Author Archive: Paul Epps

What Can USC Students Tell Us About Inequality?

Well, according to the New York Times, some USC students jet to Bali for spring break, while some of their classmates work overnight shifts to pay for books! Instead of inequality, think of it as diversity. So now it’s a good thing! The Times for some reason writes USC as U.S.C., even though nobody does that. I’ve noticed the Times always measures life outcomes in terms of money, like that’s the only possible criterion. What ‘s so great about jetting to Bali anyway? What are you going to do, lay on a fucking beach? There are 50 beaches within two hours of USC. It’s the same sun up in the sky. You’re the same person with the same problems in Bali as you are here. You jet to Bali, you jet home, absolute waste of time. Read more →

Yanked Down to the Bottom

In the old party of classic 20th-century Democratic liberalism, they wanted everyone to rise. . . . Now there’s a mood not of Everyone Can Rise but of Some Must Be Taken Down. It’s bitter, resentful, divisive. . . . America is not good guys in a foxhole to them, it’s crabs in a barrel with the one who gets to the top getting yanked down to the bottom — deservedly. — Peggy Noonan Read more →

Cyber Liability Insurance

“Does your company have cyber liability insurance?” an insurance agent asks me. “It protects you against hacking.” “No one I work with is smart enough to hack into anything,” I reply. “Do we still need it?” Read more →

Life is Beautiful, Living is Pain

Hopes rise and dreams flicker and die. Love plans for tomorrow and loneliness thinks of yesterday. Life is beautiful and living is pain. The sound of music floats down a dark street. Hunter S. Thompson Read more →

W.S. Merwin, 1927-2019

I think there’s a kind of desperate hope built into poetry that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time. W.S. Merwin RIP W.S. Merwin Also . . . “Yesterday” by W.S. Merwin How Can You Ever Be Sure? Read more →

The Moral Compass Oscillates

Following up on the college admission scandal . . . Now that we have faces and names, sums of money, and details on specific subterfuges, the level of anger, shock and indignation is much higher than I would have expected regarding what I thought was already taken as a truism: that parents with money and influence can get their kids into colleges that they couldn’t get into on their own merits. Everyone also knows that students are routinely admitted to colleges based on various forms of diversity rather than on academic achievement. Moreover, virtuous Americans agree that tilting the system in this way in favor of academically unqualified individuals is a good thing. I would have thought that the moral question is whether it’s right to tilt the admissions process at all based on non-meritorious criteria such as demographics, including the demographic of having rich parents. If everyone agrees that… Read more →

Are We Agreed That Rigging the College Admissions Process is a Good Thing?

Outraged parents are filing lawsuits in the college admissions scandal . . . One parent, Jennifer Kay Toy of Oakland, believes her son Joshua was not admitted to some colleges because wealthy parents thought it was “ok to lie, cheat, steal [steal?] and bribe their children’s way into a good college.” She has therefore filed a $500 billion lawsuit (sounds reasonable) accusing 45 defendants of defrauding and inflicting emotional distress on everyone whose “rights to a fair chance at entrance to college” were stolen through their alleged conspiracy. Not reported: where (or if) Joshua is actually attending college, or which colleges Ms. Toy thinks he would have been admitted to if not for the aforementioned skulduggery. There are also students filing suits, alleging among other things that their degrees have been devalued by skepticism over the validity of the admission process. I think these lawsuits founder on at least a… Read more →

Signing Your Life Away

I had surgery last week to remove a basal cell carcinoma. It’s a common outpatient procedure but the consent form I was given to sign when I checked in listed out all the worst-case scenarios: I might be disfigured, I might bleed to death, etc. After signing it, I took the form back up to the nurse and said “This information is so alarming that I changed my mind about doing the surgery. See you later.” “Ha ha,” she chuckled. “You’re signing your life away.” “Yes . . . maybe you’re not supposed to say that.” Read more →

Happy Birthday, Johnny Cash

  To honor Johnny Cash on his birthday (Feb 26, 1932), I played this video for my students this morning. Fortunately, God didn’t cut any of them down before the end of class, but sooner or later . . . Read more →

Robert Kraft Charged With Solicitation

As I understand it, he paid for a massage but received some additional services. I’ve seen videos where a man meets up with a female real estate agent and receives services above and beyond a home tour. Sometimes people just hit it off. Or maybe the masseuse was a Patriots fan. Read more →

Skyrocketing Pedestrians

New technology shows promise reducing skyrocketing pedestrian fatalities — CNBC I thought from the headline and the photo that the article was about fatalities involving skyrocketing pedestrians . . . Read more →

Media Using the C-Word (“Crisis”)

White House requests $3.7 billion in emergency funds for border crisis Washington Post  Daniel’s journey: How thousands of children are creating a crisis in America  CNN Shocking Photos Of Humanitarian Crisis On U.S. Border Emerge Huffington Post “$3.7 billion [requested] to cope with the humanitarian crisis on the border and the spike in illegal crossings by unaccompanied minors from Central America.” ABC News Caveat: Those media quotes are from 2014 when President Obama was requesting emergency funds to deal with the border crisis. My go-to question for Democratic politicians would be “How do you respond to the president’s statement that we have a humanitarian crisis at the border?” And when they’re done with their predictably withering response, I’d say, “No, I was referring to President Obama’s statement.” President Obama, thank you for your great support – I have been saying this all along! pic.twitter.com/L506g9Aq4z — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2019 Read more →

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. Read more →

My Boyhood Sports Heroes Are Dying: 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 Read more →

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… Read more →

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. 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… Read more →

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. Kristal retails for £6,000, about $7,800 in US dollars. Nick is described — superfluously, in my opinion — as “single with no children.” Read more →

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 Read more →

5 Questions on the Covington Story

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? Would the story have been reported differently if a white guy was banging a drum in an Indian kid’s face? Would the story have been reported differently if no one was wearing a MAGA hat? Would the story have been reported differently if the kids were girls instead of boys? (Again, assume no MAGA hats.) Should morality of action be calculated based on race, sex and hats? (I’m going to say no to this one.) Read more →

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