Share – Bé lười ăn thịt, mẹ đừng lo hãy làm ngay món thịt viên rim mặn ngọt đảm bảo không bé nào chê! — Ngon 24h

Bạn cần chuẩn bị những nguyên liệu sau cho món thịt viên rim mặn ngọt: 500g thịt lợn (cả mỡ lẫn nạc) 8 củ năng (củ mã thầy) 5 gốc hành 1 quả trứng Phần gia vị ướp thịt: 1 thìa hạt nêm vị gà, 15ml dầu hào, 1 thìa bột ngọt, 15ml rượu nấu […]

via Bé lười ăn thịt, mẹ đừng lo hãy làm ngay món thịt viên rim mặn ngọt đảm bảo không bé nào chê! — Ngon 24h

Bạn cần chuẩn bị những nguyên liệu sau cho món thịt viên rim mặn ngọt:

500g thịt lợn (cả mỡ lẫn nạc)

8 củ năng (củ mã thầy)

5 gốc hành

1 quả trứng

Phần gia vị ướp thịt: 1 thìa hạt nêm vị gà, 15ml dầu hào, 1 thìa bột ngọt, 15ml rượu nấu ăn, 1 thìa tinh bột, một ít muối, hạt tiêu, nước cốt gừng

Phần gia vị rim thịt: 2 lát gừng, 2 gốc hành, một ít đường phèn hoặc đường cát, một ít muối, 30ml nước tương, một ít bột năng.

Chế biến:

Thịt rửa sạch, có thể băm nhỏ hoặc thái nhỏ dạng hạt lựu. Gốc hành thái nhỏ, củ năng gọt vỏ rồi băm nhỏ.

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Cho thịt vào bát, thêm củ năng, gốc hành thái nhỏ, sau đó đập trứng vào. Cuối cùng thêm phần gia vị ướp thịt vào trộn đều.

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Viên thịt thành từng viên tròn vừa ăn rồi chiên trong dầu nóng cho đến khi xém vàng rồi vớt ra. Để lại một chút dầu ăn trong chảo, cho đường phèn vào đun đến khi đường chuyển màu vàng nâu thì thêm gừng, hành cùng lượng nước vừa phải vào đun sôi.

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Thêm phần gia vị rim vào nồi (trừ bột năng) sau đó cho thịt viên đã chiên vào rim nhỏ lửa cho đến khi nước trong nồi cạn dần. Hòa bột năng với chút nước lọc rồi đổ vào nồi thịt khuấy đều cho sánh lại rồi tắt bếp.

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Thành phẩm:

Món thịt viên rim mặn ngọt là một món ăn lý tưởng vào những ngày mưa, món ăn mềm ngon lại có vị mặn ngọt vừa phải rất hấp dẫn. Đặc biệt nhà có trẻ nhỏ hoặc người già thì quá thích hợp luôn!

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Chúc bạn thành công và ngon miệng với món thịt viên rim mặn ngọt này nhé!

(Nguồn: sohu)

Share – Văn hóa tập thể trong góc nhìn tâm lý học văn hóa — Exploring Psychology – Khám Phá Tâm Lý Học

Văn hóa tập thể nhấn mạnh nhu cầu và mục tiêu của cả nhóm hơn là những nhu cầu và mong muốn của từng cá nhân. Trong các nền văn hóa này, mối quan hệ với thành viên khác của nhóm và sự liên kết giữa mọi người đóng vai trò quan trọng quyết định […]

via Văn hóa tập thể trong góc nhìn tâm lý học văn hóa — Exploring Psychology – Khám Phá Tâm Lý Học

Văn hóa tập thể nhấn mạnh nhu cầu và mục tiêu của cả nhóm hơn là những nhu cầu và mong muốn của từng cá nhân. Trong các nền văn hóa này, mối quan hệ với thành viên khác của nhóm và sự liên kết giữa mọi người đóng vai trò quan trọng quyết định bản dạng của mỗi cá nhân. Các nền văn hóa Châu Á, Trung-Nam Mỹ, và Châu Phi thường mang tính tập thể.

Collectivistic cultures emphasize the needs and goals of the group as a whole over the needs and desires of each individual. In such cultures, relationships with other members of the group and the interconnectedness between people play a central role in each person’s identity. Cultures in Asia, Central America, South America, and Africa tend to be more collectivistic.

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Đặc tính của nền văn hóa tập thể. Collectivistic Culture Traits

Một số đặc tính chung của những nền văn hóa tập thể: A few common traits of collectivistic cultures include:

– Các quy tắc xã hội tập trung vào thúc đẩy thái độ sống vì người khác và đặt nhu cầu cộng đồng lên cao hơn nhu cầu cá nhân. Social rules focus on promoting selflessness and putting the community needs ahead of individual needs

– Làm việc theo nhóm và hỗ trợ người khác là tối quan trọng. Working as a group and supporting others is essential

– Khuyến khích mọi người làm điều tốt đẹp nhất cho xã hội. People are encouraged to do what’s best for society

– Gia đình và cộng đồng có vai trò trung tâm. Families and communities have a central role

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Trong những nền văn hóa tập thể, con người ta được xem là “tốt” nếu họ hào phóng, hay giúp đỡ người khác, biết trông cậy vào nhau và chú ý đến những nhu cầu của người khác. Điều này trái ngược với các nền văn hóa cá nhân khi người ta thường đặt trọng tâm hơn vào những đặc tính cá nhân như sự quyết đoán và tính độc lập.

In collectivistic cultures, people are considered “good” if they are generous, helpful, dependable, and attentive to the needs of others. This contrasts with individualistic cultures that often place a greater emphasis on characteristics such as assertiveness and independence.

Một vài quốc gia được xem là có nền văn hóa tập thể là Nhật Bản, Trung Quốc, Hàn Quốc, Đài Loan, Venezuela, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil và Ấn Độ.

A few countries that are considered collectivistic include Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Venezuela, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, and India.

Sự khác biệt giữa nền văn hóa tập thể và Văn hóa cá nhân. How Collectivist Cultures Differ From Individualist Cultures

Văn hóa tập thể thường trái ngược với văn hóa cá nhân. Khi chủ nghĩa tập thể nhấn mạnh sự quan trọng của cộng đồng thì chủ nghĩa cá nhân lại hướng nhiều hơn vào quyền và mối quan tâm của từng người. Sự thống nhất và vô vị kỷ là những đặc tính được coi trong ở các nền văn hóa tập thể; sự độc lập và bản dạng riêng của cá nhân lại được đề cao hơn ở nền văn hóa cá nhân.

Collectivist cultures are usually contrasted with individualistic cultures. Where collectivism stresses the importance of the community, individualism is focused on the rights and concerns of each person. Where unity and selflessness are valued traits in collectivist cultures, independence and personal identity are highly stressed in individualistic cultures.

Những khác biệt văn hóa này cực kỳ phổ biến và có thể ảnh hưởng lên nhiều khía cạnh trong vận hành chức năng xã hội. Cách con người ta mua sắm, ăn mặc, học tập và làm kinh doanh có thể đều bị tác động từ việc họ đến từ nền văn hóa cá nhân hay tập thể. Ví dụ, công nhân sống ở một nền văn hóa tập thể có thể sẽ hy sinh hạnh phúc cá nhân của mình cho lợi ích lớn lao hơn của nhóm. Những người đến từ nền văn hóa cá nhân, mặt khác, lại cảm thấy cuộc sống và mục tiêu của chính mình mới là cái cần đặt nặng.

These cultural differences are pervasive and can influence many aspects of how society functions. How people shop, dress, learn and conduct business can all be influenced by whether they are from a collectivist or individualist culture. For example, workers who live in a collectivist culture might strive to sacrifice their own happiness for the greater good of the group. Those from individualistic cultures, on the other hand, may feel that their own well-being and goals carry a greater weight.

Văn hóa tập thể ảnh hưởng như thế nào lên hành vi? How Collectivist Cultures Influence Behavior

Các nhà tâm lý học văn hóa nghiên cứu sự ảnh hưởng của những khác biệt văn hóa lên nhiều khía cạnh khác nhau của hành vi. Các nghiên cứu cũng cho thấy văn hóa ảnh hưởng lên cách hành xử cũng như cách con người ta tự quan niệm về bản thân. Những người đến từ nền văn hóa cá nhân có thể tự mô tả mình dựa theo những đặc trưng tính cách và đặc tính cá nhân, như kiểu, “Tôi là một người thông minh, hài hước, tử tế và yêu thể thao.” Còn những người đến từ nền văn hóa tập thể sẽ nói về bản thân mình dựa trên những vai trò và mối quan hệ xã hội, như kiểu “Tôi là một đứa con, một người anh trai và một người bạn tốt.”

Cross-cultural psychologists study how these cultural difference impact various aspects of behavior. Studies suggest that culture influences how people behave, as well as their self-concept. Those in individualistic cultures might describe themselves in terms of personality traits and characteristics, e.g., “I am smart, funny, athletic, and kind.” Those from collectivist cultures would more likely describe themselves in terms of their social relationships and roles, e.g., “I am a good son, brother, and friend.”

Nền văn hóa tập thể cũng có liên quan đến cái gọi là tính biến động mối quan hệ thấp, một thuật ngữ dùng để mô tả số cơ hội hình thành mối quan hệ mà một cá nhân có với người họ chọn lựa. Tính biến động mối quan hệ thấp nghĩa là những người đó có mối quan hệ ổn định, mạnh mẽ và dài lâu. Những mối quan hệ này thường được hình thành do bởi những yếu tố như gia đình và khu vực địa lý hơn là lựa chọn cá nhân. Trong một nền văn hóa tập thể, rất khó để xây dựng những mối quan hệ với những người mới, một phần vì nói chung là ta khó mà gặp được họ. Người lạ sẽ vẫn mãi là người lạ đối với những ai đến từ nền văn hóa tập thể so với những người đến từ nền văn hóa cá nhân.

Collectivist cultures are also associated with low relational mobility, a term to describe how many opportunities individuals in a society have in forming relationships with people of their choosing. Low relational mobility means that the relationships people have are stable, strong, and long-lasting. These relationships are usually formed due to factors such as family and geographical area rather than personal choice. In a collectivist culture, it’s difficult to build relationships with new people, partly because it’s generally more difficult to meet them. Strangers are more likely to remain strangers to those from a collectivistic culture than they would be to people from individualistic cultures.

Ngoài ra, duy trì sự hòa hợp trong các mối quan hệ với người khác là điều quan trọng bậc nhất trong một nền văn hóa tập thể. Điều này có thể là bởi những mối quan hệ này kéo dài quá lâu và cực kỳ khó thay đổi, đến mức mà việc không giữ được hòa khí chính là thể hiện sự bất hạnh cho tất cả mọi người trong mối quan hệ đó.

Additionally, maintaining harmony within interpersonal relationships is of utmost importance in a collectivistic culture. This is likely because these relationships are so long-lasting and extremely difficult to change that to not keep peace can mean unhappiness for everyone involved.

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Sự khác biệt về văn hóa cũng ảnh hưởng lên động lực dám đứng lên để khác biệt hoặc ngồi lại để hòa hợp với nhóm. Trong một thí nghiệm, tham dự viên từ Nhật Bản và Mỹ được yêu cầu phải chọn lựa một cây bút. Hầu hết các cây bút đều cùng màu, chỉ có một vài cây là có màu khác nhau. Hầu hết các tham dự viên người Mỹ đều chọn những màu hiếm hơn. Tham dự viên Nhật Bản, mặt khác, lại chọn nhiều các cây đồng màu, dù cho họ có hơi thích các cây màu thiểu số. Một lý do khác giải thích cho hiện tượng này có thể là vì người Nhật đến từ một nền văn hóa tập thể nên họ cứ tự nhiên mà coi trọng sự hòa hợp đồng thuận với người khác thay cho những sở thích cá nhân và vì vậy họ chấp chấp nhận chọn những cây viết màu phổ biến để những lại những cây màu hiếm hơn cho những ai thực sự muốn.

Cultural differences also influence the motivation to either stand out or fit in with the rest of the group. In one experiment, participants from American and Japanese cultures were asked to select a pen. Most of the pens were the same color, with a few options in different colors. Most American participants chose the rarer colored pens. The Japanese participants, on the other hand, were much more likely to choose the most common colored pen, even though they preferred the minority pens. Another reason for this may have been because, coming from a collectivistic culture, the Japanese participants instinctively valued interpersonal harmony above personal preference and thus chose the unoffensive behavior of leaving the rarer pens for others who might want them.

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Tham khảo. View Article Sources

Kito M, Yuki M, Thomson R. Relational Mobility and Close Relationships: a Socioecological Approach to Explain Cross-Cultural Differences. Personal Relationships. March 2017;24(1):114-130. doi:10.1111/pere.12174.

Yamagishi T, Hashimoto H, Schug J. Preferences Versus Strategies as Explanations for Culture-Specific Behavior. Psychological Science. 2008;19:579584. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02126.x.

Nguồn: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-collectivistic-cultures-2794962

Như Trang.

Share – Freud: Bản năng sống (Eros) và bản năng chết (Thanatos) — Exploring Psychology – Khám Phá Tâm Lý Học

Học thuyết về động cơ của Freud đã thay đổi và biến hóa trong suốt cuộc đời và sự nghiệp của ông. Ban đầu ông mô tả một nhóm các động cơ có tên là bản năng sống và tin rằng những động cơ này chịu trách nhiệm phần nhiều cho hành vi của chúng […]

via Freud: Bản năng sống (Eros) và bản năng chết (Thanatos) — Exploring Psychology – Khám Phá Tâm Lý Học

Học thuyết về động cơ của Freud đã thay đổi và biến hóa trong suốt cuộc đời và sự nghiệp của ông. Ban đầu ông mô tả một nhóm các động cơ có tên là bản năng sống và tin rằng những động cơ này chịu trách nhiệm phần nhiều cho hành vi của chúng ta.

Sigmund Freud’s theory of drives evolved throughout the course of his life and work. He initially described a class of drives known as the life instincts and believed that these drives were responsible for much of our behavior.

Nhưng cuối cùng, ông lại tin rằng một mình bản năng sống không thể giải thích tất cả các hành vi của con người. Trong cuốn sách “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (Vượt ngoài Nguyên tắc lạc thú) xuất bản năm 1920, Freud đã kết luận rằng tất cả mọi bản năng đều được chia thành hai nhóm: bản năng sống và bản năng chết.

