Bill Tammeus, Kansas City Star columnist
Syndicated by the New York Times News Service
~September 23, 1997

Chelsea should exercise caution

So Chelsea Clinton, the only member of her nuclear family with any shot at normalcy, is starting classes at Stanford University.

Which sounds innocent enough. But she's thinking of becoming a physician. Which means she'll be brushing up against scientific sorts of things at Stanford. Which means she has no idea what she's letting herself in for.

By the way, in Chelsea's freshman compositon classes, she may wish to avoid sentences like the previous one, which began with some kind of connectional word (what do you call those things, anyway) and ended with a preposition. It's all right for me to write such sentences because I didn't graduate from a pricey private college like Stanford and, thus, can't be expected to know the nuances of grammar. You have to pay extra for nuances.

Anyway, I've been checking up on what sort of scientific things Chelsea is likely to run into at Stanford. And I'm not at all sure the president and first lady will be reassured by what I've found.

Why, do you know that Stanford has a Solar Oscillations Investigation group? No, really. It's true.

And it's headed by a professor of physics, Philip H. Scherrer. The Solar Oscillations Investigation group, as you might well imagine, is known there at SU as SOI. And it's been working with a satellite named SOHO, which, I've discovered, stands for Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

So, to summarize, you've got your SOI-SOHO project at SU headed by a Dr. S. Why, it sounds to me a great deal like a football cheer I once heard with my own ears in the stadium of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville - a cheer from 50,000 pig-snouted fans that went, roughly, ``Su-WEE, pig-su-WEE!''

I have no reliable inside information that the Stanford SOI-SOHO project has any connection at all to anyone (especially to any Clinton) in Arkansas, much less to some kind of su-WEE cheer, but right about now, if I were the First Father, I'd be assigning a special investigator to get to the bottom of all this before my only child and, thus, carrier of my gene pool, stumbled into this serious strangeness and somehow ran amok.

Stanford's SOI group actually made the news not long ago, and this, too, runs counter to the widely reported desire of the Clintons that Chelsea stay out of the news while she's in school.

The solar researchers attached to the SOI group found what they called the solar equivalents of jet streams and trade winds below the surface of the sun.

This unexpected finding has the scientific community buzzing. (Which you could hear if you'd finally turn off your central air conditioning and open your windows. After all, autumn is starting, as you know from seeing all the Christmas decorations in the stores.) The SOI-SOHO news means solar meteorology has entered a new era.

Some of you, I'm sure, are wondering aloud what could be meant by the odd phrase solar meteorology. Surely the weather on the sun is pretty predictable, day to day, starting with ``hot'' and ``no rain in sight.'' But you'd be wrong, and your wrong-headedness about this reveals that maybe you, too, need to pay $31,000 or so a year and go to Stanford for an education.

The fact is, the sun has inflammatory storms, squalls and unpredictable currents and flares of fire. In that, it's a lot like Washington, D.C., which makes you wonder what Chelsea imagines she's escaping by going to Stanford.

Bill Tammeus is a member of The Kansas City Star's Editorial Board.

Reprinted by permission. Copyright © 1997, The Kansas City Star. All rights reserved.

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