Watching: There Will Be Blood and King Corn redux


I saved y’all from a post about the weather.


Instead I wanted to talk about some stuff we have watched lately.  One a documentary about a couple fresh faced college graduate boys who from a lab experiment learn that the main component of their hair was corn.  So they go on this sort of journey to figure out why.  It is sort of cool, how they start out so innocently seeming and they come up with all this information that is, well, unwelcome news.

What I learned was that the government subsidizes the corn industry, but that it isn’t the corn we can eat.  It is corn for ethanol, corn for high fructose corn syrup (which is the main ingredient in all soda pops and in myriad other foods),  and grain for cows.  They make a sort of connection with the high fructose corn syrup and how it is cheaper than sugar and it is in everything, and that since it is basically sugar–it is probably part of the reason why people are so fat here in the U.S.  I mean, who pays attention to their ingredients?  I have only because it is in everything and so I wonder “What is that crap?”

The other thing I learned was that the grain that is fed to cows produces in them a problem called acidosis.  The cows can only eat the grain for something like 6 months before it will die.  So, they keep the cow from wandering around too much, so it grows fat and takes up less land, and feeds it this grain that it isn’t really supposed to eat and then they slaughter it.  So those are some very fatty and unhealthy cows that we are barbecuing.  Hm.  Perhaps another problem for fat Americans.
All this and being an NPR listener there is currently heavy rotation on connecting the ethanol production with the food shortages.  So I am confused now, because the corn isn’t food grade corn, rather, people have stopped growing other crops so they can grow corn which the government will pay them to grow.  Without the subsidies, they could never turn a buck with the stuff.

So basically the government is paying them to grow sugar and gas.  The corn it is growing is being used in such a way that it is making a lot of people very unhealthy with HFCS and fatty meat.  More people now have diabetes and all the lovely obesity epidemic we hear about… and it is also contributing to lack of food and the “tsunami of starvation” that the World Food Programme refers to.  The whole corn subsidy policy starts to sound utterly convoluted.  If this sounds overly simplified, watch the documentary and see what ya think.


The other movie I stumbled on was called “There Will Be Blood“.  Apparently it is based on a book by Upton Sinclair called Oil! It has a great job of Daniel Day Lewis doing the best acting I have seen of him.

The movie goes from him being a sad sack miner to hitting it quite big with an “ocean of oil” that makes him a tycoon.  This event clearly changes him,  Or maybe it just brings up what was always there inside him. He has a little boy named HW that he cares for in a most devoted way, until the boy has a problem…  It also portrays some bad whacko religious fanatics in I am sure a most truthful but disturbing way.  At the end though, you would have to watch it, the main character is all weird and twisted up and basically definitively evil.  Think Howard Hughes.  It was hard for me to watch, but nevertheless it was interesting and made me want to read the book.  Movies like this I am hard pressed to call entertaining, but it was a well crafted movie with an interesting storyline.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Pieces says:

    Wow. That corn documentary sounds really fascinating. We have tried recently to cut out high-fructose corn syrup and it is really hard. It IS in almost everything.

  2. Jeff says:

    About the corn…I wonder if this isn’t another byproduct of the lack of long-term planning that has characterized American industry for so many years. Everything…everything is driven by 3 month market reports. If you have a bad quarter, well by all means get that stock price up – we don’t care how you do it.
    I guess my point is, substituting corn for sugar and gas and then subsidizing it with our tax dollars might have made some sense for awhile – but it seems nobody bothered to look at the possible effects down the road.

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