News Quiz

No. 324: “Mad About Beef”

Fill in the blank as Donald Gregg, a former American ambassador to South Korea, comments on some recently declassified documents by offering this personal anecdote: “My residence had just been broken into by six students angry about beef quotas. They tried to burn my house down. And I thought, ‘God Almighty, if they get this mad about beef, what will they do when they learn we have _________ here?’ “

Send your answer by noon ET Thursday to

Tuesday’s Question (No. 323)–“Smooth Talker”:

“We deal in the basics, and all those basics are necessary necessities,” said a smiling CEO, patiently explaining to some CNNfn reporter that the company would thrive even in an economic downturn. Why was that CEO smiling?

“Tina honestly believes Talk will still be around in January.”–Daniel Radosh

“Prozac? No, Saint Johnswort?”–Al Cloutier

“Because he knew he’d never have to answer another question from that bitch Lou Dobbs.”–Tim Carvell

“I like to smile also but not when I have to be patient. Then I frown a little.”–Jon W. Davis

“Hey, what a CEO and a CNNfn reporter do in the privacy of a live broadcast is none of our business, you know?”–Floyd Elliot

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

CNNfn and its more appealing counterpart CNBC (more anchors who look like Harrison Ford, more hints of futility and world weariness, fewer catchy names for segments–I believe CNNfn has something called “Margin Monkeys”) are the ESPN of business news for an audience that watches the economy as if it were sports. Both sports and the stock market are essentially dramatic events, that is, events whose outcomes are unknown. Yanks or Braves could win; IBM could go up or down. Both ESPN and CNBC offer an infinite supply of statistics that give the viewer the illusion of deeper understanding. Many people, particularly many retired people, begin their day by checking the box scores of yesterday’s action on their holdings. These one-day fluctuations make absolutely no difference in one’s financial circumstances, but watching them offers a fan’s pleasure. How did the team do last night? And following the market gives that intensified enjoyment that all sports gamblers know: It’s a lot more exciting to watch when you’ve got a little money–or the savings of a lifetime–down on the game. I’d certainly go to the track a lot more often if Ron Insana were running against a big, mean dog.

That’s a Good Thing Answer

CEO Martha Stewart had just become an elegant, tasteful billionaire through the IPO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.

Offered at $18 a share, the stock climbed to 35 7/16, a gain of 96.9 percent, raising $129.6 million for the company.

Incidentally, that CNNfn guy maintained the station’s usual hard-hitting standards by concluding their conversation this way: “On a personal note, I’d like to say that for the last four Thanksgivings we’ve done your balsamic glazed onions, and they were fantastic.”

Also going public Tuesday, World Wrestling Federation Inc. closed up 49 percent, at 25 1/4 after its $17 open.

Coincidentally, the CNNfn guy said, “On a personal note, I’d like to say that for the last four Thanksgivings we’ve pummeled each other into ersatz insensibility, and it was fantastic.” Or perhaps he didn’t.

The one-day IPO winner was Indian Internet service provider Satyam Infoway Ltd. closing up 17 1/2, or 97.2 percent, at 35 1/2. The CNNfn guy had no personal anecdote for sucking up to Satyam.

Feelings, Nothing More Than Extra

I give the self-assessment; you name the self-assessed.


1. “I feel really great. Everyone welcomed me back and has treated me so well.”

2. “I feel OK, I feel comfortable, so we’ll just see what happens really.”

3. “At times I feel as if I am cornered, as if I can never make an approach.”

4. “I feel good about it.”

5. “I feel so much healthier.”

6. “I feel some frustration that there isn’t more happening in this field.”

7. “I feel it closing in on me.”


1. Tonya Harding is back on ice, this time as a pro, after a five-and-a-half year layoff for that whole clubbing Nancy Kerrigan thing.

2. Sir Paul McCartney is not looking for another woman, more than a year after the death of his wife, but he’s open to the possibility of a new relationship, although probably not with Tonya Harding, whose name didn’t actually come up in the interview.

3. Megawati Sukarnoputri doesn’t feel other political parties welcome an alliance with hers but, if I can read between the lines–and I can’t–worries that Paul McCartney wouldn’t return her calls even if she did get up the nerve to phone him.

4. President Clinton feels good about working with Republicans on the budget bill, and encourages you to make up some kind of sophomoric joke about his yen for Megawati Sukarnoputri and Tonya Harding.

5. Ms. Flores lost 75 pounds. She is among hundreds of people who have responded to “Walk El Paso!” a fitness media blitz that began in June 1998. President Clinton did not participate.

6. U.N. human rights envoy Thomas Hammarberg (I’m not sure what he weighs) feels Cambodia could be using recent political stability as a chance to make progress on human rights. But is it? No.

7. Frank McCourt feels that Ireland is a great career move and a nice place to visit, but after just three weeks …

Signs That the Sixties Are Finally Over Ongoing Extra

The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” now used in commercial for “Sugar Coated Toxic Waste and Baby Seal Bits” breakfast cereal. Or perhaps that was just an acid vision I had. Either way, bummer.

OK, that one I made up. Participants are invited to find similar but genuine bits of evidence that this magical (and turbulent) decade has ended yet again.

Replies to run Thursday.

Common Denominator

Necessities, in ascending order: water, air, pornography, toilet paper.