Voodoo Dolls, Gambling Monkeys and Zombies in Love sounds like a 1980s B-movie title, along the lines of "Chopper Chicks In Zombie Town", but it's actually part of the latest Wastebook from Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

If you didn't know that NASA built a $350 million launch pad tower even after the the rockets it was designed to test were scrapped, well, Coburn is here to help. They also spent $390,000 on a cartoon about global warming and $3,000,000 to try and figure out how Congress works.

Those and 97 other funny or outrageous bits of spending waste are documented.

He doesn't just go after science, he goes after wasteful defense spending and all kinds of other taxpayer-funded stuff. "The Bridge To Nowhere"? That was him.

It is election season and that means everyone in science media must Defend Science from a Republican but, really, Senator Coburn is not partisan when it comes to money, he goes after everyone. It isn't like he gives the military a free pass or any Republican pet project. He hammers them all and we could only wish we had more politicians just like them, on either side of the aisle.

Most people just takes their lumps - only science media will feel the need to circle the wagons around 'studies' of romance novels.

Scientists know that stuff is not science, and they know that every time one of these gets published a real science project dies in committee, but they grudgingly have to defend it because they get convinced that if any science project is denied, it is a slippery slope to all of them being defunded.

There are lots of good reasons to watch grass grow, especially if it was for only $10,000, but Swedish massages for rabbits is a little silly. Yet if you note that it isn't a very good value, you get labeled Part Of The Problem, and most scientists would just rather avoid the hate mail and the protests from the social sciences and humanities departments that are always waiting to happen. 

There is good news for pundits in science media who don't like having to rationalize expensive grants of analyses of Everquest players each year; Coburn, an MD before he became a politician, beat cancer three times but he is battling prostate cancer again and announced he leave office early, next year. So this will be his final hurrah. 

P.S. That gambling monkey study in the first sentence was only $171,000. I'd say that's a bargain, especially since the National Science Foundation once gave 2 researchers $500,000 to build Science 2.0 - 4 years after we already existed and their media outreach group had an account here.