Friday, 25 February 2000
1. DOE: SCIENCE BUDGET JEOPARDIZED BY CAPUANO AMENDMENT.
week, the House passed H.R. 2086, The Networking and Information
Technology Research and Development Act, authorizing $3B for
fiscal years 2000-2004, but not before a bizarre amendment was
agreed to. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), whose district includes
MIT, proposed shifting half the IT money designated for DOE to
NSF. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), in whose district both the Lawrence
Berkeley and Livermore National Labs reside, was the only one to
speak against the amendment prior to its passage on a voice vote.
She noted that, among other things, the measure would close the
National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at LBL, the
nation's most powerful unclassified computer facility. The lack
of any effective opposition is troubling. Although the amendment
creates too much chaos to be enacted into law, it will divert
energy away from passing the best DOE science budget in years.
The motives of Mr. Capuano are the subject of much speculation.
2. DIET SUMMIT: THE CONSERVATION OF ENERGY MIGHT BE HELPFUL.
Eighty-five percent of Americans list weight loss as their top
goal, but studies find we are going the other way. So Secretary
of Agriculture Dan Glickman invited authors of the most popular
diet plans to Washington to debate nutrition. At one extreme
there was Dr. Dean Ornish pushing his high-carbohydrate diet, and
at the other Dr. Atkins, the current number one best-selling
author, urging people to eat the hamburger patty and the cheese
and throw away the bun. Atkins, who didn't look exactly svelte,
took a postprandial nap during the proceedings. Since all of
these best-selling authors have become millionaires, WN decided
to offer the "physics plan": burn more calories than you consume.
3. PROLIFERATION: SPACE STATION HELD HOSTAGE BY THE SENATE.
unanimous vote, the Senate yesterday called for the President to
certify that Russia's space agency has not aided Iran's missile
program before we will help pay for Russia's "contribution" to
the International Space Station. In spite of the recent gains by
reformers, Iran is apparently continuing to develop missile
technology, as well as chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
Although the White House threatened a veto of the House version
passed last September, the administration seems satisfied with
changes in the Senate bill. No one seemed very concerned about
the impact on the faltering space station program. Proponents of
a station might in fact welcome sanctions as a chance to blame
the growing embarrassment of the ISS entirely on the Russians.
4. CLONING: TASTEFUL IDEAS PORE IN FROM READERS.
As did spelling corrections
(WN 18 Feb 00).
The WN favorite: clone types who are
almost extinct, such as airline reservation operators, kindly
proposal reviewers and honest politicians, while admitting that
the later category might require exhumation.