Eventually, he came to believe that life instincts alone could not explain all human behavior. With the publication of his book Beyond the Pleasure Principal in 1920, Freud concluded that all instincts fall into one of two major classes: life instincts or death instincts.

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Bản năng sống (Eros). Life Instincts (Eros)

Bản năng sống, đôi khi còn được gọi là bản năng tính dục, là những bản năng liên quan đến sinh tồn cơ bản, sự thỏa mãn và sinh sôi nảy nở. Những bản năng này là cần thiết để duy trì sự sống của một con người cũng như duy trì của giống nòi. Mặc dù ta có xu hướng nghĩ về bản năng sống theo hướng sinh sản tình dục nhưng nhóm xung năng này còn bao gồm những thứ như cơn khát, cơn đói và tránh để bị đau. Năng lượng do những bản năng này tạo ra còn có tên gọi là dục năng.

Sometimes referred to as sexual instincts, the life instincts are those which deal with basic survival, pleasure, and reproduction. These instincts are essential for sustaining the life of the individual as well as the continuation of the species. While we tend to think of life instincts in term of sexual procreation, these drives also include such things as thirst, hunger, and pain avoidance. The energy created by the life instincts is known as libido.

Trong những học thuyết đầu tiên về phân tâm học, Freud phát biểu rằng Eros đi nghịch với những nguồn sức mạnh của bản ngã (phần tinh thần thực tế, có tổ chức của một người có nhiệm vụ điều tiết các ham muốn). Sau này, ông xác nhận lại rằng bản năng sống đối nghịch với bản năng chết, tức bản năng tự hủy hoại bản thân, có tên gọi là Thanatos.

In his early psychoanalytic theory, Freud proposed that Eros was opposed by forces of the ego (the organized, realistic part of a person’s psyche which mediates between desires). In this later views, he maintained that life instincts were opposed by the self-destructive death instincts, known as Thanatos.

Những hành vi thường có liên quan đến bản năng sống bao gồm tình yêu, sự hợp tác và những hành vi thuận xã hội khác.

Behaviors commonly associated with the life instincts include love, cooperation, and other prosocial actions.

Bản năng sống tập trung vào bảo tồn sự sống, cả ở cấp độ cá nhân và giống loài. Loại động cơ này thúc đẩy con người ta thực hiện những hành động giúp duy trì sự sống của bản thân, như chăm sóc sức khỏe và chăm lo an toàn. Và bằng xung năng tình dục, nó thúc đẩy con người ta kiến tạo và nuôi dưỡng những mầm sống mới.

The life instincts are focused on the preservation of life, both of the individual and of the species. This drive compels people to engage in actions that sustain their own lives, such as looking after their health and safety. It also exerts itself through sexual drives, motivating people to create and nurture new life.

Những cảm xúc tích cực như yêu, thương, các hành động thuận xã hội và hợp tác với người khác thuộc về nhóm bản năng sống. Những hành vi này hỗ trợ cho cả cuộc sống của cá nhân và cả sự tồn tại hòa hợp của một xã hội lành mạnh, tương thân tương ái.

Positive emotions such as love, affection, prosocial actions, and social cooperation are also associated with the life instincts. These behaviors support both individual well-being and the harmonious existence of a cooperative and healthy society.

Bản năng chết (Thanatos). Death Instincts (Thanatos)

Khái niệm về bản năng chết được mô tả lần đầu trong cuốn “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, trong đó Freud có phát biểu rằng “Mục đích của tất cả mọi sự sống đều là cái chết”. Freud tin rằng con người ta về cơ bản đều hướng đến việc thể hiện những bản năng chết này ra bên ngoài. Ví dụ, sự hung hăng là cái sinh ra từ bản năng chết. Tuy nhiên, đôi khi nhóm bản năng hướng đế sự hủy diệt này có thể được hướng vào bên trong, gây ra những hành vi tự làm hại bản thân hoặc tự sát.

The concept of the death instincts was initially described in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, in which Freud proposed that “the goal of all life is death.” Freud believed that people typically channel their death instincts outwards. Aggression, for example, arises from the death instincts. Sometimes these instincts towards destruction can be directed inwards, however, which can result in self-harm or suicide.

Để hỗ trợ cho học thuyết này, Freud đã lưu ý rằng người nào trải nghiệm một sự kiện gây sang chấn có thể sẽ thường xuyên tái diễn lại trải nghiệm đó. Từ đây, ông kết luận rằng những người đang nắm giữ những ham muốn vô thức rằng mình muốn chết bà bản năng sống của họ đang vất vả “cân” lại ham muốn này.

In support of his theory, Freud noted that people who experience a traumatic event would often reenact that experience. From this, he concluded that people hold an unconscious desire to die but that the life instincts largely temper this wish.

Freud đã dựa trên một số các trải nghiệm then chốt để xây dựng nên học thuyết này:

Freud based his theory on a number of key experiences:

Khi làm việc với cựu binh sau Thế chiến thứ I, Freud quan sát thấy rằng những đối tượng của ông thường tái diễn lại những trải nghiệm thời chiến và cho biết “những giấc mơ mang tính sang chấn có đặc điểm là liên tục đưa người bệnh quay trở về lại tình huống lúc họ bị thương.”

In working with soldiers after World War I, Freud observed that his subjects often re-enacted their battle experiences and noted that “dreams occurring in traumatic have the characteristic of repeatedly bringing the patient back into the situation of his accident.”

Freud cũng lưu ý thấy hành vi tương tự ở Ernest, đứa cháu trai 18 tháng tuổi của mình. Cậu bé luôn chơi một trò chơi có tên gọi Fort/Da khi mẹ đi vắng. Để đối phó với lo âu, cậu bé sẽ ném đi một ống cuộn có dây cột vào cũi của mình và hô “fort” (nghĩa là “đằng kia”) mỗi khi cuộn dây biến mất và hô “da” (nghĩa là “đằng này”) khi cậu chàng cuộn nó lại. Freud tự hỏi “Làm sao mà việc lặp đi lặp lại trải nghiệm khó chịu như một trò chơi lại có điểm nào phù hợp với nguyên tắc thỏa mãn khoái lạc?”

Freud noted similar behavior in his 18-month-old grandson, Ernest, who played a game called Fort/Da whenever his mother was away. To deal with his anxiety, the toddler would toss out a spool tied to a string in his cot and say “fort” (meaning away) whenever the spool disappeared and say “da” (or here) whenever he reeled it in. Freud wondered how “repetition of this distressing experience as a game fit in with the pleasure principle?”

Cuối cùng, trong nhóm các bệnh nhân của mình, Freud thấy nhiều người có trải nghiệm sang chấn đang đè nén có khuynh hướng “lặp đi lặp lại thứ đang bị đè nén, hình thành một trải nghiệm mang tính tạm thời” thay vì nhớ lại nó hay coi nó là một thứ gì đó thuộc về quá khứ.

Finally, in his own patients, Freud noted that many who had repressed traumatic experiences had the tendency to “repeat the repressed material as a contemporary experience” rather than remembering it as something belonging to the past.

Theo quan điểm của Freud, sự thôi thúc, cưỡng chế phải lặp lại hành vi là “một thứ gì đó khá nguyên thủy, cơ bản, thuộc về bản năng hơn là nguyên tắc thỏa mãn mà nó chà đạp.” Ông cũng đề xuất thêm rằng bản năng chết là sự mở rộng hiện tượng này, nơi tất cả mọi sinh vật sống đều có một “niềm thoải mãn đối với cái chết” hết sức bản năng. Và nhóm bản năng này đi ngược lại hoàn toàn với bản năng sống tồn, sinh sôi nảy nở và thỏa mãn các ham muốn.

In Freud’s view, the compulsion to repeat was “something that would seem more primitive, more elementary, more instinctual than the pleasure principle which it overrides.” He further proposed that the death instincts were an extension of that compulsion wherein all living organisms have an instinctive “pressure toward death” which stands in stark contrast to the instinct to survive, procreate, and satisfy desires.

Hơn nữa, Freud xác nhận rằng, khi nguồn năng lượng được hướng thể hiện ra bên ngoài với người khác thì nó sẽ được thể hiện dưới hình hài của sự hung hăng và bạo lực.

Moreover, when this energy is directed outward toward others, Freud maintained, it is expressed as aggression and violence.

Kết luận. Final thoughts.

Mặc dù các học thuyết của Freud không còn giữ được vị thế thống trị của nó như ngày trước nhưng hiểu được cách khuynh hướng bảo vệ và phá hủy bản thân tác động như thế nào lên hành vi có thể giúp ích cho cuộc sống của bạn. Bản năng sống có thể thôi thúc bạn tìm kiếm những mối quan hệ lành mạnh và sự hỗ trợ từ xã hội, điều này là thiết yếu cho đời sống cảm xúc của chúng ta.

While Freud’s theories are not as prominent as they once were, understanding how your own self-preservation and destructive tendencies influence your behavior can be helpful for your well-being. The life instincts might compel you to seek healthy relationships and social support, which are essential for emotional health.

Xu hướng hủy hoại bản thân, mặt khác, lại có thể khiến bạn thực hiện những hành động không lành mạnh, như cư xử hung hăng hay có những hành vi liều lĩnh. Một khi bạn nhận ra những khuynh hướng này tồn tại bên trong bạn thì bạn sẽ có thể điều tiết những nguồn xung năng trong bạn và thay thế những hành vi tiêu cực bằng những sự lựa chọn khác tích cực hơn.

Destructive tendencies, on the other hand, might lead you to engage in actions that are less healthy, such as behaving aggressively or engaging in risky actions. Once you are able to recognize some of these tendencies in yourself, you might be better able to temper these drives and replace negative behaviors with more positive choices.

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Tham khảo. Article Sources

Mitchell, S. and Black. M. (2016) Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought (Updated Edition). New York, New York: Basic Books/Hachette Books; ISBN-13: 978-0465098811.

Nguồn: https://www.verywellmind.com/life-and-death-instincts-2795847

Như Trang.

Share – Đi tìm nhân cách đã mất của người Việt – Trần Thành Nam — thân tri

Hôm nay, trong bài giảng cho những người trẻ về niềm tin vào con người từ đâu ra – đó là từ những gì họ đã làm trước mắt chúng ta hoặc cho chúng ta, tôi đã kể lại câu chuyện mình đánh mất niềm tin vào nhân cách người Việt […]

via Đi tìm nhân cách đã mất của người Việt – Trần Thành Nam — thân tri

Hôm nay, trong bài giảng cho những người trẻ về niềm tin vào con người từ đâu ra – đó là từ những gì họ đã làm trước mắt chúng ta hoặc cho chúng ta, tôi đã kể lại câu chuyện mình đánh mất niềm tin vào nhân cách người Việt như thế nào, và từ đó tôi đã phải đi tìm nhân cách người Việt đã bị đánh mất ra sao?

Câu chuyện bắt đầu cách đây hơn ba mươi năm. Năm đó, tôi vừa tốt nghiệp cao học kỹ thuật và kinh tế từ Đông Âu, về nước. Đó là những năm tháng gian khó đặc biệt của đất nước ta dù đã hòa bình, đã sau chiến tranh nhiều năm, do những sai lầm trong cơn say chiến thắng và sự ngu muội của “những người thắng cuộc” chiến là chính những người như ông cha tôi và đồng đội của họ…
Đối với tôi, đó cũng là những năm tháng mà tôi phải đấu tranh nội tâm cam go nhất về việc chọn hướng đi cho cả cuộc đời mình, để sống sao cho ý nghĩa và đáng sống, “để đến khi nhắm mắt xuôi tay có thể nói rằng tất cả đời ta, tất cả sức ta, ta đã hiến dâng cho sự nghiệp cao đẹp nhất trến đời, sự nghiệp đấu tranh giải phóng loài người.” Vâng, tôi vẫn thuộc lòng câu đó của Ostrowski qua nhân vật Pavel Korchagin trong cuốn “Thép Đã Tôi Thế Đấy”…

Trước đó, cả cuộc đời tôi đã được sắp đặt trước, rõ ràng: học giỏi, về cống hiến cho đất nước – như với tất cả bạn bè tôi. Nhưng, khoảng 80% lứa du học sinh chúng tôi đã quyết định không về nước… Tôi nằm trong số 20% còn lại, đang phân vân… chính vì cái anh chàng Pavel trong tôi đó!

Lùi lại một chút, thế hệ chúng tôi là thế hệ lớn lên trong chiến tranh, đã biết rõ, thấy rõ, chứng kiến bom đạn là gì, đổ xương máu hay mất mạng sống trong bom đạn chiến tranh đó là như thế nào. Và được học, được sống là một hạnh phúc lớn lao như thế nào.

Từ khi vào lớp 1 chúng tôi đã phải đi học ban đêm bằng những cái đèn dầu con con, và phải tự đào hào và hầm cá nhân cho mình để tránh bom, mỗi đứa phải đào 1 mét hào chung và một cái hầm cá nhân của mình – thầy cô giáo phân công và chỉ chỗ rõ ràng, từng đứa từng chỗ…

Nhưng những đứa trẻ 6-7 tuổi còn thò lò mũi, cao chưa bằng cái cuốc cái xẻng ấy làm sao đào được hào và hầm (thường sâu trên 1mét, rộng 60 đến 80 phân) cho mình? Thầy cô không quan tâm điều đó, chỉ nói gọn: đó là “chỉ tiêu”của các em. Tôi hỏi; “Thưa cô, chỉ tiêu là gì ạ?” Cô nói: về nhà hỏi bố mẹ! Và đúng là bố mẹ tôi và các bậc phụ huynh đều rất hiểu chỉ tiêu là gì…

Đến lớp 4 chúng tôi đã tự đào cả lớp học và hầm hào cho mình, lớp 7 chúng tôi xung phong đi bộ đội và nhiều bạn bè tôi đã vào thẳng thành cổ Quảng Trị để không bao giờ về học tiếp; cấp 3 chúng tôi chứng kiến trận chiến B52 trên không, lớp 10 quá nửa bạn bè lớp chúng tôi tham gia chiến dịch 1975… Chúng tôi không được đi bộ đội (dù đã tình nguyện) vì một lý do: học giỏi. Vì thế, học xong là phải trở về cống hiến hầu như là câu trả lời tất nhiên và bắt buộc đối với tôi. Nhưng sự thực đất nước những năm tháng đó và sự thực đại đa số bạn bè tôi đã quyết định ở lại trời Âu, với một sự thực nữa: những gì đã và đang xảy ra với chế độ Cộng Sản trên các nước Đông Âu đó, đã làm “con người lý tưởng” hay “cỗ máy Pavel-hồng vệ binh” trong tôi chao đảo khủng khiếp.

