Oh, What a System

Oh, What a System

Oh, What a System

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Oct. 9 1998 3:30 AM

Oh, What a System

No. 120: "Oh, What a System"

By Randy Cohen


Pleased with yesterday's result, who said this about what? "Thank God, once again the system works!" by noon ET Thursday to e-mail your answer (newsquiz@slate.com).

Responses to Tuesday's question (No. 119)--"Televanity":
"It was so easy in the '60s and '70s to look at television and say, 'That's wrong,' " says Dag Jutfelt, a government official in a Stockholm suburb. "It turns out we didn't know so much." About what?

"How Starsky and Hutch could have pitched in with the Olaf Palme investigation."--Jennifer Miller

"Cher's deep and abiding love for Sonny Bono. 'It seemed freaky at the time,' Jutfelt said. 'How were we to know he was the one true love of her life?' "--Tim Carvell

"About watching the side of the television with the screen."--Bill Franzen

"READY? READY? Did I EVER in my wildest dreams think I could actually use this joke again in a REAL context? Oh, man, am I excited ... JACK LORD'S HAIR!!!!!! Oh God, does that feel as good for you as it does for me????"--Fred Graver

"The prejudices of Archie Bunker. Sweden had erroneously assumed that when it acquired dark-skinned citizens, everyone would live together in harmony, like on Diff'rent Strokes."--Daniel Radosh

Click here for more responses.

Randy's Mocking the Box Wrap-Up
In that delightful series of children's books, Miss Clavel instructs the eponymous Madeline and her 11 Parisian schoolmates to "smile at the good and piss on the bad." (Spit on the bad? Give the bad a withering stare followed by a stern talking to and the thrashing it so richly deserves?) Or, perhaps, in the face of the low-level bad, one ought merely to avert the glance, lifting the eye, if not to higher, then at least to more absorbing things. Which is to ask: What are we to do about television? Isn't it too easy a target for the merciless "News Quiz" snipers? Perhaps not. Were you to walk into a randomly chosen play 50 or 100 years ago, you'd likely sit through something no better than Frazier or Third Rock, and much worse than Larry Sanders. Were you to pick up a popular novel of the same period, say a mystery, it would seldom improve on ER or Homicide . Television is OK at light entertainment. When it aims low, it scores. It's the putatively good television that fails so flamboyantly. Nearly any newspaper of 50 years ago was better than nearly every network newscast now. Which is to say: Perhaps we ought to smile at the good and give out the home phone numbers of people getting rich by serving up this inane porridge over the public airwaves, which any way you look at it is the bad. But that Nathan Lane, he's a funny man.

It's a Small, Small Answer
Immigration, as Daniel Radosh knew.
Warren Hoge writes in the New York Times: "Sweden has seen its centuries-old homogeneous population become 10 percent non-Nordic, and the assimilation and acceptance of diversity that the country loudly wished to see in other mixed societies has not occurred here."
Dag Jutfelt is deputy director of the Rinkeby district, an overwhelmingly immigrant Stockholm suburb that is feared and avoided by many native-born Swedes and stigmatized as a haven for criminals and welfare cheats.


Supreme Court Office Pool Extra
The first Monday in October means a new term for the U.S. Supreme Court, and now it can also mean illegal but widely tolerated low-stakes gambling. At last there's a way to develop a real interest in the nation's most crucial legal issues: by betting on them. Here's how.
The Bet
Each player pays the same entrance fee into the pot. At the end of the session, the player who has most accurately predicted the court's decisions collects the entire pot.
The Scoring
Six points for the decision--a straight call: upheld or reversed. Plus one bonus point for the correct vote of each individual justice. Each case scores a maximum of 15 points.
The Wild Cards
Twenty point bonuses for predicting the date Souter, Scalia, Kennedy, or Rehnquist takes on his first African-American clerk. Twenty-five points for nailing the date Scalia takes on his first minority clerk.
What Now?
Now you take over. Have your office manager or foreman or home room teacher administer the game--list and summarize the cases the court agrees to consider, circulate this form to all players, keep track of the bets. (At term's end, this person should receive a lovely present, not just a $100 chip down the trousers.) And remember, whether it's civil rights or federal regulation, sexual harassment or redistricting, constitutional or statutory cases--bet with your head and not over it.
For entertainment purposes only. Void where prohibited by law. Keep in a cool, dry place.


Disclaimer: All submissions will become the property of Slate and will be published at Slate's discretion. Slate may publish your name on its site in connection with your submission.

Randy Cohen used to write Slate's "News Quiz." His most recent book—oh, like you don't know.