Author Archive: Paul Epps

Wandering Boy

16 Aug 2017 /

I hope he’s warm and I hope he’s dry
And that a strangers eye is a friendly eye
And I hope he has someone close by his side
And I hope that he’ll come home

Where is my wandering boy tonight?
Where is my wandering boy?
If you see him, tell him everything is alright
Push him towards the light
Where is my wandering boy?

Randy Newman, “Wandering Boy”

American Workplace: Grueling, Stressful and Surprisingly Hostile?

15 Aug 2017 /

Washington (AP) — The American workplace is grueling, stressful and surprisingly hostile.

So concludes an in-depth study of 3,066 U.S. workers by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles. Among the findings:

— Nearly one in five workers — a share the study calls “disturbingly high” — say they face a hostile or threatening environment at work . . .

If nearly one in five US workers finds their workplace hostile or threatening, that means more than 4 in 5 workers do not find their workplace hostile or threatening.

Assuming these two groups are not in completely separate workplaces, does this finding say something about the workplace or about the people who perceive a hostility that a large majority of their colleagues do not perceive?

Another finding:

— Telecommuting is rare: 78 percent say they are required to be present in their workplace during working hours.

Notice that in this case, 22 percent of workers doing something — telecommuting — is considered “rare,” while less than 20 percent perceiving a hostile environment is considered “disturbingly high.”


10 Reasons That NY Times Chart Might Not Mean What You Think It Means

14 Aug 2017 /

From the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/07/opinion/leonhardt-income-inequality.html
  1. Money is not the only metric for measuring life outcomes. Charts and articles like this seem to reflect an inappropriate obsession with narrowly materialist values.
  2. If you do want to measure your life with money, it looks like the 99th percentile is where you want to be. Why aren’t you there? Why aren’t you a CEO? Why aren’t you making a million a year? If you can’t figure out how to get there, don’t begrudge the people who did figure it out. If you don’t have the education, motivation, intelligence or skills to get there, don’t begrudge those who do.
  3. The amount of wealth is not a fixed amount. It’s not a zero-sum game. If it were, it would be concerning that a few people are very wealthy. But it isn’t.
  4. The distribution of income has to be skewed to the right because income is bounded on the low end by zero but not limited on the upside.
  5. If you can’t imagine why income inequality exists, consider that 25 percent of Americans think the sun goes around the earth.
  6. If you can’t imagine why income inequality exists, consider that half the residents of Detroit can’t read.
  7. People who get upset at the realization that some other people have more than they do make excellent targets for politicians who promise, in return for your vote, to rob the people you envy.
  8. Winners may have more money but losers get more hugs.
  9. I see a lot of articles about income inequality but I don’t meet a lot of ordinary Americans who are concerned about it.
  10. There seems to be a confusion of cause and effect. Did income rise the fastest for people in the top one percent or did people get into the top one percent because their income rose the fastest? If that isn’t clear, consider an example: Did Mark Zuckerberg’s income go way up because he was on the right side of that chart or is he on the right side of the chart because his income went way up?

Pug Photos on Flickr

13 Aug 2017 /

Pug

Pugs


Identity Politics = Liberal Suicide?

13 Aug 2017 /

Mark Lilla is professor of the humanities at Columbia University. He’s got a book coming out, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.

As you might have surmised from his job title, Lilla is a liberal himself. His concern is “the divisive, zero-sum world of identity politics” and its negative effect on liberalism in America.

Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal:

As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate.

Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: Speaking as an X… This is not an anodyne phrase. It sets up a wall against any questions that come from a non-X perspective. Classroom conversations that once might have begun, I think A, and here is my argument, now take the form, Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. What replaces argument, then, are taboos against unfamiliar ideas and contrary opinions. . . .

The politics of identity has done nothing but strengthen the grip of the American right on our institutions. It is the gift that keeps on taking. Now is the time for liberals to do an immediate about-face and return to articulating their core principles of solidarity and equal protection for all. Never has the country needed it more.


Silver and Gold

11 Aug 2017 /

I’m gonna go out dancin’ every night
I’m gonna see all the city lights
I’ll do everything silver and gold
I got to hurry up before I grow too old

I’m gonna take a trip around the world
I’m gonna kiss all the pretty girls
I’ll do everything silver and gold
And I got to hurry up before I grow too old

Oh, I do a lotta things, I know is wrong
Hope I’m forgiven before I’m gone
It’ll take a lotta prayers to save my soul
And I got to hurry up before I grow too old


EppsNet at the Movies: The Matrix

11 Aug 2017 /

The Matrix is 75 percent juvenile philosophizing and 25 percent sci-fi action. Someone must have told the Wachowski brothers (now the Wachowski sisters) that they’re a lot smarter than they really are because the movie would have been much better with 25 percent juvenile philosophizing and 75 percent sci-fi action.

Rating:

The Matrix

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves Neo
Laurence Fishburne Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss Trinity
Hugo Weaving Agent Smith

IMDb rating: 8.7 (1,328,343 votes)


We Know We Have to Improve

9 Aug 2017 /

Saw this on a tech company blog (not Google) :

We know we have to improve the diversity of our teams and the balance of representation amongst our colleagues. We do not want to miss out on the contribution of a potential colleague merely because they are in some way different from the rest of our people.

Yes, that seems obvious. Do you want to miss out on the contribution of a potential colleague merely because they don’t improve the diversity of your teams?

