What's New | 5 May 22:36 2006

What's New Friday May 5, 2006

WHAT'S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 5 May 06   Washington, DC  

1. THE DARWIN CODE: WILL THE "INTELLIGENT DESIGNER" BE REVEALED? 
Our story opens with the grisly defeat of the eight members of
the Dover Area School Board who were up for reelection.  Behind
their demise, we now learn, is a shadowy organization called the
Discovery Institute, which is sworn to suppress the secret
identity of the "Intelligent Designer."  Just "teach the
controversy," warns the founder of the Discovery Institute, Bruce
Chapman.  Otherwise people might think the argument has something
to do with religion instead of pure science.  He blames the Dover
School Board.  To convince others not to reveal the identity of
the designer, the Discovery Institute has rushed into print with
a new book "Traipsing Into Evolution," in which their legal
experts analyze the impact of Kitzmiller v. Dover. 

2. THE POLYGRAPH: THE ANIMAL THAT TALKS FREQUENTLY TELLS LIES.
Unfortunately, so does the polygraph.  It's been 18 years since
WN wrote that the polygraph "cannot tell a lie from the sex act"
http://bobpark.org/WN88/wn030488.html , and Congress barred
polygraph use by private employers.  Twelve years later the
National Academy of Sciences concurred in "The Polygraph and Lie
Detection," (NAS Press, 2003).  Nevertheless, the Washington Post
reported Monday that the CIA, the FBI and other federal agencies
are using the polygraph more than ever.  It is "a pivotal tool in
the CIA's effort to identify leakers after embarrassing
disclosures about government anti-terrorism tactics."

3. PUBLIC ACCESS: SENATE BILL WOULD REQUIRE POSTING ON INTERNET. 
A year ago, a new NIH policy asked researchers on NIH grants to
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What's New | 12 May 22:21 2006

What's New Friday May 12, 2006

WHAT'S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 12 May 06   Washington, DC

1. PRAY FOR CONGRESS: IN EVERY WAR, BOTH SIDES PRAY FOR VICTORY. 
Yesterday, the House passed a $513B defense authorization bill. 
The bill included language allowing military chaplains to pray
"according to the dictates of the chaplain's own conscience." 
Current rules call for nonsectarian prayers, or a moment of
silence, at mandatory public gatherings.  Focus on the Family,
The Christian Coalition, and other evangelical Christian groups
had urged the President to issue an executive order guaranteeing
the right of chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus.  When Bush
failed to act, Republicans on Armed Services added the provision
to the defense authorization bill.  An amendment offered in
committee by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), calling on chaplains to
show "sensitivity, respect and tolerance for all faiths," was
defeated on a party-line vote.  Rules did not allow floor debate.

2. PREYING ON THE VOTERS: FLAW FOUND IN TOUCH-SCREEN MACHINES. 
The most severe security flaw ever found in a voting system has
been discovered by a Finnish expert working for a non-profit
group.  A professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins told the
NY Times that he, "almost had a heart attack," when he learned of
the problem.  This was not some innocent design error that wasn't
caught.  Diebold, the company that makes the machines, built in a
secret "back door" to "update the software."  It could be opened
in minutes if someone knows the code.  Don't worry, the code is a
proprietary secret of Diebold.  Of course, there was that 2003
fund-raising letter to Ohio Republicans from the Diebold CEO that
said, "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its votes to the
President"  http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN03/wn121203.html .  
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What's New | 19 May 22:30 2006

What's New Friday May 19, 2006

WHAT'S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 19 May 06   Washington, DC

1. DA VINCI CODE: CARDINALS COMPLAIN THAT THE NOVEL IS FICTION.
Aren't they always?  Cardinal Poupard, head of the Pontifical
Council for Culture, expressed shock this week at the Da Vinci
Code promotion: "It had nothing to do with the truth."  Like
"transubstantiation" is the truth?  Another powerful Cardinal,
Francis Arinze, is urging legal action.  Members of Opus Dei seem
particularly upset at the shot of Silas with blood running down
his leg from a cilice.  Opus Dei says their members do not do
this.  Mother Teresa maybe.  Ironically, you may recall that just
two months ago, Random House, publisher of the Da Vinci Code, was
being sued in the UK because the underlying theme was lifted from
a 1982 best-selling history book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail. 
Scientists understand how the church and the historians feel. 
After all, science-fiction writers have been stealing our themes
for years, and portraying us as Dr. Strangeloves.  And if we're
the good guys, they get the physics wrong, like in Chain
Reaction, where cold fusion works.   

2. BROWN'S GAS: AN "ENERGY SOLUTION" THAT JUST WON'T GO AWAY. 
Several people this week sent us video clips of a "breakthrough"
in energy research.  A Florida company is calling it "Aquygen,"
(Patent Pending).  New name, but it's just "Brown's Gas"
http://www.phact.org/e/bgas.htm .  It's been scamming people
since the '80s.  Dennis Lee, the notorious free-electricity
hustler, has had it as part of his sales tour for at least a
decade.  It's produced by the electrolysis of water.  Gas is
collected from both electrodes, giving you a stoichiometric
mixture, 2H2+O2.  If ignited, it's completely converted back to
(Continue reading)

What's New | 26 May 19:54 2006

What's New Friday May 26, 2006

WHAT'S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 26 May 06   Washington, DC

1. CHIEF DOMESTIC ADVISOR: MARVEL COMICS AND THE WAR IN IRAQ. 
President Bush on Wednesday named Karl Zinsmeister as his chief
domestic policy advisor.  The position had been vacant since
February when Claude Allen resigned the position "to spend more
time with his family."  During visiting hours?  Allen was caught
stealing from Target department stores in a fake return scheme.
It's hardly Ken Lay stuff, but it's still criminal.  Allen's
replacement, Karl Zinsmeister, was editor of The American
Enterprise, the magazine of the American Enterprise Institute. 
In 2003, he was embedded as a military reporter with the 82nd
Airborne in Iraq.  His Iraq experience is chronicled in Combat
Zone: True Tales of GI's in Iraq, which Zinsmeister wrote for
Marvel Comics - a perfect background for the Bush White House.

2. FDA COMMISSIONER: PLAN B AND THE GOING-AWAY PARTY AT NCI. 
President Bush in March nominated the director of the National
Cancer Institute, Andrew von Eschenbach, a Bush family friend, to
head the Food and Drug Administration.  His qualifications?  Like
the last two FDA commissioners picked by Bush, von Eschenbach
opposes Plan B, the emergency contraceptive or "morning-after"
pill http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN05/wn090205.html , and for
that matter, anything else that might reduce the incentive for
abstinence, such as human papilloma virus vaccine.  His move to
FDA was cause for a celebration at NCI.  A Washington newsletter,
The Cancer Letter, ran a copy of the invitation: "$25 per person.
Gift contributions also welcome."  The party has been postponed
(something about the law), but people at NCI seemed willing to
pay just about anything to see the last of von Eschenbach.
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Gmane