Should've Seen This Coming

Have you ever read something and thought to yourself "I really should've seen this one coming." If not, then, way to go. But if you have, then you'll understand my reaction when I read this article on CNN.com.

As a fellow commencement speaker myself (I had the bigger in-house audience, not to rub it in or anything), I feel bad for President Bush that he had to put up with those protestors at a college graduation ceremony. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with crazy people holding signs that read "Tom's a Dummy" (which, by the way, you can get on e-Bay for $5.95...they're even laminated for $1 extra!) and marching outside Hancher Auditorium on Saturday morning while I spoke.

If the President had been discussing war policy (which would've been a very bad idea, I was worried my sandcastle metaphor would be boring enough as it is), I could understand. But protestors at commencement? Gimme a break.

Secondly, how delicious is the quote from a Mr. Ronny Menzie? "I didn't finish my thesis because I didn't want my graduation with him." Really? You didn't finish your thesis because W was in town for the ceremony? You couldn't just finish your stupid paper and say "The heck with this school, I'll get my diploma in the mail 6 months from now"? Now I've heard my share of great excuses for people who want to stick around for a fifth year, and some are even legit. This isn't one of them.

And don't get me wrong, I think it's great that older students like Mr. Menzie (age 35) come back and finish their degrees. They pay attention in class, they do their homework, they tend not to end up passed out on the sidewalk outside Burge with their pants around their ankles at 2 AM on a Sunday morning. But people like him give people like them a bad name.



Oh Crap

Beer drinkers beware: a barley shortage in 2006 will raise the price of German beer this month. What's the cause of this great evil? Ethanol.

Kudos to the bloggers at Foreign Policy, a quirky journal of international relations trying its darndest to differentiate itself from the grandeur of Foreign Affairs, for bringing this story to my attention.

Lobbyists for the beer industry, who are apprently not having much success in Venezuela (see: Hawkeye Republican 04/04/2007), claim that subsidizing corn, soybeans, and rapeseed grown for alternative energy sources gives farmers an incentive to plant these crops in their fields instead of barley. As a result, the supply of barley decreases, which causes its price to increase. Since barley, an input in the brewing process, is more expensive, the price of its tasty final output is also more expensive.

In other words, from society's point of view, the only thing worse than driving to the bars in downtown Iowa City is driving a car that runs on ethanol to the bars in downtown Iowa City.

But wait, there's more to this story. The decrease in barley production could also be due to the fact that larger breweries in Germany band together and form an oligopoly in the beer market to keep barley production low. With those businesses using their market power to decrease the supply of barley and increase the price of beer, it's hard to blame ethanol subsidies alone for emptying the pockets of poor, drunk college students everywhere.

Fewer subsidies and more competition means cheaper beer. Hugo Chavez beware.

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