News Quiz

No. 406: “Keep the Red Flag Flying”

“It is strange that the champion of the free market economy is acting in a way that would put Marxists to shame.” Who is denouncing what? 

Send your answer by noon ET Wednesday to

Thursday’s Question (No. 405)—”Can Do”:

Earlier this month at a rally outside an Atlanta church, protestors held aloft empty cans. A similar gathering is set for this Saturday. What did the cans originally contain, and why are they featured in a rally?   

“Gasoline. They were SUV owners waiting for Pat Robertson to perform a miracle by turning water into gasoline.”—Mark Shotzberger (Greg Diamond had a similar answer.)

“Hair Spray. It’s the monthly ‘Who Killed JonBenet?’ rally/picnic/Lil’ Miss Atlanta talent contest.”—Paul Baltzer

“Parishioners were rallying against a local priest’s decision to replace holy water with Coca-Cola. He called Coke ‘the official soft drink of Jesus.’ ” — Charles Star (similarly, Daniel Krause)

“The cans all contained frozen, concentrated orange juice. Other protestors brought champagne. Said one protestor, ‘This way, when the police turned on the water cannons, we’ll turn the street into a river of mimosas.’ “—Tim Carvell

“America’s idealism. Their stalwart shoulders sagged from years of bearing America’s dream— Oh, crap! I can’t keep this up.”—Steven Davis 

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

As far as News Quiz participants are concerned, if it comes in a can, it’s beer—a fair assumption for this venue but an unreliable way to cater a party. This is an unsurprising idea for young Americans, raised in an age of fresh vegetables, but older players may retain a memory (and a faint odor) of Le Soeur baby peas (a good dry cleaner can help). And the oldest among you will recall the canned stewed tomatoes and canned beans that won the west, at least according to Owen Wister’s The Virginian. (In a sense, the discarded empties that line every strip of blacktop in Wyoming are not just rubbish; they’re a historic monument.) Wister’s novel celebrates more than vacuum packing. It is filled with admiration for the vigilantes of the 1880s and 1890s and for its hero, who, for reasons too complicated to explain, lynches his best friend. Wister’s curious affection for mob violence is mentioned by Garry Wills in his A Necessary Evil, an excellent discussion of American distrust of government. Wills deftly dissects the historic misreadings that underpin the Republican right and is particularly charming on their distorted understanding of the Second Amendment. His book just came out in hardcover; the paperback should be out by the fall, and an inexpensive canned version soon after.

It’s the Real Thing Answer

Employees held empty cans of Coke to protest Coca-Cola’s treatment of African-Americans.

The number of plaintiffs in a racial discrimination suit filed against the company last year could rise to 2,000. Charges include denying promotions, pay raises, and other benefits to black employees. One worker, Kimberly Orton, spent 13 years with the company and earned less than the people she supervised.

Many of the protestors will carry their message to Coca-Cola’s annual shareholder meeting in Wilmington, Del., next month.

Charlie Glassenberg’s Final Four Fine-Tuning Extra

The outcome of this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball games has both validated and exposed some flaws in the MascotMatcher method of team selection:

  • Underestimation of the Badger: Far from being a “Cinderella” story, this is a story of a failure to appreciate the ferocity and tenacity of the badger, as well as confusing it with its mild-mannered cousin, the so-out-of-season groundhog.
  • The “Dr. Evil” Bug: To quote from a popular film of the recent past, the Blue Devils proved themselves simply “not evil enough.” Oh, for the all-powerful Satan of yesteryear!
  • The Crude-Oil Effect: With oil prices at such a high level, the MascotMatcher should have seen that the Tar Heels of North Carolina, named as they are for a primitive petroleum product, were at a distinct advantage this year. The defeat of the Volunteers can be squarely blamed on OPEC.
  • The Power of One: In the case of Miami vs. Tulsa, a Hurricane beat Hurricanes. MascotMatcher failed to fully understand that most basic and American of laws: E Pluribus Unum.

In the end, the ferocious jaws of the Gators, the oil-fueled power of the Tar Heels, and the shocking ferocity of the Badgers will still all prove to be for naught, as the classical collectivism of the Spartans will triumph over all in the national championship.

Common Denominator

Canned goods? Beer!