Religions are more different than alike

As pointed out by Stephen Prothero, taken from reviews here and here:

Just as puritanical Wahhabis refuse to accept that Sufis are proper Muslims, for example, so many evangelical and other Christians insist that Mormons lie outside the orthodox Christian fold. Some major traditions stretch the definitional limits of the word religion to the breaking point. Confucianism, and perhaps a couple other Asian traditions, would appear to have more in common with an ethical system such as stoicism than with most other religious systems, in which creeds and deities and worship are more central. So why is one called a religion and the other not?

Christians regard sin as the problem and see salvation as the solution. Muslims define the problem as pride that can only be conquered by submission. Buddhists seek to overcome suffering while Christians regard suffering as ennobling, which is why Christians aren’t trying to achieve nirvana. Buddhists, unlike Christians, aren’t looking for salvation since they don’t believe in sin. Neither do Confucians. And while Jews and Muslims speak of sin, they are not all that interested in salvation from their sins.

He also went on the Colbert Report to explain the different things each religion set out to explain, which are much more different than a layperson like me would expect.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Prothero
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Euro crisis watch in the north as well as south, and other links

Eurozone breakup a real possibility– The eurozone members cannot credibly backstop the debt. Writedowns and losses are inevitable. It would be better to do it in an orderly fashion, via restructuring, but indeterminacy, aka extend and pretend, is the order of the day.
Charting Europe’s grim sovereign-bank loop
FT Alphaville– This grim sovereign-bank loop is one that’s finally increasingly being picked up by markets, particularly in Spain.
The low countries’ new low
The Guardian– While they may hate being lumped together, the similar choices in both suggest the region may once again merit the collective title of the Low Countries: low in intent, low in outcome, low as in debased.
Belgium’s elections: An artificial kingdom moves closer to its end
The Economist– Belgium is a bit like a company facing a really brutal labour dispute. That is the moment the board appoints a nasty thug as CEO, and the workers elect a militant headbanger as their union representative.
German-French relations on the rocks– It is time for the French to finally save money and the Germans to spend more of it.
Why a tough Europe 2020 strategy is needed to stop the EU from falling behind– The Europe 2020 strategy fails to draw the lessons from the hapless Lisbon strategy. It does not outline a credible route to enhanced growth.

Will major U.S. retailers ever make it big in Britain?– While the British public has long had an appetite for American fast-food vendors, the record of other U.S. retailers who have tried to make it big in Britain is mixed.
What’s in the bottle?– An investigation into the startling fraud accusations that have upended the fine wine world.
They’re just irrational?
Base Line Scenario– Banks don’t accidentally hold too much capital, oil companies don’t accidentally take too many safety precautions. Mistakes only go one way.

The sagging of the middle class
New York Times– Middle-class culture in the United States rests on the precepts of human capitalism, these precepts now seem shakier than they have in the past. No wonder middle-class spirits, as well as incomes, are sagging.
PIMCO on British national solvency
Credit Write Downs– Differences between the Eurozone and sovereign debtors like the UK or US mean PIMCO would not favour Bunds over Treasuries.
Dilbert’s Scott Adams on betting on the bad guys in investing
WSJ– Creator of Dilbert cartoons suggests we invest in companies we hate, like BP.

The economist as journalist
Economic Principals– Recognizing Roubini as a highly accomplished narrator, rather than as a producer of fundamentally new ideas, means reorganizing somewhat our ideas about the Fourth Estate.
Awareness of outside world growing in North Korea– North Koreans are far more aware of the outside world, according to evidence provided by North Korean refugees, South Korean humanitarian aid workers, Chinese traders and others.

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A borderless Europe? Hardly

Consider this paradox. In the last decade, one of the dominant idea of European solidarity has encouraged people of Europe to believe they are Europeans before their respective nationalities.  But parallel to this thread of political movement, there have been more, and not less, emphasis on the importance language plays on the national fronts.

All the more ironic, then, that in the 21st century there would be such a push to tie language to citizenship and inclusion, particularly throughout Europe. According to a Harris poll in 2007, 86% of Germans, 83% of Britons, 61% of French and Italians and 50% of Spaniards believe that citizenship and language tests are necessary for new immigrants. Quite which Spanish language immigrants in Spain are supposed to speak is not entirely clear. Nonetheless, half the country wants them to speak it.

Often, the greater the geographic proximity in which these languages are spoken, the greater the tension. But where Flemish culture is concerned, the primary threat is not really French but American culture and the English language.

