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Finance and economics商业报道Tax breaks税收优惠Bribing the taxpayer讨好纳税人Wasteful tax perks are sadly common遗憾的是,税收优惠经常被浪费ANY talk of tax reform in America quickly turns to tax expenditures, meaning the codes myriad exemptions, deductions and credits.一谈到美国的税收改革,很快就能转向税式出这个话题,这意味着大量的税收减免和政府收入减少。These now cost 7% of GDP. Economists deride many of them as handouts for influential firms and middle-class voters.现在这些优惠占到了GDP的7%。经济学家嘲笑他们受惠者中许多人都是颇有影响力的企业和中产阶级选民。But for just that reason, politicians are reluctant to curb them.但也就是这个原因促使政客不愿意减少相关优惠。A new paper from the IMF suggests other countries have much the same problem.国际货币基金组织的一篇新文章表明,有很多国家存在同样的问题。America, it turns out, is not the most profligate provider of tax breaks.事实明,美国在税收减免优惠方面并不是最大方的。Australia and Italy spend more on them, as a proportion of their GDP.澳大利亚和意大利的税收优惠所占GDP份额更高,Britain and Spain are not far behind.英国和西班牙的税式出紧随其后。The bulk of the spending goes on individual income-tax relief for things like saving for pensions and interest payments on mortgages.大部分个人所得税被养老保险和抵押贷款利息抵免。That Europe still spends lavishly on tax discounts in spite of its fiscal problems is especially striking.尽管欧洲财政问题举世瞩目,但其在税收优惠方面依然大手笔。Italy gives away 1.8 billion each year on tax breaks for farmers alone.意大利政府每年对农民的税收优惠金额高达18亿欧元。Germany spends over 2 billion a year subsidising bonus payments for working evenings and weekends—an incentive first introduced by the Nazis to boost munitions production during the second world war.德国每年耗费超过20亿奖金补贴给那些上夜班和周末加班的人士——这项奖励首次使用是在第二次世界大战期间,是时纳粹为了提高弹药生产率而颁布了这项优惠。The financial crisis has been a missed opportunity to cut this sort of outdated largesse, says Pierre Leblanc of the OECD.经合组织工作人员Pierre Leblan表示金融危机是缩减税收优惠的绝妙机会,但是却被错过了。While some countries have trimmed them to help cut their deficits, others, like Britain and France, have introduced new ones to encourage investment.虽然有些国家为了削减赤字而减少了税收优惠,像英国和法国也已经为了鼓励投资而另辟蹊径。Overall, they remain at a similar level to before the crisis.但是,总的来说他们的税收优惠仍处于危机前水平。The IMF argues that now is the time to roll back tax breaks to help cut budget deficits.IMF认为,现在是时候削减税收优惠了,以达到削减预算赤字的目标。Regular review would increase scrutiny of outdated perks.定期审查将增加对过时津贴的安全性。Many could be replaced with more targeted measures: most of the benefit is currently enjoyed by the rich rather than those needing help.许多优惠可以更换为更有针对性:就目前而言,大多数优惠项目都是大而广泛的,而税收优惠的受惠者多为有钱人而不是那些真正需要的人。For instance, over half of income-tax breaks in America go to the richest 20% of households, according to the Congressional Budget Office.根据国会预算办公室数据显示,例如,美国20%的最富有家庭的所得税减免超过所得税额的一半,The poorest 20% are left with just 8% of the pie.而20%的最穷家庭的税收优惠却只有其所得税额的8%。Spain is reviewing its tax expenditures as part of its austerity drive. But Italy is a more typical case.西班牙政府正在审阅其税式出的紧缩计划。但意大利在方面更快一步。The IMF sees scope for making savings of up to 61 billion.国际货币基金组织认为该计划的实施能至少节约610亿欧元。Yet the latest budget law, passed last month, requires tax breaks to be pruned by just 10 billion by 2017.然而上个月通过的最新预算法案要求,仅需到2017年以前,缩减100亿欧元的税收优惠便可。Even that proved politically unpalatable: on January 21st the government was reported to be rescinding the planned cuts.而即使这样也带来政治上的不快:1月21日,意大利政府宣布取消削减计划。Higher taxes, it seems, are unpopular everywhere.更高的税负,似乎到处都是不受欢迎的。 /201402/275476。

Books and Arts; Book Review;Slavery in Africa;Gathered in the marketplace;文艺;书评;非洲奴隶制;汇集于集市;The Last Slave Market: Dr John Kirk and the Struggle to End the African Slave Trade. By Alastair Hazell.《最后的奴隶市场:John Kirk士和终结非洲奴隶贸易的斗争》作者:Alastair Hazell。The standard line on Victorians is that they were bad for Africa. In a multitude of ways that was true. Yet the irony is that English-speaking Africa today (in its respect for elders, thirst for education, attitude to criminals, its piety and primness) is probably more Victorian than anywhere else in the world. The journey that African boys now make from village to heaving cities has a Dickensian feel; not David Copperfield but David Odhiambo. And why are Anglican and Presbyterian churches still the pillar of so many African communities? Weren’t these de facto assemblies of colonialism? Up to a point. As Alastair Hazell reminds the er in this compelling new history, the Victorians were also responsible for ending the slave trade in Africa. For that, and for the evangelism that followed, their influence has outlasted that of the Marxists and pan-Africanists.人们普遍的看法是,维多利亚时期的英国人对非洲起了消极的作用。从很多方面来看确实如此。而讽刺的是,今天,非洲英语使用地区的维多利亚时代特色也许比世界上其他任何地方都更为明显。这里的人们尊敬长者,渴求教育,严惩罪犯,虔诚拘谨。