastrophe: self-possession, imperturbability.
  2. A demonstration of this ability: equanimity.

From the French sang-froid, `cold blood.'

Sangfroid is a notch above stoicism: you have to be not so much resigned as purposely functional. Also, strictly speaking, sangfroid requires the ability to stay cool through the heat of one's own disaster. It's no trick to be philosophical about other people's tsuris (cf. Schadenfreude).

Sangro de Cristos
Today I read this name over a picture of a mountain in a brochure. (Today as I write this. Not today as you read this. It's not my fault if you procrastinate.) Thumbing my nose at the great danger that I may be judged anal-retentive or worse -- a lover of language -- I venture to observe that this name means `I bleed from christs.' Sangre de Cristo, in the same language, means `Blood of Christ.' It's a mountain range in a part of old Mexico called Texas.

French, `without.'

Scale for the Assessment of Negative (psychiatric) Symptoms. Usually administered together with SAPS. Comparable to BPRS.

Small-Angle Neutron Scattering.

Third-generation Japanese-American. Pronounced approximately ``sun say.'' Singular and plural forms of the noun coincide, because Japanese does not inflect nouns for number. See first-generation entry for some complicating thoughts.

Santa Claus Lane
Crosses US-101 south of Santa Barbara.

Can you believe it?! I don't have a Santa Claus entry! Until I can devise a permanent fix for this problem, please visit the (provisional) Moore entry.

Portuguese: `Saint.' The female form of the title is . São arose as an abbreviation of Santo, and is now the form regularly used preceding a consonant. Hence São Francisco, São João (that's `Joseph'), São Lucas, São Paulo, São Pedro, but Santo Antônio, Santo Agostinho, Santo Inácio. With a period, são. is an abbreviation of the general santo (`saintly, sainted, pious, holy, devout, blessed'). Interestingly, the expression santo de pau ôo means `holy terror' (said of children, of course) as well as `pious hypocrite.' Literally, the expression means something like `holy [one] of the hollow stick.' (The main impediment to an accurate literal translation is the range of meanings of pau, which like its Spanish cognate palo may best be translated `stick, pole, club, wood [material]' in the most common contexts, but has various other acceptions. In fact, this is such a deep subject it will get its own entry. Eventually.)

Please now pop about three levels off the digression stack.

Because the nasalization of the vowel is difficult to distinguish from a straightforward nasal consonant (and presumably because of aphesis of the final o), o dicionário de Morais (formally Grande Dicionário da Língua Portugesa, 10/e 1949) finds it necessary to warn against the sam and san misspellings of this common word.

Portuguese: `well, healthy, hale.' The female form of the adjective is . The expression são e salvo corresponds to `safe and sound' (though inverted in order). The word são and its cognates in western Romance languages (at least in Italian, French, Spanish Catalan, and Galician, which I can readily check), all mean `healthy,' more or less, as does the Latin etymon sanus. There is no restriction to mental health.

On the other hand, the Latin insanus was restricted to mental ill health. This carried over only incompletely to Romance. In Portuguese, insânia and insanidade mean `insanity,' and insano means `insane.' This is the general pattern, certainly for Galician, Catalan, and French. In Spanish too, insania is `insanity,' but insano is `unhealthy' (more specifically, `deleterious to health'). Wait, wait! It's not just Spanish. Italian has settled into the standard pattern, but insàno once also had the sense of `ill, sick.' Anyway, I was trying to make the case that somehow the influence of insanus in Romance was relatively weak, but it's a weak case. Be that as it may, in English, apparently under the influence of the restricted semantic field of insane, the word sane also came to be restricted, referring now only to mental health. Of course, English can afford to be profligate, having other words to cover other portions of the sanus semantic field. For one there's sound, cognate with Dutch gezond, German gesund, and Yiddish gezint. The ge- (written with a yogh in Old English) became a vowel in Middle English (isund, ysonde), at the same time that the aphetic form (ultimately spelled sound) became increasingly common. [A similar process was sometimes arrested before the initial vowel was lost, hence German genug is cognate with enough.]

The convergence of são and São in Portuguese, cognates with sano and San in Spanish, is reminiscent of a similar situation in German and English. The English words hail [the verb], hale, heal, healthy, and whole are all derived from a common source of related words. These may originally have had a principal sense of `healthy' or of `whole' with a connotation of impregnable (think of ``physical integrity''). Through either of these senses the words might have become associated with deity either before or at the beginning of Christian proselytization. Anyway, German has a similar constellation of words, and as it ended up, the noun Heil has among its senses both `salvation' in the religious sense and `well-being.' (As you probably know if you've seen a WWII movie or two, Heil is used as a salutation also, parallel to English ``Hail!'' or Latin ``Salve!'')

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Student Activities Office. The activities they have in mind don't include studying or what you thought of next. Actually, ``activities'' as understood here are entertainments better described as ``inactivities.''

Structured Audio Orchestra Language. Pronounced ``sail.''

Service Access Point.

Service Advertising Protocol. A Novell NetWare protocol.

Simple Asynchronous Protocol.

Society for Applied Philosophy. The usual travesty.

Statement of Administration Policy. I've seen this acronym used in reference to a document laying out a US government policy. It's probably best not to call this an explanation of administrative policy.

Strong Anthropic Principle. See Martin Gardner: ``WAP, SAP, FAP, and PAP,'' New York Review of Books, May 8, 1987.

Sustainable Agricultural Practices.

Symbolic Assembler Program. Assembly language for the IBM 704.

Systeme, Anwendungen, Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung. German: `Systems, Applications, & Products in Data Processing. The name of an ERP software product and of the company that produces it -- SAP AG.

As of early 2002, familiarity with SAP and the ability to install it (which includes extracting data from legacy-system records) is one of the dearest (i.e., highest-paid common skills in the IT field.

Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association.

Society of Army Physician Assistants. A constituent chapter of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).

South African Press Agency.

Service Access Point (SAP) Identifier.

Small-Arms Protective Insert[s]. SAPI plates are a kind of reinforcement for flak vests.

Speech Application Programming Interface.

Streamlined Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller. An advanced APIC 64-bit systems based on an Intel architecture.

Nonterminal p-sounds are aspirated by English-speakers. The pi-phi letter combination that is represented ``pph'' in the English word Sapphic (designating, for example, the eponymous style of poetry) was originally also an aspirated p sound. The eff sound represents a corruption in languages that don't observe the aspirated/unaspirated distinction. A similar thing happened with the Hebrew pe (which used a dot to indicate lack of aspiration). Interestingly, with the beyt (which became beta in Greek), aspiration was transformed into a difference in articulation -- the undotted beyt (i.e., aspirated; what is written ``bh'' in transliteraton of, say, a Hindi or Sanskrit word like Mahabharata) is now pronounced with a vee sound. Note that in Hebrew, the b/v distinction is not phonemic except in foreign words that have not been integrated into the language: context determines which allophone occurs. Greek beta is now pronounced vita. So it goes. In Arabic, the b/p distinction of the original Semitic alphabet is absent. (That's discussed in one or two other places in this glossary. If you haven't seen it already, keep reading; it's bound to appear eventually.)

Southern (US) Association of Pre-Law Advisors. Similar organizations are listed at the SWAPLA entry, because SWAPLA is a risible name.

Société américaine pour la philosophie dans la langue française. `American Society for Philosophy in the French Language.' This putative organization has such a low profile on the internet that I suspect the name is misremembered; I've only seen the acronym SAPLF and the English name in a posting to a philosophy mailing list.

SAPLF publishes a Bulletin, and in 2003 a special issue of the Bulletin was published (volume XII, no. 1, 206 pp., two languages, USD 15 incl. domestic postage), ``devoted to the work of Simone de Beauvoir - a late contribution to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Le deuxième sexe.'' The table of contents lists one article entitled ``Pourquoi reparler de Simone de Beauvoir.'' My sentiments precisely. They don't actually come out and say it directly, but I infer that they regard Beauvoir as a philosopher. It's not a problem for me, but this kind of thinking could have consequences.

If you think of a college as being divided into different departments in the same way as a hospital is divided into wards, then SAPLF, with or without surviving in-patients, would be something like an intensive care unit.

For another acronym ending in LF, see INaLF. You know, if the French language were simply eliminated, that would free up a lot of acronyms to be retasked for more pressing purposes. Especially in Canada (to say nothing of Europe).

Spanish, `toad.' The p is aspirated, so the pronunciation of this word is probably not very different from the original Greek pronunciation of Sappho, famous love poet of Lesbos and hence in at least one sense a Lesbian. The fragmentary nature of what has survived of Sappho's poetry, and the little we know of her life, leave some question whether she was also what we call a lesbian, but for the unscholarly, uncertainty is no reason to doubt. (Perhaps I should add that ``scholar'' is not defined by institutional affiliation, but by temperament and behavior.)

Arnold Lobel created a series of children's picture books about two pals named Frog and Toad. From their clothes, it is clear that Frog and Toad are both male. (Lobel died of AIDS in 1987, age 54, so there was some talk. You probably want to know: he was survived by his wife, also an illustrator, and their two adult children.) The characters' names presented the Spanish translator, Pablo Lizcano, with a gender problem. All Spanish nouns have grammatical gender, but for most animals, and especially for wild animals, there is a single noun, with a single grammatical gender, for each animal regardless of the number of natural genders that animal exhibits. ``Frog and Toad'' in Spanish is ``Rana y Sapo,'' and while sapo is male, rana is a female noun. Lizcano's solution was to invent the name Sepo, which by the usual rule is male. Quite unnecessarily, it seems, the character named Frog in English (and who somewhat more closely resembles a frog than a toad) has been given the name Sapo (`Toad,' remember?).

Unless, until, and probably even if I write a Matt Groening entry, this here will be the place to mention the Akbar and Jeff thing. They are the principal characters of Groening's ``Life In Hell.'' Here's a snippet of an interview he did for Flux Magazine in 1995:

Flux: let's talk about your `Life In Hell' comic strip. Point blank: are Akbar and Jeff gay?

Groening: Here's my standard reply: Akbar and Jeff are either brothers or lovers--or both. Whatever offends you most, that's what they are. [pause] Yeah, of course they're gay! Big commercial mistake on my part, by the way. A big brewery approached me wanting to have Akbar and Jeff promote their beer. ...

It seems I don't mention it elsewhere, so I'll mention here that translating the lyrics of (appropriately) Madonna's ``La Isla Bonita'' (`the pretty island') poses a gender difficulty also. As I heard it, she whispers the line ``Me dijo que te quiere.'' An accurate literal translation of this would be `He or she told me that he or she wants you [or that he or she loves you, or that you are dear to him or her].' The gender of the third person (he or she) is uncertain -- from that sentence at least. To be honest, not one web page I can find agrees with my recollection of the lyric, and over a thousand web pages disagree with me and claim that the song contains the at-best stilted line ``Te dijo te amo'' (`He or she said to you I love you'). (The Spanish is stilted. The English is less stilted, probably because the Spanish is really gringo. At least a thousand include the merely unusual ``El dijo que te ama'' (`He [or almost It was he that] said that he loves you'). As Gary and I and some graduate students drove to a conference many years ago, I replayed that bit about twenty times in my earphone. I really think that everybody else on the web is relying directly or indirectly on liner notes that may correspond to only one or some of the versions released. Gary says he'll look for the cassette.

The chemical reaction that makes soap. It's pretty straightforward: you combine an alkali base -- potassium or sodium hydroxide -- with fat. Sodium hydroxide is lye. Someday this dangerous toxic substance will be subject to strict government controls in order that each year a few idiots won't kill themselves by accidentally ingesting it. For now, however, it continues to perform the good work of natural selection, and is available at the store for other purposes, like unstopping your drain. The main alternative to lye is potassium hydroxide (KOH). Pure KOH makes liquid soap; 10% KOH (by molarity, not molality: the reaction is stoichiometric) gives a significantly softer soap than pure NaOH. If you don't have access to lye, you can get NaOH from soda ash and KOH from pot ash. As noted in the K (potassium chemical symbol) entry, pot ash has such a characteristically high potassium content that it is in fact the origin of the word potassium.

Fat is glycerine esterized with a fatty acid at each of its three hydroxyl (OH) groups, and saponification is an ester-to-salt reaction -- something like a strong-base-to-weak-base reaction, where the fatty acid form organic salts with the alkali ions.

Fat for soap comes as a byproduct of meat production. Where exactly the fat is diverted for soap production is a matter of practical economics. Nowadays slaughterhouses divert a fraction of their production. In my grandparents' day, excess fat could be gotten from butchers. Further back, people would trim fat when they carved up their own animals. If you didn't have fat you didn't have soap, and you used an alternative (see QS and almond powder entries). I suppose that in lean years, people went dirty as well as hungry.

See the hard water entry for how soap works or doesn't. It will be clear from that entry that one wants to use soft water for soap production. In the old days, when people normally made their own soap, reverse osmosis and demineralized water were not available. You don't need much water to make soap, so distilling was practical enough (if you already had the still for other purposes), but so was rainwater and some well water.

A quite good soap-making site is part of the Old Timer Page.

The actual process of soap-making can get involved when you consider fragrance (see EO and FO) and color. A central constraint is that fat and lye don't diffuse very well in soap, so the last bit of saponification takes a long time. This can be mitigated by mechanical mixing (blending, stirring) and by using emulsifying agents (like DPG). In the end, soap made with only the minimum ingredients tends to remain harshly basic (pH about 9) from unreacted lye. Mild acids may be used to neutralize the soap, but strong acids just drive the saponification reaction backwards. Some fat may be added late in the process. This is intended not to saponify, but to soften the soap. (You might ask why not just use excess fat from the start. The answer is mostly that by adding fat late, you can use nicer but more expensive oils -- particularly vegetable oils with desirable anti-microbial properties -- without having those oils wasted by being converted to soap with the rest of the oils.)

See also the 99.44 entry.

An engineer for the military.

In semiconductor usage, this is corundum (alpha-alumina, rhombic form of Al2O3), a colorless crystal. In common usage, different terms are used for different forms of gem-quality corundum, which can be red (``ruby'') or a range of other hues (esp. for blue: usual use of term ``sapphire'').

I don't know what the first pee is doing there, since it's not pronounced.

Scale for the Assessment of Positive (psychiatric) Symptoms. Usually administered together with SANS. SANS and SAPS were developed by Andreasen.

South Atlantic Quarterly. Published at Duke University.

Search And Rescue.

``Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC), through the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), is the single federal agency responsible for coordinating search and rescue activities in the continental United States. [Hawaii and Alaska -- you're on your own.] It also provides search and rescue assistance to Canada and Mexico. Besides coordinating actual SAR missions, the AFRCC is active in formulating SAR agreements, plans and policy for the continental United States.''

Segmentation And Reassembly. Sounds like divide-and-conquer. Part of getting data through ATM. See AAL.

Significant-Activity Report.

Sons of the American Revolution.

Special Administrative Region. A bubble of circumspect freedom around Hong Kong. Macao is also an SAR. I don't know if there are any others.

Specific Absorption Rate.

Start-Action Request.

Structure-Activity Relationship[s]. The relationship between the chemical structure of a molecule and the odor it induces. Cf. QSAR, SFR.

Student Aid Report. For explanation, see FAFSA.

A high school pal of mine explained the formula for determining the expected annual family contribution: one quarter of the value of the family home. Of course, that was many years ago, before the big eighties inflation in college costs. That outstripped residential-property appreciation, so the formula must be different.

Successive Approximation Register. Part of A-to-D converter.

Synthetic Aperture Radar.

(New York) State Archives and Records Administration.

Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act.

Sarbanes-Oxley. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Public Law No. 107-204, 116 Stat. 745), also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002. A/k/a SOX.

South Asian Regional Cooperation. Launched in New Delhi in August 1983. It failed because its name was an abstract compound noun describing what they wanted to achieve instead of what they were, so it was replaced by SAARC.

Segmentation And Reassembly Element.

{ Spectral Analysis of | Spectrally Analyzed } Resistance Fluctuations. See A. Diligenti, P. E. Bagnoli, B. Neri, S. Bea and L. Mantellassi: ``A Study of Electromigration in Aluminum and Aluminum-Silicon Thin-Film Resistors Using Noise Technique,'' Solid State Electronics, vol. 32 (#1), pp. 11-16 (1989), Bruno Neri, Alessandro Diligenti and Paolo Emilio Bagnoli, ``Electromigration and Low-Frequency Resistance Fluctuations in Aluminum Thin-Film Interconnections,'' IEEE Transactions in Electron Devices, vol. ED-34 (#11), pp. 2317-2321 (1987).

Solvent Abuse Resource Group.

Secretaría de Agricultura y Recursos Hidráulicos. The Mexican government's erstwhile `Secretariat of Agriculture and Water Resources.' All I plan to find out about it for the time being is what can be gleaned at IMTA entry.

French: Société à responsabilité limitée, `Limited liability company.' Corresponds to Spanish SRL.

A gulf opening into the Aegeaen Sea, between Attica and the Peloponnesus east of Corinth. The Corinthian strait, now a canal, connects the Saronic gulf with the Gulf of Corinth.

The book Athens, by Christian Meier, begins with the story of the evacuation of Athens in 480 BCE (ahead of advancing Persian troops, delayed heroically at Thermopylae by a small Spartan rear guard under the command of Leonidas). The Athenians retreated from Attica across the water to Salamis. The maps on the inside front and back covers label this body of water the Sardonic Gulf.

Segmentation And Reassembly (SAR) - Protocol Data Unit (i.e. Packet: PDU).

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. A severe pneumonia that emerged in Hong Kong in early 2003. Visit WHO's pages for Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response (CSR) and CDC pages on SARS.

For those who prefer not to contract SARS, as well as for those who would like to attempt suicide by contracting it and spending an unpleasant final week or two on a respirator, a useful piece of information is the incubation period. That is, the time people remain asymptomatic after infection. The incubation period is typically about a week, but has been as long as two weeks in some cases. (In many cases it's impossible to say precisely, since the particular chain of transmission, or at least the moment of infection, is unknown.) So if you want to catch SARS from people who don't seem to have the disease, your best bet is to hang out with people who may have come in contact with the virus in the past week or so. Visit the Middle Kingdom.

This new disease, which flared in Hong Kong in March 2003, was eventually recognized to be the same as the disease that had affected many hundreds of people in neighboring Guangzhou (what we all used to call Canton, and what is also called Guangdong) province of southern China since the previous November. In Guangzhou, and later elsewhere in China, the severity of the outbreak has been repeatedly masked by government censorship, or more precisely by a culture of secrecy and dishonesty.

The largest initial concentration of victims outside Guangzhou province has been in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, SARS is not called SARS but ``atypical pneumonia.'' BusinessWeek correspondent Bruce Einhorn and others have suggested that the SARS name is avoided because of the similarity to SAR, the technical designation of Hong Kong in terms of its political status. Then again, in Guangzhou, it is also called (the Chinese for) `atypical pneumonia,' which is a reasonable alternative to a not-very-Chinese-pronounceable Roman-character acronym. For more on the acronym, see the next SARS entry. Have a look at the ARS entry as well.

In French, SARS is called syndrome respiratoire aigu sévère as well as pneumopathie atypique. In German it is Schweres Akutes Respiratorisches Syndrom. In Italian, Sindrome Acuta Respiratoria Severa.

Even though you came here to find out about SARS as quickly as possible, you find your attention wandering, and you ask yourself whether ``there could be an etymological connection between the German word schwer and the Latin word severus.'' Semantically, it seems not unreasonable: the German word means `heavy' or `difficult' and the sense can be stretched comfortably to overlap that of the English word severe. The Latin word severus, of course, has meanings close to the English and French terms derived from it. (The English verb sever, OTOH, has a separate Latin etymology.) Coincidentally, I got to wondering the same thing myself, so I hopped on the forklift and went to pull Pokorny off the shelf. Julius Pokorny's book Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch [English: `Big book of wild-ass guesses'] lists both words, and lists them as coming from distinct (but partly homophonic) Indoeuropean roots. One root (Pokorny p. 1151) is [conjectured to have occurred as] *uer- and *suer-, and had meanings related to `balancing,' hence schwer, `heavy.' The Latin word came from a distinct root (p. 1165) that took forms *uer- and *uer<shwa> meaning `[demonstrating] friendliness.' (Why don't we have a word like that?) This led to words meaning `true' and to the negated form se-verus, `without friendliness.' If you want to defend the claim that linguistics is a science, one of your stronger pieces of evidence is the fact that the conclusions seem ridiculous.

In other SARS-related language news, on April 25, 2003, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines named her Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit SARS Czar. Why didn't dubya think of that? (Uh, thank you, that suggestion has already been submitted.) Dayrit was given sweeping powers, including the authority to call upon the Armed Forces, the police and other government agencies to compel public compliance and order quarantine, and the power to order the examination of incoming and outgoing vessels and to suspend classes or close schools to prevent the spread of the disease.

In a speech the following May 15, however, President Aroyo was already saying ``[i]lan ba ang biktima ng SARS sa Pilipinas, 10 [actually 12; she was unaware of two newly confirmed cases], ibaba pa sa walo dahil yung dalawa na merong pinadala ang blood test sa Hapon, pagbalik negative pala. Walo ang nagkaroon ng SARS at dalawa ang namatay.'' I felt that you'd prefer to read it in her own words. The English-language publication BusinessWorld felt the same way (``Asian meet held to save SARS-hit travel sector,'' p. 12 of the 16 May 2003 edition).

Another early adopter was Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). chairman Morris Chang named deputy chief executive Tseng Fan-chen the company's ``SARS Czar.'' (In Britain there's been talk of question whether a SARS Tsar should be named.)

Data from national health authorities are tabulated daily except Sundays by WHO. Initially, the only explicit indication of freshness of the data was release time, usually a specific hour around 15:00 GMT+1. After April 16, 2003, the tabulations have indicated the date of the latest update for each nation's or region's data.

Under a variety of conditions -- i.e., in a variety of theoretical models -- the numbers of cases and deaths increase exponentially (equivalently, the logarithms of these numbers increase linearly in time) until a substantial fraction of the susceptible population has been exposed. Changes in behavior, treatment, quarantine, or other policy, if effective, should be detectable by a change in the doubling time of either of these numbers. All other things being equal, cumulated statistics should minimize the fractional error due to statistical fluctuations and allow those changes to be detected most clearly. Of course, all things are not equal. In particular, data from the PRC have been inaccurate (falsified at various levels) and have not been timely. Also, the US data have been suspect in a different way. The CDC and WHO case definitions do not correspond precisely, so in its cumulative reports WHO initially treated ``suspect cases under investigation'' from the US as comparable to ``probable cases'' elsewhere. By the WHO report of April 19, this had led to the following anomaly: the US had 220 reported cases, the third-largest number among countries or regions reporting, and no reported deaths. The next three countries were Singapore, Canada, and Viet Nam, with 177, 132, and 63 cases, and 16, 12, and 5 deaths respectively. The next week, CDC physicians stopped uttering inanities like ``we've just been incredibly lucky'' and started reporting probable cases.

The following table gives the cumulative number of cases and deaths as tabulated by WHO. Certain subtotals extracted from WHO's (I had to write that) official reports are given in parenthesis: when numbers appear in a format #1 (#2, #3), #1 is worldwide, #2 excludes all of the PRC other than Hong Kong, and #3 excludes all of the PRC. Furthermore, because I can't find probable-case numbers for the US from the early period, and because the numbers were relatively small, I have recomputed the earlier numbers by excluding the originally reported ``suspected'' numbers and assuming the number of ``probable'' cases was negligible (zero).

Date Total cases log10 of Total cases Total deaths log10 of Total deaths
2003.05.12 7447 (2434, 751) 3.87 (3.39, 2.88) 552 (300, 82) 2.74 (2.46, 1.90)
Sunday, 2003.05.11 no official report
2003.05.10 7296 (2412, 738) 3.86 (3.38, 2.87) 526 (291, 79) 2.72 (2.46, 1.90)
2003.05.09 7183 (2378, 711) 3.86 (3.38, 2.85) 514 (284, 74) 2.71 (2.45, 1.87)
2003.05.08 7053 (2355, 694) 3.85 (3.37, 2.84) 506 (282, 74) 2.70 (2.45, 1.87)
2003.05.07 6903 (2343, 689) 3.84 (3.37, 2.84) 495 (276, 72) 2.69 (2.44, 1.86)
2003.05.06 6727 (2318, 672) 3.83 (3.37, 2.83) 478 (264, 71) 2.68 (2.42, 1.85)
2003.05.05 6583 (2303, 666) 3.82 (3.36, 2.82) 461 (255, 68) 2.66 (2.41, 1.83)
Sunday, 2003.05.04 no official report
2003.05.03 6234 (2263, 642) 3.79 (3.35, 2.81) 435 (245, 66) 2.64 (2.39, 1.82)
2003.05.02 6054 (2255, 644) 3.78 (3.35, 2.81) 417 (236, 66) 2.62 (2.37, 1.82)
2003.05.01 5865 (2227, 627) 3.77 (3.35, 2.80) 391 (221, 59) 2.59 (2.34, 1.77)
2003.04.30 5663 (2203, 614) 3.74 (3.33, 2.77) 372 (213, 56) 2.57 (2.33, 1.75)
2003.04.29 5462 (2159, 587) 3.74 (3.33, 2.77) 353 (205, 55) 2.55 (2.31, 1.74)
2003.04.28 5050 (2136, 579) 3.70 (3.33, 2.76) 321 (190, 52) 2.51 (2.28, 1.72)
Sunday, 2003.04.27 no official report
2003.04.26 4836 (2083, 556) 3.68 (3.32, 2.75) 293 (171, 50) 2.47 (2.23, 1.7)
2003.04.25 4649 (2048, 538) 3.67 (3.31, 2.73) 274 (159, 44) 2.44 (2.20, 1.6)
2003.04.24 4493 (2017, 529) 3.65 (3.30, 2.72) 263 (153, 44) 2.42 (2.18, 1.6)
2003.04.23 4288 (1983, 525) 3.63 (3.30, 2.72) 251 (145, 40) 2.40 (2.16, 1.6)
2003.04.22 3947 (1946, 512) 3.60 (3.30, 2.71) 229 (137, 38) 2.36 (2.14, 1.6)
2003.04.21 3861 (1902, 500) 3.59 (3.28, 2.70) 217 (131, 37) 2.34 (2.12, 1.6)
Sunday, 2003.04.20 no official report; US data included above (later than) this date
2003.04.19 3327 (1815, 457) 3.52 (3.26, 2.66) 182 (117, 36) 2.26 (2.07, 1.6)
2003.04.18 3253 (1771, 444) 3.51 (3.25, 2.65) 170 (105, 36) 2.23 (2.02, 1.6)
2003.04.17 3190 (1733, 436) 3.50 (3.24, 2.64) 165 (100, 35) 2.22 (2.00, 1.5)
2003.04.16 3100 (1668, 400) 3.49 (3.22, 2.60) 159 (95, 34) 2.20 (1.98, 1.5)
2003.04.15 3042 (1624, 392) 3.48 (3.21, 2.59) 154 (90, 34) 2.19 (1.95, 1.5)
2003.04.14 2995 (1577, 387) 3.48 (3.20, 2.59) 144 (80, 33) 2.16 (1.90, 1.5)
Sunday, 2003.04.13 no official report
2003.04.12 2794 (1485, 377) 3.45 (3.17, 2.58) 119 (61, 26) 2.08 (1.79, 1.4)
2003.04.11 2724 (1415, 356) 3.44 (3.15, 2.55) 116 (58, 26) 2.06 (1.76, 1.4)
2003.04.10 2627 (1337, 339) 3.42 (3.13, 2.53) 111 (56, 26) 2.05 (1.75, 1.4)
2003.04.09 2573 (1293, 323) 3.41 (3.11, 2.51) 106 (53, 26) 2.03 (1.72, 1.4)
2003.04.08 2523 (1244, 316) 3.40 (3.09, 2.50) 103 (50, 25) 2.01 (1.70, 1.4)
2003.04.07 2460 (1192, 309) 3.39 (3.08, 2.49) 98 (45, 22) 1.99 (1.7, 1.3)
Sunday, 2003.04.06 no official report
2003.04.05 2301 (1081, 281) 3.36 (3.03, 2.45) 89 (40, 20) 1.95 (1.6, 1.3)
2003.04.04 2253 (1033, 272) 3.35 (3.01, 2.43) 84 (35, 18) 1.92 (1.5, 1.3)
2003.04.03 2185 (995, 261) 3.34 (3.00, 2.42) 79 (33, 16) 1.90 (1.5, 1.2)
2003.04.02 2151 (961, 253) 3.33 (2.98, 2.40) 78 (32, 16) 1.89 (1.5, 1.2)
2003.04.01 1735 (929, 244) 3.24 (2.97, 2.39) 62 (28, 12) 1.79 (1.4, 1.1)
2003.03.31 1563 (757, 227) 3.19 (2.88, 2.36) 59 (25, 12) 1.77 (1.4, 1.1)
Sunday, 2003.03.30 no official report
2003.03.29 1491 (685, 215) 3.17 (2.84, 2.33) 54 (20, 10) 1.73 (1.3, 1.0)
2003.03.28 1434 (628, 203) 3.16 (2.80, 2.31) 53 (19, 9) 1.72 (1.3, 1.0)
2003.03.27 1363 (557, 190) 3.13 (2.75, 2.28) 53 (19, 9) 1.72 (1.3, 1.0)
2003.03.26 1283 (491, 175) 3.11 (2.69, 2.24) 49 (18, 8) 1.69 (1.3, 0.9)

WHO SARS alerts, advisories, and situation updates:
May: #51, #50, #49, #48, #47, #46, #45, #44.
April: #43, #42, #41, #40, #39, #38, #37, #36, #35, #34, #33, #32, #31, #30, #29, #28, #27, #26, #25, #24, #23, #22, #21, #20, #19, #18, #17, #16.
March: #15 (alt. vers. of #15), #14, #13, #12, #11, #10, #9, #8, #7, #6, #5, #4, #3, #2, Update #1, first travel advisory, first alert.

South African Revenue Service. ``Revenue Service'' -- like they're doing you a favor. Where've I seen that phrase before?

Here's a flash from April 2005: ``The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today launched its most innovative taxpayer education approach to date -- a fictional cartoon character, Khanyisile Khumalo, conceptualised to be an effective and personalised communication tool in its drive for sustainable taxpayer education.'' I'm so excited! Khanyisile, meet Microsoft Bob.

Although South Africa has eleven official languages, most tax forms on line appear to be available only in English. That seems enormously unfair. Why do they only tax English-speakers? The forms for filing an objection or an appeal are available in separate English and Afrikaans versions. The estate tax and retirement fund tax forms, and forms related to trusts and directives, are the majority of bilingual (English and Afrikaans) forms available on line. Hmm.

For tax information in Afrikaans, a good bet would be to google on "Suid-Afrikaanse Inkomstediens" (SAID). The name is apparently Uphiko Iwezimali Ezingenayo eNingizumu Afrika in Zulu and Tirelomatlotlo ya Afrika-Borwa in Tswana, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of online tax help in those languages.

Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome. This is not the official name of any known disease. It's an indefensible mistaken version of the SARS acronym for a major new disease first detected in 2002. The first ess in SARS stands for severe, not sudden. If you had any sense and had followed the acute link when you were reading the previous entry, I wouldn't be having to explain this.

Acute, in medical usage, implies sudden onset. The onset of anything implies some degree of severity, so the word acute is sometimes used loosely to mean severe. In my experience, however, physicians are pretty consistent in keeping to precise usage: acute is distinguished from chronic, and severe is distinguished from mild. To have called a disease ``sudden acute foo'' would have been redundant.

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

Standards And Routes TO Registration. A document issued by the (British) Engineering Council. Guidelines for how the professional bodies such as IEE should determine accreditation rules for post-secondary programs (Br. ``degree courses''). I imagine that the SARTOR guidelines tell those professional bodies what to wear.

I probably wouldn't have put this entry in but for the resonance with the completely unrelated SATOR.

Standard American Edition, Revised Version (of the Bible). Also called the American Standard Version (ASV). First published in 1901. This was the American edition of the British Revised Version (N. T. in 1881, O. T. in 1885), which was in turn based on the KJV (1611), which was in turn based on the Geneva Bible and the Coverdale Bible, which were in turn enormously indebted to the Tyndale Bible (WTT).

In detail, what happened was that a group was put together in Cambridge, UK, to create a new Authorized Version for the Church of England, to succeed the earlier Authorized Version (the KJV), with more modern English expression and revised understanding based on research and creative speculation in the intervening nearly three centuries. They were eventually joined by an American Revision Committee, but it was agreed that the Episcopal Church in America would not authorize any other edition for fourteen years after the work was completed. In return, the Americans got an appendix listing their demurrers at the end.

The English group disbanded after finishing its work in 1885. The American Revision Committee officially began work to issue an American edition in 1897. (This reminds me of presumptive 1984 Democratic Presidential candidate Fritz Mondale insisting that he had not yet begun to think about whom he might consider as a running mate.) The American committee finally wrapped up in 1901.

Work on an updating of the SARV began in 1959, and was able to take advantage of some of the earlier work on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and work on cognate Semitic languages. (For an example of how the latter can be useful, see the the entry for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.) The revision of the revision was published in 1977 as the New American Standard Version (NAS). I love that word standard. Many other Bible versions are based on the SARV.

S. Abraham & Sons, Inc.. Look, I just see the trucks on the road, I don't know nuthin', here's a business profile from Yahoo. Founded in 1927 by Sleyman Abraham, and still in the family.

Scandinavian Airlines System. Pronounced as an acronym (one-syllable ``Sas''), at least in Oslo.

SAS code-shares with Cimber Air, a regional carrier. (We took a large propeller airplane from Copenhagen to Wroclaw.) They pronounce Cimber with a hard cee, like ``KIM-bur.''

The School of Advanced Studies of the University of London. The SAS has a bunch of institutes, such as the IHR (historical research) and the ISA (studies of the Americas).

Semester At Sea. It sounds like the Semester Before Dropping Out, but it's actually an educational cruise operated by the Institute for Shipboard Education in partnership with a university (currently the UVA) that hires the faculty as visiting lecturers and grants academic credit to students.

Side-Angle-Side. The theorem that if two triangles have two corresponding sides of equal length and the angles between those sides have equal measure, then the triangles are congruent. Cf. SSS and AAS.

Special Air Service. ``Britain's famous commando force,'' says Mark.

It sounds like Air Mail Special Delivery to me (it probably is sometimes). The British Post Office used to manufacture lasers. The persistence of original names of British delivery organizations leads to confusion.

Surplus Asset Sales Company, Inc.

Syracuse Astronomical Society. ``Amateur Astronomy in Central New York.''

State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. A PRC government body that does annual performance evaluations on China's State-Owned Enterprises (179 in 2004, the first year for which evaluations were made public). They are graded on the following scale:
  1. Outstanding.
  2. Good.
  3. Fair.
  4. Poor.
  5. Failing.

China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), Shenhua Group, and China Shipping Group led the list of 25 SOE's that were graded A. Grades of B and C were given to 141 companies. Nine were in group D for failing to meet some performance targets, and four unidentified companies received a grade of E for poor management and poor (i.e., discovered) faking of financial reports.

On one hand, grade inflation does not seem to have had as great an impact here as in US education. Then again, China Southern Airlines, plagued by financial ethics scandal, only dropped from B to C. In August 2005, police arrested its vice-president, Peng Anfa, on charges of embezzling and accepting bribes. Because of major accidents at their production facilities, China Coal Group was downgraded from A to B, and Sinohydro Corp from B to C.

Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.

Self-Amplified Spontaneous Emission. The operating principle behind the free-electron laser.

Small Arms Serialization Program.

Japanese: `considerateness.'

Small Arms Serialization Surety Officer.

South African Standard Time. Two hours later than (i.e. east of) GMT.

A specialized sort of past participle related to the verb to seat. In any restaurant with a hostess or host, entering customers are said to be seated when they are distributed to seats, even though it is fair to say that they seat themselves when they sit. However, the waitress in whose section (or ``station'') they sit and are seated in neither sits nor is seated. She may be said to be sat or have gotten sat with, the entering party. There are related usages. For example, if there is a sudden influx, or if the hostess is an idiotess, or for whatever other reason, three parties may be seated in one section at once. That section's waitress is then said to be triple-sat.

Past tense of sit.

Scholastic Aptitude Test. (Original expansion; later name change discussed below.) A test administered by ETS, primarily to US senior high school students whose performance on the test is used as a basis for admission decisions by post-secondary education institutions (primarily colleges and universities).

The reality is that most such institutions are not really very selective, and many that require these tests needn't, since they'll accept pretty much anyone with a high school diploma. Students planning to go to these schools are paying the $28 test fee (in 2004) only to flatter their schools' conceit that they can afford to turn someone away. (Japan has a similar situation, but handles it slightly differently. Most schools use a common entrance exam which pretty rigidly determines which students will go to the University of Tokyo, which to the second-best school, and so forth down through the seven or so clearly ranked schools. Because the system is so transparent, it would be difficult for the least selective schools to participate and disguise the fact that they really exercise no discrimination among applicants other than not enrolling those who can't pay. For this reason, a number of schools write and administer their own independent entrance examinations, offering them at schools in areas from which they hope to recruit. We would call it saving face.)

Nevertheless, a large minority of students do want to enter the small minority of schools that can afford to be selective. (In the US -- we're back to discussing US students and US schools.) The professional duty of admissions officers at selective US schools is to engage in two related deceptions:

  1. They must encourage students who clearly are unlikely to be admitted that they have a good chance to get in.
  2. They must claim that they take a range of factors sensitively into account when making admissions choices.

The purpose of the first deception is to pump up the number of high school applicants. The number of admissions slots is essentially fixed, so increasing applications decreases the acceptance rate in inverse proportion, making the school seem more selective. No one asks about the SAT scores of rejected applicants, so getting another numbskull to apply is all gravy for the school's reputation. (You think those highminded educational institutions are above all that? Check yer wallet, fellah', and see ``marketing'' below.) Heck, maybe they can turn a tiny profit on admission fees.

Separately, a good ``yield'' -- a high fraction of admissions offers accepted -- is also desirable though less important. The instrument for improving this number is the school's early-decision program.

The purpose of the second deception (that many factors blah blah) is to support the first deception. An admissions officer who knows a student's SAT scores, high-school GPA, and ethnic or racial group can easily estimate whether the student is likely to be admitted. Often just one or two of these data will be sufficient to pretty much guarantee a yes or a no. It is true that, as conscientious admissions officers are bound to emphasize, all sorts of considerations like charitable work, unique experiences or difficulties overcome, strength of teacher or alumni recommendations, the weather on the day the officer's work-study reads the applicant's file (okay, don't emphasize that) all play a role in determining which students get in. It is also true that they rarely play this role. It's a simple matter of logistics. Say you have ten thousand applicants for -- never mind the rest: ten thousand applications is ten thousand applications! I've never graded more than fifty exams at a time.

In 2004 or so the content and format of the SAT were changed. As you understand from the foregoing, the details of the exam are really only important to a fortunate few and an unfortunate few more, all going crazy in the year before graduation, so I haven't been feeling like updating this entry. Herewith, then, a very incomplete history of The Test.

The two principal parts of the exam, ``Verbal'' and ``Math,'' are timed multiple-choice exams graded on a scale of 200 to 800. There's also a writing test, described at the GRE entry.

A raw score is determined by a simple formula (explained at the 200 to 800 entry) that deducts a little for wrong answers. In this way, a test-taker who guesses wildly and one who just enters no answer will do equally well on average. (Someone who can eliminate some possible answers will tend to get credit on educated guesses.) The reported score was initially just this raw score, which was approximately normally distributed with a mean close to 500. Over time, performance on the test has varied. (Umm, you're to understand that means performance has declined.) Now the score is computed by massaging or curving the raw score by using a look-up table translation, so that the distribution of scores resembles a normal curve with a mean close to 500. Because raw scores have been declining, an April 1 (really!), 1995 readjustment of the scoring algorithm has made it possible to obtain an ``800'' on the verbal test with four wrong answers. This is partly due to a fetish that ETS has about not giving a ``790.'' As a result, there was a sharp increase in the number of 800's (and of scores in general) in 1995. [It is possible to receive a score of 790 on an achievement test (now called SAT II). Or at least, it has been possible. In 1974 I ran out of time, guessed ``B'' for the last five questions on the Chemistry achievement test, and got a 790.] The new SAT scoring was discussed in a NYTimes article, 1995.07.26, page B6: ``When Close is Perfect: Even 4 Errors Can't Prevent Top Score on New S.A.T.'' byline James Barron. Not mentioned in that article was the fact that the readjustment moved scores in what used to be the middle range of ability by about 100 points -- old combined SAT scores of 840 or 940 are roughly equivalent to new SAT I scores of 960 or 1030.

A popular history of the SAT appears in two parts by Nicholas Lemann in The Atlantic Monthly, August (``The Structure of Success in America'') and September (``The Great Sorting'') issues 1995. The Atlantic has carried a number of articles on student testing, including another primarily on the SAT and other College Board tests in the February 1980 issue, by James Fallows.

In late March or early April 1995, the Wall Street Journal revealed that many schools inflate their students' average SAT scores for student guides in Money magazine and US News and World Report. Names were named. One university admissions director explained that this was a ``marketing strategy.'' [See the NYTimes 1995.04.09 article, Frank Rich byline.]

Also in 1995, the official expansion of SAT was changed to Scholastic Assessment Test. This name change addresses a major problem. The SAT is essentially an IQ test. The intention when it was originally designed (in the 1930's) was to measure ``intelligence,'' conceived as an innate attribute of the testees. The particular application was to help Ivy League schools identify ``diamonds in the rough'' -- smart kids (boys) who had not had the advantages of a prep school education. Over time, the testers' thinking evolved. Now most psychologists and psychometricians regard ``intelligence'' as something profoundly influenced by both genetic (i.e., ``innate'') and environmental factors. The tests have not changed (much, since the 1940's) and thus what they measure has not changed. The tester's idea of what it is that the tests measure has changed, but out of pride and a certain professional reasoning (that whatever they can measure is what ought to be called intelligence), the testers continue to use the same terms to describe the measured datum: ``intelligence,'' ``aptitude.'' In principle, none of this need ever have been a problem if only professionals were ever involved. (In fact, the College Board wanted to prevent testees from knowing their own test scores, but abandoned the effort in the early 1950's.)

Senior Apperception Technique. A class of clinical psychological evaluation methods related to the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT, q.v.) and the Children's Apperception Test (CAT).

Standard Assessment Tasks. The common name of a sequence of UK-government mandated exams of school-children, taken in three stages at ages about 7, 11, and 14. The stage-three SAT's determine tracking into GCSE sets, q.v.

Stanford Achievement Test. Provides an assessment of primary and secondary school students in major subject areas: mathematics, reading, language/English, science, and social science.

The ninth edition (``Stanford 9'') replaced the eighth (``Stanford 8'') in 1997. The new version was not normed against the old, even though the calculations are trivial for the test designer to do. This non-norming makes it difficult to compare older scores and see how badly achievement is declining over the long term. That's a feature, son, not a bug.

Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks. ``SATAN is a tool to help systems administrators. It recognizes several common networking-related security problems, and reports the problems without actually exploiting them.''

You've heard about it -- there was a big to-do on its first release (1995-04-05). It's supposed to be a two-edged sword, helping intruders as well as security administrators. Nevertheless, the open doors it looks for are so well-known and easy to walk through that it basically just helps the halt and lame of both communities. Since it reports problems without directly enabling the SATAN user to exploit them, the Stammtisch unanimously agrees that it primarily serves as a useful warning to security-challenged sysadmins while creating the smallest possible increase in danger from newbie intruders.

Sex And The City. A long-running daytime soap opera on HBO. It's a girl thing; I wouldn't understand.

Students' Army Training Corps. WWI version of ROTC, except that the officers in training were not headed for the reserves. The program was organized by the U.S. War Department, with eight-week semesters to be given on college campuses across the country. (The courses of study were developed by a Committee on Education and Special Training of the War Dept.) Military conscription had dramatically reduced regular college enrollments, so for many schools an SATC contract was critical for survival.

SATellite COMmunications. [Military use.] Civilian term is COMSAT.

Surveillance, Acquisition, Tracking, and Kill Assessment. SDI terminology. Kinda reminds me of that Vietnam-era slogan, ``See the world, meet interesting people, and kill them!''

SATellite-based NAVigation system. British usage, at least.

Self-Aligned Thick-Oxide.

A word that occurs in a mysterius (spell it so) Latin cruxigram. See ROTAS-SATOR entry. Better yet, see the scruffy local page on it.


Societe d'Analyse de la Topique Romanesque.

Stratospheric And Tropospheric Ozone Research.

Speaking Across the University. A less ambitious analogue of WATU.

Search Attack Unit. Adventures!

Spanish, `willow [tree].'

sausage central
We don't really have a sausage entry. This place in the glossary is just a sausage headquarters, a nerve-center with links to sausage-related information at various entries:

sauve qui peut
French, loosely: `everybody for themselves.'

savoir-faire, savoir faire
`Know-how' in French. The definition of this phrase as used in English is typically something like ``the ability to do and say the right thing in any social situation.''

save for translation
There is an interesting difficulty translating save into Spanish. Okay, it's not interesting, but you're not likely to read this entry by accident, so what the hey.

To save money (dinero), whether at a bank (banco) or a sale (venta), is ``ahorar dinero.'' To save a life is ``salvar una vida.'' (Salvavidas is a `lifeguard,' but a guard in the usual sense -- the kind with a gun or truncheon or persuasive demeanor -- is a guardia.) To save (something) for later is guardar para después, although guardar also means `put away.' The verb guardar seems to have taken on the meaning of save in computer contexts. See also the knickerbocker discussion in this K entry.

Student American Veterinary Medical Association. That is, the Student AVMA.

Surface Acoustic Wave. This is vibration that can be generated and detected by interdigitated combs of metal fingers that have been deposited on a piezoelectric surface. Useful mechanism for delay lines.

Golf's unofficial fifth major.

The Society for the Advancement of Women's Imaging. SAWI has a newsletter that seems to be published somewhat irregularly, and since 2001 has had an association with JWI that offers members of SAWI a reduced subscription price.

A Message from the President in the newsletter from August 2001, Pres. Amy Thurmond, MD, observes: ``Ten years ago when the first fellowship in women's imaging was offered the concept was controversial and debated. Now more fellowships are being offered, jobs specifically for women's imagers are advertised, and the American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria Task Force includes a section on women's imaging.''

South Asian Women's NETwork.

saw palmetto
Saw palmetto berry extract is touted as a treatment for benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH). It's supposed to inhibit the activity of the enzyme that converts ``good'' testosterone into dihydrotestosterone and improve older men's sexual potency.

There don't appear to have been a great many scientific studies of the effectiveness of saw palmetto, but some results have been quite encouraging. In the largest study to date, the researcher (Jane) leaned over the railing looking over the crowded center of a big shopping mall and shouted ``Any man here who's still having trouble getting it up after taking saw palmetto?'' and determined that the wonderberry is 100% effective. Vide ED.

Also, it's recommended by talk-show host Larry King, who would lose count of his ex-wives if he didn't have the bills to pay. Because this is a celebrity endorsement, an FCC regulation requires that the endorser have actually used the product.

Joe Namath was the legendary quarterback of the New York Jets, famous from the start with his sensational half-million-dollar signing in 1965 to the upstart AFC. He brashly predicted victory over the heavily favored Baltimore (later Indianapolis) Colts of the NFC in Super Bowl III (Jan. 12, 1969), and he delivered (final score 16-7). Gimpy knees and multiple leg surgeries forced him into retirement in 1972. In 1974, a television ad aired that pans along a pair of pantyhosed legs, upward to reveal jersey #12 and Joe Namath. In his attenuated Alabama drawl, Broadway Joe says ``Now I don't wear panty hose, but if Beautymist can make my legs look good, imagine what they'll do for yours.''

Did he really wear pantyhose, or just nylon stockings? What kind of name is ``Beauty Mist''?

Scholars, Artists, and Writers for Social Justice. (Pronounced ``sausage.'')

Selective-Area X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS).

Small-Angle X-ray Diffraction. Contrasted with WAXD.

sax goddess
Personals self-description. She refers to her amazing pair of lungs. Obviously this is a girl who's more focused on rhythm than lyrics. Okay, okay, enough about the music!

Small-Angle X-ray Scattering.

Say it with flowers
Because they maintain plausible deniability.

They've been shacked up over a year, and the day after her birthday he gives her three dandelions. Remember: he's just a guy, he can't be expected to understand about flower stuff.

``Geez, I'm just a guy. I dunno the flower color code!''
Besides, yellow is his color. Time for Mark's Apology Note Generator.

Second date. She admires his mind, his mind admires her butt. One dozen long-stem red roses.

``Whuddaya mean `get the wrong idea'? They're pretty flowers. Dontcha like flowers?''

There's a popular cartoon about forbidden romance -- a wolf and a sheep. Silhouetted against the night sky, they meet secretly. He brought flowers, she eats them appreciatively.

Say's Law
Law named after French economist Jean Baptiste Say (d. 1832), which states that increased production increases demand. Except in exceptional circumstances, of course. Loosely speaking, it was John Maynard Keynes's thesis that Say's law did not hold in theory, but that a savvy government could make it hold in practice, producing full employment and other good stuff (as if being fully employed were a good thing).

Stibium. Latin name of the chemical element antimony. Sb is the official systematic chemical symbol for antimony, and in fact the only common one.

The Roberts & Etherington Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology for Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books claims that antimony is black in its amorphous form, and has been used in this form since the late seventeenth century to blacken the edges of book pages. Trust me, no elemental metal is widely available in amorphous form. It's finely divided (powder in suspension), and most metals look black if divided finely enough.

The atomic number of antimony is 51. Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.


Sammelbuch. Full title Sammelbuch griechischer Urkunden aus Ägypten. `Collection of Greek documents from Egypt.' Has appeared at regular intervals since 1913.

Santa Barbara. One of the spiritual microclimates in the California state of mind.

Schottky Barrier. A junction between metal and lightly doped semiconductor, exhibits diode behavior. (Heavy doping doesn't change the barrier height, but can make barrier sufficiently thin to allow tunneling conduction around the Fermi energy. This tunneling situation is called an Ohmic contact.)

SB, S.B.
Scientiae Baccalaureus. Science Baccalaureate. An engineering degree in the US.

(Domain code for) Solomon Islands. I don't see a b there either.

South Bend. A small city in Indiana.

The local UHF television stations are WNIT, WSBT, and a couple of others that I'll fill in as I remember them.


Stony Brook [University]. For historical or sentimental reasons -- okay, really because I'm lazy -- our SB info is at the SUNY-SB entry.

Stop Band. Band gap in a photonic crystal; region where wavevector is imaginary, so signal attenuates.

Maybe it's used more generally for filters?

SuBstantive. Another, older, word for noun, q.v.

Super Bowl. The ones from 1996 to 2005 have been designated triple-X. This won't happen again for another fifty years.

Like most people, I watch the SB for the ads and the frantic half-time show. In 2004, I noticed that one of the most irritating sponsors was hawking a drug that is pushed by some of the most irritating spammers. During half-time, the crotch-grabbing was generally tame by current rap-video standards. More than a couple of the performances featured partial disrobing. It didn't get a rise out of me. I watched that half-time show on a wide-screen TV in a room with a dozen or so Catholic-university students. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 7 was the reaction to the end-zone interception of a Tom Brady pass, Janet Jackson's Justin-Timberlake-assisted tit-flash rated a 0. (But it did merit recognition in the degradation entry.) And the people who get a kick out of mock violence against women probably weren't rolling on the floor after the horse-fart commercial either.

In 1972, I missed getting extra credit on Mr. Coulter's Electronics exam because I didn't know that S.B. stood for Super Bowl. Don't let this happen to you if you can possibly avoid it.

(US) Small Business Administration.

Also of interest: the (nongovernment) Small Business Advisory, CENA and NASE.

Sociedade Brasileira de Agrometeorogia.

Status of Black Atlanta. An annual report published since 1993 by the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy (SCSPP) at Clark Atlanta University (CAU).

Student Bar Association. Put your beer mug down, it's not like that. It's the student government at the law school, not necessarily in any formal way associated with the ABA. The link above is to the UB SBA. The SBA exists to give ambitious law school students something to put on their résumé, even if they can't get a spot on the Law Review, and incidentally serves to demonstrate that engineers aren't the only professional illiterates.

Susan B. Anthony (dollar coin). The abbreviation appeared briefly on pin-ball machines and some other coin-operated equipment, before it became obvious that the coin was a blunder.

Standard Beam Approach.

Strong-Base Anion-exchange (resin). The SBA resins common in water treatment have quaternary amine functionality. Cf. SAC.

S band
The designation for a range of microwave frequencies. Actually many frequencies. The traditional S band is 1550 to 5200 MHz. These are the frequencies supported in single-mode propagation by a particular diameter of circular-cross section waveguide. The diameter is determined by a plumbing gauge associated with a someone named S_____.

German: Schnellbahn or Stadtbahn. Literally `quick railway' or `city railway.' A rail line that's occasionally called a suburban railway or city railroad in English. In Berlin (BE) there's another line that's called the Stadtbahn, so S-Bahn there ought to stand for Schnellbahn if it stands for anything.


Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. German, `Proceedings of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.' The philological study of classical antiquity is within the bailiwick of this Bavarian academy, so this is one of those instances in which the term sciences, the conventional translation of Wissenschaften, is misleading. (More at the Geisteswissenschaften entry.) When classicists cite SBAW, they generally mean more precisely Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse (SBAW, `section for philosophy and history'). There is also a journal ABAW.

Schweizerische Bundesbahn. German name of Swiss (.ch) national railway. The acronyms in all the other languages also consist of one double letter and one single:

Singapore BodyBuilding Federation.

S-Bus Circuit. This was introduced by Siemens, and no further expansion of S Bus was supplied, so I suppose that S Bus might be expanded Siemens Bus. This is what lexicographers call an ulterior expansion.

Single-Board Computer.

Soleil-Babinet Compensator. A compensator is a device in the beam path which can insert an adjustable phase shift (a delay, in effect). Also BSC.

Southern Baptist Convention. As of 2007, it's the second-largest church body in the U.S. However, demographically it has been stagnant or in decline since around 1998. For detailed demographic information, see this page from <adherents.com>.

State Board for Charter Schools.

Student Basketball Congress. A kind of union of US college basketball players. First formal intercollegiate meeting held in September 2000. They don't represent players in negotiations, but the NCAA listens to them. Amateur athletics -- what a business!

You know, the more colleges have a kind of farm system too: they'll recruit players who may not be academically eligible or athletically quite so desirable, and get them into a cooperative junior college. For example, Indiana University (in Bloomington, Indiana) and University of Nebraska (in Lincoln) and other schools have sent players to Iowa Western. Iowa Western Community College is in Council Bluffs, IA. Their teams are known as the Reivers, which apparently are some sort of river pirate.

Another popular school of this sort is MCI, Maine C--- Institute (forgot the name, can't find a listing, this is bad). Oh well, then, let's have a link to NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association).

Sun Belt Conference.

US Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command. Interesting way to deploy that grammatical nonchemical conjunction.

SBC Communications
SBC stands for the former name Southwestern Bell Corporation, one of the baby Bells. At some point it was absorbed by ``the New AT&T.''

South Bend Civic Theatre.

S-Bus Circuit eXtended.

Smart Battery Data.

State Board of Dental Examiners.

SbE, SbW
South by East, South by West. Vide compass directions.

Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc.

State Board of Education.

SuperTwisted Birefringence Effect. Mechanism in certain STN LC displays. [See T. J. Scheffer, and J. Nehring, J. Appl. Phys. 58, 3022 (1985).

Sabbatarian Bible Fellowship.

Salomon Brothers Fund.

Savings Bank of Finland, Ltd. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the aggressively named Arsenal, in a business report of which it is mentioned.

SbF3 is antimony fluoride.

Schiffbauforschung. (German, `Shipbuilding Research.') ( subscribe).

School Book Fairs. As in ``SBF Services Inc.''

School Bus Fleet.

Here's an image of a small school bus.

Science Books & Films.

Scientific Balloon Flight. Conducted by the NSBF.

Sea Breeze Front.

Search By Form.

Secretariat des Bailleurs de Fonds.

Sequential Block File.

Sigma Beta Digamma. Pretty respectable membership for a nonexistent organization.

Simulated Body Fluid.

Single Barrier Failure. NASAnese.

Single Black Female. Personals abbreviation. Special case this site.

Siyasal Bilgiler Fakultesi. Of Ankara Universitesi.

Siyasal Bilimler Fakultesi. Of Istanbul Universitesi.

Small Business Finance.

Small Business Friendly -- the Homepage.

Small But Fast (radio-controlled airships).

Sociedade Brasileira de Fisica (Brazilian Physical Society).

Sociedade Brasileira de Fruticultura.

Société Batrachologique de France. They publish a quarterly journal Alytes.

Société Belge de Filtration. The name always seems to appear in French, but this search (with a bit of luck) is a conference jointly sponsored with the Royal Flemish Engineering Union (I guess: Koninklijke Vlaamse Ingenieursvereniging).

Société des Bourses Françaises (``Society of French Stock Exchanges'' -- Paris Stock Exchange). (Old gopher site here.)

Sola Brettseilerforening. Imagine that: sailing at Greenland lattitudes. Shows what the Gulf Stream can do.

South Bay Folks. An ``informal organization of music lovers and musicians dedicated to promoting folk music in the greater San Jose, California area.''

Spark, Burn Firefighter (project). Has to do with programming.

Spherical Bessel Function. Name of NAG numerical subroutine.


SportBootFührerschein. German: `Sport Boat Driver's License.'

Stammtisch Beau Fleuve. Sponsor of this glossary. Have you visited the acclaimed homepage?

Some curiosity has been expressed regarding the significance of our name, but not really that much. The etymology of Tisch is given at the fisk entry.

Standard Broadband Format.

State Board of Forestry. In California, the SBF is ``a nine-member board appointed by the Govern[at]or, which is responsible for developing the general forest policy of the State, for determining the guidance policies of the [California] Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and for representing the State's interest in federal land in California.''

Steel Bridge Forum. We have a bridge entry, but it probably doesn't have any useful information on steel bridges yet.

Stiftelsen Bioteknisk Forskning (Biotechnology Research in Sweden). Try also this site.

Stockholm Boule Festival.

Stony Brook Foundation.

[Silly picture]

Strange BedFellows. ``The Strange Bedfellows [is] an eight[-]member band with guitars, keyboards, drums, assorted sound effects and seven vocalists.... Dubbed "The silliest band in Vancouver," the Strange Bedfellows appear clad in old-fashioned nightshirts and bedcaps'' as at right.

Structure Behavior Function (model). Something to do with AI.

Students' Broadcasting Federation.

Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. Here's a Jerusalem site.

Subic Bay Freeport. Or maybe try this.

Surface Brightness Fluctuation. One way to estimate the distances of galaxies. Here's an example.

Svenska BadmintonForbundet (Swedish Badminton Association).

Svenska BetongForeningen [Swedish Concrete Association (SCA)].

Svenska Bilsportförbundets. [Motor-sport.]

Svenska Botaniska Förening.

Svenska Brädseglarförbundet. `Swedish Association of Windsurfers.'

Svenska BrandForsvarsforeningen. (Swedish Fire Protection Association.)

Svenska BudoFoerbundet (Swedish Martial Arts Federation). Sounds pretty funny, but don't laugh -- they'll take you out.

Sveriges Begravningsbyraers Forbund. (Sweden Burial Association.)

Sveriges BlabandsForbunds Forbund. (Sweden Temperance Society). Cf. WCTU.

Sveriges Bridgeförbund. `Swedish Bridge Federation.' The name may have changed, but I don't want to know about it.

Swiss Badminton Federation.

Swiss Boomerang Federation.

Scanned Blood Flow Field[s]. By MRI, or maybe radioactive dye.

Silicone Breast Implant.

Schottky-Barrier (SB) Insulated-Gate Field-Effect Transistor (IGFET).

Small Business Innovation Research.

Sustaining Base Information Services. A US Army initiative to modernize software in their ``business'' functions (as opposed to their ``business-end'' functions. Extremely ambitious, and way behind and over budget.

The first-phase contract was won in 1993 by a consortium led by IBM Federal Systems, which was sold to Loral.

Society of Biblical Literature.

Closely associated with the American Academy of Religion (AAR).

Scientific Basis of Medicine.

Soy Bean Meal.

Semiconductor Business News.

IATA code for Michiana Regional Airport in South Bend, IN, USA (formerly and colloquially still South Bend Regional Airport). Serving Michiana, wherever that is. Here's the status of SBN in real time from the ATCSCC.

Standard Book Number[ing]. A system that was a precursor to the ISBN system.

The Old SBN's are nine digits long, and become ISBN's by the addition of an initial zero: in the ten-digit ISBN, the first digit identifies a country or group of countries; zero (as well as one) is number for the English group, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Station BlackOut. A nuclear-industry term for an event in which a plant loses all sources of power. After the accident at Three Mile Island (TMI) in 1979, this became a kind of event for which US stations were required to plan and prepare.

S body
The design of the Jaguar XKE and related models. Stands for Sport model, but equal credit will be given for the answer ``Sexy'' body.

Space Bandwidth Product.

Steroid-Binding Protein.

Special Bar-Quality [steel]. Used both as an adjective (e.g., ``1.5 mil tpy of SBQ steel rounds was used by GM's automotive sector in the late 1990's'') and as a noun (``the independent forging industry consumes around 1.4 mil tpy of SBQ in rounds and billets, of which about 900,000 tpy is bar''). Please don't ask me what any of this means.

Styrene-Butadiene Rubber. The rubber used for wheeled-vehicle tires. Also known as SBS rubber, for which the Macrogalleria offers an informative entry.

(Hypofractionated) Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy. A concentrated, focused radiation therapy for cancer.

Sick Building Syndrome. Still a rather controversial diagnosis: sometimes a significant poison is found, sometimes mass hysteria is suspected. OSHA apparently defines SBS as whatever building-related problems are left over when you take away building-related illness (BRI's) of known origin, so the term is pretty much guaranteed to remain controversial by definition, regardless of research progress.

One effect of all this is to make housecleaning more glamorous and high-tech than it's been since the widespread introduction of jet-age ``labor-saving'' devices during the fifties, the golden age of home appliances. (Vide remote control.)

Sick Building Syndrome is also called Tight Building Syndrome (I haven't seen ``TBS'' used as an acronym in this connection, though.) I like to think of this as related to the slang sense of tight as drunk; unfortunately, the etymology is related to `air-tight.' Increased care to seal-in temperature-regulated air began in earnest during the oil crisis/embargo of 1973 [a war measure imposed by medieval Persian-Gulf states (GCC) to punish the US for supporting Israel's effort to remain in existence]. Energy-saving measures have meant that indoor pollutants accumulate to higher levels. The claim is bruited about that it's now ten times (or a hundred times, or a thousand times; i.e. much) more dangerous to be indoors than out. In 1994, UB became a non-smoking campus, meaning that you can't smoke indoors. Since then, the entry areas to building have become a million times more dangerous than the indoors.

The new chemistry building on the north campus has one chimney per fume hood, emerging as a silvery stack at the top of the building. This is now the most recognizable building on campus. If you remember that it looks like a chocolate-and-mocca layer birthday cake for a centenarian, you can't miss it.

Smart Battery System. One that tries to conserve power, that monitors battery power charge and takes increasingly aggressive measures as charge falls. Deep discharge of any kind of battery degrades it and reduces its subsequent ability to take, hold, and deliver a charge. Loss of power to a microelectronic circuit can result in loss of information. Gradual loss of power to a disk drive, if mishandled, can lead to physical damage.

A smart battery system is a peripheral device that communicates with the system it powers. In addition to one or more ``primary'' bateries, it includes testing and recharging components, all controlled through a smart battery management system. It looks like batteries have pulled ahead of toasters in the race to be the smartest dumb device.

PowerSmart and ON Semiconductor sell smart battery IC's.

Stimulated Brillouin Scattering.

Schottky-Barrier Solar Cell.

Smart Battery System Implementers Forum. The open standard for SBS in portable electronics is ACPI, closely coordinated with SMBus.

Smart Battery System Table. An ACPI system description table.

SBS rubber
Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene RUBBER. The rubber used for wheeled-vehicle tires. There's an informative SBS entry in the Macrogalleria.

Single Business Tax. It's a tax unique to the state of Michigan, but I don't think that's what the ``single'' refers to. I think it means there's no other direct tax on all business income (i.e., excluding sales tax). The tax is described as ``essentially taxing payroll.'' As of June 2006, Michigan has a 7.2% unemployment rate -- far above the US average. (The unemployment rate actually fell marginally from May, with no increase in employment: fewer people sought jobs.) Income is declining. Legislation has been introduced to replace the tax with some other form of business tax. (You know, a bad economy is simply the fault of the government. The fact that US automakers based in Michigan have been losing market share for a few decades has nothing to do with it.)

South Bend Tribune. Represents the interests of plebians before the Roman Senate. Okay, maybe not. They have this promotional slogan: ``South Bend Tribune: Discover what's in it for you.'' Oh, I see -- ``in it'' -- inside the newspaper, I get it now. Very clever. It would never occur to anyone that ``what's in it for you'' is the mantra of selfish cynicism, nah.

Surface-Barrier Transistor.

State Board of Tax Commissioners.

Schottky-Barrier Transistor-Transistor Logic (TTL). Logic gate family in which a Schottky diode is used to clamp the collector-base junction into reverse bias, to prevent the long charge-storage delays that occur if a transistor goes into saturation. You could check out ``Design of Schottky-Barrier Diode Clamped Transistor Layouts,'' by R. A. Heald and D. A. Hodges: IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. SC-7, pp. 269-275 (August 1973).

Sensitive But Unclassified. US government acronym.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Space BandWidth Product. The bandwidth is presumably of spatial frequency.

German: Sowjetische Besatzungszone, `Soviet Zone of Occupation' (following WWII).

Chemical symbol for scandium, the lightest transition metal. [That is: the lightest transition metal in the modern sense of ``transition metal'': the lightest element whose isolated neutral atoms have an electron occupying an orbital with total-angular-momentum quantum number greater than 1 (a non-s and non-p orbital).] Scandium bears some chemical similarity to the rare-earth elements, so for some purposes it is classed as one.

Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.


Abbreviation for Latin scilicet. See longer entry at longer abbreviation scil.

Label code for Secretly Canadian Records. It's based in Bloomington, Indiana (a few miles west of Indianapolis), where Jonathan Cargill and Chris Swanson attended Indiana University, and where they founded the company in 1996.

Security Council. A fifteen-member body within the UN, consisting of five permanent members with veto power, and ten representatives from the general membership, serving on a rotating (i.e. limited-term) basis.

The five permanent members are the ``victorious powers'' of WWII: China (.cn), France (.fr), Russia (.ru), the United Kingdom (.uk), and the United States.

When Nixon made the ``opening'' to (Mainland, Red, Communist) China, Taiwan (.tw) was tossed out of the UN and the People's Republic took its place. When the old Soviet Union (.su) collapsed, Russia kept the old seat.

There is agitation from various sides to change the present system. Many nonaligned nations want to end the veto power of the permanent members. Some larger nonaligned nations (India, and some others such as uhh, well, anyway, India is one) want a permanent added member from the third world. The West is basically ignoring all that and pondering whether to add Japan and/or Germany.

Self-Consistent. Not many people are, but mathematical models offer the opportunity to apply this term.

