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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in SenCollins' LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, October 8th, 2003
12:30 am
Monday, October 6th, 2003
9:42 pm
All Hail King Ahnuld I, Ruler of All Cali-FOR-NIGH-UH
It's official, our governor can kick your governor's ass! And don't even give me that Jesse the Body crap, because when the Predator came the Body was the first to die. Ahnuld on the other hand brought back the Predator's head on a platter.

Just imagine, the answer to the trivia question "Name the movie that starred two future state executives?" is Predator. Sad, very sad.
1:45 am
The Day of Atonement
On this day, California holds the first special election in its history. There is much speculation, but anyone who tells you they can predict how this will end is lying. There is no precedent, there is no rhyme or reason. The truth is the verdict will depend on who shows up to vote... so, I would encourage anyone who is registered and living in California to vote, it is the only way this will be a representative outcome.

As for myself, as I have said earlier, I will be voting for Tom McClintock, but regardless of who you are going to vote for, it is important that you do so.

As a final thought for those liberals and progressives out there who feel that McClintock is too far right for them I just read an interesting article in the OC Weekly (the liberal Orange County Newspaper) on why they are supporting McClintock. Check it out, if nothing else it is an interesting arguement.
http://www.ocweekly.com/ink/04/05/cover-moxley.php
Sunday, September 28th, 2003
5:56 pm
Boy, you make one poor decision...
So, I royally screwed the pooch on this one. Prior to this summer I enrolled for a Political Science honors curriculum, which requires a 3.5 GPA in the major and overall. This would allow me to do something interesting and unique in college, give me a chance to show off, help minimize the "dumb loser" syndrome I have developed for not having finished school earlier, etc. It was in the bag since my overall GPA was around 3.58 and my Poli Sci GPA was at 3.64.

But no, I am an idiot and am required to screw up that which I really want to do. Summer rolls around. I enroll in 3 classes, one of them statistics. For a better understanding of me and that class feel free to look back further in this journal. Not caring a bit for statistics and (wrongly) assuming that my grade in stats wouldn't affect my major GPA, I float through for a C+, which probably was more than I deserved.

In addition, I take a class on Legislative Decision Making and a class on Judicial Process. I am doing well in both of these classes, so much so that the professor in the first tells me I've pretty much locked an A and the second professor brings me a shirt from his Poli Sci convention in Philadelphia as a way of saying thank you for making the class interesting. By the end of the class, I am predicting an A and A-, respectively.

Instead, I get an A- and a B+, giving me a 3.1 for the summer (my lowest GPA of college), and knocking my overall and Major GPA to 3.48, just under the requirement for the honors course.

Now I must beg to be in the class and hope they grant an exception. Should they not, I have 1 week to add another class or they will take away my financial aid and all of the classes I need or have any inclination to enjoy are full. I can't buy books, because I don't know whether I will be in the classes. So, My fate rests entirely in the hands of a professor I don't know, who doesn't know me or owe me anyting.

The worst part is (having done the math) had I simply gotten any one of those summer grades one step higher (B- instead of C+, A- instead of B+, or A instead of A-)my GPA (overall and major) would be at 3.51, and I wouldn't be facing this dilemma.

Current Mood: bitchy
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003
7:12 pm
Nice to See A Big Star Act
In related news (to my last posting), we recently rented S1M0NE, starring Al Pacino. It was written and directed by Andrew Niccol, who wrote The Truman Show and Gattica, which he also directed. I've really liked each of these movies, which puts him in a very short list of people I will go and see just because they did them (Sam Mendes and Frank Durabont are the only other directors I can currently think of).

Truly surprising to me was seeing that Al Pacino can actually act. I know many of you are feeling the sting of my blasphemy, but for as many Pacino movies I've seen he's always played Pacino. It's a curse in the industry, whether you are talented or not, if you are lucky enough to become a star, you now have the luxury of "phoning it in" or reprising the character that made you a star. Recently, we lost a great actor to this in Kevin Spacey, who I can't remember the last time I saw him in a movie and didn't think "Hey, It's Kevin Spacey."

Which is not to say that you won't think "Hey, it's Al Pacino" because you will what with Pacino's face being on screen and all, but you unlike the rest of his work I've seen recently, his character is not Al Pacino. This was a similar feeling for me to watching Stallone in Copland. It was a very plesant, unexpected surprise.

