Blair’s secret war meetings with Clinton:

“Tony Blair took repeated secret advice from the former American president Bill Clinton on how to unlock the diplomatic impasse between Europe and the US in the build-up to the war on Iraq, the Guardian can reveal.

In the crucial weekend before to the final breakdown of diplomacy in March, Mr Clinton was a guest of Mr Blair’s at Chequers where the pair discussed the crisis.

Mr Blair was battling to persuade the Chilean president Ricardo Lagos – a key figure on the security council – to back a second UN resolution setting a new deadline for Saddam to cooperate fully with the UN or face military action.

Three days after his Chequers meeting, Mr Clinton made a rare public appeal to his successor, George Bush, to give the UN weapons inspectors more time.

Mr Blair and Mr Clinton met at least three times to discuss the war, underlining the extent to which Mr Blair rates Mr Clinton’s analytical powers, despite the bond of trust he has also formed with the Republican White House.” Guardian/UK

Pale Riders Who Wear Black Hats:

//' cannot be displayed]

“In the old days, the good guys wore white. Now Hollywood’s villains are turning pale, and real-life albinos are crying foul as movies like The Matrix: Reloaded arrive with a fresh supply of pigment-challenged bad guys.

The silver-clad, dreadlocked Matrix villains known as The Twins are the latest Hollywood incarnations of pale-skinned people as evil incarnate, said Dr. Vail Reese, a San Francisco dermatologist and creator of, a cheeky website that examines skin disorders in film.” Wired

Northern Iraq: Civilian Deaths Higher Since War Ended

“The number of civilians killed or wounded since the war ended in northern Iraq is higher than it was during the conflict, Human Rights Watch said today.

Extensive research at five hospitals and morgues in Kirkuk and Mosul suggests that the high civilian tolls can be attributed to general lawlessness after the collapse of local authorities; the ready availability of weapons and ammunition; and the vast stores of ammunition and ammunition components left behind by the Iraqi military, including landmines, rocket-propelled grenades, and other explosives.

Many of the victims have been children who play with explosives or pick up unexploded ordinance (UXO) as toys and sustain serious injuries as a result.” Human Rights Watch press release

Kapor’s latest caper:

Peer-to-peer Outlook competitor released: “The embryonic software uses the information-sharing power of distributed networks to challenge Microsoft’s popular program.” New Scientist.

Here’s a link to Chandler, ver. 0.1, via the Open Software Foundation. “The 0.1 release is a very early, partial implementation of parts of Chandler… Release 0.1 is not intended to demonstrate a complete feature set, a final UI, security mechanisms, a final database or schema, or be ready for end-user deployment.”

Breastfeeding is now kiddie porn:

1-Hour Arrest: “Jacqueline Mercado, a 33-year-old Peruvian immigrant, took a few photos of her young children at bath time. A week later, Richardson police were rummaging through her house for kiddie porn, and a state child welfare worker came to take her kids away.” Dallas Observer [via walker]

The Silence About September 11:

“It is telling…that no one in that administration has made an effort to put 9/11 into the historical context to which it belongs. Why such an oversight? Perhaps the folks in the administration believe Americans too dull-witted to comprehend the complex Cold War motivations that gave birth to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Perhaps they are afraid to speak of such things, because it suggests that we inadvertently bought the trouble that came two Septembers ago to find us.

Then again, perhaps the administration was engaged in similar gamesmanship before 9/11. Perhaps they are afraid to address the issue at all. The nomination of Kissinger to the 9/11 committee certainly suggests a desire on the administration’s part to never, ever, ever have the facts of that attack come fully to light. They do not want people to know that Brzezinski’s actions in 1979, and the naiveté regarding the potential blowback from his decisions he displayed in 1998, was compounded by the actions of the Bush administration in 2001. Brzezinski asked in his interview what was more important in 1979: Ending the Cold War or creating the Taliban? In the early days of the Bush administration, a similar question was certainly asked – what is more important in 2001: Gaining access to an incredibly lucrative energy supply, or the dangers of threatening the Taliban?” — William Rivers Pitt, truthout

The Encyclopaedia of Stupidity

by Matthijs van Boxsel, trans. Arnold & Erica Pomerans,' cannot be displayed]


“Since the foolish outnumber the wise, the dominion of the dumb is assured. (the reviewer) would have enjoyed this inventory of idiocy even more were it not for some stupid oversights…” Independent/UK

The cult of Lacan:

The career of Jacques Lacan is one of the most remarkable phenomena in twentieth century intellectual history. Until 1966, when, at the age of 65, he published his Ecrits, very few people outside a small group of Parisian intellectuals were aware of his existence. Even within the psychoanalytic movement he was very much a minor figure, an eccentric psychiatrist with a taste for surrealism who had made no significant contribution to psychoanalytic theory and who was known, if he was known at all, for his stubborn refusal to conform to the therapeutic guidelines laid down by Freud.

