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W H A T ’ S   N E W

A study of California’s flawed “Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013” (Assembly Bill 1404 or AB 1404), under which long-time California property owners have lost rights & security.

An IN BRIEF topic on Thomas Cromwell’s land grab, c.1532: John Stow’s first-hand account in A Survay of London (first printed in 1598, rev. 1603) of “the remarkably arbitrary act” perpetrated by Thomas Cromwell against his neighbors.
  Stowe’s documentary record establishes that predatory neighbors (& trespassers) have been a significant problem for property owners (in cities and suburbs) since at least 1532.

An IN BRIEF topic on the “Sect of antient Philosophers” known as Pythagoreans.

A Technical Report documenting display problems with the Google Chrome browser: specifically, the negative impact on Web typography & information design when Google Chrome offers only spotty support for CSS’s font-family property.

Examples of black letter text — 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) — are now available in the 2nd-window aside for’s webessay entitled “The New a Note on Site Design” (scroll down to the link for “In comparison, reading lots of close-set black letter these days feels effortless!”).

I’ve finally gotten around to posting 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’ve updated the IN BRIEF biography of Sir Walter Ralegh, and added quite a bit of new material.

There is a new 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.

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 recently 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

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)
  For more, see our IN BRIEF topic on kairos, as well as our IN BRIEF topics on 2 related rhetorical concepts: occasio (occasion) and the modern 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.” (Grafton, 27).

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.

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

First Published:  April 2004
Revised (substantive):  28 September 2016

Welcome to the new!

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.

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 reminded of this several months ago 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 (from the encompassing term, kairos) 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....


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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)

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