Sunday, June 17, 2018

Mid-June Links, Part II

More stories for you, as I avoid working in the heat:

This ex-Detroit football player is vowing to become a nun - Detroit Free Press

Ashes of an industry: A Pennsylvania tradition is dying, one baseball bat at a time - Philadelphia Inquirer

No more cathode ray tubes from China, says Trump Administration - Asia Times

Philadelphia Shipyard Struggles to Survive on Order Drought - Wall Street Journal.  Calling Donald Trump....

Billions in U.S. solar projects shelved after Trump panel tariff - Reuters.  I guess if your goal is to bail out coal, this is a win.  If your goal is to have a sane energy policy, this is idiotic.

When North Dakota Farmers Blew up Partisan Politics - Zocalo Public Square.  Nonpartisan League.  I knew North Dakota has a State Bank.  I didn't realize they have an elevator and flour mill.

The Failed State of Franklin - ThoughtCo

The bishop and the brothels – Wellcome Collection

Farm Bill Targets Food Stamps -- But Not Handouts to Well-Off Farmers – Governing.  For Republicans, that is a feature, not a bug.

Lone Star Rising - Fortune.  Fracking in the Permian Basin.  The avoidance of Peak Oil means we will probably drill until the climate is completely wrecked.  It might be a good think I don't have kids.

T. Boone Pickens on Selling the Ranch - Texas Monthly

The preventable tragedy of D’ashon Morris – Dallas Morning News.  Think of this when you hear Republicans say they are pro-life.

How Anna Delvey Tricked New York's Party People - The Cut

These Harvard Kids Got The Lesson of Their Lives in the Heartland - New York Post.  A noble effort, but I don't know how much can be gleaned by these junkets.

The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar – New York Times.  The line between genius and madness is often blurry.

America’s Largest Private Company Reboots a 153-Year-Old Strategy – Bloomberg

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mid-June Links, Part I

That's right, I'm not dead yet.  I was just busy side dressing corn, baling hay, going to graduation parties, working at the town festival, celebrating my birthday and generally sitting around.  Here are a bunch of stories to try to make it up to you, with more to come tomorrow (or maybe the next few days):

Why Canadian milk infuriates Donald Trump - The Guardian.  After years of getting crushed, Canada's system probably sounds pretty appealing to U.S. dairymen.

Crisis on the High Plains: The Loss of America's Largest Aquifer - The Ogallala - University of  Denver Water Law Review.  U.S. agriculture creates so many of its own problems. 

Plants repeatedly got rid of their ability to obtain their own nitrogen - Ars Technica

New tariffs spark fears in WNY: 'It makes me a lot less competitive' - Buffalo News

A Senior White House Official Defines the Trump Doctrine: ‘We’re America, Bitch’ - The Atlantic.  I'm sure that'll work out well for us.

Trump’s Got a Crazy New Plan to Save the Dying Coal Industry - Mother Jones.  There is never a shortage of terrible ideas in this administration.

Emails show cooperation among EPA, climate-change deniers - AP.  Also, corruption.

‘He Pretty Much Gave In to Whatever They Asked For’ - Politico.  Our Negotiator-in-Chief.  You have to read about The Art of the Deal and The Apprentice.

Catholic sister's retirement marks end of Sisters of Charity affiliation with Sacred Heart - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  There is a lot of this going on.

Trump’s Right-Hand Troll - The Atlantic. America's most famous Duke alum.

America’s Boxcar Pool Has a Leak in CSX - Wall Street Journal

The Engines of the Largest Container Ships in the World, and Challenges their Manufacturers Face - Wolf Street.  You have to click through to see the crankshaft photo.

What Unites and Divides Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities - Pew Research Center

US rivers drawn to show average annual flow - Map Porn (via Lynn Sosnoskie)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mid Week Mini-Links - May 2018 Edition

I had a little difficulty finding many good stories, but I've got some:

Stronach Group COO Tim Ritvo sees grim future for Preakness at Pimlico - Baltimore Sun.  This makes me sad.

Choking On Our Harvest: Threats Loom Over Global Food Trade – Bloomberg.  A lot of good graphics.

Big Ag turns to peas to meet soaring global protein demand – Reuters

Editorial: U.S. House embarrassed itself with its mishandling of the farm bill - Omaha World-Herald.  The GOP owns this train wreck.  They had plenty of money for corporate tax cuts, but they just can't resist kicking the poor while shoveling out piles of money to farmers and rural residents.

For Future Health Policies, Trump Administration Adds a Rural Focus - Governing.  Maybe the Ohio GOP shouldn't be pushing to roll back Medicaid expansion.  I think the lack of Medicaid expansion (along with ending reimbursement for unpaid care linked to the expected expansion), as opposed to excessive regulation, led to rural hospital closures.