Ở lại hay về nước? Tôi đã về phép với quyết định được ở lại thực tập sinh thêm 3 năm trong tay, tức là cánh cửa trở lại trời Âu rồi ở lại đó của tôi vẫn còn mở…
Sau 30/4/1975 gia đình tôi sống ở Sài Gòn. Ba tôi, một cán bộ tập kết và một người Cộng Sản kiên cường, đang tại chức, khuyên tôi nên trở lại “học tiếp.” Đó là một bất ngờ, vì tôi thì muốn về đi làm và… “cống hiến,” và tôi cứ nghĩ ba tôi cũng muốn vậy. Mọi chuyện còn tạm chưa quyết định, tôi ra Bắc về thăm quê Ngoại, nơi tôi sinh ra và lớn lên. Đã có một chuyện rất nhỏ xảy ra trong chuyến đi Bắc đó làm tôi quyết định dứt khoát quay trở lại Đông Âu.

Tôi và mẹ tôi ra Bắc bằng tàu liên vận. Hai mẹ con ngồi ở khoang ghế cứng. Vì là tầu chậm, nó đỗ ở tất cả mọi ga và làm tôi rất thích thú. Ở mỗi ga, khoang tàu biến thành cái chợ hay hàng ăn, tùy vào thời điểm. Ngoài sự nghèo đói, lộn xộn, mất vệ sinh và nói chung là kém văn hóa là đặc trưng của những gì xảy ra trên chuyến tàu đó hay cho cả đất nước ta thời đó, điều tôi nhớ nhất và thất vọng vô cùng là: từ Nam ra Bắc tôi hầu như không thấy một nụ cười trên gương mặt một ai cả… Ở một ga miền Bắc Trung bộ, tôi không nhớ ở đâu, hình như ở xứ Thanh, có một cô bé khoảng 14-15 đội lên tàu bán một rổ tép khô. Do đông người đi lại bán hàng va chạm, rổ tép khô của cô bé bị rơi đổ hết xuống sàn tàu, ngay trước mắt tôi và cách chỗ tôi ngồi chừng 1-2 mét.
Cô bé hốt hoảng lo sợ, luống cuống quì xuống gom vội tép lại. Theo bản năng “ga lăng,” tôi lao ngay ra giúp cô bé vơ tép khô lại thành từng đống nhỏ. Cùng lúc đó, nhiều người xung quanh cũng đều xông vào, đa số cũng là những người bán hàng trên tàu như cô bé, xúm lại làm như tôi: vơ tép khô của cô bé gọn lại. Tôi cười nhìn mọi người và nghĩ: “Ồ, mọi người tốt quá! Thế mà mình đã nghĩ dân ta bây giờ không yêu quí nhau như trước nữa…”

Chưa kịp nghĩ hết ý trên thì tôi đã đớ người ra khi nhìn thấy mọi người không bốc tép khô vào rổ cho cô bé như tôi mà cho vào những cái túi riêng của họ! Một loáng, sàn tàu đã sạch trơn không còn tí tép khô nào! Và mọi người thản nhiên bỏ đi với những túm tép khô vơ vét được của họ, như không có gì xảy ra… Tôi chẳng thấy nét mặt ai mừng rỡ hay buồn hay ái ngại gì cả, bình thường… Còn cô bé đứng dậy co rúm thút thít khóc bên cạnh rổ tép khô nay chỉ còn một vốc. Tôi cứ đứng bên cạnh cô bé, ngơ ngác và lòng rưng rưng với nắm tép khô còn chưa kịp đưa vào rổ của cô bé, và không hiểu tại sao mọi người làm như thế! Còn những hành khách trong toa tàu, trong đó có mẹ tôi, đã chứng kiến toàn bộ chuyện đó, cũng làm ngơ, không ai phản đối gì, cho là chuyện bình thường… Cho đến hôm nay tôi vẫn còn khinh ghét (cái) con người (của) mình vì lúc đó đã không làm được việc mình muốn làm nhất là gào thét lên: “Mọi người! Hãy trả lại tép khô cho cô bé!”

Cho đến hôm nay, cái câu không được hét ra ấy vẫn cứ vang lên mãi không tha trong đầu tôi: “Hãy trả lại tép khô cho cô bé!” Để rồi, tôi không còn muốn trở về nước làm việc để “cống hiến cho đất nước” nữa. Bởi vì, từ hôm đó, ngay lúc đó, một điều gì lớn lao đã đổ vỡ trong tôi. Tôi đã mất niềm tin vào nhân cách người Việt, qua những gì tôi chứng kiến và trải nghiệm.

Sự kiện nhỏ đó đã làm tôi mất niềm tin vào nhân cách người Việt. Tôi không thể tự hào là người Việt nữa. Tôi quyết định quay lại trời Âu để “học tiếp” theo lời khuyên của ba. Thực sự, đó là một cuộc bỏ chạy của tôi. Nhưng tôi lại sợ mình sẽ chạy mãi. Sẽ không bao giờ quay trở lại đất nước này nữa. Thế là tôi đưa ra một quyết định sai lầm lớn đầu tiên trong đời. Tôi nói: “Mẹ ơi, con muốn lấy vợ trước khi con quay lại thực tập tiếp.” Mẹ tôi bị bất ngờ, hỏi: “Tại sao con quyết thế?” Tôi nói: “Nếu không lấy vợ thì chắc con sẽ ở lại, không bao giờ về nước nữa?” Ngày đó, quyết định học xong ở lại là quyết định giải thoát lớn lao, giống như người vượt biên vậy, xã hội coi là những kẻ phản bội, và ai cũng biết ở lại bên đó là chấp nhận xa gia đình mãi mãi, vì hạnh phúc của những người ra đi. Ngay trong đợt về phép đó, tôi mang quà về gia đình cho mấy thằng bạn thân đã quyết định ở lại bên ấy, thấy gia đình chúng nó bị xã hội ghẻ lạnh phải nghỉ việc, bán nhà chuyển chỗ ở, thấy bố mẹ chúng nó tiếp tôi và nhận quà của con mình gửi về mà phải đi báo công an phường đến chứng nhận… tôi khiếp quá Nhưng nay tôi đã quyết quay trở lại Châu Âu, và để ngỏ khả năng ở lại bên đó vĩnh viễn… chỉ vì chứng kiến rổ tép khô bị đổ của cô bé trên tầu…

Sau khi nghe nói tại sao tôi phải lấy vợ, mẹ tôi không hỏi gì nữa mà nhất nhất làm theo ý tôi. Bà sợ “mất” con trai hoàn toàn. Lúc đó, người tôi yêu, rất yêu thì không yêu tôi; còn người rất yêu tôi thì tôi chỉ quí trọng. Cả hai đều là bạn học, bạn thân của tôi thời phổ thông bom đạn. Tất nhiên, tôi chỉ có thể và nói mẹ xin cưới cho mình người thứ hai. Và ba năm sau thời gian thực tập sinh, tôi đã trở về nước làm việc, sống với người mình đã cưới vội để thả neo đó. Cái neo đó đúng là đã giữ tôi không phiêu bạt giang hồ. Nhưng đó là câu chuyện khác… Câu chuyện chính ở đây là… những cái rổ tép bị cướp đi kia! …

Mấy chục năm nay, sống trên đất nước XHCN này, chuyện những người đi đường vô tình bị rơi bịch tiền vung vãi ra và bị mọi người xông vào cướp trắng hết… đã là bình thường, nhưng những giấc mơ và câu hét: “Mọi người! Hãy trả lại tép khô cho cô bé!” vẫn cứ vang lên trong tôi. Và tôi hiểu, đó là tôi vẫn còn đang đi đòi lại cho tôi nhân cách đạo đức người Việt ngày xưa mà tôi từng biết. Tại sao nó bị mất đi? Làm sao cho nó quay trở lại với người Việt? Tôi có tìm lại được niềm tin vào nhân cách người Việt như xưa nữa hay không?

Đó là câu hỏi tôi đã thảo luận với các bạn trẻ sáng nay. Tôi tin là có. Dù điều đó không dễ và không nhanh được, nhưng rồi cũng sẽ tới ngày… Những hạt giống độc hại nào đó đã nẩy mầm sau chiến tranh, nhưng (thực ra là) đã được gieo từ lâu trước đó vào văn hóa dân tộc, chỉ là hồi (còn) bé tôi không nhận ra những rổ tép khô bị hất đổ và cướp mất mà thôi.

Và bây giờ nó đã là rổ tép khô của tôi rồi. Mọi người! Hãy trả lại rổ tép khô cho tôi!

Trần Thành Nam

(Nguồn : vietluan.com.au)

Kungfu – KATANA CARE HOW TO STRAIGHTEN A BENT SAMURAI SWORD

If you regularly cut tatami mats or bamboo, you’ll become an expert at not only cutting but also bending or, rather, straightening your sword. A bent sword can be the result of using a poor quality weapon, an incorrect cutting technique or both. Even a well-manufactured mono-steel blade or traditionally folded-steel model will bend or twist if your technique is off.

Strangely enough, bending is the good news. A blade that bends is preferable to one that breaks, chips or cracks along its edge. The fact that a blade bends in lieu of breaking while sustaining no edge damage reveals that its metallurgical structure is in good condition.

bent samurai sword

(Photo — and bent sword — by Robert W. Young)

A sword bends because of damage to its internal crystalline structure. It should be corrected by a specialist who has experience working with steel. He’ll have at his disposal several methods and tools designed specifically for straightening blades. Among them are “straightening sticks,” or implements that will help him remedy bends as well as twists.

Although these tools and methods are best left to the experts, there are more conventional ones that can aid you should you need to tweak your sword yourself. Before you begin, some words of caution are in order: A bent sword cuts flesh as easily as a straight sword. Furthermore, it has a curious appetite for its owner’s flesh. Prior to beginning any work, put on safety goggles and Kevlar gloves.

Step 1: Inspect the blade for damage other than the bend or twist. 

If the edge has a chip, it must be polished out before you attempt to straighten the blade. If the edge has a crack or the blade is fractured at any point, don’t attempt to straighten it or use it for cutting.

A bent blade will tend to bend again at the same point. The steel in the affected area can wrinkle during the bending and straightening process. If improper technique is used, it might eventually break at the same point.

Step 2: Prepare the blade for straightening. 

Determine where the bend or twist begins and ends and place a piece of masking tape across the convex, or outwardly bowed, section. Use a pencil to mark the tape at the center of the bend. Then mark where the bend starts and stops.

Masayuki Shimabukuro

Masayuki Shimabukuro in action (Photo by Rick Hustead)

Step 3: At the middle marking on the tape, attach a short length of half-inch dowel across the blade at a 90-degree angle. 

Secure it with rubber bands. Obtain two more dowels and use rubber bands to attach them on the opposite side of the blade at the beginning and end of the bend. The more acute the angle of the bend, the closer the two dowels will be to the center one.

Step 4: Place the sword in a vise with the edge facing upward. 

The far jaw of the vise should press against the two outer dowels. If it’s not wide enough to accommodate them, you can lay a piece of angle iron over one or both jaws to effectively widen it.

Step 5: Slowly tighten the vise. 

While doing so, be sure to support the sword by holding its handle. That will direct the pressure precisely onto the dowels while ensuring that the blade doesn’t shift. The goal is to put pressure on the shinogi (ridgeline) of the sword with little to none being applied to the edge.

Step 6: Once you’ve corrected the bend, hold that position for 15 to 20 minutes. 

You can then loosen the vise and check the blade for straightness. If the new “set” hasn’t taken, repeat steps four and five.

Complications

You may find that you have to bend the blade farther in the opposite direction to encourage it to take the new set; do so with extreme caution.

If the blade has multiple bends or is twisted, you may have to straighten it several times with the dowels in varying positions. That could entail reversing the positions of the dowels to bend adjacent sections of the blade in different directions.

Making your life easier

A differentially heat-treated blade, or one that’s hardened only along the edge and softer at the spine, tends to be less difficult to straighten than one that’s tempered throughout its structure.

Alternative tools

To straighten a blade using clamps instead of a vice, prepare it as described above. Then place two 2-by-4 wooden blocks end to end on the edge of a workbench or table with a space between them that’s wide enough to accommodate the length of the bend.

Rest the blade on top of the blocks with the apex in the middle of the space. The bend should create an arched “bridge” between the blocks.

Using two large C-clamps, secure each end of the blade and its associated block to the bench. Use a few layers of masking tape to prevent the clamps from touching the blade.

Place another block on the highest point of the bridge (where the blade is bent the most) and position a large C-clamp over that point so it applies pressure on the wood and the bottom of the bench, then remove the other clamps.

Finally, tighten the clamp until the blade is straight. Leave the blade in this position for 10 to 20 minutes, then remove it and check for straightness. Repeat as necessary until the blade is straight.

Carl Long

By Carl E. Long

Full link: https://blackbeltmag.com/techniques/martial-arts-weapons/katana-care-how-to-straighten-a-bent-samurai-sword

Ẩm thực – The Pirate Who Penned the First English-Language Guacamole Recipe

William Dampier’s food-writing firsts included the use of the words “barbecue” and “chopsticks.”

A 1697 oil painting of Dampier holding a book.

FOR ALL THE PERCEIVED GLAMOUR of piracy, its practitioners lived poorly and
ate worse. Skirting death, mutiny, and capture left little room for comfort
or transformative culinary experience. The greatest names in piracy,
wealthy by the day’s standards, ate as one today might on a poorly
provisioned camping trip: dried beef, bread, and warm beer. Those of
lesser fame were subject to cannibalism and scurvy. The seas were no place
for an adventurous appetite.

But when one gifted pirate permitted himself a curiosity for food, he
played a pioneering role in spreading ingredients and cuisines. He gave us
the words “tortilla,” “soy sauce,” and “breadfruit,” while unknowingly
recording the first ever recipe for guacamole. And who better to expose the
Western world to the far corners of our planet’s culinary bounty than
someone who by necessity made them his hiding places?

