Fig Cookies

Rants, ramblings about my life, work, politics, current events and my obsessions with yarn, knitting, and good music...

Thursday, September 30, 2004

List of Many Things

I've so many things I want to write about I had to make a list, but I don't think I'm going to get to all of them today just because I don't want this post to be rambly.

I finally emerged from the Dark Ages and got DSL. I did some switching of my phone plan with Verizon so I could afford it. I installed it last night and tonight's the first night I'm using it. It's a breath of fresh air for my internet activities at home! I can't believe I waited this long to get it.

The trip to Philadelphia was great. I'm still collecting my thoughts on the trip so I'll devote a post to that in the near future.

I wanted to be a ball of yarn for Halloween but I don't think it's going to work logistically. I called my Mom for advice on how to make it work, on my walk home from work, and she, the queen of costume making agreed that it might not work. So she's going to send me a costume that she made my Dad a few years back for the Ren Fair they did with their crazy church friends. I know it's going to be big but that's ok! Because I'm now all set for Halloween.

School's kicking my ass. I've a crapload of work to do this weekend. Nothings going to get done tonight because the debate's on and that must be watched. All I have to say is that Kerry better not fuck it up. I wonder how long it will take before I get pissed off at something Dubya says or his snarky tone of voice.


Bad Blogger....

I am a bad blogger. Yes I know...

Will post tonight. Lots to fill my loverly readers on.

Happy Thursday to you all!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

New Album

R.E.M.'s new album Around the Sun doesn't come out until October 5th, but because they ROCK and know how much I am looking forward to it's arrival they put it out on
MySpace.com for a sneak preview! I have to agree with Mario Batali of Vanity Fair and agree that this album might be their best yet.

With that said. Go listen!! Then on October 5th go buy the album!!!

Now off to write a paper on Bengali representation in Kim by Rudyard Kipling!! Happy Wednesday to you all!

Monday, September 20, 2004

I am a Nerd

But that shouldn't come as any suprise to my friends & family.

Why am I a nerd?

For many many reasons.

But this time it's because I love statistics.

LOVE IT.

I look forward to doing homework (but not class because class is boring schmoring). I get a perverse pleasure out of doing stats problems.

I am a nerd.
New Favorite

Big suprise... "Leaving New York" by R.E.M. is my new favorite song... Go watch the video here.


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Ivan the Terrible...

Earlier in the week Niels & I discussed the upcoming weekend and he let me know that he was going to go home (Wheeling, WV) and spend time with his family. One of the reasons for his jaunt home is because he's staying with me for Thanksgiving so he can finally meet my parents. Another reason that he chose this weekend was that it's the only chance he'd have to go before the semester gets crazy, and finally because we have a couple weekend outings planned.

He was looking forward to doing homework at home and seeing his family. Little did he know that the weekend would not be anywhere near what he thought it would be. Since he does not have a blog he asked me to post the following...

It only took one hour. In one hour the water rose from the base of the basement to within 12 inches of its ceiling. So much in the basement is gone. The refrigirator, freezer, washing machine, and dryer all floated to the top and were carried to various placed by the tide. Two lone bottles of glue were lifted up on a board of wood and later set down untouched, the seal of dust on their tops unbroken. All our book shelves came tumbling down, one as late as whent he water was down to our waists. All the boks are ruined. There is a huge stack of paper that used to be bound in the yard as if waiting to be set on fire in a huge effigy. I was the luckiest. Even though my most fragile miniatures were lost (they were in the refrigirator which floated to the top and came down only when it was filled with mud) and the out of print editions for many of my games are less than scraps much of what was on the ping pong table, my gaming board, was saved when the entire table rose with the water and came down near its original site when the water fell.

My sister was hard hit. Although all of her things were kept in great plastic crates almost all of them were compromised to some degree. She spent all of saturday opening them up (after my brother, my father, and I heaved them up unto the porch; heaved because they were by far the heaviest things in the basement) and cleaning off her saddle, horse supplies, and what books she could. She's filled the dining room table with books from our days in kindergarten and Brazil, trying to dry out what memories she can before they disappear entirely.

But without a doubt the hardest struck has been my mother. My poor mother left her house for 10 hours and when she returned she found all evidence of our early years like school books and slides and photos gone. Just gone. She worked so hard to clean up not, I think, to try and save anything but just so she wouldn't have to stop again and take the realization in and remember just how many years were carried away in the form of so many little, precious, tokens. I feel so sorry for her, not able to appreciate the pain of losing the connection to our past through those many artifacts. It has been a heavy burden for me to force her to take regular breaks from her labor lest she wear herself out completely.

Outside the basement, my mother has lost her car, her caprice, a vehicle that lasted since before I went to college, since before I went to high school, since before I completed by 8th grade year in Germany, all the way from when we first moved to the United States. It was a car that drove on two continents, that made journeys up to Baltimore, New York City, and Canada. And through all that time it refused to give in, to be replaced, to be written off as derelict. It maintained its class until flood waters rose up to its steering wheel, coated its interior with mud, and short-circuited its instruments. We had always jockingly referred to that car as the boat. I made light that the boat had had its burial at sea, and we laughed, but it truly was a laugh to make us forget how that lifeless vehicle had always been there for us and how, even when we bought other, newer cars, it was always there in case of emergency. We knew its days were numbered but I feel one can be nothing but shocked in the manner its life ended.

It also was not the only car destroyed. My brother owned a stationwagon whose battery died from lack of use. The thing was parked in our garage, waiting for someone to show enough interest and replace its battery, fix its turn signal, and put it back to use. Now that day will never come.

But the hardship for my brother-in-law and sister was only beginning for while the flood had claimed two cars the debris it left behind would claim a third, my brother’s cadillac. While he and I were driving to find dinner for the family we drove over a particular muddy piece of road (several actually). A two by four got caught in the wheel, was propelled up from beneath the car, and slammed into the door on my side. Larry thought something was wrong at the time but the car kept driving. It wasn't until later, after 11pm while he was driving home that the car died by the side of the road. He had to walk four miles to make it home.

