News Quiz

No. 338: “Super-standard”

In part to accommodate older people, federal standards now mandate that new ones be 6 inches tall–2 inches taller than the old ones. New what?

Send your answer by noon ET Wednesday to

Monday’s Question (No. 337)–“Substandard”:

To justify a current policy, a well-known organization cites these conditions: “unrelenting crowding, lack of privacy, infrequent communications with family and the outside world, no ability even to go … for fresh air and a view.” Who is defending what policy?

“No matter how much you whine, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has no plan to install windows in the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.”–Ellen Macleay

“The two-drink minimum at the Capitol Hill Hooters during lunch.”–Dwight Lemke

“I hate these Observer stories about how tough a supermodel’s life really is.”–Alison Rogers

“The Corcoran Group, defending its policy of renting out Rosemary Clooney’s bowels for use as a downtown performance space.”–Larry Amoros

“Wow–the Boy Scouts are being much more open about group masturbation in their new ‘Free the Sperm’ program.”–Richard Nikonovich-Kahn

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

Many participants used today’s question as an outlet for anti-airline hostility, which most therapists believe is healthier than slapping a co-pilot (most, but not all). One thing to bear in mind: It is not the squeaky wheel that gets the grease; it is the wheel on whatever vehicle the guy who owns the grease gun (grease can? greasicator?) is riding. That is, these things–transportation policy, lubrication policy–are decided not by what is most needed but by who is in need. Because so many congressmen fly so frequently, the aviation industry gets much federal attention. Because CNN executives crash so frequently, CNN devotes round-the-clock coverage to … wait, that doesn’t quite follow. If CNN executives crashed frequently, they’d be dead and hence unable to demand such boring programs. And those few who’ve not yet plummeted to a fiery death possess so vivid a sense of their own mortality, that they’d instantly cancel Larry King. OK, look at it this way: If more congressmen and CNN executives rode the New York City subway, then trains, not planes, would suffer from unrelenting crowding, lack of privacy, infrequent communications with family and the outside world. And the congressmen and CNN executives would be incredibly late to work because the IRT stops neither in Washington nor Atlanta. But don’t think this lets those bastards at Delta off the hook.

Run Silent, Run Deep, Run the Answer

A 1995 assessment by the U.S. Navy supports the continued exclusion of women from serving on submarines.

It is unsurprising that the Navy, generally regarded as the most hidebound branch of the military (and the one most resistant to ending racial segregation), found a compelling need, in the national interest and for essential military purposes that you wouldn’t understand, to sustain a reactionary social policy. What is unexpected is that the debate on submarine duty has been reopened. One reason: money. The Navy is building a new class of submarines, and it would be less expensive to include separate quarters for men and women in the initial construction than to make changes later, should women at some point be granted the vote.

Women serve on submarines in the navies of other nations, including those of Australia, Norway, and Sweden, but there is much opposition within the U.S. submarine service to altering the current policy: “I only know one way, the way I was brought up,” said Cmdr. James Foggo 3rd, commanding officer of the attack submarine Oklahoma City. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for the flogging,” he did not add.

To repeat: Cmdr. Foggo

Oh, yes: Foggo

Foggo, Foggo, face like a froggo!--hypothetical schoolyard chant 40 years ago that accounts for the commander’s hypothetical hostility to women.

Charlene Fanzine Extra

No one is more responsible for the U.S.-China economic accord than U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky. Can you identify the source of each of these descriptions of the triumphant negotiator?

  • “She’s a one-woman phenomenon”–an admiring comment from her predecessor, Mickey Kantor.
  • “the slight, intense woman”–a presumptuous comment from reporter David E. Sanger, writing in the New York Times.(He means “bitchy,” doesn’t he? Oh, I know the code words. I don’t remember him ever calling Mickey Kantor a “slight, intense woman.” Bastard.)
  • “a Slovenian supermodel”–a surprisingly restrained comment from former adjective-abuser Rick Bragg, but not about Ms. Barshefsky. He was referring to Melania Knauss, Donald Trump’s girlfriend, not directly involved in the trade talks.
  • “At once jubilant and exhausted”–David Sanger again. At least he’s stopped picking on Ms. Barshefsky for failing to be 6 feet tall, like some specimen in his own private human zoo.
  • “a shrinking violet in her purple tunic”–an unnecessarily catty comment from sports writer Robin Finn (again, nothing to do with Ms. Barshefsky), kicking tennis player Anna Kournikova when she’s down. Kournikova is said to have some innovative ideas on the trade pact. (Said by me. Based on no evidence whatever.)
  • “the super-dense core of an exploded star”–an informative comment by Times science writer Malcolm Brownenot about Ms. B.defining either an inspiraling neutron star or Miss Liza Minnelli. I meant to go back and check, but now I’ve thrown that section away.
  • “I’ve never seen anyone who can operate better on no sleep, totally hung-over, after partying all night with her whole def crew.”–Mickey Kantor again, although his actual remarks end with the word “sleep,” after which I take over. It’s just a theory. I learned it from Anna Kournikova. In the sense of making it up as if she’d said it.

Common Denominator

The awfulness of air travel.