The doings of American philologasters are, in truth, a curious study.

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Progress Report 7

Chapter 12 of the Doctrine of John, which is the second of two parts on the Good Shepherd, is now available at the project website. This chapter begins on p. 45, ln. 11, and continues to p. 49, ln. 5.

The chapter begins with an eutra exhorting someone (presumably the believer) to become a “shepherd’s helper” and aid in tending the flock. The respondent has reservations; first, he argues that the world is full of thistles and thorns, but the eutra offers a pair of everlasting radiant sandals to protect his feet from the thistles and thorns. He then lists a series of seven possible ways he could lose sheep (respectively, lions, wolves, thieves, fire, muck, water, and ‘remaining behind in the fold’), which the eutra associates with the worship of different entities, starting with the Sun, the moon, and the planet Mars.

While this was one of the easier chapters to translate (due, in no small part, to the amount of repetition within it), it was not without its challenges. I’ve already written about the phrase rahim raia, “a shepherd’s friend,” which perplexed Lidzbarski. The seven sects that claim members of the flock are also not explicitly identified, save for one (Christianity, which here represented by muck). The first three are associated with three of the visible planets (the Sun, the moon, and Mars), following the order of the week (Sunday is governed by the Sun, Monday is governed by the moon, Tuesday is governed by Mars, and so forth). I do not feel that this order is coincidental, so I collated the seven threats with the seven planets:

lion Sun Judaism?
wolf Moon ?
thief Mars Islam?
fire *Mercury *Zoroastrianism?
muck *Jupiter *Christianity
water Venus ?
gudibna Saturn ?
agambia gudibna Ruha ?

I am not certain whether the thief (the worshippers of Nirig, or Mars) represents the threat posed by Islam. Certainly, in post-Islamic texts, Mars represents Islam, but I haven’t established to my satisfaction that this section is indeed post-Islamic.

The fourth and fifth threats are fire and muck, representing the worshipers of fire and the worshipers of the Mšiha or “anointed one” (i.e. Christians), respectively, and the forth and fifth planets are Enbu or Mercury and Bil or Jupiter. Jupiter (or Ohrmazd in Pahlavi) is identified with the god of the Zoroastrians, thus suggesting that the “worshipers of fire” are to be identified with them, which is by no means an exclusively Mandaean trope. As for the Christians, Drower and Macuch (1965, 280) note that the Mšiha is explicitly identified with Mercury. The identification of the followers of the Mšiha with muck likely represents yet another Mandaean word play—the Messiah is anointed with muck, not fine oils, just as his followers are baptized in turbid waters, not the flowing, living waters of the heavenly Jordan. Strangely, though, these two planets are switched with respect to the religions that they usually represent.

I am not certain to whom the sixth and seventh threats refer, but the final two planets in this sequence should be Dilbat Venus and Kiuan Saturn. Death by drowning is the punishment for the worship of the seas, and the threat of “remaining behind in the sheep-fold” is the punishment for the worship of the Ekuria, those of the É.KUR or “mountain house,” the chief temple of Nippur. While I cannot make a case for associating the seas with Venus (apart from the obvious Greek myth about the birth of Aphrodite), the patron deity of Nippur was Enlil, whose role as chief of the divine pantheon was assumed by the god El in the West. According to the Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos, the Phoenicians identified El with the planet Saturn (in Mesopotamia, Saturn was associated with Enlil’s sun, Ninurta), thus connecting the gods of the É.KUR with Saturn (and possibly even Kevin Bacon, by extension, within six degrees).

The worshipers of Gudibna “in-the-sheep-fold,” on the other hand, is another mystery. This word doesn’t appear in Drower and Macuch, and its sole appearance seems to be within this very chapter. On the face of it, it is appears to be a compound of gu “in” and dibna “sheep-fold,” and therefore it may represent some kind of wordplay on the threat (of “remaining in the fold”). Lidzbarski suggests translating it as a “fold spirit,” so I have somewhat whimsically taken the liberty of creating a portmanteau word, foldergeist, from “fold” and “poltergeist.”

The eutra‘s response adds an eighth threat: agambia gudibna “beside in-the-sheep-fold,” who represents the Evil Spirit, Ruha ḏ-Qudša. As the Evil Spirit is the mother of the planets, I am all the more convinced that we are in an astrological context.

