Readers pluto petulant Parisians

(The) hoi polloi strikes back

Letters As is traditional whenever I'm forced at gunpoint into the Vulture Central letters cupboard ("Don't come out until you've condensed readers' thoughts on matters of international import into 500 words or less"), today's insightful round-up contains at least one derisive attack on El Reg's ongoing and shameless destruction of the English language.

More on that later, however. To kick off, let's have some comments on something a little more weighty, such as the epilepsy-inducing cat's eyes:

While I don't suffer anything as serious as epilepsy, I do seem to have above-average sensitivity to flicker in lightsources in general. I certainly do find the strobing catseyes (and sometimes strobing LED traffic lights, and LED car tail-lights) extremely distracting and annoying when I'm driving. I would strongly encourage the authorities to promote the use of higher frequencies for the pulse driving of LEDs on the road.

Andrew Steer

Interesting story, but their claim is dead wrong. I know this because I do research in human vision for a living. The human eye cannot even see 100 Hz flicker - it just looks like a continuous light. It can only just see 60 Hz flicker, and the frequency for causing epileptic fits is lower at about 5-30Hz. It's just possible that at a certain speed the leds flicked past a window pillar at the right frequency, but the flicker rate of the LEDs themselves isn't the issue.

More likely the person nearly had a fit while driving for no reason (or forgot their pills) & is blaming it on the lights.

Betcha that no-one will print the next part of the story about LEDs having no impact on epilepsy, or if they do they will spin it as plucky little epileptic versus the lying establishment.

William McIlhagga

Hmmm. A few of you wrote in to say that some manufacturers now use LED rear lights, something which can indeed be disconcerting in the right (wrong) circumstances. The jury's out on this one.

More motoring semi-madness: Sweden's green satnav system, which aims to cut fuel consumption by indicating the most "efficient" route. Of course, there's always a greener alternative:

A _really_ green satnav system would be one with a really comprehensive database of your local area's public transportation systems. There's a Palm app called Metro which has good details on the subway systems of a bunch of places and some basic info on other systems for some places, but that's really just a start.

In an ideal world, public transit service providers would publish their route maps and timetables in some kind of standardised format, allowing software developers to write reader apps for PDAs, smart phones, heck, even the PSP or Nintendo DS. Given a start point and end point and timing info it'd give you the fastest route, or the one with least stops, or the cheapest one, or whatever.

Some transit systems already provide a service like this via a web browser - for instance, the public transit network in British Columbia, where I live: . But it's a slow and fairly cumbersome web interface. Something faster and better designed that I could access on my phone when I'm actually outside would be much better.

(Of course, you could get REALLY fancy, shove a GPS system on all the buses / trains / trolleys, and have real-time information on where _exactly_ the next bus is. And overlay it onto Google Maps. Ooh, wouldn't that be nice).

Stuff like this would probably really help persuade people to use transit more often. In my experience the reason many people don't bother with transit is the relatively high 'cost of entry' - i.e. the difficulty involved the first time you try and figure out how to do a given trip on public transit.

Adam Williamson

A flaw in the argument: surely if everyone used the least-used routes to make their journeys, these routes would themselves become busy. Mind you, the original busy routes would become clear, so you could use those. On the other hand, so would everyone else and so on... Perhaps what is needed is one of these systems with extremely limited distribution?

Martin Hanley

Pascal Monett, meanwhile, takes exception to the "database of 15,437 jaunts" compiled to make the system work:

Now I suppose that, for the sake of accuracy, they did those jaunts in a car - or ten. Which means more than 15000 trips just to rate trips. To me, this sounds like burning all the candles in a pack to see how long they burn. What a waste of fuel. They could've gone by bicycle and counted the the number of traffic lights, right-of-ways and stops, then measured the traffic flow at various points and times - all on foot or with an eco-friendly method of transport. Sheesh.

