News Quiz

No. 454: “Supplies Party”

Facing enormous demands on its generating plants, Wisconsin Electric Power has responded not by adding capacity but by paying someone not to do

something. Who did they pay not to do what? 

Send your answer by 10 a.m. ET Wednesday to

Wednesday’s Question (No. 453) “Arms and the Man”

Fill in the blank as White House drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey describes alethal new weapon in his anti-drug armory: “As powerful as television is,some experts believe that __________ have an even stronger impact on youngpeople.”

“Cable television can.”—Daniel Radosh

“Really big televisions.”—Francis Heaney

“Televisions dropped from 12th-story windows.”—Dave Donovan

“Television and peach schnapps.”—Jacob Jost

“Broadway musicals.”—Alex Pascover (Jason Ross and James Hand had similar answers.)

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

It was not so long ago that a war on drugs sought not to stifle but to encourage drug use. By the early 19th century, Great Britain was buying increasing quantities of tea from China but had little to sell the Chinese in return, Lady Di memorabilia being beyond the primitive technology of the time. Fortunately, the British East India Co. had established a monopoly on opium cultivation in Bengal, where they developed cheap and efficient methods of growing opium poppies (but had yet to produce a single “The People’s Princess” T-shirt). The obvious solution to their pesky balance of trade problem: force the Chinese to become opium addicts. (The best ideas are often incredibly simple. As are many members of the royal family.) Other Western nations, including France and the United States, participated, but the British predominated. Eventually two opium wars arose from China’s attempts to suppress the trade. In 1839, the Chinese government confiscated all opium warehoused at Canton by British merchants, sparking hostilities. Chinese forces were vanquished, and the Treaty of Nanking, signed Aug. 29, 1842, gave the British Hong Kong, access to five seaports, cash, and some lovely parting gifts. But the British did not depart. In 1856, joined by the French, they renewed hostilities, using as their excuse a clash of patrol boats in the Gulf of Tonkin: No, sorry, it was that some Chinese officials boarded the ship Arrow and lowered the British flag. Things went swiftly downhill for the Chinese, who in 1858 signed the treaties of Tientsin, which gave away nearly everything, and allowed Christian missionaries to wander around the country getting on everybody’s nerves. By the beginning of the 20th century, opium had become a less important export for the British, and its trade nearly ended by World War I, when the British became preoccupied with dying by the thousands on the Western Front. The lesson here should be apparent to Colombia, who, armed with their new helicopter gunships, may well consider another approach to the drug trade: force the United States to accept it. If history is any guide, somewhere down the road we cede them Staten Island, and that’s got to be good for us all.

Kevin Costner Excepted Answer

“As powerful as television is, some experts believe that movies have an even stronger impact on young people.”

Bursting with confidence (at least I hope that’s confidence) from the new billion-dollar drug-fighting budget that lets him send helicopter gunships to Vietnam—sorry, Colombia; this is nothing like Vietnam—McCaffrey is stepping up the pressure on movie studios to insert government propaganda—sorry again, wholesome health messages—in their films. This is nothing like the embarrassing gaffe a while back when McCaffrey paid movie and TV producers and magazine publishers to insert government propa—sorry, wholesome health messages in their work.

“There is no money at all, zero, given to any program for including anti-drug messages. These decisions are made by the creative community on their own,” McCaffrey said. “And also by Fox executives,” he did not add with a waggish insider’s chuckle. “Besides, who needs bribes? That’s the beauty of the whole helicopter gunship concept,” he certainly did not add to the previous remark he didn’t make.

Larry Amoros Is Not a Lawyer Extra

Since I don’t have a “Law Review Extra” to offer up as either entertainment or information, I’d just like everyone to know that today I am wearing a very smart and breezy summer outfit (mostly pastels, but neither effeminate nor Long Island-y).

Going Postol Extra

Theodore Postol, a physicist at MIT and an authority on ballistic missiles, is an insightful and tart-tongued critic of America’s efforts to build an expensive, unworkable, and destabilizing anti-missile system. Can you match each of his assessments, below, with the pro-missile person to whom it refers?

The Assessment

1. “Technically illiterate”
2. “They know nothing, nothing”
3. “Not interested in the truth”
4. “Uninformed and shows no interest in becoming informed”
5. “Has the talent and looks to become a major star”
6. “Radiates enough intelligence and erotic heat to make a guy forget Ellen Barkin”

The Assessed

A. Defense Secretary William Cohen and Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, head of the Pentagon’s ballistic missile office
B. Pentagon missile experts
C. Condoleezza Rice, G.W.’s foreign policy adviser
D. Leon Fuerth, Al Gore’s national security adviser
E. Heath Ledger, co-star of The Patriot (an opinion of Peter Tavers)
F. Judy Davis, underrated actress (an opinion of mine.—Ed.)

The Match-Ups

1-A, 2-B, 3-C, 4-D, 5-E, 6-F.

Common Denominator

Ineffectual parents, powerful drugs, and a sound thrashing.