Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Weird candidates in Eastern Iowa

While listening to Deace In The Afternoon this, well, afternoon, I heard Steve Deace interview James Hill, the Pirate candidate for 1st Congressional District. He is a hoot! This is Deace's only endorsement. Check out his website.

While searching for James Hill, I came across the Cedar Rapids Gazette's voter guide. Here, they have a listing for David Gochenouer, a Republican running for House Seat 34. Here's a link to the listing:

He lists membership in the NRA and the Iowa Pyrotechnics Association...does he look like the kind of guy you'd want handling guns and explosives?

And don't forget Wendy Barth, the Green Party candidate for Governor from Cedar Rapids. Although she's a nice person (I've met her), she's got glasses that could burn an ant colony to mush with the right angle of sunlight!

And while she's not in Eastern Iowa, Helen Meyers of the Socialist Workers Party, running in District 3, has some interesting things to say...uh, yeah. Sorry Helen, but as a farmer, I am not going to rush out and join you on the picket line calling for no limits to abortions, immigrants rights, and massive federally funded public works programs, even though you like lumping us with your commie labor unions.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

More "Jericho" plot holes

While I'm still following the TV show "Jericho", I'm finding more plot holes in it all the time. I think CBS should hire me as their agricultural consultant; even though I'm not from Kansas, I probably have a better understanding of dryland farming there than Hollywood does.

Stanley, the farmer, finds that he's got earworms in his corn that is green and lush. He goes to the local grocery store and asks to purchase the remaining pesticides off the shelf. He later threatens to burn down the infested plants with gasoline. The townpeople show up at the end of the program to help harvest the corn, put them on plastic boxes, and store them in the barn.

Where do I begin?

  1. Unless that corn is under irrigation (no sign of pivots), it wouldn't look that nice in western Kansas.
  2. Asking for "pesticides" will give you a wide range of products, most of which will do nothing for corn earworms. Insecticides would have been a better term.
  3. Obtaining the "pesticides" at a grocery store is highly improbable; who wants to buy food at a place where toxic chemicals are located two shelves down? He should have gone to the coop, but I'm guessing the producers didn't want to hire another actor to play a coop manager.
  4. Instead of firing up his Case 1370 and disc (shown in the background of one scene) to disc under his infested corn crop, he attempts to burn down the GREEN corn with gasoline, something that will A) not do the job, and B) waste a precious resource. The Case should have started, as this model was pre-electronics and the EMP blast would not have affected its ability to run.
  5. No mention if the corn was regular field corn or sweet corn, but the townspeople pick the ears as if they were sweet corn (green husks, tender kernels), put the ears in boxes, and store them in a warm barn where they'll mold and become inedible in a few days. Brilliant.

Oh well, it's just a show, I should really just relax.

Anyone out there in the blogosphere - if you know the producers (or have any dirt on the producers, writers, or best boy), have them get in touch with me, and we'll right this wayward ship of a show.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What, me worried?

Our friends at the AP came out with this story today, saying that Iowa farmers are worried about global warming. Huh? I didn't know AP could read my mind...

Actually, the story only cites two farmers, and three non-farmers to make this blanket statement.

Of the two farmers, one is an ICCI member (the nutjobs who are anti-livestock) and the other is an organic farmer who sits on the Environmental Protection Commission. Hmm, that really covers Iowa farmers really well, eh?

This is more drivel passed off as news by the mainstream media, to use Rush's tag. Most Iowa farmers aren't really caring about global warming right now - they're too busy getting the crops out, feeding their livestock, paying their bills, and taking care of things. They don't have time to have some MSM babe question if they're worried about global warming - makes as much sense as asking them who they think will be kicked of of Survivor's island this week.

Here's a great quote:

Thicke said he believes politicians should end subsidies to farmers who grow crops such as corn and soybeans in a way that robs the soil of nutrients and requires lots of energy.

So, are you advocating mass expulsion of farmers from the countryside, land values and investments dropping, and massive soil erosion due to the end of soil conservation enforcement by the government, Francis?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Upgrading to a mo' fly ride

I traded off my 1984 International Harvester 1460 combine today for a 1995 Case IH 2188.

The old girl went down on me yesterday; I was harvesting corn near my house when all of a sudden the corn head and separator stopped. I pulled out of the rows, stopped the combine, and got out to check what was going on. My first sign that something was not good was a rattling sound coming from near the engine. The sound of a bearing that had gone out on the PTO transmission coming from the engine. The second was a steady dripping of oil coming from said PTO transmission. Not good.

As luck would have it, I had been in talks with the local dealer about trading combines anyway. They were able to locate a couple of machines, one in Mt Ayr, the other in Nevada, that might be suitable. So, Dad and I took a roadtrip to Nevada yesterday to look at this 2188.

Now, for those of you not familiar with Case IH combines, here's some basic info: A 1460 is like a Chevrolet Monte Carlo from the mid-80's - pretty neat stuff at the time, and while it will get you from point A to point B today, it is getting old and prone to break downs. A 2188 is like a mid 1990's Chevrolet Impala- Not the shinest, but still pretty decent, and light years ahead of the 1980's technology.

