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Mac McAleer (London UK)
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White touch up paint for microwave oven interior
White touch up paint for microwave oven interior
Offered by kitchenwareonline
Price: £3.76

4.0 out of 5 stars OK for small jobs, 16 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Overall I was happy with this product, mainly because I had already bought and used the more extensive Microwave oven paint touch up kit from the same company, so I knew what I was getting.

The paint tin arrived well protected in a bubble-wrap-lined envelope (the shipping cost is almost 80% of the product cost). Inside the envelope were the tin of enamel paint and an explanatory leaflet (see Comment for a transcription). The tin is small (the leaflet describes it as a “tinlet”). It is about 3cm high by 3cm in diameter (1¼ by 1 ¼ inches in old money). As it is small, you will need a small paint brush (think model-making size).

The leaflet goes into more detail about preparation of the surface and use of the paint. However the leaflet can be a little confusing because it covers two products: this paint tin and the touch up kit. The touch up kit consists of the paint tin, two pieces of sandpaper, two small plastic paint stirrers and two small paint brushes.

The leaflet suggests at least 6 hours for the paint to dry. I my experience it need longer (overnight and all the next day). I presume the time to dry depends on the ambient temperature (i.e. whether the kitchen is warm or cold). It is important to wait for it to dry. The great advantage of buying this paint is confidence. Before I bought the related touch-up kit I had not thought it was possible to paint the inside of the microwave. Would painting it be safe? Would any metal in the paint react with the microwaves when it was in operation? I still don’t know if I can use any enamel paint or if I have to use a special paint.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2015 2:07 PM GMT

Microwave oven paint touch up kit - White
Microwave oven paint touch up kit - White
Offered by kitchenwareonline
Price: £5.29

4.0 out of 5 stars OK for touching up, 3 Nov. 2015
The picture on the Amazon product page gives a good idea of what this product is. The kit comprises a one page leaflet (see Comment), two sheets of sandpaper, one coarse and one fine, two small paint brushes, two small sticks for stirring the paint and a small tin of white enamel paint. However, be aware of the scale of the picture. The paint pot is very small. This is very much a kit for touching-up.

I had to do more than just touch-up. I had a band of almost the entire circular area where the roller ring moves to prepare and paint and although the paint pot is small there was enough for several coats. The leaflet says the paint will dry fairly quickly. This was not my experience. However, later editions of this leaflet mention 6 hours. I also found that it was difficult to get the paint to cover the sloping side of the area I was painting. I do not know if the paint was being absorbed into the metal or if it was running down the incline.

The great advantage of this kit is confidence. I had not thought it was possible to paint the inside of the microwave. Would painting it be safe? Would any metal in the paint react with the microwaves when it was in operation? I still don’t know if I can use any enamel paint or if I have to use a special paint.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2015 12:54 PM GMT

Anti Scan RFID Protectors for your Credit Cards including 4 x Card Protectors
Anti Scan RFID Protectors for your Credit Cards including 4 x Card Protectors
Offered by Cosmic Deals UK
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and effective, but perhaps not a final solution, 30 Oct. 2015
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This was a cheap and effective temporary solution to my gradually increasing paranoia caused by stories of contactless card scamming. The protectors look exactly like their picture on the Amazon page, namely thin silver-coloured plastic covers for credit or debit cards. I tried one of them out at a supermarket; even putting the card in one these wallets physically on top of the reader had no effect until I removed the card from the wallet. So I am satisfied that they work and are not just fancy-looking plastic covers.

Why did I buy this? I am not convinced that scamming of cashless cards is, or will be, a big problem, but I have heard stories (1). The alternatives are to do nothing or you can buy aluminium cases to hold your cards, but these tend to be small and you will still need a wallet to hold bank notes. You can also buy a scam-proof wallet, but these are more expensive. I thought these protectors seemed a little expensive for what they are, but I also thought that they were cheaper than the alternatives and they will provide immediate peace-of-mind.

