News Quiz

No. 260: “A Touching (and Smelling) Tale”

“You’re telling me I have to touch anyone who comes in here, even if I don’t want to? I have to get up really close to them and smell their perfume, smell their breath?” asked an incredulous Michael Damico. As it turns out, yes, he does. And what does he have to do after that?

Send your answer by noon ET Thursday to

Tuesday’s Question (No. 259)–“Even Educated Fleas Do It”:

Millions of retirees and middle-aged women do it, and officials say that’s fine, as long as they do it for “health purposes” and not to “promote superstition, spread rumors, engage in sedition, destroy social order or hold mass assemblies.” Do what?

“Golf?”–Eddie Haskins

“Dissident bingo, every Wednesday night at Beijing Methodist!!!”–Ananda Gupta

“Oprah’s banned book club.”–Beth Sherman (Tim Carvell had a similar answer.)

“Santería. Or menopause. It’s one or the other, I’m fairly sure.”–Tim Carvell

“Die.”–Dan Simon

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

It’s not what you do, it’s the purpose for which you do it. Twenty-five years ago, Pennsylvania pinball machines displayed this warning: “for entertainment purposes only.” Apparently the legislature was concerned that they might be used for gambling or, as I recall, Jewish ritual. Since then, Reform Judaism has changed a lot; the Pennsylvania state Legislature, incidentally, has not. Men’s room condom machines of that era were marked “for prevention of disease only,” lest someone seek sexual pleasure, i.e., have sex for entertainment purposes only. Even now ads for stocks are tagged “for information purposes only,” i.e., this ad is not an ad: It’s René Magritte. For suckers. It is not foolish to consider intent, hence the distinction between murder and accident and serious dieting. If a stranger rendered you unconscious and went at you with a knife, it would mean one thing if it were O. J. Simpson–or any other former NFL great–but something else altogether if it were a surgeon. Or an old-school Reform rabbi, performing a relevant bris atop a pinball machine.

Sect Crimes Answer

Millions of Chinese join the group Falun Gong (Buddhist law).

Fearing government harassment, the group’s founder and leader, Li Hongzhi, moved to the United States last year. In a letter to followers, he accused China of trying to pay off the United States to extradite him. Denying rumors of an imminent crackdown, Chinese officials told representatives of the sect that as long as they stick to group breathing and meditation exercises in public parks they face no repression. They are, however, forbidden to “stir up chaos and destroy social stability.”

Kids’ Corner Extra

George W.’s official state Web site offers this fun activity for kids: “The Governor enjoys sending and receiving letters. If you would like to receive an on-line letter from the Governor, type your name, choose a question and select submit!” That is: You can receive a reply the governor didn’t write to a question you didn’t write that he didn’t read. Easy to see why the governor enjoys that.

Which of the following are actual prewritten questions from G.W.’s official list, and which are merely crude attempts to mock and deride him?

  1. What are you doing for children to make Texas a better place to live?
  2. What would you like to say to young Texans considering a career in politics or public service?
  3. What makes a good leader and a successful person?
  4. How did you get to be so handsome?
  5. What has your business experience taught you?
  6. Have you ever heard an actual kid use the term “business experience”?
  7. Why doesn’t your official bio mention your Connecticut birthplace? Trouble with the cops?
  8. Is it true that exploiting your family’s political, business, and social connections will only get you through the door, and after that you’ve got to do a fairly good job much of the time?
  9. Did that previous question seem too smirky for a kid? ‘Cause I could, you know, ask more stuff about your business experience.
  10. Your official slogan, Prosperity With a Purpose–what purpose? Could it be killing space aliens? Or the poor?
  11. Your prep school isn’t in your bio. More trouble? Stealing from another kid’s locker?
  12. Your supporter J.C. Watts Jr. said: “Governor Bush has the vision to see all Americans as they can be and not as they are.” But when I don’t see people as they are, my folks get my urine tested. Is that fair? (You mean when they, like, turn into monsters, right?)


Actual Prewritten Questions: 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Crude Attempts To Mock and Deride: 4, 6-12.

Janice Zazinski’s Headline Haiku

Gain off Fat Pension

Fridge full of beer

Immigrants on the job

Busy factories in Tokyo

–Wall Street Journal, June 15, 1999

(Front page only)

Common Denominator

AARP and sex.