No. 238: "4-Meta-4"

No. 238: "4-Meta-4"

No. 238: "4-Meta-4"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
May 7 1999 12:28 AM

No. 238: "4-Meta-4"

"The so-called low-hanging fruit has all been picked."

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"All of the cards have fallen the wrong way at the same time."

"If all you do is fix the watch, nobody ever builds a better watch."

"Everyone's in deep yogurt."

These four lines have something in common. What?

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Send your answer by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to newsquiz@slate.com.

Wednesday's Question (No. 237)--"Flawed and Tailored":

The bombing campaign--15,000 bombs and missiles so far--is working, says Germany's Gen. Klaus Naumann, NATO's senior military officer. "We will see how they will feel after a few more weeks and months or what have you of continuously pounding them into pieces." However, he adds, "We may have one flaw in our thinking." What?

"What if they just don't have feelings? (Music swells ...)"--P. Mattick

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"The Chinese won't tell us how to use any of our really good bombs."--Beth Sherman

"Some of the pieces we pound them into may still be large enough to commit genocide."--Greg Diamond (Al Petrosky had a similar answer.)

"Oh, sure, Randy, the war may seem funny now, but what if our killing all those people inspires a violent video game? What about the children?"--Chris Kelly

"Because when you are up in the woods shooting with kids, you just think, 'Hey, they like weapons.' OK, that's not really my answer to this question. It's lawyer Robert L. Ransome's answer to an entirely different question about what might inspire his client, Mark Manes, to sell a TEC-DC9 to two minors. Still, a very good answer, isn't it?"--Jennifer Miller

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Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

There was much less resistance to today's Kosovo question than to yesterday's Columbine quiz. Perhaps because today's has a clear foil, in uniform, speaking German. It doesn't get any comedier than that. Or because rationalization is worth observing and mocking. Columbine T-shirts, on the other hand, are a minor crime; it is unbecoming to chide weeping friends of the deceased for not reacting in a more stylish way. It is appropriate, of course, to attack hand-wringing commentators who offer lame explanations for teen violence, and many of you did--target commentators; not offer lame ... well, you know. (It is curious how few pundits connected Kosovo and Columbine, two stories displayed side by side on every front page for weeks--hmmm, where would these kids get these violent ideas?) One tactical problem emerged in Gen. Naumann's discussion. Because the bombing is continuing for longer than had been anticipated, NATO risks running out of targets. This is not a problem for News Quiz.

The Flawless Answer

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The flaw: Our plan won't actually work because Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is, like, so irresponsible. As Gen. Naumann puts it, "This flaw may be that we believe that no responsible man who is at the helm of a country like Yugoslavia can wish to run the risk that his entire country will be bombed into rubble before he gives up."

Either/Or Extra:

  • "This is absolutely not about buying and selling organs."--Howard Nathan, adviser to Pennsylvania's governor, refers either to his state's new "Give a Kidney, Get a Toaster" plan, or to its offer of a $300 death benefit to the family of any organ donor.
  • "We're letting people, particularly kids, personalize their food."--Kenneth Keller, marketing director for Heinz Ketchup, refers either to biologically altered chickens born in the shape of letters of the alphabet, or to putting ketchup on stuff.
  • "It's not like they are just sort of randomly whacking away and knocking off whatever happens to come off."--Geologist Craig Feible refers either to the NYPD or to the extraordinary skill of ancient stone toolmakers revealed at a newly discovered site in Kenya.
  • "What's frightening to me about such changes is not the specific change, but the direction they suggest."--Orville Schell, dean of the journalism school at University of California, Berkeley, refers either to Pamela Anderson's breast reduction, or to USA Today's decision to run ads on their front page.
  • "Readers can tell the difference."--Karen Jurgensen, editor of USA Today, refers either to the previous joke, or to the difference between news and ads.
  • "I don't know how stupid they think we are."--Peter McDonough, spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, refers either to your ability to make up your own joke, or to Hillary Clinton's thwarting the governor from shaking hands with newly arriving Kosovo refugees.
  • "It's a disease of our time."--TV producer Norman Lear refers either to shows like Friends or ... well, actually, he does refer to shows like Friends.

Common Denominator

Goofy Teutonic confidence unwarranted by history.