Banner graphic for Studies in the history of science, technology & culture
Help keep high-quality, independent scholarship on the Web and freely available to all: please DONATE to!

W H A T ’ S   C O M I N G

[ 1 ]

A new series on little-known aspects of 17th-century Anglo-American gun culture, to include essays on such topics as “good guys with guns” ... one of the first drive-by shootings (in 1682) ... the first automatic weapons (and other fantastical military hardware) from a late-15th-century military treatise ... and recipes for “Triumphs and Trophies in Cookery” with gunnery themes (pies filled with live frogs and birds, and ships with cannon that fire, serving up table-top drama “which makes the Ladies to skip and shreek” and “will cause much delight and pleasure to the whole company” during holiday banquets in noble households, such as that in which Margaret Cavendish was raised).
  The first study in the series is entitled “The Missing Historical Context: Anglo-America’s Founding Gun and Militia Laws (pre- and post-Second Amendment).”
  EDITED  This burgeoning study was LAST UPDATED: 7/9/2024, with detailed commentary on SCOTUS’s Trump v. United States decision (7/1/2024), the Supreme Court case in which former-President Trump claimed that absolute presidential immunity shields him from civil and criminal charges for public crimes against the commonwealth, such as conspiring to overturn his election defeat: in my historian’s rebuttal, I argue that these “high crimes and misdemeanors” were not simply protected “official presidential acts” but, first and foremost, impeachable acts with no immunity ... new content added to my write-up on the debate over executive powers, wherein I continue to make the case for historical continuity, arguing that Anglo-America has a longstanding constitutional tradition limiting presidential privilege and immunity, which dates to this country’s founding with the first permanent Anglo-American settlement (at Jamestown, Virginia) planted on 26 April 1607 ... new commentary on the existential threat posed by “Schismatical Persons” who, “out of the new fangled Conceits of their own Heretical Inventions” (Virginia statute against “Schismatical Persons” enacted 23 December 1662), threaten our disestablishmentarian constitutional republic ... lots of new content added to my write-up on the heretical fetal personhood movement, including new reporting on the fallout from religio-legalistic maneuvering around the Fourteenth Ameendment ... more annotated links relating to the debate over continuing U.S. aid for Ukraine ... and much, much more: look for the red NEW and EDITED stickers to find the latest updated content. (NOTE:  you may need to refresh this page in your browser in order to view my most recent changes.)
  This same Web page includes a series of images documenting the postmodern shift away from the original public meaning of the Second Amendment. Here I argue that the individual right to keep and bear arms, as popularized by the NRA, SCOTUS, etc. — and encapsulated in statements like “The Bill of Rights grants citizens the right to bear arms to protect themselves against a potential tyrannical government.” — is a postmodern invention.
  FWIW, I do not here dispute our evolving interpretation of USers’ constitutional right to bear arms. It is what the Supreme Court says it is. (For now: judicial supremacy in the matter of constitutional hermeneutics was never apparently the original intent, and this state of affairs can be revisited.)
  Rather, my dispute is with commonplace claims that this decidedly postmodern interpretation corresponds with “the original intent” of the founders and/or “the original ‘public meaning’” of the Constitutional provision. In other words, it is only the origin story for a postmodernized Second Amendment that I question here.
  EDITED  As of July 2024, I am still only part-way through this very complicated project, to include digital editions of once influential, but now rare, texts ... which everyone will be able to read and interpret for themselves. For the moment, 3 founding texts contributing to “the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation” have been published:
    The first of these — an excerpt, from the marquess of Newcastle’s treatise on statecraft, asserting the king’s long-standing prerogative to arm/disarm the multitude & control all militias — was published on 1/12/2023 (revised and enlarged, 1/17/2023): see below for details.
    The second of these — excerpts, from Archbishop John Potter’s Archaeologia Graeca (rev. and enl. 2nd edn., London, 1706), giving ancient Greek laws (6th century BCE) disarming the multitude, which was a founding principle for western civilization — was published on 1/22/2023 (revised and enlarged, 2/2/2023): see below for details.
  NEW    The third of these — an excerpt (“Title XXXII. Bearing of Unlawful Weapons.”) from Sir George Mackenzie’s Laws and Customes of Scotland, in Matters Criminal (Edinburgh, 1678), recording that the law transplanted to Scottish-America equated all firearms with “publick violence,” and as such, “the carrying of such Arms” was “forbidden, and the bearers punished, albeit no prejudice followed” — was published on 4/16/2024: see below for details.
  I expect the peer review on this project to be excruciating, so I am committed to getting it right (all my ducks in a row ;-), regardless of how long this takes.
  Please bear with me as I work my way through tens of thousands of pages of rare historical print and scribal publications.
  One thing I can promise: the wait will be worth it.
                   *  *  *
In the meantime, I would like here to recommend a smart essay by Joshua Zeitz: “The Supreme Court’s Faux ‘Originalism’: The conservative Supreme Court’s favorite judicial philosophy requires a very, very firm grasp of history — one that none of the justices seem to possess” (posted to POLITICO’s website, 6/26/2022).
  Zeitz’s arguments nicely complement my own, and add expertise regarding the late 18th century which I lack (my own expertise is the 17th century, and the further afield I roam from this period, the more anxious I get ;-).
  I fully agree with Zeitz’s take on the 18th-century political consensus concerning the “rights and obligations” of militia service, and will argue that this language originates in the 17th-century struggle over “divine right of kings,” especially the royal prerogative to arm & disarm citizen militias, which royalists ultimately derived from their sectarian interpretation of the bible.
  Thomas Hobbes’s radical reconceptualization of the sovereign people as leviathan — “the Multitude so united in one Person, is called a COMMON-WEALTH.... This is the Generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather (to speake more reverently) of that Mortall God, to which wee owe under the Immortall God, our peace and defence.” (T. Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651, 2.17.87) — later raised the grand controversy over legal sovereignty in Stuart England to a whole new level, rooted in a critical distinction between “the People” (the body politic, or “commonwealth”) and “the Multitude” (“single Subjects,” “particular persons,” “every particular man in the Common-Wealth”). That this political understanding of “the People” was commonly accepted throughout early-modern British America is apparent from Richard Ligon’s mid-17th-century account of colonial Barbados, which he depicts as exemplar of what “makes up wealth, beauty, and all harmony in that Leviathan, a well governed Common-wealth: Where the Mighty men, and Rulers of the earth, by their prudent and carefull protection, secure them from harmes; whilst they retribute their paynes, and faithfull obedience, to serve them in all just Commands.” (R. Ligon, A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbados, 1657, 20–21)
  Indeed, I will argue that Hobbes’s formative experience at the factious Virginia Company in the 1620s (and not just the English civil wars) compelled his belief that “Not to know the difference between a People and a Multitude prepares to Sedition.” This lesson was first learned in Virginia, where “the ‘headlesse multitude’” of Anglo-American settlers ruined the Virginia experiment during its first tumultuous years under the rule of a joint-stock company, as documented so vividly by William Strachey in A True Reportory of ... Virginia, and the Estate of that Colonie then, and after, July 15. 1610 ....
  No matter where one came down in the escalating debate over the legal traditions of the royal prerogative (and those like William Prynne, who championed Parliament’s right to control the militia, had their own sectarian interpretation of authorizing biblical texts), no one — once Hobbes’s Leviathan took Europe and the Americas by storm in the mid-17th-century — equated “the People” with “every particular man in the Common-Wealth.” That we choose to do so now is a postmodern aberration in the political theory of liberal republicanism.

[ 2 ]

Also in the works: an illustrated digital edition of a 1960’s peer-reviewed article on the origin of chattel slavery in Anglo-America.
  Given popular misconceptions of “critical race theory,” along with the growing controversy over The New York Times’ branded 1619 Project — with multiple states passing laws which ban the teaching of both — this important peer-reviewed article, published in 1966, is even more relevant in 2023. The article proves definitively that “in 1619 neither Negroes nor English bondservants were owned as chattels in Virginia. [...] It is certain that the system of slavery did not simply arrive in the colony with the first Negroes.”
  As such, the U.S. was not born in original sin: “The black Virginian’s descent in law from humanity to property happened gradually but not haphazardly,” enabling “Englishmen to find in chattel slavery solutions to their problems with labor and social control” (Warren M. Billings, “The Law of Servants and Slaves in Seventeenth-Century Virginia,” 61 and 46). Yes, the development (originally called “improvement”) of the United States is inextricably bound with structures of slavery, segregation, and racism dating to the mid-17th century (not 1619). Indeed, late-17th-century abolitionists such as Thomas Tryon (1634–1703) openly acknowledged that the advancement of Anglo-American trade relied on domestic violence (genocide & slavery). But, during the first five decades of colonization, white (not black) human trafficking predominated in Virginia.
  The NYT 1619 Project’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has emphasized that her ideological project is not “a history,” but “a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory.” But many scholars and historians (myself included) are uncomfortable with the kind of poetic license taken by Hannah-Jones in order to build the 1619 Project brand, with its several factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations of historical events.
  The type of nuanced scholarship emphasized in the 1966 article I am digitizing for the library is a needed corrective to the 1619 Project’s branding problem. While I share the 1619 Project’s larger goal of highlighting the long-term consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans, I also believe it’s important to get the history right — especially when you’re a myth-busting journalist taking aim at established narratives that date the founding of America’s political development and character to 1620 or 1776.

[ 3 ]

