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Comment: Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 937 937

by Lexical_Scope (#49984459) Attached to: The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher

One big issue in London is that because of increasing house prices (20%+ year-on-year is pretty common) foreign investors are buying large numbers of properties to the point where they are not even advertised for sale in the UK. They then leave them vacant, relying on the prices rises for their ROI. This avoids all the complexity of finding and managing tenants. Developers know they can sell high-end luxury apartments so they build them. People buy them but no-one lives there so there is no downward effect on prices.

A different but related issue is the lack of decent hotels and the subsequent insane pricing of Central London hotel rooms has led to a booming "apartment hire" industry where huge volumes of housing stock are purchased by corporates for intermittent use. These count towards the number of new homes built so the Government can use these figures to talk about how they're empowered house builders and encouraging growth and all that, but the actual volume of usable housing stock doesn't change.

This means that there are huge sections of Central London which are unaffordable for people who work in or near those areas. The average house price in Greater London is likely to hit £600,000 ($940,000) this year while the median salary is about £35,000 or $55,000.

Despite all the talk about free markets and the choices of people to live elsewhere and whatnot, I'm pretty sure that the above is evidence of a dysfunctional and distorted market.

Comment: Re:Haught isn't in favor of creationism (Score 5, Insightful) 717 717

by Lexical_Scope (#37931938) Attached to: Censored Religious Debate Video Released After Public Outrage

Although I'm sure many of the listed scientific luminaries were fully sincere in their faith, it's worth noting that it's only very recently that Atheism as a concept, let alone a life choice, came about. It would never have occurred to a number of these scientists that non-belief was even an option.

It is through their work however that our knowledge of the universe has grown to a degree where belief in a deity IS strictly optional and the number of serious scientists who profess faith in a Creator has diminished accordingly.

Comment: Re:Subsidies inflate pricing. (Score 1) 1797 1797

by Lexical_Scope (#37829108) Attached to: Ron Paul Wants To End the Federal Student Loan Program

This seems to me a very apt time for the age-old Slashdot comment "the plural of anecdote is not data". Sounds like you've done great, provided you're not full of shit (and I have no reason to believe you are). But there are many, many people on benefits, in Burger King or in a call-center who had the same idea. Some of them are probably brighter, more motivated, better-looking and (God forbid) less full of themselves than you are.

No-one is saying that you can't leave school at 7 and make a success of your life, no-one is saying that you can't be a complete, well-rounded person without a college degree and I hope very much no-one is saying that going to college somehow makes you a "better" person.

I think the point is that education is the great leveler. Not everyone has a goal at 15, not everyone has a passion. Not everyone has unfettered access to computers and the internet. Some kids are looking after sick parents or siblings or working to supplement the family income or whatever. Going to college places a person in an environment where learning (and self-learning, believe it or not) is encouraged. It gives everyone the same access to technology, resources, books, information. It can be an inspirational experience if treated with the respect it deserves.

It's also the best way right now for people to pretty much guarantee themselves a lifetime of earnings above the median. This doesn't hold so true if you get a bachelor degree in creating cardboard cutouts of famous dogs or something, but if you choose the right degree at the right institution it gives you a leg up.

Congratulations on your successes...I make a steady living in IT and I reckon I could make a lot more if I setup by myself, but I'm a coward and as such my degree is a safety net. I've leveraged it into a good career which affords a lifestyle that would be the envy of probably 95% of the world's population.

This was always the likely outcome. If I'd quit school early I could well have far more material wealth and a far better lifestyle but I could also be the guy who cleans one of your many, many swimming pools. I think the probability is skewed well towards the latter of those two option.s

Comment: Re:Restriction of speech is still necessary (Score 2) 355 355

by Lexical_Scope (#37104582) Attached to: China Praises UK Internet Censorship Plan

I'm not sure I agree with the concept of "legitimate censorship". I think actions should be illegal, not thoughts. I certainly believe that the production of child pornography should be illegal (and it is, under laws pertaining to child abuse) and therefore I don't really see an issue with distribution and possession of it also being illegal. That isn't censorship, that is simply the application of relevant, existing law. The point is that someone had to actually *do* something illegal in the first place.

I would be far less certain about (for example) hentai or other images of children which were created without any illegal act. I think being sexually attracted to children is a sickness that requires treatment, but only *acting* on it is a crime. I probably think about committing murder several times a day, but I'm not a murderer until I do it.

Similarly with Hate/Offensive speech. If I'm telling people to go and kill infidels or burn down buildings, that is incitement to commit an offence, which is (and should be) illegal. If I'm telling people that I don't like brown people and neither should they...that would be an opinion. If people agree with me and decide to go and blow up a mosque then they have committed a crime and deserve to feel the full weight of the law. But should I be charged with something? What if I said I don't like politicians and a listener shoots Andy Burnham?

Censorship is a poor replacement for enforcement of the law and until someone commits an act which is provably against the interests of the society those laws are designed to protect, they should be left the hell alone to do what they want.

Comment: Re:Technology Blamed For Helping UK Rioters (Score 2) 682 682

by Lexical_Scope (#37041458) Attached to: Technology Blamed For Helping UK Rioters


I'm not fact I'm a reasonably comfortable 30-something with a career and a (rented for now) place to live in an okay part of the UK.

