SAFE DEPOSITS. A decade ago, California tycoon Robert K. Graham caused a stir and a few snickers when he established the Repository for Germinal Choice. Its purpose: to make the sperm of brainy men (preferably Nobel prizewinners) available to brainy, childless women, who would then theoretically bear superintelligent babies. Three Nobel laureates contributed to this experiment, although the only one to announce his deposits was William Shockley (physics, 1956), a proponent of crackpot theories about the genetic inferiority of blacks. After ten years the repository has spawned 111 children, with 30 more on the way, but not a single one of them was sired by a laureate. Why? The advanced age of typical male Nobel prizewinners handicaps their sperm in the conception sweepstakes. The women have favored younger, if less celebrated, donors. As for the superkids, the repository does not track their progress after birth.
Chemical solvents that can thwart incendiaries turned bullish after the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision against congressional anti-flag burning legislation. Next opportunity: a formula that will protect the Bill of Rights.
MARIO VARGAS LLOSA
The novelist's bid for Peru's presidency failed with voters. This means 1) he does not have to be President of Peru and 2) he can resume a glittering literary career that may someday earn him a Nobel Prize.
Japan's Finance Minister wondered aloud whether the nation's declining birthrate might be caused by more women attending college -- and what could be done about the trend. Sharp protests and red-faced disavowals ensued.
The Oklahoma Senator has been dared by Virginia Jenner, an underdog Democratic primary challenger, to grin and bare it: "If Kojak, Ike and Gorbachev can face the world without a hairpiece, why can't David Boren?"
Hollywood is holding its breath, waiting to measure the box-office potential of Warren Beatty's $30 million Dick Tracy, which opened last weekend. But the film community's anxiety has not stopped movie moguls from laying plans to bring more comic characters to the screen:
Matt Salinger, actor son of the reclusive novelist J.D., stars as the World War II superhero. He battles archrival the Red Skull in this film set for autumn release.
The Disney company hopes to follow its Tracy flick with a new musical version of the classic comic strip. Oscar-winning screenwriter Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) will pen the script.
Here's another '60s cartoon planned as a live-action film. Producers are hoping to cast Roseanne's John Goodman as Fred and British comedian Tracey Ullman as his long-suffering wife Wilma.
Filmed in 1986, this Brooke Shields-Timothy Dalton vehicle has been tangled in lawsuits ever since. If Dick Tracy proves to be a big hit, producers could dust it off for a wide release.
The space-age family won't be played by live actors in this film set for summer release. Teen-dream pop singer Tiffany provides the voice of George Jetson's daughter Judy.
A GREEN LIGHT FOR RED LIGHTS? When AIDS struck San Francisco, city authorities closed many of the gay bathhouses. In France, land of Descartes and Voltaire, a different logic prevails: AIDS has prompted a call to reopen the brothels, which have been banned since 1946. The idea comes from Michele Barzach, a gynecologist and feminist who gained renown in 1986 when she became Health Minister in the government of Jacques Chirac. Now a deputy mayor of Paris, Barzach has not abandoned her support for women's rights. But she argues that the only way to keep AIDS at bay is to get the streetwalkers off the trottoirs and back into maisons de tolerance, where health measures can be enforced.
RING AROUND THE MONEY. What country will replace Panama as the world's leading drug-money Laundromat? U.S. law-enforcement agencies are wondering, and so, evidently, are the cocaine cartels. Uruguay, with its stringent bank-secrecy laws, would seem a natural heir. But after Uruguayan officials extradited an accused money launderer and assured the U.S. of further cooperation, cartel financiers began scurrying for alternatives. Among the prospects being watched by investigators: Vanuatu, a Pacific island republic formerly known as the New Hebrides; the Cook Islands, a protectorate of New Zealand; and the island group of Palau, which is about to legalize gambling, a business that generates the kind of cash flow money washers love to swim in.
QUICK, THE RAID. Everyone knows that the computer industry is fighting against viruses, malicious programs that can infect whole networks and crash them. So it stands to perverse reason that hush-hush agencies like the CIA and NSA are trying to create such bugs as offensive weapons. The latest entrant in this quest is the U.S. Army, which is soliciting bids on a half-million dollar contract to develop tactical virus weapons capable of disabling enemy computers on the battlefield. The proposal has raised eyebrows among the military's hackers. Says one Army computer-security officer: "Many of my colleagues are quite surprised that something of this nature would be put on the streets for research rather than using the expertise internally available."
DOES HE DARE TO DRINK A TOAST? Novelist Valentin Rasputin strikes many as an odd choice to serve on Mikhail Gorbachev's new advisory presidential council. Rasputin's writings and speeches are often chauvinistically Russian and, according to some, anti-Semitic. But officials in Moscow think they have discovered the reason for Rasputin's elevated post. Raisa Gorbachev is a big fan of his books. A question now making the Kremlin rounds: Does every Czarina need her Rasputin?
Gray, Paul. "Grapevine." Time 25 June 1990: 15. Academic OneFile. Web. 13 Nov. 2009.
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