如今,非洲男孩从乡村到大都市的经历很有些狄更斯笔下人物的味道,相对于大卫·科波菲尔,他们的经历更似David Odhiambo(David Odhiambo: 肯尼亚裔作家,后移居加拿大)。为何英国国教和基督教长老会依然在众多非洲社区扮演着柱的角色?它们实际上难道不是殖民主义的集会吗?也不完全如此。Alastair Hazell的这部吸引读者眼球的历史新作引起人们重新的思考,维多利亚时代也曾对终结非洲奴隶贸易做出贡献。由于这一点,加上紧随其后的福音传道,维多利亚时代英国人的影响比马克思主义者和泛非洲主义者更为深远。Mr Hazell has a cracking character in John Kirk. A Scottish botanist blessed with a strong and supportive wife, Kirk was the British representative on the Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar from 1866 to 1886. He arguably did more than anyone else to abolish slavery in the sultanate. The author shows just how extensive that trade was. Zanzibari agents trekked deep into the interior buying up human beings. The limits of their range, in Congo, are the limits of where the native coast language, Kiswahili, is spoken today. Slaves were manacled and marched to the ocean. Many perished on the way. Those too emaciated to make the crossing to Zanzibar were left to die on the shore. Richard Burton, a British explorer, described slave corpses floating in the island’s sewage.在Hazell看来,John Kirk的品行十分出众。Kirk是一名苏格兰植物学家,上天赐予了他一位坚强的妻子,对他的工作持有加。1866至1886年间,Kirk在英国驻印度洋桑给巴尔岛代表。可以说,Kirk在废除苏丹奴隶制方面做出的努力比任何人都要多。本书作者正是向人们展示了奴隶贸易的广泛性。桑给巴尔代理机构经过艰苦跋涉,深入国境内部,尽可能多的收购奴隶。这些代理机构在刚果绵延至如今使用当地斯瓦西里语的沿海地区。奴隶戴着手铐,被迫向海洋方向前行。途中丧生者无数。过于瘦弱憔悴,无法远渡大洋前往桑给巴尔的奴隶则被遗弃在岸边,任其死亡。据英国探险家Richard Burton描述,桑给巴尔岛的下水道中都漂浮着奴隶的尸体。Burton was one of several men who crossed paths with Kirk. Earlier in his career Kirk accompanied David Livingstone up the Zambezi. And Henry Morton Stanley, an American journalist-adventurer, visited Kirk in Zanzibar for advice before setting out to find Livingstone. Mr Hazell describes Livingstone as uncommunicative, morose and “often ill at ease with himself.” Kirk was steadier. He worked patiently to gain the trust of traders and made meticulous records of the slave markets.Burton是与Kirk共事的几人之一。Kirk早年与David Livingstone一起在赞比西河上游工作。美国记者兼冒险家Henry Morton Stanley在出发寻找Livingstone前,在桑给巴尔与Kirk见过面并向他征求建议。据Hazell描述,Livingstone是一个沉默寡言,阴郁孤僻的人,“他常常觉得不安。”Kirk则更为稳重。他用耐心的工作换来了商人的信任,并且对奴隶市场情况做了详细的记录。Zanzibar was the main conduit of slaves from Africa to Arabia, as a sculpture in the town commemorates (pictured below). Abolitionists railed against the trade. But the island’s Omani rulers were implacable, arguing that the Koran gave the right to enslave infidels. Britain itself sent out mixed messages. Zanzibar was nominally under the control of the India Office and officials there valued stability. Besides, the slaves came along with flawless and easily worked ivory from jungle elephants that was in demand in England for billiard balls, piano keys, trinkets, knives and forks. “The cutlers of Sheffield alone took 170 tons [a year],” the author notes.非洲奴隶主要通过桑给巴尔岛流向阿拉伯半岛,镇上还有纪念雕塑(下图所示)。废奴主义者强烈抗议奴隶贸易。而岛上的阿曼统治者态度却极为坚决,他们坚持认为,古兰经赋予了人们以异教徒为奴的权利。英国本身的态度也含糊不清。名义上,桑给巴尔受印度办事处管辖,官员很重视这里的稳定程度。另外,人们很容易从生活在丛林中得大象身上取得光洁无暇的象牙,在引进奴隶的同时,象牙也一同流入英国,制成畅销的台球、钢琴键、装饰品和刀叉。Hazell指出:“仅在谢菲尔德,(每年)就有170吨象牙来到刀叉制造商手中。”The Zanzibaris learned that the best course was publicly to give in to the British, and then just continue trading slaves. When Kirk took the Sultan of Zanzibar, Barghash bin-Said, to London, taking advantage of the national mourning following the death of Livingstone in 1873, the public declared a victory for British civilisation. Barghash played along, telling the Church Missionary Society that “sping the light of godly knowledge among the ignorant in Africa” was a “praiseworthy object and as such will meet with recompense from God.” Less advertised was that on the journey back home Barghash could not resist buying a selection of women slaves in Egypt for his harem.桑给巴尔人发现,最好的方法是表面从英国,暗中继续奴隶贸易。1873年,举国哀悼Livingstone的逝世,借此机会,Kirk将桑给巴尔首领Barghash bin-Said带到了伦敦,于是人们宣告了英国文明的凯旋。Barghash也附和着向英国教会传信会表示,“在愚昧无知的非洲传播神圣的知识之光目标可嘉,此举定会得到上帝的奖赏。”而鲜为人知的是,在回国的路上,Barghash不由自主地在埃及为他的三妻四妾购买了一些精选女奴。There is much to enjoy and reflect upon in this carefully researched and briskly told account. Some quibbles remain. The author has a bias towards the stories of resolute Britons like Captain Atkins Hamerton over Arab adventurers. And while he clearly feels for the enslaved Africans, he shows little curiosity to explore further. Which peoples were the slaves from? What became of them? The documentation may be insufficient, but whether through genetics, linguistics or archaeology it is important to know more.书中研究细致,叙述令人耳目一新,提供了大量供读者欣赏和思考的素材。但是也存在一些有待斟酌之处。本书作者略有偏袒如Atkins Hamerton船长一类的英国人,对阿拉伯探险者态度过于决绝,而对非洲奴隶表现出了明显的同情,对更远的探索也没什么兴趣可言。奴隶们为何种民族?他们有着怎样的遭遇?史实文件也许不够详实,但是从遗传学、语言学和考古学的角度,更进一步的了解也许意义重大。 /201305/239800。

