Friday, November 7, 2003
1. EVOLUTION: IT'S A NATURAL LAW, AND IT'S IN TEXAS SCHOOLBOOKS.
By a vote of 11 - 4, the Texas State Board of Education yesterday rejected efforts of religious groups, the Discovery Institute in particular, to get science textbooks adopted that conform to the religious tenets of "intelligent design." A letter bearing the names of 550 scientists and teachers who live and work in Texas was sent to members of the Board a few days before the vote urging them to support "high standards of science." The American Physical Society assisted Texas physicists wishing to be part of this overwhelming display of support for science. Before the vote, a Dallas Morning News editorial was troubled by "scientists in thrall to their own dogmas," but a science reporter exulted in the outcome, quoting a biology professor who said it, "sent a strong message that Texas does have high standards in science."
2. POLYGRAPH: GREEN RIVER KILLER PASSED A 1984 LIE DETECTOR TEST.
DOE will subject all 4,500 employees with top-secret clearance to polygraph tests (WN
5 Sep 03). How likely is it that a polygraph test will uncover a spy, assuming there is one? In 1984, with the Green River body count at 46, Gary Ridgway, who has since confessed to 48 murders, was cleared after denying he knew the most recent victim. Actually, he didn't know any of his victims. He passed a polygraph test. If the sheriff's office had used a coin toss instead of a polygraph (WN
18 Apr 03), it's even odds they would have wrapped up the Green River murders 19 years ago.
3. EDWARD TELLER LIVERMORE NATIONAL LABORATORY? WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Armed Services Committee Chair Duncan Hunter (R-CA), has proposed renaming Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the late Edward Teller (WN
12 Sep 03), and he's in a position to make it happen. His proposal is now before the conference committee considering the FY-04 Defense Authorization Bill. Teller always enjoyed strong support in Congress, and the Lab was created for him. After his 1954 testimony in the Oppenheimer hearings, at the height of the McCarthy era, many physicists refused even to speak to him. Laboratory officials have declined to support the name change, ostensibly because it would be disrespectful to the memory of Ernest O. Lawrence, but perhaps also because Teller's name is so closely associated not only with the H-bomb, but also with the string of colossal failures that marked his later years: Star Wars, Excalibur, and Brilliant Pebbles. Peace groups have gleefully endorsed the name change as "truth in advertising."
4. THE SUV LOOPHOLE: "FREEDOM CAR" IT'S NOT, BUT IT MAY BE FREE.
Why not let the dumb tax payers buy you a luxury cement truck for Christmas? This year's tax cut set out to stimulate the economy by giving small businesses a deduction of up to $100,000 for new equipment; that includes new work vehicles if they weigh 3 tons or more. Three tons! Suddenly, SUVs started weighing more than 6,000 pounds, if they had to use lead tires.