From the moment he arrived in the U.S. from New Malden, Surrey two years ago, a 42-year-old Briton named William George Philpot began wondering what he could do about an American trait that bothered him. At every traffic light someone behind him honked a horn. Five weeks ago in Detroit, Philpot ordered a metal sign. He bolted it to the rear of his car and set forth. The honking stopped. Last week, as a final test, he drove through clangorous Manhattan. Even there, the sign worked. Philpot sighed with relief, and set out in his self-made zone of silence for...

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