News Quiz

No. 455: “No Business Like Crow Business”

The discovery of two dead crows on Staten Island prompted New York officials to announce immediate plans to do something. What?

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

Wednesday’s Question (No. 454) “Arms and the Man”

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? 

“Tommy Thompson has turned off the glowing neon ‘Willing Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate’ sign in front of the governor’s mansion.”—Charles Star (Mark Romoser had a similar answer.)

“The state penitentiary has retired its electric chair. From here on out, death-row inmates will simply be reminded that they’re in Wisconsin, then handed a bottle of strychnine.”—Tim Carvell

“It is paying TV stations to stop running its advertising campaign from earlier this summer: ‘Electricity—it’s cheap and we’ll never run out of it.’ “—Sean Carman

“Bud Selig, not to run the giant flashing neon sign in front of his office that reads, ‘Commissioner of Baseball and Late Model Low, Low Mileage Buicks.’ “—Bill Scheft

“Shoot if you must, this old gray head, but you’ll take my vibrator only after you’ve pried it from my cold, dead fingers.”—Jennifer Weiner

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

According to some Web site, an electric generator is any machine that converts mechanical energy to electricity. (What this has to do with naked photographs of Angelina Jolie, I can’t say.) The mechanical energy could come from a number of non-polluting, ecologically friendly sources like waterfalls or windmills, but it doesn’t. Chances are, it comes steam-produced by burning fossil fuels or from atomic fission; people are just that way. (So far, no power plant creates steam by burning stacks of Stephen King books, which soon will exist only as eBooks, and then it will be too late.) The steam is directed under high pressure to the blades of a turbine that spin a shaft attached to a turbo-generator, which I suppose is located someplace in Wisconsin. The generator has a giant magnet inside a stationary ring wrapped with wire. As the magnet turns, an electric current is produced in the wire. Just like that. It sounds improbable, I know, but apparently it works. Electricity is generated in two different forms—alternating current and the other kind. Alternating current is what runs through transmission lines to our homes, where it supplies power to, say, an ordinary iron, although with the new synthetic fabrics, there’s no need for that. Still, a neat, well-groomed appearance is always valued and will likely gain you new respect down at the power station. The other kind of electrical current is used for other things, so there’s no reason to look down your nose at it. Or at Angelina Jolie, who, judging by her photographs, is a talented actress and a remarkably attractive young woman.

High Voltage Answer

Rather than increasing supplies of electricity, Wisconsin Electric Power reduced demand by paying the Cleveland Cliffs mine $82,000 not to use its ore crushers for the day.

It cost Wisconsin Electric only about 30 cents a kilowatt-hour to shed the mine’s power usage. If the utility had purchased extra power on the open market, it might have spent as much as $6 a kilowatt-hour.

Electric companies around the nation are adapting similar methods, offering payments to both individual and industrial customers not to use power at times of peak demand.

Side Effects Extra

Several recently published books, including Prozac Backlash and Talking Back to Prozac, charge that the much-prescribed antidepressant could eventually have dangerous consequences. Which of the following are cited as possible long-term risks?

1. Nausea, vertigo, flulike symptoms.

2. Muscle spasms.

3. Facial tics.

4. Symptoms akin to Parkinson’s disease.

5. Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, leading to holes in brain.

6. Urge to kill a man and eat him.

7. Irritability and violent urges.


1-4 were mentioned as risks of Prozac.

5. Happened to some sheep in Vermont, not on Prozac; they were ordered destroyed.

6. Happened to some bear in Alaska, not on Prozac; also destroyed.

7. Happened to me, not on Prozac, while watching Sex in the City; still walking around bold as brass.

Common Denominator

Beer + cheese + vibrators = a Wisconsin dream weekend.