Beijing Brambling, Zhejiang Duck Spawn Deadly Flu, Study Finds

Beijing Brambling, Zhejiang Duck Spawn Deadly Flu, Study Finds

A brambling from Beijing, a wild bird from Korea and a duck from China’s Zhejiang province probably helped spawn the new flu variant that’s killed 10 people, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

The birds were infected with avian flu strains that most resemble the H7N9 virus circulating in eastern China, according to yesterday’s study by researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai.

Thirty-eight people have been sickened with H7N9 flu, which the authors said causes brain damage, muscles to break down and vital organs to fail in its most extreme form. Different mutations in samples taken from patients suggest the virus entered human populations at least twice, the study found.

“We are concerned by the sudden emergence of these infections and the potential threat to the human population,” Rongbao Gao and colleagues wrote. “An understanding of the source and mode of transmission of these infections, further surveillance, and appropriate counter measures are urgently required.” The new strain, which hasn’t been detected in humans or animals before, raises “many urgent questions and global public health concerns,” Timothy Uyeki and Nancy Cox, flu scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said in an accompanying editorial in the journal. Read more of this post

Blind Spots and How to Work at Them

Blind Spots and How to Work at Them

by Karen Christensen | Apr 12, 2013

Douglas Stone, the Boston-based consultant and ‘difficult conversations’ expert talks about blind spots (the bad news: we all have them) and the best way to give and receive feedback

Positive self-regard helps us feel good about who we are, but it can get in the way of learning and improving.  Why is that?
Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck has done some interesting research on this.  She had middle school students take a test and then gave them feedback on the results.  Some were told that they were “smart,” while others were praised for how hard they worked.  The ones who were praised for their intelligence were less likely to want to take on a next set of challenges; the ones who were praised for their effort were excited to exert more effort.  So, Dweck says, “praise the process,” rather than intelligence or natural ability.   Read more of this post

The Power of Talking to Your Baby

APRIL 10, 2013, 3:25 PM

The Power of Talking to Your Baby


By the time a poor child is 1 year old, she has most likely already fallen behind middle-class children in her ability to talk, understand and learn. The gap between poor children and wealthier ones widens each year, and by high school it has become a chasm. American attempts to close this gap in schools have largely failed, and a consensus is starting to build that these attempts must start long before school — before preschool, perhaps even before birth.

There is no consensus, however, about what form these attempts should take, because there is no consensus about the problem itself. What is it about poverty that limits a child’s ability to learn? Researchers have answered the question in different ways: Is it exposure to lead? Character issues like a lack of self-control or failure to think of future consequences? The effects of high levels of stress hormones? The lack of a culture of reading?

Another idea, however, is creeping into the policy debate: that the key to early learning is talking — specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better. It turns out, evidence is showing, that the much-ridiculed stream of parent-to-child baby talk — Feel Teddy’s nose! It’s so soft! Cars make noise — look, there’s a yellow one! Baby feels hungry? Now Mommy is opening the refrigerator! — is very, very important. (So put those smartphones away!) Read more of this post

From bust to boom, how Kate Swann transformed one of Britain’s oldest companies WH Smith

From bust to boom, how Kate Swann transformed WH Smith

After an extraordinary decade at the helm of WH Smith, Kate Swann is preparing to say goodbye to a retailer that has been transformed.


By Graham Ruddick, Retail Correspondent

8:15PM BST 11 Apr 2013

WH Smith is one of Britain’s oldest companies and began life in 1792 as a small shop in Little Grosvenor Street, London.

Its unique mix of stationery, entertainment, books, and confectionary made it a high street institution, but by the time Swann arrived in 2003, the company was on its knees, outmanoeuvred by supermarkets and the internet. Read more of this post

Rosabeth Moss Kanter: The Happiest People Pursue the Most Difficult Problems

The Happiest People Pursue the Most Difficult Problems

by Rosabeth Moss Kanter  |   9:00 AM April 10, 2013

Lurking behind the question of jobs — whether there are enough of them, how hard we should work at them, and what kind the future will bring — is a major problem of job engagement. Too many people are tuned out, turned off, or ready to leave. But there’s one striking exception.

The happiest people I know are dedicated to dealing with the most difficult problems. Turning around inner city schools. Finding solutions to homelessness or unsafe drinking water. Supporting children with terminal illnesses. They face the seemingly worst of the world with a conviction that they can do something about it and serve others.