William Dampier witnesses the reunion of Miskito men on the Island of Juan Fernandez.
British-born William Dampier began a life of piracy in 1679 in Mexico’s Bay
of Campeche. Orphaned in his late teens, Dampier set sail for the
Caribbean and fell into a twentysomething job scramble. Seeing no future
in logging or sugar plantations, he was sucked into the burgeoning realm of
New World raiding, beginning what would be the first of his record-breaking three circumnavigations. A prolific diarist, Dampier kept a journal wrapped in a wax-sealed bamboo tube throughout his journeys. During a year-long prison sentence in Spain in 1694, Dampier would convert these notes into a novel that became a bestseller and seminal travelogue.

Parts of A New Voyage Around the World read like a 17th-century episode of
No Reservations, with Dampier playing a high-stakes version of Anthony
Bourdain. Aside from writing groundbreaking observations on previously
un-researched subjects in meteorology, maritime navigation, and zoology,
food was a constant throughout his work. He ate with the locals, observing
and employing their practices not only to feed himself and his crew but to
amass a body of knowledge that would expand European understanding of
non-Western cuisine. In Panama, Dampier traveled with men of the
Miskito tribe, hunting and eating manatee. “Their flesh is …
[extraordinarily] sweet, wholesome meat,” he wrote. “The tail of a young
cow is most esteemed. A calf that sucks is the most delicate meat.” His
crew took to roasting filleted bellies over open flames.

Dampier's legacy sparked the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty.

Dampier was later smitten, on the island of Cape Verde, by the taste of
flamingo. “The flesh of both young and old is lean and black, yet very good
meat, tasting neither fishy [nor] any way unsavoury,” he wrote. “Their
tongues are large, having a large knob of fat at the root, which is an
excellent bit: a dish of flamingo’s tongue [is] fit for a prince’s table.” Of
Galapagos penguins, Dampier found “their flesh ordinary, but their eggs
[to be] good meat.” He also became a connoisseur of sea turtles, having
developed a preference for grass-fed specimens of the West Indies: “They
are the best of that sort, both for largeness and sweetness.”

While flamingos, penguins, and turtles never caught on, several
contributions from A New Voyage reshaped our modern English food
vocabulary. In the Bay of Panama, Damier wrote of a fruit “as big as a large
lemon … [with] skin [like] black bark, and pretty smooth.” Lacking distinct
flavor, he wrote, the ripened fruit was “mixed with sugar and lime juiceand
beaten together [on] a plate.” This was likely the English language’s very
first recipe for guacamole. Later, in the Philippines, Dampier noted of
young mangoes that locals “cut them in two pieces and pickled them with
salt and vinegar, in which they put some cloves of garlic.” This was the
English language’s first recipe for mango chutney. His use of the terms
“chopsticks,” “barbecue,” “cashew,” “kumquat,” “tortilla,” and “soy sauce”
were also the first of their kind.

One entry, however, would have dire consequences for the Crown and one
unfortunate crew in the South Pacific. Dampier wrote passionately of a
Tahitian fruit: “When [it] is ripe it is yellow and soft; and the taste is
delicious … The inside is soft, tender, and white, like the crumb of a
pennyloaf.” He and his men dubbed it breadfruit. For British sugar planters
of the West Indies, who struggled to feed their slaves on small plots of
land, these broad-branched, fast-growing, nutritious fruits, which required
little cultivation and stood up to hurricane winds, rang of an ideal solution.
Dampier unknowingly sold the British on breadfruit, which served as the
impetus for a British mission to bring a thousand potted breadfruit trees
from the South Pacific around the Horn of Africa to the West Indies. With
the ship retrofitted to shelter the saplings, the miserably crammed and
mistreated crew mutinied, leading to the fiasco, book, and film that came
to be known as the Mutiny on the Bounty.

William Dampier aboard the <em>HMS Roebuck</em> surveys the New Guinea coast.

In the years following its publication, A New Voyage became an
international bestseller, skyrocketing Dampier to wealth and fame. The
first of its kind, the work generated a hunger among European audiences
for travel writing, serving as an inspiration for Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and
Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Charles Darwin brought a copy of A New Voyage
with him aboard the Beagle’s voyage to South America, having cited the
book as a “mine of information.” Noting his keen eye for wind and current
mapping, the British Royal Navy consulted him on best practices, later
extending him captainship of the HMS Roebuck, on which he was
commissioned for an in-depth exploration of South Africa, Australia, and
Indonesia.

Despite the popular excusal of his pirating days, Dampier eluded long-term
renown due to one entry from A New Voyage. His observations on the
aboriginals of Australia were employed, decades after its publication, as
justification for the colonization of Oceania and the subsequent genocide
of its original inhabitants. In 1697, he wrote that “the inhabitants of this
country are the miserablest people in the world. They differ but little from
brutes.” And indeed, viewing the aboriginals on a scientific expedition in
1770, Sir Joseph Banks, president of the British Royal Society and advisor
to King George III, wrote, “So far did the prejudices which we had built on
Dampier’s account influence us that we fancied we could see their color
when we could scarce distinguish whether or not they were men.” The
later publication of a full transcript of Dampier’s journals does indicate an
up-close and far more favorable analysis of the aboriginals, yet by then the
Crown’s campaign to colonize was well underway, and his reputation as a
bigot was sewn. For generations, Dampier was taught throughout much of
the Commonwealth as, first and only, a piratical figure.

Other negative testimony accumulated against him in court-martials later
on as well: He lost the Roebuck to a leak and was accused of mistreating
and even marooning subordinates—par for the course in the life of a
pirate. Disgraced and indebted by court fines, Dampier died penniless, and
his exploits became mere footnotes between the nary-criminal lives of Sir
Walter Raleigh and James Cook. Nevertheless, each time you order
avocado toast, call some friends over for a barbecue, or ask for a pair of
chopsticks, you are living Dampier’s legacy.

By LUKE FATE

Full link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/first-food-writer?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=0599fe46d0-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_07_30&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-0599fe46d0-70327933&ct=t(GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_07_30_2019)&mc_cid=0599fe46d0&mc_eid=df51e46713

Ẩm thực – 21 Easy Vegetarian Recipes So Tasty Even Meat-Eaters Will Want Seconds

You won’t miss the beef with these dishes, that’s for sure!

21 Easy Vegetarian Recipes So Tasty Even Meat-Eaters Will Want Seconds

Whether you recently decided to cut meat from your diet, haven’t even ever had the taste of beef before, or find yourself cooking for a dinner party where meats and poultry are a no-go for one or more of your guests. Vegetarian diets are becoming more and more popular, and that means there’s a good chance you might just be looking for some easy vegetarian recipes you can whip up. Not only are our vegetarian recipes easy, low-calorie, and good for you (hello protein!), but they taste so good, even the biggest meat-eaters you know will be coming back for second servings.

Check out these easy to make, oh so tasty vegetarian recipes.

1

Black Bean Omelet

Black bean omeletMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 330 calories, 8 g fat (6 g saturated), 480 mg sodium

We’re going to say it: an omelet isn’t something you should be paying a ton of money for when you’re out at a restaurant, especially when you can make a delicious and nutritious one right in your own kitchen. All you need is 10 minutes and you’ll have an omelet oozing with black beans and cheese, for only 330 calories. Yes, please.

Get our recipe for a Black Bean Omelet.

2

Grilled Vegetable Wrap With Balsamic Mayo

Healthy grilled vegetable wrapMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 240 calories, 13 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 450 mg sodium

Yes, this is proof a wrap can be good for you! Even with a dusting of goat cheese and a spread of balsamic mayo, this wrap is low in calories and will still keep you full, thanks to its generous vegetable filling that combined with the cheese, gives you a nice protein boost.

Get our recipe for a Grilled Vegetable Wrap With Balsamic Mayo.

3

Caprese Sandwich

Caprese sandwichMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 300 calories, 17 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 410 mg sodium

The combination of creamy fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, and sweet basil is simply too good to resist and this sandwich takes very little time to bring to life. Just toast some bread for two minutes and you’re ready to go.

Get our recipe for a Caprese Sandwich

4

Hearty Grilled Cheese With Sautéed Mushrooms

Grilled cheese with sauteed mushroomsMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 340 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated), 570 mg sodium

A grilled cheese needs substance, which you want to do without making the sandwich high calorie. And that’s where the mushrooms and caramelized onions come in. We put this all on rye bread instead of white, too for a better—and tastier—alternative.

Get our recipe for a Hearty Grilled Cheese With Sautéed Mushrooms.

5

Easy Panini With Provolone, Peppers, and Arugula

Italian panini with provolone and peppers and arugulaMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 350 calories, 12 g fat (4 g saturated), 1,010 mg sodium

We take the classic flavors of the Italian sandwich and turn them into a crispy, melted panini, ditching the bulky bread, the mound of meat, and excessive calories for a light, veggie and cheese-filled sandwich.

Get our recipe for an Easy Panini With Provolone, Peppers, and Arugula.

6

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

Vegetarian warm goat cheese saladMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 370 calories, 22 g fat (6 g saturated), 660 mg sodium

Nearly every restaurant seems to serve their salads with buckets of dressing, adding so many extra calories. That’s why we’re giving you the perfect recipe to make at home with this warm goat cheese crouton and sweet, crisp pear salad. If you’re not a salad fan, this is the one to change your mind.

Get our recipe for a Warm Goat Cheese Salad.

7

Classic Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Vegetarian grilled cheese and tomato soupMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 320 calories, 17 g fat (8 g saturated), 490 mg sodium

Grilled cheese and a cup of warm tomato soup are the perfect comfort food combo. Our version is stuffed with pimento cheese, which diffuses the calories of the cheese with healthy additions like roasted peppers and Greek yogurt. And the soup is pure oven-roasted tomato goodness.

Get our recipe for a Classic Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.

8

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Healthy broccoli-cheddar soupMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 190 calories, 8 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 16 g sugar

Soup should always be a healthy choice, but broccoli cheddar is a classic vegetarian option that often focuses heavily on the cheese, making it more of a fondue. In this recipe, we make broccoli the star, adding in just a handful of sharp Cheddar to give this soup a rich, creamy texture.

Get our recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

9

Minestrone with Pesto Soup

Healthy minestrone with pestoMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 200 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 490 mg sodium

Minestrone soup is a dream vegetarian dish, as this recipe is a hodgepodge of veggies. Even if you’re a meat-lover, your diet could always use a boost of veggies and with a spoonful of jarred pesto, this dish gets kicked up a notch.

Get our recipe for Minestrone with Pesto Soup.

10

Buttery Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo

Healthy red pepper alfredoMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 390 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated), 730 mg sodium

Fettuccine Alfredo, in its purest form, is pasta, butter, and Parmesan cheese. So say goodbye to the overly creamy sauce you have come to know as Alfredo because in this version, we start with a béchamel sauce that is then blended with roasted red peppers to make for a lighter, brighter, better Alfredo, for a quarter of the calories.

Get our recipe for Buttery Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo.

11

Homemade 3-Cheese Ravioli With Cherry Tomatoes

Vegetarian 3 cheese ravioli with cherry tomatoesMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 510 calories, 16 g fat (6 g saturated), 790 mg sodium

“Four cheese” anything in the food world usually means it’s a whole lot of extra cheese you’re being served in one dish. Here, in this ravioli recipe, you get ricotta, mozzarella, and sharp Parmesan, plus a sauce that would make anything taste great for just 510 calories. Perfection.

Get our recipe for Homemade 3-Cheese Ravioli With Cherry Tomatoes.

12

Pesto Gnocchi With Green Beans and Tomatoes

Vegetarian pesto gnocchi with green beans and tomatoesMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 490 calories, 22 g fat (7 g saturated), 830 mg sodium

Pesto at its core is made up of olive oil, basil, garlic, and pine nuts, which are loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats. So pesto in moderation is good for you! In this gnocchi, make sure you keep it at 2 tablespoons of pesto per plate—and throw in some healthy extras like tomatoes and green beans to bring even more substance to the meal.

Get our recipe for Pesto Gnocchi With Green Beans and Tomatoes.

13

Ricotta and Cottage Cheese-Stuffed Spinach-Artichoke Manicotti

Spinach-artichoke tomato sauce manicotti with spicyMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 450 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated), 810 mg sodium

Most pasta dishes you get while dining out are just a mound of calories and sodium, especially if it’s a stuffed pasta dish. So we decided to take another approach and keeping on par with the comfort-food level you want from a pasta-based meal, we keep the cheesy stuffing. You get low-fat ricotta, cottage cheese, sautéed spinach, and artichoke hearts all stuffed in this manicotti. You won’t lose out on taste with this meal, just on calories.

Get our recipe for Ricotta and Cottage Cheese-Stuffed Spinach-Artichoke Manicotti.

14

Mozzarella Spiedini

Healthy mozzarella spiediniMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 160 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated), 270 mg sodium

You might just never turn to a mozzarella stick ever again! OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but in this vegetarian-friendly version of the traditional Italian spiedini, we take fresh mozzarella cheese, baguette crust, and cherry tomatoes and serve them on rosemary branches for the perfect silverware free treat.

Get our recipe for Mozzarella Spiedini

15

Bruschetta, Two Different Ways

Vegetarian bruschetta two waysMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 240 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated), 410 mg sodium

Bruschetta is essentially the Italians’ answer to chips and salsa, but if you order it at a restaurant, you’ll end up consuming a ton of calories before your main course even arrives. We have two different ways to make the dish, both of which are low in calories but high in flavor.

Get our recipe for Bruschetta, Two Different Ways.

16

Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetarian fried rice with a fried eggMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING:360 calories, 12 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 390 mg sodium

Fried rice doesn’t have to be bad for you! All you have to do is mix in all of your favorite veggies, making them more of the star and the rice as a bonus. And with this single, just-cooked egg on top of top, you simply just break the yolk and dig in.

Get our recipe for Vegetable Fried Rice.

17

Mushroom Burger With Mozzarella Cheese

Vegetarian mushroom meltsMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 370 calories, 16 g fat (4 g saturated), 540 mg sodium

Unfortunately, while many veggie burgers may seem like a healthy option for nonmeat eaters, they’re often just as high in calories, fat, and sodium as beef burgers. Here, we go for a portobello mushroom cap as the burger, which is rubbed in olive oil and balsamic, and topped with a crown of melted mozzarella. Delicious and much lower in calories!

