Author Archive: Paul Epps

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 . . . Read more →

Mary Oliver, 1935 – 2019

Mary 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… Read more →

The Interests of Schoolchildren

More 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. Read more →

EppsNet at the Movies: 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:     Director: Cast: IMDb rating: ( votes) Read more →

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

Current Jeff Bezos, $140 billion Bill Gates, $90 billion Warren Buffett, $84 billion Bernard Arnault, $72 billion Mark Zuckerberg, $71 billion Future Bill Gates, $90 billion Warren Buffett, $84 billion Bernard Arnault, $72 billion Mark Zuckerberg, $71 billion Jeff Bezos, $70 billion MacKenzie Bezos, $70 billion Read more →

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

Profanity in Book Titles

Powell’s Books emailed a list of self-care titles aimed at making readers happier and healthier and saner. A surprisingly high (to me) percentage of the titles — 3 out of 25 (12 percent) — contain the word “fuck.” One title includes the word “shit” but it’s also one of the titles that uses “fuck” so I’m not going to double-count it. Is this a new publishing industry strategy to reawaken people’s interest in reading? Personally I don’t care for it . . . Read more →

Competitive Programming: TopCoder – Marketing

[Link to problem] Problem Statement You work for a very large company that markets many different products. In some cases, one product you market competes with another. To help deal with this situation you have split the intended consumers into two groups, namely Adults and Teenagers. If your company markets 2 products that compete with each other, selling one to Adults and the other to Teenagers will help maximize profits. Given a list of the products that compete with each other, you are going to determine whether all can be marketed such that no pair of competing products are both sold to Teenagers or both sold to Adults. If such an arrangement is not feasible your method will return -1. Otherwise, it should return the number of possible ways of marketing all of the products. The products will be given in a compete whose kth element describes product k. The kth element will be… Read more →

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Caveat: The book advises against saying things like “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” So you can be an influential person with lots of friends but you’ll have to put up with a lot of nonsense . . . Read more →

2018: The Year in Books

These are the books I read in 2018, roughly in the order listed. The ratings are mine. They don’t represent a consensus of opinion. Books of the Year: Middlemarch by George Eliot (fiction), Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders (contemporary fiction) and Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling (non-fiction). My Library at LibraryThing Read more →

How Our Careers Affect Our Children

Mothers spending time on themselves — on relaxation and self-care — and not so much on housework, was associated with positive outcomes for children. It’s not just a matter of mothers being at home versus at work, it’s what they do when they’re at home with their non-work time. If mothers were not with their children so they could take care of themselves, there was no ill effect on their children.  But to the extent that mothers were engaged in housework, children were more likely to be beset by behavior problems. — “How Our Careers Affect Our Children”, Harvard Business Review We’re studying the effects of working mothers, mothers spending time on themselves, mothers engaged in housework . . . I wonder what is the effect of mothers actually spending time with their children? Read more →

Competitive Programming: UVa 612 – DNA Sorting

[Link to problem] One measure of “unsortedness” in a sequence is the number of pairs of entries that are out of order with respect to each other. For instance, in the letter sequence DAABEC, this measure is 5, since D is greater than four letters to its right and E is greater than one letter to its right. This measure is called the number of inversions in the sequence. The sequence AACEDGG has only one inversion (E and D) — it is nearly sorted — while the sequence ZWQM has 6 inversions (it is as unsorted as can be — exactly the reverse of sorted). You are responsible for cataloging a sequence of DNA strings (sequences containing only the four letters A, C, G, and T). However, you want to catalog them, not in alphabetical order, but rather in order of “sortedness,” from “most sorted” to “least sorted.” All the strings… Read more →

Heaven’s Door

Did you know Bob Dylan has a line of American whiskeys? Merry Christmas to me! (From me.) Read more →

Student Loan Debt Sets Record

U.S. Student Loan Debt Sets Record, Doubling Since Recession — Bloomberg What happened to parents saving up to pay for college? Is that not a thing anymore? I don’t find it morally defensible to encourage a kid to incorporate academics into his or her life from an early age, to emphasize the importance of education, then when the kid is admitted to college to say “Congratulations, here’s your student loan application. Have fun paying that off till you’re 60.” Read more →

More Christmas Songs That Should Be Banned

A pair of hop-a-long boots and a pistol that shootsIs the wish of Barney and BenDolls that’ll talk and will go for a walkIs the hope of Janice and Jen — “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” Baby dolls for little girls and guns for little boys?! Continuing to segregate and advertise toys based on gender just works to perpetuate nasty sexist stereotypes, plus it severely limits the development of all young people. Be sure to engage in a conversation about sexism with your friends and families over the holidays! Read more →

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The youngIn one another’s arms, birds in the trees– Those dying generations – at their song,The salmon?falls, the mackerel?crowded seas,Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer longWhatever is begotten, born, and dies.Caught in that sensual music all neglectMonuments of unageing intellect. An aged man is but a paltry thing,A tattered coat upon a stick, unlessSoul clap its hands and sing, and louder singFor every tatter in its mortal dress,Nor is there singing school but studyingMonuments of its own magnificence;And therefore I have sailed the seas and comeTo the holy city of Byzantium. O sages standing in God’s holy fireAs in the gold mosaic of a wall,Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,And be the singing?masters of my soul.Consume my heart away; sick with desireAnd fastened to a dying animalIt knows not what it is; and gather meInto the artifice of eternity.… Read more →

The Time for Song and Frivolity is Over!

A colleague went to see his son’s Christmas pageant, a day care thing where the kids try to sing “Jingle Bells.”  He says once his older daughter got to kindergarten, the school didn’t do singing Christmas shows anymore . . . THIS IS KINDERGARTEN! THE TIME FOR SONG AND FRIVOLITY IS OVER! DO YOU HEAR YOUR PARENTS GOING AROUND SINGING ALL THE TIME? THAT’S WHAT GROWING UP IS ALL ABOUT! ALL JOYOUS ACTIVITIES ARE SURRENDERED OR STRIPPED AWAY FROM YOU! Read more →

Activities That No One Does Anymore

I got an email today from a company wanting to introduce me to their faxing API (Application Programming Interface). Faxing!? Will they also help me do other activities that no one does anymore, like playing the zither or baking my own bread? Read more →

Are You Sure?

I was closing out of Remote Desktop Connection Manager and got the popup shown here. Am I sure? To the extent that we can really be sure about anything, then yes I’m sure. Why is the No option selected as the default? Is there an assumption that I’m flying by the seat of my pants, acting randomly and without certitude?  That I’m not a confident person? That I lack the courage of my convictions? Read more →

« Previous PageNext Page »