  1. self-contained (vide scuba)
  2. single-column
  3. small caps


Sensors and Controls.

Service Corporation.

(Domain code for) Seychelles.

Short Course.

sc, SC
Single Crystal[line].

Simple Cubic (lattice structure).

SC, S.C.
Soccer Club. Australian for British `Football Club.'

South Carolina post-office abbreviation. Literate abbreviation is S. Car.

The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy serves a page of South Carolina state government links. USACityLink.com has a page with some city and town links for the state.

`Southern Cal.' Short for University of Southern California.

Southwestern College. Located in Winfield, Kansas, it is definitely southwest of Topeka (the capital of Kansas) but clearly in the southeastern quadrant of the state. I guess the name refers to the southwest of the US, a part of the country it is not far from. For some other schools with ``Southwestern'' in the name, see the SU (Southwestern University) entry.

SC uses the epithet ``The Premier College of Kansas.'' Even this modest self-assessment might be contested by other Kansas institutions. Hmmm: the ``premier'' claim is in little letters on the logo. Maybe it's just an official part of the name and they're actually trying to soft-pedal it. Lessee, the page for Professional Studies Centers states without false modesty ``[a]s the recognized leader in non-traditional education, Southwestern College has made completion of bachelors degrees convenient, accessible, and job focused.'' What I want to know is, do they offer degrees in premiering? According to this page, they have degrees in Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Nursing, and Pastoral Studies majors (among others). Heck, skip the tedious education step and just be president.

More than 33% of university officers that were listed on this now-defunct page were named David, sort of like a Wendy's commercial.

``Southwestern College is accredited by ... the University Senate of the United Methodist Church ...''' and other organizations.

Specimen Current. In electron beam microscopies (both SEM and TEM), this refers to the current passing through the specimen. That isn't straightforwardly the primary-beam current, because the primary beam generates secondary electrons (these have low energy, so they only escape the specimen if they are generated near the surface. There are further complications. In TEM the sample is thin and secondary electrons emerge from both sides of the sample. In SEM, once the primary-beam electrons enter the specimen, they are subject to multiple scattering, and a fraction of the current appears as a diffuse current of backscattered electrons with perhaps 80% of the initial energy. These electrons also generate secondary electrons, of course. In the usual mode of operation of SEM, one creates (i.e., the SEM electronics creates) a graph of secondary electron current as a function of primary-beam position. There are other ways to create an electron micrograph. The second-most common, after the variations on the secondary-electron scheme, is a plot based on the intensity of backscattered electrons. Then there are methods based on specimen current.

For the imaging of semiconductor devices, there is a special kind of specimen-current-based imaging method called EBIC (electron-beam--induced current). This uses the fact that most of the energy lost by an electron beam passing through a semiconductor device goes into the ionization of atoms in the semiconductor (that's where the secondary electrons come from). In device terms, that means that the electron beam generates a highly localized density of holes (on the order of thousands per electron in the primary beam). EBIC generates an image using the specimen current measured through an ohmic or Schottky contact. (That's right: as the capitalization indicates, Ohm's identity has been submerged in the Nachlaß of his work; Schottky's hasn't been, yet.)

Square Cut. Most popular kind of rubber belt for VCR's.

Structural Change. Well, I've seen the abbreviation in linguistics literature, at least.


Studii Clasice.

SubCommittee. Sous-comité. Quelle horreur! It's the same initials as in English! Initial cultural imperialism!

Subversive Culture. You think this is an obscure and rare abbreviation? You haven't looked at enough university course offerings.


Here are some electron micrographs.

The Net Advance of Physics site has some entries in this category.

Switched Capacitor.

Sickle-Cell Anaemia.

Society for Creative Anachronism. The most governmental of NGO's. For example, New York State (official nickname ``the Empire State'') is in the SCA's East Kingdom.

After you've spent the best part of your academic career burnishing your creative (``and how'' mutter the medievalists) medieval (or mediaeval) credentials, you may feel a need to fill the resultant lacuna in your academic vita. A typical way to recycle your experience is to include something like

        Rose to position of treasurer in SCA, a foobar organization.

The problem is always: what to write for foobar. Some anachronists have so much trouble deciding on an appropriate description that they send out an incomplete résumé, and the interviewer asks them ``What's a `foobar' organization?'' This is not a turn you want your interview to take. If you feel uncomfortable using the F-word (`fe*dal') in the groveling-for-a-job context, then you could just leave `SCA' unexplained and unexpanded, or get a job through your SCA connections and start a little fiefdom locally. Alternatively, you can do the honorable thing, taking courage from the melees you've survived, and display your true colors. Ideally, you go to work for Disney.

I'm sorry, I guess I just don't have any good solution for this problem. Fundamentally, the difficulty is that you want to define precisely the quantity of attention that the reader of your vita devotes to this item: enough to notice some extent of experience, not enough to strain his or her limited tolerance for weirdness. You know that time and chance happeneth to them all, so precise control does not obtain.

You know, in one sense the SCA is the least governmental of NGO's. It survives on voluntary contributions by its members rather than on government subsidies, and it doesn't attempt to speak on anyone else's behalf in the councils of government.

People interested in this SCA might also be interested in the Hoplite Association.

Speech Communication Association. Former, and still used, name of the National Communication Association.

Subsidiary Communications Authorization.

(Egyptian) Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Surface Charge Analy{zer|sis}. Something of an alternative to C-V.

Synagogue Council of America. The only US Jewish religious organization with Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox (OU) representation. It collapsed in 1994, after the Reform movement voted to recognize patrilineal descent. (Yeah, yeah, it's more complicated than that. Look, this is just a glossary, okay?)

SuperComputer Automotive Applications Partnership. A useful guide to understanding the world might begin by dividing people into groups on the basis of whether they think computers or automobiles are sexier.

Savannah College of Art and Design. ``SCAD'' is used informally as a proper noun, and pronounced like the singular of scads. It doesn't take a definite article. It would be cool if it were referred to as ``a SCAD,'' but I guess you can't have everything. Ina has a son who's just finishing up there. It occurs to me that having a friend named Ina just increases the difficulty of detecting typing errors.

A few years ago, some students at SCAD were so unhappy that it made national news, but I only had a link here instead of an explanation. Now (2007) I can't remember what it was all about. It probably had to do with crime, because the main campus of SCAD is in a high-crime area of Savannah. But maybe it was because of faculty issues. Faculty at SCAD generally do not have tenure, but work on one-year contracts.

SCAD was founded in 1978 with 71 students. By 2004, with about 7000 students, it was the largest art college in the US. It occupied more than 50 buildings totaling more than 1.5 million square feet, and was credited with helping to revitalize Savannah's historic district, restoring buildings that were either vacant or in disrepair. I think I can begin to see how the high-crime thing happened to come about. That year, it started scouting sites in metro Atlanta where it could open a satellite campus called SCAD-Atlanta, that would offer graduate and undergraduate courses in ``advertising design, animation, architectural history, art history, broadcast design and motion graphics, and interior design.'' It eventually selected a site that was just a short walk away from the campus of the Atlanta College of Art, which happened to be struggling at the time. The next year, months after celebrating its centennial, ACA was absorbed into SCAD-Atlanta.

{Supervisory|System} Control And Data Acquisition.

Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The military junta that took power in the wake of the 2011 ``pro-democracy'' demonstrations in Egypt.

South Carolina Academy of General Dentistry. A constituent of the AGD.

Self-Contained ALgol Processor. One of the programming languages that was a finger exercise for the BASIC performance. See this DART entry for others.


SCAttered Nucleon Detection Assembly. It's installed at The Svedberg Laboratory (TSL) in Uppsala and described by J. Klug et al. in ``SCANDAL -- a facility for elastic neutron scattering studies in the 50-130 MeV range,'' Nucl. Instr. Meth. vol. A 489, pp. 282ff (2002). Now all they need is ``A School for Scandal.''

The analysis of verse into metrical patterns.

For example, Eugene Onegin is in fourteen-line iambic tetrameter, with the rhyming scheme

The pattern of masculine and feminine rhymes is systematic as well, following

This glossary passes along traditional mnemonics for dactylic hexameter and dochmiac meter. This glossary also has an entry pointing you to the electronic journal Versification, but if you found the rest of this entry informative, you may find that journal a bit advanced.

[column] Here's a nice introduction to Latin scansion.

An adjective with the same meaning as scanty. The words differ grammatically in that scant rarely functions as a predicate.

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

scar city
SCARCITY with a space in the middle. I would have written ``scar-
city'' if I made it a practice to use multi-line head terms. I think it's cute how it can be momentarily difficult to recognize a word when its hyphenated parts are also words. Can we say ``free and bound morphemes''? ... Sure we can!

I was at a writers'-group meeting a while back and silently corrected ``scars'' to ``scares'' on my copy of a draft under discussion, then laughed when I realized that it was supposed to be ``scarce.'' The writer explained that she couldn't remember how to write the word she wanted, so she just left it wrong.

Society of Chairmen of Academic Radiology Departments.

scare quotes
Quotation marks used to indicate that a quoted term or at least some assumption it entails is suspect, rather than to indicate direct quotation of a particular utterance.

Strathcona County Accessible Transportation. Strathcona County is in Alberta.

South Carolina Assocation of Veterinarians. See also AVMA.

Scientists Center for Animal Welfare. As of July 15, 2000, they don't know how to punctuate their own name, and they can't get their own homepage to display on a browser with both style sheets and JavaScript enabled. This does not inspire confidence in their judgments on less trivial matters.

Self-Consistent Born Approximation.

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus. Cf. scuba.

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Serial Communications Control.

Society of Cosmetic Chemists.

It ain't ``rouge,'' it's Science and Technology!

SouthWestern Community College. This is the one in southwestern North Carolina. The one in southwestern Iowa is SWCC. For some other schools with ``Southwestern'' in the name, see the SU (Southwestern University) entry.

Special Coordinating Committee. During the Iran hostage crisis, an SCC was formed and so called by the NSC.

Switching Control Center.

Sullivan County Community College. Part of the SUNY system.

Short Circuit Current Delay.

Signaling Connection and Control Part.

Source Code Control System. Configuration management system from AT&T that traditionally comes bundled with Unix. Consensus seems to be: at least use RCS, it's better in most ways. However, most of the complaints apparently refer to the command-line version, which is not being improved any more. There is a visual version of SCCS. There are in fact many alternatives. See this Configuration Management Tools Summary.

Swarthmore College Computer Society.

Switching Control Center System.

Society of Catholic College Teachers of Sacred Doctrine. Founded in 1953, it's now called the College Theology Society, and publishes a journal with the not-especially-unusual title of Horizons.

The Spring 2004 issue of Horizons (volume 31, no. 1) had a section entitled ``College Theology Society Fiftieth Anniversary Essays.'' The first essay, ``Present at the Sidelines of the Creation'' (pp. 88-93) is by Gerard S. Sloyan. This is a different Gerard from my pal mentioned at the Diogenes entry, just so you know. Sloyan writes

    As to what brought the [society] into existence, it was not so much the generally jejune character of the classroom teaching of religion based on the seminary courses and textbooks available as it was the professional feelings of the men and women engaged in the work. They knew that they were poorer prepared at the graduate level than faculty members in other departments. Some of the priest teachers doubled in brass as chaplains of women's colleges (and some in colleges of men), a detail that led colleagues to discount their academic seriousness. A lack of respect came from another quarter. The various religious brother, sister, and regular and secular clergy college presidents invariably had doctorates in other fields. This coupled with their remembered formation in a religious institute or seminary, qualified them in their own minds as knowing more about what should be going on in religion departments than the people instructing several sections of fifty students and more. They knew it had to be inferior because its practitioners had never written a Ph.D. dissertation like them. [I never realized that college presidents were like Ph.D. dissertations!]

He mentions later that the early agitators who brought the SCCTSD into being were primarily members of groups in Washington, New York, and South Bend. Interestingly, the South Bend group were not at Notre Dame but at its sister institution, Saint Mary's College, and at River Forest House of Studies.

There was a real contest among textbooks, and one of the entrants mentioned was ``Theodore Hesburgh, a young instructor at the University of Notre Dame.'' As I sit here typing this glossary entry at the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Library, late one Summer evening in 2004, retired university president Father Hesburgh is probably still at work in his office twelve floors above me. (Fr. Hesburgh was university president from 1952 to 1987. This is probably as good a place as any to note that in the 1960's, he invited a young European theologian, Joseph Ratzinger, to teach at Notre Dame. He turned down the invitation, writing that he felt his English was not yet good enough. When he became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, at the age of 78, news reports said he spoke ten languages.)

In the early years, Horizons published a few ecumenical articles, but that trend petered out. The Society itself remains Roman Catholic, though it has held biennial meetings with the Baptist Professors of Theology since the mid 1990's. The disappearance of the word Catholic from the society's name turns out the have little to do with ecumenism and much to do with an extensively debated question of grammatical ambiguity: did the first word in the noun phrase ``Catholic College Teachers'' modify the second or third word or both? At the 1967 annual meeting (Pittsburgh), a vote decided that the proper concern of the society was ``College Theology.'' I think the society's name change came not much after. Theologians have to tie up all the loose ends. I don't.

Segmented-array, Charge-coupled device (CCD) Detector.

Saturated-Calomel Electrode.

Service Creation Environment.

Short-Channel Effect[s] (in field-effect transistors).

Society for Critical Exchange. ``Critical'' here means lit-crit.
``North America's oldest [fnd'd 1975] scholarly organization devoted to theory.''
``Theory'' here means, you know, pomo and related crap.

The organization, affiliated with the MLA, publishes the journal SCE Reports. According to this page, Stanford University has a quarterly called SCE Reports that describes spending by Resident Fellows and I don't know who else. If I ever learn the expansion, I'll probably make it a separate entry.


Société canadienne des études classiques. `Classical Association of Canada.' See CAC/SCEC.

South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Sounds scecsy!

Single-Channel Electron Multiplier. A low-power alternative to a photomultiplier tube (PMT). A small curved glass tube with a high surface resistance (at least on the inside wall) and a high secondary electron emission coefficient. Typical gain of 107.

Snow Control Equipment Manufacturers Committee. It ``has operated as a product-related organization under the NTEA since 1979. Its goal is to promote the manufacture and use of safe and efficient snow control equipment.'' Defeatists! Appeasers! ``Control'' is not enough: we must never compromise with the White Menace! Ever onward to victory! Victory! Snow shall be defeated.

(Global warming entry coming soon. Before 2050, at the latest.)


Second Century. Now called Journal of Early Christian Studies (JECS). Catalogued by TOCS-IN (search on JESC).

Soft Collinear Effective Theory.

Self-Consistent Field. Idea developed on intuitive grounds by D. R. Hartree, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 24, 89 (1928).

Standard Cubic Foot. A measure of gas quantity used in the drilling industry. A standard cubic foot of gas is the amount of gas that would occupy a cubic foot at a temperature of 60°F and a pressure of 14.7 psi.

Stem-Cell Factor.

Schottky Diode FET Logic. [A MESFET logic family.]

Standard Cubic FooT. Less common abbreviation than scf.


Separate-Confinement Heterostructure.

Student Credit Hours. The number of students times their average number of credits.

SubCortical Hyperintensity. ``Cortical'' as in brain cortex.

Pleasure in another's misfortune. A German compound noun that could be translated literally as `sadness joy.' Systematically capitalized in German because it's a noun; sometimes capitalized in English, depending on the degree to which one judges that it has been naturalized.

In principle, I suppose it could be pleasure in another's sadness of whatever provenance -- through specific misfortune or otherwise. Then again, sadness is usually regarded as some kind of misfortune in se. However, I think that the typical context involves ``another'' with whom one is not (or more like is no longer) in immediate communication. In this situation, the typical misfortune one is likely to know of is the substantive sort.

Cf. sangfroid.

German, `onomatopoeia.' Most European languages seem to convey this idea with some monster of a word or compound. Some representative examples:

French: onomatopée
Portuguese: onomatopéia,
Italian: onomatopèa (also -pèia),
Polish: onomatopeja,
Spanish: onomatopeya,
Norwegian: onomatopoietikon, lydmalende ord, and lydhermende ord
Dutch: klanknabootsing, klanknabootsend woord, and onomatopee,
Albanian: onomatopé and tingullimitim,
Hungarian: hangutánzás and hangfestés,
Russian (transliterated): zvukopodrazhanie (you will not complaining; adjective is being zvukopodrazhatyel'nii).

This is completely absurd; not only are the words insanely long, but many of them resemble the original Greek and therefore each other, reducing diversity and facilitating mutual comprehensibility among languages. These are problems that English can solve. The word should be something like the Dutch or Albanian outliers -- whizbang or zingptooey or tweetmeow -- but not suggest anything in particular. I think buzzpoppery would do nicely. The adjective would be anything totally different.

Schottky-Collector Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor. On a transferred substrate.

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) was the first person to produce oxygen (cf. Priestley). Scheele also discovered other elements: manganese, molybdenum and chlorine, but the discovery of oxygen led to the overthrow of the phlogiston theory, which is a colorful story. [Scheele was only the first produce oxygen; he didn't discover it because he could explain his results to his own satisfaction in terms of the phlogiston theory. His detailed reasoning is outlined at this site.] Scheele also discovered hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen fluoride [HF (aq)] and hydrogen cyanide. He tasted them, as chemists generally did then. He died young. Maybe for those chemists, there was a reason why the good died young. It has been proposed that Newton's madness or extreme unsociability came about from his alchemical experiments. During periods of intense alchemical research, he would eat and sleep in the same room where he evaporated mercury...

A popular early method of producing oxygen was by the reduction of mercurous nitrate [that's mercury (II) nitrate: Hg(NO3)2]. It was widely used in the making of felt hats in the nineteenth century. Over time, they would inhale or ingest enough to suffer mercury poisoning; thus arose the expression ``mad as a hatter,'' an expression possibly preserved in the language by Lewis Carroll's `Mad Hatter' character.

Scheele's detailed reasoning is outlined at this site.

German for `haddock.'

This is my proudest discovery.

The particular way a data model chooses to model its data.

One common sense of the word scheme is plan of action. This often has a negative connotation, as of a plan to achieve selfish or immoral goals, typically by means partly of concealed or secret actions. This is described in the OED2 (1989) as its current most prominent use, and one which colors the many other senses of the word to varying degrees. I guess one can see that in the hackneyed ``grand scheme of things,'' where scheme is no longer necessarily understood to imply a conscious plan. The dominant use doesn't seem to color the sense of ``color scheme,'' suggesting that scheme is a kind of lexical mordant.

Anyway, the description fits US usage well enough. A closely related sense of scheme occurs in the phrase ``pension scheme.'' That term is used widely in the UK and rarely in the US (the US term is ``pension plan,'' much less common in the UK). Thirteen other OED2 entries do include the phrase ``pension scheme'' within definitions or quoted examples, with the earliest dated instance occuring in 1935. This phrase and others like it (recording scheme, compensation scheme, ombudsman scheme, etc.) seem to account for most occurrences of the word (as noun, the verb disappearing) in UK usage (i.e., in .uk webpages). The occasional exceptions seem to be older texts. Another example of this new collocation pattern, or perhaps revived older sense, is in the phrase ``housing scheme.''

The new OED edition offers an additional sense of scheme as short for this phrase in Scottish colloquial usage, but that is not enough. The negative connotation of scheme should be identified as ``chiefly American'' or at least not British. (Of course, if you're in the opposition, loyal or otherwise, perhaps government schemes do seem to have a nefarious or at least misguided element.) Australian usage, as suggested by the expansion of HECS, apparently parallels UK usage. The word scheme also occurs in the phrase ``incontinence pad scheme'' quoted at our entry for the (Western Australia) AABIC. There seems to be a real divergence in usage under way here.

Now I'm going to give an example of the (incidental) use of the term ``housing scheme.'' The example comes from pp. 90-91 of G.N.M. Tyrrell's Homo Faber: A Study of Man's Mental Evolution (1951). (You may as well know that I'm only doing this to assuage the accountancy of my conscience, which knows it was a waste to have skimmed even this much.)

... Behind the working of our rational mind lie forces which rise up to it from the instinctive level and also forces which descend to it from the unadapted level. Both can influence the mind unconsciously. An example of the latter kind is provided by the building of the medieval cathedrals. The great and prolonged effort which was put into these permanent messages in stone can surely not be accounted for solely by the intellectual beliefs which their builders held. The real driving force must have been unconscious; for the cathedrals have a significance which cannot be expressed in language. They were not built to provide places of worship in the deliberate way in which a modern government might decide on a housing scheme. If one sits in a cathedral, especialy if it is empty, and, so to speak, feels it, the conviction comes home to one that it is the crystallization of a message that could not be expressed in words. No formal doctrine or dogma is enshrined in it but a reality which enters from beyond our life in time. It is this which must have inspired the planners and builders to carry on their long and laborious work--although they could not have said as much if they had been asked.

Other entries that mention cathedrals are those under the head terms

  1. Arrhenius plot (this link is actually worth following)
  2. Campanian Society
  3. WNC (strangely, this entry is relevant)

SCHF psychosis
SCHizophreniForm psychosis.

Schiff's Base
A good starting point for synthesizing the rigid molecules -- long, flat, twisted or some combination -- that exhibit liquid crystal (LC) phases:
         / ___ \
        / /   \ \
        \ \___/ /
               \          _____
                \        / ___ \
                 C==N___/ /   \ \
                /       \ \___/ /
               /         \_____/

Schiller, Karl
Karl Schiller, born in Breslau on April 24, 1911, was one of the most celebrated actors in German economic policy. Schiller served as Bundeswirtschaftsminister (`Federal Minister for Economic Affairs') during the ``Grand Coalition'' of 1966-1969, working closely with Finance Minister (Finanzminister) Franz Josef Strauss (long-time head of the CSU). In a later red-green coalition, he held the two posts simultaneously (in German: zusätzlich). Like Alex Moellers, whom he succeeded, he was for this reason (I've been reading too much German, ich glaube) called a Superminister (in German: Superminister).

German for `shilling,' descendant of the Roman solidus and hence worth 12 Pfennig (denarii) and one twentieth of a pound.

The situation was a bit more complicated in medieval Austria and Bavaria, which used a ``long'' Schilling worth 30 Pfennig as a unit of account. I'm sure at the time that someone thought this made things simpler. Eventually, it became the name of the currency of post-imperial Austria. It remained the monetary unit (currency symbol ATS) until replaced by the euro. The conversion was at a rate of 1 EUR = 13.7603 ATS, or approximately 1 ATS = 0.07267 EUR. See also Groschen, a subsidiary unit.

State Children's Health-Insurance Program. See long entry at CHIP.

SCattering of Heavy, Low-Energy Ions with CHanneling. A code written by Ned G. Stoffel of Bell Labs, which computes ion penetration distribution for energies in the kilovolt range. The code TRIM, which uses Monte Carlo path simulation in a jellium model (i.e, which ignores crystal lattice effects), predicts penetration on the scale of about 100 Å; with channeling in <110> directions included in this code, one obtains numbers more like 1000 Å, more consistent with experiment. Vide CHANDID.

Reported in 1992.

German: `to creep.' Schleich would be the imperative form.

Schmaltz, schmaltz
Cooked fat. Very popular with those who like it. The German word (always capitalized) refers to any fat, typically lard. The Yiddish word typically refers to chicken or goose fat since lard is treif (unkosher). I used to think that Schmaltz was only goose fat, until one day when I had a discussion with Bernie. Apparently Schmaltz was goose fat if your family could afford it. My mother loved goose fat, and for a brief period when she was a child in Weimar Germany her mother could afford it. A couple of years ago my mother started writing her memoirs and I read one vignette that had nothing directly to do with Schmaltz. It ended approximately ``and this shows that I was very interested in food even before it was scarce.''

Yiddish is written in Hebrew (originally Aramaic) characters, so capitalization is not an issue as it is in German written with (any more-or-less) Roman characters. In English I suppose you could capitalize the word to make clear that you're borrowing from the German, but then you could just as well write lard. I suppose if you want to emphasize that you're borrowing from the Yiddish you might write ``shmaltz,'' but that spelling is much less common. The shm and shn consonant clusters are common in German languages but rare in English words not recently borrowed from German or Yiddish, so I guess it's hard to naturalize the spelling.

Goose fat makes a good breadspread, but tastes depend on early childhood experience. I remember the first time someone suggested dipping good bread in an icky pool of green olive oil. Ah, but I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now. Cf. skwarka.

The much more common sense of schmaltz in English is a transferred sense from Yiddish: (often showy) sentiment, sentimentality. Most commonly predicated of popular music or maybe art, in a condescending way or in a sympathetic, nostalgic way.

The word has taken English inflections: schmaltzy, schmaltziness. That doesn't always happen with Yiddish words in English (contrast the noun meshuga, with adjective form meshugene). It's interesting how the transferred sense of schmaltzy compares with that of the materially almost equivalent greasy. They have similar connotation -- both are at least vaguely deprecatory, but different denotation.

Schmidt immer mit
This is a epithet that my mother remembers as having been common during her childhood in Breslau in the 1930's, but web searches suggest that it may have had only a local vogue.

This is an epithet in the manner of Johnny come lately, nervous Nelly, silly Billy, and simple Simon. A fair literal translation might be `Smith Always Along.' A reasonable English version might be `Tag-Along Smith,' although it carries slightly different connotations. At minimum, unlike the German ``immer mit,'' ``tag-along'' in English carries a suggestion of someone who follows a group.

The English epithet examples suggest that alliteration or rhyme contribute to their popularity. In case there's any doubt, therefore, I'll note that -midt is pronounced identically with mit. Generally speaking, final stop consonants are unvoiced, and final dt, tt, and t are equivalent. Indeed, the words statt and Stadt originally had the same spelling, and one of them (I forget which) had its spelling altered just to make an orthographic distinction.

In the literal translation above, I Englished mit as `along.' As English speakers generally know, mit is the German preposition typically corresponding to the English preposition `with.' However, in the head term mit is used as an adverb, and English with is rarely an adverb. Along is a fair translation of the adverb mit, and it works reasonably well for the translation of verbs with the separable prefix mit into verb-plus-particle constructions: mitbringen is `to bring along,' mitkommen is `to come along,' etc. For another contrast between mit and with, see ablative of association.

Just to be a little pedantic, I'll note that along used as an English preposition does not correpond at all well to the preposition mit. A better way to go is with the postposition entlang, which happens to be the closest cognate of along.

Beg with chutzpah. From the Yiddish word shnorrn, `to beg.' In English usage, of course, one applies English inflections, typically -- as in this case -- to the root of the verb: I, we, you, they schnorr; he, she schorrs; schnorred; schnorring. Our main entry for the various related words is schnorrer.

A German verb generally meaning `beg' in what we might call a nonprofessional or occasional way. A more precise translation of its current sense would be to `sponge' or `cadge' -- to wheedle small change or items like cigarettes, but never to reciprocate. The person who does this (the sponge) is a Schnorrer. Schnorren is part of Umgangsprache (that is to say, it's a widespread colloquialism) continuing one sense of the Middle High German verb schnurren.

The cognate Yiddish words, with slightly different senses than the German, appeared in English early in the twentieth century (see schnorrer). The German may have had some influence on the English spelling.

A slang word meaning something like smart-aleck beggar, or a beggar with chutzpah. The word is recorded as a Yiddishism (a word used ``among the Jews'') in the 1913 Webster's Dictionary, and has probably been more widely used in American English than the corresponding verbs (see schnorr).

There is a defining story that gives the precise sense of schnorrer. To have the full flavor, you should know that megillah is Yiddish for `overlong story' and tsuris is an uncountable noun meaning `troubles, problems, worries.'

A schnorrer sees one of his regular contributors, and comes up to buttonhole him for some spare change. The touch replies with a megillah about his own tsuris. He's going through a rough patch, so he can't help right now. The schnorrer complains in reply: ``Just because you've got tsuris, why should I suffer?''

Well, at least we've broken ground on this entry. Schnorrer is probably related, either as a cognate or parallel development, to English snore, so we've got a bit more to describe.


A journal published once annually from wherever the editor works, I guess. (Used to be South Africa; now New Zealand.) Full title: Scholia: Studies in Classical Antiquity (ISSN 1018-9017).

Scholia Reviews is an electronic journal that features the pre-publication versions of reviews that appear in Scholia.

school night
Parentese term meaning `schoolday eve.' Hence, an evening requiring some preparation, including the getting of one or more children into bed at a ``reasonable'' hour.


An Oxford classics exam explained at the Greats entry.

Schott Glass Technologies, Inc.
Call this company at +1 (717) 457-7485 and thank them for having a cool name.

Schottky barrier diode
The same as a Schottky diode, q.v.

Schottky diode
A metal and semiconductor junction in which the semiconductor is weakly doped. For most metals on silicon, the Fermi energy in the metal is pinned about 0.8 eV below the Si conduction band. The reasons are still in some dispute. Cf. ohmic contact; vide metal-semiconductor interfaces.

[Schroedinger Thumbnail Portrait]

Ernst Schrödinger.


German, `School war.' Term used in the last decade or so of the nineteenth century for a major row in the education establishments of the German-speaking world. Even Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany got involved. It was a sort of later battle of ancients and moderns, but it was more concerned with science than art. At the beginning of that period, the curriculum in Gymnasium (approx. ages ten to eighteen) was dominated by instruction in the classical languages (Greek and Latin). Reformers sought to refocus the curriculum on mathematics, science, and modern languages.

One of the major agitators for reform was the physicist/philosopher Ernst Mach. Out of kindness, perhaps, writers fail to mention that Mach's early encounter with the classical languages was traumatic. Like many children of the affluent in that time, he was home-schooled until he was ready to enter Gymnasium at age ten. He was very unhappy, particularly with the classical languages and also the religious instruction. Perhaps he suffered a nervous breakdown. He was withdrawn from Gymnasium and home-schooled for another five years, also doing a part-time apprenticeship. It was probably a much better education for a scientist than he would have gotten had he been kept in. He reentered the formal track (i.e., Gymnasium) at age fifteen. It's interesting to contrast the reactions of Mach and Ernst Schrödinger to the classical grammars. Mach was repelled by the memorization necessitated by the irregularity and by the semantically arbitrary distinctions of declension, etc. Schrödinger was impressed by the logic of the system.

A good place to read about Mach and Schrödinger is the wonderful Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Your library must have it. A good starting point to learn about the Schulkrieg is The Young Einstein - The advent of relativity, by Lewis Pyenson (Bristol and Boston: Adam Hilger, Ltd., 1985), pp. 1-3 (with extensive notes to the secondary literature). The reformers largely won the Schulkrieg, but the form of this success did not initially consist in a general change of curriculum, but rather in a change of status of different kinds of existing schools.

Existing high schools in the period fell into three categories. Gymnasien (that's plural of Gymnasium) were classical schools that taught Greek and Latin. Realgymnasien -- semiclassical schools -- taught Latin but not Greek, and Oberrealschulen -- nonclassical schools -- taught neither Latin nor Greek. Originally, only Gymnasium graduates could enter university and certain government positions. The other kinds of schools offered what one might think of as a nonacademic terminal diploma, or vo-tech training. A large part of the reform was the opening up of university education and higher government positions to graduates of all Gymnasien. The curricula changed more slowly. My cousin Franz, one of the older children to get out of Germany on the Kindertransport (and one of the last; his bus raced the back roads into Holland on the day Germany invaded Poland) had gone to a regular Gymnasium. The only languages he knew were German, Latin, and Greek. It was not unusual for Gymnasium graduates in those days to take a year off and travel Europe, learning a modern language or two and maturing. (That was before the war.)

Schwarze Haus
`Black House.' The German name of a famous old (1577) building in Lemberg (now Lviv), decorated with limestone carvings, that managed to survive both World Wars. Our central entry for buildings named for colors is colored houses.

Schwarzkopf, Norman
Implicated in neurological dysfunction: ``Remembering Norman Schwarzkopf: Evidence for Two Distinct Long-term Fact Learning Mechanisms,'' Cognitive Neuropsychology, 11 #6, pp. 661-670 (1994).

Scalable Coherent Interface.

Schurz Communications, Inc. A tiny media empire based in South Bend, Indiana, comprising WSBT-TV, WSBT-AM, and WNSN-FM in South Bend, and other broadcast, wire-line, and small-newspaper media outlets.

Science Citation Index. A product of ISI, q.v.


Scripta Classica Israelica. Yearbook of the Israel Society for the Promotion of Classical Studies (ISPCS). Founded in 1974, it ``has been devoted to the study of Classics and Ancient History. It welcomes articles in English, French, German, Italian or Latin on any aspect of the classical world.'' The journal catalogued by TOCS-IN.

Spinal Cord Injury.

System Control Interrupt. A system interrupt used by hardware to notify the OS of ACPI events. Contrasted with SMI.

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia. ``Spinal Cord Injuries Australia was formed as the Australian Quadriplegic Association in September 1967 to provide suitable accommodation for young people with severe spinal cord injuries. Our services have expanded as the need and opportunity arose. We now extend our services to all people with physical disabilities.'' SCI's logo, as opposed to the abbreviated form of its name, is sci, with the i segmented to suggest vertebrae.

The name SCIA suggests sciatica, which is a pain down the leg caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve (the main nerve into the leg). The irritation is typically spinal, occurring where the nerve emerges from the lumbar vertebrae. After spending weeks on my back trying to decide whether to phrase the preceding sentences in the singular or plural, I've concluded that hey, did you know that Hebrew and Arabic have three grammatical numbers -- singular, dual, and plural? I think it's used more systematically in Arabic; in Hebrew it tends to be used only for things that are naturally paired, like, uh, legs. One leg is regel, a pair of legs is raglayim, more is regalim (stressed syllables bold). As noted at this LE entry, that's not exactly `leg.'

You recognize the Hebrew word regel (`foot, leg, lower extremity') because you remember the star named Rigel. That star marks the left foot of Orion. (He faces us, so that's on our right in the northern hemisphere. If you cross over into the southern hemisphere, the same thing happens that happened to Dante and his guide Virgilio at the end of the Inferno. No, not ``Towering Inferno''; this Inferno is deep.) The name is short for the Arabic rigl al-gauza, `foot of the central one.' (The definite article al in a compound like this means `of the'.) Rigel Kentaurus, the third-brightest star in the sky, is the foot of the constellation Centaurus. It is designated Alpha 1 Centauri, the alpha indicating that it is the brightest star of its constellation. The 1 is to distinguish it from two much dimmer stars that occupy what looks to the naked (earthbound) eye as a single (twinkling) bright point. Rigel (in Orion) is also close (9'' -- nine seconds of arc, not nine inches, you clown) to a dim companion, but apparently that's not quite enough to merit the 1 treatment.

Rigel is the seventh-brightest star in the sky (in apparent magnitude, of course), and the brightest in Orion. Bayer designated it Beta Orionis (implying the second-brightest of Orion) by mistake. Alpha Orionis is a variable star, so I guess it got named, or at least observed, on a good day. Alpha Orionis is better known as Betelgeuse. The latter star name, and you have my permission not to believe this, is a corruption of the Arabic yad al-gauza (yad, in Hebrew and Arabic, means `hand').

Old English and other Germanic languages also had a dual, most evident in the personal pronouns. With the exception of, I think, Icelandic (with dual and plural forms of we), modern Germanic languages do not preserve the distinction.

Scientific American.

Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease. Also called SCIDS (below).

Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R.

Severe Combined ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome. Bubble-boy syndrome. Also called SCID (above).

Sciences Po
Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris.

scientific instruments
I'm not going to try to define scientific instruments with any degree of precision. I just want to mention the existence of the Websters' Instrument Makers' Database, available online. Incidentally, we have an entry for the RSI.

A bulky object in solar orbit at about one a.u. A scientoid resembles a scientist in having had a scientific education and in being involved with science. Unlike a scientist, however, a scientoid does not contribute to progress in science. Instead, it becomes involved in national and international committees dedicated to naming and renaming physical objects and measuring units that do not need naming or renaming. The word scientoid is modeled on and inspired by plutoid.

Science Fiction. The earliest instance of the term science fiction found in the Oxford English Dictionary is in Little Earnest Book upon Great Old Subject, written by W. Wilson and published in 1851. Since then some science fiction has turned into fact. This was apparently an isolated instance, however.

The term really entered the lexicon in June 1929, with Hugo Gernsback, editor of Science Wonder Stories, who sponsored a monthly $50 contest for essays on ``What Science Fiction Means to Me.''

I think the magazine later became Amazing Stories. Hugo Gernsback also operated the radio station WRNY.

The term sci-fi, oddly enough, is used to describe a broader genre than science fiction proper, as once conceived. In contrast, SF, though in principle more ambiguous (as it fits science fantasy) has a more restrictive sense (see further discussion at SF).


Abbreviation for Latin scilicet, in turn a contraction of scire licet. Its meaning, of course, is `of course' or `evidently,' and evidently it introduces a writer's gloss on a report or quote. [E.g., ``Vladimir said he (scil. Pogio) could stick it where the sun don't shine.'']

This is also used to mean namely.

The shorter form, sc., is probably more common.

Self-Consistent Interstitial Method[s].

Silicon Coating by Inverted Meniscus.

Something between a dilettante and a poseur. Why does French have all the good words for this? A sciolist is someone with superficial knowledge who claims to be an expert. The word may be almost obsolete, but the concept is not. Use this word. Pronounce the first three letters as in science. Express opprobrium with brutality and joy. Here's a model to follow from Generation of Vipers, an almost recent book (p. 241):
These tousled wearers of the flat hat [the author refers only to professors], supererogated by the medieval magic of the cloister, and made additionally colossal by a little knowledge of some external or measurable facet of the universe, have failed wretchedly in their assignment of educating post-school Americans. They have so departmentalized knowledge that a quadrennium is not long enough to make a sciolist, and they have let the teaching of wisdom disappear altogether from the curriculum, because doubtless, they no longer have any to teach.

(Did he check the 500-level courses?)

A very well-known word meaning descendant or heir. Rhymes with lion. In sylvanculture, it also means a detached shoot or twig containing buds, used in grafting.

An offshoot of Toyota, detached in advertising, rolled out in Summer 2004 with lower-priced models and styling to tap the youth market (generation Y, in case you're keeping score). The provocatively unaerodynamic and somewhat clownishly unstreamlined styling owes a very little to lowriders and a lot to phat pants, or maybe to the successful Honda Element. The name is pronounced as two equally stressed syllables, like the elementary particle psion or ``sigh on,'' rhyming with ``lie on.''

Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals.

Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Iranian-backed. (Duh.) Shi'ites, concentrated in the southern half of the country, constitute a majority of Iraq's population. Cf. INC.


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SaCK. In high-school and college football in the US, sacks are counted against rushing yardage. (That is, yardage lost on a play that ends in a sack of the quarterback is counted against rushing yardage for the quarterback and the team, just as yardage lost in a running play is counted against yardage by the runner and team.) In the NFL, sacks count against passing yardage.

Sculptor. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.


Senior Classical League. At first I thought this was a joke. Maybe it is, but they have a website. Organizations should perform the functions that one would expect from their names. Therefore, the SCL should start running package tours for retirees who want to wander around the Roman forum and say Salvete! to the cats.

Also known as the NSCL. More information, and a raison d'être, at the JCL entry.

Serial CLock (line). Cf. I²C.

Space-Charge Limited. The early classic in SCL currents in bulk n-i-n (``double-injection'') diodes is N. F. Mott & R. W. Guerney, Electronic Processes in Ionic Crystals, (Oxford: Oxford U. P., 2nd. e:1948).

Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (partly at the prodding of Bayard Rustin), and headed by Ralph Abernathy after King's assassination.

Rhymes with SDLC.

Scanning Capacitance Microscopy. Yet another (YA-) Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM).

Single-Chip Module.

Stochastic and Computational Mechanics.

Sub-Carrier Modulation.

South Central (US) Modern Language Association. The official journal of the SCMLA is The South Central Review.

Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education. Known from its creation in 1983 until 1998 as the Conservation Analytical Laboratory (CAL).

Single Chip Network Termination 1.

Santa Cruz Operation, Inc. ``SCO is the world's leading provider of system software for Business Critical Servers that run the critical day-to-day business operations of large and small organizations, and the leading provider of software that integrates Microsoft® Windows® PCs and other clients with all major Unix® System servers.'' Their online support is called ``SOS.''

There's an FAQ of SCO UNIX newsgroups on the web.

As of mid 2003 I think they had lawsuit on claiming patent infringement by Linux. AFAIK, SCO is the software industry's leading provider of lawsuits.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Scorpius. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

SpaceCraft Office. NASAnese misnomer for an earthbound office concerned with spacecraft. The SCO construction should be parallel to SO/HO. How will they solve the inkwell and paperweight problems in a zero-gravity environment? What will keep white-out in the bottle? Which way will the hanging folders hang? When you press down on the desktop stapler with one hand and you're holding a Tang in the other hand, how do you keep from spinning or sailing across the room from the reaction force? Let's meet at Starbucks. What good is an ``overnight delivery guarantee'' when there are so many different day lengths? Is it okay if I telecommute this month?

Southern Conference On Language Teaching. ``Organized in 1965, the Southern Conference on Language Teaching is one of five regional affiliates of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages [ACTFL]. Thirteen states are in the SCOLT region: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. Some of these states, because of their [geographic] proximity to other regional organizations, are `shared' with the Northeast Conference, the Central States Conference, or the Southwest Conference.''

Structural Classification of Proteins. A database for the investigation of protein sequences and structures.

Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research.

Service Corps Of Retired Executives.

's corps. Press Corps. Slang given currency by Primary Colors, best-selling (a million hardcover) roman à clef about Clinton's 1992 campaign for presidency, written by Joe Klein as `Anonymous.'

A town in the Poconos (northeastern Pennsylvania), accessible from I-80. I just want to say that every time I drive between northern Indiana and northern New Jersey, I see signs for this place, and in the distance the name suggests a different word. It's not even funny any more. It's not a very important town, and the people who need to get there should know the exit. Is it really necessary for just every town near the interstate to be named in prominent signage?

I was going to wait until I had a minim entry to mention this, but I decided that making my opinions known was simply too urgent. Okay, now we have a minim entry so you can be enlightened.

John Duns Scotus, of course. The celebrated medieval schoolman also known by the epithet Doctor Subtilis (`subtle doctor'). The term dunce was coined to describe his epigoni.

Supreme Court Of The United States. This may not be an official US military acronym, but it is used jocularly. ``The Supremes'' is more common.

SCOTtish Vocational Education Certificate.

Jocular synonym for Liverpudlian. As if that were needed.

The etymology of this is suggested to be lobscouse, a mariner's stew, but no one knows the etymology of that. (Specifically, lob is an old word meaning boil, but no one knows the origin of scouse. I wonder if it mightn't be an unattested variant of souse.) As long as you've got all day to ponder stuff like this, you could do worse than browse the house entry.

Secondary Communications Processor.

Serial Clock Pulse.

[Phone icon]

(Telephone) Service Control Point.

Signal Control Point. A signal control point is a database containing information used for advanced call-processing functions in a Signaling System 7 (SS-7) network.

Single-Chip Packag{ e | ing }. As opposed to MCP.

Société canadienne des postes. See CPC.

Society of Christian Philosophers. ``[O]rganized in 1978 to promote fellowship among Christian Philosophers and to stimulate study and discussion of issues which arise from their Christian and philosophical commitments.'' And here I was thinking it was intended to stimulate study of issues arising from other peoples' Christian and philosophical commitments. I mean, surely serious scholars want to get a critical purchase on the matter, no? ``One of [the SCP's] chief aims is to go beyond the usual philosophy of religion sessions at the American Philosophical Association [APA] and to stimulate thinking about the nature and role of Christian commitment in philosophy. The Society is open to anyone interested in philosophy who considers himself or herself a Christian. Membership is not restricted to any particular `school' of philosophy or to any branch of Christianity, or to professional philosophers.''

Stacked-Chip Packaging.

I say, let the chips fall where they may.

SunLink Communications Processor.

System Control Program. IBM's term for operating system (OS).

Single Channel Per Carrier. Most popular mode for sending high quality audio and data signals by satellite.

Suppressed Clock Pulse Duration Modulation.

Sun Yat-sen Center for Policy Studies. At the National Sun Yat-sen University, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, R.O.C., nowadays.

Silicon-Controlled Rectifier. A pnpn device that functions as a gated diode. The gate functions something like a trigger: with bias across an SCR that is off, the gate turns the SCR on; with a current flowing through the SCR, it's hard to turn the device off by adjusting the bias on the gate; the SCR goes open, regardless of gate voltage, when the current drops to zero.

Solar Cosmic Ray[s].

SCR, scr
Space-Charge Region.

Sustainable Cell Rate.

Scrabble (R)
According to The Quotable Musician, Duke (raw value 9 points) Ellington said (p. 125 of cited collection) the following about Scrabble®:
Playing ``Bop'' is like scrabble with all the vowels missing.

Scrabble examining table
The logophile hypochondriac's delight. Except as otherwise indicated, in this glossary anything said to be found on the ``Scrabble examining table'' (such as diseases, morbidities, infections, foreign objects, conditions, syndromes, diagnoses, prophylactics, treatments, miracle cures and quackery, and forms of insurance) are accepted by all three major Scrabble® dictionaries.

Scrabble forest
A place with specimens from many lands. Except as otherwise indicated, in this glossary all trees and shrubs said to be part of the ``Scrabble forest'' are trees and shrubs whose names (as well as any plurals) as given are accepted by all three major Scrabble® dictionaries. Ditto woody objects or anything else in there.

Scrabble tablelands
A region of remarkable biodiversity, considering that it occupies an area of only 225 square tiles. (Okay, oblong tiles.) It may be above the tree line, but herbs and small shrubs are found there, as well as tropical, subtropical, temperate-zone, subarctic, arctic, and probably extraterrestrial plants. Also deep-sea fish, and anything else listed in all three major Scrabble® dictionaries (except trees; they go only in the Scrabble forest).

Scrabble toolshed
A commodious edifice convenient to the Scrabble forest and tablelands for the usual work one might want to do there. It seems to contain hand tools, mostly. Unless specifically indicated, its contents are approved for all three major Scrabble® dictionaries.

SCRAMble! Probably.
  1. Go away!
  2. Perform an emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor! (See below.)

Safety Control-Rod Ax-Man, not. The debunking text that follows is from an article by David Baurac in ``logos -- A magazine about research at Argonne National Laboratory'' (ANL). The article reports anecdotes told at the ``Symposium Celebrating the 100th Birthday of Enrico Fermi and His Contribution to the Development of Nuclear Power.'' (The SBF Glossary Content Advisory Commission has recommended not describing this symposium at all.)
All over the world, reactor control panels have emergency shutdown buttons labeled "SCRAM." One often-heard story holds that the term is an acronym for Safety Control Rod Ax Man, an homage to Norman Hilberry, Argonne's second director, who stood poised with an ax during the start-up of the first reactor, ready to cut a rope and release the control rods that would stop the reaction should all else fail. But during the break after the symposium's first panel, [Volny] Wilson laid this myth to rest.

He said that he and Wilcox Overbeck were working in the squash court [at the University of Chicago's Stagg Field] where the reactor was under construction while an electrician wired the control panels. The electrician finished wiring the red emergency-shutdown button, turned to them, and asked how he should label it.

According to Wilson, Overbeck responded by asking, "Well, what do you do when you push the button?"

And Wilson replied, "You scram out of here as fast as you can."

More about the construction of the Stagg Field pile at the CP-1 entry. See also the Martinmas entry.

Static Column Random Access Memory (RAM, q.v.).

Supersonic Combustion RAMJET. Ramjet engine for supersonic plane (which must consequently burn fuel in supersonic airstream).

Scottish Council for Research in Education.

screening room
A projection theater where movies are screened.

screen room
A Faraday cage where RFI is screened.

South Central Review. ISSN: 0743-6831. It's the official journal of the SCMLA, and continues the The South Central Bulletin, which was published from 1940 to 1983, one volume per year. That started out modestly, with anywhere from 4 to 20 pages per number and one, two, three, or four numbers per volume (i.e., per year). In its current incarnation as SCRev, it publishes on the order of a hundred pages per issue, with three or four issues per year. (I think that in principle it's a quarterly, with Spring-Summer (number one), Summer-Fall, Fall-Winter, and Winter-Spring (number four) issues, but often a couple of issues are combined.


TB of the lymph nodes. The disease that the King's touch was supposed to cure. The word scrofula is Latin for `breeding sow.' According to Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (a great tool for etymology, BTW, although apparently the color illustrations in the new eighteenth edition are rather too much for some people), a ``variety of tuberculous adenitis...a secondary involvement of cervical lymph nodes as a result of a localized hematogenous spread from a pulmonary lesion.''

Dr. Samuel Johnson suffered from scrofula, as well as from gout and, to judge from Boswell's Life, Tourette's syndrome (TS) as well.

Robert Browning spoke of his `` scrofulous French novel.'' There's some more discussion of this [ (1) (2) ] in the archives of the classics list.

See also the syphilis entry.

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There seems to be a little terminological confusion about this, though if you reached this entry from either of the adjacent ones you're probably okay. If you're still confused, go to the blog entry and scroll down about four paragraphs to the relevant information.

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You mean screwed: a twisted application of the principle of the inclined plane or wedge. See the NC entry.

Service canadien du renseignement de sécurité. French for `Canadian Security Intelligence Service' (CSIS).

To scry is to gaze into a crystal ball.

Safety-Critical System.

Saudi Chemical Society. There's also a Saudi Arabian International Chemical Sciences Chapter of American Chemical Society.

South Central Seminar in the History of Early Modern Philosophy. The title often used to be shortened by omission of ``the History of.'' I'd have guessed that would be a critical omission, but I guess I'd have guessed wrong. The personal homepage of Stephen H. Daniel, a professor of philosophy at Texas A&M, seems to be the closest that this regular conference has to a permanent home on the net. (Scroll down there to the pictures of philosophers other than George Berkeley.) Some recent meetings:
  1. At TTU.
  2. At Saint Louis University.
  3. At Rice.
  4. At Baylor.
  5. At University of Arkansas.

Syrian Computer Society. Offers free computer courses. The fact that Bashar al-Assad was president of this modern organization proves that the new dictator of Syria is a liberal good guy, unlike his dynastic predecessor, the bloodthirsty Hafez al-Assad. Immediately the secret police and informer networks will be dismantled, and shortly after freedom of speech, assembly, religion and travel are implemented, there will be free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, military withdrawal from the colony of Lebanon, a forthright investigation into the unfortunate disappearance of the entire population of Hama in 1982, etc. Indeed, since I wrote this in June 2000, much of this has probably already occurred by the time you read it here. It was in anticipation of these changes that Assad family retainers and the Alawite-dominated military rallied round the promising young ophthalmologist, lowering the constitutional minimum age for dictator to his current age. They all chafed under the previous system that made them rich and gave them criminal impunity, and look forward to the accountability and loss of power that democracy will bring them.

Yes, they're coming to take me away.

South-Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Sexy name! (That's South-central US.)

Small Computer System Interface. No longer restricted to small-computer applications. (Pron. ``scuzzy''). There's an FAQ.

The latest specs are SCSI-2 (X3.131-1994), SCSI-3 Parallel Interface (X3T10/855D). All SCSI drives support built-in error detection.

FOLDOC has a bunch of stuff at its SCSI-2 and SCSI-3 entries.

Mike Neuffer serves a number of documents on SCSI and RAID, with a Linux orientation.

The fastest scuzzy interfaces are have always been faster than the contemporaneous fastest interfaces standard for PC hard drives, but those SCSI drives are typically not yet available for PC's. In any case, the speed difference has been shrinking. The one reason to get SCSI for a PC right now is if you need to access a large number of disks simultaneously.

Also known as Honda connectors. Yeah, they're really used in cars. That's all I know.

Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy. Founded at Clark College in 1968. In 1988, Atlanta University and Clark College consolidated to form Clark Atlanta University (CAU), the current institutional home of the SCSPP. The SCSPP publishes Status of Black Atlanta (SBA) and Georgia Legislative Review (GLR). See also SCSPP's sister institution DBI.


Standard Compression Scheme for Unicode.

Scarborough Campus Students' Union. That'd be the union for students at the University of Toronto at Scarborough (UTSC).

Sub-Channel Status Word. ``Ain't''?

Scutum. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Southern California Tennis Association. The Southern California Section of the USTA.

Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers. As opposed to MCP.

Solar-Cell Technology Experiment.

Second City TeleVision.

Storage Control Unit.

[dive flag]

scuba, SCUBA
Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. A lightweight alternative to the heavy, bulky, difficult-to-use diving bells and suits previously available, scuba gear was invented by Jacques-Yves Cousteau with the help of various more technically proficient collaborators. Perhaps that's not the best word... JYC was an artillery instructor for the French Navy during WWII. He tested his invention secretly off the coast of Vichy France, with his wife Simone swimming on the surface above, and look-outs on shore. The English-language acronym scuba is apparently the universal international term, but those who want to stick to French can use the words scaphandre (`diving suit') and subaquatique.

Scuba is a great way to meet fish and slimey invertebrates, as you may see.

[dive flag]

A mailing list.

SuperCritical Water.

We live in a time of deep skepticism.

Special Collections & Western ManuScriptS. A department of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

(Argentina's) Secretaía de Cultura y Comunicación. (La Presidencia, the executive branch of the government of the Argentine republic, has two kinds of cabinet-level agencies: ministries, which are like cabinet-level departments in the US, and secretariats, which are like autonomous agencies with more specific tasks.)

The SCYC, whose expired existence is still atested on the web pages of some of its former subagencies, is now simply the Secretaía de Cultura. Well, you know, in the latest economic nightmare, there've been cutbacks all around. We've all had to tighten our belts and -- what? Now there's also a Secretaría de Medios de Comunicacón? Do I detect here the germ of the problem that besets the nation?

Within the SCYC there were, and within the Secretariat of Culture there are

International Solar Concentrator Conference for the Generation of Electricity or Hydrogen.

Salutem Dicit. Latin which means (in a ``dynamic'' rather than literal translation), `sends greetings.' The word salus means `health, welfare, safety,' and occurred in various expressions of good wishes on meeting (and also on parting). It became associated with greeting, hence the verb salutare (`to greet') and the nouns salutatio (`greeting') and salutator (`visitor').

The phrase salutem dicit became sufficiently standard that the abbreviation S.D. was used formulaically at the beginnings of letters (in the preserved letters of Cicero and Pliny, for example). Here salus occurs in the accusative form salutem, indicating that it is the direct object of the verb dicit (meaning `says' in this instance). So you can think of salutem dicit as meaning ``says `[good] health' '' or ``says hi.'' Sometimes S.D. was shortened to S., and the word ``dicit'' was understood. I suppose one could imagine that S. stood for the verb salutat (`greets'), but apparently S.D. was sufficiently standard that S. was regarded as a shortened form of it.

One instance in a modern language, of a similar verb that may be elided and understood, is sprechen (`speak'). In the phrase ich kann Deutsch sprechen (`I can speak German') is colloquially truncated to ich kann Deutsch (`I can German'). This pattern occurs in a few other expressions, such as ich will ins Kino [gehen] (`I want [to go] to the movie theater'), but which elisions are conventional and which weird is something you'll have to ask a native speaker (or maybe google) about.

Today this S.D. (or S.) occurs primarily in college diplomas, if there. The form S.P.D. also occurs: Salutem Plurimam Dicit. This is normally translated `sends many greetings.' This is a good place to point out that salutem is a singular form, and is treated a mass (a/k/a uncountable) noun; plurimus means `much' in this context.

Send Data. A standard light on external modems. Flashes during send. Cf. RD.

Shine-Dalgarno. A specific recognition sequence in messenger RNA (mRNA), five to ten bases long, which does not code for protein but which aligns with a complementary Anti-Shine-Dalgarno site on ribosomal RNA to align the start codon on the mRNA with a p-site on the ribosome.

Social Drinker. Personals ad abbreviation, as in ``SWM NS SD. Likes romantic walks on the beach.'' I am willing to confess here that I've read singles ads for many years. Reportedly, I've even replied to one or two. I make this personal revelation so that you can appreciate the significance when I tell you that I have never seen a personals ad with a self description of ``heavy drinker.'' It does not happen. Some people have claimed that they could have guessed this fact independently, but there's no substitute for empirical study.

South Dakota. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy serves a page of South Dakota state government links. USACityLink.com has a page with some city and town links for the state.

Standing Document.

Structured Design. Ostensibly, guidance in writing code, er, executing a software engineering task. Top-down technique.

(Domain code for) Sudan. Gee, this entry looks rather devoid of resources. For now, at least, the etymology of the country name is at sudan.

Sustainable Development.

Syntactic Description.

Systems Development.

SErial DAta line. Cf. I²C.

Servicemens' Dependents' Allo{wance|tment}[s]. Official US term. Cf. SDA.

Seventh-Day Adventist. This abbreviation turns out to be much more common than 7DA.

Singapore Dental Association. Smile!

Soldiers' Dependents' Allowance[s]. British and Irish official term dating from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, in instances I've seen. Not infrequently given with dependants misspelling. The abbreviation was at least used during WWII. Cf. SDA.

Student Developmental Associates, Inc.. See SDTLA below.

Saskatchewan Dental Assistants' Association. Here's an excerpt of their humor:

I guess Regina must have a crown. Don't gag!

(US) Servicemens' Dependents' Allowance Act.

Satellite-Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB).

Here's a report on ``Worldspace'' apparently appropriately targeted to the parts of the world with fewest CD-players per capita. Here's a trial in Australia.

Seventh-Day Adventist[s'] Mission.

Yeah, yeah -- everybody's got a mission. But the SDA's get an entry for theirs because the stretch of acronyms beginning in SD was threadbare. See the bit on Kellogg for more on one SDAM.

Senile Dementia of Alzheimer's Type. That's the usual DAT.

Safe-Deposit Box. There's no truth to the rumor that this is called a ``Safety'' Deposit Box.

Small-Diameter Bomb. Like the GBU-39.

Society for Developmental Biology. ``The purpose of the Society for Developmental Biology is to further the study of development in all organisms and at all levels, to represent and promote communication among students of development, and to promote the field of developmental biology.''

SDB's official publication is Developmental Biology (online access free to SDB members). Their website provides links to Current Topics in Developmental Biology (CTDB), but that seems to be an independent journal owned by the publisher (Elsevier).

An SDB member in the news in late 2008 was Prof. Martin Chalfie of the Columbia University Department of Biological Sciences. He shared that year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Osamu Shimomura (of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole) and Roger Y. Tsien of (UCSD) for the discovery and development of green fluorescent protein (GFP). That's a camera-friendly Nobel if there ever was one.

SD, CA. I.e., San Diego, California. I had to chase down twelve other SDCA's before I figured this out.

San Diego Catalina Association.

``We are a fun-loving sail group, with over 60 boating families and other associates.''

Scottish Deerhound Club of America.

``Perhaps the simplest way to convey the spirit that drives our activities is to quote from the SDCA Constitution.'' Perhaps so.

Scottish Dyers and Cleaners' Association. As of 2003, I see little evidence that this organization is still in existence. It was still known around 1950 or so. How time flies.

Seventh Day Christian Assembly. This doesn't seem to be affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventists, but I'm not sure. The web site is part of a C.O.G. webring.

I'm sympathetic to all these church groups, but the problem is that there just aren't enough Sundays in a life to check them all out to decide who has the one true faith.

This SDCA sponsors a radio broadcast by Ronald L. Dart. Mommas, just to be on the safe side, I recommend that you not use both an initial L and ``Ron'' in your babies' names.

Seymour District Cricket Ass. Could be ``Ass'' is an abbreviation itself. SDCA is part of Cricket Victoria, which is part of Cricket Australia.

Short Distance Charging Area. Term used for telephone toll rates in India, referring to the area between ``local'' and ``long-distance''.

Sleep Disorder Centers of Alabama.

Hey! Cut out the racket! Thou shalt let thy neighbor sleep unmolested.

If you're reading this much after August 2003, I hope the allusion is obscure.

South Dakota Cattlemen's Association. ``Working to advance the interests of South Dakota Cattlemen through the representation and promotion of the beef industry.''

South Dakota Chess Association.

South Dakota Chiropractors' Association. There's a great image on the home page. You can see the back of the head and torso of a guy lying in the top of a stocks, and a guy in a white lab coat is giving him a funny massage. A halo of white ripples emanates from the place where the man in white is pressing. In the background, a young woman in a long skirt holds a manila folder and grins at the scene.

South Dakota Counseling Association. A branch of the ACA.

``[A] partnership of associations representing professional counselors who enhance human development by providing benefits, products, and services to expand professional knowledge and expertise; to promote recognition of counselors to the public and media; and to represent member's interests before federal, state, and local government. SDCA represents nearly 550 professional counselors in the counseling profession and related fields of interest.''

``Standardize, Do, Check, Action.'' The anal-retentive ``refinement'' of PDCA. Don't they teach parts of speech any more? Time to get back to basics; start at the Deming wheel.

The State Data Center on Aging. A unit within the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging (FPECA).

Super Division Club Association. A FUFA affiliate. No website, no clubs, no idea what happened to the bus.

Systems Development and Demonstration.

SONY Digital Data Interface.

Shielded twisted-pair Digital Data Interface. Same as CDDI, q.v.

Inside the ticket booth, she gives me a precociously hard stare and answers immediately: ``SONY Dynamic Digital Sound.'' Her chewing gum resumes its cyclic deformations -- a chaotic mixing behavior. Our communication is over. I do not ask for an explication of `dynamic.'

Matinee is only $3.75, all movies, at the mumble mall.

Selective Distortionless Enhancement by Polarization Transfer (DEPT). NMRtian.

Sales Disclosure Form. Some governmental thing.

Secondary Distribution Frame.

Self-Defense Forces. The Japanese Military. (The army is Japan's GSDF.) Under the constitution imposed by George MacArthur, Japan maintains military forces explicitly for self-defense only.

In the post-WWII era, a majority of Japanese have adopted some kind of pacifist position. Like Germany, Japan has been reluctant to become involved in military action beyond its own borders. On the other hand there is also a powerful minority in Japan that wants to see the standing of Japan's military rehabilitated.

In 2001, Junichiro Koizumi almost single-handedly saved the fortunes of his LDP by campaigning on a promise to clean up corruption and secrecy in government. Once elected, he reneged as quickly as possible and negotiated (with LDP party factions) his own survival as PM. An interesting aspect of his political maneuvering after the election was the number of big symbolic crumbs he threw to the factions one would call militarist, if the word were not too strong for the time being.

In the aftermath of its Iraq conquest in 2003, the US urged Japan to contribute personnel to the reconstruction effort. SDF personnel are being deployed in non-combat capacities. This got done partly on the basis of arguments that the reconstruction effort is not a combat situation. A small 1000-person advance team of the GSDF left for Iraq on January 19, 2004. In a joint appearance on a Fuji TV show the day before their departure, the secretaries general of the LDP and New Komeito (their coalition partner) announced that the SDF mission would not be abandoned if Japanese troops are injured or even killed by terrorists there. Really! What commitment! The special reasoning required for this conclusion was explained by New Komeito's Sec.-Gen. Tetsuzo Fuyushiba: ``Terrorist attacks are not recognized as an act of combat'' (Japan Today translation).

SubDistribution Frame.

Schottky Diode Field-Effect Transistor (FET) Logic. [D-MESFET logic family.]

Scan Display Generator.

Simulated Data Generator.

Situation Display Generator.

Software Development Group.

Spin-Dependent (charge-carrier) Generation. Effect complementary to SDR. See, for example, Brian Henderson, Michael Pepper, and R. L. Vranch: ``Spin-dependent and localisation effects at Si/SiO2 device interfaces,'' Semiconductor Science and Technology, 4, 1045-1060 (December 1989).

System Development Group.

Shubnikov-de Haas. de Haas-van Alphen (dHvA) oscillations in conductivity. See the end of the He entry for a bit on Shubnikov.

Succinic DeHydrogenase. An enzyme used as a stain to detect mitochondrial proliferation in muscle fibers. The most sensitive and specific stain for this purpose.

Synchronous Digital Hierarchy. Cf. SONET.

State Department of Highways and Public Transportation.

Society of Dance History Scholars, founded 1979. A constituent society of the ACLS since 1996. ACLS has an overview.

Selectively Doped Heterostructure Transistor. Yet another name for a HEMT. I suppose that use of this acronym, like use of any of the others, tells something about your country of origin, but I don't know what.

SDH Transceiver. Or SDH/sonet Transceiver.

Serial Data Input.

Single-Document Interface. (MS Windows term.) Distinguished not only from MDI but also from the simpler dialog-box interface.

Strategic Defence Institute.

Strategic Defense Initiative. Derided as ``Star Wars.'' Long-time USSR ambassador to the US Anatoly Dobrynin published his memoirs in 1995, and gave some grudging credit there to SDI, and more generally to Ronald Reagan's personality, as having contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union. (He argues, however, as most analysts now seem to do, that the fall of the Soviet Union was a historical inevitability, fore-ordained by the idealistic rigidity of the Communist leadership. I would not deny this, but if I could have perceived the imminent manifestation of the historical inevitability in 1988, I could have made my fortune in bets. Death is a historical inevitability generally. What is in question is the timing.)

Steel Door Institute. Will they recycle iron curtains?

Strategic Defense Initiative Organization.

Switched Digital Integrated Service.

Software Develop{ment|er's} Kit.

Specification and Design Language. Defined by the ITU-T for unambiguously describing the behavior of telecommunication systems. FOLDOC has information and references.

Shared Dataspace Language.

Synchronous Data Link Control. An IBM computer networking protocol for Systems Network Architecture. FOLDOC has a densely hyperlinked entry.

Rhymes with SCLC.

Specification and Design Language (SDL) Graphic Representation.

Social Democratic and Labor Party. Until the elections of November 2003, this was the largest nationalist political party, and the second-largest political party, in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Sinn Fein had 18 seats. In December 1998, SDLP leader John Hume was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with UUP leader (and Northern Ireland First Minister) David Trimble. Not surprisingly, in the next Assembly elections, his party switched places with its main nationalist political opposition. Following the Nov. 26 elections, Sinn Fein has 24 seats and is the largest nationalist party (third-largest overall) in the Assembly; SDLP has 18 seats. What is Sinn Féin? Well, if you know where to put the accent, I imagine you already have a pretty good idea. But see the IRA entry.

Specification and Design Language (SDL) Phrase Representation.

Scanning DLTS.

SDL 92
Object-Oriented (OO) version of ITU-T Specification and Design Language (SDL).

Schematic Data Model.

Services Documentaires Multimédia.

Sensor-Driven, Model-Based Integrated Manufacturing.

Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

Software-Defined Network.

South Dakota Newspaper Association.

Sdn. Bhd., Sdn Bhd
Sendirian Berhad. Malaysian corporation of some sort.

Social-Democratic Party. To disambiguate, the SDP of Japan has been called the Japan Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party of Japan in English.

Special Drawing Right.

Spin-Dependent (charge-carrier) Recombination. Typically a fractional effect on the order of 10-4. First reported in Si surfaces by D. J. Lepine, Phys. Rev. B, 6, 436 (1972). Observations in Si pn junctions: I. Solomon, Solid State Communications, 20, 215 (1976). In Si device pn junctions: D. Kaplan and M. Pepper, Solid State Communications, 34, 803 (1980).

Effect is complementary to SDG, q.v.

Spin Dipole Resonance. A giant resonance in atomic nuclei.

Survey of Doctorate Recipients.

Synchronous DRAM. Explanation here.

Schema Definition Set. In Portable Common Tool Environment (PCTE).