And though it pains me to continue the story doesn't end. The flood hit us, hit many houses, many worse than ours, but it also hit Hobby's Inc. in Bridgeport. The water rose to four feet inside the store, covering the stores collectible cards collections, all the comic books, all the role-playing books, and virtually everything else worth money. The store is finished. My brother no longer has a job or a car. Though the store may rebuild, it will take time, and in that time he will have to find new employment.

Now we need to clean up and figure out insurance. Arguing with Klaus (my dad) over what they will and will not cover is as productive as it is fruitless. It will come down to Home Owners Insurance and if we are not savvy (claming all out-prints, all books, all appliances, everything) we will lose thousands. I am too tired to continue. It is almost 1am. I think I have been working since 9 in the morning. We've made progress, but the garbage bins are full. There is no place to throw what used to be books. At least now we have water again, maybe we can hose some things down and find a new place for them to make room for more trash. I don't know. I have avoided contemplating the full extent of this disaster until now. My only consolation is that we were not alone. Wheeling Island is half-submerged. A stretch of road has just vanished towards Bridgeport, taking two power lines with it. Many have been asked to evacuate. Many were forced. Every high school including the one I used to attend is being used as a shelter. We are not supposed to get any more rain. Good thing to. This area couldn't face another Ivan.



Thursday, September 16, 2004

Additions...

I've added some blogs to my "Go Read!" section, check 'em out, especially Daily, Views, Pop Culture, Rants and News, it's my favorite new to me blog.
I Am in Love...

With my new jeans.

Now those of you who've known me for a while know that I'm not the biggest fan of jeans. I tend to wear canvas/cargo like pants over jeans.

But today that's all changed. I ordered some pants (it wasn't a "want" situation, I needed new pants) from Lane Bryant last week & they just came in. In that order was a pair of boot cut jeans, that are slighty stretchy.

Oh.

My.

Gosh.

They are so comfortable. They feel like pj bottoms. I could live in them. I must buy another pair once next payday comes.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Donations

Why I give money to Plannned Parenthood and UNFPA:

Lack of Access to Contraception Results in Millions of Unplanned Pregnancies, Abortions Worldwide, UNFPA Report Says

Life

Things have begun to become a bit hectic. Work is still quiet, which is fine with me, it's my life outside of work that's zany. School started 2 weeks ago, and it's finally starting to pick up momentum. But after the past two years of going to school almost full time, if I was in grad school I'd be considered full time, and working full, time taking two classes, this last and final semester of my long undergraduate career, is quite a luxury.

There are times I'm still bitter that I didn't graduate when I was "supposed" to, back in '97, but then I snap out of it and realize how lucky I am. I am at a job that pays for my education, not all, but almost all, I've a boss that puts my education first, and I've friends and family that are extremely supportive of my schooling.

But at the sametime there are rough patches. I know I'm not as easily accessable to my friends and family, my cats get mad at me for not being around and my apartment is not as neat as I would like it to be. And there are days when I get jealous of my fellow classmates who get to go to school full time and not work, but it's the tradeoff I've had to make.

But it could be so much harder. But I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone. There are lots and lots of non-tradional students out there doing what I'm doing all the while having so much more on their plates than I. And I also realize that getting my college degree is a priviledge, even though it shouldn't be, so if I ever start complaining on how rough my life is because of school, please yell at me, because there are so many people out there who will never be able to go to college for reasons beyond their control.

I am lucky and I thank Creation everyday for it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Biko

This past sunday was the 27th anniversary of Steven Biko's murder by the South African government.

With that said, here are the lyrics to Peter Gabriel's tribute to a man who's quest for equality led to his death..

Biko
September '77
Port Elizabeth weather fine
It was business as usualIn police room 619
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

When I try to sleep at night
I can only dream in red
The outside world is black and white
With only one colour dead
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

And the eyes of the world are
watching now
watching now

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Hair Like Jesus Wore It

Another quiet saturday evening, which is fine with me since the next couple months are going to be hectic, and I decided to listen to CDs I haven't listened to in a while.

I'm listening to the soundtrack to "Hair" at a decent level and, of course, singing a long. I'm sure I'm driving my neighbors batty. Espcially since my desk is right by my window and of course the window's open. So, all my neighbors are listening to me sing the anti-war, "where do I fit in", & sexual explorations songs that comprise the songbook. It's been so long since I listened to the CD I am reminded of what great songs that the musical has: "Aquarius", "Hair", "I Got Life", "Where Do I Go?", "What A Piece of Work is Man", "The Flesh Failures/Let The Sunshine In"

I was a music geek in high school and sang in choir, was active in the musicals/theatre department on various levels; ya can't easily take the singing out of the girl.

Unfortunately if I sing for too long I break out into consumption like coughing fits. Damn allergies.

Have a good evening... Hope you get the chance to find your inner peacnik this weekend!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Cheese

"Gromit, we're out of cheese!! "

Sorry, can't seem to say the word and not say it in my best Wallace voice. (Of Wallace & Gromit for those of you not in the know.)

Some of you know that my two favorite foods are cheese and peanut butter. I gave up keeping peanut butter in the house because I've night eating issues (I get up in the middle of the night & eat, sometimes in my sleep & sometimes not) and there was a time where I had given up keeping cheese in the house for this reason.

But recently I'd been buying cheese (Polly-o part-skim mozzerella if you must know). Oh, was that a bad idea. I will not divulge how much cheese I've eaten in the past two weeks, because it's pretty disgusting. I will just say that my waistline has not appreciated it ("But these pants fit last week!") & I'm also amazed I haven't had a heart attack.

As we all know, things in moderation tend to be ok, but when we go past the moderation state to the obsessive state it is not good. So, as of yesterday I decided to stop buying the said cheese. I still have my Giant brand American cheese slices, because we all know that that's only good melted and I'm not going get up in the middle of the night & make grilled cheese sandwiches. I can keep that cheese around and not be tempted by it, but not the mozzerella.

There, I've said it. I'm addicted to mozzerella cheese.

Thank you.
Thoughts

Written by a co-worker of mine. It was published in The Salt Lake Tribune last week.


