Category Archives: Science

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

As I’ve noted before, holy crap but you accumulate a lot of stuff when you’ve lived in a house for twenty-three years, and have raised four kids in that house.  On the weekend past we filled a thirty-foot roll-off dumpster with old crap from garage and workshop.  A lot of stuff has been given away or sold, and a fair amount more will be disposed of the same way.

What’s interesting about this move is taking firearms and ammo through Canada.  Most moving companies will handle firearms but not ammo, meaning we have to take our substantial ammo supply through Canada.  For most of our stuff, the bureaucratic hoops aren’t too bad.  The AR-15s would have been problematic but they are already safely stored up north.  To any of you considering this move, though, I’d offer the following advice; firearms can be transported via the airlines in checked baggage, and that’s probably the least troublesome way to make this particular move.  We’re moving as much of our collection that was as we can manage, just to save the trouble.  If much of your collection is Tacticool instead of our assortment of old shotguns and hunting rifles, that advice goes double.

On that note…

On To the Links!

Because, you know, elected officials must not be held accountable for their actions in any way.

Stukach!

Rush Limbaugh:  The Left is still scared of Trump.  In light of the lengths to which they are going to silence him, I’m inclined to agree.  And it’s funny, because if the last election is any judge, the best tactic the Left can follow is to say as little as possible.

The masks are rapidly coming off.   Healing and reconciliation, my middle-aged white ass.

California doesn’t seem to happy with their Governor.  Can’t say as I blame them.

From our online pal Wombat-socho:  Night of the Digital Long Knives.

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on the current state of affairs.

Biden claims he’ll ‘defeat the NRA.’  Plenty of liberal pols have claimed that, and the NRA is still there, still with millions of members.

This Week’s Idiots:

The New Yorker‘s David Remnick is an idiot.

Robert Reich is still an idiot.

Vox‘s Fabiola Cineas is an idiot.

Mozilla CEO Winifred Mitchell Baker is an idiot.

And So:

1974.  I was thirteen, and every Saturday night that we could my friends and I stayed up to watch The Midnight Special.  Here, from that year and that show, is David Essex and his song Rock On.  Enjoy.

Rule Five Immortality Friday

This is something of a recurring theme here, because it’s something I find interesting.  Today, from a Guardian article earlier in the week, is the question:  Do We Have to Age?  Excerpts, with my comments, follow:

The hope isn’t that we get to live longer for the sake of it, it is that we live longer in good health. Some people call this longevity; (Author, biologist Michael) Steele refers to “increasing a person’s ‘healthspan’”. “There’s this misconception when you talk to people about treating ageing,” he says. “They imagine they’re going to live longer but in a state of terrible decrepitude, that you’re going to extend their 80s and 90s so they’re sat in a care home for 50 years. That doesn’t make sense from a logical perspective or a practical one.”

I say, “What would be the point?”

“Exactly!”

“It’s just more pain…”

“Nobody would want it,” he says. Then he raises an eyebrow. “It’s surprising that people would actually think scientists would want that.”

There’s an old fable in there somewhere about living forever as a decrepit, broken-down old man.  But yes, longevity would be great – if it could be a healthy, active longevity.  That’s the real goal that gerontology research should have.  And Steele seems to be pursuing just that:

Eventually, (Steele) says, “I think we are very likely to have a drug that treats ageing in the next 10 years.”

Steele believes we will be hopelessly unlucky if scientists don’t make a breakthrough within that time, given how many human trials are in progress or upcoming. And although these breakthroughs won’t result in treatments that extend our lives by 100 years, they will give us enough extra time to ensure we’re alive for subsequent breakthroughs, subsequent treatments, subsequent additions in lifespan and so on. Our lives will be extended not all in one go but incrementally – one year, another year, suddenly we’re 150. In Ageless, Steele talks of a generation of people that grows up expecting to die but, thanks to an accumulation of new treatments, each more effective than the last, just doesn’t. “One after another,” he writes, “lifesaving medical breakthroughs will push their funerals further and further into the future.”

What Steele is talking about isn’t immortality; people will continue to die. Science won’t help if, looking down at your phone, you walk out into the road and get hit by a car. Or if you fall off a ladder and break your neck. Or if you are unlucky enough to be hit by a missile in a war zone. Or if you contract a virulent infectious disease that has no vaccine. But it will result in lifespans that are significantly longer than what we currently consider normal.

And that’s the goal.

