links, news, video

[News/Links] 2021 June 26

June 18th

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher: New Rule segment

I can’t believe how idle I’ve been with this account. I can certainly do better.

I enjoyed this segment from HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. I have watched Maher’s show off-and-on for at least a decade. I appreciate the research he included with this segment. Corporate farms, backed by government regulation, have been decimating America’s farmland and regions for decades. I don’t mean in terms strictly adhering to America’s environment or ecosystem. I mean in terms of America’s position to secure its own people’s needs, namely food. Frankly, I’m not certain that the American people, myself included, understand the weight of this problem. For example, the bulk of corn that is grown on American soil is not consumed by America’s people. Rather, it is chemically altered to create corn by-products, then used to feed livestock, create ethanol for gasoline, and enhance food and industrial products.

  • From the USDA website (link):
    • About a third of America’s corn crop is used for feeding cattle, hogs, and poultry in the U.S. Corn provides the “carbs” in animal feed, while soybeans provide the protein. It takes a couple of bushels of American corn to make corn-fed steak; by some estimates, a beef cow can eat a ton of corn if raised in a feedlot. Both dairy cows and beef cows also consume silage, which is fermented corn stalks and other green plants.
    • Just over a third of the corn crop is used to make ethanol, which serves as a renewable fuel additive to gasoline. The Renewable Fuel Standard requires that 10% of gasoline be renewable fuel, but you can find E15 (15 percent ethanol) or E85 (85 percent) ethanol in some areas, particularly in the Midwest.
    • The rest of the corn crop is used for human food, beverages, and industrial uses in the U.S., or exported to other countries for food or feed use. Corn has hundreds of uses. It is used to make breakfast cereal, tortilla chips, grits, canned beer, soda, cooking oil, and bio-degradable packing materials. It’s the key ingredient in the growing medium for life-saving medicines including penicillin. Corn gluten meal is used on flower beds to prevent weeds.

The USDA website also states that the biggest consumers of America’s corn are Mexico, South Korea, Japan, and Colombia. Where does this leave the American people? This is most worrisome as a primary responsibility for any nation is food security for its people. The second largest crop in America is soybeans. Like corn, soybeans are not a primary food source for the American population. Soybeans are a great commodity to the pockets of the American government. Even in the throes of last year’s pandemic, soybean exports reached “a record $25.7 billion, up nearly 40 percent ($7 billion) by value and up 23 percent (11.9 million tons) by volume from the prior year” (Source). No wonder everyone in soybean farming was partying and making money! Here is the link to the USDA’s June 2021 report on the remarkable growth of oilseeds, specifically related to soybeans and China: Oilseeds.

Maher has plenty to gripe about regarding his home-state. However, I’m cautious in giving sympathy to a state that has voted for the degeneration of its land and continues to vote for failing and overly bureaucratic policies. Like Joe Rogan and Elon Musk, Maher has the financial resources to relocate away from California. Meanwhile, the bulk of California’s population that struggles to make basic ends meet will be left to breathe the air that Maher so vehemently disdains.

On a side note, someone at the USDA’s IT department has a great sense of humour. While I was researching soybeans, this error screen greeted me.

links, news, video

[News/Links] 2021 April 11th – April 17th

April 12th

The Atlantic: Return the National Parks to the Tribes

April 12th

aeon/psyche: Nightmares becalmed

April 13th

The New York Times: Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Halt Across Country After Rare Clotting Cases Emerge

April 15th

Biofuels International: BHP sets sail with sustainable shipping in Singapore

April 15th

Biofuels International: Tidewater choses Topsoe technology for new renewable diesel plant


aeon: Hannah Arrendt: What remains?

Four Hundred Presents: A bit about Bitcoin