Author Archive: Paul Epps

I’d Like to Believe in the Existence of a Loving God . . .

11 Mar 2017 /
Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church

. . . but I can’t. The quality of evidence is very poor.

Do you believe in ghosts, fortune tellers, psychics, werewolves, vampires, astrology, alien visitations . . .?

I don’t believe in any of those things, but they’re all out there and a lot of people do believe in a lot of things for which the quality of evidence is very poor.

Do you believe that a cow jumped over the moon? I remember reading about it but the quality of evidence is very poor. It seems to be just another made-up story . . .


Why Should Men (or Women) Have to Pay for Prenatal Coverage?

10 Mar 2017 /

Illinois rep asks why men should have to pay for prenatal coverageLA Times

Evidently the LAT thinks this a hopelessly stupid question, but why? ObamaCare requires that all health plans cover pregnancy and childbirth, even though pregnancy and childbirth insurance is expensive and many people (including women) don’t need or want it.

Why is a man or woman not afforded the option to buy a less expensive health plan without pregnancy and childbirth coverage? Why is that not an option?

Even though the LAT frames the issue as a stupid question asked by a stupid white male, why should women in their 50s or 60s or 70s be paying for pregnancy and childbirth insurance? Or women of any age if they don’t want it?

Why is this law restricting our options and forcing people to pay for expensive things that they don’t need or want?


The Things We Have That Go

10 Mar 2017 /
Sara Teasdale

It was a spring that never came;
But we have lived enough to know
That what we never have, remains;
It is the things we have that go.

— Sara Teasdale, St. Louis poetess, who drowned herself many years ago, circa 1933

Or as Jesus used to say, “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”


A Visit to LACMA: Picasso, Rivera, Modern Art, Renaissance and Reformation

9 Mar 2017 /

Here are some photos from a recent trip to LACMA . . .

We started at the Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time exhibit:

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From there, we visited a modern art exhibit — The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L — a celebration of the renowned Los Angeles print workshop Gemini G.E.L founded 50 years ago in 1966.

For example, here are some black rectangles by Richard Serra:

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Josef Albers also painted a bunch of rectangles (squares, actually) but took things a step further by using different colors:

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Ellsworth Kelly really pushed the envelope by using not only different colors but different four-sided shapes (e.g., trapezoids and parallelograms).

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I had a couple of thoughts on the Gemini G.E.L. exhibit juxtaposed with Picasso and Rivera:

  1. Some people need to get serious.
  2. Some people should be ashamed of themselves.

Rather than end on that note, here are are a couple of pieces from the Renaissance and Reformation exhibit:

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Keep the Channel Open

6 Mar 2017 /
Martha Graham

Martha Graham, 1948

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urge that motivates you.

Keep the channel open.


At the Post Office

3 Mar 2017 /
Mail truck

It’s Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 PM . . . I’m trying to overnight some documents to Reno, NV.

“They won’t get there tomorrow,” I’m informed. “It’s too late. They’ll get there on Friday before noon. So if you don’t want to spend 23 dollars for Express Mail, you can send them Priority Mail for 6 dollars.”

“Will 6 dollars guarantee that they arrive on Friday?”

“No, no guarantee.”

“OK then I have to go with the 23 dollar option. And by the way, why can’t you get documents to Reno by tomorrow? I could personally deliver them to Reno by tomorrow and it’s not even my job.”


If My Father Were Alive . . .

3 Mar 2017 /

If my father were alive he would look at you and he would say, “Well my impression is –” then he would look at you and think suddenly “What is the use?”

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Will Ferrell as USC Commencement Speaker

3 Mar 2017 /


Nothing Can Bring You Peace But Yourself

3 Mar 2017 /
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

AP Computer Science Revisited

6 Feb 2017 /

I got a LinkedIn invitation today from a student I taught in an AP Computer Science class a couple of years ago.

She’s now a computer science major at UCSB. Several of the kids from that class are now in college as computer science majors. Some of them would have been computer science majors anyway, without the class — they came in already having programming interest and experience — but this young lady was not in that group.

She was quiet in class but when I worked with her one on one, she asked a lot of questions. She asked them quietly but she asked. And when I told her to do something a certain way she always asked why.

She only has four connections at this time so I appreciate her thinking of me. ๐Ÿ™‚

LinkedIn


It’s Hard to Tell the Violent, Intolerant Fascists Without a Scorecard

2 Feb 2017 /

Sometimes it’s hard to remember which side the violent, intolerant fascists are on. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mario Savio is spinning in his grave (I hope) . . .


