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Comment Re:Clearly, this will fix the problem. (Score 1) 1591

Since the United States started the TSA and warrantless searches and wiretapping, there hasn't been a major terrorist attack on US soil.

Look, the reality is that mass murders are a different breed of people. Gun control isn't going to stop them. Nothing is going to stop them. It's like serial killers; they're determined sociopaths who will spend the time to prepare and carry out their deviant wishes.

The only thing we can hope to do with increased gun control in the US is decrease petty gun crimes: domestic violence-related murders, armed robberies, armed assaults. Virtually all of these crimes are committed by people who own handguns, and more often than not they own them illegally.

How often do you see on the news, "so and so has been arrested and charged with murder, illegal possession of a firearm"? I see them all the time. These kind of people are already possessing them illegally. Believe it or not, there are laws to prevent criminals from purchasing firearms. But there are tons of guns for sale on the black market that have been stolen from owners or shops.

Perhaps the best way to stem gun violence in America is to enact strict laws on how you store your guns--prevent guns from being stolen in the first place, and have a large gun buy-back program to get them off the streets.

Comment Re:Switzerland (Score 4, Interesting) 1063

If I'm going to speculate wildly, I would guess that mandatory military training is probably the biggest contributor to safe gun ownership in Switzerland. Ethnic and cultural homogeneity may play a role too.

I'm going to speculate that better welfare in Europe helps, too. Most criminals don't exist because they were born evil (though a lot of them do have psychological problems). Most criminals exist because crime offers them a way out of their otherwise crappy life. If someone in a ghetto doesn't have any money, but drugs offer them the possibility of fortune with a little risk, many will choose the risk and fortune over safety and poverty.

People will choose the path of least resistance. If committing crimes is an easier way to live comfortably, they'll do it. If working at a convenience store is an easier way to live comfortably, they'll do that, instead. Unfortunately, crime presents a better way of life than working at minimum wage in America. I will hypothesize that the best way to eliminate crime would be to set the minimum wage such that 40 hours/week of minimum wage would bring you to at or above the poverty line.

You see a similar system at work with software and entertainment piracy. There is a balance between the cost and availability of software/entertainment for legal purchase vs. the time, effort, and quality of pirated material. If the games cost too much, are too difficult to acquire, and piracy is easy, people will pirate. Systems like Steam which have numerous sales and allow the freedom to play on any machine have been wildly successful against piracy.

Comment Re:Switzerland (Score 4, Funny) 1063

You know what else they have in countries with lots of guns and low gun crime? National health, a minimum wage two or more times ours, an education system which is intended to educate rather than to indoctrinate, and greater equality of wealth. Focusing on storage requirements is rearranging deck chairs on the titanic.

In other words... other countries have happier, healthier, more comfortable citizens with less stress and less desperation--thus less state-of-mind to kill each other?

No, SURELY you must be wrong. ALL of our gun problems are because of violence in video games, movies, and the availability of scary-looking assault rifle (because assault rifles kill more people every year than 9mm pistols, you know!). Progressive cities like NYC, Chicago, and Washingon DC have extremely strict gun laws; they are bastions of peace and prosperity!

Comment Re:... likely outcome (Score 5, Insightful) 369

I can accept the idea that Manning's actions were crass, irresponsible, stupid, and cowardly. Instead of seeing some injustice and leaking information of that injustice to the outside world, he chose to just grab everything he could and dump it. In retrospect, the information that he leaked was probably not dangerous to anyone, and it did, indeed, expose deep tentacles of corruption in the US government. However, there is no way that he read everything that he leaked, and he did, as you say, just send massive amounts of classified information -- most of which he had no idea of the content (because there was too much to read) -- to a foreign third party with a sometimes unclear agenda.

HOWEVER, none of this warrants torture, and as an American I hope that Manning's lawyers win their trial. It is an unprecedented chilling effect and incomprehensibly unjust that, in the United States of America, a foolish whistleblower would be tortured to set an example for future whistleblowers. Torture of any kind, mental or physical, is clearly unconstitutional and is unquestionably both anti-American (as in, it betrays the values that we base our country's existence on) and evil.

