What to watch for today
The tablet market gets a little more crowded. Apple is set to announce upgraded versions of its iPad and iPad Mini devices, Microsoft will release a new edition of its Surface, and Nokia is expected to introduce a tablet in Abu Dhabi. Seven times as many tablets were shipped last year as in 2010, when the iPad first appeared, but Apple remains the leader.
We finally find out the US jobs figures. The data for September, delayed by the government shutdown, come out today. Though the unemployment rate is set to remain unchanged at 7.3%, economists expect that 180,000 jobs were added last month, picking up the pace after a slower summer.
News from the mining world. BHP Billiton is set to announce it shipped $500 million more of iron ore last quarter than analysts were expecting. Rio Tinto, which yesterday revealed an outsourcing deal with tech giant IBM thought to be worth up to $100 million, also releases its earnings today.
Aung sun Suu Kyi receives the Sakharov Prize. On a visit to the European parliament, Myanmar’s opposition leader will pick up the prize she was awarded 23 years ago in recognition of her fight for democracy while she was under house arrest.
While you were sleeping
Obama apologized for Obamacare. The president promised a speedy recovery for his health-care insurance program, which launched with hiccups earlier this month. “There’s no sugarcoating it: The web site is too slow,” he said. Obama also reprimanded Republican critics of the Affordable Care Act, saying that “it’s time to stop rooting for its failure.”
Bitcoin surged to a post-crash high. The digital currency jumped $30 in one day to hit $197.40 on Mt Gox, the largest bitcoin exchange, soothing concerns that it would suffer from the closure earlier this month of the anonymous online marketplace Silk Road. Until this week, the price of a bitcoin hadn’t surpassed $170 since crashing from its April peak of $266.
Legoland builds a public offering. Merlin Entertainments, the UK company behind Legoland, Madame Tussauds and various theme parks, plans to float 20% of itself on the London stock exchange. Merlin, which is thought to be worth about £3 billion ($4.8 billion), is even offering its shareholders a one-off 30% discount on some theme park tickets.
Netflix has more subscribers than HBO. At the end of September, Netflix had 29.93 million paying members in the US, surpassing HBO’s 28.96 million for the first time. Netflix also beat analysts’ expectations with a $31.8 million profit. And it finally admitted that a lot of its customers “binge-watch” its shows, which has implications for its cost accounting.
The UK decided on its first nuclear plant in 20 years. Unlike Germany and Switzerland, which chose to phase out nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, Britain wants a Franco-Chinese consortium to build its new plant, subject to EU approval.
Quartz obsession interlude
Roberto A. Ferdman on the unlikely business mogul behind Sriracha, the world’s coolest hot sauce. “Sriracha sales last year reached some 20 million bottles to the tune of $60 million dollars, percentage sales growth is in the double digits each year, and it does all this without spending a cent on advertising. Yet [chief executive David] Tran shuns publicity, professes not to care about profits, hardly knows where his sauces are sold, and probably leaves millions of dollars on the table every year.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Being the oldest child really is a plague. Parents are tougher on their firstborns because punishing the oldest kid has a spillover effect on the younger ones.
Humans are too selfish and lazy to deal with climate change. The future safety of our environment depends on actions now—but humans aren’t very good at planning ahead.
Government corruption is a global problem. At least according to the majority of people polled in 108 out of 129 countries. The Czech Republic topped the table, with 94% of adults asked saying that corruption is rife in its government.
Chris Christie is the last moderate Republican standing. As governor of New Jersey, a largely Democratic state, Christie usually ends up toward the middle on most social issues.
Economists are greedy. Economics professors in the US give less money to charity than academics in other fields and economic students in Germany are more likely to recommend an overpriced plumber.
Hearing creaks in the dark of the night? This website claims to know whether someone’s died in your house.
Executive spiritual advice. Business leaders in South Korea often consult spiritual advisers before making decisions with global ramifications.
Our body parts age at different rates. For example, healthy female breast tissue is about two to three years older than the rest of a woman’s body.
Laser pointer attacks are on the rise. Cases of laser pointers being shone from the ground into airplane cockpits, which can temporarily blind the pilots, have jumped 1100% in the US since 2005.
A real cure for baldness is at hand. For the first time, new human hairs have been grown from specialized skin cells.