Mary Tyler Moore, 1936-2017

25 Jan 2017 /
Mary Tyler Moore

I gave up watching TV about 20 years ago when I realized that for 10 years before that, I hadn’t seen anything I enjoyed watching, just people with strained expressions on their faces saying nonsensical things to each other.

My fondest memory of television is the CBS Saturday night lineup that I watched as a kid: All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show, and I will always have fond memories of Mary Tyler Moore.

RIP MTM

Footnote: Those shows were followed on Saturday nights by The Carol Burnett Show, which I didn’t watch because Carol Burnett was not funny.

Not to say women can’t be funny, but it seems like the women with the greatest comedic reputations — Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, for example — are never funny.

To be fair, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway were not funny either.


Which Shirt Would You Be Afraid to Wear?

23 Jan 2017 /
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Putting your own politics aside, let’s say you have two T-shirts: one with a pro-Trump slogan like “Make America Great Again” and one with an anti-Trump slogan like “Not My President.”

Which one would you be more afraid to wear in public?

Or to put it another way: which shirt do you think would be more likely to draw the ire of violent sociopaths?


One Thing We Can All Agree Upon

23 Jan 2017 /

I don’t know if the Trump inauguration was the most watched in history but I know it was watched by more people than the Hillary Clinton inauguration . . .


Strong Opinions on Betsy DeVos

18 Jan 2017 /

I’m seeing on Facebook that a lot of people have strong (negative) opinions today about Betsy DeVos, who has been nominated as Secretary of Education, despite the fact that 99.9 percent of them had never heard of Betsy DeVos until about five minutes ago.

Why do people suddenly have a strong opinion about someone they’ve never heard of? How is this possible?

Because they’ve been instructed to have a strong opinion about Betsy DeVos in order to be consistent with the image that they have of themselves and the groups they want to fit in with.

BTW I have no opinion about Betsy DeVos at the moment because I had never heard of her until about five minutes ago . . .

Betsy DeVos


The Washington Post Owes Trump Opponents an Apology

15 Jan 2017 /

Citing backlash, singer Jennifer Holliday pulls out of Trump inauguration concertThe Washington Post

The Washington Post better check its facts because unlike Trump himself, his opponents are broad-minded, tolerant people . . .


Parenting Blunders Ranked

2 Jan 2017 /
American pit bull terrier

In other pit bull news, our neighbors across the street, who have a 5-year-old son, just brought home a 1-year-old pit bull from the animal shelter.

This is a terrible idea because they don’t know the background of the dog, what is its history with people, adults, children, with other dogs, etc.

Of course that’s true of rescue dogs of any breed, but the worst-case scenarios with most breeds don’t include maiming or killing a family member, probably your 5-year-old.

Even the most poorly socialized pug, golden retriever, chihuahua, etc., is not going to kill anyone.

By the way, I think pit bulls are great dogs but they need to be socialized and trained. I wouldn’t get one from an animal shelter because I don’t know the background of the dog.

As parenting blunders go, this is not quite up there with letting your child fall into a gorilla enclosure, but it’s close . . .


Don’t Put a Sweater on a Pit Bull

2 Jan 2017 /

Police in Florida say a dog named Scarface attacked a family who tried to put a sweater on it.

Tampa police say the pit bull mix bit a 52-year-old woman who was trying to dress it Friday and her husband was attacked while trying to pull the dog off her. Police say the couple’s 22-year-old son was attacked while trying to stop the dog by stabbing it in the neck and head.

The three people escaped the house and left the dog in the backyard. They ended up in the hospital.

Italian greyhound

Woman attacked when she tries to put a sweater on the dog, husband attacked when he tries to pull the dog off his wife, son attacked while trying to stab the dog in the neck and head . . . meet your average, run-of-the-mill pit bull owners.

Folks, if you feel like you really must put a sweater on your dogs and you don’t want to end up in the hospital or the morgue, the dog of choice is the Italian greyhound. Those shivery little fuckers love to wear sweaters.

Visit any dog park in the fall or winter months and you’ll see IGs prancing about in sweaters, often hand-made by the owners. It is a match made in heaven.


Why Do We Need the Sign?

1 Jan 2017 /

I saw this in the men’s room of Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon . . .

Why is that sign necessary? Were people complaining, “The toilet water in the men’s room tastes a little off“?

“Yes, that’s because it’s sewage. Man, we gotta put up a sign.”

Granted, there’s no bottled water sold in the national park (because of the plastic) but there are other options available before you resort to drinking toilet water.


To Whom it May Concern

30 Dec 2016 /

I can’t decide if you’re more fatuous than vacuous or the other way around, but you are definitely complacently inane . . .

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