29 June 2001
1. CELL PHONES: A CHURCH STEEPLE CAN BE A "DUAL-USE" TECHNOLOGY.
Claims that cell phone radiation is bad for your health
(WN 9 Feb 01),
are often embraced by people whose real objection is to
the ugly towers erected in their neighborhoods. Church steeples,
by contrast, are generally regarded as picturesque. You can see
where this is headed. In Connecticut, and presumably elsewhere,
cell phone providers are busy cutting deals with churches. It
seems that, concealing an antenna in a church steeple does not
interfere with more spiritual forms of communication.
2. SEEING STARS: INDIA SEEKS TO RENEW THE ASCIENCE@ OF ASTROLOGY.
A couple of weeks ago, WN registered shock when a state agency
in Washington authorized a college to issue degrees in
Astrological Studies. Several readers pointed out that the
situation is far more serious in India, where the University
Grants Commission informed universities of the "urgent need to
rejuvenate the science of Vedic astrology in India." You will
not be surprised to learn that major universities in India are in
a fierce bidding war to see which will be selected to start new
courses in Vedic astrology. It is not unlike the competition in
the US to set up departments of alternative medicine to attract
3. COMMERCIALIZING SPACE: GOING AFTER OUR DISPOSABLE INCOME.
Space tourist extraordinaire Dennis Tito appeared before the
House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee on Tuesday to discuss
the future of space as a viable money making venture. The poor
committee members could hardly keep the pools of drool from
forming on their desks or the dollar signs from flashing in their
eyes at the thought of rich tourists willing to pay $20 million a
pop for a week in space. With all this free money, the
congressmen reckoned, maybe ISS could be salvaged from its $4
billion deficit. Or, as one Committee member bubbled, it might
help Americans realize their dreams, because the "frontier of
space is the frontier of freedom." That's very noble.
4. THE ARMS RACE: HOW QUICKLY COULD THE US RESUME TESTING?
The Bush administration is questioning the nine-year moratorium on
testing nuclear weapons. Vice-President Cheney and Secretary of
Defense Rumsfeld argue that the safety and potency of our arsenal
can be assured only by periodic underground tests of randomly
selected warheads. That claim has been made for over 20 years,
but rarely, if ever, has such a test actually been conducted, and
no weapons have been retrofitted or taken out the arsenal as a
result of a random test. Priority in weapons testing is given to
the development of new weapons. Some weapons scientists in the US
are arguing for micronukes, while the Russians are threatening to
MIRV their missiles if we go ahead with a missile defense.
(Stephanie Young contributed to this week's WN.)