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Rita Robert’s Translation of KN 409 X k 25: Delivery of Tribute to Kutaistos: Click to ENLARGE Here we have Rita’s first translation of a tablet considerably more challenging than any she has previously been saddled with. This is because both the words APUDOSI and OPERO are open to debate, for the same old same old reason Linear B researchers and translators always cite, namely, that Linear B vocabulary, more often than not, is ambiguous, especially where context is minimal, as is the case for this tablet. Some translators have, in the past, assigned the meaning, “attribution” to APUDOSI, which literally means, “giving unto”, but such a translation is unquestionably unsound, because it (pardon the pun, which I cannot resist) attributes an abstract meaning to APUDOSI. Not only is the abstract rare in the earliest stages of any language, in this instance, Greek, but the attribution (ahem!) of the abstract “attribution” renders the sense of this tablet absurd. Translators who persist in frequently assigning abstract meanings to attributed (A) Linear B words should beware of this practice, as it is bound to lead them into irresolvable impasses. Now I am going to contradict myself flat out. OPERO, in this context, means either “debt” or “liability”. “What!” I hear you protest. “You have just made a fool of yourself.” Not at all. I this context, which is typical of the primary concern of Linear B scribes, namely, accounting and record keeping, this is indeed the very translation we would expect to see. Accounting and inventory records frequently have recourse to terms such as – account, debt, deficit, liability & total – and in keeping with this, Linear B tablets do make use of the abstract in this context, because they must. But this probably the only exception to the “rule”. There are no “rules” as such, anyway, and exceptions always pop up whenever anyone is foolhardy enough to make them. Of course, it is possible, and in fact even likely that other abstract words in other areas of the Minoan economy are liable to appear, and if and when they do, provided that their connotations are sound in the given context, I am the last person on earth to contest such translations. The area in which more such abstract words are likely to appear is that of sheep husbandry and rearing, accounting for some 20 % of all Linear B tablets. There still remains one more possibility for the translation of OPERO = “tribute”, which is even more abstract than those cited above. But it fits the context, provided that we assume (as I am doing here, at least tentatively) that Kutaistos, Phaistos, Exonos and other Minoan settlements were as worthy of tribute as Knossos itself most certainly was. But it was more likely the other way around. Just as tribute came pouring into the Treasury of Delphi of Athens from the subject cities of her Empire in the 5th. century BCE, so must have the same occurred with Knossos. So there is even another translation which could be assigned to this tablet, which is after all a fragment: Delivery of tribute from Kutaistos... (to Knossos) - missing because this is a fragment. Recall that the genitive can be assigned the value “of” or “from”, let alone plenty of other values, context dependent. I deliberately omitted this translation from Rita’s work, because it is probably the most contestable of the lot. Other Linear B translators and research experts are sure to have plenty to say about this. Richard
I suspected that this disk was in Minoan, or so it would appear. And IF this is true, we have the first real handle on the decipherment of Linear A, which Rita and I should eventually be investigating, perhaps later in 2015. But for now we have other things on our mind re. Linear B and I on Linear C. FANTASTIC POST Rita!
Originally posted on Ritaroberts's Blog:
The Phaistos disc was discovered in l908 by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the Minoan pre-formed hieroglyphic “seals” into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling towards the disc’s center.
The Phaistos disc captured the imagination of amateur and professional archaeologists, and many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc’s signs. While it is not clear that it is a script, most attempted decipherments assume that it is; most additionally assume a syllabary , others an alphabet or logography.
Attempts at decipherment are generally thought to be unlikely to succeed unless more examples of the signs are discovered, as it is generally agreed that there is not enough context available for a meaningful analysis. However more news has come to light recently with regard to the decipherment of The Phaistos Disc.
Close-up section of the Phaistos Disc.
