Friday Linkage 11/18/2011

Strange week.  Not very busy, but it seemed to disappear in a hurry anyway.  Spending time in City Planning Commission meetings trying to figure out the intricacies of zoning will make time both seem to last forever and fly right by.  Weird.  On to the links…

The U.S. Cultivates as Much Lawn as Wheat—Scarcity is a hard concept to wrap your head around when you consider just how much time, money, and land is dedicated to the growing of turfgrass.  NASA, yes the space people, of all sources produced a great graphic an estimate of the amount of land dedicated to turfgrass:

The estimate was over 30 million acres dedicated to lawns.  Compare that to the following agricultural cultivation numbers in 2011:

Corn 91.9 million acres

Soybeans 75.0 million acres

Wheat 54.4 million acres

So, the U.S. does not actually plant more lawn than wheat in terms of acreage.  Still, 30 million acres is crazy.

Over Half of All U.S. Tax Subsidies Go to 4 Industries—If you want to know why the U.S. tax code is so complex, here is the simple reason.  Companies like the confusion because it allows for them to craft very specific loopholes to avoid paying taxes.  The system is so broken that it is doomed.

The Cost to Move Water—I have read Marc Reisner’s classic Cadillac Desert and seen the huge infrastructure projects in the American west dedicated to moving water, but the tally of this folly is still hard to imagine.  This article about the power costs just boggles the mind.  So, by conserving water in southern California we would be killing two birds with one stone.  Just saying.

Thanks Walmart for Your Stuff Falling Apart—As if I did not know that the $8 toaster that I bought from Walmart was a piece of junk.  I get what the author is trying to say.  The demands that Walmart puts on ever lower prices demands that compromises be made at some level.  Considering how efficient the corporation has become at logistics and everything else, the cost cutting is going to come from suppliers.

Honk Kong’s Appetitie for Shark Fin Soup—Apparently, the success of getting this barbaric menu item banned in the U.S. does not translate into success in China.  Damn.  It is heartening to see activists trying to do something about the issue, but it is disheartening to imagine just how difficult the road ahead may be.  At least in some places there is victory.

10 Tips for Sustainable Sushi—We all know to avoid Bluefin tuna.  No brainer.  Think Progress has come up with an easy list of things to keep in mind the next time you order a few California rolls.

Premium Food on School Lunch Menu—I applaud the effort to improve school lunches and provide the best possible food.  My wish is that we stop calling the best food premium food.  In reality, the other stuff is sub-standard.  It’s a different benchmark, but it is important to remember that the stuff coming from industrial factories is food-like.  It’s just not food.

A House with No Furnace in Minnesota—I keep my house a brisk maximum of 64 degrees in the winter in Iowa and that drops to 58 degrees at night, but not having a furnace in Minnesota seems insane.  Granted, the house has been remodeled with that in mind.  I just cannot imagine after spending fifteen years of my life shivering through Minnesota winters that it is possible.

Where Dreams go to Die—I went to college for a long time, graduate school in the liberal arts will do that to you, and I do not remember one single person wanting to become a consultant.  What does that even mean?  I went to business school and 21 months of being immersed in that culture did not clear things up.  He who has the best parties gets the best recruits.  Lame.

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