The chemist in the kitchen: Rachel Edwards-Stuart cooked up a career from applying lab techniques to modern cuisine

April 4, 2013 5:16 pm

The chemist in the kitchen

By Emma Jacobs

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In her elements: Rachel Edwards-Stuart uses her academic studies to create culinary transformations

Nervy, nerdy Rachel Edwards-Stuart fizzes about the kitchen in her north London higgledy-piggledy flat, pulling out bits of equipment. A water bath, a blow torch, pipettes. Ah, here is the smoking gun. “The tube is over there,” she yanks a foot-long piece of rubber from a shelf. “My cleaning lady hides things in weird places.” She pauses. “I don’t know where you’d normally put a tube from a smoking gun.”

The 30-year-old food scientist is such an enthusiast for the overlapping spheres of science and gastronomy that she interrupts one train of thought with another and another.

Her primary job is to teach the science of cooking and ways of creating gastronomic experiments to chefs – professionals in restaurants as well as amateurs who aspire to make such gourmet confections at home. But she also advises chefs and the food industry. She shares the evangelising passion of a mad professor desperate to communicate their ideas while baffled by their audience’s ignorance. Read more of this post

There Is A Worrying Sign That The New Bird Flu May Spread Between Humans

There Is A Worrying Sign That The New Bird Flu May Spread Between Humans

Jennifer Welsh | Apr. 4, 2013, 5:49 PM | 7,592 | 8

A person who had been in contact with a patient that died of H7N9 has been quarantined with flu symptoms, Xinhua reports. The person had close contact with one of the five patients that have died from this new bird flu. If this person, who lives in Changhai, does have the H7N9 virus, he could be the 15th case in China. He is the first of the 400 close contacts that the WHO is monitoring for show signs of infection. Science writer Ed Yong said on Twitter that this news is a “potential catastrophe.” We agree. This could mean that the virus has the ability to spread between humans directly, making it much deadlier, especially because humans don’t have a natural immunity to this strain of virus, because it usually can’t infect us.

The Story Of A Failed Startup And A Founder Driven To Suicide

The Story Of A Failed Startup And A Founder Driven To Suicide

Alyson Shontell | Apr. 4, 2013, 8:43 PM | 86,356 | 37

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A few months ago, on Sunday, January 27, an entrepreneur named Jody Sherman had plans to see a movie with a friend.

But that afternoon, the friend received a call from Jody’s wife, Kerri.

Jody had gone missing. Three hours later, Kerri notified the Las Vegas Police Department, fearing something might have happened to her husband.

At 11:12 PM, the police found Sherman’s body.

He was in his car on Witch Mountain Road, near Mount Charleston, Nevada, about 25 miles from Las Vegas. Sherman had been shot in the head.

The Clark County coroner’s office determined that Sherman had killed himself. It was five days before his 48th birthday.

News of Sherman’s suicide ripped through Twitter and the technology blogs. His death left thousands aching and confused. He left no note. His last Facebook message was written by his wife:

“This is Jody’s final post, and it isn’t coming from Jody. He’s gone. This is not a bit of his wonderful twisted humor. This is sad and real and forever. He didn’t say goodbye to anyone because he knew he couldn’t. So I’m saying it for him. If you are reading this it’s because you are connected to Jody in some way. He loved you, respected you, admired you, valued your presence in his life, or felt some combination of any or all of these things. And he would want each and every one of you to know and understand exactly that. Please post anything you have to say to or about Jody here.”

Just a few days after Sherman’s suicide, his company, Ecomom, had a board meeting in which his co-founder and the board found the startup in a startling state.

A couple of weeks later, Ecomom closed its doors. The prosaic reason: The company’s liabilities were greater than its assets.

Put more simply, Ecomom was broke. The 28-person startup — which had just raised $5 million six months earlier and more than $12 million total — ran out of cash. And no one left at the company seemed to know where it had gone. Read more of this post

Feathers Fly as New Rules Loom for Kids’ Apps; Updated federal children’s online privacy rules go into effect in July. Developers of games and other mobile software are still figuring out how to comply

April 4, 2013, 7:43 p.m. ET

Feathers Fly as New Rules Loom for Kids’ Apps

By ANTON TROIANOVSKI

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Kids love Angry Birds, but will Angry Birds love them back?