It's easy to forget though that the last generation or two have been able to make money, probably more money than 95% of these kids will ever see in their lifetimes, by the hard toil of *owning a house*. People who are working now and looking forward to retirement have ridden an unsustainable bubble of market-driven growth that has made their lives, to all intents and purposes, a cakewalk.

Because of the recent financial problems, you now need 15% deposit minimum for pretty much any mortgage and unless things change you'll be lucky to make more than about 1%-2% per annum appreciation on your capital. Same deal with an ISA or anything else. Even if these kids could get jobs (which they can't) the chances of being able to make provisions for old age are pretty much zero.

Best bet is to stay on benefits, but even those are being cut and the pressure increased on people to find work. At the same time the UK government is trying to force ill/disabled people back to work by taking away Incapacity Benefits from them, leading to even more competition for entry-level jobs.

The sad fact is that no amount of hard work by this generation of young kids is ever going to put them on an equal footing with earlier generations who coined it in by doing nothing during an unsustainable financial boom which these kids are paying for with their lives and their futures.

Hell it doesn't excuse looting and arson, but all these "why can't these kids get a job and work hard like I did" people really wind me up. Not saying the parent is like that but if they are 35+ and living in the UK then the Universe pretty much DID "hand them everything they want without having to do anything to earn it", at the expense of the kids who are out burning stuff and stealing trainers.

Comment: Re:This means (Score 2) 54 54

by Lexical_Scope (#36905974) Attached to: Study: 5% of Mobile Gamers Willing To Spend $50+

With digital distribution bringing unit costs to zero one can sell at an impulse buy price and rake in mountains of cash, simply by not being greedy twats.


I probably own 25 games from and another 15-20 from Steam which I mainly bought because the price was somewhere south of a Big Mac and fried. I probably only played Cannon Fodder for 2 hours or so, but for a couple of dollars I couldn't care less.

I also buy a lot of older PS3 games second-hand, the most recent being Oblivion and Bioshock 1+2 (total cost: £12). I think by comparison the last full-price "AAA" title I bought was probably Half-Life 2.

I generally avoid games that involve microtransactions but I think they are perfectly valid as a business model provided they don't affect game balance. In the words of the bloke from Extra Credit you should allow players to buy convenience, but not power. If I can pay to level faster or get gear more easily, that's good...if I can pay for items or abilities unavailable to free players, that's bad.

Comment: Re:It's a growing list (Score 1) 375 375

by Lexical_Scope (#36808980) Attached to: Facial Recognition Gone Wrong

In neither case has your identity been stolen. A man's wife would not sleep with a different man simply because the second man had a bank account in her husband's name, and so on.

Clearly you've never watched that great documentary on identity theft; Face Off with John Travolta and Christian Slater

Comment: Selling subdomains! (Score 1) 239 239

by Lexical_Scope (#35339920) Attached to: What Would You Do With

Who wouldn't want to own a piece of this?

On a more serious note, how about trying to make the ultimate Open Source articles, software reviews and so on. Make a set of Yum/Apt repositories for pure open-source software and also mirrors of various high-profile git/svn repos.

Run a moderated Wiki for open-source topics, give front-page exposure to small, interesting open-source projects, get some execs from big, OSS-friendly companies to write some testimonials to help with advocacy. Host some OSS-related aggregated RSS feeds. So many things that could be done.

How about offering a paid-for email redirection service ( with any profits over-and-above the upkeep of the site going to the EFF or similar. Make it easy to donate, maybe look out for some free hosting from somewhere.

Sell tasteful, targeted advertising rather than huge glowy flash banners and less-than-useless adwords crap.

Then, when the site has mahoosive PageRank and millions of hits a month, we move from OSS to Viagra and we'll make...billions!

Comment: Re:Passwords are stupid (Score 2) 343 343

by Lexical_Scope (#34574398) Attached to: The Case For Lousy Passwords

Are we sure passwords are stupid? They're certainly annoying when compared to using certificates or biometrics or whatever. Isn't the problem here more that passwords that are hard to crack are also hard to remember and also that password reuse is bad (m'kay).

I read an excellent article by Dennis Forbes recently who suggested a browser-based mechanism to deal with this. Basically, never send your password to the recipient (whether it's Gawker or your bank). When you type into a HTML password field, hash the password you type in with your username and the domain of the site as a salt and then submit that. That way no-one (including the site owner) has any chance to store or intercept your plaintext password.

Now if you use the same username everywhere, you might want to avoid "12345" as a password, but a single complex password could be used for all your sites without worry. It would be a different hash sent to (and stored by) each site, it would be immune to rainbow table attacks and if you use a good password it would also be secure against brute force attacks.

If browser developers were smart, they'd let you generate or enter a complex UID (generate it on your PC browser and then provide it to your iPhone, laptop, work PC and so on...) and salt with that as well. That way your passwords would work across multiple machines (if you used the same browser password) but it would add huge additional complexity to a brute-forcing attempt because now they need the domain (easy), your username (easy), your site password (hard) and your browser password (hard). So an attacker couldn't login to your accounts even if they beat your password out of you unless they were using one of your devices. Conversely, if they stole one of your devices, they'd still need to crack your site password.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (4) How many times do we have to tell you, "No prior art!"