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By Patrick Francis

Papers Discussed:
1. Jeffrey B. Bingenheimer, et al., Firearm Violence Exposure and Serious Violent Behavior, Science, 2005, 308:5726, pp1323-1326.

2. Paolo A. Mazzali et al., An Asymmetric Energetic Type Ic Supernova Viewed Off-Axis, and a Link to Gamma Ray Bursts, Science, 2005, 308:5726, pp 1284-1287

3. Roger Guimerà et al., Team Assembly Mechanisms Determine Collaboration Network Structure and Team Performance, Science, 2005, 308:5722, pp 697-702

4. Trevor Jones et al., The Highland Mangabey Lophocebus kipunji: A New Species of African Monkey, Science, 2005, 308:5725, pp 1161-1164

* * *

A collaboration between scientists at the University of Michigan and Harvard medical school has shown that exposure to firearm violence doubles the probability that an adolescent will himself perpetrate a violent crime (1). To be honest I didn’t read the whole report but the bits that I skimmed over made me extremely nervous. Just last year someone was shot outside of my apartment and, while I wasn’t home at the time, I was able to inspect the bullet-holes the next morning. This is just the sort of exposure I assume the authors were referring to. I did some quick calculations and determined that my pre-shooting chances of perpetrating some violence were about 50% as I was either going to not going to display aggression. These chances have now rocketed up to 100% which is why I’m a bit anxious; I’m too pretty for jail.

I am even more concerned after reading a study on asymmetric energetic type Ic supernovas (2). These supernovas have associated gamma ray bursts that could, theoretically, like they did to Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, endow me with super powers. The article didn’t discuss the specifics of these super powers, and it was the poorer for it, but it didn’t explicitly state that I would respond any differently than Mr. Banner who, along with his super strength and alluring green coloring, suffered from some rage issues. This is cause for concern for if I too were to be cursed with a very bad temper along with what I can only hope will be some combination of invisibility, power of flight and super speed I would become quite a menace to society, especially considering my aforementioned increased penchant for violence.

In order to channel by forthcoming powers/bloodlust towards the doing of good I will probably need to form “Team Awesome” a crime-fighting squadron of daredevilry. Luckily, the mechanisms behind assembling such a team have been studied using data from the Broadway musical industry and the scientific fields of social psychology, economics, ecology and astronomy (3). Extrapolating from this study and assuming that crime fighting and Broadway musicals are analogous, I have decided to limit the team to 6 members. This is enough individuals to enable specialization and effective division of labor while at the same time allowing us all to travel around in our bitchin’ van. True, Broadway musicals are typically composed of 7 artists but Team Awesome doesn’t really need a lyricist. It does, however, need a master of disguise, an explosives expert, a strongman, a gadgetry whiz and a choreographer. This should be enough diversity to spur creativity but not so much as to cause conflict and miscommunication. The team will also have to consist of a healthy mix of rookies and grizzled veterans so as to ensure we have innovative ideas but also a reservoir of past experience.

Crime-fighting will no doubt be draining, thankless work. The members of “Team Awesome” will therefore be in no mood for housework upon returning from foiling the latest schemes of our nefarious nemeses. Instead we will want to be catered to as we lounge poolside in our secret, intra-volcanic headquarters. However, “Team Awesome” will require something special in a butler. Which is why the current discovery of a new species of African monkey in Tanzania is so intriguing (4). L. kipunji is arboreal and is distinguished by its black eyelids, brown coloring, upright crest, and its off-white tail and ventrum. It is not yet known as to the quality of this new-found species’ butlering but it can be assumed that it will be of a higher quality than all previously-known monkey species who are, to the last, unreliable menservants: baboons are more likely to attack a visitor than to show them into the lounge and when, in the off-chance, a spider monkey actually fetches a beer it seems to be a random occurrence rather than the result of a deep-seeded fealty. Only Chimpanzees have shown any promise in the arena of servitude but even they have the unhygienic habit of soiling their custom-made miniature tuxedoes.

“Team Awesome” will be a dedicated force for good, battling jewel theft, insurance fraud and the like. It will be a mundane existence until that time that the pages of Science magazine unlock the mysteries of time-travel, account the first successful genetically engineered (and evil) shark-man or report on some crazed doctor’s giant laser-oriented plot. Then things will become a bit more awesome.

Patrick Francis is freakishly strong. However, his fighting technique is almost as bad as his dancing and so he would probably perform poorly in any sort of cage match. Also, he likes pie.

Issue One

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(part i pdf)
(part ii pdf)
(part iii pdf)
(part iv pdf)

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