The Chatterbox Conjecture: A No-Brainer!

The Chatterbox Conjecture: A No-Brainer!

The Chatterbox Conjecture: A No-Brainer!

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
May 4 1998 11:23 PM

The Chatterbox Conjecture: A No-Brainer!

When Chatterbox was speculating (4/16) that Fltyrap would force President Clinton into an orgy of poll-boosting achievement, all it could think for the president to do was fix Medicare and Social Security, democratize China, and solve the Four Color Map problem. Chatterbox's impoverished imagination obviously failed to come up with one other obvious thing Clinton could do: cure cancer! Sunday's New York Times reported the astonishing promise of several new anticancer agents, called anti-angiogenesis drugs, that have eliminated tumors in mice. They might work in humans, they might not. Chatterbox understands that. But ABC News reported this evening that the trials of some of these drugs have been delayed because not enough of them are being made fast enough. The National Cancer Institue, aware of the drugs' promise, has (according to ABC) committed "more than $3 million to their development."

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$3 million! For the top-priority drug against cancer! It sounds like the joke from Austin Powers where Mike Myers, as the villainous Dr. Evil who has been frozen for decades, thaws out and decides to blow up the world unless he's paid "one million dollars," at which the world's leaders fall down laughing. The point being that one million dollars is nothing anymore. Three million dollars is nothing. It's Michael Eisner's tip for a few weeks' work. It's Betty Currie's legal fees. It's Slate's editorial budget! That much money is probably stuck in loose change behind the cushions of Jim Johnson's sofa in Fannie Mae's baronial headquarters. In welfare policy, the area with which Chatterbox is most familiar, $3 million isn't even a rounding error.

Maybe Chatterbox is getting a bit overexcited. ... But if you were a President obsessed with keeping your poll numbers up through real accomplishment--or even just by associating yourself with any good news that comes over the transom--what would you do? Answer: you'd order that enough money be spent to test these drugs as quickly as possible. Billions, not millions. You'd deliver a nationally televised address calling for a New Manhattan Project. (Clinton has never been scared of a clich,!) Do the drugs grow in 20-gallon vats? Build more vats! That's what Saddam Hussein does. If he can do it, so can we! ... Would this initiaitve be popular? Gee, how many Americans know someone who has cancer? Take it away, Dick Morris! .... Whoops, you called Hillary a lesbian. ... O.K., take it away, Mark Penn and Doug Schoen! ...

Is there a Five Color Map Theorem? Speaking of the Four-Color Map problem, Douglas Anderson e-mails Chatterbox to say that the Four Color Map Theorem has already been proved. Over ten years ago! By a computer! ... Are these things great, or what? ... Anderson suggests we demand that Clinton solve the problem of nuclear fusion instead. ... Jon Grantham, who also e-mailed to give Chatterbox the Four Color news, offers these other major unsolved math problems for Clinton to tackle: the Riemann Hypothesis, the 3x+1 problem, the P=NP problem, the twin primes problem, the Goldbach conjecture. ... Sounds good to Chatterbox, who knows as much about mathematics as he knows about oncology! ...