I Need to Acquire a Quirky Personality Defect

My great uncle died recently . . . of the people who spoke at his funeral, the thing that everyone seemed to zero in on was that he didn’t like to have to tell people how to do something more than once. He told you once and if you didn’t get it, he got angry about it.

I wonder what people will say at my funeral? I don’t know that I have a distinguishing trait that everyone knows.

In any case, I’m going to start telling people things once and once only and then yelling at them if I have to repeat myself.

My Boyhood Sports Heroes Are Dying: Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson played and managed for a number of teams, but I remember him best as part of the Baltimore Oriole teams managed by Earl Weaver, with Mark Belanger, Davey Johnson, Boog Powell, Don Buford, Paul Blair, Andy Etchebarren, Elrod Hendricks, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Tom Phoebus, and fellow Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer.

RIP Frank Robinson

God’s Silence

“But just think of Gethsemane, Vicar. Christ’s disciples fell asleep. They hadn’t understood the meaning of the last supper, or anything. And when the servants of the law appeared, they ran away. And Peter denied him. Christ had known his disciples for three years. They’d lived together day in and day out — but they never grasped what he meant. They abandoned him, to the last man. And he was left alone. That must have been painful. Realizing that no one understands. To be abandoned when you need someone to rely on — that must be excruciatingly painful. But the worse was yet to come. When Jesus was nailed to the cross — and hung there in torment — he cried out — ‘God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?’ He cried out as loud as he could. He thought that his heavenly father had abandoned him. He believed everything he’d ever preached was a lie. The moments before he died, Christ was seized by doubt. Surely that must have been his greatest hardship? God’s silence.”

Winter Light
Winter Light

Youth E-Cig Use Increases Odds of Cigarette Use?

AMERICAN ADOLESCENTS who smoke e-cigarettes are more than four times as likely to try a cigarette … as those who have no prior tobacco use history, a new cohort study finds.

“Youth E-Cig Use Increases Odds of Cigarette Use,” US News

This is from a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, using data from a study between 2013 and 2016 of youths aged 12 to 15 years who had never used cigarettes, e-cigarettes or other tobacco products at the beginning of the time period.

Prior e-cigarette users had 4.09 times the odds of having ever smoked a cigarette compared with peers with no previous tobacco use.

Vaping

That’s the stat I see cited most often, always incorrectly, regarding kids and vaping. The report doesn’t say 4 times more likely to start smoking cigarettes, it says 4 times more likely to have ever smoked a cigarette.

Sometimes it’s cited incorrectly (I suspect) intentionally in support of an agenda, and sometimes it’s cited incorrectly just because journalists don’t understand numbers.

Extrapolating their data, the researchers estimated that 820,414 youths had smoked a cigarette over the examined years, with nearly 180,000 of those having used e-cigarettes previously.

In other words, far more of the kids (> 70 percent) smoking cigarettes had never used e-cigarettes.

Another detail of the study never mentioned in the anti-vaping ads:

Because the PATH study data was observational, the researchers admitted their analysis is unable to “establish causal relations or rule out the possibility of residual confounding by underlying risk-taking propensities.”

They can’t say that vaping “causes” smoking. Vaping and smoking are things that kids may tend to do together because, among other reasons, some kids have a propensity for doing things they’re “not supposed to do.”

Sex Dolls vs. Real Women?

A Sun article comparing the merits of sex dolls vs. real women includes an interview with the man below, Nick, seen with his “girlfriend” Kristal, who enjoys many of the same things Nick does, e.g., sitting on the sofa watching football with a beer and a cigarette.

Nick and Kristal watching football

Kristal retails for £6,000, about $7,800 in US dollars.

Nick is described — superfluously, in my opinion — as “single with no children.”

Arizona is the Next California?

Unfortunately, my experience in Arizona … has been that people have zero ability to correlate specific elements of public policy with particular outcomes.  In particular, people who flee California because it is too expensive and dysfunctional come to Arizona and immediately begin voting for exactly the same policies that made California expensive and dysfunctional.

Coyote Blog

Why is Sexual Harassment the Only Workplace Malfunction That Merits National Attention?