Get our recipe for a Mushroom Burger With Mozzarella Cheese.

18

Stuffed Tomatoes

Vegetarian stuffed tomatoesMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 160 calories, 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 360 mg sodium

This is a way to completely elevate the basic tomato. It’s sweet, creamy, crunchy, and is filled with the flavors of garlic and fresh basil.

Get our recipe for Stuffed Tomatoes.

19

Simmered Lentils

Lentils in bowlShutterstock
PER 1 SERVING: 160 calories, 4.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 540 mg sodium

Lentils have tons of health benefits, such as the fact that they help to reduce cholesterol, are a great source of protein, increase energy, and are good for your heart and digestive system. So if you’re not eating lentils, you should start now! Add in some roasted vegetables to make a heartier, nutrient-rich, lentil stew of sorts if you’re feeling up for it.

Get our recipe for Simmered Lentils.

20

Melted Brie With Vegetables

Vegetarian melted brie vegetablesMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 310 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated), 610 mg sodium

Who doesn’t love the taste of melted cheese? Here, we turn to brie and cover sautéed vegetables in the melted deliciousness.

Get our recipe for Melted Brie With Vegetables

21

Caprese Tomato Tower Salad

Vegetarian caprese tomato towersMitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
PER 1 SERVING: 170 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated), 290 mg sodium

With one bite, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Capri, Italy, with this simple salad. Sweet, acidic tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil come together for a quick salad you can easily whip up in the summer to accompany any meal that will truly wow your dinner guests.

By JEN MALDONADO

Full link: https://www.eatthis.com/easy-vegetarian-recipes/?utm_source=nsltr&utm_medium=email&utm_content=unhealthiest-fast-food&utm_campaign=etntNewsletter

Stoic – We’re Lucky Not To Get What We Want

There’s an old joke: When the Gods wish to punish us, they give us everything we’ve ever wanted. Look at most people who win the lottery. Look at most famous people. Look at most world leaders. To borrow an expression from one particularly unhappy world leader, what do they look like? They look like they’re tired of winning. Because winning isn’t actually as fun as it seemed like it would be…and most of what we want to win turns out to not really be worth it.

This was Marcus Aurelius’ point. When we look at history and other people, it’s hard not to see “how trivial the things we want so passionately are.” But what if you don’t realize that yourself? Or rather, what if you don’t realize that the presidency or a billion dollars isn’t that meaningful until after you’ve given up everything for it? After you’ve traded your marriage or your principles or your youth to get it?

“Now you’re free of illusions,” says a character in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. “How does it feel to be free of one’s illusions?” The protagonist can only answer, “Painful and empty.” In this way, we are almost lucky not to get everything we want, to not be allowed our trivial passionate yearnings. Because we are allowed to continue in ignorance. We don’t have to do the hard work on ourselves, and really look in the mirror.

Of course, this is what a philosopher does all the time. Instead of hiding behind luck’s protection, or instead of continuing to lie to themselves that more, more, more will make them happy, they actually probe themselves. They question their desires. They look into the future and ask, “What would happen if all my dreams did come true? Why would I suddenly be happy then? Why can’t I be happy now instead?”

Collection – What Nobody Told Me About Having Sex for the First Time

I thought my wedding night would be amazing, but it brought more pain than pleasure

Something is definitely wrong with me, I thought to myself all through what seemed like the longest night ever. My mind was still racing when the sound of the adhan pierced through the window blinds, interrupting my thoughts. As the call to prayer filled the room, I looked to my left to find my husband also awake, staring into nothing. My stomach churned with embarrassment. What had just happened? I had so many questions, all waiting to be answered by whomever I could summon the courage to talk to. Without saying anything, my husband moved closer and placed my head on his chest as if to comfort me and tell me everything would be fine.

This is not how I had expected to feel the morning after my wedding night. I may have been inexperienced sexually going into my honeymoon, but I had done my research. I had a pretty good idea of what I’d like and what I wouldn’t. I’d read books about sex, devoured erotic novels, scoured the internet, and sought the advice of my “experienced” friends. They mostly told me how wonderful and pleasurable sex was, and how I shouldn’t be too anxious about my wedding night. I was told to be calm and just revel in it. Armed with my research and this well-intentioned advice, I was confident that I had learned enough to have a terrific honeymoon.

Waiting till my wedding night to have sex was not just a religious tradition; it was also a family custom, one that I chose to abide by. In Islam, sex outside the bounds of marriage is a no-no for both men and women. Those who did engage in it were not supposed to talk about it publicly. As a girl who had been taught by my dad all the benefits of choosing to share my body with only the one man willing to make a life commitment to me, the idea of waiting just appealed to me. I also grew up at a time when, in my community, having sex with a young lady was some sort of trophy for the guys, and I was never going to be a part of that.

I wanted a true Muslim by my own standards. That meant a man who saw women as partners in matrimony, not possessions.

As a demisexual who doesn’t feel the slightest sexual attraction in the absence of a strong emotional connection, I was more focused on other things anyway. I’d always wanted to get married, but finding “the one” took many years of searching. The unconventional girl that I was, I didn’t want a man from my community whose practice of Islam was tainted by certain cultural practices. I wanted a true Muslim by my own standards. That meant a man who believed in the equality of men and women, who respected women and their rights, and who saw women as partners in matrimony, not possessions. Until I found this man, I was just going to enjoy being fabulously single.

I met my husband for the first time over the phone. He had heard about me from a relative and wanted to meet me. Though our first conversation was brief, my heart told me right away that he could be the one. Two years and one month later, at the age of 25, I found myself in a baby pink custom-made wedding dress walking with him down the aisle.

Thanks to my amazing wedding planner, I could probably talk your ear off about all the little details of our wedding: 1,000 guests, a timeless ceremony space, and a colorful wedding hall. It was really fun. The celebration soon fizzled out, though, and my husband and I left our guests behind to proceed to our honeymoon. Seeing his excitement, I tried to put my mind at rest, hiding my anxiety behind my smile. We settled down in a beautiful resort with a zoological park and a nice restaurant, which we visited before finally heading to our room for what we assumed was going to be the best moment of our lives.

With grace and sensuality, my husband soon began making the first move; the cold ice cream he smeared all over my face and slowly down to other parts as he fed me, the beautiful words he whispered to me, and the light stroke of his fingers in my hair. My heart began to thump, and even though I had waited for this moment all my life, the anxiety I’d warned myself about kicked in. There were kisses and licking and tongue-locking. We explored each other’s bodies until we both felt we were ready to dive in. I heard my husband mumbling some words; I didn’t know what they were. But whatever they were, they happened to be the last thing I heard before letting out a deafening scream.

In that moment, it seemed as if my life was at a standstill. It felt like someone was trying to shove an 18-wheeler into a bike rack. My husband’s voice woke me from my temporary numbness. As I opened my eyes to meet his, I saw the confusion on his face. He pulled me closer and said, “I don’t think we can do this now.”

I didn’t know exactly what that meant. Could it be that we had not consummated the marriage? What exactly had happened? What was that sharp twinge I’d felt? I convinced him to try again, and this time, it was even scarier for us both as I let out another shrill noise. He couldn’t stand seeing me in so much pain. He looked so scared, and without saying a word to each other, we both gave up and settled down to sleep.

After that sleepless night, we spent the morning discussing why our first night had gone so badly, while browsing the internet for answers. I wanted to know why I’d experienced so much pain, as opposed to the pleasure I longed for. I had learned that sex could be painful for first-timers. But I’d always heard that it was just a slight pain caused by the puncturing of the hymen, which was immediately succeeded by pleasure.

As I found out firsthand, this was a fallacy, at least in my own case. But I couldn’t be the first woman to ever experience this, so why was no one talking about it? Was it taboo? Something never to be mentioned out loud? As much as I thought I had learned about sex, I began to realize there was so much I’d missed in my research. My husband and I decided not to try again until we were both psychologically ready. After all, we told each other, every marriage is different and unique in its own way.


AAbout a week after my wedding, I sought the opinion of a dear friend who happens to be a gynecologist. I don’t know whether I felt relieved or angry when she told me my wedding-night experience wasn’t a big deal, as it happens to some women. After a brief examination, she said that I had a lot of hymenal tissue which was relatively inflexible. It was this tissue that was causing me so much pain.

This of course led to me scouring the internet, trying to learn everything about hymens. Though the culture in which I grew up placed so much emphasis on the hymen, the main message was that it just had to be intact. I had no idea that the hymen, a thin membrane surrounding the opening to the vagina, actually comes in different shapes and sizes. The “normal” hymen, which is the most common, has the shape of a half moon. There are, however, three other types of hymen that can complicate first-time sex.

The imperforate hymen completely covers the opening to the vagina. In addition to preventing anything from coming in, menstrual blood cannot flow out. There’s also the microperforate hymen, which almost completely covers the opening to the vagina. It typically doesn’t affect the flow of menstrual blood, but it can be very difficult to insert or remove a tampon. Lastly, the septate hymen has a band of extra tissue that creates two vaginal openings instead of one.

Photo by Young Women’s health

Learning about all these hymenal variations made me realize how little understanding I had of my own body. I wished that I had taken the time to get familiar with my own vagina, instead of waiting till my wedding night to discover something so crucial about myself.

Ultimately, my gynecologist friend told me that I had only two options: I could go through a minor surgery to remove the hymenal tissue, or I would have to take things slowly, meaning lots of foreplay and lots of lube. My phobia of surgery caused me to choose the second option, even though she warned me it could lead to scarring, soreness, and bleeding.

“So why didn’t you tell me about all this earlier?” I asked her a bit angrily, after we’d finished discussing my options.

“Sex is naturally pleasurable,” she said. “Telling you about the other side of it would have made you uncomfortable. I didn’t want to increase your anxiety… I had no idea that you would face this problem.”

That day, I learned two things from my friend. The first was to always check my hymen before sex. If I couldn’t comfortably insert a tampon into my vagina, then penetration would likely feel painful. (I had never used a tampon before; sanitary pads are the norm among women in my country.) Over time, my friend said, the hymenal tissue would gradually tear away, and I wouldn’t need to do the tampon check anymore. I also learned to avoid the man-on-top missionary position, as my husband might have trouble finding the opening. My friend said to try either the woman-on-top position or the rear entry (doggie style), both of which would enable me to control the speed and depth of insertion.

The next couple of days found my husband basically just applying lots of lube and putting the tip in to “warm me up.” I bled a little the first three times I “had sex,” which were basically just penis warm-ups. My sweet husband was very patient and so worried he’d hurt me that we took it really slow. It was still painful, though. Sex actually didn’t stop being painful for me until after I had my first child through vaginal birth about 17 months into my marriage.


SSo, how come I’d never heard anything about “too much hymenal tissue” and how much it can impact a woman’s first-time experience with penetration? My research told me that hymenal tissue abnormalities were not very common, with the frequency of imperforate hymens varying from 1 case per 1,000 to 1 case per 10,000. Certainly, the whole idea was alien to my friends, who assured me that they most definitely had “normal” hymens.

Still, if sex weren’t such a taboo topic to begin with, perhaps I would have understood that everyone’s first time is different. Perhaps I would have known to become more familiar with my own anatomy, instead of simply accepting my friends’ vague advice about how I should just relax and enjoy myself. Years later, reflecting on our now-active sex life as a couple, I can’t help but laugh at how my being such a novice ruined my honeymoon.

If I ever have a daughter, I will definitely tell her everything I wish I’d known on my wedding night.

But where was I supposed to find the information I needed? None of my family members ever told me anything about sex, not even my mum. I wouldn’t know if she knew anything about hymenal tissue, but even if she didn’t, just your basic “sex talk” would have helped a lot.

Sex is natural. It is not something to be ashamed of. Various cultures and societies have presented sex to us as something so private and shameful that we have forgotten to look into why God created something so beautiful in the first place. Instead of sweeping sensitive issues under the carpet, and suffering in silence when things go wrong, maybe we should all be a little more honest about what goes on behind closed doors.

If I ever have a daughter, I will definitely tell her everything I wish I’d known on my wedding night. I want her to be prepared, both physically and psychologically, for her first time. I don’t want her to lie there the next morning the way that I did, blaming herself and wondering what’s wrong with her body. And above all, I want her to know that she can always ask me anything she needs to know.

By Wardah Abbas

Full link: https://humanparts.medium.com/what-nobody-told-me-about-having-sex-for-the-first-time-3972942a2fb2

Collection – Training Interns On Effective Branding and Risk Management

Nothing is more deadly to a company than ignorance of its customers’ needs.

Swift and attentive PR management, while costly, can save an organization huge costs in the long run. For example, Johnson & Johnson’s reaction to the presence of potassium cyanide laced Tylenol pills was to pull $100 million in stock off the shelves to ensure customer safety.

While interns aren’t going to be dealing with crisis management on such an extensive and critical level, they can provide important insight on current trends and aid in reputation management for your company’s brand. If think about it, your company’s image is an amalgamation of how different groups of people perceive it and your interns are representative of how the younger portion of the population sees your brand.

The chances for disconnect between a population are greater than ever because of a pre- and post-Internet divide among generations, and knowing how to use your interns effectively improves your chances of mending that gap.


Identifying Image Issues for Reputation and Branding

By far the greatest disconnect that impacts all companies is how they choose to interface with the Internet and adapt to a consumer base that is born in times where technology is increasingly integrated with daily life. Controlling for your company’s branding is becoming harder than ever as increased life expectancy rates mean that the preferences of an older generation are still relevant while technology threatens to alienate newer audiences from a former pre-Internet status quo.

The Harvard Business Review has published a piece describing the particulars behind the causes of this phenomenon, noting that five different generations of people will soon be inhabiting the same workplace. The article neatly lists out each generation according to a birth year range:

  • Traditionalists, born prior to 1946
  • Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964
  • Gen X, born between 1965 and 1976
  • Millennials, born between 1977 and 1997
  • Gen 2020, born after 1997

Depending on who you consult, the numbers for each of these five categories shift around a few years, but when we are talking about interns and the benefits they can produce, it concerns the tail end of the millennial generation and Gen 2020. Ideally, a company should be aiming to target these two populations of individuals since they are the populations that interns are most likely to have insight into and relate with.