When duty called: Some thoughts on Sept. 11, 2001
Carl R. Summers
Salt Lake Tribune

As I looked out toward the White House minutes after having passed the burning Pentagon, I knew that within a few minutes another hijacked plane would likely crash - with me in its way.
I had been in dangerous situations before. I thought of another Sept. 11, 28 years before. I remembered the horror I felt as a young missionary in Chile, peering through the blinds at the military patrol the streets, not knowing if I would be the next to disappear at the hands of Pinochet's henchmen. I could have gone home, but duty called.
I remembered lying on a hospital emergency room gurney with my young daughter next to me. Minutes before, I had carried her from our carbon monoxide-filled home. I could have fallen back asleep, but duty called.
From my window on this infamous Sept. 1, I saw thousands of Americans were doing their best to make way for emergency vehicles and help each other leave this scene of potential destruction. In the best of American traditions, they answered the call of duty with uncountable acts of consideration, courage, and selflessness.
I then remembered the moment when I had held the first love of my life in my arms for the last time as she lost her battle with cancer. "How wonderful it will be to see her again," I thought.
In those moments, I resigned myself to my fate; if it was my time, I was ready. Then, as if from a trance, I was struck with the shear unfairness of it all. My second wife, who had had to wait until she was middle-aged to marry, didn't need to lose me now.
My three children, who had lost their mother, didn't need to lose their father, too. Fortunately, a few Americans on an airplane over Pennsylvania heeded the call to duty. Because they had the courage to rise to the occasion, I would be spared again.
Washingtonians saw only a glimpse of the hell our countrymen in New York City experienced. Their courageous acts rose in direct proportion to the horror they faced. We were amazed by the courage of the firefighters who chose to rush into the towering infernos. We were touched by those who chose to carry the old, disabled or injured down thousands of stairs. In the best of American leadership traditions, managers, supervisors and co-workers chose to make sure that everyone left. Duty called. They rose to the occasion.
The world will never completely know or understand the feelings of those who were too close for comfort that fateful morning when we learned of our president's choices during our time of duress. Duty called him on the way to a photo opportunity at a school in Florida. Instead of responding to the first crash, he chose the photo-op. Duty called again with the second crash. He chose to read a story for seven long minutes until his aide told him he needed to respond.
In the most critical half-hour of our worst crisis in recent years, why did our commander in chief fail to command? When we needed his personal leadership, why did he find a compelling need to visit Omaha?
How would our country and our world be different if we were led by a strategy of strength instead of a strategy of fear? Should our commander in chief be entrusted to lead us during a crisis again? These are questions that may never be answered, but what we do know is that when we needed him most, he didn't rise to the occasion.
As I walk from the Metro to my office past the machine-gun-carrying policemen, the likes of which I have not seen since my days in Chile, I often ask myself: Why did we let the terrorists win? Why did we let a handful of zealots dictate how we live? Why did these people make us chase imaginary weapons of mass destruction, stay away from the Statue of Liberty, act like a dictatorship and compromise our cherished freedoms? Why are we told to live in fear?
Are we not the literal or symbolic sons and daughters of forefathers who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for their freedom and the freedom of their children? Have we not overcome much worse external threats throughout our history? With more than 200 years of practice, can we not rise to the occasion and overcome the fear that hangs over us? If so, let us stand strong for our freedom. Let us send a strong signal to our leadership that we refuse to be led by the politics of fear and insist on being led by the real American values of truth, justice and hope for the future.
---
Carl R. Summers is a senior research scientist in the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He is a native of Ogden, where he graduated from Ben Lomond High School. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the University of Utah and Utah State University. He lives in Maryland with his wife, youngest daughter, two geriatric cats and a hamster.
Genocide

About time!! How many people had to be killed before the State Department gave it the "official" stamp of genocide??

Powell Says Genocide Has Occurred in Darfur

By Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 9, 2004; 10:50 AM

In the strongest U.S. statement to date on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell today said for the first time that "genocide" has been committed there and that the government of Sudan and Arab militias "bear responsibility."

"Genocide may still be occurring," Powell said in a statement submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Not All Political All The Time

But because the election is fast approaching, there will most likely be more political posting than usual. I just want to forwarn my right leaning readers to my rants.

Will posted this on his blog, and asked that those who respond post it on their blog. I did something similar to this a few months back, but this one is a bit more extensive.

1. Who are you?
2. Are we friends?
3. When and how did we meet?
4. How have I affected you?
5. What do you think of me?
6. What’s the fondest memory you have of me?
7. How long do you think we will be friends?
8. Do you love me?
9. Do you have a crush on me?
10. Would you kiss me?
11. Would you hug me?
12. Physically, what stands out?
13. Emotionally, what stands out?
14. Do you wish I was cooler?
15. On a scale of 1-10, how hot am I?
16. Give me a nickname and explain why you picked it.
17. Am I loveable?
18. How long have you known me?
19. Describe me in one word.
20. What was your first impression?
21. Do you still think that way about me now?
22. What do you think my weakness is?
23. Do you think I’ll get married?
24. What makes me happy?
25. What makes me sad?
26. What reminds you of me?
27. If you could give me anything what would it be?
28. How well do you know me?
29. When’s the last time you saw me?
30. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn’t?
31. Do you think I could kill someone?
32. Are you going to put this on your Journal and see what I say about you?
Reason #2

This is disgusting. The Republicans use of fear to sway this election just sickens me.

Cheney Warns of Terror Risk if Kerry Wins

ByDAVID E. SANGER
and DAVID M. HALBFINGER
Published: September 8, 2004

COLUMBIA, Mo., Sept. 7 - Stepping up the battle over national security, Vice President Dick Cheney warned on Tuesday that the country would be at risk of a terror attack if it made "the wrong choice" in November, and President Bush accused Senator John Kerry of adopting the antiwar language of his Democratic primary rival Howard Dean. ...


"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice," Mr. Cheney told a crowd of 350 people in Des Moines, "because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

The rest of the article can be read here. (You might have to register, but it's free!)



Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Reason #54

On why I hate George W. Bush

According to the Congressional Budget Office (as heard on The News Hour) the projected deficit is an estimated:

$420,000,000,000

That sure is a lot of zeros.