The protectors arrived in a letter with the supplier’s address stamped on the outside. I expected a leaflet of some kind but all the letter contained was the protectors. My cards fitted snugly in to them and the protectors seem tough enough to last. Unfortunately, it was a tight fit putting the cards, now fitted into their protectors, back into the card-slots in my wallet (2). However, in use I can pull a card out leaving its protector still in the wallet. This is fiddlier than it used to be.
(1) SC magazine, an online security magazine, recently had an article about this. "A member of the SC team has had money taken from their bank account, apparently via a contactless card theft. A train journey to work is a very innocuous thing. But when a man slowly bumped into me and my pocket for a bit too long, it took me a second to realise what had just happened. I called my bank and found out that said individual had managed to steal £20 from my account via a contactless card payment; my bank promptly reimbursed me. . . . "
(2) The covers have a rim of about 3 mm on the three closed sides (left, right and bottom). This makes the covers noticeably wider than the cards.

Root Cause Analysis: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using the Right Tool at the Right Time
Root Cause Analysis: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using the Right Tool at the Right Time
by Matthew A. Barsalou
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good RCA Overview, 20 Oct. 2015
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My first impression was that this book was short (1). However, I found it a useful introduction and reference to Root Cause Analysis (RCA). It is probably comprehensive at an introductory level. I suspect that a much larger book would have overwhelmed me. I would have preferred many more detailed worked examples, but then it would have become a much larger, different and more expensive book.

The book is in two sections. Section I gives an “Introduction to Root Cause Analysis”. Section II is a “Root Cause Analysis Quick Reference”. The chapters in Section II mirror those of Section I; they even have the same or very similar chapter titles. For each tool described you are given an adequate understanding and sometimes a short example. In Section I there are numerous references to other publications listed in the 3 page References section at the back of the book.

The topics discussed in the two sections are:
The Scientific Method
The Classic Seven Quality Tools (2)
The Seven Management Tools (3)
Other Tools (4)
Exploratory Data Analysis (5)
Customer Quality Issues (6)

Why did I buy this book? I needed an introduction to Root Cause Analysis but there was no “RCA for Dummies” and I wanted a printed book, not an eBook. Most of the books available were far too expensive. I choose this one as it was one of the least expensive. It is tricky buying books on niche subjects. The books are often expensive and the choice is limited (7). eBooks are only gradually overturning this situation and the long tail is yet to appear. There was one eBook (8) I would have considered if I had a Kindle. Indeed, if I need to buy several books on niche subjects in the future, the cost of a Kindle could be justified by the overall savings.
(1) The main text is 115 pages. This increases to 136 pages when the appendices, references and index are included. See Comment for a full list of contents.
(2) The Classic Seven Quality Tools: Ishikawa (Fish Bone) Diagrams; Check Sheets; Run Charts; Histograms;
Pareto Charts; Scatter Plots; Flowcharts.
(3) The Seven Management Tools: Matrix Diagrams; Activity Network Diagrams; Interrelationship Diagrams; Tree Diagrams; Process Decision Tree Diagrams; Affinity Diagrams.
(4) Other Tools: 5 Whys; Cross Assembling; Is-Is Not Analysis; Following Lines of Evidence; Parameter Diagrams; Boundary Diagrams.
(5) EDA: Stem-and-Leaf Plots; Box-and-Whisker Plots; Multi-Vari Charts
(6) 8D Reports
(7) The higher the print volume the lower the unit cost but niche subjects are always low volume. Hopefully these problems will disappear with eBooks.
(8) This eBook was Root Cause Analysis Made Easy: A Guide for Investigating Errors and Improving Processes. There were two other eBooks, but at the time of writing they had no user reviews: Root cause analysis - Beginner's guide and Problem Solving: Through Root Cause Analysis (Bare Bones Business Briefs Book 1).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2015 1:40 PM BST

The Moor's Account
The Moor's Account
by Laila Lalami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thoughtful Adventure, 11 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: The Moor's Account (Paperback)
This is a fictionalised story of real events that happened in the early years of Spanish America. An expedition was sent to the new land of La Florida. It ended in disaster, with only four survivors, three Spanish noblemen and one slave. This story is compelling and the writing is clear. It is sensitive to the plight of the slave. It describes the insensitivities of the Spanish noblemen and their barbarous attitude to the Indians. The story starts with: “This book is the humble work of Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalem al-Zamori, being a true account of his life and travels from the city of Azemmur to the Land of the Indians, where he arrived as a slave and, in his attempt to return to freedom, was shipwrecked and lost for many years.”