For years, I have been researching what I believe to be the first use (in 1728–9) of abortion as a wedge issue in Anglo-America.
  And the public debate — in popular culture — over whether or not “ABORTION IS MURDER” (as asserted on anti-choice protestor signs in June 2022) dates back even further than that: to the 1690s.
  On 6/24/2022, the conservative majority dominating the Supreme Court of the United States revoked the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In so doing, the justices relied on what I suspect may be a partial understanding of “this Nation’s history and tradition” concerning abortion.
  In his concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote: “To be sure, this Court has held that the Constitution protects unenumerated rights that are deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, and implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. But a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in American history and tradition ...” (qtd. in “Supreme Court Gives States Green Light to Ban Abortion, Overturning Roe” by Josh Gerstein, Alice Miranda Ollstein and Quint Forgey; and also in “‘With Sorrow ... We Dissent’: Liberal Justices Rebuke Decision to Overturn Roe: They warn of how far state leaders could push this newfound power” by Myah Ward [both articles posted to POLITICO’s website, 6/24/2022]).
  I don’t pretend to understand such modern legal constructs as “ordered liberty,” but I do know that, as of 1741, abortion was still legal in Anglo-America and, according to 18th-century statutory law, an implied right of “any Free Woman.” Contravening Justice Kavanaugh, I shall argue in a forthcoming essay for She-philosopher.​com that “a right to abortion” is in fact “deeply rooted in American history and tradition,” as we see in the long-standing dispute — traceable to an unresolved tension in Mosaic Law — over the death of an unborn child. Indeed, medical and religious debates concerning parturition spilled over into multiple areas of early-modern life, impacting not just the new forensic science, but also the protofeminist struggle for reproductive justice, pitting women’s TEK against the rise of man-midwifery.
  Then, as now, the issues were perplexing (“What kind of Being the Souls of Abortive Infants are?”), with no easy or certain answers forthcoming. Not surprisingly, a woman’s natural right to end a pregnancy (then known as “wilful Abortions” or “willful Miscarriages by Physick”) was always controversial, not least, because early-modern Anglo-American women were subordinated by law as femme covert, with limited rights to self-determination. The 17th-century natural philosopher, Margaret Cavendish, called women’s lack of sovereignty “the Female Slavery”, and there’s no question that the dependent status of women and children in some part drove the debate over “wilful Abortions.”
  In Anglo-America, state-level statutory restrictions on women’s bodies date to 4 August 1619, when Virginia’s General Assembly — the first legislative assembly that ever convened on the American continent — enacted a law stating that “no maide or woman servant, either now resident in the Colonie [of Virginia] or hereafter to come, shall contract herselfe in marriage.” Just because state laws regulating women’s bodies (of all colors) are “deeply rooted in American history and tradition” doesn’t make them right ... or good precedent ... or appropriate for a 21st-century republic.
  In the Latin West, women’s “right to abortion” dates back to Aristotle —“Platoes scholler, who ... saw clearer in matter of lawes for the reformation of manners and the good of the Common-wealth” than “all other Law-makers before him,” according to a 17th-century Church of England clergyman who was horrified by that “law of Aristotle, concerning abortion or the destruction of a Childe in the mothers wombe.” For conformist Calvinists such as this churchman, “this inhumane Law of Aristotle” was to be replaced by “Civill and Common Law [which] doe grievously punish all wilfull abortion after conception, [since] the Canonists teach it to bee a mortall sinne.”
  But the “law of Aristotle” promoting abortion as a “good of the Common-wealth” offers an alternative “history and tradition” which is “deeply rooted” in our culture, too. Thus, the contemporary pro-choice activist, Erin Aubry Kaplan, is following millennia-old precedent when she writes: “Rigid anti-abortionism — and the inherent extremism of that position that helped make other kinds of extremism mainstream — became the GOP’s official party position in 1980. The problem since then has been the lack of a clear counterenergy defining abortion not simply as a private matter people choose to do or not, to talk about or not, but a public good. This is something Black women can certainly advocate for....” (E. A. Kaplan, “I’m Black. I Thought White Feminism Would Keep Abortion Safe: White women who once saw Roe as core to second-wave feminism seem not to be putting up much of a fight. Is it time for Black women to pick up the mantle?”, posted to POLITICO’s website, 5/27/2022). For another take on the Aristotelian theme of abortion as a public good, seeSix Predictions About the End of Roe, Based on Research: I’ve studied what happens to people who are denied an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy. Here’s what I learned” by Diana Greene Foster (posted to POLITICO’s website, 6/8/2022). And for a third perspective on abortion as a public good, see Quinn Bradlee’s op-ed for POLITICO, “I Am a Man with a Genetic Condition. The Abortion Fight Is About Me, Too: After Roe, many people will lose the right to become parents without passing on a serious genetic condition. I know that struggle firsthand” (posted 7/13/2022).
  Alternative “deep-rooted” pro-choice models are available within the Christian movement, as well. So the Christian right’s politicization of the issue is not inevitable: “Today, evangelicals make up the backbone of the pro-life movement, but it hasn’t always been so. Both before and for several years after Roe, evangelicals were overwhelmingly indifferent to the subject, which they considered a ‘Catholic issue.’” (Randall Balmer, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right: They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation”; posted to POLITICO’s website, 5/27/2014)
  In my forthcoming study of “The First Use of Abortion as a Wedge Issue in the Americas,” I shall focus on how the vexing issue of abortion played out in early-modern popular culture (17th- and 18th-century newspapers, medical texts, coroner’s reports, literary satires, encyclopedias). The debate back then was every bit as sophisticated — indeed, much more so, if Donald Trump’s recent inanities set the bar — as the gut-wrenching philosophicoreligious dispute we’re engaged in now. I am moving on this project with my customary slow haste, can not commit to a schedule right now, and recommend that you watch this space for further announcements if the study interests you.
  In the meantime, a good summary of the historic SCOTUS opinion (because it takes away a right that has been in place for half a century) is available here: PBS NewsHour segment, “Inside the Supreme Court Decision that Overturns Abortion Rights” (first aired, 6/24/2022).
  Click/tap here to read Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion revoking the constitutional right to an abortion.
  Click/tap here to read the “scathing dissent” issued by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (begins on p. 148 of 213).
  Click/tap here to read the concurring opinion of Chief Justice Roberts (begins on p. 136 of 213).
  Click/tap here to read the concurring opinion of Justice Brett Kavanaugh (begins on p. 124 of 213).
  And click/tap here for Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion, “that the Supreme Court ‘should reconsider’ its past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage” (begins on p. 117 of 213). For a summary, seeJustice Thomas: SCOTUS ‘should reconsider’ contraception, same-sex marriage rulings: Democrats warned that the court would seek to undo other constitutional rights if it overturned Roe v. Wade, as it did on Friday” by Quint Forgey and Josh Gerstein (posted to POLITICO’s website, 6/24/2022).
                   *  *  *
One of my favorite data analysts, the NewsHour’s Laura Santhanam, has updated us on a PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist poll, conducted 24–25 June 2022, asking about SCOTUS’s 6/24/2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade: “Majority of Americans Think Supreme Court Overturning Roe was More about Politics than Law” (posted to the PBS NewsHour website, 6/27/2022).
  In sum: “With confidence in the Supreme Court falling, more than half of Americans oppose the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and nearly six in 10 say the ruling was based more on politics than on the law” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.).
  Count me among that 60% in this country who think that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization “ruling was based more on politics than on the law.” According to my own scholarship, there is conclusive evidence not only of a longstanding legal tradition in the Latin West promoting abortion as a public good (which SCOTUS simply ignored/“cancelled”), but also plenty of evidence to suggest that states establishing the sectarian belief that “ABORTION IS MURDER” (sectarian because historically and traditionally rooted in a disputed interpretation of Mosaic Law) is what’s unconstitutional. To wit:
    For an example of the new establishmentarianism adopted by the states, seeLouisiana Officials Stall New Orleans Flood Funds over Abortion: Citing New Orleans’ officials’ stance on abortion, the Louisiana State Bond Commission has twice voted to delay approval of a $39 million line of credit for a power station to run the city’s drainage pumps, which have been described as critical for its ability to adapt to climate change” by Ariel Wittenberg (posted to POLITICO’s website, 8/19/2022). This sort of religio-political rule, which penalizes those who do not belong to the Established Church, would seem to violate the First Amendment’s antiestablishmentarian clause, depending on how broadly we interpret it (and Art. IV, § 4 of the federal constitution, guaranteeing “to every state in this union, a republican form of government”).
    For an illuminating review of the sectarianism around abortion, and the perils of bestowing especial State patronage and control on a particular church, see the PBS NewsHour segment, “Faith Leaders Discuss How their Religions Approach the Divisive Issue of Abortion” (first aired 8/11/2022). Emphasizing that advocating for the humanity of the “preborn” is not just Christian dogma (e.g., she claims to know atheists who also believe that life begins at conception), Chelsea Patterson Sobolik (“former policy director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission within the Southern Baptist Convention, currently working in government affairs for Lifeline Child”) surprised me with her argument that it is government’s role to protect all lives equally (again, begging the question as to whether a zygote or embryo or “biological tissue” is a “life” with the same natural rights as an individual person). The other discussants — a rabbi, and a constitutional law and Islamic law professor at the University of Wisconsin — countered that their religious rights will be infringed by the new abortion restrictions, again raising a panoply of constitutional questions about the separation of church & state.
    And for a look at the “bad legislation” and harm resulting from the new establishmentarianism of gerrymandered state legislatures, upon substituting sectarian values for medical science, seeWhite Coats in the State Capital: OB-GYNs Become Political Force in Abortion Wars. As lawmakers debate how much to restrict access to abortion, doctors are becoming increasingly vocal” by Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Messerly (posted to POLITICO’s website, 8/22/2022). Doctors argue the new sectarian abortion restrictions “will have devastating consequences, drive physicians out of the state, worsen existing OB-GYN shortages and strain the medical system,” impacting the public at large, not just those who do not belong to the Established Church.
  IMO, only a politicized SCOTUS could cancel the many legal complexities associated with the states’ push to reestablish a clearly sectarian agenda.
  Furthermore, dismissing Justice Thomas’s call to take Dobbs to its logical conclusion — and reconsider related past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage — is to my mind a political, not a legal decision. “In eliminating a decades-old ‘constitutional right that safeguards women’s freedom and equal station’ and breaching a core legal principle of precedent, the [Dobbs] decision ‘places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage,’ Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote in dissent.” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.) Justice Alito’s assertion that “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion” feels like a politicized court is picking and choosing which privacy rights to overturn at the moment. And I am not the only one to notice this legalistic sleight-of-hand: fifty-six percent of USers “are concerned that the Supreme Court will reconsider issues such as contraception and same-sex marriage.” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.)
  One statistic I found intriguing in Santhanam’s report and wish to call attention to here: “55 percent of U.S. adults say they support abortion rights, including 84 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents. Gen Zers, millennials, people who live in cities, those who graduated from college and residents of Western states were among those most likely to say they support these rights. [...] Compared to last month [May 2022], when 61 percent of people said they supported abortion rights, the latest findings mark a notable decline.” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.) In light of SCOTUS’s Dobbs ruling, I find this significant drop in support for abortion rights surprising, and would like to know more about what’s driving it.
  AND TO ANSWER MY OWN QUESTION:  I wish here to juxtapose Rich Lowry’s op-ed for POLITICO, “Polls Show Americans Don’t Care that Much about Dobbs — and Won’t Base Their Vote on it: Sorry, Samuel Alito isn’t handing Democrats the election” (posted 7/14/2022).
  Lowry makes several good points, among them: “There’s no doubt that overturning Roe polls badly.” But, “only five percent of voters said abortion was their top concern.” This rings true, because it describes me as well; I fit right in with the majority for whom “Abortion rights is in a cluster of second-tier issues.” The single issue driving my vote this year (2022), and for the foreseeable future, is fake representation (for which, the Democratically-controlled California state legislature has only itself to blame, having turned me into the very sort of single-issue voter I have always resisted becoming).
  In addition, while “a solid majority, 55 percent, opposed overturning Roe,” “Yet a larger majority favored restrictions of the sort that Roe made impossible. According to the poll, 37 percent want to permit abortion only in cases of rape and incest, 12 percent to permit it only before six weeks and 23 percent after 15 weeks. That makes for a total of 72 percent of voters supporting a policy that couldn’t be written into law for the last 50 years under Roe.” In sum, “a plurality (44 percent) believes that abortion policy should be set at the state level, the arrangement that Roe didn’t allow and that Dobbs blesses.” (R. Lowry, n. pag.)
  Moreover, “Most of the public isn’t on board with the more sweeping critiques that have been made of the Supreme Court in the wake of the decision. Again, according to the Harvard/Harris, 63 percent believe that the Supreme Court is legitimate and 59 percent say it’s wrong for Democrats to deny its legitimacy.” (R. Lowry, n. pag.) I’m not sure how meaningful this particular statistic is since, even ardent critics of SCOTUS like me, believe the court is legitimate. My concern is with the court’s radical politicization — an entirely different issue (and for me, yet another case of tail-wagging-the-dog unrepresentative government).
                   *  *  *
Laura Santhanam is back with more provocative findings, confirming that only 18% of U.S. adults view abortion as a top concern: “New Poll Asks Americans Whether Trump Should Face Charges, Top Midterm Priorities” (posted to the PBS NewsHour website, 7/21/2022).
  For a plurality (29%) of Democrats, “abortion ranked as the top concern. Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the loss of federal protections for the medical procedure in June, 29 percent of Democrats and 18 percent of Americans overall picked abortion as what matters most to them.” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.) While 18% of Independents cited abortion as their top issue, only 7% of Republicans did.
  In contrast, twice as many Americans — a plurality (37%) of “national adults” — reported that inflation was their top issue going into the November 2022 mid-term election. “So much can change between summer and November, but Neil Malhotra, a political economist at Stanford University, said people will vote for candidates who champion policies that make their ‘lives tangibly better.’ The threat of American democracy unraveling is harder to grasp.  ¶   ‘People are struggling in this economy. They’re struggling with prices. It’s nice to care about democracy, but for most people, it’s these tangible issues’ that matter most, Malhotra said. ‘It’s not that people have short memories — life gets in the way.’” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.)
  In my case, the two issues — “policies that make their ‘lives tangibly better’” and the “threat of American democracy unraveling” — do not compete, but intertwine — a complexity which is missed by the July 2022 PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll.
  With one imprudent legislative act (Assembly Bill 1404, known as the Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013) California’s state legislature completely destroyed my quality of life — inflicting much more pain & suffering on my family than has inflation.
  But my constitutional right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (First Amendment) continues to be ignored by the very state legislators ostentatiously posing as the defenders of democracy, first by leading “the resistance” against the monarchical presidency of Donald Trump, and now by promoting California as a sanctuary state for those whose civil rights are under attack by sectarian legislatures in anti-abortion states. The hypocrisy is breathtaking!
  Thus, for me, the unraveling of democracy is not some abstraction. It does not simply emanate from Donald Trump’s meteoric rise — and possible return — to power, iconic as his coup d’état, resulting in the Capitol Hill putsch on 6 January 2021, may be. Nor is it limited to “red” state legislatures, whose unchecked authoritarian impulses — forcing poor women and a 10-year-old rape victim to breed; suppressing knowledge; embracing the “warlike christian man” to whom states like Virginia catered in 1701 — threaten “a republican form of government” (as mandated by Art. IV, § 4 of the federal constitution).
