219 Feb 26, 2002

ADA, Ohio: Have you heard about the disappearing glaciers in the tropics? If you didn’t know there are glaciers on the equator, it may surprise you even more to find out there aren’t as many now as a hundred years ago.

A professor and geologist named Lonnie Thompson has been measuring and studying these ice caps all over the globe for thirty years, and he’s figured out that some of ’em have been around for 700,000 years. He’s drilled way down in the ice, and he’s learned more exciting ancient history than you can dig out of the diaries of Mae West and Joan Collins combined.

The problem is, these tropical glaciers are melting. Dr. Thompson says even the ice on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa may disappear in twenty years. He’s one of the top twenty scientists according to Time and CNN, and the only geologist in the bunch, so he must know.

He says he’s going to Alaska next, where they say the permafrost is melting. He plans to drill a few holes to check it out, and if he accidently strikes oil, he’ll study it for awhile because the oil has been around longer than the ice.

I’m here in the metropolis of Ada for a farm meeting. This time of year, you go to about any country town and hang around for a day or two, you’re gonna run into a meeting of farmers. They’re tired of hearing about the low prices of corn, wheat, and soybeans, so the big issue is the new Farm Bill that Congress is arguing over. Normally it’s the Democrats vs. Republicans, but on this one it’s more like the North against the South.

The Senate favors the North, and the House favors the South. That seems kinda peculiar till you realize Tom Harkin from Iowa and Richard Lugar from Indiana run the Ag. Committee in the Senate, and Congressmen Combest and Stenholm of Texas run the same bunch in the House. They are all fine men, and they have the best interests of the country at heart, especially their part of the country.

They pretty much agree on how much the average size farmer should get to help him through the rough years (which is about 9 out of every 10), but the argument is on the big farms. The North wants a maximum payment of around $125,000, and the South wants a higher limit of about $250,000.

Now to some of you folks, either one of those may seem excessive. But if you realize these fellows may have over five million in capital tied up in the farm, and the payment is the difference between losing money and a small profit on the investment… well, would you want to trade places when the loans come due?

Now mind you, these figures are for single farmers. If they’re married, the maximum payment is doubled. So a wife could mean an extra $100,000 to $200,000. The odds are pretty good she’ll be worth it.

For the single farm woman who has been successfully operating the farm alone for years, whether a new husband would be worth that much, I’ve got my doubts.

Why, he could spend more than that a year on toys. You know, toys like a new pickup truck and horse trailer, a big combine, or a crop dustin’ airplane.

President Bush announced he is reforming welfare. From now on at least 70 percent of those receiving government checks must work 40 hours a week. That’s for welfare recipients. He didn’t say how long he expects government employees to work

He’s got a special plan for unmarried mothers on welfare. He wants to pay them more if they get married. Now, off hand that seems like a fine idea. But some of these big women’s organizations have come out against it. They claim there aren’t enough men to go around as it is, at least ones worthy of marrying, and they fear the pool will totally dry up if these single moms start offering cash incentives.

You might say, why not match up these mothers with the single farmers. The problem is for every single man with a few thousand acres, there’s a few thousand of these women.

Of course most of these folks getting our assistance, they don’t want a handout, they want a job. The farmers…well, they would much prefer getting more for their crops and nothing from Congress.

Have you seen the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? Well, fellows, if you’re done looking at the pictures, there’s an interesting article on the Gauchos in Argentina. It’s easy to find… go to the centerfold, then back up a few pages.

That’s all folks, I’ve got to get back to my reading.

Historic fact:
      In the spring of 1902 at age 22, Will Rogers sold his cattle, and headed to the Argentine. It took only a few weeks working on cattle ranches with the gauchos to find out this was no way to make a living. He moved on to South Africa where he got his start as an entertainer with Texas Jack’s Wild West Show.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:
     “These people that you are asked to aid, why they are not asking for charity, they are naturally asking for a job, but if you can’t give them a job why the next best thing you can do is see that they have food and the necessities of life.” From a radio broadcast with President Hoover, Oct. 18, 1931.

218 Feb 21, 2002

COLUMBUS: I spent today with Norman Borlaug, the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. Meeting him was an honor. And a surprise.

See, about everyone that wins one of those Peace Prizes ends up getting shot. Naturally, I assumed he was dead. No sir, he is alive, and as lively a speaker as you will ever listen to.

You young folks may not remember him, but he was born on an Iowa farm in 1914, and went to Minnesota to learn to be a scientist. Then he went down to Mexico and developed a wheat crop that was short, didn’t rust, and produced twice as much grain. Before long, folks who were mighty hungry over in Pakistan, India, and China got wind of it, they ordered a few shiploads of the seed to plant, and that’s how the so-called Green Revolution was started.

Over the years, hundreds of scientists worked with him, and the improvements they have made in wheat, rice and corn, plus the use of fertilizer, pesticides and machinery, has kept millions and millions from starving to death. And in Asia alone, they have saved a billion and a half acres of grassland and forests from being plowed under.

No wonder they gave him the prize. Food on the table promotes peace in the world more than any deals diplomats work out across the table.

