It is Independence Day in India, a holiday during which the national flag is raised on everything from the ramparts of Delhi’s monuments to the bonnets of Mumbai’s battered black cabs

The Indian rupee

Dependence day

Aug 15th 2013, 8:23 by P.F. | MUMBAI


IT IS Independence Day in India, a holiday during which the national flag is raised on everything from the ramparts of Delhi’s monuments to the bonnets of Mumbai’s battered black cabs. This year it may be remembered for India’s enslavement to global capital markets. Yesterday evening, August 14th, after most people had left work, the central bank imposed new capital controls to try to stem a balance-of-payments crisis. Psychologically the manoeuvre feels like a step back in time, to India’s pre-reform era of the 1980s, when Indians were fenced off from the rest of the world by their government, entrepreneurs had to beg pompous officials for foreign exchange and the rich had to ask their servants to buy malt whiskey from the black market.

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E-ppointments: Will patients shop around online for a doctor as tourists do for a hotel on TripAdvisor?

Online healthcare


Aug 13th 2013, 22:11 by C.S.-W.

RIGHT after 8.30am is a busy time for the ill in Britain. Many medical surgeries do not allow patients to pre-book appointments with their doctors: people must call up in the morning to book an appointment later in the afternoon. Come opening time, the phone lines are jammed with hacking, spluttering sick people trying to beg an audience with their doctor. Being able to book appointments online and outside of office hours not only makes life easier for patients, but gives them more choice. Zesty, a start-up based in London, has signed up 200 dental practices across ten London boroughs since launching at the end of April. Further healthcare sectors, such as surgeries, physiotherapists and osteopaths, will be implemented into its online booking system later this month. Co-founder Lloyd Price is banking on medicine being the next sector to take advantage of e-commerce. He wagers an online interface to make appointments and to compare doctors and dentists against each other, similar to the hotel-booking and rating model perfected by TripAdvisor and Expedia, will replace the engaged-tone at surgeries up and down the land. Read more of this post

Crowded skies, frustrated passengers: Military control of airspace and a risk-averse culture threaten to cripple China’s rapid growth in aviation

Crowded skies, frustrated passengers: Military control of airspace and a risk-averse culture threaten to cripple China’s rapid growth in aviation

Aug 10th 2013 | BEIJING |From the print edition


ON AN average day, more than 1,500 planes take off and land at Beijing’s Capital International Airport, the second-busiest in the world (by passenger traffic) after Atlanta. Many of those take-offs and landings are late. According to FlightStats, a travel industry monitor, China’s big airports have the worst delays in the world, with only 18% of flights from Beijing departing on time in July (arrivals fared better). The strain is showing, especially on the faces of delayed passengers. Tales of airport rage are frequent media and online fodder; most popular are videos of officials or other bigwigs punctuating their impatience with invective and spittle. Planes pull away from gates on time without clearance to take off and remain on the tarmac for up to 30 minutes, just so the flight can say it is not delayed. Such tricks explain why official figures state that 75% of all arrivals and departures were on time in 2012. Independent estimates put the figure closer to 30%. Airline staff often give no reason for delays. Read more of this post

A new generation of synthetic drugs is presenting novel legal problems; “The bad guys know what we do and they just tweak another molecule. They’re changing faster than we can write our names.”

August 14, 2013, 7:52 p.m. ET

‘Bath Salts’ Pose a Hurdle for Prosecutors

Chemical Tweaks Can Keep Synthetic Drugs From Being Linked to Banned Substances


A new generation of synthetic drugs is presenting novel legal problems, according to law-enforcement agents and prosecutors, who say the shifting chemistry behind the products makes it difficult to win convictions. The synthetic drugs are typically sold in retail shops in small packages labeled “bath salts,” which investigators say is a ploy to hide their true purpose. When smoked, snorted or injected, they can cause a range of reactions, from increased energy and euphoria similar to cocaine or ecstasy, to hallucinations, similar to LSD. Users who have had bad reactions report feeling extreme paranoia, or the sensation that their skin is burning, leading them to tear off their clothes. Read more of this post

How LeapFrog’s CEO Built the Educational Toy Company; Mike Wood Left the Legal Profession to Focus on Plastic Toy Letters; Glitches Early On Delayed Production

Updated August 14, 2013, 8:59 p.m. ET

How LeapFrog’s CEO Built the Educational Toy Company

Mike Wood Left the Legal Profession to Focus on Plastic Toy Letters; Glitches Early On Delayed Production



Mike Wood, creator of educational toy company LeapFrog, at his office in San Rafael, Calif., on Tuesday.

Mike Wood had been practicing law for about 11 years when he encountered a challenge that would change his life: teaching his 3-year-old son to read. His son Mat had memorized the letters of the alphabet, but struggled to learn the sounds that the letters represented. Over the next five years, Mr. Wood researched marketing and phonics, a teaching method that focuses on the correlation between letter groupings and sounds, while holding down his partnership at a technology law firm. He decided to take sound chips—like the ones used in singing greeting cards—and put them in plastic toy letters. When a child pushed down on a letter, it would make the sound that the letter represented. Mr. Wood designed a prototype, left his job and set up focus groups with mothers. He then found a buyer at Toys “R” Us Inc. and a manufacturer in China. In 1995, he started LeapFrog Enterprises Inc., LF +0.57% an educational toy company. By 2002, LeapFrog had $520 million in annual revenue, and its best-selling product, a hand-held learning device called LeapPad, was in nine million homes. The Emeryville, Calif., company’s stock soared almost 99% after it went public that July, making it the top-performing IPO of the year. Read more of this post

The Entire History Of The World In One Chart

The Entire History Of The World In One Chart

SLATE AUG. 14, 2013, 1:37 PM 10,499 9

The Vault is Slate’s history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

This “Histomap,” created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931. The David Rumsey Map Collection hosts a fully zoomable version here. This giant, ambitious chart fit neatly with a trend in nonfiction book publishing of the 1920s and 1930s: the “outline,” in which large subjects (the history of the world! every school of philosophy! all of modern physics!) were distilled into a form comprehensible to the most uneducated layman. The 5-foot-long Histomap was sold for $1 and folded into a green cover, which featured endorsements from historians and reviewers. The chart was advertised as “clear, vivid, and shorn of elaboration,” while at the same time capable of “holding you enthralled” by presenting: the actual picture of the march of civilization, from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America. The chart emphasizes domination, using color to show how the power of various “peoples” (a quasi-racial understanding of the nature of human groups, quite popular at the time) evolved throughout history. It’s unclear what the width of the colored streams is meant to indicate. In other words, if the Y axis of the chart clearly represents time, what does the X axis represent? Did Sparks see history as a zero-sum game, in which peoples and nations would vie for shares of finite resources? Given the timing of his enterprise—he made this chart between two world wars and at the beginning of a major depression—this might well have been his thinking. Sparks followed up on the success of this Histomap by publishing at least two more: the Histomap of religion (which I’ve been unable to find online) and the Histomap of evolution.


Buffett’s Berkshire Discloses Suncor, Dish Stakes

Buffett’s Berkshire Discloses Suncor, Dish Stakes

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) reported a stake in Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) and added to a holding in General Motors Co. as billionaire Chairman Warren Buffett and his deputies spent the most on stocks in a quarter since 2011. Buffett’s firm owned 17.8 million Suncor shares on June 30, a stake valued at more than $500 million in the Calgary-based heavy-oil producer, Berkshire said today in a regulatory filing. The company also added to its holdings in U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) The filing omitted some data that was reported confidentially to regulators. Read more of this post

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