Say good-bye to social services!!!!


St. Louis

Talked with Jude last night. She's going to the REM show in St. Louis in October which just happens to coincide with an art supply convention (she's the head buyer for an art supply store in Buffalo) she had to attend.

Her boss is also going to the convention & thought going to the show would be "fun". Bossman's wife was supposed to go too, as he was going to combine the business trip with a family vacation. (Although St. Louis is not my number one choice for a family vacation). Jude told me last night that bossman's wife doesn't want to go to the show & tickets have already been purchased (Jude was able to get the pre-sale tickets for fanclub members). So, Jude asked me if I wanted to go. I said I'd have to think about it because of my school schedule.

I decided this morning to go. It's going to be a whirlwind visit, similar to my 12 hour trip to Providence for their '99 show. But, my airfare is free (voucher from Southwest that needs to be used) and my hotel cost is gonna be cheap to free. So the only cost I'll have is the cost of food & the concert ticket.

Of course this means I'm going to miss Lit class on the 19th, but I think my prof will be cool with it. And I'm going to get a flight back early enough to make it in for Statistics on the 20th.

I also feel better in that if I can't get tickets for the D.C. show I won't be as sad. But I'm hoping to get tickets because one can never get enough of REM!

Anniversary

Niels & I will be celebrating our 1st anniversary at the end of the month and we are trying to decide where to go to celebrate. So far we've come up with Philly, NYC, and the Eastern Shore. I'm partial to the Eastern Shore, but we're still discussing.

Any ideas from the peanut gallery??

4:47p update:

the Eastern Shore it is! I'm wicked excited! I've been wanting to go since I've moved down here. Details to follow.

Evulll: I'd sing you *Martha* if I knew the song. Unfortunately I don't. :( Sorry.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Stupid Ragweed

Have been feeling like shit on toast all weekend. It's my fucking allergies. How do I know? No fever, the snot coming out my nose is clear, and of all the medicines I've been trying, Claritin's the only one that works. I fucking hate ragweed. Baine of my breathing abilities at this moment. And the rain isn't helping, it's making it worse.

gah

On another note.

Niels & I went to see "Hero" saturday night.

Brilliant movie.

I love Jet Li. He just totally kicks ass.

I also love Donnie Yen, too bad he was only in the first 10 minutes. But that's why I have Iron Monkey on DVD, it's full of him kickin' bad guy ass.

Off to read some Kipling for tomorrow's class!!

The countdown to graduation has begun...

Friday, September 03, 2004

Loyalty Quiz.

I've snached this from Jennifer's and Estephania's blogs.

The George W. Bush Loyality Quiz

My results:
Your score is 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. You hate Bush with a writhing passion. You think he is an idiot, a liar, and a warmonger who has been a miserable failure as president. Nothing would give you greater pleasure than seeing him run out of the White House, except maybe seeing him dragged away in handcuffs.

Big suprise, huh.

Blech
Am feeling a bit under the weather. I don't know if it's my allergies gone haywire, which they do about twice a year, or if I'm coming down with a cold.

I woke up this morning at 4am with such a bad sore throat that I couldn't fall back asleep. Gargling with Listerine helped a little bit, but not quite enough.

I took a 3 hour nap this afternoon and now I've a headache added to my sore throat. *whine*

Even though it's only 9:30 and a friday night, I think I'm going to go to bed soon.

Once I finish my stats homework, that is.

Oh the exciting life I lead. I know you're jealous.
The numbers speak for themselves...

From today's Independent

Bush by numbers: Four years of double standards
By Graydon Carter
03 September 2004

1 Number of Bush administration public statements on National security issued between 20 January 2001 and 10 September 2001 that mentioned al-Qa'ida.

104 Number of Bush administration public statements on National security and defence in the same period that mentioned Iraq or Saddam Hussein.

101 Number of Bush administration public statements on National security and defence in the same period that mentioned missile defence.

65 Number of Bush administration public statements on National security and defence in the same period that mentioned weapons of mass destruction.

0 Number of times Bush mentioned Osama bin Laden in his three State of the Union addresses.

73 Number of times that Bush mentioned terrorism or terrorists in his three State of the Union addresses.

83 Number of times Bush mentioned Saddam, Iraq, or regime (as in change) in his three State of the Union addresses.

$1m Estimated value of a painting the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, received from Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States and Bush family friend.

0 Number of times Bush mentioned Saudi Arabia in his three State of the Union addresses.

1,700 Percentage increase between 2001 and 2002 of Saudi Arabian spending on public relations in the United States.

79 Percentage of the 11 September hijackers who came from Saudi Arabia.

3 Number of 11 September hijackers whose entry visas came through special US-Saudi "Visa Express" programme.

140 Number of Saudis, including members of the Bin Laden family, evacuated from United States almost immediately after 11 September.

14 Number of Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) agents assigned to track down 1,200 known illegal immigrants in the United States from countries where al-Qa'ida is active.
$3m Amount the White House was willing to grant the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 11 September attacks.

$0 Amount approved by George Bush to hire more INS special agents.

$10m Amount Bush cut from the INS's existing terrorism budget.

$50m Amount granted to the commission that looked into the Columbia space shuttle crash.

$5m Amount a 1996 federal commission was given to study legalised gambling.

7 Number of Arabic linguists fired by the US army between mid-August and mid-October 2002 for being gay.
George Bush: Military man

1972 Year that Bush walked away from his pilot duties in the Texas National Guard, Nearly two years before his six-year obligation was up.

$3,500 Reward a group of veterans offered in 2000 for anyone who could confirm Bush's Alabama guard service.

600-700 Number of guardsmen who were in Bush's unit during that period.

0 Number of guardsmen from that period who came forward with information about Bush's guard service.

0 Number of minutes that President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, the assistant Defence Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, the former chairman of the Defence Policy Board, Richard Perle, and the White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove ­ the main proponents of the war in Iraq ­served in combat (combined).

0 Number of principal civilian or Pentagon staff members who planned the war who have immediate family members serving in uniform in Iraq.

