Very cool art by Mark Jenkins

After my post entry on photography, Rita (that’s my mom) sent me a great link. Have a look at Mark Jenkins’ art.

His sense of humour really comes through in his art… and I really like his sense of humour.

Instead of enjoying today’s public holiday by having a leisurely lie-in, and then eating breakfast at around 12, I’ve spent it running around buying balloons and helping with packing boxes and couriering for an event Siobhan is organising.

And then getting to eat breakfast at around 12.

Great photographs by Hughes Leglise-Bataille

I can’t recommend Hughes Leglise-Bataille enough.

His photojournalist series on protests by Paris firefighters is amazing. Have a look at it here – “Au feu, les pompiers !”

Demonstrating the power of Flickr and the creative-commons licence, his work has been used or featured on CNN Exchange, BBC World, Salon, and Le Monde, to name but a few.

He’s also the winner of the “National Press Photographers Association” prizes for “Amateurs Photoblogs” on both “News” and “Photojournalism”.

The Undercover Economist and Drug prices

Some books change the way you think about things forever. The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford, is one of them.

Here’s a simple example of how it changes your day-to-day life.

I am often exasperated by the headlines in “The Star” – a local Johannesburg newspaper – they are generally as sensationalist as possible without being completely ridiculous and stooping to the level of “The Sun”. For some reason, this drives me around the bend – at least “The Sun”‘s headlines are sometimes funny.

Shortly after starting this book, one of their headlines read something like “12 year olds buying heroin in primary schools for the same price as dope.” I think the actual headline probably included kittens and puppies for extra effect.

So I spent a few moments analysing it, given recent readings of The Undercover Economist. Firstly, weed is definitely cheaper to produce in South Africa than heroin is to import, since it pretty much grows wild. Pricing thus isn’t reflective of the cost of production – it must be set by demand.

And what does a low price on heroin tell us? That supply exceeds demand… and the dealers are trying to offload it on whoever they can.

And it tells us that pretty much nobody sane would consider using heroin, no matter that it might cost around as much as two 500ml cooldrinks.

And suddenly, you’re reading a very different story to their “over the top” headline. Sure, there is the problem of dealers in school – but their core emotional point is suddenly meaningless. They are actually saying “overwhelming majority of 12 years are too smart to buy heroin – instead they report on dealers and their prices to teachers and newspaper salesmen.” That is great, isn’t it?

Of course, gentle reader, since some of you don’t know me, I have to tell you that you don’t use any of the above substances, with the exception of cooldrinks.

(I’ve not linked to either “The Star” or “The Sun”, as I wouldn’t want to dignify them with a higher google ranking.)