Science and technology科学技术Ancient animal behaviour远古动物行为Jurassic lark侏罗纪雨燕How the pterosaur caught its supper翼龙是如何逮到晚餐的PALAEOETHOLOGY, working out how long-extinct animals behaved, is a subject whose practitioners can never, definitively, be proved right.古行为学,作为一门研究那些早已灭绝的动物的行为的学科,其研究者永远不可能明自己的理论是确凿无误的,But that does not stop them trying.但这一点从来没有阻止过他们对真相的探索。The latest effort, to be presented later this month to the International Symposium on Pterosaurs in Rio de Janeiro, is an attempt by Michael Habib of the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, and Mark Witton at the University of Portsmouth, in Britain, to work out how one of the most peculiar of the flying reptiles of the Jurassic earned its living.本月晚些时候,将于里约热内卢举行的国际翼龙目研讨会将展示该领域最新一项研究成果,南加州大学的Michael Habib和普利茅斯大学的Mark Witton进行了该项研究,目的在于弄清楚侏罗纪最神奇的飞行类爬行动物之一是如何捕捉食物的。Anurognathus and its relatives have been known for 90 years.蛙嘴龙及其近亲为人类了解已有90年。They were the size of swifts and until now it had been thought that, like swifts, they chased around the sky after insects—a technique known as hawking.它们体型如雨燕般大小,直到今天,人们一直认为它们像雨燕一样在天空中到处疾飞追逐昆虫—即一种被称为飞行捕食的摄食策略。Dr Habib and Dr Witton believe this is wrong.两位士Habib 和Witton认为这种理论是错误的,They suspect instead that Anurognathus sat in wait for its prey, and then sallied forth to intercept it like a surface-to-air missile.他们猜想蛙嘴龙反而是静待猎物,然后像地空导弹一样突然腾空截击。They came to this conclusion by comparing Anurognathus with 36 birds and 20 bats from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.在将蛙嘴龙与取自斯密森学会物馆的36种鸟和20种蝙蝠进行对比后,Habib和Witton做出这一推论。Using a mix of computerised tomography and mundane measurements with callipers, they assessed the lengths, widths, thicknesses, densities and bending potential of the bones of the modern animals and compared them with those gleaned from Anurognathus fossils.他们综合了计算机断层摄影术和使用卡钳的普通测量方法,分析评估了现代动物骨骼的长度,宽度,厚度,密度及弯曲度可能性,并将它们和从蛙嘴龙化石中搜集到的数据进行对比。Anurognathuss mouth, they found, was similar to the mouths of nightjars, which also sally after prey.他们发现,蛙嘴龙的嘴与夜鹰相似,后者也是突袭猎物的。Moreover, the pterosaurs legs and wings were stronger than those of any comparable bird or bat, reinforcing the idea that they could leap rapidly into the air.另外,翼龙的腿和翅膀要比任何可以相提并论的鸟类和蝙蝠都要强壮,这一点强化了它们可以迅疾腾空的观点。Their conclusion was that Anurognathus did indeed feed by sallying—and probably more effectively than any living creature.两位士Habib和Witton的结论是,蛙嘴龙的确是突然腾空袭击猎物的—而且它们的狩猎有可能比任何生物都要更高效。 /201310/260797。

Books and Arts; Book Review;Politics in India; Iron lady;文艺;书评;印度政治;铁娘子;Sonia Gandhi: An Extraordinary Life. By Rani Singh.索尼娅·甘地:非同寻常的一生;拉尼·辛格著。LAST year a supporter of Sonia Gandhi threatened legal action and succeeded in preventing the publication in English of “The Red Sari”, a fictionalised life which had aly had a successful run in Spanish and Italian. Although a couple of biographies have been published in India, Rani Singh’s “Sonia Gandhi: An Extraordinary Life, An Indian Destiny” is the first for an international market.《红色纱丽》一书歪曲地描述了索尼娅#8226;甘地的生活,此书的西班牙语和意大利语版本都广受欢迎。而英文版《红色纱丽》一书的出版却受到了索尼娅#8226;甘地的一名持者的阻挠,他扬言要采取法律手段,最终他成功了,英文版并没有出版。在印度国内,尽管有一些关于索尼娅#8226;甘地的传记已经出版,但拉丽辛格的《索尼娅#8226;甘地:卓越的一生,一个印度人的宿命》却是第一本面向全球读者的传记。When Sonia married Rajiv, son of the prime minister, Indira Gandhi, in Delhi in 1968, nobody predicted great things for her. She was pretty, personable and very shy. Like her husband, she had few academic qualifications. Her father was a builder from a town on the outskirts of Turin. Although the Nehru-Gandhi family was not, as Ms Singh states several times, aristocratic, they and their circle could certainly be snooty. It was not unusual in the 1990s to hear Sonia Gandhi referred to in Delhi social circles as “the Italian au pair”.1968年,索尼娅#8226;甘地在新德里和当时的印度总理英迪拉#8226;甘地(甘地夫人)的儿子拉杰夫#8226;甘地结婚。人们对她并无多大的期待。索尼娅#8226;甘地面容姣好,姿态优雅,害羞内敛。同她丈夫一样,她在学术上建树甚少。她的父亲是一个建筑工人,来自都灵市郊一个小镇。辛格不止一次将尼赫鲁-甘地家族描述为是有着贵族习气,尽管事实情况并非完全如此,但他们的小圈子的确是高傲势利。(尼赫鲁-甘地家族本可以待人傲慢,但事实上,他们这个小圈子并不像辛格在书中不止一次的描写的那样喜欢摆贵族的架子)在20世纪90年代,新德里的社交圈将索尼娅#8226;甘地称为“意大利帮工”的情况已经很少再出现了。Today Mrs Gandhi is the most powerful politician in India. Earlier this year when she went for treatment at Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, the government was left rudderless. Characteristically, no announcement was made as to where she had gone, or whether her illness was serious. Cabinet ministers were reduced to asking each other, and even in some cases the media, for information about her condition.如今,索尼娅#8226;甘地已是印度最有权力的政治家。今年的早些时候,她前往纽约的梅莫瑞尔#8226;斯欧恩-凯特林 癌症中心接受治疗,政府群龙无首。