In our (British) case, when the whole road-taxing gig takes off, satnav would have to include data as to where the expensive roads are (I'm sure that the government's view would be that not all A-roads are 'created' equal) and adjust your route to be as cost- AND fuel-efficient as possible.

Would be interesting to know.

Stefan Paetow

It would indeed.

No doubt about the cost of this one, however: the world's most expensive train trip, which comes in at 43 seconds over 0.26km for a staggering £4. Cue outrage:

This is totally rediculous, I was also shocked to find that bus fares are now £2.00 no matter how long the journey. I live in surrey and travelling to college now costs £8 for the total journey, I do have an oyster card now but its extra effort sometimes where I have the cash for the oyster price. Shouldn't I have a choice in the matter anyway?

Why does the government suddenly want everyone to get the RFID chip rather than just pay by cash?

Sorry for the rant...


Obvious answer: so they can track your movements in real-time from black helicopters. You read it here first.

Surely, it even more expensive per mile, to go on the Northern Line from Charing Cross to Embankment, which are to all intents and purposes in the same building.

Matthew Karas

Technically, yes... We'll need to send an investigative team out with a tape measure, stopwatch and lots and lots of cash.

1.51 pounds for a ride on the Tokyo Metro? That's over 350 yen. I live in Tokyo, catch the metro quite a bit and am unaware of any short trip that could possible cost so much. Sure, if you took it from end to end, you could end up with that kind of fee but ... basically that figure is totally wrong. Actually, I'm from Sydney originally, and the trains here are *much* cheaper than there.

In summary, that's total rubbish. I know it's not your mistake, it's the Sun's, but you reprinted it, making you fair game ...

James Tyler

Wow, they make the mountain train from Kleine Scheidegg up to Jungfraujoch ( look cheap ! I always thought that was the worlds' most expensive subway. 11 km (7 km in tunnel) cost CHF 65 or about GBP 27 one way.

Hint for tourists: get a "Swiss half fare card" for CHF 99 and get half off most public transit in Switzerland, including Jungfraubahn...

Pacal Dornier

Phooey! In Lithuania, if you take taxi then the trip cost includes boarding fee. (About 0.5 Euro) So technically it is possible to drive 0 meters for 0.5 euro. 0.5 euro divided by zero meters will be infinity, which is way more than measly 1.5 pence per meter you mention in your article. All jokes aside, this is just another example of data masaging. The journalist in article specificaly mentions, that she chose the shortest trip, thus artificialy increasing price per meter ratio. Why not the longest trip, or the average trip? Probably then the article would not have had such catchy headline, but then she probably would have had more time to enjoy champagne. The loss is on her.

Vaidotas Zemlys

Try the same distance in a 747 for less than the Tube. Christchurch, New Zealand to Fiji equals 5738kms (return). Cost $NZ 499 return. (£177.50) That's about 3 pence/km. It would cost about £86,070 to take the tube to Fiji from here. which I could understand if they had to dig a new tunnel for each passenger. Has Red Ken considered Jumbo Jets as an alternative form of public transport?


Only if they're bendy and prone to self-combustion, we gather.

"Which would make it just two quid, or thereabouts. By our reckoning, you can travel the same distance for less in a Learjet. ®" Perhaps, but you just try to hire a Learjet to take you from Covent Garden to Leicester Square ... or any other 0.26km's for that matter ..

Greg Nicholls

Oh, we don't know. We bet John Prescott has used a Learjet to travel the 200 yards from the pie shop back to the Labour Party conference...

She [the journalist] writes:

"As I descended to the chilly Piccadilly line platform via escalator at Covent Garden..".

I bet she never left her office in Wapping (or whereve the Sun are these days). Otherwise she'd know that there are no escalators at Covent Garden, just the lifts or the 'emergency only' stairs!

Mark Morton

Rumbled. Pretty conclusive evidence that Sun journos never travel in anything other than stretch Limo. Or Learjet.

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