Weekly Editorials Page
12/13 to 12/19, 2001
 

12/19/2001:  Someone has suggested that the "Terrorism" section isn't of as much value as the other sections, and also, that there is, perhaps, a little more than the optimum amount of environmental news. If no shrieks and screams of anguish assail my receptive ears, I'll drop the "Terrorism" section, and select only more pertinent environmental news.    .-----Yours Truly, Dear Old Dad
12/16/2001:
:  
    To every stage, there's a season, and to every beginning an end.
    I began the "Science News" feature on the new website on March 13, 2000, posting one news article per day until October 12, 2000, when I upped the number of articles to four a day. In December, 2000, I increased the article count to anywhere from 5 to 20 articles a day. On January 7th, 2001, I settled upon a steady 8 articles a day. By February, I had expanded this bill of lading to 25 news articles a day. For the week of March 22-28, I added 3 pictures to the week's articles. For March 29 to April 4, I added 15 photos. For the week of April 5 to April 11, I lost count. Then I realized how long it would take anyone without a wideband connection to download my photo gallery, and I backed off.

    By July, I had enlarged the daily science news to encompass 50 news articles a day. By September, that had mushroomed to 75 or 80 a day. On October 15th, I added a section on Terrorism which has gradually grown to 70 to 90 items a day. It now totals 150 articles a day, and up.
    I have also kept up the pace through the weekends, when most news feeds chill out. 
    The result is one of the larger, if not, perhaps, the largest science news sites in the world.
    The problem is that it's more than this man can handle. It's taking all my free time, and then, I'm having trouble catching the errors. Embarrassing as it is, I'm essentially unable to anseer e-mail. I've been loath to dismantle this science news program because I think there might be possibilities for income generation and reputation-building for someone or someones. I never intended it be a one-man show, but that's what's happened.

    This page may not show up well in search engines because it doesn't have "Science News" as a main URL address. Tonight, I have set up a cloned website on Freeservers that includes the words "science-news" in the website address. (Uploading doesn't work, so I'll have to ask for help, but I don't have time tonight.) But it should be possible to greatly increase the circulation for this news service.
    Two solutions to this problem come to mind. One is to seek help with this operation, and the other is to trim it back. (I would welcome any suggestions for improving this news site. It has just grown like Topsy, and I haven't had inspiration or feedback with ideas for altering it.) This does not mean that the website won't continue to be updated!  Right now, I lack time for anything but the mechanical aspects of updating the news, with little time for editorials or other discussions, such as Green Power or the Colonization of Mars. If I reduce the numbers of daily articles, I will spend more time upon other topics, as I was doing before I upped the number of daily articles from one a day to 150+ a day
    The job consists of:

    As you can see, the most time-consuming, but also the most interesting task is that of skimming the articles, and updating the science news page. The site could certainly warrant a number of editors in individual subject areas. Even without pay, it could make an instantly available showcase of one's prior work.
    Two gentlemen (and I do mean "gentlemen") have graciously volunteered to help with this project. In the meantime, as Christmas approaches, I'm going to have back away at least temporarily from my day-and-night web site lucubrations. (The past few days, I've been able to update the website in a matter of a few hours, which would be a sustainable burden to bear .But other days, when other responsibilities have interfered or when some unexplainable glitch causes something that's been working to quit working, it's taken all my available time.)
    I'd welcome any ideas you might have on this situation. I had thought that I might cut the news on terrorism first, since that's the most recent addition to the workload.

 12/15/2001::  Tonight's Science News reports preliminary results obtained by the Mars Odyssey that show "large amounts of hydrogen---possibly water---near the Red Planet's poles". Given the growing consensus of large deposits of ice on Mars, this fits in perfectly. Mars may be sufficiently congenial for Terrestrial plant life that we'll have to be careful about contaminating Mars. But what a wonderful development! This hydrogen that has been detected (probably in the form of water) has to lie within three feet of the surface to have been detected by "Odyssey". Incidentally,
  (a)  The coldest temperatures on Mars aren't much below the coldest temperatures in Antarctica.
  (b)  Although the Martian atmosphere is very dry, with only 0.016% moisture content, It wouldn't be materially different than the humidity (0.019%) in winter at the Earth's poles. Also, water settles as frost on the struts of our landers.
  (c)  Water plays a central role in chemical processing--e. g., with the manufacture of concrete. Massive supplies of water-ice would be extremely good news in terms of colonizing Mars.

12/13/2001:
We interrupt this program to bring you an important news bulletin.
    The American Taliban, John Walker Lindt, has advised his interrogators that Sunday, the end of Ramadan, is a target date for the second phase of the Al Qaeda attack on the United States: to wit, a biological attack. How would Al Qaeda launch a bioweapons attack upon the U. S.? Several infectious diseases are candidates, including smallpox, tularemia, severe hemorrhagic fever, botulism, ricin, and camelpox (Full Coverage- Anthrax, Bioweapons, Terrorism, October 20, 2001).
    Four weeks ago, on November 15th, the Mullah Omar predicted the destruction of the United States.(Konduz battle continues as Omar issues threat). "The plan is going ahead and God willing it is being implemented, but it is a huge task beyond the will and comprehension of human beings. If God's help is with us this will happen within a short period of time." John Walker says that the fulfillment of this prophecy of total destruction is to be the third and final phase of Al Qaeda's Attack. How could Al Qaeda destrioy the U. S.? Beats me!
    Sunday will be the 16th of December. Smallpox has an incubation period of 12 days, so the first warning of a smallpox attack could come on or around December 28th. Problems would arise because of the silent spread of the disease prior to December 28th. There is a lot of socializing during the holidays, so there would be unusual potential at this time of year for a rapid spread of this or any other contagious disease. What to do? It might be desirable to minimize contacts and public outings to no more than is necessary until New Year's Eve. By that time, we'll probably know whether or not a bioweapons attack is in progress in the United States. I would also advise having food and bottled water on hand in the event of quarantine, and having the car gassed up and an emergency kit stored in the garage in case an emergency evacuation were necessary.
    U. S. officials are taking this news with more than a little salt, because 20-year-old John Walker wouldn't have been high on the list of the cognoscenti among the Al Qaeda sachems. However, there are independent suggestions of a terrorist assault at the end of Ramadan. (Such an assault probably wouldn't occur during Ramadan.) It probably wouldn't hurt to make sure that individually, we've taken the precautions that have been suggested to help protect us from chemical, radiological, and biological warfare attacks

 

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