Social Development Service. Singapore's government-run match-making service. They're on the internet too, now. Censored, of course.

Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate. An ionic surfactant. It can modify the rate and phase of crystal growth nucleated by a surface, for an example, but its most common application is as a detergent, under the name of sodium lauryl sulfate (q.v.), which I suppose sounds less `chemical.' Another application is SDS-PAGE.

Striped Domain Structure.

Students for a Democratic Society. Founded at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Surface Discharge Spectroscopy.

Switched Data Service.

San Diego Supercomputer Center. One of the four NSF supercomputing centers (the others are CTC, NCSA, and PSC).

(ANSI) Standards and Data Services Committee.

San Diego State University. I've been there. It's not so much more urban than UCSD, it just doesn't have a lot of trees. Bring your dark glasses.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (SDS) PolyAcrylamide Gel Electrophoresis (PAGE). It's explained here.

SDT, SigmaDeltaTheta
Sigma Delta Theta. An African-American Sorority.

Student Developmental Task Inventory. Created (apparently) Prince, J. S., Miller, T. K., & Winston, R. B., Jr. (1974). Superseded by their SDTI-II.

Student Developmental Task Inventory-II. Created (apparently) by Roger B. Winston, Jr., Ted K. Miller, and J.S. Prince (1977). An improvement on their SDTI and obsoleted by their SDTLI, which was in turn superseded by their SDTLA. I guess this must be progress.

Student Developmental Task and Lifestyle Assessment. ``It represents a sample of behavior and reports about feelings and attitudes that are indicative of students who have satisfactorily achieved certain developmental tasks common to young adult college students between the ages of 17 and 24 [sometimes the range is stated as between 17 and 25].'' You might as well be warned that they describe the test in high-flown abstractions and in terms of its formal structure, so don't expect to have any idea of what the test is like. Oh wait -- ``The assessment procedure is based on concepts and principles of human development [ah -- as opposed to assessment tools that are based on eating cheese], specifically that of developmental task achievement that typically occurs within the college setting.'' I'm waiting to find out if developmental task achievement is a concept or a principle. I'll be sure to get back to this!

The product was authored by Roger B. Winston, Jr., Ted K. Miller, and Diane L. Cooper (1999). These individuals appear to constitute ``Student Development Associates, Inc.'' (SDA). In fact, R.B.W. is president of SDA.

The SDTLA is a revision of the Student Developmental Task and Lifestyle Inventory (SDTLI) ``is grounded in the theoretical approach described by Chickering and Reisser (1993) in Education and Identity (2nd ed.).'' I hope that this theoretical approach is not overthrown in ``(3rd ed.).''

According to the authors, the ``SDTLI [developed in part by R.B.W. and T.K.M.] has been useful in working with students individually, for assessing student needs in program development, for teaching in orientation courses, and for conducting outcomes assessments. We believe that the SDTLA is an even better assessment instrument.''

Student Developmental Task and Lifestyle Inventory. Created (apparently) by Winston, R. B., Jr., Miller, T. K., & Prince, J. S. (1987). An improvement on their SDTI-II. Since obsoleted by the brand spanking new SDTLA.

Standard-Definition TeleVision.

Service Data Unit.

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. A Victorian project.

Satellite Data Utilization Office.

Social Democrats, USA.

Shuttle-Derived Vehicle. NASA acronym.

Super-Duper VGA. The next thing after SVGA, for sure.

South Dakota Veterinary Medical Association. See also AVMA.

Science and Engineering.

Chemical symbol for selenium, named after the moon. Elemental Se forms ...-Se-Se-... chains which crystallize in helices ("coils"). First photoconductive material discovered.

Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Selenium is the active ingredient in nonprescription dandruff shampoos/treatments like Selsun Blue, as well as prescription treatments that often simply have a higher concentration of selenium. Coal-tar derivatives are also used, but they smell. (When you think about it, you see that they more-or-less must smell: coal tar ``derivatives'' are obtained by fractional distillation with no chemical processing, and coal-tar has a vast collection of different compounds, many of them odoriferous. A process as unselective as distillation is unlikely to separate useful and non-smelly compounds from smelly ones.) Bishop Berkeley, the empiricist philosopher and enthusiast of education and new-world settlement, had a pet theory that most of the problems of Ireland could be solved if everyone (everyone in Ireland, not England) would bathe in tar-water. It might have done for the dandruff and lice, anyway.

Secondary Electron. An electron emitted by ionization of a bulk or surface atom when a high-energy electron beam impinges a surface. Distinguished, by its low energy relative to the ionizing electrons in the primary beam, from the back-scattered electron.

Sheet Extrusion.

The Society for Ethics. ``Established in 1995, [it] serves the purpose of promoting philosophical research in ethics, broadly construed, including areas such as (but not limited to) ethical theory, moral, social and political philosophy, as well as areas of applied ethics such as (but not limited to) legal, business and medical ethics. Although the SE is primarily a philosophical society, others are also encouraged to become members.

You know, if you take the sentences on the homepage of the SSS (``established in 2000'') and just scramble the sentence order and paragraph divisions, and change all the details, you get something that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the SE page. Somebody really ought to look into this. Is this right?

``Although the SE is primarily a philosophical society, others are also encouraged to become members.''

Software Engineer[ing].

SouthEast. Vide compass directions.

Special Edition.

Distinguished from really special edition.

(Domain code for) Sweden. Another entry in this glossary, not very far away as the alphabet flies, is entitled ships and contains almost no useful information about both Sweden and Swedes.

A number of years ago, I saw a .sig that listed an address in ...

Stockholm, Sweden, Europe.

That's the country we're talking about here.

[I emailed the guy with that .sig ("Oh, _that_ Sweden!"), and he wrote back that for some newsgroup readers, the last bit constitutes new information. This exchange took place in the early 1990's, before Sweden joined the EU (see EU-15 entry). Today, he might write ``Sweden, EU,'' and it would provide geopolitical rather than political-geographical information. See also this CA.]

The Prologue (``In the Beginning Was the Moraine'') of Leading by Design: The IKEA Story (described at the IKEA entry) begins

Älmhult, Småland, Sweden, the World.
(It only gets sillier after that.)

Sweden has the reputation of having the highest suicide rates in Europe. It's probably the lack of sunlight. (It's SAD, don't you agree?) The Swedish-born founder of IKEA comes from a family of mean mothers-in-law and their suicidal sons, yet those're on the German-immigrant side of the family.

Switching Element.

Systems Engineer[ing].

Computer filename extension indicating a Self-Extracting Archive.

Southeast Evaluation Association. ``Formed in 1986, SEA is a regional affiliate of the American Evaluation Association. Its annual conference attracts participants from the entire southeast region and internationally known speakers. SEA members have varied backgrounds in performance and program evaluation, teaching, policy analysis, planning and measurement.''

Membership has its privileges. Primarily, it allows you to claim that you're ``at SEA.''

State Education Agency.

Systems Effectiveness Analysis.

sea breeze
Blows toward the coast on hot days. See cooler by the lake entry for explanation.

Student Environmental Action Coalition. Pron. ``seek.''

SouthEast Asian Games. (Sports-type ``games'' -- not political games. There's no politics in sports. None.)

SEa Air Land. Pronounced like the name of the animal -- seal. Seals live in the sea and eat fish. Oh -- you want to know what SEAL's do.

sealed acronym
An acronym that is no longer to be expanded. A typical situation is that of an established professional organization whose original name has wording that the organization prefers to downplay or suppress, but whose initialism or acronym is a valuable brand. It may be that the organization has expanded geographically, and wants, say, to soft-pedal a national reference now that it has gone international. The organization may have expanded its bailiwick in some other way. We may have a more detailed analysis at some later time, but for now here are some examples of sealed acronyms mentioned (or eventually to be mentioned, if there's no link) elsewhere in our glossary: AACSB (temporarily sealed for repairs), AAMCO, AARP, ACCELS, ACCO, ACT, ACTR, ACTR/ACCELS, ADSC, A&E, Alco, Alcoa, Amoco, Amway, ARCO, ARMA, Biola, BP, CIB, CBS, CMP (sealed so tight I never pried it open), Crisco, CVS, DBfK, Enco, Esso, HLN (possibly), IBM, ICSU, JBL, JDRF, JHPIEGO, KFC, MAACO, NAACP, Nabisco, NORA, Norelco, NTM, PHP, QJM, Reo, NARAL, Nasdaq, NDN, Socal, Socony, Sohio, Spam, SPIE, SQL, STS, Sunoco, Texaco, TD, velcro, YIVO. SBF is not an example yet.

It is very often the case that an organization that seals its acronym (e.g., ADSC, ARMA, SPIE, and YIVO above) will adopt an official name that includes a description in apposition to the old initialism. This is one of the key signs that the acronym has been sealed or (see AGI) is in the process of becoming sealed. This is often ungainly, and is especially awkward in situations where abbreviations are being introduced. For example, sometime in 2007 a feature article in ADSC's glossy bimonthly had the following title and subtitle: ``Annual Alliance Report: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and ADSC: International Association of Foundation Drilling (ADSC).'' This glossary entry was inserted on or before August 14, 2007.

Another problem with sealed acronyms in appositional names may occur if the original acronym expansion contained words, like ADSC's ``Association,'' that were later added in apposition. (There's also the partial overlap of the acronym's ``Drilled'' with the appositional phrase's ``Drilling.'') These may be considered AAPP's -- Pleonasms with Acronym Assistance pleonasms. However, this is a very dicey question, particularly once the acronym is completely sealed. We have teams of philosophers working around the clock to resolve this vital issue, and we expect to receive a preliminary report within a couple of millennia. SPIE (with overlaps in Society, Photo-optical/Optical, and Engineers/Engineering), ARMA (Association and Managers/Management), and YIVO are on tenterhooks. [YIVO is an extreme case if you're reading the Yiddish, where the description in apposition is simply the original acronym expansion (details at its entry). In English, the appositional Institute echoes the Yiddish Institut -- represented by O in the acronym.]

sealed initialism
A term that we here at SBF, after careful consideration, have decided to deprecate. We are pleased to observe that already, following (or perhaps even racing ahead of) our lead, no one uses this term. The preferred term is sealed acronym (supra). Acronyms are initialisms that are regarded as words. It is often difficult to say whether an initialism is regarded as a word, because mind-reading is an exacting task. However, when any initialism is sealed, its former expansion is suppressed or avoided, and that is strong evidence of its worditude or wordocity, as the case may be. Hence, the only use of the term ``sealed initialism'' would be to describe an initialism that was not but is now an acronym. Life is complicated enough.

(It might be objected that when an initialism is pronounced as a sequence of letter names, it is less likely to be deemed an acronym. However, that could only be a valid objection in a phonetic language.) If I wrote any more, I'd start waxing philosophical about the past participle. No one wants to see that happen.

There are a few song pairs played without break in very popular recorded versions, and that are almost always played back-to-back on album radio. Some I've noticed are

There's actually a silent moment in the Queen item, but it's a single track in some of Queen's albums.

[It's hard to say precisely how complete the above list is, especially since only a small fraction of songs from albums ever sold get much airplay, and the above is based mostly on what I've noticed on the radio. (Of course, there's some overlap with pairs I've noticed in my personal collection.) What I can say is that I've returned to this entry at least half a dozen times to add a pair that turned out to be on the list already. Not only does this prove that I have absolutely no long-term memory, but it also suggests that the songs on this list represent a solid majority of such pairs, weighted by airplay, at least in the ``classic rock'' genre.]

I guess that if you're a DJ with the runs, you can queue these along with American Pie. They're also ready-made for Two-for-Tuesday.

I heard these described as medleys by more than one DJ. (I've also heard a DJ stumble trying to describe the ZZ Top pair listed above, evidently because he didn't know or couldn't think of an apt term.) I suppose these song pairs fall within most loose definitions of the word, but medley normally implies or suggests incomplete serial performance of more than two songs. Part of the charm of nonindustrial medleys is the art of the musicians in making a smooth transition. When the whole songs form a medley this is less of a challenge, because the beginning and end of a song needn't carry the same rhythm as the rest of the song.

There are some single songs, like Elton John's ``Funeral for a Friend'' and one or two Pink Floyd tunes, that seem like two songs combined. Ike and Tina Turner did a famous cover of ``Proud Mary,'' sung half ``nice... and easy'' and half ``rough,'' which is discussed at the octane number entry.

To help you find the foregoing entry, we include this search-engine fodder:
two-fer 2-fer I thought it was one song but it was really two songs only one song but it's two songs back to back together recorded live I thought it was just one song but it was actually two songs no pause no silence no interlude album tracks like a single track I thought it was a single song but it was two songs the first song flows into the second song the first song flows into the next song one song flows into the other song when they play it on the radio it sounds like a single song but it's really two songs that sound it sounds like just one song but it's really two songs that it sounds like one song but it's really two songs I thought they were one song I thought they were just one song I thought they were a single song

search engines

This isn't really our oldest entry. It's just the most dated.

WHO (World Health Organization) Regional Office for South-East Asia. Other regional offices are listed at the AFRO entry.

School of Engineering and Applied Science.

SEA (as in salt water) SATellite.

Sisters of Eastern Africa Study Conference. Affiliated with AMECEA.

SouthEastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. ``An interdisciplinary society promoting the interchange of ideas and information on the culture, history, literature, philosophy, politics, music, economics, architecture, art, medicine, and science of the eighteenth-century world.'' An odd way to define voyeurs.

Seat, SEAT
Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo. Founded in 1950 with Fiat assistance. As recently as 1972 or so, when we rented a SEAT in Portugal and Spain, SEAT was just a FIAT manufactured in Spain, with some minor cosmetic changes. Since 1990, it has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen.

The English-language Wikipedia entry for SEAT claims that the E is long (``SEE-at''). I don't recall ever hearing it pronounced any other way than phonetically according to its spelling in Spanish (hence short-e: ``SEH-at''). Perhaps the British pronunciation is modeled on that of Fiat. (There probably isn't any distinct American English pronunciation, since SEAT isn't marketed in North America.) The Spanish-language Wikipedia entry makes no particular comment on the pronunciation. It does, however, explain the following:

SEAT currently names its models after Spanish cities. In order to avoid possible trademark problems in the future, it has registered the names of all the cities of Spain.

SEAttle-TAComa. Two cities and one airport in Washington State.

When your body's back is against your seat's back, your back is usually about stationary. To the extent that it is moving in any direction, it is moving slightly, slowly downward, as your body moves from a sitting into a slouching posture. Consequently, the friction of the seatback tends to pull your shirt out, and if you've got a coat or anything draped over the seatback it tends to be pulled forward and down, in a motion that reminds most people of subduction at a tectonic plate boundary. The significance should be clear: you should take your coat or (especially) your light jacket off before sitting, and drape it over the back of the chair so it opens forward. If you sit down and then take your coat off in place, leaving it inside out with the zipper or buttons or whatever facing back, the weight of the coat acts parallel to the ``drag'' force exerted by your dorsal anatomy, obliviating your outerwear into the dusty, navel-like crack between the seat bottom and seatback. Don't say you weren't warned.

Another approach that some may find preferable is to wear a silk shirt soaked in K-Y jelly.

When I think of what the world is missing because my book of essays and life hints has failed to find a publisher, it brings tears to my eyes. Another approach that some may find preferable is to apply glycerine to the side of the nose. (What Goya did was simply tell his daughter that her fiance had died. I do believe he let her in on his little joke once he finished the painting.)

South-East Asia Treaty Organization. Nowadays includes Viet Nam.

Scottish Examination Board.

SouthEast by East, SouthEast by South. Vide compass directions.

Styrene-Ethylene-Butadiene-Styrene block copolymer. More precisely: poly(styrene-b-ethylene-co-butylene-b-styrene).

French: `dry.'

Securities and Exchange Commission. Many of the public disclosure filings to the SEC are now required to be done electronically, and are online in EDGAR.

Size Exclusion Chromatography. Same as GPC.

SouthEastern (athletic) Conference.

quentiel Couleur à Mémoire. Or Système séquentiel Couleur à Mémoire. More often expanded with avec instead of à, which is incorrect (to say nothing of what we had here before). A loose translation of the French is `System Essentially Contrary to the American Method,' which can be translated back to yield Surtout Éviter la Compatibilité Avec le Monde. (Monde means `American.') The system takes a bit of memory: for each line, first one and then a second chrominance signal is transmitted. (YUV color coördinates are transmitted, which is more efficient in practice.) More at video encoding. Cf. NTSC, PAL.

Scanning ElectroChemical Microscopy.

second-best bed
A lot of toner cartridges have been spilled regarding this most famous phrase from Will Shakespeare's will. I just want to add that the phrase can also be found (see p. 29) in the text of The Apologia of Robert Keayne: The Self-Portrait of a Puritan Merchant, ed. Bernard Bailyn (New York: Harper & Rowe, 1964). The title page interposes the following between the title and subtitle of the cover quoted above: ``The last will and testament of me, Robert Keayne, all of it written with my own hands and began by me, mo: 6 1: 1653, commonly called August.'' (You know, until 1750, when the British Empire adopted the Gregorian calendar, it also reckoned the new year as beginning with March. But many people didn't entirely abide that, as is clear from the beginning of P's famous diary.

A good example of the voluminous literature alluded to (though one with an odd interpretation that abstracts testatory uses of ``second best'' from obscure English legal history) is The Second Best Bed: Shakespeare's Will in a New Light by Joyce Rogers (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1993). On page 72 there you can find a paragraph of the usual examples of parallels that have been adduced, not including the one above.

Online you can find ``Alas, Poor Anne: Shakespeare's `Second-Best Bed' in Historical Perspective,'' an 18-page article on the subject (critical of the Stratford man) by Bonner Miller Cutting, published in the Oxfordian in 2011.

second second
Most entries in this glossary seem to start out as parenthetical remarks about other entries. With care and time, these parenthetical entries expand to the point where they consist mostly of parenthetical comments tangential to the subject of the parenthetical itself. But since you like it this way, and can't remember what you originally came here to find out anyway, we'll carry on carrying on.

Oh yeah, what I wanted to mention was that sometimes ``second second'' is synonymous with ``third.'' One example occurs at our L2 entry. Another example occurs in the movie industry, where ``second second assistant director'' is a synonym of ``third assistant director.'' You may wonder which term is more undignified. It looks like a calculation. One factor to include in it is that reportedly, ``third'' is sometimes mispronounced to suggest a false etymology of the word that comes behind it.

Eventually, this entry will be mostly about instances of numbering similar to ``second second.'' For example, we'll mention a distortion of traditional Hebrew numbering that is used to avoid writing a reference to the name of God. We won't bother explaining the Pentium II, Pentium III thing, since that's already covered at an existing entry. Later, we'll veer off into things that are somewhat more tenuously related to ``second second,'' like French base-twenty number names. Somewhere along the line, some etymological quirk will catch my attention, and the entry will end up being about that.

Secretarial Sciences
This is a good joke whether it is intended as such or not.

You can't have a science without specialization. Mine is experimental spelign.

I should be clear about the ``whether'' above. Many universities offer a degree in this undiscipline, and though I think they have a lot of cheek, I haven't noticed a tongue in any of them.

But be careful what you google for, you may get it back in adsense. I got sidetracked into degrees in ``Fire Science,'' and for a week my banners and margins were burning with invitations to get a degree in that subject.

Semiconductor Equipment Communication Standards. See, for example, Object Engineering, Inc. in Vancouver, WA ; (360) 693-7334.

Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. We list a bunch:
  1. American SECS
  2. East-Central/American SECS
  3. South Central SECS
  4. Southeastern American SECS
  5. Midwestern ASECS
  6. Western ASECS

secs remaining
Some web browsers entertain the user with an estimate of the time remaining for a download to be completed. Typically, the estimate is based on the time elapsed since downloading began (call this t) and the fraction of the downloading file that has been transferred (call this f). The simplest, and apparently most common, estimate of time remaining is
t × ( 1 - f ) / f .
During a normal download, there is an initial burst of enthusiastic, high bit-rate transmission. The technical term for this is sucker bait. After anywhere from 10 to 90% of the file has been transferred, the process is slowed or halted (technically: the tease). The precise profile of this stage is a matter of careful engineering, with the design goal of maximizing user pain (P). Too slow, and users give up in frustration, prematurely limiting their irritation. Too fast, and users are pleased. (The latter undesirable outcome can lead to user satisfaction and increased load on precious computing resources.)

One design strategy involves a calibrated transfer of data that generates a constant time-remaining estimate. Ideally, this requires

	d   /   1-f \
	-- (  t ---  )  =  0 ,
	dt  \    f  /

or f(t) = t / (t+ts) , where ts is the constant-by-design estimate of the time remaining for download to be complete. The subscript s stands for Sisyphus.

secular simony
In the first chapter of Essays on Politics and Literature (``Literature and Politics,'' originally published elsewhere), Bernard Crick (no, not the DNA guy; a lit. guy) writes
... students of literature have had cause to be nervous of social scientists plundering the golden treasury, often for partisan purposes heavily disguised as science.


Latin conjunction meaning `but.' It's almost surprising that the Romans had such a word. You figure they'd use et or even the enclitic -que (both meaning `and') and expect you to figure out what they meant, or else that they'd use some crazy construction involving ac and ut.

Here's something relevant from Studies in Linnaean Method and Nomenclature (q.v.), by John Lewis Heller (a classical scholar):

A prominent feature of Linnaeus's Latin style, at least in the Dedication, is his omission of connectives, whether it be in a series of enumerations where no semifinal et or final -que was written or in a pair of contrasting terms where we might expect sed. This was a familiar device of classical rhetoric and I have been at some pains to preserve it in the translation, probably to the reader's annoyance.

[The comment refers to Heller's translation of Hortus Cliffortianus, which Carolus Linnaeus published in 1737. In the commentary following his translation, the quoted text is the first thing mentioned under the rubric (p. 105) of ``Problems of translation.'']

School of EDucation. Just to be sure that you don't confuse it with a school for education, they should avoid actually having any education take place there. Oh wait, that's already the case.

Shipper's Export Declaration.

Smoke-Emitting Diode. Not rechargeable.

Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands. `Socialist Unity Party of [East] Germany.' A ``unity'' party in the sense of being a combined party of the left -- the East German pieces of the earlier social democratic and communist parties. With Eastern Germany, later East Germany (GDR) under Soviet control, the SED was likewise under communist control from the beginning; ultimately, communist control of the party, like the country, was consolidated. The SED's lead role (Führungsrolle) in the government of the GDR was formalized in the 1968 constitution. As the whole apparatus was coming apart in 1989, and as the party was hemorrhaging membership, the name was changed -- first to SED/PDS and then PDS.

Stream EDitor. A kind of version of the standard Unix line editor ed. Sed is a way of issuing ed commands from the Unix command line.

Surface-Conduction Electron-Emitter Display.

Survey of Earned Doctorates. How can they be sure?

Sociedad Española de Estudios Renacentistas Ingléses. `Spanish Society for English Renaissance Studies.'

In March 2004, the 15th AGM of SEDERI was held in Lisbon -- the first time it had been held outside Spain. Following that meeting, the society changed its name to the ``Spanish and Portuguese Society for English Renaissance Studies.'' In various documents, the name appears in Spanish (Sociedad Hispano-Portuguesa de Estudios Renacentistas Ingleses), Portuguese (Sociedade Hispano-Portuguesa de Estudos Renascentistas Ingleses), English, or in two or all of these. The initialism was kept unchanged. There must be a name for this common maneuver and the anachronistic acronyms that result.

South East Downtown Economic Redevelopment Initiative. ``SEDERI's aim is to build on the strengths of Old Town Toronto, and to lead efforts to revitalize the area's liveability.''

As of February 2007, it seems that SEDERI could use some revitalization itself. The last time it was mentioned in a major paper such as the Globe and Mail was February 3, 2001 (in the Toronto Star -- is that a stretch?). Under the caption ``SEDERI is being written about,'' the SEDERI website helpfully reproduces an editorial from ``The Bulletin, the most read community newspaper in Downtown Toronto.'' That editorial, from February 8, 2005, includes this mention of SEDERI:

``In trying to purge itself of the taint from its freewheeling days, HRDC renamed itself HRSDC. (No the S isn't for strippers, it's for skills. [That was true at the time, anyway.]) Under the ministrations of Toronto's Joe Volpe, its bureaucrats have gone berserk in an orgy of red tape that is strangling useful programs, including the South East Downtown Economic Redevelopment Initiative (SEDERI).'' Apparently the funding was being continued on a month-to-month basis, and SEDERI was having trouble paying its bills. ``This current situation of course threatens to overshadow much of the great work that SEDERI accomplished in the past year, such as delivering the successful Southeast Downtown Job & Career Fair held in October at St. Lawrence Market, the series of Youth Employment Skills workshops delivered in the spring and summer, and the recent Stakeholder Workshop & Public Forum on seeking local solutions to getting our shelter resident population back into the workforce.'' The most recent activity on the SEDERI website is a blog entry from June 2005 to the effect that the Board of Directors was ``refocussing on the mission and direction of the organization.''

Sociedad Española de Didáctica de la Lengua y la Literatura.

... una entidad sin ánimo de lucro cuyo objetivo es reunir a todo el profesorado y personas estudiosas de la didáctica de las diferentes lenguas y sus literaturas que tengan el propósito de promover e intensificar la investigación y la enseñanza de dichas materias.

`...a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to bring together all those in the teaching profession and those who study the teaching of different languages and their literatures who have the goal of promoting and increasing the study and teaching of said subjects.'

Normal Spanish style is more florid and verbose than normal English style. However, bureaucratese is universal.

Society of Esthetic Dentistry of Romania.

Synthetic Environment Dynamic Terrain. [For combat training.]

Signing Exact English. This is quite time-consuming. It is something like speaking out the spellings of words in English that one would ordinarily just pronounce. In sign languages, individual signs correspond to whole words, roughly, although they may have a component morphology just as words have significant phonemes such as affixes and inflections. Moreover, it should also be understood that sign languages are independent languages with grammar, vocabulary and semantics that are far from being in one-to-one correspondence with any spoken language that a person may also use to communicate. SEE is associated with the mainstreaming of deaf children (see HOH entry for more).

American Sign Language (ASL) uses one-handed signs for alphabetic characters; British Sign Language uses two-handed lettering.

Single-Event Effects. (Radiation softness of electronic devices.)

SouthEastern Europe. Cf. SEE.

Southern and Eastern Europe. One day, the partisans of ``Southeastern'' SEE (the red team) and the partisans of ``Southern and Eastern'' SEE (the scarlet team) will fight a war for control of this valuable acronym. The earth will turn crimson from the ferocious bloodbath that will ensue. Battles will rage on Greek, Cyrillic, and Roman fronts, I mean fonts. They've already nearly come to blows over ``Macedonia.''

Self Electroöptical Effect Device. My sloppy notes say this was invented by Dave Miller at AT&T in about 1981. The device is essentially a p-i-n diode in which light controls the electric field configuration and thus the light absorption, leading to much larger nonlinear optic effects than one would get from direct photon-photon interaction, or even from local electron-mediated photon-photon interaction.

seedy rahm

Slavic and East European Journal. Published quarterly by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, which has a SEEJ page.

Slavic and East European LANGuageS. A mailing list. There's a good web-based archive of the list. You can subscribe from this page.

South East European Politics. Apt enough name. A journal published by CEU faculty and students. ISSN 1586-9733.

See reverse panel for nutritional information
Teaser in the candy machine. You know, just twenty-five Kit-Kat bars provide the minimum daily adult requirement of protein. They also provide enough fat.

St. Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute. On its website, SEERI describes itself as ``India's advanced teaching and learning centre for Syriac language and heritage.'' I suppose the acronym might be a punning backronym. An institution of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church, SEERI was established in 1985 at Kottayam, Kerala, India. Kottayam is also the location of Mahatma Gandhi University of Kerala State (MGU was established only two years earlier), of which SEERI is an officially sanctioned ``Regional and [sic] Research Center.''

In Winter Olympics years, since the time that those have not been Summer Olympics years (i.e., 1994+4n, n a small nonegative integer), SEERI has hosted an International Syriac Conference. (There were two earlier such conferences, in 1987 and 1990.) They say that their ``publication, The Harp, mainly contains papers presented in the Syriac conferences.'' That now seems to account for about two of the annual volumes. ``Other volumes of The Harp contain learned papers from scholars all over the world.'' I have the volume XXV before me (2010) and, apart from Syriac words under analysis, its articles are mostly in English (there's an article in French and an article and a book review in German; nothing in Malayalam).

see through
There are two similar expressions with these two words, and non-native speakers can easily confuse them.
  1. In the natural sense of the collocation of see and through, the preposition through takes a noun (possibly a noun phrase) object, which is the thing through which the subject of the phrase sees. For example, Superman can see through doors, a perceptive person can see through your pretenses, etc. One can typically imagine a line of sight through the named object of the preposition. The verb see is often intransitive, as in the preceding examples, but not necessarily (as in ``see the sun through a break in the clouds'').

  2. In the idiom similar to this, see is transitive. E.g., ``courage will see you through the current troubles.'' One can sometimes imagine a line of sight from the subject to object (of see): ``I will see you through this.'' The expression is usefully ambiguous: in the last example, it probably means that ``I will be with you (or be there-for-you) during this' (something a little weaker than ``I will walk you through this''). But it could, just barely, also mean ``I will see you on the other side of this; you will get through this and I will see you again.''

    In this idiom, through may not have an explicit object (``love will see you through'') or it may look as if it has a prepositional phrase as predicate (``we will see you through to the end''). One can think of through in these abstracted forms as a particle, like out in the ``verb + particle'' construct pass out. In the last example, ``to the end'' modifies the transitive construct adverbially.

You can sound very silly using the wrong expression. In late 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was trying to decide whether to site the world's first large-scale nuclear fusion reactor in France or Japan. Claudie Haignere, France's minister of research and new technologies, issued a statement through her ministry on December 20 that was either originally in, or eventually translated into, Broken English. It said that the fusion project ``remains an absolute priority for Europe. We are utterly convinced that our human, financial and technological advantages should allow us to see through this project.'' As it stands, the statement suggests the the project is a kind of screen to be seen through, implying that it is a deception and a boondoggle. Unless the author was having an attack of candor, the intended English was ``...to see this project through.'' (No French version of this statement was published in any of the French-language news sources searchable by Lexis-Nexis.)

Dylan Thomas wrote a famous poem to his dying father, entitled ``Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.'' He used the adjective gentle rather than the adverb gently, because he meant to describe not how the father should go, but how the father should be as he went. The gentle is an adjective because it modifies the noun father (implicit subject of the imperative verb). This is a perfectly standard form of expression, parallel to ``he ran laughing through the underbrush'' or ``he stands red-faced at the door.'' I think a similar distinction is at work in the see-through idioms, but I haven't figured it out yet.

Student Evaluation of Faculty. Here's an article entitled ``Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Student Evaluation of Faculty: Galloping Polls In The 21st Century,'' by Robert E. Haskell at the University of New England.

State Employees Federated Appeal.

Single-Ended Fault-Locating.

[Segre Thumbnail Portrait]

The car of Emilio Segrè had a bumper sticker that said ``My owner has a Nobel Prize.'' At right is a picture of the owner.

Software Engineering Institute.

Strategic Environmental Initiative.

A money machine for NBC. Described in BusinessWeek for the week of June 2, 1997.

Service Employees International Union. During the long decline in union membership over the last decades of the twentieth century, with 1.7 million members as of 2004, it was the largest union in the AFL-CIO. In 2005, on the occasion of the meeting that marked the fiftieth anniversary of the AFL-CIO merger, it and the Teamsters Union bolted.

Japanese: `society,' roughly translated. Supposedly differs from Western notion of `society' (seken) in connoting the various ties that connect individuals within the society. Oh.

Science and Engineering Library at UB.

Links: thumbnail description - hours - location (It's in Capen Hall. Take my advice and follow the link if you've never been there before.)

selbstverständlich, selbstverstaendlich
German, from selbst (`self') + verständlich (`understandable'). May be translated variously as `natural,' `obvious,' `goes without saying,' `impossible not to understand.' Indeed, if you understand verstehen (`understand') then selbstverständlich is itself selbstverständlich. I hardly know why I bothered to give it a glossary entry.

selected data
Data tendentiously selected to seem to support the author's claims.

Selected Letters of James Thurber
Edited by Helen Thurber and Edward Weeks. Copyright Helen Thurber, 1980, 1981. My copy is a 1982 Penguin paperback, but presumably it should be no trouble to get a copy off the shelf at your local Barnes & Noble. (Yeah, I'm real good at presuming.)

selected response
A testing-industry euphemism for ``multiple choice.''

Sensible and Efficient Lighting to Enhance the Nighttime Environment. A New York group that lobbies to limit night-time light pollution.

Stimulation, Entropy, Legibility, and Fragmentation. This acronym is introduced in an article mentioned at the Spam entry, which is worth a quick skim. (The glossary entry, I mean. You should ignore the article, as I've already summarized all of its useful content.) Like the author, most of his readers don't understand entropy, so he might as well have it mean scattered attention.

The next stage in intelligent stationery.

This is not intended to imply, as it does (and correctly), that a thing thus characterized adheres to itself. Instead, it emphasizes that the adhesive is prepositioned where it will be needed. Early in the twentieth century, this was a novelty. Now the name persists as an irony.

self-aggrandizing praise
This entry isn't about mere name-dropping, and it's not about self-interested praise unless the interest of the praising party is primarily to be aggrandized. It is not even about building up the reputation of someone else so as to bask in the reflected glory (parental praise, boosterism, etc.). Rather, it is about a class of unclassy behaviors that needs a name, and the head term was the best I could come up with on short notice.

Unfortunately, later I forgot what specifically it was a term for. I think it was intended to refer to praise that ostentatiously implies that the praiser has the special understanding or perception necessary to sit in judgment of the praised. A subspecies of condescension.

Enhancement-mode. The term applies to insulating-gate transistors. The idea is that if VGS = 0, then the transistor will be in the off state.

A short work of fiction.

Unconsidered and arbitrary. Obvious.

It is certainly true that many worthy books fail to find a legitimate publisher. But many more unworthy books also fail to find a publisher. Not even counting ``commercial'' books and romances, more than enough really bad books slip through to give us a good idea of what we are most fortunately missing.

Oh, enough philosophy. I want to talk about one of my own favorites in the genre of very bad books: A Short History of Technology. It's self-published by proxy. That is, it was ``A Publication of THE THOMAS ALVA EDISON FOUNDATION, INC.,'' but the authors, Vice Admiral Harold G. Bowen and Mr. Charles F. Kettering, were Executive Director and President, respectively, of that laudable foundation.

The book is indeed short -- a ``booklet'' in the words of the author of its foreword (C.F. Kettering). This requires a bit of compression and scanting of details. Here's a breezy sentence on page 19: ``In passing we must not forget the great contributions of Euclid to geometry and Hipparchus and Ptolemy to trigonometry.''

Professional historians looked down their noses at the Durants, who depended almost entirely on secondary research for their sweeping vistas of history. Short is a few scratches below that. Cited works include Webster's New International Dictionary, 2nd Edition and (47 times in 91 pages) Encyclopedia Britannica, 13th Edition (not further specified). (Kettering, an important inventor, now has his own entry in the Britannica.) Many pedestrian passages are ``reprinted with permission.'' I imagine the permission was granted by the publishers and not the authors. It must have been galling to Herbert Butterfield to have a passage quoted from his The Origins of Modern Science. A page or two after the quoted material, he enveighs against the kind of Whig history that Short is such a parodic example of (example at HOT entry).

A silly literary term meaning `reflexive.' I mean, reflexive refers to the self, right? So it means `self-self'! Of course, I suppose, upon reflection, that reflexive could have some meaning related to another sense of the word reflection, so self-reflexive might mean `characterized by reflection (contemplation) on itself,' just as self-refluxive might mean `characterized by refluxing on itself.' Hmmm. It's a good thing this is really just a microelectronics glossary, or I might be compelled to actually find out. [Split-infinitive alert!] We'll just suppose that self-reflexive means `reflexively reflexive' and leave it at that, okay?

Incidentally, the perceptive and/or hip student of this glossary will perhaps have noticed that this glossary is itself self-reflexive (setting aside the surprisingly difficult question of whether that is actually a meaningful observation). Indeed, your glossarist is walloping the gentle reader over the head with manifold demonstrations of this ambiguously meaningful, uh, fact. Let's face it: the student of this glossary who has not noticed this fact is basically a COMPLEAT NINCOMPOOP! and is kindly called upon to take notice of the fact (of glossary self-reflectivity, I mean), so that we can all move on.

Now then, that we are all reading from the same page (S04.html, to be precise, or maybe S.cgi), your glossarist raises the following question which will no doubt fascinate you: we know that the SBF glossary is a (most excellent, of course) work of metanonfiction, but is the Stammtisch in se self-reflexive? The answer, you will be relieved to know, is just a hyperlink away.

Concerned with oneself or one's interest. The word doesn't carry the necessary connotation of excess, of conceit (what was called self-conceit before the other meanings of conceit became rare). But what, then, are we to call a pompous, self-absorbed work like the philosopher Eric Voegelin's Anamnesis? Here are some excerpts from the mercifully abridged translation of Gerhart Niemeyer (Notre Dame and London: U. of N.D. Pr., 1978).

    In 1943 I had arrived at a dead-end in my attempts to find a theory of man, society, and history that would permit an adequate interpretation of the phenomena in my chosen field of studies. ...
    The default of the school-philosophies was caused by a restriction of the horizon similar to the restrictions of the consciousness that I could observe in the political mass movements. But if that was true, I had observed the restriction, and recognized it as such, with the criteria of the observation coming from a consciousness with a larger horizon, which in this case happened to be my own. ...
    What I had discovered was consciousness in the concrete, in the personal, social, and historical existence of man, as the specifically human mode of participation in reality. At the time, however, I was far from clear about the full bearing of the discovery because I did not know enough about the great precedents of existential analysis in antiquity, by far surpassing, in exactness and luminosity of symbolization, the contemporary efforts. I was not aware, for instance, of the Heraclitian analysis of public and private consciousness, in terms of xynon and the idiotes, or of a Jeremiah's analysis of prophetic existence, before I learned Greek and Hebrew in the 1930s.
    Nevertheless, I was very much aware that my ``larger horizon'' was not a personal idiosyncrasy but surrounded me from all sides as a social and historical fact from which I could draw nourishment for my own consciousness. ...

I know what you're thinking: ``Sure, but that's the beginning of chapter one -- introductory remarks. Personal experience for orientational purposes.'' Alright then, from page 41:

    Our old family seamstress in Oberkassel, Mrs. Balters, has much influenced me gently. She introduced me to the Leather-Stocking Tales; I still remember distinctly the much-used and greasy book that she brought. I must have been about six years old. Leather-Stocking constituted an inner kingdom of adventure; I do not remember having understood America to be the scene of the tales.
    More important were our theological conversations. Mrs. Balters had excellent information about Paradise. All that I know about Paradise I learned from her. ...

The meaning of this word would be self-evident if the usage styled for named were still common. ``Self-styled'' means self-named. It does not mean self-appointed. It is inappropriate to use ``self-styled'' when there is no evident designation referred to, or when that designation is not one to be chosen by the named entity. Here is an example of incorrect usage, from Douglas Herbert, CNN.com Europe writer:
As Americans squabble over whether their presidential cliff-hanger is a case of democracy at its finest or constitutional confusion, many Europeans are relishing their self-styled role as a sort of transatlantic heckling gallery.

(In the same article, Herbert quotes a number of malapropisms attributed to George W. Bush. He expresses skepticism, but fails to note that they are well-known to have been spoken by J. Danforth Quayle. Depend upon it: someone who stumbles on vocabulary is likely to have other faults.)

Sociedad Española de Lengua y Literatura Inglesa Medieval. Official English name: `Spanish Society for Mediaeval English Language & Literature.' The ``Medieval'' spelling is also used. For your research convenience, in all quoted text of this entry I have made certain to transcribe that word in precisely the form in which it appears in my source. SELIM doesn't seem to be too consistent or strict about the spelling. They're also not very strict about the medieval time period. The ``usual areas of interest of the society's members'' are described in the foreword to the 2003 conference proceedings as historical linguistics, Old and Middle English language and literature, textual studies, and the contemporary reception of the Middle Ages.

Well, selim is one form of the Arabic word salam (cognate with Hebrew shalom), and occurs as a Muslim name. During the medieval era, high accomplishments in language and literature were reached in the Islamic world -- the highest, in some estimations. So there's a connection of sorts.

SELIM's website makes a distinction between all-caps unitalicized ``SELIM'' for the society and italicized ``Selim'' for the society's journal (ISSN 1132-631X) published (mostly) annually since 1989. Most of the content is in Modern English,

(WARNING: the rest of this entry contains more boring detail unrelieved by paragraph breaks and traces of nuts.)
at least in the issues I have physically held in my nonmetaphorical hands. The regular articles have an English abstract followed by a Spanish abstract. The top of the front cover reads
Journal of the Spanish Society for Mediaeval English Language & Literature.
Revista de la Sociedad Española de Lengua y Literatura Inglesa Medieval
The society has also published selections of papers presented at its mostly annual conference. The conference is referred to using the society name and a numeral (an ordinal number represented by a Roman or Arabic numeral, or the year). For example, the 15th was held in early October 2003 at the University of Murcia (¡lisp when you say that!) and 15 of the nearly 50 contributions to that conference appeared as papers in Medieval English Literary and Cultural Studies -- SELIM XV (yeah, ``Medieval'' sic, but the long dash is printed as a period), which was published in 2004. Articles mostly in English, abstracts all English. (The title, format, and publication venue for conference proceedings have not been very consistent.) SELIM I took place in 1988, and the conferences were initially annual, but it seems they skipped 2000 and 2004, and the latest proceedings available on the website (in 2012) is for SELIM 16 (2005). Published editions of Selim are also available there, through Selim 17 (nominally the 2010 issue, but the society's journals tend to be copyrighted and, it seems, first available only one or two years after their nominal publication year). I should mention that the most recent issue of Selim and of the SELIM proceedings are both currently (May 2012) dead links; I did manage to bring up Selim 17 and read a bit before, but then my Adobe Acrobat landed in the undernet.

SELective INverse detection of carbon-hydrogen (nuclear-spin) CORrelation. NMRtian.

Spectral ELLipsometry.

There's a famous story that after a public demonstration of electrical phenomena by Faraday (see EMF), PM Gladstone asked him what good it was, and Faraday replied ``Someday, sir, you will tax it.''

I guess that would make Faraday a Republican. Gladstone, or more precisely his possible drowning, figures in Disraeli's distinction between tragedy and disaster.

seller's market, sellers' market, sellers market
A market favorable to sellers. This describes not a kind of market like a grocery or a stock exchange, but the condition of a market.

German: `rare.' Related to the English seldom.

Scanning Electron { Microscop{e|y} | Micrograph }. A picture from the Smithsonian gives a tourist's-eye view. See also: FESEM.

A site in Oz has some nice graphics for those who are not faint of bandwidth.

Here's a description from Charles Evans & Associates.

Search Engine Marketing. People in the business distinguish between ``paid'' and ``organic'' search listings.

Society for EthnoMusicology. Founded 1955, a constituent society of the ACLS since 1966. ACLS has an overview.

Cf. American Musicological Society (AMS) and Society for American Music (SAM).

Society for Experimental Mechanics.

Structural Equation Modeling. Described as ``the most sophisticated correlational tool available'' by an unsophisticated user.

Secretaría de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca. The Mexican government's erstwhile `Secretariat of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries.' All I plan to find out about it for the time being is what can be gleaned at IMTA entry.

Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales. The Mexican government's `Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources.' All I plan to find out about it for the time being is what can be gleaned at IMTA entry.

A US government-industry-academic consortium for Semiconductor technology, described here.

Scaled Ensemble Monte Carlo (simulation method).

Schrödinger Equation-based Monte Carlo. Vide L. F. Register and K. H. Hess, PRB 49, 1900 (1994); and F. Capasso, C. Sirtori, J. Faist, D. L. Sivco, Sung-Nee, G. Chu and A. Y. Cho, Nature 358, 565 (1992).

Society for Early Modern Classical Reception. (That's the reception -- how it was received, the reaction to it -- of the classical heritage in the early modern era.)

A word for a period lasting approximately four months, derived from a word meaning six months. Sounds like grade inflation, doesn't it?

In detail: German universities used the term Semester, derived from the Latin [cursus] semestris (`six-month [course -- implicitly, of study]'). Most universities in most places I know of use a semester system -- two long terms separated by two long breaks, often with short academic terms for intensive or short courses during one or both breaks.

In the US, the typical semester has about fifteen weeks of classes and a final-exam period of something over a week, plus some vacation days. Typically, the Spring term runs from mid-January to mid-May and a fall term from just after Labor Day, or early September, to mid-December. Obviously this makes the schedule for fall a bit tighter, so although the mid-March ``Spring Break'' is an institution, the longest break during the fall semester is typically the long weekend of Thanksgiving. A lot of US schools have a ``quarter'' system, but this is the semester entry, so we can't discuss that.

In Japan a semester system is standard, with the school year beginning in April and final exams around the end of January. The Japanese word for semester (i.e. term) is gakki. [The double-k, incidentally, is not an artefact of transliteration. The k's are a geminate pair, with a syllable break in the middle. The word gakki makes a minimal pair with gaki, a derogatory word for `kid' (i.e., `child, young person'). Oh yeah, this is all covered at the gakki entry. Well, you probably needed to know it right away.]

Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International. ``[A]n international trade association that represents semiconductor and flat panel display equipment and materials suppliers.''

A material which, in its pure state at low temperature, has a band gap separating a filled valence band and an empty conduction band. At very low temperature the pure (``undoped,'' ``intrinsic'') semiconductor conductivity goes to zero exponentially (as does the carrier density, displaying Arrhenius behavior with an activation energy less than the bandgap). (In metals the conductivity obeys a power law reflecting the width of the Fermi distribution). The difference between insulators and semiconductors is only quantitative and not qualitative: larger-bandgap materials (> 2 eV) generally have low-enough conductivities to be considered insulators.

The common semiconductors (homopolar and compound semiconductors) have relatively weak electron-phonon coupling and electron-electron interactions, so carriers produced by doping are quasifree, with electron and hole mobilities much greater than 10 cm²/V-sec. At low temperatures, in single-crystal material that has been modulation doped, phonon, defect and ionized-impurity scattering are all small and mobilities on the order of 107 cm²/V-sec have been achieved.

SouthEast MissOuri State University. It's possible that this 1986 advertisement for a Philosophy Department position, written frankly and (therefore) not intended for publication, is the university's main claim to fame. ``Our students tend to be poorly prepared for college level work, intellectually passive, interested primarily in partying, and culturally provincial in the extreme. ... The academic environment at SEMO is distinctly non-intellectual -- somewhat like a Norman Rockwell painting -- and the candidate cannot expect to attract students by offering courses that assume innate curiosity about ideas and books, or intellectual playfulness, or independence of moral and political thought.'' I'm sure things are much better now.

SEMPstressy. Equivalent to seamstressy. The place of business or the activity of a sempstress or (equiv.) seamstress. Of the four terms, only the last seems to have survived past the beginning of the twentieth century.


Semper Fi
Marine Corps abbreviation of the Latin Semper Fidelis, `always faithful.'


Semper ubi sub ubi
One of the most popular puerile jokes among Latin students: ``Semper ubi sub ubi,'' though not grammatical as Latin, consists of words that can be translated individually as `Always where under where.' Ha, ha. It may not surprise you to learn that the Classics discipline has a concept of ``too much fun,'' as illustrated in this Classics-List posting.

The Chop Shop again offers what it calls ``Latin Proverb Undies'' for women and ex-boyfriends. They look cheap and they cost $9 to $11 apiece. The ``proverbs'' are not proverbs but mostly riffs on real Latin proverbs or translations of common English expressions (e.g., ``Carpe Noctem'' instead of ``Carpe Diem''; ``Amor Caecus Est,'' `Love Is Blind''), and they're mostly grammatical. They're not very sexy, but the print is small enough that you have to get close to read it. This reminds me of something that happened to me that I had better not retell yet.

A monetary subunit equal to one one-hundredth of a Japanese yen. The 1913 Merriam-Webster described the sen as a ``Japanese coin, worth about one half of a cent.'' The Japanese yen (100 sen) is currently worth about a penny of US currency, and the current Merriam-Webster website (you do realize that the surname Webster is an old word meaning weaver, right?) has a ``Money Table'' that describes Japanese sen, along with Macedonian deni and Rwandan centimes, as ``[n]ow a subdivision in name only.'' Hence a one-sen coin wouldn't be worth the effort of putting in your pocket. It would however, be worth at least three points if placed on a Scrabble board.

The Japanese sen discussed above is written as a kanji. Kanji are traditional Chinese characters, typically pronounced in at least a couple of ways in Japanese. This sen kanji has a Mandarin pronunciation Romanized as qián. The Mainland Chinese currency, the yuan, is subdivided into 100 fen, which I imagine are something else.

Yuan, yen, and won (Korean currency unit) all look like they might be the same word. After all, what's a vowel (or a semivowel) among friends (or enemies). The ``English-Chinese Dictionary (Unabridged)'' edited by Lu Gusun asserts firmly that the Korean word is derived from the Chinese yuán. [No Chinese etymology is offered for chon (or jeon or jun), the hundredth part of either Korea's won.] The Japanese word is a bit more of a problem, and this dictionary unaccountably offers yuán as its origin (albeit tentatively). One small problem is that its pronunciation in Japanese is ``en.'' A substantial problem is that its kanji is different from that of yuán. The kanji for en means `circle,' and the (different) hanji for yuán means `round [thing].'

Sen is also the name of the hundredth part of the base monetary unit of various other countries. It is (or possibly was) 1/100 of an Indonesian rupiah, a Bruneian dollar, a Malaysian ringgit or dollar, and a Cambodian riel. (The Bruneian sen is also called a cent.) The American Heritage Dictionary (AHD4) agrees with the Lu Gusun dictionary on the origin of the Japanese sen (``from Chinese (Mandarin) qián, money, coin''). It traces the Indonesian sen through senti back to cent. The cent was 1/100 of a Dutch guilder. On historical or geographical grounds, I suppose the Malaysian and Bruneian sen have the same origin. I can't tell exactly what the Lu Gun dictionary has to say, since it says it mostly in Chinese, but it uses the same symbol for the Indonesian and Cambodian sen (different from the one used for the Japanese sen). FWIW, 100 Vietnamese xu are worth one Vietnamese dong.

Some day we'll have an entry for the centum-satem thing.

Senate. If I had to guess, I'd guess this referred to the modern one in Washington, DC.

Seneca. A Roman writer. Also (not usually abbreviated) a North American Indian nation in New York. It's amazing isn't it? Most of the names now used in New York State were given by European settlers and their descendants, and many of those names were assigned by eighteenth-century academics. The last were, by the nature of education in their day, all classical scholars, and they chose names of places (Ithaca, Palmyra, Syracuse, Rome,...) and people (Ovid, Cicero and Tully [for Marcus Tullius Cicero], etc.) familiar from classical antiquity. So when the autochthons got a chance to name something, what did they choose?

Send 'em a message.
Bewilder 'em with inarticulate truculence.

Or se'night. Old word for week (seven-night) still in use in the early nineteenth century, to judge from Jane Austen's letters. Makes the still-extant fortnight (fourteen-night, two weeks) seem to have family.

senior discount
It's not just discrimination against the young; portions may be smaller.

A term roughly equivalent to ``rising senior,'' but which I've only encountered in the context of the college football offseason. At the beginning of the calendar year, a junior who may play football the following academic year (as a senior) is a senior-to-be. At some point in the summer, I guess this person may become an ``incoming senior'' or ``returning senior.'' I'll try to find out whether this is by ``eligibility'' or academic standing.

Japanese: `senior.' Cf. kohai.

`Sense,' in French, with many of the same senses (including that one) as the English noun, but most commonly meaning `direction.'

A French city at the location of ancient Agedincum, capital city of Sennones. The Sénons were one of the largest nations of Celtic Gaul, and are mentioned by Julius Caesar (so I don't have to tell you that he conquered them).

The Society of English-Native-Speaking Editors working in the Netherlands.

A power MOSFET with a split drain. Geometry determines a fixed ratio of the drain currents, about 1000 to one. The narrow, low-current drain contact is sensed to determine current in the high-current arm (the alternative is to place a small resistance in series with a single high-current drain, dissipating plenty of power and not getting high accuracy). Made by Motorola, Powerex and others.

sense of knowledge
Aphetic form of ``absence of knowledge.''

Example of use: as the WSJ reported on August 1, 2005 (article available on line from the Pittsburgh PG), the FDA and EPA delayed many years in issuing a public warning about mercury levels in canned tuna, and then issued one that was vague and apparently inadequate. Interviewed for the story, former EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt explained: ``Mercury is bad and fish is good. We needed to choose the right words that would give people a sense of knowledge without creating unwarranted fear.''

Safe and boring.

sens. obsc.
Latin, `obscure sense.' Heck, if they wanted to represent that in a way true to its meaning, they should have abbreviated it ``-e -o.''

sensu strictu
Latin, `strict sense,' literally (or in some sense strictly). Used equivalently to ``strictly speaking'' in English. In some other languages:
Italian: senso stretto
German: genau genommen.

Search Engine Optimization. Normally, ``foo optimization'' is optimization of foo... by adjustment of something that affects foo. In SEO, however, the object is to optimize the output of foo. Typically, it involves adjusting one's web pages or web site so as to optimize the position or visibility of the pages in web surfers' search results (SERPs, to be hip). Hint: a lot of web sites use so much Flash content that the search engine spiders don't find any search-worthy text. They may not be able to follow cleverly marked-up snazzy links.

Société Électrique de l'Our. The name is in French and the website is in German. Naturally, it's the Luxembourg power utility. The major stockholders in the concern are the Grand Duchy and a German company called RWE Power, each with a 40.3% stake.

The Our flows south for 78 km, approximately along the border of Germany with Belgium and then with Luxembourg; it is a tributary of the Sauer. I don't know how much of Luxembourg's electric power is hydroelectric; power companies like to emphasize their ``green'' side. Their homepage says they operate a pump-fed power station at Vianden (a historic town on the Our) for peak power production. They don't say what powers the pumps, but they go on quickly to say that they also operate hydroelectric and wind-power facilities.

Anyway, the river names are interesting. Sauer is a cognate of, and in ordinary contexts has the same meaning as, the English word sour. (See, however, the acid entry.) The name of the Our is apparently a French spelling of the old German name Ur. There's an evidently unrelated German word Uhr (same pronunciation) that means (and is cognate with) `hour' and also means `clock, watch.' There's another morpheme ur- which is more interesting.

Many English-speakers find ur- a useful prefix for which there is no adequate English translation. It refers to ultimate origin. Thus, ursprünglich is an adverb that can be translated `original' but feels more like `in ultimate origin.' English has borrowed Ursprache, `protolanguage,' and Urtext, `original text.' (In the relevant context, however, this ought to mean `original lyrics.') There is no known connection between this morpheme and the Biblical city of Ur whence came Abraham.

There might be a connection with the Latin orior, oriri, `to rise' (it looks funny because it's a deponent verb, okay?) and words like orient, origin, and abort that are ultimately derived from that. The Latin is believed to come from an Indo-European root *er-, with reflexes *ar, *or, *art(a) in Germanic, that yielded the English words are, arise, raise, [the verb] rear, and rise.

In Old High German, er was a preposition meaning `from, out of,' and ur was a semantically undifferentiated alternate pronunciation. Both forms ultimately ceased to be used prepositionally, but they survive as distinct prefixes. There is also an adverb eher, meaning `earlier,' which originated as a comparative form of er. So far I haven't been able to find a linguistic reference work that makes the connections I have failed to make explicit in this paragraph: that the er roots that yielded modern German ur- and eher are identical with the *er- that yielded origin. (It would also be interesting if there were a connection with the extinct aurochs, whose name is ultimately Germanic; in Old English, for example, the name was ur.)

Scorched Earth Party. Working to eradicate fools by brutish force. By clubbing, to be precise.

Self-Employed Pension.

Simplified Employee Pension. If your long-time employer were in bankrupcy, this could sound very ominous.

Solar Electric Propulsion. NASA acronym.

Somatosensory Evoked Potential.

Someone Else's Problem. A device that makes people not notice things. Introduced by Douglas Adams (DNA) in one of the sequels to his HHGttG.

Single Euro Payments Area. I guess that's like the eurozone version of a dollar-store checkout counter. Oh wait -- that would probably have to be a ``single-euro payments area.'' Maybe there's some clarification at the PSD entry.

(PRC) State Environmental Protection Administration. The PRC's highest (ministerial) administrative authority in environmental management. The agency that decides it's okay to keep building stupid dams. Until 1998, its name was often translated as National Environmental Protection Administration (NEPA).

Space Experiments with Particle ACcelerators. NASA acronym.

One of the separate, usually green bits that from the calyx of a flower. The calyx is the cup-like outer base of a flower. Most flowers have one, and there are usually two to five sepals in a calyx. The Spanish words are sépalo and cáliz. German is always good for a laugh: Kelchblatt and Blütenkelch, resp. Das Blatt is `the leaf' (of a tree or a book); die Blüte is `the blossom.' Die Blume is `the flower.' All of these Germanic bl- words are cognate with each other (and with the English words blade and bloom), and more distantly with Latin flor.

Der Kelch is `the goblet,' or similar drinking glass, and comes from an early (pre-Christian) adoption of the Latin calicem (accusative of calix) into West Germanic. Old English had a cognate, but later versions of the word, borrowed from ecclesiastical Latin and from Old French (in the thirteenth century and then again in the fourteenth), each successively extinguished use of earlier cognates, leaving Modern English with chalice.

The Latin calix that is the origin of the base noun of the German Blütenkelch (meaning calyx) is in fact unrelated to the word calyx. The Latin calyx is a borrowing of the Greek kályx (outer covering of a plant part such as a fruit, flower, or bud), which comes from the verb kalýptein , `to cover.' However, confusion of calix and calyx is common in the scientific literature, and calyx is now widely used for any cup-like organ.

separated at birth
Our little contribution to the tracking of this phenomenon is the observation that Anne Sweeney (Co-Chair Disney Media Networks and President, Disney-ABC Television Group), particularly as she appeared on the December 2005 cover of Pink magazine, is a twin of Angela Merkel, who became prime minister of Germany toward the end of 2005.

Japanese term for ritual suicide. Harakiri is just an ugly word that means `belly-slitting.'

This entry pahrt of the Japanese berry inaforamashan rin. Preeze now to proceed to sumo.

Service d'Études communes de La Poste et de France Télécom. [`Joint Research Service of the Post Office and France Telecom'] ``Recherche d'aujourd'hui: technologies et services de demain.'' [`Today's research: tomorrow's technologies and services.'] Electronic commerce, fancy email tricks, that sort of stuff. No English page yet. Was scheduled to become le CNET de Caen at the end of 1997.

South Eastern Pennsylvania Transporation Authority. City transit in greater Philadelphia, PA (system map here). Cf. NJT, PATCO.

séptimo arte
Spanish for `seventh art.' Alternate term for película (`film') or cine (`cinema, movies'). The term is predicated on the earlier designation of six beaux arts: architecture, dance, sculpture, music, painting, and poetry, in no particular order. Okay, in alphabetical order when translated into Spanish. Happy now? The term beaux arts itself is believed to have been coined by Charles Batteaux and introduced in his Les Beaux-Arts réduits à un même principe (1746). [In 1752 the term beaux arts also appeared in the famous encyclopedia of Diderot (and d'Alembert and others), but there it designated the four ``plastic arts'': architecture, sculpture, painting, and engraving.]

Ricciotto Canudo (b. 1879), an Italian film theorist, published a manifesto on October 25, 1911, entitled ``La Naissance d'un sixième art - Essai sur le cinématographe.'' (This was published in French because Canudo was by then established as a leading figure in the French avant-garde. Except while serving in the French and later the Italian military during WWI, Canudo lived in Paris from 1902 until his death in 1923.) In this manifesto he argued that cinema synthesized the ``spatial arts'' (architecture, sculpture, and painting) with the ``temporal arts'' (music and dance). Okay, the quoted terms are not literal quotes from the original essay. I suppose he wrote ``arts spatiaux et temporels'' or somesuch.

Anyway, at some point he seems to have noticed that there was already a sixth art, whichever it was, and by 1922 he had founded La gazette de sept arts. The next year he published an essay better known than the 1911 effort, this one probably entitled ``Manifeste des Sept Arts.'' The French Wikipédia page pour Canudo gives the title ``Manifeste du septième art,'' which seems more sensible to me, but l'université de Metz serves a page for Canudo that shows what appears to be a scan of the cover, with the Sept Arts title. In any case, that particular essay went through a few earlier versions, variously published in France and Italy. According to that U. Metz page, Canudo introduced the term le septième art in 1912.

A Roman praenomen that, while relatively unpopular in Roman times (see the tria nomina entry for a top-ten list) appears to have enjoyed a modest Anglophone vogue in recent centuries, becoming comparable in frequency to Quintus and Sextus, and clearly more frequent than Octavius in fiction. Perhaps the most famous Septimus was the Roman Emperor (193-211) L. Septimus Severus (here, of course, Septimus is a gentilicium). He seems to have taken his cognomen a bit too seriously, or severely. His personal motto was Laboremus, `let's work.' Notice the plural. I think it was Leibniz who looked forward to the day when moral questions could be resolved on a scientific basis. Then when an argument became heated, someone would simply say calculemus.

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) clearly fancied the name Septimus. The most prominent Septimus in his work is Rev. Septimus Harding, who figures in his Barchester stories [The Warden, 1855; Barchester Towers, 1857; The Last Chronicle of Barset, 1867]. Trollope also has a Rev. Septimus Blake in The Way We Live Now (1875). In Phineas Redux (1874), one of his characters misremembers the name of Quintus Slide, publisher of salacious gossip, as ``Mr. Septimus Slope, or whatever his name is.''

In The Mystery of Edwin Drood, (1870), Charles Dickens (1812-1870) included a minor canon ``Rev. Septimus Crisparkle,'' so named, as explained parenthetically, ``because six little brother Crisparkles before him went out, one by one, as they were born, like six weak little rushlights, as they were lighted.'' Dickens chose memorable, evocative names that were often puns, onomatopoeic, or both, or close. In this instance, he has to insert a little story to make his pun. Other and better examples:

  1. Thomas Gradgrind, a great believer in Facts, and Dickens's representative of insensitive scientific materialism (not yet Scientific Materialism) in Hard Times (1854).
  2. Mr. M'Choakumchild, master of the experimental school established by Mr. Thomas Gradgrind.
  3. Luke Honeythunder, a somewhat detestable bureaucrat of the philanthropic persuasion, in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). The story also has two orphans surnamed Landless (seems almost trite, after King John). A lot of orphans in this story. Another is ``Rosa Bud.'' This is ridiculous! Observe that Edwin Drood is dated to the year Dickens died. We don't get to find out how the novel was supposed to end.
  4. Miss Nipper (see the syllepsis entry).
  5. ``Pip'' (nickname of Philip Pirrip, hero of Great Expectations, first published in serial form 1860-61).
  6. Ebenezer Scrooge. Really, what more is there to say? A Christmas Carol, 1843.

Before moving on, back to Septimus, I'd like to mention Smerdyakov -- half-wit, maybe half-brother to The Brothers Karamazov (by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, as if you didn't know that, 1879-1880), and murderer of their father and himself. The name suggests his place of birth (an out-house).

Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) included both a Septimus and an Octavius in his The Moonstone (1868). Octavius Guy (that's a name) is bug-eyed, just like a lot of bass-players, and that's all I'm going to tell you about him, but it might be relevant. Septimus Luker (not ``Lukier,'' as it says in the Cyclopedia of Literary Characters) is a moneylender who takes the Moonstone diamond for safekeeping from a guy who stole it and who is eventually found dead. A moneylender is a shady character -- someone who may be engaged in a legit business, but irregular opportunities have a way of cropping up. Now think about Bogie. In The Maltese Falcon he plays a private detective, and in Casablanca a nightclub owner. Two demimondain professions. In each case, Bogie gets care of a highly valued piece of stolen property, and various people die in mysterious circumstances. As for scary or scared-looking eyes, I can't remember whether that's covered in MF.

Wilkie Collins, I might mention, made a career writing novels that were disparaged in his time as ``sensational'' (Moonstone was not in this category). Eventually, I'll probably mention another of his novels at the nemo entry. Can't wait, huh? Collins had a close personal association with Charles Dickens from about 1851 until the latter's death; his younger brother Charles married Dickens's daughter Katie.

One of the landmarks of twentieth-century fiction is Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (1925). (I'm writing in freshman essay mode, eh?) One of the important characters, by some measures the most courageous and sympathetic, and clearly representing Virginia Woolf's romantic rebellion against nineteenth-century rationalism (What, again? Didn't Dickens cover that in Hard Times?) is Septimus Warren Smith. He's married to an Italian woman named Lucrezia, but in this story he and not she commits suicide. It's a wonder professors who have to read hundreds of freshman comp essays don't commit suicide pretty often too. Three suicides mentioned so far in this entry, by my count. Ah, literature. I firmly approve the use of uncommon names for people with common surnames, but this seems to happen more in fiction than in life. Vide camp.

You know, having slogged through to the end of this entry myself, I have to admit it grows a bit dutiful after this point, even boring. You might as well follow the camp link.

Disraeli's Vivian Grey (1826) included a young barrister named Mr. Septimus Sessions. Oh, and it turns out we're not quite through with Reverends Septimi. George Meredith (1828-1909) put a Rev. Septimus Barmby in his One of Our Conquerors (1891).

John O'Keefe (1747-1833) had a hit with the play ``The Doldrum'' (like, 1798 or so, published in 1803). This sported both a Septimus (played by Mr. Quick; sometimes you wonder which names aren't invented) and a Captain Septimus (Mr. Middleton).

The other play I can find that features a modern Septimus (not counting the Edwin Drood stage adaptation by Joseph Hatton, 1841-1907) is ``Pork Chops, Or A Dream At Home'' (1860) by E. L. Blanchard, ``a Farcical Extravaganza IN ONE ACT.'' This features a Septimus Snooks, ``a Gentleman connected with the Press---vulgo---Penny-a-liner---with the `Life of a Vagabond' '' according to the front matter.

Joaquin Miller (1837-1913) included the interesting rich widow of one Septimus Boggs in a long poem called ``The Baroness of New York'' (1877). Miller was an interesting character in his own right, so interesting that I hardly know where to begin, so I won't.

In 1978 there was a UK TV series called ``The Body in Question,'' written and hosted by Jonathan Miller, an interesting character in his own right (his professional life has alternated between medicine and the theater and related areas). In one episode the following exchange from Hard Times is quoted:

``Are you in pain, dear mother?''

``I think there's a pain somewhere in the room,'' said Mrs. Gradgrind, ``but I couldn't positively say that I have got it.''


SERine. An amino acid. More at S.

Serpens. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Soft Error Rate. The rate of information errors not associated with permanent damage to the machine. Soft errors are also referred to as ``recoverable.''


Latin, Servius. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina.

The two other common praenomina are Sextus (Sex.) and Spurius (S. or Sp.).

Spanish: `large basket' (usually without handles). An uncommon word, at least in my experience. More common words for basket are espuerta, canasta (for most acceptions, including the card game, shopping basket, basket of currencies, etc.), and canasto (usually large and lidded). (As always, usage varies by region.) In Latin America and Andalucía, sera is a homophone of cera, `wax.'

