New federal regulations require a 1-year-old child, a 3-year-old child, a 6-year-old child, and a 112-pound woman to be present in a certain situation. What is this meant to achieve?
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Wednesday's Question (No. 426)—"Wave Goodbye":
Scientists have discovered something at the bottom of the Atlantic, 60 miles off shore, that could threaten Virginia and North Carolina. What?
"A virtually limitless source of girls wanting to attend private military academies."—Ellis Weiner
"Sea Tobacco, with a strong nicotine punch and a sharp, briny taste."—Charlie Glassenberg (Daniel Kahn and Tim Carvell had similar answers.)
"Christa McAuliffe."—Larry Amoros
"Presumably something tasty that becomes deadly when you chicken-fry it."—Greg "Arlington Will Be Safe, Though, Right?" Diamond
"Thousands upon thousands of amphibious slaves who are as angry as they are undead."—Stuart Wade (similarly, Peter Carlin)
The combination of the "ILOVEYOU" virus and ABC-Time Warner squabbling over a successor to Cardinal John O'Connor has knocked out Slate's e-mail system, leaving many quiz responses lost in space. Should they reappear, I'll run them in Monday's quiz. Complaints can be sent to Slate, but they won't get through: That's the point.
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The disconcerting thing about the ocean is there's just so much of it, like America Online—another vast and featureless expanse. The ocean covers seven-tenths of the Earth's surface but not nearly enough of Tom DeLay, who limps along unsubmerged. The average depth of the ocean is 2 to 2 1/2 miles, and in some places it's as deep as 5 miles, so if you drop your car keys off the boat, there's no use whining about it; go call the auto club. No one has measured Tom DeLay's depth, should he have any.
So enormous is the ocean that for much of human history when two nations wanted to have a naval battle their most difficult problem was for their fleets simply to find one another. (A similar complaint is often voiced by those still dating after age 30.) Apparently, this could be expedited with improvements in the calculation of longitude (or latitude). In the 18th century, impressive prizes were offered for innovations that would help navies find each other and blast away with their great guns, leading to glory and more than 150 Patrick O'Brian novels. Determining longitude (or latitude) relied in some way or another on precise time-keeping. Today anyone with $35 can buy a quartz watch that is more accurate than the finest ship's chronometers of the age of sail, although it's probably a bad idea to buy a fake Rolex on the street. Why get mugged for a $35 watch when, by investing wisely, you can some day afford to be beaten senseless for a genuine $3,500 watch, assuming you haven't dropped it (or Tom DeLay) off the boat into the Mariana Trench, which descends to 36,000 feet, assuming you can find it. Which you can if you accurately calculate longitude (or latitude).
It's Nobody's Fault Answer
Scientists have found giant cracks in the seabed that might set off a tsunami, sending 20-foot waves crashing over the Middle Atlantic states.
The cracks, along a 25-mile section of the continental shelf, were reported by Neal Driscoll of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Jeffrey Weissel of Columbia University, and John Goff of the University of Texas in the May issue of the journal Geology. And this weekend, the guys are off on a 14-day expedition in search of more cracks.
The waves the fellows described are equivalent to those kicked up by a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 155 miles an hour.
"We don't want to sensationalize this. The risk associated with these cracks is finite," said Driscoll. "But then again, so are Virginia and North Carolina," he did not add with a wry twinkle in his eye.
Caston Jarvis' Quibbling Follow-Up
Actually, Virginia holds the nickname "Mother of Presidents" with eight chief executives hailing from her, including William Henry Harrison (why he moved to Ohio is beyond me). There are others you haven't heard of either, but making fun of obscure presidents seems like cheap fun to me—I'd rather have my state claim a president no one can remember rather than one people can remember all too well. (California, Arkansas, hello?!)
Andy Aaron's Ongoing Pornomatic 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, viewers vote on which of two paths the plot should take. Participants were invited to suggest apt forks in the road.
"Continue watching movie or turn it off, wallow in self-pity, and jump under a train?"—T.G. Gibbon
"Should the character be an American playboy and leer at the naked women or a Romanian playboy and hit them with sticks?"—Charlie Glassenberg
"Should Destiny be startled by the electrician then impulsively decide to perform fellatio upon him? Or should she greet him at the door, show him her broken garbage disposal, and then go upstairs to watch some television?"—Tim Carvell
"Should we play the scene where the actor succeeded in making the money shot, or should we show the embarrassing, career-ruining take where he prematurely ejaculated and started to cry?"—Francis Heaney
"I don't get it! Playboy is doing a film of 'the story of a couple of college guys on a road trip.' Since when did Playboy get into the gay porno business? Sorry, I just don't know what forks there are in that road."—John Tyrrell
"Stay at home and vote on interactive porn, or stay at home and write witty quips about interactive porn?"—Paul Wrider
"Should there be obvious product placement for 'Colt 45' malt liquor or 'Soft & Clean' baby wipes in the next sex scene?"—Charlie Glassenberg
"Should Emily Dickinson have sex with T.S. Eliot or William Carlos Williams?"—Francis "Well, It Makes Perfect Sense Once You Visit modernhumorist.com/mh/0005/anagram/index.cfm or Come To Think of It, It Still Doesn't; Whatever, Go There Because I Said so and I Am a Shameless Self-Promoter" Heaney
"Staci is Brandi's a) sister; b) sister-in-law; c) French tutor; or d) co-worker in a soulless Postmodern porno sweatshop where sex has replaced consumer goods, heavy machinery, or textiles, and a nonunion work force is alienated not only from their own labor but, over time, even their own bodies leading to self-destructive behavior, early death, and cheesy Casio background music."—T.G. Gibbon
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