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Comment Data, motherf..., do you speak it? (Score 1) 93

There's a bunch of speculation going on in this thread based on personal anecdote... let's have a look at some data shall we?

Let's compare the ngrams of the words 'bespoke' 'customized' and 'customised' between the USA and UK:

USA: http://tinyurl.com/usabespoke
UK: http://tinyurl.com/ukbespoke

You can see that in both cases bespoke had its primetime in the first half of the nineteenth century, falling off and hitting its nadir at around 1980, with a resurgence in usage since then.

However, it's also clear that the usage of 'bespoke' is more common in British English than it is in American English, although not by a huge margin - current usage (in books) is about 70% more common in British English than it is in American English.

Obviously the huge cavéat here is that these ngrams describe how language is written in books, rather than how it is spoken.

Comment Re:I don't understand the opposing argument. (Score 1) 258

In central London where these routes are being constructed, you'll find very few "elderly, young or poor" driving anyway. There's already a congestion charge to pay if you drive in the centre and there's very few places to park. Very few people commute by car into the centre as there's almost no parking so the only people who do tend to be people who are sufficiently high up in a company that they can persuade their company to pay for a parking space. This is a city in which you can sell a garage in the centre for over £100,000. As a result, the vast majority of people commuting do it by tube, bus, bike or walk - or perhaps some combination. I get a train to London Bridge and then take a hire bike to the office. Most of the traffic I see during the rush hours is made up of:

* Buses
* Construction Vehicles
* Black Cabs
* Delivery Vehicles
* High-end hire cars

Comment Re:No KSP at SpaceX? (Score 4, Informative) 213

Firstly, I think SpaceX were trying to get away from parachute recoveries. The Shuttle solid booster rockets used to parachute down into the ocean, but the problem with that is that they need completely cleaning out and refurbishing between each flight.

Secondly, they would need more than parachutes to recover the first stage because it is travelling so fast when it separates (not sure of the exact number, but somewhere between 2 and 4 Kilometers per second). They have to do a retrograde burn to slow down enough to safely re-enter the atmosphere.

Comment Re:Old git speaking here... (Score 1) 942

The thing is, I'm not sure the vast majority of people do still use those imperial units. UK schools have taught in metric units for the last 40 years, and all food and drink (with the exception of draught beer and cider) has had to sold with metric labelling for the last 20 years. I'm 41, and although I have a good idea of what an inch and a foot is, I have no particularly intuitive feeling for a pound or an ounce, so I always have to the mental conversion to grams or kilograms first, and I grew up at a time when imperial measured labelling was more common.

Comment Re:This is not government policy (Score 1) 942

The thing I find interesting is that David Cameron is probably among the last set of people in the UK to have been taught any imperial measures in school - in fact he would have been eight years old in 1974 when using metric units in schools became compulsory, so it's possible he could have been taught both imperial and metric (Unless private schools were exempt from such rules, I guess).

Certainly anyone aged 44 or under in the UK will have grown up with the metric system in school.

Comment England is pretty bright (Score 1) 55

Looking at the map in the UK, the vast majority of England is coded yellow or worse (5.6 - 6.0 - suburban sky). In some places you can can get green coded (6.1 - 6.5 - suburban / rural transition), and there's only four areas coded blue (6.6 - 7.0, rural), which are along the border with Scotland, a chunk of Cornwall, a very small bit of the North Norfolk coast at Wells-next-the-sea, and a bit at the border with Wales. Wales in general fares better with some proper dark places through the central and western of the country, as does Scotland in the highlands and along the border with England. Northern Ireland has a few spots of 'blue' in the north and southwest of the country.

Anyway, for me a it's a little disappointing - It'd be many hours drive to get to anywhere rated 'blue' or darker, and over an hour to get to the only place in the whole of the southeast rated 'green'.

Comment Re:and what about the welfare for the people autom (Score 1) 216

Just because occupations have popped up to replace these lost jobs in the past doesn't mean that they will in the future.

As machines become more and more capable, they can accomplish more and more of the things that previously only people could do, and will presumably tend towards being able to do anything a human could do. As we get closer to that point, it's quite possible there will be increasingly large sections of the population who find themselves effectively unemployable as there's very little they can do that cannot be done more cheaply by a machine.

It's nice to think that the new occupations will pop up to give us all something to do, but I think to believe that is basically an article of faith. I don't see any evidence that suggests it's guaranteed.

"What people have been reduced to are mere 3-D representations of their own data." -- Arthur Miller