So goeth the buggy whip manufacturers?
Thanks to InstaPundit.com for the lead.
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Maines' highly original book discusses a forgotten chapter in late 19th- and early 20th-century medical history, when an assortment of women's maladies were commonly diagnosed by the male medical profession as "hysteria" or "pelvic hyperemia" -- congestion of the genitalia. Maines documents how doctors of that era routinely employed an assortment of vibrators to treat the so-called ailment, regularly performing "vulvular massage" on their female patients to "relieve tension." They performed the task in their offices as a standard medical procedure and considered it a chore. Initially they inherited the job because of 19th-century religious proscriptions against self-masturbation. "Most of them did it because they felt it was their duty," said Maines. "It wasn't sexual at all."Uh huh.
The Dictionary was published on April 15, 1755, and had taken eight years to compile. Johnson worked almost single-handedly, employing only half a dozen raggle-taggle copyists chosen, with typical kindness, because they were poor and starving. By contrast the French Dictionnaire had, as Johnson enjoyed noting, taken 40 scholars 55 years...Good point.
To illustrate the meanings of words, Johnson supplied 114,000 quotations from books covering every branch of learning and going back to the 16th century. Nothing remotely comparable had been done before, and it made his dictionary into a superior prototype of the internet a bulging lucky-dip of wisdom, anecdote, humour, legend and fact. Nobody but Johnson could have done it, because nobody had read so much. A bookseller's son, he had been ravenously turning pages since childhood. Sickly, half-blind and racked by strange tics and spasms that attracted ridicule, he read to escape the pain of life...
Slavery repelled him. He took a freed slave, Francis Barber, into his house, and bequeathed him the bulk of his estate. His opinion of Americans ("I am willing to love all mankind," he confessed, "except an American") stemmed partly from the colonists' doublethink about freedom and slavery: "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?"