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EppsNet at the Movies: Superbad

7 Aug 2017 /

This inexplicably gets a good rating on IMDb. I couldn’t get through 10 minutes of it. If your age and/or IQ is somewhere in the teens, you might enjoy it.

My rating would be lower but there was one funny joke.

Rating: 1 star

Superbad

Two co-dependent high school seniors are forced to deal with separation anxiety after their plan to stage a booze-soaked party goes awry.

Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Michael Cera Evan
Jonah Hill Seth
Christopher Mintz-Plasse Fogell
Bill Hader Officer Slater

IMDb rating: 7.6 (447,807 votes)


More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of

2 Aug 2017 /

“Hacks” — when used as a synonym for “advice,” “tips” or “recommendations.” Health hacks, productivity hacks, work-life balance hacks, time management hacks, stress management hacks, creativity hacks, memory hacks, etc. . . .

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Paul Epps, Real Hard-Working American

2 Aug 2017 /

A Real American


World Series Ring

1 Aug 2017 /

Our boy went to Chicago on a business trip . . . I was talking to him on the phone when he texted this picture from a Cubs game.

Cubs World Series ring

“That’s a nice ring,” I said.

“It’s a World Series ring.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“One of the ushers let me wear it for the picture.”

Ushers get World Series rings?”

“Everybody in the organization got a ring.”

I guess if you only win a World Series every hundred years or so, you can afford rings for the entire organization. Although I suspect the rings for the actual players have a little extra bling . . .


EppsNet Book Reviews: The Sleepwalkers by Hermann Broch

31 Jul 2017 /

The Sleepwalkers is one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read, very close to the edge of what can be accomplished with the written word.

I had never heard of either the book or the author — neither seems to have any following here in the States — but Amazon for some reason started recommending me post-WWI Austrian modernists.

(I also read Robert Musil’s A Man Without Qualities, which was extremely tedious.)

I don’t know who to compare Broch with, in terms of language, wit, psychological and historical insight — maybe Nietzsche, if Nietzsche had decided to write historical fiction.

The book chronicles, via multiple overlapping narratives, the moral history of Germany in the late 19th and early 20th century, and the disintegration of values that led to fascism.

And in his fear of the voice of judgment that threatens to issue from the darkness, there awakens within him a doubly strong yearning for a Leader to take him tenderly and lightly by the hand, to set things in order and show him the way; a Leader who is no one’s follower and who will precede him on the untrodden path of the closed circle and lead him on to ever-higher reaches, to an ever-brighter revelation; the Leader who will build the house anew that the dead may come to life again, and who himself has risen again from the multitude of the dead; the Healer who by his own actions will give a meaning to the incomprehensible events of the age, so that Time can begin anew.

Rating: 5 stars


Remote Work on the Decline

27 Jul 2017 /

According to LinkedIn:

IBM, Aetna, Reddit, and Bank of America are among a growing list of companies slashing remote work policies. It’s not because employees working from home are less productive; rather, many companies think in-person collaboration just can’t be beat.

I get that. It’s easier to work with people in the same room than with people at some distant point in time and space.

But I can’t help noticing that there are more companies willing to hire hordes of itinerant trainees in a foreign land to write important software (i.e., “outsourcing”), than to let employees write software 15 minutes from the office in their own home.


Like Virgil

23 Jul 2017 /

Like Virgil, I recognize that I may have falsified reality in my attempt to create beauty . . .


Bravery, not perfection.

Posted by on 22 Jul 2017

I Paid My Debt to Society

19 Jul 2017 /
Jury

I paid my debt to society by reporting in for jury duty today. Jury duty is worse than losing a limb. In my experience, if you pick 12 Americans at random, you get nine good, clear-thinking citizens and three people who are like, “Well, anything’s possible.”

For example, the last time I served on a jury, the case involved a defendant who was driving drunk and crashed a car with passengers into a tree. There were photos taken after the crash showing the defendant pinned behind the steering wheel of the car.

His defense? He wasn’t the person driving the car. He didn’t testify himself but that was the defense presented by his attorney. And three of the jurors were like, “Yeah, that’s possible.” Hung jury.

 

Today I survived three rounds of random juror calls in the morning and by lunchtime they started calling names of people to go home, including mine.

The people still left in the jury assembly room didn’t appreciate my exuberant fist pumps on my way out.

In the hallway, I crossed paths with some actual jurors on their way to the cafeteria.

“Let justice be done though the heavens fall!” I exclaimed. They didn’t appreciate me either.


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

17 Jul 2017 /
Infant

Acquisitive yuppies who, instead of holding their infant, wear the child in a harness on their chest, thus keeping their hands free for grabbing more stuff . . .


Mistaken Identity

16 Jul 2017 /

I’m walking through the parking lot at Kohl’s when all of a sudden, the rear hatch on an SUV pops open next to me, even though there’s no one in or around the vehicle.

Then I notice several cars further down is a similar-looking SUV and a woman with an armful of parcels trying to figure out why it won’t open.

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EppsNet at the Movies: Baby Driver

16 Jul 2017 /

The dialogue is awful and the characters are trite — the criminal mastermind in his secret lair, the beautiful but deadly femme fatale, the trigger-happy psychopath, etc. — but once they stop talking and the action kicks in, it’s terrific!

Also: great soundtrack!

Rating: 4-stars

Baby Driver

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort Baby
Jon Bernthal Griff
Jon Hamm Buddy
Eiza González Darling

IMDb rating: 8.2 (91,057 votes)


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