No. 431: "Impressed?"

No. 431: "Impressed?"

No. 431: "Impressed?"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
May 18 2000 3:00 AM

No. 431: "Impressed?"

A letter in the journal Nature asserts that in the post-Sputnik malaise of 1958, the Air Force put physicist Leonard Reiffel in charge of a team of 10 people, including Carl Sagan, with this mission: Bolster national confidence and "impress the world with the prowess of the United States." How? 


Send your answer by 6 p.m. ET Thursday to

Friday's Question (No. 430)—"A & Q Tips":

The answer from New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at a recent news conference in Bryant Park: "Nobody, nobody, nobody is, nobody is moving anywhere. Everybody is secure and safe." What was the question?

"What does the future hold for you, Bobby Knight, and the cast of Friends?"—Matt Sullivan


"Mayor, my name is Jamal Jackson. I'm a reporter with the Final Call. Inside my pocket … here, I want to show you a photograph of …"—Kevin Gregg (Mark Wade had a similar answer.)

"What are your two biggest criticisms of rent control?"—Greg Diamond (similarly, Charles Star)

"Mayor Giuliani, could you review with us the pep talk you give your comb-over before you leave Gracie Mansion each morning?"—Mark Wade

"And this follow-up: If you have surgery to remove your prostate, is there any chance that the infected gland will serve a tumultuous term as interim schools' chancellor?"—Larry Amoros


Click for more answers.

Randy's Summary Judgment Wrap-Up

Occasionally I hear—not carping, not whining, not griping exactly, nothing as ungrateful as complaining or as aggressive as rebellion—let's say questioning of the selection process that puts some responses on Page One and others in the sidebar. Let me acknowledge that if wit, ingenuity, and insight were the only criteria, often the first five answers could readily be replaced by a dozen others. In truth, the selection process relies heavily on caprice, and its companion, remorse. But the alternative to a whim-based selection system, i.e., a more objective set of standards, would surely yield a less entertaining quiz. To demonstrate life in a grim, dehumanized world of perfect quiz order, I ran today's question and all the responses through Microsoft Word's Auto Summarize routine, letting cool logic make the selections. Here are the results:

The answer from New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at a recent news conference in Bryant Park: "Nobody, nobody, nobody is, nobody is moving anywhere."


  • Mayor, my name is Jamal Jackson.
  • "Mr. Mayor, do you have any comments on Galileo's statement, 'E pur si."—Deborah Wassertzug
  • "prostate cells?"—Greg Diamond
  • Doug Ingram
  • conference.
  • Statue of Joe Torre?"—Charlie Glassenberg
  • Deborah Wassertzug
  • David Feige
  • the city in droves?—William Vehrs
  • —Charles Star
  • "How was your ride on the new Bryant Park roller coaster, mayor?"—Francis Heaney
  • I love my wife.—Winter Miller
  • Anthony Wright
  • Rose White
  • Mr. Mayor, why are the New York Police surrounding the park and kicking the shit out of the reporters?
  • What say you, Mr. Mayor?

Deeply Moving Answer

Q: Would she [wife Donna Hanover] move out of Gracie Mansion?

The question was asked during a press conference in which the mayor discussed his marriage and made the surprise announcement—to the press and to Donna Hanover—that he was seeking a legal separation. This will be the mayor's second non-divorce. A Catholic, he received an annulment from his first wife, whom he'd known since childhood, when he was shocked—shocked!—to discover that she was not his third cousin as he believed but his second cousin.


Andy Aaron's All-Purpose Excuse Extra

"We were acting on the best information that was available at the time we lit the match."

SAT Practice Extra

According to a top executive at Williams-Sonoma, owner of Pottery Barn, once its new plan is put in motion, "________ will be to Pottery Barn what Old Navy is to the Gap." Fill in the blank to complete the analogy.

a.   A pile of poorly made T-shirts.

b.   Boxes of ugly ceramics your aunt has stored in her basement.

c.   A blinding headache.

d.   A chain of stores for budget-minded shoppers called "Elm Street" perhaps because, since Dutch elm disease hit, there's not an elm on any Elm Street in America, and arboricide is Williams-Sonoma's idea of a joke.


d. A chain of stores called "Elm Street."

Simply Selena Extra

The metaphor summary for Selena Roberts' New York Times report on Sunday's Knicks-Heat game:

Animals mentioned:


Hatched chick

Antiques mentioned:

Butter churn

Recyclable materials mentioned:


Dermatological mishaps mentioned:

"sticking to his skin like vinyl"

Injuries incurred:

Miami's Jamal Mashburn kicked a courtside table, injuring Ms. Roberts' shoulder but not impairing her ability to concoct overwrought prose. Mashburn apologized to Roberts but not to the reading public.

Common Denominator

Pressure warps the mayoral mind but fails to thaw the mayoral heart.