Friday, January 25, 2008
In case you didn't notice, your 401k is shrinking. Don't worry –
President Bush has a plan: send a check to every family in America.
People are supposed to spend it on the shoddy merchandise they didn't buy
at Christmas. Where is the money coming from? From taxes we paid to end
Iraq's WMD program. It worked perfectly; there is not a WMD to be found
in Iraq. No one could think of anything except war to spend the stimulus
money on (like maybe health insurance for children, or fusion energy, or
the International Linear Collider) so Congress agreed to the President's
plan to write everyone a check. After decades of public-service
announcements telling people to save, we can now expect to be told the
opposite. So much for the laws of economics. The program would be more
environmentally friendly if they cut out the middleman. Instead of every
family, send checks to every business. Operating on a government subsidy
would free business from the need to produce more useless crap to sell.
been invited to lecture at Rome's most prestigious university to mark the
start of the academic year. Sixty-seven professors protested, led by
particle physicist Marcello Cini. In a 1990 visit to La Sapienza, the
Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, supported the trial of Galileo by quoting
oddball science philosopher Paul Feyerabend: "The trial against Galileo
was reasonable and just." Using a quote to make his point is a standard
ploy of the Pope to preserve deniability. "The pontiff didn't say it," the
Vatican will explain, "he was quoting someone else." The protest led
Prime Minister Romano Prodi, to pontificate, "No voice should be stifled
in our country." He's right, and that includes the voices of protestors.
Yesterday Prodi lost a vote of confidence in the Senate and must resign.
In any case, the Italian Government denied any role in pressuring the
Vatican to cancel the talk, as Benedict XVI implied.
Expectations for the $100B International Space Station were high in 1998
when on-orbit assembly began, but recent collaborations put it in
perspective. An Aeronautics professor at the University of Tokyo and the
Japan Origami Airplane Association expect astronaut Koichi Wakata to
launch a heat-resistant paper plane back to Earth from the ISS later this
year. It's expected to survive reentry. Another Japanese astronaut is
training with the world-champion boomerang thrower to find out on the ISS
if a paper boomerang can circle in zero gravity. It can't.
For seven years WN has reported on the infamous Columbia prayer study,
(WN 5 Oct 07) , exposed as fraud by
Bruce Flamm at UC Irvine. Flamm is now being sued for defamation by one
of the authors. He doesn't deny the study was fraudulent, but claims Flamm
defamed him by persisting. Initially dismissed by the court under an anti-
SLAPP law, the suit against Flamm has been reinstated on appeal.