Monthly Archives: May 2008

Sun & sand…

Well, not at the coast, but yesterday (5/25) at Jordan Lake. Got the boat and operational for the season. Took a new battery, the old one wouldn’t keep a charge. Loaded up the boat, put the dogs in the back of the Yukon, and Jan & I headed to the Fearrington Point ramps. Started up the boat, and nosed out into the lake. Great to see water in the lake, after last year’s drought. Jordan is still about a foot over normal pool. We headed about 3 miles down the lake to our favorite little “beach”…a small area of pretty, white sand under the pine trees.

We got out the chaise lounges, the Sunday NY Times, and got set to relax. The dogs (labs) wanted anything thrown to them for retrieval…and soon! We had a frisbee, a foxtail, and a tennis ball with a Chuckit (this is one of those things that you say, why couldn’t I have developed that?). It’s impossible to wear out a 3 year old lab (Lessa), but we tried. Even the old dog, Anakin, who’s pushing 13, was swimming eagerly after the toys.

Finally, a chance to sit down in the chaise and soak up some sun. A glass of cold pinot grigio? Of course! Grabbed it from the cooler, along with two wine glasses. Ah, the life!

Oh well, back to work today (we get this day as a part of our winter holiday, so I’m actually in the office…)

Google sites open to everyone…

A cool development…Google has opened up Google Sites to anyone with a Google account, not just Google apps customers. This is the old “” that Google bought, and has wrapped in the look & feel of “Googleness.” This really puts wysiwyg web editing in the hands of virtually any web user, including wiki/blog-like functionality. Try it out! Their video does a much better job of describing it than I can here…see the Google blog post on this…

Book Review, “The Age of Turbulence”, by Alan Greenspan

One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a while is “The Age of Turbulence.” I’ll confess up front that I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for the seeming stability with which Greenspan ran the Federal Reserve Board, and while I consider myself a political liberal, my undergraduate degree is in business, and I think I absorbed too much capitalism to be an economic liberal. I’d heard that this book was a very readable peek into global finance & economics, and I certainly concur.

Greenspan starts the book with two chapters on his childhood and education, and from there goes into the beginnings of his career as an economist. I think there’s something I related to in his account of his academic years…he left his doctoral studies for his career and life. While I started graduate school after I began my working career and I did finish a Master’s, I left the doctoral program with the coursework behind me before starting a dissertation. The fact that Greenspan finished his PhD in later years gives me hope.

After discussing his schooling and his years at Townsend-Greenspan, he turns to his introduction to politics on the campaign of Richard Nixon, and then his work with and admiration for Gerald Ford. Greenspan went back to private life during the Carter administration, but was tapped for his Federal Reserve post by Reagan.

The book was informative on the workings of the Fed, but the parts I found most fascinating, personally, were the descriptions of the workings of the government and politics and their intersection with the economy. Greenspan was very comfortable with Bill Clinton, and found him not only engaged in and caring about economics, but understanding this and making good decisions. My take-away was that while Clinton indeed presided over the “dot com” boom, that this was not entirely good fortune and serendipity…the economic policies and decisions by the Clinton White House has much to do with this boom in economic history.

We all know the phrase “irrational exuberance” that was uttered by Greenspan in 1996 as the Dow charged ahead. I found it quite interesting to read the context of this and the way those words have become part of the popular culture.

The beginnings of the downturn in 2000 and the change in the presidency was a pivotal time. I found that Greenspan actually didn’t think much of Bush 43, particularly as he insisted on doing what he said vis-a-vis taxes and the economy, rather than adapting to the strategy warranted by the change in economic conditions, and that Bush 43 also did not try to rein in spending and maintain the balanced budget left him by Clinton.

His assessments of the other significant and growing world economies are quite readable and thought-provoking. America cannot be an isolated island. While de Tocqueville rightly attributed much of the early growth and stability of this country to its fortuitous geography, we no longer have that luxury. This is a global world and global economy. Decisions have to be made that are consistent with that framework. Globalization, as Greenspan says, is a positive factor “…all credible evidence indicates that the benefits of globalization far exceed its costs, even beyond the realm of economics.”

We must think about the future, Greenspan says. We have to engage the world, and we have to have an educational system that addresses the need to supply skilled workers to keep competitive and to help address income inequality.

This is an excellent book. Engaging, interesting and well written.