No. 305: "Safe Sects"

No. 305: "Safe Sects"

No. 305: "Safe Sects"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Sept. 17 1999 3:00 AM

No. 305: "Safe Sects"

On Wednesday, the Xinhua news agency described a step China has taken to ensure "social stability and safety" during their big 50 Years of Revolutionary Rule celebration set for Oct. 1? What did China do?

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

Wednesday's Question (No. 304)--"Hee, Hee, Hee":

You give the lead, I give the headline from Wednesday's London Mirror: "HE'S HUGE, HE'S POWERFUL, HE'S FAST AND HE'S MEAN"

"Jesus Christ returned to Earth yesterday, and he was in a bad mood. 'The meek of the earth won't inherit nothin'--they're a bunch of chumps,' He was quoted as saying."--Andrew Staples

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"In a world first, Mark (formerly Margaret) Thatcher completed his historic sex-change operation today."--Richard Nikonovich-Kahn

"Shamu the killer whale, relaxing in his tank at Sea World after being given the power of speech, showed a thoughtful side to this reporter in an interview last week. 'I like to bite the heads off seals,' said the giant marine mammal."--Floyd "Look, I Didn't Ask Them To Give the Hurricane My Name, and I Wish No One Ill, and I Realize It's a Bit Sick, but, You Know, I'm Kind of Glad It's Really Kicking Ass" Elliot

"And yet we'd all like to keep working for Rupert Murdoch ..."--Alison Rogers (similarly, Mac Thomason)

"Or that's what small, weak, slow-moving, and sweet-tempered Sammy the Friendly Snail Bent on Taking Over the World would have you think."--Francis Heaney

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Randy's Wrap-Up

While the headline seems to describe something pretty scary, the first three qualities--huge, powerful, fast--actually sound pretty appealing until the fourth comes along. We'd welcome a huge, powerful, fast car or coal mining apparatus, or mythical railroad-constructing hero like John Henry. But meanness trumps the other qualities. Once it arrives in the sentence, even reversing the previous three gets you nowhere. There's nothing attractive about something small, weak, slow, and mean. Horrible. Like George Wallace in his twilight years.

One tiny typo, one dropped letter would transform the headline into a dark and pompous assertion about the human race: "HE'S HUGE, HE'S POWERFUL, HE'S FAST AND HE'S MAN." Two dropped letters, and we've reached the ludicrously boastful, like the lyrics to some dreary rap: "HE'S HUGE, HE'S POWERFUL, HE'S FAST AND HE'S ME." Three dropped letters, and it's James Bond making a catty remark about a co-worker. That 007, he is just so mean!

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Anglocentric Answer:

"Thousands of terrified British holidaymakers fled Florida last night as monster Hurricane Floyd headed towards them."

That storm has apparently targeted British vacationers with its stormlike fury. Some other English-relevant details from the Mirror's coverage:

  • "The storm, twice the size of Britain ..."
  • " 'It's terrifying,' said Debby Campbell, 27, of Bath, Somerset, in Miami Beach with pal Lisa Shepherd."
  • "Kevin Gater, 30, planned to marry Samantha Robinson, 23, there on Friday but they are sheltering on the fourth-floor ballroom of their hotel near the capital Nassau. 'The wedding was to be in a gazebo on the beach but I don't suppose that will still be standing,' said Kevin, of Stoke, Staffs."
  • "Were she still alive, Diana, the People's Princess, would also fear the colossal storm, but would admirably conceal her terror with a plucky smile and fistful of mood-altering drugs obtained from the rich lay-abouts she thinks of as friends," the Mirror did not add.

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Incidentally, the Mirror's headline is not just arbitrary sensationalism; it is sensationalism with a source, a description of the storm offered by Richard Moore, a "public safety boss in North Carolina."

More Paladin Press Extra:

Despite it's legal troubles, the embattled publisher has an impressive list of fall titles (many marked with the coveted symbol "Y2K Resource") as well as a solid backlist. Shunning the traditional organization, fiction and nonfiction, Paladin's catalog is arranged by categories including Sniping, Silencers, New ID and Personal Freedom, Action Careers, Combat Shooting, Knives and Knife Fighting, and Revenge and Humor. Some sample titles:

  • JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE, The Intelligent Use of Deadly Force, by Denny Hansen: "When can you legally shoot an intruder in your home? This question is on every person's mind when he or she hears a loud bang in the middle of the night or a knock on the door at three in the morning."--Actually, the question on my mind is. "When will Florence Henderson realize that no means no?"
  • EAT WELL FOR 99¢ A MEAL, by Bill Kaysing: "This book could make your Y2K experience a lot more palatable."--Has the Frugal Gourmet struck you as just a little paranoid lately?
  • EXPERIMENTAL HOMEMADE FIREARMS:The 9mm Submachine Gun, by P.A. Luty: "Imagine you live under a regime that has banned most types of firearms--or controls them so tightly that they may as well be banned. Author P.A. Luty lives in such a place, and he understands the frustration of attempting to build homemade firearms based on designs that are too complicated or so crude as to be undesirable."--I have the same problem with IKEA, except for the blood stains.
  • THE ARMED-CITIZEN SOLUTION TO CRIME IN THE STREETS, So Many Criminals, so Few Bullets, by Mack Tanner. "Tanner points out the most likely pitfalls -- including getting around restrictive gun control laws, obtaining concealed weapon permits and avoiding adverse publicity."--Boy, you shoot a few school kids and the press jumps all over you.
  • THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS PLACES, The Hard-Core Adventurers Guide to Getting in, Getting Around, and Getting Out, by Robert Young Pelton and Coskun Aral: "This guide is packed with inside info on how to make your way though hot spots, war zones and lethal lands, whether it's Bosnia, Botswana or the South Bronx."--I don't know about Bosnia or Botswana, but for the South Bronx I suggest the 2 train on the IRT.
  • MANTRAPPING, by Ragnar Benson: "Includes such mantraps as the Malaysian Hawk, the Andes Mountain Trail Trap, the Sheepeater's Rock Fall and the Cuban Water Trap. For academic study only."--I believe Ragnar Benson used the Malaysian Hawk to trap that dreamy Kevin Spacey.

Clarification

If media giant Rupert Murdoch does choose to dine on human flesh, there are no kosher dietary laws that need deter him: Murdoch is not Jewish.

Common Denominator

Wrathful deity, woeful Gingrich, and (just like every other News Quiz) wonder penis.