Comment You're looking for Japanese pens (Score 2) 712

If you want a very fine-tip pen, you need to start looking into Japanese imports. In the US, you spend about $5 on a several pens. In Japan, you spend that much on one. As such, Japan has a thriving pen/pencil market--very high quality pens and pencils, the latest technology, great materials, and fairly cheap prices. I've seen pens in Japan with writing sizes as small as 0.18mm. As some people have mentioned above, JetPens is a great site to purchase them for cheap.

Comment Re:Misleading summary (Score 4, Insightful) 459

Basically A predicted a quake would strike based on multiple measurements...

A's prediction was pseudo-science. A's prediction was based on observations of radon gas emissions. He was an amateur seismologist, i.e., his science credentials are of the same integrity as that of ghost hunters or doctors who practice homeopathy. His crock "prediction" was bad for tourism, and though I believe that he should have the freedom to say whatever he believes, his statement was pseudo-science bollocks.

And for the record, the scientists who were charged for manslaughter were charged for a very specific statement. There had been many tremors leading up to the mainshock. The Civil Protection department stated, "minor shocks did not raise the risk of a major one. ...The scientific community tells me there is no danger because there is an ongoing discharge of energy."

The first sentence is not technically correct: "...minor shocks did not raise the risk of a major one." The simple answer is seismologists don't know when, if, or where a mainshock will occur. We can only guess. And the notion of anomalies in the background seismicity--anomalously low or high--has been tried for over a century. It doesn't work. Hindsight is 20/20, and some large events are preceeded by either more or less minor earthquakes, but we simply do not know of a reliable way to predict major earthquakes based on minor earthquakes. Some major earthquakes happen with no precursors. Some happen after minor earthquake swarms. Some happen after a period of low seismicity--i.e., the fault is "stuck" and building pressure. In other words, we cannot rule out that the increase in minor earthquakes is a precursor to a larger event, but we also cannot say with any certainty that it does foreshadow a major event. We can say very little based on earthquake swarms, and we certainly don't have time to study them in the six months that they occurred before the mainshock.

The second sentence is not correct: "The scientific community tells me there is no danger because there is an ongoing discharge of energy." Of course, the occurrence of an earthquake means that stress fault was released as energy. However, we cannot conclusively say anything about whether or not that expenditure of energy increases or decreases danger. Those minor quakes could load some section of a fault, they could indicate that a fault that was previously "stuck" is now moving, they could indicate that a dormant fault has been reactivated... they could indicate any number of things. If we are talking purely in terms of energy, though--which is what I assume that the Italian Civil Protection department was saying when he was talking about a discharge of energy--his statement is pretty silly. The moment magnitude scale is logarithmic. Every one step in magnitude is approximately 32 times the energy. Two steps is exactly 1000 times the energy. The earthquake that struck Italy was a magnitude 6.3. It would take 1000 magnitude 4.3 earthquakes to expend the energy of the magnitude 6.3. Of course, one could make the argument that the fault was right on the point of slip and just a little bit of stress release could relax it enough to not slip, but there is simply no evidence that I am aware of, anywhere, that minor earthquakes and reduce the load on a fault enough to prevent a major earthquake. In fact, Japanese scientists in the past looked into manufacturing small earthquakes by drilling holes into faults and lubricating them in the hope to release the built-up stress as many minor quakes instead of one larger one. They abandoned that idea.

Comment Re:VAT (Score 1) 184

The better question is why are ebooks subjected to VAT in the first place when printed books are not.

...they are classed as supplies of services rather than physical goods. There is therefore no scope in the principal VAT directive to apply a reduced rate on e-books."

Considering the linked article about the woman whose Kindle was remotely wiped and her ability to purchase new books forever disabled, I think the classification of Kindle e-books as "services" and not "goods" is accurate.

Comment Re:$128,000? (Score 5, Insightful) 342

If you're making $40k in the US, you're not developing software like the software engineers at Google are.

Or you graduated with a 2.4 GPA.

It varies by state. The median income can vary by more than $30,000 by state. Your income for a specific profession could vary by a much larger amount, depending on a number of factors.

Comment Re:imprisoned indefinitely without trial (Score 1) 805

Strong PRC Allies: Mongolia, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea

You obviously know NOTHING about Mongolia.

