When I Am Among the Trees

 

When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.” The light flows from their branches. And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.” — Mary Oliver, “When I Am Among the Trees” Read more →

Racist Dog Whistles for Racist Dogs?

 

A racist dog whistle is like a regular dog whistle but it can only be heard by racist dogs. https://t.co/Yqy0pfNooq — Paul Epps (@paulepps) April 27, 2024 A longstanding argument against affirmative action is that if you’re a member of an affirmative action-eligible group, it’s difficult — it’s not impossible, but it’s difficult — for anyone to figure out whether your achievements are the result of merit or whether they were gifted to you. If someone wants to assume the worst, the numbers back them up. For decades, affirmative action candidates have been admitted to colleges and professional schools with much lower academic qualifications than other candidates. DEI is the new affirmative action. (It seems illegal to me since Title VII doesn’t differentiate between “good” discrimination and “bad” discrimination.) Companies and organizations have been promoting themselves as supporters of DEI, creating the problem that DEI-eligible employees are often seen as… Read more →

What We’re Shown May Not Be What’s Really Happening

 

Shouldn't they be studying for finals?https://t.co/DZoaKGLPWY — Paul Epps (@paulepps) April 25, 2024 During the time my son was at UC Berkeley, they had a fair number of campus protests. Usually the protests were about tuition hikes or something race-related. As a parent paying tuition, I was against tuition hikes, but I was also against my kid participating in protests when he should be studying. Whenever I heard about a Berkeley protest in progress, I’d check in with the boy to make sure he wasn’t participating, which he wasn’t. I got the impression from the way he talked about it that not only was he not participating, none of his friends were participating and no one with any sense was participating. I was at the Berkeley campus myself during one of the protests. There were 100 people, maybe less, blocking Sather Gate to protest a microaggression or something, but it… Read more →

My Boyhood Sports Icons Are Dying: Ken Holtzman

 

Ken Holtzman was a left-handed starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs beginning in 1965. Holtzman pitched two no-hitters with the Cubs, and later played on the Oakland Athletics’ teams that won three consecutive World Series championships between 1972 and 1974. Holtzman won 20 games for the A’s in 1973. RIP Ken Holtzman Read more →

No Idea How to Address Gun Violence

 

Joe Biden is not a serious person. He wants more gun laws but doesn’t enforce the gun laws we already have, like the ATF Form 4473, a federal form required to buy a gun in the United States. Among other things, the form is intended to prevent crack addicts from buying guns. Lying on the 4473 — for example, saying you’re not a crack addict when you are, like your son Hunter did — carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years, but Hunter won’t be going to prison because he got a plea deal. And the Democratic Party is not a serious party. I haven’t heard a single Democrat say the plea deal is a joke and Hunter should go to prison. Yes I know the president doesn’t want his son to go to prison, even though he boasts about sending other people’s kids to prison for lying… Read more →

Forrest Richard ‘Dickey’ Betts, 1943-2024

 

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. – Dickey Betts, a driving force behind the Allman Brothers Band that launched Southern rock and influenced the jam band scene, died Thursday at his Florida home — USA Today Betts was best known for his legendary guitar skills, but he also wrote the Allman Brothers Band’s only Top 10 hit, “Ramblin’ Man.” During Bob Dylan’s Sept. 30, 1995, concert at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa. Florida, Betts joined Dylan on stage for several numbers including “Ramblin’ Man.” Betts told the story of how it came to be while seated at his Sarasota County home in 2014. Dylan says, “Let’s do ‘Ramblin’ Man.’” “All right, let me write the words down,” Betts tells him. “I know the words,” Dylan says. “I should have wrote that song.” Betts unleashed one of his warm, charming laughs. “I said, ‘Bob, just sing whatever you want to.’ I didn’t think… Read more →

Mordecai: What happens after?
The Stranger: Hmm?
Mordecai: What do we do when it’s over?
The Stranger: Then you live with it.

High Plains Drifter

David Mamet on Acting

 

When they were shooting Casablanca . . . someone comes to [Humphrey Bogart] and says, “they want to play the ‘Marseillaise,’ what should we do? — the Nazis are here and we shouldn’t be playing the ‘Marseillaise.’” Humphrey Bogart just nods to the band, we cut to the band, and they start playing “bah-bah-bah-bah.” Someone asked what he did to make that beautiful scene work. He says, “they called me in one day, Michael Curtiz, the director, said, ‘stand on that balcony over there, and when I say “action” take a beat and nod,’” which he did. That’s great acting. Why? What more could he possibly have done? He was required to nod, he nodded. There you have it. The audience is terribly moved by his simple restraint in an emotional situation — and this is the essence of good theater: good theater is people doing extraordinarily moving tasks as… Read more →

Biden is Exploring

 

https://t.co/w8ehaGQO3l — Paul Epps (@paulepps) April 10, 2024 He’s exploring that? It’s a little late in the day to be exploring closing the border. The first thing he did on taking office was to undo all of Trump’s executive orders related to closing the border. If he has the power to open the border, he has the power to close the border. Or just close it. Assume you have the power and see if the courts say you don’t. Read more →

Diesel or Steam

 

Diesel or steam You’re standing in the doorway after class when Jimmy wants to know if you prefer diesel or steam. You can’t simply say pass and hope to leave. There’s no time to defer. You have to say right now as if you knew the answer. But what to say? The two things blur so which to choose? And why did he ask you? Others are waiting. Nobody explains. Their eyes are curious. Your answer’s due though you know next to nothing about trains and engines. So you vaguely plump for steam and are approved. Now steam runs through your veins you’re of the party. Life becomes a dream of existential choices. Jimmy’s gone. Out in the playground where your classmates scream and tussle, odds are million to one you’ll get them right but choices must be made and loyalties defined. What’s done is done. Diesel is wrong! You… Read more →

