New journal supports the null hypothesis: “It’s disappointing to conduct a study and find the statistics to be insignificant. But a new journal, the Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis, makes insignificant results somewhat significant by publishing them.” APA Monitor

Review: The Art of Suicide by Ron M. Brown: “Reaktion publishes books integrating history and images. Brown’s punningly titled volume both divides suicides into sinful and heroic, and also surveys their images in European art.” British Medical Journal

Scientific Precision:

Scientists Describe New Form of Life as ‘Weird Bug’: “Scientists have discovered an entirely new type of creature–one that does not fit into any previous category of life–lurking in an undersea vent north of Iceland.

The creatures are small spheres attached to other organisms and are so genetically strange and so tiny–smaller than a grain of sand and about the width of four human hairs–that they were invisible to traditional ecological survey methods.” Los Angeles Times


The assassination of Pim Fortuyn has rocked the Netherlands and, as The Economist puts it, “given Europe’s extreme right a martyr.” The news coverage of Fortuyn is complicated, however; he’s clearly anti-immigration but the press attributes his opposition to Muslim immigrants in particularly as a function of their homophobia and misogyny. Fortuyn himself is gay. His newly-established party was predicted to capture 15% of the vote in the May 15th general election, making him a potential player in coalition politics. Chillingly, he predicted he would be killed and blamed Dutch prime minister Wim Kok for not providing him with any protection, taking no responsibility for garnering enmity himself due to the unpopularity of his position and his penchant for alienating and offending political opponents of all stripes with blunt dismissals. The Dutch government was quick to publicize the fact that the suspect they arrested was a “white Dutchman.” A number of news sources at which I’ve followed coverage of his assassination betray their flair for the dramatic by puzzling over his assailant’s motive, but some reports describe him as an extreme leftist. The Economist

U.S. Rejects All Support for New Court on Atrocities. In so doing, the US ignores the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a 1969 agreement that requires states to refrain from taking steps to undermine treaties they sign, even if they do not ratify them. It would be fitting if such flagrant, contemptuous and contemptible defiance of international law comes back to haunt the Bush Administration in the form of international isolation, mistrust in Europe and the collapse of the “anti-terrorism coalition.” The winning faction in the Administration, led by Rumsfeld, puts themseelves firmly in the camp of the loonies who see black helicopters everywhere and fear a ‘new world order’ in which US sovereignty is subordinated to the UN’s rule.

Bioterrorism Update:

Anthrax Sent Through Mail Gained Potency by the Letter, according to Federal investigators;
For Anthrax Survivors, a Halting Painful Recovery:

Of the 11 people who came down with the deadliest form of anthrax after germ-laced letters were sent through the mail in October, six survived. Of those, one is well enough to return to work, even though the typical recovery period for a serious infection is three to six months. The others are caught in the limbo of recovery, grateful to be alive but wondering whether the aftereffects, both physical and psychological, will ever subside. Some have nightmares. One has begun seeing a psychiatrist to cope with flashbacks that transport him, without warning, back to intensive care. Others complain that they are tired, short of breath and plagued by losses of short-term memory, symptoms that puzzle their doctors, as well as government experts.

And: Washington Accuses Cuba of Germ-Warfare Research:

In a speech yesterday at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, John R. Bolton, the under secretary of state for arms control, publicly alluded to conclusions that American intelligence agencies have reached in recent months after protracted internal debate.

“The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort,” Mr. Bolton said, taking aim at the Communist government of Fidel Castro. Cuba, he added, has also “provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states.”

New enemies added to ‘axis of evil’ to rev up failing American fervor! NY Times

Tom Waits: A Poet of Outcasts Who’s Come Inside:

He hasn’t taken a drink, he said, in nine years, and his self-destructive alcoholic patches are two decades behind him. But from his first album, Closing Time (Asylum) in 1973, to the two new ones being released simultaneously on Tuesday, Blood Money and Alice (both on Anti), he has peered into dank recesses and populated his songs with drunks, hobos, prostitutes, carnies, transvestites, suicides and a few stray politicians.

In the songs, true love collides with callous fate and close observation dissolves into surrealism. The music drags hymns and parlor songs, blues and ballads into a sonic menagerie that, on the new albums, includes Swiss hand bells, calliope and a four-foot-long Indonesian seed pod, which is “as wide as a Bible,” he said, and has “seeds as big as CD’s.”

The tunes hold some Stephen Foster, some Kurt Weill, some Louis Armstrong, some Lightnin’ Hopkins, some Harry Partch, some Captain Beefheart and some circus music — clear points that Mr. Waits has connected into his own constellation. He doesn’t mind that his influences show. “Most songwriters, you can trace back what they’ve been listening to,” he said. “It’s like you can go through the entrails of any animal and tell what the last three days were like. How do you reconcile your irreconcilable musical desires and dreams and wishes and memories? You may not be able to make one thing out of it. I think I feel more comfortable trying to visit different places. I don’t know if I have anything that I’ve made that’s a synthesis of the things I love. I don’t think I leave it in the blender long enough.”

There has been enough straightforward melody and romance to let some of Mr. Waits’s songs, like “Ol’ `55” and “Downtown Train,” be shined up and turned into pop hits by the Eagles or Rod Stewart. But others never will be. Blood Money starts with songs called “Misery Is the River of the World” and “Everything Goes to Hell”; Alice, a collection of songs written for a music-theater collaboration with Robert Wilson in 1992, is haunted by solitude and death. But both albums are bipolar, with deep-seated misanthropy and pessimism sitting alongside pure, unironic love songs like “Coney Island Baby” from Blood Money, on which he rasps, “All the stars make their wishes on her eyes.” NY Times

Wrecked Exotics: “If you’re tired seeing beautiful

and expensive cars buffed to an immaculate sheen, take a walk on

the wrecked side and check out when happens when good cars go


Leave Our Kids Alone: “Some Palestinian groups have called for a ban on suicide bombings

by teenagers. If Palestinian families are finally speaking out

against manipulation of their youth by Palestinian officials, they

could bring new hope to the region.” — Andrew Friedman, AlterNet