Friday, September 17, 2004
1. MISSILE DEFENSE: YOU ARE TWICE AS SAFE AS YOU WERE LAST MONTH.
A second interceptor missile has been lowered into its silo in Fort Greely, AK. Meanwhile, the flight test scheduled for late September has been postponed another two months. It will then be two years since the last flight test. It will also be after the election. I called on General Persiflage at the Missile Defense Agency. "Shouldn't we wait to see if the system will work?" I asked. "It's already working," the general shrugged. "Our goal is to keep America safe. We put the first interceptor in its silo in July, and there hasn't been a missile attack since." He had me there. I still felt a little uneasy, but before I could ask another question, workmen came in carrying a huge banner. "Where do you want us to hang this, General?" They unfurled the banner, which read simply "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED."
2. NSF: BEMENT NOMINATION MAY BE A BRILLIANT MANAGEMENT STRATEGY.
Or maybe not. Earlier this year, when Rita Colwell left NSF before the end of her 6-year term, it was expected that someone would be nominated quickly to fill the job. In the meantime an acting director was named. That sort of thing happens all the time, but the person picked as acting director was Arden Bement, Jr., who already had a job as director of NIST. Bement stayed on as director of NIST, moonlighting as NSF acting director, with a nominee for NSF Director expected momentarily. Under the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Presidential appointments to acting positions are limited to 210 days. That's so "acting" can't be used to duck confirmation hearings. Time ran out on Saturday with no nominee for NSF Director in sight, so Bush nominated Bement. Here it gets a little confusing. In his announcement to the NIST staff, Bement said he will remain as NIST Director until he is confirmed by the Senate as NSF Director. Maybe it's an experiment to see if they can get by with half as many directors as agencies. Meanwhile, NIST Deputy Director Hratch Semerjian becomes something. NIST may have both a director and an acting director. We're glad we could clear this matter up for readers.
3. OPEN ACCESS: MEDICAL JOURNALS LAY IT OUT FOR DRUG COMPANIES.
Several leading medical journals will refuse to publish results of clinical trials that haven't been registered publicly. This follows disclosure that drug makers withheld information about suicidal thoughts in children and adolescents on antidepressants.
4. COLD FUSION: DOE REVIEW IS HIDDEN BEHIND A CLOAK OF SECRECY.
Believers see DOE's review as vindication after 15 rough years (WN 2 Apr 04). But watchers are puzzled by how little is known about the process. Who are the reviewers? Who are they talking to? WN hears that DOE is claiming anonymous peer review. That shouldn't please anyone. The controversy will simply continue.