Tim Harford


In praise of the pencil 1

Yesterday’s edition of the Financial Times featured an article by Tim Harford about our beloved pencil.

Tim Harford is a journalist (‘the Financial Times’ undercover economist’) and is also the man behind my favourite radio show: More or Less.

He is certainly non stranger to pencils as they feature in his work every now and then. In his radio show he even managed to sneak in a definition of ‘ferrule’.

His pencil work got him several mentions here at Bleistift.blog so far. Last year, this blog mentioned his pencil article for the BBC and a few years earlier Bleistift.blog ‘campaigned’ to get the pencil added as the 51st thing to his series ’50 Things That Made the Modern Economy’.

His latest book, How To Make The World Add Up, is currently Radio 4’s book of the week. If you not only like stationery, but also statistics or numbers, then please have a listen.

You won’t be surprised to read that a signed copy of his book is on top of my Christmas wish list. A signed copy must be expensive, I hear you say. Well, you’d think, but actually it’s much cheaper than what a pack of copies of Eberhard Faber’s Blackwing sells for in the UK.


The Underrated and Humble Pencil 1

George, a reader of Dave’s Mechanical Pencil blog and of Bleistift, has contacted me this morning and told me about an article Tim Harford wrote about the pencil. Not much later my wife contacted me about the same article. The article is part of the “50 Things That Made the Modern Economy” series.

In 2017 I was hoping that the pencil gets voted to be the “51st thing”. My blog post Vote for Pencil! might have added a few to the pencil, but in the end “credit cards” won.

An image of a humble pencil from an old blog post – to make this one less boring

Luckily Tim Harford, who made several ‘appearances’ on this blog in the past, has finally had a closer look at the pencil.

You can read his article Have we all underrated the humble pencil? on the BBC web site.

Just a few weeks ago I finished his book “Messy” (around $9 or in the UK around £7). Fascinating reading, like his other works.

His podcast More or Less: Behind the Stats is available for free.


Paper Made the Modern Economy

If you’ve got 9 minutes to spare, why not listen to the episode about Paper from the radio series 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy?1 It is narrated by the pop star of economists Tim Harford.2

The image has been taken from a previous blog post about stationery stores in Shanghai.

  1. Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. []
  2. This is not the first appearance of his name in this blog. Can you find the other appearance? []

Pencil economics and the Mongol

In Episode 193 of the Pen Addict Brad and Myke mentioned a recent Freakonomics Radio ((Depsite the name it is a podcast.)) episode called Who Needs Handwriting?.

I read the Freakonomics book a few years ago. Funnily enough I got it from a friend who I got to know through this blog after posting about a Mongol sharpened with an angle of 14° ((It’s funny because in the next sentence there’ll be a connection back to the Mongol.)).

Well, the next episode of Freakonomics Radio looked at “I, Pencil”, the famous economics essay about the Mongol 482. Just like in the previous episode Caroline Weaver from CW Pencils was involved1.

Venezuelan Mongols

Ok, it’s not the 482, but the 480, but the Mongol 482 photos from my blog look less suitable for this blog post than this one does. 

One of the best bits of this episode is Tim Harford’s appearance. He’s the guy behind the Radio 4 Programme More or Less, looking at numbers and statistics in the news and everyday life. I listen to every episode of his great programme.

There’s also a great part about the General Pencil Company and how they make their pencils.


Funnily enough the photo of the I, Pencil Freakonomics Radio episode doesn’t feature a Mongol, but the good, old Noris!

 

  1. …and to my surprise she says her shop is profitable, which I wouldn’t have expected thinking about how expensive rent in New York must be, as well as flying around the world to the different trade fairs. []