Mustafa ibn Muhammad was born in Barbary (Morocco). He had been a successful merchant, but through misfortune became a slave. He was renamed Esteban, a Christian name, which was later infantilised to Estebanico, the name for a boy. He was also called El Moro because he was a Moor and El Negro because he was black. His new master took him across the Atlantic to join an expedition to the new land of La Florida. This was a large undertaking with a small armada of ships containing nobles, soldiers, friars, settlers, horses and mules. Eight years later, Mustafa and the three Spanish nobles re-appeared in New Spain having spent their time amongst the Indians, the only survivors of the doomed adventure. Their social hierarchy had broken down and their attitude to the Indians had changed. Once they were back in “civilisation” the old attitudes of the Spanish noblemen returned.

The book has 428 pages, split between 25 chapters. The descriptions of the Indian tribes are fascinating; the descriptions of the Spanish are a little depressing. This is an adventure story, but a thoughtful and intelligent one. There are no illustrations. I would have liked a map as I was often confused about where the adventurers were, although this put me in the same situation as the adventurers themselves, namely lost. The official version of the expedition, written for the Spanish authorities and reflecting what was acceptable to them at the time, is published as the Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2015 7:44 AM BST

Introducing Levi-Strauss and Structural Anthropology
Introducing Levi-Strauss and Structural Anthropology
by Boris Wiseman
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly good introduction, 6 Aug. 2015
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This book attempts to give an overview of a difficult and amorphous subject in an accessible format. To a surprising extent it succeeds, although the format it uses is an acquired taste.

The subject is the French anthologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and his theory of structural anthropology. This was widely influential in the 1960s and 1970s but is less so today. This book has a punk-collage sensibility, mixing text with cut-and-paste illustrations, diagrams, photos, cartoons and speech bubbles (is this bricolage?). This gives a comic-book or graphic novel effect, which will be attractive to some readers and will repel others.

This is a serious introduction to the subject. I found the first few pages graphic heavy and text light and I wondered if all the pictures were eliminated just how much text would be left. However, as the book progressed the amount of text increased and as did its complexity. The book is divided into short sections, often only two pages long (see Comment for a full list). These sections follow the timeline of Lévi-Strauss’s major publications: family structures, totemism, the primitive mind and myths.

THE BOOK is A5 (half A4) so will fit in a big coat pocket. It is also longer than it looks at 174 pages. It is a member of the “Introducing . . .” series and some of the other thinkers mentioned in this book are available in this series, for example Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, but not others such as Roman Jakobson, Bronislaw Malinowski, Marcel Mauss and Ferdinand de Saussure. The text is by Boris Wiseman, who wrote his PhD on Lévi-Strauss’s work. Judy Grove is the illustrator and graphic artist.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2015 12:56 PM BST

Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory
Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory
by Patrick Wilcken
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable biography, 24 July 2015
This is an enjoyable overview of the life of the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, famous for his application of structuralism to anthropology. Lévi-Strauss was well-known in academic circles, but he was also well-known with the general public due to the publication of his accessible best-seller Tristes Tropiques and in France as a public intellectual. Tristes Tropiques chronicles, amongst other things, his early life, particularly his fieldwork with native-Americans in the Brazil of the 1930s.

This book gives an interesting background to the real events described in Tristes Tropiques and to the background and genesis of his later, more academic, works. It describes his time in Brazil, his escape to New York from Vichy France, his return to France after the Second World War, his difficult ascent up the French academic ladder and the development of his thinking. Lévi-Strauss was a private man and this book respects that, not delving too deeply into his private life. His structural approach to anthropology is discussed, but this book is not an introduction to structural anthropology.

