From the Column

“You Better Believe It”

      Epistemology is what we on the farm called “a $10 word.”
      At $10, though, it’s underpriced because epistemology—the study of what we believe, what is true, and the evidence we have to justify that truth and belief—covers a lot of ground.
      In short, epistemology is the study of knowledge.
      That topic sounds drier than last summer’s […]

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Let Us Pray

Man, that ended badly.
December limped to an ugly conclusion as nearly everyone from Wall Street to Main Street took a year-end pounding not seen in three generations. Pick an investment sector (stocks, bonds, commodities); a nation state (the U.S., China, or the European Union); or a political system (a democratic republic, parliamentary, or single-party rule), […]

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“Fair and Balanced” Reader Mail Round-Up

Tweeter-in-Chief, President Donald J. Trump, has been quite clear in his opinion of CNN, the cable television news network. Indeed, Trump’s despise of the network—he thinks its initials stand for Certainly Not News—encourages supporters to use “CNN” as a slander.
For example, when a reader of this weekly effort sends an email that includes the sentence […]

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Howard’s Priceless Gift of Simple Giving

The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered the farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby wood stove. Yellowed Christmas cards, saved over the years and perched like doves in the untrimmed branches, served as ornaments.
“I believe this […]

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No More Wild Swings, Eh?

If the calendar was a baseball game, mid-December would be the bottom of the ninth.
As such, and given 2018’s crazy weather, banner crops, sloppy harvest, muddled export future, and skinny-to-no profit, mid-December finds farmers and ranchers now at bat with two outs and the opposing team’s smoke-throwing relief pitcher on the mound.
Yeah, it’s been a […]

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GIPSA is on the move, the “GIPSA rule” is not

GIPSA, the badly named, hard-working mule inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is on the move again over objections that the Trump Administration’s ongoing USDA reorganization will bury it—and other, less obscure parts of the department like the Economic Research Service—in new layers of bureaucracy so deep that none will ever be seen again.
      […]

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Reading the Facts In-Hand… Or in Your Palm

Years ago, an enterprising neighbor operated a palm reading business from her home with just a secretary, fax machine, and telephone. Her business model was simple: After clients faxed their photocopied handprint and sent some form of payment (rumor had it was $20), our neighbor telephoned them with the results of the “reading.”
While no one […]

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Another War That Won’t End Any Wars

November 11 marked 100 years since the end of World War I, which U.S. President Woodrow Wilson called “the war to end all wars.”
Wilson saw himself as a historic peacemaker; instead he became an ironic phrasemaker. The Great War never brought an end to war, or even an end to that war. The then-raging Russian […]

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Sonny Warned ‘Em–Twice, In Fact

It’s Thanksgiving week, so let’s be generous: The White House trade policy, marked by its heavy use of import tariffs and presidential tweets, continues to confound economists and trading partners alike.
A more accurate, less generous view of President Donald J. Trump’s trade policy would declare it an unhinged mess that has led to a dark, […]

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House GOP Could Claim Farm Bill Victory in Midst of Defeat

A week before American voters decided whether the mid-term elections would deliver a red wave or a blue wave, OpenSecrets.org, the non-partisan group that tracks money in politics, made a spot-on prediction: the biggest wave on Nov. 6 would be green.
Greenbacks, that is, because this year’s political candidates, OpenSecrets estimated, would spend $5.2 billion on […]

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