The word seda (`silk') doesn't sound too similar to sera in Spanish, but it could be confused as pronounced by many non-native speakers: The letter ``d'' in Spanish is pronounced like the voiced fricative ``th'' in the English words they, these. The noninitial single letter ``r'' in Spanish is pronounced like the flap consonant that many or most American English speakers use for intervocalic ``d'' (and intervocalic ``t''). See also será next:

Spanish: `will be.' More precisely, será is the third-person singular future form of the verb ser (`to be'). The word became well-known in Anglophone America because of the song ``Que Será Será.'' This was Doris Day's signature song, and there's more about all that at the Victoria Day entry.

The song lyrics include the same phrase in English: `Whatever will be will be.' This is almost an inspired translation. One day I should come back to this entry and write a dissertation on the differences between what and whatever, and the twisted ways that they do and don't map into ¿qué?, lo que, and que.

English-speakers and sloppy spellers of all tongues write the word without the accent: ``sera.'' This spelling moves the stress to the penult. There's actually a word with that spelling.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

SouthEast Regional Center for the (US) National Institute for Global Environmental Change.

Not conscious.

Singapore Eye Research Institute.

Solar Energy Research Institute. Name and acronym of a couple of institutes in a couple of countries. The SERI in sunny Golden, Colorado, was a facility of the US government. It began operating one year and one day after the US bicentennial celebration. The following August 4, Pres. Jimmy Carter signed The Department of Energy Organization Act, which brought the DoE into being and brought SERI under its aegis. In 1991, the first president Bush elevated SERI to the status of a national laboratory and changed the name to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Universiti Kebangsaan, a/k/a the National University of Malaysia, established its SERI on July 1, 2005. Suri, the daughter of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, was born April 18, 2006 (except according to the National Enquirer). I think that explains everything. Cf. SERIS.

The 1992 book from Routledge entitled Nationalisms and Sexualities -- don't laugh yet, that's not the punch line! -- was edited by Andrew Parker, Mary Russo, Doris Sommer, and Patricia Yaeger. Here is the first sentence of the preface:
    Nationalisms and Sexualities was first imagined at Eve Sedgwick's house in Amherst, Massachusetts during a pajama party attended by the editors and several members of the editorial board of the newly-launched journal Genders.

That was the punch line.

A ``historic international conference'' resulted, held at Harvard June 16-18, 1989, sponsored by the Harvard Center for Literary and Cultural Studies, the Radcliffe Project on Interdependence, and Amherst College. I was kind of expecting something like ``Amherst College Initiative on Gendered Discourses of the Other,'' but it just says ``Amherst College.'' I guess they don't believe in compartmentalizing that stuff. They let all the fine individual participations of the college redound to the enhanced reputation of the whole.

Just in case you were thinking of inviting me to your next conference-brainstorming session, I think you should know: I sleep naked.

Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore. Singapore's national institute for applied solar energy research, organized within the National University of Singapore (NUS) and sponsored by NUS and Singapore's National Research Foundation (NRF) through the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). I'm pretty much quoting here; I don't plan to sort out what that means, very precisely. It troubles me when a scientific or engineering research institute's main Internet presence appears to be on Facebook. Cf. SERI.

SEars, ROebuck, and COmpany. Abbreviation popular about a century ago, and an honest-to-God acronym, or notarikon at least.

Surface-Enhanced Raman Optical Data Storage. Data storage based on modification of optical Raman scattering magnitude.

5-Hydroxytryptamin, a neurotransmitter amine. L-tryptofan is precursor. Here're a couple of articles: (1), (2). Well, actually, the first link seems to be dead, but maybe it'll come back. Let's be optimistic. There, there, why don't we start an SSRI regimen?

Search-Engine Results Page.

SERPAJ, Serpaj
Servicio Paz y Justicia. A mostly Latin American human rights organization.

SERTraline. An SSRI.

Système Électronique de Renseignements par Téléphone. French for `Electronic system for information by telephone.' Not just any information -- tax information. Information about Canadian taxes, in French, from the the folks who collect it. Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. ``Électronique'' means that the answerer is electronic. You already knew that the phone connection was electronic. No, I don't know the number (check here). In English, the service is T.I.P.S.

Dave Barry explains about the US version of this telephone, uh, service that it's just no good. They tell you to write clearly and not make arithmetic mistakes, instead of telling you how to cheat without getting caught.

Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment. An Internet voting system developed by the Pentagon for U.S. citizens overseas to participate in elections and primaries. The experiment was originally scheduled to run sometime in 2004, at least by the time of the national elections on November 2. In the initial experiment, only selected counties were to participate. (I.e., citizens overseas would have been able to participate in the experiment only if their legal residence was in certain counties.) SERVE was announced in January 2004 and immediately criticized by computer security experts. Four members of a ten-member peer-review Pentagon committee urged cancellation of the program. On February 4, the Pentagon announced that it was cancelling it.

Why was it the Pentagon that was doing this? Because the relevant agency (FVAP) is within the Department of Defense (DoD). During the Florida vote-counting morass in 2000, it was widely reported that most Americans voting from abroad were in or with the military. In January 2004, when SERVE was publicized, it was reported that of the six million U.S. voters living overseas, most are members of the military or their relatives. Although statistics about Americans abroad are strikingly uncertain, it is clear that these claims, at least, are false. See the FVAP entry for more.

service learning
Learning while, or by, performing a community service. Also called community-based leaning (CBL, q.v.). Performing a service for an individual who might be a member of a community is considered community service, so community is basically just a meaningless feel-good word.

serving size
This is a food-science term for the amount of food that you are served or that you serve yourself during a single food-consumption episode. Let's examine this concept with an example: Lindt-brand ``Lindor Truffles.'' These are fine, moderately priced chocolates without truffles. They are sold in chocolate-bar-shaped packages containing little square chocolate pieces with smooth filling. The squares are arranged in a two-dimensional array: six rows of three chocolate squares each, or three rows of six-piece columns, depending on how you hold the box. We're going to ignore oblique possibilities and just think rectilinearly. I can tell that your mouth is watering right now.

According to the theory of relativity, these six-rows-of-three-piece-columns or three-rows-of-six-piece-columns compass equal quantities of chocolate (in the ``rest frame,'' if you haven't opened the box yet). A separate calculation shows that this quantity is eighteen (18) chocolate pieces. This number is confirmed at three separate places on the outside of the box -- which makes sense: once you can read the inside of the box, you can probably tell how many pieces there are by the methodology of direct inspection. This has to be what people mean when they talk about ``thinking outside the box.''

Flipping the box over carefully, we find an information region labeled ``Nutrition Facts.'' (There is separate text, bearing the rubric ``Ingredients,'' which evidently does not contain nutrition facts, in some application of that term.) In order to state the nutrition facts clearly, it is necessary to state the nutrition content using intensive measures (in the thermodynamic sense) rather than extensive ones.

``Serving size'' is the food-science concept that makes this intellectual transformation possible. Intensive quantities are stated in ordinary extensive units like grams, but these quantities represent ``amount per serving.'' In our chosen example (Lindt-brand Lindor Truffles), the serving size is

[Information Facts: Normally I don't bother, but in this entry it seemed apropos to indicate the ``information serving size.'' Studies indicate that at approximately this point, give or take a word or two, readers pause to digest the information so far consumed. One serving of glossary entry contains 16% of the recommended daily value (DV) of information for the sort of adult who consumes 2000 bytes per day.]

39 grams. Given that the net weight in the package is 100 g, a serving size of 39  might seem a bit fussy. After all, they might have chosen a serving size of 40 g, which divides evenly into two packages. (Don't tell me you selfishly bought only one!) I'm sure that Lindt & Sprüngli GmbH catches a lot of flack for this, and I'm here to tell you it is just completely unfair. A sober reappraisal of the relevant nutrition fact -- ``Serv. Size 7 pieces (39g)'' -- suggests that

You know how some sites say ``under construction''? Here you actually get to see the construction underway.

Secondary-Electron Spectroscopy. Vide Electron Beam (EB).

Severe Errored Seconds.

SocioEconomic Status. Very common sociology acronym. Since it's got a familiar name, you can assume you know what it means instead of thinking about how vague the concept is.

Société Européenne des Satellites.

Spin Echo Spectroscopy.

Surgical Education and Self-Assessment Program. Administered by the Committee on Continuing Education of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action. Defunct. See the SftP entry, which is still breathing.

Secure Electronic (financial) Transaction.

Securities Exchange of Thailand. That was the name when trading began on the SET in 1975. In 1991, the name changed to ``Stock Exchange of Thailand.'' Actually, the name didn't change on its own; the name was changed to ``Stock Exchange of Thailand.'' It just goes to show how important the passive voice is. If the antojo ever siezes me, to research up any real information about SET and slather it in a neat layer over this section of the esses, I'll probably put it at the other SET entry.

Single-Electron Transistor.

Single-Electron Tunneling. AKA singletronics.

Special Edition Turbo.

Stock Exchange of Thailand. It changed its name from ``Securities Exchange of Thailand'' (SET) at the beginning of CY 1991.

Student Evaluation of Teaching.

Scientific, Engineering, and Technical Assistance.

setback to the Mideast Peace Process
Somebody or other got killed. Not that this means anything. Just don't stop the Peace Process. Don't even think about it.

Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. This is something NASA does. (In Britain, this is what NASA do, but an American who construes a collective noun as a plural just sounds like one of those over-correcting bastards who insists that data be construed plural.)

Actually, it's not something NASA does anymore, since Congress cut funding in 1993. The project has been continued with private contributions -- see the SETI Institute and the SETI League. Listen to Coast-to-Coast AM long enough, and you're bound to hear about it.

In the SBF, we conduct a very similar enterprise, which is the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). It's been suggested that Hungary might be a good place to search.

The Planetary Society hosts back issues of Bioastronomy News (scroll down to it there), the official publication of the International Astronomy Union's Commission 51, which worries about such things.

Back in the 1990's, I think, you could let your computer participate in the search in its spare time while you were away. It would help search for less-likely-to-be-noise patterns in the electronic noise of outer space. (The link is dead, okay? Now you can use your personal computer, when you're not using it for anything else and even when you are, to search for the search program of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence on Earth, or cyberspace or wherever.)

Settled Fact
A false belief based on arguments forgotten before they could be refuted.

Ha-ha! Just kidding! Of course: everyone knows that belief is not based on reasoned argument. Not even true belief.

Single Event Upset. Come-on! Take it like a man! If you want to be the alpha male, you've got to be able to take the alpha particle hits.

Smallest Executable Unit.

Well, there are always arguments about whether viruses are alive, yet there's no question but that you can kill them anyway.

Survey of English Usage.

Seven Habits of Higthly Effective foobar, The
No longer a book title, not even just a book series, but a title meme. There's nothing left to do but contemplate future titles.

Seven Sisters
Seven prestigious private colleges founded as women's colleges. Only some of them are ``sister schools'' of Ivy League colleges.

Radcliffe College was in Cambridge along with Harvard, but was absorbed into Harvard in the 1970's. All that remains is a Radcliffe Institute (research into Women's studies, um, broadly defined) and annual campaigns for money from Radcliffe alumnae. (See the seriousness entry for a sample of the Institute's good work.) Barnard is across the street from Columbia.

Wellesley is a dozen miles from Harvard and Bryn Mawr a dozen miles from the University of Pennsylvania. Vassar College (in Poughkeepsie, NY) and Cornell (in Ithaca, NY) are both less than half a dozen miles from nowhere, but they're different nowheres, nowheres near each other, no way. Well, Vassar is a bit over 30 miles from West Point. Basically, this sister has no big brother. Mount Holyoke, the eldest sister, and Smith College, are both in Massachusetts.

``Trangeneration,'' a documentary series that aired on the Sundance Channel in September 2005, featured four transgender students described as ``two women and two men.'' One of the students, Lukas, was transitioning from female to male while attending Smith College. I do not know why Lukas decided to attend Smith College, but I can see it from at least a couple of angles. It also means that anyone who looks at his résumé now will notice a sort of discrepancy. (Another student, a Filipino scholarship student at UCLA, bought hormones from street dealers for a fraction of the price of medical estrogen. Estrogen is available as a street drug? Why order from Canada when discount pricing is as close as the nearest inner city?)

According to a 2005.09.15 article in the San Francisco Chronicle (byline Reyhan Harmanci), ``legal and social pressure has resulted in administrative changes at many schools. The main issues are in the places where normative gender is enforced -- restrooms, on-campus housing, sports teams. Gender-neutral restrooms have become the standard at Wesleyan University, Oberlin, University of Massachusetts, the University of Chicago, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of New Hampshire, Beloit College in Wisconsin and several other schools.'' This is gonna wreak havoc with Title IX.

Bryn Mawr's grad school has been integrated, but the undergraduate college is still all-female. I'll just keep adding facts at random.

seventh art
English translation of the Spanish phrase séptimo arte, q.v.

Sextans. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.


Latin, Sextus. My favorite praenomen abbreviation, unfortunately only means `the sixth,' even when ...expanded.

The two other common praenomina are Servius (Ser.) and Spurius (S. or Sp.). You say you don't know what a praenomen is? Well shame on you! All you had to do was ask and be berated! (We're trying to reproduce the traditional Latin pedagogical experience here, see?) It's explained at the tria nomina entry.

A name to watch out for is Sextus Empiricus, a physician and Skeptic philosopher of the second century BC. A Greek who may have taught in Rome or Alexandria, he is normally called Sextus, with that being taken as his name in the Greek style, Latinized. Then Empiricus is regarded as an epithet referring to the fact that he was a member of the ``Empirical school'' of physicians (although he did not agree completely with that school). However, and particularly with the little that we know of him, it cannot be ruled out Empiricus was his gens or family name.

Software EXchange. Oooh! Give it to me, babeeee!

Surface Extended X-ray Absorption Fine-Structure (EXAFS).


sex-change operation
I just want to mention Siprotes and Teresias. The goddess Artemis performed a sex-change operation on the Cypriot Siprotes after he saw her bathing. I suppose you could call that an elegant solution. Better than what she did to Actaeon, anyway (described at the ARTF entry).

I only said I wanted to mention Teresias.

You know, the trouble with a love letter is that you put a lot of work into writing it and making it personal and everything, but after all that effort you send it to very few people. Fortunately, I have a place to deposit such subliterary odds'n'ends. (This glossary.)

To Miss X------:

   I know a bold woman like you can have any boy she
wants, and I know you know you are a ``man-eater.''  I
see you with other boys -- my rivals -- and I always
check them out.  What makes *them* so special?  Why
not me?

When that day I long for comes, when you finally turn
your gaze upon me and I quickly glance down at my
knees, a smile playing at the corner of my blushing
cheek, you know you will have me.

But I don't want to be just another notch in your
lipstick case.

The guys you've been with before, they're just ``loose
men.''  They only want you for ... for what's between
your legs!  *I'm not that kind of guy.*  Oh sure, I
think about, you know, down there.  Nice guys have
needs too.  But I want you to respect me after we....

I'm not like those empty-headed boys you've known.  I'm
a quality person.  I have serious interests, I watch
Animal Planet, I read magazines.  That's why I look up
to you, not just because you're on top.  I'm the kind
of guy who can appreciate the woman that you are --
your education, your seriousness, your sense of humor,
your income.

xxxooo (heart) xxoo,
your Secret Admirer.

P.S. I want to have your baby!

sex change operations
They should never be performed, because they create linguistic chaos. Oh -- the unbearable, unendurable emotional stress of deciding among he, she, and it! But that's not all! Proper academic citation becomes intolerably burdensome. For example, I just read this: ``Ever since the publication of Donald (now Deirdre) McCloskey's The Rhetoric of Economics in 1985, questions concerning the material basis for culture have focused on the motivated rhetoric of such putatively descriptive accounts....'' Well, at least there's something interestingly self-referential about that.

sex in space
In outer space, that is. It's a moderately popular topic of fiction, as indicated by this Wikipedia article. They don't mention a pornographic film called The Uranus Project. It is reported (here) that scenes were filmed on a Russian research plane capable of simulating microgravity (parabolic flightpaths), but the scenes I saw were apparently, um, performed in ordinary (non-freefall) conditions.

A much tamer and lamer cinematic treatment of sex in space occurs in Moonraker. Roger Moore (as James Bond) and Lois Chiles (Bond Girl ``Dr. Holly Goodhead'' -- Ian Fleming was a satirist, you know) are shown post coitus in an orbiting space shuttle. They are obviously floating in zero gravity, but some mysterious force causes her hair and the sheet covering them to hang earthward.

Astronauts may have sex on the ground, of course, or in bed if they prefer. Apparently this is something that shuttle astronauts Lisa Nowak and Bill Oefelein did, for a couple of years while they were married to other people. Then they broke up and Oefelein took up with Colleen Shipman. On February 5, 2007, Nowak drove 900 miles from her home in Houston to Orlando, Florida, where she confronted Shipman. The confrontation led to charges of attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault and battery against Nowak. Nowak -- at least as of as May 2007 -- and Oefelein were in the Navy. Ironically enough, but not ironically enough to merit a spot in our Nomenclature is destiny entry, Shipman is not in the Navy. She's an Air Force Captain. I guess you could say it was an inter-service rivalry.

News reports described Nowak's 900-mile drive as ``bizarre,'' apparently just because she wore an astronaut diaper so she wouldn't have to stop. Her lawyer has insisted that she didn't wear a diaper, that those were left over in the car from an earlier trip with a baby along.

sex sells
That old saw was my first thought when I opened Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices Volume II Plus Famous Restaurants and Night Clubs of the World (Herter's Inc., 1968), by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter. The ``Introduction'' is a few lines at the bottom of the title-and-copyright-and-introduction page, quoting... George Leonard Herter:
``People who honestly appreciate gastronomic miracles or in other words really good cooking never worry about their weight while they eat, anymore than a man worries about his heart while having sexual intercourse with a good looking woman.''

[Punctuation and the rest sic.]

But that isn't what prompted my thought of the old saw, because I didn't notice the ``introduction.'' I noticed the facing page, page 3, which begins the Meats section with ``Toulouse Lautrec Chicken.'' An illustration dominates the page. Its caption begins ``This painting is called `Friendship' by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec'' and ends ``[t]he name of this painting is probably one of the greatest understatements ever made.'' The painting shows a reclining couple facing each other; she is topless. At first you don't even notice her hand. (Either it's horribly deformed or that part of the painting wasn't very carefully executed.)

Present participle of the verb to sext, a blend of sex and text. Sexting is an application of texting technology and a perversion of the genteel practice of phone sex.

Early in January 2007, when she was in a twelve-step program for her ``addiction issues,'' Lindsay Lohan spent a lot of time sexting Brody Jenner. Brody, the son of Olympian Bruce Jenner, has achieved fame by appearing on a reality show and dating celebutantes. At the time, he had just signed a deal to be a ``spokesman'' for Scope mouthwash. Was he supposed to say things, or just open his mouth? When asked by <Usmagazine.com> to comment on the Lohan story, Jenner said, ``Sorry, dude. I don't text and tell.'' Chivalry is not dead.

sexual politics
Makes estranged bedfellows.

sexual self-identification
Remember, you can't spell sexual self-identification without cation. See? It's all about chemistry.

sex work
PC euphemism for prostitution. The respected profession of industrious STD vectors. It's a lifestyle choice and it's a form of slavery too! I suppose the modern term for a brothel should ``a sex works.''

Carl K. SEYFERT (1911-60). In 1943, he drew attention (in ApJ, vol. 97, pp. 28ff) to a class of galaxies (now called Seyfert galaxies, or Seyferts) characterized by bright compact cores (now called Seyfert nuclei) that show strong emission in the infrared.

Eye dialect for SAYS.

Special Economic Zone. A term used by the government of India since 2000, for regions where tax abatements and investments in infrastructure are intended to encourage manufacturing investment.

The US Congress once designated the entire Commonwealth of Puerto Rico a special economic zone, in fact if not in name, and exempted companies from paying taxes on profits earned from manufacturing there. They sez the system was gamed, and Congress rescinded the tax break in 2006. But after that many companies shuttered their manufacturing plants in PR, and they sez it hurt the economy there. I sez you can't have it all both ways; if rescinding the tax break hurt the economy, it suggests the tax break was helping it (however inefficiently). That wasn't the only problem, but in any case, as of 2016, PR has been on the brink of bankruptcy (a legal remedy that isn't legally available to US territories such as PR -- yet or possibly ever) for a couple of years.

San Francisco. Be forewarned: the locals consider ``Frisco'' pejorative.

I was first rather pointedly informed of this fact in 1975, but it goes back at least a bit further. Here's an item from a novel published in 1946 (set in 1944 or so; details at the BF entry):

   ``Wake up,'' someone was saying. ``We're letting down.'' It was broad daylight in the plane, late morning or early afternoon.
   ``Down where?'' he asked, and he pulled himself together.
   ``Don't call it that,'' Bob Tasmin said. ``Call it San Francisco. The citizens don't like it.''

Oh look, here's something: at one point, the Italian consulate in San Francisco had the domain name <italconsfrisco.org>. I guess they found out that might not be popular.

You know, people from Cincinnati take no offense at ``Cinci'' (also spelled Cincy) and people from Philadelphia don't mind ``Philly.'' A clerk I spoke with at a Turkey Hill store in Wind Gap, PA, called Pennsylvania ``Pennsy.'' (That's pronounced, and less often spelled, Pencey or Pency. You remember that at the beginning of Catcher in the Rye, Holden is flunking out of his latest prep school? That was Pencey Prep.)

Forget all that stuff about going with flowers in your hair and meeting some gentle people there. Don't worry about checking your heart and forgetting the ticket stub. Eric Burdon needed a fact-checker. All that stuff was propaganda. San Franciscans are just plain thin-skinned.

Hold the phone -- this just in! In response to threatening, um, I mean to characteristically polite email from many beautiful San Franciscisciscans, I am prepared to reveal my recent discovery of the true objection to ``Frisco.'' It's to avoid confusion with Frisco, Colorado, and Frisco, Texas. So considerate!

Maybe we should use ``Frisky'' instead of ``Frisco.'' Someone almost tried that, in fact. I'm thinking of Henry Glover (``with'' Morris Levy -- co-writing or maybe just co-collecting royalties), who wrote the words and music for ``California Sun.''

This charted for the Rivieras just as the British Invasion hit and changed everything. ``California Sun'' was a very representative American song of the era that closed then -- almost an instant antique. I think it was released in 1964; it entered the Top 40 on February 1, 1964 and stayed nine weeks, reaching #5. The Beatles' ``I Want To Hold Your Hand'' had its American release on December 26, 1963, and first appeared on the Top 40 in the January 25, 1964, edition of Billboard. There was a historic mob scene at JFK International Airport when the Beatles landed on February 7, and when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show two days later, they could hardly be heard over the screams of their fans. (Eventually, crowd noise was a major factor in the Beatles' decision to stop touring.) ``I Want To Hold Your Hand'' spent 14 weeks in the Top 40, including seven weeks at #1. For the week of April 4, the Beatles owned the top five slots of the Top 40.

(On the web, I've read alternative reports of the chart career of ``California Sun,'' such as that it was held at #2 or toppled from #1 by the Beatles' first American hit. There must be some basis for these reports, but I don't know what it is. I don't think it's the Billboard competitor Cashbox. The #5 ranking and associated dates are from the 7th and 8th editions (which were ready to my hand) of Joel Whitburn's The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. What has been popularly known as the ``Top 40'' since mid-1958 is the top 40 slots of the Billboard ``Hot 100,'' based on both sales and airplay.)

The Rivieras, you'll want to know, formed when the members were in high school in South Bend, Indiana, and had some success playing clubs in the area. They were variously described as playing surf, garage, teen, and frat rock. ``California Sun'' was their one hit. There were a number of personnel changes, partly caused by the draft, and they broke up in 1966. (Not for good -- they got together again in the 80's.) Anyway, that Glover song includes these lines:

Well the girls are frisky in ol' 'Frisco --
A pretty little chick wherever you go.

{ Science Fiction | Science Fantasy | Speculative Fiction }.

The ECLIPSE website hosts areas for Doom, Dr. Who, Captain Power (Captain Who?), and Babylon 5. In 1998 ECLIPSE won a lot of web awards, but it's getting tougher all the time.

There's an on-line Ultimate Science Fiction Poetry Guide.

Traditionally, a distinction is observed between SF, meaning ``hard-core'' Science Fiction, and sci-fi, which may be more fantasy-oriented, with ``fantasy'' often in the sense of wish fulfillment. However, non-SF sci-fi enthusiasts by and large do not cooperate in maintaining this (sometimes loose) distinction.

Signal Frequency.

Small Forward. Basketball position. Seems to me, if you're gonna shoot, forward is the safest way. Oh wait, that was small forward, not shooting forward. I was thinking of SG. Small forwards are often as short as 6'7". Regular old forwards are often that short too. I guess that's not what they mean by small. They're probably referring to hand span -- yeah, that's it.

Square Foot. Not a physical deformity, just a unit of area.

Stacking Fault.


Switching Fabric.

Sales Force Automation.

Scottish Football Association. The taupe giverrrning buddy o' Scottish soccerrr.

Snack Food Association. Has separate customer site and industry (member) site. A great friend of the Sugar Association.

SFA ``is the international trade association of the snack food industry representing snack manufacturers and suppliers. Founded in 1937, SFA represents over 800 companies worldwide. SFA business membership includes, but is not limited to, manufacturers of potato chips, tortilla chips, cereal snacks, pretzels, popcorn, cheese snacks, snack crackers, meat snacks, pork rinds, snack nuts, party mix, corn snacks, pellet snacks [I think they mean M&M's and similar foods, and not bird food], fruit snacks, snackbars, granola, snack cakes, cookies and various other snacks.''

The italics on the not-limited clause serve to highlight the differences of opinion that necessarily exist on the question of what exactly qualifies as a ``snack food.'' The book Snack Food (1990), edited by R. Gordon Booth, includes in the category of snack foods pickles, sauces, and salted jellyfish. Somewhat at the opposite extreme is Snack Food Technology (1993) by Samuel A. Matz, (details at the snack food entry). Matz prefers to exclude the three aforementioned items as well as candy, although he concedes in his preface that ``a good case could be made for including all such materials in the wider category `snacks'.''

Matz's laudable fastidiousness leads to admirable caution in the case of granola, but also to excessive indecision. For example, the introduction of chapter 18, on ``Meat-Based Snacks,'' begins

      There are several snacks composed primarily of raw materials derived from animals [he's not thinking of milk-chocolate-coated caramel here]. Almost every consumer would agree that fried puffed bacon rinds are snacks [hadn't we better take a survey?], because their texture, appearance, and flavor resemble those characteristics of puffed or fried cereal snacks [he must be thinking mouthfeel here; I don't recall pork rinds tasting like cocoa puffs], and they are sold in portion-size pouches for eating mostly between regularly scheduled meals. ...
(Emphasis added.)

From various fortune files, here's

Karlson's Theorem of Snack Food Packages
For all P, where P is a package of snack food, P is a SINGLE-SERVING package of snack food.

What's this ``regularly scheduled meals'' business? I take my food item when I'm hungry. As the French say: Consume mass quantities!

Stuttering Foundation of America.

Sonderforschungsbereich[e]. German, `Special Research Area[s].' Defined and promoted by the DFG. Various listings are given here.

SF Ballet
San Francisco BALLET.

Scottish Federation of Baton Twirling. For similar organizations, see the majorette entry.

Supercritical Fluid Chromatography. Picture (and eventually an explanation) here.

Singapore Federation of the Computer Industry.

Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy. They could have used ``advanced'' and had a vowel to work with, but I take this philosophically: if you insist on ``Critical Philosophy'' as part of your name, you're not likely to get a pronounceable acronym with less than two syllables (``SACPhil,'' say).

Shear-Force Diagram. A graph of shear force (i.e., of force perpendicular to the beam axis) as a function of position along a beam. Of course, ``force perpendicular to the beam axis'' is locally two-dimensional. Also, the shear force bends the axis a bit (see BMD for no clarification), making the shear force three-dimensional overall. These things make it difficult to represent the shear force in a mere two-dimensional diagram, sure, but I'm sure you can handle it. What are you, a mathematician? Use your tough engineer's skull to hammer through a solution.

Société Française de Dentisterie Esthétique. `French Society of Esthetic Dentistry.'

Spurious Free Dynamics Range.

Stacking-Fault Energy.

Supercritical Fluid Extraction. See 70's work by Zosel et al.. See this online.

Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders. Most of the ~1400 members are in the UK.

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.

Single-Family Home.

Society for French Historical Studies. Since this is a North American organization, and since the official name is in English, it's fair to reason that it's a society for studies of French history, rather than one for somehow-French studies of history. The SFHS was founded in 1956; it's been a constituent society of the ACLS since 1993. The ACLS has an overview.

There is membership for individuals, students (who get a discount relative to individuals), and institutions. The principal (and only testable) criterion for membership is subscription to the quarterly journal French Historical Studies (FHS). It's pretty inexpensive, but if you're homeless, where would they deliver? I guess they're just not interested in serving the French Historical Studies needs of the North American homeless community.

The similar British organization is the Society for the Study of French History (SSFH).

I jest halve this entrée hear sow I can fine it when I cant spell it. If you're spelling is bad, you look stupid even thought your a genius. Spell-checkers dissolve that problem.

Scottish Football League.

Scanning Force Microscopy. New name for AFM, q.v..

Stepped Frequency Method.

Sum Frequency Mixing.

Synchronous Flow Manufacturing.

Single Frequency Network. (Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) usage here.)

Société française de Neuroradiologie.

When I saw the headline ``Rolls-Royce in Talks with SFO over Bribery Concerns,'' I supposed SFO stood for ``Senior Financial Officer,'' in parallel with CFO. But no, it stands for the UK's Serious Fraud Office. Perhaps it also stands for the UK's Silly Fraud Office. Her Majesty's government often seems Monty Pythonesque.

Apparently there have been ``allegations of malpractice'' in Indonesia and China. There might be fraud and there might not, but judging from what I know of Latin America, the fact of bribery does not imply fraud. I mean, at least in Latin America, everyone knows what the deal is, so no one is really deceived. So bribery isn't fraudulent -- at worst it's just a little bit coy.

Stimulus-Frequency OtoAcoustic Emmission[s] (OAE). [Component of] OAE's evoked by sinusoidal stimulus, at the applied frequency. Can be detected by varying the stimulus frequency and probing for a response at earlier frequency.

Stabilization FORce. Comprised of NATO troops mostly, about 1/4 US, deployed to enforce some parts of the 1996 Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnian war.

Initially deployed for a nominal one-year mission, they're digging in for the long haul. Gilligan's Island was a sitcom launched by a three-hour tour.

San Francisco Partnership. Welcome Wagon and booster for businesses in San Francisco.

Science For Professionals, Inc. A legal group; their old site is defunct.

Scanning Fabry-Pérot Interferometer.

Structure-Function Relationship.

Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (part of Georgetown University). They award a BSFS degree.

Science For The People. Boston-based journal ``for antiwar analysis and activity.'' Founded in the 1960's by the now-defunct SESPA (Scientists and Engineers for Social and Political Action) to oppose the Vietnam War, it continues (well, continued, at least into the late 1980's) to ``challenge military applications of science and technology.''

While a lot of the leftist ``underground'' newspapers disappeared along with the antiwar movement when active US involvement ended, many academic journals of the left, founded in a similar spirit, have survived as alternatives to the perceived orthodoxy when their disciplines. Examples besides the SftP (which suggests soft porn to my filthy mind) are Radical Teacher, Insurgent Sociologist (a newsletter turned journal which dumped the activism and became Critical Sociology in 1988), Issues in Radical Therapy (like, what kind of prosthesis should I get after radical mastectomy?), Conspiracy, Madness Network News, Radical Philosopher's Newsjournal, and Sipapu.

Among major history journals, Radical America, Radical History Review (see MARHO), and Socialist Revolution survived into the late 1980's, but the last renamed itself Socialist Review.

Well, you used to shake 'em down, but
now you stop and think about your dignity!

SFTP, sftp
Secure File Transfer Protocol.

San Fernando Valley. You've heard of ``Valley Girls''; this is the one they come from.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Sound eFfeCtS. Of course, that can also be Sound efFeCtS. Record it however you like; we'll fix it in the mixer.

Special eFfeCtS.

A small two-engine commuter plane made by Saab. In the usual configuration, most of the seating is in three-seat rows: one on the left side of the aisle, two on the right. The flight attendant explains that in the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure or other emergency, it may be necessary to use the oxygen masks located under the aisle seats. The masks' tubes are to be connected to the outlets above the seats. Strikingly, there is only one outlet on each side, as if no provision had been made for the window passenger on the right. It turns out that under the right-hand aisle seat, there is a pair of masks whose common inlet tube connects to the outlet over the right-hand seats. ``I get asked that a lot,'' says the flight attendant. Now everyone can experience the intimacy of conjoined twins.

``Even though oxygen is flowing, the bag may not inflate.''

Please bring your tray tables and seat backs to their locked and upright positions, and not vice versa.

If you are traveling with or seated next to a child, put your own mask on first and then assist the child.

If this is your final destination, may God have mercy on your soul.

Insert the metal tip into the buckle, then pull on the loose end to tighten the belt. To release the belt, simply pull forward on the buckle. Here, let me help you with that.

This is your last and final boarding call. The one before was just your last boarding call. Yeah, it can get confusing.

Because of the short duration of this flight, we will not have beverage service; however, if I can help in any way, please do not hesitate to call me by pressing the yellow button above your seat.

``Yes, could I have a warm soda, and some peanuts and small pretzels in a steel-reinforced, rip-stop kevlar bag, please?''

This concludes the entertainment portion of our flight.

Do not inflate life vest while you are inside the aircraft.

SinGular. Also sing. Cf. pl.

(Domain name code for) Singapore.

Scharfetter-Gummel. Semiconductor transport simulations using Slotboom variables.

Seaborgium. Atomic number 106.

Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Secretary General. A multilingual shorthand specialist who takes the minutes at Security Council meetings, I guess. The one before Kofi Annan was Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Boutros is the form of `Peter' used by Coptic (Egyptian) Christians. (From the Greek Petros. Also, Ghali is an Arabic word that means `expensive,' but in this context I imagine it means or meant either something like `worthy, valued' or `rich.') Boutros-Ghali tried to win a second term as SG, against the opposition of the US, which -- as a permanent member of the Security Council -- has veto power over the selection. Originally, Boutros promised not to run for a second term, but this is the kind of promise rarely held against politicians. Under his leadership, the UN staff achieved notorious new heights of bureaucratic fear and sycophancy. Well, we gave Kurt Waldheim two terms, what the hey!

If it seems odd to you that the Coptic form of Peter should begin in a b sound rather than a p sound, see the BATA Shoe Museum entry.

Semiconductor-Grade (semiconductor material).

Shooting Guard. Basketball position that sounds like something happened at the bank. The other guards get to shoot too.

Silicate Glass.

Simon and Garfunkel. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel originally performed as Tom and Jerry. They broke up in 1970 reportedly amicably and have done some reunion performances. It is widely reported that they can barely stand each other, and therefore almost equally widely believed that their claims to the contrary are only for show. Still crazy after all these years. There's an enormous S&G FAQ, a legacy of alt.music.paul-simon in the days when writing newsgroup FAQ's was popular. Unfortunately, and quite surprisingly, as of August 2007 I can't find any copy of it on the web. To judge from the number of links to now-defunct websites for Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, or both, it seems there's been a severe fall-off in interest in them or their music in the twenty-first century. Here are a few certified live (by me) as of this month:

Sorghum Grain.

Spin Glass. A disordered system of spins. The typical experimental realization is a nonmagnetic metal with a small concentration (1-5%) of magnetic ion impurity. A typical theoretical model considers a system of spins with a random distribution of spin couplings. (This substitutes for the more physical RKKY model.)

The Net Advance of Physics site has some entries in this category.

State Graph.


Symbolic Gray Code.

Simple Gateway Control Protocol.

Sustainable Gross Domestic Expenditure.

Sustainable Gross Domestic Product.

Synchronous Graphics DRAM. A single-ported video Random Access Memory (RAM, q.v.).

Store Global Descriptor Table. Cf. SLDT.

Sagittae. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation Sagitta.

Suspended-Gate Field-Effect Transistor.

Silicon Graphics Inc.

Society for German Idealism. ``The primary purpose of the Society for German Idealism is to stimulate interdisciplinary scholarship on the philosophies of the German idealists - chiefly but not exclusively: Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling - and to afford an opportunity for international exchange of research on German idealism.''

A common question posed by the name of any society ``for <foobar>'' is whether the society promotes <foobar> or studies it -- i.e., is really a society ``for the study of <foobar>.'' (Vide UDI.) Often common sense will resolve the ambiguity. In the case of philosophies, one expects both meanings to be intended to some degree. That is, most philosophers are disinclined to study a philosophical system unless they find some element of truth in it or at least clever argumentation, so they might be expected to promote it as well.

Conversely, you can't honestly promote a philosophy you don't study. I mean, you could promote a combination dustmop-plunger without studying it -- you might just use it in the living room or bathroom. It's good for something (there's that word again) if it's any good at all. In contrast with Swiss-Army plumbers' helpers, philosophies (probably especially idealist philosophies) don't do anything. They don't have any moving parts, but they're too soft to use as hammers and too thin for pillows. Navel-gazing is the paradigmatic dog that don't hunt. Again, people: common sense.

Common sense is not something one associates with Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Naturally, he developed a cult of slavish followers. The joke went that if the post coach was late from Koenigsberg, the Kantians wouldn't know what to think that day. (Kant, as I'm sure you remember now, spent all of his life within a few miles of his hometown of Koenigsberg. He was only intellectually wide-ranging. Late in life, he decided to take a trip abroad, but he aborted the trip after a few minutes' riding.)

Screenprinting and Graphic Imaging Association.

SeGmentation Message.

Standard Generalized Mark-up Language. It's a general grammar for descriptive mark-up. Each version of HTML is one of the markup languages defined using SGML. Cf. XML.

This links to a randomly selected page with some stuff about SGML.

Simple Gateway Monitoring Protocol. Described in RFC 1028. Network management protocol that evolved into SNMP.

SeGMenTS. Airline fare abbreviation.

The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc.

Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.

Sagittarius. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Soft Gamma[-ray] Repeater.

Société Générale de Surveillance. ``World leader in verification, testing and certification.''

Society of Gynecologic Surgeons. First organized as an independent society in 1974, as the Vaginal Surgeons Society (VSS). Took its present name when it was restructured in 1982.

SGS-Thomson Microelectronics
Hmmm. I never found out what the SGS stood for. It must be pretty frustrating for people who look things up.

Oh, great: in May 1998 they changed their name to STMicroelectronics. With rebus names like this, it's no wonder the old acronym/initialism distinction broke down. Now I'll never find out what it stood for. Part of the SGS Group of companies.

SGT, SigmaGammaT
Sigma Gamma Tau. The National Aerospace Engineering Honor Society.

Surrounding Gate Transistor.

Second Generation FLIR Thermal Imaging System.

Sputter gun. Using a conical magnetron, say. Produces higher deposition rates than evaporation produced by electron beam (E-beam) or RF induction.

(Domain name code for) Saint Helena.


Sandy Hook Beach. On the New Jersey coast, really quite unnecessarily close to New York.

Postal code for Schleswig-Holstein, one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at the domain code .de.]

The state's area is 15,771 sq. km. Its population was 2,554,000 by the census of 1987, estimated at 2,759,000 for 1997.


Semester Hour[s].

Shakespeare. The abbreviation is reserved for only this meaning, because of its salience and utility in all fields of endeavor.

Shipping and Handling. Seems to me it ought to be ``H&S.'' In the Chicago dialect of Mexican, for example, it's Manejo y Envio.

Shit Happens. Internet usage.

Southern Hemisphere. Climatological usage.

Thomas Alexander Sperry and Shelley B. Hutchinson. S&H Green Stamps were a promotional gimmick intended to build customer loyalty to the stores that distributed them. It was like coupon-clipping in reverse. You got a little booklet (for free!) to stick them in, and with every purchase you received a few green stamps, about 25mm high by 15 mm wide. Scraping in the darker corners of my memory, I think I remember that there were also some yellow stamps, double-wide, that you could use to fill two rectangles in the (free!) booklet. Once you filled a booklet (1200 stamps) you could redeem the booklet for stuff, or you could accumulate a few booklets-full for stuff that you would actually want. The stuff was in the S&H catalog. The past is a foreign country. (Especially if emigrate.) As recently as the late 1960's or early 1970's, the local A&P supermarket distributed them. We only ever went there to buy coffee beans and have them fine-ground at the checkout counter, so over the years we might have accumulated stamps enough to redeem for two eight-track cassettes or a paper cup.

Green Stamps were introduced in 1896 by the Sperry and Hutchinson Company, and originally used by Merchants Supply Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Green stamps are not as popular as they once were. In fact, they've completely disappeared. Unfortunately, the S&H Co. survived, and now markets ``S&H greenpoints: The Next Generation of Loyalty Marketing.'' According to the greenpoints site, the year 1964 was milestone:

The S&H catalog becomes the largest single publication in the US. S&H prints 3 times as many stamps as the US Post Office, and enough catalogs to circle the earth 1 1/2 times!

Also ``by the 1960's, S&H was the largest purchaser of consumer products in the world.''

Spherical Harmonic[s] (n.) or Spherical-Harmonic (adj.).

Once, ``Tesseral Harmonic'' was a common name as well.

Secondary Heads Association. A UK organization for heads of secondary schools, rather than for the secondary heads of schools.

SBF Hall of Acronym Fame

Simple Hands-free Add-on Circuit.

Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry. Their journal, AMBIX, is published thrice annually, and their newsletter, Chemical Intelligence, is published twice annual.

shacked up
A term intermediate in connotation between ``living in sin,'' and ``roommates.''

You know, boys and girls, there was a time when a certain natural biological phenomenon, consequent to the one not actually described in any of the preceding three terms, was considered too indelicate to name directly. To be blunt, by the standards of that time, the word pregnant was considered coarse, even obscene. As recently as the 1890's, I think, the standard term was ``in a family way.'' In the fifties, polite incoherent references to rabbit fatality were standard, and ``with child'' was still a bit, mmm, direct. (Sex education was conducted entirely in Morse Code. That's why boys learned Morse Code. It's no coincidence that codeless licensing has become the norm as the moral fiber of our nation has gone to hell.) Intransitive ``expecting'' was a common expression. Depends where you lived, of course. Did you notice the comment on embarazo near the end of the TP entry?

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces.

Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. Founded in 1976, about 1900 members in 1998.

Japanese: `society.' Borrowed from European root; first attested 1877. Cf. seken.

  1. An opaque, highly non-Newtonian fluid. Available in restaurants.
  2. [Among the old Los Alamos `device' makers] a convenient unit of time equal to 10-8 seconds. An eternity to modern pulsed laser.

Shania Twain and Buddy Holly
Two exponents of hiccup singing. Hear, for example, ``Man! I Feel Like A Woman!'' and anything, respectively.

When I'm trying to figure out which door to take, I always have to remember this fact about concrete nouns named on doors: in other cases the signs name what you can get inside, on a public restroom it names what you can take inside.

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. NATO headquarters.

Shaquille O'Neal. If we were a bit more focused on basketball, we'd have more than just these few entries mentioning him -- -- and they would be about basketball.

Super Harvard ARchitecture Computer. DSP family from Analog Devices (AD).

Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing. There's a mailing list, too.

SHAreware Search Engine. You want to go to its current location, where it's known as Virtual Software Library (VSL).

Shave and a haircut, two bits.
Name for a metrical pattern, rarely associated any more with those words.

I always assumed that two bits (25 cents) had covered both the shave and the haircut. Maybe it once did, but here's a relevant item from The Niles Daily Star (of Niles, Michigan). It was front-page news on Saturday, August 12, 1933: ``Many Niles Barbers Revise Price Charge'':

Many Niles barber shops have adopted a price schedule of 25 cents for shaves and 35 cents for haircuts. The Master Barbers' association has submitted a code calling for a 25 cent shave and a 50 cent haircut, which the local barbers had agreed to adopt. But many have found that 50 cents for a haircut is considered exorbitant by old customers, and have reduced the price.

In the same newspaper on the same day, ``Cleaners Raise Prices'' only made page 2:

The wearing apparel cleaners of Niles have made a slight increase in their prices to correspond with increases in overhead costs of boxes, bags, and other supplies [no mention of soap!] ... Cleaners in South Bend, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and other surrounding towns have already advanced their prices. The National Industrial Recovery Act [NIRA, q.v., which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1935] code for cleaners has not yet been put into effect but with the increase in prices the cleaners will observe the NRA blanket code for wages and hours.

Solomon's wisdom, Hercules strength, Atlas um... maps? -- hard to read -- Zeus power, Achilles courage, Mercury's speed! Apostrophes as in the image! I read it off of this defunct site before I got my glasses! Tough luck for you, huh?!

Oh --it's Atlas's stamina! When Billy Batson shouts this powerful incantatory acronym, he is transformed into red tights and white cape with gold trim, becoming The World's Mightiest Mortal! (Captain Marvel!)

When his sister Mary shouts SHAZAM!, it stands for Selene (grace), Hippolyta (strength), Ariadne (skill), Zephyr (speed), Aurora (beauty), and Minerva (wisdom)! (Mary Marvel!)

Spectral Hole Burning.

Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin. Also called steroid-binding protein (SBP). Found in both males and females. Seems to depend on body fat. Regulates metabolic clearance rate of steroid hormones from blood plasma by controlling their effective concentration. Each dimer binds one molecule of steroid. Specific for 5-alpha-dihydrotestosterone and testosterone.

Single-Heterostructure Bipolar Transistor. Term equivalent to HBT in conventional sense, but used to distinguish from (exclude) Double-Heterostructure BJT's.

Spontaneous Human Combustion. It would not have been beneath my dignity to invent this abbreviation myself, but that was not necessary. I have a book that's full of proof. It might have been more convincing had the authors used a decent camera. Then again maybe not. The folks at CSICOP probably have an opinion on the subject.

Supplemental Health Care Program.

The Society for Hindu-Christian Studies. Here's a switch: it was ``founded in November, 1994 as a logical extension to the dialogue and scholarship being carried on in the Hindu-Christian Studies Bulletin, which first appeared in 1988 under its founding editor, Dr. Harold Coward.''

Quiz question:
``Howard Coward'' would be a () good or ( ) bad idea for a name?
Now back to the entry.

The Society is dedicated to the study of Hinduism and Christianity and their interrelationships. It seeks to create a forum for the presentation of historical research and studies of contemporary practice, for the fostering of dialogue and interreligious conversation, carried forward in a spirit of openness, respect and true inquiry.

State Higher Education Executive Officers. (The ``state'' is Colorado.)

Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.

A Ford Mustang with racing stripes and other improvements installed by Carrol Shelby, back in the sixties.

shell model
A mannequin bust for displaying a top that might go with a skirt or pant.

This overview page of nucleus models has a link to an extended technical description (dvi).

Single-channel High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMT).

For your convenience, this is explained at the entry for the fanciful abbreviation hp for hot pudding.

Shergold, Craig, or Sherfold or Schergold
If you've received a plea to send mail him something, WAIT! Read this first.

Super-High Frequency. 3-30 GHz (a microwave range). I did my Masters experimental project in the late Dr. Carver's microwave lab, working around 9 GHz.

Second-Harmonic Generation.

shikata ganai
Japanese, `it can't be helped.'

One twentieth of a pound sterling, and a coin with that value. Twelve old pence or five new pence. Cf. bob. There's some interesting information in Webster's 1828 dictionary on the continued use of this unit in the US.

In the colorful old nondecimal British system, a pound was divided into shillings and pence as described above, and these were abbreviated s. and d., for solidus and denarius, the Latin equivalents. (I have no idea how justified these equivalences might have been initially, but since few Roman solidi or denarii were in circulation, it can't ever have been much of an issue.) Anyway, prices were commonly stated using expressions like ``4 shillings 11,'' meaning 4s.11d. The s. was necessary to separate the numbers, while the written d., like the spoken ``pence,'' was implicit. A long ess (for an explanation see esh) was originally common. As the long ess glyph went out of use, it was replaced either by the now-standard short ess glyph or by a forward slash, which also came to be called ``solidus.''

In most of the German states, the cognate word Schilling was used with same sense (solidus, 12 Pfennig). In Bavaria and Austria the situation was more complicated.

RelationSHIPPER. Someone who is more interested in the relationship between the main characters than in the plot. A term used among fans of the X-Files, for fans who were more interested in the relationship between Mulder and Scully than they were in the aliens.

shipping ton
A volume unit equal to 100 cubic feet or roughly 2.83 cubic meters, and yet another proof of the inconvenience of metric units. A shipping ton is also called a registered ton.

A few years ago, I lived in a rented house with a number of graduate students and other genteel poor. One day I had a conversation with a housemate from a historically seafaring nation, on what to do about the back yard, where despite our diligent neglect, the grass had thrived to the point that it required cutting. The conversation had already become -- shall we say -- speculative, when suddenly the conversation took an unexpected turn.

Swedish Housemate: We could use ships!
Me (a landlubber): Ships?
SH: Yes! Maybe could rent them. Probably one would be enough.
Me: What would we do with ships?
SH: The ships would eat the grass!
Me: Ships?
SH: Yes, ships! You know, ``bah-bah''! Wool!
Me: Sheeps? Sheep! You #%#%!*-ing *@&^#%-ous *$%@^#*! The plural of sheep is sheep!

``A few years ago'' above refers to 1981. An article in the 24 July 2004 New Scientist (pp. 52-3 of the North American edition) is entitled ``The sheep that launched 1000 ships.'' It seems that Norse ships had woolen sails. They recommend visiting the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.

An article in the November 2, 2011, New York Times is entitled ``Sheep Lawn Mowers, and Other Go-Getters.'' http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/garden/sheep-lawn-mowers-and-other-go-getters.html?pagewanted=2 [column] Japanese sheep go `boo, boo.' As a consequence of drift in the pronunciation of the Greek alphabet, ancient Greek sheep now go `vee, vee.' (For more on this, kindly proceed to the entry on the letter ni.)

At the beginning of Ivanhoe, Scott explains that after the Norman conquest the Saxons still herded the sheep and cattle, but the Normans ate the mutton and beef. Hence Germanic words for the animal names, and Romance names for the food names. Linguists are not convinced.

For more on sheep, see the OPT entry.

Structural Health Monitoring. Periodic testing of buildings to assure their structural integrity and stability.

Social Health Maintenance Organization. I know what you're thinking, you filthy-minded person, because it takes one to know one. No, it's apparently not an HMO for people with social diseases.

You want to know what it really means? I'm not sure I should tell you. You might lose respect for me. I'll tell you what: I'll pass along the definition at the Medicare glossary, but I won't endorse it.

A special type of health plan that provides the full range of Medicare benefits offered by standard Medicare HMOs, plus other services that include the following:
(Prescription drug and chronic care benefits, respite care, and short-term nursing home care; homemaker, personal care services, and medical transportation; eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dental benefits.)

Simple Hysteresis Network.

SHOwtime. CATV station.

Simple Harmonic Oscillator.

Super High Output. As in Ford Taurus SHO.

The standard misspelling of shoo-in.

A chain started by Alex Schoenbaum. Details in his obit, NYT 1996.12.15 pg. 37.

shooting method
In numerical analysis, ``shooting methods'' is the technically correct term for `marching methods' applied to one-dimensional problems.

I foresee that this could cause problems when budget-line 6.1 is explained to the top military brass.

One thing that I learned from the Moonies is that you don't try to sell the the Brooklyn Bridge to someone from Brooklyn. [When I was over 'their place on Bush street in San Francisco in '79, and they were dissembling their true identity, my minder tried to explain their putatively independent group with a ``flow chart.'' It amazed me that they got any recruits at all. (Well, okay, they had this young woman guarding the door, and when I was down there putting my shoes back on to leave, she tried to persuade me to stay or come back. She was really beautiful; I guess their recruitment efforts weren't totally inept.) More about that experience at the Washington entry.]

Shop Talk
The short title of Shop Talk: a Writer and His Colleagues and Their Work (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001). A book of encounters of various sorts between Philip Roth and other artists (writers, with the exception of Philip Guston). Most are conversations that have been summarized or recalled in interview form. I have quoted bits of this at half a dozen places in this glossary. Following is the T.O.C. (beginning page number in square brackets) with my comments to be interleaved.

Conversation in Turin with Primo Levi [1]
See the entries for writers in the paint industry and Arbeit Macht Frei.
Conversation in Jerusalem with Aharon Appelfeld [18]
Conversation in Prague with Ivan Klíma [40]
Conversation in New York with Isaac Bashevis Singer about Bruno Schulz [78]
Conversation in London and Connecticut with Milan Kundera [90]
Conversation in London with Edna O'Brien [101]
There's a sample of her judgment at the journalistic balance entry, and she's quoted at the entry on the importance of literature.
An exchange with Mary McCarthy [113]
Pictures of Malamud [120]
Pictures by Guston [131]
A recollection of the beginning of the friendship between two Philips, written about ten years after Philip Guston died. I milk this chapter for the TTBOMKAB entry, and skim off more for this research entry. ask
Rereading Saul Bellow [139]

shop till you drop
It's NOT ``materialistic.'' It's all about dropping. It's a particularly masochistic form of exercise, is all. Women live longer because shopping is such good exercise.

SHORt-range Air Defense Missile Engagement Zone. See differential definition at the weapon engagement zone entry of the DOD's online Dictionary of Military Terms.

Short Twentieth Century
A name for the period 1914-1991. That is, for the period beginning with the the Great War and ending with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Cf. Long Nineteenth Century and periodization. The name was proposed by the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm in his The Age of Extremes, and it had the evident advantage of allowing him to cover an entire twentieth-centuryish period in a book that he published in 1995.

Society for the History Of Technology. ``[F]ormed in 1958 to encourage the study of the development of technology and its relations with society and culture.
An interdisciplinary organization, SHOT is concerned not only with the history of technological devices and processes, but also with the relations of technology to science, politics, social change, the arts and humanities, and economics.''

A constituent society of the ACLS since 1973. ACLS has an overview.

Love the acronym. The year of SHOT's founding, 1958, is not exactly some random year that it all happened to finally come together. Rather, 1958 was the year following Sputnik -- start of the Soviet space program that first put man and dog (not in that order) in orbit around our little planet. It sent the US into panic, in fear that we were quickly falling behind the Rooskies in various important military and industrial technologies, and the government gave a big SHOT in the arm to academic science and technology research, in large part via NSF. Funding grew about exponentially, right through the Vietnam war, until 1970, when someone turned off the spigot, but that's another story. At the beginning, the NSF didn't invest much in social science. If some money was going to the social science for appearances' sake, though, you can imagine that history of science and technology (HST) were bound to be favored.

shot noise
White noise in current of all conductors, associated with the discreteness of charge.

This is not yet the entry for the modal should. I mean -- it is, or will be, but it's, like, under construction. I'll probably write the shall entry first anyway. I've already written the shoulds entry. Why don't you read that? It's coming up shortly.

Eye dialect for the nonstandard contraction of ``should have,'' or a loose pronunciation of ``should've.'' This and similar pronunciation of other 've contractions've probably contributed to new, near-homophone formulas like ``should of,'' ``could of,'' and ``would of.'' Of course, shoulda might of been a fat-finger for shoulds. Looks like in error n e way.

Not the third-person singular conjugation of the modal should, but the plural form of the noun should.

Nouning the parts of speech most reluctant to be nouned seems to be a habit peculiar to psychiatrists and psychologists. Freud did it with singular personal pronouns (vide id). (You know, it's nothing but sheer declensional luck that it construes out properly here in Latin too.)

Wayne W. Dyer, a doctor of psychology, wrote a book called Your Erroneous Zones (details at the F.O.O.L. entry). In a section entitled ``The Folly of Shoulds, Musts and Oughts,'' he gasps that ``Karen Horney, the brilliant psychiatrist, has devoted an entire chapter of Neurosis and Human Growth to this topic [please, please tell me that she also wrote about frustrated sexual desire], and she titles it `The Tyranny of the Should.' She comments:

The shoulds always produce a feeling of strain, which is all the greater the more a person tries to actualize his shoulds in his behavior. . . . Furthermore, because of externalizations, the shoulds always contribute to disturbance in human relations in one way or another.*
    Do shoulds determine much of your life? Do you feel you should [sic] be kind to your colleagues, supportive of your spouse, helpful to your children and always work hard? [Then you're a Calvinist! Oh, sorry--got carried away, I guess. I didn't mean to interrupt. Dyer continues...] And if at any time you fail in one of these shoulds do you berate yourself [Jewish? Catholic?] and hence take on that strain and disturbance [flagellant?] to which Karen Horney alludes above? But perhaps these are not your shoulds. If, in fact, they belong to others [give them back! stealing is wrong!] and you have merely borrowed them [oh sure], then you are musterbating. [Bad boy!]''

* Karen Horney, Neurosis and Human Growth (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1950), p. 81.

Shaft HorsePower.

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Hey, I just [96.10.31] attended the ND SHPE/MAES meeting, and it was impressive: newbie self-introductions, new business, old business, four speakers, a social chairman appointed by default, pizza before and after, chatting before and after, all in a half hour!

The line is attributed to JFK, that Washington DC, has northern hospitality and southern efficiency.

Southern Humanities Review. ISSN 0038-4186. Publishes fiction, poetry, and critical essays on the arts, literature, philosophy, religion, and history.

Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat[s]. Convenient for research purposes.

You're probably thinking of SHRCC. It's a somewhat common typo.

What was I thinking when I wrote this entry?

Society for Human Resource Management. An association for Human Resources professionals.

Step One: stack 'em up like cord wood and wait for them to dry.

Social History Society. Founded in 1976. ``The Society is based in Lancaster'' (at Lancaster University in England), but the web pages are served from Nottingham Trent University, for some reason.

Since this is one of the few social history entries in the glossary, it's a good place to mention one of the few social history observations I have made. It has to do with the NTU homepage linked above. It shows one guy with a fake grin in the foreground and another guy half-heartedly stretching a grimace in the background. They have their hands in their pockets, which is apparently all they can do to keep from folding their arms across their chests. This isn't personal, this is social. In American society, smiling is not frowned upon. People are not assumed to be stupid just because they are happy. Optimism is good. In personals ads (I admit that I have looked at personals ads, okay?) the women are usually smiling, and they're not doing it to look clueless. European women in personals ads look irritated or at best serious. They're sophisticated to death. Cool like a gravedigger's ass. When they smile, they often wear that fake smile of the guy on the NTU page: lips pried or curled apart, eyes uninvolved or angry. They've forgotten what a happy smile feels like, so they don't realize that they're practically sneering. I don't need to read what the studies say about how happy Europeans tell posters they are -- I know: these people demand to be disappointed. Crack a real smile, FCOL! It won't kill you. Read the .dk entry. Now. See also my comments on the look at the english entry.

(Incidentally, I recognize that the, um, candid student shots are posed and need not reflect the personalities of the models. This makes it worse: the poses reflect what a photographer's experience accepts as normal and acceptable.)

(ANSI) Safety and Health Standards Board.

Secular HomeSchool Support Group. Fifty or so families in the area of Pikes Peak, Colorado.

Studia Humaniora Tartuensia. ``[A]n on-line journal of the Humanities. Its purpose is to publish scholarly papers, notes and reviews embodying original research in all areas of the Humanities.'' [Its Latin title means `Tartu Humanistic Studies.' Tartu is the capital of Estonia; the journal is published by the Classics department of the University of Tartu.

When begun in 2000 the journal was intended as a local Estonian project, but international contributions have been invited since May 2002.

ISSN 1406-6203.

``Shuffle Off To Buffalo''
Title lyric in a song from the movie ``42nd Street'' (1933). More at this site.

Safe High Voltage. A kind of bayonet-action coax connector with recessed center contacts to prevent shock hazard. Also, the ground connection is made before the center connection, and openned after the center connection. Cf. Miniature High Voltage (MHV) coax connectors. Both MHV and SHV are intended to operate up to 50 MHz, but they have non-constant impedance structure.

Safe High Voltage - Bakeable. Coax operable to higher temperatures than ordinary SHV. Check the voltage rating.

Safe High Voltage (SHV) - 15kV.

Safe High Voltage - 5kV. What is usually meant by ``SHV'' not further characterized.

(Domain code for) Slovenia. There is a pair of English (to/from) Slovene dictionaries online.

There's A Guide to Virtual Slovenia. Ariadne, ``The European and Mediterranean link resource for Research, Science and Culture,'' has a page of national links.

Salt Institute. An institute concerned with sodium chloride. If you visit their place after a snow, maybe you should drive there in a rented car. If you visit their website, you should save anything you need from other browser windows and be prepared to kill the browser process. The top-level links require password authorization but don't say so, and it's difficult to make the password dialogue box go away once it's popped up. (Keep clicking the Cancel button; eventually it may work.) Anyway, the site was appallingly badly organized, with a majority of links screwed up as of my visit in February 2007. The site does seem to have useful content. However, this should be taken cum grano salis. Here are some useful direct links to some numbered pages:
  1. An FAQ, with mostly working, mostly correct links. This might be the best starting point.
  2. ``What is the Salt Institute?'' (It's ``a non-profit association of salt producers (manufacturers) founded in 1914.'' It claims to be ``the world's foremost source of authoritative information about salt (sodium chloride) and its more than 14,000 known uses.''
  3. ``The Salt Industry.'' About 240 million tons were sold in 2005, and market is growing slowly (about 1.5% annually). Some salt production is ``captive'': it's produced as an intermediate in chemical manufacture and never reaches market as salt. In 2003, 37% of salt that did reach market was purchased for chlorine generation in the production of PVC, so you can imagine. China became the world's biggest producer in 2005 or so, edging out the US 48 to 46 million tons in 2006. (This figure seems to exclude captive production, so take it with a grain of salt.)
  4. News.
  5. ``What is Salt?'' Physical and also some chemical properties; a bit on toxicity.
  6. ``History of Salt.''

Scientific Image.

Secondary Investigator. Term used in government contracts and grants to designate a person other than the PI who is responsible for part of the work.

Semantic Interpretation.


Shift In. ASCII 0F hex (CTRL-O). Cf. SO.

SIlicon (q.v.).

Single Image.

Socialist International. That's right, International is used as a noun. Of less interest, this entity has an official web site, and there's even a site in America.

Spark Ignition. Ignition of the fuel-air mix in a combustion chamber by means of an electric spark. Well, I suppose they might use a mechanical flint-and-steel arrangement, but that could get old pretty fast. SI is what happens in an ordinary gasoline engine that is operating properly. In principle there can be, and over time there have been, many kinds of internal combustion engine where combustion is initiated by a spark. In practice, most internal combustion engines (ICE's) use spark ignition, and most SI engines use some version of the Otto cycle. Following this in popularity among SI engines are two-stroke engines. The other large class of ICE's use compression ignition (CI), which for practical purposes means Diesel engines.

Sports Illustrated. An annual magazine devoted to swimsuits. The rest of the year, they offer sports news to protect their right to the shelf space.

For the Y2K edition, twenty models posed for a total of about 130,000 shots (in Las Alamandas, Mexico) of which about 100 were eventually used (not sure all 20 models appeared in the issue either). I dunno, man, that sounds suspiciously like the case of all those nude scenes that are filmed for the benefit of the cutting-room floor. Appearing in the SI swimsuit issue is such a boost for the models' careers that they accept union scale -- $300/day in 1999 -- instead of the thousands per shoot they usually command.

You're probably thinking: everyone knows that SI stands for Sports Illustrated, the swimsuit-issue magazine, so this entry is superfluous. Absolutely everyone knows about the swimsuit issue, right?

For months each Spring, it's prominently displayed in its own case in all drugstores. No one could miss it, right? Au contraire! Newsmaking counterexample coming.

Système International (d'Unités). Designates ``official'' system of units, as promulgated by an international society of Frenchmen.

Here's a start.

Here's an end, because I'm too lazy to write any more.

Hey, I'm back! Here's another.

The voice of the revolution.

Some instant conversions.

Some bad puns based on numerical SI prefixes.

Satellite Industry Association.

Scaffold Industry Association. When Texas started executing capital criminals by lethal injection, they had difficulty finding physicians to participate in the execution, due in part to the opposition of the AMA. Where does the SIA stand on this issue?
[Answer: away from the trap door.]

Semiconductor Industry Association. Based in San Jose, CA.

Società Interbancaria per l'Automazione.

Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion.

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Informal: SIBling.


Société Internationale de Bibliographie Classique.

Producer (copyright-holder) of l'APh.

Sequential Interference Cancellation. SIC and PIC (parallel) are favored by industry because they are compatible with the current transmission coding. Adaptive linear filters are favored in academic research but require (to keep computational complexity low) short PN sequences not so compatible.

Silicon Carbide. Valued as an abrasive, in which application it is also known as Crystolon (it has hardness 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale). At the microscopic level, the bulk material looks like diamond with silicon atoms substituted for half the carbons. Recall that diamond is not a Bravais lattice, but instead is a face-centered cubic lattice (FCC) with a basis of two carbon atoms. SiC is the crystal one obtains by replacing one of those carbons by a silicon. There's another name for this: Zincblende structure.

As an electronic material, SiC is interesting as a compound semiconductor grown by epitaxial techniques. There are upwards of 180 different microscopic structures assumed by epi-SiC, but three are of greatest interest for electronic applications -- 3C, 4H, and 6H. In this notation, C stands for cubic symmetry and H for hexagonal, and the number represents the inverse stacking period. I.e., 3C is a cubic structure in which the atomic pattern repeats with a period of three layers, etc. 3C-SiC has a band gap of 2.3 eV, 4H and 6H are larger (I think I recall). 3C-SiC has a relative dielectric constant of 9.7, 4H and 6H have 10. All have a thermal conductivity of about 4 W/K-cm (cf. about 1.3 for GaN, 0.3? for GaAs). All have high dielectric breakdown fields; 3C is lowest with 1.8 × 106 V/m.

Silicon Carbon. A general alloy of silicon and carbon, typically with very little carbon. Distinguished from silicon carbide, SiC, supra. A special case of SiGeC.

Standard Industrial Classifications of the US, now replaced by NAICS.


The Latin word for ``thus,'' used by writers to indicate that a solecism occurring in quoted material was in the original. The word evolved into si (`yes') in a number of Romance languages. For example, in Spanish (Castillian, to be precise), `yes' is , and the word thus is así.

Southern Institute on Children & Families.

Serial Item and Contribution Identifier. ANSI/NISO standard Z39.56. Widely used in electronic classification of serial issues. In context of other unique-identifier systems, see description from BIC.

SIdewall base-COntact Structure. [See T. Nakamura, et al., IEEE J. Solid State Circuits 17, 226 (1982).]

SIdewall base-COntact Structure (SICOS) based on Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrate.

Siculorum Gymnasium.

Society for Intercultural Comparative Studies. It ``seeks to foster the growing community of scholars in the field of cultural criticism by providing an on-going and open forum for discussion.''

Is it politically correct to criticize culture?

It seems that the principal comparison is between East and West.

Sociedad Internacional de la Ciencia del Suelo. Spanish name of the International Society of Soil Science -- AISS in French, IBG in German, ISSS (main entry here) in English.

