News Quiz

No. 247: “Does This Look Inflected?’

The author of a new book charges that a prominent American not only betrayed him, but also “[h]is mocking pronunciation of my name … sounded like a jeering mob.” Who is this insensitive American, and how did he mispronounce the author’s name?

Send your answer by noon ET Tuesday to

Thursday’s Question (No. 246)–“Unundercover”:

“We’re not hiding it,” says Capt. Michael Fallon of the Hartford Police Department, hoping to ease community fears. In fact, they plan to take it to fairs so children can climb on it and have their pictures taken with it. What?

“Another poorly directed NATO bomb.”–Beth Sherman (M.D.C. Bowen had a similar answer.)

“Rhode Island?”–Herb Terns

“Boris Yeltsin.”–Alison Rogers

“McGruff, the drug-sniffing, suspect-devouring crime dog.”–Matt Sullivan (similarly, Mike Behn, Jean Campbell, Chuck Lawhorn, and Judith Spencer)

“L. Ron Hubbard’s mmmphphph …”–Max Novak

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Overly Sensitive Wrap-Up

While News Quiz has avidly solicited sardonic comments on Kosovo and Littleton, the Abner Louima case confounds me. I understand a joke with a Volpe punch line or a joke about the NYPD’s sincere efforts to increase minority recruitment (no kidding, this time they mean it) or to make the many other reforms persistently resisted by both the department and the mayor (I’m serious, this time they really, really mean it). But I do not feel comfortable with a punch line that alludes to the plunger. And while I don’t think I’ve received a single response to today’s question that seeks to trivialize Louima’s suffering, I still feel uneasy, and so I’ve omitted those replies. It is, of course, a matter of sensibility. No offense meant. Now everyone go on out and tease a fat guy on me.

No, wait, come back. I was only …

The Right Tools for the Job Answer

The Hartford Police Department is not hiding its new armored personnel carrier.

And, besides, they prefer to call it a “tactical rescue vehicle,” says Capt. Fallon. “I call my night stick a ‘happy wand’ and my gun a ‘puppy,’ ” he did not add.

The department has stocked up on pepper spray and smoke bombs and has given additional riot training to 45 officers, alarming many Hartford residents, tensely awaiting a prosecutor’s decision about whether to charge a white officer who fatally shot a black 14-year-old in the back. Police Chief Joseph Croughwell denies that he is preparing to suppress a riot. He does understand how these misconceptions can occur, “I can see how people would add one and one and get four.” Or two.

Pomp and Circumstance and Then Some More Pomp Extra

Match the actual twaddle from a recent commencement speech with the fatuous blowhard who ladled it out.

The Twaddle

1. “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, they do.”

2. “We must take responsibility for the society that our children live in. We must teach them the sense of right and wrong, good and evil.”

3. “Real fulfillment in your life will come not from leisure, not from idleness, not from self-indulgence, but rather from striving with all your physical and spiritual might for a worthwhile objective.”

4. “If you are like me, you are far more likely to regret what you did not do than what you do do.”

5. “Let us realize that education is the greatest anti-poverty program.”

6. “The only certainty is that there is no certainty.”

7. “Your parents have been the builders. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could be the healers.”

8. “It is more important than ever that we be staunch in our convictions.”

9. “We must think bigger and do better.”

10. “Shoot for the moon, shoot for the sun. Even if you miss, you will only land among the stars.”

The Blowhards

A. Charlie Rose, Long Island University

B. Bill Bradley, Mount St. Clare College

C. George Mitchell, Fordham University

D. Charlie Rose, Long Island University

E. Al Gore, Graceland College

F. Robert Rubin, New York University

G. David Gergen, Yale

H. Elizabeth Dole, online at

I. Bill Clinton, Grambling State

J. Charlie Rose, Long Island University

The Answers

1-A, 2-B, 3-C, 4-D, 5-E, 6-F, 7-G, 8-H, 9-I, 10-J.

Build Your Own Penis Joke

“The stiffness was absolutely spectacular. That’s when I said, ‘Aha!’ I knew then and there it was an important discovery.”–Chemist Stephanie Kwolek, 75, reminisces about her invention of Kevlar.

Neal Pollack’s Headline Haiku

Beneath Albanian sky
Ivy League parents
close to renewal
with nation’s woes

Chicago Tribune, May 20, 1999

Common Denominator