No. 276: "Circuit Breaker"

No. 276: "Circuit Breaker"

No. 276: "Circuit Breaker"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
July 16 1999 3:00 AM

No. 276: "Circuit Breaker"

Fill in the blank as ACLU lawyer Pamela Summers disdains an opinion handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: "The courts are saying 'We'll just have a local option on the Constitution, and you people down there in Alabama can go ahead and _____________ all you want.' "


Send your answer by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to

Wednesday's Question (No. 275)--"Symbolic Logic":

A federal judge has ordered Republic, Mo., to make a change in its official city seal. What change?

"They have to remove the Nike swoosh and replace it with the Ten Commandments."--Eric Fredericksen


"Remove the hidden hologram of Bess Truman lifting her dress over her head."--Larry Amoros

"City motto, 'Drive out the Jews,' must be translated from brazen English into the more subtle Latin."--Greg Diamond

"The judge ordered trigger locks to be painted onto the crossed musket emblems."--Ananda Gupta

"It now says, 'Federal Judges RULE! State Courts SUCK!' "--Peter Carlin


Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Unlike a modern corporate logo designed by professional graphics people, where minimalism and self-justifying folderol are key, a government seal ought to embody clutter and boneheaded symbolism. The seal of Republic's home state of Missouri is perfect. It's got bears! Two of them, standing up (rampant). The 1960 World Book says that means Missouri supports itself and the United States, although it looks more like a poster for animal boxing, which might be the state sport of Missouri. (Formerly the state sport was catching and returning runaway slaves.) The bears are holding up what might be a dinner plate that says, "United We Stand Divided We Ball," indicating a surprisingly open marriage or that the ink smeared. In the middle of the dinner plate (or is it a base drum?) there is a crescent moon (or a set of cattle horns, symbolic of a self-deluding cow who thinks she could beat a bear in a fair fight, but I don't like her chances). Below the moon (or cow) is a sheep (or dog) who also seems ready to rumble, and to the right of the sheep (or dog) is an eagle with a cloud above its head, or maybe a cartoon balloon showing what the eagle is thinking (it's tough to make out), probably something very funny, indicating that the eagle hopes to get its own comic strip some day. Also shown are a lot of stars--24 or 25, one of them could be a dust speck--symbolizing something to do with the sky or night time or celebrities or spaceships or celebrities in spaceships like in Star Wars. There are a helmet and some ferns or laurel, some kind of leaves, and a Latin motto, "Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto," which, if I remember my Latin, means "The Best People in This State Don't Have To Obey the Traffic Laws." That's a lot more than you get out of the Nike swoosh. Or swish.

Show Me Answer


They've got to remove their ichthus.


Judge Russell Clark gave the town 30 days to eliminate the "Christian fish" that adorns the 8-year-old city seal, as well as its trucks, flags, street signs, and stationery. He noted that the fish "is exhibited extensively throughout southwest Missouri to denote Christian-owned businesses."

The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Jean Webb, a Wiccan. The town was represented pro bono by the National Legal Foundation, a "Christian public interest law firm."


See the city's unreconstructed seal at (Thanks to Sean Fitzpatrick.)

America's Prissy Overpriced Attic Extra

Match the evocative description from the current Smithsonian catalog with the item it describes:

Catalog Copy

1. "Graces your home with artful opulence worthy of the gods."

2. "Brightens your home with a whimsical touch."

3. "This ladybug holds a timely surprise."

4. "Brings to your home the splendor of 18th-century Venice."

5. "Kids love these working replicas of the Guns That Killed the Presidents."

6. "Designed and personally signed by world-renowned nutcracker artist."

7. "The banker's chair swivels freely, just like its life-size counterpart!"

8. "Sends wave after wave of erotic pleasure surging through her body."

9. "Place this intriguing gadget near the kitchen door to welcome wayfaring kids."

10. "Nestled in a knothole."


A. Heirloom Bombè Chest, $1,295

B. "Grape Arbor" Murano Glass Chandelier, $2,495

C. Fanciful Frogs Bowl, $27.50

D. Ladybug Pendant Watch, $35

E. Steinbach "Scarecrow" Nutcracker, $250

F. Miniature Office Furniture, $35

G. Wooden Candy Dispenser, $32

H. Eastern Bluebirds Wall Plaque, $99.50


1-B, 2-C, 3-D, 4-A, 5-(I may have misread that one), 6-E, 7-F, 8-(That's from a different catalog--sorry), 9-G, 10-H.

Bill McDermott's Online Headline Haiku

Award to Hillary
Republicans push President
Plan mass resignation
Descend on Reno, 10:30 a.m. ET, July 15, 1999

Common Denominator

Aquatic mammal puns.