Friday, February 12, 2021

David Graeber's birthday


February 12, 2021
High Falls, NY
David Graeber died this past fall. He and I met on Fire Island in the summer of 1968 when we were seven years old. We were friends every summer and spent a huge amount of time together, as we were virtually each other's only friend in summers. Today is his birthday, and I remember him at least on this day every year. I haven't seen him since we were 12 years old but we did correspond occasionally. He was 59 when he died. Since we were the same age, it falls uncomfortably close to me. It's also terribly sad because he was a very accomplished and recognized anthropologist.

When we played, one of his favorite toys was his set of toy soldiers. He knew a lot about war strategy and tactics and weapons, and although we were just little boys, he was like a teacher to me.

Then he became fascinated with Mayan history and culture. He became such an expert in the subject that someone anonymously donated enough for him to attend Phillips Academy at Andover. So his fascination was a foreshadowing of his career.

In adult life, he told me that he was turned away from Yale where he was teaching because his ideas were too radical. I understand he was unhappy in his subsequent places, not sufficiently understood or embraced.

He was one of the leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and it was exciting to hear his voice on WNYC at the time. He sounded almost exactly as he did before his voice changed. I could hear familiar mannerisms. David was credited with coining the saying, "We are the 99%" but he insisted that it came from a collaborative effort.

He wrote some pretty important books such as Bullshit Jobs. The idea is that the economy has many job positions which the economy would be better off without because they don't create value and don't nourish the soul of those in the jobs. I was alarmed at the concept, wondering if I held one of the jobs. It turns out that I didn't, which is a relief.

There are wonderful videos of his lectures, and I recommend them. One is on the history of debt.
I never learned his cause of death but I know it was sudden and unexpected. Several of my good friends died suddenly in the last year, and I think the lesson is that it does happen and that it will happen with increasing frequency for me now that I'm 60 years old. Improving our health is a worthy cause, to reduce the chances of unexpected death, although we are not in control of when or how we die

I have a couple of mementos from him. I hope to find them and shoot pictures. He did some Mayan style art on some giant clam shells from the beach we played on. They are beautiful.

I miss my old friend.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The love of literature

Today is December 15. It's my father's birthday, may he rest in peace. My classes at Hunter College are over. I returned to Hunter to finish the BA degree I left undone over 30 years ago. My father urged me throughout his life to finish my degree, and at times, I said I would do it eventually, and at times, I felt it wasn't necessary. Now I'm doing it.
I am working on the final paper for English class, an analysis of Shakespeare's Othello.
For the first time in my life, I just might earn an A grade in English. It was always hard for me to do well in English class. I feel my maturity has helped, though it's still not easy.
My father had a great love for literature and constantly urged me to read more. I have difficulty reading, especially certain kinds of material. It's a focus problem and probably a problem with processing certain kinds of information. At the end of his life, he worked as a volunteer teacher for Literacy Partners. He loved teaching adults to read, and he brought the love of literature to them. He loved his students, and they loved him. When his failing health prevented him from teaching anymore, he kept in touch with his former students.
I found a resolution from the NY State Senate about my father. I'd love to tell him about my current experience. I know he would be very happy.
LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION honoring Harry Reingold upon the occasion of
Literacy Partners' naming of its annual Volunteer Teacher's Award the
Harry Reingold Volunteer Teacher of the Year Award in his honor
WHEREAS, Individuals who distinguish themselves in their profession and
in service to others merit the highest commendation; and
WHEREAS, Harry Reingold truly merits the high honor of Literacy Partners' naming of its annual Volunteer Teacher's Award the Harry Reingold
Volunteer Teacher of the Year Award in his honor; and
WHEREAS, The second Harry Reingold Volunteer Teacher of the Year Award
will be presented at the Second Annual Reingold Volunteer Fund Benefit
to be held at TAI on Thursday, June 20, 2013; and
WHEREAS, Harry Reingold was a real New Yorker; he was born and brought
up in Brooklyn; he attended and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High
School; and
WHEREAS, He worked his way through college as a cab driver, a chauffeur for the United Nations, and a post office clerk; and
WHEREAS, He graduated from New York University and went into advertising and started his own agency, Harry Reingold Advertising; and
WHEREAS, Harry was crazy about books and, from the time he learned to
read never went anywhere without a book; riding a bus or subway without
something to read was just not possible for him and, as a teenager, when
he was home with a fever, his mother told him to stay in bed, but when
she left the house he snuck out to the corner store where he had just
enough money to buy a second-hand paperback; and
WHEREAS, At a social dinner he met Marilyn Collins, then one of the
heads of Literacy Partners, and when she told Harry about that non-profit organization and its goal to teach some of the two million illiterate New Yorkers to read and write, he immediately decided to become a
volunteer; and
WHEREAS, He enrolled in a course at Literacy Partners, which has
provided more than 30,000 adults with free educational services and,
after a short time, he was sent to teach in Harlem; once a week, he
would leave his office and rush uptown where he taught and learned to
care about his pupils; forming more than just a teacher-student
relationship, Harry and the people in his classes, all adults, became
friends; and
WHEREAS, They shared stories about their lives, their problems, and
their hopes for the future; growing up in East New York, as he had, they
were able to make comparisons and had much in common; and
WHEREAS, Harry Reingold was a Literacy Partners volunteer teacher for
six years and only stopped teaching when his health would not allow him
to continue; his students never forgot him, and kept in touch with cards
and photos; and
WHEREAS, Harry loved to read, and to write; a number of his articles
appeared in the magazine AD AGE, and he co-authored the published novel
LOVERS with his wife, the writer Carmel Berman Reingold; and
WHEREAS, Literacy Partners has justly and fittingly honored Harry
Reingold by naming its annual Volunteer Teacher Award the Harry Reingold
Volunteer Teacher of the Year Award in his honor; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to
honor the work of and the dedication of Harry Reingold upon the occasion
of Literacy Partners' naming of its annual Volunteer Teacher's Award the
Harry Reingold Volunteer Teacher of the Year Award in his honor; and be
it further
RESOLVED, That copies of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be transmitted to Carmel Reingold and to Literacy Partners.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Letter to John Faso about HR 720

