EppsNet Archive: History

A Glimpse of Antiquity

10 Sep 2014 /
/

Yes, those are World Books and Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. No, this is not an archaeological dig. It’s a furniture store we visited over the weekend.

When I was growing up, our family, like many American families at that time, had a set of World Book encyclopedias, so I knew they existed but I haven’t actually seen one in decades.

Reader’s Digest Condensed Books are a relic from a time when many Americans still liked to think of themselves as the kind of people who read books but didn’t want to actually read a whole, entire book. Reader’s Digest stripped out all the boring passages about clouds and such that people don’t read and compressed four or five books into the size of one.

Today, of course, no one reads books at all, with or without the cloud passages, so Reader’s Digest Condensed Books have joined World Book encyclopedias in the dustbin of history.


Teaching Computer Science

1 Sep 2014 /
School

Tomorrow is my first day as an AP Computer Science teacher at Corona del Mar High School. It’s a volunteer gig through the TEALS organization.

Only about 10 percent of U.S. high schools offer computer science classes and at most of those schools, it counts as an elective, like Home Ec or Wood Shop, not as a class that can be applied toward graduation like math or science.

The most popular AP exam in 2013 was US History — 439,552 students took the AP US History exam. Only 31,117 students took the AP Computer Science exam. That’s about the same number as the AP Art History exam. I don’t want to denigrate the study of art history, but given the ubiquity of computers and software and programming in daily life, the study of computer science seems more likely to enable a person to be self-supporting and to contribute to the common good.

I’ve heard people say that computer science should be taught in every high school in America. That may be a good idea, but no one ever says where all the qualified computer science teachers are supposed to come from. The TEALS vision is to put high-tech professionals like myself in schools to teach computer science and to teach teachers to teach computer science.

I’m happy to have the opportunity but I’m also scared, I might as well put that out there. What am I scared of? Like everything else, that I won’t perform to expectations and that I’ll be exposed as a phony.


You Say Anarchy, Sir, Like It’s a Bad Thing

15 Jun 2013 /
Thomas Jefferson

Frankly, one of our political parties is insane, and we all know which one it is. They have descended from the realm of reasonableness that was the mark of conservatism. They dream of anarchy, of ending government.

My fellow Americans —

I’ll tell you who’s insane: anyone who’s not dreaming of anarchy at this moment in history is insane. People forget that this great nation was founded by anarchists, born out of an armed revolution against a corrupt government.

As I said at the time, “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

I assure you, though, that regrettably neither current political party dreams of anarchy. They both dream of exactly the same things: self-aggrandizement and rewarding their most powerful supporters with political spoils.

 

The well-known liberal cartoonist Ted Rall wrote a book a couple of years ago advocating a new American revolution. Unfortunately, while popular uprisings do continue to occur around the world, I am not optimistic that it will ever happen again in America.

The great majority of our citizens now are far more informed about fantasy football and reality TV than they are about current events. They understand politics at only the most simple-minded level: Team Red vs. Team Blue.

I’m Team Blue! Let’s go, Blue! BOOOOO, Team Red! Or vice versa.

Notice, for example, that all of the things that Team Blue hated so much about the George W. Bush administration are okay now that they’re being carried out by President Obama.

Obama didn’t stop the wars or the torture or the spying. He’s just as cozy with Wall Street. Gitmo is still open for “prolonged detention.” Moreover, he’s killing foreign civilians, and sometimes American citizens, with drone strikes, and he’s eliminating whatever civil liberties you think you have left.

Torture and war and economic collapse don’t matter as long as they’re being supervised by my team! Go Blue! We’ll all be in a gulag in 10 years. Go Blue!

Some despotic regimes around the world rely on starvation and threats of violence to keep the people in a state of submissive compliance. Here in America, the same collective stupor is effected via mindless entertainments and gadgetry.

I should raise myself out of depression, paralysis and failure and resist this massive government/corporate dystopia — but I might miss my TV programs.

In 1776, we decided that being Americans meant being free men and women, not serfs and lackeys. We mutually pledged to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor to throw off the abuses and usurpations of the Government, and to secure the blessings of Liberty.

How soon they forget.

I bid you God speed,

Thomas Jefferson, anarchist

Thomas Jefferson


The Ruins

12 Sep 2011 /
palmyra castle 6:10

And now behold what remains of this powerful city: a miserable skeleton! What of its vast domination: a doubtful and obscure remembrance! To the noisy concourse which thronged under these porticoes, succeeds the solitude of death. The silence of the grave is substituted for the busy hum of public places; the affluence of a commercial city is changed into wretched poverty; the palaces of kings have become a den of wild beasts; flocks repose in the area of temples, and savage reptiles inhabit the sanctuary of the gods. Ah! how has so much glory been eclipsed? how have so many labors been annihilated? Do thus perish then the works of men–thus vanish empires and nations?


