Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Rag-Picker's Dilemma

The origins of the nation's rags are a source of constant bemusement for enthusiasts of the topic. Establishing provenance (to say nothing of "authenticity") within this realm requires an unusually tenacious adherence to apocryphal notions of pedigree and lineage that often have no more factual basis than any of the other yarns, myths and tall-tales that have been widely circulated through the various oral and vernacular traditions of this great country.

That is not to say that vague patterns and groupings cannot be established in the same manner as our linguistic historians have managed to provide us with various techniques for cataloging the evolution of specific language groups, but alas, the science of rags is a soft one, even compared to the other social sciences, which hold up to comparatively more exacting standards of rigor.

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