News Quiz

No. 163: “Initiation”

As a condition of joining the European Union, Lithuania has agreed to ban a practice quite common in the United States. What?


by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to e-mail your answer to

Tuesday’s question (No. 162)–“Check It Twice”:

The list includes Louis Vuitton handbags, Mont Blanc pens, pecorino cheese, and cashmere sweaters, pullovers, sweat shirts, and waistcoats. List of what?

“A complete inventory of items destroyed in the bombing raid on the Republican Guard headquarters in downtown Baghdad.”–Michael Connelly (R.C. Leander and M. Pesca had similar answers.)

“The list is obviously a paragraph pulled at random from Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full, but where the hell are the exclamation points?”–Alex Balk

“All items soon to acquire the ‘Intel Inside’ logo.”–Todd York

“In an alternate universe, where Tina Brown still ran The New Yorker, each was going to have its own special issue.”–Chris Kelly


“Items that former future Speaker of the House Bob Livingston has had affairs with outside of his marriage. (Please note, his wife has forgiven all but the handbag).”–Larry Amaros

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Randy’s Wrap-Up

In this the Christmas season, when tasty sweaters and snuggly cheeses are on everyone’s gift list, it’s traditional to reflect on where it all began. That’s why, at our house, I read aloud from that holiday classic, Eric Foner’s The Story of American Freedom. The kids throw another SimuLog on the fire, and I tell them about the 1950s when, Foner says, the noble ideas of the American Revolution at last evolved from old-fashioned political freedom to the modern freedom to shop in the mall of your choice. Foner quotes David Lilienthal, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission who, in 1952, wrote: “By freedom, I mean essentially freedom to choose to the maximum degree possible. It means a maximum range of choice for the consumer when he spends his dollar.” Here was an idea intellectuals might also embrace. “Industrial society,” wrote Clark Kerr, president of the University of California at Berkeley, in 1960, “might undermine freedom ‘in the workplace,’ but the compensation was the greater range of ‘alternatives in goods and services,’ and thus ‘a greater scope of freedom’ in Americans’ ‘personal lives.’ “


Then we all go outside for a look at the holiday figures arranged on the front lawn–Khrushchev, Nixon, the floor-sweeping robot–why, you’d almost believe you were back in Moscow, in 1959, at the American National Exhibition. There, in the model kitchen of a suburban ranch house, Vice President Nixon proclaimed the true spirit of America, what Foner sums up as “freedom of choice among colors, styles, and prices.” God bless us, every sweater!

Potassium-Rich Answer

These are among the items on which the United States will impose 100 percent tariffs unless the European Union opens its market to bananas shipped by Chiquita and Dole. While the banana sanctions violate World Trade Organization rules, American vigor in this matter seems to derive from the hefty contributions Chiquita’s major shareholder, Carl Linder, makes to both political parties. Referring to the paucity of U.S.-grown bananas, former U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor noted, “If you drive north on the Pacific Coast Highway, I think there’s 10 acres of bananas on the right-hand side.”


Imaginary Anthropology Extra

It’s a wonderful magical land, and it’s not on any map: You must find it in your heart or on your television. But who are the people who live there? Answer these questions based on a just released study of prime-time network TV conducted by George Gerbner of Temple University for the Screen Actors Guild and noticed by Adam Bonin.



1. What demographic group is portrayed as most dangerous?

2. What group is portrayed as the second most dangerous?

3. What is the most underrepresented group?

4. What happens to women over 30?


1. “Characters portrayed as suffering from mental illness are depicted as the most dangerous of demographic groups, with 60% shown to be involved in crime or violence (three times the actual rate).”


2. Foreigners. And they don’t do so well as victims, either. “A disproportionate number of ill-fated characters comes from the ranks of poor, Latino and foreign men, and both young and old African-American and poor women.”

3. Hispanics appear on prime-time TV at about one-quarter their rate in the population, 2.6 percent vs. 10.7 percent.

4. They begin disappearing: Nine out of 10 women on television are under age 46. And they turn to crime. “Women age faster than men, and as they age, they become more evil.”

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