Except a 1995 Chevrolet Impala doesn't cost more than a 2006 Mercedes E class, as this 1995 Case IH 2188 does. The 2006 combines cost as much as a Lamborghini. I kid you not.

So, with having the 1460 repaired at the dealer, I'll trade it in, along with a subsoiler tillage tool, and some cash for this 2188. And payments for the next five years. It is a bigger combine, so I should be able to get through my crop faster, disregarding any breakdowns (which should be fewer, I hope). I should be able to combine corn at 5.5-6 mph instead of 3-3.5 mph as I do now. In layman's terms, that's like going from 55 to 90 on the interstate.

I should get the machine on Thursday - on which day it is supposed to rain, and can't harvest. Hmmm.

The Old:

The New (with my father checking out the donuts):

Secretary of Ag race

I've been quiet thus far about the Secretary of Agriculture race until now. It may seem a bit odd that a farmer doesn't have much to say about the SoA position in one of the most agricultural based states in the nation. Here's why.

For the most part, the Secretary of Ag's position is to watch over bureaus that are generally regulatory. The Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is broken down into various divisions, then bureaus:

Consumer Protection and Animal Health
Animal Industry
Dairy Products Control
Meat and Poultry Inspection
Weights and Measures (the people who check those gas dispensers)
Market Development and Administrative Services
Ag Diversification and Market Development
Horse and Dog (Dog and Pony show?)
Horticulture and Farmers Markets
Agricultural Marketing
Plant Management and Technology
Commercial Feed & Fertilizer
Entomology and Plant Science
Grain Warehouse
Iowa Laboratory Facilities
Soil Conservation
Field Services
Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Mines & Minerals
Water Resources

Pretty boring stuff, for the most part.

Now, nowhere do I see "Livestock Zoning" or "Ethanol Plant Ownership", issues that are polarizing this race. It really doesn't matter what Bill Northey or Denise O'Brien think about local control of livestock operations; they'll get their marching orders from the Legislature and Governor. Sure, O'Brien is an organic farmer, and she might choose to expand the Organic area of the department, but she has no ability to regulate livestock agriculture out of existence. Northey can't force industrial hog buildings to be built on every square mile, either. The rhetoric being thrown out by both sides (and their cheerleaders) is oftentimes overblown and out of proportion.

The Secretary of Ag's position is pretty well defined. The bureaucrats are in place to run the divisions and bureaus. All the SOA has to do is smile, shake hands, make sure the place is running efficiently, and get out of the way. They are ambassadors of Iowa agriculture, not control freaks who set the markets and define the weather. The SOA won't be responsible for counting votes, releasing or hiding SS numbers of those with liens against them, and conducting useless public notary conferences, unlike the Secretary of State's position.

(It's surprising we don't hear more about the SOS's race...maybe because it involves someone who's a member of the South-Side La Machina).

I know O'Brien personally, and I think she's a pretty decent person. I've met Northey, and he seems like a good guy, too. Knowing that the position is mostly administrative, having to deal with people more than develop agricultural policy, I'd have to give the nod to Northey, especially since he has worked with renewable fuels and spent lots of time on boards and committees. Denise is at heart an activist, no matter how she tries to change her appearance and rhetoric. She's been fighting the system for 30 years or more. She is a left winger by far (she's marched at anti-WTO demostrations), and I don't know how well that would play at a regulatory-type agency.

To be honest, it might make more sense to have the SOA appointed by the Governor and the DNR Chief selected by general election. The DNR (Dept of Natural Resources) appears to have more and more control over people's lives every year. Electing someone to that position, instead of an appointee by the Governor, might shed some more light into how the Department works and what it does. IDALS (Iowa Dept of Ag and Land Stewardship) is for the most part benign to most Iowans in its function.

This is just a little distraction from the Snake/Dodo Bird race we have for governor. I'm still writing in Ed Fallon - nobody would cheat on their spouse with an accordion-playing, turtleneck-wearing progressive, or could attempt to reinstate Touchplay through a "contribution".

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My day in Des Moines on a rainy afternoon

This afternoon I trekked up to the big city in search of wiring components for some electric motors on my grain bin. Here's my recount of the afternoon:

1) My first stop was the south side Home Depot. They have a great wire selection. Found the stuff I was looking for (6 gauge and 10 gauge x 3 conductor cord). Had to find an "associate" to get the stuff cut to length. Then, I took everything to the checkout, where a young lady named Melanie Sue, with "Thumper" written below her tag, checked my items out. Why her nickname is Thumper I have no idea, but it probably has an interesting story to go with it...you can speculate on that one.

2) Next I went next door to efficiency to find some miniDVD RW discs for our camcorder. They didn't have any, and another "associate" asked if he could help. After asking for the RW type, he replied they didn't have any. The "associate" was your typical 20 something guy with some sort of weird facial hair, probably a Korn fan.

