Saturday, June 21, 2014

Only three percent of people think it's a compliment: now that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has recognized its duty to revoke the registration of trademarks that "may disparage persons ... living or dead," it should turn its attention to the almost 600 trademarks that belittle my people with the term Redneck.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

It Just Gets Better and Better Every Day

The Times-Dispatch editorial says that "Star Scientific ought to launch a crash R&D program to develop a powerful nasal decongestant [because] Gov. Bob McDonnell has no sense of smell."

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Cokey Creech, 1914-2013

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

God Knows Where

All I lost at Ludlow Fair was my necktie: The Princeton Club called this morning to say that its housekeeping staff cannot find my wife's pants. Maybe I should have tagged along to supervise that excursion.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Instead of What? A Frisbee?

In the attic I have boxes of old notebooks full of various scribbles, now largely indecipherable, and newspaper clippings, now yellow. Disorder reigns—the Scotch tape has lost its grip, so the clippings are all falling out. Here's one that fell out. I must have found it amusing in 1968 or 1969, but suddenly it seems less amusing than timely.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oops!

Ralph Reed wants you to know that if you think illegal immigrants should get government benefits, you should vote for George Allen. (The web version of this mailer fixes the blooper, but the propaganda is still grotesque in both versions.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

You're Still the One.

Still the smartest and most beautiful woman I know, and still one of the six or seven most opinionated. Happy anniversary, Kiddo, and all my love.


A magnificent 50th-reunion weekend in Connecticut. Many thanks to those who organized it.

From the Green Witch, June 1962: Student Council Committee Writes School Dress Code

GIRLS:

  1. No clips, rollers, or curlers are to be worn at GHS and conservative hairdos are urged.
  2. Makeup is to be kept at a discreet minimum.
  3. Girls must refrain from wearing tight sweaters and skirts. Blouses must come to the waist. Skirts must not be above the mid-knee. NO shorts, slacks, short kilts, or culottes of any length will be permitted.
  4. Heels are not considered proper school dress and will be permitted only on special occasions such as a school outing. Sandals are not permitted.

    BOYS:

  1. Long hair is deemed inappropriate for school and therefore is not to be worn.
  2. Shirts must be tucked in at the waist and buttoned. No beachshirts are to be worn. Boys should not turn their collars up. Colors should be subdued. No overcoats are to be worn during school.
  3. No blue jeans, tight black pegged pants, shorts, or clam diggers are to be worn at any time.
  4. No boots or shoes with taps or cleats will be allowed.

Fifty years later, the level of our compliance seems largely unchanged.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Virginia Leadership

Juan Williams is a very entertaining speaker but with a strange message: for an hour he urged us to take pride in the courageous leadership of Barbara Johns and other Virginians who stood up for equality and justice without ever hinting that we might feel any embarassment about the policies and prominent Virginians who made it necessary and often dangerous for them to stand up. For the most part, Williams's heroes had to go to Washington to win; they didn't find vindication in Richmond.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Good Times

Happy Birthday, Babe! You're the best.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Slow Learner

When your wife says "Why don't you do such-and-such a thing?" the only correct response is "That's a good idea; I'll do it."

I don't know why it took me 41 years to figure such a simple, obvious proposition out. I don't know why I ever supposed that she was inviting me to list two or three of my most sensible reasons for not doing such-and-such a thing. I don't know why I even imagined it was a question instead of a directive. Maybe the rising inflection fooled me. No telling what other times I've imagined I've added useful information or humor to a conversation but have really added only annoyance.

The Tilted Playing Field

Stop Payment Orders (Florida Bar News, letters to the editor, 8/15/2012):

“Double whammy” may not be a legal term (yet), but Mr. Wilen’s August 1 letter surely describes an unfair situation involving dual problems. The letter warned first that his two-year-old check was negotiated, and second that the check had been the subject of his “stop payment” order. The bank asserted a check of any age could be honored and that stop payment orders had to be refiled biannually.

