Friday, 28 June 96 Washington, DC
1. BUDGET: HOUSE PASSES AMENDMENT-LADEN VA/HUD/IA APPROPRIATION.
Sixteen amendments were added yesterday including one by Bob Walker (R-PA) that moved $9M from NSF salaries to research. It was supported by the GOP members of Walker's Science Committee, but opposed by Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Appropriations Subcommittee chair. Lewis agreed with George Brown (D-CA) that NSF is a model of efficiency, with operating expenses only 4% of its budget, and the shift will simply slow down processing of grants. The Stump amendment took 0.4% across the board for veterans' benefits. The Solomon amendment prohibits grants to schools that bar ROTC or military recruiters. The Roemer amendment prohibits NASA funding of the Bion projects to launch monkeys into space (WN 12 Apr 96). Roemer then pushed his luck, offering an amendment to reduce funding of all primate space flight by $75M. Alas, it failed.
2. TRAIN WRECK '97: WHY WAIT TILL OCTOBER TO PASS AN FY 97 CR?
You will recall that one of the issues leading to last year's government shutdown was funding of the AmeriCorps program. The Hostetler amendment would have eliminated funding for AmeriCorps from this year's bill; to avoid a veto, House leaders opposed the amendment, and it failed (183-240) on a recorded vote. But later, freshman kamikaze Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) offered an amendment to move AmeriCorps' funding to Veterans Health. Fearing, in an election year, that their "nay" might be interpreted as a vote against veterans, enough members switched to pass it on a voice vote. Sigh. It is expected that grown-ups in the Senate will try to restore AmeriCorps funding in Conference. Meanwhile, there is talk of passing a continuing resolution as insurance.
3. SPACE STATION: NRC REPORT RECOMMENDS 15% "COMMERCIAL USERS."
The National Research Council panel on Engineering Research and Development on the Space Station recommends auctioning 15% of its resources to the highest bidder. Ummm. "Space," Ronald Reagan liked to say, "is just another place to do business." But as a commercial environment, microgravity is of microimportance.
4. CREATIVE THINKING: WHO DO YOU SUPPOSE EINSTEIN DIALOGUED WITH?
Dr. Robert Masters explained to the New York Times how imaginary dialogues with dead experts work. Masters, husband and colleague of Jean Houston, Hillary Clinton's dialoging coach, put it this way: "Say if I want to solve a particular problem in physics, you get an image of Einstein or someone like that and dialogue with them. It's just a creative thinking technique." Well, you can't be too creative, so we at WN gave it a try. WN: Good morning doctor. Einstein: Guten morgan. WN: Uh Al, could we stick to American? My Dutch is a little rusty. Let's get right to the big one -- will physics ever find a theory-of-everything? Einstein: It's a coin toss. WN: Why a coin toss? Einstein: Because God does not play dice with the universe. WN: Donkey shine doc.