Asleep at the Senate

On February 7, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence became the first Vice President to cast the tie-breaking vote in the US Senate for the confirmation of a cabinet member. Under the terms of the Constitution, the Vice President presides over the Senate, but does not have a vote except for the purpose of breaking a... Continue Reading →

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A Grave Omission

How do you briefly describe a life when the life is that of Thomas Jefferson? In his 83 years Jefferson succeeded in leaving an indelible impression on the nation he helped create. To begin to list his accomplishments is to invite omission. Fortunately, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his... Continue Reading →

The Original Absent-Minded Professor

Oxford Professor William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930) is best remembered for his tendency to swap letters, words, or parts of words when he spoke. The result -- known as spoonerisms -- are generally more memorable than the originally-intended phrase. Some of Spooner's more-famous examples include: Spoken Intended fighting a liar lighting a fire you hissed my... Continue Reading →

Never Argue With a Judge — Even When He Calls Himself an Idiot

When Tristan Ellis, a notorious burglar, showed up in front of Australian Judge Dean Mildren on March 29, 2004, it was the third time that year he had been arrested. The judge was amazed that Ellis had been released on bail for the third time in a year, even after flagrantly ignoring a court-imposed curfew.... Continue Reading →

Keep Track of All Participants in Your Conversation

The distinguished British actor Sir John Gielgud sometimes lost track of the identity of the person with whom he was speaking. This occasionally generated some awkwardness. Once, while dining in a restaurant with a playwright, Gielgud spied someone he thought he recognized. "Did you see that man just coming in?" he asked his companion. "He’s... Continue Reading →

I Bet He Wished He Could Forget That He Was Hungry, Too

Sir Isaac Newton was sometimes very absentminded. One day a visitor stopped by to see him. A servant told the visitor that he would have to sit down and wait, since Sir Isaac was in his study and could not be disturbed. Soon another servant brought in Newton's dinner--a boiled chicken under a cover--and sat... Continue Reading →

Funny… I Don’t Remember Being Absentminded

Jean de La Fontaine was a 17th century French author who wrote simple animal stories that contained elements of satire and social criticism. He was famous for his absentmindedness. He once called at the house of a friend whom he hadn't seen in some time. When reminded that his friend had died six months earlier,... Continue Reading →

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