Almost every morning as I am shaving, I hear a radio commercial of the sort that produces in me what I call the Dan Rather effect—that is, the urge to talk back to electronic boxes. The message is on behalf of a jewelers’ establishment called Charleston Alexander in Washington, D.C., and it begins with the following boast: “We hold two titles in this town: first, more diamonds in one place than any one place in Washington and, second, price.” After a certain amount of by no means conclusive elaboration on the ambiguity of the second “title,” the ad continues: “And if there was a third title, for loving diamonds, we’d hold that too.” This absurd hypothetical is what brings out the bag-lady in me. “Why not award it to yourself anyway?” I want to shout. Perhaps I do shout. “It’s no less imaginary than the other two!” Titles indeed! What kind of title is it...


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