As for the movie, it was a solid piece. Nothing specifically mindblowing, but a good story, good acting, good character arcs, which matter to me.

Niccol's works all have similar feels and themes to them: The individual struggling against the universe to which he is party, loneliness, isolation, the search for meaning and identity, the role of a creator. In this aspect, I feel that S1M0NE is more like the Truman Show than Gattaca (first based on budget and star power)in that it lacks the pure simplicity that makes Gattaca so resonant. Even without the emotional response that Gattaca derived from me, Niccol is a capable storyteller, with a pertinant message, and an ability to get amazing performances out of his casts.

3.5/ 5

I'd be very interested in hearing what any of the rest of you have to say since as I mentioned, I've been out of the loop and am just now seeing a movie that's been around for 1+ years.
6:58 pm
On Selling My Soul
There is a lot to catch up on, but really no time or a place to start. I will try to fill that in later. For the time being, I will write about worthless drivel.

I recently signed my soul over to the devil named Blockbuster. They have started a program much like Netflix (monthly rate, set number of videos out at one time, no late fees, etc), and while more expensive ($24.99 v. $19.99) and facially less economical (2 videos out v. 3)I cancelled Netflix and signed up at Blockbuster. This has had several advantages and disadvantages, which I considered prior to the switch.

On the Advantages side, I don't have to deal with mail delay (the 3-5 day turnaround on sending out a movie and getting the next one back). This is a huge accomplishment since I was watching around 7-8 movies a month with Netflix and am seeing 2 a day with Blockbuster (1 in the morning or afternoon with Taft, 1 in the evening with Tara). Works well for us, since we don't have cable and this allows us to control what comes into our house and is cheaper than basic cable. This is also nice because when people ask us about movies, we now understand the pop references and have some idea what they are talking about, which you immediately lose with the birth of a child. Another advantage is that I can look around the store and remember that I wanted to see things.

On the disadvantage side, is a more limited selection, no "want to see list", and no "peer reviews", which isn't really a disadvantage since I tend to disagree with a lot of the publics views anyway. Another disadvantage that will become apparent when school kicks in is that I really won't have that much time to watch movies, but the ability will be sitting there taunting me. Finally, I have to deal with Blockbuster.

In all, I think it was a good swap. It's fun to get the best out of Blockbuster, which we really have on this deal. $24 is equivilent of 7 new releases, we passed that on the 4th day. I also helped hedge my bets by printing my "want to see list" from Netflix prior to cancelling.
Monday, September 1st, 2003
7:48 am
A Technomonkey Weekend
Just got back from a weekend in Sequioa National Park with Tara's family. As with all trips with her family it was a high stress affair. The stress always seems to get to her faster than it does me and she demanded we come home 2 nights early.

While there our car started randomly overheating and continued to do so every mile or so. That makes for a long car ride... drive a mile, pull over, let the engine cool off, drive a mile, etc... Anyway, it seems that our main radiator fan isn't getting a current. Dukki gerryrigged some speakerwire through the engine from the battery to the fan and now it is working fine. Of course everytime we want to go somewhere, I have to pop the hood and connect two wires and have to disconnect them when we stop or I'll drain the battery. But it got us home without overheating once, so I can't really complain.

On the way down, and again coming back, we stopped for dinner in the beautiful city of Turlock, where Technomonkey went to school. For those of you who have not had the exquisite pleasure of visiting Turlock, please allow me to say this. "Beautiful" "City" "Exquisite" and "Pleasure" were all misnomers.