Many workers in Silicon Valley have said tech companies aren’t doing enough to promote women and minorities, or to stamp out misogyny and harassment. — wsj.com

“Not doing enough” . . . I remember last year a female engineer at Uber wrote in a blog post that she was being harassed and mistreated and Uber actually hired the former attorney general of the United States to launch an investigation.

One woman!

The assertion that Uber in particular and Silicon Valley in general are cesspools of misogyny is based on confirmation bias and small sample sizes.

Uber has more than 16,000 employees in 600 cities and 65 countries. If you’re inclined to believe that women are more virtuous and vulnerable than men, then the reported experience of one person out of 16,000 may be enough to confirm you in your view of the world.

A man (or woman) hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest, as Paul Simon has sagely pointed out.

To be fair, the ensuing investigation resulted in the firing of 20 Uber employees, so that raises the sample size from 0.00625 percent to 0.125 percent.

There are lots of ways other than sexual harassment to create a hostile workplace: verbal intimidation, favoritism, overwork, lying to you, lying about you, stealing credit for your work, evaluating you unfairly, threatening you with the loss of your job . . . the list goes on!

Men can lose their wives, lose their kids, destroy their health, all from stress and overwork — and who cares? I’m not saying anyone should care, but why is sexual harassment the only workplace malfunction that merits national attention?

Can we have workplace equity or must we have extra-special handling of one particular grievance?

Thus spoke The Programmer.

5 Questions on the Covington Story

  1. A group of black men taunted a group of white kids as faggots, incest babies and niggers (one kid was black). Would the story have been reported differently if the men were white and the kids were black?
  2. Would the story have been reported differently if a white guy was banging a drum in an Indian kid’s face?
  3. Would the story have been reported differently if no one was wearing a MAGA hat?
  4. Would the story have been reported differently if the kids were girls instead of boys? (Again, assume no MAGA hats.)
  5. Should morality of action be calculated based on race, sex and hats? (I’m going to say no to this one.)

Starbucks Open-Door Poses Challenge

After a much publicized confrontation in a Philadelphia store last year, Starbucks now aims to ensure all visitors to its cafes are treated like paying customers, regardless of whether they purchase anything. All visitors can now use cafe bathrooms and also occupy tables. That policy has brought its own challenges, says a new report in Bloomberg, particularly for baristas and other staff who are forced to regularly confront drug use, homelessness, and mental illness.

LinkedIn

Is Toxic Femininity Also a Thing?

Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, quoted in the New York Post:

The past year I’ve gotten three insanely high settlements for consensual sex as sexual harassment. I think I may be some kind of savant. I get a case. And then I ask a set of lawyers who only do this kind of work what is the best settlement I could hope for. And then I triple it.

I made $2.9 million for a 24 year old girl who had a consensual sexual relationship with her boss.

Buy a $1.7 Million Mansion for $25

Homeowner selling $1.7M mansion for $25 and ‘compelling’ essay

NY Daily News

Here in Southern California, $1.7 million doesn’t buy what I’d call a “mansion,” but this is definitely a mansion, almost 4,000 sq.ft. of living space on a one-acre property.

Those interested in the house, located in Alberta, Canada and boasting scenic mountain views, must pay a $25 entry fee and submit a one page essay about themselves and why they should win the contest. It can be no longer than 350 words.

Mansion

White Privilege Not Limited to White People?

Here’s a radio exchange between CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, a black woman, and Sirius XM radio and Fox Nation host David Webb:

David Webb

WEBB: I’ve chosen to cross different parts of the media world, done the work so that I’m qualified to be in each one. I never considered my color the issue, I considered my qualifications the issue.

MARTIN: That’s a whole, another long conversation about white privilege, the things that you have the privilege of doing, that people of color don’t have the privilege of.

WEBB (dumbfounded): How do I have the privilege of white privilege?

MARTIN: David, by virtue of being a white male you have white privilege.

WEBB: Areva, I hate to break it to you, but you should’ve been better prepped. I’m black.

Wait, so you mean “white privilege” is just a generic insult to throw at people you know nothing about?!

Surprise

Martin’s response: “I stand corrected.”

CNN Runs “Breaking News” From BuzzFeed

On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that President Trump “directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.”

