A Couple of News Items Out of USC

USC logo
  1. Students from U.S. families with an annual income of $80,000 or less with typical assets will attend USC tuition-free.
  2. The Trojans cancelled the scheduled Sept. 4, 2021 football game vs. UC Davis. UC Davis is the kind of FCS (i.e., minor league) program that SEC schools love to load up their non-conference schedules with. The only three FBS schools never to have played an FBS program are USC, Notre Dame and UCLA. To me, that is a point of pride. I was very disappointed when I heard they scheduled the game and I’m glad they cancelled it.

Russia Trying to Help Sanders Campaign?

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaignWashington Post

Wait, I thought the precedent set under the Obama administration was to not brief the campaign and get an illegal warrant to surveil staffers?

HW’s Whiskey Reviews: Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye

Basil Hayden's Dark Rye

I know it’s customary in talking about whiskey to talk about “notes” of vanilla, toffee, hammers, etc.

But let me just say that I like my whiskeys the way I like my women: dark and rich.

Rating: 5 stars

EppsNet Restaurant Reviews: Sasabune


The innovation is the warm, vinegar-flavored rice and the wide, almost circular cut of the fish. Also, unlike Oshima (in this reviewer’s opinion, the best sushi establishment in Orange County), the chef did not have such a pronounced accent that I couldn’t understand what he was saying when he presented the fish.

Try to maintain your equanimity when you see the bill, which for us came to about $120 per person (no sake or other beverages), so you don’t look like a rube.

Rating: 5 stars

Why is Michael Bloomberg a “Racist”?


Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York. That’s true in virtually every city.

That’s an old quote from Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, cited in “The Notorious Michael R. Bloomberg: His racist stop-and-frisk policy as New York mayor can’t be forgotten.” in the New York Times.

My first thought is, instead of jumping right to calling the man a “racist” (translation: “anyone who disagrees with me”), run the numbers and tell us if the statement is true. My sense is that he might be a little off on the numbers but not a lot.

And my second thought is that the statement is both sexist and ageist but to my knowledge no one has objected to anything but the racial angle.

Lowering the Trauma Bar


More than a hundred faculty members at Ball State University signed a letter to the student newspaper saying, in part, “We support our students of color as they deal with the trauma of these events and navigate its fallout.”

The traumatic events, as it turns out, are that a marketing professor asked a black student to move to a different seat in the classroom and the student declined to move.

First, why make a racial thing out of it? If my son, who is not black, were asked by a college professor to move seats, my hope is that he would would move seats, and if he didn’t want to move, he’d move anyway.

Certainly there’s room for personal interpretation, but to me a traumatic event would be, say, losing a limb, or witnessing a murder. Being asked to move seats in a classroom is not a traumatic event.

I teach classes and I not infrequently politely ask students to move if it seems that they’ve got themselves on an island too far away from the rest of the group.

Who is helped by revving up numskulls to think that being asked to switch seats in a classroom is a traumatic event?

When I Write the Book


And when I write the book about my love
It will be about a man who’s torn in half
About his hopes and ambitions wasted through the years
The pain will be written on every page in tears
When I write the book about my love

— Nick Lowe, “When I Write the Book”

Rip it Up

Speaker rips up SOTU

The Speaker’s decision to tear up the SOTU speech was A) childish; and B) well . . . I can’t think of a succinct word for B, but bear in mind that a number of people were recognized during the speech: The Tuskegee Airman and his great-grandson, people honored for service to country, people who have lost family members, and so on . . . I’d like to get a sound bite on how they felt about having the document ripped up.

Especially the bereaved. How did it feel to have the public record of your loss ripped up right in front of you?

I’d like to see party leaders — and adults in general, really — have the mental capacity and self-control and whatever it takes to refrain from doing something like that.

Harvey Weinstein’s Lead Defense Attorney the “Ultimate Feminist”?


Insider has an interview with Harvey Weinstein’s lead defense attorney, Donna Rotunno, who calls herself the “ultimate feminist.”

Feminists and Weinstein accusers say they’ve been repulsed by her comments, accusing her of victim blaming.

Rotunno says women have fought for decades to be viewed as equal to men, and now they need to start taking on some of the responsibility that comes with it.

Some excerpts:

In addition to fighting for Weinstein’s acquittal, Rotunno is waging a broader crusade against both the #MeToo movement and a culture she believes infantilizes women and rewards victimhood. . . .

The problem with women today, Rotunno told Insider . . . is that they don’t take responsibility for their decisions. . . .

“Everybody says, ‘Oh, are you telling women that if they go to hotel rooms they deserve to be raped?’ No,” Rotunno said. “What I’m saying is that after having drinks and being at a party and sitting in a bar with somebody and going to their hotel at midnight, don’t be so ridiculous as to say, ‘I thought I was going to see a script.’ At some point, where is the responsibility?”

“Nobody wants to say, ‘If you want real equality, and you want things like #MeToo to not happen to you, you have to take on the risk of making different choices,'” Rotunno said. . . .

Even if the women were trying to appease Weinstein out of fear of retaliation, or to protect their jobs, Rotunno said that doesn’t explain why they willingly met him when they knew he’d likely make sexual advances, if they didn’t truly want those advances.

“Those are still choices,” Rotunno told Insider. “You’re still in a position where you are choosing a career over your own self-worth. You are saying that ‘this choice may get me a job, which is more important to me than my dignity and my self-worth.’

“Men are not going to stop asking women to go to the hotel room,” Rotunno went on. “Women have to stop going. Because if there’s one woman left willing to do it, it’s going to continue.”