8 Number of members of the US Senate and House of Representatives who have a child serving in the military.
10 Number of days that the Pentagon spent investigating a soldier who had called the President "a joke" in a letter to the editor of a Newspaper.

46 Percentage increase in sales between 2001 and 2002 of GI Joe figures (children's toys).
Ambitious warrior

2 Number of Nations that George Bush has attacked and taken over since coming into office.

130 Approximate Number of countries (out of a total of 191 recognised by the United Nations) with a US military presence.

43 Percentage of the entire world's military spending that the US spends on defence. (That was in 2002, the year before the invasion of Iraq.)

$401.3bn Proposed military budget for 2004.

Saviour of Iraq
1983 The year in which Donald Rumsfeld, Ronald Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East, gave Saddam Hussein a pair of golden spurs as a gift.

2.5 Number of hours after Rumsfeld learnt that Osama bin Laden was a suspect in the 11 September attacks that he brought up reasons to "hit" Iraq.

237 Minimum number of misleading statements on Iraq made by top Bush administration officials between 2002 and January 2004, according to the California Representative Henry Waxman.

10m Estimated number of people worldwide who took to the streets on 21 February 2003, in opposition to the invasion of Iraq, the largest simultaneous protest in world history.

$2bn Estimated monthly cost of US military presence in Iraq projected by the White House in April 2003.

$4bn Actual monthly cost of the US military presence in Iraq according to Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld in 2004.

$15m Amount of a contract awarded to an American firm to build a cement factory in Iraq.

$80,000 Amount an Iraqi firm spent (using Saddam's confiscated funds) to build the same factory, after delays prevented the American firm from starting it.

2000 Year that Cheney said his policy as CEO of Halliburton oil services company was "we wouldn't do anything in Iraq".

$4.7bn Total value of contracts awarded to Halliburton in Iraq and Afghanistan.

$680m Estimated value of Iraq reconstruction contracts awarded to Bechtel.

$2.8bnValue of Bechtel Corp contracts in Iraq.

$120bn Amount the war and its aftermath are projected to cost for the 2004 fiscal year.

35 Number of countries to which the United States suspended military assistance after they failed to sign agreements giving Americans immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court.

92 Percentage of Iraq's urban areas with access to potable water in late 2002.

60 Percentage of Iraq's urban areas with access to potable water in late 2003.

55 Percentage of the Iraqi workforce who were unemployed before the war.

80 Percentage of the Iraqi workforce who are unemployed a Year after the war.

0 Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender in May 1945.

37 Death toll of US soldiers in Iraq in May 2003, the month combat operations "officially" ended.

0 Number of coffins of dead soldiers returning home that the Bush administration has permitted to be photographed.

0 Number of memorial services for the returned dead that Bush has attended since the beginning of the war.

A soldier's best friend
40,000 Number of soldiers in Iraq seven months after start of the war still without Interceptor vests, designed to stop a round from an AK-47.

$60m Estimated cost of outfitting those 40,000 soldiers with Interceptor vests.

62 Percentage of gas masks that army investigators discovered did Not work properly in autumn 2002.

90 Percentage of detectors which give early warning of a biological weapons attack found to be defective.

87 Percentage of Humvees in Iraq not equipped with armour capable of stopping AK-47 rounds and protecting against roadside bombs and landmines at the end of 2003.

Making the country safer
$3.29 Average amount allocated per person Nationwide in the first round of homeland security grants.

$94.40 Amount allocated per person for homeland security in American Samoa.

$36 Amount allocated per person for homeland security in Wyoming, Vice-President Cheney's home state.

$17 Amount allocated per person in New York state.

$5.87 Amount allocated per person in New York City.

$77.92 Amount allocated per person in New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale University, Bush's alma mater.

76 Percentage of 215 cities surveyed by the US Conference of Mayors in early 2004 that had yet to receive a dime in federal homeland security assistance for their first-response units.

5 Number of major US airports at the beginning of 2004 that the Transportation Security Administration admitted were Not fully screening baggage electronically.

22,600 Number of planes carrying unscreened cargo that fly into New York each month.

5 Estimated Percentage of US air cargo that is screened, including cargo transported on passenger planes.

95 Percentage of foreign goods that arrive in the United States by sea.

2 Percentage of those goods subjected to thorough inspection.

$5.5bnEstimated cost to secure fully US ports over the Next decade.

$0 Amount Bush allocated for port security in 2003.

$46m Amount the Bush administration has budgeted for port security in 2005.

15,000 Number of major chemical facilities in the United States.

100 Number of US chemical plants where a terrorist act could endanger the lives of more than one million people.

0 Number of new drugs or vaccines against "priority pathogens" listed by the Centres for Disease Control that have been developed and introduced since 11 September 2001.

Giving a hand up to the advantaged
$10.9m Average wealth of the members of Bush's original 16-person cabinet.

75 Percentage of Americans unaffected by Bush's sweeping 2003 cuts in capital gains and dividends taxes.

$42,000 Average savings members of Bush's cabinet received in 2003 as a result of cuts in capital gains and dividends taxes.

10 Number of fellow members from the Yale secret society Skull and Bones that Bush has named to important positions (including the Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum Jr. and SEC chief Bill Donaldson).

79 Number of Bush's initial 189 appointees who also served in his father's administration.

A man with a lot of friends
$113m Amount of total hard money the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign received, a record.

$11.5m Amount of hard money raised through the Pioneer programme, the controversial fund-raising
process created for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign. (Participants pledged to raise at least $100,000 by bundling together cheques of up to $1,000 from friends and family. Pioneers were assigned numbers, which were included on all cheques, enabling the campaign to keep track of who raised how much.)

George Bush: Money manager
4.7m Number of bankruptcies that were declared during Bush's first three years in office.

2002 The worst year for major markets since the recession of the 1970s.

$489bn The US trade deficit in 2003, the worst in history for a single year.

$5.6tr Projected national surplus forecast by the end of the decade when Bush took office in 2001.

$7.22tr US national debt by mid-2004.

George Bush: Tax cutter
87 Percentage of American families in April 2004 who say they have felt no benefit from Bush's tax cuts.