Joel, For the first time in a while, I identify... and I'm truly sorry. =o)
Sunday, August 17th, 2003
8:10 pm
Anyone Want a Cat?
So when Tara and I first got married we adopted a cat. She's black with a white patch under her chin and white paws. Since then we've moved (several times) and none of the places accept cats. We had been keeping her at Tara's mom's house, but Darlene has suddenly decided that the cat can no longer stay there and literally threw her into Micayla's car (sans carrier) and she made a 6 hour car trip up to us. Well, we still can't keep her, as much as I would like to.
She's a great cat. She has been an indoor, outdoor, and indoor/outdoor cat. She loves people and kids. She likes sleeping at the foot of anyone's bed and really likes babies. She often used to curl up at the foot of Taft's bassinet and wait for him to cry to come get us. In all, she's a great cat. It would be a shame to have to take her to the pound. If you or anyone else would like a cat, let me know.
Friday, August 15th, 2003
10:03 pm
A Quote More Americans Should Live By
"The Greek word for idiot, literally translated, means one who does not participate in politics. That sums up my conviction on the subject."
Pyle, Gladys
Thursday, August 14th, 2003
8:11 am
Yea! I'm a Llama again!
Got a C+ in Stats. God bless the curve. I find it amusing that had I taken the time to do my homework (which was announced wouldn't be held against us, but was... complicated story) I could have gotten a respectable grade. As it is I got everything I hoped for (C) and more (+).

On a completely seperate note. I rented Big Trouble the other night. It stars Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci and a slew of others. It was slated to come out in the theaters in October or November 2001, but since it deals with people sneaking a bomb through an airport, September 11 put it on a long hold. It came out about 6 -8 months later with little to no fanfare. That was unfortunate because the movie is very funny and well done. There are a series of running jokes and all of the jokes are set up in advance of the punchlines, which is a rarity these days. Anyway, I liked it so much I forced my sister to drive over from Sac to watch it. Then I rented it again so Tara could see it. I'd highly recommend it and plan on buying it sometime in the future. P.S. The DVD "extras" suck as there aren't really any. Not even cast bios... Ouch.

Current Mood: half awake
Monday, August 11th, 2003
5:11 pm
The CA Recall
I've gotten a lot of calls recently. A lot of IMs and emails also. A weird phenomenon to say the least, but understandable. For those of you who have been living under a rock, California has passed an initiative to recall the Governor. This process, included in the State Constitution since the 19 teens, has been attempted over 30 times with this being the only one to make the ballot. Should the initiative pass with a simple majority of the vote, Davis will be out on his keister and whoever wins the plurality of the vote will become Governor of the Golden State.
I'm not really sure why everyone has contacted me. It may be my long standing interest in politics. It may be my majoring in Political science at UC Davis. It may be because I'm the only conservative they know and want to hear that viewpoint. It may be because I worked at the Capitol as all of this unfolded. Whatever the reason is, I've been contacted a lot.
So, in an effort to stem the incredibly redundant conversations I've been having recently I'm going to post some of my thoughts on the subject. With that, whoever is reading this can comment and we can have a more enlightening (and less redundant) conversation.


First off, I believe the recall is a perfectly valid measure. It has been on the books for years, part of the Progressive movement to make government more accountable to the people. Unlike impeachment no reason is necessary for a recall. It's a way for the people to say "Wait, we made a mistake". It is pure democracy, for better or for worse, and the fact that it is part of our governing system makes it as valid as any other law on the books. To claim that this is somehow less "valid" than any other portion of the constitution undermines the entirety of the constitution. So for Davis to come out and say that the recall is an "insult" to the people who elected him last year is a sham. This recall is just as valid as his last election and he would be wise to recognize that if he wants to have any chance of overcoming this recall.

Second, I believe the recall has a good chance of being successful. Davis has a 25% approval rating. 3 out of 4 people disapprove of his job performance. He has damaged his relationships with Republicans and Democrats in Sacramento beyond repair. The residents of CA hold him responsible for bungling the budget, the energy crisis, and the failing school system. Welfare and Workers Compensation are still out of control. Last year he gave a 27% pay raise to correction officers and a slightly smaller one to the firefighters. Most of us would agree that those groups should be paid better, but that is a substantial raise even when the state isn't in fiscally turbulent times. Needless to say the only two friends he has been able to count on are the fire fighters and corrections officers. In the latest polls, 64% of Californians said they would vote to recall Davis. That number was still a robust 40% among Democrats. With friends like these, who needs enemas?

Third, I think (if CA voters choose wisely) the recall could help fix the problems (and that's a big if). But either way it has already addressed some issues that have been needing attention for a while.