With austerity bills landing on the doorsteps of those countries, will language be the final straw that breaks the euro-camel’s back?

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Small-country mindset consequences, and other links for the morning

The eurozone’s tragic small-country mindset
FT– You can take the Portuguese or Belgian prime ministers out of their small open economies, but you can’t take the small open economy mindset out of these men.
Questioning Keynes
CNN Money– Too often, forecasts have been wrong. Which makes Keynesian economics harder to follow in today’s modern economy.
The case against the euro– Growth will be at best anaemic. Unemployment will remain high. The potential legacy of having joined the euro is hard times for a generation.
It’s not hard to understand why Asia’s worried about Europe– Recent external shocks from Europe will likely show up Chinese and Philippine trade data in coming months. Doesn’t look good for Asia, especially for those economies like the Philippines and China for which exports provide a robust growth impetus.

Message in a bottle– The Nike outfits worn by the U.S. team as well as Brazil’s are made solely out of bottles, more specifically, bottles from landfills in Japan and Taiwan.
“for the lolz”: 4chan is hacking the attention economy– While the security hackers were attacking the security economy at the center of power and authority in the pre-web days, these attention hackers are highlighting how manipulatable information flows are.
Think gas is too pricey? Think again.
Washington Post– The question isn’t just what a gallon of gas costs. It’s what a gallon of anything that can replace gas costs. Maybe that’s what we should start asking politicians.

Does Japan really have a public debt problem?– Countries with their own central banks do not need to default; they can inflate, instead. Provided they can borrow at long enough maturities and on favourable terms, the amount of inflation needed to eliminate huge debt overhangs is not enormous, provided it is unexpected.
Open. The. Gates.– What immigration can potentially do for American military spending, Social Security expenditures, medical care costs, and technological growth.
Is a college degree still worth it?– Increasingly, the job market has become polarized, with the fastest-growing occupations on either the low end or the high end, often for positions that require more education than a bachelor’s degree.
Does this mean we never leave?– The New York Times reports on a monster find of minerals in Afghanistan, some of them strategic.

You might be population too– Apparently it’s crazy to want our species extinct, but crazy not to want it arbitrarily smaller.
Boldly going nowhere: Nasa ends plan to put man back on moon
The Times– Nasa has begun to wind down construction of the rockets and spacecraft that were to have taken astronauts back to the Moon, effectively dismantling the US human spaceflight programme despite a congressional ban on its doing so.
Are you what you eat?– While people with an unhealthy lifestyle are no more risk-loving than other people, they are more impatient.

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Swedish gender paradise, or not?

According to the NYT, Sweden’s parental leave policies is something to be desired and imitated.  A thoroughly interesting and somewhat surprisingly read.  For some background on my previous thoughts on fertility rates and interventionist policies on getting women back into the work place full time, here.

But scrolling down to second half of the article, the rosy picture decidedly darkens.

Some, however, worry that as men and women both work and both stay home with kids, a gender identity crisis looms. “Manhood is being squeezed” by the sameness, argued Ingemar Gens, an author and self-described gender consultant.

So is the Swedish taxpayer. Taxes account for 47 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 27 percent in the United States and 40 percent in the European Union overall. The public sector, famous for family-friendly perks, employs one in three workers, including half of all working women. Family benefits cost 3.3 percent of G.D.P., the highest in the world along with Denmark and France, said Willem Adema, senior economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Bodil Sonesson Gallon, head of sales at Axis Communications, an IT company that specializes in video surveillance, admits that parental leave can be disruptive — for careers and companies. She laments that with preschools starting at 12 months and little alternative child care, there is huge pressure for parents to take at least a year off.

Small businesses find it particularly tricky to juggle absences, said Sofia Bergstrom, social insurance expert at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, which represents 60,000 companies. Worse than parental leave, she says, is the 120-day annual allowance for parents to tend to sick children, which is impossible to plan and which is suspected of being widely abused.

When women and men used to be able to split their shared parental leave time however they wanted, women usually took the majority of allotted time off, because their pay was usually lower, thus the economic impact on the family unit as a whole was less.

For more dynamic businesses that want to avoid missing key personnels for too long, there’s a decided shift towards hiring men ahead of women so as to minimize the disruption of its workforce.

In effect, this sort of chess-play has resulted in women mostly confined in public-service works with lower pay and less exciting career trajectories than their husbands.

