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.

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.

Lichen and the local economy

A few summers ago I watched a wasp attack a patch of lichen on our Adirondack chair.

Wasps are fascinatingly creepy as they stalk prey among the flowers, but this one got fooled. It stalked the lichen, then made its attack.

After a moment or two of trying to do something with the lichen, it flew a couple of feet away and then cleaned its legs, classic displacement behavior.

(It was embarrassed.)

The chair was made by a local man. We bought two, the price not cheap, but was more than fair, and he was surprised we opted not to oil them. We like to see things age as much as we do, and, in the local way of acceptance that is under-rated, he nodded and went on his way.

Because we chose not to oil our chairs, they have turned grey and are covered by lichen. They are now over a decade old, and will likely last another 5. With oil, they may have outlived us.

Wheat grown in our backyard by my toddler grand-daughter on an aging cedar chair made by a local craftsmen.

When we need new ones, we’ll seek the same man. We do not need chairs to outlive us. That’s what plastic is for.

Because we chose not to oil them a decade ago, I got to see a wasp explore the lichen, which might not seem like much, but I enjoyed seeing that a wasp could be as easily fooled as a human.

We are all easily fooled–life is foolish, in the best sense of the word.