I Don’t Think the Jobs Report Was Good

 

I don’t think the jobs report was good. I don’t think the economy is good. I just read a series of comments on the story linked above and commenters were euphoric. Why do we see one sunny report after another on jobs, unemployment and the economy while Forbes reports that 40% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and 29% are doing even worse, i.e., their income doesn’t cover their expenses? Why has the sentiment on LinkedIn been so dismal? The jobs numbers are illusory. The jobs are all part time. Last month’s jobs were all part time. Full-time employment actually went down. We’ve added 6.2 million jobs since May 2022 and full-time employment has gone up by only 263,000. Number of jobs “created” has gone up much faster than number of people employed, I suspect because a single person working multiple jobs counts as multiple jobs. The unemployment numbers… Read more →

I Got Mine

 

I read a post today on LinkedIn that started out like this: “Your salary increase will be 2%,” I told her. It was one of my worst moments as a people leader. She was my star performer, my right hand person. 1000% business critical to our team. Yet 2% was the best our company would give her. It was far beneath her value, and we both knew it, and I couldn’t do better for her. The author goes on to say that he advised her to look for a new job that would pay what she’s worth, which she did. And the moral of the story is that you can’t complain when employees leave if you don’t give them reasons to stay. Surprisingly to me, the poster got a lot of recognition and praise for his handling of this tale of woe. I don’t like the story myself. As I… Read more →

A Dissent on the Biden Radio City Fundraiser

 

What we saw last night was the president’s ‘let them eat cake’ moment. Millions of Americans are suffering because of the mismanagement of this economy. I say this frequently. We’re seeing record numbers of foreclosures, people are having their cars repossessed, we are seeing a silent job loss because the reports are now showing that the actual growth in employment is in part-time jobs, not in full-time jobs. It is totally and completely unseemly, in this economic environment, for our president to say that we’re going to try to set the record for the amount raised. No money to help people buy eggs and bacon. No money to make sure that people can afford gasoline. — Horace Cooper Read more →

Daniel Kahneman, 1934-2024

 

https://t.co/CZwiPjRrZ3 — Paul Epps (@paulepps) March 29, 2024 Kahneman was a genius not only at formulating original insights into human behavior but at explaining them in a way that’s interesting and understandable to the non-expert. I can’t recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow highly enough. It’s one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. RIP Daniel Kahneman Read more →

Freedom of Speech is Too Dangerous

 

https://t.co/k770FhDgoE — Paul Epps (@paulepps) March 24, 2024 What Justice Jackson said to raise eyebrows was “Your view has the First Amendment hamstringing the federal government in significant ways in the most important time periods.” Correct! One clear goal of the First Amendment is to hamstring the federal government from doing what it would like to do: control our speech. I would have expected a Supreme Court justice to have learned this in law school, not in on-the-job training. Justice Jackson went on to say, “The government actually has a duty to take steps to protect the citizens of this country . . . by encouraging or even pressuring platforms to take down harmful information,” she said. There’s always a euphemism handy for “information the government doesn’t want you to know,” e.g., “misinformation” “disinformation,” “harmful information,” etc. We can’t have freedom of speech! It’s too dangerous! As a thought experiment,… Read more →

Kobe Bryant is My Basketball Teacher

 

View this post on Instagram A post shared by My Basketball Teacher (@mybasketballteacher) Read more →

EppsNet at the Movies: Emily the Criminal

 

This movie probably doesn’t deserve the whole five stars but I have a real affinity for characters like Emily (played by Aubrey Plaza), who, like the Mark Baum and Vinny characters in The Big Short, are people with a code of honor, a sense of awareness, not looking for trouble, but not willing to put up with insolence or nonsense. To give you a sense of what I mean — and this may need a very minor spoiler alert — a group of criminals has stolen a significant amount from Emily’s boyfriend (also a criminal but less physical than the other criminals) and she’s making a case that they should go and get it back because, among other reasons, the boyfriend owes her a cut of what was stolen. The boyfriend is against the idea. “These are very serious people,” he says. Emily replies, “No, no, we’re serious people. Ok?… Read more →

It All Depends on Who’s Slinging the Hash

 

‘This Is Shocking’: Some Democrats Demand CNN Apologize, Denounce Alleged ‘Islamaphobia’ Made Against Ilhan Omar https://t.co/PkDdBuwt6f via @dailycaller — Paul Epps (@paulepps) March 16, 2024 It is shocking! I haven’t been as shocked since Claude Rains discovered gambling at Rick’s Cafe. I think Democrats really do believe that the role of corporate media in general and CNN in particular is to serve as a public relations arm of the Democratic party. A journalist taking an adversarial position vis-a-vis a Democratic representative should not be allowed to have a job. What CNN commentator Scott Jennings said is that Ilhan Omar is a “public relations agent for Hamas living in the United States Congress.” To me, that’s a pretty good one-liner, no better or worse than political barbs I read every day. All the people that I see complaining about the remark are people who’ve called Donald Trump Hitler, Satan, a fascist,… Read more →

EppsNet at the Movies: The Big Short

 

My connection with the events depicted in The Big Short is that I worked in the information technology department of a mortgage bank in the run-up to the 2007 implosion of the subprime mortgage market. Many of the big players in that market, like New Century and Countrywide, were based here in my backyard — in Orange County and Pasadena. Given that it was fairly evident at the time that complicated financial instruments were being dreamed up for the sole purpose of lending money to people who could never repay it, it’s remarkable that very few people foresaw the catastrophe and that even fewer actually had the nerve to bet on it to happen. Long story short, the major rating agencies — Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s — were incompetent in their rating of subprime mortgage bonds, giving investment-grade and, in some cases, triple-A ratings to high-risk instruments. A lot… Read more →