What's really declining is federal support for the arts, down 17 percent in inflation-adjusted terms in the past five years. Science produces cures but also weapons that kill; no one has ever been harmed by art, except perhaps by having to sit through an opera. Science is more important than art, but by how much -- twice as important? Three times, four times? Obama's fiscal 2015 budget proposal treats science as 1,000 times more important than art -- $135 billion for research versus $146 million for symphonies, dance, theater and painting.
Art -- performing, written and physical -- has contributed at least as much to enlightenment as has science, at a tiny fraction of the cost. Art also can have economic value. The revivals of downtown areas in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Washington D.C., and downtown booms in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon, have been aided by lively arts scenes. Yet research is lavished with subsidies while art sings for its supper, and the science lobby complains.
Captain America Does Need a Sidekick: Gymnast Kacy Catanzaro became the first woman to complete the upper-body-strength obstacle course on the show "American Ninja Warrior."
Chinese Investors Would Love to Get in on the Ground Floor: In March, the Federal Reserve issued an $80 billion dividend to its sole shareholder. Why not have a Federal Reserve IPO to pay down the national debt?
Just Because It's Midnight You Want to Quit? A high school state final ice hockey game was mercifully called after seven overtimes. The two teams were named co-state champs after the 1-1 draw.
Christie Will Cross the 2016 Bridge When He Comes to It -- Wait, the Lane Is Blocked: Chris Christie, who denounces others for interfering with the free market, helped block Tesla from selling cars in New Jersey. Car dealers' interest groups weren't getting their cut, which would have meant lower donations to the gent this column calls "Governor Abutment." Will Oremus of Slate dissects Christie's latest bit of hypocrisy.
Tesla wants to market electric cars through showrooms rather than dealerships. The customer would place an Internet order, then the car would be delivered to his or her door. How would traditional haggling work in this business model?
CUSTOMER: I'll buy it if you double the federal tax credit and throw in a data plan.
SALESPERSON: I'll have to check with my manager. (Goes into the back and Skypes with Elon Musk.) My manager will throw in tradable carbon credits you can swap to a coal-fired power plant for kilowatts.
CUSTOMER: Deal. I want it in Solyndra Silver.
What Happens When the NSA Finds Out That Cellphones Can Also Text? During the David Petraeus scandal, the nation learned the CIA director did not know email can be hacked. During the Edward Snowden scandal, the nation learned the National Security Agency did not know passwords can be stolen. Then CIA spooks were caught not by Jack Bauer but mild-mannered Senate staffers. Learning they were being spied on, senators quaked with anger. Sabrina Siddiqui summed the situation perfectly: "Senators are fine with spying on civilians, but outraged when it happens to them."