The Strategic Defense Initiative Institute, which directs American attempts to design and construct a missile-defense system (commonly referred to as ``Star Wars,'' although Darth Vader has since retired from the project) has purchased an agency from the Agriculture Department. Under the January budget agreement, Congress provided no funding for the Agency for Genetic Utility Exploitation (AGUE), so the SDI project used some of its surplus unallocated budget to purchase AGUE in its entirety.
The responsibility of AGUE had been to ensure that genetically-altered fruits and vegetables were properly regulated and made available in the foodstuff marketplace; under SDI leadership, however, its scientists have been redeployed toward development of animal lifeforms suitable for use in anti-missile defenses.
According to Dr. Icarus Farpsdale-Farpsdayle, director of the
reorganized AGUE, their first project is
already underway, the Ballistic Anti-missile Leaping Dasypodidae
Once a stable genetic structure for the modified armadillos is found, AGUE would release hundreds of the new armadillos into the American countryside. SDI satellites would keep track of the precise geographic location of each of the armadillos in the BALDI network, and of all of their progeny. (The new armadillos have also been engineered to be especially fertile, producing six times as many offspring per mature adult as conventional armadillos.)
In the event of an incoming missile attack, the satellite system
would determine the BALDI animal closest to
each incoming missile, and transmit to that animal a coded pulse that
would impel the animal to leap up, armadillo-style, into the path of
the incoming missile, disabling it. Two other properties of the
animals that AGUE scientists are seeking to
modify are their size (so that they might possess the 2,300
While the BALDI system will still require at
least three more years to develop and deploy, a group of scientists
opposed to genetic manipulation of animals in the wild has already
expressed its opposition. Dr. Amo Squameaterga, president of the
Zoologists Opposed to Wildlife Indignity and Exploitation
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Former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot has declared his intention
to secure enough delegates at the 1996 Republican convention to become
the party's Vice-Presidential candidate. Toward that end, and
furthering his goal of balancing the federal budget in short order,
the Perot organization issued a press release putting forth the idea
of a ``Fat Tax''--
``While all current presidential frontrunners have voiced support for reducing government spending, they simultaneously advocate reducing taxes, undermining their stated goal of balancing the budget. The Perot Fat Tax plan is the only one to recognize that balancing the budget cannot be done while cutting government income at the same rate as goverment expenditure.''
The Fat Tax, if passed, would assess each American citizen with their fair share of the US National Debt, which is currently approximately $18,892.39 per citizen.
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Dear Dr. Staff: Why does popcorn pop in a
microwave oven? I read in a science magazine that things called
quasars in outer space emit microwaves, but I held a bag of popcorn up
to the sky one night for a whole hour, and none of it popped. Why do
microwaves make popcorn pop only in an oven?
Dear Popper: You've absolutely right that both microwave ovens and quasars produce microwaves. But the two things produce very different microwaves.
In order to answer to your question, one should consider exactly
what microwaves are. Everyone knows what waves are, and every wave
has a particular size, called its wavelength. ``Micro'' means
``small''; microwaves are waves with small wavelengths. Corn kernels
are small things, too, which is why they get popped by small waves.
However, each kernel has its own unique size, which corresponds to the
wavelength that can pop it. Microwave ovens work by sensing the size
of the popcorn kernels you've placed in them (that's why the kernels
have to sit in the oven for a couple of minutes before they start to
But quasars don't know how big your popcorn is--
You may have seen old popcorn poppers in antique stores that used
hot oil or hot air to pop corn--