News Quiz

No. 436: “Real Beef á Roma”

Mayor Francesco Rutelli has rescinded Rome’s official support for a July event he now says is inappropriate in this Holy Year declared by Pope John Paul II. What event?

Send your answer by 6 p.m. ET Thursday to

Friday’s Question (No. 435)—”Fish vs. Meat”:

In a decision that could force a return to the old poke-and-sniff system, Joe Fish, a federal judge in Texas, struck down the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s inspection standards for meat plants. On what grounds?

“Proposed ‘taste test’ could lead to E. coli outbreak among the less-hardy inspectors.”—Deborah Wassertzug (Tim Carvell had a similar answer.)

“Relatives of executed Texans were complaining about missing parts.”—Katha Pollitt

“Meat plants? Is that a new euphemism for cows? I don’t think the vegetarians will be fooled.”—Charles Star

“Some of the cows were beginning to complain.”—Tim Carvell

“Grounds?”—Mark Wade

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

For meat plant enthusiasts—and who’s not?—there’s no diva more divine than Temple Grandin, “a designer of livestock handling facilities and an Assistant Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University” as she describes herself on her Web site. To put it another way, she is the leading designer of slaughterhouses in America. It is this odd combination of the cruel and the kind that made her a champion of the humane execution of animals and the perfect Errol Morris subject: His short film about her is a brilliant companion piece to Mr. Death, his movie about Fred Leuchter, another champion of humane execution, albeit of people. How do such putatively gentle souls find themselves waist-deep in corpses? How does such a gentle spirit spend her days writing things like: “Stunning an animal correctly will provide better meat quality. When stunning is done correctly, the animal feels no pain and it becomes instantly unconscious. An animal that is stunned properly will produce a still carcass that is safe for plant workers to work on. … Electrodes must not be applied to sensitive areas such as inside the ear or in the eye or rectum.” To learn more about Stress and Meat Quality, Humane Slaughter, and Dealing With Excitable Pigs, go to See you at Burger King.

In other meat news, at the National Nutrition Summit in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals zealot Arathi Jayaram threw a pie at the secretary of agriculture, shouting, “Shame on you, Dan Glickman, you meathead. Shame on you for promoting meat.” Glickman had just elevated a 5-pound rib roast to assistant secretary of agriculture. Or perhaps not.

See you at Tofu King.

One Hundred Percent USDA Prime Answer

Because the USDA checks the meat leaving the plant but not the meat entering, it could have been tainted before it got there. “Indeed,” said Judge Fish, “a plant could, in theory, be completely sanitized from top to bottom but if the meat in it tests positive for salmonella, the USDA could withdraw its inspectors, effectively closing a plant that is sanitary.”

Of course, some critics argue that the point of the regulation is to make sure the plant detects and rejects all tainted meat, but Fish sees things differently.

The judge’s ruling applies only to ground-beef processing plants in the northern district of Texas. Ninety percent of the nation’s large beef-processors are in compliance with the salmonella standards. Since they were instituted, salmonella contamination of ground beef has dropped by 50 percent.

Supreme Beef Processing, the plant in question, failed three salmonella tests under the new regulations. A few weeks later, it was forced to recall 180,000 pounds of ground beef because a sample tested positive for E. coli. So the joke was on Fish, and anybody doubled over in the bathroom vomiting.

Us? Us?? US??! Extra

“Perhaps the one who said it best for all of us is ‘Cathy’ …”—Aaron (?) Brown, some ABC news guy who’s never even met me, on expressions of sympathy for the late Charles Schulz.

Simply Selena Extra

Knicks-Pacers, Game 3.

Match the player to the symbolic plant:

1. Rick Smits was rooted like a …?

2. Charlie Ward scaled an imaginary …?

a. sequoia

b. beanstalk

Reversible Metaphor Handbook

Although this colorful phrase makes the same amount of sense—i.e., none—either way, Roberts could only choose one form. Which did she select?

a. “With helium in their bones and desperation in their blood …”

b. “With helium in their blood and desperation in their bones …”

Expanding the Brand for the Lord Ongoing Extra

Among categories of merchandise sold by the Oriental Trading Co. of Omaha, Neb., is “religious,” which mostly means printing WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) on lots of tchotchkes—yo-yos, bracelets, key chains. Also available are a variety of inexpensive novelties marked with the initials, FROG and TYG. Participants were asked what these initials stand for.


“Is a new pamphlet being circulated in Putnam, Sullivan, and Duchess counties called, “Freddie Roman Obeys God.” It’s a cheap way to boost ticket sales, but let’s be honest—how hard is it to fool people who vacation at the Homowack Lodge?”—Larry Amoros

“This is the acronym for young pious men looking to get laid: Find Right On Girls.”—Winter Miller

“FROG—For Regis is Our God—to be handed out to all ABC, Disney, and ESPN employees.”—Mark Wade

“Forget Regis, Obey Ganesha.”—T.G. Gibbon

“Fabulous Repast of Godiva.”—Deborah Guy

“For Ruv Of God.”—Martin Richardson

“Just an unsubtle Midwestern insult used on the Oriental Trading Co.’s new line of ‘Joan of Arc Was Wrong’ offerings.”—Mark Terry


“Is a sure-fire winner for all those Jewishy kids at the Homowack—Tfillin, Yarzheit, and Gelt … the three new Hassidic Pokémon characters.”—Larry Amoros

“TYG—Tip Your Grater—after all, the guys with the parmesan deserve gratuities as well.”—Mark Wade

“Touch Your G-Spot.”—Deborah Guy

” ‘This Year’s God,’ for humble and/or realistic cult leaders.”—T.G. Gibbon

“Televise Your Guilt.”—Martin Richardson

“TYG are the initials for the new church initiative for increasing offerings: Tip Your God. If it’s a sunny day on your trip to the beach, why not give the Big Fella a little tip?”—Mark Terry


FROG is the acronym for Fully Rely on God.

TYG is shorthand for Thank You, God.

Other Religious Gift Items in the Catalog Include

  • “Pray Until Something Happens” friendship bracelets—It’ll go great with my “Sit by the Phone Until Ellen Barkin Calls” necklace.
  • Religious Crusader Set. Includes breastplate, helmet, shield, and sword.—Dead infidel sold separately.
  • “Smile! Jesus Loves You” fanny packs—At first, I misread this as “Smile! Jesus Loves Your Fanny! Packs” which would be a whole other kinder gentler Christianity.
  • Inspirational sheriff hats. Each with plastic “God’s Law” star badge.—As worn by the Taliban!
  • “What Would Jesus Do?” kick balls.—I’m no theologian, but I’m pretty sure that what Jesus would not do is kick you in the balls.
  • Learn more at, if you define “learning” in the broadest possible way, like at Bob Jones University.

Common Denominator

Meat doesn’t grow on trees: There’s no such thing as a “meat plant.”