No. 453: "Arms and the Man"

No. 453: "Arms and the Man"

No. 453: "Arms and the Man"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
July 13 2000 3:00 AM

No. 453: "Arms and the Man"

Fill in the blank as White House drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey describes a lethal new weapon in his anti-drug armory: "As powerful as television is, some experts believe that __________ have an even stronger impact on young people."


Send your answer by 9 p.m. ET Sunday to

Monday's Question (No. 452)—"Empower to the People!":

Her eyes ablaze with freedom's fire, corporate spokeswoman Deb Magness assesses the importance to America's children of an imminent development: "It's empowered them in a way that they have always desired but haven't had an opportunity, until now." Which corporation is about to do what?

"Best of all, it's a Kiddilac."—Peter O'Toole


""—David Feige (Chuck Pennscott and Josh Kamensky had similar answers.)

"Student of Fortune magazine. Check out the ads in the back: It's never been cheaper to hire a delinquent to off your teacher."—Greg Diamond

"FOX; Who Wants To Be Adopted by a Multimillionaire?"—Francis Heaney (similarly, Jon Zerolnick)

"This reminds me of a joke, but unfortunately the margin of my e-mail is too small to include it. (And a tip of the hat to Pierre Fermat.)"—Steven Davis


Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Until around the 12th century, Europeans did not see childhood as a distinct state. Children were viewed as miniature grown-ups or sometimes as a light snack. They participated fully in adult life, a trend recently revived in many Nike factories. Children were seldom depicted in pre-12th-century art, as they were not viewed as important, tended to fidget when posing, and touched everything in the studio, the little pests. Further, with child mortality rates in the first five years of life as high as 75 percent, it was not wise to get too attached to one's children. (Phil Knight and his employees, same way.) When infants outgrew their swaddling, they dressed like adults. Nowadays it's the other way around, with adults in jeans and T-shirts and often quite sticky; who knows why? Who'd want to? (Few contemporary adults wear swaddling, except for Phil Knight, and that's just a rumor, which I just now made up, and besides everyone is entitled to a private life.) Similarly, there was no differentiation between children's and adults' entertainment; both played blind-man's bluff, parlor games, and leapfrog. Today, we all just watch television and are probably drunk. Our modern conception of childhood emerged in the 16th century with the rise of the middle class; well, what didn't? The medieval system of apprenticeship was supplanted by a demand for formal education, leading to the rise of schools as a distinct world of children, many of whom began copying one another's papers, but if you ask me they're only cheating themselves, and of course the weaker kids whose homework gets stolen and passed around. In the 18th century, the modern house established itself among the upper classes. Rooms became separated and specialized, and people got up to who-knows-what in there. In this era, the child became the center of the family. The Cult of the Child Jesus arose then, with much interest in his life as a child, and yet no one bothered to manufacture a line of His Toys. This sort of marketing opportunity would never be neglected today by any of the producers of children's products—Fisher-Price, Gerber, or the NBC Nightly News.

Green Means Go or Perhaps Goo Answer


H.J. Heinz is about to introduce green ketchup.

Focus groups persuaded executives that a ketchup that is exactly like any other ketchup except for its color will boost sales and get kids to use more. "It's a ketchup they can call their own," said Ms. Magness, her cheeks ablaze with the shame of the bald-faced liar, or perhaps that's rouge.

The new ketchup will feature another innovation: The nozzle on the soft plastic bottle is smaller, so that when you squeeze it, you can write your name on your hotdog. "I believe it was Thomas Paine …" Ms. Madness did not begin before the crowd had just about enough and hooted her down. And besides, it's "Magness" not "Madness." Too bad.

Greg Diamond's Law Review Extra


It being a really slow day at work, I have had the chance to discover that Deb Magness (or another Deb Magness also from Pittsburgh, which may well be chock-full of them) was the jury forewoman in a fairly significant criminal law case within its narrow domain: one of only two, according to a 1995 law review article, in which a child's "recovered memories" led to a murder conviction. In Commonwealth vs. Slutzker, a 1992 Pittsburgh case, Steven Slutzker was convicted for murdering his lover's husband 16 years previously. The victim's son, John Mudd Jr., who had been 5 at the time of the murder, suddenly experienced a "recovered memory" of the fatal night while brandishing a chair during a fight with a friend. Confounding three law journal articles which cite the case for this reason, however, Magness told the press that the son's testimony was not in fact what led to Slutzker's conviction, and if she wasn't the sort of person who we could believe, she would not be the kind of spokeswoman Heinz would trust as its corporate contact when it needs to recall baby food. What's so funny about this, you may ask? C'mon: Slutzker???

Daniel Radosh's Law Review Extra

Those wishing to read a long, entertaining, and Canadian article about the fine line between comic hackwork and outright joke theft can find it here.

For what it's worth, it's easy to determine that the Modern Humorist piece was written well before the News Quiz version, as evinced by the fact that the most recent movie referenced in it is 2 1/2 months old.

(Damn that wily Radosh! He must have written his cunning proof decades ago: He's wearing spats!—Ed.)

Hail, Caesar, We Who Are About To Untangle Perplexing Conundrums Salute You Extra

Jon Delfin and Francis Heaney missed the picnic in order to attend the National Puzzle Competition in San Francisco. I feel like Venus and Serena's father: I don't know who to root for. I just hope neither of them gets hurt, and both of them give me a lot of money.

Schedule Note

So that all concerned can have time to reflect on the News Quiz picnic and, where appropriate, compose a note of apology, there will be no quiz Friday. The schedule returns to normal, as may we all, on Monday the 17th.

Common Denominator

Guns, liquor, cigarettes, and sex—this is going to be the bestest summer vacation ever!