3) So, I went over to Best Buy. Surely they would have miniDVD RW discs? Of course, and I found them, but not until I checked out the new HDTVs and other cool stuff. When I was younger I wanted to work at a Best Buy. While it still seems like a fun place, I'm glad I don't - there's only so much hip hop music over the loudspeakers one can take. And weird facial hair on the "associates".

4) My last stop was Harbor Freight Tools - yes, redneck nirvana. I was looking for some worklights, 1/2 SAE socket set, and who knows what? Couldn't find the worklights I was looking for, but did find the socket set and a tarp to cover my grain auger from the rain. The cashiers are a hoot at Harbor Freight. They have no problem with talking loudly to each other as they ring up customers; "2 hours 'till we close! Woo hoo! Hey, where's Stinky? Taking another smoke break?" Again, 20 somethings were running the asylum, at least one with weird facial hair. The other, a gal with a real annoying laugh. Oh well, it's hard to get quality help when you're helping contribute to the national trade deficit (as well as the customers).

There's a 20 something guy in our town, nicknamed Scotty Too Hotty, who doesn't have a job, can't keep a job, and apparently doesn't want a job, due to his bragging to my wife at the library that he was going to go shopping the next day with his monthly welfare check. Scotty came from Arizona to meet a girl he'd met on the Internet, didn't get along with her but found another babe in town, knocked her up, and wa-la, the government takes on another welfare family. Scotty spends a lot of time at the computers in the library surfing, checking out YouTube and MySpace, apparently looking for high paying tech jobs in Humeston.

I think Scotty would be very well qualified for almost any of the jobs mentioned above. He has the the computer skills, at least the ability to touch buttons on a keypad. He has the slacker attitude that is apparently a prerequisite for all near minimum wage jobs. And he's got weird facial hair.

Maybe I should have picked up a job application at OfficeMax for Scotty...

Where the fruits of my labor go...

As I've been harvesting my crop of corn and soybeans recently, I've thought to myself - where does this production end up going to, and who does it benefit?

Corn - Most of the corn goes to the local MFA (Missouri Farmers Association) elevator. They sell the majority of this corn to Premium Standard Farms, located 40 miles away in Missouri. PSF is one of the largest hog operations in the nation. It recently was announced that Smithfield intends to purchase PSF to maintain Smithfield's position as the largest hog producer.

Some of the corn is hauled to Cargill's Eddyville plant, where it made into ethanol, corn starch, corn syrup, and many other products. One of the plants located near the Cargill plant, Anjimoto Heartland, produces lysine, an important amino acid. The byproduct of this operation, a dark chocolate cake batter-like liquid, is used as fertilizer. In fact, I have half my corn acres applied with the goop each year. The application rate is like 2000 lbs/ac, which means a lot of tanker trucks run between here and Eddyville while spreading it. Best of all, it is surface applied, and no tillage is required.

Soybeans - All of my soybeans go to Cargill or ADM in Des Moines. Yes, those are the plants that smell up the east side, and that's where my beans go. They process the beans into soybean meal for livestock feed, and soybean oil, used for various food and industrial purposes (including biodiesel).

Wheat - The little wheat I had this year went to the MFA in Trenton, MO. It goes on to either Kansas City or St Louis for processing or export. It is soft red winter wheat, which means it goes to cookies, crackers, and probably not bread (not enough protein).

Oats - The even less amount of oats I grew this year will probably be used to make calf creep feed with corn and distillers grains next summer.

Friday, October 20, 2006

White pride? Huh?

So, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, skinhead-ism is on the rise in the US. While I'm not a big fan of the SPLC, beings as its a liberal tool, I will agree that skinheads and white power could be an issue for those concerned about such things. I'm not one of them, however.

I can't see how a skinhead group could become very powerful and controlling, any further than being a group of drunk, violent hairless young men that can't get dates. Sure, they could beat you up, but they aren't going to be able to organize a run at the statehouse. They might stomp you with their Doc Martens, but they can't bring legislation forth concerning property taxes.

While I don't condone their violence and their message, I guess I don't get too worked up about a bunch of cueballs.

I'm about 5/8th German descent, the balance being English, Scottish, and Swedish. I have blue eyes and blond/brownish hair. I guess I'd be a poster boy for the White Pride movement if I so chose to be. And while I am glad to be of northern European descent, I don't think that makes me or anyone else of similar origin any better than anyone else. There's nothing wrong about being thankful for the path your ancestors took, but it doesn't give one the right to lord it over someone else.

I just don't understand why anyone would want to shave their head, get tatoos of Nazi soldiers, drink beer out of a ram's horn, and not be able to get a job higher than 3rd shift janitor. It just doesn't sound appealing. The disdain of PC liberals wouldn't be much of a deterent, however, as I already get that now.

Plus, wearing this shirt would make you too much of a target...

