No. 383: "To Err Is Humor"

No. 383: "To Err Is Humor"

No. 383: "To Err Is Humor"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Feb. 11 2000 3:30 AM

No. 383: "To Err Is Humor"

This week at a Chicago trade show, it was announced that 80 percent of these products are misused, often with tragic consequences. In response, many manufacturers will offer free inspections and free instructional clinics. What is the product, and how are its users going wrong?


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

Wednesday's Question (No. 382)—"Missing Inaction":

Steve Forbes has apparently dropped out of the presidential race. How can you tell?

  "Reports of tears miraculously appearing in the eyes of the statue of Ayn Rand in her shrine at the Cato Institute."—Keith Kurtz (Evan Cornog had a similar answer, but with portraits of Herbert Hoover.)


"The oddsmakers in Vegas dropped 'GOP nominee a rich, spoiled brat' to 50 percent, from 66 percent."—Chip Roush

"When we watch CNN at my house, my roommate has stopped remarking, 'Hey, it's Piggy from Lord of the Flies.' "—Aaron Schatz

"Final sentence of his last press conference: 'Flat tax, shmat tax, I'm going to find me some sweet, sweet lovin'.' "—Francis Heaney

"Steve Forbes was running for president recently?"—Gary Frazier


Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

With Steve Forbes out of the race officially (rather than merely comically), the votes of insanely right-wing Republicans are now up for grabs by the merely frighteningly right-wing candidates. Indeed, the party has moved so far toward Jörg Haider that George W. can, with a straight face, call John McCain a liberal. (OK, not a straight face; more of a smarty-pants smirk.) This is McCain the anti-choice, military-buildup flag-waver (the flag, of course, being that of the Confederacy). Indeed, our political vocabulary has been so weirdly recalibrated that Rudy Giuliani can (with a thin-lipped grimace) call Hillary Clinton a "left-wing activist"—she, the enthusiast of the "Defense of Marriage Act," the supporter of the death penalty. It is a recalibration that lets the National Review write of a certain (admittedly Oprah-unworthy) column: "N.Y. Times' 'The Ethicist' Better Termed 'The Marxist', " for suggesting that perhaps tax money might be used to support public libraries. Apparently, the party has lowered its entrance requirements since Trotsky's day. And that's the sad thing, really, this grade inflation of the left. Kids today don't even bother to demand that the means of production be controlled by the workers. I guess we really do need stiff new national standards.

Money Talks but Not All That Persuasively Answer


Forbes' decision leaked out when he headed for New Jersey. It was confirmed by several campaign aides including William Dal Col: "It was very straightforward. We realized it was time to go." Forbes is expected to formally announce his withdrawal Thursday afternoon in Washington.

Pandering to the Christian right and promoting tax cuts for the wealthy don't come cheap. Forbes spent $37 million to win 61, 810 votes. That works out to $598.61 per vote. Not smart shopping. According to Robert Caro's book, LBJ was able to buy votes for $5 a piece. And yet Jack Kemp thinks the profligate Forbes "would make a great secretary of the treasury or trade rep." Whatever happened to Jack Kemp?

Andrew Staples' Doug Henning Follow-Up

In addition to his Niagara Falls theme park, Henning was involved in the 1993 federal election campaign for the Natural Law Party of Canada. In one TV commercial, Henning rode in on an elephant and through a magic trick made it disappear. He then said, "If we can make an elephant disappear, imagine what we could do with the federal debt." And they say showmanship in politics is dead.


(In light of the recent tragedy, it would be hard to argue with them.—Ed.)

Herb Terns' Sloganizing Extra

Participants were invited to devise replacements for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism's "No one belongs here more than you!"

  • "Walk along our ancient borders … and redraw them!"—Gary Drevitch
  • "Tourists are our chosen people!"—Francis Heaney
  • "Torture-free for nearly eight years."—Daniel Radosh
  • "Israel and You: Locked in a Fatal Embrace for Millennia."—Josh Kamensky
  • "Would it kill you to come?"—Barbara Lippert
  • "Fine, don't come."—Richard Primoff
  • "If you lived here, you'd be the chosen people by now."—Dianne Carter
  • "What? You can't come visit your 'Old Jerusalem' once in a while? Is it gonna kill you to see the Wailing Wall?"—Kevin Kenow (similarly, Francis Heaney)
  • "What's a mensch like you not doing in a place like this?"—William Vehrs
  • "Vacation in the Human Rights Abuse Underreporting Capital of the World."—Josh Kamensky
  • "Israel: Where a Man Can Pray at the Wailing Wall Without a Lot of Annoying Females Getting Between Him and G-d."—Katha Pollitt
  • "Spend the rest of your days in eternal bliss, but just make sure you've had a bris."—Dave Gaffen
  • "Slogan—'Israel: Come Enjoy Our Delicious Eggplant With Mayonnaise!' (If you've ever tried it, you know what I mean. Yuck.)"—Aaron Schatz
  • "Come see how your tax dollars are spent."—Scott Pollino
  • "We've got you in our sights!"—John Foster
  • "Torah! Torah! Torah! Climb Mount Moriah."—John Foster
  • "No, really, go visit some other country if it makes you happy. I'll be fine."—Daniel Radosh

Common Denominator

A rich guy can't just buy a presidential nomination unless he is pretty good-looking.