In his analysis, Lidzbarski identifies some sections which are extraneous to the sequence, and appear to be glosses that were later incorporated into the text (I have placed these “glosses” between {brackets}). This “corruption” might also explain why the fourth and fifth threats are switched, at least from the perspective of the planets, and together with the sing-song, repetitive nature of the composition, it leads me to suspect that this text may have been transmitted orally prior to being committed to writing.

Rahim Raia

The phrase rahim raia (which Lidzbarski translates as ein liebevoller Hirte) occurs eight times in the 12th chapter of the Doctrine of John, and it is striking (or, to use Lidzbarski’s word, auffallend), due to its strange syntax. Attributive adjectives, with very few exceptions, follow the nouns that they modify in Mandaic. The exceptions include:

  • adjectival expressions of quantity (e.g. hurina (an)other, kul each, every, napša many, much)
  • ordinal numbers (qadmaia, tiniana, tlitaia, etc.)
  • a small class of adjectives including “clean”, “exempt”, “rare”, “wonderful”, and “extraordinary.”

Perhaps a case could be made that rahim “loving, devoted, merciful” be added to this class of words?

The word rahim can also appear as a substantive, “friend,” in which case it almost always appears in the status emphaticus as rahma. The form rahim would necessarily be either in the status constructus or a participle in the status absolutus. Could the former be an explanation for this verse? That is, should we translate the “chorus,”

ata rahim raia huilia
urilia alpa mn ruban

Come, be a shepherd’s friend to me,
and tend a thousand out of every myriad!

rather than Lidzbarski’s

Come, be a loving shepherd for me,
and tend a thousand from every myriad!

Certainly this explanation is far more parsimonious. The adherents of the Mandaean faith are often described as the “lovers of Manda ḏ-Hiia” or “lovers of Manda ḏ-Hiia‘s name,” as in the concluding formula:

zkit manda ḏhiia
uzakit kulhun rahmia šumak
uhiia zakein sa

You are victorious, Manda ḏ-Hiia,
and have vindicated all those who love Your name,
and Life is victorious. The End.

Given that our raia shepherd is likely Manda ḏ-Hiia, does it not make sense that the rahmia raia are His followers?

Progress Report 6

The eleventh chapter of the Doctrine of John, which is the first of two sections that Lidzbarski termed “The Good Shepherd,” is now up at the project website. This consists of the better part of six manuscript pages, from p. 40, ln. 6 to p. 45, ln. 10 in the 1915 edition.

I’ve been documenting my progress thus far with this chapter, so it really needs no introduction at this point. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to outline the passage briefly. “The Good Shepherd” is an extended allegory involving several elements:

  • a shepherd figure (who likely represents Hibil Ziua or Manda ḏ-Hiia);
  • his flock (which likely represents the Mandaeans);
  • various threats such as wolves and thieves (these are explicitly identified with the seven planets and the twelve signs of the Zodiac);
  • a storm of some sort (which some scholars have identified with Islam).

I dealt with the question of whether this passage addresses the Islamic conquest in an earlier post. Suffice it to say that I am not convinced. The passage usually adduced as an oblique reference to Islam (p. 45, lns. 1-2) doesn’t withstand the light of critical scrutiny. Subsequently, the passage does mention “those living at the tail end of the Age of Mars (nirig),” which might be such a reference. Mars is sometimes identified with “Abdallah the Arab,” the name by which the Prophet Muhammad is known to the Mandaeans, or as having descended alongside Muhammad, as in the Scroll of Inner Harran. Then again, Nirig is, of course, the Mandaean form of the name of Nergal (compare the Arabic name for Mars, مريخ marīḫ), the chief deity of Kutha, who was at times also associated with war, disease, and the underworld, any of which could naturally fit this reference. While this could therefore be an extremely oblique reference to Muhammad, the fact that Nirig/Nergal predates Muhammad by a considerable period of time (several thousands of years) requires us to be somewhat cautious about drawing such a conclusion.