Updated federal children’s online privacy rules go into effect in July. Developers of games and other mobile software are still figuring out how to comply: They must balance their desire to tap the lucrative kids’ market and the increased regulatory headache of targeting children.

The biggest problem: data-collection practices that have become routine in the app industry could run afoul of the new rules when used in kids’ apps.

Japanese mobile games giant Gree Inc.3632.TO +3.02% and the U.K. company behind the popular kids’ website Moshi Monsters are scaling back plans to jointly build apps as they figure out how to adjust to the new rules, according to Moshi Monsters executive Rebecca Newton. Read more of this post

The Practical University: The promise of online education lies in taking care of the technical knowledge so that universities can focus on transmitting practical knowledge

April 4, 2013

The Practical University

By DAVID BROOKS

The best part of the rise of online education is that it forces us to ask: What is a university for?

Are universities mostly sorting devices to separate smart and hard-working high school students from their less-able fellows so that employers can more easily identify them? Are universities factories for the dissemination of job skills? Are universities mostly boot camps for adulthood, where young people learn how to drink moderately, fornicate meaningfully and hand things in on time?

My own stab at an answer would be that universities are places where young people acquire two sorts of knowledge, what the philosopher Michael Oakeshott called technical knowledge and practical knowledge. Technical knowledge is the sort of knowledge you need to understand a task — the statistical knowledge you need to understand what market researchers do, the biological knowledge you need to grasp the basics of what nurses do.

Technical knowledge is like the recipes in a cookbook. It is formulas telling you roughly what is to be done. It is reducible to rules and directions. It’s the sort of knowledge that can be captured in lectures and bullet points and memorized by rote. Read more of this post

Chinese Education: The Truth Behind the Boasts; Parents in China’s big cities sometimes pay donations and steep fees to middlemen to get their children into the best schools

Chinese Education: The Truth Behind the Boasts

By Dexter Roberts on April 04, 2013

In an international survey released just over two years ago, high school students from Shanghai scored at the top in math, science, and reading. Some Americans saw this as a Sputnik moment—a wake-up call for the rest of the world to better educate its young or risk falling behind the Chinese. In March, China’s leadership announced that education spending totaled 7.79 trillion yuan ($1.26 trillion) over the last five years, reaching a target of 4 percent of gross domestic product. “The quality and level of education in China was comprehensively raised,” said outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao on March 5.

The reality is China’s students receive educations of greatly varying quality. Their parents often pay a lot for it, depending on where they live and how ambitious their choice of school—even though China is committed to a system “implemented uniformly by the State,” with “no tuition or miscellaneous fee,” according to the 1986 Compulsory Education Law. Yet some rural families struggle to pay school costs as high as one-half their meager incomes, while up to 130 students crowd country classrooms, according to Yang Dongping, an education expert at the Beijing Institute of Technology and the dean of the 21st Century Education Research Institute. Yang adds that urban parents pay introduction fees of as much as $10,000 to middlemen to win entry into the better schools. Read more of this post

China’s internet: A giant cage; The internet was expected to help democratise China. Instead, it has enabled the authoritarian state to get a firmer grip. But for how long?

China’s internet: A giant cage

The internet was expected to help democratise China. Instead, it has enabled the authoritarian state to get a firmer grip, says Gady Epstein. But for how long?

Apr 6th 2013 |From the print edition

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THIRTEEN YEARS AGO Bill Clinton, then America’s president, said that trying to control the internet in China would be like trying to “nail Jell-O to the wall”. At the time he seemed to be stating the obvious. By its nature the web was widely dispersed, using so many channels that it could not possibly be blocked. Rather, it seemed to have the capacity to open up the world to its users even in shut-in places. Just as earlier communications technologies may have helped topple dictatorships in the past (for example, the telegraph in Russia’s Bolshevik revolutions in 1917 and short-wave radio in the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991), the internet would surely erode China’s authoritarian state. Vastly increased access to information and the ability to communicate easily with like-minded people round the globe would endow its users with asymmetric power, diluting the might of the state and acting as a force for democracy.