The basic point - skinheads are another stupid group of young men with too much time on their hands. Hooliganism has been a problem since Cain and Abel went gangbanging outside the Garden of Eden.

A solution: Skinheads should take up a less violent but equally controversial interest...blogging. 'Course, they'd have to come up with something more interesting that starting each post with Sieg Heil!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

EPA says it won't "bust for dust"

According to the Register, the EPA director says that while new dust limiting regulations will not exempt agriculture, the government has no plans to go after farmers for kicking up some dirt in the fields.

A couple of weeks ago this issue surfaced, with Sen. Chuck Grassley getting some points by setting up a straw man and knocking it over. The EPA, in updating regulations concerning dust emissions, did not specifically exempt agriculture. Of course, dust is a natural part of farming, especially during harvest time, and Chuck got upset (or took advantage of the situation) and made hay over the issue.

The EPA director, at Grassley's behest, came to Iowa this week to let us hayseeds know that the EPA has no intention of regulation farm dust. But, because the studies of dust are "inconclusive", no exemption for agriculture will occur. This still worries some ag leaders.

Frankly, regulating the dust that comes out the back of a combine makes as much sense as forcing goatherders to put diapers on their goats.

Grassley did use this as an opportunity to get the spotlight, especially in calling the EPA director out to Iowa to talk in a farmer's garage on a rainy day. How much did this trip cost the taxpayer, Chuck?

While I would not want to have dust regulated in farming, I think much ado about nothing is being created here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Clear cutting timber? Not today...

Here are a couple of aerial photos of a piece of land my father in law farms near Tripoli, IA, in Bremer County. I got these from the Iowa Geographic Map Server.

The first was taken in 2005. The field is directly in the middle, with smaller "chunks" within it. The field is owned by the DNR, and he rents it from them. They have certain conditions he has to follow, such as certain crop rotations, etc.

The second picture was taken in the 1930s (1937-39). This is in exactly the same location as the first shot. Compare the two. Notice something missing in the second one? Trees, maybe? My guess is everyone was going down to Sweet's Marsh to get their weekly supply of firewood during the winter.

I've heard a statistic that there are more trees in the US now than there ever has been. I don't know if that statement is true or not, but I'll bet there are a lot more trees now than 80 years ago. Of course, this is ancedotal evidence, and some treehugger will say there is mass deforestation of the habitat of the spotted liver owl in North Catahoula or something, but I can show you other old/new photos, especially from the Iowa Geographic Map Server, that shows we've had significant reforestation in Iowa over the years.