It's interesting to note that the word expanding the second ess of the head term here, suelo, means `soil' outdoors and `floor' indoors (so it sort of designates whatever is the surface underfoot). The words for sky and ceiling work somewhat similarly: sky is cielo and ceiling is cielo raso (literally `flat sky'). (This is also commonly written cielorraso, which has the pronunciation: initial r is the same phoneme as intervocalic rr.) The word cielo is sometimes used alone for ceiling. The words suelo and cielo differ by only a single sound in Latin America and parts of Andalucia (i.e., the consonants in su and ci are the same).

A close synonym of suelo is piso. Both words are common, and though they have different shades of meaning, I doubt that the distinctions are consistent across the Spanish-speaking world. In the Argentine dialect, or maybe just in my idiolect, suelo is more likely than piso to be used in the figurative sense of an abstract lower bound (like a price floor), and piso is more likely than suelo to refer to the surface of the floor (the `flooring').

There are various other partly synonymous words. Techo is a surface overhead, so a cielorraso (sometimes pronounced and spelled cieloraso) is one kind of techo, and azotea (`roof') is another. [In my dialect, however, the word azotea is rare and techo is implicitly `roof.' Also in my dialect, tierra (`ground') is the common word for the material soil. Tierra is the universal Spanish term for electronic ground. To land (an airplane) is aterrizar (un avión).]

Security IDentifier.

Signaling IDentifier.

Society for Information Display.

Sports Information Director. The media liaison of a college or university athletic program. The SID probably doesn't do a lot of what you'd think of as ``directing,'' but at any school with a great football traditionTM, the SID outranks a mere full professor, so some more exalted title is necessary.

Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance.

AIDS in Italian (sindrome da inmunodeficienza acquisita). Same in Spanish (Síndrome de Inmunodeficiencia Adquirida) and French (syndrome immunodéficitaire acquis).

Secretaría de Inteligencia del Estado (argentino). `Secretariat for (Argentine) state intelligence.' Note that secretaria, without the [graphical] accent (and hence with stress on the first a), means `[female] secretary.'

Waitresses (used in the generic sense in this entry, to include waiters) work in shifts, often short or split ones to accommodate the variable traffic. There are usually times, particularly in a full shift, when there are no or few customers. During this down time, the waitresses may be required to do what's called ``sidework.''

Typical sidework includes refilling salt and pepper shakers, topping off bottles of ketchup and hot sauce, folding silverware into narrow florets of napkin, inserting lists of specials into menus (or attaching them in some way), changing place settings for different meals (coffee cups and saucers for breakfast, etc.), and assembling pizza boxes and the like. It may even include -- gasp -- actual food preparation, like chopping vegetables. Until the 1990's, mating ketchup bottles was still a common sort of sidework, but plastic ketchup bottles have now taken over.

Busboys' sidework tends to be more about clean-up, but there's some overlap and practices vary. (Yes, busboy is used in the generic sense that includes busgirls.) In some places, particularly buffet-style restaurants and smaller family-run restaurants, the jobs of waitress and busboy are combined. During reliably slow periods, a restaurant may temporarily do without busboys and waitresses. I have the impression that increasingly, large restaurant chains are using fewer busboys. The Charlie Brown's chain of steakhouses, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, used busboys for until 2007, but when I was there twice in July 2008, they were nowhere in evidence.

Società Italiana di Ortodonzia. `Italian Society of Orthodontics.'

Structured Interview for DSM Personality Disorders.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Leading cause of death among US infants.

Store Interrupt Descriptor Table.

Società Italiana di Endodonzia. `Italian Society of Endodontics.'

Start Interpretive Execution. Martha Graham meets Saddam Hussein? Nah, just an IBM term for the instruction that causes the CPU to enter interpretive-execution mode and begin running the guest program.

Stress-Induced Excess Current. In SiO2 films, say.

Inverse ohm. Like all name units in the SI, this should not be capitalized when spelled out. Replaces ``mho.''

A German electronics conglomerate.

(Mechanical) Stress Intensity Factor.

Source Input Format. Term used for video -- common formats are MPEG, NTSC, PAL, SECAM.


Studi Italiani di Filologia Classica. `Italian Studies in Classical Philology,' a journal catalogued by TOCS-IN.

Special Interest Group. Productive prefix in acronyms, and especially popular with the ACM, as for example in SIGART and SIGCOMM. It's not just an ACM thing, though; I notice, for example, that ACTFL also uses this acronym, and encourages its members to join its SIG's.

sigact, SIGACT
SIGnificant ACTion. US military jargon for anything that significantly affects friendly or enemy forces.

ACM Special Interest Group on ARTificial Intelligence. They offer an ``Electronic Information Service.''

ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI).

ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communications. It would be newsworthy if they didn't have a homepage.

ACM Special Interest Group on Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Oh wait -- that's not it. It's the SIG on Computer Personnel Research of the ACM. Well, at least I was close.

ACM Special Interest Group (SIG) on Design Automation.

ACM Special Interest Group (SIG) on DOCumentation. Also the name of a conference, now held jointly with IPCC.

Silicon-Germanium. An alloy of silicon and germanium that may be more precisely described as Si1-xGex (just try saying that thirty times in the course of a seminar), where the atomic Ge concentration x is in the range of about 0.1 to 0.35. SiGe is grown epitaxially in alternation with silicon to produce pseudomorphic heterostructures. Si/SiGe is the most common group-IV system for heterostructures. The growth has to be done at low enough temperature that the germanium doesn't segregate, but high enough that the atoms can diffuse to produce surfaces without structural defects. The usual compromise is around 550-600 °C. With surfactant impurities (such as Sb) to suppress Ge segregation, this can be raised to 650 °C (this is necessary to achieve the higher Ge concentrations).

Properly, Si1-x-yGexCy. A ternary variation of SiGe. Carbon concentration is typically in the range 1% to 4% (i.e., y ranbging from 0.01 to 0.04). Now grown by UHV-CVD for device applications. It stands to reason. Research prefers simple systems that are easier to model, hence SiGe. Commerce prefers messy systems that work well, hence SiGe tweaked.

Sleep (usually less; more in ~20% of cases), Interest in hobbies (decreases), Guilt (and feelings of worthlessness), Energy (decreases), Concentration (decreases), Appetite (usually less, sometimes more), Psychomotor movements, Suicidal (thoughts). The major signs of depression. (Collected by Seth Wright for a list at Vanderbilt.)

(ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer GRAPHics. The annual general meeting took place in New Orleans in 2000. It's mentioned at the cybermuffin entry.

SIGnal[s] INTelligence. Intelligence gathered from interception of electronic communications. The term is sometimes understood expansively to include intelligence gathered by telemetry.

ACM Special Interest Group (SIG) on Information Retrieval.

Sigma Gamma Tau
Aerospace Honor Society. Link from SGT entry.

ACM Special Interest Group (SIG) on Management Information Systems (MIS).

signature analysis
A technique of off-line BIST. In on-line BIST, the test circuits do not generate test patterns of bits; instead they monitor outputs to confirm that they agree with the inputs that tested gates happen to receive. This somewhat constrains the range of input patterns that may be tested. In off-line testing, one takes a spell to test gates under a controlled set of inputs. If the test equipment is not to reproduce the tested circuit (rather impractical for non-NASA BIST), then it must store input and output patterns in ROM. This becomes prohibitive for the best tests. One way around it is to test circuits that have cyclic or periodic symmetry with patterns of the same symmetry, so one only needs to store one period of a repeated pattern. Another thing to do is to examine a précis of the output. For example, one might count ones in the output. Signature analysis defines a signature composed of such restricted tests, and compares this with a stored signature. The approach was pioneered at HP.


Société Internationale 'Fernand De Visscher' pour l'Histoire des Droits de l'Antiquité. French, `the Fernand De Visscher International Society for the history of ancient law.'

Seiko Instruments Inc.

Software and Information Industry Association.

Sistema Integrado de Jubilaciones y Pensiones. Spanish, `integrated system of retirements and pensions.' In September 2002, the Argentine SIJP had 11.4 million members: 2.2 million receiving benefits, 9.0 million contributing, and 0.2 million undecided or pending (i.e., with unexercised options to retire). Cf. AFJP.

Southern Indiana Japanese School. ``The Southern Indiana Japanese School (SIJS) opened in September 1997 in Evansville, Indiana, at the request of Japanese companies locating in southwestern Indiana. SIJS exists to enable the school-age children of Japanese employees of these companies to keep up with their peers in Japan and to help these children integrate smoothly into Japanese school life when they return to Japan. Any local child who would like to study at SIJS may also be accepted if he/she has adequate Japanese language skills for participation in classroom activities.''

Single In-Line.

Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Sociadad Iberolatino Americana de Neurorradiología. `Iberian and Latin American Society of Neuroradiology.' In Portuguese the name is Sociadad Ibero-Latino-Americana de Neurorradiologia. ``Latin American'' is construed as an adjective for any speaker of Spanish or Portuguese anywhere in the Americas.

Technically, the full name is Sociadad Iberolatino Americana de Neurorradiología Diagnóstica y Terapéutica (or Sociadade Ibero-Latino-Americana de Neurorradiologia Diagnostica y Terapêutica). That would be `diagnostic and therapeutic neuroradiology.'

SILAN used to publish RILAN (Revista ...) and IJNR (International Journal of NeuroRadiology).

Like methane, but with silicon in place of carbon. Reacts explosively on contact with oxygen in the air, so you really needn't worry about its toxicity. Popular silicon source for CVD.

SuperIntense LAser pulse-Solid Interaction.

``Toughened Silcomp™ consists of silicon carbide fibers in a matrix of silicon carbide and silicon, and is made by a melt infiltration process using processing times on the order of minutes. This process can be used to produce fully dense, complex shaped parts with controlled fiber architecture. The fully dense matrix gives Toughened Silcomp™ composites good oxidation resistance, high thermal conductivity, low thermal expansion, and good interlaminar strength.''


An argument from silence (Latin: argumentum ex silentio) is an argument on the basis of absence of evidence. More specifically, an argument which assumes that a phenomenon, event or fact would have produced a surviving record or other evidence, and that therefore the absence of such record implies the absence of what would have made it. The canonical objection to argumenti ex silentio is the chiastic statement ``absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.'' Prosaically, the objection is simply that evidence might not survive or might simply have failed (yet) to be have been found.

The traditional argument that Greek alphabetic writing began in the mid-eighth century BCE is based on just such an argument: the earliest datable examples of Greek writing (graffiti on some pottery) is from that era. (There is alternative argument, based on similarity of character forms, that Greek alphabetic writing was borrowed from Phoenician script of the eleventh century.)

silent agreement
In boxing, this is when boxers clinch, a way of taking break within the round to rest and recover. Silent agreements tend to be made when the fighters are well-matched. Break it up!

I'm familiar with this term from a lifetime in the ring, just like the late Dr. Joyce Brothers. Okay, maybe I had a reminder when I read an article mentioned at this worth-following-the-link entry. The person quoted using the term there is Teddy Atlas, and according to Rudy Reyes' Hero Living: Seven Strides to Awaken Your Infinite Power (2009), it was Atlas who originally coined the term.

silent guitar
You've come the entry for silent guitars, and this is certainly the natural place to look for information about silent guitars. However, this is just the ``entry.'' The natural place for me to put information about silent guitars, and therefore the natural place for you to find information about silent guitars in this glossary, is the backboard entry.

silent movie
A misnomer. In Atoms in the Family, Laura Fermi describes a game that she and her friends (including Enrico) used to play in the 1920's, which they called ``silent movie.'' (I suppose they actually called it ``film silenzioso'' or something, but I read the book in English, and it looks like she wrote it in English too.) The friends would get together at someone's house and perform the movie as a play, while one person read out the captions and another person made a constant buzzing sound in imitation of the movie projector. It reminds me of the endless-loop recording mentioned at the WWVH entry.

In the US, it was a widespread practice to have musical accompaniment for silent movies. Each movie house would have a regular band or orchestra. The players became very adept at playing snippets appropriate to the scene -- and of course, the same movies were played repeatedly. It must have been a very special kind of medley, with opportunities for an unusual kind of jam. Anyway, when the talkies came, all those guys were out of a job -- just in time to join the rest of the country in being depressed.

In Italy a bad Anglophone accent (i.e., an ordinary Anglophone pronunciation of Italian) is referred to as ``Stanlio e Ollio.'' That's for Stanley (Laurel) and Oliver (Hardy), and the expression is still used today. Laurel and Hardy made the transition to sound, so they made some of the earliest talkies. With the original technology, the soundtrack had to be recorded simultaneously with the picture -- the sound couldn't be dubbed in later. So for the foreign market, the actors redid the scenes and they or voice actors did the dialogue in the new target language. Evidently, this worked best with movies that weren't meant to be taken too seriously in the first place. Laurel and Hardy didn't know Italian, so when they spoke their lines ``phonetically'' they were wonderfully inaccurate and funny. They did many versions of their first full length talkie (``Pardon Us,'' about a prison break), distributed under various titles and refilmed with some (not all) different actors who occasionally knew the language, but they seem to have been most successful in Italian.

Metal silicides are compounds in which silicon typically bonds as an anion (nonmetal). Silicides generally have high conductivity and form Schottky diodes or ohmic contacts depending on the silicon doping level.

See: S.P. Murarka: Silicides for VLSI Applications (Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press, 1983).

Most common element in the earth's crust, which is convenient for microelectronics, which it serves as the semiconductor of choice (say 95% of production worldwide). Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Facts that absolutely everyone should know in their sleep: silicon has an indirect band gap of 1.11 eV, density-of-states masses of 1.1 times the free-electron mass for the conduction band, and 0.56 for the valence band.

James McNeill Whistler is best remembered for a portrait of his mother Anna (the painting is called ``Arrangement in Grey and Black''). He was born of that woman in July, 10, 1834. Not that that date is particularly important, but I just wanted to state it that way. In June 1854, he was a cadet at West Point.

Second Lt. Caleb Huse commenced Whistler's chemistry examination by asking the cadet to discuss silicon. ``I am required to discuss the subject of silicon,'' Whistler responded. ``Silicon is a gas.'' ``That will do, Mr. Whistler,'' interrupted Huse. In thirteen words Whistler failed chemistry and flunked out at West Point. Much later Whistler insisted, ``Had silicon been a gas, I would have been a major general.''
(This is excerpted from Emory M. Thomas's 1995 biography of another General -- Robert E. Lee.)

silicon dioxide
SiO2. A miracle of nature. With a resistivity of 1014 to 1017 ohm-cm and a bandgap of 8.1 eV. Given that silicon and oxygen are the two most common elements on the earth's crust, it is not surprising that silicon dioxide--quartz in its igneous form--is very common. With such a large band gap, the insulator should be transparent, but various impurities can color it by creating mid-gap states. (Intermediate states in the bandgap between conduction band and valence band.) It is a common material in geodes. It's so common that the Smithsonian exhibit has at least four other pictures, including another geode, gem-quality amethyst, a cut gem of quartz, and in combination with black cassitorite crystals.

  1. The name given to a molecule including an Si double-bonded to an O that dangles off the main chain formed by the two remaining bonds of the Si. The name is formed in analogy with ketone, in which a C plays the rôle of Si. (For similar approach to naming, see silane. This approach is very handy because Si and C both bond through sp³ hybrid orbitals.) This is the original, but no longer standard meaning. It was misapplied to certain polymers that were initially misidentified, namely:
  2. Polysiloxane. Any polymer constructed on a backbone of --(-Si--O-)n-- (typically with organic sidegroups). [There's an informative silicone entry in the Macrogalleria. This glossary describes an application to razor blades.]
  3. Ignorant spelling of silicon.
  4. Correct spelling of ignorant pronunciation of silicon.

[cartoon strip]

(Comic strip image above is a mirror of http://www.asiaonline.net.hk/lilywong/images/lily2149.gif)

As if things weren't already complicated enough: in Spanish, silicon is silicio and silicone is silicón.

silicon germanium
It's pretty tough to make heterostructures with silicon as one of the materials. SiGe, strained as it is (4%), was it for a long time, unless you counted Si substrates for GaAs structures. Now there's also SiGeC.

There's an article by Bernard S. Meyerson in the March 1994 Scientific American on High-Speed Silicon-Germanium Electronics. The touted technology was silicon-germanium heterojunction bipolar transistors.

silicon nitride
Si3N4. Most useful property for semiconductor fabrication is fact that it does not oxidize well. (Oxidation negligible in oxygen; slow in steam.) It is therefore used as an oxidation mask, making possible various recessed oxide isolation (ROI) strategies.

It is also a good diffusion barrier for alkali atoms.

CVD of nitride typically uses

3SiH4 + 4NH3 ---> Si3N4 + 12H2.

Latin name (genitive singular sillybi) for a kind of thistle. (The name is adopted from the Greek síllubon.) Not a bad pun on syllabus, and as it happens there's a precedent: the word occurs in some manuscripts of Cicero's Epistulae ad Atticum, where it is evidently (especially given alternate manuscript traditions) a scribal error for sittybus. Sittybus, felicitously, is a strip of parchment attached to a roll or book, bearing the title and author's name. If sittybi were ever common, they must evidently have become detached often; there was not so much care taken about assigning a definite formal title to a book, with the result that for many books, the precise title is unknown. (See the BG entry for more discussion of titles.)

A building for storing grain. Usually in the form of right circular cylinder oriented vertically, with a hemispherical cap. Grain elevators are used to convey grain to the top, and grain-elevator explosions (a spark from the elevator setting off an explosion of grain dust) are one of the charming dangers of the farming life.

This archived usenet posting mentions safety standards, but these are all based on raw experience. The underlying physics of dispersed particle movement is only now beginning to be studied in a way that is at all scientific.

A chain of appliance stores. You know, a big chain like this can request special models to be made for them by a manufacturer. Such models may be better in some respect, but they typically have different model numbers than the standard appliances that they are versions of, so comparison shopping is harder. Also, if a competitor promises to match any offer (usually ``advertised offer''), the fact that they don't sell (or even get) the special model makes the offer to match moot.

Sealed-Interface Local Oxidation.

Strain-Induced (lateral) Layer Ordering.

School of Information and Library at UB.

Silvaco International
They make simulation codes for microelectronics simulation.

Argentum, abbreviated Ag, q.v.. In German, the noun silver is Silber. The phrase ``quite as'' can be translated ``eben so,'' where eben is cognate with English even. Also, the English preposition over has a meaning similar to its German cognate über. The phrase ``I have seven'' (pieces of silver, say) is rendered ``ich habe sieben'' (Stücke Silber). Notice a pattern? No? Go study the Hacksilber entry.

As long as we've mentioned sieben, we might as well mention that at different times during the latter half of the eighteenth century and into the beginning of the nineteenth, the Habsburg Empire issued a 7-Kreuzer coin that was informally known as the Siebener. The name of another, more popular coin was used in the sense of silver (yeah -- that's what the entry's about!) even though its name has nothing etymologically to do with silver: Groschen.

The Lone Ranger's horse.


Silver Age
The silver age of Rome is a designation of a period running roughly from the middle of the first century of this era (CE) to the end of the second century. It followed the Golden Age, which covers a period that began with the first century BCE.

silver spoon
A child born into a rich family may be described as being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In Spanish one says that he ``nació en una cuna de oro'' -- `was born in a golden crib.' In that case, I don't think that a C-section is merely optional any more.

Silver State, The

Subscriber Identity Module (of a mobile phone).

Selective Inverse Multiple-Bond Analysis. NMRtian.

SIMplified BIDirectional Signaling. The expansion and explanation of this British railroad acronym was provided by Clive D.W. Feather on the uk.transport.london newsgroup (and picked up by the SBF monitoring station in Ontario).

Every 5 or 10 miles on double track there's a pair of crossovers. The signal before the crossovers has a right-hand feather indicating a move to the right-hand ("wrong") line. There are then no signals until the next crossover, where there's a signal guarding the crossover.

   A     D     B   C     B         B         B         A          Normal flow
  |-O   O-|   |-O O-|   |-O       |-O       |-O       |-O         of traffic:
=====*=*=================================================*=*======    -->
      X                                                   X
=====*=*=================================================*=*======    <--
        O-|       O-|       O-|       O-|   |-O O-|   |-O
         A         B         B         B     C   B     D


two rails, making one track.

signal facing left, seen by train approaching from left. ``Left'' here is the left-hand side of the top view above. (Imagine a light on a stand, tipped back slightly and seen from above.)

hmmm, tough one.

controlled signal, usual aspects for normal running, plain green plus feather for move to "wrong" line. Note that the aspect for this will always be green, never yellow.

automatic signal.

SIMBIDS repeater: shows yellow if the SIMBIDS signal is red and green otherwise [*]. No red aspect.

SIMBIDS signal: shows plain green to continue on the "wrong" line, or yellow or green plus a left-hand feather for moves back to the correct line.

Because they are only operated by the track circuits, when a train is running on the wrong line the automatic signals facing the other way stay green, then change to yellow and red as the train approaches, then turn back to green.

[*] On four-aspect lines there are two repeaters; the first shows green or double yellow; the second shows green or single or double yellow.

Single-Instruction, Multiple Data. It's pronounced ``sim dee.'' SIMD is part of a strategy and an aspect of architecture for parallel-processor computing; cf. MIMD.

Something like the SIMD idea is implemented in serial machines by superscalar instructions, called MMX technology in Pentium processors (also used in AMD K6-2 processors, etc.).

Single Inline Memory Module. (I think this was originally a Wang Labs tm.)

SIMulation NETwork.

Stacked-Gate Injection Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (field-effect transistor). Cf. SAMOS.

Separation by IMplanted OXygen. An isolation method for integrated circuits (IC's). Cf. SPIMOX.

The count noun simple is an obsolete term for drug component, from the time when most such simples were leaves, roots, stems, buds and other parts of plants, and a few bits of animals. Until the nineteenth century, most physicians (called physics, in those days) collected their own simples. If ``simple'' is too simple, then you want the word pharmacognosy: the study of medicines derived from natural sources (i.e., simples). Physics (I just like that word) typically also grew various medicinal plants in their own gardens. Now you're probably wondering about leeches, right? For the dirty, dirty, low, low down on those, see the Liverpuddle, uh, entry.

Latin expression which, as it occurs today, can be understood to mean `without qualification' without qualification.

True enough to hurt.

Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy. As a surface is sputter etched, the distribution of mass in ions sputtered from the surface (``secondary ions'') is tracked as a function of depth (strictly speaking, the mass spectrometer measures not mass but the charge-to-mass ratio). This generates (destructively) a picture of the various atomic concentrations as a function of depth. Because the depth of sputter etching is not perfectly sharp or uniform, these plots underestimate the sharpness of changes in atomic concentration. Also expanded as Stable Isotope Mass Spectromet{er|ry}. That's not quite right, because any reasonably-long-lived isotope can be investigated.

Here's some more explanation.

(NASA) Shuttle Imaging Microwave System.

Synchronous Intermittent Mandatory Ventilation. Neonatal care term.

Silicon-Nitride. Not necessarily stoichiometric.

Social Insurance Number. Canadian equivalent of the Social Security Number (SSN) in the US. In French, Numéro d'Assurance Sociale (NAS). Unlike the SSN, it contains a 1-digit Luhn checksum.

Spanish: `without.' You have to be careful how you use this. Today I ordered ice cream for dessert. Sayra asked if I wanted it ``¿con crema?'' (`with cream?') and I answered ``Sin.'' When she got back I realized she thought I'd said ``Sí.''

Such confusions are less likely in Portuguese (sem and sim for `without' and `yes,' respectively), to say nothing of Italian (senza and si) or French (sans and oui). The words for without here all come from the Latin sine. The regular sound shifts would and in fact did yield sen in Spanish. The form with e was still common in medieval Castilian, and continues as the standard form in Catalan today. The form with i superseded it in modern Spanish, however. According to Corominas y Pascual, this change is unexplained. For Germanic words with the meaning of without, see ohne.

SIgnal, Noise, And Distortion. Pronounced ``sine-add.'' A kind of signal-to-noise ratio: the ratio of signal to the sum of noise plus signal harmonics (distortion).

In certain situations, even though distortion is significant, plain old signal-to-noise (SNR) is a more appropriate figure of merit.

sine die
Latin meaning `without a day'; that is, without a date set for the next meeting.

sine dubio
Latin meaning `without doubt.'

sin embargo
Spanish, literally meaning `without seizure,' and always meaning `nevertheless' or `however.' (The latter translation refers only to the use of however as a sentence adverbial, of course, and not in the sense `howsoever.') There is no word pause in the Spanish phrase -- it sounds like one word. (Cf. nimporta.)

SINGular. Also sg. Cf. pl.

single crystal
A chunk of matter in the crystalline state without any but point defects. Contrasted from polycrystalline.

Singleton, Ann
Pen name that Ruth Benedict used as a poet. Ruth Benedict is best known as the author of The Chrysanthemum and the Sword and of Patterns of Culture.

singular team names
I mean team names like the Stanford Cardinal or the North Dakota State Bison. This isn't an entry; it's just a data dump.

Leftward. A term to describe writing as right-to-left and letters as facing left (i.e., oriented in the usual direction for right-to-left writing). Our main entry for this stuff is at what I suppose is conventionally counted as the antonym: dextrograde.

Single Income, No Kids. A demographic with less discretionary income than DINK.

Signal-to-(Interference-plus-Noise) Ratio.

Stiftelsen for Industriell og TEknisk Forskning. (Eng. `Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research.') At the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

To bake metal at a temperature just below the melting point. Because corners, edges, and small grains of metal melt at temperatures lower than the bulk fusion point, sintering solidifies powders.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Serial Input-Output.

Silicon-Oxide-Nitride. Not likely stoichiometric.

Single Integrated Operational Plan. The plans for coordinated defense agains an attack on the US or its allies. We have allies?

I imagine this is a homophone of psyop. Psyop might even be part of SIOP.

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology It's a division of the American Psychological Association. I imagine this SIOP is also a homophone of psyop.

Nonstoichiometric silicon oxide. Vide SIPOS.

Session Initiation Protocol.

Single Inline Pin (Package). A kind of package that doesn't look much like a DIP.

SMDS Interface Protocol.


SIemens Polysilizium MOS.

When this product was new, the ``metal'' gates in many MOS transistors were still often made of elemental or alloy metal (i.e. really of metal). The SIPMOS name indicates the use of gates made out of highly doped semiconductor instead (degenerately-doped silicon, to be precise). This silicon is polycrystalline because it is deposited over an oxide layer. MOS gates function essentially as capacitor plates, so low resistivity is not very important for low-frequency operation. The conduction channel between source and drain, on the other hand, must have excellent electron mobility and very low trap density, and for all practical purposes is made of single-crystal silicon. (Indeed, even though the MOS concept is simpler, and the first patent for an IGFET was issued as early as 1935, bipolar transistors were commercialized for more than a decade before MOS technology became viable. MOS simply had to wait for a cleaner manufacturing process. That cleaner process was developed by continual improvements in the manufacture of bipolar technology. Now the roles are reversed, and bipolar manufacture piggy-backs on developments made primarily to improve MOS fabrication.)

Because the drain and source carry substantial current (compared to the gate), high conductivity is desirable there also. In any case, the geometry of the fabrication process makes the source and drain out of the same single-crystal material as the channel. So polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon, Polysilizium in German, or just poly for short) implies polysilicon gate.

Moreover, bothering to mention the polysilicon in the name implies something else as well: since polysilicon gates quickly became standard, it implies that the acronym was created early on in the development of polysilicon MOS, or it would have been nothing distinctive enough to mention in the name. That is the case here: SIPMOS is a form of enhancement-mode DMOS. DMOS uses diffusion rather than implantation to dope the channel. This tends to make coarser features, and for integrated electronics, diffusion was generally replaced by implantation and by self-alignment process (see SAG). SIPMOS was for discrete devices, and at this point the P might as well stand for power, since the main attractive features of SIPMOS are voltage ratings to 1kV and current ratings to 30A. (I don't know a maximum power rating, but it must be less than 30kW.)

Serial-In, Parallel-Out.

Semi-Insulating Polycrystalline Oxygen-doped Silicon. Silane-based CVD oxide can be deposited nonstoichiometrically. High silane-to-oxygen ratios (> 3.5) have yielded SiOx with 0.48 < x < 2. It has been reported useful in passivating high-field transistors.

Survey of Income and Program Participation.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Secret Internet Protocol Router NETwork. An internet parallel to the Internet, used by the US and Allied military.

Solvent-Induced Phase Separation. A method for PDLC fabrication.

Screening Information Request. Government acquisitions term. There may be multiple SIR's. In response to a SIR, companies that want to bid on a contract provide information that allows the agency issuing the SIR to ``down-select'' companies. (Being down-selected is the complement of being winnowed out. Those down-selected are qualified to bid or respond to a further SIR.)

Selective Information Reporting. Hey! Everybody does it!

Shuttle Imaging Radar.

Standard Improvement Request. That is, a request for a change in an existing standard.

Student Instructional Ratings. A questionnaire devised by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Surface Imaging Resist.

Sustained Information Rate. Generally not as good and not as much used as Peak information rate.

Staten Island Rapid Transit. Part of MTA. Although part of the City of New York, Staten Island is connected to the rest of the city only by road and ferry, not by subway; the SIRT line ends at the ferry docks.

Space InfraRed Telescope Facility. Was Shuttle Infra....

Sequential Interactive System.

Informal for SISter. In the vocative, ``sister'' sounds very formal and remote, as ``mother'' does. In Spanish, even mi madre (`my mother') sounds awkward in speech, and mi mami or mi mamá is normal and unchildish. Be sure to pronounce the accent (i.e., stress the second syllable) in mamá. The word with the stress on the first syllable (spelled mama) means `breast.'

``SISters.'' A soap opera.

(For those of you unfamiliar with the pronunciation of the word sister, it goes just like the beginning of the word cistercian, up to but not including the third sibilant, except that the stress goes on the first syllable. HTH!)

Superconductor-Insulator-Superconductor. Cf. S1-I-S2.

Serials Industry Systems Advisory Committee. A committee of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) that developed and promoted voluntary standardized formats for the electronic transmission of serials information, subject to National Information Standards Organization (NISO) approval. Now dissolved into BASIC.

Simulation of Semiconductor Devices and Processes. An interrnational conference. Sponsored by IEEE. This has been continued by SISPAD.

Semiconductor-Insulator-Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor (FET).

Stranger In a Strange Land. A 1961 science fiction novel by Robert Anson Heinlein.


Societa Internazionale per lo Studio del MedioEvo Latino.

Schema voor de Indeling van de Systematische Catalogus in Openbare Bibliotheken. Dutch `Classification Scheme for Systematic Catalogues of Public Libraries.' It's a hierarchical decimal scheme different from the UDC. I'm surprised the EU allows it.

Serial-In, Serial-Out.

Single-Input, Single-Output.

SISO-code, Sisocode
SISO-CODE. A number with a SISO interpretation.

International Conference on Simulation of Semiconductor Processes and Devices. A forum for TCAD. SISPAD96, in Tokyo, brought together the International Workshop on Numerical Modeling of Processes and Devices (NUPAD), the International Workshop on VLSI Process and Device Modeling (VPAD), and the International Conference on Simulation of Semiconductor Devices and Processes (SISDEP), which had been held in the U.S., Japan, and Europe, respectively. Sponsored by IEEE. SISPAD97 was in Boston.

Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati. (International School for Advanced Studies.)

sister school
Before the mid-1960's, a large fraction of US colleges and universities, including most of the prestigious undergraduate colleges in the Northeast, were all-male. Students at these schools would date girls (or ``girls,'' if you prefer) who attended women's colleges that were strategically close. These were called sister schools. SMC was sister school to Notre Dame, about as Douglas College was to Rutgers, Mary Washington College (now UMW) to the University of Virginia, etc.

By the end of the 1970's, most of the previously all-male schools had gone coed, as had most of the sister schools. Perhaps the latter should now be called ex-sister-schools or something, but that's a bit cumbersome and there's an alternate solution. Evidently in the interests of egalitarian language, the term ``brother school'' has come into use. This is a useful term and clear enough, even if the relationships of brother and sister schools are not entirely symmetric, and it sanctions the continued use of the otherwise anachronistic term ``sister school.''

If you're really eager to go to a particular school, whether you're male or female (and especially if you're male or female), you might want to apply to the sister school as a safety. Nowadays students at the sister school typically have a partnership that allows students at the sister school to take classes at the brother school. If you're a lesbian or a straight male, you'll probably also appreciate how the student body stacks up. (Of course, the majority of US college campuses today are decidedly majority-female anyway.)

Static Induction Transistor. A kind of gridded-base transistor. [The permeable-base transistor (PBT) is another.] The motivation is to minimize the disadvantages of low majority-carrier mobility in the base. These problems are most significant in compound semiconductors, where hole mobility is typically an order of magnitude lower than electron mobility (in silicon it's more like a factor of three).

There's generally a big push on in the late nineties to finally come up with a solid-state replacement for the vacuum devices, such as traveling-wave tubes (TWT's) and klystrons, that are used in high-power applications (1kW and up, for cellular and satellite base stations and such). Wide band-gap compound semiconductors are a great hope in this hot area. As of fall 1998, Northrup-Grumman was selling a power amplifier based on SiC SIT's.

Standard International Trade Classification.

sitcom, sit-com
SITuation COMedy. A television show with regular cast of characters and a common situation (location). The characters regularly get into situations hilarious enough to make a tape recorder laugh like a roomful of idiots.

Saratoga International Theatre Institute.

In a 1927 TNR article mentioned at the crease entry, Bruce Bliven wrote about Sacco and Vanzetti:
You must not be deceived by an accent, or by the workingman's easy way they have of sitting on a hard bench as though they were used to it. These are book men. Their political faith is philosophic anarchism, and they know its literature from Kropotkin down.

In chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby (1925), Nick comments on Mr. Gatsby:

He was balancing himself on the dashboard of his car with that resourcefulness of movement that is so peculiarly American--that comes, I suppose, with the absence of lifting work or rigid sitting in youth and, even more, with the formless grace of our nervous, sporadic games. This quality was continually breaking through his punctilious manner in the shape of restlessness. He was never quite still; there was always a tapping foot somewhere or the impatient opening and closing of a hand.

The `sitting war.' Compound noun modeled on the German word Blitzkrieg, `lightning war.' (Blitz is `lightning'; sitz is the root and a common combining form of sitzen, `to sit.') Sitzkrieg is another name for ``the Phony War'' -- the period following the German and Russian conquest of Poland, when England and France were officially at war with Germany but there was no shooting going on between the parties at war.

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Quick: What state is it in?

Hint: there's no SIU in Idaho, Indiana (but see USI), or Iowa. The situation is similar with NIU.

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Why does this look familiar?

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Simian Immunodeficiency Virus. Monkey version of, and probably the original virus that mutated into, HIV. Apparently not normally fatal to monkeys.

Steam-Injection Water Recovery (system for gas turbines).


Six Sigma
A new Greek-letter society -- a fraternity. It seems all the three-letter names were taken, so they doubled up. Do I really, really have to explain this? The idea is that sigma represents a standard deviation, and any process that produces a good or service is subject to fluctuations (characterized by sigma) about a mean or average. Typically, probability distributions extend out a number of sigma from the mean, so even if the average is acceptable, not all of the production will be. A common shape of theoretical probability distributions is the ``normal'' or Gaussian distribution. If your process is such that the mean is six sigma or more better than (i.e., away from) the threshold for acceptable results, and if the distribution is Gaussian (which it isn't, exactly) (it probably isn't even approximately Gaussian), then unacceptable results are about one-in-a-billion. If improving yield from fair (90%) to astronomically good (99.9999999%) requires increasing costs by more than about 10%, then you're probably better off with fair yield. Six Sigma is the infantile idea of management that screams ``No! Perfection improves profitability, no matter what the cost!'' We also mention Six Sigma at the Lean Sigma entry.

Oh no. The hallowed stacks of our holy library have been desecrated: Juran Institute's Six Sigma Breakthrough and Beyond: Quality Performance Breakthrough Methods. With a foreword by Joseph M. Juran! A book administered into existence (possibly even written, I don't know) by Joseph A. De Feo and William W. Barnard. De Feo means `of ugly' in Modern Spanish, but Feo probably originally meant something like `faith' in this context.

Hey wait a second -- Six Sigma has spawned a bunch of initialisms! So it's good for something.

S. J.
Sidney Joseph (Perelman) -- (1904-1979). A Brown-University drop-out.

SJ, S.J.
Society of Jesus. The Jesuits. Founded by Ignatius of Loyola. The National Jesuit Conference has an office in Washington and a web page.

Here are some lists of Jesuit Universities. See also the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and AUSJAL.

Oh, here's something hot off the press -- on October 12, 2000, not even a full century after Oscar Wilde's deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism (he died Nov. 30, 1900)! A Jesuit quarterly, La Civilita Cattolica, has rehabilitated Mr. Wilde. As evidence of Wilde's interest in the Catholic church, Spadaro wrote that Wilde wanted to go to a Jesuit retreat upon his release from prison in 1897. The Jesuits asked him to wait a year as a test that his desire was real.

Someone who was more careful about his posthumous religious condition was An interesting comparison may be drawn with George Santayana. The Spanish-born Santayana was an American philosopher, part of the intellectual and cultural social circles that included E. M. Forster, Robert Lowell, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, Lytton Strachey, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. (I feel so dirty introducing someone who needed no introduction, but Santayana's stock took a swift dive after his death in 1952, aet. 90. Today he is remembered, if at all, for a few aphorisms in his voluminous writings.) Santayana was an atheist, but he was a decidedly Roman Catholic atheist. He identified both with Catholicism, and against Protestantism, but he didn't accept Catholicism. It seems to be a recurring theme: he was regarded as an American, published in English, worked and spent most of his life in America, but he harbored fundamental reservations against America. Then again, nowadays that's not so unusual for an academic. He remained a Spanish subject until his death. It's hard to summarize or perhaps to make sense of his religious views, but it's fair to say that he regarded Roman Catholicism as a more legitimate or appropriate form of error than other religions. Do not tell me this is unreasonable; he was a philosopher, so he could believe anything. I only mention all this to say that he spent the last decade of his long life at a home run by the Blue Nuns in Rome. (I'm only going to explain once: Blue Nun is a white wine; blue nuns are unhappy nuns of ordinary coloration; the Blue Nuns are an Irish order that wears blue habits.) Recognizing the nuns' earnest desire for his salvation, he left explicit instructions to his executors that even if, in his dying moments, he should happen to nod in apparent acceptance and be given last rites, it should be understood that he nodded just to get the nuns and priests to stop pestering him, and that his apparent acquiescence should under no circumstances be misconstrued as a deathbed conversion. Aaah, give it a rest. For an alternative attitude, see assassination, political.

A note about the use of S.J. following a name: it may mean that the man is a Roman Catholic priest in the Jesuit Order, but it may also mean that he is a ``brother'' (i.e., not a priest). (A similar practice applies to O.P.)

Traditionally (i.e., until some time after the middle of the twentieth century), Jesuits wore black robes. One of my father's Catholic school teachers, whenever discovered by his students at the race track, would habitually joke that underneath his pants, he was wearing his black robe. In some places and times, ``black robe'' could be a synecdoche for Jesuit. For an example, see the black monks entry.

Generally speaking, if you get an audience with the pope and you don't have a standard religious habit, it's good to wear black. It's just generally respectful and gets things off to a smooth start, so long as the pope is not comatose. And if you're female, don't wear anything too daring, if you know what I mean.

Statens Järnvägar. The Swedish (.se) national railways.

(Domain code for) Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands.

Saint Joseph College. In Connecticut.

Saint Joseph's College. In Pennsylvania. Informally called ``Saint Joe's.'' Rob went there for a couple of years, majoring in accounting. When he couldn't take the tedium any more, he transferred to business at BC.

Saint Joseph's College. In Rensselaer, Indiana.

Saint Joseph County Public Library. Enter from the Main Street side, in downtown South Bend, Indiana. There is a common OLCC, called PUBLICON for SJCPL and the nearby public libraries in Mishawaka (MPPL), Plymouth, and Bremen.

Saint Joseph County (Indiana) Spay Neuter Assistance Program. Sometimes it's possible for an acronym to be a bit too graphic, even if not accurately so. SJC-SNAP ``is a program designed to help low income pet owners spay and neuter their pets.'' The goal is evidently to avoid littering: to have low-income, low-outcome pets. Still, it strikes me that to ``spay and neuter'' a pet is overdoing things. To paraphrase the woman I know who complained about ``male e__________'' email, it would require removing what it hasn't got.

Incidentally, the explanatory quote dissected above is from a flyer distributed by the Pre-Vet Club [oooh, just missed a good pun opportunity by one letter] and the Biology Club at the University of Notre Dame. They sponsored a ``Domer Doggy Walk'' on September 28, 2008. Events included a ``Blessing of the Dogs.'' That reminds me that before my father was kicked out of Catholic elementary school, for taking an emergency piss in the neighborhood of a Virgin Mary statue or idol or whatever, he was taught the Latin prayers needed to administer ultimate unction, again in case of emergency. It gets me to wondering whether these things can be done with the speaking parts done remotely (see the Joyce ACC entry for some evidence regarding that) by teleconference, or with a tape-recording or synthesized voice or parrot or a talking dog named Fido.

A trio of contests was scheduled for 2pm: ``Friendliest dog,'' ``Best trick,'' and -- was there a prize for this? -- ``Best owner/dog look-alike.'' One of the activities (noon to 3pm) was ``Doggie Tattoos.'' Now every dog can be, or at least have, a ``Spot.'' I suppose they could also get one of those stylized hearts with a ribbon across the middle saying ``Bitch.''

Airport code for Cruz Bay, St. John [Cruz Bay Seaplane Base], U.S. Virgin Islands.

Scheduler JCL Facility. [IBM.]

Shortest Job First. Scheduling strategy. Also called SPN -- Shortest Process Next.

Single Jewish Female. Abbreviation in personals ads. Don't answer these.

Soho Jazz Festival. (The Soho in England.)

Svenska Journalistförbundet. `Union of Swedish Journalists.'

Single Jewish Male. Personals-ad abbreviation.

So I'm told. Never read them myself, of course.

Svalbard And Jan Mayen Islands. ISO three-letter country-code.

Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it serves Saint Joseph County -- or whoever comes in, I guess.

Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia's Jesuit University. Never heard it called that. I've always heard it called ``Saint Joe's.'' Rob went there. Majored in accounting, was bored out of his mind. Bailed out to ``Business'' and transferred to BC. (For stuff about Jesuits, see SJ.)

(Domain code for) Slovakia (or the Slovak Republic). Slovakian cuisine is big on cabbage, potatoes, vinegar, cheeses and creams, meat, and more meat. So I'm told.

Postal abbreviation for the Canadian (.ca) province of Saskatchewan (spelled that right in one try!). Capital: Regina; Most Frequent Mistaken Guess For The Capital: Saskatoon. Not on DST -- ahead of its (neighbours') time in the summer.

skewer the odds
To put a sharp cooking implement through alternate integers, starting with the number one. (This entry was inspired by a sports commentator's skewering of a standard idiom.)

skid marks
Skid marks on fat men's underpants? No. Impossible. I assure you, and I can prove it. You see, skid marks are caused by rubber abraded from tires by friction with the road when one makes a rapid stop. Tires don't wear underpants (and if they did it wouldn't be underwear -- perhaps you're thinking of grille bras). If one were to put underpants on a tire, then during a skid the rubber wouldn't be in contact with the road, so there wouldn't be a rubber skid mark. Also, skid marks appear on the road, and it is self-evident that you can't put underpants on a road -- they're not big enough.

I swear, people are willing to believe all kinds of I-won't-say-it! (Note that here I don't mean what-I-won't-say literally.) The world needs experts trained in logic -- philosophers -- to enable them to think. It's a wonder ordinary people ever come to a valid conclusion, if they do. Hmmm, that reminds me: for a sociological analysis, see the dirty underwear entry.

Spending my Kids' INheritance. Spelled out on tee shirts.

There's a joke at least as old as the people who wear such tee shirts, that madness is genetic -- you get it from your children.

skintight burqa
Every time I think I've come up with a really original, wildly improbable concept, Google demonstrates that I'm late to the party.

Sowjetische Kontrollkommission. `Soviet Control Commission' in Soviet-occupied Germany shortly after WWII.

Sungkyunkwan University. Founded in 1398. Their landing page once proclaimed ``Beyond Korea, Global SKKU,'' and the slogan still appears on scattered webpages, but they seem to have campuses only in Korea (Seoul and Suwan). They have a lot of ``international partners'' and student exchange programs. But despite their having some English-language webpages, I think the student exchange is mainly for export. The school does seem to be an increasingly popular university for Koreans, behind Seoul National University.

St. Kitts and Nevis.

The name of a toffee bar from Hershey, and a few other things.

As was apparent from the early advertising campaigns, Hershey wanted to give the bar a Scandinavian appeal, and may have chosen a word which would be likely to be pronounced ``score'' to suggest some erotic reference to various blondes acting in the ads. FWIW, however, the Swedish word which means `score' is spelled skår. The Swedish word skor means `shoes,' which might be read as suggesting that the caramel is as tough as leather. (For another unfortunate name associated with shoes, see the incubus entry.)

Also, Skôr is (nominative singular) `dung' in ancient Greek. (Just to jog your memory, and to draw the connection with useful words like scatological, see the WGASA entry.) For other infelicitously named ingestible products, see BM, Colon, Dropsy, Mental, and Sucrets. I figure slime phone rates a mention too, since it is brought close to the mouth.

skort, skorts
The word is a blend of skirt and shorts. The garment is a pair of shorts with a flap or panel across the front, and possibly the back, to make it resemble a skirt.

The women on the crew of the Enterprise in ST:TOS. Grace Lee Whitney played hot Yeoman Janice Rand in the first half of the first season of ST, and her skort... well, one often speaks (spoke? sporked?) of a garment ``flattering a woman's figure,'' but I'm not sure of the appropriate terminology for a garment that reveals by revealing. Anyway, somewhere I remember reading or hearing her claim that the original plan was for the crew women to wear pants or a longer skirt, and that skorts were used at her suggestion, but this is hard to track down.

A little bit. Bill Cosby gave this little bit of slang greater currency in endorsement advertisements for jeans for, you know, older men. They had ``a skosh more room'' up front, presumably to accommodate your enlarged prostate.

The word is supposed to be derived from the Japanese sukoshi, a noun and adverb meaning `a little bit.' It's natural that the u in the standard transliteration does not appear in the English spelling of the loan. The u following s in Japanese, while regarded phonemically as equivalent to the u's transcribed elsewhere, is more centered (i.e., it is articulated further back than ordinary /u/, a front vowel) and seems more indistinct. Moreover, a u between any two unvoiced consonants is normally indistinct, so a u following s and preceding an unvoiced consonant often seems to disappear. Add to this the fact that syllables in Japanese are pronounced more rapidly than in English (even more rapidly than in French), and it would be surprising if the u survived the language crossing. In some accents I've heard, the i in final shi also tends to disappear.

This feature of Japanese pronunciation helps to keep loans from English to Japanese somewhat recognizable. Japanese doesn't have a lot of consonant clusters. Formally, it doesn't have any consonant clusters beginning in s unless you count the geminate ss or the palatalized sha, shu, and sho (which are represented in Japanese kana as shi + ya, shi + yu, and shi + yo). However, clusters like sk, st, and sp are reproduced fairly accurately with katakana spellings equivalent to suk, sut, sup, etc.

The word sukoshi occurs in the following common phrase: Sukoshi tsumete-kudasaimasen-ka? A good ``functional translation'' of this is `Would you please move over a little?' The second-person pronoun could be made explicit but is usually just understood (i.e., Japanese is a pro-drop language). The courtesy (`please' in English) is in the verb suffix, and the phrase is marked as a question by the particle -ka. (The syntax, which is altered in English to distinguish a declaration from a question, is the same here as it would be for a declarative sentence.) The interesting thing about this request is the base verb, which does not mean `move,' exactly. The verb tsumeru means `to pack.' The request is literally that the person or persons addressed `pack [together] a little [more closely].' The context that makes this phrase common is the subway. More common than the phrase is a nonverbal indication that one wants to sit down. It is not considered rude to make a sweeping motion of one's hand to indicate what one wishes done.

Sanskrit. This does not mean script written in sand.

Stock-Keeping Unit. In NYC I've heard the acronym pronounced ``skew.'' A unique ID Number that usually defines an item at the style, color, and size level in retail applications.

Polish word meaning `crumb of moist cooked food.' Cf. snibbles, crackling and cracklings.

Actually, that's the loose definition. The strict meaning of skwarka has to do with the preparation of schmaltz (German and Yiddish word for cooked fat). During cooking, some insoluble parts (incl. skin) settle out (they form what are called grumos in Spanish) and burn. These tasty arteriosclerosizing (it must be a word -- I wrote it without spaces) bits are skwarka in the strictest technical sense of the word.

Postal code for Saarland, one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at the domain code .de.]

The state's area is 2,570 sq. km. Its population was 1,056,000 by the census of 1987, estimated at 1,083,000 for 1997.

Latin, sensu lato, `in the broad sense.' Cf. s.s..

Savings and Loan. See thrifts.

Service-Learning. Academic coursework that furthers a social service objective.

(Domain code for) Sierra and Leone.

The famous director was Sergio Leone.

Single Layer.

Source Language. The original language of a text to be translated (into a TL).

Spin Lock. NMRtian.


Seattle Language Academy. A ``non-profit language school in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle offering both group classes and individual lessons in foreign languages and in English as a second language. Classes and private tutoring are available in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. Seattle Language Academy also offers instruction in Latin and Ancient Greek.''

Second-Language Acquisition.

Many years ago, my father and his boss were in the back of a taxi, down 'Bama way, speakin' Spanish, prolly. The driver commented, ``Ah shaw woo lack t'speeknothah langage lack yoo doo.'' My father had to translate for his boss, who could speak and understand English. The boss said [in translation] ``tell him to start with English.''

In 1988 or thereabouts, I told this story to a native Louisianan who was working out of Washington, DC (you know -- the city with Northern charm and Southern efficiency). He complained that I had flubbed the accent: I was using Harlem (NY) accent instead of any Southern accent. Shee! Demd egg-spits.

There's a very slightly relevant story, which I can't vouch for personally and haven't been able to trace back to a good source, that got a lot of newsgroup circulation starting in late October of 1994. It went that the bluesman K.J. James was asked to ``play some Clapton'' and replied ``Well, son... I'm an old black man, and you're asking me to try to sound like a young white man trying to sound like an old black man... and that's just too much pretending for me.'' These things are relative, as they say. Clapton was 49 at the time. While his age was still increasing at a rate of 7 days a week, I had some difficulty determining the age of Kelly ``KJ'' James. He went right on touring college campuses into 2011, but died on January 5, 2012, aged 76, so less than a decade separated him from Clapton.

I nearly died on January 4, 1984. A couple of weeks later, still scarred up but out of the hospital, I was driving back to school to finish my dissertation when Eric Burdon and the Animals' ``For Your Love'' came on the radio. That was when the thought first occurred to me: ``I'm glad I lived.''

Semiconductor Laser Amplifier.

Service Level Agreement. ``Level'' in the sense of ``how much,'' such as how much up-time, how much help desk, etc.

Special Libraries Association.

Symbionese Liberation Army. [The people who kidnapped Patty Hearst.] All those years ago. In July 1999, a former SLA member who had been living a quiet life as a mother and homemaker appeared in a California court to face old charges. Everybody knows there's no statute of limitations on murder.

Gee, I hope ``homemaker'' is still the right word. It used to be ``housewife,'' but that was considered sexist. So now homemaker means `housewife,' and househusband means `male homemaker.' Last I heard, anyway. To use the wrong word would be such a crime.

Synchronous Line Adapter.

Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Studsvik Liquids and Amorphous (materials) Diffractometer. It's at the Studsvik Neutron Research Laboratory in Sweden.

Strongly Linear Array Grammar. What's that? A subclass of the linear array grammars, obviously! See picture grammar.

See A. Rosenfeld, Picture Languages (New York: Academic Pr., 1979).

Single-Layer Alumina, Metalized.

Stand-off Land Attack Missile. For use by strike aircraft against surface targets.

Street-Legal Arts Magazine. They've got a shingle on Ironwood, just North past the Schlotzky's at the intersection with US 23. It's Saint Joseph County, but I'm not sure if it's technically within South Bend, IN.

Surface-Launched Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. Nope -- I don't get how it can be air-to-air and surface lauched, unless it's launched from a plane on the runway. But with an acronym this good, you've got to overlook the minor logical difficulties.

Say the unknown word to yourself, Look for passage clues to the meaning of the word, Ask yourself what the word might mean and find a word or phrase that shows the meaning, and Put the definition in the passage to see if it makes sense. A strategy by Joanne F. Carlisle, Ph.D., in ``Fostering Morphological Processing, Vocabulary Development, and Reading Comprehension,'' chapter 5 in Vocabulary Acquisition (2007). This entry is placed here for illustrative and acronym-focused purposes; it does not constitute an endorsement.

Strategic {Lawsuit[s]|Litigation} Against Public Participation. A civil suit threatened or brought by a company against those engaged in protest against it.

Side-Looking Airborne Radar. Obsolete now, replaced by SAR.

Second Language Acquisition, Research and Teaching. There was a mailing list by that name, too.

Remember, you can't spell slaughter without... aww, you guessed it already: laughter. You sociopath.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile. In principle, this could be sea-launched, but the whole point of sea-launched ballistic missiles -- strategic ballistic missiles during the Cold War, anyway -- is concealment. Surface ships don't serve that function very well. Cf. SLCM.

Salt Lake City. When you write ``SLC, UT,'' take care not to leave out the central letter.

Subscriber Loop Carrier. Pronounced ess el cee and also ``slick.''

Sea-Launched Cruise Missile. For example, the Russian SS-N-7 submarine-launched anti-ship cruise missiles. Cf. ALCM, LACM, SLBM.

Shallow-Level Centers in Semiconductors. An international conference; the seventh is memorialized here.

Second-Line Drug. Term used in tuberculosis treatment for drugs that are generally less effective, more toxic (or ``less well tolerated''), and more expensive than first-line drugs. The first-line drugs are isoniazid and rifampin. Resistance to isoniazid develops readily, so it is normally used together with rifampin. There are six main classes of SLD's: aminoglycosides, polypeptides, fluoroquinolones, thioamides, cycloserine, and para-aminosalicylic acid.

SuperLuminescent Diode.

Store Local Descriptor Table. Cf. SGDT.

Screen (-based) Line Editor.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. The autoimmune disorder called lupus. A clinical overview is served by H. Michael Belmont, M.D., a rheumatologist.

Nine times more prevalent among women than men.

sleaze pop
A music-related entertainment genre that includes, or perhaps entirely comprises, ``The Pussycat Dolls.''

Single Large Expensive Drive. Possibly pejorative acronym meant to contrast with RAID (q.v.).

sleep like a baby
Toss and turn constantly, pausing only every fifteen minutes to wake up and squall. Their faces do look relaxed as they drool and nod off, though.

sleep like a lamb
You know, it's not enough to keep sheep safe. You have to make them feel safe, or their health suffers and they produce less wool.

sleep of the just
A slumber that is proverbially untroubled, because the just have clear consciences. In reality, the sleep of the just is troubled by doubts, while the truly unjust are not bothered by their consciences.

Sleep with Him on the First Date, It's Okay to
The title, and presumably a recommendation, of a book by Andrea Syrtash and Jeff Wilser, published in 2013. It seems a natural corollary to the subtitle of Syrtash's 2011 book, Cheat On Your Husband (with Your Husband): How to Date Your Spouse.

slept like a baby
Past-tense form of sleep like a baby.

slept like a lamb
Past-tense form of sleep like a lamb.

slew rate
Time dervative of output voltage in response to a sudden change in input voltage.

Soda-Lime Glass. Very different from a glass of lime soda.

[Phone icon]

Subscriber Line Interface { Circuit | Card }.

In golf, a ball is said to slice when it curves through the air opposite the side the golfer has driven it from (viz., toward the right for a right-handed golfer, and conversely). A ball curving to the opposite side is said to hook.

A kind of motor-vehicle accident that occurs on -- and not entirely on -- slippery roads. (In northern Indiana, that usually means icy or snowy conditions, but a little bit of rain -- not yet enough to wash off any oil -- can also be treacherous.) The driver loses control of the vehicle and it slides off the road into a soft shoulder or ditch or worse. In California, it tumbles 100 feet into a ravine or canyon, or down a mountainside, and then either plunges into the ocean or explodes, as you can tell from any movie (except for ``It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,'' but that was just crazy). Outside of California, a slide-off is better than a slide into oncoming traffic, a kind of accident for which there isn't any special term that I am aware of. (Not even my editor came up with anything. It can be described, of course, but ``slide-over'' and ``slide-across'' are at best rare nouns, and ``cross-over'' is a noun with different meanings.)

Slightly to the Right
Written by H.L. ``Bill'' Richardson, in frustration after the defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 US presidential election. His stated objective was to teach like-minded Republicans how to communicate (the threat of Communism) more effectively. Since his regular employment was in the advertising business, his opinions may be regarded as relevantly ``expert.''

I think the book was self-published. (The publisher is listed on the 1965 paperback as Constructive Action, Inc.; P.O. Box 4006; Whittier, California 90607.) I think you might find it quite difficult to obtain a copy today.

This is a citation entry. In other words, I don't expect many people to come here directly because they were surfing the web for information about Bill Richardson's book that they remembered from way back. It's here so I don't have to repeat the reference information at the two or three places where I quote from the book. As it happens, however, so far I only cite the book from the cybernetic warfare entry. In the future, the book will also be cited in the John Dewey entry. Since that entry isn't ready and I've got the book handy now, let me just quote the Dewey material here. The dedication of Richardson's book reads as follows:

If you think this book is going to be a literary masterpiece, then forget it. I am a product of the progressive, permissive, regressive school of education (degenerate Deweyism), which has permeated the American scene for the past thirty years. My spelling is atrocious and my handwriting is a scribble, and if it weren't for the patience and fortitude of my volunteer secretaries and my captive wife, who for some unaccountable reason either escaped or rose above scholastic pablum, this book wouldn't be here today.

(An entry for John Dewey now exists.)

[Phone icon]

slime phone
A one-time-only discount product consignment sold in Israel, the happy result of a little spelling error by a Hong Kong manufacturer, 1997 or 1998, I think. Some irregulars you can't sell in an Anglophone country.

[Phone icon]

Serial Line Internet Protocol. The ``serial line'' is a telephone line. SLIP was superseded by PPP, which has long since been superseded by DSL.

`Underwear' in Franglais and Italiese. Apparently this generalizes the more specific sense it has in English.

slip stick
Slide rule. The first slide rule was invented by William Oughtred (1575-1660) in 1625. When was the first pocket protector invented?

Slip sticks are available from the Sphere Research Slide Rule Site, The Slide Rule Universe! They even have new (i.e. never-used, unpre-owned, so to speak) boxed slide rules.

If you can tear yourself away from the keyboard, you might have a look at a wonderful short History of the Logarithmic Slide Rule, by F. Cajori (bound in a reprint edition with W. W. Rouse Ball's String Figures).

Slip Stick
Song in The Numbers By Whom album. Here's what I've been able to transcribe of the lyrics so far:
I've got my clipboard, my text books
Lead me to exam room
Yeah, I'm off to the civil war
I've got my pencil, my staple gun
I'm runnin' in the rain
Gonna run 'til my feet are raw!

Slip stick, slip stick, do multiplication
Using only rows C and D.
Slip stick, slip stick, squared calculation:
It's so easy, use A and B.
So easy -- use A and B.
It's a hard, hard knurl!

I left my pocket protector
Bungalow behind me
I left the door ajar.
I got my vacuum tube;
Full of hot tea and sugar.
Left the keys right in my car.

Slip stick, slip stick, do multiplication
Only half way -- about three.
Slip stick, slip stick, a trig. relation;
I have got to use S and T,
Have got to use S and T.

Slip Stick Hymn
I came up as the rule's three-century reign passed, in the waning days of the glorious stick age.

Sliding Home

More emblematic than a pocket protector,
More democratic than a mechanical pencil,
More tactile than the card catalog,
More personal than unfashionable clothes,
More magical than a fire cow,
More sublime than all.

In the textile industry, a long bundle or ribbon of combed fiber ready for spinning is called a sliver, which is pronounced with a long i (like shriver).

School Library Journal.

Scribe-Line Monitor. For any level of integration below WSI, a wafer is scribed and then broken into chips along the scribed lines. Evidently, a certain fraction of the area of the wafer, of width sufficient to allow for uncertainty in the scribing, cannot be used for product circuit. However, one can place test circuits in that space (the regions where the scribe lines will be drawn) to test the wafer --- i.e., the fab process -- before scribing. This approach provides testing that does not cost precious real estate.

Single Longitudinal Mode (of operation of a laser).

Spatial Light Modulator. Vide E-SLM, O-SLM.

Student Loan Marketing Association (pronounced and written ``Sallie Mae''). Federally chartered corporation that serves as a secondary market for federally insured student loans. Cf. FHMA, GNMA.

Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiaries.

San Luis Obispo. Spanish, ``Bishop Saint Louis.'' Geographic information at the Cal Poly entry. Obispo is Spanish for `bishop.' [Regarding pronunciation: there's no difference between vee and bee. In this context (intervocalic), they both represent the voiced bilabial fricative that is written as a Greek letter beta in the IPA.) Avispa is `wasp.' The Italian word is vespa, and Vespa was the name of a popular Italian motorcycle that sounded like one. Both Spanish and Italian words come from a Latin word mentioned at this laser entry.

Eeek! Vespa still sells motorcycles! It's that same old spooky feeling I got when I discovered that the Women's Christian Temperance Movement is still in business.

State Liaison Officer.

Student Learning Outcomes Assessment.

slop room
Laboratory facility of the Center for Excellence in Maintenance Science.

State Law and Order Restoration Council. The military regime that took control of Burma in 1988. In 1997, SLORC renamed itself SPDC.

SLO Transit
San Luis Obispo (CA) TRANSIT. Buses.

They could have chosen a different name, like SLOB Transit. That would have evoked quick-and-dirty, as opposed to SLOw.

Second Lady Of The United States. The wife of the VPOTUS. Humiliation unceasing. But you're a heartbeat away from, as they say in baseball, the big dance.

Eric Clapton.

Sea-Level (atmospheric) Pressure.


Silver Latin Poet[ry]. Applied to poets and poetry of the Silver Age of Latin literature. Lucan and Statius are the typical examples. Ovid is sort of borderline -- the last of the poets of the Golden Age or GLP's, or the first of the SLP's.

Speech and Language Pathologist. Also Speech-Language Pathologist.

Super Long Play. Recording at slowest VHS speed. Also called EP (extended).

Sta. Lucia Realty. A Philippine basketball team. In-your-face sponsorship is just too cool. How else could the Realtors have to face Alaska Milk (the ``Aces'') in a sudden-death match for the last semifinals berth of the Samsung-Philippine Basketball Association Reinforced Conference (where the winner faced San Miguel Beer in a best-of-five)? The National Basketball League Regional Cup is sponsored by Panasonic.

Cf. Heidelberg United Soccer Club.

Self-Loading Rifle. A lot safer than a self-firing rifle, I imagine.

Single Lens Reflex. A kind of camera in which the photographer sees the scene to be photographed through the same lens system that the camera uses to produce an image on the film. A series of mechanical linkages move a mirror system out of the way of the film for the time a photograph is being taken.

Small Lattice Relaxation.

Straight Leg Raise. Used to measure sciatic nerve mobility and hamstring length.

Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons, Inc.

Solution-Liquid-Solid. Growth mechanism analogous to VLS.

SuperLarge-Scale Integration. More than 500 Million transistors.

Southeastern Louisiana University. It's also referred to as ``Southeastern.'' It's in Hammond.

Salivation, Lacrimation, Urination, Defecation. Medical acronym for the usual ways that stuff comes out.

sludge pile
You're probably thinking of slush pile.

Saint Louis University High. A Jesuit prep school founded in 1818. It's also called ``Saint Louis University High School,'' but it's not abbreviated SLUHS.

Small Light-weight GPS Receivers.

The econonomic sense of slump is an Americanism, like that of boom, q.v.

slush pile
Collection of unsolicited manuscripts. Every publishing house -- yeah, every imprint -- has one. For the most part they are read, or examined, or glanced at, by the most junior editor-like personnel. Most unsolicited manuscripts are rejected, and returned if they came with an adequate SASE. Most that are rejected are rejected after a cursory examination, and rightly so. Most of them aren't even bad in a way interesting enough to merit consideration for the BLFC. Probably most unsolicited manuscripts that are eventually accepted somewhere are first rejected elsewhere at least a few times. (Someone eventually makes a mistake.)

In order to get published, you want to avoid having your manuscript fly directly over the transom and into the slush pile. In order to avoid having your precious manuscript land in the slush pile, you need to have an agent. But in order to have an agent, you need to get published. Therefore, it's no fair! Obviously, no one is ever published unless they've been published before. Hence, there is no moment in the past when they were not published, or they couldn't have gotten an agent and been published in the first place. Thus, every author was always a published author. What we have here is clearly a being/becoming distinction, a heck of an ontological problem, and a lot of empty chairs at the PEN convention. Fortunately, there is something called the ``First (independent) Clause Argument'' that straightens all this stuff out, and incidentally proves that God (the First Author) really wrote the Bible, because the big publishing houses said it would never sell and Moses couldn't have afforded the fees that a vanity press would have charged.

But slush in general is not what I want to talk about here. I want to talk about The Educators' Phrase Book: A Complete Reference Guide, by someone who is far better off anonymous than she knows. The book was published by International Scholars Publications in 1998, when that was based in San Francisco, London, and especially Bethesda, but as of 2005 its domain name is for sale. If that doesn't tell you something, here's another bad sign: the dedication is missing a comma but includes an exclamation mark. Here's the last paragraph of the introduction, to explain what the book is all about.

          At last! Here is a helpful phrase book to assist teachers and educators as they tackle those spur of the moment reports they are writing late at night when their ideas are running low. Many times a short phrase can help an educator get his or her creative process rolling to complete the report before the rushed deadline. This book with over 1,000 educational phrases can assist educators for years in writing both formal and informal papers.

Chapter One is about curriculum phrases. I'm sorry, it is Curriculum Phrases. Here are the first three lines of the chapter:

an effective curriculum matches
curriculum frameworks are helpful for teachers
curriculum development is essential

The chapter concludes thus:

it took hours to develop the curriculum project

Here are two random good ones from ``Chapter Two Behavioral Phrases'':

the student's behavior was revengeful
the students hall behavior was orderly

The only thing it's missing (besides left margins, punctuation, organization, acquaintance with the English language, and a clue) is page numbers along the right-hand side, and it could be the index to something magnificently tedious. I'm afraid to go to sleep. I know I'll have nightmares about zombies who find this book useful. (In the other hand: an abridged dictionary!) I'll sell the concept and it will be turned into a major motion picture: ``Late Evening of the Nondead Educators and, Teachers.'' Tagline: ``He or she will kill you by the method of unasked for suffocation.'' Tony Randall will return from the dead to costar with Brad Pitt (a stunt double will play the scenes where the Pitt character has to express living human emotions).

South Lake Union Trolley. This is the popular name, and S.L.U.T. is the popular initialism, for a service in Seattle, Wash., that went into operation in late 2007. The trolley serves the neighborhoods of Cascade, Denny Park, and Denny Triangle, a region the operating company (Vulcan, Inc.) calls South Lake Union. The official name of the mass transportation vehicle is ``South Lake Union Streetcar.'' This was either devious guerrilla marketing genius, or just plain stupid, I'm not sure which. In August or September of 2007, Kapow! Coffee -- a shop in the Cascade neighborhood -- sold out a hundred ``Ride the S.L.U.T.'' tee shirts in a few days.

