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Comment Re:it tells you one thing, at least (Score 1) 1719

It seems that gun ownership is Switzerland is a little different to gun ownership in the US.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland

This article disputes the high level of gun ownership in Switzerland (although it talks more about Israel).

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/mythbusting-israel-and-switzerland-are-not-gun-toting-utopias/

I personally think that the existence of high-powered fully-automatic assault weapons with large magazines have no place in the hands of the general population in any society that would call itself civilized. I would go further though, I would argue that firearms of any type do not have a place in society.

Who knows, perhaps the US will start to think a little differently about its huge arsenal of weapons in public hands now that so many children have paid with their lives?

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 130

unrestricted migration between members of the Union as causing breakdowns in social provisioning

Funny how people don't concern themselves with unrestricted migration within their own country, as if some accident of geography and history ought to make any difference. Immigration controls; The last bastion of institutionalised racism.

Also, we would be underestimating the enemy - a fatal mistake - to describe racists as 'stupid'. It's not stupid, it's wrong, mean-spirited, indefensible, but to suggest that only stupid people can be racist is false.

People who work to get immigrants out of the country, or to prevent them coming in in the first place, are working from manifestly false assumptions. This does not make them stupid, it just makes them dependant (as we all are to some extent) upon their assumptions. What they fail to understand is this; We are all immigrants.

All that said; RIP Patrick Moore. I would think that we should keep his political views separate from his impressive achievements as a populariser of science - they are not related and his contributions to the popular understanding of astronomy will be greatly missed.

Comment Re:Misleading summary (Score 1) 459

Well I had written a long reply, but I just deleted it because I've pretty much given up. Here's the thing, those scientists should not be in jail because they didn't kill anyone, and there's no evidence at all that any lives would have been saved if they'd said something different.

And I am right about the housing. And so are you, since you said "If your house is not built well, outside your house becomes the safest place for you." - which is 100% correct but only if you stay out of the house and never go back. Then you're safe. The moment you step into that house, you become not safe again.

Also, maybe a large earthquake was less likely. This is hardly inconsistent with a large earthquake happening, is it?

Comment Re:Misleading summary (Score 1) 459

I recall a family that survived a brick house's collapse in '87 because they ran out during a 6.1 quake.

That's great for them, assuming they exist. It doesn't change the facts. Sure, if you happen to be right by the door that's great, but most of the time you're not. In fact, alot of the time you spend in your house (assuming you work elsewhere) is spent in bed. Good luck getting out of your bed, out of your house and into the relative safety of the street - even assuming that the street is wide enough to avoid falling masonry from the buildings on both sides.

I happen to live in a very seismically active area, and have experienced many earthquakes. Outside of your house, things fall down (chimneys, roof tiles, walls), holes filled with wet sand open up in the ground. If your house is built well, inside it is the safest place. If your house is not built well, you are fucked.

But the point here is that I cannot see how blaming the scientists for the deaths is remotely fair, since the implication is that had the advice been different lives would have been saved, and further that the effect of different advice could reasonably have been foreseen. I don't think either of those statements are true. I think people died simply because they were living in unsafe buildings in a seismic zone.

Are you suggesting that the resident who was 'predicting' the earthquakes was right? Not in the sense of being accidentally correct (wasn't he out by 100km or something anyway), but in the sense of actually having a reliable earthquake prediction method?

In any case, it seems to me that actually having a 'earthquake risk assessment panel' is an error, since earthquake risk cannot be assessed in any meaningful way - beyond that fact that you live near a fault line and in an unreinforced masonry building and therefore when there's a big quake there's a good chance that you will die. Why was this panel set up in the first place? What was its mandate? Who is responsible for the sub-standard housing being still lived in?

Let me ask you this - what should the risk assessment panel's advice been, and how would things have worked out differently?

Comment Re:Misleading summary (Score 1) 459

Actually, how dare you?