First of all, the fact that this has made it to the ballot has every politician in Sacramento a little bit worried about his job safety and that is always a good thing. No one panders to their constituents better than a pol fearing for his job. In its own way, the recall has fixed a problem that the last election reinforced. See, Davis was hated last year. And the year before that. But he ran a shrewd campaign and basically picked his opponent, running ads to help Bill Simon defeat Richard Riordan who would have won the governorship easily. Simon, a bungling multimillionaire, had a penchant for sticking his foot in his mouth, an ability to be easily misrepresented, and hadn't voted in 17 of the last 20 elections. This didn't go over well with the public and Davis was re-elected. But Davis was well short of a majority even against that idiot, showing that had a decent opponent run (for a major party... I know very little about Camejo) he would have been defeated. This only went to reinforce the idea that people don't follow politics and that it doesn't matter what you do on the job. This has been a wake up call to most politicians nationwide. Sure they laugh about it and call it a circus in front of the camera, but I guarantee they are very worried in their offices. And that is good for the nation.

It has also restored people's interest in politics. Why wouldn't it? A first ever "special election" in California history is interesting. Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Arnold Drummond vs. Billboard Queen Angelyne vs. self proclaimed "smut peddler" Larry Flynt vs. the Lieutenant Governor... Now that's fun. It is quite possible that this election will have more draw than the Congressional elections (which average around 30% eligible voter turnout). Again, that is a good thing for a democracy.

And it is possible that someone in this field can fix the problems currently facing California. Out of those listed above, I would bet against most of them, but you never know.

Schwarzenegger's campaign is being run by the people that advised former Governor Pete Wilson, so there is some political know how behind him. He doesn't need to know the details, because they will. And it is possible that his charisma and "outsider" status could shake up the establishment and force the legislature to fix its parts of the mess. Not to mention the one liners and the "State of the State" speech should be a hoot. Having recently seen Terminator 3 it has my favorite all time Schwarzenegger line. I can't wait for him to get the first budget and line item veto something while saying to the legislature, (thick Austrian accent) "Don't do that."

Cruz Bustamante is another option. He's a former state legislator. He's the highest ranking Latino in over 100 years in the state. He is currently second in command. His battles with Gray Davis have been well documented and that has won him some strong support in Sacramento. His biggest problem is that he tends to disappear when times get hard and he sticks his foot in his mouth. This was easily seen from his "I will not run, I will not run, I'm running" campaign, his "the constitution says I would be the next governor, never mind, I'll leave it to the people..." fiasco, and the little documented slip of the tongue where he called a Negro Labor Union Movement "niggers" to their faces. (In case you don't believe me.)

My favorite out to the group is State Senator Tom McClintock. A Republican from Thousand Oaks he's been in the Capitol since 1982. He understands the budget better than anyone else on the hill and what the repercussions of the budget will be. Looking over his comments on the budgets over the last 10 years, they have been almost prophetic. He is a big proponent of "cutting the fat" out of the budget and actually has a plan for what he would do, which is more than I can say for 98% of the people running. He has even said his top 3 priorities could be handled "before lunch". The fact that he's from Ventura County also helps. It's all about the VTA. So, I'm planning on volunteering for his campaign. He'll probably get stomped by Schwarzenegger, but that's democracy.

So, those are the first thoughts I have. If anyone wants to comment or ask questions I'd be happy to keep this going.

Current Mood: contemplative
Sunday, August 3rd, 2003
10:11 pm
Ok, I see how it is
So, I go to all the trouble to post crap on here, primarily as a way to keep in contact with 2 people I haven't talked to in a really long time. This is not to say it hasn't been a good experience. Actually reconnected with a good friend from High School that I haven't talked to in 10 years. Called her on the phone... her voice still sounds the same... weird that I remembered that...

And now I can keep in contact with other people that I usually don't get to see unless I'm hanging out with Aaron while in Ventura... Which is good, but that isn't why I signed up.

For one of those guys this worked extremly well as it guilted him and his gf into visiting from really far away. They stayed for a few days and Joel and I fell into a comfortable routine really quickly, almost like it hasn't been 2 years since we last spent any real time together.

His girlfriend was really neat. It took a little while to get comfortable with her there (not so much her, but what do you say to someone you don't know anything about that is now in your living room?), but that quickly ended, and we started chatting. Luckily, she also gets along with Tara and has some similar interests, which always helps...

Anyway, all of this is to say "You did good, Joel." I'm impressed. This is the first girl I've seen you date where you didn't completely disappear, and that's nice, because I've missed having you around... especially when you were there.

