Archive for the 'Personal' Category

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Running (February 2012)

Okay, so I’ve actually been running again, however slowly, for a few months now.  Full details on my Running page.  February was pretty good; although the distances weren’t as great, I’d say better than last year.

Count:  16 runs (January was 10)

Distance:  95km (January was 57km)

Av. Pace:  5:27/km (January was 5:48/km)

My current block of running is far and away my best in so long it doesn’t matter.  338km over 60 runs, spanning almost five months.  If I keep this up for another few months I might just be able to start describing myself as a runner again. 🙂

All exercise is publicly visible here (on

Currys/Dixons/PC World/Phones4U fail

It’s cold in London in mid December.  Today, as I ran in to university, it was 1 degree Celcius and there was a pretty lethal frost on the paths in the parks.  As I was running in, I remembered that the central heating in my office would be turned off (it’s a weekend and LSE likes to save money where it can), so I pulled the run up short at the big Currys/Dixons/PC World/Phones4U shop near Warren Street Underground Station so I could buy a little electric heater.  As it happens, I also wanted to get a USB-to-micro-USB cable for my phone and figured I could kill two birds with one stone.

Now, Curixorld4U (as I have affectionately decided to call them) bill themselves as something of an electrical superstore.  Clearly they don’t mean of the American style Big Box variety, but still … they want you to think of them as a supermarket for electrical goods.  It should be easy to find what I want, right?  Wrong.  Here’s what they had:

  • A Dyson heater for £6 million; and
  • A multi-use recharging cable with 375 different dongles to allow for every conceivable phone ever built for £14.

So I went over the road to Robert Dyas and bought a little electric heater for £12.  They didn’t have the cable I wanted, but as I was walking down to LSE, I passed by the ULU and they were hosting a computer fair today.  I popped in and got exactly the cable I wanted for £5.

Note to Curixorld4U:  I understand that selling me the things I was looking for is a low margin business, but surely that’s better than no business at all?  Besides … isn’t one of the benefits of convincing people that you’re a one-stop-shop that you can exploit their search costs to slap on a fierce mark-up?  Have you even heard of price discrimination?  It doesn’t work if you only offer one version of each thing, you know.  Wouldn’t you have been better off stocking the cable I wanted for £10 and the heater I wanted for £20, perhaps in home-brand-style “charity” packaging to make them seem functional-but-unappealing?  I still would have gasped a little at the prices, but I’m a lazy man.  I would have paid.

Running (February 2011)

My resumption of running continues.  February managed to nail January in both distance and pace.

Count:  14 runs (January was 16)

Distance:  100km (January was 94km)

Av. Pace:  5:39/km (January was 5:59/km)

I’ve now managed over 200km in total, which was #5 of my running goals, and which also makes this the best block of running I’ve had in terms of total distance for over 13 years:

All exercise is publicly visible here (on

Running (January 2011)

I resumed my stop-start relationship with running on Christmas Day.  January has been my best month for running in over 12 years (I’ve lost all records prior to 1998).

Count:  16 runs (previous best was 13 in Feb 1998, Jul 1998 and Aug 2008).

Distance:  94km (previous best was 74km in Feb 1998, followed by 69km in Aug 2008).

Av. Pace:  5:59/km (Feb 1998 was 5:05/km, but we’ll ignore that for now).

I’ve now hit 100km in total, too, which brings up #2 on my running goals.

All exercise is publicly visible here (on  I’m finding the chatter with a mate and one of my brothers (the other being a lazy git) in Australia to be a real help.


I just got this email from the careers service here at LSE (emphasis mine):

A Conservative MP is looking for support in his role on the Public Accounts Select Committee.

The position is paid £7.85 p/h and will be for approx 15 hours per week.

The successful candidate must have excellent financial understanding in order to examine and analyse accounts.

The candidate should be inquisitive and have an interest in challenging public accounts.

The candidate should also be able to draft their findings into concise briefings and press releases.

To apply please send your CV and covering letter (1 page max) to XXXX by email ASAP

£7.85 per hour?  Are they kidding?  They’re sending this to every economics Ph.D. candidate at the London School of EconomicsWhat the f*** are they thinking?  (the first person to say “non-monetary incentives” gets a clip ’round the ear)

Update 23 September 2010: Professor Frank Cowell, over on facebook, points us towards:

Gneezy, U. and Rustichini, A. (2000) “Pay Enough or Don’t Pay at All“, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, pp. 791-810.

Here’s the abstract:

Economists usually assume that monetary incentives improve performance, and psychologists claim that the opposite may happen. We present and discuss a set of experiments designed to test these contrasting claims. We found that the effect of monetary compensation on performance was not monotonic. In the treatments in which money was offered, a larger amount yielded a higher performance. However, offering money did not always produce an improvement: subjects who were offered monetary incentives performed more poorly than those who were offered no compensation. Several possible interpretations of the results are discussed.