Those expectations have been confounded. Not only has Chinese authoritarian rule survived the internet, but the state has shown great skill in bending the technology to its own purposes, enabling it to exercise better control of its own society and setting an example for other repressive regimes. China’s party-state has deployed an army of cyber-police, hardware engineers, software developers, web monitors and paid online propagandists to watch, filter, censor and guide Chinese internet users. Chinese private internet companies, many of them clones of Western ones, have been allowed to flourish so long as they do not deviate from the party line. Read more of this post

Samsung Electronics marketing blitz stirs debate over innovation

Samsung Electronics marketing blitz stirs debate over innovation

7:06am EDT

By Miyoung Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics is spending more on marketing than R&D for the first time in at least three years, prompting some pundits to warn that the IT giant is sacrificing innovation at a time when the market is teeming with ever smarter gadgets.

The South Korean firm, which warned on Friday it will not post record quarterly earnings for the first time since 2011, looks set to spend big bucks on marketing upcoming mobile devices, including the Galaxy S4 smartphone, to convert more iPhone and iPad users loyal to arch rival Apple Inc.

While the new Galaxy smartphone, unveiled to much fanfare in New York last month, will boast a motion-detecting technology that stops and starts videos depending on whether someone is looking at the screen, and flip between songs and photos at the wave of a hand, industry watchers say the device would not overturn an industry that lives and dies by innovation.

“(Samsung) lagged behind in creating a new category. Apple created a new category with tablets. We are waiting to see something like that happen from Samsung,” said Rachel Lashford, an analyst at research firm Canalys in Singapore. Read more of this post

Hong Kong’s rich face exposure in tax-haven leak

Hong Kong’s rich face exposure in tax-haven leak

HONG KONG – A leak of more than two million documents detailing the offshore bank accounts and shell companies of wealthy individuals and tax-averse companies is making some of the richest and most powerful people in Hong Kong, on the mainland and elsewhere in the world very nervous, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper reported.

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2 HOURS 59 MIN AGO

HONG KONG – A leak of more than two million documents detailing the offshore bank accounts and shell companies of wealthy individuals and tax-averse companies is making some of the richest and most powerful people in Hong Kong, on the mainland and elsewhere in the world very nervous, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper reported.

Described as the biggest information leak in recent history, the documents were leaked from the British Virgin Islands to the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The group is working with dozens of journalists around the world to process the data and publish the secret financial information that surrounds what the Tax Justice Network estimates are assets worth at least US$21 trillion held in offshore havens, the New York Times (NYT) reported.

The investigation, titled “Secrecy for Sale”, details what it calls “complex offshore structures” used by wealthy people from all over the world, including government officials and their families. They disclose proprietary information about more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts and nearly 130,000 individuals and agents, including the wealthiest people in more than 170 countries. Not all of those named necessarily have secret bank accounts, and in some cases only conducted business through companies they control that are registered offshore, the New York Times reported.

The ICIJ said its data analysis showed most people setting up offshore entities lived on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the SCMP said. “This explains why the second-largest source of capital investment flowing into China is the offshore tax haven of BVI,” it said. Read more of this post

India Jobs Program Scam Pays Wages to Dead Workers; “It’s an insult to a man who lived a life of dignity”

India Jobs Program Scam Pays Wages to Dead Workers

The corpse of Indian farmer Bengali Singh burned to ash atop a blazing funeral pyre on the banks of the river Ganges in 2006.

Five years later, the dead man was recorded as being paid by India’s $33 billion rural jobs program to dig an irrigation canal in Jharkhand state. Officials in his village and the surrounding region used at least 500 identities, including those of Singh, a disabled child of eight and a blind 94-year-old man, to fake work logs and steal wages, according to police reports.

“It’s an insult to a man who lived a life of dignity,” Rajendar Singh said, sitting next to the parched canal his father supposedly excavated in their village, Bishanpur, about six hours’ drive northwest of Kolkata. “He’s been wronged.”

District administrators and village heads have used tactics such as ghost workers, fake projects and over-billing to embezzle about $10 billion from the world’s largest workfare initiative, an investigation by Bloomberg News shows. The fraud in the seven-year-old program underscores the challenge of reducing poverty in India as graft permeates everything from food aid for children to the distribution of public grain stockpiles and debt relief for struggling farmers.

Embezzlement remains an intractable issue in the rural employment push, according to D.H. Pai Panandiker, president of the RPG Foundation, a New Delhi-based economic research group. Read more of this post

Twitter Arrives on Wall Street, Via Bloomberg

APRIL 4, 2013, 11:12 AM

Twitter Arrives on Wall Street, Via Bloomberg

By WILLIAM ALDEN

Largely blocked on Wall Street, Twitter is making its big debut on trading desks — via Bloomberg terminals.

