Ed Quillen: Random bits of info, just because you asked | AspenTimes.com

Ed Quillen: Random bits of info, just because you asked

Since Colorado received a presidential visit Feb. 17, the day after the holiday that somehow got extended from “Washington’s Birthday” to “Presidents Day,” it must be time to answer reader questions.

Q. Will this be the first time a president has signed a bill ” in this case, the $787 billion stimulus package ” into law in Colorado?

A. Probably, though I’m not sure. The logical time for another bill-signing would have been in the weeks after Sept. 24, 1955, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in Denver and spent the next seven weeks recuperating at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora. However, he wouldn’t have signed any bills into law, because the first session of the 84th Congress had adjourned on Aug. 2, 1955, so by late September, there wouldn’t have been any bills to sign. Other presidential visits have been much briefer, so this could well be the first time.

Q. What about that attempt by some students to change the name of Boulder High School to Barack Obama High School?

A. They went about it in the wrong way. What they should have done was announce that “Boulder” is really an acronym for “Barack Obama Unified Leadership Development Educational Resource,” and thus the school was already named for him.

Q. I can’t figure out how to spell the term for the multiple offspring of that fecund woman in California. It’s not in my dictionary.

A. Neither “octuplet” nor “octoplet” is in my desk dictionary, either. We could

also try “octaplet,” since an eight-sided polygon, like a stop sign, is an octagon, but it, too, is not in that dictionary (American Heritage Second Collegiate). But my big Random House unabridged says it’s “octuplet.”

By the way, the grammar-snob plural of “octopus” is not “octopi” or “octopuses,” but “octopodes.” If the “us” came from Latin, the plural would be “i,” as with “alumnus” and “alumni.” However, it comes from “pous,” the Greek word for foot, and thus follows a different pluralization rule.

Q. What do you think about the Cherry Creek School District’s punitive response to Marie Morrow, the senior who had some harmless gun-like objects in her vehicle for Young Marines after-school drill practice?

A. School administrators, even when they’re punishing a student for inadvertent possession of a butter knife, always claim that their hands are tied by a “zero-tolerance policy” required by state and federal law. In other words, they’re not supposed to exercise any discretion or judgment of their own, and thus they avoid getting sued ” since they can plausibly deny that they ever made a decision. They offer important role models for young people considering careers where no thinking is required.

A more sensible response might have been, “They look enough like guns to scare nosy people who wander around parking lots looking into other people’s vehicles, so please don’t do it again.”

Q. What’s your opinion of various House Republicans who have pointed out that Congress had only 16 hours to read the 1,073-page stimulus bill?

A. They have a point, but why weren’t they fretting back in 2001 when Congress passed the Patriot Act only three days after the final version was introduced?

Q. Do you think the stimulus package will work?

A. It doesn’t matter what I think. If most Americans think it will work, and they start spending money, then it will. If not, it won’t. So to help your country in its time of need, come to Salida and max out your credit cards. We will be grateful for your patriotism.

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