During the 1960s, however, Lacan emerged from obscurity and began to be lionised by a number of French literary intellectuals. Although he remained virtually unrecognised by analysts outside France, his theories became immensely fashionable in university literature departments. By the 1980s Lacanian theory had become all but synonymous with psychoanalysis in countless humanities departments throughout Europe and America. In such academic departments Freud was studied, if he was studied at all, not so much because he was the originator of psychoanalysis but because he was the precursor of Lacan. Lacanian theory was regarded as the only modern and ideologically correct form of psychoanalysis and Freud was treated either as the inventor of a crude prototype or as a God who was to be revered in principle but ignored in practice. So massive was the prestige which Lacan had achieved outside the psychoanalytic movement by the time of his death in 1981 that psychoanalysts, who for a long time had continued to treat him as a marginal figure, were all but compelled to recognise his importance. For many literary intellectuals Lacan remains one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century. By some others the rise of Lacan is regarded as a shameful indictment of the intellectual standards which prevail in American and European universities and an affront both to science and reason.

I’ve always loved someone who can proclaim loudly how naked the emperor is, especially when I agree. I studied Lacan’s works as part of my training and thought I was simple because I could only grasp a few concepts in his whole body of theory — and found them trivial. As the essayist points out, this was often the experience of those who did not come under his electrifying spell by seeing him lecture ‘live.’ Should his ideas be coherent as they stand on their own in writing? Ultimately, I came to see most adherents as tragically misled or ridiculously pompous for the depths they imagine they saw in Lacanian theory. Freudian theory works this way too — or, I should say, works or does not work. Its value is not its truth but its nonfalsifiability. If the Freudian or the Lacanian can bring someone under their spell and enlist them in sharing their reality, the beliefs become self-fulfilling. Often this depends on the charisma of the theoretician. The beauty of this is that it turns the searching, doubting distress of the seeker into utter certainty that they have made, and will continue to make, coherent sense of their world. I suppose, when it does not work, there is a certain appeal to the idea that the theory may succeed in making utter nonsense of the world…

Don’t even think about it:

Book Review: “In Women Who Think Too Much (Henry Holt and Co., $24), author Susan Nolen-Hoeksema contends that overthinking — a psychological dysfunction residing somewhere between normal worry and obessive-compulsive disorder — wreaks havoc in the lives of many women (and more than a few men).” Dallas-Ft Worth Star Telegram

Words Get in the Way:

Talk is cheap, but it can tax your memory: “Law-enforcement officials typically solicit descriptions of criminals from eyewitnesses, often just after an offense has occurred. It stands to reason that thorough accounts by those who saw what happened will help investigators round up the likeliest suspects. Eyewitnesses can then pick the criminals out of a lineup. When crime-scene interviewing had its first brush with memory research in 1990, however, the results proved disturbing. A series of laboratory studies found that memories for a mock criminal’s face were much poorer among eyewitnesses who had described what the perpetrator looked like shortly after seeing him, compared with those who hadn’t.” Science News

Why women smile:

‘Women, as a rule, smile more than men, but the difference between the sexes disappears depending on the circumstances.

For women, smiling is the default option. For men, the default is not smiling.

“If you don’t know what to do and you’re a female you smile because you know you’re not making a mistake. If you’re a man, you don’t smile,” says Marianne LaFrance, a psychology professor at Yale University.

In the largest analysis of smile studies ever done, LaFrance and her colleagues evaluated research involving nearly 110,000 people, finding many variations in smiling behavior.’

Top US State department official calls Gingrich an Idiot:

US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Elizabeth Jones was asked to comment on Gingrich’s recent harsh criticism of her department’s Middle East diplomacy.

“Newt Gingrich does not speak in the name of the Pentagon and what he said is garbage,” US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Elizabeth Jones told the Publico daily.

“What Gingrich says does not interest me. He is an idiot and you can publish that,” she added.

Gingrich called on Tuesday for dramatic change at the State Department, which he accused of backing Middle East dictators and undermining the policies of President George W. Bush… AFP/Yahoo! News [via truthout]