Sidelines

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    On the Record

    “We have a better than zero chance of successfully intercepting an inbound warhead. That confidence will improve over time.”

    Lieutenant-General Henry Obering, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, shows confidence in the US$93-billion warning system.

    “A hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California.”

    This description of an endangered creature from John Roberts, who has just been nominated to join the US Supreme Court, fails to reassure environmentalists of his caring nature.

    Scorecard

    Blogs in space

    No audience for your blog? No problem. A US company will beam postings to outer space for extraterrestrials to read.

    Ancient mariners

    Research is buoying the old sailors' tradition of using oil to calm a wave-tossed ocean — the oil prevents tiny water droplets from forming and worsening the storm.

    Morning people

    Certain members of the US Congress want to extend daylight saving time by two months to conserve energy. Early risers are not amused at being left in the dark.

    Overhyped

    Shots in the dark

    Last week, Britain invited industrial tenders for a contract for 2 million doses of vaccine against H5N1 avian flu. Such a jab might give limited protection to the first victims, but the order is still for an old strain of H5N1. Meanwhile, the United States announced its plan for rationing pandemic vaccines, putting the emergency workers at the head of the line. The problem? By the time the country has a vaccine available and gets around to distributing it, the disease will have long since ripped across the planet.

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    Sidelines. Nature 436, 450 (2005) doi:10.1038/436450a

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