No. 445: "We're No. … Er … 37!"

No. 445: "We're No. … Er … 37!"

No. 445: "We're No. … Er … 37!"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
June 22 2000 3:00 AM

No. 445: "We're No. … Er … 37!"

The USA came in a disappointing 37th in Tuesday's report by the World Health Organization rating the health systems of 191 nations. To determine our dismal ranking, The WHO used five factors: Name one.


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

Monday's Question (No. 444)—"Lièger Time Activity":

Trouble with rampaging thugs linked to an event held Saturday in Liège, Belgium, led to 850 arrests, 56 injuries, and threats of sanctions from international organizations. What event?

"A Father's Day Sale on American nuclear secrets."—Benjamin Anderson (Jason Ross had a similar answer.)


"If I've told you once, Jean-Luc, you just can't sell those American GM-corn-containing corn dogs in the concession stands for the big game, the patrons will RIOT!!!"—Kathy Whitesel

"This wouldn't have happened if the Pacers had won."—Pete Miesel (similarly, T.G. Gibbon, Tim Olevsky, and Dilan Esper)

"Coca-Cola's Tainted Soda Give-Away."—Tim Carvell

"Mr. Kurtz, he dead."—T.G. Gibbon


Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Not much to be said for Belgium, I suppose, and nowhere better said than in Tom Stoppard's 1975 Travesties, when Carr of the British consulate and the dadaist Tristan Tzara debate the causes of World War I.

CARR: I forget what they were, but it was all in the papers at the time. Something about brave little Belgium, wasn't it?

TZARA: Was it? I thought it was Serbia …

CARR: Brave little Serbia … ? No, I don't think so. The newspapers would never have risked calling the British public to arms without a proper regard for succinct alliteration.

(The discussion grows heated, and Carr, who in real life was badly hurt in the fighting—he lay wounded in no man's land for five days—erupts.)

CARR: You jumped-up phrase-making smart-alecky arty-intellectual Balkan turd!!! … You slug! I'll tell you what's really going on: I went to war because it was my duty, because my county needed me, and that's patriotism. I went to war because I believed that those boring little Belgians and incompetent Frogs had the right to be defended from German militarism, and that's love of freedom!


Everyone was always going to war over Belgium. Julius Caesar conquered it, and after that there was always one battle or another—Waterloo, Ypres, the Bulge. The thing is, Belgium has no real natural boundaries so you could find yourself fighting there without realizing it. You'd think they'd put up some big neon signs along the border.

Eurotrash the Place Answer

England played Germany in soccer, part of Euro 2000, the continent's championship.

Before and after the game, fans—almost all English—smashed bars and shops, wrecked cars, and trashed a McDonald's. This was followed by the usual hand-wringing about soccer hooligans—what the English call football hooligans or, if they drink a lot of beer, lager louts. (I suppose if they ordered a different sort of beer they'd be pilsner punks and would sound less menacing.)


UEFA, European soccer's governing body, threatened stern measures. Tony Blair hoped UEFA's tough talk, including the possibility of expelling England, would make those kids behave. "Hopefully, this threat will bring to their sense anyone tempted to continue the mindless thuggery that has brought such shame to the country," Blair said. "But at least they were out in the fresh air instead of loafing about indoors watching television," he did not add.

England won the match, 1-0.

In an act of international solidarity, Los Angeles Lakers fans celebrated their team's victory in the NBA finals by smashing bars and shops, wrecking cars, and trashing a McDonald's, except for the McDonald's. But they did burn a lot of stuff including a couple of police cars. And while no one is happy to see this sort of thing (except perhaps for local news producers, who could use some lively footage to deplore), it is hard not to note the class consciousness in this, from an Associated Press account: "The crowd had been mostly peaceful until nearly an hour after the game, when fans began throwing debris at limousines." If you cock your head, you can almost hear them singing "The International."

Football Jesus Extra

Broken but unbowed by Monday's Supreme Court decision prohibiting student-led mass prayer to kickoff high-school football games, the Santa Fe, Texas, school district promises an end run (note consistent use of inane football imagery) around the ban. "My initial reaction would be, at this point, to eliminate an invocation or message as crafted," said crafty Superintendent Richard Ownby. Encouraged by G.W.'s contempt for the First Amendment—he filed a brief in support of the district and denounced the court's decision—the school is determined to find a way to get prayer back into the stadium. Which of these measures are they considering?

Football Jesus?

  1. Prayer will no longer be called "prayer" but a "message or invocation."
  2. Official, student-elected representatives who lead official prayers will no longer be called "chaplains" but "cheerleaders for the Lord."
  3. When inciting team to grind opposing high school into dust, pep squad will no longer refer to "Jesus" but "You Know Who" (accompanied by a broad wink).
  4. New nondenominational cheer: "Two, four, six, eight, who's the God we venerate? (Your personal savior here! Your personal savior here! Yeeeaaaa, Your personal savior here!)"
  5. "Hail Mary pass" will henceforth be called "Hail Mary, Mother of God, blessed be the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, pass."
  6. Chanting "You Jews are going to hell! Hindus too! And other foreigners!" before kickoff will be strictly voluntary and no longer required for graduation.
  7. Marching band to play "Old Rugged Cross" while forming a giant stoning of St. Steven.
  8. Old-fashioned football-shaped football to be replaced by less aerodynamic but more spiritually meaningful vinyl head of John the Baptist.
  9. Members of junior varsity football team will no longer be required to "talk some sense into nonbelievers" but will beat them up after school on a voluntary basis.
  10. New food sold by stadium vendors—loaves, fishes, some kind of burger made from the emulsified hearts of infidels.


1. They already tried this one, but the court said changing the name of the prayer makes it no less a prayer.

2. They tried this one, too, although they replaced "chaplain" with something less lighthearted.

3-10 Sheer fabrication, praise Him!

Adolescent Extra: More Things That Sound Dirty but Aren't

"Within the range of specifications that are acceptable, we can have balls at both ends of the spectrum and they will perform differently. But based on what we've seen so far, we don't see balls at either end of the spectrum. They are tightly bunched at sort of the high end of coefficient of restitution specifications, but they have been for some time." Thus Sandy Alderson sums up the results of scientific testing that failed to answer a troubling question for his organization. What organization; what question?


Major League Baseball asks: Why so many home runs this season? Is it something they put in the baseballs?

Ugly Couples Ongoing Extra

Participants are invited to submit the least attractive word pair they can find in a newspaper or magazine, along with the source and a withering comment. No full names of detested people or groups, i.e., George Will, House Republicans; we're after the odd combo not the ad hominem. Scariest pairs run Friday.

Q: Can you illustrate with two colorful examples?

A: Why certainly, without even leaving the house or the gene pool.

"Clumsy muskrats—when they come by the house, hide the good china (New York Times article on Erie Canal, June 16)."—Sophie Pollitt-Cohen

"Future Archbishop—'nuff said (New York Times article on Bishop Egan, June 16)."—Sophie Pollitt-Cohen

Common Denominator

Puerto Rican Day Parade + chocolate + waffles = theme restaurant!