No. 426: "Wave Goodbye"

No. 426: "Wave Goodbye"

No. 426: "Wave Goodbye"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
May 4 2000 3:00 AM

No. 426: "Wave Goodbye"

Scientists have discovered something at the bottom of the Atlantic, 60 miles offshore, that could threaten Virginia and North Carolina. What? 

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Send your answer by 6 p.m. ET Thursday to newsquiz@slate.com.

Monday's Question (No. 425)—"English Lessons":

For Manchester Police Sgt. Tom McAndrew, like many of his English colleagues, trouble comes each night at 11:30 and includes menacing behavior, vomiting in the street, and fistfights at taxi stands—three problems with a single cause. But at last, the British are going to do something about it. What?

"Cut off Andrew Sullivan's testosterone feed."—Daniel Kahn (Dina Freedman had an all but identical answer.)

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"Lower the national 30-drink minimum."—Omer Benjakob

" 'Shandy,' the popular British concoction of lemonade and beer, will become a popular British concoction of lemonade and horse tranquilizer when consumed after 10 p.m."—Josh Kamensky (similarly, Tim Carvell)

"Finally swallow their collective pride and buy tasty, uncontaminated Argentine beef."—Deborah "Las Malvinas Son Argentinas!" Wassertzug

"No longer will the 11 p.m. news end with the sign-off line 'Good night, and we exhort you all to menace people, vomit, and fight.' "—Francis Heaney

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Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

If the answer had anything to do with excessive drinking—and I'm not saying it does—the origins of this problem might have been found nearly 300 years ago and would have involved a lot of use of the subjunctive, as well as the introduction of gin, the crack of 18th-century England.

Early in that century, changes in the licensing laws opened the manufacture and sale of spirits to practically everyone, and cheap gin became universally available. In some parts of London, it was sold in one out of five buildings. It was sold on the street from wheelbarrows. It was sold in small factories: Weavers could buy gin on credit all day; by payday, many owed their boss money.

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Geneva—gin—shops were the crack houses of the 1720s, the era of Hogarth's "Gin Lane," when gin devastated the working class, toppling into misery and destitution entire families who'd been barely getting by. A 1726 government report on workhouses has a strangely contemporary ring: "Geneva is clandestinely brought in among the poor there, and they will suffer any punishment … rather than live without it, though they cannot avoid seeing its fatal effects by the death of those among them who had drunk most freely of it."

This 1735 report presages descriptions of crack babies: "Unhappy mothers habituate themselves to these distilled liquors, whose children are born weak and sickly, and often look shrivel'd and old as though they had numbered many years." On the bright side, the new laws did help wealthy landowners sell their grain during periods of surplus.

The social ravages caused by gin were widely noted, and by midcentury, most of those new laws had been revised. Curiously, even when gin was denounced, the British continued to celebrate beer drinking as the embodiment of Saxon virtue, much like our own fraternity system, anti-drug yet pro-beer, but with less reliance on date-rape drugs.

Last Call for Answer

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The British may eliminate mandatory 11 last call, 11:30 pub closing.

The current system was established during World War I to cut down on drunkenness, and the attendant explosions, among workers in munitions factories. Now, when bartenders announce the last round, some customers order as many as five drinks, which they must down before the bar closes a half-hour later.

"Fixed closing times may encourage binge drinking," says Home Secretary Jack Straw, "and last orders, with people hitting the streets—and sometimes each other—at the same time."

And in a Related Story From Jon Zerolnick Extra

"Raising taxes on alcohol could cut rates of sexually transmitted diseases among young people, a CDC study contends. It says adding 20 cents to the price of a six-pack of beer might reduce gonorrhea by nearly 9%."—Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2000, Front Page):

"I may be willing to pay that price. Or maybe drink less, and put the money I save toward condoms."—JZ

Complaints About the New Schedule Extra

"Oh, fine. Now what I am supposed to do with my Tuesdays and Thursdays????? How many group sessions can I go to? (If I wind up wandering the streets of lower Manhattan asking day traders to 'look at it,' well, let it be on your head.)"—Larry Amorors

"Consumed though I am with envy, I will do everything in my power to assist you in your courtship of Ellen Barkin. Why? Because a) you deserve a break today; b) you deserve a Barkin today; c) Ron Perelman is a pig; and d) it establishes a useful precedent for me. Jewish humorists, sí; Jewish millionaires, no. Let me know what I can do, within reason."—Ellis Weiner

"I don't need no stinking 'hone your responses.' It's 'stream of consciousness' and 'clotted hindquarters' all the way."—Steven "I was going to complain about having to type my name so many times, but I just copied and pasted, so never mind" Davis

"New deadlines? I had no idea there had been any old deadlines. No wonder you never paid any attention to me. I thought it was because I'm over 40 and starting to put on a little weight, when instead it's because I don't even check my e-mail 'til after 7 pm."—Steve Hellerman

Andy Aaron's You Be-the-Pornographer Ongoing Extra

Airing May 20, Playboy's first "interactive erotic feature film," Fast Lane to Malibu, the story of a couple of college guys on a road trip. At various points in the story (assuming there is one) viewers (assuming there are any) vote on which of two paths the plot should take.

Participants are invited to suggest various forks in the road, like this:

"Should the next woman visible have very large breast implants or grotesquely large breast implants?"—Charlie Glassenberg

Responses to run Friday (assuming there are any).

(Responses. There will certainly be a Friday.)

Common Denominator

The royal family, organ meat. And I think you know what I mean by organ meat: Sausages and things made from the parts of an animal we usually throw away or treasure as a precious keepsake of a bygone pig.