Sunday, April 13, 2008

Some Old Business

I keep thinking someday I'll be more than an intermittent blogger, but will life ever stop kicking my ass on a more-or-less regular basis? Not likely. Anyhow, the loads of things I'd wanted to write about are piling up in the meanwhile, and a thoughtful piece on each and every one is just not going to happen. So I'll start throwing out some important links that have come my way in March, in acceptance of the fact that they're already beginning to moulder.

Oh, and I have every intention of a full blog design update, but when on earth is that going to happen?

Here are the first couple of stories, and then I must rush off again.

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From the March 1 NYT, Free Lunch Isn't Cool, So Some Students Go Hungry:

Lunchtime “is the best time to impress your peers,” said Lewis Geist, a senior at Balboa and its student body president. Being seen with a subsidized meal, he said, “lowers your status.”

San Francisco school officials are looking at ways to encourage more poor students to accept government-financed meals, including the possibility of introducing cashless cafeterias where all students are offered the same food choices and use debit cards or punch in codes on a keypad so that all students check out at the cashier in the same manner.

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Also from March 1 NYT... My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables):

Farmer Jack Hedin explains some of the bureaucratic barriers to converting commodity cropland to fruit and vegetable production.

The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on “corn base” acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with the commodity program.

I’ve discovered that typically, a farmer who grows the forbidden fruits and vegetables on corn acreage not only has to give up his subsidy for the year on that acreage, he is also penalized the market value of the illicit crop, and runs the risk that those acres will be permanently ineligible for any subsidies in the future. (The penalties apply only to fruits and vegetables — if the farmer decides to grow another commodity crop, or even nothing at all, there’s no problem.)

[...]

The federal farm program is making it next to impossible for farmers to rent land to me to grow fresh organic vegetables.

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