HAS THE PHAISTOS DISC DECIPHERMENT BEEN…
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Translation of a Tiny Linear B Fragment Thebes TH Of 37, Spelt Granary & Bales of Wool Introduction: Discoveries of the Cache of Linear B Tablets at Thebes: First, some background on the Linear B Thebes tablets. This relatively small cache was unearthed at archaeological excavations in Thebes, Greece, according to the following timeline: the first 21 fragments were excavated in 1963–64; 19 more tablets & fragments were found in 1970 and 1972; but by far the largest find came from 1993 to 1995, when the archaeologist Vassilis L. Aravantinos discovered some 250 tablets, amounting roughly to 300 or 5% of the entire corpus of about 6,000 Linear B tablets and fragments. Of these, the first and by far the most substantial store, amounting to no fewer than 4,000 tablets and fragments, was unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans from 1900 to 1903 and again after the First World War, and followed by major digs from all other Mycenaean sites, Pylos being the next largest after Knossos, with over 1,000 tablets and fragments there alone. The Theban tablets and fragments date to the Late Helladic IIIB period (ca. 1300-1200 BCE), contemporary with the finds at Pylos. Apparently, the Theban tablets date from roughly 1225 BCE, when the Kadmeion, the Mycenaean palace complex at Thebes, came to ruin. Prof. John Chadwick, Michael Ventris’ closest colleague and confidant in the initial decipherment of Linear B, who outlived Ventris by scores of decades, himself identified three recognizable Greek divinities, Hera, Hermes and Potnia "the mistress", among the recipients of wool, and made a case for ko-ma-we-te-ja, the name of a goddess, elsewhere attested at Pylos. The Significance of Linear B Tablet TH Of 37, as well as of the other Linear B finds at Thebes: Though relatively few in number (about 300), the tablets and fragments from Thebes are significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which are: (a) by ancient standards for travel time, Thebes was located at a great distance from both Knossos and Mycenae. (b) In spite of this vast distance, the syntactical structure, orthographic conventions and the standard use of the entire Linear B syllabary varied very little, if at all, from Linear B from all the other administrative sites scattered all over Greece and Crete, as well as the outlying Cycladic islands and settlements. (c) The real clincher in this scenario is that Mycenaean Greek, unlike later Greek dialects during the historical period (ca. 800–400 BCE), which varied widely, was remarkably consistent and standardized regardless of where it was used. As “proof” positive of the cross-the-board structural linguistic uniformity of Linear B, regardless of where it was in use (Knossos, Mycenae, Pylos, Phaistos, etc. etc.) all we need to do is simply glance at Theban fragment TH Of 37 (let alone read it), to realize that in fact the consistency is overwhelming, right down to the precise disposition of syllabograms, logograms and ideograms on the tablets, which were also by and large of the same shape as well! And here it is (Click to ENLARGE): May I stress emphatically that I do not lend any more credence to my own half-baked translations (pardon the obvious pun!), even when I come up with more than one alternative translation, and often as many as three, than to anyone else’s equally scholarly – and valiant, if not fanciful – attempts at translation. I am a doubting Thomas down to my core. I sincerely do not believe in any single over-riding theory of the “best of all possible worlds” when it comes to deciphering any Linear B tablet, except perhaps the most voluminous in which ample context tends to lay to rest all sorts of doubts about almost every word in the integral text. I say, “tends to...”, because even with the longest Linear B tablets, nagging doubts remain about not a few phonemes. All we have to do is compare the decipherments of even as few as three Mycenaean Greek linguists specializing in Linear B to witness these variations, however minor or (sometimes) significant. And where context is minimal, as in this tablet, the decipherment becomes all the more problematic. Allow me to flag some of the more recalcitrant textual ambiguities on this particular tablet alone. 1. In a real, almost scary sense, all translations of Linear B, for all its inherent ambiguities, are tautological by nature, or plagued with circular reason. There is simply no way out of this impasse. But this is precisely the reason why any and all truly competent decipherments of Linear B tablets vie with one another for attention, and why the whole process of translating Linear B is such an exciting undertaking for us all in the first place. So much the better for all ongoing research ventures in the translation of Linear B, since the more versions of the same tablet (any tablet or fragment) we have, the more likely are we to eventually hone in at least a relatively stable translation with minor, if real, variations. In fact, I think I would probably have to check myself into a lunatic asylum if I were to make the absurd claim that my translation, however competent or even brilliant, of any Linear B tablet or fragment, were better than another highly qualified translator’s, for the obvious reason that there is no way to check which version is “right” — whatever the blazes that is supposed to mean—unless the doctor is right at hand and on call. And here the doctor is the scribe who actually wrote the tablet in question, and only he can tell us what it really means. But he isn’t available for comment, being sadly dead for some 32 centuries. So we just have to put up with our bandage solutions, even when they do “heal” the text we have in front of us well enough. For this very reason, I never contest the translations my co-researcher, Rita Roberts, posts on our blog, because I was not the author of them, and so I do not and cannot know why she, in her sound judgement, opted for the choices she made. All I can do is come up with an alternative translation, if one is called for. More often than not, it is not. But if it is, that way we both stay clear of our respective asylums. What is good for the goose (Rita) is good for the gander (me), or for that matter any goose or gander. 