EppsNet Archive: Washington DC

“Why Do I Believe What I Believe?”

My fellow Americans – About 20 people showed up for Unite the Right last weekend. That would be a disappointing turnout for a pancake breakfast sponsored by the local softball league, let alone a national rally in Washington, DC. White supremacy is like the Flat Earth Society, not non-existent, but extremely marginal. It’s a boogeyman to scare people about things that are not real. A good question to ask is “Why do I believe what I believe?” For example, “Why do I believe in a resurgence of white supremacy when only 20 people in a nation of 300 million can be persuaded to show up at a rally?” Possible answers include “I saw it on the internet” or “I heard it on TV.” These are perhaps not good answers, in that they open us up to manipulation for political gain, financial gain, and increased readership and viewership. Read more →

Only So Big a House You Can Have?

Obama: “Right now I'm actually surprised by how much money I got. And let me tell you something, I don't have half as much as most of these folks… There's only so much you can eat. There's only so big a house you can have. There's only so many nice trips you can take." pic.twitter.com/LALI5TCA0i — CBS News (@CBSNews) July 17, 2018 In other news, the former president and his wife bought an 8,200-square-foot house with 9 bedrooms and 8-1/2 bathrooms in Washington, D.C. for $8.1 million. In fairness, he did say there’s only so big a house YOU can have. He didn’t say there’s only so big a house HE can have. Read more →

Was Nikolas Cruz Bullied?

In 2018, being accused of bullying is not on a par with being accused of murder, but it’s close. Emma Gonzalez, one of the Parkland shooting survivors, said this about Nikolas Cruz at the anti-gun march in Washington, D.C.: Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him? You don’t know this kid. OK? We did! I can’t see anything unusual about that. The popular kids sneer at the geeks, the nerds and the weirdos. Because they deserve it. You don’t know this kid. We did. But when the kid in this case goes off the rails, which “was no surprise to anyone who knew him,” some self-reflection seems to be in order before blaming the usual suspects. I don’t understand the strategy of gun control proponents. Every tragedy… Read more →

What Might We Be Missing?

Joshua Bell is a violinist, one of the world’s greatest classical musicians. The Washington Post a few years ago did an experiment where they put him in a DC metro station wearing a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. Like a street musician. He’s got an open violin case in front of him so people can put money in. It’s about 8 a.m. on a Friday, morning rush hour. He plays for 45 minutes, and 1,097 people pass through the area where he’s playing. Before watching the video, you may want to consider out of that many people — more than 1,000 — how many will recognize the quality for what it is? How many will stop and listen? How much money will he make? Before you answer, keep in mind that he’s not going to play popular tunes that a lot of people… Read more →

Darth Vader for President

People are so fed up with the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington. Congress is unfortunately unable to even agree on the most obvious kinds of things. I think Darth Vader looks pretty good to a lot of people. — Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, on CNN, responding to poll results showing voters say they prefer Darth Vader, the fictional villain in the Star Wars films, for president over her and several other potential candidates. Are people fed up with gridlock? I’m not. I love gridlock. It’s when those meddling idiots actually do something that life gets worse for everyone. Jokes aside, I think Darth Vader would be an exceptionally good president in some respects. Imagine him, for example, in an Israel-Hamas negotiating session: “Whose trachea do I have to crush with my mind to get some peace around here?” Read more →

Do People Recognize Beauty in Everyday Life?

This is a few years old now, but I just saw it today. (Please read Gene Weingarten‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning story from the Washington Post for the full details.) The premise is that Joshua Bell, international virtuoso, one of the best violinists in the world — maybe the best violinist in the world — dresses in jeans, T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap, and for 45 minutes plays several renowned classical pieces (on a good fiddle — the Gibson ex-Huberman Stradivarius of 1713, purchased by Bell in 2003 for $4 million) in a Washington, D.C., metro station, during a Friday morning rush hour, with a violin case open in front of him for donations. Do people recognize beauty in everyday life? [SPOILER ALERT] No. They don’t. Stacy Furukawa, a demographer at the Commerce Department, is the only person out of 1,000 or so passers-by who recognizes Bell. “It was the most astonishing… Read more →

Where Are We?

A Facebook friend recently posted a set of Washington DC photos. Almost all of the photos show people standing in front of easily recognizable landmarks, but all of them are dutifully captioned — White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, etc. The one exception is a photo of two people in an ornate lobby with the caption: “I forget where we are here.” Read more →

A Gay Mexican Guy with a Mohawk

I went to get my hair cut at lunch. There was one guy waiting ahead of me and two stylists — a woman, and a gay Mexican guy with a Mohawk. Am I a bad person for praying that Mohawk would finish first (he did) and take the other guy? My son says when he was in Washington, D.C., he saw shops where all the hair cutters were men. “That’s different,” I explain. “Those are barbers. Barbers don’t mess around with you like stylists. I don’t want a gay guy with a Mohawk running his fingers through my hair. Note the fact that he’s a Mexican doesn’t matter at all. I mean, I’m not a racist or anything.” Read more →

Casey Goes to Washington

Pictures from my son’s 8th grade trip to Washington, DC. Read more →

Online Map Shootout

The competitors: Windows Live Search, Yahoo! and Google. I was looking at some really nice maps of Washington, DC, last night on Live Search. I’m not totally up to speed on the latest advances in mapping technology, so I wondered if Live Search had totally leapfrogged the competition with this stuff, or if I could do the same thing on the other map sites. Here’s what I found: This is the best view I could get of the Jefferson Memorial on Yahoo! Google is able to zoom in quite a bit closer. But Live Search can do this! Thank you, Bill Gates! The killer feature (obviously) is that Live Search gives you an oblique view into the scene, instead of just a flat, looking-straight-down view. Plus the image resolution is a lot better. Final Ranking: Live Search Google Yahoo! Read more →

The Geometry of Politics

On the heels of my kid’s discovery that his tour group will not be break dancing their way across our nation’s capital, comes another disappointment — his tyrannical math teacher has been added to the list of chaperones. “She’ll probably say, ‘Oh, Casey, I’m glad you’re here. Why don’t you calculate the volume of the White House?’” Read more →

I Have a Dream 2007

My son’s going to Washington, DC, next week with a group from his junior high school. Once there, they’ll hook up with a group from Martin Luther King High School for a 5 day, 4 night Discover DC educational tour. Despite the name, MLK High School is not a predominantly black school, a big disappointment to my kid, who was looking forward to his travel companions “breaking out the cardboard mats and spinning on their heads.” I Have a Dream, indeed! Read more →