Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cash-Strapped Farmers, Ctd.

I'm not sure why I didn't post this chart when I linked to this article earlier in the week:

Remember back in the boom when everybody was saying, "this time is different, all these purchases are cash, and farmers don't have operating loans like they did in the '70s?"  Yes, I remember them saying that, too.

NCAA Tournament Opening Weekend Links

In between basketball games, you can check out these stories:

Are the 2016 Browns the Least Talented Team in Modern History? - Bleacher Report

The Complicated Politics of Hating Duke - Wall Street Journal.  Not complicated for me.


Free Lunch - Texas Observer 

The great unsettling - Washington Post

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Whether you are Irish or pretend to be, may the feast of St. Patrick be a beautiful day for you, and may you have the chance to enjoy a Guinness and some NCAA tournament upsets.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

NCAA Bracket

South Region
First Round - Kansas, Connecticut, Maryland, Hawaii, Arizona, Miami, Temple, Villanova
Second Round - Connecticut, Maryland, Arizona, Villanova
Regional Semifinal - Connecticut, Villanova
Regional Winner - Villanova

West Region
First Round - Oregon, St. Joseph's, Yale, Duke, Northern Iowa, Texas A&M, VCU, Oklahoma
Second Round - St. Joseph's, Duke, Texas A&M, Oklahoma
Regional Semifinal - Duke, Oklahoma
Regional Winner - Oklahoma

Midwest Region
First Round - Virginia, Butler, Purdue, Iona, Seton Hall, Utah, Dayton, Michigan State
Second Round - Virginia, Purdue, Seton Hall, Michigan State
Regional Semifinal - Virginia, Michigan State
Regional Winner - Michigan State

East Region
First Round - North Carolina, Providence, Indiana, Kentucky, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Xavier
Second Round - North Carolina, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Xavier
Regional Semifinal - North Carolina, Xavier
Regional Winner - Xavier

National Semifinal - Villanova, Michigan State
Winner - Villanova

Sure, Catholic schools aren't going to do that well, but one can dream.

Update: My Midwest bracket is junk, along with most of the rest of the country.

Monday, March 14, 2016

First Four Picks

I haven't taken the time to fill out my bracket, so I'll just get my First Four picks made before the games start tomorrow night.  I'll take Farleigh Dickinson, Wichita State, Holy Cross and Michigan.  I apologize to each of these teams I've jinxed.

Farmers Are Cash-Poor, Again

The once-in-a-generation boom is over, and hard times are here:
Faced with declining profits, some Iowa farmers are defaulting on cropland rents — a largely unheard of move given the intense competition for the state's fertile farmland and a sign that financial pressure and debt are mounting.
With farm real estate debt across the United States at its highest levels since the farm crisis years of the early '80s, farmers are increasingly nervous about trying to turn a profit while paying sky-high rents.
As a result, more growers are severing ties on rented land that some have farmed for decades — and they're doing it with the spring planting season nearly upon them.
Most farmland rent payments were due March 1, with spring planting typically starting in mid-April.
"We had someone call today and say 'Don't cash that check right away,'" said Mark Gannon, owner of Gannon Real Estate & Consulting in Des Moines, on March 1. "Another farmer called, wanting to renegotiate their lease. … There's some stress out there."
Farmers tell managers and landowners that bankers are tightening credit, with growing losses and dwindling reserves built up during farming's boom driving lending decisions, experts say.
"Some farmers went in to renew their line of credit and found out that the bank wouldn't extend credit to them," said Steve Bruere, president of Peoples Co., a Clive land broker and farm management company. "Producers are coming back and saying the cash flows just don't work."
U.S. farm income in 2016 is projected to fall for the third year in a row, with farmers squeezed between tumbling corn and soybean prices and stubbornly high costs for land, seed, fertilizer and other inputs needed to grow a crop, experts say.
Grain prices have sunk 50 percent or more since 2012, when drought drove prices to record highs.
Dad just told me that the seed companies are cutting deals with farmers who have cash on hand to pay for seed for spring planting.  After seven boom years, when everybody talked about how farmers were paying everything in cash, we suddenly find out that the cash is no longer there.  Things are going to get very,very ugly in the next few years.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

NASA Photo of the Day


Neon Saturn
Image Credit: VIMS Team, U. Arizona, ESA, NASA
Explanation: If seen in the right light, Saturn glows like a neon sign. Although Saturn has comparatively little of the element neon, a composite image false-colored in three bands of infrared light highlights features of the giant ringed planet like a glowing sign. At the most blue band of the infrared light featured, false-colored blue in the above image, Saturn itself appears dark but Saturn's thin rings brightly reflect light from our Sun. Conversely, Saturn's B ring is so thick that little reflected light makes it through, creating a dark band between Saturn's A and C rings. At the most red band of the infrared, false-colored red above, Saturn emits a surprisingly detailed thermal glow, indicating planet-wide bands, huge hurricane-like storms, and a strange hexagon-shaped cloud system around the North Pole. In the middle infrared band, false-colored green, the sunlit side of Saturn's atmosphere reflects brightly. The above image was obtained in 2007 by the robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting about 1.6 million kilometers out from Saturn.

Selection Sunday Weekend Links

It was a busy Friday night and Saturday morning frying fish and cooking eggs.  My cooking for large groups of people is over for a year or so.  Here are some interesting stories to check out in the lead-up to primaries on Tuesday:

The Nuns Who Love Chris Mullen - The New Yorker

The Great Cow Con - California Sunday Magazine

The great land rush. Ethiopia: the billionaire's farm - Financial Times

How sliced meat drove human evolution - Science

How In Trouble Are Bluefin Tuna Really? Controversial Study Makes Waves - The Salt

Don't let the rally fool you: Commodity companies are headed for a massive debt cliff - Financial Post

Are the Constants of Physics Constant? - Scientific American

The architect of the Reich - The New Criterion

How the World's Most Beautiful Typeface Was Almost Lost Forever - Buzzfeed 

Remote Utah Enclave Becomes New Battleground Over Reach of U.S. Control - New York Times

The Great Let's-Totally-F*uck-Up-Kansas-Experiment Is Nearly Complete - Charles Pierce

The Geography of Trumpism - The Upshot

Make America White Again? - The Atlantic

Ohio's 'dirty little secret': blue-collar Democrats for Trump - Reuters

In Ohio, John Boehner's GOP Legacy Crumbles With the Rise of Donald Trump - Wall Street Journal.  That would be us.  It is amazing how many people around here think John Boehner is a liberal devil. And many of those same people may vote for Donald Trump.  It makes my head hurt.