The fact that the “Good Shepherd” makes reference to the “tail end” of this period should also give us pause; assuming that this passage was indeed composed in the early Islamic period, what would make the Mandaeans of the time think that they were living in the end of that era? The right half of the Great Treasure contains a similar claim in Book 18, suggesting that these two works might be coetaneous, if indeed the “Age of Mars” can be identified with the Islamic period. I have my doubts. The Great Treasure, for example, never employs this term, but it does appear in Code Sabéen 16, which is a manuscript of the Thousand and Twelve Questions (the so-called Pariser Diwan): hṣilnin bdinba ḏ-dara ḏ-nirig “we reached the end of the Age of Mars.” It would be interesting to investigate what this reference meant to this copyist of the Thousand and Twelve Questions. I’m not sure I want to try contacting the Bibliothèque nationale de France again for a copy, as their bureaucracy could really give Rutgers a run for its money.

The question of the presence or absence of any reference to Islam is not the only contentious aspect of this chapter; immediately preceding the reference to the Age of Mars is a reference to what appears to be female priests:

ṭubaihun el tarmidiata
ḏmn qlalia ḏruha mitparqan
mitparqan mn ṭanputa
uqlala ušišilta ḏlašalma

Happy are the tarmidiata,
who are free from the snares of Ruha,
free ‎‎from the pollution, the snare,
and the never-ending chain.

At first glance, tarmidiata appears to be the plural of tarmidita, the feminine form of tarmida, which is the first grade of the Mandaean priesthood as well as a general term for priest. As the cognates in related languages attest, it originally meant a kind of student or disciple, but in Mandaean texts it consistently refers to priests. In his translation of the Doctrine of John, Lidzbarski is silent about the identity of the tarmidiata, which he translates as Jüngerinnen (female disciples), but in his translation of the Great Treasure he argues that as female priests do not (currently) exist among the Mandaeans, this term cannot refer to female priests. Q.E.D. Drower, deferring to Lidzbarski, bent over backwards to translate this term as “women of priestly family” or “caste,” even though there is no logical basis for this interpolation. While it is certainly true that there are no female priests today, Jorunn Buckley has amassed a considerable amount of textual evidence for the existence of female priests at some point in the distant past of the faith. Obviously this question is not going away any time soon.

The “Defective Age of Bišlōm”

It is generally accepted that the Doctrine of John reached its present form sometime in the aftermath of the Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia. There are many reasons to assume that parts of it, if not all of it, are much older, but here and there within the texts are references, some oblique and some not so oblique, to Muhammad and Islam. One such reference can be found on p. 45, lns. 1-2 of the Doctrine of John, which Lidzbarski translates as follows:

ṭubẖ lman ḏbhazin dara
bṣira ḏbišlum šlim

Wohl dem, der in diesem mangelhaften
Zeitalter des Bišlom heil geblieben ist.

Blessed is he who, in this defective
era of “Bišlom,” has remained whole.

From Lidzbarski’s perspective, bišlum is a pun (or ein Calembour, as he describes it); Bišlom is an oblique reference to Islam, consisting of the Persian prefix bi- “without” and the Arabic word salām “peace,” which has been Mandaicized to šlum for some reason. I’m not convinced; bi- may be the modern Persian (“Farsi”) form, but the contemporary Middle Persian form would have been abē-, not bi-. If the joke hinges upon a Farsi preposition, either this portion of the text was composed considerably after the early Islamic period (when most scholars accept that it acquired its present form), or its author would have had to wait a long, long time for his audience to get the joke—at least two or three centuries. Talk about bad timing!

Lidzbarski’s interpretation stuck, though, and Pallis (1926, 213) went even further, suggesting that bišlum is nothing more than the word Islām influenced by the word Muslim. This strikes me as clever, but perhaps a bit too clever. For a denizen of that selfsame “defective age” to recognize Islam qua Islam as opposed to, say, the worship of the planets, “Hagarism” (as it was generally known to Syriac-speaking Christians), or “Mohammedanism” (as it was known to Europeans throughout the greater part of the last fourteen centuries), it would have required a considerably more “modern” sensibility than that which is generally attributed to the polemical tracts of Late Antiquity. As a further objection, I know of no contemporary Aramaic dialect in which the word “Islam” or any calque of this word appears, raising the question of whether pre-modern non-Muslims ever employed this term, or whether they were even familiar with it. If not, what is the point of using it in a pun?

The interpretation of the term bišlum as “Islam” (which also appears in A Mandaic Dictionary) rests wholly and squarely upon this passage. Everywhere else within the corpus of Mandaic texts, including elsewhere within this manuscript, and indeed within this very same chapter, bišlum means “peacefully” or “at peace.” As it happens, a strong case can be made that it means that here, as well. It seems to me that the only wordplay within this verse depends upon the contrast between the terms bṣir “lacking” and šlim “whole:”

Happy is the one who, in this defective / lacking
age, is the one who has come to an end peacefully / intact.

