The Non-Expert

Cameron’s Physics, Tara’s Slips

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we help two readers with vital questions of national security: Can cars backtrack mileage if driven in reverse, and who is responsible for forcing celebrities down our throats?

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: Does a car’s pedometer take off mileage if one drives in reverse? —Scott

Answer: Dear Scott,

I blame your ignorance on the president. Were it not for his emphasis on standards-based education, forcing our schools to focus on things like “math” and “science,” your teachers would have had time to introduce you to things that really matter—like 1980s comedies. That way, you might actually have seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and therefore know that, in fact, you cannot reverse mileage by driving in reverse, as Cameron attempts to do with his father’s Ferrari (though you still might not know that it’s called an odometer, not a pedometer).

Just imagine: What else might you have learned?

Mannequin: Sexy dress dummies will sleep with you, but only when no one’s looking.

The Goonies: Trust the incomprehensible ramblings of the hideously deformed, because they’re likely to save you in the event that you’re kidnapped by gangsters.

Can’t Buy Me Love: For the right money, wealthy, attractive, popular high school girls will readily whore themselves to dweeby gardeners.

976-Evil: It’s OK to masturbate, as long as you’re not running up your parents’ phone bill talking to a haunted sex line.

Soul Man: If you’re ever caught passing yourself off as a black man to get a minority scholarship, just tell everyone you’re really sorry. They’ll totally understand.

Red Dawn: Always make friends with the jocks, because if the Russians attack your hometown, they’re the only ones who can lead the rebellion.

Yes, 1980s movies are truly education at its finest. Alas, Scott, I fear for your generation.

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Question: The last person I want to see on my doorstep is Paris Hilton or Tara Reid or whoever shows up in US Weekly, and I bet most people are like me. So why do the magazines keep taking their pictures and shoving them down our throats? Because they think we want to see them, or because they like to see them? Isn’t it some vicious cycle that will never end? Anyway, keep up the good work. I love the site. Tara

Answer: Tara, look. Stop it. Just stop it. I know what you’re trying to do, and it’s not working. When you walked down that red carpet, glass-eyed and stumbling, and your shoulder strap just happened to fall off and reveal your nipple for the entire teenage boy demographic to see, and you acted like you didn’t know it had happened? This is the same thing. Attention, Tara, you’re looking for attention, and now you’re abusing a perfectly innocent web magazine in your depraved schemes.

That said, you’ve got a point. You’re played, all of you. Which is why, for your own good, I’m proposing the Celebrity Relocation and Protection Act. Under my plan, after a celebrity has appeared on two covers of Vanity Fair or three covers of either People or US Weekly, he or she will be detained by federal agents and secreted away to an undisclosed location. There, the overexposed celebrities will be given new identities and, if necessary, cosmetic surgery, after which they will be placed among insular religious communities around the country. Paris Hilton, for example, will become Rivka Schneersohn, wife of a Hasidic rabbi and mother of seven in Williamsburg. I’m thinking you would make a good Amish wife, Ms. Reid. Or, should I say, Ms. Yoder?

This way, I figure, not only will your newfound brethren keep the paparazzi away, but you will no longer be able to pester us with your pathetic cries for attention. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be surprised if you showed up at my door (which, by the way, is 1942 N. 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.; show up at 10 and bring friends).

For the love of God, Tara, have you no shame?


TMN Contributing Writer Clay Risen’s first attempt to build a website fell apart after he learned that had been bought by a hardcore Christian rock band. Clay is a senior staff editor at the New York Times and the author, most recently, of The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act. He lives in Brooklyn. More by Clay Risen