Friday, 22 Sep 95 Washington, DC
1. WASHINGTON POST AND NEW YORK TIMES PUBLISH UNABOMBER TRACT.
The U.S. Attorney General and the FBI Director set a troubling
precedent by asking the nation's two leading newspapers "for
public safety reasons" to capitulate to a terrorist's demand to
publish his manifesto. A second troubling precedent was set on
Wednesday when the two papers complied. The full text appeared
as an 8-page supplement to the Post. The ideas are remarkable
mainly for how ordinary they seem. This is not the ranting of a
religious fanatic, or the confused babbling of a schizophrenic.
The Unabomber's case against scientists is that they "work mainly
for the fulfillment they get out of the work itself.... Thus
science marches blindly on without regard to the real welfare of
the human race or any other standard, obedient only to the
psychological needs of the scientists and of the government
officials and the corporation executives who provide the funds
for research." His ignorance is most apparent in his romantic
notion of the "freedom" that existed prior to the industrial
revolution. His craziness is most apparent in his delusion that
things can be reversed. There is simply no way back. Thank God.
2. COMMERCE DISMANTLING ACT: CAN CONGRESS GET ITS ACT TOGETHER?
Probably not this year. Even if the House and Senate agree on a
bill, the President will veto it, and his veto isn't likely to be
overridden. Some half-dozen committees claim jurisdiction in the
House, and it appears that the Walker substitute (WN 15 Sep 95)
will be ignored in favor of something closer to the original
Chrysler bill (WN 7 Jul 95). After all, Speaker Gingrich had
promised the freshmen a vote on the Crysler bill (WN 28 Jul 95).
But even if the Chrysler bill passes the House, there is strong
support in the Senate for many of the Commerce programs the bill
would eliminate. As many as a dozen new agencies have been
proposed to operate these programs, which doesn't look much like
cutting bureaucracy. When Rep. Chrysler (R-MI) was asked this
week about eliminating the Weather Service he replied, "We don't
need the government; I get my weather from The Weather Channel."
3. THE END OF THE CENTURY OF PHYSICS: MEMORIES OF PAST GLORIES.
The venerable CCNY Physics Department, which educated four Nobel
Prize winners, has been informed that the University can no
longer afford the program. And AT&T announced that as part of
its breakup Bell Labs will be split in two. Seven Bell Labs
scientists have won the Nobel Prize. Among the world's top 20
corporations investing in R&D, only seven are now American,
compared with twice that number five years ago. At CCNY they
will begin firing junior faculty and easing out tenured faculty,
three of whom are members of the National Academy of Sciences.
Many top scientists at Bell Labs moved on to academic positions
following the 1984 breakup of the Bell System. Now there are
fewer places to go. Is this the end of the reign of Pericles?
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)