They're reforming the SATs again, which means the columnists are duking it out about the efficacy of standardized testing, the merits of the venerable scoring sytem in which 800 aces the test, and the question of whether multiple choice questions, in which you are rewarded for guessing even if you don't know for sure, are systematicaly biased against the have-nots. We asked Silys Tompkin Comberback of the Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies for his opinion, and he countered with a multiple-choice exam that would function as a rebus except that deciphering the message correctly will offer unambiguous rewards whereas surviving an IRS audit, which has been likened to going through an autopsy while still alive, assures one only of survival, a dubious merit, like being an author and getting to call your villian after the name of the single biggest asshole you know. Here, try Professor Comberback's questions for yourself and see whether you agree with the solution formed by the pattern that results:
1) "Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, [the idea of college for all is] now doing more harm than good." Vocational training is better than "dumbed down college." Who said it?
a) The former drug czar who foresees the divorce of private education from public subsidy
b) Jennifer Lawrence, who graduated high school two years early in Kentucky and collected an Academy Award for Best Actress
c) An old guy griping that things ain't what they used to be
d) Coleridge in Biographia Literaria as translated by a modern computer program named -- with the exuberant irreverence of Silicon Valley -- Plato
e) Mitt Romney's daughter-in-law in the new Netflix documentary
2) When Ernest Hemingway defined critics as "men who watch a battle from a high place, then come down and shoot the survivors," he was thinking of
a) Brooks Atkinson and Howard Taubman of the New York Times
b) "The whole bullshit New York tradition, from Edmund Wilson to Susan Sontag"
c) Carlos Baker of Princeton University
d) Gertrude Stein and Sherwood Anderson (see The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas )
e) Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn, and Mary Welsh
3) Which of the following didn't happen in the last week of May 2012:
a) The impresarios of Indonesia canceled Lady Gaga's sold-out concert in Jakarta because her "needleslly provocative" advocacy of homosexuality makes her the "devil's messenger"
b) A Muslim woman argued in the Guardian that wearing the hijab is the ultimate feminist act
c) A New Yorker writer blogged that he was quitting Facebook because Mark Zuckerberg is a despot and you enter his pseudo-democratic realm at grave risk to your privacy
d) Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol Palin's baby, twittered his indgination to his 400,000 followers when John Edwards was acquitted
e) A poll of New Yorkers determined that 97% did not know why John Edwards was on trial but were sure that he is guilty, thus demonstrating that
1) Campaign finance reform laws are impossible to understand
2) Screwing your media adviser is one thing, impregnating her is another
3) Screwing her is one thing, doing it while your wife is camaigning for you is another
4) Screwing is one thing, but doing her while your wife is dying of cancer is another
5) Nobody gives a shit
Extra credit if you suspend your disbelief, identify the fellow in the picture and explain his dubious relevance to this post.