Ellen Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and long-time friend), has turned grief to social purpose. She was distraught over the treatment of her dying mother. After leaving her job as a syndicated columnist, she founded The Conversation Project, a campaign to get every family to face the difficult task of talking about death and end-of-life care. Read more of this post

Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research

Does Money Really Affect Motivation? A Review of the Research

by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic  |   9:50 AM April 10, 2013

How much should people earn? Even if resources were unlimited, it would be difficult to stipulate your ideal salary. Intuitively, one would think that higher pay should produce better results, but scientific evidence indicates that the link between compensation, motivation and performance is much more complex. In fact, research suggests that even if we let people decide how much they should earn, they would probably not enjoy their job more.

Even those who highlight the motivational effects of money accept that pay alone is not sufficient. The basic questions are: Does money make our jobs more enjoyable? Or can higher salaries actually demotivate us? Read more of this post

If You’re Confident About Competence, Admit Your Flaws; IBM’s Lou Gerstner’s, “I don’t know IT but I know management” was pure genius. Here’s why

If You’re Confident About Competence, Admit Your Flaws

by Steven Berglas  |  11:00 AM April 10, 2013

Within moments of seeing white smoke billow from the Sistine Chapel, media outlets were inundated with a slew of reports about the former Cardinal Bergoglio. The Vatican PR machine noted that Pope Francis was an incredibly humble Cardinal who, as was befitting a Jesuit, had an abiding concern for the poor, rode the subway, and cooked his own meals. Oh… and that he was missing most of one lung.

This certainly runs contrary to conventional wisdom about how best to conduct impression management; i.e. “Put your best foot forward.” With Catholics already anxious about the new Bishop of Rome’s wellbeing, doesn’t pointing-out a condition that begs the question, “Was it cancer?” constitute impression mismanagement?

Actually, I think it’s something leaders should do more of. Let’s take an example from history to see why: Back in 1999, Louis V. Gerstner “let out” word that he had a deficiency immediately prior to taking the helm at IBM. Big Blue had been among the nation’s foremost enterprises, but when Gerstner was picked for the top spot it was bleeding red ink. Conventional wisdom would say that to redress the blue mood IBMers were suffering, Gerstner should have greeted them with bravado to boost morale. Instead, Gerstner exposed his soft underbelly by stating, “I don’t completely understand the technology [of IBM’s product line]. I’ll need to learn it, but don’t expect me to master it… unit leaders must translate it into business terms for me.”

Gerstner’s, “I don’t know IT but I know management” was pure genius. Here’s why: Read more of this post

Who Says Innovation Is Dead in Age of Crazy Cheesy Crust

Who Says Innovation Is Dead in Age of Crazy Cheesy Crust

Move over hamburgers and fries. Here come the sweet-chili chicken wraps and bacon-filled tater tots.

Looking to lure Americans with the coolest new menu item, Burger King Worldwide Inc (BKW)., McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) (MCD) and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc (RRGB) (RRGB). and others are turning up the heat in their test kitchens. At the same time, classically trained chefs, looking for more regular work hours and higher pay, are no longer snubbing large chains. The result has been an arms race among eateries to create the most exciting new foods to attract consumers and boost sales.

“Over the last 12 to 18 months, you’ve seen a lot of innovation,” Eric Hirschhorn, Burger King’s vice president of global innovation, said in an interview. The Miami-based chain last year introduced 57 new items, the biggest menu overhaul in the company’s history and more than twice as many as in 2011, he said. In March, the Whopper seller rolled out bacon-filled tater tots for $1.99. Read more of this post

The Shibumi Seven Design Principles, Inspired By Zen Wisdom

7 Design Principles, Inspired By Zen Wisdom

WRITTEN BY: Matthew May


One of the best-known photographs of the late Steve Jobs pictures him sitting in the middle of the living room of his Los Altos house, circa 1982. There isn’t much in the room, save an audio system and a Tiffany lamp. Jobs is sipping tea, sitting yoga-style on a mat, with but a few books around him. The picture speaks volumes about the less-is-more motive behind every Apple product designed under his command.

As Warren Berger wrote on Co.Design, Jobs’s love for elegantly simple, intuitive design is widely attributed to his appreciation of Zen philosophy (Jobs was a practicing Buddhist). But while many people might be familiar with Zen as a broad concept, far fewer are knowledgeable of the key aesthetic principles that collectively comprise the “Zen of design.”

To understand the Zen principles, a good starting point is shibumi. It is an overarching concept, an ideal. It has no precise definition in Japanese, but its meaning is reserved for objects and experiences that exhibit in paradox and all at once the very best of everything and nothing: Elegant simplicity. Effortless effectiveness. Understated excellence. Beautiful imperfection.