2. When there is no evidence for an existing (attested A) word to be found anywhere on any extant Linear B medium, I am more than willing to search elsewhere, by which I mean in alphabetical Greek texts, the earlier the better, the best being The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, which is written in the most archaic so-called Epic Greek, sharing as it does a number of grammatical features and even some vocabulary in common with Mycenaean Greek. One of the most outstanding is the archaic genitive in “oio” in the Iliad, which is, for all intents and purposes, the exact equivalent of the Linear B genitive in “ojo” or “oyo”, if you like. And I like “oyo” a lot better for the simple reason that I sincerely believe that the harsher j pronunciation such as we have in English was swiftly on its way out, already morphing into something like the much softer French j as in “je” (I). It is not far from from the soft “je” to outright “i”. A similar phenomenon was manifested in Middle and Renaissance English, when the rough pronunciation of “r”, which still persists in practically every other Occidental Indo-European language, simply vanished in the Great Vowel Shift between 1350 and 1700 in England, when not only the English vowels ended up greatly softened, but also the labials “l” & “r” underwent the very same process, becoming semi-consonants or more accurately semi-vowels. This is the same process which shifted the Mycenaean pronunciation towards something like French j as in “je”, not the much stronger English “j” at all! And this is precisely why I, like a few other Linear B scholars, much prefer “ya ye yo” over the more commonly accepted “je je jo”, for the simple but obvious reason that scholars speaking in English will almost certainly get the pronunciation wrong. Since English is after all by far the most common language used for research articles, both in print and online, regardless of scientific, linguistic, historical or literary discipline, we are far more likely to fall into this trap, even if we are not English speaking, as that is the way “j” is pronounced in English. You just cannot get around it, try as you might... unless of course you are French, and cannot pronounce “j” as the English do, but pronounce it as the French do... which just so happens to agree much more closely with the latter pronunciation, at least in my opinion. Otherwise, how can we explain the relatively swift transition from “ojo” to “oyo” to “oio” in Homeric Greek? I leave it entirely to you to decide for yourselves. 3. When early alphabetical texts are not available, the next best resource is the Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon (1986), which after all includes many dialectical variants on the same word(s), quite a few of them (quasi)-archaic. And even in those instances where only latter-day Ionic and Attic orthography is to be found, we can still make a brave attempt (as I always do), to retrospectively re-construct much earlier versions of the word in question. This is exactly what I have done on this tablet, where: 3.1 I had to rummage through Liddell & Scott to come up with a suitable translation for the first word in the first line of this tablet, QARIYA, which did not make any sense whatsoever, at least for the first half-hour of digging about. However, the most likely candidate finally popped up right in front of my nose. I decided that the translation I hit upon was a pretty good match with AREIZEWEI (dative singular), which I happened to translate first (3.2). The match is the Ionic form of the word for “granary”, which fits the bill very nicely. Caveat: however, once again, I must warn you, this translation of mine is neither any better or any worse than anyone else who really puts the axe to the grindstone. This tablet is open to at least a few interpretations, for the simple reason that, in this case as in so many others, the Linear B text is more or less ambiguous – and here, unfortunately, more. Other experienced and expert Linear B translators will surely take exception to my translation. That is the healthy approach. I invite translators who disagree with my own version of this text to make their views known in the Comments section for this post. In fact, I welcome any criticisms, however tough, of any of my translations of Linear B tablets. 