Even separately, each assertion is unfair, and seems to be the result of lobbying only a banker could love, but taken together, the bank’s position must fail. The UCC provides a bank may charge its customer’s account for a check presented more than six months after its date only if the payment is made in good faith. Consider, how could a bank even claim “good faith” after receiving the initial stop payment order? Does the bank envision a multitude of customers who chose to stop payment for only six months?

A similarly unfair situation exists concerning bank errors. A depositor has 30 days to correct an error, while a bank, depending on state law, has between years and until the end of time.

Good luck, Mr. Wilen.

Steve Krup, Hollywood

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Italy, 2012

Italian's not so hard (non difficile); it's just English with extra vowels and carefree spelling. You can click here for a few pictures of our trip this month to Tuscany and Umbria with friends Mary and Bruce.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lessons From History

From "Inside UVA Online," Feb. 2003: The [University of Virginia's] Board of Visitors under Jack Ackerly [Rector from 1998-2003] pursued consideration over action and unanimity over speed.

"I was very mindful of the fact that this was the No. 1-rated public university in the United States," he said. "It seemed to me to be presumptuous to come in and try to change things. My goal was to help build consensus and support the administration."

Saturday, June 02, 2012

George Evans, 1936-2012


George Evans took a part-time job at the Richmond Reserve Bank handling paper checks while he was still in high school, and he stayed on for 40 years, retiring in 1994 as vice president. He was one of the most practical, sensible, and entertaining Reserve System officers I ever worked with.

The Bank used to have staff who had started in quite humble jobs and, as they gained experience and their talents showed out, worked their way up to positions of high responsibility. I see some of them at the monthly retirees’ breakfast at Shoney’s, and they are the one of the best reason to attend those breakfasts. (You wouldn't necessarily go just for the food.) Indeed, the Bank’s third president never went to college, but public records clearly show that he was powerfully articulate and effective both inside the Reserve System and in the larger community, chairing, for example, the commission that created VCU, now the state’s largest public four-year university.

This career path is becoming vanishingly rare at the Bank, and it’s a shame. The best of these staffers had four powerful advantages: they were canny supervisors--they truly understood much of the work they had to supervise because they had spent years actually doing work like that themselves; they didn't live in a bubble--they knew staff at all levels of the organization and and had watched how the institution succeeded and how it failed; they weren't lopsided--they had a sane, healthy balance, tested and proven over the years, of practical life lessons and book learning; and they were never toadies--they were extremely loyal to their bosses without being reverential and, for the most part, they wouldn’t bullshit you.

George died in February, and his friends gathered this afternoon at his place by the Rappahannock River to remember him. If you didn’t know George, his obituary will give you a good sense of what you missed:

George B. Evans reluctantly bid farewell to this life on February 10, 2012, departing as he lived, surrounded by family, friends, love, laughter, dancing and music. Few people have lived each day with such joy and gusto as he, always ready to share a joke or a song, a "poppy story" or the "daddy face." He was 75. His wife of 53 years and love of his life, Jerolene C. Evans, often said that if you met him you liked him; if you knew him you loved him. Together, George and Jerri taught their three daughters the values of joy and kindness, hard work and perseverance, as well as how to do a mean jitterbug. He always said he had three girls so he'd never run out of dance partners. He was generous to his friends and loved ones, quick to share his affection, time, attention and advice. In 1982, at age 46, George received a transplanted kidney, donated by his sister, Jennie Lee. He vowed to live every day with renewed passion from then on. Until poor health intervened, he faithfully celebrated his "kidney anniversary" in August every year with a party in Atlanta, Georgia. His declining health in recent years never dimmed his fighting spirit. He said recently, "If I'm going down, I'm going down swinging!" He did. No service is planned at this time; however, a celebration will be announced once the weather warms up enough for a good "river party." In the meantime, George would enjoy being remembered with a toast, a good story and a laugh.

Jim Parthemos, 1920-2012

Bob McTeer in Forbes Magazine:

Farewell to James Parthemos (Richmond Fed Research Director)

I learned today that Jim Parthemos has passed away, at age 92. The world has lost a good man.

