Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Man of Many Parts

On this day, 450 years ago, William Shakespeare was baptised*. One of his more famous lines is his ‘All the world’s a stage‘ monologue, from As You Like It:

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts

Which leads me nicely into some of my recent activities. A dearth of young(ish) men among Plymouth’s amateur dramatics and musical societies led to my all-singing, all-dancing sister roping me in to join her show.

The Sounds Musical Theatre Company put on a production of Anything Goes. With music by Cole Porter, and the script co-written by P.G. Wodehouse, the show couldn’t fail to be a blast. I had many small walk-on roles (barman, FBI agent, sailor), sang in the chorus and even tried some dialogue in an appalling American accent. I thought I’d post a couple of songs from the show.

Here’s ‘Blow, Gabriel Blow’:

And here’s the title song:

The lyrics are great, and an excellent reminder that every generation has thought ‘the world has gone mad today’, but we always see to pull through alright.

That’s the show that has just gone, and being in it led me to take part in the show we’re still rehearsing, Gilbert and Sullivan‘s Yeomen of the Guard with the Plymouth Gilbert and Sullivan Fellowship. It’s not as catchy as some of their more popular shows, like H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, or The Mikado, but it has a beautiful score and some wonderful songs.

Here’s two of my favourites. Firstly, a man contemplating his upcoming death in ‘Is Life A Boon?‘. I’ll be playing one of those stern looking Yeomen standing in the background:

Secondly, here is ‘Were I Thy Bride‘:

It promises to be a wonderful show, and I’m grateful to be a part of it! Continue reading

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The Rise of the Robots

I feel I’ve had a glimpse of the future* the past couple of days. I started today taking part in an experiment at Plymouth University‘s Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems. There are always plenty of PhD students who need people to take part in experiments for their thesis, and you get paid £8 an hour to participate! This follows on from a film I re-watched for about the fifth time last night, Pixar‘s Wall-E.

Wall-E-and Eve

Wall-E (left) and EVE (right)

For my money, it’s one of the best films of the last decade, if not ever. The two main characters are robots**, Wall-E and EVE, who say about two words between them in the whole film. Doesn’t sound very promising, does it? Well, actually it’s actually a really touching love story – I got more emotionally invested in the relationship of the CGI robots than in most of those portrayed by flesh-and-blood actors with the whole gamut of the English language at their disposal. To pull that off is truly great art. And surely it doesn’t hurt that Wall-E is a Mini-Me of one of my childhood icons, Short Circuit‘s Johnny 5. Continue reading

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The Diminishing Marginal Utility of Easter Eggs

I hope everyone is having a lovely Easter weekend. I certainly had a good Easter Sunday – I spent the morning at a golf driving range, followed by a carvery pub lunch, then to a church service in the evening, after which I chaperoned the youth group while we all watched the very funny and silly Blades of Glory.

Most importantly, no doubt along with many of you, dear readers, I stuffed my face full of chocolate Easter eggs.

Child stuffing face with Easter eggs

It just so happens that the stuffing of one’s face with chocolate Easter eggs affords a wonderful example of everyday economics. If you’re one of the cool kids who has taken time to read my latest economics solutions, you will have come across the concept of the law of diminishing marginal utility*.

We get a huge amount of pleasure (utility) from eating that first Easter egg – it tastes yummy and when else can you eat chocolate first thing in the morning without feeling guilty? The next (marginal) Easter egg still tastes so good –  but you start to berate yourself for being such a pig, and it doesn’t taste quite so great. After the third, you try to remind yourself that other food groups exist, and it might be an idea to try them at some point in the day – you enjoy it even less than the third. When you’re still stuffing your face at 11pm, you worry you may be eating too much chocolate***. The pleasure from eating each additional Easter egg is diminishing.

This goes for most things – it seems a fact of our psychology that we get most pleasure the first time we do or use something.

Who still remembers their second kiss?

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The Lost Blog Post

Seated one day at my laptop, I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wander’d idly over the noisy keys;
I know not what I was typing, or what I was dreaming then,
But I wrote one post of blogging like the words of a great Amen.

With apologies to Arthur Sullivan:

 

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Economics, Part 2, Chapter 5

It’s the comeback you’ve all been waiting for… The blog so tedious, so irrelevant to your lives that no wonder it gets the derisory views that it does.

As an extra treat, here is the next exciting installment of worked solutions to an economics textbook.

It covers a diverse range of subjects, all rooted in how consumers spend their incomes in order to derive the most enjoyment from them. It contains some interesting concepts, although I doubt the way we make decisions about what to buy can be expressed in such a simple, mathematical way…

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