Monday, April 28, 2014

Beer Graduate

When I was 16 I started drinking beer and I spent the rest of high school in dogged pursuit of the foamy beverage. Too young to be served in a bar, my friends and I usually bought six-packs from the groceries and markets which were known to sell to just about anyone over 5 feet 9 inches. We then consumed can after can in somebody's parents' car or basement when the adults were away. It all usually ended with some foolishness, unrestrained laughter and often vomiting. 

It doesn't take a great imagination to see that it was all loads of fun.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Taxpayer Rule

I've sometimes thought that election day should be held on April 15th rather than the first Tuesday in November so that people have it fresh in their minds that they pay for services from the government and can vote accordingly. But undoubtedly some political scholar would say this is a bad idea because (for example) we don't want elections to be about how much we pay in taxes or we don't want to elect someone just because he or she promises to reduce spending more than everyone else.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wage Stagnation and Increased Purchase Power

I consider myself an armchair economist so what I am about to say might be missing something but I will summarize what I understand to be two sides to an issue.

We know that wages or income have been largely stagnant for most Americans since the mid-1970s. That is, when we take the incomes of Americans 40 years ago and adjust it for inflation, there has not been any improvement. There are a number of things to account for in this statistic and while I can't go into the reasons here, I will say that generally I believe it is true; despite an increase in productivity and increases in GDP since 1975, the average worker is not bringing home more money today than 40 years ago. (I say 'he' because it appears that the glass ceiling notwithstanding, women's income has risen on average since then. But of course the gender pay gap is still quite common and unfairness in pay between the sexes has not been adequately dealt with.)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Charis T. Hutchinson

My sister, Charis is named after my father's aunt Charis (pronounced Kare-iss) who was his father's sister (you follow that?). My great-aunt, Charis.

She was born in the last year of the 19th century and died in 1983, spending almost her entire life on Long Island, NY. She attended Smith College but didn't find any men at Yale or Harvard or Brown to marry. She undoubtedly met a few but she remained single, spending her whole life living with her father until he died in 1946. At that point she and her stepmother moved to Port Washington in Nassau County. Charis' mother died when she was a teenager.

She had two brothers, one of whom was my grandfather. Her other brother was exposed to poisonous gas during World War I and along with smoking habit, died childless at around age 50. Charis got together with her brothers at holidays and she doted on her niece, nephew and eventually the grand-nieces and grand nephews.

I asked my aunt Ruth if there was ever a man in Charis' life and she said she thought she had heard something about some guy once when she was young. I asked if she'd heard it from her father (Charis' brother) and she said, "Oh, no. He'd never talk about things like that."

If I had to say something about Charis Tuthill Hutchinson it is that she was an interesting lady, probably due to the fact that she was college educated (a rarity for a woman in 1915-1920) and that the absence of children undoubtedly freed her to pursue a lot of extra-curriculars that most parents are unable to find time for.

The old saying, "The only interesting people are interested people," certainly applied to my great aunt Charis.

Close Captioning's Beginnings

The deaf have benefited greatly from the close captioning of television. I wrote previously about the use of television in a deaf household prior to the 1980s and the limited amount of programming they found worth watching.

For many years the deaf have been able to rent films which although they were American productions and the actors spoke English, they were sub-titled like foreign films so the hearing impaired could enjoy them. Several nonprofit organizations including public libraries rented not only films but projectors and screens for the enjoyment of schools, clubs and deaf individuals.