Fathers take on average only 20 percent of the 16 months of paid parental leave offered in Sweden to either mums or dads, according to Statistics Swede—a skimpy average that has sparked a broad debate over how to encourage more fathers to take the paid time off and reduce inequalities in the home. In most cases it is mothers who invoke their legal right and stay home with the kids.  Women are over-represented in low-income jobs, such as teachers or nurses, and on average earn 84 percent of the average male salary, according to Statistics Sweden.

Snark’s guide to the World Cup and other links

Mind over mass media
NY Times – The Internet and information technologies are helping us manage, search and retrieve our collective intellectual output at different scales, from Twitter and previews to e-books and online encyclopedias.
Too big to fail? The BP bailout as corporatism – The BP crisis recapitulates the entirety of corporatism in real time, transparently enough for anyone to see.
The gulf oil spill: No end in sight
The Economist – The oil has been flooding out for more than seven weeks now. The damage is becoming more apparent. The solutions are not.

Dismantling factories in a dreamweaver nation – Rising labor costs will ultimately force factories closer to labor sources, and working conditions will turn more humane. The biggest losers will be coastal governments that side with the factories to protect their revenues.
Americans: Let’s stop investing in our kids – Just as we’ve produced a health care system so expensive that we’d be better off without doctors and hospitals, we’ve managed to create an education system so expensive and ineffective that we’d be better off not sending anyone to school.
Greed’s not good for shareholders– Wherever you find over-rewarded executives presiding over companies whose main aim is to increase their market capitalisation we should pick up our skirts and get the hell out of it.

The bright side of wrong– A better relationship with wrongness can lead to better relationships in general — whether between family members, colleagues, neighbors, or nations.
The science of gaydar– If sexual orientation is biological, are the traits that make people seem gay innate, too? The new research on everything from voice pitch to hair whorl.
Female teachers’ math anxiety negatively affects female students– It is possible that even with male teachers, a relation between teacher anxiety and female student achievement might occur.

World Cup preview– A team-by-team analysis of the World Cup teams for a rough idea of what people will be talking about in the month ahead.
The ‘beauty bias’ at work, and what should be done about it– The increasing prevalence of obesity in America has done nothing to curb virulent prejudice against fat people. Ironically, immobilizing obesity is protected as a disability, but discrimination based purely on cosmetic aversion to fat is totally legal.
Naughty by nature: Why has Britain become so rude?– How did we become addicted to rudeness – in the sense of fart-joke vulgarity as well as personal insult? Is it a phenomenon of British art history, a leitmotif of British popular culture, or something firmly engrained in the British character?

This Mercer quality of living survey business is highly suspect

Mercer has ranked Vienna as the city that offers the highest quality of living in 2010. In your humble blogger’s opinion, this list is useless at best, and misleading at worst. Having just gotten back from a trip from London, to say that London ranks at 39, Berlin at 17, Toronto at 16, Amsterdam at 13, versus Vienna at 1, sounds pretty unlikely to me.

By Mercer’s own fluffy standards, it is hard to say that any countries in the top 50 is better than the next when it comes to basic household ownership of appliances, or the availability of basic public transportation, or the availability of meet and vegetables.

I would guess that the reason why North American cities tend to rank rather poorly on those quality of living indexes is most likely due to the urban sprawl, relatively weaker public transportation system, increased chance of congestion and pollution due to higher ownership of cars, lower concentration of older and more prestigious art and cultural installations, and perhaps less care when it comes to more environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing urban infrastructure and architecture.

Here are some observations from my casual encounter with Vienna:

It does not feel as safe as most other western European cities. That’s not to say that is is dangerous, but seeing homeless-ish people and young thugs with muzzled pit bulls along with a high level of police presence around subways does little to paint a picture of peace and tranquility.

There  are visible signs of greater income inequality than what I’ve encountered elsewhere. With the possible exception of Berlin, I have seen little outward appearance of income inequality in western Europe, other than Vienna.  People tend to be more shoddily dressed, and looked less healthy.  But of course the latter could be attributable to its meat-heavy diet.

Vienna is not a particularly clean city. Lots of people have called London dirty.  London is not dirty compared to Vienna.

Vienna is not a well-maintained city. Next to a city like Amsterdam, you can say it is positively run down.  The subway system doesn’t look like it’s been updated in years, has no turnpikes, although it does work.