39 Percentage of tax cuts that will go to the top 1 per cent of American families when fully phased in.

49 Percentage of Americans in April 2004 who found that their taxes had actually gone up since Bush took office.

88 Percentage of American families who will save less than $100 on their 2006 federal taxes as a result of 2003 cut in capital gains and dividends taxes.

$30,858 Amount Bush himself saved in taxes in 2003.

Employment tsar
9.3m Number of US unemployed in April 2004.

2.3m Number of Americans who lost their jobs during first three Years of the Bush administration.

22m Number of jobs gained during Clinton's eight years in office.

Friend of the poor
34.6m Number of Americans living below the poverty line (1 in 8 of the population).

6.8m Number of people in the workforce but still classified as poor.

35m Number of Americans that the government defines as "food insecure," in other words, hungry.

$300m Amount cut from the federal programme that provides subsidies to poor families so they can heat their homes.

40 Percentage of wealth in the United States held by the richest 1 per cent of the population.

18 Percentage of wealth in Britain held by the richest 1e per cent of the population.

George Bush And his special friend
$60bn Loss to Enron stockholders, following the largest bankruptcy in US history.

$205m Amount Enron CEO Kenneth Lay earned from stock option profits over a four-year period.
$101m Amount Lay made from selling his Enron shares just before the company went bankrupt.

$59,339 Amount the Bush campaign reimbursed Enron for 14 trips on its corporate jet during the 2000 campaign.

30 Length of time in months between Enron's collapse and Lay (whom the President called "Kenny Boy") still not being charged with a crime.

George Bush: Lawman
15 Average number of minutes Bush spent reviewing capital punishment cases while governor of Texas.

46 Percentage of Republican federal judges when Bush came to office.

57 Percentage of Republican federal judges after three years of the Bush administration.

33 Percentage of the $15bn Bush pledged to fight Aids in Africa that must go to abstinence-only programmes.
The Civil libertarian

680 Number of suspected al-Qa'ida members that the United States admits are detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

42 Number of nationalities of those detainees at Guantanamo.

22 Number of hours prisoners were handcuffed, shackled, and made to wear surgical masks, earmuffs, and blindfolds during their flight to Guantanamo.

32 Number of confirmed suicide attempts by Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

24 Number of prisoners in mid-2003 being monitored by psychiatrists in Guantanamo's new mental ward.

A health-conscious president
43.6m Number of Americans without health insurance by the end of 2002 (more than 15 per cent of the population).

2.4m Number of Americans who lost their health insurance during Bush's first year in office.
Environmentalist

$44m Amount the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign and the Republican National Committee received in contributions from the fossil fuel, chemical, timber, and mining industries.

200 Number of regulation rollbacks downgrading or weakening environmental laws in Bush's first three years in office.

31 Number of Bush administration appointees who are alumni of the energy industry (includes four cabinet secretaries, the six most powerful White House officials, and more than 20 other high-level appointees).

50 Approximate number of policy changes and regulation rollbacks injurious to the environment that have been announced by the Bush administration on Fridays after 5pm, a time that makes it all but impossible for news organisations to relay the information to the widest possible audience.

50 Percentage decline in Environmental Protection Agency enforcement actions against polluters under Bush's watch.

34 Percentage decline in criminal penalties for environmental crimes since Bush took office.

50 Percentage decline in civil penalties for environmental crimes since Bush took office.

$6.1m Amount the EPA historically valued each human life when conducting economic analyses of proposed regulations.

$3.7m Amount the EPA valued each human life when conducting analyses of proposed regulations during the Bush administration.

0 Number of times Bush mentioned global warming, clean air, clean water, pollution or environment in his
2004 State of the Union speech. His father was the last president to go through an entire State of the Union address without mentioning the environment.

1 Number of paragraphs devoted to global warming in the EPA's 600-page "Draft Report on the Environment" presented in 2003.

68 Number of days after taking office that Bush decided Not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to reduce greenhouse gases by roughly 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States was to cut its level by 7 per cent.

1 The rank of the United States worldwide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

25 Percentage of overall worldwide carbon dioxide emissions the United States is responsible for.

53 Number of days after taking office that Bush reneged on his campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

14 Percentage carbon dioxide emissions will increase over the next 10 years under Bush's own global-warming plan (an increase of 30 per cent above their 1990 levels).

408 Number of species that could be extinct by 2050 if the global-warming trend continues.

5 Number of years the Bush administration said in 2003 that global warming must be further studied before substantive action could be taken.

62 Number of members of Cheney's 63-person Energy Task Force with ties to corporate energy interests.

0 Number of environmentalists asked to attend Cheney's Energy Task Force meetings.

6 Number of months before 11 September that Cheney's Energy Task Force investigated Iraq's oil reserves.

2 Percentage of the world's population that is British.

2 Percentage of the world's oil used by Britain.

5 Percentage of the world's population that is American.

25 Percentage of the world's oil used by America.

63 Percentage of oil the United States imported in 2003, a record high.

24,000 Estimated number of premature deaths that will occur under Bush's Clear Skies initiative.

300 Number of Clean Water Act violations by the mountaintop-mining industry in 2003.

750,000 Tons of toxic waste the US military, the world's biggest polluter, generates around the world each Year.

$3.8bn Amount in the Superfund trust fund for toxic site clean-ups in 1995, the Year "polluter pays" fees expired.

$0m Amount of uncommitted dollars in the Superfund trust fund for toxic site clean-ups in 2003.

270 Estimated number of court decisions citing federal Negligence in endangered-species protection that remained unheeded during the first year of the Bush administration.

100 Percentage of those decisions that Bush then decided to allow the government to ignore indefinitely.

68.4 Average Number of species added to the Endangered and Threatened Species list each year between 1991 and 2000.

0 Number of endangered species voluntarily added by the Bush administration since taking office.

50 Percentage of screened workers at Ground Zero who now suffer from long-term health problems, almost half of whom don't have health insurance.