James Michener referred to shibumi in his 1968 novel Iberia, writing that it can’t be translated and has no explanation. In his 1972 book, The Unknown Craftsman, Soetsu Yanagi talked about shibumi in the context of art, writing that a true work of art is one whose intentionally imperfect beauty makes an artist of the viewer. In the 1979 best-selling spy novelShibumi, the author Trevanian (the nom de plume of Dr. Rodney William Whitaker) wrote, “Shibumi has to do with great refinement underlying commonplace appearances.”

Shibumi was first introduced to the West by House Beautiful in 1960. Nearly 40 years later, architect Sarah Susanka reintroduced shibumi in her 1998 book The Not So Big House: “The quality of shibumi evolves out of a process of complexity, though none of this complexity shows in the result. It often seems to arise when an architect is striving to meet a particular design challenge. When something has been designed really well, it has an understated, effortless beauty, and it really works. That’s shibumi.”

The process may be complex, but these seven Zen principles can help you approach shibumi in your own designs:

THE SHIBUMI SEVEN Read more of this post

Australia’s Woodside shelves $45 bln Browse LNG project, the strongest sign yet that the country’s energy construction boom may be peaking

Updated April 12, 2013, 2:57 a.m. ET

Woodside Shelves Browse LNG Project


SYDNEY—Woodside Petroleum Ltd. WPL.AU +3.17% said Friday it has shelved an onshore gas-export project in Australia estimated to cost over US$40 billion to build, the strongest sign yet that the country’s energy construction boom may be peaking.

Natural gas from the Browse development, which also counts Royal Dutch ShellRDSB.LN -0.21% PLC, BP BP.LN -0.82% PLC and Asian companies as shareholders, will no longer be piped to a processing facility at James Price Point on the Western Australia state coast, Woodside said in a statement Friday.

The decision means a development of one of Australia’s biggest natural gas resources will be pushed back by at least two years, increasing the risk it will have to compete for customers with anticipated gas export projects in North America and East Africa. Woodside and its partners can submit new development plans to regulators, but securing approvals is often slow and time-consuming. Read more of this post

American Dream Eludes With Student Debt Burden: Mortgages

American Dream Eludes With Student Debt Burden: Mortgages

Luke Nichter of Harker Heights, Texas, said he’s not a renter by choice. The Texas A&M University history professor’s $125,000 of student debt means he has no hope of getting a mortgage.

Nichter, 35, who’s paying $1,500 a month on loans for degrees from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, is part of the most debt-laden generation to emerge from college. Two- thirds of student loans are held by people under the age of 40, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, blocking millions of them from taking advantage of the most affordable housing market on record. The number of people in that age group who own homes fell by 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter from the third, the biggest drop in records dating to 1982.

“Student debt has a dramatic impact on the ability to buy a house, and to buy the dishwashers and the lawnmowers and all the other purchases that stem from that,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist of Mesirow Financial. “It has a ripple effect throughout the economy.”

The issue is being exacerbated by an explosion in the $150 billion private market for student debt with interest rates for some existing loans surpassing 12 percent. Unlike mortgage holders, borrowers have little hope of refinancing at lower rates. Interest on some new federal loans is set to double to 6.8 percent in July if Congress doesn’t extend the current rate, as they did last year. Read more of this post

Cyprus bailout cost surges from €17.5bn to €23bn – larger than the size of the country’s economy; The Cypriot developments came as Portugal was disclosed to be facing a second bail-out

Cyprus bailout cost surges to €23bn

The financial crisis ravaging Cyprus deepened on Thursday after the cost of the country’s bail-out surged from €17.5bn to €23bn – larger than the size of the country’s economy.


A demonstrator burns a European Union flag outside the parliament in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia Photo: AFP

By Bruno Waterfield, in Brussels

7:29PM BST 11 Apr 2013

Cyprus will have to find an €6bn extra to contribute to its own bail-out, less than a month after the original EU-IMF deal was agreed, putting the already teetering economy in danger of collapse and further endangering large bank depositors. It also emerged that the government in Nicosia has agreed to sell gold reserves to raise around €400m to help finance its part of its own bail-out. The Cypriot developments came as Portugal was disclosed to be facing a second bail-out. Read more of this post

Consultants to Banks Are Sharply Questioned on Independence

APRIL 11, 2013, 10:21 AM

Consultants to Banks Are Sharply Questioned on Independence


A multibillion-dollar consulting industry came under the spotlight in Washington on Thursday, as lawmakers questioned the quality and independence of companies that guide banks through regulatory scrutiny.

At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, lawmakers contended that the consulting business was fraught with conflicts. While banking regulators rely on consultants to help clean up financial misdeeds like money laundering and foreclosure abuses, the companies remain on Wall Street’s payroll.

