Recurring Economic Falacies

Historian Scott Trask of the Mises Institute has published a great article on 10 economic falacies that have permeated their way through public thinking. Myth #1 was the broken window, which is basically the idea that a disaster has a positive effect on the economy. He also discusses the myth that war is a boon on the economy. The basic idea behind the myth is that a disaster like an oil spill gets double-counted when calculating GDP, because there is the initial outlay in the oil and also the cost of cleaning it up.

Back from New York

Helen and I arrived back from New York to utter chaos at Heathrow. The British had arrested a bunch of people planning to blow up flights en route to the US, and as a consequence airports across the country were on high alert. People trying to fly out of Heathrow had been let through to the departure lounge after checking in all their carry-on luggage. Most of the outgoing flights were subsequently cancelled, so everyone was forced to go back out through immigration again. Consequently the queue at immigration snaked across most of the airport. I was quite surprised that it only took us an hour and a half or so to clear immigration. This was despite flying on emergency passports, as I had lost our passports in New York, along with my new MacBook, my video ipod, and my PSP *sigh* Oh well, all technology should be disposable, neh?

So I’m back to using my old 17″ powerbook again, and my old iPod. I’ve tried to cheer myself up by buying an external La Clie 1Terabyte drive… you know what? It worked!

We had a fantastic time in New York. It’s been 10 years since we lived in an apartment on West 60th and the city has changed quite a bit, besides the obvious lack of the twin towers. For some reason it didn’t seem quite as high octane as I remember it. Maybe that’s because I live in London now, so my standards for intensity has gone up quite a bit. I love all the high buildings littering the place. Central Park is also a wonderful thing to have plonked in the middle of your city. I also remember New Yorkers as being a lot ruder. Everyone we met was very nice and polite.

Calamity in New York

Last night we arrived in New York, and in my jet-lagged state I left my bag containing our passports and my notebook in the back of the taxi 🙁

Helen and I are staying at the Hotel Elysee on 60 East 54th Street, phone (212) 753 1066. If you find my bag and passports there will be a reward!

The Sultan’s Elephant

A huge elephant striding towards Piccadilly Circus, while a giant girl reclines in a deck chair in St James’ Park.

Splashing the crowd! A giant child Barrel Rocket

Helen’s mother and aunt had just arrived in London so we took them for a walk. We were lucky enough to bump into the biggest piece of free theatre London has ever seen – the Sultan’s Elephant! The elephant was absolutely awesome, surrounded by a human tsunami as it stomped it’s way down Piccadilly. It was brought to life by an army of puppeteers who had complete control over it’s ears, trunk and legs.

We walked down to St James’ Park, where another part of the production was unfolding. There was a giant girl, blinking and yawning, before reclining in her deck chair. She was obviously tired after her flight. The barrel rocket is half her size, so she must have been flying economy! Apparently this production was last performed in Nantes in 2005. I’ve put more photos on Flickr.

Easter in Provence

We spent the four days of Easter drowning in sunshine, great food and fine wine – toasting Alan’s imminent decrepitude. Helen, Katie, Lydia, Alan, Dina, Todd and I were in sunny Provence, France. Specifically Les Baux-de-Povence; a very pretty, fortified town that lords over the surrounding landscape. Lydia’s parents live in a beautiful house near the town, and were kind enough to act as our local guides, showing us the ruined castle, their wonderful garden, and taking us hiking through the neighbouring hills. They even posted my wallet back to the UK for me after it was stolen from our hotel room – thank you Morris and Mila!
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Shoot Shoreditch!

Shoot Shoreditch is a kind of treasure hunt – you’re given clues to places, people and things around Shoreditch in London. Your target is then shot… with a camera, and you are off, racing against time to solve the next clue. Which is why Helen, Phil, Karen and I found ourselves traipsing around Shoreditch, phoning friends with internet access, ducking into internet cafes for a quick google and madly photographing everything of interest that was bracketed in the camera lens. We of the “Fat Wombat” team were determined to put in a good showing – unfortunately technology let us down in the end.

It took about 5 hours (with a 1/2 hour break for a hearty pub lunch), but we had visited the various locations on the “treasure map”. Our digital cameras were heavy with the images of Shoreditch. Our answer sheet had every clue answered (or at least guessed at). We were ready to consolidate the images, hand in the memory stick for judging, and sit back for a quiet beer while we waited to be given our prize. I had my notebook out… the camera was plugged in… and I managed to dump down 3 photos before the camera died! Curses! We ended up handing in the memory stick anyway, and at least a few of our photos made it onto the competition website.