78 Percentage of workers at Ground Zero who now suffer from lung ailments.

88 Percentage of workers at Ground Zero who Now suffer from ear, nose, or throat problems.

22 Asbestos levels at Ground Zero were 22 times higher than the levels in Libby, Montana, where the W R Grace mine produced one of the worst Superfund disasters in US history.

Image booster for the US
2,500 Number of public-diplomacy officers employed by the State Department to further the image of the US abroad in 1991.

1,200 Number of public-diplomacy officers employed by the State Department to further US image abroad in 2004.

4 Rank of the United States among countries considered to be the greatest threats to world peace according to a 2003 Pew Global Attitudes study (Israel, Iran, and North Korea were considered more dangerous; Iraq was considered less dangerous).

$66bn Amount the United States spent on international aid and diplomacy in 1949.

$23.8bn Amount the United States spent on international aid and diplomacy in 2002.

85 Percentage of Indonesians who had an unfavourable image of the United States in 2003.

Second-party endorsements
90 Percentage of Americans who approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president on 26 September 2001.

67 Percentage of Americans who approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president on 26 September 2002.

54 Percentage of Americans who approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president on 30 September, 2003.

50 Percentage of Americans who approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president on 15 October 2003.

49 Percentage of Americans who approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president in May 2004.

More like the French than he would care to admit
28 Number of vacation days Bush took in August 2003, the second-longest vacation of any president in US history. (Record holder Richard Nixon.)

13 Number of vacation days the average American receives each Year.

28 Number of vacation days Bush took in August 2001, the month he received a 6 August Presidential Daily
Briefing headed "Osama bin Laden Determined to Strike US Targets."

500 Number of days Bush has spent all or part of his time away from the White House at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, his parents' retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, or Camp David as of 1 April 2004.

No fool when it comes to the press
11 Number of press conferences during his first three Years in office in which Bush referred to questions as being "trick" ones.

Factors in his favour
3 Number of companies that control the US voting technology market.

52 Percentage of votes cast during the 2002 midterm elections that were recorded by Election Systems & Software, the largest voting-technology firm, a big Republican donor.

29 Percentage of votes that will be cast via computer voting machines that don't produce a paper record.

17On 17 November 2001, The Economist printed a correction for having said George Bush was properly elected in 2000.

$113m Amount raised by the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, the most in American electoral history.

$185m Amount raised by the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign, to the end of March 2004.

$200m Amount that the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign expects to raise by November 2004.

268 Number of Bush-Cheney fund-raisers who had earned Pioneer status (by raising $100,000 each) as of March 2004.

187 Number of Bush-Cheney fund-raisers who had earned Ranger status (by raising $200,000 each) as of March 2004.

$64.2mThe Amount Pioneers and Rangers had raised for Bush-Cheney as of March 2004.

85 Percentage of Americans who can't Name the Chief Justice of the United States.

69 Percentage of Americans who believed the White House's claims in September 2003 that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 11 September attacks.

34 Percentage of Americans who believed in June 2003 that Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" had been found.

22 Percentage of Americans who believed in May 2003 that Saddam had used his WMDs on US forces.

85 Percentage of American young adults who cannot find Afghanistan, Iraq, or Israel on a map.

30 Percentage of American young adults who cannot find the Pacific Ocean on a map.

75 Percentage of American young adults who don't know the population of the United States.

53 Percentage of Canadian young adults who don't know the population of the United States.

11 Percentage of American young adults who cannot find the United States on a map.

30 Percentage of Americans who believe that "politics and government are too complicated to understand."

Another factor in his favour
70m Estimated number of Americans who describe themselves as Evangelicals who accept Jesus Christ as their personal saviour and who interpret the Bible as the direct word of God.

23m Number of Evangelicals who voted for Bush in 2000.

50m Number of voters in total who voted for Bush in 2000.

46 Percentage of voters who describe themselves as born-again Christians.

5 Number of states that do not use the word "evolution" in public school science courses

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Oh god help us...

Of course God has nothing to do with the outcome of an election, even though a certain president of ours believes that God put him in office .

I tried wataching Wacky Pataki's speech but as soon as he started exploiting the tragedy of September 11th I got ill and had to change the station.

Then I tried watching Dubya's speech but the lead in was so damn exploitative of what happened in NYC (On a side note, ever notice that the Pentagon & the crash site in PA seem to always be left out?) I almost changed the station.

Then he came out and I tried, I really did try to watch his acceptance speech but I got so physically ill at the uber-nationalistic feel of the crowd as well a what he was saying I had to turn off the tv.

I will read the complete speech tomorrow, in the Washington Post, morning on my ride into work. I had such a lovely evening that I didn't want it ruined by the nut job that's our president.

I swear if he's re-elected, I don't know what I'm going to do.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

You've GOT to be kidding me...

Excuse me while I go vomit. This article just makes me so embarassed of the American political scene...


from BBC News

State Of The Union: A war of words
By Geoff Nunberg Linguist at Stanford University, California

The BBC series reflecting the views of American commentators in the run-up to the presidential election continues with a piece by linguist and author, Geoff Nunberg. He contrasts the language styles of the two main candidates.

When he gives his standard stump speech in places like Pensacola, Florida, or Sioux City, Iowa, President Bush can count on getting a roar of laughter from Republican partisans when he makes fun of John Kerry's statements on the Iraq war.

Mr Kerry has already switched positions on Iraq several times, Mr Bush says, and now he has found "a new nuance".

The line plays up the picture of Mr Kerry as a hand-wringing flip-flopper, in contrast to the decisive, straight-talking Mr Bush.

But the laughs come from the way Mr Bush draws out "nuance," a word with unmistakably Gallic overtones.

As he has said on other occasions, "In Texas, we don't do nuance," with the implication that the word, like the thing itself, is better left to the French-speaking John Kerry.

Candidates for national office in America are allowed to use a few words of Spanish when they're giving a speech to Hispanic voters.

But Republicans are counting on voters to be suspicious of any candidate who speaks French as well as Mr Kerry does - particularly a French that he learned at a Swiss boarding school and during summer vacations in Brittany with his French cousins.