Dear Mr. Faso:

You voted in favor of HR 720, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017.

I'd like to remind you that District 19 has a lot of ordinary people of modest means. We are the people who benefit from class action suits. We are not the abusers of these suits. The bill seeks to make it harder to file class action suits. I feel you have voted in favor of my opponents and against me and my peers.

I have no doubt that abuse does happen, because I have read about it. A better way to reduce that is to limit the fraction of awards that goes to the victorious attorneys.


Thomas Reingold

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Letter to John Faso

The Honorable John Faso
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

February 26, 2017
319 Mossybrook Rd
High Falls, NY 12440

Dear Mr. Faso:

I am appalled at your choice to vote to repeal the Streams Preservation Act. New Yorkers need clean water we can trust. If you are ready to empower energy companies to pollute other states, you are moving us in the wrong direction. I urge you to vote in favor of the needs for a clean environment for New Yorkers. Oil companies don’t need help making profits, from you or anyone. Let them do their business without causing us to incur an environmental cost -- our health and well being -- for the sake of their profits. Please don’t make such a horrific error again, and please work to reverse this decision.

You are elected to represent and serve us. Please do the right thing.


Thomas Reingold

Friday, January 20, 2017

Supply Side Economics

Sometimes, called Trickle Down Economics, the theory was that if we put more money into the hands of those who supply the world with goods and services and jobs, the prosperity would spread to everyone at all strata of the economy.

Now we have the figures. The economy has grown. In other words, the GDP has grown, which is a measure of how many goods and services the economy has created.

And how has that enlarged economy been shaped? The growth -- the bulk of the economy's gains -- has gone to the people at the top, while everyone else has the same (income and wealth) as before or less, sometimes a lot less. More people are underemployed working in menial jobs. Standards of living have gone down for many, while wealth for the very top strata have multiplied by many times.

These facts prove it is a deeply flawed model.

And now, many of those proponents claim that disparity in income and wealth is not a problem. But doesn't that depend on the viewpoint of whomever you ask? If it's not a problem, then what, exactly, were they predicting would happen with Supply Side Economics? They claimed everyone would prosper. But that has, in fact, not happened. Something quite the opposite has happened. Are they for shared prosperity, or are they not? The observed fact is something else.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Will Betsy DeVos be Secretary for Education?

Betsy DeVos bought the position. She said so. Why did the senators who questioned her not ask her about her direct statement? Don't the people deserve to hear exactly what DeVos has intended to do? I think the senators were too kind to her.
“I have decided to stop taking offense,” she wrote, “at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.”

She wants religious education to have more influence, and of course, specifically Christian religious education. She wants public money paying for that. She has used her money to achieve this and intends this position is part of her plan. She wants to turn education back to before the formation of this country, to ultimately allow control of the nation by the clergy of specific churches.

I can't think of how this appointment can be stopped, but I deeply hope it is anyway.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Waffle at day care in Montclair

The dog sitter added a final 's' to her name, but I can hardly complain, seeing how much fun she is having.

Pictures here.