3.2 I merge two Ionic-Attic words into one so-called “Mycenaean” word, areizewei (areirawewei). Whether this word ever existed is open to hefty debate, but it might have, which is good enough for me. I have done this on several Linear B tablets, including the very last one in the post immediately before this one, in which I translated the famous Linear B tablet, Mycenae MY Oe 106. It is no mere accident that the clay figure of a boy appears in tandem with this tablet... because that is precisely what the Linear B scribe intended. We need to pay a lot more attention to everything that appears on any and all Linear B tablets and fragments, including attendant pieces such as this, because they must be there for a very good reason. If you read my previous post, all of this will come into sharp focus. On that tablet, I came up with a derivative [D] word (not attested [A]) for “a young boy”, transliterated here into Latin script = koroton, which in turn just happens to be an exact match with the Linear B KOROTO on this tablet. This phenomenon is identical to the Classical Attic paidion (a youngster). Since the word KOROTO is right in front of our noses on this tablet, then it does exist, and it does mean “a young boy”. What the blazes else can it mean, especially when that huge sketch of a boy is staring us right in the face? In fact, what the scribe who wrote tablet truly seems to be saying is that the boy is the primary subject of the entire tablet, which is precisely what I take it to mean. PS in case you are wondering (which you probably are not), it took me 12 hours (!) to construct the illustration and to compile the text of this post, the longest time ever I have had to devote to any post. But for most significant explanatory posts I still spend between 4 and 8 hours. So I sincerely hope folks who read my posts really do appreciate all the bloody hard work I pour into them, and even, dare I suggest, flag all such posts with “Like”. And why not comment on them too? It won’t kill you, and certainly won’t kill me. Healthy debate, as I have intimated above, is the very sustenance of true research. Richard
Linear B Keyboard Layout: to date the best on the Internet! (REVISED Oct. 30 2014) Click to ENLARGE: In the first version of this new Linear B keyboard, which I posted this summer, I made an egregious error. The Linear B syllabogram produced when you type UC Y is QA, and the logogram PHU, as once bellieved. It is absolutely essential you understand this. QA is in fact a syllabogram. The first thing I would like to point out is that it took me no less than 4 hours (!) of meticulous work to produce this fine chart of the Latin to Linear B Keyboard, just as it takes me between 1 g and 5 (!) hours to produce all the high quality Linear B tablet & fragment translations, illustrations etc. I work very hard on our blog to make sure that all illustrations for all posts are as clear and informative as possible. Most of the illustrations of Linear B tablets and fragments, and most of the rest of Linear B varia on the Internet are frequently of poor or fair quality at best, although plenty of them are of at least good quality, or even excellent. But good is never enough for me, because I want to make certain that any and all students, translators and researchers in Linear B have access to the highest possible quality illustrations for Mycenaean Greek & Linear B. That is why I scanned well over 3,000 Linear B tablets and fragments in Scripta Minoa, sharpened them, converted them to clear B&W and blew them up so that the Linear B characters would be very easy to read. I do sincerely hope people really appreciate the work I put into illustrations and indeed the explanatory text in our posts, which often goes to great lengths to make sure that folks who visit us have the clearest possible idea of whatever topic we are dealing with. Suggestion: Feel free to download this chart, which is in .jpg format. You can then print it out and, to be sure it does not get all messy if you happen to pour coffee, tea or worse on it, laminate it and post it on the wall right behind your computer. This will expedite the learning process for the Linear B font. In order to use the Linear B Font, you must of course first download it. By far the best site to download SPIonic, the standard for ancient (Attic) Greek, be sure to visit Dr. Shirley’s site, Greek fonts, here: Dr Shirleys Font List Greek The next page features a complete explanation by Dr. Curtis Clark himself on how he came to create this fine font. Richard
Sonnet, “Nathan Cirillo”, in Honour of Canada’s Fallen Son: Click to ENLARGE Nathan Cirillo’s State Funeral was profoundly moving in every sense, above all emotionally & spiritually. Although (only) a Reservist Corporal in the Princess Highlanders of Hamilton, he was today, Oct. 28 2014, accorded a full regalia honourary military funeral, which has never been granted to anyone of such a low rank in the history of Canada or for that matter, in the entire world. This was surely because of the obscenity of the terrorist shooting him as he stood guard on the right side of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, at 9:52 a.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Worse still, he slumped right on top of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, bleeding to death on it! He was a wonderful, loving father of his 5 year- old son, Marcus, and everyone who knew him personally, loved him. For Marcus, Click to ENLARGE: All of his friends, and he had many, were completely shattered by his death. He was a lover of dogs, and he rescued so many strays. His dogs adored him, and when he did not return home, they whimpered for days at the front gate of his home. He was so close to his best friend, Brendan Stevenson, that he even slept with him, cuddling him, as you can see in one of the attached photos, even though he was perfectly straight, and had an adorable girl-friend. You can see from his photos that he was still a child at heart. What a terrible loss to Canada and to the entire world! Richard