The implication being that, in the “defective age” of the author, it was more common to end in pieces than end in peace.

Of course, reading Islam out of the picture has ramifications for the dating of this portion of the text. If we accept the traditional interpretation (that of Lidzbarski, Pallis, Drower, and Macuch), then we must accept that this portion of the text is post-Islamic. If we do not accept his interpretation, then there is no reason to assume that it is post-Islamic—of course, there’s also no immediately obvious reason to assume that it isn’t post-Islamic, but there was certainly no shortage of potential candidates for the role of mangelhafte Zeitalter throughout the period of Late Antiquity.

Sailing and Animal Husbandry

One of the chief impediments to understanding the language of the Doctrine of John is not its grammar (which is, in any case, rather simple) but rather the frequent use of jargon from various fields. One would expect an extending allegory involving a shepherd and his flock to contain some jargon from the field of animal husbandry, but the sudden appearance of nautical terminology (such as the aforementioned zakaita) can be jarring at times. A stray verse near the beginning of p. 44 (lns. 2-3) reads,

qamit el ramta ḏarba
mhara qaiim alihdia kudka

I rose to the highest point of the vessel,
the mhara, standing near the kudka.

The word arba is perhaps the most common word for “boat” in the text, alongside a bewildering array of synonyms (makuta “raft,” mabarta “ferry,” markabta “vehicle,” šabaita “reed boat (?),” sahrana “crescent skiff (?),” and so forth). As the word is homonymous with a type of mixing bowl, it seems likely that the type of boat designated by the term arba is something like the modern Iraqi قفة guffa, which is indeed the most common form of boat in the marshes of southern Mesopotamia and well-attested in Assyrian reliefs. Another, less likely possibility is that the term comes from the Akkadian erbâ/arbâ “a 40 gur boat.” To reflect the homonymy between arba “bowl” and arba “boat,” I usually translate the latter as “vessel.”

The word mhara, on the other hand, gives pause. It always refers to some part of the boat in the Doctrine of John and seems to be related to the Akkadian maḫru(m) “front,” hence “prow.” The major obstacle to this interpretation, as Lidzbarski (pp. 48-49, fn. 8) notes, is that nowhere in Akkadian literature is the prow of any boat thus designated, but who knows what kind of semantic shifts might have occurred as the word was borrowed? As a latter-day parallel, Germans refer to the mobile phone as das Handy, which is a transparent English loan word, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an English speaker who uses the term “Handy” to describe his cell phone.

Lidzbarski notes that the usual word for prow in Akkadian is pān elippi, and suggests that the context requires the mhara not to be identified with the prow but rather to be “standing upright either on or inside” the boat. Citing the phrase maḫrāt elippi, which Delitzsch (1896, p. 403) defines as “forward spars,” and which apparently stand behind the sikkat elippi “spars,” he concludes that spars would best fit the context, but that mhara is used elsewhere in the context of watering and may actually refer to some kind of a sluice. In any case, I’m skeptical; spars are not necessary (and indeed not found) on most of the crafts of the marshes of southern Iraq, even if the lightworld vessels are typically depicted in Mandaean manuscripts as fully rigged. CDA complicates matters further: contra Zimmern and Delitzsch, it defines maḫrātu(m) as the entire bow of a boat, not as its prow or forward spar.

The last word in the verse presents the most problems. The term kudka is not uncommon in Mandaic literature, and where it appears it generally refers to a boundary stone, corresponding in function and possibly form to the Akkadian kudurru, but what’s one doing in the bow of a boat? Lidzbarski observes, “Here, too, the kudka will be a pole, but more information is not apparent from the context.” The passages which refer to nautical themes are among the most cryptic in the manuscript. I am in the process of collecting technical terms in the text and obviously need to track down an authority on Akkadian nautical terminology, if indeed that is what we are dealing with here.