有一个典型的例子:政府就她的去向,健康状况没有做任何的声明。内阁部长们不得不相互询问,有些时候甚至向媒体打听索尼娅#8226;甘地的情况。When she returned to India in September and resumed her duties as president of the ruling Congress Party, the immediate crisis appeared to stabilise. Mrs Gandhi’s position—which might best be described as a dynastic moral authority—now stems less from the fact that she is Rajiv’s widow than from her intuitive strategic sense and her discreet, often silent, ability to assert political control.当索尼娅#8226;甘地九月份回到印度,再次开始她国会党主席的工作时,原本混乱的状况一似乎下子秩序井然。人们关于她的地位最恰当的描述是“王朝的精神领袖”,原本是因为她是拉吉夫的遗孀,而现在则更多的是因为她在政治上直觉敏锐,思想具有战略性,寡言慎行,对政治工作有绝对的掌控能力。It is hard to determine just how she does this, since her senior colleagues know they would soon fall from favour if they broke the omerta that surrounds her. Sonia Gandhi almost never gives interviews, although the few she has done on Indian television have been surprisingly open and direct, recounting the tragedy of her husband’s assassination in 1991 and her own inclusive social ideals.人们不知道索尼娅#8226;甘地是如何做到这些的。但她身边和她共事多年的同事们知道,要是他们胆敢损害索尼娅#8226;甘地的美好形象(风言风言),他们也将地位不保。索尼娅#8226;甘地极少接受采访,在她为数不多的几次电视访问里,她一反常态地非常公开和直接地讲述着1991年他的丈夫遇刺的悲剧经历,分享着她自己的社会理想。Ms Singh says she follows “her own brand of socialism”, which is an exaggeration. Rather than socialism, it is an emphasis on protecting the disadvantaged even while proceeding with India’s at times rapacious version of capitalism. Since she does not hold a ministerial post, Sonia Gandhi can appear detached from government policy, and row back from difficult decisions when they prove unpopular. A symbolic performance is combined with studious political negotiation.辛格说索尼娅#8226;甘地在践行她独有的社会主义,这实在有些夸大其词。与其是说走社会主义之路,索尼娅只是在印度大肆发展资本主义的同时更强调保护弱势群体的利益。由于她并没有内阁的席位,索尼娅可以表现得和政府的政策相背而行,当政府的决定不受欢迎时再提出自己的见解。这种象征性的表演常常体现在和与政府频繁进行的政治性协商中。There are several difficulties with this biography. Ms Singh, a London-based journalist and broadcaster, appears to think that her duty as a biographer is to write a hagiographical defence of her subject. The enthusiastic tone extends to most members of the Gandhi family. When Indira Gandhi made a controversial snap decision to nationalise India’s big banks, the er is told simply that crowds danced in the streets in jubilation: “Indira had an instinctive feeling for what would please people and would move heaven and earth to deliver.”辛格是一名驻扎在伦敦的记者和播音员。在写这本书的时候有很多困难。她认为自己作为传记的撰写者,其职责就是要为她书中主角树立正面形象,因此她对甘地家族成员的评价都甚高,当记叙到甘地夫人当机立断,推行了一项颇有争议的国有化印度大型的政策时,辛格仅仅描述了人们在街上欢乐地跳舞庆贺。她还写到“甘地夫人天生知道如何迎合别人,她也竭尽全力地利用这一点。”There is no indication that Ms Singh has had access, during her research, to either Sonia Gandhi herself, or to any of the people who are close to her. The book shows scant political understanding. Sikh militancy, Kashmir, the Sri Lanka conflict and the Bangladesh war are recounted in school textbook prose, accompanied by some baffling non sequiturs.没有任何的迹象表明辛格在撰写这本书做研究期间,有机会接近索尼娅#8226;甘地或是她身边的人。此书政治见解略显浅薄。书中关于锡克教的斗争,克什米尔,斯里兰卡冲突,孟加拉的战争的记叙走只停留在教科书的水平,同时还记叙了一些不相关的战争。(还下了一些不想干的令人困惑的结论)When the narrative becomes more personal, the er is offered anecdotes such as this: “Presented with a tray of freshly made juices, Sonia studied the options carefully: papaya, lime, orange, fresh mango, and coconut water, before choosing the last one.” Would history have turned out differently if she had chosen the lime?当作者叙述平日的琐碎生活之时,读者会读到这样的句子“索尼娅面前放着众多的鲜榨的果汁,有番木瓜汁,酸橙汁,橘汁,新鲜芒果汁和椰子汁,她细细地选择着,最后选择了椰子汁。如果她最后选了酸橙汁,这对历史有什么影响呢? /201305/242165。

Three days past, and the research team is once again out looking for the beaches.3天过去了,研究小队再次外出寻找比奇家庭。They catch up with Puck and Semu, she leads him out into deep water for the first time, which is a first big challenge.他们想到了帕克和莎木,看起来帕克想把莎木带到深水区。这对它来说是个挑战。Deep water is a much more dangerous place for Semu, he could easily get lost.对莎木来说深水区是个危险地带。很容易就走丢了。Hes still learning his mothers call.它还在学习妈妈的叫声。Sensing the danger, Semu stays closer to her side, mirroring her every move as he swept along in Pucks history.感到有危险,莎木就会紧靠着妈妈。模仿妈妈的动作就可以借助它的动力,往前游。Semu was indeed a little bit more coordinated today, and low like skittish, keeping it well with mum看起来莎木有点协调了。能跟上妈妈,就不会太激动了。Normally, caves can only dive a meter or so in their first week of life, but Semu is diving deeper and for longer than any other calves the researchers have seen before.通常,刚出生的小海豚只能下潜一米深。但莎木潜的要更深一点,更长一点,队员们从来没遇到过。Its a good sign.好兆头。Its Semu doing so well, Pucks finally able to start fishing again.莎木干的不错,帕克终于可以吃点东西了。She heads for a bait ball.它往鱼群游去。Mothers lose a lot of weight in the first week of their calves life.小海豚刚出生的几周内,妈妈的体重会变轻。While Pucks nursing, she needs to increase her food intake by 50%.哺乳期的帕克要比平时多吃50%的食物。Later that afternoon, something very unexpected happens as visitors from across the bay start arriving.下午发生了意想不到的事情。有访客穿过鲨鱼湾来到了这里。Mothers and calves from at least 3 different families are gathering to meet Semu.至少有三个不同家庭的成员过来看看莎木。201406/303202。

