The current issue of a national magazine lists these warning signs: stain, unusual odor, the sound of broken glass or plastic. What publication, what danger? (Question courtesy of Jim O'Grady.)
Send your answer by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday's Question (No. 282)--"It'll Take a Miracle":
An inquiry into Mother Teresa began in Calcutta, India, Monday, as Pope John Paul II opted to fast-track her canonization, waiving the five-year post-death waiting period. Beatification, the first step toward sainthood, requires a confirmed miracle, and one has already been "authenticated." Name that miracle.
"Tears streaming from the Time magazine cover of JFK Jr."--Peter Lerangis
"Black Hole of Calcutta now 'only a little gray, more like brown, really.' "--Andrew Staples
"Transformed Christopher Hitchens from semicoherent socialist into gibbering right-wing tattletale."--Jennifer Miller
"Oh, I know! She tortured Indians until they either converted or died! Or was that the beatified Father Junípero Serra?"--Greg Diamond
"Since Mother Teresa's death, there have been no movie sightings of Harvey Keitel's penis."--Alex Balk
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Something happened between 1968 and 10 minutes ago that transformed the American flag from hallowed symbol to fabric pattern. Thirty years ago, ABC would not televise Abbie Hoffman's American flag shirt on the Dick Cavett Show; last week it was available at a street fair in my neighborhood in the form of silk underwear. (Surprisingly comfortable.) This seems like increasing liberalism, but it's only encroaching commerce, less a commitment to free speech than a determination to sell paper plates, cups, and napkins for kicky Fourth of July fun. Similarly, if more slowly, the term "miracle" has evolved from sacred mystery to a substitute for mayonnaise. There is the Miracle Mile for shopping, the Miracle on Ice for sports, Miracle-Gro for plants. But here it seems less a chance to make a buck than something akin to grade inflation. Either way, Mother Teresa is a shoo-in. And she'll look great on a medallion, boxers, or briefs.
Three miracles have already been attributed to Mother Teresa, and the investigation has just begun.
Henry D'Souza, archbishop of Calcutta, said a patient in West Bengal claimed that a tumor disappeared after he was blessed by Mother Teresa. D'Souza said the case has been authenticated by a doctor.
A French woman in the United States who broke several ribs in a car accident reportedly healed when she wore a Mother Teresa medallion around her neck.
A Palestinian girl suffering from cancer says she was cured after Mother Teresa appeared in her dreams and said, "Child, you are cured."
It does not count against Mother Teresa that she's concentrated all her miracles into one field, medicine, failing to appear well-rounded. It does count against your HMO that they are unlikely to provide any of these valuable services.
Michael Jenning's Give Me a Sign Follow-Up
Near where I used to live in Australia, there is a road along the bottom of a cliff where a series of signs says:
DO NOT STOP
Driving past, we used to comment, "Damn right they don't."
Marc Cenedella's Charybdis/Carybdis Follow-Up
Apparently Jeff Newman has taken too much Latin, since Homer's Odyssey is written in ancient Greek. (P.S.: On the subject of Anglophone spelling, somebody should inform the Greeks that they've misspelled Greece "Hellas.")
Karen Bitterman's Class-Conscious Vandals Follow-Up
I don't know about your 'hood, but here, the prettier the car the more likely it is to be "keyed"--that nasty, deep, full-length scratch (or scratches, if it is keyed by multiple pissed-off proletarians) when one's car is parked on the street. Also, in a sort of tribal downsizing, budding gangsters no longer have to steal your car radio, they only have to steal the brand logo insignia from the hood or trunk of your car (less likely to set off the alarm, which makes it more likely that they can steal badges from all cars on a block) in order to prove their inherent gangsterness. With all these options, spray-paint-wielding taggers are free to concentrate on the stationary objects that will mark their turf, or to defile the stationary objects in the turf of the other.
The affliction of Christopher Hitchens, the triumph of various ball clubs.