As I’ve said before, I could live a thousand healthy years and never run out of stuff I wanted to do.  Hell, a thousand years from now a liner to visit the colonies on Proxima Centauri might be an option; look back a thousand years, or even a hundred years, and ask yourself how many people could even imagine the technology we have at our disposal today.

But they would have to be healthy years.

Breakthroughs like this, assuming it happens, always come with a tradeoff, and in this case that’s population.  While the Earth’s population of humans is expected to level off in the next century and even begin a decline, assuming current trends continue, a drastic expansion of lifespan could quickly reverse that.  This little blue ball could start to get distinctly crowded, making that last great luxury – privacy – even more of a premium commodity.

I think Mrs. A and I will be all right in rural Alaska for quite a while even so, and were I offered the chance to live for even a hundred and fifty healthy years, you can be damned sure I’d jump at the chance.

I have no idea how she walks in those shoes.

 

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

We’ll be a bit abbreviated this week, as I’ve only started gathering the weekly links on Sunday.  Too much fun last week with family to pay attention to current events; these days it’s not that often these days that we can get all four daughters in one place with sons-in-law and grandchildren, so I was enjoying my role as benevolent head of a large and growing family too much to worry about the rest of the world.

So then…

On To the Links!

Well, we’re pretty fucked now.  Thanks a heap, Georgia.

How Long Does Sex Normally Last?  Uh…  No, I’m not going to comment.  Nope.

Lin Wood has apparently gone nuts.  I have to agree.

80-year-old Granny Boxwine (love that moniker) again elected as Speaker.  Another poster child for term limits.  Seriously, what is it with the Dems electing leaders who are bordering on full-blown senile dementia?

The best American whiskeys have something in common.  This is a subject in which I’ve long been keenly interested.

Well, she’s just following Joe Biden’s plagiarism example, right?

Antifa dirtbags threaten a mother and newborn baby.

Robert Stacy McCain weighs in on the “Stolen Land” argument.

This Week’s Idiots:

The Hill’s Sukyi McMahon is an idiot.

Paul Krugman continues to be a partisan hack, and an idiot.

The Atlantic‘s Tom Nichols is an idiot.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Horse’s Ass – MO) is an idiot.

Alastair Moock, Dog on Fleas, and the Okee Dokee Brothers are all idiots.

St. Louis DA Kim Gardner is an idiot.

And So:

I’ve long been a fan of the Grateful Dead.  Mrs. Animal and I were fortunate enough to see them live in the old Mile High Stadium in the summer of ’91.  They were a bit of the American Dream made good, a Bay Area garage band that made the big time and toured incessantly; for the Dead, it was all about the show.  Here, also from 1991, is a live clip of one of the songs most loved by their fans, Uncle John’s Band.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Like a lot of folks, I like a cold beer from time to time.  Following our upcoming (can’t be soon enough) move to the Great Land, the distance to a source for those cold beers will be expanded by an order of magnitude.  In our current Colorado house, there is a liquor store with a reasonable selection a five-minute walk away; following the move, the nearest store will be about a fifteen-minute drive.  So, planning would seem to be the order of the day, as it is with all things around a rural life.  We figure we’ll have to go down to Wasilla for our regular trading every other week or so, depending on how well-stocked with fish and game our freezer is at the time.

But the other option, of course, may be brewing my own.  That might be a fun little hobby, along with benefit of ensuring my supply regardless of what challenges winter weather may bring.  So, if any True Believers have any advice on this front, I’d welcome such in the comments.

I also like a nip of good whiskey now and then, but that’s probably a whole ‘nother prospect, when it comes to making my own.

Now then:

On To the Links!

Abstain?  From BOOZE?  In RUSSIA? Good luck with that!

File this under “stuff you never really wanted to know but still find strangely interesting” – the oldest animal sperm.

1. Public reading of riot act.  2. Order miscreants to disperse.  3. Disperse by force.  Easy.

Fuck off, slaver!

What an asshole.

Time Magazine begins the frantic ass-tonguing of the presumed Biden Administration.

Unintentional honesty.

Paul Krugman is optimistic about the economy. We’re fucked.

Holy crap!

RIP Charley Pride – one of the all-time greats in country music.

RIP Chuck Yeager – one of the all-time greats in aviation.

Even Piers Morgan thinks the Hunter Biden cover-up stinks.

Sorry, no, I won’t consider drinking 2% beer.

Slaves.  Picking cotton.  In China.

This Week’s Idiots:

Traditional masculinity is the only reason insipid, ungrateful soyboy fucks like this live peacefully and in comfort.