“Consultants have a financial incentive to do things to attract repeat business,” Senator Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat leading the hearing, said to a panel of regulators who testified. Read more of this post

Analysis: Japan’s big “Abenomics” gamble: how to tell if it’s paying off; “The question is whether Abenomics will lead to increased competitiveness of the Japanese economy”

Analysis: Japan’s big “Abenomics” gamble: how to tell if it’s paying off

Thu, Apr 11 2013

By Tomasz Janowski

TOKYO (Reuters) – Debating the merits of “Abenomics” is much like talking about a new miracle diet or a life-saving drug: there are many skeptics, but very few who wouldn’t want to see it work.

A stronger Japanese economy would help global growth and make domestic problems such as ageing and runaway debt more manageable, so it is no wonder many people give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his economic plans the benefit of the doubt.

So far, Abe’s heady cocktail of massive money printing, public spending and promised pro-growth reforms has sent Tokyo stocks to five-year highs and kept his support at 70 percent – unheard of for a leader already more than three months in power.

But ultimately even well-wishing observers will want to be assured Abenomics is delivering the desired rise in economic activity: better jobs, wages and sustained growth Japan has not seen for two decades. Read more of this post

Chinese online retailers hope to challenge industry trend

Chinese online retailers hope to challenge industry trend

Online retailers have an advantage in not facing the geographical restrictions that their brick-and-mortar counterparts do. -China Daily/ANN
Fri, Apr 12, 2013
China Daily/Asia News Network

Chinese online luxury retailers have big ambitions, despite the market’s slower growth in recent years. Sun Yafei, CEO of Fifth Avenue Globe – one of the earliest online luxury retailers in China, said she plans to double her website’s turnover in 2013, as the company’s sales in 2012 already doubled from the previous year. As sales growth in China’s luxury market declined in the past year, some luxury brands said they would slow the expansion of their store networks and integrate their channels in the market in 2013. The Internet would be an effective distribution channel for the brands, Sun said. Read more of this post

Infosys, India’s second- largest software services exporter, fell the most in 10 years in Mumbai trading as it forecast annual sales will rise slower than analysts estimated. Infosys Plunge Gives Options Traders 200% Profit on Strangle Bet

Infosys Plunges as Sales Forecast Lags Behind Estimates

Infosys Ltd. (INFO), India’s second- largest software services exporter, fell the most in 10 years in Mumbai trading as it forecast annual sales will rise slower than analysts estimated.

Shares plunged as much as 20 percent, the biggest drop since April 2003, to 2,337.35 rupees as of 9:21 a.m.

The spending budgets of customers in financial services, which contributed 27 percent of Infosys’s revenue in the third quarter, will drop, the company said last month. Pricing has been under pressure since the financial crisis for most information technology services providers and remains a key concern, according to Anurag Rana, an analyst at Bloomberg Industries.

“It is a real disaster for Infosys, primarily because their low guidance along with their fourth-quarter revenue which continues to drop,” said Amar Mourya, Mumbai-based analyst with India Nivesh Ltd. ’’Their confidence seems to be shaken with such a broad forecast and visibility looks poor.’’ Read more of this post

A new device analyses brain waves to warn drivers before they nod off

Good Vibrations

A new device analyses brain waves to warn drivers before they nod off

Published: 12 Apr 2013 at 00.00

490869 Read more of this post

Journal of Accounting and Economics: Performance Shocks and Misreporting

Performance Shocks and Misreporting

Joseph Gerakos University of Chicago – Booth School of Business

Andrei Kovrijnykh University of Chicago – Booth School of Business

February 1, 2013
Journal of Accounting and Economics, Forthcoming 
Chicago Booth Research Paper No. 10-12 

We propose a parsimonious stochastic model of reported earnings that links misreporting to performance shocks. Our main analytical prediction is that misreporting leads to a negative second-order autocorrelation in the residuals from a regression of current earnings on lagged earnings. We also propose a stylized dynamic model of earnings manipulation and demonstrate that both earnings smoothing and target-beating considerations result in the same predictions of negative second-order autocorrelations. Empirically, we find that the distribution of this measure is asymmetric around zero with 27 percent of the firms having significantly negative estimates. Using this measure, we specify a methodology to estimate the intensity of misreporting and to create estimates of unmanipulated earnings. Our estimates of unmanipulated earnings are more correlated with contemporaneous returns and have higher volatility than reported earnings. With respect to economic magnitude, we find that, in absolute terms, median misreporting is 0.7 percent of total assets. Moreover, firms in our sample subject to SEC AAERs have significantly higher estimates of manipulation intensity.

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