Jim was my first boss as Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. In retrospect, he was probably my best boss. He and his counterpart at another Federal Reserve Bank offered me similar jobs at identical pay during the hiring season in late 1967. The other job was closer to home, but the choice wasn’t even close. It came down to wanting to work for Jim.

I arrived at the Richmond Fed in August 1968 as its “international economist,” whatever that meant. It was a good field to have at an interesting time. The late 1960s and early 1970s were good for the career of an international economist. The balance of payments and exchange rates were making news, and the slow break-up of the Bretton Woods fixed-exchange rate system was under way. I was called upon frequently to write memos to the president of the bank, make presentations to the board of directors, and make outside speeches about the latest currency devaluation or revaluation or what was going on with the balance of payments and gold flows.

Milton Friedman was pushing floating exchange rates and saying that they would end the perpetual crisis. He was right. My time in the economics limelight declined when we floated and international issues faded. I was gradually given administrative responsibilities to take up the slack.

What made Jim Parthemos the perfect boss from my point of view was that he knew my strengths and weaknesses better than I did. His assignments usually involved a little stretch, but not too much. He knew better than I what I could handle and what I probably couldn’t. He protected me from total failure.

I guess I wasn’t the best economist, per se, in the department because early on he made me the editor of the economic review and other publications. He gave me his general vision for lines of research and articles and had me assign them and work with the authors to completion—a combination of some economics and lots of nagging and begging to meet deadlines. This meant that I did more rewriting than writing, which suited me because I doubted my creativity when the page was blank.

My semi-administrative role further morphed and I was given administrative responsibility for other departments in the bank and, eventually, in March 1980, was made the officer in charge of the Richmond Fed’s Baltimore branch.

When I arrived in Richmond in 1968, Jim gave me two pieces of advice. The first was that I should buy a house rather than rent temporarily as I had planned. That advice may not apply to these times, but it applied then. I took it and was glad I did.

 His other advice had to do with investing my money. He simply pointed out that the younger you are the more you should invest in the stock market, and, as you get older, you should switch more into fixed income. I meant to take that advice, but I’m afraid that I found fixed income too boring, to my early delight and recent regret.

Jim was a gardener. He always recommended it to me as good exercise. I could never tell if he was serious. I conceded that it was probably good exercise for the soul, but I doubted it would do much for the body. He was 92 when he passed, so I may have been wrong about that.

 Jim was a Greek from South Carolina. I was never sure whether he was born here or just came at an early age. In any case, he spoke the language and was steeped in its history—actually all history. He impressed me more with his knowledge of history than his knowledge of economics. That’s not to denigrate the latter. It’s just that, as an economist, he was, above all, a common-sense pragmatist rather than an ideologue of one kind or another against which his purity could be judged. We need a few more of those these days.

After Jim retired, he offered to take those of us interested for a tour of Greece. Those 16 days in Greece in 1988 turned out to be my first major foreign travel. Jim was the general guide, but he’d arranged for special guides for parts of the tour. I think of that wonderful experience every day that the Greek tragedy is in the news. Aside from all the highfalutin sites and lectures, two things I remember from that experience was that Amstel Light seemed to be the beer of choice, and American rock and roll was the background music.


Jim was a scholar and a gentlemen, through and through. I never heard him speak ill of anyone. A petty thought never entered his head. He was always there for his “young bucks” as he called us, including Al Broaddus who later became president of the Richmond Fed and shared all Jim’s characteristics.

It was Al that notified me of Jim’s passing. He reminded me that, when Jim reported back to us after FOMC meetings, he always began by saying the meeting hadn’t been very “edifying.” Given Jim’s high standards, I’m sure that was true for him, but I suspect it was also meant to ease our envy at not getting to attend ourselves. Later in our careers, Al and I became members of the FOMC, no doubt largely because of our early training from Jim.

Most of you never heard of Jim Parthemos, but, trust me, the world has lost one of its best.