The terms relating to the different types of sheep are only slightly less complicated. Alongside embra, aqna and the related form ana (which occasionally becomes aina “eye”), all of which mean “sheep,” the pair para and parta (“ram lamb” and “ewe lamb,” respectively) appears, as does embrusa (a diminutive form of embra, perhaps “little lamb”). Somehow I feel as if I’m only scratching the surface of a vast sheep-related vocabulary. But what’s this?

kma karialia el gablia ešnia
ḏaqamra ḏganbaihun ṭabatinun

How greatly am I distressed by the rams (?),
the wool of whose sides it [the whirlpool] has submerged.

ešnia is undoubtedly just a variant form of eušnia “males,” cognate with Syriac ܐܘܫܢܐ ˀōšnā “stallion,” allegedly an Iranian loan word related to Pahlavi gušn “male,” and ultimately from Avestan waršni- “male (animal).” But what are gablia? Lidzbarski found this word here and in one other work (British Library OR. 6592, which he calls “der Londoner Rolle A”), and with the only information at hand (given the context, it must be some kind of sheep, and it must be male) deemed it a ram. I can do no better.

Mandaic Aphorisms, II

The Doctrine of John (p. 44, ln. 10) presents us with yet another gem:

ṭubẖ lman ḏaqria bmia umia beudnẖ laiit
“Happy is the one who is swept away (?) by the water and doesn’t get any water in his ear.”

This is another great example of a phrase that is transparent at first glance but still eludes parsing. The verb aqria likely comes from the root √ʔ-q-r “to uproot” (or, to quote Drower and Macuch, “to uproot, tear loose, tear away, eradicate, detach, destroy, exterminate, break down, tear down,” which is used in several idioms such as aqar apra “dust was whirled off” or aqria ziqia “the winds break loose,” both of which are evidently intransitive despite the transitive nature of the root. Perhaps an impersonal plural is intended? “They uproot the dust” = “the dust is uprooted” or “they uproot the winds” = “the winds are uprooted.”

Clearly this form is somehow related to the others dealing with winds and dust. Could aqria be a variant spelling of aqrẖ, “he uprooted him”? That would be orthographically, morphologically, and syntactically feasible but semantically meaningless.

Could this be the C-stem perfective of a root √q-r-ʔ ? Just such a root exists, and it even means “to tear,” but it never appears in the C-stem, not in Mandaic and not in any other dialect with which I’m familiar. Plus, the expected from would be aqra, not aqria, and it would mean “he causes to tear,” which is even less meaningful in this context. What about a variant spelling for the G-stem passive participle qria? A prothetic a is not at all uncommon before initial consonant clusters, especially after a proclitic, and especially in this text. Given the similarity of forms derived from these two roots and the strong possibility of contamination between them, it’s possible that aqria has taken the form of the G-stem passive participle of √q-r-ʔ with the meaning of the root √ʔ-q-r.

Whistle While You Work

Among its other mysteries, the “Good Shepherd” contains some vocabulary already familiar from the “Soulfisher,” including the enigmatic zakaita (p. 43, ln. 4):

šariqnin bmašruqtai
habiṭna bzakaitai lmia

I call them with my mašruqta,
I beat the waters with my zakaita.

mašruqta is clearly related to the preceding verb √š-r-q, “to whistle” (or “to utter shrill or disconnected sounds, grunt, squeal, whistle, pipe” according to Drower and Macuch, who frequently offer numerous synonyms, seldom employed in the examples, as cover for a lack of precision). The context certainly suggests some kind of musical instrument, and clay whistles are abundantly attested in the core Mandaean territories from time immemorial, according to Ochsenschlager.

As far as zakaita, Lidzbarski’s verdict (p. 48, fn. 4) is that it is also some kind of musical instrument, perhaps a drum, and notes that it also appears on p. 161, ln. 13:

zakaita dilak ṣaida
ḏhazilẖ nunia umitrahqia

Deine zak(k)aitā, Fischer, ist derart,
daß, wenn die Fische sie sehen sie sich entfernen.

Thus far, we know the following things about this item:

  1. It is homonymous with zakaita “pure (f.)” or “conquering (f.)”;
  2. It parallels mašruqta, which is likely a musical instrument;
  3. It is associated with shepherds and fishers;
  4. It is employed by beating it against something;
  5. In one instance, it is used to beat water.

This last item moved Lidzbarski to conclude that it was not a bell, as the verb √h-b-ṭ is not typically used for bells. While it does seem to provoke movement in both passages (warning the sheep to come in, for the first, and warning the fish to run away, for the second), it does so by sound in the first passage and by sight in the second. The ensemble of all these features suggests to me that it isn’t a musical instrument at all.