Monday, October 16, 2006

THE definitive list of "You Might Be a Redneck Jedi if..." jokes

You Might Be A Redneck Jedi If…

A peaceful meditation is one without gas.
A Wookie has told you that you need to shave.
Although you had to kill him, you kinda thought that Jabba the Hutt had a pretty good handle on how to treat his women.
At least one wing of your X-Wing is Bondo colored.
In your opinion, that Darth Vader fellow ""jest ain't right.”
More than half the droids you own don't function.
Sandpeople back down from your mama.
That "Disturbance in the Force" was just last night's baked beans and spare ribs.
The Force isn't the only thing that Runs in your family.
The moonshine still you built on Endor is hidden so well even the Ewoks can't find it.
The number of blasters you own exceeds your I.Q.
The Rancor monster refused to eat you.
The REAL reason you got into a fight in the cantina was because you ordered Bud Light...and they didn't have it.
The worst part of spending time on Dagobah is the dad gum skeeters.
There is a blaster rack in the back of your landspeeder.
There's more oil in your hair than in your astromech droid.
When addressing your Jedi Council you use "Bubba" for more than half of the members.
Wookies are offended by your B.O.
You built an outhouse over the Sarlaac pit.
You can down a case of Genny and STILL levitate that X-Wing
You can easily describe the taste of an Ewok...without using the word "chicken".
You can find no grammatical errors in the way Yoda talks.
You can levitate yourself using a force from within, but not THE force.
You consider your lightsaber the ultimate bug zapper.
You discover that your greatest enemy is, in fact, your father, who also happens to be your brother...
You don't like wearing a Jedi robe because it prevents access to the dip stored in your back pocket.
You don't think Jabba's pig guards have a hygiene problem.
You don't think the Ewoks are primitive.
You ever fantasized about Princess Leia wearing Daisy Duke shorts.
You ever lost a hand during a light saber fight because you had to spit.
You have a big #3 on the side of your X-Wing fighter.
You have a CB radio in your X-Wing.
You have a confederate flag painted on the hood of your land speeder or your flight helmet.
You have a cousin who bears a strong resemblance to Chewbacca.
You have a stuffed womp rat over your fireplace.
You have bantha horns on the front of your land speeder.
You have ever beaten up Han Solo for looking at your sister.You have ever referred to the Empire as "them damn Yankees”.
You have ever used the force in conjunction with fishing or bowling.
You have ever used the force to get yourself another beer so you didn't have to wait for a commercial.
You have ever used the force to get yourself another Bud Light so you didn't miss a NASCAR interview with any of the Allisons.
You have ever used your lightsaber to open a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill, Bud Light, or Jack Daniels.
You have ever wrecked a landspeeder while lighting a cigarette with your lightsaber.
You have the doors of your X-wing welded shut and you have to get in through the window.
You have three Landspeeders in front yard that are up on blocks...
You hear: "Luke, I am your father ... and your uncle."
You knew Princess Leia was your sister all along.
You refer to Yoda as your “Li'l Green Buddy”.
You suggested that they outfit the Millennium Falcon with a redwood deck and a Lazy-Boy recliner.
You think an AT-AT looks like a giant cow.
You think Han Solo would look better in a flannel ‘cause he looks like a little sissy in that vest.
You think that Stormtroopers are just KKK members with really good sheets
You think the symbol for the Rebel Alliance should be the Confederate flag.
You use your Jedi healing powers to clear up your V.D.
You use your lightsaber to light the barbecue grill, clean fish, or pick your teeth.
You use your R-2 unit's self-defense electro-shock thingy to get the barbecue grill to light.
You used a carbon-freezing chamber to store the 78 Wampas you shot while on vacation on Hoth.
You were the only person drinking Jack Daniels in the cantina scene.
You wonder why Luke and Leia gave up on getting married.
Your beer belly puts Jabba's to shame.
Your father has ever said to you, "Shoot, son come on over to the dark side...it'll be a hoot."
Your Father's name is Garth Vader.
Your Jedi robe is a camouflage color.
Your master ever said "My finger you will pull...hmmm?"
Your moonshine is really made on the moon.
Your Princess Amidala doesn't have to use lipstick to look like she has a lip canker.
Your Rebel Base was manufactured by Trasco Mobile Homes.
Your Reverend carries a light saber in his boot in case of emergencies.
Your wife has to ask you to get the Hyperdrive motivator out of the bathtub.
You're flying a ship that has no original parts.
You've asked an Ewok to help you go Coon hunting.
You've ever argued with a Jawa over scavenging rights to a broken droid.
You've ever given someone a wedgie by using the Force.
You've ever said, "May the force be with y'all."
You've ever strangled someone with the force because they laughed at your accent.
You've ever used Jedi mind control to talk your way out of a speeding ticket or DUI.
You’ve got fuzzy dice hanging in the cockpit of your X-Wing.
You’ve told Stormtroopers, “These are not the beers you are looking for.”

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A critique of Jericho TV show

I don't watch much TV, but my latest favorite show is Jericho (it used to be The Apprentice, but it got old, like a lot of "reality" shows get). To refresh you, its about the residents of a small town in Kansas after an apparant nuclear war is started.

However, I am finding some holes in the plot:
  1. Eric Green, the mayor's son, is cheating on his doctor wife with the local bar owner (gratuitous adultery sex scene at 7:30 PM for ya, Gavin). If in the event of a nuclear war, next to the gun store owner, I'd want to be as close as possible to a doctor. Just a little thing.
  2. When a group leaves to go find contact with the outside world, what do they drive? The biggest pickups and SUVs that suck gas like tomorrow. I'd think it would be difficult to get gas at the Kum N Go in a post-apocalyptic world, and driving a Hummer H2 would be bad idea.
  3. The rich girl, whose parents are probably dead, decides to throw a party 4 days after the blasts. Wonder if they were playing REM's "Its The End Of The World As We Know It"?
  4. The grocery store runs out of food after a run. The owner says her next shipment was due on the next train. Now, I don't think of Union Pacific and "just in time" delivery in the same sentence, and therefore, hauling perishable goods on train might not be a good idea. Maybe the writers should have considered that even though they are in the middle of Kansas, semi trucks can reach it in less than a day?

Anyway, just a few issues. It should be interesting to see if the writing picks up or we'll see more plot holes big enough to drive a grocery supply train through.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A sense of anger in the air

A couple of times this week I've been having seemingly normal conversations with folks that have suddenly shifted into a sense of doom and gloom, anarchy, societal war, and so forth. These conversations have been with normal, everyday South of Iowa people that are stable pillars of the community. I find this to be a bit troubling.

The first instance was at coffee the other morning. A group meet at the local oil company office for an hour or so - I'm the junior member. While we do get going on politics at times, one conversation ended with something to the effect of "we need a revolution in this country". Not a revolution to turn it into a Communist "Workers Paradise", mind you, but a revolution to re-instill our core values. Our country has shifted too far to the left, destroying family values and the sense of hard work. These farmers believed that the time was coming to take our country back.

The other instance was today with some agronomists from a coop a ways away. The conversation also melded into a similar issue: What has our country become? Who is responsible and what can be done about it?

Is there a profound sense out there that our country is being irretrievably ripped apart? If so, what is causing the fissue to occur? What would cause ordinary citizens, Iowa farmers no less, to contemplate and openly speak about armed revolution?