Space Launch Vehicle.

Chemical symbol for Samarium, atomic number 62. A rare earth (RE) element. Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Note carefully: this is an abbreviation for SadoMasochism, which culture wonks reveal is the term now preferred to sadism and masochism, which was of course abbreviated S&M.

(Domain code for) San Marino. A small country other than the Papal State completely surrounded by Italy.

Service Mark. Trademark for a service.

Shared Memory.

Siemens-Matsushita. Part of the Passive Components and Electron Tubes Group of the Siemens group. It produces SAW filters and microwave ceramic devices for mobile communications systems.

How do they come up with these abbreviations?

Single Mode (fiber, waveguide, etc.). As opposed to MM.

(Broadcast) Station Manager.

Stress Migration.

Superlattices and Microstructures. A journal edited by John Dow.

Many gentlemen and ladies who advertise in the personals express an interest in ``S&M.'' This is evidence for the widespread latent interest in Science and Technology, and the importance that ordinary citizens place on this shared interest when choosing a partner for life. Or even for a night. Sure! Cf. B&D, S/M.

Switching Matrix. See brief explanation in context at FPGA.

SyringoMyelia. Explained at the ASAP entry.

Screen Manufacturers' Association.

Shape Memory Alloy. When deformed cold and then warmed, an object made from SMA recovers its previous shape. As have thixotropic materials, SMA's have been proposed for robot grippers. Ti-Ni alloy is the best known, but...

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!


[Caution: Do not syncopate. Read as ``Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding.'' The Stammtisch is not responsible for pelvic injury resulting from improper use of this glossary!]

Right here, right now, for your viewing pleasure, et cetera, we present, for the first time ever on the internet of this planet, a scientific discovery announced electronically before publication. (Previous announcements don't count because some were false and others would adversely affect our claim of priority.)

The discovery is simply and stunningly this:

Coke is a shape memory alloy.

That's right, it goes flat when warmed.


Single Mode Approximation.

Smectic-A phase. A smectic phase of liquid crystal that has no ordering within each plane or sheet of oriented molecules. The molecules are oriented perpendicular to the plane of the layer. Cf. Sm-C

Southern Medical Association. Based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

State Medicaid Agency.

Stone Matrix Asphalt. Vide McAdam s.v. Eponyms.

Surface-Mount Assembly.

Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association.

Sowjetische Militäradministration in Deutschland. German for `Soviet Military Administration in Germany' (following WWII).

Adj.: SMALL CAPitalization.

small cap
SMALL CAPital letters. Refers to a font in which lower-case characters are represented by smaller versions of upper case letters, or a letter in such a font. In Cyrillic alphabets, lower case is small caps.

Narrow fabric.

Student-Managed Academic Resource Time.

Surface-Mount And Related (electronic packaging and assembly) Technologies.

Smart Man's Burden
A phrase patterned after Rudyard Kipling's original ``White Man's Burden.'' Isaac Asimov appears to have been the first to formulate it.


Systems Management Application Service Element.

Server Message Block.

Small-to-Medium-size Business.

Smectic-B phase. A smectic phase of liquid crystal that has positional long-range ordering within each plane. This is almost, but not quite, three-dimensional crystalline ordering; the pattern of molecules in one layer is not aligned with the pattern in the next.

UB's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

System Management Bus. Defined by Intel Corporation in 1995, used in mobile and desktop personal computers for low-speed communication within the system.

Saint Mary's College. A women's college across Rt. 33/Bus. 31/SR 933/Dixie Way from Notre Dame. In 1971, ND president Father Theodore Hesburgh announced a planned ND-SMC merger for the 1972-73 academic year -- prematurely, it turned out. The two schools could not come to agreement on terms, and Father Hesburgh decided to take ND co-ed on its own. Here's a poorly written article about it that nevertheless has some interesting and probably correct information.

In the 108th Congress (2003-2005), 62 of the 435 representatives were women, as was one of the nonvoting delegates. Two of the representatives, and the delegate from the US Virgin Islands, are alumnae of SMC. The USVI delegate (Donna Christensen) was the first female physician to serve in the US Congress, a fortiori the first black woman physician in Congress, and the first woman to represent an offshore territory. Eddie Bernice Johnson became the first woman and the first black to ever represent the Dallas area in Congress when she was first elected to Congress in 1992. SMC typically graduates about 400 students each year.

There were also four Notre Dame alumni in Congress. ND typically awards about 2500 bachelor's degrees each year, but at least a couple of these four men were graduates of the law school.

Santa Monica College. A two-year college in southern California.

Sheet Molding Compound.

Sleep Mode Connection.

Small Magellanic Cloud. The smaller of the two Magellanic Clouds. (The other is the LMC; you can guess what that stands for.) Both are irregular dwarf galaxies that are part of the local group of galaxies that the Milky Way is part of.

Smectic-C phase. A smectic phase of liquid crystal that has no ordering within each plane or sheet of oriented molecules. This phase differs from Sm-A in the orientation of molecules: molecules are aligned within a layer (i.e. are parallel to each other) but the orientation axis of the molecules is oblique to the plane of their layer.

Southwestern Michigan College. ``SMC offers a top quality college experience, and we're closer and more affordable than you think.'' Ten minutes from Clay High School, according to the postcard, and I would estimate fifteen minutes from Saint Mary's College (SMC).

Southwestern Michigan is a community college with campuses in Dowagiac and Niles. I've heard ``Dowagiac'' pronounced on the weather reports. It sounds like ``duh-WAH-jack.'' Niles is closer anyway. (That's ``if you're within the sound of my voice,'' of course. Hello? HELLO!!?)

Standard Microsystems Corp.

Studies in Medieval Culture. Published by Medieval Institute Publications of the Medieval Institute at WMU. A journal from 1962 to 1977, from 1978 on a series of individually titled volumes.

Surface-Mount Component.

Switch maintenance Center.

Systems, Man and Cybernetics. An international conference sponsored by the IEEE.

San Mateo County Astronomical Society. Founded in 1960, and based at the College of San Mateo. I move that SMCAS be pronounced ``smack ass.'' Do I hear a second?

Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service. None of their emergency vehicles (that I've seen) expand the initialism.

Santa Margarita Catholic High School.

Surface-Mount[ed] Device.

Standard Military Drawing[s].

(US) Space and Missile Defense Command.

Subscriber Maintenance Distributing Frame.

Switched Multi-megabit Data Services.

Science, Mathematics and Engineering.

Small { and | to } Medium[-sized] Enterprises. Not just small enterprises. We wouldn't want to imply that the businesses we are discussing are ... small. We don't want to trample anyone's self-esteem. In fact, even the current term has its problems. Committees are hard at work constructing a new one to replace it. When they finally come up with the new term, it will be SMLSE -- ``small, medium, and large small enterprises.''

Cf. SMI.

Society for Mining Engineers. Founded in 1957; a Member Society of AIME. Now officially the ``Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration.''

Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Soybean Methyl Ether. One kind of biodiesel, q.v.

Smekkleysa SM is one of Iceland's major media companies. It was started primarily as a record label in 1986, and that is still its main business, but it also publishes poetry books, videos, and greeting cards, and markets some gifts.

The company does business in Iceland under its original name of Smekkleysa, but at some point it changed its official name to English: `Bad Taste, Ltd.' or `Bad Taste SM, Ltd.' (I only have obvious guesses as to what the SM stands for.) `Bad taste' is a fair translation of smekkleysa, which is more literally translated as `tastelessness.'

Let's have some pointlessly gory detail. Icelandic smakk- and smekk- roots are cognate with the English word smack (as in ``to smack one's lips''). Smakka means `to taste' (like the German verb smecken; more about that at SMEX) and smekkr is a noun meaning `taste' (like the German Geschmack). In fact, there are no early attestations for either word, and the Oxford Icelandic-English dictionary says for smekkr that it's ``from Germ. ge-smack'' and implies that it was borrowed from some version of Middle German. On the other hand, the entries (in the 1956 edn. which is the latest I have to hand) haven't been modified since the original 1874 edition; maybe someone has thought more deeply about this since.

The -less ending of English (-los of German) apparently corresponds to -laus in Icelandic (hence smekklaus, `tasteless'). It seems that -lessness corresponds to -leys[V] with [V] some vowel (a or i, at least); if this has a West Germanic cognate or parallel, I don't recognize it.

Smekkleysa also uses the name ``Bad Taste Records.'' (The homepage of the website, linked at the top of this entry, has ``Bad Taste Records -- Online Store'' as the content of its <title> tag.) This usage is a head-on namespace collision with a Swedish record label (namely, Bad Taste Records). This is reminiscent of the Samuel Butler situation in English literature. The poet (1612-1680) and the novelist (1835-1902) are now distinguished by the titles of famous works: Samuel (``Hudibras'') Butler and Samuel (``Erewhon'') Butler, resp. Perhaps the Reykjavik-based label could be distinguished as Bad Taste Records (``The Sugarcubes'') for the group that is responsible for the label's existence. The Bad Taste Records based in Lund, Sweden, is not so closely associated with any single group.

We'll have more about The Sugarcubes later, eventually, maybe. A work more in line with ``bad taste'' is a children's song whose title means `the farting people' in English, published by this label in a 1997 album. Bad Taste Ltd. uses as its symbol a pig listening to a trumpet or two. The reputed origin of the name, however, is a little more elevated: it's a reference to a reputed quote of Pablo Picasso: ``Good taste and frugality are the enemies of creativity.'' I haven't found any specific source for this or any similar quote. More frequently attributed is ``Ah, good taste--What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.'' Common in Spanish:

Surface Mount Equipment Manufacturers' Association. Coördinates compatibility of assembly equipment, even standardizing such things as the height of working zonesabove the floor, so that conveyor systems for equipment from different manufacturers can be meshed.

Sleep Medicine Education and Research Foundation. A foundation of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), established to promote education and to fund research.

Oh, here's something from their informative mission statement:

``The SMERF promotes the highest quality education and research within the field of sleep medicine...''

This is good to know. I thought maybe they promoted mediocre and plain bad education and research outside the field of sleep medicine, and that they put ``sleep medicine'' in their name only so it would rhyme with smurf. In fact, they don't say that they don't promote lower-quality work. Maybe ``highest-quality education and research'' is only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe they sell novelties as a sideline to support the research.

``This is accomplished through consultation with representatives of the AASM, industry, and the public. The SMERF integrates their recommendations to develop initiatives for the advancement of the field.''

[Yawn.] I think it's working. Another couple of mission statements ought to do it.

Russian abbreviation of SMERt' SHpionam, meaning `death to spies.' (The second word is sometimes written shpionom. This is the spelling of the cognate in Polish, which is written in Roman characters. The Cyrillic character for the last vowel in the Russian word looks like a lower-case Roman a, and is pronounced like the o in American ``nominate'' or the a in ``father'' (or in the more accurate pronunciations of ``Viet Nam'').

SMERSH was a Soviet Army counter-espionage organization begun on April 19, 1943, and reorganized out of existence during Spring 1946. The name was popularized in English by the novels of Ian Fleming, but in most of the James Bond movies it is replaced by an independent criminal organization called S.P.E.C.T.R.E., q.v. For other, mostly fictional bad guys' organizations, see the bad guys' organizations entry.

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage. Storage of energy as the field energy of superconducting magnets. Something intended for use as a sort of magnetic flywheel: an energy storage medium that could be drawn down very quickly (but nondestructively).

Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology. Acronym favored by the NSF. Proof here.

SMall EXplorer. NASA's ``Small Explorer (SMEX) Program [originally provided, according to the old webpage] frequent flight opportunities for highly focused and relatively inexpensive space science missions. SMEX spacecraft [had masses of] 180 to 250 kg with orbit-average power consumption of 50 to 200 watts. Each mission [was] expected to cost approximately $35 million for design, development, and operations through the first 30 days in orbit.'' The current site does not highlight such specific parameters.

In German, the word schmeckt means `tastes.' It primarily has the senses that occur in `tastes sweet, tastes good to me' -- schmeckt süß, schmeckt mir gut. (The latter can be shortened to schmeckt mir, but leaving out even the indirect object is probably too ambiguous. My mom can't remember, and I can't google, a straightforward case of someone saying ``Es schmeckt'' to mean ``Es schmeckt gut.'') Anyway, setting aside the idiomatic elisions, schmecken is mainly an intransitive verb meaning `have a taste that is' and typically takes an adjective predicate [or an adjectival predicate, as in schmeckt wie ... (`tastes like ...')]. The narrow usage compared to English taste seems more natural when one realizes that the word is cognate with English smacks. Think ``smacks of'' (schmeckt nach) rather than ``smack one's lips'' (corresponding to the German dialectal verb schmacken).

The transitive verb taste is typically translated by kosten (yes, this also means `cost'), probieren (yes, this also has other senses), or (much less commonly) abschmecken. According to dictionaries, one can even use schmecken transitively, but this seems to be quite rare. (Googling on specific inflected forms which one would most expect to be used in this sense -- first- and second-person singular smecke, schmeckst -- one gets a lot of hits that are borderline creepy.) Anyway, in the transitive dictionary sense it seems to be more like `try, sample.' Yuck. One can also use herausschmecken more precisely for `sense, perceive [a flavor],' particularly when the flavor is unexpected or is partly masked by stronger ones. (I.e., it has some of the sense of tease out in English.)

You know, those two paragraphs aren't a scrap of misplaced text. ``SMEX'' just happened to remind me of ``schmeckt,'' by its approximate similarity in sound. Of course, the similarity would be closer if schmeckt were schmecks. It's funny: when there's a difference, you expect (unvoiced, and therefore noninitial) s in German to correspond to t in English, and not the other way around: besser, daß, heiß, heißen, lassen, vergessen, was, Wasser, weiss are (or have been) `better, that, hot, hight, let, forget, what, water, white.'

Yet the characteristic third-person singular (pres. indic.) ending is t in German and s in English (hence schmeckt vs. smacks). I suppose the reason is that the ending used to be th, which mostly stayed th in English and evolved (depending on voicing) into d and t in German. I think I read somewhere that Shakespeare used the -th (he doth bestride) and -s (all that glisters) about equally. The -s was originally a Northern-English regional variant (a reverse lisp!) that spread south. I probably ought to research this more carefully, but since you came here to learn about SMEX, you probably wouldn't appreciate the effort.

Set-Membership Filter.

Single-Mode Fiber.

Standard Midi File.

Surface-Mount Fuse.

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

You know how eff and ess sound virtually indistinguishable over the phone?

Siromoney Matrix Grammar. See picture grammar.

See A. Rosenfeld, Picture Languages (New York: Academic Pr., 1979).

Shaking My Head. Texting acronym. A tacronym, I guess.

Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald. It's actually an evening paper, because they're in a different time zone, but it doesn't seem to bother the Australians.

Severe Mental Illness. ADA compliance talk.

Small and Medium (-size) Industry. Medium-to-small amounts of sympathy are expressed at the related SME entry.

System Management Interrupt. An OS-transparent interrupt generated by interrupt events on legacy systems. ACPI contrasts this with SCI's, which are visible to the system.

SMI Association of Malaysia.

Standard Mechanical InterFace.

Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language.

Simplified Molecular Input-Line Entry Specification.

A smiley face, usually abstracted into a very schematic representation. Earlier, we amused you wanly with Argh and Grateful Dead smileys. (You are, we expect, reading the glossary in alphabetical order!) There are a number of smiley compilations on the web. Here's a consolidated list; here is the unofficial smiley dictionary, from EFF, and a list abstracted by André Heck from Starbits. This one was recommended on the classics list.

Only SBF, however, offers you a small initiation into Advanced Smileys.

In May 2002, an apparent intellectual and moral imbecile named Lucas Helder drove around the US placing pipe bombs in streetside mailboxes. After his arrest in Nevada, he told police he had planned to distribute the pipe bombs so as to make a smiley face on a map of the US. In video showing him being taken between jail and court in Reno, his face was all smiley. He faces charges in Iowa that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME).

Smith and Wesson Oil
Man, you want to stay far from the kitchen if that stuff approaches the smoke point.

Smith Chart
A nonlinear plot of the scaled complex impedance
z=(R + jX) / Z0 ,

where R and X are resistance and reactance, and Z0 is the characteristic impedance of a reference transmission line (50 ohms is a nice typical value, if none is indicated). Useful as a compact representation, as a way of graphically calculating some transmission-line properties, and as a basis for recognizing certain impedance trajectories parameterized by frequency.

The nonlinear plot is equivalent to an ordinary plot of the complex quantity

s = (z - 1) / (z + 1).
This particular conformal map is of the type called a linear fractional transformation, and in addition to preserving angles it transforms all z-plane circles (including the infinite-radius circles usually called straight lines) into s-plane circles, and vice versa. Zero resistance is represented in the s-plane by a circle of radius 0.5, centered on (0.5,0). All positive resistances lie inside this circle. Capacitive (negative) reactance corresponds to the lower half s-plane. Similarly, inductive reactance is in the lower half plane.

The Smithereens
A pop-rock group formed in New Jersey.

Now that internal structure has been detected in quarks, we should seize the opportunity to name the next layer of sub-particles smitherinos and smitherons, the whole family to be called smithereens. We mustn't miss the chance, because there may not be any more turtles.

Smithsonian Institute
America's attic. Their homepage has a California mirror. For their sui generis take on materials science, see their photo exhibit thereon. See also some documentary evidence that cavemen were contemporary with dinosaurs (there is an explanation).

We have a dinosaurs entry too.

System Management Interface Tool.

Call letters of a radio station in the Niles, Michigan, area. It has an Urban Contemporary format. The letters are integrated into the current self-description ``Smokin' 99.1 FM.''

Service Management Layer.

System Manager's Manual. For BSD Unix.

Solder Mask Over Bare Copper.

Standard Mean Ocean Chloride.

SMoke & fOG. Haze of at least partly human origin, as modified by chemical reactions in the sky and sun. Perfectly good term now eschewed by the environmentally hip. Instead, for a while they were trying to get us to call it ozone, even though that's only one component.

smog, to
The verb to smog is in common use, at least in California as of 2004, with the sense of ``to have [a motor vehicle] inspected for compliance with emissions laws.'' I wouldn't know, because -- please fasten your seat belt and brace yourself to enter a time warp -- Indiana has no emissions inspections. No motor vehicle inspections whatever. Yuh pays yer taxes and yuh gets yer license-plate sticker. That's it. Credit cards and personal checks accepted. I imagine that there are laws requiring your low-beams not to be focused at the rear-view mirror of the car ahead, but I can see that those are not enforced.

Mary says that if you're illiterate, the Indiana State DMV will assign someone to read you the questions so can take the ``written'' part of the driving test. I don't know how she found this out. Was it written somewhere? What provisions do they make to assist those who are blind and deaf to take the test?

This is the crucial ``working fluid'' of electronics. If you let the smoke out of your circuit, you'll have a hard time getting it back in, or getting the circuit to work again.

smokestack lightning
When a train goes by, silhouetted against a dark sky, you could see the sparks in the smoke trailing close behind the chimney. That's ``smokestack lightning.'' It's not lightning, and it's not sparks in the narrowest sense, but floating embers from the engine fire. Those embers drafted almost the entire length of the engine car: from the firebox just forward of the engineer's compartment, along the inside of a fire tube through the boiler, to the smokebox and out the chimney at the front of the engine. Ideally, external combustion engines aren't intended to be quite so external. In practice, train-engine chimneys were broad to accomodate baffles meant to suppress smokestack lightning.

Chester Arthur Burnett wrote a song he called ``Smokestack Lightning.'' As appropriate for an artist with the stage name of Howlin' Wolf, the song has a lot of howling. In this song, some of the howling is a pun: ``whoo hoo, whoo hoo'' might be the crying of a child or the whistle of a train. Howlin' Wolf recorded the song in 1956 (it was pressed with the title written as three words). If you're like me, the version you remember best is the Yardbirds' (their second cover of it, with mostly new lyrics). The song was also covered by (in no particular order) Manfred Mann, The Animals, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, John Hammond, The Electric Prunes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Grateful Dead, The Who, The Wailers, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Soundgarden, and many less famous others. Okay, some probably not less famous than John Hammond. The Cult had a hit with ``Fire Woman,'' and ``smokestack lightning'' is prominent in the chorus of that song. (They might have been more successful if they'd had the sense to make the song's hook its title. I imagine that if you go to school in Nashville, you learn this in second grade.)

You say you never saw smokestack lightning? Hmmm, by 1956 I imagine even Howlin' Wolf was writing from memory. His years were from June 10, 1910 (I must have missed the retrospective), to January 10, 1976, so he witnessed the end of the steam age.

Eventually, I want to find connections to link up all the entries in this glossary, in a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-type thing. It doesn't always work through the most obvious connection. For example, though I suppose Burnett was named after Chester Alan Arthur, the 21st US president, I can't think of any really good tie-in there. Sorry. I guess Chester Arthur witnessed the rise and heyday of the steam age. Pending a future Wolfman Jack entry, I'll note that the inspiration for that famous disc jockey came from Howlin' Wolf. Wolfman Jack's legal name was Robert Weston Smith. With a little sympathetic misspelling, that links us to the Smith and Wesson Oil entry.

A word that means `tuxedo' (American English) or evening jacket (British) in many European languages, including at least German (capitalized, like all nouns), French, Italian, and Spanish. (In Spanish, however, the pronunciation now follows the naturalized spelling, esmoquin.) Evidently this sense is derived from the English term `smoking jacket.' (Perhaps because of the ellipsis, the Hachette Dictionnaire Universel Francophone tags this a faux anglicisme.)

In principle, I suppose this could also become a faux ami, but I don't think ``No Smoking'' signs cause any genuine confusion. What can cause confusion is the original English term, which has two meanings that are now essentially inconsistent: (1) a jacket for formal evening wear in public, (2) an elegant but comfortable jacket for home wear. If you conjure in your mind a well-to-do men's smoking club of the Victorian era, with an ostensibly relaxed atmosphere, then the double image begins to converge.

Small Matter Of Programming.

Everything is easy for the man who doesn't have to do it himself.

Standard Monkey Operating Procedure. If you were a monkey, you'd do it this way too. Also abbreviated SOP.

Standard Mean Ocean Water. As in 18O SMOW concentration.

Service Management Point.

Society of Modern Psychoanalysts. ``The mission of the Society of Modern Psychoanalysts is to foster training, research and dissemination of information among a broad spectrum of individuals interested in Modern Psychoanalysis.''

From the ``About Modern Psychoanalysis'' page: Modern psychoanalysis ``rests upon the theoretical framework and clinical approach of Sigmund Freud, who defined clinical psychoanalysis as any line of investigation that takes transference and resistance as the starting point of its work. As psychoanalytic practice and theory developed, psychoanalysts began to doubt the applicability of classical psychoanalytic technique to the treatment of narcissistic disorders. Interpretation, the mainstay of classical technique, proved ineffective in the treatment of severe pathologies.

    In the mid forties, Hyman Spotnitz--working as supervisor with a group of mental health professionals at the Jewish Board of Guardians--developed a systematic theory of technique designed for the treatment of preverbal conditions. The body of theoretical and clinical knowledge developed by Spotnitz and his colleagues, known as `Modern Psychoanalysis,' amplified Freud's theories so as to make them applicable to the full spectrum of emotional disorders.

    Spotnitz determined that the core problem in narcissism is self-hate rather than self-love, as previously thought.'' Huh! I bet that selfishness will turn out to be a manifestation of excess altruism, too. Spotnitz ``recognized the preponderance of destructive aggression in narcissistic disorders and used it dynamically in formulating his theory of the technique, thus also confirming the operational viability of Freud's theory of dual drives. Spotnitz further recognized that transference phenomena include experiences from conception through the first two years of life, in addition to those from the oedipal [sic] period.''

Symmetric MultiProcessing.

Shared Memory Parallel Computer.

Switched-Mode Power Supply. One way to produce AC power from a DC source.

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

Schweizerischen Musikpädagogischen Verband. German, `Swiss Music Teachers' Union.'

[Phone icon]

(Telephone) Service Management System. The texting system.

Short Message Service. Sends snippets of text to mobile phones, so you don't have to tie up your pager. That's a joke. It's a both a two-way and broadcast-mode system, up to 160 bytes in GSM standard. Here's one of many free SMS service sites.

Single Molecule Spectroscopy.

(Novell) Storage Management Services.

Syro-Mesopotamian Studies. A scholarly journal.

Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. Term defined by the U.S. census bureau. Cf. samsara. Also, see NASMSA.

State Motorcycle Safety Administrators. Vide NASMSA.

School Mathematics Study Group. The 1960's math committee corresponding to PSSC for physics, BSCS for biology, and CHEM Study for chemistry. These committees, reflecting or riding a degree of remanent Sputnik panic, set out to improve science education in US high schools. They produced new curricula, textbooks, and audio-visual materials.

Society for Music Theory. Founded in 1977, ``[t]he Society holds annual meetings, publishes two journals (Music Theory Spectrum and Music Theory Online), and encourages scholarly excellence by giving awards for outstanding publications in music theory. We also work to increase the diversity of our discipline and to promote fruitful exchanges between music theorists, musicologists, performers, and scholars in other fields.''

Surface-Mount Technology. Cf. Pin-Through-Hole (PTH), hybrid.

Surface-Mount Technology Association.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.

Saint Mary's University. Located at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Source/Measure Unit. Also expanded source/monitor unit or a stimulus/measurement unit. A voltage source with an ammeter or a current source with a voltmeter.

Southern Methodist University. Known more for football players than for Methodists.

Symbolic Model Verifier. Used to check finite state systems (i.e., computers) against their specifications. Most frequently, model verifiers are based on CTL.

Scottish Movie We Don't Talk About. Braveheart. ``We'' are medivalists (historians of the MA) appalled by the realistic inauthenticity of it all.


Symmetric Mach-Zehnder.

SONET 3:1 Multiplexer.

Postal code for Saxony (Sachsen in German), one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at the domain code .de.]

Its area is 18,413 sq. km. I admit this is not a very interesting fact, but it's a datum that doesn't change as fast as the population, so there's less updating for me to do. Just for historical interest, the population of Saxony was estimated at 4,538,000 for 1997. The capital of the state, through various forms of government, has been and continues to be Dresden.

The names Saxony and Sachsen (and Anglo-Saxon, for that matter) come from the German people called Saxons, whose name is supposed to be derived from the Old German sahsa, `dagger,' the weapon they favored in battle. (In contrast with Germanni, I guess, who favored the gari, `spear.') The Finnish name for German is Saksa, from Saxon.

In Latin, German was Germanus. It was a pun on germanus, which meant `sibling.' (The word apparently evolved from germen, `seed, germ.') Just like English, Latin has distinct words for sibling, brother (frater, a cognate) and sister (soror). I guess a co-ed frat should be a germanity. In fact, there was a Latin word germanitas, which we would render as ``germanity,'' and which had a meaning like that. Germanitas was synonymous with fraternitas, and these words had the sense of our word fraternity in the abstract rather than the ``Greek'' sense.

Like English and Latin, German also has a distinct word for sibling (Geschwister) in addition to Bruder and Schwester. The situation in Latin is not quite parallel to that in these Germanic languages, however. Latin nouns have grammatical gender, as German does. However, gender in Latin typically (as in this instance) is systematically related to (and frequently identifiable from) an interchangeable morphology of suffixes. The history of grammatical gender, or more generally noun classes, is quite involved. Old High German (the highland German that became modern German) and Old English (Anglo-uh, Saxon, evolved from lowland or ``Low German'' languages) had more extensive gender, with inflections marking the nouns as well as their modifiers. None of that is left in English, and very little in German. In Latin, however, the system was sufficiently visible in the morphology that it was easy to preserve a distinction between natural gender (like, male in the case of brother, understand?) and grammatical gender (the ship, she is ready for Mr. sea). Now the Romans weren't silly about this, and with a few traditional exceptions, nouns with a natural gender had the same grammatical gender. Frater, for example, was male. Siblings, on the other hand, come in at least two flavors. As it happens, the Latin sibling word is grammatically male. (The corresponding German word Geschwister is female.)

But there's more. When a word functions as an adjective, it must assume a gender consistent with that of the noun. It must ``agree'' with the noun. (From the linguistic point of view, it is the requirement of agreement that defines noun classes in the usual sense.) In a word like germanus (or Germanus), the male and female forms are distinguished. Thus, the male adjective form (identical with the noun) occurs in one Latin translation of brotherly love: germanus amor because amor is male. (I'm not going to try to make the argument that this is an instance of of natural gender, but it can be related to the fact that the personification of Eros or Amor is male.) On the other hand, a female noun like caritas (`expensiveness'; it evolved to have the usual sense of `dearness') demands a female form: germana caritas for `brotherly high price' or something. Caritas is the origin of our word charity (Middle English charite, from the Old French word used in the sense of `Christian love'; charity is caridad in Spanish). And they say that money is the root of all evil. They should be poor and they'll know better. Another female example is malignitas, so germana malignitas would be `brotherly spite' or `brotherly stinginess.' Gee, those Romans took a very practical approach to affections. (I mean ``practical'' here in the subcontinent sense, as explained at the efectivo entry.) I'm not going to go on like this endlessly. I'm not even going to inflict so much as a pocket dictionary of nouns, but I will mention that there's a neuter form (e.g., germanum odium -- more `brotherly spite,' just to be fair and balanced).

I know, I know: you're sorry you asked. But take heart -- the end of the entry is scrolling into view! The point of introducing the differently gendered (in a non-modern sense) forms of germanus was to show that there was of necessity a female form germana parallel to it. So the Romans put that to good use as a substantive (i.e what we call noun, q.v.) as well as an adjective. But they already had a word for sister. Instead, germana came to mean `own sister,' and then, of course, germanus had to mean `own brother,' and germanum `own palm-pilot.'

That's the order in which it happened. I know because I was there at the time. You can find most of the meanings in a dictionary, or even a glossary. Then again there's disagreement. Etymology, shmetymology. It turns out that the affective sense of caritas (and its etymon carus) may well have been the principal sense before the pecuniary sense. The word has an identifiable root in Proto-Indo-European: *ka (earlier *ke). That's supposed to have meant `love.' Sounds a bit curt to me. Not mellifluous enough. Other cognates include (through a circuitous route through Old Norse) the English word whore. Okay, even setting aside phonology, maybe that's not the best example. It still seems to have a, dare I say it, meretricious element. Okay, better example: Sanskrit kama, as in the title of the work Kama Sutra (vide cama). Here kama definitely means `love,' or, er, maybe just `desire.' Hmmm. All I can say is, LOVE STINKS! Love stinks -- yeah, yeah! Come to think of it, I can probably say other things.

The history of germanus is not uncontroversial either. In addition to the meanings given above, the adjective was widely used with the meaning of `genuine.' Most references I've consulted regard that as a transferred sense, although it's not obvious how. Corominas y Pascual takes the position that `genuine' was the original meaning, and that the meaning `brother' arose from expressions like frater germanus. That halps explain the connection between the different senses of germanus, but leaves germen out in the cold.

If this were an entry for germanus, rather than for the Saxony postal code, I would probably at least mention the Spanish word hermano, and Herman, and the Hermits. Hermano and hermana are the Spanish words for `brother' and `sister,' derived from the ablative forms of germanus.

Herman is a Germanic given name (so maybe I should call it a Vorname). Judging from the fact that Herr Mann means `Mr. Man' in modern German, and her man means whatever it means in English, I'd would have to say that Herman (and related names like Hermann in German and Ermanno in Italian) means `He-man.' But I would be wrong. Not that I'd be alone in error. Back in the nineteenth century, the names Herman and Hermann had a spurt of popularity in the US, UK, and Germany. This seems to have had to do with the belief that the name was an alternate form of Armin, called Arminius by Tacitus. Armin (d. 21 CE) led the Cherusci to a tremendous victory against Roman armies at Teutoburgerwald (`German fortress forest'?) in 9 CE, after which Rome pretty much abandoned efforts to establish control east of the Rhine. A Dictionary of First Names (Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, 1990) has somewhat contradictory claims about the Armin-Hermann connection (at the Hermann and Armin entries). I'm going to assert firmly that they're not closely related, because such a vague claim, within the uncertain field of etymology, is virtually impossible to falsify. There is wide agreement, for whatever that might be worth, that Hermann is derived from the Germanic roots hari (`army') and man (`man'). That sort of brings us back to the beginning of the entry. (Remember sahsa?)

Well, as long as I've mentioned Armin, I should mention Arnim (clean your glasses). Lady von Arnim was a good friend of Goethe, and her son was one of the last visitors to his deathbed. I recall this from Eckerman's book (no, I didn't give bibliographical information on the book earlier in this entry; you should simply be familiar with the book; see the SAH entry). Arn occurs in Yiddish as a shortened form of Aaron, and if the plural were formed in Hebrew it would be Arnim. This is most likely just a coincidence, but since I don't know the actual etymology of Arnim, you're stuck. (There's also an English Arn -- like Arnie, short for Arnold -- but I don't know how to stick im in there.) Okay, okay! Enough about Saxony, already!


(Domain code for) Sénégal. Here's a list of (other) servers from Telecom-Plus.

{Sequence | Serial} Number.

S/N, S-N
Signal-to-Noise. Vide SNR.

Stannum. This is the Late Latin name for tin, atomic number 50. Before the sixth century, stannum referred to an alloy of silver and lead. (It's not exactly a naturally occurring alloy, but it's natural the term should arise: silver was extracted as an impurity from galena, a lead sulfide.)

You might wonder what tin was called in Latin before it was called stannum. Bronze (a copper-tin alloy) was very important in ancient times (and it was not abandoned when the Iron Age succeeded the Bronze Age), so you might think the Romans might have a distinctive name for it (just as the Greeks did: kassiteros). In fact, the Romans called it plumbum candidum (`white lead'). The elemental metal we call lead was plumbum nigrum (`black lead'). (They also used the term plumbago, in the sense of `lead ore,' for a range of similar-appearing minerals. Some of these minerals, like graphite, are not lead ores.)

(Just to make the color-based naming more complicated: the two tin allotropes that are stable around room temperature are gray tin (stable below 13.2°C) and white tin (stable above).

The Late Latin root stannum is used in forming the distinctive ionic names stannous and stannic, which by current IUPAC rules are to be written tin (II) and tin (IV). You can learn more about tin at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

SuperNova[e]. Plural also written SNe. The conventional way of designating SNe was SN<yyyy><sl>, where <yyyy> was the year during which the event began to be observed, and <sl> was a single letter, letters being assigned serially in alphabetical order by time of report over the course of the year. The best-known example is SN1987A -- evidently the first supernova reported observed in 1987. Since 1987, the one-letter system has not been sufficient, and SNe after the twenty-sixth (Z) have been labelled with two letters according to the positional scheme described in the last paragraph of the AA entry. There is a tendency to switch from upper-case single letters to lower-case letter pairs, but this practice is not uniformly followed.

Not all SN reports turn out to be true. In 1987, twenty were reported (SN1987A to SN1987T), but only seventeen were confirmed.

Supertwisted Nematic (liquid crystal phase).

Switching Network.

Somali National Alliance. Led by Mohammed Farah Aideed until he was killed in the summer of 1996, and contending with the bad guy SSA over which will liberate Somalia.

Systems Network Architecture. An IBM computer-communication architecture.

snack food
In the preface to Snack Food Technology (a book quoted in scattered places in this glossary), author Samuel A. Matz, Ph.D., writes
     One dictionary defines a snack as ``a slight, hasty repast,'' while another says it is ``a mere bite or morsel of food, as contrasted with a regular meal; a light or incidental repast.'' Possibly, neither of these definitions satisfactorily represents current usage. I have not found ``snack food'' in any dictionary [his prayers are answered], but it is likely that most people would recognize a snack food as being something consumed primarily for pleasure rather than for social or nutritive purposes and not ordinarily used in a regular meal. Some foods are used both as snacks and as meal components, pizza being an obvious example. ...

For further discussion of what is and is not snack food, go to the SFA entry.

The second edition of Matz's book was published in 1984. There was also a Japanese edition. The third edition (from which I quote) was published in 1993 (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold).

Matz is deliciously opinionated. At pp. 174-5 he lashes out at bagel chips:

    Bagels that have been sliced into thin chips, then toasted and flavored, have appeared on the market during the last few years. They have achieved a certain amount of market penetration, though it is hard to see where their appeal lies, as opposed, say, to the thin toast slices that have been around for years. Fresh bagels have no intrinsic flavor superiority, their acceptance relying on the usual ethnic connotation, their peculiar glossy crust, and their firm texture, the last two points not being apparent when they are in the toast form. Probably their novelty is the main selling point driving this market. ...

Fool! The attraction is that it's a diet food: it's priced so dear that you can't afford to overeat. (Also the strength-of-materials aspect of mouthfeel.)

Systems Network Architecture (SNA) Distribution Services.

SDSC NSSN Advisory Group (to ANSI).

Situation Normal -- All F_ _ _ed Up. [WWII military slang. Pron.: rhymes with taboo.]

A backronymic expansion I saw in the context of the ongoing Eurozone sovereign-debt crisis was ``Supra National And Fiscal Union.'' It was used in a 13 December 2011 comment in The Telegraph by Boris Johnson to describe the proposed, not-yet-clearly-defined closer fiscal union of EU countries rejected by British PM David Cameron the previous week. (German Chancellor Angela Merkel is saying she likes to call it a ``stability union.'') I suppose the Snafu (in British acronym capitalization style) expansion is Johnson's own.

Back in 1979 or so, I attended a talk by an outside speaker at Princeton University's Psychology Department. The talk had something to do with how a certain kind of ``snafu situation'' (yes, an aap pleonasm) arose frequently. It didn't seem to me that she understood that SNAFU is an acronym, let alone knew its obscene expansion.

snake eyes
A two in craps. Snake eyes on the first roll means craps: the house wins. There's a bit of elementary detail at the boxcars entry.

Interestingly, this is a poor metaphor because snakes may have more than two eyes. Rattlesnakes and other ``pit vipers'' have two obvious eyes sensitive to light in the optical spectrum. These look to the sides, however, and predator species tend to have eyes directed forward. The rattlesnake does indeed have such forward-pointing eyes, called pit organs. These are easy to miss: they look through tiny slits. They are sensitive in the infrared, and so can detect the snake's prey at night through the animals' body heat. Ugh. It's disgusting. Anyway, even snakes without an extra pair of eyes are reptiles, and so have a cranial opening that is called the ``reptilian third eye.'' As it happens, however, house also wins on trey.

Some snakes' pit organs can detect temperature differences as small as 0.01 degree.

Soluble NSF Attachment Protein. (NSF is N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion protein.)

Student Nurses' Association of Pennsylvania. Their Internet domain is <snap-online.org>. I imagine that for anyone who remembers the sexy Snap-on® tools wall calendars that were hung in the auto shops and similar virtually all-male workshops of my youth, and to some others besides, this must seem unseemly (unseemlyly?) suggestive.

SNAP, Snap
Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power. Name for power devices used by NASA, almost all of them RTG's. Singular ``system for nuclear auxiliary power'' may seem a more natural expansion for an individual device, but the official expansion uses the plural.

SubNetwork Access Protocol.

SNAP REceptor. v-SNARE is vesicle SNARE; t-SNARE is target membrane SNARE.

Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible. Published in 1976. Based on the Rotherham Bible.

Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges. French name of the Belgian National Railway `National Organization for Belgian railRoads.' Flemish name is Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegena (NMBS).

Judith Viorst's It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty And Other Tragedies of Married Life (1968) is a book of ``blank verse,'' which means that it's bad prose with a ragged right margin. One of the sublime unheralded breakthroughs of hypertext is that it makes bad prose easier to set than blank verse. Here's the second paragraph of the poem ``In Deauville'':

In Deauville
Everyone but us
Is playing chemin de fer
The way my mother plays in the Tuesday gin club,
And buying horses
The way my father buys a good cigar
And telling the waiter the champagne smells of cork
With the assurance of those
Who have never saved trading stamps
Or attended a swim club cook-out.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Pronounced ``snick'' by familiars.

In February 1960, four black students went to a Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Their action is often described as a sit-in, but all they did was sit at the counter and wait to be served. It wasn't their fault if that took a very long time. Around the country, other students tried this experiment. Afterwards, things, including the SNCC, became more complicated. There doesn't seem to be a <http://www.sncc.org/>.

Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français. `National Organization for French railRoads.' A looser but sounder translation: `French National Railroad Company.'

Scottish National Dictionary. Available from the SNDA.

Scottish National Dictionary Association.

From April 21 to July 21 of 2002, at least:

``Unfortunately this website is only supported by Netscape Navigator version 6 or Internet Explorer Versions 5+. A text only website will be available soon.

Sorry for the inconvenience.''

But plain text is so difficult!

Student National Dental Association. The student organization associated with the NDA.

Sustainable Net Domestic Product.

SuperNovaE. Plural of supernova (vide SN supra).

A class of footwear that used to be easy to define when it was less various. Generally, a sneaker is a rubber-soled shoe; hence the name, which implies that sneakers enable one to walk quietly. With the wrong kind of rubber on a smooth, recently-waxed floor, though, it might be better called squeaker.

Back in the day, we wore sneakers that had simple cloth uppers and some thin foam on a flat base (no arch support). They breathed very well, especially after they began to fray. They came in two styles: high-top and not high-top. When they wore out, it wasn't because the batteries died or the air valve started to leak. And they were cheap.

Modern and post-modern sneakers are available high-tech and high-fashion. These shoes are way over my head (which is not where I expected them to be, now that power and phone lines run mostly under ground). When a new model is released, it's an event. Visit this informative site for up-to-date release event and availability information. The site uses expert technical language like ``grey cement colorway'' that will just knock your socks off.

One nonexpert thought on arch support, however: if you're 5'9" and weigh 350 pounds, you're probably not using the modern-day descendant of the once-humble sneaker as a ``running shoe'' or as any other species of ``athletic shoe.'' At best it's just a well-intentioned, much-put-upon loafer, supporting your sorry flat foot. The shoe that would provide better arch support for you is the shoe beneath the you that has lost weight (and misplaced it where you won't find it again). If you can't find that shoe, with or without a mirror, then Crusher, just forget it and save your money for that hip replacement operation.

Sneakers are not only available in high fashion for the well-heeled, but also in low fashion for the down-at-the-heels. That would be the velcro version.

Yes, yes, the relevant connections to the Beatles and others will be elucidated as time permits. (By ``others'' I mean rappers; I didn't want to defile the previous sentence by identifying them there.)

A versatile, padded data transport protocol for a LAN connecting computers that are not connected. Data is typically carried in 1.4 MB packets.

You shouldn't laugh -- sneakernet can be quite efficient. Pocket-size USB ``hard drives'' (really flash PROM's, like RFD's, but not resident) are available (as of August 2002) in 512 MB modules (and in halvings of that size down to 16 MB).

The name associated with eye-chart measures of visual acuity (VA), reported as 20/20, 20/40, or in general 20/x, where x is called the ``Snellen denominator.'' The numbers of this form (20/20, 20/40, etc.) are usually called ``Snellen fractions'' (occasionally ``Snellen acuity fractions'') if a name is needed, and the visual acuity they represent is called ``Snellen acuity.'' Basically, anything you can think of, slap a ``Snellen'' on the front and you can sound as professional as a driver's-license bureaucrat. There's even a ``Snellen's garden'' eye chart (sorry, I meant ``Snellen chart'' of course) of letters E oriented in different directions, for testing the VA of young children and other illiterates.

``Normal'' vision is defined as the ability to distinguish features subtending one minute of arc at a distance of 20 feet. A word like ``feature'' might be vague in principle, but in practice it is very precisely defined: the eye chart contains rows of successively smaller sans-serif ``Snellen letters.'' The row that must be readable by someone with ``normal vision'' has square letters that (at 20 feet) are five arc-minutes high and wide, with strokes one arc-minute wide (that is, 0.349 inches high, with strokes 0.070 inches wide).

A Snellen acuity of 20/40 is something like half the normal resolution. Typically, someone with 20/40 vision is described as being able to read only at 20 feet what someone with normal vision can read at 40 feet. Operationally, of course, it really means that the person can only distinguish letters at twenty feet if they are twice as large (``features'' that are two arc-minutes wide). The loose conventional statement would equivalent if there were no difference in the ability to focus at 20 feet and at 40 feet. Practically speaking, the difference is slight and the definitions are substantially equivalent. (Changing focus from 20 to 40 feet, or from 20 feet to infinity, requires a lens with a strength of 1/12 or 1/6 diopter, respectively.)

In general, a Snellen acuity of 20/x implies that someone can read letters at 20 feet only if the features subtend an angle equal to 20/x minutes (here ``20/x'' is to be understood simply as a fraction). There is a superscript notation to represent intermediate visual acuity, or partial success: a Snellen acuity of 20/30-2 represents the ability to to read all but 2 of the letters in the 20/30 row of a Snellen eye chart. This is somewhat useful, particularly as there is no row between those for 20/30 and 20/40 vision in the standard chart. (Then again, it wouldn't be so hard to draw another line on the floor or something.)

In the UK and Canada, at least, the 20 feet have been converted to 6 meters (the difference is about the length of a cigarette: 20 ft. = 6.096 m), hence 6/6 for 20/20, 6/9 for 20/30, etc. In the technical literature, I've also seen the term ``Snellen decimal fractions'' and 0.5 for 20/40, etc.

Herman Snellen, who created his popular eye chart in 1854, was a Dutch ophthalmologist who spent his entire career in the Netherlands. I rather suspect that he did not define ``Snellen acuities'' in terms of traditional English feet.

Short-range Nuclear Forces.

Skilled Nursing Facility. The US government offers an official definition in 32 CFR 199.6.

This SNF would be of limited utility in the event this other kind of SNF is used.

[Football icon]

Sunday Night Football. A single Sunday-night game each week of the regular season, showcased and broadcast on ESPN.

Sequoia Natural History Association. A member of the APPL.

(IBM) SNA Network Interconnect.

A technical term referring to cooked food crumbs left in roasting pot, usually moist, often fatty. Construed plural; singular form uncertainly attested. Neologism of an SBFer's mother, from long before `sniglets.' Synonymous with loose sense of the Polish word skwarka. Cf. crackling and cracklings.

SNIF, .snif
Standard Nasal Information Format. This doesn't happen to exist yet, but it's not too soon to coin an appropriate acronym and filename extension. After the pattern of GIF and GIF89, the SNIF standard (AAP pleonasm alert) will be extended to include ``transparent'' smells that can't be directly detected by olfaction, but which are apparent by the fact that they allow other odors to be smelled ``through'' them.

Standard Nasal Information File Format. After the pattern of TIFF. An alternative to SNIF.

An individual who shoots from concealment. The name derives from the snipe, a long-billed marsh bird typically hunted from a blind. To snipe was to hunt snipe...

Supplemental Corporation Net Income Tax. An Indiana state tax that used to be assessed on a corporation's net income derived from sources in Indiana. This tax was repealed in 2003. The basic Indiana corporate income tax is now AGIT, q.v.

French Syndicat national des journalistes (`National Journalists' Union').

Saturday Night Live. A show that has died, but which is still broadcast live. The newsgroup rec.arts.tv.sat-night-live has a number of faq's.

Static Noise Margin.

Simple Network Management Protocol. A protocol (in two versions -- standards are wonderful, let's have more) for management systems on IP-based networks.

Sustainable Net National Expenditure.

Stuttgart Neuronal Network Simulator.

StriNg-Oriented symBOlic Language. Provides run-time typing, garbage collection, user data types, on-the-fly compilation. Old-style language (first created in 1962) -- apparently no structured-programming constructs in any updated version. Simple syntax compared to Perl, but that's not really saying much, is it? Has been described by actual enthusiasts as a string-oriented version of COBOL. It's not a complimentary comparison. (However, the languages are unrelated. Hence, this enthusiasts' claim is false as well as defamatory. That's why I claim at the COBOL entry that COBOL has been calumniated.) SPITBOL is related.

Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages includes three simple SNOBOL4 programs.

A toilet-bowl cleaner that is basically hydrochloric acid (to dissolve rust) with a few aryl and alkyl ammonium chlorides (which ought to act as detergents, or at least as surfactants). Presumably the name SNO BOL® is chosen to suggest a snowy-white toilet bowl.

StriNg-Oriented symBOlic Language, version 4. Last major revision of SNOBOL, in 1969.

Scanning Near-field Optical Microscopy. (Also NFOM).

Systematized NOmenclature of MEDicine.

Sleep apNea Online Resource for Education.

Cf. snorkel.

English term is derived from German Schnorchel, meaning `air intake, snorkel' as extensions of its original and still valid meaning `snort.' Schnorchel in turn is a diminutive (the -el ending) noun formed from the verb schnorchen, a cognate of English snore (the standard form in German is now schnarchen).


Another instance of the -el diminutive ending that is well-known in English is the Yiddish (like Middle High German) shtetl (< shtet + -el, cf. Ger. Stadt, noting that initial ``st'' in German has a pronunciation that would be written ``sht'' in English). The normative form form in modern German uses the -chen diminutive ending: Städtchen. (The the stem-changed vowel ä is close in sound to the e in shtetl, but Yiddish and German vowels seem to coincide largely by coincidence.)

Scanning Near-Field Optical Spectroscopy.

snow blowers
People who need a snow blower eventually mount it prominently on an open trailer for its final mission and head south. When somebody asks what that thang is mounted on their trailer, they know they've reached the promised land.

There are whole retirement villages in Venezuela, founded by North Dakotans who raced through west Texas and didn't understand Spanish.

One Stammtisch member who has not risked living in Venezuela remembers the cover of a Saturday Evening Post, from around 1939 -- before he discovered the New Yorker -- which showed a model T being heaved out of the snow and off the road by a monster snow plow. There's more information on the model T at the Barbie Doll entry.

Scottish National Parliament.

Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism.

Simple Nomenclator Query Protocol.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio. ``Ess en arr'' and ``sine arr'' pronunciations are both common. All devices have noise at some level, even with no signal in. Roughly speaking, a voltage amplifier has zero-current voltage fluctuations (noise in the absence of signal), resistance fluctuations (a source of linear noise) and nonlinear noise. Thus, SNR is generally not constant. Cf. SINAD. Oh wait, that's supra, just a couple o'hundred entries back... you probably already read it. Sorry.

SuperNova Remnant.

Secondary Network Server.

Shomron News Service. It began as ``SNS Service,'' which may, for all know have been an official AAP pleonasm. It then became in turn the Shomron News Service, IINS (Israel Internet News Service), IsraelWire, and most recently that I am aware of, INN, whose expansion I can guess but don't know. It appears to be defunct. It was a non-profit, probably one-reporter organization that provided news about Israel in English. There appear to be a few other news organizations that are willing to pick up some of the slack.

Spanish for Native Speakers. A designation for Spanish-language programs in US schools (at least) that target students with non-school background in Spanish (typically students from immigrant families). According to the report ``Foreign Language Enrollments in Public Secondary Schools, Fall 2000,'' written by Jamie B. Draper and June H. Hicks for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 68.7% of foreign-language enrollments in public secondary schools in the US were enrolled in [ordinary] Spanish programs, and 2.1% were enrolled in SNS programs.

Doubtless the proficiency of SNS students varies greatly (see this other SNS entry), but I think these programs could be very useful. They didn't exist at my junior high school 30+ years ago. I took 9th-grade (i.e., third year) Spanish when I was in I was in 8th grade, against the resistance of the school administration. (They thought I would be unprepared, as I had had no previous formal Spanish instruction since kindergarten in Argentina.) The course was a poor fit. I did learn a few new words, and I gained the ability to name some of the grammatical categories I had always used naturally, but my time could have been better spent.

In the class as we were originally arranged, ``Elena'' sat behind me. On one early test, she got a grade of F with the notation ``you haven't learned this yet.'' The seating was rearranged.

Spanish Native Speaker[s]. Native speaker[s] of Spanish. The US has many, but a lot of them learned it poorly at home in the US. You hear many of these on Spanish-language US TV news interviews and they have obvious fluency, yet they sound like gringos.

Spanish for Native Speakers. Programs and materials for the teaching of Spanish to some of the speakers described in the previous entry.

Steak'N'Shake. Open all night in Mishawaka, IN.

Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer.

Maybe what you heard was ``FNSM''

Super NTSC.

Solar Neutrino Units.

Students for the New Urbanism. The Cub Scout or Brownie version of the CNU.

Significant New Use Rule. A rule concerning standards for the use of substances deemed safe within a particular context, but not in general.

SuperNova observed in 1987. The first one that year, hence ``A.'' Observed beginning on Feb. 23, 1987. Only twelve million light years away, it was the most spectacular and scientifically useful one in years.

Service Office.

Shift Out. ASCII 0E hex (CTRL-N). Cf. SI.

Shut-Outs. (Soccer statistic.)

Incorrectly used as a synonym for very. It has some correct usages as well.

Significant Other. Medium- to long-term companion who is a MOTAS.

[TSSOP image from http://www.nsc.com/pkg/gifs/tssop.gif]

Small Outline (package). Similar to a miniature plastic flat pack, but with gull-wing lead forms primarily or wholly constructed for surface mounting. Typical lead spacing is 0.05 inch.

National Semiconductor illustrates. Their illustration of a TSSOP is at right.

(Domain code for) Somalia. The official form of government is anarchy, subdivided into warring factions.

SomeOne. Dictionary-entry abbreviation.


Spin-orbit (interaction).

Split-Off (electronic band). In typical semiconductors, the valence band consists of heavy and light hole bands (i.e., hole bands with energies varying slowly and quickly with crystal momentum), and an SO band. At zero crystal momentum, symmetry considerations make the light and heavy hole bands degenerate, but the SO band has an energy lowered by the spin-orbit coupling.

Safe Operating Area.

Scottish Optoelectronics Association. The SOA is a founding member of the UKCPO and the ICOIA.

Semiconductor Optical Amplifier. Signals transmited along optical cable have to be reamplified every few (say 100) km.

Service Order Administration.

Service-Oriented Architecture.

Slow Outdiffuser Approximation.

Society of Authors. ``... the leading association for writers of fiction and non-fiction in the United Kingdom. Its members also include artists, illustrators, playwrights, and scriptwriters (for both radio and television).''

Southern Association of Colleges and Employers. An affiliate of NACE.

Spontaneous OtoAcoustic Emission[s] (OAE).

Raison d'être of hotel room service. See our saponification entry, or our 99.44 entry.

Snakes On A Plane. A silly and tolerably scary movie with no trailers, no critic previews, a title that honestly announces: ``this is a silly and tolerably scary movie,'' and a year of the kind of free web publicity that only truth-in-labeling can buy. Samuel L. Jackson plays an FBI agent trying to protect a witness from a menagerie of somewhat realistic computer-generated dangerous snakes. A movie that was ``made'' by the Internet in more ways than one. In response to Internet buzz and expectations, new dialogue and scenes (a gratuitous sex scene and more gore) were added before the premiere on August 17, 2006. Could this be the Rocky Horror Picture Show of the 21st century? Will Samuel L. Jackson become Tim Curry?

Searchable Online Archive of Recipes.

Smalltalk On A RISC.

Shortness Of Breath. Dyspnea. Hard of breathing. This is a singularly difficult symptom to bear with equanimity.

Son Of a Bitch. A puppy!

SOuth Bend. Amtrak abbreviation.

System On Board. On circuitboard, that is. Contrasted with SOC, q.v.

so bloody literal-minded?, Why must you be
remember my earlier lies?, Why must you

SOuthBOund Train. An Israeli jazz group. They have been first-prize winners at the St. Petersburg Blues Festival. The members are Assaf Ganzman and Daniel Kriman, and a variable set of others, making a quartet or trio. As of May 2003, they were a trio with Eli ``Fish'' Gundman. Do I have this entry here because of the mishpoche? Because cousin Alex visited the St. Petersburg family when he was a student in Finland? Nah -- it's just the coincidence that Daniel is part of ``Southbound'' and I am in South Bend. (My original middle name was Daniel. I changed it later.)

Assaf Ganzman met Daniel Kriman at ``Mike's Place'' in Jerusalem. Assaf and his brother Gil bought it from founder Mike Vigoda in 1995. In 2000 they opened a Tel Aviv ``Mike's Place'' on Herbert Samuel street, on a walkway along the Tel Aviv beach. It's in the Russian Compound in the city, and close to the US Embassy. It's the main club for the city's small Blues scene. Mike's Place and Strudel are the two bars in the city that cater to a mostly English-speaking clientele. Teens and kids in their twenties. (To me that's ``kids,'' okay? Don't gimme this YA-YA BuSiness.)

About 1 AM on April 30, 2003, with the club in Tel Aviv full of kids dancing to the live music, a couple of British citizens were denied entry. Only one of them was able to set off his bomb belt. The other ran off and was later found drowned in the Mediterranean. One waitress and two musicians were killed, dozens were injured.

Silicon On Ceramic.

Span Of Control. The number of subordinates reporting to a supervisor.

System On a Chip. Contrasted with SOB. Of course, the system that's all on a chip is still on a chip that's usually on a circuitboard, just like the system that's ``on [a] board.'' The advantages of not leaving the chip package are lower power, higher speed, better integration and lower costs, for all the obvious reasons. The ``system'' referred to may be a subsystem doing only part of the data processing in a product (it might be a graphics engine, say).

The earliest solid-state electronic calculators each used several thousand transistors and diodes. The first LSI-based calculator was made around 1970 by a joint Rockwell-Sharp project and used four LSI chips. Nowadays pocket calculators use a single chip for all calculation and display signal generation.

Standard Oil of California. One of the companies formed from the antitrust breakup of Standard Oil (Esso ... Exxon).

This word in English carries a skeptical connotation -- the speaker or writer using this word is expressing doubt about the truthfulness of claims implied by the naming. [E.g.: The emperor's new so-called `clothes' (but see FRS).]

The corresponding German word sogenannte, and similar words in some other languages, lack this connotation. Speakers of one of these languages, who seek a similar construction in English that is `unmarked' (i.e., has `no' connotation) might use ``so named'' or ``so called'' in postposition, but only in restricted situations:

``Some papers were designated as `invited'; the articles so named were published in volume 1.''

SOciety of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of CANada. (Société canadienne des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique.)

AsSOCiation football.

soccer mom
Esteemed female voter. The basic difference between a retro ``stay-at-home mom'' and a ``soccer mom'' is that the retro matriarch drives a station wagon, while the modern association-football female parent drives a superminivan. (Or did. The Democratic soccer mom now drives a Prius. Her mom drove a Volvo station wagon. Republican soccer moms drive domestic pick-ups.)

Oh no! In 2003, a new target group called ``NASCAR Dads'' was discovered. According to CNN (July 9), they are white, working-class men inclined to support Republicans but capable of backing a Democrat if they agree on the issues. Senator Bob Graham of Florida, then running for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, was targeting them by sponsoring the ``NASCAR Craftsman Truck'' (an F-150; if you don't know that that's a Ford pick-up, you probably ain't saved neither). Small problem: NASCAR fans have very low election participation (never mind Democratic primaries). No one who reads will be offended if I say ``duh.'' CNN again: ``Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor, said Graham will see more of a benefit from the publicity surrounding his deal than from fans who watched the race live or on television.'' Either way, he didn't survive the Iowa caucuses.

On NPR earlier in July 2003, I heard a report about Mexican congressional candidates campaigning among expats (let's not look too carefully at those documents ¿okey señor?) living in Southern California. Mexico does not allow absentee voting, and the candidates don't expect these Mexican citizens to return home to vote. The theory seems to be that the nonvoters glad-handed in Upper California will button-hole their relatives back home by phone.

social insect
Everyone's heard of a social butterfly. I used to call myself a social moth. Just now I found `social wasp' as the translation of caba in a Portuguese dictionary. Oh, I get it!

Society and Culture
Sign over the Borders magazine rack that holds Playboy and similar magazines.

A coin termed by Comte. That's all, probably.

Sock it to me.
In Saturday Review in 1968, it was pointed out (I think by John Ciardi) that the phrase ``Sock it to 'em'' was used in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

In Steinbeck, the phrase ``sock it to 'em'' was used by the used-car dealer to mean both ``apply ultimate sales pressure'' and ``screw them.'' In context, there was no occasion to disambiguate. When Aretha Franklin covered Otis Redding's ``Respect'' in her hit 1967 album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You,'' the repeated ``sock-it-to-me'' lyrics she added were also unambiguous -- they were understood as a sexual reference.

The reason for the interest in these phrases in 1968 was a then-current TV humor show that was popularizing the phrase ``Sock it to me.'' The show, ``Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In'' was an unhip, insipid and wildly popular thing that provided a transition from nothing, or maybe from some stand-up comedy on Ed Sullivan, to the vastly superior early ``Saturday Night Live.'' In addition to sock-it-to-me, they introduced such putative witticisms as ``You bet your bippy,'' ``Here come da judge'' and ``Verrrry interesstink!'' If you grimaced wanly and listened to the studio laughter, you might convince yourself that you were enjoying humor. It was a kind of suburban Hee-Haw, minus the sophistication and fine music. Still, it launched Goldie Hawn (who played a giggly airhead) and Lily Tomlin (as switchboard tsarina Ernestine). Also, they got Pres. Dick Nixon to come on and say

``Sock it to ME?''
It can be proven by calculus that this was a far greater step out of character for him [ftnt. 5] than any sax playing on Arsenio could ever be for presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

At the end of the show, co-host Dan Rowan would say to co-host Dick Martin

Say ``Good Night,'' Dick.

and Dick would say

Good Night, Dick.

This was a shameless rip-off of the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show of radio and early television, which used the sign-off

Say ``good-night'' Gracie. / Good-night, Gracie.

Just to be clear, however, Laugh-In was not a rip-off of Hee-Haw. Hee-Haw was inspired by Laugh-In. It was also inspired by the Smothers Brothers. The form that the inspiration took was that Tom and Dick complained to CBS management about the censoring of political jabs on their show, and CBS ended the piecemeal censorship by cancelling the show. CBS replaced it with Hee-Haw, a hay-seed copy of Laugh-In with no memorable contributions to the language, no intelligence, no relevance, and pun jokes told in black-out format, but more skin.

sock puppet
A false Internet identity created for deceptive purposes.

The definition text of this entry used to read simply:

An expression of fealty to godbert.

The word godbert anchored a link (now dead, as you can confirm) to some sock-puppet pictures sent by Dilbert fans to Scott Adams or to United Feature Syndicate.

Special Operations COMmand. The ``Pentagon headquarters'' (physically located in Tampa, as it happens) responsible for US commando units; created in 1987.

Special Operations Command Research Analysis & Target Evaluation System.

Strategy for Organisations Concerned in Rural Advanced Telecommunications Experiments.

System Of Cellular Radio for Traffic Efficiency and Safety. DRIVE project which is developing the techniques for using digital cellular telephony as the basic communications medium for transmitting traffic information. See TSWS.


Socratic answer, One
Socrates in the early dialogues, increasing admixture of Plato in middle and later writing. See, e.g., John Halverson: ``Plato, the Athenian Stranger'' Arethusa, 30, pp. 75-102 (1997).


Socratic method, The
The method of disproof. Elenchus. High-brow Lt. Colombo, avant la Lettre. Is it mere coincidence that Peter Falk is ugly-sexy, just as Alcibiades describes Socrates in Symposium?


Socratic question, The
When we read Plato writing in Socrates's voice, are we getting Socrates or Plato? Extensive discussion in

Scottish Office Central Research Unit. Now officially the Scottish Executive Central Research Unit (CRU).

Secretary Of Defense. The US SoD is down one link from the POTUS in the military chain of command. I can think of many reasons why SODUS is not an official military acronym.

Sleep-Over Date.

Sun-Overhead Detector. (Handy for standardizing test data on solar cells.)

Serve Our Dog Areas. ``...a non-profit organization formed to provide ongoing support and stewardship for the Off-Leash dog exercising area at Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington.''

soda ash
Sodium carbonate: Na2CO3.

A deadly poison, lethal even in tiny doses. Found on human fingers in the form of NaCl (common table salt) solution. The way this poison kills is by accumulating as ions at the silicon-silicon oxide interface. These ions cause a debilitating nonuniformity in the flatband voltage. The threshold voltage is no longer the same for all devices, nor even very well defined for any single device. Moreover, the problem increases with time, because ions originally scattered in the oxide drift in the presence of the electric field (i.e., when the device is on) and accumulate at metal-oxide interfaces.

(Although the FET idea was first patented in 1935, it was not until the late 1960's that IGFET's became commercially important. Much of the reason is that fab facilities were not initially clean enough to keep the sodium content low.)

In view of their demonstrated toxicity, contact with humans and other carbon-based life forms should be avoided. The other alkali metals are bad guys too, but they're less common.

Definitely see Na entry.

As the next entry shows, washing your hands doesn't necessarily help.

sodium lauryl sulfate
The popular older name for sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS, q.v.), a popular detergent used in many consumer cleaning products. One interesting effect of SDS on many people is to make sour things taste bitter. I can't remember the last time I saw a toothpaste on the market that did not contain SDS.

See the hard water entry for a bit more on this detergent.

It's also called sodium laureth sulfate.


Societas Ophthalmologica Europeae. They named it in Latin because everyone can read Latin. Even you can understand this.

Special Operations Executive. Organized by the British in 1940 to work with and encourage resistance movements in Axis-occupied areas. When it was organized, Winston Churchill expressed the hope that it would help ``set Europe ablaze,'' but there is broad agreement that the European resistance movements helped only at the margin. (The SOE also had operations in Asia.)

State-Owned Enterprise. SOE's in China are evaluated annually by SASAC.

Scottish Office Education and Industry Department.

School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. It's just like they say in real estate: location, location, location. (The University of Hawaii.)

Society Of Fluorescence.

Special Operations Force[s].

(New York) State Office For the Aging. See New York State's Aging Services Network Locator.

Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell. A fuel cell (FC) in which the electrolyte is a solid oxide. Experimental SOFC's operate in a range of about 800-1000°C and the charge carriers are oxide ions -- O2-. Like FC's with molten-carbonate electrolyte (MCFC), SOFC's can be used to combust carbon monoxide.

Special Operations Forces EXhibition.

A woman's name, the capital of Bulgaria, and the classical Ancient Greek word for `wisdom.'

Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy. The platform is a Boeing 747-SP aircraft. Somewhat surprisingly to me, this is reported to be the only airborne astronomical observatory currently in operation.

That claim evidently excludes ordinary planes with people who look out their windows at the sky. The first noteworthy instance of that occurred in the 1960's, when Gerald Kuiper pointed the business end of a 30 cm telescope out the window of a plane. Today he could never get it past security, and if he could they'd charge him for a second seat. And they'd ask him to remove his ``Belt.''

Between 1974 and 1995, NASA operated a telescope from a military cargo plane.

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and DLR (the German analogue). The aircraft operates with a ceiling of 45,000 feet (13,700 meters), above most of the atmosphere and its water vapor. Water vapor absorbs IR radiation (except in certain ``IR windows''); flying above it makes it possible to do (full-spectrum) IR astronomy.

Self-Organizing Feature Maps. I suppose it'd be sophomoric to try to pun on this acronym.

S. of S.
Secretary OF State. This abbreviation occurs in The Wizard War, a book about British intelligence in WWII.

soft drink
A carbonated beverage. A soda in the East, a pop in the Midwest, and a soda pop in the past. ``Carbonated'' here means that it has carbon dioxide dissolved in the fluid (which is mostly water).

