No. 229: "Don't Think So"

No. 229: "Don't Think So"

No. 229: "Don't Think So"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
April 23 1999 3:30 AM

No. 229: "Don't Think So"

Fill in the blank in this quote from cognitive scientist Bruce Bagemihl: "We shouldn't have to look to __________ to see what's normal or ethical."


by noon ET Thursday to e-mail your answer to

Tuesday's Question (No. 228) "Still Not Sure"

At yesterday's ceremony honoring the Teacher of the Year, Bill Clinton recalled that his sixth-grade teacher once told him, "If you don't learn the difference, I'm not sure whether you're going to be governor or wind up in the penitentiary." What difference?

"None, apparently."--Ellen Macleay


"Between 'Voulez vous couchez avec moi, ce soir?' and 'Kiss it.' "--Norman Oder

"The difference between 18 and 17 is 20 years."--Brooke Saucier

"Between 'principal' and 'principle.' As we know, the school principal is our 'pal' and 'principle'--well, President Clinton is still having trouble with that one."--Leslie Goodman-Malamuth (Kathryn Wetherbee had a similar answer.)

"Sorry, but I am not going to give aid and comfort to Slobodan Milosevic by lampooning our president during wartime. At least not until John McCain gives me the go-ahead."--Greg Diamond


Click for more responses.

Daniel's Wrap-Up

Teacher of the Year Andrew Baumgartner is the kind of educator who has delighted his kindergarten students with a wedding for Sleeping Beauty, complete with limousine and cake, teaching them, I suppose, that nothing is worthwhile unless it is entertaining. By that standard, I owe more than I thought to my junior high-school social studies teacher. I'm still not clear what "social studies" are, exactly, but I'll never forget his stories about the UFO that sometimes hovered outside his window, conducting experiments through a metal cable attached to his neck (he showed us the marks). I'm more conflicted about my high-school writing teacher, who announced that his lessons were so valuable that he deserved 10 percent of the profits from our first books. At the time I agreed, but now he goes around saying he learned more from us than we did from him, and I still haven't seen a dime from Angela's Ashes.

The Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by Scholastic Inc., best known among impressionable school children for distributing cool magazines whose exclusive advertiser is the U.S. Armed Forces.


Indiscreet Answer

The difference between "when to talk and when to keep quiet." The teacher's name was Mary Kay Letourneau.

Long Shot Extra

In the following quotations from Tuesday's New York Times, the italicized sentences were spoken by scientists discussing the search for extraterrestrial life. The nonitalicized sentences were spoken by Bill Bradley and others discussing Bradley's run for the White House.


  • "I'm at the top of my game. I'm going to run for President of the United States. The idea that we're not going to live to see it is not one that's holding us up in particular."
  • "I don't get into it unless I can see my way through 270, which are the electoral votes needed to be President. Scientists know it's a worthwhile pursuit, but this makes it known to the wider public."
  • "Will we find intelligent life in space in my lifetime? The answer is, 'Absolutely.' "
  • "Now the question is, 'Can you win?' It's a very remote possibility."
  • "The University of California doesn't provide chairs to little green men from Mars. Too Eastern, too liberal, too intellectual."
  • "Now I'm out campaigning for the Presidency, and it's the ultimate exhilaration. There is a general belief that while it is a difficult pursuit, this is so important that it is worth the time."
  • "It's Al Gore and I, one-on-one, for 11 months. I've pretty much reached the conclusion that the occurrence of technological life is an extremely rare occurrence."

Farewell Extra

After four days of deliberation, Randy Cohen voted with 11 other jurors in favor of lethal injection. There's one New Yorker who'll never walk his dog off the leash again. Finishing my week as guest host, I'd like to thank you all for making me feel welcome. Your inspired contributions over the last few days are all the gratification I require. There is no need to e-mail me with praise, nor to cc:

Now please welcome back the master--Obi-Wan to my Anakin--Randy Cohen. Believe me, this job isn't as easy as he makes it look.

Common Denominator

The elusive meaning of "is."