Eight feet, pondered Justice Stephen Breyer. What about 3 feet? asked Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Two inches, or even an eighth of an inch, considered Justice Antonin Scalia. At Wednesday's Supreme Court session, the justices were quite concerned with the size of something. What?
Send your answer by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday's Question (No. 370)--"Hot Spot":
Using a helicopter equipped with a heat-seeking device, Suffolk County cops located two cinderblock warehouses in Holbrook, Long Island, and arrested two men for theft of electricity. What was going on in the warehouses?
"Industrial Light & Magic wizards trying to make Kevin Costner hot again."—Jon Hotchkiss
"Ricky Martin was filming his triumphant return to the gay porn industry. Boy, that's how rumors get started, isn't it?"—Michael J. Basial
"Oh, some sort of shelter for the poor. Don't worry, though; they put a stop to it."—Tim Carvell
"Since one of the men had bolts sticking out of his neck, I'm going to assume that someone was playing God."—Matthew Singer (Steven Davis had a similar answer.)
"Florida outsourced its executions to the lowest bidder, not knowing how the contractor planned to keep the price so low."—Maia Cowan (similarly, Katha Pollitt and Mark Wegener)
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It is difficult to give a precise definition of electricity (particularly if you spent much of seventh-grade science class mooning over your lab partner, Sally Gilbert), but it seems to have something to do with the movement of electrons from one part of Long Island to another. Electricity enters our homes and offices and cinderblock warehouses on copper wires, much as does HBO, but electricity generally keeps its blouse on even after 11 o'clock at night (as did Sally Gilbert, at least to my adolescent knowledge). Apparently electricity has something to do with lightning, as Benjamin Franklin demonstrated in 1752 in a famous experiment that no doubt proved something or other. This didn't make him any less popular in Paris where he was catnip to the ladies. In 1768, Luigi Galvani ran electric current through the legs of a freshly killed frog making them twitch and no doubt contributing to the bad feelings most frogs have about their place in the sciences. Not that they were so happy about their place in Paris. And so perhaps the two things we can say with confidence about electricity are that 1) it's tough to be a frog 2) unless you've been kissed by Sally Gilbert.
Highly Potent Answer
Somebody was growing hydroponic pot.
Police charged Francisco Dandraia and Frank Salinas with criminal possession of marijuana and stealing electricity. The pair is accused of tapping into Long Island Power Authority electric lines for the current to run 1,000-watt high-intensity halide lamps and carbon dioxide generators to stimulate the growth of pot plants in high-tech hydroponic tanks. This system produces mature plants in four to six weeks instead of the several months required under ordinary growing conditions. The excellent "connoisseur's cannabis" sold for $5,000 a pound. The men spliced into the LIPA power lines not to avoid paying for electricity but to avoid the huge electric bills, about $50,000 over 13 months, that would have called attention to their operation. But heat dispersal was their undoing.
Cold Comfort Extra
Participants were invited to devise a photo caption cliché of the "Winter Turns Cold; People Don Hats, Gloves" variety for any news outlet.
- Los Angeles Times-style: "After yesterday's freak snowstorm, two Angelenos in parkas walk past the Staples Center(TM), the city's dynamic new sports, entertainment and convention palace, which can be arranged in a variety of configurations for concerts (continued on Page B2)."—Chris Hammett
- "It fits! Homeless man beams as he tries on mitten found in trash can."—Katha Pollitt
- "Juice in the Frozen Apple: O.J. Simpson (above), caught leaving Le Bernardin, looks bundled against the frigid NYC weather--but denies it. 'I'm not cold,' the former NFL star said. 'Some other guy is.'" (New York Daily News)—Ellis Weiner
- "Mark Greenberg, one of six News Quiz readers not to live in New York City, considers his latest response while enjoying a fish taco at the Ocean Beach Pier Cafe. Yesterday's high was 71 with warm weather expected to continue through the weekend (story B3)." (San Diego Union-Tribune)—Mark Greenberg
- "President Bill Clinton bundles up against the frigid chill as first lady announces she will stay with him 'for the rest of his pathetic, godforsaken days.' "—John Yanosko
- "Frosty the Frozen Pool of Ice wishes winter would just let him die instead of stringing him along with this damn melting and refreezing over and over again."—Francis Heaney
Galvanizing dull candidates.