So, anyway, like I said... two people...

The other one, whom shall remain nameless **cough** **cough** **mattstaley** is still a little punk. I post fairly frequently, other than the first two posts... nothin'. He doesn't even post in his journal. So, what do I find out... looking at Joel's postings? That's right... the whining sniveling s.o.b. has posted comments to him, feigned being upset that Joel didn't see him.

So, here I am you punk... I'm calling you out.

(Bruce Campbell Voice) "Come get some".
Saturday, August 2nd, 2003
1:40 pm
I AM F(*&#)@&ing BORED!!!!!
Tara, Taft, Micayla, and Robbie all went to Ventura Thursday night and will not be back until a week from tomorrow. All of my Davis friends are out of town. Summer Session II doesn't start until next Tuesday. There is only so long I can surf the internet. It's too hot to do much outside and I couldn't afford anything that wouldn't be hot. Luckily, Young and Todd will come up on Wednesday or Thursday. The question is can I manage to not die of bordom before then?
Thursday, July 31st, 2003
8:41 pm
Sunday, July 27th, 2003
7:22 pm
Stuff Going On
So things have been weird at the State Capitol. First Recall of a Governor in California history. First "Special Election" in CA history. First Recall of a Governor in US History since they threw out some bum in South Dakota in the 20s. I guess that would make things weird.

####

I just received the award signifying I have been accepted as a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society. I was hoping this would mean more to me than it does. As it is, just another peice of paper to file. Looks nice on a resume though. $30 well spent.

####

Micayla and Robbie went to Ventura for the weekend. We had a very nice quiet weekend. That's over now, their back. Taft is screaming. Robbie is crying. Micayla is outside on the phone and smoking. I really wish they would have stayed down there.

####

Had to take Taft to the Emergency Room yesterday. We were playing on the bed and when I pulled him towards me he started screaming like I was murdering him. Anytime we touched his arm he screamed more. The doctor said his elbow had been dislocated and that it happens a lot at this age. It didn't make me feel better about breaking my baby, but it was nice of him to say. A quick twist of his arm by the doctor, and a blood curdling yelp by Taft and 2 minutes later Taft was acting like nothing had happened. Needless to say (although Tara says it quite a bit) I spoiled Taft rotten for the remainder of the day.

####

On a better note, Technomonkey and his gf will be visiting tomorrow. We're excited to have them. Haven't spent much time with him since High school really. He will also be the first friend (non-family) to stay the night since we have moved to Davis. We'd like to have more company, but it's hard to convince people that they want to leave their nice, comfortable, off shore breezed lives and go to a place that God consistently blights with 100+ degree weather. I hope they don't melt before they get here... =o)

####

Tara is working on a very cute baby quilt. If I remember we will get a picture and post it for you all to see.

####

That's it. I'm done now.
Friday, July 18th, 2003
11:26 pm
A Series of Unrelated Thoughts
Haven't posted in a while. Of course the main reason is that there hasn't been much to say. Apparently this is a common occurance, because my friends have been remarkably silent as well.

######

My friend Ted, short for Jimmy, (long story) got married over the weekend. It was a nice wedding, however I have some advice for any of you who may be thinking of tying the knot:

If your Uncle Buzz, who doesn't usually talk in public, wants to officiate the wedding... tell him no, he may accidently use the word "bitch" during the ceremony.

If its 104 degrees outside and Los Angeles County is under its first smog alert in 5 years move the wedding inside.

And the good idea-- if you have a group of friends who tend to embarrass you, but you are just too close to not invite them, sit them in the corner... more ostrecised than the kids. (Still not sure whether I should be proud or upset by this...)

#####

It's very hot in Davis right now. I think it's broken 100 the last 2 days. Right now it's nearly 11:30 and around 80 to 85. Hot sucks. But no, I haven't seen a little dude in orange robes just burst into flames...

#####

Things have been fun at the Capitol. I've had a lot of work and have been training multiple new interns, quite a step up since I didn't think they really liked my work. But you don't tend to have people train with someone who's work sucks. At least as a manager I never did.

#####

Summer school still sucks. At least I didn't flunk the last test as I was sure I did. I got a very acceptable 70%, which the statistics teacher would tell you is much higher than predicted on a 20 question multiple choice test with 5 answers apeice. Apparently I understand enough about stats to make an informed guess and whittle down the chances... I'm hoping for a C, anything higher is just gravy.