Understanding Brand Strategy for Different Generations

Adopting a unique strategy for each generation is very important to successful reputation and brand management. The perception of your brand online is starting to count more and more, and 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, how you control the appearance of your image online and how you gear yourself towards a particular demographic cohort will have significantly different impacts for your brand as a whole.

For instance, the age of an individual has been correlated with how much they trust online information and how often they access irrelevant links or advertising. The millennial generation along with the generations of individuals after it are less likely to access and trust advertisers. In contrast, older generations are more vulnerable to click on advertisements, as SearchEngineLand notes in a report on click through rates: “…as age increases, so does the number of people clicking on those ads, as 65 percent of ad clicks come from searchers age 35 and older.”

Therefore, from this information alone, you will know to avoid direct or flagrant marketing methods if you are attempting to target a younger generation and to build rapport with them. Instead, you will want to focus on indirect methods of marketing that work through word-of-mouth effects and content-based advertisements. Utilizing an advertisement strategy that goes “under the radar” is the most effective way to target the younger generations.


How to Harness The Insight of Your Interns

Your interns, by virtue of the nature of the job market, are promising parts of your future workforce as well as members of the younger generation. So, they will usually have the latest and most accurate ideas about what appeals to the sensibilities and tastes of their own generation. They can contribute the most to your brand’s reputation from a contextual and aesthetic standpoint.

There are tons of roles that you can give to interns that can bring your company a nice set of branding wins. From a contextual perspective, one report talks about the idea of using your interns as a “foot-in-the-door” for your brand by having them act as brand ambassadors. Interns are in a position where they want to contribute and impress your company, so having them work in environments that are familiar to them will help them feel like they are adding value and get them engaged with your company’s culture or dynamic.

On the topic of aesthetics, your interns will be able to help inform your company’s design process by offering their own feelings towards a new theme, logo, or set of designs that your business wants to implement. It’s possible to ask a professional service to design a series of logos for your business to make it appear more modern. Then, having your interns fill out a survey that asks them to specify their age and gender and rank the logos will give you some good statistical insight as to which designs will be most successful among a younger audience.

By

Full link: https://medium.com/swlh/training-interns-on-effective-branding-and-risk-management-677f8715ef5b

Collection – DIGITAL AGE CRISIS LESSONS

#1 YOU ARE NOT READY TO RESPOND AS QUICKLY

AdobeStock_254474906

Many of you who read this blog have in the past year downloaded our e-book, written and edited by experts, The New Rules of Crisis Management in the Digital Age.

From the wonderful content in that book we created the 10 Rules of Crisis Management – which we wrote about in this blog.

Ahead of a new edition of the book with four new chapters by noted crisis experts (more news to come in a few weeks’ time!), we’ve gone one step further.

We’ve turned the rules into practical lessons.

These are 10 lessons based on practical, easy to apply concepts, with the necessary examples, which anyone involved in crisis management should use to sharpen their own crisis response protocols and procedures.

Over the coming weeks, in an occasional series, we’ll visit each one of the lessons.

We will begin with the #1 lesson – ‘You are not ready to respond as quickly as you think’.

There was a recent timely reminder of how organizations know that speed is essential, but then don’t put systems in place to achieve it.

A survey revealed that nearly 50% of organizations would not know until the next morning if a bad event occurred during the night.

Even large sophisticated organizations with significant resources and expertise prove how difficult it is to react effectively and quickly to a threat.

For a long while, United Airlines delayed and bungled response to the widely shared videos of Dr David Dao being dragged off a plane at Chicago in April 2017 set the gold standard.

However, in the opinion of many observers, Boeing now becomes the favored case study for its slow and cumbersome reaction to the crashes and subsequent revelations of repeated technical problems in its 737 Max aircraft.

So how can you be sure that you are not fooling yourself with a mis-placed confidence in your own organization’s readiness to react with the necessary speed?

The first step is to dispel the complacency that crises only happen to other people.

Then you need to examine and test every facet of your preparedness resources to assess whether they would help or hinder in a fast response to a crisis:

  1. Is your crisis plan too long and complex?
  2. Are there quick steps to help assess if it is a crisis – or just a temporary issue?
  3. Do you have smart, easy to use protocols to guide the crisis team in its response?
  4. Have you got enough social media tools and resources – and is the team adequately trained on them?
  5. Do you have the digital technology to activate a speedy response – for example, a mobile crisis app?
  6. Are you ready to engage with your own employees – potentially a great asset?
  7. Have you run a drill or training workshop for the team in the past 12 months?

As we move through our 10 Digital Age Crisis Lessons, we will look in more detail at each of these so you will know if you really are equipped to react to a threat with speed and effectiveness.

Link: https://www.rockdovesolutions.com/blog/digital-age-crisis-lessons-number-1-you-are-not-ready-to-respond-as-quickly?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=74688839&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_4_Pouh4v41DWooJF52zi5z5XRWFOYJWbD4lYQFMpdZVm7yx2ztzrREY7VipWLVY1PJKYLHRtAzktSVrDQr_xUvHWx9g&_hsmi=74688839

#2 YOUR CHANCE OF FACING A CRISIS IS GREATER THAN YOU THINK

AdobeStock_200301575

Nothing really bad will happen to your organization, right?

You’ve gone all these years in business without a major crisis, so why would that change now.

You’ve had the odd unhappy customer, a disgruntled employee or two and there was that time the new product launch went awry.

But it was all swept under the carpet and life continued.

It’s certainly not worth spending time, money and effort on building an issues and crisis management infrastructure.

You’ve got better things on which to spend your corporate dollars.

I am pretty sure that Wells Fargo, United Airlines, Chipotle, Boeing and Equifax would have said something similar in the not too recent past.

Each of those companies enjoyed a stellar reputation.

Each of them subsequently faced a significant threat to their reputation and business that has caused massive and continuing damage to their brands.

The #2 lesson in our occasional series of crisis tutorials for the digital age is that your chance of facing a crisis is much greater than you think.

(The #1 lesson was that you are not ready to respond as quickly as you think – you can read it here.)

More than 60% of organizations believe they face more crises than they did a year ago.

80% of organizations worldwide report that they have had to mobilize their crisis management teams at least once in the past two years.

These findings are taken from the 2018 Deloitte Crisis Management Survey which concluded that crises are on the rise and most organizations must overcome several challenges in order to successfully navigate a crisis.

So, if you are feeling bullet proof – it’s probably because you have been lucky rather than good.

The biggest factor behind the rising number of crises is the mass adoption of digital and social media.

Organizations no longer control access or the flow of information about themselves. The internet has created transparency – it’s all out there, good and bad.

Digital media also enables groups of like-minded people to gather together, share views and organize opposition – whether it be for a major cause or because they did not like something in that last television commercial you aired.

And everyone is a reporter. The actions of your company and its employees are open to being recorded and videoed and then broadcast online, often to an audience of tens of thousands – and, in some cases, millions (remember Dr Dao being dragged off that United Airlines flight in April 2017).

If all of this is making you feel a little less secure – than good!

Make sure to subscribe to our blog to follow the lessons in this series for the how to prepare to be ready to protect your organization when the worst does happen.

Link: https://www.rockdovesolutions.com/blog/digital-age-crisis-lessons-number-two-your-chance-of-facing-a-crisis-is-greater-than-you-think?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=75155922&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9tu2bABEoMcz5Wu7qhEYHbv5edTF35bHrestewRyGGqP3REqSFBw9goEY_7iSSbqe652uC2VshqbsVMPK1B2LHKhePEg&_hsmi=75155922

Collection – Why the Most Effective Operations Managers Truly Value Great Culture

Culture is not soft. Your organization’s ability to execute—to operate effectively and efficiently—is directly related to the health of its culture.

Too few operationally-minded people truly understand the value (and power) that organizational culture brings to helping them achieve their metrics.

The daily priorities for most organizational leaders and managers look something like this:

  • Key Metrics (Sales, Revenue, Delivery, Customer Satisfaction, etc.)
  • Strategic Initiatives
  • Tactical Initiatives
  • Day-to-Day Firefights
  • People and Culture

This is especially true for operationally-focused people. And I sympathize. Numbers are easy to measure, and they make sense. It’s much easier to say, “Let’s go! We’ve got targets! We’ve got deadlines!” People on the other hand–or rather their behaviors, feelings, and opinions–feel like obstacles to execution.

Here’s the thing: A company’s culture is its operating system. Everything that happens runs on it. And we’ve all used old computers: they’re slow and sluggish while new computers are fast and agile. The same is true for companies.

“Your company’s culture is its operating system”. –Dave Gray, XPLANE Founder

Consider the following scenario. On the left and right are the same company facing the same challenge: meeting a customer deadline for a large and important order. The difference is their organizational cultures.

Company A with a
BROKEN CULTURE

Company A with a
HEALTHY CULTURE

XPL-broken-culture

  • Leaders demand results, question failures, and search for people to scapegoat
  • Managers micro-manage, do not listen to their team’s problems and solutions, and in-fight with other managers
  • Delivery Teams work in silos, feel frustrated with broken processes, and have started blaming each other for what will be another late delivery
  • In general, people are unhappy. They’ve stopped taking responsibility and are backing away from the task to avoid blame
  • The Customer is angry because their deadline was missed, and the sales team is forced to offer a discount resulting in a loss of revenue and trust in the delivery team—who are still fighting over what happened and why
XPL-healthy-culture

  • Leaders ensure teams are supported and embrace mistakes as opportunities for improvement
  • Managers listen to their teams, empower them, and collaborate with other managers to ensure barriers to success are cleared
  • Delivery Teams work cross-functionally with trust and transparency, and find ways to fix the process with short- and long-term solutions to ensure an on-time delivery
  • In general, people are happy—they take accountability, and learn from successes and failures for continuous improvement
  • The Customer is happy because their order is on time and as-expected. They inquire about a larger order for next quarter and the sales team hosts a thank you party for the delivery team where everyone shares in the success.

This scenario may not match your company’s operation exactly, but the behaviors are likely familiar—even with your own variations on the themes. What gets organizations through challenges successfully (or not), is its people and the culture in which they work. A strong organizational (operational) culture is the key to achieving more of the sum of your parts.

Still not sure about culture’s place in an operational world? After 25+ years working with clients, we can say with confidence that:

  • Process improvement projects are also culture improvement projects
  • Strategy activation projects are also culture change projects
  • Customer experience projects are also culture alignment projects

The same is true for capability development, digital transformation, mergers, new products and services, new functions, and so on and so forth.

Culture is operational.

Culture is operational because it directly impacts your organization’s ability to execute (or not). If you want to execute more, better, and with greater ease—create a great culture. Your people will thank you and then take care of the rest.

By Dave King

Full link: https://xblog.xplane.com/why-the-most-effective-operations-managers-truly-value-great-culture?utm_campaign=Newsletter%202019&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=74295228&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–uXq8PIaj6IRJVKYEWK6wgHC7W6Q-iexxnb6GMgdWbeyd5ZOMJCvQ-P3rrDzy4GbLN0iZrljP-khZB_dJetBETs_2yww&_hsmi=74295639

Deals – It’s raining mega-rounds in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has long been known for its pristine beaches, inventive cuisine, royal temples and floating markets. And by now, it’s common knowledge that the subcontinent boasts some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Its rapid infrastructure and digital development have helped spark VC interest, and investors have poured billions of dollars into companies headquartered in the region in sectors such as ecommerce, ridehailing, gaming, travel and fintech.

VCs have closed 327 deals in Southeast Asia since the start of 2018, with those investments totaling more than $7.8 billion, per the PitchBook Platform. Of that, a whopping $5.87 billion has been spread across just seven transactions—meaning nearly 75% of the money invested accounted for 2.1% of the total deal count. And additional mega-rounds in progress are likely to drive up the total significantly over the coming months.

Two of the largest deals occurred in the past two weeks alone. One of those mega-rounds went to Hong Kong-based Lalamove (fka EasyVan), which announced Thursday that it has secured a $300 million Series D led by Sequoia and Hillhouse Capital. Other participating investors included Shanghai-based Eastern Bell Venture, PV Capital andMindWorks Ventures.

Founded in 2013, Lalamove provides an on-demand delivery and logistics platform. The company has pocketed at least $460 million in equity funding to date, including a $100 million Series C in 2017, when it was valued at an estimated $1 billion.

Earlier this month, online fashion and beauty marketplace Zilingo nabbed a $226 million round from investors including Sequoia India and Temasek. The Series D gave the Singapore-based an estimated valuation of $970 million.

The three largest completed rounds of the past 14 months—all of which exceeded $1 billion each—went to an ecommerce giant and, perhaps unsurprisingly, two ridehailing companies.

Online marketplace provider Tokopedia reportedly raised a $1.1 billion Series G led bySoftBank‘s Vision Fund and Alibaba last November, hitting an estimated valuation of $7 billion. The business has said that it currently serves 93% of districts in Indonesia and quadrupled its gross merchandise value in 2018.

The two biggest fundings went to ridehailing unicorns Go-Jek and Grab, and both companies are already working on their next mega-deals.

Go-Jek, which was founded in 2010, raised a $1.5 billion Series E last February. Earlier this month, the Jakarta-based ridehailing company reportedly held a first close of its ongoing Series F, bringing in about $1 billion at a valuation of between $9 billion and $10 billion. The business is backed by investors including KKRTencentMitsubishi andWarburg Pincus.

Singapore-based Grab is one of the most valuable VC-backed companies in Southeast Asia. The ridehailing business raised $2.5 billion last January at a valuation of $6 billion, and is reportedly targeting $3 billion for its next round. That ongoing Series H includes a $1 billion commitment from Toyota from last June, as well as participation fromMicrosoft and Yamaha. Last month, reports emerged that SoftBank’s Vision Fund is in talks to invest $1 billion or more in the company as part of the new round, which could value Grab at up to $12 billion.

By Priyamvada Mathur

Full link: https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/its-raining-mega-rounds-in-southeast-asia

Landscape – All talk, no substance as US-China trade meeting wraps up

  • First meeting of Chinese and American negotiators for two months is largely symbolic, with little on the table
  • For China, the urgency to end the tariff war has lessened, with the economic downturn not as serious as expected

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is greeted by Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He ahead of resumed trade talks in Shanghai on Wednesday. Photo: EPA-EFE

The first face-to-face talks between top trade negotiators from Beijing and Washington since their suspension in May lasted just half a day – with not much on the table from either side.