Linear B Syllabary with Emmett L. Bennett’s Numerical Identifiers: Click to ENLARGE Excerpt from Wikipedia: Emmett L. Bennett, Jr. Emmett Leslie Bennett, Jr. (July 12, 1918 – December 15, 2011) was an American classicist and philologist whose systematic catalog of its symbols led to the solution of the mystery of reading and interpreting Linear B, a syllabary used for writing Mycenaean Greek, a 3,300-year-old script that was used hundreds of years before the Greek alphabet was developed. Archaeologist Arthur Evans had discovered Linear B in 1900 during his excavations at Knossos on the Greek island of Crete who spent decades trying to comprehend its writings until his death in 1941. Bennett and Alice Kober cataloged the 80 symbols used in the script in his 1951 work The Pylos Tablets, which provided linguist John Chadwick and amateur scholar Michael Ventris with the vital clues needed to finally decipher Linear B in 1952.
Ancient Greek is Polytonic, but Mycenaean Greek in Linear B is not & How to Deal with the Whole Blasted Mess: Click to ENLARGE Peering at this (apparently) complex chart of ancient Greek polytonic orthography, you are liable to want to jump off a cliff or at least take a valium. I know I did when I first learned ancient Greek, and to be quite frank, I still do have a great deal of difficulty remembering where stressed or unstressed accents (especially when subscripted) are supposed to fall, either on the first syllable or on one of three final syllables, which are linguistically stylized as antepenultimate (third last syllable), penultimate (second last syllable) & ultimate (last syllable), just to drive us even crazier. We can blithely (and safely) ignore these totally unnecessary definitions and just say last, second last & third last syllable, so that ordinary folks like you and me can understand what on earth all those linguists are on about. And I am the first to admit that, even though I learned ancient Greek all on my own (auto-didactically), and have learned to read it very well after 15 years, I always was and still am far too lazy to be bothered learning the niceties of all those polytonic “rules” anyway, because all you need to do, in order to write ancient Greek, is to look up the word you want to write in an excellent Greek dictionary, of which by far the best is Liddell & Scott, Greek-English Lexicon (1986), grab the correct polytonic accents from the entry, et voilà! And I know darn well right that plenty of folks do precisely this, because who can be bothered with silly details like that if in fact you already know the word for which you want to check its polytonics. This is above all true for those of us who have read plenty of ancient Greek texts, from at least Books I & II of Homer’s Iliad, several prominent ancient Greek poets such as Sappho (above all others), Anacreon & Alceus, historians such as Herodotus & Xenophon (ridiculously easy to read & my first introduction the ancient Greek), Plato, Strabo, Plutarch etc. etc. (all of whom I have read extensively, plus many other authors in several ancient Greek dialects – another maddening distraction, at least for the first five years or so). It is in fact the dialects, of which there at least 10 major ones, all of them treating polytonics in their own quirky way, which really mess things up! Trust me. Add to this the incontestable fact that ancient Greek has far more polytonics than any Occidental language, ancient or modern, and you can see exactly what I mean. Even French, which sports plenty of accents, is a cakewalk in comparison. As a Canadian, I speak and read French fluently, and I can and do remember precisely where any accent falls on any French word, all this in spite of the fact that French has a number of accents – though far, far less than ancient Greek. And if you wish to write any text in ancient Greek, you just do the same thing (look it up) and copy it from the dictionary. This makes life a lot easier for those of us who are obliged to write ancient Greek. Another suggestion: if you need to write a whole sentence or a whole paragraph of some ancient Greek author, just go to a site like Perseus Digital Library: look up the author and subsequently the passage you want to transcribe, and then copy and paste it into your word processor, simple as that. Well, not quite as simple as that. You have to make sure that you have first set your font to SPIonic (the best there is for most dialects – but not all – in ancient Greek), to make sure that it turns out as Greek in your word processor. Otherwise, all you will see is nothing but garbage. This situation gets far more frustrating for those of us who can also read and write Minoan Linear A (even if no-one has a clue what it means), Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C (all of which, thank God, have no polytonics!). Now if you wish to set the exact Greek equivalent of any Linear B text, for example, if you do not do as I advise, it will take you hours and hours just to type a few sentences. Who needs that like a hole in the head? Not me, let me tell you. But of course our chart above serves to save you hours and hours of totally needless fooling around with ancient Greek diacritics. Just print it out, laminate it if you like, and pin it on your wall. Then you can gaze at it in stunned awe any time you like. Even without doing this, it takes me hours and hours to create a chart such as the one you see above. That one took me four hours! So I really would appreciate it if folks who visit our blog actually get this, and at least tag each post they really find fascinating with the number of STARS they would rate it as (top of the post) & LIKE (bottom of the post). Please! It makes Rita, my colleague and myself very happy to know you care. Best, Richard
Once again, the truth is out! The British Museum should be put on trial at the International Court of the Hague for #Elginism i.e. vandalism!