#####

My friend Vern got me addicted to a freeware game called Dope Wars. Not the type of game one would expect me to like, being I have a reputation as a stuffy conservative christian. On the other hand, if one looks past the obvious moral problems, this game could easily teach our children the basics of economics (supply, demand, opprotunity costs, etc). How sad when a game about drug dealing is a better education choice than our public schools...

#####

Of course that could easily be remedied. I'm not sure why but a while ago schools developed this radical idea that any idiot could teach a social science and it wouldn't hurt our childrens development. "Here you go Coach, explain the origins of the Civil War..." To some extent this is true. One doesn't need the type of expertise in the social sciences as one does in math or biology, but come on... Is it too much to ask that the teacher of a subject at least passed it in college? Maybe even took a couple courses? A minor? A major? Nah, that might effect the winning percentage of the football team and everyone knows that what school is all about, just ask Harvard.

######

Since I seem to be on an education rant, I wish they taught Latin in elementary schools and junior highs. It seems to me that the language which was the basis for the majority of the western world might be helpful. Science uses latin terms. Most western languages are derivative of latin. Looking back on the American Founding Fathers the majority of them and thier children read latin very early. That became the basis for their knowledge of history, science, philosophy, and multiple languages.

######

So that's my rant for the day. Perhaps someone will want to comment or post thier own thoughts on thier pages. As for me, I'm tired and going to bed. G'night.
Tuesday, July 15th, 2003
11:16 am
Troublesome
So, I'm taking Statistics for the 3rd time. The other 2 I dropped it because I hated it so bad. This time I have to finish, because I need it for my major and for financial aid reasons, not to mention that the drop deadline has passed. I still hate the class and now I have the worst textbook ever written about statistics, fun.

Anyway, at this point I'm not doing too well and can't find the incentive to study. It's really hard when you have so many other options like the internet, reading, playing with the family, cooking, cleaning, contemplating my navel... you get the idea.

So here I am, blowing 2 consecutive honor roll appearances, lowering my GPA, endangering myself of taking the course again, all while trying for the political science honors program. Most troubling is the fact that I have 3 or 4 other courses in which I have no real interest and must take. So there is a possibility I could turn in the best honors thesis ever written and not actually qualify for honors at all.

Did I mention I hate statistics?
Thursday, July 10th, 2003
7:40 am
Gone for the Weekend
One of my good friends, James a.k.a. Ted (long story), is getting married this weekend. So, Tara and I will be gone. Luckily, this means we will be closer to the majority of you and Taft will be staying up here with Aunt Micayla, so we'll actually be able to get out and about. Anyway, we probably won't be back until Monday, so don't expect any postings until then.
Monday, July 7th, 2003
10:44 pm
Passing Thought
Tara is in the other room watching the BBC version of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe". It's pretty bad, but better than should be expected from late 80s made for TV productions. It would be nice to see a better version done. If I had my way about it, I'd hire Jim Henson's Creature Workshop. Probably let them direct, produce, edit, everything. I bet that would be pretty snazzy.
10:03 pm
History Proves Me Right
So, for a long time, I've had a grudge against the French. Not really a grudge, I guess. That seems to imply they have done something against me and I still haven't let it go. No, I guess it's more of a prejudice. Although, that would seem to mean that I dislike French people, which I don't. I just dislike the French... Not so much individuals, just the culture, the art, the attitude, etc.
I still think its funny that we considered them a world power to begin with. And I'm absolutely flabbergasted that they were able to convince anyone that they were a "victor" of WWII and worthy of a permenant seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. I don't think that you can claim to win when you don't put up a resistance and the majority of the war are run by the enemy's puppet government. And even if you buy the "Viva La French Resistance" bull, the Polish, Dutch, and Belgians all had stronger more active resistance movements, so why not give the French seat to them?
After all, the French are best known for whining and taking credit for things that aren't theirs (French Toast, French Fries, French Kissing...).
So all of this finally leads to my point...

I was deeply chagrined to read this. Finally, they have something new to complain about...

Politics

Last 'Adieu' to French as World Language?
Sun Jul 6, 9:57 PM ET Add Politics to My Yahoo!


