Friday, 2 Sept 94 Washington, DC
1. ENOLA GAY RUNS INTO HEAVY FLAK OVER THE AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM!
The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. To
mark the 50th anniversary, the Smithsonian Institution is making
a bomb of its own centered around the fuselage of the Enola Gay,
the B-29 that delivered the bomb. The exhibit is not scheduled
to open until May, but the controversy is already well under way.
"For most Americans," according to the original script, "this was
a war of vengeance. For most Japanese, it was a war to defend
their unique culture against Western imperialism." That's been
removed, but critics complain that the show is still a guilt trip
conducted by revisionist historians. This week, in response to a
heated letter signed by 24 members of Congress, the Smithsonian
announced it would add a separate exhibit showing the War from
the American perspective. Somehow, that seems to miss the point.
Much of the criticism of the Enola Gay exhibit applies equally
well to treatment of the bomb in "Science in American Life" at
the Smithsonian Museum of American History
(WN 17 Jun 94).
2. CRITICISM OF "SCIENCE IN AMERICAN LIFE" DID NOT BECOME PUBLIC
until after the exhibit opened. The American Chemical Society,
which paid the Smithsonian $5.3M to develop the show, came close
to scrapping the whole project. The ACS appointed a scientific
advisory committee, but according to some members, it was a
frustrating assignment. The curators did agree to some changes;
"you should have seen it before," one member of the advisory
committee groaned. But among the displays of radioactive waste,
pesticide residues, ozone holes, air pollution and acid rain,
there is no mention of the fact that in the 122 years covered by
the exhibit, life expectancy in the US has more than doubled.
3. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT: PLUGGING THE ELECTRONIC LOOPHOLE.
In the hours before recess, the Senate passed a bill offered by
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to extend the 1966 Freedom of Information
Act to include computer records. You may find it hard to believe
that legislation is needed, but information has been withheld on
the grounds that it's not a "document" unless it's printed on
paper (WN 24 Jun 89).
In other cases, agencies supplied CD-ROM
data, but refused to provide access instructions
(WN 8 Sep 89)!
The Leahy bill requires computer records to be user-friendly.
4. CONFERENCE REPORT: HOUSE AGREES TO NSF STRATEGIC INITIATIVES.
The VA/HUD/IA Appropriations Report was finally filed today
(WN 19 Aug 94).
The usual hortatory language is missing, but six
strategic initiatives picked by the Senate are there
(WN 15 Jul 94):
$10M for advanced manufacturing; $10M civil infrastructure;
$5M for something called the human capital initiative; $6M for
human dimensions of global climate change research (your guess is
as good as mine); $2M for a center to support violence research;
and $1M for a national center for environmental research.