The Boston Globe’s editorial board are all idiots.

Rashida Tlaib (PLO-MN) is still an idiot.

Slate’s Jordan Weissmann is an idiot.

Biden’s economic team are all idiots.

The New York Times’ Charles Blow is an idiot.

And So:

I have a small mental list of the top five best guitar players that ever lived.  While that list includes Jerry Garcia, Frank Zappa, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix, the only member of my list still breathing is the great Carlos Santana.

Carlos is still around and still producing great music.  Here he is with someone named Rob Thomas on vocals, with his 1999 hit Smooth.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

You have to love Chuck Norris, whose entire appearance in The Expendables 2 was one great big Chuck Norris joke.  His legend continues today, even in the Kung Flu environment; apparently Chuck has taken to wearing a mask, not to protect himself from the virus, but to protect the virus from Chuck Norris.  Now we have this:  Chuck Norris comes out of the closet, reveals that he is even more manly than previously thought.  Excerpt:

Scientists worry that if Chuck Norris chooses to outwardly live as his fully manly self, it could be the end of all life in the universe as we know it. Chuck Norris has assured us that if he does accidentally end the universe with his epicness, we don’t have to worry because he’ll just slap together a new one.

While it’s true that Chuck Norris never has to turn on the shower – he stares at it until it cries – I have been told that, in person, he is one of the nicest, most even-tempered people you’re likely to run across.  I’m sure that’s true, as he can afford to be whatever he wants, being, after all, Chuck Norris.

With that…

On To the Links!

As Justice Elena Kagan pointed out in Gundy if the conservative justices bring back the nondelegation doctrine, “most of Government is unconstitutional.”  Hooray!  Most of what the Imperial government does is unconstitutional.

Looks like most of our vulnerable population could have the Kung Flu vaccine made available to them by the end February.

Walter E. Williams, RIPHis last article.  And his best friend, Thomas Sowell, another great American, commemorates Williams.

The Californey exodus continues; now Hewlett Packard bails for Texas.

SETI astronomer and astrophysicist Seth Shostak is betting a cup of coffee that we’ll find evidence of alien civilizations by 2035.  Well, I’ll be 74 that year, so if he’s right, I should live to see it.

Something might kill you in the next few years, but it almost certainly won’t be a killer asteroid.

A modern-day dinosaur.

How dinosaurs thrived in the snow.  Dinosaurs in fact still thrive in snow today; there are more species of dinosaurs alive now than there are mammals, and a lot of them live in snowy environments.  We call them birds.

Colorado restaurants to Colorado governments:  “Fuck off, slavers!”

Adolf Hitler wins election in Namibia.  Yes, really.

There is no problem that cannot be solved with a suitable application of high explosives.

“For sale – .22 revolver – still in the box.”

Bonus Section:  This is Getting Downright Interesting.

SCOTUS rejects PA election lawsuit.  But this may be why:

Texas sues battleground states over election irregularities.  Excerpt:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the U.S. Supreme Court over unconstitutional changes to election laws. 

“The four states exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to justify ignoring federal and state election laws and unlawfully enacting last-minute changes, thus skewing the results of the 2020 General Election,” a press release states. “The battleground states flooded their people with unlawful ballot applications and ballots while ignoring statutory requirements as to how they were received, evaluated and counted.”

Louisiana Joins In.

Alabama Too.

And more, it seems!

Assuming all this is true – I’ve only seen actual filings in the original Texas suit – who knows what will happen next?  Hold on to your butts, True Believers, history’s in the making.

This Week’s Idiots:

The New York Daily News editorial staff are all idiots.

Idiot brings a knife to a gun fight.

The Mayor of Austin, TX, is a hypocrite, and an idiot.

Florida state Rep. Dan Daley, D-Coral Springs, is an idiot.

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon is an idiot.

CNN’s Paul La Monica is an idiot.

(Insert standard Paul Krugman idiot statement here)

And So:

Bob Dylan, America’s Songwriter, has had one hell of a career.  He released his first album the year I was born (and I am admittedly no spring chicken) and is still producing original music today.  His performing style may be something of an acquired taste, but I’ve always enjoyed his work.  His voice conveys emotion in a way that’s not often heard in today’s auto-tuned, carefully tweaked young performers.  In 1983, he released his twenty-second studio album, Infidels, which included this song, Sweetheart Like You.

