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November 2011

November 10, 2021

How to write a persuasive message

Suppose you must write a message that you want the recipients to believe. Of course, your message will be true, but that is not necessarily enough for people to believe that it is true. It is entirely legitimate for you to enlist cognitive ease to work in your favour, and studies of truth illusions provide specific suggestions that may help you achieve this goal.

The general principle is that anything you can do to reduce cognitive strain will help, so you should first maximize legibility. Compare these two statements:
Adolf Hitler was born in 1892.
Adolf Hitler was born in 1887.

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Ryanair planning in-flight porn rentals, CEO says

Once again, there ought to be no reason we continue following Ryanair in this space.

Stock-photo-13195362-xxx-neon-signThe airline offers exactly zero North American flights, and were it not for the outfit’s bombastic PR-hungry CEO, only budget Euro travellers would have even heard the “Ryanair” name.

Yet here we are, for the umpteenth time, discussing the Irish company. Last month, it was because the airline announced it’d be removing the toilets from its planes to make more room for seats.

Now, in spite of its lesser number of washrooms, Ryanair appears to be advocating the mile-high club. Only, if the airline has its way, perhaps attaining such membership will become a solo venture.

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Is genetic testing really worth the money?

Worried that your genes predispose you to developing diabetes or some other disease? Or maybe you’re just curious as to whether your DNA is going to give better-than-average chance of living past 90.  

AdFor prices ranging from $200 to close to $1,000, that information can be yours in a matter of days, according to a growing number of genetic-testing companies now pushing their services online.

Sites such as 23andMe, FirstMark ONC, and Navigenics merely require a small saliva sample, advertsing that their results provide information about risk factors for up to 95 diseases and predicted responses to drugs.

The sites suggest that worried consumers will benefit through better understanding their health risks, leading them to smarter decisions and healthier lifestyles.

But, are they worth the money? Probably not, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine

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November 09, 2021

Are you working more now than you ever have?

Feel like you're always at work? Well, you're not alone.

AdA recent survey released by Towers Watson found that two thirds of Canadian and U.S. companies admit to  asking their employees to work longer hours. And it's slowly killing them.

"In the short run, having employees work extra hours can increase productivity, but in the long run, extended hours can negatively affect employee well-being and retention," Towers Watson’s Laurie Bienstock told Benefits Canada.  

Overall, 60% of Canadian respondents report that employees have been working more hours over the past three years, and just under half (47%) expect this trend to continue over the next three years.

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Wall Street bonuses to drop big in 2011, survey says

Occupy Wall Street protestors are now taking their plight on the move, but perhaps they oughta stay.

Maybe things are working, after all.

Alright, well, certainly each goal of the Occupy movement, which is hoping to, among other things, even out society’s wealth distribution, hasn’t been attained, yet as some members of the campaign’s New York incarnation plan a two-week march to Washington, here’s a little news that might ring sweet to protestors’ ears.

Wall Street bonuses, this year at least, look set to plummet.

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November 08, 2021

MSN readers are feeling pressured by inflation: Poll

Three quarters of MSN readers admit to feeling the pinch of rising prices. And the older you are, the higher the apprehension.

InflationAt least retirees' government retirement benefits and (if they’re lucky) pension plans will keep their purchasing power intact over time though. 

However, warn many financial advisors, this isn’t necessarily the case.

“Many of my clients keep needing extra infusions of income, even though their private pension, Canada Pension Plan and old-age security income is indexed to inflation,” advisor Christine Butchart told Investment Executive.  

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The staggering costs of waiting for the cable guy

Productivity is a tough thing to measure.

For instance, everyone knows March Madness, with its weekday afternoon games available for sports fans to watch on their computers, is a nightmare for employers, but what effect might it actually have on the economy? By one recent measure, the college basketball tournament could cost as much as $1.7 billion in lost productivity each year.

That sure sounds high, but wherever you stand on estimating such output, one new study has gauged how much money is lost each year by the one deed consumers love to hate:

Waiting for the cable guy, repair guy or delivery guy.

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November 07, 2021

Think twice before faking sick to get out of work: study

A quick show of hands: who out there has ever faked sick to get out of work?

Alright, well, sure, you’re not likely to admit as much despite such prompting, but faking sick is a tradition unlike any other. Faking sick is to getting out of work as demanding pop star paternity tests is to getting your name in the paper. It’s a slam dunk.

Though a new study, not surprisingly, warns that employers are ready and eager to can workers who claim they’re under the weather but can’t provide a legitimate excuse.

So, employees of Canada, let this be your warning. You’d better learn now how to forge that doctor’s note.

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Does the "last-name effect" affect how you shop?

Looking to sell those double-booked tickets in a hurry? Why not try the Zoltan family?

AaAccording to a new study, your last name is a good indicator of how quckly you're likely to buy stuff. What could possibly explain this phenomenon, which the study authors dubbed "the last-name effect"?

Researcher Kurt A. Carlson believes this habit is linked to childhood and constant alphabetizing during school. Children with late-letter last names tended to wait longer for things, and therefore compensate later in life, he believes. 

“For years, simply because of your name, you've received inequitable treatment,” says Carlson, an assistant professor at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business. “So when you get to exercise control, you seize on opportunity. It's a coping strategy, and over time it becomes a natural way to respond.”

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November 04, 2021

Even Santa can't keep his job these days

It’s Friday, yes, but we’ve still got a disheartening challenge for you.

Stock-photo-13833557-santa-holding-presentsQuick, name the most depressing job news of the day: is it that a) Canada suffered its largest monthly employment loss since 2009, b) the U.S. only grew a pathetic 80,000 jobs in October, or c) Santa may have to pawn his reindeer.

Yes, word came down this week that, amid gloomy jobs figures from across North America, one Long Island county might have it worst this week.

It’s had to fire Santa.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...