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Comment Re:Gun-free zone? (Score 1) 1163

Interestingly, one of the arguments against comparing gun-deaths between countries is that in the absence of guns people find other ways to do the killing and the overall homicide rates are otherwise equal.

The US obviously has an issue with homicides (gun or otherwise), and that is probably produced by a number of factors including fear mongering, drug laws, poverty differentials, etc. Problems which if eliminated would also dramatically reduce the overall homicide rate.

However, it's also true that guns are by a wide margin the method of choice in the USA; 70%+ of all homicides are by firearm in the US. So the statistics are otherwise quite comparable at the total homicides level, simply because the number of "deaths by gun" is so big in the US.

That's not to say that guns are the primary cause, but it definitely makes an otherwise non-fatal altercation far more likely to become fatal - which would show up as an increase in the total homicide rate.

A proper comparison would require a large number of variables to be isolated and properly studied (even regionally across the USA, across demographic boundaries, and against social-economic groupings). Dropping a single number like total deaths doesn't immediately implicate the gun as the cause, but it does leave one thinking what may be the proverbial or the literal 'smoking gun'.

Comment Re:"Right-of-Way" Misused. (Score 1) 278

What the law is really trying to say is "you can't intentionally or through negligence hit a pedestrian no matter what". Just because the light goes green doesn't mean you won't be liable if you accelerate over the top of a slow pedestrian that hasn't finished crossing. Same applies if the intersection is still full of slow cars, you can't just T-bone the cross traffic because "you had right of way".

However, by saying "the pedestrian always has right of way" without qualifiers gives the wrong message to pedestrians. It misses the important fact that there are many situations where a pedestrian can be killed/injured and it won't be the driver's fault.

I'm not talking about idiots racing each other to the crossings, or people playing chicken with motorists who can clearly see them. I'm talking about people coming out of nowhere where they are running way too fast from non visible areas, sudden unpredictable changes of direction/speed, popping out on a narrow street from behind obstacles, etc. The driver might even be going quite slowly, but if they don't see you, you don't get the benefit of any braking systems or driver reaction.

That's why this sort of thing isn't solved with a simple rule that appoints blame, but by a proper education targeted at both sides of the problem. It also helps if the city avoid otherwise dangerous intersection/crossing designs, or traffic controls that frustrate both (or either) motorists and/or pedestrians. Impatient drivers waiting at a 3 minute light phase that only lets 2 cars through in their direction become dangerous. Pedestrians that have to walk half a mile out of their way to find a crossing will take risks. It's simple psychology.

You can't eliminate everything, but I'm sure there're still a few things that can be done.

Comment Re:Not just a technical management problem. (Score 1) 152

But, you're only able to do this, because of your broad knowledge of the technology side of things. True, you may or may not be able to implement some low level detail, but your background tells you whether or not it's even possible and have an idea of the approximate level of difficulty, and if not, you know who to call. A completely non-technical guy that understands the business problem, probably has no clue as to what type of solutions may even exist or be possible that could solve their problem. And they'd have trouble trying to work out what resources they'd even need to get the job started.

Whereas, someone like yourself that is a domain 'expert' in some segment of technology (otherwise not directly related to a client's business) would be able to know if your domain is applicable to providing a solution, and most likely exactly what resources would be required to make it happen (possibly including yourself as an engineering resource).

A meeting where a bunch of non-technical (or semi-technical) guys sit there spouting off all sorts of buzzwords is as useful as an echo chamber. Sadly, I've seen this happen, and they bring their 'solution' to engineering and ask 'how long it will take to get this implemented'. Amidst heavy eye rolling from the technical people, everyone has to go into damage control mode and pray nothing has already been said to the customer.

Comment Re: Naw, it's Doctors (Score 1) 696

No, because the hospital admission rate shows that pedestrian / cyclist collisions on the sidewalk is less likely than each of the other three - AND - that of those, it's usually a kid (young enough to be allowed on the sidewalk) on a bicycle that gets hurt.

As I said, dickheads will be dickheads; which doesn't magically imply that there are no dickhead cyclists. Just that "dickhead+cyclist" is not the greatest pedestrian threat on the sidewalk, and is far below the other three.

And it also doesn't imply that sidewalking pedestrians / cyclist collisions never happen.

Comment Re: Naw, it's Doctors (Score 1) 696

Accidents are often caused by bikers, not just by car or truck or motorcycle drivers.

Funnily, in Australia a Monash University study found that 87% of accidents between a cyclist and a car was caused by the car. So, yes some are caused by the cyclist going for a Darwin Award, but the vast majority are caused by the driver of the car.

Comment Re:Good riddaance (Score 1) 183

...or people are swinging them around with equal disregard to their surroundings.


People focus solely on the phone/camera image on the end of the stick and don't watch the surroundings. Maybe in an open area with nothing nearby people might have a little extra peripheral concentration to pay attention. But, in a dark partly crowded museum with people and exhibits everywhere, I find people barely pay enough attention when they use their cameras without a selfie stick. When that stick comes out, forget about it.

Comment Re:"Dreaded"? (Score 1) 183

Yeah right, so it's none of my business if I have to waste my time waiting to walk down a narrow corridor because every second git is trying to capture a picture of themselves next to some random exhibit. And it's not my problem that I have to do the limbo rock to get underneath the selfie sticks, or get whacked across the head because I didn't see the extended shaft in the low ambient lighting at the museum.