  For me, it is not life which gets in the way of caring about democracy. Indeed, the unraveling of democracy in the bright blue state of California is all the more remarkable for being so banal. I daily experience democratic decline in my suburban neighborhood, which is no longer insulated from its effects. With my fake representatives in Sacramento clinging, for no good reason, to policies that make my life tangibly worse, all the while denying me my historical right to petition government for a redress of grievances — an historical right which extends back to Magna Carta in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, and is the cornerstone of the social contract — restoring “a republican form of government” in blue as well as red states is the best way I know to ensure my family’s well-being.
  As I have said elsewhere, the issue of fake representation will determine my vote from now on. And I suspect many Trump voters — with whom I disagree about pretty much everything else — feel the same way.
[ UPDATE ]  Recent election results seem to confirm this. E.g., the “stunning voter turnout in Kansas last week [on 8/2/2022], when voters defeated an amendment drafted in response to the 2019 state Supreme Court’s ruling that the Kansas constitution protected the right to abortion. Fifty-nine percent of the more than 900,000 voters rejected the amendment — preventing the state Legislature from imposing strict bans — in the nation’s first read on how Americans feel about abortion in the post-Roe era.” (Myah Ward, “Republican Lawmaker Warns if Party Goes Too Far, Abortion Could Hurt GOP in November”; posted to POLITICO’s website, 8/7/2022). See also the op-ed by John G. Matsusaka, “Let the People Decide on Abortion: The Kansas election shows the best way to navigate the post-Roe world” (posted to POLITICO’s website, 8/4/2022).
  I believe that folks’ overriding concern with fake representation — where “the American people don’t get to have a government that is a reflection of their will” (Rep. Dan Kildee, qtd. in “Glory Days: In Michigan, Nostalgia for a Romanticized Past Outstrips the Reality of an Economic Rebirth / Jobs are back, wages are up, but for a cross-section of America’s political bellwether state, distrust and dissatisfaction still reign supreme” by Gavin Bade; posted to POLITICO’s website, 8/28/2022) — intersects with voters’ support for women’s liberty & right to self-determination, even in regions of the country which don’t support a secular “‘zeal’ for abortion rights and LGBTQ protections” (Bishop Martin of the Cathedral church in Flint, Michigan; qtd. in Gavin Bade, n. pag.).
  As a restive citizenry observes the fallout for women & families from the states’ rush to sectarian religious establishment, the political impact of SCOTUS’s politicized Dobbs decision is shifting. While abortion is not the single issue driving a majority of voters, it is definitely “a motivating factor” for them in 2022 (Ruth Marcus, in the PBS NewsHour segment, “Brooks and Marcus on the Mar-a-Lago Affidavit and Biden’s Student Debt Plan”; first aired 8/26/2022).
  In sum, I think a focus on intersectionality — not single issues — is a more productive way to divine the electorate’s mood. And recent research re. the benefits of what’s known as thick description in crafting more persuasive messaging for Democrats appears to bear me out in this. According to the nonprofit, Wide Angle Research, non-standard qualitative analysis of voters offers “more significant insights into voter behavior than traditional polling questions, such as which issues they prioritize and how they feel the country is progressing or backsliding.”
                   *  *  *
Another data analyst who is well worth reading: “More Republican Women than You Think Have Had Abortions. Here’s How I Know: We pretend my story is rare among conservatives. It’s not, and Republicans should stop acting like it” by Sam Zaleski (op-ed posted to POLITICO’s website, 7/31/2022).
  Zaleski tackles some of those pesky “complexities” which elude pollsters yet, she believes, suggest a clear majority in the U.S. wants “to pull back the rhetoric and support empathetic, commonsense ways to provide pregnant women with the care they deserve.” (S. Zaleski, n. pag.)
  “According to Pew, 61 percent of voters believe abortion should be legal in some or all cases. Only 8 percent of voters believe abortion should be illegal in all cases. Given these numbers, it should seem that Democrats and Republicans in red states and blue states alike should get to work on deciding what the restrictions and exceptions should be; a law that bans nearly all abortions is unlikely to align with popular opinion, no matter how red the state.” (S. Zaleski, n. pag.)
  PBS News Weekend’s segment, “Texas Woman Describes Ordeal with State Abortion Law after Miscarriage” (first aired, 7/30/2022) confirms Zaleski’s practical wisdom.
  SUMMARY: “When Marlena Stell suffered a miscarriage last year in Texas, she says she begged her doctor for help but instead was forced to go for weeks with fetal remains inside of her because of strict anti-abortion laws. It’s a story that could become more common after Roe v. Wade was overturned. She joins Geoff Bennett to discuss.”
  Stell told Bennett she was motivated to step up and share such a personal story because “I wanted to bring attention to this so that people know that, people like me who want children are getting affected. It’s not just a certain group of women, it’s all women who are pregnant, and that I just wanted more awareness for it, honestly.” (n. pag.)
  Stell’s egregious health care experience is exemplar of the sort of complexities missed not only by quantitative assessments like polls, but also by the tiny cohort of radical sectarians shoving their false certainties onto the rest of us: “My husband wasn’t allowed to come in with me. I had to be escorted in by a host at the clinic. And as I was going in, there was people protesting outside, telling me, I was a baby killer. They had signs asking — tell[ing] me I didn’t have to do this. And so for someone like me, who wanted that baby, that’s devastating to hear when they don’t know what you’re going through, or why you’re there.” (Marlena Stell, in PBS News Weekend interview)
                   *  *  *
Both of She-philosopher.​com’s forthcoming studies of “this Nation’s history and tradition” concerning the regulation of guns and abortions ask: Where are the checks and balances on an activist Supreme Court hell-bent on enshrining so much “ignorance or misinformation” (The Inconveniencies that Have Happened to Some Persons which Have Transported Themselves from England to Virginia; Without Provisions Necessary to Sustaine Themselves ..., 1622, n. pag.) about Anglo-America’s historical tradition of firearm regulation as constitutional law?
  While I shall focus my studies on righting the historical record — which I believe has been corrupted by the two 2022 SCOTUS decisions, New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — others are pushing back on metastasizing “ignorance or misinformation” concerning medical science and best medical practices in the 21st century. Scil.
    the PBS News Weekend segment, “Why Finding Accurate Facts about Abortion Has Become More Difficult in Post-Roe America” (first aired, 7/10/2022). Before the Dobbs decision, “what we were seeing online was an overwhelming amount of myths and disinformation stemming from anti-abortion movements. This myths and disinformation was primarily really defensive as they were trying to make their point for why abortion is unethical and immoral and also dangerous.  ¶   So a lot of the focus was on drumming up broader support for their movement while trying to dissuade individual people from actually getting an abortion. So one of the main sticking points for them before the Dobbs decision was centered around abortion reversal pills, which have not been proven to be safe or effective in clinical trials. And in fact, were stopped in clinical trials because of dangerous hemorrhaging.” After the Dobbs decision, “we’ve seen the anti-abortion myths and disinformation grow much more vitriolic. It’s become a lot, a lot more targeted, and angry at people who might still be considering getting an abortion or might still have access to one.  ¶   So, some of the angles that are primarily being used now are targeting chemical abortion as they’re calling it, which is actually another phrase for medication abortion, trying to convince people that it is unsafe, which is not true.  ¶   And another main point that they’re sticking on is really pushing against what they’re calling abortion tourism, which is a really flippant and pejorative way to describe somebody who has no other choice, but to give up a lot of money, time and resources to access care that they need outside of state.” (Jenna Sherman, of Meedan Digital Health Lab; qtd. in PBS News Weekend interview)
    “The Web Is Home to an Illegal Bazaar for Abortion Pills. The FDA Is Ill-Equipped to Stop It: Experts say the sites pose a public health threat that is likely to grow” by Ruth Reader (posted to POLITICO’s website, 8/1/2022). According to John B. Hertig, associate professor of pharmacy practice in the Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, “There are a majority of U.S. consumers who think that if they see medical care listed on Google on the first page, that it’s been vetted or validated by some authority in the U.S. [...] And that’s absolutely not the case at all.” Indeed, “Of the roughly 35,000 online pharmacies worldwide, 95 percent operate illegally, according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.” “‘In our experience, these rogue pharmacies are master marketers and they will pivot to whatever drug is in the news and popular, using it as a marketing tool to try to funnel business to their website,’ said David Khalaf, a spokesperson for LegitScript, and Oregon firm that validates online health services and works with government agencies and companies to identify illegal operations.” Reader describes here “the enforcement problem” which gives rogue pharmaceutical websites a leg up, placing the onus on consumers to educate themselves about properly vetted resources for abortion pills. “When you’re a patient who’s struggling, because now they can’t find access to care, whether it be abortion or whatever, it’s natural that they’re gonna Google it, and that’s a really risky proposition.” (J. B. Hertig, qtd. in Ruth Reader, n. pag.)
    “The Latest Social Media Misinformation: Abortion Reversal Pills. After Dobbs, platforms’ uneven moderation approaches let an unproven ‘treatment’ to reverse a medication abortion spread” by Rebecca Kern and Ruth Reader (posted to POLITICO’s website, 8/20/2022). Because “definitive research doesn’t exist and the level of danger is unclear,” content posted online concerning abortion reversal pills “falls into a gray area in many social media platforms’ policies about how to handle misinformation.” “The National Right to Life Committee — one of largest anti-abortion-rights groups — stands behind the alleged treatment and says women deserve to know it’s an option.  ¶   But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the nation’s leading organization of reproductive health clinicians, has said the reversal treatment is not supported by science and can cause dangerous hemorrhaging. And a 2019 trial evaluating abortion reversal treatment with progesterone ended early due to three participants experiencing high levels of internal bleeding.  ¶   Dr. Mary Jacobson, chief medical officer of Alpha Medical, a women’s health telemedicine group that is in the process of adding medication abortion as a service, called the progesterone treatment ‘an unproven and unethical idea that suggests a flawed oversimplification of how complex hormonal and neurochemical processes of a medication abortion can be manipulated.’  ¶   However, to date, federal health agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention haven’t weighed in on the safety or efficacy of administering progesterone as a way to reverse a medication abortion, making it more challenging for platforms to navigate the disinformation without a federal authoritative voice to cite. An FDA spokesperson said it has not approved any abortion reversal pill products.” (R. Kern and R. Reader, n. pag.)
  “Abortion reversal pill content is just one subset of misinformation spreading online as debates about the Dobbs decision proliferate on social media. Other false content from anti-abortion groups includes posts saying the FDA-approved medication abortion causes cancer and infertility, even though medication abortion has been proven to be safer than Tylenol. And on the abortion-rights side, individuals are spreading misinformation about at-home herbal treatments to induce abortion, which can be potentially poisonous.” (R. Kern and R. Reader, n. pag.)
  “Misinformation researchers say the increase in abortion reversal content appears to be sowing doubt and confusion online, muddying the waters around the effectiveness of medication abortions, which pregnant people can still obtain through the mail even in states that have banned the procedure.  ¶   ‘Mis- and disinformation is really designed to confuse you in that situation and make it more about the ideological arguments and conspiracies in a way to cloud your judgment about how easy or safe it is to access an abortion,’ said Rachel Moran, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington’s Information School studying health misinformation.” (R. Kern and R. Reader, n. pag.)
    The National Women’s Health Network, of which I am a long-time member, offers a “go-to list of trusted providers and resources on abortion” which I can recommend without hesitation.
  Penetrating the mysteries around pregnancy and birth and life itself has long been a priority for natural philosophers in the Greco-Roman West. Advances in this project have not always benefitted women equally, especially when knowledge has been strategically withheld from women, in order to better control us and limit our agency.
  That the Internet — which visionaries like Jimmy Wales imagined as giving all of us “unlimited access to reliable, neutral information,” as captured in the Wikipedia motto, “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.” — now contributes to the suppression of knowledge is an alarming development.
  “In September 2021, Wales said that Facebook and Twitter should combat misinformation and abuse on their platforms by deploying volunteer moderators to monitor controversial posts.” I urge all of us who can to participate in this collaborative effort to expose and root out untruths so “that no [wo]man suffer, either through ignorance or misinformation” (from subtitle of 1622 broadside).
  In this brave new world of information sharing, there is no excuse for allowing false information — especially when embedded in misguided SCOTUS decisions — to go unchallenged. It’s time that all of us opining in public experience the rigors of peer review.
                   *  *  *
On 8/27/2022 I received a mailer from UCS’s (Union of Concerned Scientists) Center for Science and Democracy, reporting on their campaign to “prevent the spread of disinformation.” “Disinformation — false information shared with the deliberate intent to mislead — is all around us. While the disinformation you may encounter on social media is often spread by individuals who simply don’t know better, its substance is typically generated by bad actors: individuals and special-interest groups that benefit from people not knowing the truth. These bad actors create and spread untruths for their own personal, financial, or political gain. Often, it’s all three.” (UCS mailer, p. 1)
  UCS’s timely What You Can Do about Disinformation (published 1 April 2022) toolkit and related resources is available here.
  And I recommend it with enthusiasm. The Center’s evidence-based strategies to counter disinformation — “The Dos and Don’ts of Refuting Lies and Attacks” — are especially helpful.
  E.g., team leader Lindsey Berger advises: “If I were to leave you with one top tip, it would be this: replace, don’t repeat. Avoid repeating the disinformation spread by bad actors whenever possible, as algorithms reward clicks and can’t tell the difference between an endorsement and a rebuttal. Instead, replace it with content that fits these three A’s: 1) An accurate message reflects truth as validated by experience and rigorous research; 2) An aspirational message offers an attractive possible future that inspires audiences to answer your calls to action; 3) An actionable message offers clear, practical next steps that people can take to move us closer to our desired future.” (UCS mailer, p. 2)
  Here is team leader Lindsey Berger taking her own advice: “Every time I log onto social media, I see disinformation: about COVID-19 and vaccines, about elections and political candidates, about climate change. This flood of half-truths, quotes with no context, and outright lies distracts us from the real work of solving our real problems. It threatens our democracy, undermines science, and even puts our health and safety at risk. But I’m not discouraged — and I don’t think you should be, either. Because discouraged, divided, and demoralized is exactly how these bad actors want us to feel. But we are powerful. We outnumber them. And together, we can stem the tide of disinformation....” (UCS mailer, p. 1)
                   *  *  *
I have assiduously avoided adding anything more to this unwieldy sidebar introducing She-philosopher.​com’s historical study of our culture war over abortion, until I can move the burgeoning whole where it properly belongs.
  Unfortunately, that will be a while yet. In the meantime, I have decided that Jeff Greenfield’s op-ed, “The Sad, Familiar Demise of the Expanded Child Tax Credit: Poor kids just don’t matter in American politics” (posted to POLITICO’s website, 9/28/2022) deserves an exception.
  For me, this is another infuriating example of partisan politicians’ hypocrisy and double standards when it comes to the escalating fight over civil rights. At base, this is about our crisis of fake representation, as both parties put their chase after power before the public good. Needless to say, such power struggles have no constitutional mandate, whereas promoting “the general welfare” is one of six guiding principles by which “We, the people of the United States ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Promoting “the general welfare” — which surely includes the quality of life of “some 4 million children returned to poverty” (Jeff Greenfield, n. pag.) who have already been born, and whose personhood is beyond dispute — is thus a founding purpose of our constitutional republic. (If you can’t get this paragraph’s 2 hover notes to display, click/tap here for alternate formatting as a second-window aside.)
  As a social historian, I am well aware that the way we treat our poor and vulnerable — governed by what used to be called “poor laws” and “debtor laws” — is a good indicator of the state of a democracy. The more humane treatment accorded debtors by, e.g., The Laws and Liberties of Massachusetts in 1648 (to be further advanced by provinces such as Pennsylvania, in later decades), were self-consciously democratic improvements on received English law, instituted to safeguard American settlers’ lives from the arbitrary exercise of governmental power. As far as I’m concerned, caring for poor children is as fundamental as it gets for any society committed to equality of opportunity.
  That our representatives have sacrificed this righteous cause on the alter of political expediency is immoral and wrong. “As Rep. Rosa DeLauro ... puts it bluntly in her book, the biggest obstacle is simply ‘indifference to the condition of children, particularly poor children.’  ¶   There remains in our politics a powerful strain that sees a social program aimed at the plight of the poor as a boondoggle, a reward for the ‘undeserving.’ It’s why voters will often support social programs when they are for everyone — Social Security and Medicare, for example — but not when they are directed to ‘them.’” (Jeff Greenfield, n. pag.)

