2muchcoffeeman writes: The cause of the great increase in violent crime that started in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s may have been isolated: lead (chemical symbol Pb). This leads directly to the reason for the sharp decline in violent crime since then: lead abatement programs and especially the ban of tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent in gasoline starting in 1996.
There are three reasons why this makes sense. First, the statistics correlate almost perfectly. Second, it holds true worldwide with no exceptions. Every country studied has shown this same strong correlation between leaded gasoline and violent crime rates. Third, the chemistry and neuroscience of lead gives us good reason to believe the connection. Decades of research has shown that lead poisoning causes significant and probably irreversible damage to the brain. Not only does lead degrade cognitive abilities and lower intelligence, it also degrades a person’s ability to make decisions by damaging areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility.
Another thing that stands out: if you overlay a map showing areas with higher incidence of violent crime with one showing lead contamination, there's a strikingly high correlation.
2muchcoffeeman writes: A half-century after forming the original X-men (well, except for that new series Marvel just came out with), Charles Xavierwas murdered at the hands (or, well... mind) of the Phoenix Force-possessed Scott Summers in the newly-released AvX #11, part of this year's Marvel Avengers vs. X-Men multi-title mega-event.
At least, Professor X is dead until Marvel revives him for story purposes... I figure it will happen in about 2017 or so.
2muchcoffeeman writes: Sharon Astyk of Scienceblogs.com brings up an ongoing discussion of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill at The Oil Drum, a site for industry professionals. A comment in that discussion brings up a frightening scenario: that the Gulf oil spill is past the point of no return or very close to that point, there's no such thing as a "cap dome" that can be put in place to shut it off, the relief wells can't be brought online soon enough and the structure of the originally-drilled well is degrading and will eventually collapse... meaning that entire underground oil reserve BP and its subcontractors were trying to extract will leak out into the Gulf of Mexico via the damaged equipment and underwater well site.
2muchcoffeeman writes: The Associated Press tells the story of Michael Fiola, a former Massachusetts government employee who was arrested in 2007 after child porn was found on his state-issued laptop computer. He was eventually clear of all charges after some digging by the defense found that the laptop was infected with malware that was "programmed to visit as many as 40 child porn sites per minute---an inhuman feat. While Fiola and his wife were out to dinner one night, someone logged on to the computer and porn flowed in for an hour and a half. Prosecutors performed another test and confirmed the defense findings. The charge was dropped---11 months after it was filed." The article also discusses the technical aspects of how it could happen and about similar cases in the United Kingdom in 2003.
2muchcoffeeman writes: Adobe announced Monday that it is joining the Linux Foundation and alpha-released a Linux version of its new Adobe Internet Runtime environment, which allows Internet-enable applications to run on Windows and Mac OS desktops, for Linux. According to Adobe, the alpha version lacks some key features that will be available in the final product and only runs with Sun Java, not GNU Java.