Gambling Ruling May Make USDA Reports More Exciting - Progressive Farmer 

The Last Days of the Blue-Blood Harvest - The Atlantic 

Meeting Resistance – Science

Public Demands Investigation of Why F.B.I. Infiltrators in Trump Campaign Failed to Prevent Him from Being Elected – Borowitz Report

Scott Pruitt’s approach to pollution control will make the air dirtier and Americans less healthy - The Conversation

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mid-May Late Week Links

More good reads for you:

Gov. John Kasich wants to crack down on phosphorus runoff that feeds Lake Erie algal blooms – Cleveland Plain Dealer.  This isn't going to magically go away.

Warming Planet Could Mean Bigger Corn Crops for American Farmers – Bloomberg.  Just what we need-more corn.

California is turning farms into carbon-sucking factories – Grist.  Farmers might be in for fighting climate change if it means more sweet, sweet government handouts.

Warming Waters Push Fish To Cooler Climes, Out Of Some Fishermen's Reach – The Salt

NASA Satellites Reveal Major Shifts in Global Freshwater –

Louisiana Wants To Use The Muddy Mississippi To Build Up Its Coast – NPR

The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy - The Atlantic

The Untold Story of Robert Mueller's Time in Combat - Wired.  Who would you rather your children turn out like: Robert Mueller or Donald Trump?  If you said Trump, I sure hope you don't have kids.

Sulfur Dioxide Damages Lungs, and Scott Pruitt Is Letting More of It in Our AirMother Jones  It is ridiculous that existing plants sometimes never have had to meet most environmental regulations.

Too Big To Fine, Too Small To Fight BackTexas Observer.  Sometimes it seems when Republicans are in charge they really work to make government the enemy.

Which Poor People Shouldn’t Have to Work for Aid? – The Upshot.  I'll give you one guess.  More on Michigan's plan for letting rural poor folks stay on Medicaid without meeting work requirements. 

‘Blue Wave’ Has Been a Trickle Outside Largest Cities - The Daily Yonder.  Yes, rural areas are responsible for Trump.

Trump vs. “The Deep State”The New Yorker.  More like Trump vs. competent governance.

A Wildfire Likely Spawned a Severe Thunderstorm in Texas – DAMWeather

Sunday, May 13, 2018

End of Planting Links

We had a number of setbacks that ate up a few perfectly fine days, but the weather was extremely cooperative, and everything is in the ground.  While we were working on it, I came across some stories I thought were interesting:

Who is basketball's GOAT - Lebron James or Michael Jordan - Boston Globe and Cavaliers are surviving in the playoffs despite the dilemma of LeBron James' rest - ESPN.  I'm extremely biased, but I think Lebron would be the best teammate to play alongside.

The Big Ten’s Big Business - Slate.  "Amateur."  What a crock.

The Art of Icon Writing - Baltimore Sun

Why We've Been Fighting About Milk for 10,000 Years - Time

Maple Syrup Cartel Has a Plan to Cover Shortfall - Bloomberg.  I can't get enough of the maple syrup cartel and their strategic maple syrup reserve.

The Colonel In The Kitchen: A Surprising History Of Sous Vide - The Salt

Alan Turing’s chemistry hypothesis turned into a desalination filter - Ars Technica

How the 50-mm Lens Became ‘Normal’ - The Atlantic 

The water war that will decide the fate of 1 in 8 Americans – Grist.  People who move to the desert southwest are insane.

Tech Envisions the Ultimate Start-Up: An Entire City – The Upshot.  Umm, no thanks.  I'm not sure how Beta versions of cities would work.

Kansas' Medicaid Data Is So Bad, Analysts Can't Even Tell If It's Working - Governing.  Kansas is pretty much Republican "governance" in its purest form.

Nonprofit Liberty University's "lucrative enterprise" - Marketplace.  Gaming regulations targeting for-profit colleges.

Trump is no longer the worst person in government - George Will.  On Mike Pence. Let's not get crazy, George.  Both suck in tremendously different ways.

Donald Trump declares trade war on China - Financial Times.  This will probably hit farmers hard.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Derby Day Links

More stories squeezed around planting, fixing the planter and working at the town job:

 Eating Dirt on Kentucky Derby Day - Bloomberg

The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code - Bloomberg

These Stories Of Horse Racing Gamblers Will Get You Psyched For The Kentucky Derby - Bloomberg.  It's a podcast, but as you can see, Bloomberg is all-in on the Derby.

Local Dallas Sportscaster Goes Viral For His 'Unplugged' Commentary - All Things Considered.  The part about his racist dad saying the one black family he knows is good and different from all the blacks he doesn't know is pure Midwestern bigotry.  I don't know if I could count how many times I've heard that. Sometimes it includes a statement that that black person or family agrees with that person about other blacks.

