22 June 2001
1. FLASH! BUSH IS RUMORED TO HAVE CHOSEN A SCIENCE ADVISOR.
may recall that back in March the President reactivated PCAST,
the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology,
with Silicon Valley venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme as co-chair.
The other co-chair was to be the White House Science Advisor,
but there was no Science Advisor, even as the President waded
into deep water on global warming and missile defense. But
today, it is all over Washington that Jack Marburger, an APS
member and the Director of Brookhaven National Laboratory, has
accepted the job.
2. DEFINING SCIENCE: WHY DO CATTLEMEN WEAR HIGH BOOTS?
A bill to
define science, HR3344, is under consideration in the Oregon
Senate. The definition is taken directly from a statement titled
"What is Science?" adopted two years ago by the APS Council. The
principal support for the bill is from the Oregon Cattlemen's
Association. But why, I can hear you asking, are the cattlemen
concerned with how science is defined? You may want to step
carefully as we attempt to walk through that barnyard: There is
a move in Oregon to clean up its streams, and cows B well, you
know what cows do. Anyway, the cattlemen want to counter the
peer-reviewed scientific arguments of environmentalists. In the
words of a spokesman for the OCA, "Currently, anyone can define
what will be called science... The term `peer-reviewed science'
could mean a review by a neighbor or friend." Squish!
3. BUDGET SURPLUS? FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS FORCED TO BORROW.
How quickly can black ink turn red? It seems like only yesterday
that a big problem was figuring out how to spend the projected
surplus in federal revenue. Some suggested that, since advances
in science and technology were largely responsible for the
booming economy, it would make sense to put some of the surplus
back into research. Instead, we got a tax cut. Now, a story
from Bloomberg News says the government may be forced to borrow
to pay for the scheduled tax rebates. It was too good to last.
4. ENERGY POLICY: DO THE DEEDS MATCH THE WORDS?
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham testified for the first time
before the House Science Committee. The committee wanted an
explanation of apparent discrepancies between the commitment to
conservation, alternative energy sources, and increased
efficiency in the National Energy Policy, and administration cuts
in research and development programs that might move us toward
these ends. As Chair Boehlert (R-NY) noted, "the deeds don't
match the words." To this, Secretary Abraham explained that
there was a gap between the time the budget was submitted and
development of the National Energy Policy. Since one does not
drive the other, incongruities exist. Has the administration
sought amendments to the budget request to smooth out these
incongruities? In this case, the words do match the deeds: nope.