How money works钱是如何运作的Gold rush淘金热A good guide to the stuff in our pockets一本关于我们囊中物的优秀指南Money: The Unauthorised Biography. By Felix Martin.《金钱:非授权自传》。作者:Felix Martin。ONE story in this surprisingly entertaining book on the nature of money is about the Irish banking crisis. The countrys bank system ground to a complete stop, with branches closed, the clearing system suspended and customers unable to withdraw or deposit money. As cash ran out, people had to find a way of paying their regular bills, or even just stumping up for a pint of stout in a pub. What actually happened was that businesses started accepting IOUs or cheques for everything, even though there was no telling when the cash would be forthcoming. It helped that a lot of Irish life is lived locally: builders, greengrocers, mechanics and barmen all turned out to be dab hands at personal credit profiling.这本关于金钱性质的书出乎意料地有趣,其中一个故事与爱尔兰危机有关。爱尔兰的系统完全瘫痪,各分行全部关闭,清算系统被暂停,顾客无法存取款。在现金用完后,人们不得不想办法付日常账单,就连在酒吧为一品脱烈性黑啤埋单也是如此。结果商家开始接受欠条或票,虽然没人知道现金何时会来。还好爱尔兰人的生活起居很大程度上都可以在当地解决:建筑工、零售店主、机械师和酒保摇身变成了个人信用建档的行家 。In short, Ireland developed a new class of money. Its currency was not backed by any central bank, but based solely on informal if surprisingly accurate credit scoring. And the currency was transferable: if certain people said the bond was good, then the bond was good.总之,爱尔兰发展出一种新的钱种类。其货币不被任何央行持,仅仅基于非正式却出奇准确的信用记录。并且这种货币是可流通的,如果某些人说债券有效,那么债券就有效。This particular Irish banking crisis might seem vaguely familiar, but only vaguely. It took place more than 40 years ago, when the Irish financial sector came to a seven-month halt as a result of a national labour dispute. The point of the story is that it supports two of the authors main contentions—first that money is not currency and that sovereign support for currency is not particularly important, and second that financial crises are endemic. No sooner has the last one been put to bed than the next is waking up.这个奇特的爱尔兰危机听起来可能隐约有些熟悉,但也只是隐约而已。那次危机发生在40多年前,当时爱尔兰金融业因全国劳动争议瘫痪了七个月。讲这个故事是因为它持了作者的两点主张——第一,钱不是货币,并且主权对货币的持并非特别重要;第二,金融危机是普遍的,刚刚解决一个危机,另一个危机又出现了。For some people, money is merely something underwritten by the state and designed to enhance a basic barter economy. Felix Martin, an economist and fund manager, goes further. Early societies, such as the Babylonians and the ancient Egyptians, were static, with a fixed hierarchy of social obligations. They had no need of money or currency. Money was the instrument through which later societies unshackled themselves from preordained social orders and became individualistic.对于一些人来说,金钱仅仅是国家担保的东西,用于增强基本的物物交换。经济学家、基金经理Felix Martin对金钱的理解更进了一步。早期社会,例如巴比伦和古埃及,是静止的,每个阶层承担的社会责任固定不变。这些社会不需要金钱或货币。金钱将之后的社会从上天安排的社会制度中解放出来,变为个人主义。With money came speculation, bringing in turn those endemic financial crises. To ensure greater stability, Mr Martin would like to see the introduction of an ultra-simple version of “limited-purpose banking”. Money must be “shorn of its specious promise” he says; let the state underwrite a tiny core of deposit-taking banks. Everything else—from interest-rate derivatives to collateralised debt obligations should carry on unregulated and uninsured. If you lose your dough, tough. You knew the risks. It is a solution that will attract anyone seeking a clean, clear, fair way of managing financial markets. Until they lose their money, of course.有金钱就有投机,有投机就有普遍的金融危机。为确保稳定性,Martin希望引入超简版的“限制用途”。他说,必须“去除”金钱“似是而非的承诺”;让国家为储蓄极少的核心业务担保。其他业务—从利率衍生工具到债务抵押债券—应继续不受监管,不受保护。如果你输了钱,糟糕。不过你本来就知道风险的。这个解决方法会吸引寻求以干净、清楚、公正的方式管理金融市场的人。当然在他们自己输钱以前。 /201405/294177。