Originally posted on Things That Never Made It Into Print...:
I hadn’t planned to share my exploits so early, but sometimes necessity forces us to abandon our schedules, and move beyond them, for the purpose of clarification.
About that war I mentioned in my previous post…
Someone just now brought it to my attention—as if I hadn’t noticed—that there is a typographical error on the poster I designed for this war of mine, the one I declared in July of 2009. And to explain the story of that typographical slight I am forced to say something about the business of making words—new words—and how they reach the level of acceptability.
Don’t know about you…
But I was raised on the streets. And the streets provided with me an exemplary education—one usually scrubbed from the halls of academia—as well as the tools I need to survive as a human. Because, as far as I’m concerned, that’s where everything happens. That’s where…
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Absolutely BANG ON! Shame on the British Museum for continuing to keep what does not belong to them. Pure vandalism!
Originally posted on Things That Never Made It Into Print...:
Just a few days ago, the British Guild of Travel Writers, an organization composed of travel journalists, photographers, editors and broadcasters, voted the New Acropolis Museum as the best for the following reasons:
The winner of the Globe Category (receiving more than 250,000 visitors a year), nominated by Nigel Tisdall, was the new Acropolis Museum in Athens (www.newacropolismuseum.gr/eng), built to replace the old museum which has done an admirable job since 1865, but was short of space. In 2001 a competition was held to build a new one ten times larger and fit for the 21st century. It was won by a Swiss architect, Bernard Tschumi, and opened in June 2009.
Bright and spacious, the new museum lies at the foot of the Acropolis and has already attracted over two million visitors – many are amazed by the perfection of its design and the beauty of the artworks…
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In Memoriam Aeternam Corporal Nathan Cirillo, shot to death 9:52 a.m., Oct. 22 2014 (in Linear B, ancient Greek, Latin, French & English): Click to ENLARGE: Yesterday, at 9:52 a.m. a crazed madman stylizing himself as a “jihadist”, a despicable word if ever there was, fired two rounds from a high powered rifle into the back of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the National War Memorial in our lovely city, Ottawa, the Capital of Canada. The killer then drove in a stolen car straight over to the House of Commons, rushed through the front doors of Parliament, and fired at least 30 shots in the main corridor leading to the Library of Parliament, before being shot to death by the Sargent at Arms, Kevin Vickers. Fortunately, the Members of Parliament were all in caucus at that time. Had the shooter arrived only an hour later, when the corridors were full of M.P.s and other people, the death toll would have been horrendous, in this, the first terrorist attack ever directly on the seat of government in any nation. The shock waves that ran through Canada and all around the world were instantaneous and horrifying. As a devout Canadian, I was so stunned, and then enraged yesterday that even today I cannot get over this brutal act of violence. Shame on radical Muslims, shame on Daesh! You are the very antithesis of civilized people; you are barbaric monsters. We will never forget what you have done to our peaceful nation, and you shall never live this down, so help us God. Please note that I tweeted this eulogy to all of the TV networks above. Richard