Our Town

Our Town

On this date — Feb. 4, 1938 — the Thornton Wilder play Our Town opened on Broadway . . .

Emily: Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I’m dead. You’re a grandmother, Mama! Wally’s dead, too. His appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it — don’t you remember? But, just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s really look at one another! … I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-bye, Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?

Stage Manager: No. (pause) The saints and poets, maybe they do some.

Emily: I’m ready to go back.

How Much Would You Pay For a Watch?


I got an oddball email today from Amazon . . .

Hello Paul Epps,

We found something we think you might like.

And what they thought I might like was the item on the right, a Breitling Navitimer 1 Automatic 38mm Steel & Red Gold – Silver Watch, which retails for $4,284.50 (free shipping included!).

I do like it — click through on it, it’s a real beauty — but “liking” a $4,000 watch and having any intention of buying one are two entirely different things.

Why they thought I’d be a good target customer for this email I have no idea. I’ve never shopped for watches on Amazon, nor have I ever bought anything anywhere close to a $4,000 price point.

It’s the weirdest thing Amazon’s done since the time I was browsing for a book on software development principles and they suggested that I might also be interested in a shirt from the U.S. Men’s Polo Association. I’ve never met a programmer who plays polo.

Clicking through on the watch reveals that customers who viewed the item also viewed — even more expensive watches, including a Breitling Navitimer 1 Chronograph 41 Men’s Watch for $7,999.

I wonder if they wouldn’t sell more watches by sending the ad for the $8,000 watch instead of the $4,000 watch, let the customer click through and realize “I could get a watch that looks almost as good for half the price!

Kobe Bryant, 1978-2013


One never knows when the blow may fall, Mamba Mentality notwithstanding. He wakes up this morning and a few hours later he dies at the age of 41.

It sounds like they may have been flying through fog and hit a hillside rather than hitting the ground. Is there enough time to grab your daughter’s hand and say “I love you” or is it all over too fast? Which would be better or worse?

RIP Kobe Bryant, Gianna and all the other passengers

Kobe and Gianna Bryant

She’s a lone forsaken beauty but she don’t trust anyone
I wish I was beside her but I’m not there, I’m gone

— Bob Dylan, “I’m Not There”

If Balboa Could Find the Pacific Ocean, Why Can’t You?


Pacific Ocean map

I mentioned in class today that 30 percent of Americans age 18 to 24 cannot find the Pacific Ocean on a map . . .

(This was in the context of income diversity — or “income inequality,” take your pick — i.e., I can’t find the Pacific Ocean on a map but I’d like to be paid the same as a Harvard MBA.)

Students absolutely could not believe this so I Googled the link to this National Geographic article.

Not only was I proved correct on my Pacific Ocean assertion, 58 percent of respondents could not find Japan on a map, 65 percent couldn’t find France, 69 percent couldn’t find the United Kingdom, and 11 percent could not find the United States.

The survey is a bit old now — it was taken in 2002 — but if anything, I’m sure the current situation is worse.

If my kid could not find Japan on a map, I hope someone would give me a good hard kick in the nuts because that definitely indicates a problem in the home.

Gore Vidal has speculated that geography has not really been taught since World War II so as to keep people in the dark as to where we are blowing things up.

(On a related note, only 17 percent of young adults in the U.S. can locate Afghanistan.)


You know who’s really good with geography? My dad. Not only does he know where everything is, he knows which large countries own which tiny island groupings, etc. When it comes to geography, he knows it all.

Does this command a great deal of respect from anyone?

Well, I remember once during a family discussion, my mom named three members of our extended family whom she considers to be “nuts.”

My sister added two more people to the list, including my dad.

“No, Dad is not nuts,” my mom said, “although he gets along well with the nuts.”

My dad said to me, “That’s the best compliment I’ve ever had from this family.”

“That you’re not nuts?” I asked.

“That’s right.”

Steve Martin Caro, 1948-2020


He was the lead singer on one of my favorite 1960s songs . . .

RIP Steve Martin Caro


    There are a lot of things about us women
    That sadden me, considering how men
    See us as rascals.
                        As indeed we are!
— Aristophanes, Lysistrata

Jack Sheldon, 1931-2019


RIP Jack Sheldon

When Is a Mass Shooting Not a Mass Shooting?


Chicago shooting: 13 people were shot at a house party honoring a man killed earlier this yearCNN.com

This is a wild story . . .

First of all, the shootings took place at a gathering honoring a man slain earlier this year.

According to police, shots were fired within the residence, which caused everyone to start to leave.

As partygoers fled the home, police believe one of them opened fire outside.

Then a vehicle was driving down the street and one of the people who left the residence, not the same person who was randomly firing at people leaving the house, fired on the vehicle.

So we had one person firing inside the house, one person firing at people leaving the house, and a third person firing at a vehicle driving down the street, for a grand total of 13 victims.

Because no one involved can be labelled a white supremacist, CNN refrains from calling this a “mass shooting” and the story is of local interest only.

Things Seem To Be Proceeding at a Dizzy Rate

Gustave Flaubert

I wouldn’t have thought from reading Madame Bovary that Flaubert had much of a sense of humor, but here’s something he said in 1850 that’s not only quite funny but, except for the centuries count, will probably never go out of date:

From time to time, I open a newspaper. Things seem to be proceeding at a dizzy rate. We are dancing not on the edge of a volcano, but on the wooden seat of a latrine, and it seems to me more than a touch rotten. Soon society will go plummeting down and drown in nineteen centuries of shit. There’ll be quite a lot of shouting.

Would You Eat Them With a Goat?


My breakfast sandwich at Subway . . .

Green eggs and ham