Science and technology - Psychosomatic medicine科学技术Psychosomatic medicine身心医学Think yourself well要相信,你的身体很棒You can. But it helps to think well of yourself in the first place你可以拥有很好的体魄。但首先,你要自我感觉好,这会有帮助的。THE link between mind and body is terrain into which many medical researchers, fearing ridicule, dare not t.许多医学研究者都不敢探究躯体和心理的关系,因为他们害怕,踏进这一领域会受人嘲笑。But perhaps more should do so.但也许,研究这方面的人应该多一些才好。For centuries, doctors have recognised the placebo effect, in which the illusion of treatment, such as pills without an active ingredient, produces real medical benefits.几个世纪以来,医生已逐渐认可了安慰剂效应。因为患者会产生错觉,认为自己在接受治疗。比如,用无活性成分的药片也能产生实际疗效。More recently, respectable research has demonstrated that those who frequently experience positive emotions live longer and healthier lives.根据最近的可靠的研究表明,平时积极乐观的人会活得更长久、更健康。They have fewer heart attacks, for example, and fewer colds too.比如,他们心脏病发作的次数更少,也很少感冒。Why this happens, though, is only slowly becoming understood.然而,人们才开始慢慢了解这种情况发生的原因。What is needed is an experiment that points out specific and measurable ways in which such emotions alter an individuals biology.人们需要的是做一场实验,明确这样的情绪是通过怎样具体的、可测量的方式来改变人的生理状况。And a study published in Psychological Science, by Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kok at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, does precisely that.北卡罗来纳大学教堂山分校的芭芭拉·弗雷德里克松和贝瑟尼·可可就是按照这个思路做了一项研究,并在《心理科学》上发表了相关论文。Dr Fredrickson and Dr Kok concentrated their attentions on the vagus nerve. This nerve starts in the brain and runs, via numerous branches, to several thoracic and abdominal organs including the heart.弗雷德里克松士和可可士把注意力集中在迷走神经上。这对神经起于颅腔,通过无数分与胸腔、腹腔的几个脏器相连。Among its jobs is to send signals telling that organ to slow down during moments of calm and safety.它的其中一项工作就是为器官发送信号,让它们在躯体平静、安宁的状态下放缓节奏。How effectively the vagus nerve is working can be tracked by monitoring someones heart rate as he breathes in and out.他们通过监测一个人吸气、呼气时的心率,追踪记录迷走神经如何有效地工作。Healthy vagal function is reflected in a subtle increase in heart rate while breathing in and a subtle decrease while breathing out.如果吸气时心率略微增加,呼气时略微下降,则说明迷走神经工作正常。The difference yields an index of vagal tone, and the value of this index is known to be connected with health.两次心率之差构成迷走神经张力指数。人们都知道该指数与健康程度有关。Low values are, for example, linked to inflammation and heart attacks.例如,低指数就与炎症、心脏病发作几率有联系。What particularly interested Dr Fredrickson and Dr Kok was recent work that showed something else about the vagal-tone index: people with high tone are better than those with low at stopping bad feelings getting overblown.让弗雷德里克松士和可可士特别感兴趣的是最近的研究,因为它显示了迷走神经张力指数的另一个性质:与张力指数低的人相比,指数高的人能更好地防止不良情绪失控。They also show more positive emotions in general.研究也显示,指数高的人大体上情绪更乐观。This may provide the missing link between emotional well-being and physical health.这也许弥补了心理健康与生理健康之间缺失的环节。In particular, the two researchers found, during a preliminary study they carried out in 2010, that the vagal-tone values of those who experience positive emotions over a period of time go up.尤其值得注意的是,两位研究人员在2010年的初步探究中发现,人们如果体验一段时间的积极情绪,迷走神经张力指数会就增加。This left them wondering whether positive emotions and vagal tone drive one another in a virtuous spiral.这为他们留下了疑念,积极情绪与迷走神经张力是否处于一个良性循环之中,互相促进?They therefore conducted an experiment on 65 of the universitys staff, to try to find out.因此,他们对本校的65名员工展开实验,一探究竟。They measured all of their volunteers vagal tones at the beginning of the experiment and at its conclusion nine weeks later.他们在实验开始时测量了所有志愿者的迷走神经张力指数,九周后实验结束时又再次测量。In between, the volunteers were asked to go each evening to a website especially designed for the purpose, and rate their most powerful emotional experiences that day.在实验期间,他们要求志愿者每天晚上登录一家专门为此设计的网站,为当天所经历的各种最强烈情绪评定等级。Dr Fredrickson and Dr Kok asked their volunteers to consider nine positive emotions, such as hope, joy and love, and 11 negative ones, including anger, boredom and disgust.弗雷德里克松士和可可士为志愿者提供了九种可供考虑的积极情绪选项,如期待、开心、热爱,还有十一种消极情绪,包括愤怒、疲倦、厌恶。They were asked to rate, on a five-point scale, whether—and how strongly—they had felt each emotion.两位士要求他们以五分制一一打分:是否有这样的情绪、情绪有多强烈。One point meant not at all; five meant extremely.1分代表完全没有,5分代表非常强烈。In addition, half the participants, chosen at random, were invited to a series of workshops run by a licensed therapist, to learn a meditation technique intended to engender in the meditator a feeling of goodwill towards both himself and others.此外,他们还随机邀请了一半志愿者到一个注册治疗师开的一系列工作坊中,学习冥想的技巧,旨在让冥想者产生一种善待自己、善待他人的情绪。This group was encouraged to meditate daily, and to report the time they spent doing so.他们鼓励这组人每天冥想,并向他们报告冥想用的时间。Dr Fredrickson and Dr Kok discovered that vagal tone increased significantly in people who meditated, and hardly at all in those who did not.弗雷德里克松士和可可士发现,冥想的人的迷走神经张力显著增加,而那些不冥想的人几乎没有任何变化。Among meditators, those who started the experiment with the highest vagal-tone scores reported the biggest increases in positive emotions.在众多冥想者之中,那些实验一开始就拥有最高指数的人,积极情绪增加的幅度最大;Meditators who started with particularly low scores showed virtually no such boost.而一开始指数就很低的人,几乎没有这样的奇效。Taken as a whole, these findings suggest high vagal tone makes it easier to generate positive emotions and that this, in turn, drives vagal tone still higher.