What’s interesting about the composition of this video is that Dylan’s apparent audience consists of one person, a sixty-ish cleaning lady who manages, with only a pose leaning on a mop and a blank expression, to somehow convey that she was once a beautiful young girl, the object of the song – and not only that, but that that beautiful young girl is still there, inside the shell of the old woman.  It’s a neat bit of performance art.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Prehistoric Thumb War News

Turns out that if you declared a thumb war with a Neandertal, you’d have an edge.  Who knew?  Excerpt:

“If you were to shake a Neanderthal hand you would notice this difference,” Ameline Bardo, a postdoctoral research associate from the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent, explained in an email. “There would be confusion over where to place the thumb, and for a thumb fight I think you would win in terms of speed and movement.”

Good to know.

More practically, the thumbs of Neanderthals were better suited for squeeze grips—like the way we hold a hammer when we’re bringing it down. Specifically, we use these power grips, as they’re also called, to hold tools or other objects between our fingers and the palm, while the thumb is used to direct force. Neanderthals didn’t have hammers with handles, but these power grips were probably useful when hafting stone tools, or when gripping stones to use as hammers.

At the same time, this possibly means that precision grips—in which objects are held between the tip of the finger and thumb—may have been more challenging for Neanderthals. Challenging, but not impossible. As contradictory research from 2018 shows, Neanderthals did apply precision grips when doing manual work. What the new research suggests, however, is that precision gripping wasn’t very comfortable for Neanderthals, and that they may have been more inclined towards power gripping. Unfortunately, we can’t travel back in time and see for ourselves, so this will likely remain a healthy debate amongst archaeologists and anthropologists for the foreseeable future.

That said, and as Bardo explained in her email, their “hand anatomy and the archaeological record makes abundantly clear that Neanderthals were very intelligent, sophisticated tool users and used many of the same tools that contemporary modern humans did.”

Paleo-anthropology has long been an interest of mine, one I shared with the Old Man.  In fact, I have a museum-grade replica of a Neandertal skull that was originally a Father’s Day gift to the Old Man, which I got back when he passed away.  It’s an interesting thing to examine.  The sloping forehead and receding chin can give the impression that the Neandertal were dull, brutish people, but they weren’t.  They were certainly different, but not necessarily any more primitive than our ancestors at the time, and they survived in Ice Age Europe for a long damn time.  Thumb dexterity aside, they were powerful people, short, stocky and very muscular.

As the article concludes:

What we can say, however, is that Neanderthals were successful for an extended period of time, appearing some 400,000 years ago, and becoming extinct around 45,000 years ago (and for reasons we still don’t really understand). Neanderthals were also crafty, as they created their own jewelry, made cave paintings, decorated themselves with feathers, and used the lissoir—a specialized bone—for working through tough animal hides.

Were I to meet a Neandertal today, sure as hell I’d shake his hand – but very carefully.  I wouldn’t want to arm-wrestle him, but I might offer a thumb war challenge.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

One of the things I will miss about Colorado is the winters.  In the current Casa de Animal, on the high plains just east of Denver, we are routinely seeing temps in the fifties and sunny skies, even now in the first week in December.  At the site of our new Casa de Animal, in Willow, Alaska, this week has temperatures in the twenties and snow throughout the week.

I can live with that.  Aside from the more extreme daylight hours, the winter weather in the Allamakee County, Iowa of my youth was arguably no worse than southern Alaska, which has some benefit of warming from Pacific Ocean currents.  Those daylight hours, though; today, in Willow, sunrise is at 9:55AM, sunset at 3:44PM.  That’s not a lot of daylight for the inevitable choring required in a rural residence.  But, boy howdy, do the long, long summer days make up for it.

OK, then…

On to The Links!

I have no problem with this.

Ten hypocrites.

Turns out when you defund police, the crime rate goes up.  Who knew?

Would you miss it?  Seriously?

Hydroxychloroquine study finds that the drug reduced hospitalizations by 84%.

This was a census year, and redistricting is going to be… interesting.

No.  It was bad policies.

“If only we’d known about Hunter Biden!”

Well, how about that – Tokyo turns out for President Trump.

Fuck off, slavers!

Iowa Republican leads in recount results by… six votes. This, True Believers, is why no amount of election fraud is acceptable.

Well, duh.

The center cannot hold.

This Week’s Idiots:

The Pope (sorry, any Catholics reading) indulges in idiocy.

The New York Times’ Charlie Warzel is an idiot.

