Max Schulz, writing in the WSJ, notes a tale of
gone bad, appropriately near the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa:
In September, ethanol giant VeraSun Energy opened a refinery on the outskirts of this eastern Iowa community. Among the largest biofuels facilities in the country, the Dyersville plant could process 39 million bushels of corn and produce 110 million gallons of ethanol annually. VeraSun boasted the plant could run 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the demand for home-grown energy.
Today, however, VeraSun is bankrupt, although its managers no doubt still have fond memories of how Obama and the other candidates (except McCain) kowtowed to the industry during the Iowa caucus campaign. The Dyersville plant is shuttered, looking for a
suckerbuyer. A good article to keep handy when you read thinly-disguised press release "news stories" about your local Congresscritter pointing to the "green jobs" he or she has created with his or her most recent grant/subsidy/gimmick/boondoggle. Guess who won't be eager to accept responsibility when the bubble bursts?
For those of us who like to draw deep lessons from baseball: the
Washington Nationals are (as I type) 1-10, already 9½
games deep in the
cellar of the NL East. And they're
not great at spelling either.
Which led me to wonder: why is it "Red Sox" and not "Red Socks"?
Google, that great satisfier of idle curiousity, found me the
answer to that, and a lot more. (Hm, I could have been a
Not as many kangaroos as I would have expected, and no koalas. Australia is a real kitchen sink of a movie, something for everyone, two hours and forty-five minutes long.
For John Wayne fans, it's got explosions, cowboy stuff, war stuff, a bar fight, and nefarious villains.
For the ladies, it has the romantic saga of Lady Sarah (Nicole Kidman), English noblewoman off to Australia to retrieve her estranged husband from his foolish dalliance with cattle, only to find him recently murdered; her only hope is the mysterious Drover (Hugh Jackman).
For those looking for social commentary: there's the central saga of the young boy Nullah, product of a white father and aborigine mother, a nasty thing to be in 1939 Australia. The movie goes into detail on the social engineering efforts of the Australian government to remove kids like Nullah from their families. (This prompted me to look up the Wikipedia article on the topic; it's still a matter of controversy today.)
And for everyone else: well, there's Judy Garland. She gets more screen time than the kangaroos.
And, don't forget: it's Australia, so there's a lot of breathtaking scenery.
It got mediocre reviews, and was (given its budget) kind of a dud at the box-office, but I found it to be really a lot of fun. The filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann, is not shy about making an epic, with plenty of in-your-face grandiosity. Many reviewers faulted it for lacking originality, but I prefer to think of it as a grand homage to a lot of fantastic movies.