His first major publication was Les Structures élémentaires de la parenté (The Elementary Structures of Kinship). Later came Le Totémisme aujourd’hiu (Totemism). This was intended to be the first part of a two-part work, but as the second part grew in size it became a separate book, La Pensée sauvage. When this was eventually translated into English as The Savage Mind great difficulties were encountered in representing the elegant, philosophical and playful language of the original French into an acceptable English equivalent. This was followed by the 4-part Mythologiques*. After the loose theorising of La Pensée sauvage, Lévi-Strauss tried to apply his ideas systematically in this new quartet, but instead he raised his writings to a new level of complexity. However, despite the complexity of his academic writings he also produced many short essays that were accessible and understandable to a wider circle of readers as well as TV and newspaper interviews. In the late sixties Lévi-Strauss became the global face of anthropology.

According to Lévi-Strauss, previous interpreters of myth had tried to ascribe specific meanings to each mythic element, which he considered a hopeless task. The interpretation lay in the relationships between the mythic elements. He continued to produce smaller books, known as the petites mythologies** but there was a feeling that his work was no longer ground-breaking. His work was influential, but no school of structural anthropology developed and his work became isolated. The world moved on as Lévi-Strauss moved towards his 100th birthday.

* The 4 parts of Mythologiques are:
Le Cru et le cuit (The Raw and the Cooked)
Du Miel aux cendres (From Honey to Ashes)
L’Origine de manières de table (The Origin of Table Manners)
L’Homme nu (The Naked Man)

** The petites mythologies:
La Voie des masques (The Way of the Masks)
La Potière jalouse (The Jealous Potter)
Histoire de lynx (The Story of Lynx)

Homer's the "Iliad and the "Odyssey": A Book That Shook the World (Books That Shook the World)
Homer's the "Iliad and the "Odyssey": A Book That Shook the World (Books That Shook the World)
by Alberto Manguel
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Meta-Homer, 14 July 2015
This is a "biography" of two books and a poet. The books are the two poems from the heroic age of the land now called Greece. The first book is the Iliad, about the war with Troy. The second is the Odyssey, about the long journey home of Ulysses from that war. The poet is Homer, who may have been real but is more likely to be an archetype of all the wandering bards of the heroic personified when the songs were first written down.

You do not have to have read the Iliad or the Odyssey to appreciate this book as it is about how these written works have been read, heard about, forgotten, rediscovered, interpreted and translated over the last two and a half thousand years. The writing is authoritative, accessible and rather fun. The text is divided into numerous short chapters.

The Chapters: This book has an Introduction followed by 22 chapters spread over 237 pages. Thus, although the chapters vary in length, they average at about 10 pages each. Throughout the book quotations from The Iliad and The Odyssey are from the translations by Robert Fagles. Chapter 1 is one of the longest at 15 pages. It is called "Summaries of the Books" and it gives a short paragraph on each of the 24 books of the Iliad and the 24 books of the Odyssey. Other chapters discuss such things as Virgil, who used Homer as a template for his Aeneid, Homer as Poetry and Dante, who was heavily influenced by both Virgil and Homer. The chapter entitled "Homer in Hell" discusses the god Hades' featureless world of the ghostly dead and compares it with later descriptions by Virgil, by Dante in his Inferno and by Milton in his Paradise Lost. Oher chapters include Homer and History and Homer as Everyman.

The full list of the chapters is: Introduction, Summaries of the Books; A Life of Homer?; Among the Philosophers; Virgil; Christian Homer; Other Homers; Dante; Homer in Hell; Greek versus Latin; Ancients versus Moderns; Homer as Poetry; Realms of Gold; Homer as Idea; The Eternal Feminine; Homer as Symbol; Homer as History; Madame Homer; Ulysses' Travels; Homer through the Looking-Glass; The Never-ending War; Everyman; Notes and Index.

This book is part of a series of “biographies” of “books that shook the world”, including The Wealth of Nations, Machiavelli, Clausewitz's On War, The Bible, Paine’s Rights of Man, Darwin's Origin of Species, Marx's Das Kapital and Plato's Republic.

