THE OIL DIET
Those oil spills that have wrought havoc with beaches all around the country may one day be a minor nuisance. Dr. Carl H. Oppenheimer, director of marine research at the University of Texas, is working on the development of a strain of bacteria that eats oil.
He is setting up a field test to begin in September. Main problem is to get the bacteria to multiply fast enough. When they can be mass-produced they will be freeze-dried and stored for use in oil-spill emergencies.
"It looks very promising," Dr. Oppenheimer says, "although it won't take a half-inch- or an inch-thick oil film and chew it up per se. But it will work on thinner films very rapidly. And oil, unless it is contained, usually has an affinity for spreading itself out."
August 1, 1971
ON WITH THE GAMES
This bulletin is for those sport fans who have been fretting through the long, hot summer waiting for word from Avery Brundage: Yes, there will be a winter Olympics in 1972. Moreover, the Games in Sapporo next February will include all those Alpine skiing events he has been threatening to throw out.
The International Olympic Committee president made the announcement in Moscow, letting his decision drop with what could only be called Olympian detachment. In fact, it seemed downright anticlimactic after all the ruckus Brundage raised over the 10 world-class ski racers who had work d at California's Mammoth Mountain training camp last summer. Brundage claimed they had been coaching for pay, thus violating Olympic rules. Not so, replied the skiers, including such notables as France's Georges Mauduit and Jean-No√´l Augert, the world slalom champion; Franz Vogler of West Germany, Jean-Daniel Daetwyler and Dumeng Giovanoli of Switzerland; Malcolm Milne of Australia and Canada's Rod Hebron and Peter Duncan. When Brundage stood firm—out they go, he said brusquely—the dispute escalated to the point where the distraught nations involved threatened to pull out of the Olympics, perhaps to stage a rump world-championship all their own in Italy.
Well, all right, Brundage grumped, all penalties waived but don't let it happen again. But the trouble with all this is that, in fact, nothing was really settled at all. Brundage still holds firmly that his criticism was fully justified; the racers say they acted in good faith, since their national federations okayed their jobs.
Meanwhile, the superconservative IOC and the ultraliberal Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) keep sidestepping the issues of training, broken-time payments and amateurism—exchanging angry bulletins and appointing study commissions. So much for 1972. Come 1976, another Olympics, another crisis.
Ferrari cars are splendid by definition, but the world's most elegant subspecies is Roger Penske's "Blue Ferrari"—an atypically colored but excellently prepared car that added some zest to this season's running of the world manufacturer's championship. But the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, which oversees these matters, has decided that next year the cars that embark on the long hours of Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans and Watkins Glen, among others, should reduce their engine size from five to three liters.
"A sad and impractical state of affairs," laments Kirk F. White, the young Philadelphian who has footed most of Penske's endurance racing bills this season. "More than 50 of these racing machines will become instant museum pieces."
White cannot help but profit from the FIA's decision: he auctions antique cars, even those only a year or two deceased (SI, May 10). He nonetheless is determinedly circulating a petition among the owners of 40 endurance racing cars to delay the decision's effect.
"With the economic climate that exists throughout the world and the great cost of building and maintaining these five-liter machines," he argues, "it seems perfectly ridiculous to be forced into an entirely new, more expensive and fragile three-liter formula." Ferry Porsche might well agree, but the engineers and cost accountants of his outfit have already announced the Porsche team's retirement from world endurance racing. Should White's petition fail, it will mark a premature burial for two splendid examples of an exciting species—the Porsche 917 and the Ferrari 512, and most especially, Penske's blue variant of the latter.
It is the pleasant custom at the Dutchman's Lounge in El Paso for the proprietor, Frank Barlow, to buy a round on the house for each home run shown on the bar's television set.
During a recent game, with the bar crowded with viewers, Barlow was hit with back-to-back homers.
Not until the next day did he learn that his patrons, taking advantage of the fact that he was so busy, had one round on the real thing and another on an instant replay.
The tourist brochures say nothing about it, but one of Alaska's worst infestations of mosquitoes—and there have been some dandies—is due this year. According to Dr. William C. Frohne, biology professor at Alaska Methodist University, on Alaska's North Slope the total mass of mosquitoes outweighs the total mass of caribou. They are so numerous that a man exposed to them for half an hour could lose half his blood.
Dr. Frohne blames the size of this year's crop on especially heavy winter snows which, in melting, settled in pools in the permafrost or bedrock and provided perfect hatching areas for last summer's larvae.
FOR INNOCENTS ABROAD
Canadian athletes going to the Pan-American Games in Cali, Colombia (July 31-Aug. 13) were briefed on what to expect and what to do to prevent it.
