Mon May 20 22:04:05 UTC 2002


        I assume these are just the connect-the-dots activity books for children, in which each page contains numbered dots.  The dots at first inspection appear to be almost at random, but when a child takes a pencil and connects the dots in numerical order, a clear picture is supposed to result.  I remember playing with these as a child in the 1960s, but for all I know they were around decades earlier.  I don't know if Books In Print or similar resources will help track down these ephemeral booklets.

        The earliest metaphorical usage I've seen is from a 1978 article in the Harvard Law Review by Professor John Hart Ely, who presumably remembered the booklets from his own childhood:

>>There are those who will wax quite eloquent on the byzantine beauty of what is sometimes called the common law method, one of reaching what instinctively seem the right results in a series of cases, and only later (if at all) enunciating the principle that explains the pattern--a sort of connect-the-dots exercise.<<

Ely, The Supreme Court, 1977 Term - Foreword:  On Discovering Fundamental Values, 92 Harv. L. Rev. 5, 32 (Nov. 1978).

John Baker

More information about the Ads-l mailing list