W H A T ’ S   N E W

Two extracts from the editio princeps of Sir George Mackenzie’s Laws and Customes of Scotland, in Matters Criminal (Edinburgh, 1678).
  1.  Click/tap here to open a second-window aside with the full text of Mackenzie’s “Title XXXII. Bearing of Unlawful Weapons,” which documents historical restrictions on bearing “offensive Arms” in public. Mackenzie’s legal treatise establishes that “Hagbuts, Pistols, and other Fire-works” were all deemed “unlawful Weapons” under both the common law and civil law transplanted to Scottish-America: “the carrying of such Arms was repute publick violence, though no prejudice was done”; ergo, “Pistols, were forbidden, and the bearers punished, albeit no prejudice followed.” Punishment for the crime of carrying unlawful firearms in public ranged from “the prohibit Arms were confiscat” to “amputation of the right hand” and/or “confiscation of their moveables, or syning and imprisonment” and/or “banished the Realm during his lifetime.”
  2.  Click/tap here for an HTML transcription of Mackenzie’s summary of abortion law and “How the murdering of Children is punished” during the early-modern period (from his essay, “Title XIV. Paricide”). As with so many other “Statutes and Customs of the Realm,” 17th-century legal traditions concerning parricide, infanticide, and abortion were rooted in Scripture.

An excerpt from Alfred N. Chandler’s Land Title Origins: A Tale of Force and Fraud (1945), documenting the dark side of Anglo-America’s historical tradition of Christian nationalism. Longstanding myths about religious liberty notwithstanding, religious establishments in Anglo-America prior to The First Amendment mostly extended, rather than abolished, European customs of religious persecution: “Those colonies which had been the most noted as havens of religious tolerance became the most intolerant.” (A. N. Chandler, Land Title Origins, 42)
  Click/tap here to directly access our digital edition of Chandler’s Chapter 7, “Religious Liberty Overstressed as Motive for Migration”, published on 3/6/2024 as an appendix for She-philosopher.​com’s study entitled “The Missing Historical Context: Anglo-American Gun Laws & the Original Intent of the Second Amendment.”

W H A T ’ S

An illustrated appendix for’s study, “The Missing Historical Context: Anglo-American Gun Laws & the Original Intent of the Second Amendment”: to access, click/tap here for the set-up, with links, in that page’s sidebar.
  This appendix opens with excerpts from Archbishop John Potter’s Archaeologia Graeca (rev. and enl. 2nd edn., London, 1706) giving ancient Greek laws (6th century BCE) disarming citizens — evidence that a state’s right to disarm its citizens is foundational to western-style civilization. Or, click/tap here for direct access (designed to open in a small, floating 2nd window).
  As globalization took hold in 17th-century Europe, so did comparative ethnology: “races of the Old and New World and of the ancient historical past had become subjects of intense curiosity and speculation.”
  Picking up on Potter’s comment — “So ’tis reported of our British Ancestors, that they painted themselves with divers Forms of Animals, thinking thereby to appear more terrible to their Enemies.” — the rest of this appendix delves into what it meant in early-modern Anglo-America to publicly conduct oneself “in a most warlike manner” (George Percy, “Observations gathered out of A discourse of the plantation of the southerne colonie in Virginia by the English, 1606,” in Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes, ed. Samuel Purchas, 4 vols., 1625, Illustrations of our pre-civilized ancestors’ “painted bravery” (warrior fashions) are juxtaposed with the antic black patches adopted by civilized 17th-century European fashionistas such as Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle.
[ UPDATE ]  New illustrated content re. bearing heraldic arms — including heraldic cultural appropriations and racist blazoning during the Elizabethan era, plus further discussion of militant Christian nationalism at the founding of Anglo-America — added to this appendix on 2/2/2023.

An extract from William Cavendish’s MS. Letter to Charles II (a scribal publication written c.1650s) asserting the king’s prerogative to control the armed forces and to disarm the provinces (independent, regional militias). This debate with republicans was of great import, since “The final issue which had precipitated the Civil War in 1640 was the control of the armed forces of the Crown” (A. S. Turberville, A History of Welbeck Abbey and Its Owners, 2 vols., 1938, 1.172). As such, Newcastle’s coterie publication is a valuable historical text in the literature comprising the legal traditions of the royal prerogative. See the associated sidebar entry for She-philosopher.​com’s study, “The Missing Historical Context: Anglo-American Gun Laws & the Original Intent of the Second Amendment” to access the full text of Newcastle’s “For the Militia” (Section 1 of his Letter to Charles II). Or, click/tap here for direct access (designed to open in a small, floating 2nd window).
  Newcastle here takes the side of “monarchical militarism” in the centuries-old struggle between a strong “military-imperial executive” and a “civilian-localist legislature” — a political struggle which roiled Anglo-America from its founding and is, I believe, a forgotten subtext for the original 18th-century version of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America (before being postmodernized during the late-20th–21st century).
[ UPDATE ]  New content re. the earl of Newcastle’s failed military efforts against Hull in 1643, including his loss of “Queen Elizabeth’s Pocket Pistol” (a 24-foot-long cannon!) to the Parliamentarians, added to this appendix on 1/17/2023.

