Friday, April 2, 2010
When I see a photo of Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," I try to imagine an
airline ticket agent that could not recognize that this is a person with a
serious problem. Because of Richard, 100 million shoes are removed for
examination in the US every year while their owners pad along the check-in
lines in their socks. Has it helped? Well, no one has tried to detonate
a shoe bomb since. However, the Christmas Day bomber wore explosive
underwear instead. Would people have to remove their underwear for
inspection? To avoid that, President Obama signed off on a new security-
check system. "This is not a system that can be called profiling in the
traditional sense," an official told a White House press briefing. "It's
intelligence based." Nice distinction.
The Maine House of Representatives has voted to reject a law that would
require cell phone makers to affix labels warning consumers of possible
brain cancer risk due to electromagnetic radiation. There is no credible
evidence whatever of a link between cell phone radiation and cancer. It
is not clear why some people are so anxious to believe there is.
There has always been two NASAs: Adventure-NASA that caters to a public
weaned on Star Trek, and Science-NASA that gathers real information about
our universe. Support for the two NASAs has been in almost inverse
proportion to their value. That is changing. On Wednesday, NASA laid out
plans to boost spending on climate research over the next five years to
make up for cuts by the Bush administration. NASAs Earth Science budget
will increase 62 percent. Although NASA has 13 climate research
satellites in orbit, most are far beyond their design lifetimes. Ten
replacement satellites are scheduled for launch. DSCOVR, the Deep Space
Climate Observatory, put in storage during the Bush years, is also
scheduled for launch.
A U.K. government investigation of the Climate Research Unit at East
Anglia University, confirmed the "scientific consensus" that global
warming is taking place. However, it was highly critical on questions of
openness as it should be.