Posts By Author » Thomas Purcell
Hey, Big Spenders
20 May 2013 12:05 am
I don’t know who they are, but I’ve got to hand it to them. I’m too cynical to do what they do.
I speak of the Americans who, every year, donate money to pay down America’s national debt.
The Bureau of the Public Debt – part of the Treasury Department – began allowing such donations in 1961. According to Title 31, Chapter 31 of the U.S. Code, any citizen is free to give a “gift” to Treasury, under the condition that the money will be used only to pay down the debt.
Speech to the Best Graduating Class Ever
19 May 2013 12:05 am
Students, faculty, family members and friends, it is my great honor to deliver your commencement speech today.
It is my opinion that our society must take every opportunity to praise our young people for their hard work and accomplishment, and that is why ceremonies such as this are so important to our country’s future.
It was not so long ago, after all, that a more conservative America saw things differently. What a harsh place America once was – particularly for our young students.
So primitive were educational practices when I was young that …
100 Years is Enough For Me, Pal
13 May 2013 12:05 am
Here’s one potential advance in science that has me worried: human beings may eventually live a really long time.
According to the World Future Society, we are in the early phases of a superlongevity revolution. Thanks to advances nanotechnology and cell and gene manipulation, scientists may eventually learn how to keep humans alive from 120 to 500 years.
Which prompts an important question: Do we really want to live that long?
Sure a longer life would have its upside. I’d love to have my parents around forever. I’d love to swing by forSunday dinner …
No-Fault Internet Addiction
12 May 2013 12:05 am
Online chat host: Good morning, cyber pals. As you know, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the psychiatric “bible,” is to be released this month. It will include “Internet-Use Disorder” – also referred to as Internet addiction – as a condition recommended for further psychiatric study. Our guest today is Dr. Adam Von Cybercruncher, America’s leading authority on Internet addiction.
Dr. Adam: Hello, all. More people are spending hours online to the detriment of their families, friends, jobs and other responsibilities. But as is …
Why American Sensibility Is “Distressed”
6 May 2013 12:01 am
I turned 51 last week and it’s official: I have turned into my father.
The world makes less sense to me every day. My fellow man puzzles me more every day.
I cite exhibit A: crappy stone walls. I know a woman who paid $10,000 to have a small stone retaining wall built along her driveway.
Now I used to be a stonemason — I rebuilt close to 200 such walls during my high school and college years — and I was shocked to learn that hers was a new wall. It was …
Reverse Psychology vs. the Nanny State
5 May 2013 12:05 am
Get this: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban the sale of cigarettes – now legal to people at age 18 – to people younger than 21.
Yeah, that ought to work!
Bloomberg, as you may know, has become the nation’s poster child for nanny-state policies. He wants to ban the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces – but a judge overturned the proposal. The city is appealing.
He has already banned, or tried to ban, trans fats, smoking in public places and salty foods. And now he wants to …
Beware the American Prom
29 Apr 2013 12:05 am
Proms sure have gotten expensive these days.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, high school kids spend nearly $4 billion annually for dresses, accessories, flowers, beauty products, limos and other prom-related items. The average couple spends upward of $1,000 for the one-time event.
That got me thinking about my own prom in 1980.
I didn’t know my date very well. She was in my photography class, pretty and, more important, available. We arranged a pre-prom meeting to get to know each other. We played tennis on a blistering-hot day, then headed back …
That’s America to Me
28 Apr 2013 12:05 am
I listened to a Frank Sinatra tune this week – “The House I Live In” – and enjoyed a renewed desire to fight on.
Sinatra performed the patriotic song in an 11-minute movie short that was made in 1945, shortly after the conclusion of the war.
In the short, Sinatra steps out of a recording studio into an alley, where he confronts a group of kids chasing a smaller boy. He learns that the smaller boy was being picked on by the others because of his religion.
Sinatra explains to the kids that …
The Higher Our Tech, the Ruder We Get
21 Apr 2013 12:05 am
Get this: Social media are making us ruder.
According to Reuters, social media users face “an increase in rudeness online with people having no qualms about being less polite virtually than in person.”
I think our rudeness began ticking up with the introduction of another technological innovation: the telephone.
As phones became commonplace in American homes, people could communicate miles apart with each other – rather than being face-to-face.
People are much more likely to say things over the phone that they would never try to get away with saying while looking you in …
The Wit and Wisdom of Will Rogers
21 Apr 2013 12:05 am
Things are mighty heated these days. Tempers are flaring and minds are closed. Here’s the solution: the wit and wisdom of Will Rogers.
“The short memory of voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”
“We’ve got the best politicians that money can buy.”
“A fool and his money are soon elected.”
Rogers spoke these words during the Great Depression, but they’re just as true today. With 24-hour news channels, our memories are shorter than ever. And in the mass-media age, the politician who can afford the most airtime frequently wins.
“Things in our country …
8 Apr 2013 12:05 am
I found something on the IRS Web site I never expected to see: quotations from great minds on taxes.
