Adding iodine to table salt also added IQ points?

From Discover magazine comes this fascinating article on iodized salt in the US and how it may have added IQ points to the population:
Iodine deficiency today is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation in the world. It’s estimated that nearly one-third of the world’s population has a diet with too little iodine in it, and the problem isn’t limited to developing countries—perhaps one-fifth of those cases are in Europe (pdf), where iodized salt is still not the norm...

The economists found that in the lowest-iodine areas—the bottom quarter of the study population—the introduction of iodized salt had stark effects. Men from these regions born in 1924 or later were significantly more likely to get into the Air Force and had an average IQ that was 15 points higher than their predecessors.
It's always dangerous to draw conclusions about causative relationships, but this is one of the most fascinating articles I've read in some time. It's enough to make me want to switch back from kosher salt.

Poynton Regenerated

This is a video showing how one village in the U.K. decided to try a new approach to routing traffic through the city center. This "shared space" approach is fascinating and gives the focus back to the people and the physical space itself, and it's done by removing many of the typical traffic control measures that have become so common.

The City of New York has taken a similar, partial, approach in Times Square, and it's had a great affect. There are still traffic lights, but removing a couple of lanes, reconfiguring the parking, and making the space more pedestrian-friendly have made it easier to move down Broadway between 42nd Street and Herald Square.

Best Parliamentary Session Ever

What you're watching here is the tally (77 - 44) of the final vote for the Marriage Equality bill in the New Zealand House of Representatives. Upon reading the final result the gallery burst into song, singing Pokarekare Ana, a traditional Maori love song.

If this doesn't cause you to tear up then I'm pretty sure your heart doesn't pump human blood.

David Foster Wallace on Ambition

This is a creative interpretation of an interview the David Foster Wallace gave to Leonard Lopate in 1996. From the context it sounds like this was done just after Infinite Jest came out.


"Goldfish Salvation" by Riusuke Fukahori

Just when I think that I've seen everything that could exist in the world of art, I come across something new. Here's something that I wasn't expecting: goldfish painted in layers of resin.

Brew problems

So I started off just researching a few different approaches to some specific authoring and syndication use cases in Drupal and decided to try the core-quick-drupal option for Drush. This failed with a minor error, but it was enough of a problem that I decided to investigate further once I realized that I was still running PHP 5.3.2 on my Mac and that what I really needed to do was update PHP. Previously, I've built out new machines by recompiling PHP, Apache, and MySQL with exactly the settings and flags I wanted so that I could ensure I had exactly what I needed. This time, though, I started looking into package managers to just do this for me. I figured I could always bail and build from scratch if it became necessary, but maybe it would work out great.

So, a little bit of googling later, and I settled on Homebrew. I already had it installed locally, and all I really needed to do was update it. After running brew update I had:

Updating 5ea406c..ea13717
Error: Failed while executing git pull master

Ok, so that wasn't what I wanted. Time to figure out how to successfully update homebrew. I figured I could just cd /usr/local and then run git reset --hard FETCH_HEAD. This resulted in a pretty foreboding error:

fatal: 'origin' does not appear to be a git repository
fatal: Could not read from remote repository.

Finally, I found this and added the remote: git remote add origin git:// Now, running git fetch origin gave me the following:

remote: Counting objects: 200, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (92/92), done.
remote: Total 188 (delta 87), reused 177 (delta 76)
Receiving objects: 100% (188/188), 72.16 KiB, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (87/87), completed with 11 local objects.
From git://
* [new branch] gh-pages -> origin/gh-pages
* [new branch] go -> origin/go
* [new branch] master -> origin/master
* [new branch] superwip -> origin/superwip


Proved by now running update: brew update resulting in Already up-to-date.

Ok, now to update PHP...


When I was a wee lad my father brought home a computer one day. It was much sleeker than almost everything out there and the claims on the side of the box were almost too good to be true. 4096 colors! A sound processor! A mouse!

I spent many happy hours playing games, writing papers, and constructing my first attempts at code on that machine. It was far ahead of its time and is still regarded with a certain wistfulness in our family. To give you a sense of how far along 1985 was, though, you can now fully emulate an Amiga in your browser.

Arduino Code on a ATtiny Chip

I'm looking forward to trying this. A low-cost option for an Arduino board is exactly what I've been looking for. I built the electronics for a robot costume for my son for Halloween, and while it turned out great, I need to pull the Arduino out to use in other projects.

Fascinating Thread: Ask Metafilter on Bamboo

I don't spend as much time on Metafilter these days as I used to, but I'm occasionally pointed to a thread that I fall in love with. This discussion is pretty interesting, especially since it starts with a fairly innocent question about running bamboo that immediately segues into personal horror stories that drip with backstory.

This tale stood out from the crowd:
Mr. erst and I are currently battling running bamboo in the yard of the house we just bought. The neighbors tell us the previous owners planted it about 5 years ago.


It is utterly uncontrollable and invading the neighbor's yards, tunneling under fences and control barriers. The neighbors are not very happy about this.

We try to cut it back, and runners that grow almost a foot a day (and no, I'm not exaggerating) spring up near-daily. We're probably going to wind up hiring someone to come dig it all out. We could spend an hour a day trying to keep the bamboo under control. We've spent hours of our weekends just trying to keep it from spreading AND keep it from growing insanely tall and wide.
Before reading this thread I had no idea that some varieties of bamboo were invasive weeds that can quickly grow to the size of small trees. I just figured bamboo was normal bush-level vegetation that attracted pandas.

Kodak - 31st Nuclear Power

It turns out Kodak had a secret underground nuclear reactor in its headquarters that contained 3.5 pounds of highly enriched uranium. The existence of this reactor was kept secret from state and local authorities for years and the reactor was finally dismantled in 2006.

Kodak used it to check chemicals and other materials for impurities, Filo said. It also was used for tests related to neutron radiography, an imaging technique.

The device was not much larger than a refrigerator and, in the one available photo, looked vaguely like Robby the Robot from a 1950s science fiction movie. To house it, Kodak dug a cavity below the basement level of Building 82, part of the company’s research complex along Lake Avenue.

From Did you know? Kodak Park had a nuclear reactor | Democrat and Chronicle |

Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief

There's a very interesting study relating increased use of analytical thinking with a decrease in religious belief. From the article:

Researchers used problem-solving tasks and subtle experimental priming – including showing participants Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker or asking participants to complete questionnaires in hard-to-read fonts – to successfully produce “analytic” thinking. The researchers, who assessed participants’ belief levels using a variety of self-reported measures, found that religious belief decreased when participants engaged in analytic tasks, compared to participants who engaged in tasks that did not involve analytic thinking.

Relating the way in which we think about things with how we then think about other, unrelated areas is a pretty fascinating concept. Wittgenstein would be pleased.

Project Glass

This is probably coming sooner than you think...