Digital Gold: The Untold Story of Bitcoin
Digital Gold: The Untold Story of Bitcoin
by Nathaniel Popper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bitcoin Believers, 12 Jun. 2015
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This is the story of the origin and early development of the digital currency Bitcoin. The book starts from Bitcoin's public origin as a suggestion posted on the Internet in late 2008 and continues through to the last chapter for March 2014. No doubt future editions will update the story. The author, Nathaniel Popper, is a journalist on the New York Times. He has constructed a series of interlocking stories of the people who have played a part in Bitcoin's short history, together with background information. When he introduces technical descriptions (1), they are written to be understandable by non-technical readers. Both general and more technical readers can use this book as a history of Bitcoin. There is also a 6-page Technical Appendix followed by a 19-page Sources with extensive references.

Each chapter in the book has a date, giving its position in the Bitcoin timeline. The 9-page Introduction is the exception to this, starting several years later to give an indication of where the story is leading. It gives describes a private meeting arranged by a financier where the survivors of Bitcoin's early history mingle with potential investors from Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

Ideas about virtual currencies have been used in science fiction for many years (2). These ideas were taken up by Libertarians and Cypherpunks (3). Later, attempts were made to implement these ideas in the real world. These were always centralised systems and so far they have all failed (4).

Bitcoin was different. It is open source software designed as a peer-to-peer decentralised system. It uses advances in cryptography with public and private keys and a data structure called the blockchain used as a database of all transactions. Copies of the blockchain are held on all the participating computers, not in a central location. There is also a method called mining that allows computers on the network to try and solve mathematical problems. If they succeed they are rewarded with 50 Bitcoins. The system makes it more difficult to mine new Bitcoins as the number of Bitcoins increases and sets an overall limit of 21 million Bitcoins. This avoids the inflationary effects of government-controlled fiat currencies endlessly printing money. However, in the long-term it could leave Bitcoin open to deflation.

The original idea and the supporting software came from Satoshi Nakamoto, who does not exist. This was an Internet pseudonym. Satoshi owns many of the early Bitcoins but there is no record that they have ever been spent. Satoshi no longer communicates on the Internet and his/her/their real identity remains unknown. Ironically for a system designed to be decentralised, it was the creation of Bitcoin exchanges in its early days that allowed its use to grow. Inevitably some of these exchanges were badly set-up or badly run and collapsed (5). Notoriously, Bitcoins were also used as a currency on the Silk Road site, allowing a variety of criminal activities to flourish until the site was closed down by the law enforcement agencies. Bitcoin originated in the world of communications on the Internet but North America was its first geographical home followed by American ex-pats in Panama, Costa Rica and Japan. There was also interest in Europe, particularly in Finland, the UK and Slovenia. However, the most indicative early areas of interest were Argentina and China. Argentina has had a gruesome recent currency history. China is the Wild West for business, but it is also a one-party state.

THE BOOK has 355 pages divided into 31 chapters. Each chapter is numbered and has a date in the Bitcoin timeline. The first is dated January 10, 2009. The last is dated March 21, 2014. There is also a 9-page introduction, a 16-page Technical Appendix, a 19-page Sources (6) and a 12-page Index. There are no illustrations or diagrams.

(1) For a programmer's view see Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas M. Antonopoulos.
(2) The author mentions the 1999 novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.
(3) At first I always misread this word as cyberpunks.
(4) For example, the Amsterdam-based DigiCash went bankrupt in 1998.
(5) For example, the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox went bankrupt in early 2014 taking $400 million worth of Bitcoins with it. The Bitcoins had been stolen by hackers. The administrator of the Bitomat exchange accidently deleted the file containing the private keys of 17,000 Bitcoins, making them unusable. The MyBitcoin site was a scam, stealing all the Bitcoins deposited with it.
(6) Sources are interviews by the author, emails sent to him or publicly available information from the Internet.

