News Quiz

No. 359: “Peril? Us?’

Government officials and industry experts have begun to caution Americans about “speed creep”–meaning?

Send your answer by noon ET Wednesday to

Wednesday’s Question (No. 358)–“Foto Fun”:

Compose a caption for this Reuters news photo.

“Santa and Sparkles the Elf in happier times, before the sexual harassment suit.”–Francis Heaney

“Dressed as Santa Claus, Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker brings holiday cheer to Atlanta schoolchildren, teaching them the effectiveness of a baseball bat in greeting foreigners on New York’s No. 7 train.”–Dave Daley (Ann Gavaghan and Joe Whealon had similar answers.)

“Just pretend it’s Jackie Mason’s head.”–Michael Stern

“Santa preps pint-sized astronaut on Hubble repair techniques.”–Dave Carter

“Santa delivers to wrong house, returns to take it back.”–Leslie Jacobsson

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

Once all the world smiled benignly when an adult took an interest in a child: scoutmaster and troop, priest and altar boy–what could be more wholesome? Now, all–or at any rate, quiz participants all–smirk knowingly at the dark desires implicit in a photo of Santa embracing a comely lad, embellished with the most potent of pederast symbols, baseball paraphernalia. How does one tell foresight from fear? Today, some wary adults are reluctant to lift a thirsty tot to a playground drinking fountain, lest they be viewed with alarm. Others tow all cars within a one-mile radius, weld closed all manhole covers, remove all trash cans, lock all mailboxes, and assign 7,000 cops to the scene, while denying the existence of any specific threat. Is this reasonable caution or self-important delight in martial law? Is it Christmas in Tel Aviv or New Year’s Eve in Manhattan? One more anti-Giuliani screed or an actual comment on the question at hand? Prudence or paranoia? Either way, I won’t be taking the neighbor boy to Times Square Friday night.

Captious Answer

“Elian Gonzalez gets some batting tips from Santa Claus in the front yard of his great uncle’s home Tuesday. The bat and ball were an early Christmas gift from baseball agent Joe Cubas. The six-year-old has been living with Miami relatives after being picked up at sea November 25 while trying to escape Cuba with his mother and others who died when their boat capsized.” (Bill Cooke/Reuters)

Anarchy in the Streets Extra

“Pamela is the family rebel,” Ms. Weisman said. “Everybody in the Holmes family has to go to Harvard. Pamela actually applied to Yale. She ended up gong to Harvard, but …”–“Vows,” New York Times

Cut the Cards Extra

Participants were invited to devise mass-mailed corporate Christmas cards, and a few people managed to keep off the eggnog long enough to do just that, and delightfully so.

  • Outside: Santa driving off into the sunset aboard a jet-propelled sleigh. The Golden Arches loom in the background.
    Inside: McBlitzer: for those who really like reindeer.–Shannon Deegan
  • Outside: Santa drinking a glass of milk left by the chimney.
    Inside: Santa laughingly refusing chemotherapy treatment.
    Message: Don’t worry, kids, Santa will probably be fine! Happy holidays from Monsanto.–Francis Heaney
  • Outside: Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford pass out candy canes in an Indonesian sweatshop.
    Inside: Season’s Greetings from your friends at Wal-Mart.–William Vehrs
  • Outside: Steve Balmer and Bill Gates in front of a roaring fire.
    Inside: Our chestnuts are roasting over an open fire.
    Thanks to a non-techie in a judge’s robe.
    We’ll still be here as your stock climbs Higher and Higher.
    He’ll be off the bench when our election donations take hold.
    Happy Holidays to our stockholders from the staff at Microsoft.
    P.S.: Richest man in the world is subjective, so no money has been enclosed.–Kevin Kenow

Common Denominator

Family values, shmamily values: We will bury Elián González beneath a mountain of toys before we reunite him with a father who lives in a nation whose government we disapprove of.