No. 492: "Mountain Pique"
A Globe and Mail poll shows that 64 percent of Canadians oppose Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's decision to rename Mount Logan, the nation's tallest, without consulting the federal names board or the region's Yukon Indians. What new name did Chrétien give the mountain?
Send your answer by 6 p.m. ET Thursday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday's Question (No. 491)—"Majorer":
An announcement Sunday proclaims that we now have a fourth "supermajor." Explain.
"Dernit, I miss one Sunday paper, and I didn't catch that Jesse Jackson is running again?"—Brooke Saucier
"You forgot to mention that scientists also said if we didn't make a big deal about it, it might quietly go away."—Sean Carman
"What's to explain? It uses magnetometrism, reflexobiology, and insole support! Thank you, Dr. Scholl's! Thank you!"—Doug Sheppard
"Ohmigod, really? I thought the only supermajors were Speech Communications and Physical Education! What are the new ones? How come my adviser didn't tell me?! And is it too late in the semester for me to change my major??"—Deborah Wassertzug (Ben Kirkup, Steven Davis, and Anthony Wright had similar answers.)
"The National Society of Hack Film Critics has elevated Susan Granger to the pantheon of quote whores, joining Jeff Craig and Gene Shalit. As the NSHFC's promotional materials explain, 'a supermajor is endowed with the power to proclaim just about anything "super," up to and including films based upon Saturday Night Live skits.' In related Hack Film Critic news, Vincent Canby passed away on Monday; Janet Maslin, reviewing his life, held true to form: she overpraised it, then gave away the ending."—Tim Carvel
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"Super" is a particularly promiscuous prefix, attaching itself willy-nilly to the oddest roots. (And who hasn't? Especially when drunk?) This results in a certain laxness when referring to models, stars, and heroes. Superman, OK, and maybe superboy. But superdog? And a group is not truly super if it includes any member of Metallica. Unless it can fly and use its X-ray vision to see through the leather pants of Giselle. Is she the one from Brazil?
Supercharge ought to be the punch line for a borscht-belt joke about Visa or MasterCard, featuring plastic melting from overuse and the words "my wife." But it's not. It's something to do with the air and fuel intake in an engine, and is similar to but not synonymous with turbocharge, and no doubt makes a car much better than it would otherwise be if something less super happened to the fuel and the air.
The official meaning of superfine is a derogatory one—overly refined or nice. But I prefer the Phil Spector usage (in general a good idea in musical but not dating situations) in the dazzling "Fine, Fine Boy," written with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry for Darlene Love. The best part is when the music stops and she says, "My boy, he's a fine, fine superfine boy!" And then Phil has his bodyguards beat the hell out of one of the backup singers.
In a related story, supercool is all about going below the freezing point and avoiding crystalization. And superconductor has nothing to do with Zubin Mehta. People can be so cruel.
Supercilious is how Al Gore is accused of acting at the debates because he is arrogant enough to actually know something about the matter under discussion. The big snob. The word derives from raised eyebrow. Cilium—eyebrow. He probably swaggers around like that, all educated, because of a problem with his superego. George W. Bush has avoided this problem by being superficial. Somebody stop me; I can go on all night like this. But it would be superfluous.
Chevron agreed to acquire Texaco for $36 billion in stock, creating the worlds fourth-largest oil company. The other three "supermajors" are Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, and BP Amoco.
Chevron Texaco will have about $66.5 billion in revenue and produce about 2.7 million barrels of oil a day from reserves of 11 billion barrels. After their planned firing of 4,000 people, they'll employ about 51,000.
The two companies are eager to get big enough to compete in lucrative but risky deepwater drilling projects in West Africa, Brazil, and the Caspian Sea.
A Gore spokesman responded, "Given the fact that oil companies saw their profits rise by more than 300% in the past year, it raises the question whether big oil is getting too big."
A Bush spokesman said, "These are legal and technical matters and should be decided by the people of South Carolina." Or perhaps it was "… decided by regulators without political interference."
On average, it costs about $4 to pump a barrel of oil, now selling for $39 a barrel. Some business.
Ariel Gilbert-Knight's Delightfully Discursive Extra
Am I the only one who was shocked by the total absence of Britney Spears' breasts from the last quiz?
Sunday's announcement that Chevron will purchase Texaco is predicted to have the following effects: Suburban families' dreams will be shattered as escalating gas prices force them to purchase only the second-largest SUV they can find and they face the painful possibility of no longer being able to keep up with the Joneses. 4,000 Texaco and Chevron employees will be laid off and forced to face the painful realization that they may no longer be able to continue feeding, housing, and clothing their families. My local news will inevitably elect to cover the suburbanites' woes and, without a trace of mockery, will feature a series of SUV drivers unselfconsciously complaining about how much they spend on gas these days.
Penis-Free Zone Extra
Fill in the blanks on this observation from New York Knicks coach, Jeff Van Gundy.
"You don't have to be huge huge, but size does matter, particularly in a ________________."
Penis-Free Zone Answer
"… particularly in a playoff series." He was looking ahead apprehensively to playing the Charlotte Hornets. The Knicks, now without Patrick Ewing, start a particularly small group of front court players, some no bigger than your thumb. It's the cutest thing you've ever seen.
Randy Cohen used to write Slate's "News Quiz." His most recent book—oh, like you don't know.