The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the state of Ohio must stop using a motto it displays many places, including on some official stationery, on tax returns, and on a bronze plaque in the sidewalk just outside the Statehouse in Columbus. What is the banned motto? (Question courtesy of Peter Carlin.)
Send your answer by noon ET Thursday to email@example.com.
Tuesday's Question (No. 422)—"We Three … Kings?":
"Vioxx is doing well," said expert analyst Jack Lafferty. And the cognoscenti agree that Vioxx, along with Zocor and Propecia, are primarily responsible for the magnificent triumph. Of what?
"John McCain."—Beth Sherman
"The sparkling revival of Kiss Me, Kate."—Larry Amoros
"Spelling over meaning."—David Finkle (Steven Davis, zoxecia.com [formerly, Amanda Charles] had a similar answer.)
"The Elián rescue mission. 'Those agents were able to go in there without being distracted by arthritis pain, high cholesterol, or low self-esteem brought on by male pattern baldness,' Lafferty continued, while popping a Prozac."—Francis Heaney (similarly, Kevin Gregg, Matthew Cole, and Mark Wade)
" 'Modern medicine over human suffering.'*
*Modern medicine has not been demonstrated to cure human suffering in all users. Some users report mild side effects, including nausea, cramps, diarrhea, internal bleeding, and surliness toward researchers. The incidence of these side effects was noticeably higher than for those users who were given a sugar pill—but noticeably lower than those for users who were coerced into eating earwigs. The earwig part wasn't really scientifically necessary; we just wanted to see if they'd do it. Pregnant women should not handle, touch, look at, or think about Propecia tablets. Frankly, if you're pregnant and you've read this far, you might as well give up on the kid: Little Joey or Jane is consigned to a lonely life of pain and abject misery, and all because you couldn't stop reading. Why, God, why? As with any medication, consult a doctor before beginning treatment. Or someone who says he's a doctor. Same difference."—Tim Carvell (similarly, Steve Kiefer)
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Quiz participants (except M.G. Lord) were more apt to associate Vioxx, Zocor, and Propecia with space monsters than Greek mythology, despite their etymologies. Indeed, these days nearly everyone is likelier to associate nearly anything with DreamWorks than with Mount Olympus. A few years ago, I pitched Nickelodeon a loose-limbed comic version of Greek myths for kids. Nick turned it down swiftly. It conflicted with their mission statement, in particular with this stricture: no weapons. The development guy—to his credit, with some embarrassment—asked if it would be possible, when Perseus chops off Medusa's head, to do it without the sword? I believe what he had in mind was extraordinary persuasiveness. It did no good to point out that kids—why, the whole family—love blood and sex and death: That's why these stories have been entertaining us for 3,000 years. But not at Nickelodeon where it was Zeus and Hera, bad; Ren and Stimpy, good. They had their mission statement. And the executive in charge (not M.G. Lord) of shaping this corporate philosophy—the much-admired Geraldine Laybourne—now's stating missions at Oxgyen, the women's network, whose ads boast: Swordless—another great thing about being a woman.
Vioxx, Zocor, and Propecia helped propel Merck and Co.'s first quarter profits to an impressive 15 percent increase over last year. Net income for the pharmaceutical giant climbed to $1.5 billion.
Vioxx is a painkiller and anti-inflammatory. Zocor is a cholesterol-reducing drug. Propecia is a male-baldness treatment. Jack Lafferty is an analyst with U.S. Trust and should not be used while operating heavy equipment.
Merck's success is attributed to its use of print and TV ads touting prescription drugs directly to the bald, fat, inflamed consumer.
Family Business Extra
Below, the children of literary figures explain the privileges and perils of following in a parent's footsteps. Can you identify each writer?
- "You get a lot of publicity, but most of it's bad."
- "It probably got my manuscript to the top editor before it got rejected."
- "Sure, my name gets me in the door, but after that, it's up to me to prove myself."
- "It's a little distracting if you're struggling at something to be related to someone who's so successful."
- "We start young."
- "Sometimes I think my work could be reduced to one of those pictures you give to your parents to paste on the refrigerator as a kid."
- "I'm sick to death of it."
- "It's fun. In Wisconsin, it gets boring, especially when it's cold."
- "It's just something you do to pass the time."
- "Am I an opportunist trading on my father's name, or am I a chip off the old block who is emulating his father and thereby seeking his approval? The answer is both."
- Molly Jong-Fast, daughter of Erica. (But sounds like some kind of Swiss diet product. Shed pounds with Jong-Fast. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! My father was in the paper business. And rail thin. And not Swiss.)
- Andre Dubus III.
- Something I dreamed I heard Frank Sinatra Jr. say to Garry Lewis. Or perhaps Shari Lewis.
- David Updike, son of John.
- Not a writer. Bartender Betty Kunkel explains why Wisconsin leads the nation in drinking. Unclear what her mother drinks. But I suspect that Betty had to make it on her own. Or perhaps she drinks alone. Poor Betty!
- Katie Roiphe, daughter of Anne.
- Ivan Solotaroff, son of Ted.
- Non-writer Karl Sorenson explains why his state leads the nation in drinking. Although many writers drink heavily. It's all alcohol and adultery, isn't it, the writer's life? It's the solitude. People aren't meant to be so much alone.
- Wisconsinite Dawn Johnson explains that drinking is a popular form of recreation. And here's another reason drinking is more fun than writing: because no damn professional critic is passing judgment on how well you knock back a shot of Jack Daniels. Heartless bastards. Damn them all to hell !
- Adam Bellow, son of Saul.
Death Be Not Proud, for Thou Hath No Ongoing Monkey Extra
Participants are encouraged to concoct the last words of Michael, the sign-language speaking gorilla, who died last week at age 27.
For instance: Spare me! Take Koko! Koko is bad!
Scary space monsters.