Monthly Archives: June 2010

When is a wait not a wait? When a bureaucrat holds the stopwatch. That is my conclusion, based on my experience of trying to get a cancer scan on the National Health Service. The NHS commitment is that – with some narrow exemptions – no patient will wait longer than 18 weeks for treatment. I’ve been waiting for a year.

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I consider myself a good documentary photographer, but my full-time job is in another field. I want to start a career in wedding photography, so I need to build a portfolio. But how?

I tried to offer a cut-rate service that basically covers the production cost. No luck.

My theory is: this is a glamorous business, like Hollywood. If you are the client, you probably won’t worry about cost unless you’re on a shoestring. You won’t trust a new start-up on a unique event. If you are on a shoestring, you probably won’t look at a professional photographer’s price list.

I have considered offering myself as a free assistant or second shooter. But as you may notice, wedding photographers are like plumbers – they have quite a local base. I doubt they would want to help out a competitor in their own back yard. So how do I get started?

Camera for hire

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Tomorrow’s More or Less interviews David Willetts, one of the new cabinet, about evidence based policy. Are evidence and politics strange bedfellows, and will Mr Willetts promise to pay attention to the evidence even it says something uncomfortable?

Plus: ugly criminals and the new – or is it the old – practice of anthropometric statistics. And better living with the 80-20 rule.

That’s More or Less, 1.30pm BST on Friday, and podcast on the More or Less website.

Tom Ellis, who developed a problem that is even harder than the hardest logic problem ever, writes with some puzzle-thoughts that may be of interest:

The beginning of this story may seem familiar.

From 4th February 2006:

The trouble with cars these days is that they’re too safe. Of course, I don’t write as a driver; I write as a cyclist. Drivers quite reasonably feel that they’re so well protected by their seatbelts, bull-bars, airbags, ejector seats and the rest that they can afford to take risks. Cyclists and pedestrians are the ones on the receiving end.

We need more dangerous cars. A spear mounted on the steering wheel, pointing at the driver’s heart, would do nicely. Cheese wire instead of seat belts would work too. Of course, these innovations would skewer and slice the typical crash-test dummy, but drivers aren’t crash-test dummies. Give them the right incentive and they will drive more carefully, to the benefit of the cyclists and pedestrians.

Continued at

Tim Harford’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.