Robert Mueller’s office, which in 20 months has never issued a comment on a media report, then released this statement: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

It’s hard to know who to believe!

CNN actually ran with the BuzzFeed report as Breaking News:

For some reason, CNN objects to being called “fake news,” but a real news organization (I can’t think of one offhand) doesn’t broadcast an unconfirmed report from a clickbait site, no matter how bad it makes Donald Trump look, and no matter how much they would like it to be true.

Bucket List: Total a Car and Walk Away From It

Clerks at rental car counters always use the same phrase to push the collision damage waiver: You can total the car and walk away from it.

Unless totaling the car renders me unable to walk.

I’ve added that to my bucket list: total a car and walk away from it . . .

Mary Oliver, 1935 – 2019

Mary OliverMary Oliver was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She died today of lymphoma at the age of 83.

The Poetry Foundation has a biography and a selection of poems, although I prefer the selection at the Peaceful Rivers site.

Her work had a Whitmanesque love of life. I’ve included one of my favorites here:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

RIP Mary Oliver

Teaching Computer Science: Priorities

When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.

— Albert Shanker, President of the United Federation of Teachers (1964-1984) and President of the American Federation of Teachers (1974-1997)

It’s a problem in my profession that the number of schools that want to teach computer science far exceeds the number of computer science majors who want to teach computer science.

The opportunity cost is too high. Computer science majors can earn a lot more working as software engineers than working as teachers.

I volunteer a couple mornings a week to help with computer science instruction at a local high school. This school has a teacher, originally hired as a math teacher, who must be well into her fourth decade of teaching. 

She now teaches computer science classes — poorly, but she teaches them. Because of her professional longevity, she makes a six-figure income with a generous benefits package.

If providing the best possible computer science education were a top priority, the school would take advantage of her imminent retirement to replace her with an actual computer science major at the same salary.

Unfortunately, providing the best possible education is not a top priority. What is a top priority is making sure that teachers are paid based on years of service . . . that there’s no Teacher A who makes more than Teacher B if B has been around longer.

This may not produce the best possible education . . . it may be antithetical to producing the best possible education . . . but it’s a top priority. 

Thus spoke The Programmer.

The Interests of Schoolchildren

LAUSD teacher strikeMore than 30,000 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) went on strike this week. LAUSD serves 640,000 students and is the second biggest school district in the country.

The mean annual wage for LAUSD teachers is $75,000.

In the local reporting I’m seeing on the strike, teachers and union reps are unanimous in saying that they’re striking for the benefit of the schoolchildren.

I’m reminded of something Albert Shanker — former president of the United Federation of Teachers (1964-1984) and the American Federation of Teachers (1974-1997) — used to say:

When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.

I can’t say for certain that the LA union reps are being disingenuous but it does make sense that they’d be representing the interests of the people who are paying them.

EppsNet at the Movies: The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words is a beautiful short film about loneliness and love and longing, inspired by verses from the Manyoshu, an anthology of ancient Japanese poems:

A faint clap of thunder
Clouded skies
Perhaps rain will come
If so, will you stay here with me?

A faint clap of thunder
Even if rain comes or not
I will stay here
Together with you.

Rain is a central motif in the film. Like the force of love, it can’t be controlled or stopped.

Highly recommended!

Rating: 5 stars

 

The Garden of Words

A 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman find an unlikely friendship one rainy day in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

 

Director: Makoto Shinkai
Cast: Miyu Irino, Kana Hanazawa, Fumi Hirano, Gou Maeda

IMDb rating: 7.6 (23294 votes)

How the Bezos Divorce Rewrites the World’s Richest People List

Current

  1. Jeff Bezos, $140 billion
  2. Bill Gates, $90 billion
  3. Warren Buffett, $84 billion
  4. Bernard Arnault, $72 billion
  5. Mark Zuckerberg, $71 billion

Future

  1. Bill Gates, $90 billion
  2. Warren Buffett, $84 billion
  3. Bernard Arnault, $72 billion
  4. Mark Zuckerberg, $71 billion
  5. Jeff Bezos, $70 billion
  6. MacKenzie Bezos, $70 billion

Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?

— Thomas Sowell