The Footnote: A Curious History
The Footnote: A Curious History
by Anthony Grafton
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars A history of source-criticism and source-citation (1), 1 Jun. 2015
This is not the book I expected. Having read the chapter on footnotes in Kevin Jackson's Invisible Forms (2), I was looking for a book on the history of footnotes. Instead what I got was a book on the use of footnotes in the writing of history. Despite this, I found this book fascinating, although it may be of more interest to historians and to students of historiography.

This book's scope is wider than the use of footnotes. It is concerned with the use of sources by historians and their documentation of this use. Classical historians may have epitomised the writings of others in the text but there was no tradition of referring in detail to their sources. Later, when manuscripts moved from scrolls to book form, they may have been glossed, commented upon and annotated, but these could be placed anywhere: above the text, in the margins or as footnotes. With the coming of the printed book decisions had to be made about annotation; was it required, and if so, where to put it. The fashion for footnotes arose in the late 17th and early 18th century, particularly for legal texts, philology and novels. This fashion then influenced the historians.

THE BOOK: As would be expected, the author makes full use of footnotes in this book. Most pages have at least one. They vary from short references to other books or articles to detailed references with quoted text in English or German, Latin or French. The non-English quotes are not always translated into English (3). It has 7 chapters and one Epilogue spread over 235 pages and a short 5-page Index. There is no Bibliography, Endnotes or Sources. The index is an index nominum of the names of writers mentioned.

Many writers are discussed, notably the thinker David Hume, the compiler Pierre Bayle and the historians Leopold von Ranke, Edward Gibbon, Jacques-August De Thou and Athanasius Kircher.

Ranke was an early 19th century German historian who not only thought it important to return to the primary sources, but also to compare these primary sources for their trustworthiness. Footnotes were not enough. "Only the right footnotes, not a random assembly of references, could enable a text to stand proud under critical scrutiny." (4).

Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is famous for its erudite and ironic footnotes. However, its first edition had all its annotations at the end of the book. David Hume was frustrated by having to continuously refer to the end for the references and wrote to their common publisher (5). The endnotes were moved to the foot of the pages in later editions. Strictly, Hume had only suggested moving the citations to the pages, not the full commentary, but the effect of the move was the creation of a double narrative of the main text and the footnotes. Later Gibbon expressed regret that he had disfigured his narrative with footnotes (6).

At the end of the 17th century Pierre Bayle produced a book that had little text and was mostly commentary. This was a dictionary of errors by other writers and was surprisingly popular (7). At about the same time Richard Simon produced two books analysing the texts of the Old and New Testaments. This was a dangerous undertaking and he used extensive footnotes as a defence against the many enemies of his writings (8).


(1) The title of this review is taken from page 182: "Gibbon and his colleagues could thus draw, for models of source-criticism and source-citation, on a tradition of secular scholarship that ran back to the renaissance and before."
(2) Kevin Jackson's "Invisible Forms" is a guide to para-texts and literary curiosities. Para-texts are such things as dedications, epigraphs, prefaces, footnotes, marginalia and indexes that surround the main text of most books. Literary curiosities mentioned include Isaac D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature and the Oulipo movement in France where literature is turned into a game e.g. a novel moves from place to place in a single building following the moves of the knight in chess or Georges Perec's novel A Void where the letter "e" is never used.
(3) This book was also published in German as "Die tragischen Ursprünge der deutschen Fußnote" and in French as "Les Origenes tragiques de l'érudition: Une histoire de la note en bas de page".
(4) Page 45
(5) Pages 102 and 103. See also The Letters of David Hume ed J. Y. T. Greig (Oxford 1932) II 313. The letter is dated 8 April 1776. A decade earlier Hume had been criticised by Horace Walpole for his failure to include references in support of his statements in his The History of England.
(6) Edward Gibbon Memoirs of My Life
(7) Pierre Bayle Historical and Critical Dictionary "Dictionaire historique et critique" Rotterdam 1697.
(8) R. Simon: "Historie critique du Vieux Testament" Paris 1680; "Histoire critique du Nouveau Testament" 1689.

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