Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Thursday, February 21, 2002
ISSUE #218
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

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