Because it's true. When has running out into the street during a large earthquake - of the type that causes buildings to fall down - helped? And I don't mean those stories about how everyone in the village would run into the square whenever there was a tremor. Those are examples of it helping when there wasn't a large earthquake.

How about ways to mitigate the risk in the event of an earthquake?

Like building houses that don't fall down, for instance?

I'm not sure what you're getting at in your last paragraph, but I don't see how anyone can be at fault except those who allow the populace to live in dangerous housing in an earthquake zone. You suggest that the scientists on the panel should have, I don't know, told everyone that an earthquake was imminent? Which, in all likelihood of course, it wasn't. If they had suggested there was danger, do you suppose everyone would have left their houses and stayed in the town square for a while? And then, if nothing happened, they move back? And then what if there was a big one, do you send the scientists to jail for getting the wrong day?

Comment Re:Misleading summary (Score 1) 459

The residents had a regular routine of leaving their houses and going to safer ground and sleeping in their cars when small earthquakes had hit.

Which is a pointless exercise. A large earthquake can hit at any time, with or without prior 'smaller' shakes. The only way these people would have been safe is if they had spent their entire lives sleeping in their cars. And the real reason so many people died is nothing to do with a lack of earthquake prediction, which is impossible, but because they were all living in unreinforced sub-standard earthquake-prone ancient buildings. The people that built those, or allowed people to continue living in them, or issued building consents for them, or however it works in Italy, are the ones culpable.

There seems to be a general notion here that 'running into the street' is a good plan when you're living in a big old stone building and you get an earthquake. This is false - when a bit earthquake hits you have literally seconds to get clear, and you're not going to make it. Dive under a table, stand in a doorway, and hope. The best advice if you live in a seismic zone is to live in safe housing. Nice wooden single-story houses do not fall down in earthquakes. I'd suggest living in those.

Comment Re:Do Not Want! (Score 1) 254

Yes that's right. Because when someone, through their actions causes such distress to an individual that they eventually take their own life, there should be no means of recourse. Because if none of those actions actually touched the person, and so were not covered by common assault, then they're all perfectly legal.

The problem with people like you, is that you think offense - in the context of a law such as the one under discussion - means to get a bit annoyed. This is manifestly not the case, any more than then term 'menace' means to growl at someone a bit, or 'harass' means to point at someone once in the street. The type of effects that laws such as this are intended to control, are using public communications networks to mount sustained, personal, and extremely damaging attacks on individuals in a way that causes very significant distress.

I'm curious as to why you'd think that people who indulge in such activities shouldn't face punishment? Simply because it's speech? As though in some way speech weren't (in the words of some slashdot poster years ago) "a real action in the world, with real consequences". If one abuses one's free speech right just to grossly insult and harass other individuals - as very often happens on the internet it seems - then I don't personally have a much a problem with punishing those people.

Comment Re:Post bigotry here (Score 1) 1113

Well that's all great and everything, but I'm really curious about what your proposed alternative is? I hear calls for 'small government' all the time, but I wonder what you would replace all the functions of 'big government' with?

For instance, who would fix the roads? Private road companies, I presume, who would charge you to use their roads? Schools would be what? Community-run, so that they teach only what the local community happens to think. Grow up in (please, no geographical corrections!) the bible belt and expect to hear nothing about Evolution during your education.

Yes, every government has eventually fallen. Except for the ones that haven't, but of course they just haven't fallen yet. And thus your prediction is always true.

Your notion that home-schooling is remotely even a possibility for 90% of the population is a bit strange too, unless I'm mis-understanding your suggestions. It's a bit like suggesting that everyone should learn to maintain their own car, and that the garage down the street is an instrument of oppression.

You talked a little earlier (or later, I've been scrolling around alot) about your school experiences not being happy ones. I'm sorry to hear that, my experience was different. I had good teachers, and once I found which things I was actually interested in I learned alot. University was even better. My experience of the education system here in New Zealand, now that I have three young children in Primary School, is that the teachers are universally motivated, passionate, hard-working and that I'd damn glad to get the kids out of the house every day.

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