An appendix entitled “A Note on Anglo-America’s First Representative Institution, the Virginia House of Burgesses” documenting America’s founding tradition of radical republicanism, rooted in expanded voting rights which flowed from the republican principle of no taxation without representation. Among little-known twists & turns in the centuries-old American movement to expand/restrict the franchise (from voting as a civic duty, to voting as a privilege, to voting as a right) which are detailed here: the statute enacted in 1699 (and again, in 1705) taking away elite white women’s right to vote, with text reading “No woman sole, or covert, infant [i.e., persons under the age of 21], Popish recusant entitled to vote.” A few decades later, the vote was similarly taken away from free men of color.
  Alarmed by the Decennial U.S. Census debacle engineered by the Trump administration, I moved relevant historical content to this appended page which I published on 7/5/2020, so that it was available to website visitors before the Trump administration’s accelerated 2020 deadline had passed. Of note, this rare historical survey of little-known founding legislation includes proof that an accurate count of all this country’s inhabitants has been stipulated by law since the first American census, prescribed by the Virginia legislature in 1619.
  Former President Trump’s resistance to these founding republican principles — especially convenience in voting, a right first enshrined in statute in 1639 Virginia — put his own private interest (to hold onto power, by whatever means, including suppressing and/or subverting the popular vote) before the public good, despite having sworn to “promote the General Welfare” (preamble to the U.S. Constitution).
  With Donald Trump’s removal from office (effective 1/20/2021), his administration’s unconstitutional attempts to abridge the right of suffrage and manipulate the U.S. head count are no longer my primary concern.
  Nonetheless, arguments over founding republican values concerning suffrage, taxation, the census, apportionment, & representation, amplified by former President Trump and his faction, still enthrall the country. And lawsuits begun during the Trump administration are still wending their way through the courts. As such, I will continue to post updates concerning the 2020–2021 census, when convenient.
  In addition, I’ve added the text of some of our earliest state statutes regulating elections in order to provide some much-needed historical perspective on today’s heated debate over popular suffrage and “election integrity.”
  And in light of the coming “Holy War” promised by domestic extremists, I have included extensive quotes from the Church of England clergyman, Lionel Gatford, bemoaning the rise of domestic violence and militarized Christianity in mid-17th-century Virginia: his words give a whole new perspective on what “protecting our Christian culture and heritage” actually means, especially in light of the human trafficking of white persons in 1620s Virginia and in 1650s Virginia. As I argue in new content published 5/26/2023, despite Christian pieties and the missionary zeal promoting British imperialism, during the first five decades of colonization, white (not black) human trafficking predominated in Virginia.
  So I would remind that 61 percent of Republicans who support declaring the United States a Christian nation, even while acknowledging “that the Constitution would not allow such a declaration,” as reported by Stella Rouse and Shibley Telhami in “Most Republicans Support Declaring the United States a Christian Nation: New polling shows the appeal — and limits — of a Christian nationalist message” (posted to POLITICO’s website, 9/21/2022), that even the most enlightened experiments with this — such as Maryland’s Act Concerning Religion passed in 1649, which was the first law in any English colony guaranteeing freedom of religion for Christians (penalties ranged from fines to death for those guilty of violating its provisions) — went awry.
  When the Christian founders of the United States prohibited religious establishments with the First Amendment (adopted in 1791), they drew on their direct experience of such regimes in Anglo-America, “first established by Sir Thomas Gates, Knight and Leiftenant Generall the 24th of May 1610; exemplified and approved by the Right Honorable Lord Governor and Captayne General, the 12th of June 1610; agayne exemplified and enlarged by Sir Thomas Dale, knight and Deputy Governor the 22nd of June 1611,” and documented by William Strachey in 1612 (For the Colony in Virginea Britannia. Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, &c.).
  EDITED  And when the opportunity arose, our 18th-century founders wisely chose to reject all such regimes institutionalizing select Christian privilege at the federal level, instead promoting liberty of conscience in matters of religion (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”).
  By 1780, “Established churches and religious persecution became increasingly unpatriotic.” (John M. Murrin, “The Great Inversion, or Court Versus Country: A Comparison of the Revolution Settlements in England (1688-1721) and America (1776-1816)” in Three British Revolutions, 1641, 1688, 1776, ed. J. G. A. Pocock, 400).
  We ignore this country’s founders’ firsthand experiences with the Established Church, and their rejection of the religious uniformity this imposes, at our peril.
  Thankfully, the younger generation appears to be more antiestablishmentarian than their elders: “We found that members of younger generations are less likely than those of older generations to support declaring the U.S. a Christian nation. Only about a quarter of Millennial respondents (25 percent) and a third of Generation Z respondents (34 percent) favor this declaration. By contrast, a majority of respondents from the two oldest generations — Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) and baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) support the U.S. being declared a Christian nation (54 percent and 50 percent, respectively).” (Stella Rouse & Shibley Telhami, n. pag.)
Appendix entitled “A Note on Anglo-America’s First Representative Institution, the Virginia House of Burgesses” last revised: 5/26/2023. On 11/27/2022, I added 4 new entries to the Updates section at the end of the page (starts here, with Update No. 50).
Update No. 25, which probes the psychology of mapping, including the complicated aesthetics of electoral maps (“Is a ‘badly’ shaped district bad?”; “If we required ‘good’ shapes, would we successfully eliminate the things that bother us about gerrymandering?”), and raises “the difference between neutrality and fairness in map designs.”
And Update No. 28: more evidence that from the beginnings of self-government in 1619, foreign workers resident in Anglo-America earned the right to political representation.
And Update No. 47: reports on Jared Pettinato’s daring lawsuit invoking the penalty clause of the 14th Amendment against state legislatures which abridge voting rights. “‘No matter what may be the ground of exclusion,’ Sen. Jacob Howard, a Republican from Michigan, explained in 1866, ‘whether a want of education, a want of property, a want of color, or a want of anything else, it is sufficient that the person is excluded from the category of voters, and the State loses representation in proportion.’” (qtd. in Michael Linhorst, n. pag.)
                   *  *  *
In the spirit of righting the historical record, and providing much-needed peer review of Supreme Court briefs pushing more “fake history,” is Fraudulent Document Cited in Supreme Court Bid to Torch Election Law: Supporters of the ‘independent state legislature theory’ are quoting fake history” by Ethan Herenstein and Brian Palmer (posted to POLITICO’s website, 9/15/2022).
  In December 2022, SCOTUS “will hear Moore v. Harper, an audacious bid by Republican legislators in North Carolina to free themselves from their own state constitution’s restrictions on partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression. The suit also serves as a vehicle for would-be election subverters promoting the so-called ‘independent state legislature theory’ — the notion that state legislators have virtually absolute authority over federal elections — which was used as part of an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.  ¶   The North Carolina legislators’ case relies in part on a piece of paper from 1818. But there’s a problem: The document they quote in their brief is a well-known fake. So as the Supreme Court considers whether to blow up our electoral system, it should know the real American history.” (Ethan Herenstein & Brian Palmer, n. pag.)


Anticipating that “Sometime in December of 2024, a rogue state legislature somewhere in America might step off the precipice that none did in 2020 and actually send an unconstitutional ‘alternative’ slate of electors” in a bid to subvert the presidential election, Matthew A. Seligman hopes to preempt would-be election subverters by defusing the “overheated rhetoric” and “baseless speculation” and “legal conspiracy theories ... coming from the left” which “could themselves carry catastrophic consequences in the next presidential election.” See his opinion piece for POLITICO, “How Panic on the Left Could Spark a Constitutional Crisis: The Supreme Court may make a dreadful decision on the independent state legislature theory. Progressive misinformation might make it worse” (posted 11/22/2022).
  “The issue in Moore v. Harper is whether the Constitution gives state legislatures the exclusive power to determine the ‘manner’ of congressional elections, unconstrained by state constitutions. Under the independent state legislature theory advanced by North Carolina Republican legislators and their conservative allies, it does. Because state constitutions often provide greater protection of voting rights and stronger safeguards against gerrymandering and other insidious practices than the federal Constitution does, a decision by the court removing those protections would do real damage to democracy.” (Matthew A. Seligman, n. pag.)
  Nonetheless, “Even if the Supreme Court adopts the most extreme version of the independent state legislature theory [in its Moore v. Harper decision], it would absolutely and without question violate the Constitution and federal law for a state legislature to toss out the results of the election and appoint its own ‘alternative’ electors after Election Day.” (Matthew A. Seligman, n. pag.)
  To repeat: “So it’s clear as day that, no matter how expansive its powers to set the ‘manner’ of appointing electors under the independent state legislature theory, a state legislature’s attempt to appoint electors after Election Day would violate the Constitution. There are real threats to democracy, and those risks must be addressed immediately. This isn’t one of them.” (Matthew A. Seligman, n. pag.)
  Moreover, “Overstating the legal consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision in Moore for presidential elections is a case study in the dangers of legal misinformation.” All too often, “it doesn’t just matter what the Constitution says, it matters what people think the Constitution says.” (Nothing confirms this astute observation of Seligman’s more than our 21st-century controversy over The Second Amendment, popularly perceived as guaranteeing an individual right to bear arms — a postmodern and anachronistic interpretation of constitutional language grounded in a typical confusion of “the people” and “the multitude,” of the sort evinced by the January 6th insurrectionists righteously marauding through the Capitol because “the people’s” House is, ipso facto, “my house.”)
  “The battle for the minds of Americans who don’t know the details of arcane constitutional doctrine will be much harder to win if those who attempt to overturn the 2024 election can point to their political opponents’ uninformed hyperventilating from just two years prior and say: See, you already said we have this power. Those who believe in the rule of law have a grave responsibility to know what the law actually says. They should start living up to that responsibility.” (Matthew A. Seligman, n. pag.)

A detailed, ongoing study of California’s flawed Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013 (Assembly Bill 1404 or AB 1404), under which Californians have lost founding rights to property & security.
  SUMMARY  California state legislators contend that AB 1404 “clarified and modernized” Cal. Civ. Code § 841 (enacted c.1872). Conversely, I argue that AB 1404 corrupted existing law, and that state legislators who now refuse to conduct a revisal — and either fix the corrupted law, or reenact the original 19th-century statute — are fake representatives, willfully violating my First Amendment right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
    a 2nd-window aside with an HTML transcript of a 16th-century emblem, Scripta non temerè edenda [in English: We should not publish our works in haste], appended to the Web page with my two Open Letters etc. for California state legislators, concerning their misguided reforms of Section 841 of the California Civil Code (click/tap here for introductory text counselling slow haste in everything we do)
    reflections on Andy Goldsworthy’s “walking wall” — a sculptor’s view of masonry as performance art, in the Sisyphean mode
    a 2nd-window aside with “A Voter’s Manifesto: How I Voted in the Presidential Primary Election (3 March 2020),” and an update with “Results of the Presidential Primary Election (3 March 2020) for California State Senator, 39th District and State Assemblymember, 77th District
NOTE: one or more files in this suite of Web pages most recently revised: 6/3/2022 (see correction concerning redistricting of California State Assembly Districts 77 & 78 and State Senate Districts 39 & 40; plus a caveat for Democratic/progressive voters about party endorsements).
  My last letter (dated 11/15/2021) to Senator Toni Atkins, copying California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, is posted here.