作为一个整体来看,这些发现意味着,这迷走神经张力指数越高,越容易产生积极情绪;反过来,积极情绪又能促进指数的提升。That is both literally and metaphorically a positive feedback loop.无论是从直观还是隐含的角度看,这都是一个正反馈循环。Which is good news for the emotionally positive, but bad for the emotionally negative, for it implies that those who most need a psychosomatic boost are incapable of generating one.对于情绪乐观的人来说,这是个好消息;但对于消极的人来说,情况正好相反,因为它意味着,那些最需要振作精神的人却往往无法产生积极情绪。A further experiment by Dr Kok suggests, however, that the grumpy need not give up all hope.然而可可士的进一步研究表明,脾气不好的人也尚存希望。A simpler procedure than meditation, namely reflecting at night on the days social connections, did seem to cause some improvement to their vagal tone.有一种比冥想简单的方法,即每天晚上对白天的社交活动进行反思,似乎能在一定程度上提高迷走神经张力指数。This might allow even those with a negative outlook on life to bootstrap their way to a mental state from which they could then advance to the more powerful technique of meditation.就算是对生活不抱希望的人,也可能通过这种方式自我解脱,达到另一种精神状态,然后他们可以进一步使用效果更好的冥想技巧。Whether, besides improving general health, the mechanism Dr Fredrickson and Dr Kok have discovered helps explain the placebo effect remains to be investigated.除了提高综合健康水平,弗雷德里克松士和可可士发现的机制是否有助于解释安慰剂效应,还有待进一步研究。But it might, because part of that effect seems to be the good feeling engendered by the fact of being treated.但这的确有可能,因为安慰剂效应就包括实验中因治疗产生的良好情绪。More generally, doctors in the ancient world had a saying: a healthy mind in a healthy body.更为普遍的是,古代的医生就有个说法:身体好,精气儿足。This sort of work suggests that though this proverb is true, a better one might be, a healthy mind for a healthy body.而这个实验则启发人们,尽管谚语说得有理,但精气儿足,身体好可能才更准确。 /201310/260643。

Business商业报道Schumpeter熊彼特Montessori management蒙特梭利管理The backlash against running firms like progressive schools has begun反对公司管理像学校改革的运动已经开始THE INTERNSHIP, a film about two middle-aged no-hopers who land work experience at Google, is a dire offering even by the standards of Hollywood summer comedies.《挨踢实习生》是一部关于两个有工作经验没有希望转正的中年人在谷歌的故事,即使是按好莱坞夏天喜剧的标准,这也是一部顶级作品。But it does get one thing right: that it is rather absurd for a technology firm to provide slides for staff to play on, and to let them wear silly propeller-hats.但有一件事情是对的:一家科技公司为员工提供幻灯片演讲是相当荒谬的,而且让他们戴上傻螺旋桨一样的帽子。Google is not alone in its juvenile tastes.在对青年人的口味上谷歌不是唯一一家。Box, a Silicon Valley company, has installed swings in its headquarters.硅谷的Box公司在其总部安装秋千。Red Bull, an energy-drinks firm, has a reception desk in the shape of a giant skateboard in its London office.能量饮料公司红牛在其伦敦办公室内有一个巨大的滑板样的接待桌。Businesses of all types have moved towards sitting workers in groups in open-plan rooms, just like at nursery school.各类企业都在逐渐为员工提供开放式办公室,就像托儿所。Time was when firms modelled themselves on the armed forces, with officers and chains of command.企业在模仿军队的指挥官和指挥链。Now many model themselves on learning-through-play Montessori schools.现在有很多通过在实践中学习蒙台梭利学校的模式。Montessori management has plenty of supporters in the higher reaches of business.蒙台梭利的管理拥有很多公司高层的持。The bosses of Google, Amazon and Wikipedia were all educated in Montessori schools.谷歌,亚马逊和维基百科的老板都在蒙特梭利学校接受过教育。So was Will Wright, a -game pioneer.视频游戏先锋威尔·赖特也是这样。Messrs Page and Brin credit their Montessori education with their enthusiasm for thinking differently.佩奇和布林把他们对不同思维方式的热情归于他们在蒙台梭利接受的教育。Mr Bezos thanks it for his enthusiasm for experimentation—for planting seeds and going down blind alleys as he puts it.Bezos先生感谢蒙台梭利是因为他对实验的热情,正如他所说的播种和减少弯路。Mr Wright says SimCity comes right out of Montessori.赖特先生说模拟城市正是出自蒙特梭利。The nostrums of some management gurus sound remarkably like those of the progressive educationalists of the 1960s.一些管理大师的秘方听起来非常像那些20世纪60年代的教育改革者。For example Gary Hamel, of London Business School, and Jeffrey Pfeffer, of Stanford Business School, praise companies that dismantle hierarchies and encourage experimentation.例如伦敦商学院的加里·哈默尔和斯坦福大学商学院的杰弗里·普费弗,称赞公司消除等级和鼓励试验。It is not just rich-world businesses that are buying into this philosophy:不只是富有的世界级企业相信这一理念:HCL Technologies, an Indian software company, invites workers to write assessments of their bosses—and publishes them.印度软件公司HCL邀请工人对老板进行评价并进行公开。But it would be wrong to conclude that the success of Google and Amazon vindicates Montessori management.但是仅用谷歌和亚马逊的成功就持蒙特梭利管理的推断或许是错误的。Both companies have pragmatically mixed progressive ideas with more traditional ones such as encouraging internal competition and measuring performance.这两家公司都追求实用主义,混合了务实进取的理念,如传统的鼓励内部竞争和绩效量化。Mr Bezos is also an enthusiastic employer of ex-military personnel.贝索斯先生也是一位喜欢雇佣前军事人员的雇主。