It doesn't happen often, but when it does it is really annoying. The last time I went to the museum, there was a bus load of tourists doing exactly that. Luckily some loudmouth tourist from another country cracked the shits first and loudly told everyone to take a break from the selfies and the let people past.

Comment Guitar/Piano/Bass/Drums (Score 4, Interesting) 181

For anyone that wants to know what the music sounds like; it is conventional instrumental ambient music with a nice ensemble of guitar/bass/piano(synth)/drums. It sounds pretty relaxing, but it doesn't appear to be doing anything unusual like brain wave synced synthesiser swirls and crashing waves. Although some of the percussion is reminiscent of nature.

I really like the electric guitar and synth tones he uses. Bad guitar tone and cheap sounding synths are two of my pet hates - but this music delivers quality tone, so nothing to complain about.

Worth a listen for anyone interested.

Comment Re:Simple Solution: Use the patent system (Score 1) 245

Yes, the basic discovery was serendipitous. But, his research was university related, and the concept was based on a paper written 30 years earlier by another researcher. So it's not like he fell over and discovered something completely unrelated to what he was working on. This kind of thing happens all the time in academic research.

If it was discovered 'accidentally' today, it would take enormous funds and time to work out how to mass produce it, trial it and have it approved. The risk to commercialise it may turn out to be unfruitful if it was found to have some serious side effects or not be as effective as other drugs already on the market. Someone with big money would have to be convinced that it was revolutionary and that it would return huge investments.

Luckily, it emerged at a time where there was no other competing drugs in that sector. It took another 15 years before a company made the effort to attempt to commercialise it for mass production (and the catalyst for that was probably WWII). Imagine they had to go through the same approvals process and costs that exist today. The barrier to entry is too high for the little guy to enter the field, so its left up to big pharma who seem to be more interested in ineffective drugs that people take forever. Not so much one off cures.

This is obviously just my opinion, but something really needs to be done if we want to encourage difficult R&D for medicines that may not be huge immediate cash cows.

Comment Re:Snowden (Score 1) 270

Your first sentence makes sense.

But this isn't just about Chinese firms ditching US products because of something they read in the Snowden gazette. The Chinese government has altered the allowed purchasing list for government related purchases. (Pray they don't alter it any further.)

Snowden only provided evidence of what pretty much anyone with half a brain already suspected was happening. Do you somehow think that someone in the Chinese intelligence community didn't already know about this and that without Snowden they'd still be obliviously buying backdoor ridden US products?

No, Snowden provided a public service by making people aware that the NSA was not operating within the bounds provided by the US Constitution. That's not to say the NSA can't also do good and gather intelligence in less invasive ways, but it highlights a rot that needs to be curtailed (and as you point out, on both sides of the fence).

Comment Re:Simple Solution: Use the patent system (Score 1) 245

Only if the approval/development process from patent to market is already eating up 90% of the 20 year patent protection. Companies don't look that far into the future. A 30 year patent creates a profit incentive that will only benefit the company two CEOs and three changes of management in the future.

For a profitable cash flow, the return needs to be huge and far more immediate. Not trickled in over 30 years. It needs to pour in over 5 years or 10 years at most. This gives sufficient capital return and cash flow to fund the next development. If you make the patent last 30 years of even 100 years, then the company might make one drug if you're lucky and milk the profitability over the long term. In the short term, the returns are still too small to re-invest or barely pay back the interest component of the upfront NRE loans. The company is still better off using that upfront capital to invest in a higher return product even if that higher return lasts for a shorter period of time.

Lets say you have $1M to invest and there is a company that is guaranteed to return a net profit of 5%/yr for the next 30 years, and another company that is little more risky but will likely return 25%/yr for 5 years. Even though it might seems like the end result of 5%*30 is higher, it isn't. After 5 years you now have a bigger pool of money to re-invest in other higher return ventures. Obviously if you have unlimited money you can do both. But, there are far more potential high return drug ideas to develop than there is accessible money.

The real problem is why does it take $1B+ to bring an antibiotic to market. Even Penicillin would not exist if it cost that much (in time adjusted currency) to get it off the ground. The reason is that $1B+ is not the actual cost of development, but also the amortised cost of all the failed drug developments/approvals (using hollywood style accounting). The approvals process is also onerous (in both cost and time), along with the corporate culture of huge marketing budgets, political lobbying, and top heavy running costs.

If you like the idea of a regulatory solution, then other incentives would be far more beneficial to the end goal. Such as making all drug approvals subject to audited evidence that some percentage (e.g. 50%) of general drug research expenditure is also made in particular classes of lower return antibiotics, or financial/tax incentives for brining a functional antibiotic to market. Obviously a lot of good possibilities, but I highly doubt that a 30yr monopoly on a low yield investment is one of them.

BTW, the above reasoning applies to patents in general, and why I personally believe that patent publication should be immediate and the duration should be industry specific. And along with a ridiculously low bar of 'inventiveness', 20yrs is too long in most (if not all) industries.

"Falling in love makes smoking pot all day look like the ultimate in restraint." -- Dave Sim, author of Cerebrus.