I have edited & added new content to the She-philosopher.​com 2nd-window aside, “The Athenian Mercury on ‘Mad Madge’”, now that patriarchy’s debate over women’s education is once more in the news, as Afghanistan’s “Taliban Cancels Higher Education for Girls as New School Year Starts” (posted to the PBS NewsHour website, 3/23/2022). See also the updated “Afghanistan’s Taliban Order Head-to-Toe Covering of Women” by The Associated Press (posted to the PBS NewHour website, 5/7/2022).
  This appendix for the introductory essay on Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle, in She-philosopher.​com’s THE PLAYERS section, includes multiple texts from the early-modern debate over “Whether it be proper for Women to be Learned?” and “Of Knowledge in Women.”
  As I have noted elsewhere, it is disheartening — and for some of us, maddening — that the argument continues almost 4 centuries on.


Three hundred days after “nearly a million girls across Afghanistan were banned from entering their schools” by the extremist Taliban government, the PBS NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz interviewed Pashtana Durrani, the executive director of LEARN Afghanistan and a visiting fellow at Wellesley College’s Centers for Women: “Afghan Women, Girls Push for Education in the Face of Taliban Resistance” (first aired, 7/14/2022).
  Durrani describes an Afghanistan in crisis, where a small number of heroic girls determined to have “a better future” attend “secret schools,” putting their lives on the line in order to get an education. According to Durrani, “Afghan women, Afghan girls have done everything in their power to make sure that they access their rights. It’s up to the international community to do the same thing”: “the international community needs to react, instead of just saying some statements on Twitter.” (n. pag.)
  Asked “if you could say one thing to the girls out there who are worried they may never be allowed back in school, what would you say?” Durrani responded with a familiar message of resilience: “it’s our country, and we have the right to exist, to get educated. It’s just time. And time will decide in our favor, yes.” (n. pag.)

Given the growing reach & sophistication of our modern information wars — and the effective use of the public square for gaslighting and agitprop — I find myself updating multiple pages more often than I would like (as I explain here, peer-reviewed scholarly monographs resist constant updating, and scholars are not trained in the art of revision).
  The new cyber conflicts have me revisiting two She-philosopher.​com pages regularly enough that it’s worth logging them here:
    the IN BRIEF topic on Critical Pluralism (last updated 4/11/2022, with an annotated link to Amanda Ripley’s important reporting on the group of Afghan women warriors “who hunted the Taliban”); includes detailed coverage of PBS NewsHour’s closure of its digital agon (on 8/25/2021), plus a 2nd-window aside giving the text of four essays by Margaret Cavendish, then marchioness of Newcastle, on opining, ignorance, and knowledge
    the IN BRIEF topic on Data-Driven Demagoguery (last updated 2/21/2023), a broad-ranging miscellany which includes:
     - 8 captioned illustrations, including the Elizabethan photo op that galvanized an empire;
     -  updated links for those wanting to help Ukrainians in their existential fight for self-determination, peace & freedom;
     -  ruminations on doing “the right thing” (posted 2/16/2023; rev. and enl. 2/21/2023), as the devastating war in Ukraine nears its one-year anniversary, with no end in sight, and the demagogues hold sway;
     - my experience of Donald Trump’s dishonorable performance as a “wartime president”, countered by the inspiring wartime presidency of Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and alternative leadership roles in the postmodern information wars modeled by media celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger;
     - historical notes on the pluto-populist uprising of 1676 known as Bacon’s Rebellion, and on British America’s first hospital;
     - evolving discussion of a demagogic politics of certainty, which I believe we best confront with critical pluralism, Ciceronian rhetoric (eloquence + practical wisdom), and habitual skepticism;
     - evolving discussion of the growing demagoguery around white nationalism, especially mainstream acceptance of anti-Semitic conspiracies such as “Great Replacement Theory,” which threaten the sovereignty (human dignity and right to self-determination) of “the other”;
     - the growing demagoguery around liberating America, with an appendix giving some missing historical context for “the free exercise” of religion clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;
     - and a 2nd-window aside with an explanation of demagoguery from the 1st Eng. edn. (1651) of Thomas Hobbes’s De Cive
Both Web pages are part of She-philosopher.​com’s series focused on how we forge an ethical art of engagement & confrontation, born of respect for difference, in a deeply divided world.
  A related discussion of Margaret Cavendish’s limited tolerance for divinely-inspired human “variety” adds historical perspective to our own studies of “how people differ, where their differences come from, and whether they can live and work together with these differences.”
  For a critique of pro-woman legislation which is rooted in essentialist thinking about sex differences — thus overemphasizing internal, individual causes of behavior (regardless of whether we believe these to be biologically or socially determined), and underestimating the importance of the diverse situations in which we “do gender,” such that differences of social identity collapse into sex differences — see the sidebar entry on California Senate Bill 826 (enacted 2018) for She-philosopher.​com’s detailed study of California’s flawed Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013.
  For discussion of 17th-century investigations into human blackness — pitting new scientific theories of black & white as interchangeable colors against proverbial wisdom characterizing black & white as fixed binary opposites (separate and unequal) — see the appendix on Henry Stubbe (1632–1676) at our sister project known as Roses.


I am still working on She-philosopher.​com’s study of “the five sexes” during the early modern period, which focuses on the challenges posed to gender polarization schemes by those of “a twofold Sex,” known as hermaphrodites through the 17th century (the preferred modern term for this is intersex).
  How we conceive of gender — in terms of polar “opposites”? or as fluid performances along a continuum of human difference? — has profound consequences for the debate over sexual inequality (what causes it, and how we overcome it).
  As with laws such as California Senate Bill 826 (enacted 2018), we see the effects of our misconceptions of biological differences in the growing controversy over elite women athletes who don’t fit neatly into bipolar gender categories: e.g., “How Caster Semenya’s Case Could Alter the Landscape of Women’s Sport” (first aired on the PBS NewsHour, 5/3/2019).
  SUMMARY: “In athletics, who defines a man and a woman? A court has ordered South African runner and Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya to take drugs to suppress her naturally high testosterone levels if she wants to continue to compete. William Brangham talks to USA Today’s Christine Brennan and former Olympian Madeleine Pape, who once raced against Semenya and is now earning a sociology PhD in gender.”

Pictures of the Vetruvian Woman, from William Austin’s geometrical study of the divinely-proportioned female form in Haec Homo, wherein the Excellency of the Creation of Woman Is Described (1637).
  Austin’s protofeminist essay was dedicated to the Vitruvian Woman’s real-life counterpart, Mary Griffith, horologist and early bourgeois patron of the arts & sciences, whose portrait is also reproduced here.

Illustrated IN BRIEF biography of Queen Elizabeth I, including a rare portrait, suppressed by the Elizabethan state, of the Virgin Queen as a haggard old woman.

Introductory discussion of black letter text — with multiple examples, including a 16th-century treatment for breast cancer from Thomas Lupton’s best-selling medical compendium, A Thousand Notable Things of Sundry Sortes (1st edn., 1579) — in the 2nd-window aside for She-philosopher.​com’s webessay entitled “The New She-philosopher.​com: a Note on Site Design” (alternatively, scroll down to the link for “In comparison, reading lots of close-set black letter these days feels effortless!”).
And, for another interesting example of black letter text: see the ad, printed in 1611, calling on artisans “and labouring men of all sorts” to take a chance on colonial adventure in Anglo-America and resettle in Virginia.

An IN BRIEF topic on the “Sect of antient Philosophers” known as Pythagoreans.
  [ FWIW, I long ago identified the figure I believe to be the true Pythagoras in Rafael’s celebrated fresco, The School of Athens (c.1509–11).
  But my (sure to be surprising! ;-) identification relies on little-known, 17th-century sources & texts which I have not yet finished digitizing for publication here. Without this new evidence at hand, which everyone is able to review for themselves, I can’t make a proper — able to withstand the rigors of peer review in today’s digital respublica literaria — scholarly argument.
  So further public announcements on this matter are going to have to wait, as I attend to other, more time-critical projects first. ]

An IN BRIEF biography of “Mr. Tho. Britton, Smallcoal-Man,” who owned 3 works by Margaret Cavendish (in addition to works by Mary Trye, Anna Maria van Schurman, Bathsua Makin, and Elizabeth Cellier) in the IN BRIEF section.

The long-promised Part 2 of the 5-part Gallery Exhibit themed around the so-called “Velasco Map” of 1610, and the ongoing debate over its authenticity.
  For an excellent introduction to the complex of issues surrounding an antique map’s authenticity, see the Web page, “Cartographic Fakes, Forgeries and Facsimiles likely to deceive,” at the website founded and maintained by Tony Campbell.

I’m in the throes of updating the old introductory essay on “Mad Madge” in the PLAYERS section. As part of this process, I have converted a companion webessay on the politics of naming Margaret Cavendish into an IN BRIEF topic, available here.

Q U I C K   L I N K S
(for the webessay at left)

More on classical rhetoric’s concept of kairos — a Greek word “with no single or precise equivalent in any other language” — here.
  See also the IN BRIEF topics on 2 related rhetorical concepts: occasio (occasion) and the postmodern rhetorical situation.

For those (like me!) who wish they were more fluent readers & speakers of Latin, there is hope: see the article by Anthony Grafton in the 16 Feb. 2015 issue (vol. 300, no. 7, pp. 27–31) of The Nation: “Latin Lives: Is the revival of a dead language breathing new life into the humanities?
  Grafton writes here about the inspirational Paideia Institute: “a nonprofit organization created by two young scholars named Jason Pedicone and Eric Hewett. In classical Greek, paideia means education or upbringing — more properly the ideal method of education, which sought to form the mind, character and body of the young men who would serve their cities as active citizens and soldiers. This concept has grown and changed over time, as it was adopted, and adapted, by ancient Christians and modern humanists, and it still inspires Pedicone and Hewett — reformulated in a special, newly inclusive way. A few years ago, they and some equally committed colleagues started bringing high school and college students, and a few graduate students, to Rome, where they spend some weeks studying Latin. Summer study, a dead language, hours traveling on buses: it doesn’t sound exciting on the face of it, especially to anyone who knows how little studying takes place in many summer programs. But these summer experiences are different. A lot of Paideians come back in love — with something bigger than they’re used to, something bigger than what we usually offer them in schools and universities, and that love makes a huge difference in everything they do.” (A. Grafton, 27)


And see the youth-oriented IMHO feature for the PBS NewsHour by Frankie Thomas, “Why Learning Latin Stays with You Forever” (originally aired 4/9/2018). Her spirited appeal, retitled “Study Latin if you want to talk like a supervillain” for supplementary posting in the website’s IMHO section, stresses Latin’s value as middle-school entertainment, and while some commentators criticized her presentation for this (“amateurish” opining geared at engaging “with kids who enjoy movies like Ghost World or maybe TV Shows like The Big Bang Theory”), I wish I’d been privy to her unique point of view when I was that age!
  After all, the time-honored principle of dulce et utile (studies that are both entertaining and instructive) applies here, as well as to Horace’s Ars Poetica, and to the acquisition of “useful and entertaining Knowledge” in all the arts & sciences (e.g., from the title-page for the Supplement [1744] to John Harris’ Lexicon Technicum: or, an Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Explaining not only the Terms of Art, but the Arts Themselves [1704–10] — an encyclopedia intended for the “Benefit and Satisfaction” of readers, compiled “By a Society of GENTLEMEN. Utile dulci.”).

