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Nebraska farmer Frank Zybach designed the center-pivot irrigation system and Robert Daugherty saw that the device transformed rural America. Daugherty (above) died at his home in Omaha. He was 88.

Daugherty bought the rights to the center-pivot irrigation design from Zybach in 1953. Initially, he had a hard time getting farmers to adopt the system. (One farmer told him it would “make a darn fine buzzard roost.”) Today, 42 percent of irrigated farmland in the U.S. uses the center-pivot.

• Kentucky Congressman Ben Chandler blames the Democrats’ loss on President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I think it was a serious strategic error on the part of the administration to take on health care when the public was agitated about the economy,” Chandler told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “People will tell you the economy was their first concern. And I actually told people with the administration this at the time that they were making a mistake and that they should focus on the economy.”

• The new president of Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa (pop. 9,105) is black and gay. The town loves him (his partner and their two children).

• The best book ever on weekly newspaper publishing, Country Editor, was written by Henry Beetle Hough, editor and publisher of The Vineyard Gazette. Hough sold his Martha’s Vineyard paper in 1966 to James and Sally Reston. (James being a columnist for the New York Times.) Richard and Mary Jo Reston became publishers in 1988.

This past week, the Restons sold the Gazette to financier Jerry Kohlberg and his wife, Nancy, for a total of $3.5 million. The Gazette was Newspaper of the Year among weeklies under 10,000 circulation by the New England Newspaper and Press Association last month.

• The New York Times writes about yet another transmission line fight, this one connecting alternative power production near El Centro, California, west to San Diego.

• Food writers Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser hit the New York Times op-ed pages (again) in favor of the food safety bill that is before the Senate. A vote could take place this evening.

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