The innovation turning desert sand into farmland - BBC

Minnesota experiment upends notions about how plants will offset rising CO2 - Minn Post

On The Hunt For The Elusive Morel Mushroom In Ohio's Appalachian Country  - The Salt

Here's why Michigan Medicaid work requirements will kill people - Detroit Free Press.  Exemptions for rural counties, but not for poor urban areas.  That's the Republican party for you.

How Criminals Steal $37 Billion a Year from America’s Elderly - Bloomberg.  I would like to know what countries' GDP are smaller than the total economic activity generated in the US by crime and fraud.  I would guess it is the size of a medium-sized developed nation

Paul Ryan Just Got Trounced By a Priest - Charles Pierce and Ryan reverses, will keep House chaplain in place - Politico.  As if I needed to add anti-Catholic bigotry to my reasons to hate the GOP.  I did enjoy that more than one political commentator said that the moral of the story is that you don't fuck with a Jesuit (or The Society-God bless Catholic culture).

A Pruitt Aide's Attack on Zinke Angers the White House - The Atlantic.  So the cabinet secretary I hate the most had an underling try to undermine the cabinet secretary I hate the second-most.  That seems about like what I'd expect from the Trump administration.  Even they can understand who the assholes are.

This Map Shows Every State's Biggest Export - How Much (via Ritholtz).  Not too hard to figure out where Poet is based.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

On Farming

It was about 9:15 this evening when it really hit me.  We had just finished planting the corn on our first farm, and I was walking from the north field back to my truck about a quarter mile away.  It was approaching the end of the gloaming, and in the general stillness the slightest wisp of breeze would kick up a tiny chill.  It would pass, and then I would feel the warmth of the soil radiating the stored solar energy of a beautiful May Day. That happened four or five times as I made that 5 minute walk. It was a good day.

It didn't start that way.  If you talked to me as late as 2:30, I would have had a tale of woe and frustration that stretched days as we'd managed to get 10 acres planted while neighbors seeded hundreds.  I was trying to repair yesterday's breakdown, and had just discovered that the part I ordered and that dad picked up this morning was the wrong one, and wouldn't work on our machine.  At that point, I was looking for a quick fix and dad, while expressing that immediate retirement was looking pretty attractive, said that we had waited this long, we might as well wait a couple more hours while he went to get the right part and do it right.

"Good enough never is."  That is the sales slogan at my town job, which also happens to be our family business.  It is a potent motto, but from this jaded engineer and farmer's perspective, good enough is good enough.  Dad left to get the part, and I went to work on my quick fix.  From my perspective, we could do the proper fix tomorrow when it was forecast to rain (although that may get pushed back to Thursday [and dad is right, we need to fix it correctly when we can, which I will try to do in the early morning]).  Within a half-hour we were up and running, and with minor slowdowns, were able to complete what we could reasonably expect to get done in what was left of the day. 

That is what I love about grain farming.  When you decide to try something that might not be ideal, you don't have to answer to anyone except family and maybe the banker.  Also, unlike almost every other job, there is a definite start and finish to crop production.  Sure, we are barely a sixteenth of the way to completing our seeding labor, but we got most of that done in less than seven hours from our lowest point at 2:30 to that moment where I felt the last remnants of the sun's work escaping to the atmosphere in the beautiful transition from day to night.  Few other jobs blend that physical feeling of accomplishment with the opportunity to experience nature in all its wonder and beauty.  I got to feel the warmth of the May sun, watch that sun set, and watch the moon rise.  And I got to feel the subtle shift of our work from frustration to success.

As I type this, this good day passes into the next one.  I am looking at an early start to a day that may bring rain, will definitely bring a careful balance of labor between the town job and the one that is done more for love than money, and may bring more frustration. But I am looking forward to another feeling of accomplishment as this new day fades into the next one. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

End of April Weekend Links

I was finally ready to start planting this afternoon, and wouldn't you know it, we had a technology malfunction and I didn't get a single seed in the ground.  I did find these stories over the last few days, though:

The history of the song "Louie Louie" - Marketplace.  An important FBI investigation.

EU agrees total ban on bee-harming pesticides - Guardian

Rural Lands At Risk As Ranchers Prepare For Retirement - The Salt

Rural Kansas is dying. I drove 1,800 miles to find out why - The New Food Economy.  It goes a little over the top, but brings up some brutal statistics.

Rural Teachers Working Second Jobs, Struggling To Make Ends Meet – CBS Denver

The last man who knew everything – The Week

A High Schooler Has Upended a Fundamental Chemistry Theory - Inverse

Did Math Kill God?The New Republic 

There Are Holes In Elon Musk's Plans To Tunnel Through L.A. With Boring Co. - Forbes

The Myth That Markets Get Prices Right Won’t Die – Bloomberg.  Goddamn vampire theory. Pound a wooden stake in its heart.

Life on the Oil Frontier - Longreads

Annual Figures Show Slight Rise in Rural Jobs, But Gap With Metro Widens – Daily Yonder