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“It’s a time bomb,” said Jim Peterson, a professor of wheat breeding and genetics at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “It moves in the air, it can move in clothing on an airplane. We know it’s going to be here. It’s a matter of how long it’s going to take.” Though most Americans have never heard of it, Ug99– a type of fungus called stem rust because it produces reddish-brown flakes on plant stalks– is the No. 1 threat to the world’s most widely grown crop. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico estimates that 19% of the world’s wheat, which provides food for 1 billion people in Asia and Africa, is in imminent danger. American plant breeders say $10 billion worth of wheat would be destroyed if the fungus suddenly made its way to U.S. fields. Fear that the fungus will cause widespread damage has caused short-term price spikes on world wheat markets. Famine has been averted thus far, but experts say it’s only a matter of time. –“A ‘Time Bomb’ for World Wheat Crop,” Karen Kaplan , Los Angeles Times
Prove your devotion, Miscavige told them, by winning at musical chairs. Everyone else— losers, all of you— will be banished to Scientology outposts around the world. If families are split up, too bad. To the music of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” they played through the night, parading around a conference room in their Navy-style uniforms, grown men and women wrestling over chairs. The next evening, early in 2004, Miscavige gathered the group and out of nowhere slapped a manager named Tom De Vocht, threw him to the ground and delivered more blows. De Vocht took the beating and the humiliation in silence— the way other executives always took the leader’s attacks. –“Scientology: The Truth Rundown, Part 1 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology,” Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, St. Petersburg Times
Obituary for Ali Akbar Khan;
“miracle baby” blog that appealed to pro-lifers was hoax;
“One of Barton’s constituents, Robin Beaton of Waxahachie, Texas, did know that her health history included acne and a rapid heartbeat. But she didn’t think they were relevant to her current health and left them off her application.”
We have become so accustomed to employer-provided medical care that we regard it as part of the natural order. Yet it is thoroughly illogical. Why single out medical care? Food is more essential to life than medical care. Why not exempt the cost of food from taxes if provided by the employer? Why not return to the much-reviled company store when workers were in effect paid in kind rather than in cash? The revival of the company store for medicine has less to do with logic than pure chance. It is a wonderful example of how one bad government policy leads to another. During World War II, the government financed much wartime spending by printing money while, at the same time, imposing wage and price controls. The resulting repressed inflation produced shortages of many goods and services, including labor. Firms competing to acquire labor at government-controlled wages started to offer medical care as a fringe benefit. That benefit proved particularly attractive to workers and spread rapidly. –“How to Cure Health Care” (2001), Milton Friedman, Hoover Digest
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”