Physicists and historians gathered in New York City Monday to try to answer a question that has confounded them for 50 years. What question?
Send your answer by noon ET Thursday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday's Question (No. 406)—"Keep the Red Flag Flying":
"It is strange that the champion of the free market economy is acting in a way that would put Marxists to shame." Who is denouncing what?
"So, Milton Friedman has collectivized his farm!"—Greg Diamond
"Someone needs to tell Pat Buchanan that Reagan still has Alzheimer's."—Steven Davis (Daniel Barenholtz had a similar answer.)
"Joan and Melissa Rivers, disheartened by the unusually tasteful evening gowns at the Academy Awards, showed up at a Fed Board of Governors meeting this morning and heckled Alan Greenspan's tie."—Tim Carvell
"As I began typing this entry, a holographic image of Karl Marx, weeping for Elián González, superimposed itself on my computer screen."—Deborah Wassertzug
"I didn't like Angelina Jolie's new look either, but when did Mr. Blackwell get so political?"—Jennifer Weiner
Click for more answers.
The most difficult part of putting a Marxist to shame is finding one. Despite the persistent right-wing whine that the media are dominated by leftists, if you turn on the network news—and there's no reason you should—you'll get the commentary of former war-criminal Henry Kissinger (the insights of a man wrong about everything—Chile, China, Vietnam) far more often than that of tipsy leftist Christopher Hitchens, if indeed he still counts as a part of the tipsy left. The supposed hammerlock the left has on our universities is evidenced by little more than an enthusiasm for ecology—what today's kids have in lieu of actual politics—and even then, this fervor has not inhibited enrollment in B-schools. And politics? I weep. The once liberal Democratic Party now offers us Al Gore: It's a chance to vote for the Rockefeller Republican you didn't elect 40 years ago. And just today, I pretended to hear this sad song on the radio: "Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer … as brought to you by Miller Beer."
Gas Guzzling Answer
The daily Saudi Gazette denounced threats by the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions if OPEC does not increase production. The editorial called the effort "an atrocious proposal which violates the norms of the market and defies common sense."
And it has a point. The American economy is thriving despite higher fuel costs. Gas prices, adjusted for inflation, are not particularly high, and compared with European prices, they are a bargain, about half of what the British pay. Further, while fuel efficiency of European cars continues to improve, that of American vehicles actually declined last year, largely because of the increasing numbers of SUVs and light trucks on the road.
One explanation of American gas guzzling has always been that our cities are farther apart than those in Europe. But it turns out that the average length of a car trip is about the same on both continents—8.1 miles in Germany; 8.7 here. The difference: Americans take about twice as many trips per day and during those trips, often crack jokes about Germans.
Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Lack of a Question Extra
Although yesterday's technical problems (i.e., someone was "too upset" about someone else "forgetting" a "birthday" to post the quiz) meant that no new question was published, one participant answered anyway. Indomitable, I call it, although there may be a clinical term.
1. Because that's the only way he could get his pants on.
2. It wouldn't have hurt quite so badly if he had not had hominy grits for dinner.
3. The blue one. No, the other blue one.
4. Evidently, some people are just not cut out to play the accordion.
5. I refuse to continue until Michael Caine says something nice about me.
6. Frankly, I've lost interest in him since he was deflowered.
—Greg "Hope All Is Well" Diamond
Plenty of Free Park Extra
Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt has released a plan to reduce overcrowding in Yosemite National Park. Which of the following are actual parts of that plan?
1. Replace many parking spaces within the park with lots on its edge.
2. Transport visitors to the park by shuttle bus instead of car.
3. Cancel popular program: "First Hundred Drunks Riding a Moose Admitted Free!"
4. Reduce the number of hotel rooms and cabins within the park.
5. Former Studio 54 doormen to admit only stylish, drug-addled campers.
6. Remove some roads, trails, and buildings.
7. Eliminate "Kill It, Cook It, Eat It" executive retreats.
8. Remove three bridges and a dam.
9. Stop handing out maps to Angelina Jolie's campsite.
10. Jewish Singles and Raccoons Weekends confined to cooler months.
1, 2, 3, 6, and 8 are authentic.
The Sierra Club and other environmental groups believe Babbitt hasn't gone far enough in eliminating cars and returning the park to a natural state. "This plan has smoke, mirrors, and hesitation in it, and as we all know he who hesitates is lost, and is ready to make a down payment on the liquidation of the earth," David Brower, a conservation activist, told the New York Times. "And by the way, I salute American Beauty as the Best Picture … of 1961! Talk about clapped-out clichés about the suburbs," he did not add.
Alan Greenspan, defender of the faith—his wrath is terrible.