The first two agitated me:
“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice
“The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government.” – James Madison, U.S. president
Hey, fellows, I don’t mind paying taxes for a civilized society. It’s paying for the uncivilized part that grates on me. And I’m happy for the existence of our government, but, goodness, …
A Political Dropout Confesses
7 Apr 2013 12:05 am
After feeling guilty of late for losing interest in America’s political landscape, I decided to go to confession.
“Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. Like so many low-information voters, I am having trouble maintaining interest in what is going on in Washington.”
“Explain, my son.”
“Father, polls by the Pew Research Center and others routinely show that the percentage of Americans who closely follow politics and government is relatively low. Only about one-third of Americans are informed.”
“You’re saying that 70 percent of Americans aren’t paying close attention to what’s happening in Washington?”
Springtime in Washington
1 Apr 2013 12:03 am
Ah, springtime has arrived in Washington, D.C.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is under way. The cherry trees, 3,700 of them given to America by the Japanese in 1912, are in full bloom.
One incident involving the trees reminds me why Americans are so wary of Washington.
In the spring of 1999, you see, some culprits had been chopping down cherry trees.
The National Park Service, in a state of high alert for days, finally identified the tree fellers: three beavers, who decided to construct a dam in the Tidal Basin.
In a normal city, …
Not the Devil, but Silver-Tongued
31 Mar 2013 12:05 am
The devil is in the details.
Maybe I’d better explain.
As it goes, the hit History Channel show, “The Bible,” was recently called out because the actor playing the part of Satan, Moroccan-born Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, looks eerily similar to President Obama.
I don’t think Obama is the devil, but he surely has one characteristic that old Beelzebub is known for: a silver tongue.
See, many people think that if they met the devil in person, he’d be a foul-smelling, abrupt and frightening creature. The fact is, he’d appear to be the exact opposite.
Income Tax 101
24 Mar 2013 12:05 am
Ah, the income tax preparation season is upon us.
You’re probably wondering why you have to spend a couple of weekends barricaded in a room, sorting through receipts in the faint hope of complying with our confusing income tax laws.
The income tax first came to America in 1861. Americans paid it to help finance the Civil War, but come 1871 – six years after the war – the tax was repealed.
Some politicians, however, took a liking to it. They tried for the next 20 years to reinstate it. But the Supreme …
Exclusive Excerpt from: “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!”
18 Mar 2013 12:05 am
How Not to Honor St. Patrick
Ah, St. Patrick’s Day is upon us.
That means but one thing: time for Americans to over-celebrate the Irish tradition.
I speak of the goofy Leprechaun hats, the gaudy green buttons and scarves and the propensity to drink excessive amounts of alcohol at fake Irish pubs while trying to be authentically Irish.
Though I’m not entirely without guilt.
Eight years ago in a gentrified section of Washington, D.C., I visited a fake Irish pub a few weeks before St. Patrick’s Day. My group included my cousin, my friends Bergen, …
The Many Woes of Telecommuting
17 Mar 2013 12:05 am
Last week, Best Buy joined Yahoo to ban employees from telecommuting – a subject on which I am becoming an expert.
As a self-employed writer, I telecommute every day. Thanks to the Internet and my cell phone, I can work for clients from anywhere – my home office, a coffee shop, a campsite in the woods.
And it’s starting to get to me.
Initially, I thought I’d achieved a dream. I wear blue jeans every day. I set my own schedule. No longer do I waste time in rush-hour traffic or sit in …
Needed This St. Patrick’s Day: Ronald Reagan
11 Mar 2013 12:02 am
It was on St. Patrick’s Day 1988 when an unexpected visitor arrived at Pat Troy’s Irish pub in Alexandria, Va – President Ronald Reagan.
For 27 years, it’s been a favorite watering hole for Washington insiders. Some of Reagan’s advance men had been regulars. They secretly arranged the president’s visit.
Just before noon, the pub was half-packed when Reagan and his entourage arrived. As news got around, the pub quickly filled to capacity. While Reagan enjoyed a pint of Harp and some corned beef and cabbage, Troy was so busy tending to …
My Mother and Father School the Senate
10 Mar 2013 12:05 am
“All right,” said my mother, standing before the members of the U.S. Senate, “it’s time for you to get your act together.”
“That’s right,” said my father. “You fools haven’t passed an annual budget in more than three years!”
“What is this thing you call a ‘budget’?” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
“For the love of God,” said my mother. “A budget is a framework that sets priorities for spending based on the income or revenue one receives. In the case of the government, it allocates funds among different programs in …
Navigating the Second Amendment
4 Mar 2013 12:05 am
“When you get mugged, there are certain rules you must follow,” my friend and his wife explained to me as we walked from a Washington, D.C., pub to their condo.
“When I get mugged?”
“Muggers are polite when you follow their instructions, but they get surly when you are rude,” said his wife.
“How can you be rude to a mugger?”
“Ignoring the mugger is rude,” said my friend. “This will give him license to strike you with a blunt object.”
“Making eye contact is also rude,” said his wife. “Look only at the …