Dr. Borlaug is 88 this year, so I asked him what he’s doing, you know, now that he’s retired. He chuckled, “Retired? I’m working three jobs.” Can you imagine that? He told me he still works on his research part of the year in Mexico, another few months he is helping Africa grow more grain, and every fall he teaches at Texas A&M University. Why, I bet he’ll still be working at 100, if he can avoid getting run over by a Texas Longhorn.

Did you read about that school mess in Kansas. This time it’s not evolution, it’s plagiarism

The students cheated, got caught, and flunked. Parents complained so loud the Board of Education changed their grades. The teacher resigned, and several more will quit in June.

But it gets worse. The school board received a letter from a company in Florida asking for a list of the names of all students in the district, so they can be sure they don’t hire any of them. Then Ken Lay heard about it, and he wrote a letter. Said Enron won’t hire ’em either. Unless they become accountants.

By now I figure the kids have learned their lesson. It’s the parents you shouldn’t hire.

Even some history professors have been accused of plagiarism. Frankly I think that’s one area where it should be acceptable, even encouraged. If one fellow writes, “George Washington was born Feb. 22, 1732,” do you want the next guy to write, “George Washington was born Feb. 22, 1733,” just to be different?

Of course every kid in America thinks he was born on the third Monday in February.

In other school news, the Supreme Court decided not to prevent students from grading each others tests. That makes sense to me… they look at the other guy’s paper during the test, why not afterwards.

The Olympics gave set of gold medals in figure skating to the Canadian pair. They have always used 9 judges. But because of the argument over the French judge, from now on it will be 15, including 6 referees from the NFL. Only 7 of the scores will count, selected by computer, and if it’s a tie, they’ll use instant replay.

An American girl won the gold tonight, but it wasn’t Michelle. She fell to third. Sarah Hughes got the judgement call over Irena of Russia.

You remember last week I said the US won three medals in one sport but I didn’t know what it was. Well, it’s “Olympic halfpipe”. But I still don’t know what it is.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

(This first one is Dr. Borlaug’s favorite) “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” WA #90, Aug. 31, 1924

“A (person) only learns by two things, one is reading, and the other is association with smarter people.” WA #147, Aug. 4, 1925

216 Feb 3, 2002

COLUMBUS: Football fans got themselves an exciting Super Bowl to talk about. The Patriots of New England had patriots all over America kinda pulling for ’em. They were underdogs, but it seemed like they had Paul Revere riding ahead on every play telling ’em what St. Louis would do next. When a team wins 20 to 17 as time runs out, you know the game is interesting enough that we ought to hear more about it than the commercials.

Yesterday was Groundhog Day. But the weather the last week of January was so warm the old groundhog was out every day doing his spring courting. By February 2, he was so exhausted the day didn’t carry any special meaning for him.

If he did see his shadow in Ohio, nobody will holler about six more weeks of this kind of winter. I haven’t seen any wild geese flying north yet, but if word of this warm weather reaches Tampa, why Ohio snowbirds will be flocking back up here before the buzzards return to Hinkley.

President Bush gave his State of the Union speech. It was to Congress, but mainly he was talking to the rest of us, and to the World. Sure, he talked about terrorism, and a little about taxes, but did you catch how he wants us to volunteer to help others in need. You may not want to pay any more taxes, but you can’t harp on the idea of giving up some of your spare time.

Some of you have already surpassed his goal of 4000 hours, but the rest of us can pitch in at old folks homes, hospitals and schools, and help feed the poor and put clothes on their back. You can do it on your own, or join with the Lions, Rotary, Jaycees, the Legion, Salvation Army or Red Cross… any of our fine service organizations. Our young folks can work through Scouts, 4-H or FFA or many others.

Now keep in mind the President wants us to volunteer our time to help out other folks. If your company gives you a day off to do some good and noble deed, that’s fine and your company deserves credit, but it’s not quite the same as volunteering.

And for you kids, raising money from adults so you can bowl all night or dance in a marathon, or selling cookies so you can go to summer camp, well those things don’t count. If you rake leaves, shovel snow, and mow grass for someone who need it, and give ’em some cookies, now you’re on the right track.

Ann Veneman, our Secretary of Agriculture, was in town Friday and I got to hear her. She reminded us how the government is helping the poor with Food Stamps and aid for infants and children. She encouraged young folks in agriculture to show kids in the towns and cities what farming is like today.

Did you know we export a fourth of our food? We may have to import oil and cars and thousands of others goods, but our farmers produce so much we ship it out. Sec. Veneman said our farmers keep growing more every year, and we need to sell more abroad because “we’re eating just about as much as we can.”

Brother, she’s right on that one. Of course if we ate every day like we do on Super Bowl Sunday, that food surplus would disappear from the farms.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“Just last Sunday I wrote an article about pro football becoming so popular because they did something besides just run up into the line and butt their heads together all afternoon. Audiences like clever passing and lots of scoring, not 0 to 0, or 6 to 7.” DT #2624, Jan. 2, 1935