For more on the visual rhetoric of the title-pages for the 1753 Supplement to Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, by George Lewis Scott, et al., see Lib. Cat. No. CYCL1728h (Part 2).

See a picture of Bocchi’s splendid Hermathena in the Gallery Exhibit on Renaissance and Baroque representations of Athena.
  Bocchi’s elegant, emblematic portrayal of Prudenza (Prudence) is discussed in detail in the Gallery Exhibit on the Athenian Society emblem.

A surprising number of early-modern intellectuals — including the iatrochemist, Mary Trye, and the natural philosopher, Margaret Cavendish — were ambivalent about Cicero and Ciceronian-style eloquence.
  For more on the duchess of Newcastle’s criticism, see the Editor’s Introduction for Lib. Cat. No. THOB1637.
  Trye’s argument is discussed in the webessay, Introducing: Mary Trye (fl. 1662–75): “Woman-Physician,” Medical Reformer, and Early Promoter of Evidence-Based Health Interventions, at the subdomain known as Roses.


Having trouble getting some of the underlined text links on this page to work?
  For background, seeA Note about this Website’s Use of Hover Boxes.”
  As of April 2018, neither Google Chrome nor Opera can properly display She-philosopher.​com hover notes on desktop/laptop/netbook computers and, as of Fall 2022, more browsers are having problems with the older Spry Widgets I use for this. I am in the throes of switching to a different technology for popup notes, but (as of January 2023) it will take me a while before I can finish related troubleshooting and coding. In the meantime, to access all 5 of this Web page’s hover notes in a second-window aside (where they are clustered together like end-notes), click/tap here.
  With this work-around in place, I am free to move this programming task near the bottom of my ever-expanding To Do List.
  A greater impact on performance: as of 2015, Google Search began penalizing She-philosopher.​com for my contrarian design philosophy & strategies. Google’s preferred technocentric model of peer review rates scholarly content based on commercially-driven criteria, such as mobile-friendly design, rather than intellectual merit.

If you lack the time or inclination to browse the new & improved She-philosopher.​com, try using our customized search tool (search box at the top of the right-hand sidebar on this page), which is updated every time new content is added to the public areas of the website, thus ensuring the most comprehensive and reliable searches of She-philosopher.​com.
  Learn more about our ethical, customized search tool here.
  To ensure that you’re viewing She-philosopher.​com’s most recently-updated content (both here and elsewhere at the website), don’t forget to use your browser’s Reload current page button — typically, an icon featuring a broken circle, with arrowhead on one end. For some computers, the keyboard shortcuts, Ctrl+R and F5 or Command-R, will also work; or you can right-click for a context-sensitive menu with the Reload this page button/command.
  Refreshing a page is especially important if you find yourself visiting the same Web page more than once within a relatively short time frame. I may have made modifications to the page in the interim, and you won’t always know this unless you force your browser to access the server (rather than your computer’s cache) to retrieve the requested Web page.

go to TOP of page

**  home page of
a Web-based research project for science, technology & cultural studies,
focused on “the long 17th century” (roughly 1575–1725)  **


graphic showing the palm of the hand in a raised position (iconic gesture for "stop & attend to this")

N O T E :  I am happy to report that, as of 5/18/2024, this website’s internal search engine is fully functional again. I wish to thank Mariia Y. and the customer support team at’s hosting service (Namecheap) for going above & beyond in helping me with initial Perl CGI debugging and with solving our (typically uninformative) “500 Internal Server Error.”
   Namecheap’s tech support folks never lose their cool, no matter what I throw at them, and when I throw it (usually in the wee hours ;-).
   One more announcement: I am in the throes of developing a sister website for (planning to spin off those parts of this website which are bound up with current events) so please be patient with’s halting development while I am busy elsewhere.

First Published:  April 2004
Revised (substantive):  9 July 2024

masons' defiant union fist

M Y   C O U N T E R - M E S S A G E   T O   L E A D E R S H I P ’ S   “A   M E S S A G E   F R O M Y O U R   U N I O N”  (posted 2/10/2024):

On 9 February 2024, my union household received a personalized Voter’s Guide (for the 5 March 2024 Primary election) sponsored by the California Labor Federation. This “member communication intended for the thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters, construction workers, and other essential union workers in the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council” included an endorsement which so alarmed me that I knew I had to push back here.
     Claiming “on behalf of the region’s 200,000 union members to research and advocate for candidates and ballot measures that will lead to more jobs, better jobs, and better lives for working families,” the local Labor Council announces “We’ve done the research and recommend” Brian Maienschein for San Diego City Attorney!
     In my experience, Brian Maienschein was a fake representative, and is an incompetent lawyer, who corrupted a perfectly good state law dating to c.1872 while a member of the California state assembly’s judiciary committee. This corrupt law-making, opening up a loophole for predatory neighbors, completely destroyed my quality of life.
     I petitioned Maienschein’s office — and through it, the state legislature — for a redress of grievances (as is our right under the First Amendment), only to have my petitions ignored. The whole unhappy saga is documented here: a page which I quit updating, in frustration, back in June 2022, when I decided my time was better spent agitating for needed reforms in other areas where I could make a real difference. Our political system being what it is, I knew the only way we would get rid of Brian Maienschein from the state legislature was when term limits kicked in. I accepted that, and moved on to other more pressing projects, some private (e.g., tackling health care predatory billing practices), and some public (e.g., challenging Second Amendment misreadings which promote gun violence). FWIW, I have not given up on petitioning the California state legislature over their corruption of fence law. I’ve just been overwhelmed with other work, and unwilling to interrupt this work to waste more time on Sacramento politics, when I have so little to show for it.
     Unfortunately, career politicians like Brian Maienschein don’t just go away. They pop up wherever opportunity presents.
     Like so many other U.S. voters this year, I am thoroughly fed up with all the spin (coming from both parties) about what’s at stake, and who can fix it. In the case of candidate Brian Maienschein, I have firsthand experience telling me that the Labor Council’s claims in their February 2024 Voter’s Guide — “In the California Assembly, Brian earned a reputation for bringing people together to get real results. As an experienced attorney, he’ll bring that same record of collaboration and focus on results to work for us as City Attorney.” — are a lie. The last thing my family needs is more of Maienschein’s “real results.” And if I don’t push back now against union and Democratic party election messaging, I fear that’s exactly what I’m going to get.
     Please do NOT vote for Brian Maienschein for San Diego City Attorney. Surely, we can do better than this.
     Click/tap here to view a facsimile of the front (224KB image) of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council’s February 2024 mailer; click/tap here to view a facsimile of the back (254KB image) of the Labor Council’s February 2024 mailer. Your union dues at work!

Welcome to the new!

graphic showing the palm of the hand in a raised position (iconic gesture for "stop & attend to this")

N O T E :  There are 5 “hover” boxes used on this Web page. To learn more about DHTML hover-box technology and possible display problems with it (especially if you are using Google Chrome or Opera for Web browsing and/or viewing this Web page on a mobile device), visit’s “A Note on Site Design” page. To view all 5 of this Web page’s hover notes in a second-window aside (where they are clustered together like end-notes), click/tap here.

I have been working on the new and improved since 2012, when I created a beta test site for the transitional website at Back then, I thought it was important that the original remain intact throughout the development process, and that I keep my remodeling mess out of the public eye, and off-limits to external, commercial search engines. As soon as the transitional website at was more presentable, I planned to move it over to its proper .com domain, replacing the original website which launched in 2004 and has been showing its age for some time.

I did not anticipate in 2012 that the remodeling process would take 4 years — and counting! — nor did I foresee that my standard for presentable scholarship (driven by traditional print-based publication models for academic content) would end up at odds with my creative process as a Web publisher of original, postdoctoral scholarly research.

Back then, I didn’t undertand how much the online medium would shape the message.

I know better now. The new capabilities of Web publication enhance the communication process more than the product, so seeking any sort of finality is a wrong-headed goal. Even scholarly content is fungible with this medium, and to try to fix it in discrete, closed communications is to defy the online order of things, and ensure that the new and improved never emerges from beta test.

I’ve thus had another change of heart. As of July 2016, I decided to launch the new and improved as is, allowing all and sundry — including external search engines — full access, so that everyone can follow the development process and preview new content as it’s posted and being tested.

For more information about what’s going on, start with this refashioned website’s “The Site Concept: What’s Past Is Prologue” and “A Note on Site Design” Web pages, and follow the links given there to some of the new content on offer. There’s already a lot here to explore.

Please remember while you do so that this transitional website is very much a work-in-progress. It is normal for links to be broken once in a while; for references to be missing; for our local search engine index to be updated only when I post important new content (instead of every time I correct a typo); for navigation between old & new website pages to be clumsy, especially as I reorganize some content; for pages to sometimes contain placeholder text (“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet ...”); and so on. I ask for your patience while I wend my way through this complicated redevelopment phase, with no end in sight.

