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Submission + - Obama admits US gun laws are his 'biggest frustration' (bbc.co.uk)

Lexical_Scope writes: In an interview with the BBC President Obama calls his failure to pass "common sense gun safety laws" both "distressing" and talks about his frustration to pass these laws "even in the face of repeated mass killings". Other quotes included "If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it's less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it's in the tens of thousands".

In the interview the President promised to "keep trying" so everyone who expects the Federal Government to come and get their guns should stay alert.

Comment Couple of potential ideas (Score 1) 688

Presumably a static generator could be made significantly more efficient than a small vehicle-mounted ICE so why not prop up the growing "Supercharger" infrastructure with some generator-backed systems at existing gas stations? The fuel is already on-site and I'd expect that an enterprising company could knock out diesel-powered fast charge units for a decent price.

Secondly if customers are put off the idea of an EV by range issues then perhaps there is an opportunity for Chevy (or VW or whoever) to partner with car clubs or rental companies to provide subsidized rentals (say 4 per year with a 1500-mile per trip limit) to EV customers.

Seems like what we need are some practical solutions to get over the initial adoption hurdles (cost, range, charging) to the point where purchase volume can help to drive real innovation and investment in infrastructure.

Pure-EV solutions might not be for everyone now (and may never be for that matter) but I'm sure there are pragmatic ways to get us up from the current 1%.

To my mind things like subsidies for EVs are exactly the type of thing that governments should be doing to drive adoption. While the "tax fossil fuels until the market produces an alternative" idea has some merit (sort of) it doesn't take into account the fact that the poorest people, and the people most likely to take a job a long way from their home, are the people who would be hit hardest and earliest. Just as Electric Vehicles aren't the right solution for every driver, Free Market Economics aren't the right solution for every problem.

Comment Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 940

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

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

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

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


I'm not rioting...in 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.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.