News Quiz

No. 258: “Swiss Dis”

Fill in the blank as Christian Levrat assesses Sunday’s referendum on asylum seekers: “There is a side to Switzerland that is very generous, giving millions to refugees, and a stricter side that wants to make sure that people coming in are not ____________.”

Send your answer by noon ET Tuesday to

Thursday’s Question (No. 257)–“Big ‘n’ Sturdy”:

Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan’s team from the National Science Foundation and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was surprised by the extent, thickness, and persistence. Of what?

“Deepak Chopra’s toupee.”–Gina Duclayan

“Jenna Elfman’s hips.”–Larry Amoros

“Rejection letters regarding grant requests.”–Herb Terns

“The belly lox at Barney Greengrass.”–Bill Scheft

“The cloud of doom over Lamar Alexander’s campaign.”–Daniel Radosh (Peter Carlin had a similar answer.)

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

The worst part about the sea, as Ramanathan and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography must both lament when it comes time for their annual talent show, is that nothing amusing ever takes place beneath it. Which you certainly couldn’t say about Errol Flynn. Which is why Noël Coward set so few of his plays underwater. James Bond, on the other hand, is always poking about in some villain’s undersea lair, and his attempts at repartee are just parody bait. When the diving suits go on, the witty banter stops. Something to do with all those air hoses, like trying to be witty at the dentist. It is impossible to name a single amusing movie that takes place beneath the waves. Just look at dolphins, the very model of marine sophistication, a creature whose intelligence we’re always called upon to admire like some horrible precocious child. They’re frequently found at Sea World, performing in shows whose dialogue will not be quoted later at dinner. In some countries, they’d be the dinner. The dolphin, not the precocious child. Although it’s a thought.

There are, of course, many elegant and flirtatious scenes set on yachts. Clearly, wit operates best on the surface.

Vast Polluted Answer

Ramanathan announced the discovery of a vast haze, 3.8 million square miles, about the size of the United States, hanging over the Indian Ocean. “It appeared as if the whole Indian subcontinent was surrounded by a mountain of pollution,” he said.

The problem with this haze, blown over the water by winter winds from the Himalayas, is that it blocks out sunlight, lowering the temperature.

The prevailing winds reverse in late spring, blowing the haze north over the land, where its particles combine with monsoon rains and fall to the earth, dissipating the cloud. But that’s bad too, because the haze-sodden precipitation is just the sort of acid rain that plays havoc with both terrestrial and marine life.

Entangling Alliances Extra

Below, a dozen putative unions from this past Sunday’s New York Times “Wedding” page. Which is true, which is false?

1. Dentist marries lawyer.

2. Lawyer marries other lawyer.

3. Law partner marries law firm chairman.

4. Yale law school marries Yale law school.

5. Princeton marries Princeton.

6. Web designer marries other Web designer.

7. Actor in Les Mis marries other actor in Les Mis.

8. Morgan Stanley marries ING Barings.

9. Consultatio Asset Management marries Hicks Muse Tate & Furst.

10. Unit manager for VH1 marries line producer for Great Performances.

11. Psychotherapist marries ob-gyn.

12. Aerobics instructor marries funeral director.


All are true.

Best Career

“The bride, 31, is the special assistant to the Deputy Commissioner of Management and Budget for the New York City Police Department. She is also a cabaret singer.”

Worst Career

“She is the assistant to the writer and comedian Al Franken.”

Common Denominator

Comical foreign names, nautical penises.