As in education, where traditionalists have staged a counter-revolution against the progressives, some academics are now questioning Montessori managements basic assumptions—particularly its faith in free-flowing creativity, endless collaboration and all things open-plan.在教育界,保守者上演了一场反改革的运动,现在一些学者质疑蒙特梭利管理的基本假设,特别是其对自由流动的创造力,无限的协作和完全开放的信念。For example, Morten Hansen of the University of California, Berkeley studied 182 teams who were trying to win a contract on behalf of a professional-services firm.例如,加州大学伯克利分校的莫滕·汉森研究了试图赢得代表一个专业务公司的合同的182个团队。He found that the more time they spent consulting others, the less likely they were to win a deal.他发现,他们越是花更多的时间咨询别人就越不太可能赢得这笔交易。This shows, he says, that collaboration has costs as well as benefits.他说这说明合作有效益也有成本。These need to be weighed against each other, instead of simply assuming that the more teamwork the better.这些都需要对各方面进行权衡,而不是简单地假设团队合作越多结果就越好。Mark de Rond, a Cambridge academic who once rowed for the university, argues that the most successful teams are marked by internal competition and clashing egos as well as Kum Bay Yah-style togetherness.曾为剑桥大学赛艇的学者马克·德·ROND认为最成功的球队是存住内部竞争和冲突以及自我风格的统一性。A focus on interpersonal harmony can actually hurt team performance, he suggests.他说把重点放在人际和谐上会对球队的表现不利。Jake Breeden, a management thinker at Duke Corporate Education, worries that too much reliance on teamwork can create a culture of learned helplessness in which managers are terrified to take decisions without yet another round of consultations.杜克大学企业教育管理思想家杰克·布里登担心在管理者害怕在征求他人意见之前做出决定的团队里过于依赖团队合作会创造一种后天性无助的文化。Excessive collaboration can lead to the very opposite of creativity:过多的合作可能会走向创造力的反面:groupthink, conformity and mediocrity.群体思维,整合和平庸。It is especially damaging at the top of an organisation. BlackBerry, a smartphone-maker, believed that having two CEOs with complementary skills would produce the best of both worlds:这对组织的顶部害处特别大。智能手机制造商黑莓相信两位具有互补技能的CEOs 会有最好的产出:Jim Balsillie was a professional manager and Mike Lazaridis was a technician.吉姆·贝尔斯利是一名职业经理人,迈克·拉扎里迪斯是技术员。The company soon discovered the truth of Napoleons dictum that one bad general is worth two good ones.该公司很快就发现了拿破仑的名言:一个不好的将军好于两个好将军的真理。According to one survey around 70% of all offices in America have gone open-plan.据一项调查显示,美国约70%的办公室已经是开放式的。Yet evidence is mounting that this is a bad idea.然而越来越多的据显示这是一个坏主意。Over the past five years Gensler, a design firm, has asked more than 90,000 people in 155 companies in ten industries what they think of this way of working.设计公司 Gensler,在过去的五年里调查十大行业155家公司的90,000人怎么评价这种工作方式。It has found an astonishing amount of antipathy.发现绝大多数人对此反感。Workers say that open-plan offices make it more difficult to concentrate, because the hubbub of human and electronic noise is so distracting.他们说开放式办公室使他们更难以集中精神,因为其他人的喧闹和电子噪音是如此令人分心。What they really value is the ability to focus on their jobs with as few distractions as possible.他们看重的是尽可能少分心把注意力放在工作上。Ironically, going open-plan defeats another of Montessori managements main objectives:具有讽刺意味的是,开放式的方式击败了另一个对蒙特梭利管理的主要目标:workers say it prevents them from collaborating, because they cannot talk without disturbing others or inviting an audience.工作人员说这会阻碍他们合作,因为他们不邀请别人或者想不打扰别人时就没法进行讨论。Other studies show that people who work in open-plan offices are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress and airborne infections such as flu.其他研究表明,在开放式办公室工作的人更容易患高血压,压力更大大,更易被传染,如流感。Time for some discipline—and separate offices是时候进行惩罚了-和单独的办公室It was the unthinking and indiscriminate application of child-centred education techniques, with little attention paid to outcomes, that eventually brought about a backlash.以儿童为中心的教育技术没头没脑的和不分青红皂白的应用,而且很少重视结果,最终带来了反弹。The more thoughtful critics did not wish to turn the clock back entirely and return to rote learning and tyrannical teachers; they simply said that structure and order have their place too.深思熟虑的批评不希望时光完全倒流到死记硬背和教师强横的时代,他们只是说结构和顺序也有自己的位置。The same seems to be happening now in business.现在在商业领域似乎也有同样的情况。Mr Breeden argues, sensibly, that managers should treat collaboration and creativity as techniques rather than dogmas.布里登辩解说,很明显管理者应该把协作和创造力当做技巧而非教条。Diane Hoskins of Gensler speculates that her companys findings about open-plan offices are so striking that they may mark the beginning of a new era in workplace organisation.公司Gensler的黛安·霍斯金斯推测,她们公司的开放办公室表现是如此引人注目,标志着办公室组织方式的一个新时代。When workers start being moved back into separate booths, and the office slide is replaced with a noticeboard bearing a list of staff instructions, you will know that the counter-revolution is well under way.当工人开始被搬回到单独的办公间,办公室不知不觉替换的一个列着员工说明的布告板,你就会知道,反改革的工作正在顺利进行。 /201309/257659。