The Golden State Mutual Building

7 Jul 2011 /
The Golden State Mutual Building

On June 1, 2011, the City of Los Angeles reached a significant milestone in its historic preservation program: the approval of City Historic-Cultural Monument #1000, the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building at 1999 W. Adams Boulevard in West Adams. The Golden State Mutual Building is a very fitting recipient of this honor. Built in 1949, this six-story commercial building was designed in the Late Moderne style by architect Paul R. Williams 1894-1980. Williams was the first certified African-American architect west of the Mississippi River, the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects, and also served on the first Los Angeles Planning Commission in 1920.


Anne Frank

3 Mar 2011 /
Memorial for Margot and Anne Frank

As I’ve said before, it continues to amaze me how many people around the world have been touched by the life of this one girl . . .

I have seen the movie about Anne Frank and I was very emotional and hurt it was very hard to watch this movie
the things they had to go through it makes you think twice as hard what if it was my family we take things for granted

Anne Frank didn’t have a chance to have a family of her own go to the movies stay up late getting married every aspect of life
what she had she cherished with all the love for everything she had

this situation with race needs to stop we all bleed the same colour unless we have aliens or robot blood among us or those who choose to judge all races

To me Anne Frank was a very brave outstanding young lady that had to grow up so fast before her time

To Otto Frank,Edith Frank,Margot Frank,Anne Frank you are all together now in gods arms holding you all ever so gentle his angels are cmforting you all from all the hard ache you all went through god bless you all

R.I.P. Anne Frank


200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats

5 Dec 2010 /


Twitter: 2010-08-16

16 Aug 2010 /
Twitter
  • Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to retweet it. #

Miep Gies, 1909-2010

12 Jan 2010 /
Miep Gies

AMSTERDAM – Miep Gies, the office secretary who defied the Nazi occupiers to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager’s diary, has died, the Anne Frank Museum said Tuesday. She was 100.

“I don’t want to be considered a hero,” she said in a 1997 online chat with schoolchildren.

“Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary.”

msnbc.com

Hotel California

2 Sep 2009 /
Hotel California album cover

I’m reading one of those “year in history” things for 1976 — Legionnaire’s Disease, Apple Computer founded, Hotel California released . . . wait a minute . . . Hotel California was released in nineteen-SEVENTY-SIX?! Oh my gosh . . . oh my gosh . . .

As a sidebar, I’m disappointed in the Eagles for signing Michael Vick. Does he even play an instrument?


Lightning’s Book Reviews: Don’t Know Much About History

26 Aug 2009 /
Don't Know Much About History book cover
Lightning Epps

Hi everybody! It’s me, Lightning!

My owner’s son has this book for his AP U.S. History class. You should read it! The title — Don’t Know Much About History — makes you think of the famous song by Sam Cooke, so right away you want to know more about it!

History is fascinating! For example, did you know that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor had ELEVEN pugs?! The Duke used to be the King of England but he had to “adbdicate” (that means quit) so he’d have enough time to walk all of his dogs.

I hope that fact is in the book!

Duke and Duchess of Windsor with pugs

— Lightning paw


Thomas Jefferson Wishes You a Happy Fourth

4 Jul 2009 /
Thomas Jefferson

My fellow Americans —

Happy Independence Day to all of you!

Please take a few minutes on this day to look at a wonderful history lesson — about me! — by Maira Kalman, in which you’ll learn, among other things, that I actually wrote the Declaration of Independence!

Thanks,

Tom


Crucial Conversations

23 Mar 2009 /

I know my son had a history test today, and that history is a make-or-break class for him. I want to ask him about the test but we’re having a delicious family meal at Olive Garden and I don’t want to break up the festive mood in the event the news turns out to be bad.

I decide to ease into it with some small talk . . .

“So, how was recess today?”

o_O (BLANK STARE)

I continue, “I know you had a history test today but rather than get right into that, I thought we could start with some small talk about recess.”

He says, “I haven’t had recess since 6th grade.”

“Oh. In that case, how was the history test?”


Failure is an Orphan

1 Feb 2009 /

For centuries, historians have debated whether history is propelled by Great Men (and Women), human forces of nature who bend events and systems to their will, or by vast impersonal forces (communism, capitalism, globalization) that render even the most powerful of us a mere reed basket floating in a massive river. There’s no session on the subject at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But at least with regard to finance and business, the consensus seems to be clear: Success is the work of Great Men and Great Women, while failure can be pinned on the system.