Paul Krugman is still a hack, and an idiot (this is getting to be a habit.)

San Francisco is still run by idiots.

These “kids” are idiots.

Rashida Tlaib (D-PLO) is an idiot.

And So:

When it comes to country music, you really only need two words:  George Strait. Unlike a lot of musicians, George is the real deal.  An Army veteran, George started out in music in rock & roll (!) before finding his feet as one of America’s greatest country & western performers.

George Strait is America’s Troubadour, and here, bearing that out, from his album of the same name, is his elegy Troubador.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Alternative Medicine News

Before we start, check out my latest over at Glibertarians; this week we take a look at the Gold Standard of over/under shotguns, the Browning Superposed.

Now then:  I stumbled across this recently, an interesting piece on people taken in by the various types of “alternative medicine” woo that is offered to the rubes, but I think the author misses one crucial point.  Excerpt:

The alternative medicine industry is enormous and growing. In 2019, it generated an estimated global revenue of approximately 69 billion USD. According to the last broad survey conducted by the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), from 2012, “natural products” are the most popular form of alternative medicine in America, a survey category comprised largely of supplements such as herbs, vitamins, and probiotics. 17.7 percent of survey respondents used natural products. Mind-body practices were next in popularity, including deep breathing (10.9 percent), yoga/tai chi/qi gong (10.1 percent), chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (8.4 percent), meditation (8.0 percent), and so forth.

And who primarily is taking all this ginseng and doing all this meditation? Overwhelmingly it is women. A secondary analysis of the data collected in the 2012 NCCIH survey indicated that women were about three times more likely than men to use alternative medicine. Compared to people who do not use alternative medicine, users were more likely to be “female, reside in the Midwestern or Western USA, be non-Hispanic White, have a bachelor degree or higher, have higher personal earnings, be married or living with a partner, and have greater family spending on medical care.” This general profile was consistent across the literature. For example, a 2018 study researching links among alternative medicine-use, conventional cancer treatment refusal, and overall survival, noted that users were more likely to be female, of higher socioeconomic status, and better educated. In addition, they were more likely to be younger and to have private health insurance.

In other words, these were women with options: largely white, middle-class women. Unlike many women in developing countries who do not have access to science-based medicine, and are forced to rely on low-tech natural options (and suffer the health consequences), the women who use alternative medicine in the West do not need to, they choose to. Is this necessarily a bad thing? The answer is Sometimes.

(Gwyneth, are you listening?)

Here’s the onion:

The story of Kate Callaghan, a New Zealand-based nutritionist, also illustrates the limits of “empowerment” as a helpful concept when it comes to terminal illness. Callaghan was yet another attractive, powerful, intelligent A-type woman (what I was beginning to recognize as a recurring breast cancer type) who had the misfortune of being diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. She died in June of this year, at 36 years old, just seven months after her diagnosis.

Callaghan seemed to be the last person one would expect to get cancer. She branded herself “the Holistic Nutritionist,” and was also a personal trainer and lifestyle coach, “specialising in hormone healing.” She cohosted a podcast and had written a book on the topic, becoming interested in it after successfully overcoming her own hormone-based amenorrhea and infertility. Her online presence, including her Instagram account, is liberally sprinkled with the jargon of the 21st century alternative medicine industry, using words like “wellness,” “empowerment,” “holistic,” and “detoxification.” After going through her social media, and listening to some of her podcasts, I was struck by the fact that here was yet another instance of a younger woman with terminal breast cancer who seemingly believed she could cure herself through a masochistic “health and wellness” routine.

The common thread here seems to be that these people – these women, to be honest, and it seems like women are, for whatever reason, more easily taken in by this horseshit – are already involved in various “wellness” and other kinds of New-Agey horseshit.

(Gwyneth, are you listening?)

It would be interesting, maybe revealing, to see the political inclinations of the women named in this article; to me, with my own biases and experiences, it seems intuitive that if one believes in things like income and wealth being “distributed” rather than created and earned, or that a society can tax and spend its way to prosperity, or that Western civilization today is a hotbed of “systemic racism,” well, then, shit, you’ll believe almost anything.

But the main takeaway from this piece is a sad one.  The people profiled aren’t morons, they are possessed of functioning brains, and yet they are taken in by pure horseshit and it is, in many cases, literally killing them.  And that’s just too bad, no matter what their political inclinations.

(Gwyneth, are you listening?)