The US delegation arrived in Shanghai on Tuesday for a working dinner, before talks officially started on Wednesday. But the meeting wrapped up early in the afternoon with no a sign of a breakthrough – only a willingness to continue discussions.

While the talks between US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He were closely watched, they were seen as largely symbolic by Chinese diplomatic observers and advisers.

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed in late June to resume talks but there was no time frame for the discussions. That was in contrast to the three-month framework for negotiations that was set at their previous encounter at the G20 summit in Argentina in December.

Before Wednesday’s talks wrapped up, Trump took to Twitter to complain at length that China had not been “coming through” in terms of buying US farm products or in making progress on a deal to end the year-long trade war.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was not aware of the latest developments from the talks, but it was clear it was the United States which continued to “flip flop”.

“I believe it doesn’t make any sense for the US to exercise its campaign of maximum pressure at this time. It’s pointless to tell others to take medication when you’re the one who is sick,” Hua told a news briefing.

For China, the urgency to end the tariff war has lessened, with the economic downturn not as serious as expected. Beijing is also watching the US presidential race with interest, to see how it will affect trade policy, although it is not relying on a Democrat victory to end the conflict.

“China has started to buy soybeans from the US, which could help Trump to counter domestic political pressure, meanwhile US tech firms have raised their voices to lobby the US administration to loosen export controls on [Chinese tech giant] Huawei,” Peking University international relations professor Wang Yong said.

“Wall Street bankers also hope to invest more in China. If both sides fail to reach a deal, they will lose China’s market which is expected to further open up in the coming years.”

China can turn trade war ‘crisis into an opportunity’

In addition to buying more agricultural products, Beijing might promise to change some of its regulations to make it easier for foreign businesses to operate in the country, according to Pang Zhongying, an international relations expert with Ocean University of China.

But the Wednesday meeting would not go far beyond a signal that they were talking, with neither side rushing for a deal, he said.

“The difficult issues facing their trade relationship will not be overcome immediately,” he said, adding that while Beijing considered it unrealistic to wait for a Democrat to unseat Trump – an accusation made by Trump on Twitter – the Chinese leadership was assessing whether there would be any change in US China policies during and after the presidential election.

“If Trump is re-elected, he may face less election pressure and negotiations may be less tough.”

Wei Jianguo, a former Chinese vice-minister of commerce, agreed that the prospects for negotiations could be clearer after the US election.

“Right now, the most important thing for Trump is the election,” he said.

Wei also said the Chinese economy was not as bad as expected – with 6.2 per cent growth recorded in the second quarter, while the US economic outlook was not good.

“All of this will complicate the next steps in trade between both sides. But, right now, Trump needs something significant to stimulate and prove himself,” he said.

Trade war continues to depress factory owners’ outlook in China

Wei said it was impossible for China to buy US products at a high cost and that negotiations should be based on mutual respect.

“We cannot see the negotiations this time as being able to resolve the problems, but we need to see how we can use these talks to build mutual trust, to resolve the mistrust between both sides,” he said.

A Chinese government adviser said Trump needed a good deal to strengthen his presidential campaign and counter downward economic pressure, while China’s overall economy was not as bad as expected.

“There won’t be a deep fall in the economy even if Trump imposes tariffs on the rest of Chinese exports to the US. As long as China’s bottom line remains, China is willing to see a deal,” he said.

Trump goads China over record low GDP growth rate

Beijing wanted to see the removal of tariffs and an enforcement mechanism that showed dignity to China, the adviser said.

“If the US can lift the tariffs in some form, China can make a promise in enforcement. The talks in Shanghai could be merely a formality, but I hope there will be a breakthrough by the end of the year.”

He said also that Trump and Lighthizer each had different goals in the trade talks, with the president focused on direct interests – such as Chinese purchases of American goods – and the trade representative prioritising system changes in China.

“The protracted trade talks will only exacerbate their conflicts,” he said. “China played tough by standing firmly against the US in the past couple of months and this has impacted the US.”

Trade war or not, China is still a manufacturing superpower

China had earlier asked the US to remove all tariffs as a precursor to a deal and said any agreement must not undermine its sovereignty. The US, meanwhile, insisted on a forcible enforcement mechanism, such as a change in Chinese law, and insisted on keeping tariffs in place until it was satisfied China had delivered on its commitment.

Wang said the US and China had different styles to address problems, with the US trusting in legislation to validate any agreement, while China relied on administrative orders to make changes. But he did not regard them as insurmountable.

“The US and China can find a middle ground to solve the enforcement issues,” he said.

By Teddy NgWendy Wu 

Full link: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3020780/all-talk-no-substance-expected-us-china-trade-meeting?utm_medium=email&utm_source=mailchimp&utm_campaign=enlz-scmp_international&utm_content=20190731&MCUID=6af992dbf1&MCCampaignID=edd61a7374&MCAccountID=3775521f5f542047246d9c827&tc=3

Note – Investopedia: Shining & Volatility Ahead

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Markets Today

  • Stocks dip as U.S. China trade talks begin
  • Apple reports its best Q3 ever
  • Massive hack hits 106 million Capital One customers

U.S. markets traded slightly lower today as the U.S. China trade talks recommenced in earnest in Shanghai. The Trump administration downplayed the likelihood of the two countries reaching a broader deal that would prevent further tariffs being assessed and potentially drop the existing ones in place.

The trade war has taken a back seat to the Fed’s decision on interest rates, due out tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET. As a reminder, the expectation is that the Fed will lower interest rates by 0.25%.

As for the trade war, investors seem to be accepting the fact that there will not be a favorable solution anytime soon, according to Goldman Sachs. While the trade war and China have been cited less in earnings reports last quarter than the first, the uncertainty is still weighing on industrial stocks.

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Apple Earnings

  • Earnings and revenue top expectations
  • iPhone sales decline, but wearables grow
  • China and Asia sales improving

Apple, one of the more pivotal companies to report quarterly results, delivered a solid bushel of good news this afternoon. Earnings and revenue topped expectations, as Apple brought in $2.18 per share in profit and $53.8 billion in revenue for the quarter. CEO Tim Cook called it the company’s “Best June quarter ever.”

More importantly, Apple gave strong guidance for the fourth quarter (Apple is on a fiscal calendar), saying sales will come in between $61 billion to $64 billion.

China Sales and iPhones

Sales in China fell 4% in the quarter, far less than the 22% decline in the second quarter. In total, Apple pulled in $9.16 billion from China. CEO Tim Cook credited a reduction in a VAT (Value Added Tax) for Chinese consumers from 16% to 13% that helped pare the losses.

Sales of iPhones, which are mostly manufactured in China but not subject to tariffs (yet…) fell 12% in the quarter. CEO Tim Cook said in the company’spress release that declining iPhone sales were offset by growth in Apple’s Services business. Apple’s Services business includes the App Store, iTunes, and its new media offerings. It accounted for $4.1 billion in the quarter.

Shares of Apple are up more than 20% so far this year and jumped 4% in after-hours following the earnings announcement. As we have said, it is the second most widely held stock among index funds (behind Microsoft) and one of the most widely held stocks in ETFs.

This might have something to do with it:

In the third quarter, Apple returned $21 billion to shareholders, including $17 billion through open market repurchases of almost 88 million Apple shares, and $3.6 billion in dividends and equivalents.

Oh yeah… Apple has $210 billion in cash on hand and plans to release its credit card in August.

photo courtesy nbcnews.com

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Greatest Misses

While Apple scored, those companies that miss their earnings forecasts or take down their forecasts for the next 6-12 months are getting pummeled by investors in this cycle. There just isn’t a lot of room for forgiveness in the market right now, and a few companies are feeling the wrath.

Under Armour (UA)

Shares of the athletic apparel company fell more than 11% on Tuesday after the company said it expects North American sales to be down for the year after previously guiding them as “relatively flat.”

Gartner (IT)

Shares of the research and data firm plunged more than 17% today after the company reduced earnings and sales targets for the rest of the year, despite reporting better than expected results for the last quarter.

Beyond Meat (BYND)

This is an unusual case of a company beating expectations on earnings, guiding higher for the rest of the year, but getting blasted by investors for a completely unrelated reason. But, then again, Beyond Meat is an unusual stock that has climbed as high as 800% since its IPO, giving it a market value larger than industry giants like Conagra and Wendy’s. The company also announced a secondary offering of an additional 3.25 million shares, with three million coming from selling stockholders 250,000 shares from the company, at a yet-to-be-determined price.

After that announcement, the stock plunged to a loss of 14% after-hours and another 10% on Tuesday. With the company heading back to the equity market for what has been “easy money” since its IPO, investors are suddenly questioning whether its actually worth 40 times enterprise value.

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Hack Attack

  • Capital One discloses hack impacting 106 million customers
  • Personal data, including social security info, bank accounts, and income exposed
  • Alleged perpetrator arrested in Seattle by FBI
  • Shares fall 6% on the news

Capital One, the fifth largest credit card issuer in the Unites States, revealed Monday that a hacker accessed the personal information of around 106 million customers and applicants in the United States and Canada.

The information that was accessed included highly personal details on consumers and small businesses, including names, social security numbers, income, and dates of birth as of the time they applied for one of several credit card products from 2005 through early 2019. Capital One also said that the alleged perpetrator of the hack has been arrested and is in federal custody.

While Capital One doesn’t think that the personal data was used by the hacker, investors showed little tolerance for the credit card issuer’s vulnerability, sending the stock down 6% today.

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Japan Holds Rates Steady

  • BOJ holds rates at -0.1%
  • Guides 10-year government bond yields towards 0%
  • Ready to ease without hesitation

Guess who’s not cutting interest rates? The Bank of Japan says it is ready to “ease interest rates without hesitation,” if necessary, but doesn’t feel the need to do so now. Like the U.S. Federal Reserve, the BOJ is trying to guide its economy towards a 2% inflation rate. But with interest rates already negative, there is not a lot of room to cut. Japan’s 10-year treasury bill yields -0.15%, as of this morning, making Japan one of several countries with negative treasury bond yields. It’s been this way for three and a half years for Japan, which has also been performing its own version of quantitative easing.

Yields for 10-year government debt in nine countries, including Germany, Japan, Sweden, and France, are all trading at or below zero. That means investors pay more for the bonds than the total of their face value plus all future interest payments, effectively paying those countries to hold their money. According to Deutsche Bank Securities, around 25% of all bonds in the world now have negative yields.

While the U.S. has been raising interest rates over the past nine years, many developed countries have been cutting theirs in an effort to boost their economies. The chart below, courtesy of Bianco Research, shows the effects of those countries cutting their interest rates and treasury yields, leaving the U.S. nearly on its own with positive yields.

The U.S. is likely to join the club of interest rate cutters tomorrow, but don’t expect the Federal Reserve to adopt a negative interest rate policy.

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chart courtesy www.koyfin.com

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Although it fell on Monday, National-Oilwell’s stock pulled a major recovery today, rising by over 11%. Martin Marietta Materials also won big today, its shares increasing by 10%, despite missing its Q2 earnings estimates.

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Conversely, although it too had a strong second quarter, the research and advisory firm Gartner still suffered a massive drop of 19%. Shares of Under Armour decreased by almost 14% today, due in part to the mixed earnings results it reported for this quarter.

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Word of the Day

Data Breach

In light of the Capital One hack attack, it’s time to reacquaint ourselves with this term.

A data breach (also known as data spill or data leak) is an unauthorized access and retrieval of sensitive information by an individual, group, or software system. It is a cybersecurity mishap that happens when data, intentionally or unintentionally, falls into the wrong hands without the knowledge of the user or owner.

Data breaches are partly the result of the rising availability of data due to the increase of digital products, which has put an overwhelming amount of information in the hands of businesses. While some of the information is non-sensitive, a lot of it is proprietary and sensitive data about individuals and companies.

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photo courtesy hfha.org

Today in Financial History

July 30, 1863:

Henry Ford, pioneer of the U.S. auto industry, is born on his family’s farm in Greenfield Township, Mich.

Early on Ford demonstrated some of the characteristics that would make him successful, powerful, and famous. He organized other boys to build rudimentary water wheels and steam engines. He learned about full-sized steam engines by becoming friends with the men who ran them. He taught himself to fix watches and used the watches as textbooks to learn the rudiments of machine design. Thus, young Ford demonstrated mechanical ability, a facility for leadership, and a preference for learning by trial-and-error. These characteristics would become the foundation of his whole career.

Source: http://hfha.org/the-ford-story/the-birth-of-ford-motor-company/

Market Moves

Stocks were dragged down early on Tuesday after Trump tweeted attacks on China regarding its trade practices, providing hints that the current U.S.-China trade talks in Shanghai may face even stronger headwinds than previously thought. Despite this pressure, major stock indexes were only moderately down (and the small cap Russell 2000 was up sharply) by Tuesday’s market close, one day ahead of what’s likely to be a pivotal interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve.

Here, let’s take one last look at the latest market-driven probabilities before Wednesday’s decision, courtesy of the CME Group’s FedWatch tool. As shown on the simple chart below, there’s a full 100% expectation of any rate cut. But here’s where it gets more interesting. There’s a 79.1% market probability of a 0.25% rate cut, and only a 20.9% probability of a larger 0.50% cut. These probabilities have fluctuated rather widely in preceding weeks, but it currently appears that a very solid majority believes that there will only be a 25-basis-point cut.

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Assuming that this base case scenario becomes a reality on Wednesday, full market attention should then fall on the nuances of Fed-speak that will accompany the decision. Traders will hone in closely on what the future path of interest rates may be. Any talk of more aggressive rate cuts for the remainder of this year and beyond should be constructive for stocks. In contrast, any Fed backtracking on its expected rate cut trajectory should weigh on stock indexes. Two remaining scenarios are also possible: if the Fed opts not to cut rates at all, stocks should be heavily pressured; but if the cut is 0.50% instead of 0.25%, markets would very likely rally further to new highs.

