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Flame of the week MOOT wtf is a MOOT?
Q: Wtf is a moot?

We're obliged to all those readers who sent in clarifications on the word 'smoot'. Guy Harris explains:

The official length of the Harvard Bridge is 364.4 Smoots plus one ear, as measured by the MIT fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha using pledge Oliver Smoot, class of 1962.

So that's what MIT get up to when they're not designing flying cars. You can read the whole saga of undergraduate high jinks here.

But hold on... Just when we thought we'd dealt with the smoot issue, there's this from John Hobson:

Regarding the meaning of "smoot", there was a U.S. Senator from Utah named Reed Owen Smoot (1862-1941), who is best known for a strongly protectionist tariff, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930; and for a fight against pornography, which led to the classic headline in many newspapers, "Smoot Smites Smut". The late Ogden Nash wrote a poem about this:

Invocation

(SMOOT PLANS TARIFF BAN ON IMPROPER BOOKS - News Item)

Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.)
Is planning a ban on smut.
Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.
And his reverend occiput.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and do your dut.,
Gird up your l__ns,
Smite h_p and th_gh,
We'll all be Kansas
By and by.

Smite, Smoot, for the Watch and Ward,
For Hiram Johnson and Henry Ford,
For Bishop Cannon and John D., Junior,
For ex-Gov. Pinchot of Pennsylvunia,
For John S. Sumner and Elder Hays
And possibly Edward L. Bernays,
For Orville Poland and Ella Boole,
For Mother Machree and the Shelton pool.
When smut's to be smitten
Smoot will smite
For G-d, for country,
And Fahrenheit.

Senator Smoot is an institute
Not to be bribed with pelf;
He guards our homes from erotic tomes
By reading them all himself.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
They're smuggling smut from Balt. to Butte!
Strongest and sternest
Of your s_x
Scatter the scoundrels
From Can. to Mex!

Smite, Smoot, for Smedley Butler,
For any good man by the name of Cutler,
Smite for the W.C.T.U,
For Rockne's team and for Leader's crew,
For Florence Coolidge and Admiral Byrd,
For Billy Sunday and John D., Third,
For Grantland Rice and for Albie Booth,
For the Woman's Auxiliary of Duluth,
Smite, Smoot,
Be rugged and rough,
Smut if smitten
Is front-page stuff.

Lovely. Readers may be interested to learn that the bloke who wrote that classic headline now works at Vulture Central. We know a proper journo when we see one.

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