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Panel Questions

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Thank you so much.


SAGAL: On Independence Day, we celebrate our freedoms. And that's what we are doing on today's show. For example, the freedom to say really rude things about our leaders.

KURTIS: For example, here's a never-before-heard question about some important hearings back in the spring.

SAGAL: Roxanne, during confirmation hearings this week, Senator Jeff Flake asked Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch whether he would rather do what?

ROXANNE ROBERTS: See if I get this right.

SAGAL: All right.

ROBERTS: Because I think this was solicited by a teenager. Would he rather fight 100 ducks...

SAGAL: You're almost there.

ROBERTS: ...Or one donkey - or a hundred duck - or a hundred donkeys and a hundred-pound duck or something like that, right?

SAGAL: No, I just want you to keep guessing because this is fascinating.


ROBERTS: It was something along those lines.

SAGAL: You are close.

ROBERTS: It involved...

PETER GROSZ: Is it like duck-sized donkey or donkey-sized duck or something?

ROBERTS: It was like a giant duck versus - I think there was a donkey, but I get confused because he was talking about goats and muttons.

SAGAL: I know. It was a...

ROBERTS: So who said this?

SAGAL: It was a zoologically rich confirmation hearing.

ROBERTS: It was.

SAGAL: What it was, Roxanne - and I will give you the answer.

ROBERTS: OK. Thank you. Thank you.

SAGAL: You are right. It was - the question was...


GROSZ: You mentioned enough animals that you got the answer right.


ROBERTS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Judge Gorsuch, would you rather fight a hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck? That was the question put to a genuine Supreme Court nominee in a genuine Senate confirmation hearing. He did say - Jeff Flake - that he got it - it was a text from his son. His son is a strict constructionist, so...


SAGAL: Gorsuch replied, quote, "I'm at a loss for words, senator," but he was heard to mutter, I don't know who wins, but I know that duck-sized horse will not be getting an abortion.


GROSZ: Duck-sized horse.

SAGAL: Yeah. Or maybe it was the horse-sized duck. Who knows?

PAULA POUNDSTONE: So is this like a college law school question or something?

SAGAL: I think it's what the kids call a meme. It's been going around.

GROSZ: My son asked me that. And he's 8.

SAGAL: Yeah.

GROSZ: And he said, do you want to fight 100 duck-sized - horse-sized - I'm sorry.

SAGAL: A hundred duck-sized horses...

GROSZ: Right.

SAGAL: ...Or one horse-sized duck.

GROSZ: I said one horse-sized duck for the lower numbers. And he yelled at me like he's never yelled at me about anything. He was, like, you're an idiot. All of the duck-sized horses are tiny. I was like, yeah, this doesn't matter. This isn't going to happen to me.


GROSZ: He's, like, angry at me. And it made me worry that I was going to die from one of these things (laughter).

ROBERTS: That's 400 little hooves versus just one bill. You know...

POUNDSTONE: Where did this come from?


GROSZ: They just don't teach math anymore. They just ask kids this.


GROSZ: And then you have a year to solve it. And then if you get it right, you get an A. If you get it wrong, you get an F.

POUNDSTONE: So it is, like, a solvable thing?

GROSZ: No, it's a preference thing.

POUNDSTONE: It's a preference thing? Well, I prefer a horse to be the size of a horse...


POUNDSTONE: ...And a duck to be the size of a duck.

GROSZ: That's not an option.

SAGAL: And that's why, Paula, you will never be in the Supreme Court.


SAGAL: A while ago, we aired a bit about the mating habits of dragonflies. But we did not air the whole thing. Here is the uncensored version.

Luke, according to a new paper, entomologists have discovered that female dragonflies sometimes use a very interesting tactic to let males know that they're just not interested. What do they do?




BURBANK: In that exact voice...

SAGAL: Yeah.

BURBANK: ...Which is what's so interesting, scientifically.

SAGAL: Normally, they can't speak. And all of a sudden...

BURBANK: We didn't know they could even talk.

SAGAL: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: Not now. Not now, little (expletive).


BURBANK: I wish I could say that was the first time I'd heard that.


SAGAL: Peter turned around and saw the rails they had left vanishing in the distance. (Laughter) That's not...

POUNDSTONE: You know, I'm fairly certain this won't be on the air.

SAGAL: Yeah.


POUNDSTONE: Just for us.

BURBANK: Decent chance.

SAGAL: So back to you, Luke.

BURBANK: All right. So female dragonflies...


BURBANK: ...Negging male dragonflies...


BURBANK: ...In a way that is novel and surprising.


BURBANK: Something that they're doing.

SAGAL: Avoiding their, you know, advances.

BURBANK: Advances.

POUNDSTONE: Their lustful proboscis.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BURBANK: Can I get a hint?

SAGAL: The female dragonflies that are really committed to this tactic start to stiffen and rot.

BURBANK: Just basically ending their own life so as to avoid the...

SAGAL: No, that's the effect they want.

BURBANK: Playing dead.



SAGAL: They pretend to drop dead.


SAGAL: So you're a male dragonfly. And you see a female dragonfly from across the pond, and you're like, whoa, look at the thorax on that one.


SAGAL: And you fly over to, you know, make small talk. And she suddenly plummets out of the sky and lies dead on the ground. That's what a researcher saw while studying dragonflies in Europe. Although, to be fair, it could just have been the male's breath.


SAGAL: And you're thinking, wow, that is so smart because then the male is like, oh, she died and flies away. You're admiring the woman. But spare a thought for the male dragonfly. She's thinking, ha, got away. And he's thinking, oh, my God, it happened again.

BURBANK: Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I fly by again?


BURBANK: I'm working on my dragonfly impression.

SAGAL: It's pretty good.


BURBANK: I'm still developing it. Thank you for being here for my workshop.

POUNDSTONE: That felt like a National Geographic special to me.

BURBANK: Thank you.

POUNDSTONE: That was unbelievably accurate.

BURBANK: Thank you.

POUNDSTONE: No, I almost flicked you away.


KURTIS: By the way, if you like hearing Paula derail our show, you'll love hearing her derail her own show. It's a brand new podcast called Live from the Poundstone Institute. You can find it on iTunes now. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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