Bonjour
Republican Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi recently described Mr Kerry as a "French-speaking socialist".
The leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, Tom Delay, has been opening his speeches by saying, "Good morning, or - as John Kerry would say - Bonjour."

And Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, went so far as to accuse Mr Kerry of "looking French", which has become a running joke for Republicans and the hosts on right-wing radio.

Wags have even posted pictures on the web that show Mr Kerry in a beret with a little Adolph Menjou moustache, a foulard around his neck and a United Nations button on his lapel.

That charge was particularly annoying to my 14-year-old daughter, who is French on her mother's side.
"What exactly is wrong with looking French?" she asked.

I told her not to worry, it is just a thing Republicans like to say.

But nowadays the French are about the only group you could get away with saying that about.

As it happens Mr Kerry is half-Jewish but any Republican who remarked that he looks Jewish would be out of a job by lunchtime.

Mr Kerry has apparently taken notice of the criticism.

He reportedly asked his French relations to stop giving interviews to the press, and he has stopped talking in French to the French journalists covering the campaign.

France-bashing

The last thing he needs right now would be news footage of a potential American president beginning an answer with "alors".

As it happens, France-bashing is a new note in American politics.
The English and French have been throwing the word "perfidious" over the Channel ever since the Hundred Years War.

But we Americans have had a generally congenial relationship with France ever since the 18th Century, when Louis XVI sent troops to help the colonists in their War of Independence and when Benjamin Franklin won the hearts of the Parisians as the wartime colonies' envoy to France.

"Every man has two countries," Jefferson said once, "his own and France."

It's hard to imagine those words coming from Wellington.

For US conservatives that all changed when the French opposed taking immediate military action against Saddam Hussein last year.

Some people suggested boycotting French products, and patriotic restaurateurs were shown on television dumping their French wines.

Stereotypes

Conservative commentators pulled out all the anti-Gallic stereotypes:

The French are ingrates who don't appreciate our bailing them out in 1917 and 1944.

They're a bunch of cowards: "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" was a favourite phrase, borrowed from a Scottish character on The Simpsons.

They're treacherous and hypocritical, anti-Semitic and avaricious, unhygienic and rude, and they take excessively long vacations.

They bear the responsibility for Vietnam, street mimes, poodles and pretentious left-wing intellectuals.

Still, this wasn't really about Iraq.

It was notable that all that patriotic bellicosity didn't extend to other European nations whose governments opposed the war, like Germany's.

Nobody was pouring out Johanisberger Riesling in the gutter.

Convention

As the unpopularity of the war has been growing, in fact, the administration has been downplaying its differences with the French and making more noises about seeking international co-operation in Iraq.

A delegation from the French Parliament is paying a visit to the Republican party convention in New York this week.

But neither that nor the well-publicised appearances that Bush has made with President Chirac have in any way tempered the Republicans' ridicule of Mr Kerry's French connections.

In the end, that Francophobic rhetoric always had less to do with an antipathy to the French than to the Francophiles.

Those are the people that conservatives like to describe as the "Chardonnay and brie set".

The phrase calls to mind the sort of American who might show up in Paris apologising in French for the boorishness of his compatriots.

Whereas real Americans aren't taken in by continental charm.

As one conservative columnist put it a while ago, "heartland Americans have a clearer appreciation of the quite profound amorality in Europe than anyone in the Ivy League."

Phrases like "the Chardonnay and brie set" go back to the Nixon years.

Liberals

That was when Republicans began to dislodge working-class white voters from their traditional allegiance to the Democratic party by depicting liberal Democrats as effete elitists who were out of touch with middle-American values.

That picture of liberals was summed up in a television ad that was run by a conservative group during the primary campaigns last year.

It described liberals as a "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show".

True, it may be a little hard to get your head around that image.

You picture Marilyn Manson sitting in his Volvo reading the New York Times as he chomps on a seaweed roll.

But the ad was a sign of how American political identity has been transformed over the last 30 years or so.

Nowadays the labels "liberal" and "conservative" aren't simply political affiliations, they're a matter of what the marketers call "lifestyle choices".

Not long ago Rich Lowry, the editor of the conservative journal National Review, remarked that he would rather be governed by 2000 Harley-Davidson owners than by all the Volvo owners in America.

And on the other side, the editor of the hip Details magazine contemplates the arrival of the Republicans in New York with trepidation.

"I don't want to see a lot of bad Men's Warehouse suits and a lot of badly parted hair walking around my neighbourhood," he says.

It's as if American politics has been turned into a kind of brand war.

Predilection

When the Republicans deride John Kerry as a "Massachusetts liberal", they don't just mean that he's liable to raise taxes or expand government social programmes - the old political stereotype of a liberal in the American sense.

The phrase also suggests someone with predilection for Italian coffee, Swedish cars, French cheeses and bottled water, though in Mr Kerry's case it probably doesn't extend to non-conventional body ornament.

True, those generalisations are more a matter of brand aura than realities.

George W Bush has a gift for sounding like regular folks

As it happens the majority of brie consumers turn out to be Republicans - not surprising, considering that brie is an item that's a lot easier to find in the gourmet shops in upscale suburbs than in grocery stores in working-class neighbourhoods.

But whoever actually buys the stuff, it's hard to think of anything that stands in better for the right's stereotype of liberals - soft, pale, runny and French.

The great irony of this election is that it may come down to which of the two Ivy League-educated scions of prominent New England families can come off as more of a man of the people.

In that department, John Kerry can't seem to do much right.

Malapropisms

Actually, George Bush's father had the same problem that Mr Kerry does - however hard he tried, he came off as remote and patrician.

But George W Bush has a gift for sounding like regular folks. Like Mr Kerry, he went to an elite New England boarding school and then to Yale.

But at some point in his life he acquired a down-home Texas twang that seems to have eluded his brothers.

And he famously pronounces "nuclear" as "nucular," even though he grew up hearing his father say the word correctly.

True, there are many who find Mr Bush's malapropisms and tangled syntax annoying or even embarrassing.

But to a lot of people, Mr Bush's language is also reassuringly folksy and direct. People can imagine sitting down to have a beer with him.

And if he knows any French, he has the sense to keep quiet about it