No. 459: "Speak Threely"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
July 29 2000 12:00 AM

No. 459: "Speak Threely"

Fishing with Dennis Hastert, cocktails with Colin Powell, a photo session with Larry Holmes—what's the connection? 

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Send your answer by 9 p.m. ET Sunday to newsquiz@slate.com.

Wednesday's Question (No. 458)—"Sweet 16":

A new government document lists 16 criteria, including "Unusual nervousness," "Suspicious bulge/object," and "Changing direction." Criteria for what?

"Acceptable reasons for throwing kids out of Scouts."—Geoff Egan

"A successful singles mixer."—Francis Heaney

"Don Knotts."—Mark Wade

"When to give women in childbirth an epidural."—Carl Dietrich

"Hey, I'd love to keep dicking around with this, but I've got less than 50 hours to get the last three cuts from 'Baby One More Time' off Napster!"—Alex Pascover

Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

For many quiz participants, today's question presented criteria for selecting the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Dick Cheney. Tiptoeing away from his far-right congressional voting record, Cheney asserts that if he had it to do over, he'd "tweak" some of his votes, by which I take him to mean he'd have gone ahead with the hair transplants when he could still bill them to Congress. One explanation he offers for his record, the big budget deficits of the day. Apparently, there was too little money for Head Start, but just enough to build the MX missile and cut taxes and more than enough to keep Nelson Mandela in jail for another 23 years. Many who acknowledge Cheney's extreme right-wing views praise him for his experience. The last candidate to run aggressively on this putative virtue campaigned against JFK with the slogan: "Experience Counts. Vote Nixon." Apparently he had the experience to … well, fill in your own anti-Nixon joke, and try to use the words "oily" and "weasel." As I understand it, "experience" equips you to capably and efficiently do horrible things to the country but some pretty terrific things for your oil business cronies. But just how much weight do we give this quality in ordinary life? When I had to select a new physician, I was torn between an experienced older doctor and a modern younger doctor. The old doc had seen it all and treated most of it with leeches and some kind of mercury concoction he mixed up in his cellar. What the young doc lacked in experience, he made up for in state-of-the-art training, the most current waiting-room furniture, and a willingness to prescribe powerful pain-killing drugs. At the time, I agonized over the decision, but looking back on it now, I see that either of these people would have made a better vice president than Dick Cheney.

Quizzing While Black Answer

These are justifications a police officer can use to explain why he performed a stop-and-frisk. And the best part: There's no tedious writing. He merely has to check one of 16 boxes on a new form the New York Police Department is trying out in a one-month pilot program.

On the old form, officers must explain the encounter in their own words. "This new checklist should save many hours of thinking up new ways to say 'because he was black,' " no spokesman for the NYPD said or conceivably could have said.

Norman Siegel, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, is unimpressed. "Until they improve training, merely changing the form will not adequately address the systemic problem of racial profiling and unwarranted stops-and-frisks."

(Incidentally, "Changing direction …" means, more fully, changing direction when spotting an officer.)

Jon Zerolnick's More Fun With Britney Update

Either Clairol has turned Britney's hair the wrong color or else all this labor activism the kids are engaging in these days is having an impact. Monday, Britney announced that she is canceling a commercial shoot for Clairol, in respect of the ongoing SAG/AFTRA commercials strike. She made the announcement along with 'N Sync, and they also said that "they will withhold performances from commercial producers until the strike is resolved," according to AFTRA's Web site. Please retroactively remove any nasty comments about her that I may have sent in. I now feel obligated to like her. (Added bonus: slightly less guilt-wracked masturbatory fantasies!) When Britney Spears has more class consciousness than the titular head of the Democratic Party, it's time to be concerned. Well, even more so.

ABC You Later Extra

Backpedaling delightfully, ABC scrapped plans to use an automated gizmo that would let funnyman Norm MacDonald leave messages promoting his sitcom on thousands of answering machines. "It's less intrusive than having a live telemarketer on the line," said Jesse Crowe, president of Voice Mail Broadcasting, the gizmo company. "And much, much less intrusive than having Drew Carey drive his car across your lawn to promote his show," he did not add. Despite Crowe's vigorous defense, ABC is hanging tough in its not hanging tough. And so quiz participants were asked to suggest alternative promotional ideas.

"Hire Barry McCaffrey to insert pro-ABC messages into anti-drug messages."—Will Vehrs

"Watch ABC five nights in a row, and you get to kick Norm MacDonald in the balls."—Evan Serpick

"Distribute condoms and ecstasy bearing the ABC logo at junior high schools."—Chris Thomas

"Print logos of new shows on sides of Russian rockets, then hold contest as to which crashes down to Earth first."—Douglas Walker

"Who Wants To Win a Part on a Doomed Sitcom?!"—Beth Sherman

"Thousands of carefully trained Norm Macdonald look-alikes go door-to-door in suburban neighborhoods doing small chores and fighting crime."—John Woodward

"Monday Night Football replaced by Monday Night Blow Job (only in major markets)."—Evan Serpick

Click for more hot promo action.

Phrase That Never Pays Extra

Viagra, intern.

Common Denominator

Choosing a running mate. Or mate.

Randy Cohen used to write Slate's "News Quiz." His most recent book—oh, like you don't know.

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