Author Archive: Paul Epps

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 Read more →

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. Read more →

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. Read more →

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: 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?! Martin’s response: “I… Read more →

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… Read more →

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 →

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