Inveterate dabbler in business, travel, gadgets & life

What’s the point of Economics

What’s the point of Economics was tonight’s talk in the new Cambridge University Festival of Ideas series,   a trioka of economists pontificated on the subject.

Michael Kitson, Evan Davis, Willy Brown

Evan Davis was first on, causing a  small cry of dissent from the packed lecture theatre  when he suggested that somehow economists should be treated like seismologists that is seismologists are not blamed for causing volcanoes – worryingly I think he thought it was a reasonable comparison (Maybe he should have gone to Ben Goldman’s talk on How the media promote public misunderstanding in science), then he suggested that economists are life’s reasonable people so perhaps he was joking after all.

Moving on he suggested that we all familarise ourselves with the wikipedia entries for:-

Then moving on to suggest that economics is studying the world through a prism of simplicity with currently to much emphasis on precision and forecasting & comparing economics to the stylised London Underground map simple but not geographically accurate. An excellent speaker with no powerpoint back up!

Next up was Michael Kitson who started up with the quote on economics by Thomas Carlyle -Dismal Science. He  then moved into audience participation with the  The Ultimatum Game, the most popular figure chosen was £50 whereas  apparently economists would predict 1p. Then he moved onto protectionism arguing that it is needed quoting from Kicking away the ladder by Chang then an interesting slide showing that Wal-mart was the biggest engine for growth in the USA (not the hi-tech industry). A good speaker with good use of powerpoint.

Finishing with Willy Brown outlining the effects of the National minimum wage in the 10 years of its operation in the UK. The most amazing for me was that the gender wage gap in low paid workers has been eliminated and that two million employees have benefited directly without any measurable impact on employment levels (contrary to the doom mongers on its introduction). A nice observation in his work at the minimum wage commission is just how badly managed most workers are.

In question time Evan Davis replied to one questioner with the rather good expression “The government should be a referee not a player”

A good evening the theatre was 100% full with a good mixture of people.

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Rambling and geotagging

Another great short walk of 13miles , this time ably led by Chris of Newmarket Ramblers. Here is the track with photographs:-

Newmarket Ramblers – Stetchworth Walk

Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

For anyone interested I’m using the Garmin Etrex Legend HCx. Reading the track stored on the Garmins datacard by using its USB interface attached to XP (I’m using Parallels on the iMac as the Garmin software is PC only)

with the Garmin Mapsource software (6.14.1).

The software allows you to edit the track and shows the track as a crude map to make the editing easier.I then export the file as a gpx file to the HoudahGeo software on the iMac  where I can import any pictures previous captured from the camera using iPhoto. Before setting out I have carefully set the camera date and time to the GPS!

HoudahGeo can then embed geotags into the photos and export them to Flickr.

I can then upload the gpx file to Evertrail and import the geotagged images from Flickr to give the trail shown above. A bit tedious but it does incorporate three of my interests, Internet, walking & photography. Today was also my second anniversary of meeting Sally on one of her walks so I guess that four interests!!!

Interestingly HoudahGeo also allows direct export to google earth so maybe Evertrail and wikiloc will get crushed under the google juggernaut.

Autumnal Observations

A few notes from my walk around Cambridge today. The guy I know who runs a tiling warehouse store (I was his first customer 15 years ago) said the bottom just fell out of his market 3 weeks ago. He is a loyal Barclays customer with a 40K overdraft, without warning or for any reason they suddenly decided they want him to pay 11% for his overdraft! Impossible for him to change banks, the other banks are not taking on new business customers!

The gym I joined , to get a decent clean swimming pool, gave me 15months membership for the price of 11 plus I got loads of visitor passes for Sally to use. The gym seemed very busy.

The queues at the tills in White Stuff for their midseason sale where humungous and the shop was heaving.

The outdoor shop Open Air was totally deserted…

The Apple store was packed, as usual.

The streets were busy with the new students and it is a glorious autumnal day.

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