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Political Trivia

----------------------------------------- "We're Sorry -- So Sorry. So, we got into a lot of trouble with last week's trivia question. As you remember, it came from David Saunders, a reader from Sydney, Australia, who asked, "How many U.S. Presidents have had undisclosed ailments?" Many of you were very upset with us because the question was too vague. In retrospect, we agree. Albert Handelman was the first to respond "probably all of them." That was followed by "The answer is none! It's a trick question. As soon as it is disclosed it is no longer an undisclosed ailment," from Michael P Jameson. And it was kind of downhill from there. Oh sure, there were a few that took a stab at it like Pat Burke and Eric.Avner who gave us Woodrow Wilson (stroke, John F Kennedy (Addison's Disease), Ronald Reagan (Alzheimer's), Cleveland's cancer of the jaw, but really, we understand the confusion. We apologize. Everyone is a winner. We will try to do better from now on, Amen.

"Ok. Let's let bygones be bygones and move on to this week. As we mentioned, we stayed up last night watching the St. Louis Carinals' Bud Smith toss a no hitter. Here is this week's trivia question: What year did Phil Gramm first join the Senate? What major league pitcher threw a no-hitter that same year? Friends again?

"You know the drill: If you know the answer, or have a great trivia question of your own you'd like to ask please write to: askpolitics@nytimes.com." --NYT, 9/5/01

-------------------------------------------- The trivia question of the week was: What was the name of the book President George W. Bush read to the second graders at Griegos Elementary School in New Mexico? As Week in Politics reader Laura Folkner and 100 or so others replied, the book was "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by Eric Carle.

Now, this week's question comes from David Saunders, a Week in Politics reader from Sydney, Australia, who writes: "I have a question that is an issue raised in the excellent TV show 'West Wing.' ... How many U.S. Presidents have had undisclosed ailments?"

If you know the answer, or have a trivia question of your own you'd like to ask please write to: askpolitics@nytimes.com. The person sending in the correct answer wins the honor of having his or her name in print.

-------------------------------------------- "The trivia question last week, "Who was the only president to have once been the president of a labor union?" was criticized by many of you as being "too easy." But jeers or no jeers, we were pretty pleased with the large number of you who decided to play this week. We received close to 1,500 responses, almost all of them with the answer, Ronald Reagan. As you all seem to know, Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild. Week in Politics reader Carol Roof was the first one to get the answer.

"We should also point out that we have been chastised by about a dozen Week in Politics readers for not including "carter" in the list of president's names that are also common nouns. (One who carries goods in a cart; a laborer who moves things.) We stand corrected. Now for this week's question: What is the name of the book President George W. Bush read to second graders at Griegos Elementary School in Albuquerque, N.M., last week? You know the drill: If you know the answer, or have a trivia question of your own you'd like to ask please write to: askpolitics@nytimes.com."


"Last week's question was from Week in Politics reader Irv Kuhr: Bush's last name is a common noun. How many other presidents have had surnames that are also common nouns?

"According to our calculations, and our Websters New World Dictionary, there have been three besides number 43: Ulysses S. Grant (something granted, such as property or money), Gerald Ford (a shallow place in a river or stream) and George Herbert Walker Bush (a woody plant, a shrub).

"'What about Hoover?' There has been much debate in Week in Politics-land about this one. But according to Mrs. McNicholas, our grammar teacher way back in elementary school, a proper noun is the name of a particular person, place or thing, while a common noun is a general person, place or thing. Using that definition, Hoover, even if it is slang in Great Britian for a vacuum, would not be a common noun. If there was a President Kleenex or President Frisbee we would not accept these names as common nouns either.

"Now, on to this week. The question is from WIP reader Brendan Flynn who asks: Who was the only president to have once been the president of a labor union?

The answer will appear here next week. If you know it, or have a trivia question of your own you'd like to ask please write to: askpolitics@nytimes.com."


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