Spin-On Glass.

Standard Operating Guidelines. Hey, y'got nuthin' on me. I was just following orders.

Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

Southern Ocean - GLOBal Ocean ECosystems Dynamics Research. An IGBP program.

State Of Good Repair. A condition, not Pennsylvania.

Section Overhead (cost). Cf. TOH.

Sense Of Humor. Personals ad abbreviation.

Sense Of Humor Failure. Email abbreviation.

Start Of Heading. ASCII 01 (CTRL-A). (Same character also used for SOM.)

Standard Oil of OHIO. One of the companies formed from the antitrust breakup of Standard Oil, based in New Jersey. Before it consolidated its branding under ``Exxon,'' Standard Oil of New Jersey was ``Esso'' in many places but ``Humble'' in Ohio.

Small Office/Home Office.

You used to be able to buy an office-noises-background soundtrack to sound big when you called. Now you just make a glitzy webpage.

A district of central London. In the seventeenth century it was an immigrant area, but you can get an idea of its current status from the lyrics of ``Werewolves of London.'' The origin of the name is unknown, but lexicographers with an opinion mostly believe that the name derives from a former hunting cry.

SOHO, Soho
SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory. A probe for observing the Sun, located in a halo orbit around Lagrange point L1.

South Of HeustOn Station. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, not appropriatest. This little absurdity is explained in the next entry.

South Of HOuston Street. A section of NYC. Although SoHo is pronounced ``So Hoe,'' it is probably useful to know that the name of Houston Street in NYC is not pronounced identically with the Texas city named Houston, but instead is pronounced ``house ton.''

There's a story that mispronunciation of that street's name led to the exposure of a German spy in WWII. I kind of doubt it. (For another story of enemy Germans thwarted by ignorance of locally common knowledge, see the SRP entry.)

In April 2006, the Dublin (Ireland) City Council unveiled plans for a 2.6 billion euro cultural and commercial quarter. The quarter was planned as a rejuvenation of Dublin's historic communities of the Liberties and the Coombe (mostly the former), located in the south inner city. The project was inspired by the revitalization of New York City's SoHo, and was to be called ``SoHo'' also, standing in this case for ``South of Heuston Station.'' The most interesting thing about the whole story, to me, was that in Dublin, somehow ``SoHo'' should be expected to call to mind New York rather than London.

At the time, City manager John Fitzgerald said 2 billion euros of private funds had already been committed, and that the city council would put forward 100 million euros to fund public-private partnerships that would in turn raise a further 500 million euros. That sounds rather heavily leveraged.

Maybe I was right about the London/New York thing. In any case, there was widespread opposition to the name change, and the Dublin City Council eventually came to its senses. By the time they hired John Thompson and Partners (JTP) in 2007 or 2008, it was to ``develop a plan for the regeneration of the Liberties.'' That's fortunate for me, because this is only a SoHo entry, so I don't have to explain how Ireland was forced to seek an EU bailout in November 2010, amid the implosion of its heavily leveraged real estate market. My nameserver can no longer find a server for <www.theliberties.ie>, and a lot of (most? all?) ambitious construction plans have been... put on long-term hold.

Silicon [or Semiconductor] on Insulator. A fabrication technique in which single-crystal silicon is deposited on an insulating substrate, with the obvious advantage of excellent electrical isolation. The insulator is usually chosen from a small set of materials that are lattice-matched to the semiconductor one wants to deposit. In fact, for silicon-on-insulator growth, the only insulators commonly used are sapphire (AKA: SOS) and silicon itself (which has been implanted with enough oxygen to make it an insulator.

Southern Oscillation Index. A measure of the intensity of the western Pacific subtropical high pressure system. Its ``low-frequency'' (period of 36.7 years) oscillations have been adduced to explain long-term fluctuations in rainfall patterns across China (see QBO entry).

Small Outline Integrated Circuit. A miniature plastic flat pack designed for surface mount with gull-wing leads. Most versions have lead spacing of 0.05 inches.

Here are some typical specs.

Small Outline package with J-leads.

Southern Ocean - Joint Global Ocean Flux Study. An IGBP program.

Science On-Line education project.

Out of Luck.

Standards Of Learning. Curriculum guides. In Virginia, at least, teachers consider the SOL's to be a kind of strait-jacket. For English classes, the SOL's emphasize reading mechanics and grammar, are accompanied by a panoply of required hand-outs and work-sheet assignments, and are the subject of annual tests. Literature requirements are also included but apparently not directly tested, so that aspect is effectively scanted. The fellow in charge of the SOL's--below the governor--never has been a teacher himself, and refused to release his own SOL scores to the public when he took the test himself.

Suda On-Line. A distributed project to create an English translation of the Suda by the coordinated contributions of many translators, editors and area specialists communicating across the web. `The Suda' is the generally accepted title-revision of a Byzantine encyclopedia previously known by the name of its supposed author, `Suidas.' However, there's been a great deal of debate about all this. All we know really about Suidas is what we have: his idiosyncratic encyclopedia. See SOLVL for more.

Scholars' Online Academy. An organ of the Institute for Study of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, ``a non-profit educational corporation chartered by the State of Louisiana.'' SOLA is broadly Christian, its sister institution RCA is specifically Roman Catholic.

RCA and SOLA share most of their courses, but the RCA curriculum includes some additional explicitly Catholic curricular items like elementary theology and a course in Scholastic philosophy.

solar cells
``Solar cells'' are photovoltaic (PV) cells. We're going to use the PV entry for general information about them, and reserve this entry for information about space applications (viz., extraterrestrial uses, on satellites not too far from home).

The principal consideration is light intensity, and as explained at the RTG entry, the main qualitative fact is that solar cells are the power source of choice from Mars sunward.

Of course, solar cells don't store energy for any longer than a fraction of a second. (The circuits they are part of may function longer due to capacitance in parallel with the cell.) For those awkward times when a solar-cell system is eclipsed (typically by some large body that its satellite is orbiting), it is necessary to have backup. That's usually batteries.

Satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) make an interesting case. Because of the tilt of the earth's axis of rotation, geostationary satellites do not usually go directly behind the earth. That is, they are not eclipsed by the earth. The exception occurs for a period of a couple of weeks around each equinox. During this ``eclipse season,'' GEO satellites are eclipsed daily for up to seventy minutes.

solar-dynamic power system
A power system that is basically a heat engine operating across a temperature difference created by solar radiation. Sane solar dynamic power systems include a solar concentrator. Most solar dynamic power systems so called are intended for space applications, and as such require radiators. Typical designs rely on closed cycles (i.e., the working fluid is cycled rather than consumed). The expanding fluids power Brayton turbine or Stirling cycle engines.

The programming language for real men. Bit flipping is for pansies!

solder sucker
A device for vacuuming up molten solder. Usually has a spring-loaded piston which, when triggered, retracts rapidly from a cylinder to leave behind an evacuated volume. I guess I should be embarrassed to admit that I have found these to be a lot of fun.

Consider EDSYN's Challenger Soldapullt ®

``External main spring design creates a powerful vacuum stroke.'' Oooo!

``Soft-push cam trigger.'' Strong enough to be gentle!

``Single full stroke plunger and cleaning shaft allow maximum vacuum flow.'' Can such things be?

Now for the gushy stuff:

``Cushioned locked tiplet (tip) for soft touch. (1 extra tiplet included).''
[Emphasis added.]

And a final reminder of all that coiled power:

``Made of durable high-impact plastic.''

All this for just $7.75 +P&H and it doesn't even put out your eye.

Here's an item specially suited to solder SMT's and SOIC's.

Stacked Organic Light-Emitting Device. The idea is to stack different-color OLED's to produce a ``full color.''

A card game one person can play against himself or herself, but not both.

It's not a good idea to play solitaire for hours on end. Take a break, eat a salty snack.

sol palmetto
What is this, charades? You heard about saw palmetto. (And you probably heard about it from Larry Kimb.)

Obsolete (I should write obolsete) English word for the obsolete French coin called a sou. You still remember the sou, right? Right? It's the source of the common everyday expressions ``I don't care a sou'' and ``I don't give a sou.'' Like the equally popular expression, ``I don't care a farthing,'' it expresses lack of interest. It's amazing how long these expressions persist in common speech, isn't it? I guess that once they become common coin, well, Bob's your uncle!

The odd thing that strikes one immediately is that while the farthing (when still in circulation) was the smallest (or smallest common) denomination in England, the sou when in circulation was worth 12 deniers.

Y'know, one man's problem is another man's solution. For example, I used a google search solution and discovered that my problem was nVIDIA, which advertises itself as a source of ``solutions for'' Macintosh. I'm sure Apple would prefer to think of the Mac as a solution rather than a problem.

Interestingly, the Spanish-language version of the nVIDIA homepage, alone among the eight non-English versions, leaves ``solutions for'' in the original English. For another Spanish language issue, see the nVIDIA entry. You want to know about software? Screw that! We talk about human languages here.

As you may gather, I consider the use of ``solution'' in the sense of ``marketed service or product'' to be an ugly bit of businesspeak. To give the language criminals their due extenuation, however, I'll observe that in ``Watching the Wheels,'' John Lennon sang

Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind

Maybe not so extenuating after all.

An adjective often used by economists to indicate liquidity; a noun often used by chemists to indicate liquid.

Suda On-Line Volunteer List. Part of the scattered collection of web-based bits and pieces of initial enthusiasm that have since been integrated into SOL.

Start Of Message. ASCII 01 (CTRL-A). (Same character also used for SOH.)

Symposium On Mediterranean Archaeology. The next one, to be held at the University of Sheffield, is SOMA 2000.

So Others Might Eat. Self-described as ``an interfaith, community-based organization that exists to help the poor and homeless of our nation's capital. We meet the immediate daily needs of the people we serve with food, clothing, and health care. We help break the cycle of homelessness by offering services, such as affordable housing, job training, addiction treatment, and counseling, to the poor, the elderly and individuals with mental illness.'' They should work on this statement SOME more and find a way to foreground the potential ``serve ... food'' pun, rearranging it into a possibly non-zeugmatic syllepsis (serve people ... [serve] food).

Devising an organization name whose acronym is a modest quantifier was very clever. (``Please, sir, I want SOME more.'') But they should have stayed away from the subjunctive ``might.'' It's too tentative. If they're hungry, then it's enough that they may eat, and they will. I mean, which universe are they speculating about? Or was this the preterite indicative of may? That's so yesterday. (Actually, most of the ordinary modals are fossil preterites. That's why they never take a final ess in the third-person singular.)

Nevertheless and inasmuch as words, notwithstanding ... why not some of the same?

some say
Someone could conceivably say -- for the speaker's convenience, assume that someone does say. After all, it takes all kinds.

Okay, okay, it would be strange, but not inconceivable, right? Say it, dammit!

No, not that.

The most important concept in airline reservations science.

In the preceding statements, you can usually replace sometimes with usually, sometimes.

My travel agent said, ``remember that, and you'll go far.'' I laughed. A few hours later, as I was writing this entry, I finally got it. A little travel-agent humor.

Snoring in color.

so much
So much that what?

September, October, November. Aggregated Autumn data. Yes sir, take your complaints right to the MAM entry. Cf. DJF, JJA.

Service Order Negotiation And Retrieval.

SONAR, sonar
SOund NAvigation and Ranging.

Material found in only one of the three synoptic gospels. Special use of the German Sondergut, meaning `special legacy.' Cf. double tradition, triple tradition.

Synchronous Optical NETwork. American version of SDH.

Light emission stimulated by sound pressure. Still quite mysterious. See the relevant entry in an Acoustics FAQ, some more extensive description, or the Net Advance of Physics entry.

A consonant that is not an obstruent. That is, a voiced consonant that is produced without constricting the vocal tract so far as to produce a stop or friction (as in a fricative) or both (an affricate). The nasals encountered in European languages are all sonorants, as are the liquids (r and l) of English. Some approximants, like /w/, are also sonorants. There's a certain amount of play in the definition of sonorants, and I've even seen the meaning extended to include vowels.

School Of Philosophy. This has a nice ambiguity, and it reminds everyone that the word for school is derived from a Greek word meaning `leisure.' There don't seem to be any academic institutions that favor this abbreviation. I can't imagine why. Some universities' registration systems do inflict ``SOP'' as a course code prefix.

At the University of Sydney (in NSW), there's a School of Philosophy, Gender, History, and Ancient World Studies. It's interesting to philosophize on the question, which of the words following of were meant to modify ``World Studies'' -- if there was any meaning at all. You wonder, if they decided to concentrate on their core business and spin off some earlier diversification, what would be left and how it would be branded. According to a June 2001 newsletter of the ASCS, ``mail sent to this School's name disappears into a black hole.''

When I was in grad school, I met a woman named Sydney, or maybe even Sidney. I pointed out that she had an unusual name for a girl. She pointed out that she still resented her parents' having given it to her. You know, she was beautiful, and a rose by any other does smell as sweet (though I can't say roses are very fragrant). Incidentally, it wasn't until the nineteenth century that flower names began to be popular as girls' given names in English. (Rose is the single prominent exception, having come into use centuries earlier.) Annette Bening costarred as Sydney Ellen Wade in a 1995 romantic comedy ``The American President,'' in which one of the minor humorous themes concerned the President's attempts to buy her flowers without his job getting in the way.

Small Outline (microelectronic chip) Package. Vide SO.

Standard Operating { Practice[s] | Procedure[s] }. Tradition!

State Of Polarization.

A scrap thrown to a supplicant.

Sum Of Products. Typically in the sense of set theory or Boolean logic: a union of intersections or the logical or (sum) of a number of and'ed factors.

Every logic function can be expressed in SOP form, just as every logic function can be expressed in POS form. If a certain term appears in many of the products, then it can be more efficient for evaluation to factor out the common term.

Spanish, `soup.'

SOPHocles. Ancient (dead, actually) Greek playright.

[Football icon]

SOPHomore. A student in the second year of a four-year sequence, or a ``scholar-athlete'' in the second year of college eligibility. (Either a ``true sophomore'' or a third-year student who was red-shirted as a freshman or for some other reason has used up only one year of eligibility at the start of the season.) Also abbreviated So.

Société de philosophie analytique. This is the kind of acronym that makes you pull yourself by the forelock and ask ``Why? Why!!?? Why couldn't they include just one more letter from the word philosophie and have a word that means knowledge instead of a homonym for a piece of furniture?'' Cf. Mensa.

Quoting from an email, SOPHA ``was created in 1993 with the project of improving and expanding the practice of analytical philosophy in French. One of its mandates, the organization of a triennial conference, aims at facilitating philosophical contacts and networking among French-speakers and Francophile, all over the world.'' French analytical philosophers are probably thinner on the ground than American continental philosophers (not counting literature departments).

The third conference, ``Language, Thought, Action,'' was held in Montreal in September 2005. The proceedings were published in Philosophia Scientiae and are available online.

Spectrograph for Observation of PHenomena in stellar Interiors and Exoplanets. The successor to ELODIE.

sophisticated statistical techniques
Techniques that may require a mastery of arithmetic. The head term is used by political analysts and their ilk to puff up their and their friends' work. The implementation of the techniques is done by anonymous writers of statistical software packages. The job of the political analysts is to take the output from the statistical programs and systematically misunderstand it.


So popular that internet web pages are dedicated to him

Society Of Research on African Cultures.

A hexahydrix alcohol made by reduction of glucose.


Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature. Founded in the 1970's and affiliated with the APA.

A group that's interested in oral reading might have come up with an acronym that was more pronounceable than this initialism, and a group that offers a three-day workshop for $400 (includes shared overnight accommodations, full board, instruction and materials) ought to be able to figure out how to afford its own website. If the link above fourohfours, try this search.

Sorry, this wrapper is not a winner. Please try again soon.
Thanks again, sucker. Buy more of our products.

An Indonesian woman's name. And stop callin' me Shirley!

Sort of. Eye dialect.

Southern Ohio Regional Transportation Authority. Buses in greater Cincinnati, OH.

Nowadays, most anglophones think of this as representing

Save Our { Souls | Ship }.

and therefore it does. In origin it is a Morse-code distress call:

o  o  o  ---  ---  ---  o  o  o
This is supposed to be transmitted without interletter gaps. For more details on this, see the SOS entry in the alt.usage.english FAQ.

Perhaps you would also be interested in learning about the Meanings of International Maritime Flags.

The SOS distress call has caught the imagination of many musicians. The song ``I'll Send an SOS to the World'' contains many triple three-note patterns.

In 1965 or 66, the singer-songwriter Edwin Starr was watching the television show ``Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea'' and became intrigued by the distress signal. He worked it into a song which was originally called ``Sending Out Soul.'' ``I changed it into a love song by calling it `Stop Her on Sight','' said Starr. ``I know that should have been `S.H.O.S.,' but the record company said no one would notice.''

Cf. CQD.

Service Of Supply.

In her The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1933), Gertrude Stein wrote this about the arrival of the doughboys in '17 (p. 224):

... At any rate the american soldiers came [to Nîmes], a regiment of them of the S.O.S. the service of supply, how well I remember how they used to say it with the emphasis on the of.
    We soon got to know them all well and some of them very well. There was Duncan, a southern boy with such a very marked southern accent that when he was well into a story I was lost. Gertrude Stein whose people all come from Baltimore had no difficulty and they used to shout with laughter together, and all I could understand was that they had killed him as if he was a chicken. The people in Nîmes were as much troubled as I was. ...

More of Gertrude Stein's views about American soldiers telling stories can be found at the have-got-to entry.

Silicon-on-Sapphire. A semiconductor fabrication technology in which silicon is deposited epitaxially on a grown crystal of sapphire. [Based on the color, it should really be called silicon-on-ruby.] It's the principal example of SOI.

Sociology Of Science. Sounds like a distress call. In an article in 1974, Stephen Brush asked ``Should the History of Science be Rated X?'' [It was the title of the article, which appeared in Science, vol. 183 (22 March 1974), pp. 1164-1172.] Brush, an accomplished historian of science, usually addressed more difficult questions. As recently as the 2005 AAAS meeting, he participated in a panel discussion that took his landmark 1974 paper as a starting point. (This is just the anyone-can-join AAAS.)

Strength Of Schedule. How good the teams are, that a team plays over the course of a season.

School Of Technology.

Purdue University's School of Technology at Richmond (SOT) makes its home on the campus of Indiana University East.

[SOT image from slow-loading www.nsc.com/pkg/gifs/sot.gif]

Small Outline (SO) Transistor. National Semiconductor illustrates. Their illustration is at left.

STS-1 Overhead Terminator.

Scholarship Of Teaching and Learning. Looking for a definition? Any definition? Here's one:
At Illinois State, we have defined SoTL as "systematic reflection on teaching and learning made public." This definition arose from the work of a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students involved in the early Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) Campus Program in 1998. Currently, our primary efforts to support SoTL on campus our [sic] housed with the Cross Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

It's not quite horrifying to think that many of the people involved in defining scholarship as systematic reflection made public think they're engaged in anything but a travesty.

Satellite communications On-The-Move.

The Society Of The Rusting TARDIS. ``An informal gathering of people who enjoy British television,'' may the Lord have mercy on their souls.

State Of The Union. Article II, Section 3, of the US Constitution stipulates that the President

shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

An old French coin of low denomination. Its name survives in common expressions like ``not worth a sou.'' Okay, maybe that's not such a common expression anymore. Don't take any wooden nickels, my friend.

sound bite
A segment of political speech of any length that constitutes ``news'' without conveying information:

sound bite < bit < nybble < byte

Eugene A. Nida, in his Toward a Science of Translating, suggested the term ``meaningful mouthful'' for the unit in terms of which one should think of translating. For another glossary entry inspired by Nida's work, see old flame retardant.

sound card
Performance benchmarks here.

Not an abbreviation for the Soviet Union. The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion is one of the better known and more important archaeological sites in Greece.

We're talking suppliers here. It's a good idea to design with an eye to multiple suppliers. Particularly if you use a highly specialized or low-volume part, or if you do not have a long-term contract with your supplier, or if your principal supplier is located in an earthquake-prone area like Japan or California. Design strategies include layouts that can accommodate multiple package dimensions and styles, and designing around high-volume elements.

Souteast Asia
The spelling of Southeast Asia on the binding of Historical Dictionary of Southeast Asia by John N. Miksic (Scarecrow Press, 2007). That's on the first edition. I imagine future editions will have a more orthodox spelling. The reference librarian thought it was funny too. ``Maybe we should send it back.''

South Ken
SOUTH KENsington.

Single-Occupancy Vehicle. A vehicle occupied by a single person, who is assumed to be the driver. For official purposes, motorcycles are excluded from the category of SOV's. (If they weren't, they'd probably be the only common sort of SOV's that are also HOV's.) I'm not sure about empty buses.

Subject Object Verb. One possible order of major elements in a sentence.

Russian noun meaning `council.'

English adjective characterizing political arrangements of the Soviet Union (put in place starting in 1917 by revolutionary socialists in what had been called the Russian Empire, and elsewhere as opportunities presented). Also describes similar bureaucratic arrangements inspired by the Russian experiment.

English adjective describing avowedly communist governments patterned on the USSR.

Female pig.

To make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is the unrealized dream of modern alchemists. Transmutation (of base metals into gold) has already been achieved by neutron irradiation.

Statement Of Work. General commercial and government usage.

Southern Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research. (Don't think of sewer.) A program of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

SOuthWEstern TOwnships. Eleven miles southwest of Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa. Soweto was founded in the 1930's as a legal residence for black gold miners. (Miners, not panners: there's a gold vein under Johannesburg.) Initially, rapid growth was fueled by an influx of job seekers. In 1948, however, the white supremacist National Party came to power and imposed a severe apartheid. Growth from the 50's on was thus also fed by the progressive expulsion of blacks from Johannesburg. Thus, though Soweto was generally poor and working-class, it eventually had all social classes present.

This mix is reminiscent of the situation in US, where black ghettoes like Harlem were home to all social classes. In the US, the situation changed when housing nondiscrimination laws of the 60's gave those better off a chance to move out. This departure has been identified by James Q. Wilson (I think), and others, as a cause of social collapse in the inner city. In the ninties, there has begun to be a return of the black middle class to traditionally black neighborhoods, attracted in part by lower costs of home ownership. That's what the newspaper said, anyway.

The 1955 Freedom Charter, a list of civil rights demands, was ratified by ANC delegates meeting in the Kliptown section of Soweto.

Soweto is famous principally for protests that began in 1976. By exile, incarceration and murder, the NP regime had succeeded in suppressing black resistance to apartheid. In 1976, the government ordered all public schools to teach science and math in Afrikaans, leading to a student protest on June 16, 1976. Police responded with bullets, and over 80 students died. This massacre rekindled rebellion, with rent strikes and other protest continuing until the end of apartheid in 1994.

Son Of WinGreek. WinGreek is one of the systems for inserting polytonic Greek in text normally set up for a modern language. SOWG is reportedly an improvement.

German: `anyway, anyhow, in any case.'

Some words are unaccountably cool, or have coolness that one cannot completely account for. In principle, it might be the sound of the word. For example, when I started to learn English at age 5, ``garbage can'' was my favorite vocabulary -- it was full of strange new sounds for a Spanish-speaking boy. It might be the oddly-shaped semantic hole it fills. (I can't think of a good example off-hand. Come back later.) Or it might be something else. In general, it probably has something to do with the poetry of the word, because poetry is what is lost in translation.

Anyway, sowieso is one of those words. It's hard to explain why, when you can use it, you want to. Perhaps it has to do with the positioning of adverbs in German sentences. Unlike anyway, the adverb sowieso rarely comes at the beginning of a sentence. (It does occur colloquially as an interjection, but then it's a one-word sentence meaning `of course.') It may have to do with the construction of the word: so in German has a meaning similar to so in English (as well as so in Japanese); wie means (and is cognate with) English how. Both of these function familiarly both as words and in compounds. For example, soundso is basically `so-and-so.' Likewise with wie: As a prefix, irgend- can typically be translated as `some-,' and sure enough irgendwie means `somehow.' This is probably the place to mention that there was a German coming-of-age movie entitled ``Irgenwie und Sowieso.'')

`Soviet Union' in German.

According to the NSA, `` `SOWPODS' represents a combination of the Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary (OSPD) [standard in North America] and the Official SCRABBLE® Words (OSW), the former British word source.'' Appropriately, then, the seven initial letters are rearranged to create the word SOWPODS.

SOWPODS was created in 1991 for the World Scrabble Championships in London and subsequent World Championships. It has slowly been adopted in ``most of the world.'' That is, in most of the places where there is a designated official dictionary. As of 2005, that includes most of the British Commonwealth, with the significant exception of Canada, and a few mostly Arab countries. Since January 2003, all British tournaments have officially used the OSW-I, or Official SCRABBLE® Words, International, which is now equivalent to SOWPODS, although at least some UK clubs use OSPD. As of 2005, North America (i.e., the US and Canada) is the only major region not to adopt SOWPODS for tournament play, unless Israel or Thailand is a major region. (Hmmm... the winner of the 2003 WSC was from Thailand.)

SOWPODS has about 25,000 more words than the OSPD. So far, referenda of NSA members have rejected switching, and tournament play in the US is according to TWL. Since SOWPODS and the WSC were created in 1991, all eight champions have been nationals of countries that used something other than SOWPODS.

Scrabulous serves a look-up tool for the current SOWPODS and TWL. (Similar tools are served on a decaying page with forwarding links to <Scrabulous.com>, but until Scrabulous.com finally offered definitions, it was handy to keep the link. Now it's just here for hisorical reasons. The old page is at <Bingobinge.com>. When you use all seven of your tiles in a single turn in Scrabble, you are said to score or make a bingo. I don't know who says this. Maybe you could say it yourself. You could also say ``hot dang!'' I don't know if either of these is officially approved terminology anywhere, but a bingo is worth an extra fifty points.) Bob Jackman serves a number of SOWPODS word lists.


SOCKS. A spelling used in baseball team names.

Ess Pee. Espy? The Willard R. Espy mentioned at our forange entry? Probably not.

Sagittal Polarization.


Scholars Press.

Founded in 1974 by the American Academy of Religion (AAR and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).

A distinct organization, the Scholars Press Consortium, was founded by the AAR, SBL, American Philological Association (APA), and American Society of Papyrologists (ASP) to provide publishing, membership, accounting and information services to the founding associations and about seventeen additional scholarly organizations in the academic fields of religion, biblical studies and classical antiquity.

Both organizations were abruptly dissolved at the end of 1999.

Signal Processor.

Simulated Patient. You can do this without taking off your shoes, which is more than I can say about plane travel. The only clarification we offer right now is at the NAMC entry.

Small Polaron. A polaron is an electron or hole together with the deformation it produces in the medium it is in. A polaron is ``small'' if the deformation is substantial only in the near vicinity of the electron. In principle, one can make this more precise.

Spanish, Spain (ES), etc. For information about the language, visit the Spanish entry.

Species (singular). The plural of species is species, so if you want to be clear that you mean the singular, you're better off using the abbreviation. (The abbreviation of the plural word is spp.)

Species is taxonomists' Latin for `species.' In fact, it's anybody's Latin for species. Beyond that, things get complicated. The word species was a fifth-declension noun. If that is completely, but I mean completely, meaningless to you, then you should probably go back to the A.M. entry for a little orientation.

Back? Good. Fifth-declension nouns, like res, dies, and species, have identical singular and plural forms in the nominative case. (You probably thought that the point of declensions was to communicate information such as grammatical number and case (the word's function in a phrase). That is incorrect; the purpose of declensions is to be cool.) You think identical singular and plural forms are strange? There are languages, like Chinese and Japanese, that don't even distinguish grammatical number. Different languages tend to give different kinds of information by default. German, like Latin, usually allows you to distinguish singular from plural, but some nouns have the same form, and the number information is in the article. For example, der Koffer is `the suitcase' and die Koffer is `the suitcases' (both in the nominative).

To be fair, for some uncountable nouns one rarely needs a plural form, and res (`thing') and species (`form, appearance') lean toward the uncountable. (This argument doesn't work so well with dies, which means day. Just for good measure, in the singular dies was sometimes construed feminine rather than its usual masculine. The devil is in the details. The devil revels in the details.) I should at least mention duals. There.

In English, we tend to use the nominative forms of Latin nouns. Since we don't decline nouns by case, we just throw the other forms away. There's a big pile of them accumulating in a county in northern Nevada, where the US government is trying to convince the three people who live there to allow the waste to be buried at a depth of 10,000 stadia. They object: ``what's a stadia?''

Actually, we sometimes save the odd declined form for a phrase. Also, the genitive forms have been found useful for scientific experrrrrrrimentation! Or for science, anyway -- particularly astronomy and biological taxonomy. Fifth-declension nouns normally have genitive singulars ending in -ei, like rei. As you've probably figured out by now, the sentence adverb normally is a red flag of danger. Sure enough, -iei (I wanna say -iei ee! oh!; there, I said it) was too much even for the stoic Romans, and specie and specii were used as genitive forms of species. (Similar stuff happened with dies, and also acies, facies, and pernicies. Eventually things got so confusing that in Rome people switched to Italian.)

You might say that species has a defective declension, and you might be right, but not for that reason. A word is said to be defective when it is missing some of its inflected forms. According to Lewis and Short, in the time of Cicero the genitive and dative plurals of species were not in use, and formarum and formis took their respective places. How do they know? Maybe they just meant formarum instead of specierum! Okay, that's enough, let's do a different entry.


Latin, Spurius. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina. Also ``S,'' which it gets instead of Servius (Ser.) or Sextus (Sex.).

Spurius means `illegitimate'; its 0.7% frequency in CIL vol. I (see the tria nomina entry) likely underestimates the actual frequency of bastards in the subject population, however that was defined, if only because two children of one woman would probably not get the same name.

Stack Pointer.

Standard and Poor's.

Starting Price.

Studies in Philology. A journal of general (not just classical) philology.

Suppressive Person. A term used seriously by the Church of Scientology and facetiously by its critics to refer to critics of the Church of Scientology. There are also SP rankings from SP1 to SP9, many having to do with the extent of barratry the Co$ has deployed against the person.

Saudi Press Agency.

Società Per Azioni. Italian, `stock company.' I.e., a publicly traded corporation. Corresponds to AG (Germany), Corp. (US), and plc (Britain).

Full disclosure: for a long time, I thought S.p.A was the Italian version of S.A.

Society for Popular Astronomy. ``Britain's brightest astronomy society.''

Sponsored Programs Administration. One name for the university office that handles research proposals and grants.

Spot Profile Analysis.

Special-Purpose Acquisition Company.

space cowboy
Bet you weren't ready for that. (To say nothing of the cow that jumped over the moon.)

For what it's worth, the part of Will Robinson in the original ``Lost in Space'' was played by Bill Mumy. The surname is pronounced MOO-me.

Here's an interesting paragraph from CNBC (June 28, 2011):
Texas no longer leads the nation in Fortune 500 companies headquartered there. In fact, the state comes in third, with 51 major companies headquartered in Texas compared with 57 last year. Some of that is the result of mergers, like Fort Worth-based Burlington Northern Santa Fe being acquired by Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway spacer, and Houston-based Continental Airlines spacer merging with Illinois-based United.

Emphasis added (for, um, emphasis). Those look to me like strange places to place ``spacer'' -- or spacer either. Cf. KOMING.

I like to read the horoscope column every so often. Not the whole column, of course. Just Aries. I usually read Aries because that's the first sign listed. Then I go back to the crossword puzzle. I never read the horoscope on Mondays because the puzzle is too easy. (For those desperate to do the crossword in a reputable newspaper on Monday, the usual approach is to cut out the across clues and solve using only the downs.)

Some years ago I met an interesting single woman on the internet who seemed nice, and we progressed to a phone conversation. We decided to get together, but she wanted to know my birthdate and where I was born. She needed these inputs for her astrology software. She was becoming more interesting than I had bargained for. And the program was acting balky. Maybe the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but PIFOK. Maybe she was misspelling ``Buenos Aires.'' Anyway, the problem seemed to get ironed out, and we set a, ahem, date.

I guess it was fated that one of us would call and call it off. She beat me to it. I guess she got the program working.

Society for the Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage. In late February and early March of 2001, the Taliban greatly simplified the task of SPACH by destroying much of what had survived the previous two or three decades of war. (In Pashto, you should know, taliban means `seekers of knowledge' or, in the context that led to the internationally known group, `students.') Preserving what is left of Afghanistan's cultural heritage is much more manageable, now that there's so much less of it.

SPAD, spad
Signal[s] Passed at Danger. A category of railway accident or incident. Unlike most such specialist terminology (e.g., CFIT), the word has entered common use in Britain. It has also been verbed, with `to spad' meaning `to pass a signal at danger.'

Another technical acronym that has (less surprisingly) entered common usage in Britain and been verbed is TUPE.

SPAD, S.P.A.D., Spad
The acronym that was eventually used to represent a company originally founded in 1911 as Aéroplanes Deperdussin, after its CEO Armand Deperdussin. Perhaps more formally it was known as Société des Aéroplanes Deperdussin, `Deperdussin Airplane Company.' The company first used the initialism S.P.A.D. in 1912, but only administratively -- apparently as an abbreviation of its (new?) legal name. The planes and the company continued to be known popularly by the name of Deperdussin. Its first commercially successful model, the Deperdussin TT, was manufactured for the English and Russian markets by the British Deperdussin Company and the Lebedev company, resp.

The company had a brilliant start, introducing a number of innovations (see, for example, the Dep control entry). In early August 1913, however, Armand Deperdussin was arrested for fraud, and the company was soon put into receivership. Deperdussin was never again involved with aviation in any significant way. More information about him (but not much yet) can be found at or linked from the Deperdussin entry.

In August 1914, as France went to war (WWI), a consortium led by the famous aviator Louis Blériot purchased the company assets. The operation of the company was put in the hands of Louis Béchereau, the engineer responsible for the company's plane designs under Deperdussin. Given the scandal of l'affaire Deperdussin, a new name was deemed advisable. Alfred Leblanc, Blériot's right-hand man and a successful plane racer himself, suggested that the company retain the four letters S-P-A-D, at least partly to be justified by the fact that in Volapük, the word means `speed.' An acronym expansion was also adopted, however: Société pour l'Aviation et ses Dérivés. (I've seen both pour and Pour versions; I'm agnostic on the issue.)

A word about Volapük. This was an artificial international language created by Johann Martin Schleyer, a Roman Catholic priest of Baden, Germany. In the 1880's it was immensely successful by the standards of such projects, with at least a couple of hundred clubs, a couple of dozen periodicals, etc. It was overtaken at the end of the nineteenth century by easier languages like Esperanto. Especially Esperanto. (On the other hand, my father taught Esperanto in his youth, yet though I don't own any books in Esperanto, I do own a mathematics book in Latino Sine Flexione, written by the mathematician Peano, who invented the language. At first I thought it was some odd dialect of Italian. It reminds me of Enrico Fermi's experience as a boy, reading a wonderful mechanics book that had been written in the nineteenth century by a Jesuit priest. As he worked his way through it, he would regale his older sister with his discoveries. She did not wish to be so regaled; she was interested in the so-called humanities, and not in science. When he finished the book, he remarked to his sister: ``you know, it's written in Latin. I hadn't noticed.'' This is from memory. I read the story in an early chapter of Atoms in the Family; that's in English, so you won't find it verbatim there either.) Anyway, the root vocabulary of Volapük is taken largely from English, though the roots are almost randomly deformed, apparently with the intention of giving no one an unfair advantage in learning the language. So the word spad is very probably derived from the English word speed.

One thing I did not give above is the original expansion of S.P.A.D. in 1912. I'm not sure what it is. There are a number of contenders, which I list here with the number of ghits on French pages as of Groundhog Day, 2009:

  1. Société pour les Appareils Deperdussin
  2. (45)
  3. Société de Production des Aéroplanes Deperdussin
  4. (9)
  5. Société de Production des Avions Deperdussin
  6. (6)
  7. Société Provisoire des Aéroplanes Deperdussin
  8. (5)
  9. Société pour les Avions Deperdussin
  10. (5)

The version with the greatest number of French ghits has the following further thing to be said for it that is not immediately obvious: the company was also producing motor boats at the time, and while appareils is understood as `airplanes' in the appropriate context, in general it means something more general, like `machine' or `device,' and such ambiguity may have been attractive and preferable to something like `Deperdussin Airplanes.'

The version with provisoire has in its favor the fact that it's not very plausible French. That is, it's not an expansion a French-speaker would be likely to come up with accidentally, merely by misremembering a more correct form (as the avions forms might be), so maybe it is the correct form. The provisoire form is the one given by Jay P. Spenser in The Airplane: How Ideas Gave Us Wings, (Smithsonian, Nov. 2008).

More detail regarding the oddity of ``provisoire'': one is tempted to translate Société Provisoire des Aéroplanes Deperdussin as `Deperdussin Airplane Supply [or Manufacturing] Company.' On its face it doesn't make much sense in French, as provisoire has the sense of `provisional, temporary,' and the TLFi gives no indication that it was ever used in the requisite sense. (Likewise Le Grand Robert.) The word is cognate, of course, with English words like provide, provident, and provision. The French word provision has principal senses similar to the English: supply, stock. If provisoire was used in the sense of `that provides,' then it would be something like the use of provident in the same sense in English: strange, but not impossible.

Here's an informative caption from Conquerors of the Air: The Evolution of Aircraft 1903-1945 (New York: Viking Press, 1968), p. 47:

The Spad S 13 came from a firm with a long tradition: S.P.A.D. (Société pour l'Aviation et ses Dérivés). This factory, owned by Armand Deperdussin [actually, there were a number of factories, and a société could not consist of a single investor], held all the absolute speed records in 1912 and 1913. The aircraft, produced between 1914 and 1916, after the take-over of the business by Louis Blériot, were not exceptionally successful. But in the summer of 1916 the picture changed completely, and the Spad S 13 rapidly became one of the Allies' outstanding aircraft. What it lacked in maneuverability it more than made up for in speed. Its maximum of 142 m.p.h. was produced by a 220 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine. Eddie Rickenbacker, whose 26 victories made him America's most successful pilot in World War I, was one of the best known S 13 aces.

The illustration (pp. 46-47) shows a single-seater biplane with green and brown camo; the rudder has a scalloped trailing edge and various bits of information superimposed on what I would regard as a French tricolor. There's a curious symbol on the middle of the fuselage that looks like Uncle Sam's hat flying through a vertical hoop.

According to the stats accompanying the illustration, in 1917 its engine was a Hispano-Suiza 8BA V-8, and in 1918 a Hispano-Suiza 8BEc V-8. The second engine apparently produced 235 h.p.

(The book was illustrated by Carlo Demand. The text of the German original was by Heiner Emde; the translator is not identified, but he is criticized in a copyright-page erratum: ``The use of `Kaiser' instead of `Emperor' in the title of the section beginning on page 164 is an error of the German translator which the American publishers unaccountably overlooked and for which they apologize.'' It seems that some error was made, but without the original it's not clear what mistake was made by whom. The section in question bears the title ``The Kaiser's new bird of prey: Japan's most famous hunter of World War II.'' The last Kaiser so-called abdicated after Germany's defeat in WWI, and the Third Reich had no ``Kaiser'' or quite equivalent title. FWIW, Führer means `leader.')

In 1903, of course, the US was the world leader in aviation. And the US still had the greatest number of pilots in 1908, when Deperdussin first became interested in aviation. Around 1910, the Wrights apparently felt they had a good enough product and turned more of their attention to other things, including marketing their planes, certifying pilots, and defending their patents. Other countries started catching up in participation and technology. By 1911, when Aéroplanes Deperdussin was founded, France had more pilots than any country in the world. This was accompanied by a parallel surge to world leadership in aviation technology. What happened afterwards? Here's the answer of William Winter, on page 208 of his War Planes of all Nations (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1943). The book is divided into eight national sections -- US, UK, Russia, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, and Japan -- and this introduces the French section:

The story of modern French aviation is the tragic story of France herself. The pity of it all is that the French were capable of putting on a much better ``show'' than they did. French designers and fliers have always ranked at the top; their ideas often were brilliant and had tangible effects on the course of aviation. French Spads and Nieuports performed a mighty part in the aerial fighting of World War I.

  And even in this war the French did not lack ideas. Many fine prototypes were on hand and ready for production. The people who guided her aviation industry felt the approaching storm long before it struck, but their hands were tied so that the best airplanes were never produced in quantity. Politics and labor troubles hamstrung the French air force, just as they did her entire war effort. Indeed, the labor situation was so bad before the war that the government took control of virtually the entire manufacturing setup. Under Pierre Cot the French plane builders were grouped geographically into what was called the nationalized industry. Unfortunately, results were worse than ever, if such a thing were possible. During the so-called Sitzkrieg her airplane production was only a trickle, a trickle that evaporated in some months.

  At the Paris Salon air show in 1938 a line-up of impressive French fighting planes was revealed. Bombers such as her Leo 45 were exquisite aerodynamically. But of perhaps a dozen worth-while new types, only a few got into the manufacturing stage before that fateful June in 1940. France was a pioneer of the low-wing fighter monoplanes. Her then strange bimotored fighter-bombers anticipated a trend that all nations are following today. The Potez 63 and Breguet 690 are examples. Indeed, the French always claimed that the Germans got their inspiration for the Messerschmitt Me-110 from the agile twin-engined Potez 63. Of course, the French machines mentioned would not be in the same league with the Douglas Boston, but they were first. And speaking of the Boston, it is a fact that the French ordered that machine before the British did. When France fell the British took over her contracts. France always was a keen student of design. Her Mercier low-drag cowlings and the flexibly mounted cannon on her prewar bombers were other noteworthy examples. Hispano-Suiza ``moteur'' hub-firing cannon for fighters were commonplace in France at least twelve years ago.

Old name for golf club that was something like a modern six iron, or one number higher than a mashie.

I encountered this word in ``Rooting for the Indians--A Memoir'' of Hillel Halkin that appeared in Commentary, October 2007.
   My cousin Jonathan, who lived a few blocks away, was a Yankees fan, adding to the rivalry with which we played slug and Chinese with a spaldeen on the sidewalk. (You won't find it in any dictionary, but there wasn't a New York boy in those years who could not have told you that a spaldeen, made by the same Spalding Company that manufactured baseballs, was the pink core of a tennis ball and the regulation playing ball of the city's streets.)

Halkin apparently didn't check at OneLook, where (at least until this entry is indexed) three dictionaries, including the 1997 Random House Unabridged, offer two or three definitions.

Spot Profile Analysis (SPA) of Low-Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED).

v. To spam the net is to send email or post USENET news broadly to inappropriate destinations. Extra points for profligate use of exclamation signs and alphabetic-order selection of destination newsgroups. Cf. spam trap.

Has been creatively assigned an acronym expansion: Stupid People's AdvertiseMent.

According to the great fillosofer Discardes --

Cookito, ergo spam.

For US$700 you can buy a CD-ROM with over eight million data records including ``contact name or title, company name where applicable, address, telephone number and fax number when available, .com, .net or .org URL, and email address.'' Finding and emailing you is cheaper than dirt, yet filthier. (Prices for such email collections have come down susbtantially since I first wrote this entry with the $700 figure.)

Is it meaningful to say that something might go wrong with spam?

Now, I am sure that the scholars of this marketing genre -- spamaesthesiologists, or whatever they're called -- have found a number of distinctive features of spam to study, but one that intrigues me is a kind of statistical personalization. To be clear: if the radio talent says ``good luck!'' I may reasonably suspect that this wish is not intentionally directed to me personally. In other words, I know that it's meaningless. If the same expression is conveyed in email, I may not realize that others have received the same message, and so I might consider the possibility that it wasn't meaningless. Taking this one step further, a spammer may send a highly personalized message to millions of victims (what are we -- spamees? electronic toast?). Most who receive this message will realize it is spam, but some of the tiny fraction for whom it is spot-on may be drawn in. These thoughts were prompted by a spam message yesterday that asserted incorrectly (and with an Italian accent) --

``We know you^Ňre an hair fashion operator.''

There are endless other versions of this, of course. Sometimes it happens inadvertently. Etexts of fine literature are being mined or sampled for camouflage to defeat spam detectors. On the classics list there are threads from time to time asking whether a current high frequency of references to classical antiquity demonstrates highly accurate spam targeting. (Apparently it doesn't.)

A related trick is the fractionated stock prediction. In the simplest version, the artist sends out a free newsletter in different versions, making different predictions, to very large numbers of virgin recipients. To those that received versions of the first newsletter with good predictions, a second round of newsletters is sent out, similarly variable. Some of the second-round recipients will thus receive two accurate newsletters. By iteration, and with no great knowledge of the market, the artist can winnow an exponentially small target audience of newsletter subscribers who have reason to be impressed by the consistent accuracy of the newsletter. This trust can then be manipulated to the artist's profit. That's the theory anyway, and computerized deception management would seem to make it feasible, but I don't know if this has really been tried.

Trademark created by contraction from Hormel's original name for the product -- ``Spiced Ham'' -- which was copied by other meatpackers.

n. A pressed pink pork product marketed by Hormel since 1937. It was distributed as a food supplement in the US during the Great Depression, and to British civilians during WWII. The long-time butt (sorry about that) of jokes, subject of a skit and song on the Monty Python TV series, and inspiration of Haiku (see our entry for homogeneous) and pink spirituality. We have a rather dated page of Spam Religion sites, and Yahoo has indexed a few items, but probably not as many as Josh Warnick.

Hormel reports that Spam is consumed at the rate of 3.8 cans per minute, and they should know, but they couldn't know what fraction of that goes into the kitchen bit bucket.

I just got around to reading SubStance #82, 1997 (i.e., vol. XXVI, no. 1, 1997). SubStance is subtitled A Review of Theory and Literary Criticism and is extremely boring. I don't know why I punish myself, but let's get it over with. This special issue, guest editor Renée Riese Hubert, was on ``Metamorphoses of the Book.'' Paul Zelevansky has an article entitled ``Attention SPAM®'' (pp. 135-159). He asserts (p. 156) that the ``ingredients of SPAM® are pork and ham, salt, water, sugar, sodium nitrate.'' The article doesn't really have much to do with Spam or spam. It's about emerging patterns of inattentive reading or viewing.

Stop Pornography and Abusive Marketing ACT. A bill sponsored in 2003 by Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), to create a do-not-spam registry.

Spamish Spanish verb. More precisely, the Spanish verb meaning `to spam.' I'm not sure it's possible to tell whether it was borrowed from the English verb use of spam or was developed from the Spanish noun spam (certainly borrowed from the English). The noun, BTW, is masculine; it's usually uncountable but sometimes singular (``un spam''), and very infrequently used in the plural (``unos spams'').

The initial sp- in foreign loans typically becomes esp-. For example, smoking (q.v.) became esmoquin and [aother example TK]. I've known some quite well-educated Spanish speakers for who, either reflexively or because they never quite mastered this bit of pronunciation, would call Spanish ``Espanish'' when speaking English. I suppose the traditional pattern was not followed in this case because the initial-consonant cluster has become more familiar to Spanish-speakers in recent years, due to the widespread use of English words. (I say English words advisedly. The Spanish Sprachraum is comfortably large, and most native Spanish-speakers do not learn much English. Certainly as recently as thirty years ago, but it seems to me still today, the most-studied modern foreign language in Spanish-medium secondary schools has been French. The study of Latin also remains popular (with the schools; I won't say it's popular with the students).

The verb spamear seems to be regularly conjugated. Hence, in the simple present tense one has yo spameo, tú spameas, él/ella spamea, nosotros/nosotras spameamos, etc. There is thus a subjunctive form spamee (que spamee means `that [I/he/she/it] spam'). It's something to keep in mind if you're counting ghits to determine the popular English-speakers' consensus on whether the recipient of spam is a ``spamee'' or a ``spammee.'' (The corresponding French verb apparently yields false positives for the spammee form.) I've decided to go with spammee.

spam trap
Anything used to prevent automated email-address harvesters from successfully collecting one's email as a spam target. The most common spam trap is an obvious and easily corrected alteration of the email address, as in <nameDeleteThisBit@domain.name>. This strategy (mung) is seen in newsgroups and mailing lists, since in such discussion groups replies are generally sent to the electronic forum rather than to the individual poster. Here's a July 16, 2002 article on spam traps from <poynter.org>.

Stupid People At MIT. A few people who had the idea of making and selling tee shirts decorated with the acronym ``SPAMIT'' on them. Even the stupid people at MIT are sharp.

Small Publishers Association of North America.

A macaronic mix of Spanish and English. Like franglais and italiese (q.v.), it is essentially the Romance tongue with lots of English borrowing. English with a lot of Romance borrowing is just English. English lexicographers report that during the twentieth century, the Spanish language was the largest source of borrowed vocabulary in English. I guess the French vein was pretty much tapped out.

My cousin Victoria teaches bilingual kindergarten in California, and reports that her students' Spanglish is grammatically correct as Spanish. I didn't ask her for details, but in my immigrant community, fluent Spanglish use makes most borrowed nouns male and avoids English verbs. The mixed morphology of English verbs or even adjectives with Spanish inflections is usually so distasteful that in practice one simply alternates between sentences or clauses entirely in one language or the other (which Human Communication researchers call ``code-switching''). For the most part, true Spanglish is used only by those who are not very bilingual. (But see the RU entry for a counterexample.)

You will have noticed that Spanglish is a blend of English words, whereas franglais and italiese are French and Italian, respectively. That probably reflects the places where these language mixes are an issue. One does not encounter very much franglais and italiese, at least in the US. Spanish-speakers tend to refer to anglicismos, but if a Spanish word for Spanglish is required, the word is very appropriately borrowed from English, with the usual modifications. In particular, since word-initial sp does not occur in Spanish, and since some Spanish speakers have difficulty pronouncing it, the word is sometimes translated into Spanish as espanglish (no, standard Spanish no longer has the esh sound either). More rarely, one encounters the calque espanglés (from español and inglés).

Spanish is the English name for the most widely used Iberian language. In Spanish itself, that language is imprecisely called español, and more precisely castellano (`Castilian'). Among educated Spanish-speakers, and especially among educated Argentines, it is common to use castellano for the language and español only for `Spaniard' or as a national adjective.

Like most national and local languages in what used to be the western half of the Roman empire, Spanish is a Romance language (i.e., an evolution of Vulgar Latin), and has a fair admixture of Germanic terms. Like English, it has absorbed a lot of words from French during the many centuries when France was culturally dominant.

There's a lot to say about the local evolutions of Vulgar Latin into Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian, etc., but for now I just want to point out that in Castilian the initial eff of many Latin words became an aitch (called hache in Spanish). One example: the standard (i.e. ``unmarked'') verb meaning `to talk,' hablar, comes from the Latin fabula, the same root as fable in English. This is very apt.

To be fair, in classical Latin, fabula was a noun meaning `talk, conversation,' as well as one particular kind of talk -- an untrue story, a myth -- or a play. The deponent verb fabulari meant `talk' in the sense of chatter -- ``just talk'' or ``all talk'' or ``telling tales.'') Portuguese uses the cognate falar (no f --> h).

For another example of the sound shift, see the hidalgo entry. Japanese provides a good illustration of the similarity of the two sounds (eff and aitch). This, along with other examples comparing Spanish words with their Latin etymons, is at the higo entry.

I can't believe I link to this entry from all over the glossary, and the only content I have is on this negligible little sound shift! Okay, here are some links to other somewhat general things about Spanish. (For the list items with multiple links, you don't have to return here for the rest. Follow the first one and other relevant entries will be linked from there.)

There's an online Spanish encyclopedia, a kind of wiki effort called la Enciclopedia Libre Universal en Español. As of May 2005, it had over 28000 articles. On February 28, 2006, it had 30478 articles; on the same day, Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre, had 97518 articles in Spanish. (I haven't attempted any very meaningful comparison of their contents.)

WordReference.com, with pop-ups and animated banners, has Spanish-English and English-Spanish dictionaries that are, so to speak, free. They offer Spanish definitions of English words and vice versa. They're based in large part on dictionaries published by Espasa Calpe, which is pretty classy. (Espasa Calpe also publishes the Diccionario de la Lengua Española (DLE) of the Real Academia Española. That's the accepted authority on spelling and a widely aped source of definitions, but Spanish dictionaries of Spanish are not part of the WordReference.com site as of this writing, May 2005.) There are useful links at the definitions, evidently generated automatically by reverse lookup, and the site has associated language discussion forums which can be searched via links from the entries.

SpanishDICT is a smaller resource, also with animated banners, that offers various single-word translations for words entered in Spanish or English. Unlike WordReference.com, which gives phonetic transcriptions, SpanishDICT has lots of clickable audio files for pronunciation. This site also has animated banners. Ditto <freedict.com>, which has a similar pair of English-Spanish word-translation tools, apparently based on a still smaller word stock than SpanishDICT's. (On the positive side, freedict has tools for many more languages.)

I used to reference a couple of small English to Spanish and Spanish to English vocabularies that had been on the net since early in the life of this glossary. They have become part of the Internet Dictionary Project (IDP). Note that the Files page hasn't been updated in a while. To download the English-Spanish Dictionary File, which is linked to <http://www.aracnet.com/~tyler/IDP/files/Spanish.txt>, use <http://www.june29.com/IDP/files/Spanish.txt>.

For quick'n'dirty results using machine translation, try your luck on the text-entry forms at Altavista's Babel Fish Translation, <freetranslation.com>, or Google Language Tools.

I liked <diccionarios.com> for a while, but now they want you to buy the service after two look-ups.

Adrián Gonzalez, who offers Spanish instruction in New York City, maintains a very comprehensive list of dictionaries. The yourDictionary.com site has a long page listing Romance language dictionaries, including a useful list of Spanish and Spanish translation dictionaries.

Shiva Password Authentication Protocol. PAP plus encryption of PAP passwords and Novell Netware bindery access for user account information. Shiva is the destroyer.

Scalable Processor ARChitecture. Name of a line of workstations and servers from Sun.

Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition.

Scientific Peer Advisory and Review Services. A program of the AIBS.

spark plug
The shortest member of an athletic team. Probably female.

Space Power Architecture System. That is, the architecture of a power system for use in space. That ought to be the less pronounceable SPSA, but no one asked me. I would also have mentioned that SPAS is bound to be pronounced ``spaz,'' derogatory slang for a person prone to spastic or spasmodic movements. I suppose no one would have listened. The term SPAS and its expansion were used for a specific study for SDI (``Star Wars''). The SDI SPAS studies were published in 1988. Among other things, they considered the power requirements of ground-based laser weapons, so you see that ``for use in space,'' in my explanation above, is not restricted to use within or even originating in a spacecraft.

Flood, especially a sudden flood. Nowadays -- and by ``nowadays'' I mean all my life -- I only hear this word in the expression ``a spate of,'' which is understood, but not recognized as a metaphor.

SPAce and naval WARfare SYStem CENter. It's in Charleston, SC. The headterm is a typical US military abbreviation. This glossary makes no pretense of listing any but a small fraction. I don't feel like listing every odd piece of the DoD.

Sustainable Performance Breakthrough. Sixsigmanese.

South Pacific Bridge Federation. A bridge too far? Actually, it's ``the governing body for organized [contract] bridge activities and promotion on [sic] the South Pacific area,'' which is Zone 7. of the WBF. Its four members, as of 2007, are the NBO's of Australia (ABF), New Zealand (NZCBA), French Polynesia (FBPF), and New Caledonia (NCBF).

It's a good thing each table doesn't require one member from each of the NBO's. ABF and NZCBA have about 32 and 15 thousand members, respectively. The other two NBO's have, uh, more than 100 members each.

Statistical Process Control. Very fashionable now, so what more do you need to know? Get some, or implement some, or whatever.

I have a little book entitled The SPC Troubleshooting Guide, though I have no actual SPC trouble to shoot at. In the introduction, the author makes this emphatic point: ``It is important to understand that SPC does not control processes. People control processes.'' [Italics in original.] You wonder if the author wouldn't really rather have been writing about gun control. [Italics mine.] Especially when you notice that the author's name is Ronald Blank. For more about gun control, see this fire hazard entry.

Stored Program Control.

System Planning Corporation.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Acronym for local organizations (e.g., Texas SPCA) and productive affix in larger organizations (e.g., ASPCA).

If animal abuse excites you, then you might care to read Edmund Leach's ``Anthropological Aspects of Language: Animal Categories and Verbal Abuse,'' in Eric. H. Lenneberg (ed.), New Directions in the Study of Language (MIT Press, 1964) pp. 23-63. It's reprinted in Mythology: Selected Readings, ed. Pierre Miranda (Penguin Books, 1972) pp. 39-67.

Here's some possibly related news. In an interview that aired on LBC TV on February 23, 2007, Lebanese Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt was asked whether he regretted his remarks of February 14, 2007. He replied ``No, but the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against [sic, in the translation by MEMRI TV] Animals contacted me, and said that they reject the comparison of snakes, whales, and wild beasts to [Syrian dictator] Bashar Al-Assad. [Somewhere along about this point, the respectful interviewer lowers his head and cups his forehead in his hand.] I apologize to that society. But I don't regret anything else I said.'' Jumblatt smiles very slightly. (The apology comes at the end of this video clip.)

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

In 1906, when Fiorello H. La Guardia returned to the US after twenty-one years in Europe, he worked for the SPCC in New York City, translating the juvenile sections of the French penal code into English.

The Seoul Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Korea.

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Established in London in 1968. ``SPCK is the oldest Anglican mission agency.'' Oh wait, that was 1698. ``[A] Christian mission agency communicating the gospel by publishing books and Christian literature, running Christian bookshops in the UK, supporting theological education and making grants to churches worldwide.'' ISBN prefix 0-281.

For some inexplicable reason, they also publish scholarly books on New Testament studies.

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge - Australia.

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge - New Zealand.

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge - United States of America.

The original SPCK continues to be based in London. The Indian and New Zealand SPCK's are based in Delhi and (oh so appropriately) Christchurch. The SPCK-A is based in Adelaide, South Australia. SPCK/USA was established in 1983 at the School of Theology of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

SPeech CoMmunication.

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Society of Permanent Cosmetics Professionals. Hey: why privilege nature? She makes mistakes too. Those are as permanent as anything that these guys do.

One of their hot tips: Check that the facility that does your work has hot and cold running water.

Society of Professors of Child Psychiatry.

Stored-Program Control System.

Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World. ``SPCW was founded in August 1993 by philosophers who had gathered at the very edge of Rocky Mountain National Park for a conference on `The Community, the Family, and Culture.' Exhilarated by the unique combination of stimulating philosophy, good fun and fellowship permeating the conference, they resolved to expand these opportunities by creating SPCW as a nonprofit, democratically organized Society.'' Cf. origination story told at the seriousness entry.

Salutem Plurimam Dicit. Latin for `sends many greetings.' For details, see the S.D. entry. I'm not sure S.P.D. occurs classically, but Bruce Magee serves some images (1, 2, 3, 4) and a transcription of parchment documents from around 1859 showing use of the abbreviation. I imagine S.P.D. is still used in some diplomas, but these examples were convenient.

The documents are from Emory University, which is described as being at Oxford, Georgia. When I first visited Atlanta in 1975, I heard that the joke around Emory University was that ``Harvard is the Emory of the North.'' The joke arises from the conceit among alumni that Emory is the ``Harvard of the South.'' I'm sure the claim and the joke (or both of whichever) are older than that but I figured the bidding ought to start somewhere. The same thing is said respecting so many other southern schools that we've milked the idea shamelessly for content in a number of other entries:

  1. Harvard of the South
  2. HotS
  3. mouth of the South, The
  4. of the South

John Harvard was born at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1607. (William Shakespeare retired to his home there in 1610.) In his short life, John Harvard inherited a lot of money and bought a bunch of books. Immigrating to the religiously congenial (to Puritans) Massachusetts Bay Colony, he died (1638) and left all his books and half his estate toward a new school. His bequest was the main contribution to the creation of a school planned for the colony, and in 1639 it was decided to call the new school Harvard College. In those days, and still for many years to come, there were only two universities in England -- Cambridge and Oxford. At the time, Oxford was more High Church and Cambridge more Puritan. Things were soon to get a bit bloody, but in any case, the Puritans of Massachusetts built Harvard College in Cambridge (formerly Newtown). (We have a Harvard architecture entry.)

In 1835, almost two hundred years after John Harvard died in Massachusetts, Methodist Bishop John Emory died in Georgia. The Georgia Methodist Conference, which had established a Manual Labor School near Covington in 1834, decided to expand the school in 1836, chartering it as Emory College. Land was purchased for a college town, and the town was named Oxford in honor of the Wesley brothers' alma mater.

In 1915, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, chartered an Emory University in Atlanta. In 1919, Emory College of Oxford, Ga., moved to Atlanta (near Buford!) (I have to check) and became the College of Arts and Sciences of Emory University. Back in Oxford, a junior college was founded in 1929; today it is the Oxford College of Emory University.

Sigma Phi Delta. A national professional fraternity for all engineering. Here's the national link.

Sozialdemokratischer Partei Deutschlands. `Social democratic party of Germany.' In the early post-war years, they were effectively locked out of power until they adopted a strong abjuration of Marxism.

After 16 years out of power, they won a strong victory in the September 27, 1998 general elections (allocated 293 out of 669 seats in the Bundestag for 40.9% of the vote, up from 36.4 per cent in the previous elections of 1994). Party leader Gerhard Schröder became chancellor, forming a government coalition with the Greens (47 seats, 6.7% of the vote). The CDU was the big loser. In elections in 2002, the red-green coalition stayed in power.

SPD, spd
Steamer Pays Dues.

For some reason, I think this may be an outdated expression.

Single-Premium Deferred Annuity.

State Peace and Development Council of the Union of Myanmar. Previously SLORC.

Common notation for orbitals (atomic states or related sets of quantum states) of successively higher total angular momentum: s for l=0, p for l=1, ..., i for l=6, etc. The letters are sometimes capitalized, and Greek letters are often used for molecular orbitals (especially bonding and antibonding orbitals of sigma and pi types).

The terminology is said to represent the characteristics of the atomic transition line spectra originally studied: s--sharp, p--principal, d--diffuse, f--fine, g--next letter after f. I've also seen ``fundamental'' for f, which makes rather less sense. Even with these hints, the nomenclature is still mysterious.

It's been suggested to me in email that the letters originally represented German words, although I can't find much evidence of this on the Internet. I'm not going to jinx myself by writing that it shouldn't be hard to chase this thing down. It could be hard. What I have found so far is that in 1913 (the year Bohr first published his revolutionary quantum theory of the atom), astronomers were using ``sharp,'' ``principal,'' and ``diffuse'' to describe various series of spectroscopic lines, mostly in the solar spectrum.

So the terminology originally had to do primarily with hydrogen lines, and the ``principal'' series of lines were those of the Balmer series. (Another p series was probably the Pickering lines found in discharge tubes, which had about the same frequency ratios and which Bohr in 1913 correctly reassigned to helium.) The ``sharp'' lines corresponded to the Lyman series, and the ``diffuse'' to the Paschen series. Thus, the letters s, p, and d were originally assigned to transitions whose lower-energy state had principal quantum number n = 1, 2, and 3, respectively. In the Old Quantum Theory, the orbits (computed first Bohr, and later by Sommerfeld and many others) had angular momentum equal to nħ (ħ is my best hbar in HTML). In the later quantum mechanics, the energies of states for n>1 were found to be degenerate, with different states taking all non-negative values of total angular momentum quantum number (l) up to n. Thus, the meanings of s, p, d, etc. were again reassigned, so now s represented l=0, etc., as described in the first paragraph.

You might as well know that this entry is rather more under construction than most other entries in this glossary. Let's hope I don't wax too philosophical.

Standard Page Description Language.

Short-Pulse Doppler RADAR.

Single-pole, double throw. A switch with two rest positions. The single pole means that only one circuit is switched.

Society of Petroleum Engineers. Founded in 1957; a Member Society of the AIME. At the turn of the century, with about 50,000 members, it constitutes half the total membership of AIME.

Solid Phase Epitaxy. Nothing near as common as VPE.

Solid Polymer Electrolyte. A trademarked name equivalent to the generic term PEM, q.v.

Stanford Positron-Electron Accelerating Ring. A colliding-beam storage ring completed in 1972. The electron and positron beams each had energied up to 4 GeV. In 1974 the J/psi was discovered there, and in 1976 the tau lepton.

Synchronous Payload Envelope.

Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit Test. The institutional form of the Test of Spoken English (TSE), a taped and timed test developed by the ETS. The SPEAK requires the test-taker to reply orally to both written and recorded ``stimuli'' (not necessarily precise instructions or questions).

Space Plasma Experiments Aboard Rockets.

Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of BarberShop Quartet Singing in America. The reason they want to encourage this in America is that it's a foreign conspiracy.

SPECification (engineering) and SPECulation (publishing). There are distinct meanings of an expression on spec in engineering (design) and publishing contexts.

Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation.

special commemorative edition
Meretricious exploitation. About the same as a tribute performance.

I'm sorry, we don't know the meaning of the word.

specific mass
Mass per unit something else. In space power systems, specific mass is usually mass per unit power (typically measured in kilograms per kilowatt). (Or, equivalently, megawatts per metric ton. That's the trouble with strictly metric units: it's so hard to come up with new measures that aren't trivially related to old measures.)

Semiconductor Process & Equipment Network.

Single-Photon-Emission Computed Tomography.

The plural of spectrum. Thus, it is incorrect to say ``Magnesium has a spectra ...'' no matter how accurately you have studied that metal.

The SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. Hmmm... It looks like that ought to be ``SP.E.C.T.R.E.'' Sorry about that, Chief. (Refreshingly, or perhaps appropriately, KAOS doesn't stand for anything.)

S.P.E.C.T.R.E. was a fictional terrorist organization led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. It plays the role in James Bond movies that the nonfictional, or at least once-existent, SMERSH does in various James Bond novels. However, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. made its first appearance in Ian Fleming's novel Thunderball. (Mmmm, you're supposed to already know that Ian Fleming created the James Bond character in a series of novels, the first published in 1953, that were made into movies. After Fleming died in 1964, the franchise was continued by a number of authors, many of whom can hardly have needed the money.)

Spectroscopy is, broadly speaking, the probing of a physical system's energy levels (spectrum). This is mostly done by studying its interactions with an external source of ``light'' (i.e. electromagnetic radiation). The ``interaction'' may be absorption, stimulated emission, scattering (inelastic (Raman) or elastic), essentially instantaneously or over time (photon, magnon and other echo experiments, pump-probe experiments). Some spectroscopies probe with more than one frequency, as for example some kinds of pump-probe experiment, or probe response to the interaction with more than a single photon (e.g., two-photon absorption). This list is quite incomplete.

Jim Mansfield keeps a page of spectroscopy links. Virginia Tech once offered some introductory material on spectroscopy, about which see LASE.

Here's some instructional material from UCSD.

There's a newsgroup.

The set of modes or energies of a system, or a closely related energy-dependent function.

Some parts of the electromagnetic spectrum are rather densely assigned.

spec zoo
SPECulative ZOOlogy. A genre of science fiction that mistakes itself for science. It's populated by hippogriffs, chimeras, and memes.

Past and past participle forms of the verb speed.

SPecial EDucation. Pejorative term for students tracked into special education programs. For further related discussion, see the Retarded entry.

One of the fad fights in K-12 education today is the tracking war. One camp in this war has an obvious solution to the problems that the word sped is a token of. They would mainstream all children. That way, instead of being stigmatized for taking slow classes, they'd be stigmatized for failing regular classes. No wait, that wouldn't happen: the classes would be challenging -- standards would not suffer -- but at the same time no one would fail. ``Leave no child behind.'' Force that knowledge into them! If it's a little bit harder, fine, let them study a little longer -- ten, twelve, twenty hours every evening.

