Apple vs. wheat: an economic parable

(Photo of wheat grown by a student in my classroom.)

The market rate for wheat today is $9.08 per bushel. A bushel of wheat weighs 60 pounds. That’s just over 15 cents a pound.

Where did the “stuff” of the wheat come from? Water, mostly rainfall, and carbon dioxide, which well, we have more than plenty to spare. Water molecules are split, the oxygen drifts off, and the remaining pieces are knit with carbon dioxide to form the stuff that keeps all of us alive.

Truly miraculous.

A pair of AirPod Pros weighs 0.19 ounces, and checks in at $249, a bit over $20,000 per pound, and it won’t do any good to water it. 

For the price  of a pair of earbuds, you can get 3/4 tons of wheat.

The “miracle of the five loaves and two fish” is, of course, a parable, the only miracle story found in all four Gospels, and most folks in these parts know more about the story of Apple than the story of wheat. Farmers do the work of Jesus every fookin’ day.

I get about 50 loaves of bread for every bushel of wheat I buy. One AirPod Pro gets you enough wheat for 80,000 loaves of bread.

There’s a parable there somewhere.

Gearing down

I took a walk along an abandoned Norfolk Southern rail that runs through our town. A few decades ago I would pull my little ones in a red wagon to greet our neighbors as they came off the train.

These gears moved the gates that blocked the road, a job once done by humans when the railroad first ripped its way through our neighborhoods.

If you run a small current through the rails, a train’s axles will short the current, and the system will “know” something is up.

The newer signals no doubt rely on computers. Our kids pay a price for this. Knowing how to manipulate an Arduino UNO is fun, but not a whole lot of thought goes into figuring out how the “machinery” works because there is none.

Coding is literally symbolic. It’s clean, it’s cool, it’s profitable.

No gears, no grease. (Yes, I know plastic gear kits are available for Arduino kits. Why not just use a servo?)

Still not all kids are living virtually. Just a few yards from the dead gears and torn wires is an art show seen by few humans, and maybe only one from the 1950s.

The mechanics of an aerosol can are be more easily understood. The kids are alright.

A Christmas myth

I love the Christmas Story, the lights, the glitter, the love. I love that the day coincides with the first glimmer of the rising sun. I love the madness that reminds us how tenuous our grip is.

This year’s Melchior (VNY)

Here’s a photo from the 2022 Vatican nativity scene. It’s a lovely crèche, and as tradition mandates, the Magi are there, bearing their gifts.

Only problem, the wise men didn’t show up until a year or two after the birth, at least according to the Holy Bible.

But here’s the rub–just asking a practicing Christian when the Wise Men finally got to Bethlehem often brings an incredulous stare with a hint of hostility.

I’m not looking for a fight on Christmas Day. I was raised Irish Catholic, grew up with various crèches as much a part of today as our tree and our Santa, and put faith in The Gospels (while recognizing humans told these stories long after the Crucifixion).

If the Vatican sanctions the bastardized story that the Magi were present the night of Jesus’ birth, a story the Holy See must know to be corrupt, what hope does a science teacher have of sharing stories that do not fit a child’s preconceptions of the universe?

None, actually, but my goals are far less grandiose. I just want a child to learn to see, and to question inconsistencies in our stories based on the natural world.

If a child happens to question the inconsistencies in other parts of her life–sustainable economic “growth,” Peacekeeper missiles, and a nuclear submarine named the USS Corpus Christi (“the body of Christ”)–she has a chance to change a human world that needs a bit of changing, a world that is worth saving.