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Tomorrow, as all good Americans know, is Thanksgiving.  Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt., along with two of our kids and one kid’s fiancee, will be enjoying our Thanksgiving repast at the home of Mrs. Animal’s parents. My in-laws are two of the finest people who ever drew breath.  They value seeing the family together more than anything, and while all of us show no symptoms and have been prudently washing hands and keeping a short distance from strangers, I’ll be damned if we’re going to give up our usual family holiday meal.  Anyone who doesn’t like that, well, you can kiss my middle-aged white ass.  And if Governor Polis wants to send someone to check on us, they’d better have a ruttin’ warrant.

We’ll have a placeholder post tomorrow on the holiday.  Regular posts will resume Friday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Now then…

On To the Links!

Look at all these California Sheriffs who have had enough of Newsom’s never-ending lock-downs.

The legacy media has already started frantically tonguing Joe Biden’s anus.

Duck.

Duck.

Goose!

I do get a kick out of Lindsey Graham 2.0.

This is called protesting by punching yourself repeatedly in the face.

This, on the other hand, is righteous and roundly entertaining.

John Cleese rocks the house.

I’m shocked, shocked, to find law enforcement soliciting bribes in a may-issue jurisdiction!

Oh, sure, you couldn’t have told me that when I was six years old.

Stuffed camel.  For your multicultural Thanksgiving.  (I’ve had camel, I don’t recommend it.)

This Week’s Idiots:

Paul Krugman is still a hack, and an idiot.  (I’m getting a little déjà vu here.)

The Hill’s Amy Hanauer is an idiot.

Californey Governor Gavin Newsom is an idiot.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick is an idiot.

These “activists” in Seattle are all idiots.

Whoopi Goldberg is an idiot.

And So:

One of my favorites from back in the day is a guy who is amazingly still touring now.  I’m speaking of Boz Scaggs; here, from his best-ever album, Silk Degrees, is one of my favorites of his tunes, Lido Shuffle. Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Ethanol News

Before we start, check out my latest Alaska update over at Glibertarians.  And thanks to our pals over at The Daley Gator for the linkback; if you’re not reading The Daley Gator, well, daily, you should be!

Here’s an interesting summary of the stupidity that is the U.S. policy of subsidizing ethanol.  Excerpt:

The first subsidy for ethanol as fuel arrived under the Carter administration when Americans, shocked by turbulent, rising oil prices, grasped at straws, or more specifically, corn stalks, seeking to cushion the blow. But ethanol’s boom truly arrived thirty years later with the passage of the Renewable Fuel Standard program, requiring a small percentage of “renewable” biofuels – almost always corn ethanol – to make up a small proportion of conventional gasoline in transportation fuels, usually about ten percent.

Fifteen years after the program’s inception, it’s becoming apparent that corn ethanol has been a failure for everyone except corn growers. For starters, it has driven up the price of corn. Again, that’s great for corn farmers and corn-growing states like Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota, but not so great for consumers across the country. Whether its for feeding livestock, distilling sugars, or making food products, corn goes in to much of the stuff we eat, so when its price goes up because of ethanol, food prices increase for all Americans.

“The ethanol program functions as a hidden food tax—the most regressive of all taxes,” Mario Loyola, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote for The Atlantic last year. “And the effects on poor Americans are magnified for poor countries that depend on imports of food.”

Ethanol’s government-mandated grasp on agriculture is best exemplified with a startling statistic: “In the United States, the cultivation of corn for ethanol now requires a staggering 38 million acres of land—an area larger than the state of Illinois. By comparison, the total area of cropland used to produce grains and vegetables that humans eat is only about twice that acreage,” Loyola wrote.

Not sure if she’s in favor of the ethanol mandate or not.

The inestimable Rojito has a flex-fuel engine, meaning it can run on up to 85% ethanol fuel, or E85.  When I first purchased the truck, about thirteen years ago, I ran a few tanks of E85 through it to see how it worked.  The truck ran fine on E85; in fact, it seemed a little peppier, which is odd, because the energy content of the ethanol-based fuel is a lot lower than regular gasoline.  Because of that, though, Rojito averaged only about 11MPG on E85, compared to about 20MPG on the more usual E10.

Even at a buck a gallon cheaper for E85, it actually cost more.

This is a manifestly stupid policy.  The problem is, as the linked article points out, that the popularity of the subsidy in farm states is likely to result in us being stuck with it for the foreseeable future.  Of course, it’s not as though we can actually let market demands determine agricultural prices; ethanol isn’t the only stupid subsidy we gift to agricultural products.