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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Bad news for good beer

    The story: Unusual weather in recent years has led to poor crop yields worldwide of hops, a type of flower used to give beer its delicious flavor and refreshing bitterness.

    The response: Industrial brewers like Anheuser-Busch and Miller, which typically use little hops in their bad brews and nonetheless have first-dibs contracts with hops growers, are not expected to be much affected by the shortage.

    Microbreweries on the other hand, the purveyors of good beer, stand to be hit hardest by the shortage. Whatever hops can be acquired are costing several times their usual price, forcing these breweries to make less beer and to sell what they can make at higher prices. India Pale Ale, a very hoppy type of beer and among the best kinds, will be particularly affected.

    To help area microbreweries cope, Boston Brewing Co., brewers of the Sam Adams line, took a righteous step and ran a lottery that provided 108 microbreweries with the chance to purchase some 20,000 pounds of hops at a low cost. Other industrial brewers, however, are not moving on their reserves, so the hops shortage is likely to continue.

    Microbreweries are also being affected by the rising cost of barley, another crucial ingredient of beer. Barley is primarily grown in the U.S., but farmers are increasingly lured to grow corn because of the demand for ethanol. Besides making bourbon whiskey, a shabby substitute for good beer, ethanol from corn is being increasingly used as a cleaner substitute for gasoline.

    This makes the situation all the more dire, as scientists and growers are attributing the strange weather to global warming; while corn ethanol may help fend off global warming, it also fends off the cause of good beer. If the potential extinction of good beer does not persuade the world to find a comprehensive solution to global warming, one that does not hurt good beer’s chances of survival, then nothing will. And if there’s a future where the only beer that exists to help us through the increasingly hot days is Budweiser and its ilk, God help us.

    Matt Styer is an interdisciplinary studies senior.

    Global ‘Warcraft’ on Terror

    The story: The Washington Post reported last week that U.S. intelligence officials are concerned that online games like “”World of Warcraft”” and “”Second Life”” may be breeding grounds for terrorist threats, offering virtual meeting places, anonymity, and access to discreet financial transactions over the Internet.

    The response: Last week’s report by the U.S. government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity claims that “”what started out as a benign environment where people would congregate to share information or explore fantasy worlds is now offering the opportunity for religious/political extremists to recruit, rehearse, transfer money, and ultimately engage in information warfare or worse with impunity.”” Sounds terrifying – but as we ought to know by now, most analysis from America’s “”slam dunk”” intelligence agencies ought to be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism.

    After all, shouldn’t we want terrorists to be playing World of Warcraft? I’ve seen college students drop out of school to spend time leveling up Night Elf Druids and raiding imaginary dungeons. As one of the most addictive games on the Internet (one psychologist estimated offhand that as many as 40 percent of Warcraft players could be dependent on the game), intelligence agents ought to be working to get terrorists hooked. After all, it’s tough to recruit jihadis or plot bombings if you’re busy running instances in Azeroth all day.

    Even better, games like Warcraft could offer economic opportunities to the disenfranchised youth so often targeted by terrorists. In some parts of China, workers can earn more mining virtual gold than planting real-world crops. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, there’s no reason angry kids in Saudi medresses can’t be doing the same.

    Connor Mendenhall is a sophomore majoring in economics and international studies and the opinions editor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

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