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The Kindness of Strangers

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

—Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire

Sometimes, enlightenment, like confusion, can come from an unexpected source.  Take the comedian, George Carlin, for example.  I think that his broadcasting of dirty words is a bit less than profound, as is his hostility toward most civilized conventions; some years ago, however, he did say something brilliant, which I have never forgotten.  He indicated that what is wrong with our country is that the institutions are incorrectly or misleadingly named.  He offered “Bud’s Medical Center” and “The Presbyterian Memorial Bar & Grill” as examples of rectified labeling, and I think his insight must be applauded.

I wonder if we could extend the Carlin principle.  Perhaps we should retire the term “the border” in favor of “the sieve.”  “The border” would then become a useful term in the kitchen, as in the following example: “Would you please put those greens in the border and run some water through them?”  The uniformed personnel of the rebadged Sieve Patrol could then resume their duties.

Speaking of misleading expressions, I was reading recently of the advocacy of “gay marriage” by David Brooks and...

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