It seems like liberals are the embodiment of all that is wrong with America to conservatives, and vice-versa. Venom and vile hatred is spewed toward one another, splashing across our faces like hot acid. We blame the other group for destroying our national identity and values; liberals are for diluting morality, killing unborn children, and allowing filth to ride the airwaves. Conservatives want to send children off to war to die for oil, take away freedoms from women and minorities, and turn the country into a theocracy, with Dick Cheney as the high priest.

Where is one safe from this? Where can one go to be with one's "own kind" and not have to deal with the "others"? How do we stop the "hate" coming from the other side? Why can't they just see things our way and leave us alone?

I don't know exactly where we are going as a Nation, but my gut feeling is we are in a for a wild ride for the next few years. I cannot see much, if anything, that will bring this country together and mend the rips in our social fabric.

Was this the sense in the air in the 1850's before The War of Southern Independence?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Allerton Town Council lays down the LAW!

As you can see, I kind of like picking at the town council minutes published here in The South Of Iowa. This time, we focus the spotlight on Allerton, population 559 or so, near Corydon.

Here's an example of how tough the town council is in Allerton:

• heard a concern about the electrical outlets in the Centennial Building which are a bad background for pictures. It was decided that people should stand somewhere else for photos at no cost to the city.

Why, that mean ol' town council - instead of giving people electrical outlet-free backgrounds for pictures, they insist that you move somewhere else for your family's reception snapshots! The travesty! Whatever happened to a government of the people by the people for the people? Allerton = Soviet Union + Nazi Germany, eh?

Seriously folks, whoever brought this to the attention of the council has too much time on their hands...maybe they should watch more Lawrence Welk reruns instead.

Up until the Touchplay Slottery machines were taken out, Allerton had the highest per capita spending on Touchplay machines in the county at $450 per man, woman, and child.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Farm subsidies - waste or investment?

There is a perception out there that average farmers, like yours truely, are getting rich off government subsidy payments. We get money for growing more corn, but get money for not growing corn; we get money for disasters, and we get money to prevent disasters. Overall, the idea is that us farmers get a lot of money from the government, and this isn't fair to the rest of society, especially if a few big farmers get most of the loot.

First of all, I for one would be glad if we didn't have the government involved as much as they are. There is a real market shifting dynamic from the government programs which add artificial barriers and doors to the marketplace. Having said that, it is something that is foisted upon us, and commodity farmers, growers of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, etc, can not easily operate without them. The marketplace has grown around these subsidies such that expenses are built in to take advantage of the government loot; it just goes through our hands and into the hands of others, such as land rent, inputs, and machinery.

My belief, and that of many other farmers here in The South of Iowa, is that we are subsidized by the government to provide cheap food to the masses. We can produce food for less than typical levels of production costs because we are subsidized. It allows processors the opportunity to buy grains at lower prices, which benefit them and their customers. Basically put, the farmer isn't getting rich off the subsidies, the general public is benefiting.

A great place to find out more about subsidies (albeit a site with a slant toward eliminating them) is the Environmental Working Group's site. They undertook a big project a few years ago to obtain agricultural payments since 1996 from the USDA. One can look up a particular farmer and find out how much they are making. I'm not afraid to make mine known to anyone who wants to see it.

However, when one totals up the amount of subsidy spending in, say, 2004, and divide that by the national population, we are all getting cheap food for, well, a bargain. According to the EWG, 12.5 billion dollars were spent on commodity, conservation, and disaster payments that year. Estimating our population to be around 295 million at the time, that works out to around $42.37/capita. That means you pay about 42 bucks a year to get the cheapest, safest, and most convenient food in the world.

(One could also point to obesity and say you get what you pay for, and I wouldn't disagree with that statement, either. I didn't say we had the highest quality food, just the cheapest and safest. Not too many cases of food poisoning from Mt. Dew, you know.)

So, the next time you complain about food prices at Dahls or some other foo-foo grocery store, think about this; your tax dollars are actually lowering the cost of the food you eat.

Hitting below the cornbelt...

Kudos to Schmidt/Jordan/Jacques for their new website, The Corn Beltway Boys. Check it out; three times the punch for the money...kinda like beer bonging 3 cans of Old Mill at the same time...or something.

Congratulations, guys, and good luck!

Iowa Ennui, what the...?

I found this post by Iowa Ennui, and I have to wonder; what the heck are you talking about?

Out of the South.
State 29 is right -- despite his rabid misogynistic tendencies when it comes to slash & burn blogging on the pampered, self-indulgent behavior of ‘important’ people – South of Iowa is good, and the it blog for Iowa Ag issues.
A recent post, the smack down of the eco-enviro types (a.k.a -- the rich NIMBYs) is brilliant, and all the guys, moms & kids know I’m not one for hyperbole.

I had to look up "misogynistic," and dude, I do NOT hate women. I love women, so much I married one. Where are you coming up with the idea that I hate the fairer gender? What did I post that lead you to believe this? Help me out, throw me a bone!