Mongolians are can be pretty racist about Chinese; Mongol politicians can lose votes for 'looking too Chinese'. If you actually do have Chinese blood you can forget about politics.

Mongol people hate and distrust China immensely. I don't know how you can put them in the 'Strong PRC allies' category. Its just nonsense.

Let's not forget that Vietnam and China are on the brink of conflict in the South China Sea, enough so that Vietnam, a traditionally anti-US country, has militarily-allied with the US.

Comment Self-driving cars will come before all-electric (Score 5, Interesting) 490

By the time an electric vehicle could charge so quickly as to be useful, we'll probably have self-driving cars. When self driving cars become a reality, we can throw the idea of car ownership out the window. As it stands, 99% of cars spend probably close to 99% of their time parked and unused. That is inefficient.

If self-driving cars become a thing, a company could purchase huge fleets of cars. Then, instead of letting your own car sit in the parking lot forever, you could just use an app on your smartphone to send a self-driving car in your direction. Or you could just schedule your car to arrive at your location at some specific time (for instance, schedule to be picked up before and after work at precisely 8:00am and 5:00pm). Who needs car ownership--with costs of insurance, maintenance, gas prices, etc--when you can call for a cheap robotic taxi wherever, whenever you want? Relatively few people, I'd wager. It could start with cities, but eventually there would be so many self-driving cars on the road that you could have a self-driving car pick you up to take you wherever you wanted within minutes. Want to go to a restaurant? Send a request for a robot car to pick you up. Fortunately, there's a car that just dropped somebody else off to go shopping a mile away.

Since these cars are self-driving, they could be electric and manage their power efficiently. If you call for a robotic taxi to take you to another state and it only has 50 miles left on its battery, the car could automatically schedule a car with a fresher battery for you to transfer to 50 miles down the road. The entire system would always make sure to minimize the number of transfers and recharge the cars whenever necessary.

With a system like this, even electric cars with 200 mile range would be reasonable. That is more than enough for 99% of one-way passenger commutes, and for those trips that are long, you just hop in a new car 200 miles down the road. Heck, with this kind of self-driving car system, the system could even have tour guides and whatever else programmed in. The more cars on the road, the better the service. The better the service, the better the adoption rate. The better the adoption rate, the more cars. The possibilities are endless.

Comment Sharp's main issues (Score 4, Informative) 111

For those that don't know, Sharp recently built their tenth-generation glass substrate and LCD factory in Sakai, Japan. This is, bar-none, the most advanced, efficient, and green LCD manufacturing facility in the world. To further lower costs, their main suppliers moved their factories just next door to the Sakai plant.

When Sharp first made this plant, it seemed like Japan would come to dominate the LCD industry, again. Sharp had deals with all the major LCD players to manufacture parts for them to use in their own brands. Notably, SONY was a huge investor in the Sakai facility. The Sakai plant was going to produce the best LCD TV components, and SONY has a long history of using top-of-the-line components in their products.

Sharp has fallen on hard times because of two primary issues:
1. The economy, stupid
2. The inexplicable and dramatic rise of the yen

When Sharp first made the facility, it made it big, and it expected big demand. BOOM! global economic meltdown. That seriously hurt Sharp, but at least they still had their deals with other companies to buy their industry-best components. Well, a consequence of the meltdown, quantitative easing, uncertainty, etc, is that the Japanese yen has skyrocketed in value.

I studied abroad in Japan from 2007-2008. At that time, I got about 121 yen per USD. Now the rate is half that. That means Made in Japan is 50% more expensive in the US (and most everywhere else) than it was, before. This is what is killing Sharp. This is what is killing all Japanese manufacturers. Modern Japan developed as an export economy, and with the yen as strong as it is, it is struggling to export. Many of their industries are diversified; for example, Honda has the ability to manufacture the same Honda Civic in Japan or the US, then ship it to whichever country it wants to sell it in depending on the exchange rates. Sharp has put all its eggs in the Made in Japan basket (not a bad decision at the time; I would certainly prefer a Made in Japan TV for a small premium, and I know others would, too), and now that basket is way too expensive to compete.

Unless the yen weakens, Sharp will fail. If they fail, somebody is going to take over the Sakai factory, because it is just too new, too advanced, and too efficient to let disappear.

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