Friday, April 1, 2005
1. AMBIGUITY?: "..DEAD WRONG ON ALMOST ALL PRE-WAR JUDGEMENTS.."
The President's Commission on Intelligence Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction released its report yesterday. The media have described it as "scathing." It wasn't. The cover letter explained that intelligence professionals didn't fudge the data, they really believed what they said. "They were simply wrong." Like that's OK? The President, appearing with the co-chairs at a press conference, seemed pleased, even though in principle he's responsible for anything that went on during his watch. Whether someone at the White House should have asked a few hard questions wasn 't in the Commission's charge. Besides, the President fired CIA Director George Tenet, who said the question of WMDs was a "slam-dunk." That was before Tenet was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (WN 17 Dec 04).
2. PIGASUS: IT'S APRIL FIRST, THE PIG THAT FLIES IS ON THE WING.
Yes, it's the day the coveted Pigasus Awards will be announced. The winners are informed by ESP, but their names came to me last night as I slept, as in a dream. The lucky winners will receive handsome trophies of the Flying Pig via psychokinesis. If they don't get delivery they should look inwardly. All the winners and details will be posted today on Randi's web site http://www.randi.org/jr/040105capitalizing.html.
3. HIGHER AUTHORITY: EVANGELICALS RELY ON THE BIBLE FOR GUIDANCE.
It's not just creationism. The success of the religious right in the last election seems to have led them to test the limits. In Colorado, the State Supreme Court took a man off death row after it was disclosed that in imposing the death penalty, the jury had consulted the bible (Leviticus 21:24, "an eye for an eye..."). In pharmacies around the country, devout pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills because of their religious beliefs. But surely the strangest case is that of John Brown, an evangelical Christian from Dallas, who founded Zion Oil. It has always seemed ironic that the "chosen land" should be the only place in the Middle East that doesn't sit on a sea of oil. Brown is convinced that passages in the Old-Testament pinpoint the exact spot to drill: a field near Afula. In Deuteronomy 33:24 Moses said, "Most blessed of sons be Asher... may he dip his foot in oil." Asher's plot of land looks like a foot to Brown, and he has a license to drill under the toe. This sort of Bible Code led the faithful to sink millions in Brown's plan. Lo, there came oilmen from the West.
4. JOE NEWMAN: LEGENDARY INVENTOR OF "THE ENERGY MACHINE" RETURNS
On Monday, he held a press conference here in the National Press Building. Joe made one contribution to society in his lifetime, by suing the Patent Office for denying him a patent. The 1986 decision in Newman v. Quigg (the Patent Commissioner) is now cited as the authority for denying patent applications for perpetual motion machines out of hand.