Vienna is not a modern city. I use the word modern to designate consumer and service industries that’s up to par, which in cities like London or Amsterdam, exist side-by-side with architectural remnants of centuries past.  Walking around Vienna, many shops look like they are props from an 80s movie, including bars that are supposedly trendy and shopping areas that are supposedly carrying the most cutting-edge products.  They do not.  Across the border in Germany, everything’s more shiny and better-presented.

Exam fever and why cats would need to chase mice if there’s plenty of fish


Chinese high school students went through the grueling university entrance exam called gaokao this week. This is one of the most important experiences in a young Chinese person’s life, and whole families and cities gear up for it.  Some of the more entertaining essay questions include:

National (I): Why chase mice when there are fish to eat?

National (II): What is light reading?

Beijing: Looking at the stars with your feet on the ground

Shanghai: Danish fishermen – “When Danes go fishing, they carry with them a ruler. When they catch a fish, they will measure it and toss it back if it is not long enough. They say, ‘Isn’t it better to let the little ones grow up?’ More than two thousand years ago in our country, Mencius said, ‘If fine nets do not enter the pools, there will be more fish and turtles than can be eaten.’ And in fact this principle runs throughout many areas of our lives.”

Tianjin: The world I live in

Chongqing: Tough problems

Jiangsu: Green Life – “Green is vibrant, visually pleasing. Green is intertwined in life and ecology. Today, there is a new concept of green, one that is closely connected to the lives of every person.”

Guangdong: Neighbors – “We are neighbors and rely on each other. You might be visible or invisible. It is impossible to avoid having neighbors, but you can make a choice.”

Shandong: Light and shadow – ‘”All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.’ – Leo Tolstoy.”

Hunan: Morning

Jiangxi: Recovering childhood – “Why do we want to recover childhood? Because society it too utilitarian, children have too much pressure, and childhood ends too early. Society needs innocence and required a return to childhood.”

Fujian: The birth of Grimm’s Fairy Tales – “The brothers Grimm felt that there was a connection between folk tales and human history, but after collecting many of them without finding that connection, they gave up. Later on, a friend chanced across the things they had compiled, and arranged with a publisher to have it published, becoming what we know as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.”

Sichuan: Points and Life – “A point can form a line, can form a plane, can form a body. Life is like a few unregulated points which can be connected into countless lines, which can then form different planes, which can then form different geometric objects.”

Shaanxi: Success and the environment – (1) A tropical fish placed in a fishbowl will only grow three inches long; placed in a pond, it can grow quite large. (2) Wolves are so strong and powerful because they live in an outdoor environment. (3) A psychologist picked ten people and told them they had extraordinary talent. They then went on to find success. Later, the psychologist admitted that they were just ordinary people.

Hainan and Ningxia: Participation

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Morning links: Yep, that’s the sound of World Cup kicking off!

The rules of the game – If you want to have a successful World Cup you have to have one team that you absolutely want to win. Three is even better. Five is fantastic. More than seven and you’ll start to have trouble keeping them straight.
Football is war – Soccer wars are rare, but the notion that international sporting competitions inevitably inspire warm fraternity, is a romantic fiction.
Soccer and philosophy
WSJ – “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed in that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”
How did sport get so big? – Once, it was only a game. Now sport is a never-ending drama, a soap opera watched all over the world. How did it happen?

Who’s spending again? The rich and the old
New York Times – The wealth effect related to stock market gains may also help explain why higher-income Americans have picked up their spending so much, too.
If Belgium struggles to pull of federalism, what hope does Europe have?
The Economist – Belgium has in one sense become a model for the European Union. Alas, a negative model. Belgium is a living proof that the cultural gulf between north and south Europe makes it agonizingly hard to pull off a single economic political union.
‘Just do it’ is no mantra for Japan
FT – Japan’s leaders have shirked hard choices. Also, their system is not conducive to producing strong leaders. But it is wrong to suggest the answers are obvious.
Seven constructive remarks about the Euro
Credit Write Downs – There are constructive things that can be said about the weak euro.
Britain and Europe: No laughing matter
The Economist – Vigilant Eurosceptics are usually keen to see conniving genius in European federalists. For once, the British may have underestimated their determination never to let a crisis go to waste.

South Korea blasts pop music, propaganda over the border – After the country formally accused North Korea of launching the torpedo that sunk their warship Cheonan, South Korea has declared psychological warfare in retaliation.
The end of men – Yes, women still do most of the child care. And yes, the upper reaches of society are still dominated by men. But given the power of the forces pushing at the economy, this setup feels like the last gasp of dying age.
How to write a “Malcolm Gladwell Bestseller” – Gladwell’s books actually contain very few ideas. But these few ideas are chosen to be interesting to a general reader, and to be understandable by a layman. 