How to Get an A in Honors History

31 Jan 2009 /

First semester grades are out. My son missed getting straight A’s by a point and a half. He had an 88.5 in honors history.

He got an A in honors English with a 90.14.

History

The honors classes at Northwood are very demanding. Even the best students get low A’s and high B’s.

Three kids got A’s in the history class. The high score was a 91.1.

“The 91.1 is Ted,” my son says. We know Ted. “Ted is history. He’s bad at math, average in English, but he knows everything there is to know about history.”

“Make sure you touch base with the history teacher,” I say. “Let him know you’re really doing your best for him and ask him what you need to do to get that extra point and a half this semester. He’ll tell you.”

“He’ll say, ‘Study hard, get a good score on all the assignments, blah blah blah.'”

“You’re a pessimist,” I say. (I was going to say “fatalist” but I’m not sure he knows what that means.) “I’ve been a teacher myself and I can tell you that teachers like students who are engaged and make an extra effort. They want you to do well and if there’s a close call on a grade, they may give you the benefit of the doubt. So be proactive with this guy.”

His mom chimes in at this point: “That’s right,” she says.

“I hate that,” the boy replies. “You don’t even know what he’s talking about. You just say ‘That’s right.'”

I say, “She doesn’t have to know what I’m talking about to know it’s right. If my lips are moving, it’s right.”


Thomas Jefferson’s Election Blog

26 Oct 2008 /
Thomas Jefferson

Firstly, I’d like to thank Paul Epps for giving me this space on his web site to express my humble views. He is a real American.

What concerns me today is that a candidate for president, Barack Obama, has said that he wants to “spread the wealth around” in America.

It was a long time ago, but let me remind those of you who didn’t pay attention in history class that we founded this country as a rebellion against a too-powerful government. We believed in — and fought for — self-reliance and freedom, including the economic freedom to earn a dollar and spend it any way you want to.

When someone tells you that he is going to decide how much money you can earn before he starts taking it away from you and giving it to someone else, that man is a scoundrel.

And when Americans — the descendants of rebels and revolutionaries — can listen to this and fail to rise up in dissent, it makes me want to vomit for what this once-great nation has become.


Have We Lost Perspective?

19 Nov 2007 /

I get very, very frustrated when I . . . hear certain Americans talk about how difficult the problems we face are, how overwhelming they are, what a dangerous era we live in. I think we’ve lost perspective. We’ve always had difficult problems, we’ve always had great challenges, and we’ve always lived in danger.

Do we think our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents didn’t live in danger and didn’t have difficult problems? Do we think the Second World War was less difficult that our struggle with Islamic terrorism? Do we think that the Great Depression was a less difficult economic struggle for people to face than the struggles we’re facing now? Have we entirely lost perspective of the great challenges America has faced in the past and has been able to overcome and overcome brilliantly? I think sometimes we have lost that perspective.

— Rudy Giuliani

It Seems Obvious in Retrospect . . .

17 Nov 2007 /
Woman talking on rotary phone ca. 1960

. . . but something I just learned is that area codes were originally assigned according to the population density of the city or region, with the lowest numbers going to the most populous areas. Keeping in mind that phones in those days had rotary dials, and higher numbers therefore took longer to dial, the thinking was that areas with the most people should be the easiest to call.

That’s why New York City got area code 212, Chicago got 312, Los Angeles got 213, etc. (Zero actually counts as a high number — a 10, essentially — because it takes the longest to dial.)

Conversely, the area code for the entire state of Alaska was (and still is) 907.


Go Tell the Spartans to Program a Football Game

30 Jun 2007 /

I ponied up the 50 bucks to join the XNA Creators Club and so far I’ve been able to code and deploy some rudimentary 2-D games on our Xbox 360.

“Can you program a football game?” my son asks.

“No . . . first of all, I’m just learning this stuff, and second, you can’t expect one person to duplicate the efforts of dozens of people over a period of years.”

“Haven’t you ever heard of The 300?” he shouts.

“Yeah. They all died.”

“But they gave a valiant effort!


Blast from the Past

25 Apr 2007 /

After winning 11 state primaries in a field of 16 contenders, I won the Democratic presidential nomination. I then lost the general election to President Nixon. Indeed, the entrenched incumbent president, with a campaign budget 10 times the size of mine, the power of the White House behind him and a highly negative and unethical campaign, defeated me overwhelmingly. But lest [Dick] Cheney has forgotten, a few months after the election, investigations by the Senate and an impeachment proceeding in the House forced Nixon to become the only president in American history to resign the presidency in disgrace.

Who was the real loser of ’72?

 

Wow, that is a provocative question. It really made us wonder if we’ve been wrong all these years. Accordingly, we went back and checked. Turns out the real loser was McGovern, just as we had thought!


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