By Mark John

PARIS (Reuters) - It was meant as a jibe, but when a U.S. senator recently branded French a "near forgotten" language he hit Gallic sensitivities right where they hurt most.



Yet instead of outraged denials, the remark has triggered soul-searching among French intellectuals who not only concede English's pre-eminence as world "lingua franca" but fear French is being shoved off the international scene altogether.


For a country which in the past has proclaimed its tongue the language of love, global diplomacy and the universal rights of man, that would be bad news.


"What is at stake is the survival of our culture. It is a life or death matter," Jacques Viot, head of the Alliance Francaise agency which promotes French abroad, told a public debate in Paris.


Reports of the imminent demise of the language are of course exaggerated. But the past decades have not been kind to French.


While French and English are the only two world languages with solid roots on five continents, the economic and political might of the United States has propelled English into top place as the most prestigious language to have as a second tongue.


With its 80 million native practitioners, French is ranked 11th most spoken language in the world. With the 180 million who count it as their second tongue, it comes in ninth. Altogether, a quarter of a billion have at least a smattering of French.


In contrast, English is spoken as a first language by some 375 million and as a second language by roughly the same number. According to figures used by the British government, a quarter of the world's population speak it with some level of competence.


SHUNNED IN EUROPE


English has long been the language of international trade and business. That trend is only being reinforced by the fact that it dominates some 80 percent of the Internet.


Even at havens of multi-culturalism such as the United Nations (news - web sites) -- where French is one of the official working languages -- French diplomats are seeing an inexorable decline in its use in both formal and back-room dealings.


The situation is no better within the confines of Europe.


Visitors who click on the French icon of the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank's Web Site are advised that the bulk of the site is in English and that they should perhaps try the Bank of France's home page for information in French.


Recent meetings in Brussels to draft a new constitution for the European Union (news - web sites) highlighted a future problem for French as negotiators sent by east European countries -- to be EU members as of next year -- almost unanimously favored using English.


It is calculated that their participation at EU meetings will require sufficient interpreters to cover 420 combinations of 20 or 21 languages. The fear niggling the French is that, in the end, everyone might just give up and turn to English.


At the sharp end of EU affairs, this is already happening. French army generals leading the multinational EU peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (news - web sites) had no hesitation in naming English the working language of their Paris-based HQ.


Even in its own backyard, French has for years suffered rearguard attacks from "franglais," the badly-digested chunks of English which the French often prefer over home-grown words.





English's ability to form compound words or phrases seems to give it the edge in naming certain concepts. In business, for example, it is just easier to talk about "le cash-flow" than "la marge brute d'auto-financement."

After threatening briefly in 1994 to jail anyone using such examples as "le weekend" or "le parking" in advertising or the media, France now appears to have largely given up the unequal fight against the "franglais" plague.

"CNN A LA FRANCAISE"

Yet if French is failing to assert itself, it is not through want of trying.

Few other countries have a four centuries-old institution like the Academie Francaise whose main duty is to act as linguistic watchdog, chiding bad French and approving good.

And few nations are so committed to furthering their culture that their cinema, literature, music and theater enjoy state grants or other supports as generous as those in France.

"We have a plethora of means of protecting the language," insisted Bernard Cerquiglini, the head of the unit within France's Culture Ministry charged with promoting French.

"But language is living history. It reflects the balance of powers," he added, recognizing that the scales were currently tipped against French.

At no time was the supremacy of English as a proselytizing tool more painfully evident to France's leaders than during the Iraq (news - web sites) war which they had unsuccessfully tried to prevent.

It was the reporters for the international English-language news channels CNN and BBC World whose pictures and dispatches from the front line helped form the global view of the war.

Now France has asked its media companies to come up with proposals for a French-language global news channel -- a "CNN a la francaise" idea floated by President Jacques Chirac to ensure France's voice continues to be heard in the world.

"A language is more than a way of speaking," said Jean-Marie Cavada, president of state-owned broadcaster Radio-France.

"It is a weapon of battle, an indispensable tool for any great country."

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Now it makes sense. The French can't use their language anymore because they learned it was a weapon of battle... Can't use any of the other ones without a midget with an ego leading the charge, why should this be any different!

Current Mood: amused
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