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North Korea, where more information is getting in

North Koreans have no access to Internet, nor outside TV or radio.  But despite censorship, information is getting through the Chinese and South Korean borders.

Slowly, however, information is seeping in. Traders return from China to report that people are richer and comparatively freer, and that South Koreans are supposedly even more so. Some of the traders have cellphones that are linked to the Chinese cellular network and can be surreptitiously borrowed for exorbitant fees.

Punishment for watching foreign films and television shows is stiff. The trader said a 35-year-old neighbor spent six months in a labor camp last year after he was caught watching “Twin Dragons,” a farcical Hong Kong action film starring Jackie Chan. Yet to the dismay of the former teacher, her 26-year-old son takes similar risks

At the same time, South Korea might be waging some form of psychological warfare against its northern hermit cousin/enemy.

After the country formally accused North Korea of launching the torpedo that sunk their warship Cheonan, South Korea has declared psychological warfare in retaliation. Their first missive into the hermit kingdom was a pop song.  Ended a six-year suspension against state-sanctioned propaganda, the South sent the message across the border through the airwaves. Before airing a rebuke from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, the broadcast features K-pop girl group 4minute singing their song “HuH (Hit Your Heart).”

Out of curiosity, I looked up the group along with other big names in the S. Korean pop factory.  In the space of the last couple of decades, it is probably not implausible to say that South Korea is now challenging Japan in the quality and polished packaging of its pop exports.

Compare and contrast with North Korean fashion shows?
South Korea knows perfectly well from America’s experience that soft power in the form of cultural assaults can sometimes be far more corrosive and effective than long-range missiles and army built-ups.  The North Koreans have no idea what they are in for.
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Morning links: Blackwater for sale

How Zynga survived FarmVille – With launches like Monday’s FarmVille for iPhone, there’s an increased emphasis on syncing one user’s experience between everywhere they play a game.
No refills – Why are new pharmaceuticals so hard to bring to market? Overcautious regulators and profit-hungry conglomerates make easy scapegoats, but they’re only partly to blame.
Social networks overtake Google in UK web hits – Facebook’s battle for internet supremacy with Google has intensified after social networks received more internet hits than search engines for the first time in the UK.
Wanted: A buyer for Blackwater and its baggage
CNN Money – Xe Services, what Blackwater became after civilian shootings, criminal indictments and civil lawsuits caused a rebranding push in 2009, wants someone to buy it.

India’s welfare gamble: Add 100 million to the rolls
WSJ – India is now embarking on a major reassessment of poverty levels. The review will determine how many struggling people across the world’s second-most populous nation.
Gold as inflation-proof deflation hedge – There is a line of reasoning out there that may be of help to those troubled by the inflation/deflation hedging potential of gold ownership.
‘The time we have is growing short’ – Has the contribution of the modern world of finance to economic growth become so critical as to support remuneration to its participants beyond any earlier experience and expectations?
Fear must not blind us to deflation’s dangers
FT – Premature fiscal tightening is, warns experience, as big a danger as delayed tightening would be. There are no certainties here.
Greece is tapping China’s deep pockets to help rebuild its economy
Washington Post – Spurred on by government incentives and bargain-basement prices, the Chinese are planning to pump hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of euros into Greece even as other investors run the other way.

How a soccer star is made
NY Times – The American approach is the more democratic view of sport. The aspirations of each member of the team are equally valid. Elsewhere, there is more comfort with singling out players for attention and individualized instruction.
Black market in dogs big business in Germany – Lured by lower prices for pedigree puppies, German dog lovers are turning to Eastern Europe to find their Fido. But often the cut-price pooches come with diseases and behavioral problems, and sometimes die after just a few days.
Yoga heritage: don’t even think about stealing it, says Indian government
The Guardian – An Indian government body tasked with protecting the country’s rich heritage of medicinal and medical philosophy and practice has started filming hundreds of asanas in an attempt to make a rigid system out of this most flexible of meditative practices.

