Let’s start with new vocabulary: zanco. That’s Spanish for stilt. Guess why I learned that today? Yes, another Hispanic master craftsman did his magic to help return our house to complete housedom.

I understand that a new kind of sheet-rocker-stilts use technology developed for people with missing feet and legs, those springy, curved appendages. Seems to me they’d be much easier on the knees and hips.

Other vocabulary…that piece of equipment that’s lying on the bucket? It’s a violin in English and banjo in Spanish. It has a spool of tape that runs through a bath of the sheet-rock mud (formally: joint or drywall compound), much like a tape dispenser with a pistol grip. I understand there’s a similar instrument with a longer handle so that the business end is farther away from the workman (for really high ceilings, I assume), and that’s called a bazooka (in both Spanish and English).

If you feel like some serious reading, let me point you toward an article by James Fallows in The Atlantic analyzing the performances* of the candidates in the primary debates.

John McCain is not a good debater, not even by comparison with George W. Bush. Having been in Washington for decades, he knows many issues in detail. Having been in Washington for decades, he often overexplains those details, as Bob Dole did against Bill Clinton in 1996. The exception is the whole field of economics, where through most of the Republican debates, he skated by with allusions to the advisers he would consult.

Worse, he will look and sound old and weak next to Obama. …

McCain also runs the risk of being the first Republican since Dole to go into the debates trailing in the national polls. This would allow Obama to do what George W. Bush did four years ago: nurse a lead and simply try to avoid mistakes. He’s had more practice with debates than McCain, and more recently.

In these circumstances, McCain’s tactics against Obama are obvious. He will ask for as many debates as he can, starting with informal town halls before either he or Obama is officially nominated. The informal setting shows him off to his best advantage, with the affable bantering that has long made him a favorite with the press. Whoever is behind wants more debates.

There’s lots more—fascinating—and on many other candidates. In not too long, we shall see if Fallows got it right.

* Give me points for not making any reference to the potential for stilted delivery here.

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