Image of the week
Photograph: Reuters/Nigel Marple
This lovely cow staring down the lens like a pro is from a farm near Auckland, New Zealand, where the world’s leading exporter of dairy products, Fonterra, has been forced to apologise for a milk powder contamination scare in China that risks tainting New Zealand’s reputation for food safety.
That’s not a fabulous development when dairy produce accounts for about a quarter of your country’s annual export earnings.
Asked whether Fonterra had seen a reduction in orders since it announced that it had exported tainted whey protein powder, chief executive Theo Spierings said “the answer to that question is no”.
In numbers: Toxic Waste
Bank of America understated the risk on this much of mortgage-backed securities issued in 2008, according to two lawsuits filed by the US government against the bank on Tuesday.
Investor losses exceeded this much, according to one of the lawsuits, made by the US Department of Justice, which alleges that Bank of America “knowingly and wilfully misled investors” about the quality of the security.
Recent settlement made by Bank of America with investors in relation to similar mortgage-backed securities – the kind that were packed with loans known to be, in the words of former chief executive Ken Lewis, “toxic waste”.
The Lexicon: Phubbing
Phubbing, or phone snubbing, is a terribly pejorative term for the very natural desire to check one’s devices for updates while in the physical presence of other humans. It’s now the subject of a mobile etiquette campaign led by 23-year-old Alex Haigh from Melbourne who has set up a website called Stop Phubbing, which you definitely shouldn’t check over dinner.
It defines “phubbing” as “the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention”, which slightly discounts the fact that people have always been rubbish listeners.
“Just imagine couples of the future sitting in silence,” the site frets.
Getting to know: Xexor 7535 and 7556
Copier machines. At first, their dissent is tantrum-like. Clanking noises. Chewed up paper. Then, like the Xerox Workcentre 7535 and 7556, they find more subtle ways to mess with our heads.
German computer scientist David Kriesel was the man to notice that the two Workcentre models he used were randomly altering numbers in the pages they scanned. Number 16 became 85, while 21 decided to be 14.
Kriesel suggested this could put lives as risk, as medicine could be given in the wrong dosage or a bridge could be built to the wrong specs. And he wasn’t hallucinating.
Xerox has admitted the problem and says it only occurs when users select a lower resolution to save documents at smaller file sizes. A software patch has now been promised.
The list: Defunct Irish supermarket chains
Musgrave’s decision to rebrand Superquinn stores as Supervalu consigns the Superquinn name to grocery chain heaven – a list that includes the following lost brands.
1 Quinnsworth: For a child in the 1980s, it was a source of endless confusion that one supermarket was called “Superquinn” and another “Quinnsworth”. Who made Quinns the kings of grocery? Tesco later stopped the madness.
2 Crazy Prices: Owned by Quinnsworth, which was originally Pat Quinn’s company (not Senator Feargal’s), Crazy Prices was the home of late-night shopping on “Crazy Nights”.
3 H Williams: This chain collapsed in 1987 after a price war, with some 33 supermarket outlets put up for sale. Some became Supervalus.
4 L&N: In the 19th century, L&N was a chain of more than 50 shops, but was sold off to individual managers. The name finally disappeared in the 1980s.
5 Roches Stores: Department store Roches quit food retailing before it was bought by Debenhams, but it used to sell groceries Dunnes-style and briefly housed a franchise by the name of... Supervalu.