However, thanks for the kudos on the rest. I try to fill a void, the common sense rural Iowan void in the blogosphere.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My home on the island...

Probably due to being in school too long (5 years undergrad, 4 years on/off of grad school), I don't mind taking tests, especially if they reveal something interesting about myself at the end. Therefore, when I find sites like Politopia, I jump at the chance to take a test.

Basically, like a lot of personality tests, this one helps you understand where you are on the political landscape. I'm not sure how answering 12 multiple choice questions will tell everything about you, but nonetheless, here it is.

So, how'd ol' Gunzy score? I ended up midway toward the NW side of the "island", between Drew Carey and George Bush. This is considered to be the domain of libertarians. I am supposed to be more toward free markets and more personal freedoms, but still not too far from the center.

I guess I'm not too surprised at this.

Anyway, take the test and post your results, if you want. That means you, EGunzy!

Words of a DNR nutjob

From the Iowa Great Lakes Eco-Activists group on Yahoo!:

I agree with Donna. While the odor from CAFOs is unhealthy and intolerable, the larger enemy is what is happening to our surface and subsurface water. Look at how bad our water resources are now after less than a century of intensive farming/livestock production and picture what it will be like in 100 years especially if more CAFOs are added.
Your strongest vote is how you spend your money. Buy organically grown foods and organically produced meat and encourage local merchants to offer it. Be willing to spend extra for a more nutritious and environmentally healthy product. Try to avoid financially supporting the inefficient government subsidy junkie system.
Thanks to all for sharing information.

This is from Maury Muhm, a DNR Wildlife Biologist in Clay County, and is an example of the hyperbola spin that eco-activists use to win over fellow NIMBYs.

First, the things I agree with Maury on:
1) Locally grown food is a good idea.

Things I disagree with Maury on:
1) Our water resources are probably better today than 100 years ago when we had no buffer strips, no-till, terraces, etc and we were all "organic" farming, plowing up and down the hills. We have more deer and wild turkeys now than we did 100 years ago. Iowa's natural resources are probably at their best since the settlers appeared here.
2) CAFOs are not significantly contributing to the degradation of natural resources. In fact, the properly applied manure can increase the organic matter of soils over time, along with conservation tillage. Yes, problems do occur if/when a spill takes place from a CAFO, however. A detriment to the environment could also occur if the batteries in your hybrid aren't disposed of properly.
3) If you want to eat organic, that's fine, but just being organic does not necessarily mean healthier than conventional food. Remember the E Coli spinach issue recently? Organic spinach. "Organic = healthy" is not always a true statement.
4) Not everyone can afford "organic" food. Maybe if you had a good paying government job or were a lawyer you could subsist on organic food alone, but lower middle class workers, when given the decision between $2.50/gal AE milk vs $5.00/gal organic, the AE will win out everytime.
5) Maury exhorts us to avoid financially supporting the "inefficient government subsidy junkie system", but aren't we as taxpayers subsidizing his employment? Kinda calling the kettle black there, Maury. While its noble to try to buy food that is not "subsidized", the fact is we all subsidize it somehow through our taxes. Buying "non-subsidized" food is simply paying twice as much as its worth.

This group up in "The North of Iowa", the Iowa Great Lakes Eco-Activists, are quite an interesting bunch. Watch for more posts about the NIMBYS of the North.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Krusty's blog about Culver and weight

I find Krusty Konservative to be interesting; of course he's repping the party line, and some of his posts are not always entertaining. However, I found this one on the temporary weight limit increase OK'ed by Villsack to be quite brilliant and poignant.

The temporary weight limit increase is great for farmers; it allows those who have semis to haul 90,000 lbs legally, instead of the usual 80,000 lbs. That's another 180 bushels or so of corn, making around an even 1000 bushels on most rigs. It amounts to saving one trip per day in a good yielding field of corn vs the lower limit. The roads are not terribly affected by it, as they are usually dry, cool, and not prone to shrink/swell as during the summers, and the limit is increased for just 45 days or so.

Anyway, I love Krusty's comments:

On the other hand you have Chet Culver and Patty Judge silent on the issue. Heck, Patty’s the Secretary of Agriculture; you would think she would have been all over this. Maybe she’s too busy holding Chet’s hand during debate prep, or maybe issues that affect farmers don’t get her fired up like aborting babies does.

OUCH! But, it's true - Fatty Patty got more excited about telling everyone that she's a woman and she supports a woman's "right" to kill an unborn child in her womb than anything she ever did at IDALS to help the Iowa Farmer. And of course, Chubby Chetty has nothing to say about "weight".

He has TEN ways to help Iowa, you know...they can all be counted on one hand.

Culver/Judge; the best Son/Mother team this state has to offer.

Things that are important

Now that the heat of harvest is on, we shouldn't forget about what is important, and what things we should purge from our mind's forefront.

