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Lake Effect | Take a Powder

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nWhen a quantity of a white, powdery substance was mailed to the LDS Salt Lake Temple last week, some LDS Church members surmised, with characteristic paranoia, that it was the work of “gay terrorists” in retaliation for the church’s role in funding a campaign that eliminated the rights of California gays and lesbians to marry. n

Turns out the substance is harmless, according to the FBI.

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This didn’t come as too much of a surprise, though. Mailed packages of white powder never seem to contain anthrax anymore. It’s become the modern-day equivalent of a flaming sack of dog excrement left on somebody’s doorstep: unpleasant, yes, but not dangerous or even particularly funny.

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Anybody who receives such a package must find out which harmless substance it contains in order to clarify the sender’s coded meaning. For instance, if it’s body talc, the obvious message is, “You stink!” Cream of tartar might be a criticism of the recipient’s acid tongue. Baking powder could even hold positive connotations (“Thanks for rising to the occasion!”) and sugar, of course, is practically a love letter. Cornstarch, alas, is far from complimentary (“You thicken me”).

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