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Morning links: Future of education

Rivals secretly finance opposition to Wal-Mart
WSJ – Supermarkets that have funded campaigns to stop Wal-Mart are concerned about having to match the retailing giant’s low prices lest they lose market share.
Higher education’s bubble is about to burst– Will traditional academic institutions will be able to keep up with the times, or will “edupunks” be able to find new ways of teaching and learning that challenge existing interests?
Good business– If you’re the vendor, would you rather the definition of success was in your hands or those of the people that hired you?
World-wide hiring set to pick up– Employers world-wide are more optimistic about hiring next quarter but the U.S. isn’t preparing for robust job growth.

Asset bubbles can’t be eliminated– Whatever your theory is about why bubbles originate, count on another one appearing sooner or later.
Hungary: (mis)managing market expectations– Investors are seriously concerned about the Fidesz government’s readiness to stick to a tough economic programme without resorting to populist remedies.
Dutch parliamentary elections: The return of the bourgeoisie– The Dutch go to the polls today. What’s driving the fears and anxieties of the Dutch constituents?
A failure of economic and environmental regulation– Reforming the system isn’t about writing a host of new rules; it’s about elevating the status of regulation and regulators.

Israel’s Silicon Valley of beauty technology– Ultrashape’s technique involves high-intensity ultrasound waves guided by a sophisticated tracking and delivery system to explode unwanted fat cells — much the way heat-seeking missiles destroy enemy objects.
No comment– One good reason to end the practice of allowing unnamed comments is that it’s flat-out wrong. Another is that it is causing headaches for news outlets, headaches they seriously don’t need, and it will cause more in the future.
Don’t get stuck in Edu 2010
O’Reilly Radar– With investments being made now in education that may not be repeated for decades, the challenge presented to technology is one of developing platforms that will not require massive tech do-overs and reinvestment as new technologies coming online.

“Green consumerism” largely a myth– Conventional measures of carbon emissions give consumers a free pass and ignore the greenhouse gas production resulting from global sourcing of consumer goods.
Costa Rica puts brakes on popular stem cell tourism– Costa Rica is cracking down on an unauthorized stem cell clinic that has attracted hundreds of foreigners seeking relief from degenerative diseases and serious injuries.
Neuroplasticity is a dirty word– Synaptic plasticity refers to changes in the strength of connections between synapses, the chemical or electrical connection points between brain cells.

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Morning links: How Canada did it

So, just what did Canada do? – Europe’s welfare system is as unsustainable as Canada’s was, only they managed to avoid doing anything about it for a long time.
Gulf Coast disaster: Will BP be bought or bankrupt?
CNN Money – Can BP afford to exist as a standalone company? Could it go bankrupt? Will BP have to cut dividends? Or will it survive intact, bruised a bit but otherwise just fine?
Euro ‘will be dead in five years’ – Of the 25 leading City economists who took part in the Telegraph survey, 12 predicted that the euro would not survive in its current form this Parliamentary term, compared with eight who suspected it would.
Fiscal discipline alone will not overcome the eurozone’s troubles – Whyte says, “deficits and surpluses are umbilically linked: one entails the other”. Alas, there appear to be very few policymakers in Germany willing to consider an alternative.
Jobs and kids: Female employment and fertility in rural China
Voxeu – Non-agricultural jobs for women reduce the number of children per woman by 0.64 and the probability of having more than one child by 54.8%.

Dear Hotmail: What the hell happened to you? – Somewhere along the line you stumbled. You got sloppy or you just gave up, and we drifted apart. Now you’ve been lapped by the technology and features of Gmail.
Behind Foursquare and Gowalla: The great check-in battle – All over the web, reward-based achievement games have begun to blossom as a means of encouraging specific behaviour.
Why I sold Zappos – Tony Hsieh built his online shoe retailer into an e-commerce powerhouse. But with credit tightening and investors eyeing the exits, Hsieh was forced to ask: Was selling Zappos really the only way to save it?

The clash of sports civilizations – As in industry, the government picks national “winners” in sports and funnels cash to create champions and win medals. But the support typically goes to sports in which Chinese have traditionally excelled. Soccer teams here are left to look for private sponsorship.
An inside look at Bernie Madoff’s life in prison – From the day Madoffarrived at the softer of Butner’s two medium-security facilities in handcuffs and shackles, he was a celebrity, even if his admirers were now murderers and sex offenders.
There is no one either good or bad, but circumstances make them so – Moral character is fragile much more often than it is robust. Most people have no robust character at all.
Brain scans being misused as lie detectors, experts say – Experts warn that measures are needed to stop brain scans being misused by courts, insurers and employers.

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