When I got in from the field today, I got a bit flustered as I couldn't locate an important document; I may have taken it to my office in town, but I may not have, and not knowing bugs me. But, in the end, I can get a copy of the document if I have to, and all will be well.

Yesterday, as my father was hauling 300 bushels of soybeans back to the bins (total truck weight = 14 tons), some yahoo pulled out in front of him at a stop sign without stopping. They probably missed by inches. My father wasn't wearing a seat belt. Fortunately, they missed each other, and no one was hurt, but because someone was in too much of a hurry, lives could have been extinguished.

Next week some farmers in the community, including myself, plan to harvest the soybeans for the family of my neighbor who was killed in a rollover accident this summer. He was blading some gravel on the edge of the road with his tractor; he got a little too close to the edge, went into the ditch, and the tractor rolled over and crushed him. Things like this shouldn't happen, but they do.

Things that don't matter much here in The South of Iowa
- If Paris Hilton is keeping her abstinence pledge
- The creepy Dustin Diamond sex video
- The latest fashion style among the "chav" set in London
- Who will get kicked off the island next on "Survivor"
- How the David Gest - Liza Minneli divorce will be settled
- If Dennis Hassert will resign because of the Foley scandal

These things have little to no influence here, and therefore, aren't worth the time spent considering them.

Things that do matter in The South of Iowa
- My baby girl's red hair and giggles
- My son's growing vocabulary
- The great food my wife cooks, and the love we share
- My family, friends, and neighbors who, even though we butt heads at times, know what's important and right
- No matter what happens, God is still Lord of All and is in control

We would all do well to stop and think about what is important in our lives and focus on them, rather than the extraneous, puffy, and irrelevant that makes up our so called "culture".

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Iowans for Ice Cream Based Priorities

Ever since Iowans for Sensible Priorities got its start here in the state, I've been doing some thinking about their message. They would have you believe that if we took 10% out of Defense spending and gave it to such wonderful things as lowering the debt of 3rd world nations and fully funding Headstart, this country would be so much more fair-er-ful.

The thing is, folks, when they throw that Wheel of Fortune colored pie graph at you, showing how BIG the defense spending is, what they are really showing you is DISCRETIONARY spending, not total spending. That is, this the amount of spending that Congress can vote on, not the total amount spent by the government, especially on FORCED spending, like Medicaid, Medicare, etc.

Here's data from the 2007 Proposed Budget, in billions:
Department Discretionary Mandatory Total
Defense $503.055 $ 1.808 $504.863
Health & Hm Services $70.635 $627.315 $697.950
Social Security $ 9.541 $614.917 $624.458

As you can see, HHS has a larger budget than Defense, but because the majority of Defense is Discretionary, it seems like a ripe target to pick apart. We are not forced by law to spend so much on Defense as we are on HHS (which includes Medicaid, Medicare, welfare, etc) and the Social Security Administration.

I'd like it for liberals to understand that while we have a fairly large defense budget, we have an even larger budget for the kinds of things they clamor for, such as insurance, medical services, welfare, disease prevention, etc. The total expenditures on HHS and SS are $1.3 TRILLION a year!

And, as a country we are not the worst offender in terms of defense spending per GDP. That award goes primarily to Islamic countries (12 out of the top 20). Russia is also above us in defense per gross domestic product. A strong defense is necessary to protect the components producing that level of GDP.

OK, I could probably stand a little less expenditure on Defense; I'm not convinced we need to be the World's Policeman, even if we're the only one out there capable of doing so. However, I also think we spend too much on other items, such as welfare, education, etc. I know, I sound like an EVIL conservative, but that's my world view; deal with it, pink boy!

So, you think you've got a better way to balance the budget? Check this out: The National Budget Simulation. Now you can play God (or Karl Rove) to slice and dice the budget like so many Ronco Slicermatics. Take that Granny! You too, Poindexter! Enjoy the game, children.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Songs NOT for 9/11

This has probably been discussed in a blog years ago, but I came across a list of songs that were deemed "inappropriate" by Clear Channel for airplay immediately after the 9/11 tragedy. Check them out here.

OK, I can understand a few of these songs might offend or exasperate someone in mourning, such as Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot" or Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls Of Fire". These aren't "get up and dance at a funeral" songs (then again, what is a get-up-and-dance-at-a-funeral song?), songs that will help heal the pain.

But, what is contained in the lyrics of the Beatles "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" or or Louie Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" that is so offensive? I would think that Satchmo's song would be soothing and relaxing. Maybe it wasn't such a wonderful world after all, I guess.

I found this entry rather interesting:
Rage Against The Machine – all songs

This is also the same group that had a rather distinct way of protesting against censorship at Lollapalloza 1993.

What I'd like to find is a list of songs deemed inappropriate for use in extracting information from terrorists. Would it include...?

Britney Spears - All songs
N'Sync - All songs
Billy Rae Cyrus - "Achy Breaky Heart"

"Stop, stop, I tell you, I tell you where guns of big boom are, just no play whoops I did again! Allah why have you forsaken me?"