Bloomberg L.P. announced on Thursday that it was incorporating tweets into its data service, which is widely used in the financial industry. The new feature allows traders and other professionals to monitor social media buzz and important news about companies they follow.

This arrival of Twitter comes through something of a side door. The big Wall Street banks largely ban the use of Twitter and other social media sites at work, citing regulations governing communication. Though some firms are allowing certain employees onto social media, that usage is carefully controlled.

Now, bank employees are getting a broader and more organized view of what’s being said in the Twittersphere. Some on Wall Street already use their mobile phones to monitor the site for information that could move stocks.

Bloomberg’s new service shows tweets sorted by company and topic, allowing users to search by key word and to set up alerts for when a particular company is getting an unusual amount of attention. Read more of this post

Will Singapore’s MAS match HKMA’s risk weighting move in property loans? HKMA order banks to set the risk weighting for new home loans at a minimum of 15% to help cushion against any drop in residential property values Vs Spore’s 10%, lowest in the world

Will MAS match HKMA’s risk weighting move?

Bloomberg News reported late last month Deutsche Bank analysts predicting that home prices in Hong Kong could fall by up to 20 per cent in the next two years.

BY COLIN TAN –

4 HOURS 6 MIN AGO

Bloomberg News reported late last month Deutsche Bank analysts predicting that home prices in Hong Kong could fall by up to 20 per cent in the next two years. The forecast came after major banks in the city, including HSBC and Standard Chartered, raised their home loan rates by 25 basis points in response to tighter risk rules imposed by the central bank in February. According to some property analysts, the rise in home loan rates may finally cause the housing market to cool where other measures, in particular, higher additional stamp duties, have failed to do so. On Feb 22, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying doubled the stamp duty on all property transactions higher than HK$2 million (S$319,000).

However, what was not as well-publicised as the stamp duties was the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s (HKMA) order to banks to set the risk weighting for new home loans at a minimum of 15 per cent to help cushion against any drop in residential property values. Usually, banks decide on the riskiness of their own assets, which in turn affects the capital they set aside. Depending on the banks’ own internal risk weightings before the minimum percentage imposed by the HKMA, significantly more capital may be needed to be set aside. The impact of the higher risk weightings has now worked itself into the market, leading to higher housing loan rates. One key factor driving home purchases — not just in Hong Kong but elsewhere in Asia — has been the sustained low mortgage costs. “Banks were mispricing their retail mortgage loans. Now, with the new measures from the HKMA, they will be forced to correct it,” the Bloomberg report quoted DBS Hong Kong Chief Executive Sebastian Paredes as saying.

Read more of this post

Is It Beginning? Biggest JGB Price Collapse In Over 10 Years Triggers TSE Circuit Breakers

Is It Beginning? Biggest JGB Price Collapse In Over 10 Years Triggers TSE Circuit Breakers

Tyler Durden on 04/05/2013 00:48 -0400

Just over 4 hours ago we discussed the stunning collapse in 10Y Japanese bond yields. Since then – things have taken a very dramatic turn for the worse for bonds. 10Y JGB yields have exploded higher. The move from 32bps to 65bps triggered circuit breakers on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in JGB Futures trading as JGB prices plunged by their largest amount since September 2002. We can only imagine there is liquidations galore occurring given the massive outsize moves we are seeing in Japanese bonds, stocks, FX, swaps, and CDS. Did the BoJ just lose control? Now that is a reversal!!

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People Not In Labor Force Soar By 663,000 To 90 Million, Labor Force Participation Rate At 1979 Levels

People Not In Labor Force Soar By 663,000 To 90 Million, Labor Force Participation Rate At 1979 Levels

Tyler Durden on 04/05/2013 08:58 -0400

Things just keep getting worse for the American worker, and by implication US economy, where as we have shown many times before, it pays just as well to sit back and collect disability and various welfare and entitlement checks, than to work .The best manifestation of this: the number of people not in the labor force which in March soared by a massive 663,000 to a record 90 million Americans who are no longer even looking for work. This was the biggest monthly increase in people dropping out of the labor force since January 2012, when the BLS did its census recast of the labor numbers. And even worse, the labor force participation rate plunged from an already abysmal 63.5% to 63.3% –the lowest since 1979! But at least it helped with the now painfully grotesque propaganda that the US unemployment rate is “improving.”

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