Snoopy Protocol Enhanced and Extended with Directory. Cache coherence protocol designed for optical mult-access interconnect architecture.

speed-power product
Common though somewhat misleading name for power-delay product (q.v.).

Speed Tribes
A book by Karl Taro Greenfield, subtitled ``Days and Nights with Japan's Next Generation'' and published in 1994. Its dozen chapters are profiles of people in Japan, many but not all of them on the margins of society.

spelled backwards
Not a classy or imaginative way to come up with a new name. Trust me on this one. Anyway, you still have it the wrong way around; what you want is the backward spelling entry.

I don't have a lot to say about spelling that I wanted to put into a dedicated entry, but I needed a place to put a link to one of the most deliciously inept pages I've seen on the web. It was some user's file called religion.html at Columbia University, going on about the College of William and Mary. Unfortunately, it's off the web now, but here's a gem that I preserved:
... And order to insured that the english way of life, they appointed Reverend James Blair as president. In my opinion the college was established to revile Harvard. ...

spelling in lyrics
This is an entry to list songs whose lyrics include spellings out, as I think of or encounter them.

Aerosmith: ``What It Takes''
``Girl, before I met you I was F-I-N-E fine.''
Hurriganes: ``Tallahassee Lassie''
``Yeah, my Tallahassee Lassie / Down in F-L-A.'' (There was at least one other hit song to use ``F-L-A'' in the lyrics, and doubtless many others that were not hits used it.)
Aretha Franklin: ``Respect''
``R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Find out what it means to me / R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Take care, TCB.''
Fergie: ``Glamorous''
``G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S, yeah / G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S.''
(These are Fergie's first lyrics in the song, but they're preceded by a couple of lines by Ludacris. It may amuse you to know that no fewer than five people are credited as songwriters for this song: Jamal Jones, William Adams, Christopher Bridges [Ludacris], Stacy Ferguson [Fergie], and Elvis Williams.)
The Bay City Rollers: ``Saturday Night''
``S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y, night!''
J.J. Fad: ``Supersonic''
``See, the `J' is for just, the other for jammin' / The `F' is for Fresh, `A' and `D' def.''
(I haven't actually heard this work, and I have no plans to. The group name originally stood for Juana, Juanita, Fatima, And Dania. FWIW, five song-writers are credited: Fatimah Shaheed, Juana Michelle Burns, Dania Maria Birks, Kim R. Nazel, Juanita A. Lee.)

Smooth Pursuit Eye Movement.

Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.

Self-described as ``a professional organization devoted to supporting philosophy inspired by Continental European traditions.'' This is a thought-provoking use of the word professional. That word is derived from the verb profess, as confessional is derived from the verb confess. Not too long ago, one could speak of professing a religion, and one's ``confession'' was one's particular religion, so confession and profession were virtual synonyms.

SPEP explains that it was founded ``in 1962 at Northwestern University, and, as its name suggests, was focused on existentialism and phenomenology. Since that time it has embraced and incorporated other traditions, notably hermeneutics, critical theory, postmodernism or poststructuralism, and feminist theory oriented toward continental writers. In the background there is often the study of German idealism and, for that matter, diverse moments in the history philosophy seen in continental perspective. From time to time it is suggested that the society change its name so as more accurately to represent its activity, but for historical reasons the decision has been to stay with SPEP.''

SPEP is the most numerous society for continental philosophy in North America.

A contraction of the Russian spetsialnoye naznacheniye, meaning `special purpose,' or voiska spetsialnogo naznacheniya, `special-purpose units.' (Pardon the inflections -- I'm doin' the best I can. I trust you recognized the spetsial- root as a cognate of special.) In Russian, spetsnaz is equivalent to the English term `special forces.' In English, spetsnazis equivalent to the term `Russian special forces.' Cf. commando.

A major source of information on spetsnaz up to the 1980's is the little book Spetsnaz: The Inside Story of the Soviet Special Forces (1987), by Vladimir Rezun, a GRU defector writing under the pseudonym ``Viktor Suvorov.'' (The book occasionally sounds a trifle breathless, but that's a matter of taste. It's pretty meaty in facts and examples. An unrepresentative little bit from the book is misquoted at the razvedka entry.)

Scotch Plains/Fanwood. See the SPFW entry.

Special Professional Faculty. Special in this expression often means what Extraordinarius used to imply in the German university system: underprivileged, not tenured.

Spruce Pine Fir.

Sun Protection Factor. Sunscreen strength. Back when SPF values were new, 18 was high. SPF values gave consumers a somewhat objective way to compare products, and SPF values immediately started to climb, so 25 is a pretty ordinary value now. A typical tee-shirt has an SPF of about 6.

SPF factor is defined as the ratio of the exposure time required to get sunburned without protection to the exposure time required with protection. (Therefore, wearing a pair of typical tee shirts, one over the other, should result in an SPF of over 36.) Evidently, this is not just a property of the sunscreen substance but also of the thickness applied. Moreover, since different sunscreens are filters with different wavelength dependences, determination of SPF requires some model of the skin. And of course, skin varies. Stay inside.

A distinction is made between ``chemical'' sunscreens, which absorb UV light, and ``physical'' sunscreens, which reflect it (actually scatter diffusely, unless you wear little bits of mirror). Despite the name, ``chemical'' sunscreens do not generally undergo a chemical reaction. They absorb light into electronic excitations, and the electrons cascade down and reemit longer-wavelength radiation. Much of this radiation is absorbed by the body, so for a given SPF, you probably get hotter wearing chemical sunscreen than wearing physical sunscreen. Some products work by both mechanisms. You can probably use this information to meet chicks at the beach. Just walk up to a supine female and explain this. But then, Walter Mitty, stand back, because nowadays girls weight-train too.

I've been accused of putting a lot of irrelevant information into these glossary entries. Falso.

Tallulah Bankhead once commented that ``they used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze. They ought to photograph me through linoleum.''

Solid-Polymer Fuel Cell. A term equivalent to PEFC (polymer-electrolyte FC) because these polymers are used in the solid state. (There are good reasons for this. One is that temperatures high enough to melt the polymers accelerate the degradation of the polymer by oxidation.) Also, the electrolytes operate wet, so operating them above 100°C adds to the engineering problems.

The most common term for this kind of fuel cell, as explained at the PEFC entry, is PEMFC. Oddly enough, most of our information on this kind of fuel cell, if we have any, will be deposited at the PEMFC entry.

Scotch Plains / FanWood. Two towns in North Jersey that at various times and in various ways have been a single municipality. The local paper is The Times of Scotch Plains - Fanwood (under a joint publishing arrangement with the Westfield Leader).

Most of the municipalities in the area were formed by secession from a previous larger entity -- Springfield (1793), Westfield (1794), Rahway (1804), Union (1808), and New Providence (1809) seceding in turn from Elizabeth (then called Elizabethtown), Plainfield seceding from Westfield in 1847, those seven townships separating from Newark-dominated Essex County to form Union County in 1857. (There were other shifts -- part of Rahway, for example, was part of the original Westfield.) Many of the town names were names of villages or areas dating back to the colonial era (in particular, [Queen] Elizabeth town, the spring fields, the west fields, the plain fields). In 1877, the village of Scotch plains (known as the Scotsplains when it was homesteaded by Scots in East Jersey colony) seceded from Westfield and became Fanwood Township. It's not certain why it was called Fanwood, but one story is related to the fact that the area long resisted expansion by the Central Jersey Railroad. The story goes that when the Jersey Central finally managed to put a depot there, it was named for spite after the daughter of the President of the railroad, ``Fanny.'' Maybe. In 1895, the same year that farmers in the northern part of Westfield seceded to form the Borough of Mountainside, a part of Fanwood Township seceded to form Fanwood Borough. In 1917, the rump Fanwood Township changed its name back to Scotch Plains.

Probably the greatest degree of integration remaining between Fanwood and Scotch Plains is in the educational system. Fanwood has never had its own high school, and has sent its high-school age children to schools in Plainfield, Westfield, or Scotch Plains. There is currently a single Scotch Plains-Fanwood School District, and Scotch Plains and Fanwood share a common SPFW High School.

Although Fanny Wood Day celebrates Fanwood Borough specifically, the Miss Fanny Wood contest is open to girls between the ages of 3 and 12 from both Fanwood and Scotch Plains.

Princeton, like Fanwood between 1895 and 1917, consists of a governmentally distinct Borough (downtown) and Township. Princeton was originally named for Frederick, Prince of Wales. Frederick was son of King George II and heir presumptive until he died on 20 March (O.S.) or 31 March (N.S.) 1751 at Leicester House in London. George II was succeeded as King by his grandson (and Frederick's son), George III, in October 1760. There's a dismissive squib about Frederick that ends

As it's only poor Fred
Who was alive and is dead,
There's no more to be said.

Singapore Press Holdings, Ltd.

Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics.

The middle name adopted by jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk (1917-1982). A sphere is smooth.

In researching this particular glossary item, I chanced upon Monk on Records: a Discography of Thelonious Monk compiled by Leen Bijl and F. Canté (2nd. edn. 1985). A testimonial, from a letter to the compilers, 1982.08.30, is Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter's declaration that

I think this is an absolutely monumental work, and there is certainly not another one like it in existence . . . (The look and the feel of it are also a tremendous gas!!!)

The second the occurring in the parallel structure in the parenthetical is grammatically acceptable, but inconsistent with the mood or style of ``tremendous gas!!!'' It looks like a translation error.

I'm losing my mind. At least I have a mind to lose.

At an appearance before the UNCF, then-Vice President of the United States of America J. Danforth Quayle mangled the group's famous slogan (``A mind is a terrible thing to waste''):

`` `What a terrible thing it is to lose one's mind.' How true that is.''

Only in 1997, George Herbert Walker Bush finally came out and admitted that he ``blew it'' in choosing Quayle as a running mate. Well, probably so (unless it prevented his assassination), but his timing was interesting: he made this admission just as Texas governor George W. Bush, was being touted as a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, and thus a competitor of JDQ.


Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies. ``The Hellenic Society'' for short. Founded in 1879 to ``advance the study of Greek language, literature, history, art and archaeology in the Ancient, Byzantine and Modern periods.'' Literally to advance the study of ancient archaeology may not be exactly what they had in mind, but it's not wrong in principle. After the Romans conquered Asia Minor, they attempted a restoration of Bronze Age Troy.

Cf. the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (SPRS).

Scientific Placement Inc.

The Society for Philosophical Inquiry. ``SPI's diverse members are devoted to resuscitating the once time-honored art and skill of Socratic philosophical inquiry.'' Now what exactly do they mean by that?

Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. They have a ``plastics coding system'' (PCS) for use in recycling plastic containers. (One increasingly finds these codes embossed on the bases of disposable plastic cups and bottles: the number is in a small triangular recycle symbol, and the acronym code is below this.)

Software Patent Institute.

Soy Protein Isolate.

Swiss Performance Index.


Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis. Original version was developed at UC Berkeley.

Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth. There's a chapter at UB. Their mailing list, based at Syracuse University, is also called SPICMACAY.

Amongst is a Commonwealth English word for among that is also often used in US English (unlike whilst).

Here's a bit on Carnatic music (southern Indian music). This link was down when last I checked.

Russian acronym corresponding to AIDS.

Service Protocol IDentifier.

Spectral Phase Interferometry for Direct Electric-field Reconstruction. A characterization technique that yields laser pulse phase information.

See, for example, C. Iaconis and I. A. Wamsley, ``Self-referencing spectral interferometry for measuring ultrashort optical pulses,'' IEEE J. Quantum Electron., vol. 35, pp. 500-509, 1999.

Suborbital Polarimeter for Inflation, Dust and the Epoch of Reionization. ``Suborbital'' here means balloon-borne, or aeroStatic. ``Inflation'' refers to inflationary theories of cosmogony -- i.e., modified versions of the Big Bang theory (or more precisely of what happened shortly after the Big Bang), of the sort first proposed by Alan Guth. Inflationary theories predict that during the epoch of reionization, primordial gravitational waves would have left a signature in the polarization of what is now the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. The SPIDER experiment uses six telescopes looking at single microwave wavelengths, surveying the sky together aboard a high-altitude balloon. The telescopes have to be kept very cold to minimize the local heat background.

A similar previous experiment, BICEP, which used observations at a single microwave wavelength, claimed to have detected the polarization, and here's where the ``dust'' comes in. Doubt was cast on the positive BICEP results when it was suggested that the measured polarization pattern might have been caused by interstellar dust. SPIDER uses two wavelengths in order to measure gravitational lensing along the line of sight, and thus control for the effects of interstellar dust.

The project is led by physicists at Caltech and Princeton, but as is usual for large projects it is a collaboration involving researchers at many universities. The author of a blog called Dropping BallAst wrote ``I am a graduate student in Physics at the University of Toronto. I work on the balloon-borne telescopes SPIDER (Suborbital Polarimeter for Inflation, Dust, and the Epoch of Reionization--my first scientific acronym creation!) and BLASTpol (Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope for polarization). This is a place for photographs that I, and others, take along the way.''

Entries for BICEP (and BLASTpol, whatever that stands for) KOMING, but right now I'm under deadline pressure.

``Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers'' when founded in 1955. Later, the increasingly old-fashioned-sounding ``Photo-optical'' was changed to ``Photometric and.'' Now it's apparently given up on backronymesque updates and simply styles itself ``SPIE -- The International Society for Optical Engineering.'' My own personal opinion, which is available to you right here over the Internet free of charge to me, is that proper nouns should not include appositive phrases. (The US Dept. of the Interior seems to agree, since they undertook an aggressive campaign to get people to call ``Smokey the Bear'' by the more anthropomorphic-sounding ``Smokey Bear.'' I think this was under Bush père or Clinton, when Waste, Fraud, and Abuse were back in style.)

There doesn't seem to be a common or established term for initialisms like SPIE, whose expansions have been, so to speak, compressed. We recommend sealed acronyms (q.v.).

German: `mirror.' An early borrowing (before the second Germanic Sound Shift) from Latin speculum. Der Spiegel is a popular German weekly news and current-affairs magazine.

German: `mirror point.'

You'll have to see for yourself.

SPam over IM.

Separation by Plasma-IMplanted OXygen. SIMOX can take an hour per wafer, hence SPIMOX. Another isolation method for integrated circuits (IC's).


Interpretation of or slant on news, given out for public consumption.

Like angular momentum. See half-integer.

The name spinel is applied both to a gem (picture at the Smithsonian or from Amethyst Galleries' Mineral Gallery) and to a class of minerals that have the same or almost the same crystalline structure. All spinels have the chemical formula A2BO4, where A and B are cations (ions of metallic elements). For the particular red gem that is spinel, A is aluminum and B is magnesium: Al2MgO4.

This term is defined at the spin-out entry below. But since you probably know what it means already, I'll mention here that in addition to the spin-off show (the usual sense of spin-off, methinks), there are also spin-off characters. For example, Falstaff was a character in ``Henry IV'' who was spun off to ``The Merry Wives of Windsor.'' (Or maybe ``spun-out.'' Whatever would have been the appropriate Early Modern English term.) For another spin on spin-off, see the Navy NCIS entry.

Spin seems to accumulate British/American lexical differences. See, for another instance, the english entry.

In American varieties of English, spin-out is the event of a vehicle (car, motorcycle, surf-board, etc.) spinning out of the appropriate configuration for untroubled movement (not the same as jack-knife).

In British varieties, a spin-out is what in North America is usually called a ``spin-off.'' That is, the equivalent in human activity of a child in biology: a continuing venture separated off from an earlier activity: a TV serial based on characters from an earlier series (which usually continues also); a commercial product originally developed for internal research or support purposes of an academic or business project, that is pursued as a separate business venture, etc.

Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence. [Pronounced ``spur.''] New York State-funded program. (See also TCIE's SPIR page.)

Stanford Physics Information REtrieval System.

Stanford Physics Information REtrieval System -- High Energy Physics.

Spirit of Geneva
One of the favorite home-made cocktails of Soviet-era author Venedikt Yerofeyev, specified in his samizdat classic ``Moscow Stations'' as
200 g	Zhiguli beer
150 g	alcohol varnish
 50 g	white-lilac cologne
 50 g	athlete's foot remedy
This is rated in a New Yorker magazine ``Talk of the Town'' review as ``a heady blend.'' However, the fact that the components are combined in small-integer proportions strongly suggests that -- like a circuit with all 100 and 1000 ohm resistors -- it has not been optimized. Nevertheless, Yerofeyev stresses that the key is using only White Lilac. Apparently Lily of the Valley Silver makes you think sad thoughts and cry (at least if drunk straight). Jasmine and Sweetbrier

The Yerofeyev book had been Englished by H. William Tjalsma and given the title Moscow to the End of the Line. (That publication spells the author's name as Venedikt Erofeev, but you realize that the surname with wyes is more phonetically accurate, since the E-like character in the Russian name is ``soft'' (palatalized). But they all transliterate with final v's these days, even though Russian like German devoices v (spelled with a B-like character) into f when it occurs in final postion. Tjalsma also translated Tears of a Komsomol Girl (see below) in the singular (Tear of a).

Some others of the beverages described by Yerofeyev are Tears of a Komsomol Girl, Balsam of Canaan, and Bitches' Brew. A list of less interesting oral anesthetics is available here.

Cf. Geneva.

spirits of salt
Hydrochloric acid. It's an old term. Well, it was old in 1919, when the second edition of James Francis Hobart's Soft Soldering, Hard Soldering and Brazing was published by D. Van Nostrand Company. I believe the term is still old. (The book is available here from Google Books.) Chapter VI, ``Difficult Operations in Soldering,'' has a section on pp. 99-100 entitled ``Spirits of Salt,'' reproduced here:
  Occasionally a tinner, particularly one of the old school, may be heard to tell about soldering with ``spirits of salt.'' When hearing this dealer in would-be mysteries thus setting forth his supposed superior knowledge one may smile to himself because he knows that the fellow really means hydrochloric acid. Common salt is chloride of sodium and hydrochloric acid is simply water which absorbed chlorine gas [absorbed HCl, actually], as noted previously. Hydrochloric acid may be made by the action of sulphuric acid on common salt. [It's your typical strong-acid-to-weak-acid reaction, helped along by the fact that the reaction is conducted at high temperature, reducing the solubility of HCl.] The result is a large quantity of chlorine [again: HCl -- hydrogen chloride] in the form of gas, which may be caught by water until the latter becomes saturated. The remainder of the salt is changed into a carbonate [actually a sulfate: Na2SO4] instead of a chloride by action of the acid and becomes [with further processing] washing soda or salsoda, and by refinement bicarbonate of soda, or cooking soda, such as is used for household purposes.

  The tinner sometimes calls muriatic acid ``spirits of salt,'' because of the manner in which it may be obtained, as above described. When he speaks of ``killed spirits of salt'' he means hydrochloric or muriatic acid in which has been dissolved all the zinc it will take up or ``cut.''

What Hobart had in mind here was the Leblanc process. The sodium sulfate from the first reaction is burned with limestone (mostly CaCO3) and coal (C; you might even say C++), outgassing CO2 and leaving behind calcium sulfide (CaS) and sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). The sulfide is insoluble, so the carbonate can be recovered by washing the ashes. Sodium carbonate is known by various names (depending on its application), including washing soda. The Leblanc process was patented by Nicolas Leblanc in 1791 and was in widespread use for most of the nineteenth century. Perhaps it was still common when Hobart went to school. In 1861 Ernest Solvay developed a more efficient alternative method of manufacturing sodium carbonate, and by the time of this book's first edition (1912), the Solvay method was dominant. In 1938, however, large deposits of trona [Na3(HCO3)(CO3)·2H2O -- hydrated sodium bicarbonate carbonate] were discovered in the US, and since then the mining of this material has made the Solvay process obsolete as well, in North America. (If you see this text, you're probably using a text-based browser and it's likely that the character immediately preceding 2H2O above -- a middle dot -- is not displayed properly.)

If you're looking here for guidance, brother you made a wrong turn somewhere.

A SPIT-moistened small BALL of wadded-up of paper. Ammo for rubber-band arms. Something you learn in school.

SPeedy ImplemenTation of SNOBOL.

Scottish Premier League.

Series Programming Language. A programming language for use with DADiSP. By report of DADiSP's developers (DSP Development Corp.), and to judge from random code snippets at their site; SPL resembles C/C++. (I do notice that like Perl, it seems to allow lists as lvalues.)

System Programming Language.

A city in Croatia (.hr).

SPam bLOG. Not a tasty blend.

Scanning-Probe Microscop{e|y}. Any of various surface-imaging schemes that rely on scanning with a very fine tip. Includes the closely related pair of techniques Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), and Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM), qq.v.. Here's a short practical bit on these. Other variations include SThM.

Social and Preventive Medicine, Department of.

Spatial Phase Modulator.

Statistical Parametric {Modeling|Map[s]}.


Shanghai Pudong Modern Agricultural Development Zone Company. See ETDZ.

Single-Program Multiple-Data. Parallel computing mode introduced with DADO computer.

Solid-Phase MicroExtraction.

Here's the abstract of one paper (scroll down for it) describing research in which SPME is useful:

Putative Alarm Pheromones of the Ant Species Formica obscuripes (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)
Warren J. Wood

Alarm pheromones of the ant species Formica obscuripes were investigated. Volatile compounds in the headspace above aggravated worker ants were collected by solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and analyzed using gas chromatograph-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Analysis revealed the presence of the suspected alarm pheromones decane, undecane, tridecane, 4-tridecene, pentadecane, and heptadecane, as well as several unidentified components. The identities of the straight-chain hydrocarbons were confirmed by comparison with mass spectra of authentic samples. The location of the double bond in 4-tridecene was determined by a standard methylthiolation derivatization technique.

Shortest Process Next. Scheduling strategy. Also called SJF -- Shortest Job First.

Service Point Of Contact.

(New Jersey, for instance) State Police Office of Emergency Management.

Premature information that spoils enjoyment of some entertainment. Typically a description of how a story turns out. Less often the answer to a riddle. The Movie Spoiler Center has an alphabetized list of spoilers for movies of the 1990's.

Spoke in red indian.
Hol' yoor pow-liticly crect hawses, theah, pardner: `spoke and read Hindi.'

SPOOL, spool
Simultaneous Peripheral Operation On-Line. A punnishing acronym, or most likely a stealth backronym. The ``simultaneous'' is the connection of various other devices to the peripheral, which is an output device. The spool is a queue for outputing temporary files. Get the low-down on SPOOL and spool from FOLDOC.

Old name for a three wood (golf club).

Verb: to stack or store like objects in a row, in such a way that one side of each object conforms with the opposite side of the next, like spoons in a stack; to be stored or storable in such manner.

SingaPORE. Common abbreviation just south of Malaysia.

SingaPOREAN. Common abbreviation just south of Malaysia.

A spoon with short tines on the end. (A cross between a fork and a spoon.)

It's such a relief to read news that doesn't matter.

Solid Phase Organic Synthesis.

SPOKeS{ [wo]man | person }.

In Spanish, one sees both portavoz and vocero used.

Species (plural). Singular is sp. (If you need to be bored out of your mind, I can recommend that entry very highly.) It's unusual that the abbreviation gives more information than the word abbreviated.

Society for Philosophy and Psychology. Kinda like the Department of Astrology and Astronomy -- or would be, if psychology were a science. (Alternate link.)

Self-Pumped Phase-Conjugate.


Senate and People of Rome. [Latin: Senatus PopulusQue Romanus.] Good thing they decided to pull the Q into the acronym, so we can distinguish this from the frequently occurring SPR).

The argument has been made that the Q stands for Quirites, rather than simply representing an earlier stage of orthography in which the que was regarded as a separate word. (At the time, word spacing was not used, so the distinction is not easy to discover. Try to imagine how one could determine from literature whether non in words like noncupative is just a separate syllable or a separate word, ifEnglishwerewrittenwithoutwordspacing.

Also the name of an online game.

Incidentally, S.P.Q.R. was revived again as late as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. According to Robert Brentano, Rome Before Avignon: A Social History of Thirteenth-Century Rome (Basic Books, 1974), p. 94:

[Rome] had its own money, the denari provisini senatus, of the type of Champagne (which had been used in Rome particularly between 1154 and 1184), issued by the senate after 1184, with `Roma caput mundi' inscribed on its obverse and `Senatus P.Q.R.' on its reverse.

Boundary stones with the inscription S.P.Q.R. were used as late as 1234, during a failed effort to throw off papal dominion.

Services de protection contre les rayonnements. You know, the cool thing about French is, it's a lot like English with some extra letters thrown in (mostly silent). In fact, basically -- I mean, pretty much -- French is almost completely derived from English (through Latin). You'd think you'd hardly need a dictionary, but you have to be careful. You might get tripped up by a faux ami and make a faux pas. For example, in the expansion of SPR above, it looks like rayonnements must be some artificial fibers, and SPR some sort of ScotchGard-like treatment or something. This is wrong. In fact, rayonnements is the French spelling of `raiments' or `dress.' SPR will take in your woolens and furs for safekeeping over the hot Summer months. They're shipped to Australia, where they experience Winter during Summer, so your cozy things will feel wanted and welcome. All for just 7.5 euros per kilo. The same organization also rents out bathing suits.

Holy cloth! It turns out that some of the details above are slightly off! I'm going to have to research this further. Okay, I think I've got it now. SPR is a special religious ceremony (hence the archaic `raiment' terminology) for divine intercession on behalf of clothing, to prevent holey cloth, say. It works equally well against wool moths and color-fast ketchup. (Nevertheless, you should also use napkins and mothballs too, to demonstrate the sincerity of your religious convictions and the intensity of your longing for immaculate clothing made from whole cloth.) Responsive reading will begin on page one of Sartor Resartus (the Book of Thomas Carlyle).

For an accurate translation of SPR, visit the entry for the French CEA. Cf. OPRI.

Society for Psychical Research. You shouldn't need a URL to find them. Founded in 1882 at Cambridge. One of its founders (F. W. H. Myers) coined the word telepathy that year, on the pattern of telegraphy.

Shhh! I hear ... tapping! Morse code from the other side! Spirit: if you read me reply ``e''!

Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Clever name -- almost suggests we have a petroleum strategy.

Surface Plasmon Resonance.

German term meaning `language region.' The Polish Sprachraum is the region where Polish is spoken (or claimed to be spoken).

Special Projects of Regional and National Significance.

Scott Polar Research Institute.

spring break
An annual pilgrimage from universities to the places where the ``pilgrims'' hope to ``get lucky.'' Specifically, it is a time each year when professors converge on Washington, DC, to visit their sugar-daddies and sugar-mommas at the research funding agencies.

Springsteen demographic
New Jersey voters who heed ``the Boss.'' I've seen it described as ``students and their blue collar parents'' and ``record-buyers older than forty.''

Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network Telecommunications (Department). It seems they branched out into the external market.

French: Société de personnes à responsabilité limitée. Appears to correspoond to a `limited liability partnership.' Cf. SARL.


Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. ``The Roman Society'' for short. Founded in 1910 as the sister society to the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies (SPHS).

The Roman Society's main journal publications are Britannia (on Roman Britain) and JRS, which appear in November or December each year.

Standard Platinum Resistance Thermometer.

St. Paul's School.

Sanitary and PhytoSanitary.

Satellite Power System. No, not a system to power a satellite (that's conventionally designated a ``space power system''). A proposed system, or class of systems, studied in the seventies, to place solar collectors in geosynchronous orbit, converting collected energy to microwaves that would be beamed down to receiving antennas (``rectennas'') on the earth's surface. US studies focused on rectennas in the Mojave desert, and microwaves in vicinity of 2.45 GHz, delivering 5-10 gigawatts per antenna.

Among the various potential problems contemplated were ohmic heating of the ionosphere; health effects on humans of foreseeable submilliwatt/sq.cm. chronic exposures and larger intermittent exposures; chemical toxicity from large amounts of fuel and exhaust needed to put the systems in orbit (using heavy-lift launch vehicles (HLLV's)]; climatological effects; electromagnetic interference (EMI), mostly to military systems -- we're talking Mojave desert here, remember; and occupational hazards to earthbound and astronaut workers.

The idea never got off the ground, as they say, but it did generate a publicity buzz. People tend to worry a lot about being microwaved -- it's probably a primal fear, along with fear of snakes, spiders, and falling on one's face. A year or two after the ozone hole was discovered in Antarctica, shepherds in southern Argentina (.ar) started reporting blind sheep. [For all I know, this is how cigarette pushers got the idea of marketing to the cartoon-receptive with a camel that wore dark glasses.] It took years to convince residents of Clarence (near Buffalo, NY) that they would not be harmed by Doppler radar the National Weather Service was trying to install there.

The Japanese are always on the lookout for out-of-this-world ways to get power, since they have negligible domestic energy resources. After the Pons-Fleischmann thing was widely discredited, the Japanese government continued to fund research along those lines -- what the heck: very low probability of success, very high potential return if it works. Zero times infinity, could be something. I thought of this when I learned that in FY1998-2000, the Japanese Space Agency (NASDA) funded research (literature-survey, theoretical, and simulation) into SPS. They considered both the microwave scheme usually considered and laser power transmission using fiber-array lasers. [See M. Mori, H. Nagayama, Y. Saito and H. Matsumoto, ``Summary of studies on space solar power systems of the National Space Development Agency of Japan,'' Acta Astronautica, vol. 54, #5, pp. 337-345 (2004).]

An idea related to satellite power systems, but without the conversion losses and difficulties, is direct use of satellite-redirected solar light -- you know, deploy enormous mylar sheets oriented to illuminate the Arctic night/winter. The Russian Space Agency tried this once.

Serial Port Select (voltage level, pin).

Service Propulsion Subsystem. The main propulsion engines on the Apollo spacecraft, firing from the base of the cylindrical service module. They generated 20,500 pounds of thrust.

Short-Period Superlattice[s]. One to three monolayers per material.

Social and Political Science. I refrain from applying scare quotes. I might not know where to begin.

Sulfonated PolyStyrene (PS).

Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. SPSS enables social scientists with no mathematical competence to generate sophisticated-looking results that are utterly invalid. Some people think this is a problem, but it's really the whole point.

Eventually the perpetrators of SPSS realized that there are others who have a poor understanding of and correspondingly great respect for statistics. They could derive similar benefits from this kind of software. The current line of SPSS products is marketed mostly to business, under the new acronym expansion ``Statistical Product and Service Solutions.''

SPSS was originally created by Stanford University graduate students Norman H. Nie (now Chairman of the Board of SPSS, Inc.), C. Hadlai (Tex) Hull and Dale Bent. (It was originally written in FORTRAN 66.)

Single-pole, single throw. A switch with two rest positions, one in which it is open, and one in which it closes a single circuit.

Society for Philosophy and Technology. Founded in 1976. As of this writing, they hold international meetings biennially: in Europe the year following a leap year, in North America the year preceding. The fourth meeting: July 20-22, 2005, at Delft University of Technology in Delft, The Netherlands. (``And Delft is of course well-known for its blue earthenware and for the 17th century painter Johannes Vermeer.'' Who?) The fifth meeting (``SPT 2007''): July 8-11, 2007, in Charleston, South Carolina, The US. The theme of the conference will be Globalisation and Technology. (``Charleston is one of America's oldest and most beautiful port cities with a very lively tourism and nightlife scene.'' Hiya there, sailor-technologist! Had any good Kant lately? What's a hot-shot philosopher like you doing in a dive like this? What's your signifier... or signified, as the case may be? Hey babe, let's lose that old categorical imperative and break loose! Please don't use that terrible word ``cheating''! I am simply forced to find an alternative form of release because my students just don't understand me.)

(For the punctuationally astute, I note that yes, indeed, there is no comma before the with phrase in the description of Charleston.) The SPT publishes a peer-reviewed journal called Futilité. No wait -- it's called Techné. And a newsletter.

Strawberry Pop-Tart. If you can sacrifice some toasters, SPT's double as disposable blow-torches, according to Dave Barry and this research that he inspired. The research was performed using the non-frosted variety of the product. See also this AIP entry.

As part of my own research for the insulation entry, I acquired a matched pair (2) of frosted strawberry Kellogg's Pop-Tarts. The microwave cooking instructions call for three seconds at a ``high'' setting. An important safety instruction: ``Do not leave toasting appliance unattended due to risk of fire.''

  1. Darn! I was going to use those three seconds to do my Xmas shopping.
  2. [For strict grammarians only.] In other words, do not leave because you fear fire; find a different reason.
  3. [For the killjoy.] Yeah, microwave ovens may be faster than ``toasting appliances.''

Substrate-Plate Trench (capacitor). Strategy for increasing DRAM density.

Screen Printing Technical Foundation. ``The Screen Printing Technical Foundation continually strives to improve the Predictability, Efficiency, and Profitability (PEP) of the screen printing process.''

Single Program Transport Stream.

(Canadian) Specialty and Premium Television Association. This entry might be a bit historical. The domain name seems to be.

Seattle Pacific University.

Smallest Publishable Unit. Except that in the fields I am familiar with, it's usually called a ``Least Publishable Unit'' (LPU).

Summa Plus Ultra. My but we're good!

spuds if pug dish of pig
Mnemonic for remembering the sequence spdsfpgdshfpig. This is the order (by increasing energy) of states filled in a nuclear shell model. The letters label orbital angular momentum (s, p, d ... for L = 0, 1, 2 ...). One knows to ignore u and the first two i's because the shell-model energy levels are close to those of a harmonic oscillator (a common first-order model for the self-consistent [Hartree] nuclear potential), and these could not appear so early. The radial quantum number can be inferred simply from the number of times an angular momentum value has appeared in the count, so the order is
1s, 1p, 1d, 2s, 1f, 2p, 1g, 2d, 3s, 1h, 2f, 3p, 1i, 2g, ...

The order given ignores spin-orbit coupling, which is sufficiently important that ignoring it yields mostly wrong magic numbers (2, 8, 20, 28, 40, 58, 70, 92, 112 and 138). When spin-orbit coupling is taken account of, a level with orbital angular momenum L (and spin 1/2), having degeneracy (2L+1)×(2½+1) = 2(2L+1), is split into J = L+½ and J = L-½ levels with degeneracies 2J+1. The spin-orbit splitting is comparable to the unsplit-level separation, leading to a different set of magic numbers, viz., the correct values 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, 126 and 184.

Spin-Polarized Ultra-violet (UV) Photoelectron Spectroscopy. UPS using photoelectron detectors that can determine electron spin. Visit this description served by Christopher Walker.

Space Power Unit Reactor.

Spurious Response.

To trip over one's words in angry or surprised excitement. To utter while spitting. To seem to speak German with eyebrows raised.

Of an engine: to nearly stall out.

We just put this entry here to yank Katie Couric's gold chain.

Self-Propelled Vehicle. A particular kind of train built by the Budd Company, intended as a successor to the RDC. You can get an idea of how successful they were from the other expansion that became popular: Seldom Powered Vehicles. Full name was SPV-2000, reflecting the hope that they would continue in service to that year. Uh-uh. Manufactured in 1980, mothballed within a few years. Although they did not continue to be manufactured, many of them were put back into service after being refurbished, mostly as coaches (renamed ``Constitution Liners''). This page has more detail for some SPV's used on the Shore Line East Commuter Railroad.

Surface PhotoVoltage.

Lubek Jastrzebski, Worth Henley and Charles Nuese have an article ``Surface Photovoltage Monitoring of Heavy Metal Contamination in IC Manufacturing'' in the trade glossy Solid State Technology, pp. 27ff (December 1992).

Single-Passenger Vehicle (for the year) 2000. A sad story; see SPV supra.

Sequenced Packet Exchange. The Novell NetWare transport protocol.

Spin-Polarized X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy. XPS using photoelectron detectors that can determine electron spin. Visit this description served by Christopher Walker.

The name of a planned nuclear reactor system for use on US space missions, with a nominal 100-kWe power output. The program to develop the SP-100 was also called SP-100. The latter SP-100 operated between 1983 and 1994. As planned, SP-100 would have used 140 kg of 235U in uranium nitride, and as structured, it could have been used as the power source for a large ion propulsion system as well as for more conventional electrical loads.

Nearest-neighbor tight-binding model for the electronic band structures of semiconductors, very successful in explaining the shallow-deep donor problem.

P. Vogl, Harold P. Hjalmarson and John D. Dow, J. Phys. Chem. Solids v. 44, p. 365 (1983).

Shorter Q. This is a hypothesized short version of Q consisting mostly of saying material, that plays a role in the 3ST. Possibly it is a first redaction of Q (Q1).

SubCUtaneous. It's not an insult to the under-cute. It's just about getting just under your skin. Administering or self-administering an SQ injection is called ``skin-popping'' in druggie slang. You'd have to be high to consider that a euphemism. Cf. IA, IM, and especially IV.

squaric acid
Cyclobutane with a carboxyl group at each corner. First synthesized by Sid Cohen.

Society of Quality Assurance.

Statistical Quality Assurance.

Statistical Quality Control.

Shrink Quad Flat Pack (QFP). Older name for Fine-pitsch QFP (FQFP).

sq. ft.
SQuare FooT or SQuare FeeT. And you thought you had problems finding shoes that fit.

Structured Query Language. I've heard it pronounced both ``ess cue ell'' and ``sequel.'' This is a serious problem, because often it is pronounced differently by people who are related or in a relationship, and SQL is the user front end to a relational database management system. It's an ISO and ANSI standard. It's apparently not a very standardized standard. Or perhaps it's a very standardized standard, since there are so many standards to choose from -- SQL, SQL-86, SQL-89, SQL-92, and SQL3, and then I stopped paying attention. There are also a couple of expansions of the acronym. The original one is given above. The official one is apparently now a XARA: SQL Query Language. (This makes SQL a sealed acronym.)

Structured Query Language/Data System. An IBM package.

Function name for square root in the BASIC programming language.

SQRT, sqrt
Generic function name for square root in FORTRAN. Standard function name in most common programming languages.

(Leyland) Stanford (Junior College) QUAntum Device Simulator.

squeezing your own butt in public
I witnessed this in the lobby of the main university library the other day (2005.10.09), and I thought it noteworthy. She was just doing the left cheek with her left hand. It was kind of sexy, but ... has liberty given way to license? Licentiousness? Maybe she was scratching a nonmetaphoric itch. It reminds me of a comment Edith made once. She complained that Cuban men (in Cuba) would reach in from time to time and, like, rearrange or scratch their crotch area, right there while they were talking. She had also done the socialist solidarity thing for a while and worked in a Cuban factory, so if she noticed the rearranging thing with her coworkers there, maybe this habit was more common among the less classy of that classless society. Hmm, I guess classless can have a couple of meanings. She also reported that her factory comrades would laugh at her for continuing to work while she talked, instead of stopping work as they did. This demonstrates that there was at least something they wouldn't do while talking. It reminds me of cell phones. I've also noticed national variations in the propensity of people to pick their noses in public. Man, this entry is just going down the toilet.

Superconducting QUantum Interference Device. Makes use of the fact that quantum mechanical phase around a closed loop depends on the magnetic flux enclosed by that loop.

SaQuinaVir. A drug used in the treatment of AIDS.


Señor. Roughly the Spanish equivalent of English Mr.

Shift Register.


Slew Rate. You shoulda seen Achilles go!

Seriously, the rate of change of a voltage with time.

Socialist Revolutionary (Party). Members of the party were known as SR's. This party was roughly contemporary with, and met a fate similar to, the ``Menshevik'' party.

Source Routing.

Southern Railway. For the other mainline railway companies of Britain's Grouping era, see Big Four.

Special Relativity.

State { Route | Road }.

Status Register.

Storage Ring. An evacuated torus with a magnetic field, used to hold and accelerate charged particles for HEP experiments.

Chemical symbol for Strontium, atomic number 38. An alkaline earth. Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

For some information about the optical spectrum of strontium, see the food loaf entry.

Studies in Religion / Sciences religieuses. A scholarly journal. Don't know a thing about it, but I suspect it's Canadian.

Sum Rule.

(Domain code for) Suriname. Old Dutch Guyana.

Sustained Response. After the end of medical treatment.

Switched Reluctance. Reluctance is to magnetic circuits what impedance is to electric circuits.

Synchrotron Radiation.

System Readiness. Rarely as promised.

Señora. Title and word for a married or older woman. Roughly the Spanish equivalent of English Mrs., except that you can spell it out and it doesn't look silly like Missus. (English Mrs. really abbreviates mistress, which for reasons of semantic drift is to be avoided.)

State Rail Authority. The state is New South Wales, Australia. Operates long-distance trains and Sydney suburban trains.

Scratchpad Random Access Memory (RAM, q.v.). This was an ill-advised acronym coinage, since SRAM is widely understood in the following sense:

Static Random Access Memory (RAM, q.v.). Array memory with each cell consisting of a head-to-tail pair of inverters. [Pron. ``ESS-ram.''] Distinguished from DRAM (dynamic RAM), which stores data as a capacitor charge and must be periodically recharged. SRAM could almost be regarded as a two-step bucket brigade. DRAM was invented afterwards and was originally seen as a denser and cheaper, but slower alternative. However, the speed trade-off is not so great, and DRAM has been more popular than SRAM.

Syndrome respiratoire aigu sévère or Sindrome respiratorio agudo severo. French and Spanish, respectively, for `Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome' (SARS, q.v.). You can learn about it starting at the French- or Spanish-language WHO pages (see OMS).

Sex Ratio at Birth. Conventionally the ratio of boy babies to girl babies, and typically ranging from 1.03 to 1.05. It is common to state this as ``103 to 105 boys per 100 girls.'' Inevitably, people fall into saying things like ``a ratio of 103,'' which might be favorable for the girl looking for a mate. I haven't decided whether this is not as bad as ``give-away take-away ratio'' in absolute or relative terms.

Sex-selective abortion has caused the ratio to increase in much of East Asia and South Asia. In the Chinese regions of Hainan and Guangdong, the SBR was 1.30 in 2005.

Historically, the sex ratio as a function of age has declined as children grow older (i.e., boys exhibit greater mortality than girls), and in the last century, in the West, the ratio has been a continuously decreasing function of age right through adulthood. (Until the nineteenth century, death during childbirth caused women to have a lower life expectancy at birth, and raised the sex ratio of adults.) In many of the same countries and populations that have unusually high SBR, female infanticide apparently increases the sex ratio further. The Chinese census of 2000 determined that the average sex ratio (for people of all ages) was 1.36 in Hainan. That was the highest regional average; the lowest was Tibet (1.03), and the national average was 1.17. In some parts of India, according to its 2001 census, the sex ratio for children aged 6 and under exceeds 1.25.

There are a number of biological and environmental factors that influence SBR, and it is not inconceivable (sorry) that these account partially for the high SBR numbers in Asia. In studies done during the 1950's, the SRB was found to be correlated with the father's profession.

Solid (fuel) Rocket Booster.

Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas, Inc. A market and opinion research company founded in 1981 by Mark Schulman, Albert Ronca, and Michael Bucuvalas. By 2004 there was an additional senior partner: John M. Boyle.

Short-Range Ballistic Missile. Ballistic missiles with a range of less than 1000 km. May be understood to exclude the very short-range BSRBM.

Not getting any respect? Isn't it time you moved up to an MRBM?

Society for Research on Biological Rhythms. A girl I dated in college was satisfying curricula in both biology and music. She liked to joke that she was a biorhythm major. She became a lawyer.

SRC, src.
SouRCe. That's kind of a general term. It could mean everything but the kitchen sink. (Sorry -- electrical engineering pun. Couldn't help myself.)

Société Radio-Canada. French for CBC.

State Research Center. One example is the IPPE in Obninsk, Russia. This single example is shared between this entry and an SSC entry. Is that efficient, or what?

Solid Rock / Climbers For Christ. ``A community of Christian climbers offering the Good News of Christ.'' Links from the homepage explain why it is ethically okay to risk your God-given life and your children's chance to grow up in a traditional two-parent family, just so you can experience the momentary worldly pleasures of scraped flesh.

Standard Reference Data.

Step Recovery Diode. [Pioneered by HP; several makers now.] When diodes are switched from forward bias to reverse bias, the diode still conducts for the time it takes to deplete the pn junction. SRD's are optimized to move the charge rapidly, so reverse conduction stops abruptly. This sharp change makes a faster switch and is also more efficient in generating high harmonics.

SuperRadiant Diode. Acronym likely to cause confusion with preceding one (Step Recovery Diode: SRD). Consider using ``SLD.''

Society for Radiological Engineering. I see a lot of listings for the initialism, and indications that it existed at least as recently as 1985, but since I first checked in April 2009, the entity that bore the name has appeared to be long since defunct.

Society of Reliability Engineers. The lower-case Greek letter lambda seems to be a symbol of importance for reliability engineers. It appears on the society logo, and their newsletter is called ``Lambda Notes.''

Southern Regional Education Board.

Southern Regional Electronic Campus.

Shortened Rapid Eye Movement Latency (REML). Delay of an hour or less in onset of first REM episode, after the beginning of sleep. May be caused by sleep deprivation and various psychoactive drugs.

SREML and diminished slow-wave sleep appear to be traits of depressed patients, whereas increased REM density appears to be a more reversible characteristic associated with depressive episodes, according to

Thase, M. E., Reynolds, C. F. 3rd, Frank, E., Jennings, J. R., Nofzinger, E., Fasiczka, A. L., Garamoni, G. and Kupfer, D. J., 1994: ``Polysomnographic Studies of Unmedicated Depressed Men Before and After Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,'' American Journal of Psychiatry 151(11), pp. 1615-22.

Senate RESolution. Vide S.

Scleroderma Research Foundation. (If that link has died, try <sclerodermaresearch.org>.)

Short-Range Force[s].

Society for Reproduction and Fertility. Publisher of Reproduction.

SRF resulted from the mating of the Society for Study of Fertility (SSF) with Reproduction magazine. Evidently they were the same species of magazine.

Synskadades Riksförbund. Preferred English name: `The Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired.' It ``is the main organisation of the blind and partially sighted in Sweden. SRF is a social, non-political organisation where its members actively participate in decision making.''

German, Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft. `Swiss Radio and Television Society.' Founded in 1931, when the name must have been Schweizerische Radiogesellschaft, which would better have fit the acronym.

SRG is a private nonprofit that transmits ten radio and three TV channels in the four official languages of that country. It's funded by license fees and by advertising. Oh great, the worst of both worlds.

Scottish Resuscitation Group. This sounds so good, I'm not going to spoil it by trying to find out what it really is.

Straight-Run Gasoline. Gasoline obtained simply by distilling crude oil, without cracking of the less volatile components. Crude from the North Sea tends to be high in alkanes, yielding a low octane rating. Cracking increases the rating by increasing the fraction of alkenes.

Shockley-Read-Hall (recombination).

Society for Research into Higher Education.

Stanford Research Institute. Now called SRI International.

Singing Return Loss.

Spanish: Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada, `Limited liability company.' Corresponds to French SARL.

Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

Here's the news on March 11, 2006: The Long Wait is over! The campaign for the 2008 US presidential nominations has finally begun in earnest, with the first straw poll. It was reported that delegates from 26 states attended this conference of Southern Republicans, which seems to suggest an unsuspected (susurrate, susurrate) aspect of the Republicans' ``Southern strategy.'' The conference was held in Memphis, Tennessee, and 1427 of the 2000-odd (or is that ``2000 odd'' or ``over 1500'' as others reported?) delegates cast votes in the straw poll. Tennessee Senator Bill Frist ``won'' with 36.9% of the first-place (hence: ``fp'') votes. (This was rounded up to 37% by many news outlets. It was actually just 526 out of 1427; do yer ain math.) ``Mitt'' Romney (I don't know his first name), a former governor of Massachusetts, placed second with 14.4% of fp votes. (This was rounded down to ``14%'' by some news outlets, and rounded further down to 13% by Reuters.)

Everyone seemed eager to stress that the results were not very significant, especially at this point et cetera et cetera, though it might give the two ``winners'' some public-attention oxygen. (Most citizens don't know the names of their own senators, you know? So Frist, the Senate majority leader, is not yet well-known.) Many reports noted that the venue probably helped Frist. Indeed, 52% of all ballots were cast by Tennessee delegates.

In fact, the straw poll numbers are significant. Frist got 430 fp votes from his own state's delegates, or about 58%. Tolerable, though not stellar, for a favorite son. Former Tennessee Senator Albert (``Al'') Gore, son of the late Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Sr., narrowly lost his home state, and the election, in the 2000 US presidential election. Among the remaining delegates, Frist polled about 14% of fp votes.

The two front-runners nationally, Arizona Senator John McCain and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, used different strategies in the straw poll. Giuliani declined an invitation to speak and did not appear on the ballot. McCain showed up but urged delegates to vote for George W. Bush as a write-in. I really want to make a joke here about ``ineligible'' and ``illegible,'' but it would be too strained. Bush is prevented by the 22nd amendment from being elected to a third term. With 10.3% of the vote, Bush tied for third place with Sen. George Allen of Virginia. McCain placed fifth with 4.6% and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee sixth with 3.8%. The vote share of the other ``potential presidential candidate'' who spoke at the SRLC, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, was not reported in anything I saw immediately afterwards, but it was it was very probably less than 3.7%. That leaves at least 16% of the fp votes unaccounted-for.

Société de Réanimation de Langue Française. Gosh, I hadn't realized that the situation was so dire! Oh wait, it might be translated as `French-Speaking Society for Intensive Care.' There's still hope!

Solid (fuel) Rocket Motor.

Standard Reference Materials. ``Material'' in the sense of substance but not literature.

Salem Radio Network. SRN News describes itself as ``Christian Radio's Definitive Source for News.'' Then what is CBN? Chopped liver? Oops, joke of wrong creed. Time-out to visit <CBN.com>. Hmmm. Okay, they seem to be bigger into video and Internet.

``SRN News is the only Christian-focused news organization with fully-equipped broadcast facilities at the U.S. House, Senate, and White House manned by full-time correspondents -- ensuring timely, on-the-spot coverage of breaking news.'' In principle, the notion of ``Christian-focused'' is problematic. In practice, I have no problem with it.

Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association.

Soluble RNA.

Self-Regulatory Organization.

Sharable and Read Only.

Short-Range Order.

Single-Room Occupancy. Refers to hotel-like long-term accommodations for people who don't usually have any other place to call home. New York City defines an SRO as a rental unit that lacks its own kitchen and bathroom. I suppose that's a sufficiently precise definition there, but in Europe it might include a large share of less-expensive hotel rooms for travelers. In the 1970's there were over 175,000 SRO's in NYC; the number declined to about 50,000 in 1996, and was at about 35,000 in 2009. Typically a depressing small room lit by a single bare light bulb, with a bed -- correction: surplus army cot -- and probably some other piece of furniture. The late-fifties version, sanitized or normalized for TV, provided the setting for a few Twilight Zone episodes about one or another lonely guy down on his luck. Essentially an extreme economy-class apartment that's not very apart.

With a little sprucing up -- a lampshade, a more comfortable bed, a picture hanging on the wall, a carpet, a coat of paint, tolerably thick walls, a window to open to get rid of the rancid acrid stench of eighty-proof vomit -- one of these could pass for a little room in a London B&B. Okay, a lot of sprucing up. With an attached tiny bathroom and earthquake evacuation instructions, it would resemble a room in a Tokyo ``businessman's hotel.'' It would be the same size, anyway.

In the typical modern New York City version of an SRO hotel, ventilation and musical entertainment are provided by the economized construction: the walls do not reach the ceiling (chicken wire or perf board or something provides desultory security), so you can hear the chorus of your stoned snoring neighbors who haven't showered since they were released. You can sleep through that with a bottle of Ripple in your gut. (I mean the contents of the bottle of Ripple -- the Ripple itself. "[A] bottle" here is used as a quantifier, equivalent to 13 or 17 ounces or whatever.)

An SRO hotel is not a toney place to take your date.

Sleep Research Online. The website seems to have been ``put down'' for a very long night. The libraries at Georgetown University serve this page describing what SRO was like when it was ``up.'' (In 2003, it was a peer-reviewed online-only journal published 3-4 times a year.)

Standing Room Only. Refers to an event with all seated admission sold out.

Society for Radiation Oncology Administrators. The homepage used to say ``The Society for Radiation Oncology Administrators is the authority for radiation oncology operations. It is committed to providing education, advocacy and information to radiation oncology administrators.'' The first of their ``four objectives'' is to ``[i]mprove the administration of the business and nonmedical management aspects of radiation oncology and the practice of radiation oncology as a cost-effective form of health care delivery.'' I take it, then, that by ``administrators'' they mean not the people who administer oncology procedures (the practitioners or oncologists) but the people who administer the people who administer the procedures.

Salt River Project. Water supply for Phoenix, Ariz. The Salt River is completely dammed upstream of the city. Where it flows through northern Tempe and southern Phoenix, it's just dry riverbed for all but about one or two weeks of the year. In fact, the bridge southbound into Tempe's Mill Avenue is one-way most of the year. If you go northbound from Mill Av. you drive on a road across the riverbed, just east (upstream) of the bridge. During the period when the river flows, northbound traffic takes half the bridge.

At that time of year, the teeming masses float down the river in truck-tire inner tubes. I paddled; people commented ``New Yorker.'' At a wide, slow part, naked idiots dive off a cliff. I mean idiots not wearing clothes.

There's an annual charity event that involves a rubber-duck lottery. To participate, you buy a numbered duck. You never actually take possession of this duck -- you simply pay for the duck with a particular number to be ``yours.'' The ducks are dumped almost unceremoniously into the river by a dump truck, and later that day the first duck to cross a downstream finish line wins its purchaser some prize.

Rubber and inert masses drift to success. That's the secret of the Salt.

There's a story that during WWII, some German prisoners escaped from a POW camp with a map and a plan; they made their to the Salt River thinking they'd make good their escape by stealing a boat. Nice story anyway.

Scan Reflectance Profile. Reflectance values as a function of position along a line across the stripes of a UPC code. Perfect black is 0% reflectance.

Signal Recognition Particle. Part of the mechanism in eukaryotes for dragging ribosomes to the site of cotranslational transport: rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Stops further translation until destination is reached.

SRP-54 binds GTP

Source Routing Protocol (IBM).

Spreading-Resistance { Probe | Profiling }.

Standard Received Pronunciation (of English). Oxbridge accent.

Superimposed Renewal Process. Model for a system with many repairable parts. See D. R. Cox: Renewal Theory, (London: Chapman and Hall, 1962).

Syndicat des Résidents de Paris. The name until 2004 of what is now the SRP-IMG.

Syndicat représentatif parisien des internes de médecine générale. The new name (since 2004) preserves the original initialism (SRP) with a partly altered expansion. Now it's a little clearer that medical ``residents'' were meant, as opposed, say, to folks who lived in the seventh arrondissement.

Stirling Radioisotope Power System. An RTG which uses a free-piston Stirling engine (FPSE).

At IAOP-2001, R. K. Shaltens, L. S. Mason, and J. G. Schreiber of NASA Glenn reported on their continuing work on SRPS's (title: Stirling Radioisotope Power System as an Alternative for NASA's Deep Space Missions).

Serially Reusable Resource. Like deposit or returnable bottles.

Split-Ring Resonator.

Superfund/RCRA Regional Procurement Operations Division.

Social Responsibilities Round Table (of the ALA). See also EMIERT.

Science Resources Studies. A division of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Scoliosis Research Society. ``Dedicated to the Education, Research and Treatment of Spinal Deformity.'' Spinal deformity can be educated? It must be the brain connection.

Sequence Retrieval System. Network Browser for Databanks in Molecular Biology.

Sleep Research Society.

Speech Recognition System.

Student[s'] Rating[s] of Teach{ing|er} Effectiveness. The initialism is used most at Penn State (their variant of the expansion has no plurals and uses ``teaching''). Possibly PSU's use of the term dissuades others from using it, since their version is a disaster.

PSU's form consists of two kinds of questions: required, university-wide questions, and department-selected questions. The required questions used to be just two, apparently, asking students their overall evaluation of the course and the instructor. Now (or perhaps this was always, I'm not sure of the history and the questions are forgettable) there are two other required questions, asking whether the course is being taken as an elective and what grade the student expects. The last question is quite useful, since studies have shown that student evaluations are more highly correlated with the grades students expect than with anything remotely resembling an objective measure of instructor effectiveness or course utility. (Of course, if grades were an objective and absolutely calibrated measure of student learning, student grades would give some indication of teaching effectiveness.)

So far, perhaps, so good. The remaining questions, up to fifteen of them, are chosen by each instructional unit (typically a department) from a list of approved questions. This makes sense, since not all the same questions are appropriate for art courses as for economics courses, say. Further, each unit must use the same questions for all its courses. This makes some sense, since it allows different courses and instructors in a unit to be compared (well, it makes sense if this sort of comparison is desirable). A problem arises with departments that offer courses so different that useful questions regarding some courses are meaningless or worse for others (for the sake of argument, we're assuming that the evaluations are of some positive utility; play along now).

I have never taught a lab course since grad school, but for six years my students had to fill out evaluations that asked them to grade (overall) the lab component of the course and the lab TA's in particular. Students faced with this question knew that they were smarter than the form, but had no way to know how stupid the processing of the form might be. So they couldn't know what effect leaving the question unanswered might have. Thus, I normally had at least a couple of students rate the lab and the lab TA's. This was good, since it probably avoided a zero-divide.

I hope the above example suggests how the requirement to use the same questions across the full spectrum of courses in an instructional unit is a surmountable problem. By the same token, it suggests that with a little bit of intelligent wording, it would be possible to use a single form across the entire institution. But let's not quibble about the deck chairs, because here comes the iceberg.

The remaining questions must be selected from a pool of 177. For example,

  1. Rate the instructor's skill in relating course material to real life situations.
  2. Rate the instructor's skill in relating cases and other exercises to practical situations.
  3. Rate the effectiveness of the examples used to clarify difficult concepts.
  4. Rate the clarity of the examples used.
  5. Rate the adequacy of the amount of examples used to clarify difficult concepts.
  6. Rate the question-writer's understanding of grammatical-number concepts. Oops, it's not on there.
  7. Rate the instructor's skill in using examples and illustrations.

For redundant redundancy, see the entire list. According to PSU's SRTE homepage, ``Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence supports the SRTE program by generating and processing the survey forms and preparing individual faculty reports.'' Schreyer is a German surname; it's an archaic spelling of the noun Schreier, meaning `crier' (like ``town crier'' or announcer), from the verb schreien, `to shriek.'

It's necessary at this point to say something about how SRTE's and variously named equivalents are used. In principle, one of the main purposes of these is to provide useful feedback to instructors so that they can improve their and their courses' effectiveness. In practice, this is not the case. I have never studied my evaluations and thought -- ``ah yes, this is what I need to work on.'' My deficiencies and limitations as a teacher are clear enough to me, and I can articulate them better than my students. More or somewhat better-designed teaching evaluation instruments would not affect the extent to which I improve what I might but have not improved. This is pretty much the universal view.

That is not to say, however, that teaching evaluations are without any utility and do not affect how courses are taught in subsequent years. Teaching evaluations serve to quantify students' satisfaction with a course. This satisfaction is affected by some factors over which an instructor has little or no control: for example, an instuctor whom students find unpersonable will always suffer in evaluations, and instructors, like noninstructors, cannot very well ``improve'' the persona they project. Most factors affecting student satisfaction, however, might be summarized under the single heading of ``difficulty.'' Students are unhappy if they have to work hard. This is not an entirely unreasonable basis on which to evaluate a course and instructor. A poorly organized course, an ignorant instructor, badly selected problem sets, capricious (but not totally capricious) grading, and most other things that can make a bad course generally do force the conscientious student to work harder.

If poor teaching methods were all that affected students' effort, and hence their satisfaction and the course evaluations, then those evaluations might be genuinely valuable. But this ignores the elephant in the living room, which is content. Differences in teaching methods account for a small part of differences in evaluations. Most of the variation arises from the amount of material covered. In practice, an instructor who receives poor evaluations in a course improves them by making the course easier, or by letting a less demanding instructor teach it.

When I get some time, I'll come back and finish this entry. Then I will

  1. explain why this is not really a cop-out,
  2. explain why this really not a cop-out, and
  3. tell an interesting anecdote or two.

Synchronous Residual Time Stamp.

Society of Radiologists in Ultrasound.

Stevie Ray Vaughan.

SRVC, srvc.
SeRViCe. Also SVC.

Abbreviation of Saints in most major European languages. Plural of S.

Sales Support.

Schutzstaffel. Nazi `Security Squadron.'

Sensu stricto. Latin for `in the strict sense.' Strictly speaking, this is the same as `strictly speaking,' which is genau genommen in German. Also s.str.. Cf. s.l..

SS, ss
Short Stop. Baseball position -- plays between second and third basemen.

Side Switch. That is, a switch on the side of the apparatus.

When volleyball teams switch sides of a court (to cancel the advantage any asymmetry -- as from sun position, say -- might give), it's called ``switching sides,'' as far as I know. A side-out is when the team receiving the serve wins a rally; it is awarded serve for the next play, but no point.

Solid Solution.

Sommersemester. German for `Summer Semester.'

Sparc (work)Station.

Special Services.

Spread Spectrum (system). A communication system in which the transmitted signal has a much broader bandwidth than the message encoded. (The transmitted signal is typically generated by convolution or multiplication with a spreading signal.)

Stainless Steel.


Stop Ship.

[Football icon]

Strong Safety. A defensive position in American football.

Subscriber Station. For cellular, or at least wireless, communications systems. Cf. BS.

SubStation. Where power is extracted from high-tension lines for distribution to customers.

Subthreshold Swing. Units of volts per decade.

Super Sport. See 409 entry for enlightenment.

Seismological Society of America.

Semiconductor Safety Association.

Serial Storage Architecture. Part of SCSI-3.

Small-Signal Analysis. Perturbation theory for circuits.

Social Security Administration. A sort of US government-administered retirement fund.

The first Social Security check, serial number 00-000-001, was issued to Ida Fuller of Brattlesboro, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54, on January 31, 1940.

Soaring Society of America. See Landings: Soaring-Related Links.

Somali Salvation Alliance. Led by Ali Mahdi and contending with the bad guy SNA over which will liberate Somalia.

Specific Surface Area. May be determined by BET method.

Sub-Saharan Africa.

[dive flag]

Scottish Sub-Aqua Club.

That name makes one think: sure, when you're underwater you are under water, but this is almost a surprising way of expressing the idea that you're in the water. In fact, when you're only ``in the water,'' part of you is usually not just above but completely out of the water. And usually when you're under a load of work, the work is all around you! Sooo confusing!

For more stupid reflections of this sort, see the anti- entry.

Social Security Administration Number. Social security number.

Secondary School Admission Test.

Writing standardized tests flatters the authors' conceit that they have knowledge enough to grade them.


The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract.

Single SideBand.

Surface-Skimming Bulk Wave. Not a surface wave.

Spot-Size Converter.

Standard Speech Circuit.

State Scientific Center. One example is the IPPE in Obninsk, Russia. This single example is shared between this entry and an SRC entry because I'm too lazy to find some others.

Superconducting SuperCollider. A name that became obsolete before the project was completed. (The project was cancelled.) Apparently, the official name is in three words (the second super is one word).

An expensive particle accelerator elementary particle research in the multi-TeV range. ``Superconducting'' refers to the magnets. Superconductors are used not to achieve high magnetic fields but to keep power consumption down to earthly levels. Dipole magnets (most of the magnets) keep the particles circling as they are accelerated by electric fields; the magnetic field is ramped to keep the particles in a circle of constant radius as their energy increases. (Quadrupole magnets in pairs keep the particle beams focused.) As the particle energy increases beyond the capacity of a small ring to hold, the particle beam (consisting of bunches of particles) is cascaded through a sequence of rings of increasing radius. Between the initial ion source and linear accelerator and collision ring, the SSC was designed and partially built to use three intermediate rings: low-, medium- and high-energy boosters (LEB, MEB, HEB) with circumferences of 600 m, 4.0 km, and 10.8 km, respectively. The HEB would have fed a collider ring with a circumference of 87.1 km. Only the HEB and the colliding ring would have used superconducting magnets.

In the colliding ring, counter-rotating proton and antiproton beams would move in slightly off-center circles, colliding nearly head on at two intersection points 180 degrees apart.

Using counter-rotating beams is trickier than using a single beam colliding against a stationary target, and because a particle beam is a sparse thing compared to a solid target, the event rates are much higher with a stationary target. However, a stationary target is not an option for relativistic reasons. The relevant energy for interpeting the interparticle dynamics of a collision is the center-of-mass energy. In the nonrelativistic (NRNR) regime, the kinetic energy K of a particle is given in terms of rest mass m and velocity v by the formula

                        1   2
                    K = - mv  .
For a collision between two particles of equal rest mass (like a proton and an antiproton), one stationary (in the ``lab'' frame) and one moving at velocity v, the center-of-mass moves at velocity v/2 in the lab frame, and each particle has kinetic energy K' = K/4. Hence, in the c.m. frame, the total kinetic energy is 2K' = K/2 -- i.e., half the total kinetic energy of the system in the lab frame. Relativistically, the decrease in energy is much more dramatic.

Sodium chloride-Saturated Calomel (reference) Electrode. For electrochemistry.

Society for the Study of Curriculum History. ``[T]o encourage scholarly study of curriculum history and to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of research inquiries into curriculum history. The Society was founded in April of 1977 at Teachers College, Columbia University. Attendance at the annual meeting, which is always held on the Sunday before and the first Monday morning of the AERA conference, is open to all who are interested.''

Social Science Citation Index. A product of ISI, q.v.

Southern Society for Clinical Investigation. ``On October 5, 1946, representatives from 19 Southern Medical Schools met in New Orleans to organize the formation of a regional society of clinical investigators. The new organization, named the Southern Society for Clinical Research (SSCR), held its first meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans on January 25, 1947. Fifty selected `Founders' attended, 18 abstracts were presented, and Tinsley Harrison was named the organization's first president.''

``The rest,'' as ``they'' say, ``is history.'' I don't know about you, but I find that history can sometimes be a tad tedious.

Single-Strand Conformation Polymorphism. A short-cut method (indirect and incomplete) of measuring viral mutations.

Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology. To which I say: yes, it would be a good thing if clinical psychology were a science. It would even be a good thing if the SSCP were to shell out a couple of bucks and get its own website, instead of depending on the transitory kindness of subdirectories under university domains.

Oh great: they bought <sscpweb.org>... but it autoforwards to <http://sites.google.com/site/sscpwebsite/>.

System-Services Control Point. An SNA term.

Southern Society for Clinical Research. Now the SSCI.

Simultaneous Signal Detection.

Solid-State Drive.

That reminds me that the American Institute of Physics (AIP) has a street address of ``One Physics Ellipse.''

Stochastic Structural Dynamics. A regular conference.

Synthesis Solid Diffusion.

Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. An independent national labor union.

Social Security Death Index. ``The Social Security Administration Death Master File contains information on millions of deceased individuals with United States social security numbers whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. Birth years for the individuals listed range from 1875 to last year. Information in these records includes name, birth date, death date, and last known residence.'' [Link is not to government site.]

Social Security Disability Insurance.

Space Science Data Operations Office.

Solomon Schechter Day School Association. A voluntary association of some seventy-odd schools in the Schechter network, schools affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. But the United Synagogue Day School is just one member of this network, sponsored by seven United Synagogue synagogues in the Greater Toronto area.

Secondary System Description Table. An ACPI system descr