Saturday, March 31, 2007

The three silliest things I've read lately...

A pinch of bureaucrat-ese, a smidgen of imprecise language and some garden-variety human foolishness...
  • In the 2006-2011 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Strategic Plan (pdf, page 22) I found the following institutional goal:
    "By 2165, reduce the incidence of melanoma skin cancer to 14 new skin cancer cases avoided per 100,000 people from the 1990 baseline of 13.8 cases avoided per 100,000 people."
    The report gives no context for this statement so it's hard to know exactly what they're talking about or how they plan to achieve this goal, but still... I don't know whether to be impressed that they're thinking so far ahead or depressed that they set their sights so low. I mean, what are the odds we'll still even have an EPA in 2165? Unless the EPA starts doing their job on climate change melanoma will be the least of our problems by then.
  • Then we have a vague warning from a book on household and office health hazards:
    "Other studies suggest computers might be a source of electromagnetic radiation."
    Gee, you think? Apart from the fact that the primary purpose of a computer monitor is to emit electromagnetic radiation (i.e. light), I suspect they might be missing a modifier here. It's certainly conceivable that computers might be a source of harmful high-energy electromagnetic radiation (I honestly have no idea) -- but, as written, the sentence would seem to implicate every lump of normal matter in the known universe.
  • I've blogged before about Fish & Wildlife Service political appointee Julie MacDonald who has a history of arbitrarily over-ruling (and verbally abusing) FWS scientists in order to avoid placing animals on the endangered list. This week the Inspector General's office of the Dept. of the Interior released it's report (pdf) on Ms. MacDonald's malfeasance. The report is full of damning interviews with her colleagues and evidence that she leaked sensitive documents to law firms fighting the Endangered Species Act. However, our intern Meredith found a hilarious passage buried on page 21 involving internet role-playing games. TMP Muckraker also noticed the passage and has the details. Pretty funny.

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