Friday, June 2, 2006

1. ADDICTION: ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION INCREASES WHEN TIMES ARE HARD.

President Bush says we need "to move beyond a petroleum-based economy." Move where? The House cut the nuclear energy request in half; fusion is, as it has always been, decades away; ethanol from corn is nice, but it can't save much oil. President Bush gave a plug to ethanol from cellulosic biomass. He can't be wrong all the time can he? Some rich investors are backing it (WN 31 Mar 06) , and some very smart scientists. MIT chemist John Deutch commented on it in the Wall Street Journal a month ago, and today's Science has an editorial about cellulosic biomass by Stanford biologist Chris Somerville. They think it's worth major investment in research.

2. EVOLUTION IN GEORGIA: FEDERAL APPEALS COURT SENDS CASE BACK.

Since 1995, the Cobb County School Board had ordered pages on evolution torn out of science textbooks. But a new textbook in 2002 had too many pages to tear out, so they just added a sticker saying evolution is only a theory anyway. A federal District Court judge said the stickers violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment and told the school district to rip all 35,000 off (WN 14 Jan 05) . Thursday, citing insufficient evidence, a Federal Appeals Court said put'em back on until the District Court determines if the school board acted "religiously neutral," or the case is retried.

3. FLAG POLE SITTING: DISCOVERY IS CLEARED FOR JULY 1 LAUNCH.

The NASA Authorization bill, passed in May, makes "uninterrupted capability for human spaceflight during transition to the Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2010" US policy. To do what? No field of human endeavor has been advanced by the shuttle or the ISS.

4. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: PLAYING NOW AT THE SUPREME COURT THEATER

An evangelical Christian group in Washington, DC, Faith and Action, is erecting a stone monument to the stone tablets on the front lawn of a row house across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court building. The group does not have the approval they need according city officials, but perhaps they cleared it with a higher authority. The granite sculpture weighs 850 pounds.

5. HULK ROBERTSON: HOW DO YOU HANDLE AN 850 POUND RELIGIOUS ICON?

Religious broadcaster Pat "The Hulk" Robertson, who had been pushing his "age-defying protein shake," should have no problem. On the Web site of his Christian Broadcasting Network, he says he has leg-pressed 2,000 pounds. When he proves he can do that, Iíll convert.

6. IMMIGRATION: ADVOCATES OF TOUGHER BORDER SECURITY SEND BRICKS.

No one pays attention to e-mail anymore. So at a time when everything entering the Capitol or Congressional Office Buildings is carefully screened, thousands of bricks have been sent to members of Congress to build a wall. "At least they're not being thrown through the windows" one staffer pointed out.

Bob Park can be reached via email at whatsnew@bobpark.org
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.