facsimile of early-18th-century engraving

^  The Unquiet Life (Vita inquieta). Emblem 322 in Pierce Tempest’s English edition of Cesare Ripa’s Iconology, entitled Iconologia: or, Moral Emblems, by Caesar Ripa (London, 1709).
     Ripa’s portrayal of the hard-working Sisyphus (here symbolizing intellectual endeavors and the creative process), beset by personal demons, is glossed: “Sisyphus rolling a huge Stone to the Top of a Mountain, which still falls back again.  ¶   The Mountain denotes the Life of Man; the Top of it, the Quietness and Tranquillity of what we aspire to; the Stone the great Pains every one takes to arrive at it. Sisyphus signifies the Mind, which always breaths after Rest, and scarce has obtain’d it, but desires still; for some place it in Riches, some in Honours, some in Learning; this in Health, that in Reputation; so that it is found only by accident.” (P. Tempest, Iconologia, 1709, 80)
     As I have noted elsewhere, anyone in the 21st century who designs, develops and/or maintains a high-quality website featuring original content (such as is engaged in never-ending Sisyphean toil.
     Unlike the labors of Hercules — which also symbolized the humanist project of the public intellectual — the labors of Sisyphus came to be associated with conflicting messages: on the one hand, pointing to the virtues of persistence and fortitude, especially when condemning oneself to immense toil, regardless of reward; and on the other hand, giving to human acts & determination the appearance of aimlessness and futility. Christian moralizing in such 17th-century books of hieroglyphics as the wildly popular Emblemes (1635), by Francis Quarles (1592–1644), associated the metaphor “Thus I roll Sisyphean Stones” with worldly vanity, in keeping with religious teaching that “however highly we may esteem human arts and sciences in their proper place, it will ever be true that ‘the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God’” (Preface to 1839 edn. of Emblemes, ed. by the Rev. Augustus Toplady and the Rev. John Ryland).
     Quarles’s religious refashioning of Sisyphean struggle occurs in Emblem 15 of Book 3, which takes as its opening text Psalm 31, verse 10 (“My life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing”). In a peculiar conceit, clearly inspired by evolving New World identities, Quarles compares Sisyphean labors (of the free will) unfavorably with slave labor (which he presents as the more satisfying spiritual experience!): “The branded Slave, that tugs the weary Oare, / Obtaines the Sabbath of a welcome Shore; / His ransom’d stripes are heal’d; His native soile / Sweetens the mem’ry of his forreigne toyle: / But ah! my sorrowes are not halfe so blest; / My labour finds no point; my paines, no rest: / I barter sighs for teares; and teares for Grones, / Still vainly rolling Sysiphæan stones.” (F. Quarles, Emblemes, 1635 edn., 182) Of note, the hieroglyphic for this emblem does not depict Sisyphus at work, but instead shows a melancholic Christian, loudly lamenting (“Ah mee”) his freedom and sinful existence (“formed of earth, conceived in sinne, borne to punishment”), as he seeks purpose & meaning in “the miserable ingresse of mans condition.” (F. Quarles, 183)
Thumbnail image of 1635 engraving.
     Such Christian repurposing of the deified abstractions and symbolic figures of antiquity appealed to ordinary folk on both sides of the Atlantic: “The Emblems of Alciatus [as developed by Cesare Ripa] have been in as much Reputation among the more learned, as those of Quarles among the Vulgar.” (Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia, 2 vols., 1728, s.v. Emblem, 1.297)
     Quarles’s book of Emblemes popularized for Protestant England and Anglo-America the Catholic baroque emblems of Pia Desideria (1624), by Herman Hugo, and Typus Mundi (1627), which was “compiled by nine clever schoolboys at the Antwerp Jesuit college under the direction of their master.” Quarles’s “occasional alterations to individual plates are of no major doctrinal or sectarian significance,” and the English engravings by William Marshall et al., while competently copied, “fall short of the artistry of the Antwerp originals.” But Quarles’s English “poems are largely independent and new. They exploit the mimetic quality of the pictures and transform them into allegories of spiritual truth,” making Quarles’s Emblemes “acceptable to moderate Catholics and protestants because [his book of visible poetry] promoted the general tenets of the Christian life, not controversial doctrines.” As such, Quarles’s Emblemes “proved a cultural achievement and a durable success. It brought to protestant England, suitably adapted, the spiritual and emotional qualities of the Catholic meditation on pictures. It survived as a work of edification when the emblem tradition itself had declined and it played an important role in the Victorian emblematic revival. It has been found especially rewarding in recent studies of the interaction of word and image. Nearly all of Quarles’s works stand in an interesting relationship to public affairs and serve to enrich the picture of Stuart England.” (Karl Josef Höltgen, ODNB entry for Francis Quarles, n. pag.)
     Click/tap here to view a large digital fascimile (594KB file) of the hieroglyphic for Emblem 15 in Book 3 of Quarles’s Emblemes (1635).

As always, several research projects I’m trying to finish up have expanded well beyond their original scope, and are introducing further delays. To those of you waiting patiently for all the new content relating to claims by Julian Jaynes in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1st edn., 1976)

3. Dating the development of consciousness to around the end of the second millennium B.C. in Greece and Mesopotamia. The transition occurred at different times in other parts of the world.

(from the Myths vs. Facts About Julian Jaynes’s Theory page at the Julian Jaynes Society website)

it’s still coming, I promise. I shall be adding 16 new digital editions to the library — writings by Ovid, Francis Bacon, and Robert Hooke, along with published articles by other 17th-century English and Italian naturalists — as part of this project. That’s a lot of primary source material to organize and prepare, so it’s going to take me longer than I initially planned to get everything done.

I have also decided to move a lot of my research relating to the history of medicine — such as a new illustrated introductory essay on the “Woman-Physician,” Mary Trye (fl. 1662–75) (created 4/14/2016) and the companion introductory essay on her antagonist, the polymath physician Henry Stubbe (1632–1676) (also created 4/14/2016) — to a different website. And this has introduced still more delays.

But ultimately, the main reason redevelopment takes so long is because the research activity itself — richly layered with countless detours and distractions — can not be hurried along. I was recently reminded of this when I added a brief note about 17th-century druggists to an essay at a different website. There, my desire for scholarly precision too often ends up delaying the publication of time-sensitive material, preventing me from taking full advantage of yet another kairic moment. At the time, I was in a hurry to identify which

Bartholin complains of the too great number of Apothecaries in Denmark; tho’ there were but three in Copenhagen, and four in all the Kingdom beside: What would he have said of London, where there are upwards of 1300?

(Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia, 2 vols., 1728, s.v. Apothecary, 1.119)

As Wikipedia summarizes, “Three generations of the Bartholin family made significant contributions to anatomical science and medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries”: Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680); his father, Caspar Bartholin the Elder (1585–1629); his brother, Rasmus Bartholin (1625–1698); and his son, Caspar Bartholin the Younger (1655–1738). Between them, the four Bartholins published over 20 works, all in Baroque Latin, totaling thousands of pages. It could easily take me several months to locate copies of, and read through, all of this material before finding the original source for Chambers’ claim. Unable to devote so much time to this one research project, when I’m already juggling dozens of others, I chose to spend several days on it instead, before I traded in the pedant for the rhetor, and made an educated guess about which Bartholin — Caspar the Elder, or Thomas, or Rasmus, or Caspar the Younger — had commented on the number of Danish druggists at some point during the 17th century.

In the end, I settled on Thomas, based on my interpretation of the variety of Bartholin citations elsewhere in Chambers’ two-volume Cyclopaedia. But I could well be proven wrong in this hasty identification, which is a chance I would not take here at, where accuracy is paramount, and the historical detail rules. That doesn’t mean there are no mistakes at; alas, there are probably plenty, as with much historical research of this nature. But I never knowingly finesse the truth here, for purposes of kairos or expediency.

So, as you read through the content on display at the new, bear in mind that even a seemingly simple, tweet-length phrase — “... the eminent Danish physician and natural philosopher, Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680), had complained ...” — can take many months to fact-check properly.

The new is a concatenation of many such phrases ... which is how months turn into years, and I’m still working on the beta-release version of a transitional website....


A note about donating to  There is a new TLS/SSL-secured Support Us page for this purpose (see the navigation bar at top & bottom of this page), which is properly secured for commercial transactions using the HTTPS secure protocol. As you make use of She-philosopher.​com and its unique resources, please consider contributing to this website’s maintenance & further development with a small financial donation. She-philosopher.​com is visitor-supported, and independent of large foundation money and corporate/state sponsorship.
   Keeping high-quality, independent scholarship on the Web is a worthy, but underfunded, cause. So if you do decide to make She-philosopher.​com one of your philanthropic priorities — yes, philanthropy knows no income bracket (it is the act of donating, rather than the amount given, that makes you a philanthropist ;-) — you have my heartfelt thanks!

Anyone wanting to use, link to, reference, or cite content at the new and improved should read the “Conditions of Use” page and/or contact the website editor for permission and/or instructions.

facsimile of mid-18th-century printer's decorative tail-piece

^  Title-page ornament from the 1753 Supplement to Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, by George Lewis Scott, et al.
     The design is an 18th-century twist on the Hermathena of Antiquity, a statue juxtaposing the sibling gods, Hermes and Athena. Traditional iconography has the statues of Mercury and Minerva raised on square pedestals and joined as one, the resulting hybrid deity serving as a symbol for the Ciceronian union of wisdom and eloquence (Wisdom restrains Eloquence, and Eloquence tempers Wisdom).
     A Hermathena was chosen by Cicero (106–43 BCE) to ornament his lecture hall, and has been a traditional symbol of academies and scholarship ever since. For example, the Bolognese academic, Achille Bocchi (1488-1562), also used a Hermathena as the device (impresa) for his own school. His Hermes and Athena each had a columnlike base and upper torso on the corner of the façade for the Palazzo Bocchi; the two stone gods linked arms, and between them Eros reined the mouth of a lion’s head. (E. S. Watson, Achille Bocchi and the Emblem Book as Symbolic Form, 76)

go to TOP of page

I have been working on — “I” being Deborah Taylor-Pearce, founder, publisher & editor of She-philosopher.​com, first launched in April 2004 before the advent of Google and other Big Search tools for the Web. In the beginning, visitors to She-philosopher.​com came because of my posts to various listservs and Usenet newsgroups, or because I had invited them by passing out URLs, or because of word-of-mouth. In other words, they either knew me or knew of me before visiting.
   Having been at this for so long now, I tend to forget that not everyone who will land on this page in 2017 (or later) knows my identity. Moreover, I have less of an online presence now that I am no longer active in discussion forums (other than an occasional post to GitHub or other tech-support hang-outs), having chosen not to make the move to such popular social networks as Facebook and Twitter.
   In March 2017, I was told by a new visitor to this website that it “comes across as a bit odd” to alight on this home page and be addressed by an anonymous she-philosopher who never introduces herself. Longship Captain Fred Blonder is right about that, and this note is intended to correct that oddity. Thank you, Fred, for the constructive criticism! ::

another kairic moment — From the encompassing term, kairos.
   The classical term, kairos, is of obscure origin and etymology, and difficult to define.
   “It is translated in English as ‘the right time,’ ‘due season,’ ‘occasion,’ ‘opportune,’ ‘appropriate,’ ‘suitable,’ ‘the fitting,’ ‘the propitious moment,’ ‘arising circumstances,’ and ‘opportunity.’” (Encyclopedia of Rhetoric, ed. Thomas O. Sloane, 2001, 413) ::

I settled on Thomas — Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680).
   I have reason to think that Chambers’ source for the mid-17th-century complaint about the growing number of Danish druggists competing with physicians for market share, professional status, and perquisites, was Bartholin’s Cista medica Hafniensis, variis consiliis, curationibus, casibus rarioribus, vitis medicorum Hafniensium ... Accedit ... Domus anatomica brevissime descripta (Copenhagen: Matthias Godicchenius, 1662), but I do not presently have the time or resources to verify this scholarly intuition. ::

one of six guiding principles — The preamble to The Constitution of the General Government (1789) lists 6 founding principles, and reads in full: “We, the people of the UNITED STATES, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, DO ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of AMERICA.” (as printed by William Kilty in 1799, “under the authority of the legislature” for the state of Maryland, with text “copied from [that] published during the year seventeen hundred and ninety-nine by order of the house of representatives”) ::

whose personhood is beyond dispute — Those who believe that “personhood begins at conception” have been emboldened by the fall of Roe v. Wade to push for “personhood” laws, giving legal rights to unborn children.
   While the legal fiction of fetal personhood does indeed date to the 17th century (at which time laws were passed protecting the fetus’s private property rights), supposing the fetus “in law to be born for many purposes” — so that “It is capable of having a legacy, or a surrender of a copyhold estate made to it. It may have a guardian assigned to it; and it is enabled to have an estate limited to it’s use, and to take afterwards by such limitation, as if it were then actually born.” (William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 4 vols., 3rd edn., 1768, 1.130) — is not the same thing as bestowing personhood upon it. Cf. Virginia’s 1699 and 1705 statutes disenfranchising women, Roman Catholic recusants, and “infants” (minors under 21 years of age).
   Indeed, through at least the 18th century, the fetus — corporeal, but irrational and not yet individuated — was by definition not a “person,” which “Word came at length to import the Mind, as being a Thing of the greatest Regard and Dignity among human Matters”: “PERSON, an individual Substance, of a rational or intelligent Nature.” (Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia, 2 vols., 1728, s.v. Person, 2.793).
   “Person is defin’d an individual, reasonable, or intellectual Substance; or, an intellectual and incommunicable Substance.” (E. Chambers, Cyclopaedia, 2 vols., 1728, s.v. Trinity, 2.251) ::