Except for one item, the instructions were commonplace—eat only well-cooked meat, avoid raw fruits and vegetables, don't go with girls who accost you on the street.
One recommendation, though, was a puzzler—if you eat ice cream, boil it first.
It is now possible for a sportsman to leave London on a Saturday night, spend a full Sunday hunting in Africa and be back in England for breakfast on Monday morning. A kill of at least four antelope is guaranteed.
The deal has been arranged between a Nairobi travel agent and the owners of a 60,000-acre ranch at the foot of Mount Kenya, legendary home of the Kikuyu tribal gods. The grasslands of the area are rich in plains game—Thomson's gazelle, impala, waterbuck, oryx, zebra and the rare Mount Kenya hartebeest. The cost: air transportation to and from Nairobi plus $500 for a charter flight to the ranch, the services of a professional hunter, use of a hunting car and rifle, ammunition, game license and an arms license. If the hunter does not get two Thomson's gazelles and two impalas, or an impala, a hartebeest and two Tommies, his money, except for the cost of the charter, will be refunded.
On the other hand, Pan American World Airways has announced that after Aug. 31 it will offer no tour programs involving the killing of animals specified as "endangered species" by the World Wildlife Fund. There are more than 900 such animals—among them the Great Indian one-horned rhino, the tiger, the snow leopard and the Asiatic lion. Pan Am will continue to sponsor tours featuring the hunting or fishing of species not listed as endangered and will promote the growth of photographic safari tours in Africa and other parts of the world.
PATIENCE ON THE BENCH
It was back in the good old days of 1962, and Jacky Lee was hoping to succeed George Blanda as quarterback for the Houston Oilers.
Noting that Blanda was a regular investor in the stock market, Lee observed, "When the market went haywire I had the horrible thought that it might force Blanda to play an extra five or 10 years."
Take a look at page 30, Jacky.
A chaw of tobacco as big as a baseball in his jaw, Rocky Bridges, third-base coach of the California Angels, was idling on the bench the other night while waiting for action on the field. He told about a new diet drink.
"You mix two jiggers of Scotch to one jigger of Metrecal," he said. "So far I've lost five pounds and my driver's license."
BUSINESS AS USUAL
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has lifted a one-year ban on the shooting of antlerless deer—does and fawns—and, of all people, the motel owners of the state's Upper Peninsula, businessmen who depend greatly on hunters for their fall trade, are up in arms against it.
"We feel very strongly about this in the Upper Peninsula and we believe in going on our conviction even if it hurts the pocketbook," explains Herb Fillman, owner of the Parkway, a 26-unit motel that normally fills during the hunting season.
The DNR's defense is that an estimated 15,000 antlerless deer died of starvation and resultant disease last year in major yarding areas. Allowing 32,920 antlerless deer permits for the Peninsula would "head off such a senseless waste," explained Dave Arnold, a department specialist.
"We think it was just a propaganda move by the state to raise more money," Fillman responded.
So motel owners in the Newberry area say they will be closed to hunters this fall.
Bring sleeping bags.
TO THE WINNER, THE SPOILS
The Baltimore Environmental Action Center, a coalition of ecology-minded groups, is holding a contest to select a name for its newsletter. The prize: a guided tour of the Back River sewage plant.
WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE....
More than a few sports teams traveling about the country carry their own bottled water rather than trust the dilute sludge that passes for drinking water in some communities. The trend has grown along with publicity on the dangers of pollution. Last year sales of bottled water totaled $100 million.
Now someone has thought to check on the "purity" of bottled water. Dr. Rita R. Colwell, Georgetown University microbiologist, has discovered that the bottled stuff is sometimes more polluted than what comes out of the tap. Tap water, in fact, is better regulated by government standards. The U.S. Public Health Service requires that local water systems be free of or have a specified limited number of coliform or pathogenic bacteria. Nothing regulates the bottled variety.
In her tests Dr. Colwell found the tap water of Alexandria, Va. registered highest in the Washington area—7,000 bacteria per liter. Three samples of bottled water registered bacteria rates of from 50,000 to 500,000. Of the four brands tested, only one, Mountain Valley, was free of bacteria.
THEY SAID IT
•Tex Schramm, Dallas Cowboy president, after Duane Thomas, talkative holdout, called him "sick and demented" and "dishonest": "That's not bad. He got two out of three."
•Sign in the window of an Oakland paint store: "We have every color but Vida Blue."
•Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, on the movement to reduce the number of football scholarships or award them on a "need" basis: "I think we should add to the number rather than cut it down. We may have to put a limit on overall scholarships, starling on sports that don't bring in anything—like baseball."