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Tim Harford
The Undercover Economist. Not terribly undercover these days.
The Undercover Economist. Not terribly undercover these days.


Behavioural economics lesson courtesy of Star Trek Into Darkness...

If the first two thirds of your film are strong, with believable characters that the viewers care about, a palpable sense of the threat, cool plot twists and genuine moral dilemmas... and the last third is a big pile of pants, viewers will leave the cinema thinking the film is a big pile of pants.

n=2 (Me and my wife)

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Struggling with Feedly... In the NYT, David Pogue says Feedly is the perfect replacement for Google Reader - seamless and trouble-free synchronisation, well able to mimic Reader's basic interface, beautiful and easily customisable.

My own experience is a little different: I can't customise Feedly to behave remotely like Reader. Far from being seamless, it keeps asking me to log into Reader every time I open up Feedly. And the Feedly Chrome plug-in prevents Windows 7 from shutting down. In other words - it's awful sh*te. But the rest of the world doesn't seem to have these problems. (sigh) Time to try again, I guess.

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Brilliant! Stewart Brand's "How Buildings Learn" is on Youtube. STOP EVERYTHING AND WATCH IT NOW: 1. How Buildings Learn - Stewart Brand - 1 of 6 - "Flow"

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Discovering the unknown photographer
Originally shared by ****
A 26 years old real estate agent buys a box with thousands of negatives and may have discovered one of the finest street photographers of the mid 20th century: a Chicago nanny called Vivian Maier. While the story itself isn't really news anymore, it has not lost any of its fairy tale romance…

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"Two Cheers for Anarchism" is a book you should read. (UK:; US:
I've just finished James Scott's latest book, a short collection of thoughts on anarchism, state power and autonomy that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Slightly messier than his classic "Seeing Like a State", but also much briefer and more informal, Two Cheers manages to be at times impish and at times adopts the tones of high academia. But it is a genuine original - I am not aware of anyone else making these arguments, now that Jane Jacobs has passed away. Check it out.
(And also: Seeing Like a State, UK: and US:

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A very good book about modern art.
I am devouring Will Gompertz's "What are you looking at?", which is an excellent, engaging and unpretentious history of modern art, starting just before the impressionists and proceeding from one movement to another in roughly chronological order to pickled sharks. It's lively, fun to read and I am learning lots and lots.

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Three bloggers walked into a room with Bill Gates...
I enjoyed reading three different accounts of this discussion with Gates. The subject matter (Bill Gates and development projects) is interesting, but it's also a good lesson in journalism to see how different the accounts can be.

Here's Tyler Cowen:

Here's Dana Goldstein:
And here's Jason Kottke:

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Jobs for behavioural scientists at the Financial Services Authority:
Behavioural economics role:
Behavioural psychology role:  

(I should probably stop posting job vacancies - this may develop into an alarming habit...)

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Video of episode one of Pop Up Economics, all about innovation:
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