Wednesday, 22 November 2000
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: PUTIN WANTS FEWER NUKES.
Bill Clinton, you
may recall, declined to make a decision on deployment of Star
Wars Lite, leaving it to his successor
(WN 1 Sep 00).
Russian President Vladimir Putin, desperate for money to modernize
conventional forces, can't wait. In a statement directed at
Washington, Putin called for "radically lowering" the costly
nuclear arsenal. He seems to be offering to ammend the ABM
Treaty and let the US waste its resources on a missile defense,
if the US agrees to joint reductions below 1,500 warheads.
2. RUSH HOLT DECLARES VICTORY
with a 481 vote lead
(WN 10 Nov 00),
but challenger Dick Zimmer isn't giving up that easily. Once
the final 400-500 ballots are tallied, he vows to seek a recount,
and will pursue allegations that Democrats committed large-scale
voter fraud. A recount is unlikely to reverse Holt's lead, given
the relative accuracy of New Jersey's chad-less balloting system.
3. THEY'RE DUMPING MIR WHERE?
Russia is finally giving up on the
battered hulk of Mir, which is to be dropped into the Pacific
900-1200 miles east of Australia next February. Great news for
the cash strapped Russian Space Agency, but not so great for
residents of New Zealand, 1300 miles east of Australia. Local
experts seem unfazed. Thinking back to the spectacular crash of
Skylab, one commented, "I'm sure they'll do a better job than the
Americans did in 1979." Most upset by the decision is NBC, deep
into planning for 'Destination Mir,' modeled on the reality show
'Survivor.' But they still intend to blast a winner into space.
Show creator Mark Burnett says "I really want to do a space
show.... I can't be a big baby at the first sight of a problem."
For those worried about falling space debris, WN notes that while
wearing a protective paper hat made from "What's New," your odds
of being hit are guaranteed to be less than one in a billion.
4. BOOK REVIEW: "ICONS OF EVOLUTION" BY JONATHON WELLS.
There are lots of unscientific books out there, but only a few of them
are truly anti-science; this one qualifies. Wells seems
particularly incensed by Dobzhansky's 1937 observation that
nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Nonsense, says Wells, it all makes perfect sense once you
realize that a supernatural intelligence decides everything. Who
are we to ask why this intelligence chose to trick us with false
Genes, we learn, aren't the whole story. "If our developmental
genes are similar to those of other animals," he puffs "why don't
we give birth to fruit flies instead of human beings?" (Clearly,
we do give birth to fruits.) Wells also frets over a conspiracy,
led by a "small faction in the National Academy" who have
"exploited the Academy's reputation to propagate Darwinian
dogma". But he's confident that scientists will retaliate once
they "realize what is being done in their names." Yawn.