Drower and Macuch suggest that it might be some kind of stick (such as that which fishers use to drive fish into a net when net fishing), which seems logical enough. If the stick were sufficiently large enough, it might explain why it was known as “the conquering one,” if indeed that is the etymology of the name, just as certain American firearms came to be known under nicknames such as “Peacemaker” or “Widow Maker” in the Old West. Why, though, is it feminine?  As far as I know, all of the Mandaic words for rods, sticks, and staves (such as gauaza, huṭra, and margna) are masculine, as are all the words for percussion instruments (such as darbukia and ṭibla). Perhaps the best solution would be simply to translate it “Victoria.”

Bringing in the Sheaves

After a long period during which I was occupied in fine-tuning the Fieldworks parser by reentering old data (portions of the text that had already been parsed and translated), I have returned to that portion of the Doctrine of John that Lidzbarski named “The Good Shepherd.”  I’ve gotten as far as the part in which the shepherd is watching his flocks peacefully graze, when a terrible storm arises and menaces them.

As in the earlier portions I recently translated, this text contains some interesting “post-Classical” forms, such as aqariun ziqia mardia “boisterous winds broke loose” and ahlipiun [sic] mia “waters carried off.” Lidzbarski’s edition contains clues to most of the mysteries of these texts, but occasionally he translates a word without any explanation, as in the following passage from p. 42, lns. 5-6:

šurit alit ldibna

lmiṭib ainai mn duktin

Da sprang ich auf und trat in die Hürde,

um meine Schafe von ihrem Orte fortzutragen.

In the footnote to this verse, Lidzbarski notes that ainai “my eyes” is likely some kind of scribal error for a[q]nai “my sheep,” influenced by the presence of the same word ainai in the following line. He does not, however, attempt to justify his translation of as lmiṭib  “to bring back,” which is a real pity, as Drower and Macuch don’t include this form in their dictionary, either. Logically, it doesn’t make much sense for the narrator to enter the sheep fold to bring the sheep back, either, unless of course he were accompanied by them, but this fact certainly would have been mentioned.

The form miṭib, which belongs to the pattern migṭil, a less commonly attested alloform for the more usual infinitive form migṭal, suggests that we’re dealing with a verbum mediae infirmae such as √ṭ-w-b or possibly a verbum mediae geminatae √ṭ-b-b. The first is a complete non-starter, being stative where the context demands a transitive root, but the second, which means “to inform oneself; explore” in Syriac does indeed fit the context, even if it is not otherwise attested in Mandaic, at least not in the texts consulted by Drower and Macuch.  Consequently, I’d propose the following translation:

I leaped up and entered the fold,

to learn about my sheep from their positions.

Things I’ve Learned Today…

Rutgers has no central repository for employee data.  All of this information is kept on Rolodex at each individual unit. Thus, a research or teaching assistant who is hired in one unit must be rehired (and must resubmit all personal information, including name, address, taxpayer ID, date of birth, and so forth) each time s/he moves to another unit (this happens more often than you might think; Steve Caruso, for example, has already served Rutgers at SCI, CMES, and AMESALL, and has had to be rehired and laboriously reëntered into the system each time).

Rutgers has apparently never conducted any business with the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). I discovered this when Rutgers requested that the BnF apply for approval as a “new supplier” before Rutgers would pay for some digital reproductions of manuscripts in their collections.  This is another laborious process that involves filling internal forms, applying for an American taxpayer ID (through the IRS) as well as completing a W9 form, and waiting copious amounts of time.  The thought of the national library of France applying for an American taxpayer ID, let alone applying for the privilege of becoming Rutgers’ newest “supplier” alongside such giants of industry as the people who make all of the Rutgers-themed paraphernalia, boggles the mind.

Rutgers has a world-class French Department, and one would have thought that someone, at some point, would have had some business to conduct with the BnF. Apparently not, although I suspect that someone must have and that they’re probably still waiting on the response.  While it might be fun to watch two sclerotic government bureaucracies “race” to fulfill a request (forget “The Tortoise and the Hare” … think “The Tortoise and the Snail” or perhaps “Molasses in January versus A Week in Jail”), I think I’ll probably just shell the money for the reproductions out of my own pocket and take the hit.

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