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Reality Check 

Test Your Knowledge of the Preposterous

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Tired of a century when satirical absurdities are routinely outclassed by the next morning's headlines? Well, here's your chance to see if you can still tell the difference. Twelve of the statements below are true--one is a ringer. If you can spot the false item, we'll award you a free year's subscription to the Reader (you pick it up at your favorite location every Friday).

1. A downstate sheriff recently said, "For 70 percent of the people we house in [our jail], we make their quality of life better. We give them medical care, food, a roof over their heads, recreation. Jail isn't a deterrent to those kind of people."

2. American military personnel in Saudi Arabia have asked for, and received, a number of stationary cross-country ski exercise machines.

3. Sylvester Stallone addressed the recent National 4-H Congress in Chicago. His topic: "Choosing a Healthy Tomorrow."

4. From a north-suburban daily's endorsement for Illinois secretary of state before the November election: "Both candidates are hardly as clean as hounds' teeth with regard to total conduct of their present offices, but neither is an out-and-out scoundrel."

5. Shortly before his death Abbie Hoffman told an interviewer that in 1968 "the two most popular Americans on college campuses were Richard Nixon and John Wayne."

6. In 1987 there were more musicians in the U.S. military (5,622) than there were EPA employees in Washington, D.C.

7. The U.S. government pays $3.04 a pound for wool that is worth only $1.38 a pound on the open market, a price-support program partly justified on the grounds that wool is a "strategic commodity" for military and emergency purposes. However, wool has not been classified as strategic since at least 1982.

. The Montana Aging Services Bureau is located at 48 N. Last Chance Gulch.

9. According to the Tobacco Institute, employees who complain about cigarette smoke are often actually suffering from the effects of "a dirty or faulty air conditioning and ventilation system."

10. Country star Conway Twitty's advice to men unable to express their feelings: "Drop a quarter in the jukebox, press the right button and squeeze her at the appropriate time and she'll understand."

11. Chicago recently hosted the third World Conference of Astro-Economics, a gathering of "top-flight financial astrology experts" (advance registration $170). Included as a special attraction was a seven-hour bus tour of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.

12. George Schmitt was recently inducted into the International Bottled Water Association's Beverage World Bottled Water Hall of Fame.

13. A new reference book for the serious reader of paperback romance novels lists all the series in order, giving numbers, titles, and authors cross-referenced by all of his or her pseudonyms.

Sources (and the answer)

1. The Compiler, Fall 1990.

2. NordicTrack press release.

3. Release from 69th National 4-H Congress. This is false. The actual speaker was Arnold Schwarzenegger.

4. Illinois Times, November 1-7.

5. Tikkun, July/August 1989.

6. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 1990.

7. U.S. General Accounting Office, Reports and Testimony, April 1990.

. Generation, July 1990.

9. Tobacco Institute release, June 1990.

10. Paramount Arts Centre release, June 1990.

11. Conference press release; held November 2-4 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare.

12. Hinckley & Schmitt press release.

13. Cat Tales, November-December 1990.

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