One interesting divergence to note on Tuesday occurred with small cap stocks.Large cap indexes like the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Nasdaq Composite were all moderately pressured on Tuesday, as noted above. But small cap stocks, as represented by the benchmark Russell 2000 index, rallied sharply. This may be because trade wars generally have less of an impact on smaller, more domestic companies than they do on larger, multinational companies. Since one of the primary reasons for Tuesday’s drop in the large caps was perceived trouble in U.S.-China trade talks, small caps didn’t have that same pressure and instead rallied on the anticipation of lower interest rates on Wednesday.

As shown on the chart of the Russell 2000, the small cap index just tentatively broke out above a large triangle technical pattern. Depending on how the market reacts to the Fed decision, any follow-through on that breakout could push the index at least to the next major resistance target around 1618.

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Bond Yields Brace for FOMC

We’ve been watching bond yields drop sharply since November of last year. Yields are closely tied to Fed interest rate policies. As the Fed has become increasingly dovish – from planning to raise rates to keeping rates steady to planning on cutting rates – yields have fallen in tandem. Now that the Fed will likely cut rates for the first time in more than a decade, yields will be very closely watched. Though the Fed’s expected trajectory has been largely priced-in, any surprises in the Fed’s decision or language will likely affect bond yields.

As shown on the chart of the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield, it’s been hovering just above the sub-2.000% multi-year low for the past few weeks. The prevailing trend and general directional bias continue to be to the downside. However, 2.000% stands as a major support level. If the Fed is less dovish than expected on Wednesday, we could be seeing yields rebound further off their lows.

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Crude Oil Gushes Higher

Crude oil extended its rebound on Tuesday as the prospects of lower interest rates and a potential U.S.-China trade deal helped provide a brighter outlook for oil demand on the horizon. In recent weeks and months, crude prices have been hit severely both by data pointing to rising supply as well as concern that global oil demand will suffer due to a slowing global economy and trade wars.

As shown on the chart, U.S. crude oil futures have extended the rebound from the 55.00 support area. Overall, however, crude oil is stuck in a prevailing downtrend, and major moving averages continue to point decidedly down. Any further boost to the upside is likely to be met with strong resistance around the 61.00 level. To the downside, any breakdown below 55.00 support could push price down towards the next major support around 51.00.

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The Bottom Line

If you’d like to know how interest rates and the Federal Reserve impact markets, Wednesday will be a day you probably won’t want to miss. Depending on the Fed’s rate decision, language in its statement, and subsequent press conference on Wednesday afternoon, we’ll be watching for potentially volatile moves in stocks, bonds, the U.S. dollar, gold, and even crude oil, among other markets. Like others, we’re expecting a 0.25% rate cut and for the Fed to keep the door open for further rate cuts this year and beyond. But the markets will move based on how investors interpret the Fed’s outlook and guidance going forward.

Note – Bloomberg: Dem debate prep: It’s do-or-die time for the stragglers

Democrats, Assemble!

Because America could not get enough of the sweaty speed-dating experience of the first round of Democratic presidential debates, we’re doing it all over again.

In tonight’s opener, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will headline, Pete Buttigieg will make another push for the top tier, Beto O’Rourke will try to figure out what it is that he does, and Marianne Williamson will taste colors. Five other people will also be there. For those replacement-level candidates, this is probably do-or-die timeJonathan Bernstein writes. The next round of debates won’t be until September and will be much more exclusive, meaning the Bullocks and Hickenloopers of the world will soon start dropping like Swalwells.

With two dozen candidates, it can be confusing keeping track of where they all stand on the issues. Of course, there aren’t many “issues” people care about any more, but health care sure is one of them. That’s why we all owe a debt of gratitude to Max Nisen and Elaine He for putting together a slick, super-helpful, interactive data visualization of where all the Democrats come down on health care. Whether you’re looking for a candidate who shares your values or just want to know whom to call a “socialist” on Twitter, this is the dataviz for you.

The Energy Times They Are A-Changing

If oil had a patron saint, it would probably be T. Boone Pickens. The son of an oilman, he made his fortune in the stuff and then became a household name buying and selling companies that produced it. So it says a lot that he’s getting into wind and solar.

Just last year, his investment firm launched an ETF meant to cash in on rising oil prices, with the ticker symbol BOON. But BOON never really BOONed, and now Pickens is shifting the fund’s focus to renewables, ticker symbol RENW. This is partly about oil companies not being especially thrifty with any BOON of rising oil prices, notes Liam Denning. But it also marks a paradigm shift, in which not even Persian Gulf tensions can boost oil much in a world swimming in the stuff and looking for cleaner alternatives.

That even somebody like Pickens – who has profited from oil basically since the day he was born in 1928 – recognizes this highlights just how out-of-touch President Donald Trump’s energy stance is. To him, coal is clean and climate change is a Chinese hoax. In keeping with this worldview, he’s trying to roll back the clock on Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards. But several automakers just signed a deal with California agreeing to clear a much higher bar. Why would they do this? For one thing, David Fickling notes, California is an enormous car market. For another, Trump’s efficiency standards are far behind the rest of the world’s, and automakers these days don’t want to bother building different cars for different markets. Energy is getting cleaner, whether Trump likes it or not.

Forecasting the Fed

Though Trump today demanded a “large cut” from the Federal Reserve tomorrow, central bankers will probably only deliver a small one. In fact, despite (or perhaps partly because of) Trump’s hollering, the case for any rate cut at all has gotten much iffier lately, as economic data have improved, notes Bill Dudley. Tomorrow’s small cut might be the last one for a long time.

Of course, the economic numbers might deteriorate again. The recovery is long in the tooth. China and Europe are struggling. Trump keeps chucking bombs at global trade. Even in that event, though, it shouldn’t fall only on the Fed to boost growth, Bloomberg’s editorial board writes. For example, there’s nothing the Fed can do about self-destructive policy from the White House.

The trouble for the stock market here is that it could really use a more-dovish Fed, writes Robert Burgess. With earnings stagnant, the market needs super-low rates to justify its valuation. Trump won’t be the only one angry if and when the Fed stands pat.

Telltale Charts

Currency traders have judged Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy and found it wanting, writes Ferdinando Giugliano. That makes Johnson’s weak negotiating position with the EU even weaker.

The conservative theory of poverty – that it’s all about moral failing – doesn’t fit Japan, which has a lot of poverty but very little crime or drug abuse, writes Noah Smith.

Note – Bloomberg: 5 things to start your day

And finally, here’s what Tracy’s interested in this morning

Well, it’s Fed day. There will no doubt be a ton of information to pick over from the U.S. central bank’s decision, but for me the interesting thing to watch will be the market’s reaction to Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference. The market is pricing in a 25 basis point cut for this Wednesday, but it’s clearly expecting more cuts later this year. If Powell doesn’t signal that he’s up for additional easing, investors could be disappointed.

In a similar vein, it appears there’s potential for confusion around any mention of “data dependency.” That phrase used to signal that the Fed was simply in wait and see mode; watching U.S. eco date to determine whether cuts or hikes were warranted. But with U.S. data still relatively strong (market-based measures of inflation have actually risen since the last Fed meeting, and the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, Core PCE, shows some signs of firming) the phrase seems likely to be interpreted more hawkishly than it has been previously. All of which is to say that the bar for a positive market reaction today looks pretty high.

And finally, here’s what Luke’s interested in this morning

If you look at the stock market, a Fed rate cut tomorrow sure seems priced in. Bond market? At least 25 basis points of easing is still in the cards. But for a central bank that’s lowering rates because of softness abroad which threatens to reach domestic shores — and harbours hopes of generating some “opportunistic reflation” to buoy inflation expectations — there’s a big variable that’s not cooperating. It’s the dollar. Since Chair Jay Powell entrenched expectations of an ease with his early June commitment to “act as appropriate” to sustain the expansion, the Dollar Spot Index (which is primarily geared towards developed-market currencies) is up nearly 1 percent. The broader, more balanced Bloomberg U.S. dollar basket is marginally higher. It’s tough to see how a stronger dollar is positive for global activity at this juncture, as the negative effects through financial channels likely outweigh any benefits to net exports outside the U.S. Certainly, the first-order effect of a stronger greenback is to soften inflation, all else equal. A stronger dollar simply doesn’t help what ails U.S. activity, either. The “sources of weakness in the national accounts are actually very similar to 1998-1999!” notes Skanda Amarnath, director of research and analysis at Employ America, commenting on last week’s GDP data. “Fed tells you it’s worried about the effects of global growth and business uncertainty. Latest data showed that business fixed investment and export growth seriously weakened.” While seemingly everyone fears another major central bank disappointment on the heels of Draghi’s presser last week, perhaps the knowledge that the market isn’t completely cooperating with the Fed’s plans will steel Powell’s resolve to ensure an outcome that’s perceived as dovish throughout the cross-asset spectrum.

Trump lashes out at China as trade talks restart. The White House is keeping a close eye on China’s military presence on the border with Hong Kong. And Apple’s outlook is rosy. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Welcome to Shanghai

President Trump slammed China on the day his trade team arrived in Shanghai, accusing it of continuing to “rip off” the U.S. He tweeted: “China is doing very badly, worst year in 27—was supposed to start buying our agricultural product now—no signs that they are doing so.” He added: “That is the problem with China, they just don’t come through.” His tweets came just as the two nations resumed negotiations following a three-month breakup. Here’s how we got to this point.

Border Patrol

The White House is monitoring buildup of Chinese forces on Hong Kong’s border, a senior administration official said. Earlier, Beijing said recent violence in the city’s protests was the “creation of the U.S.,” laying direct blame on Washington—which American officials denied. China has been trying to shift responsibility for the unrest to unspecified foreign forces.

Hong Kong GDP

The unrest and ongoing trade spat haven’t been good for Hong Kong. Economic momentum has weakened in recent months on “uncertainties,” leader Carrie Lam said. There’s “no room for optimism for the second quarter and the entire year,” the city’s chief executive told business groups. Consensus is for GDP growth in the June quarter to pick up to 1.5% year-on-year while slowing to 0.9% from the prior period.

Rosy Outlook

The iPhone didn’t do so well, but Apple investors are looking ahead. The company predicted current-quarter sales near the high end of estimates—$61 billion to $64 billion—a sign of optimism in new handsets coming later this year. The all-important iPhone missed on both unit sales and revenue last quarter, but wearables and services are picking up the slack. Shares gained in post-market trading.

Brexit Blame Game

Boris Johnson said it’s “up to the EU” to compromise on a Brexit agreement and avoid a no-deal divorce. “If they can’t compromise, if they really can’t do it, then clearly we have to get ready for a no-deal exit,” he said, reiterating that Britain won’t accept an Irish backstop.  The U.K. prime minister is expected next week to commit hundreds of millions of pounds on hospitals and health care technology, as he seeks to deliver on his own most contentious political promise, a person familiar said.

Info – Ranked: The 10 Organizations With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

There is no shortcut to gaining a bulletproof reputation.

To get there, businesses not only need to think long term, but they also need to do what is considered “right” in every possible situation.

Aspiring companies must be truly customer-centric, going above and beyond in how they treat their customers. They also require a cohesive vision that helps create a loyal and fervent fanbase that will go to bat for them anytime it’s needed.

The Best and Worst Reputations in America

Today’s infographic from TitleMax highlights the 10 organizations that have the best reputations in the country, followed by 10 that fall on the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

In total, the visualization shows five years of data, so you can see how the rankings have changed over this stretch of time.

Ranked: The 10 Organizations With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

As you can see, the reputations of organizations are very much in flux.

In fact, you can even see the impact of recent news cycles on the rankings for 2019.

For example, Patagonia shot up the rankings to become the #3 most respected company after donating its entire $10 million tax cut to environmental groups, while the U.S. government and Facebook both make an appearance on the worst list, thanks to recent negative media coverage.

The Best Reputations Over Five Years

If you haven’t heard of Wegmans Food Market, you might want to stop by a location the next time you’re in the Northeast.

With 99 stores and about $9 billion in revenue per year, this family-run supermarket chain believes that in order to be a great place to shop, it must also be a great place to work. This mantra must be effective, since Wegmans consistently ranks as having one of the best reputations in the entire country.

Also ranking high on the list is Amazon, which was founded as an “obsessively” customer-oriented company. The online retailer has taken the #1 spot in the rankings in three of the last five years, despite a generally negative sentiment hanging over tech giants in recent months.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”

— Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com

The Worst Reputations Over Five Years

As Warren Buffett quipped, a reputation can be built over decades, but it can also be lost in just five minutes.

Various companies that have experienced recent scandals make the list here (i.e., Facebook, Volkswagen, Equifax). It’s also interesting to see that years after each scandal, rankings seem to normalize as the media and public get preoccupied with newer events.

Ranking Methodology

The ranking is based on a survey by Harris Poll, in which the 100 Most Visible Companies in the country are scored and ranked using a proprietary “Reputation Quotient”. For the 2019 edition, the poll had 18,228 respondents from a nationally representative sample.

Full link: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/organizations-best-and-worse-reputations/

Info – Why Big Data Keeps Getting Bigger

Why Big Data Keeps Getting Bigger

The sun never sets on the creation of new data.

Yes, the rate of generation may slow down at night as people send fewer emails and watch fewer videos. But for every person hitting the hay, there is another person on the opposite side of the world that is turning their smartphone on for the day.

As a result, the scale of data being generated—even when we look at it through a limited lens of one minute at a time—is quite mind-boggling to behold.

The Data Explosion, by Source

Today’s infographic comes to us from Domo, and it shows the amount of new data generated each minute through several different platforms and technologies.

Let’s start by looking at what happens every minute from a broad perspective:

  • Americans use 4,416,720 GB of internet data
  • There are 188,000,000 emails sent
  • There are 18,100,000 texts sent
  • There are 390,030 apps downloaded

Now lets look at platform-specific data on a per minute basis:

  • Giphy serves up 4,800,000 gifs
  • Netflix users stream 694,444 hours of video
  • Instagram users post 277,777 stories
  • Youtube users watch 4,500,000 videos
  • Twitter users send 511,200 tweets
  • Skype users make 231,840 calls
  • Airbnb books 1,389 reservations
  • Uber users take 9,772 rides
  • Tinder users swipe 1,400,000 times
  • Google conducts 4,497,420 searches
  • Twitch users view 1,000,000 videos

Imagine being given the task to build a server infrastructure capable of handling any of the above items. It’s a level of scale that’s hard to comprehend.

Also, imagine how difficult it is to make sense of this swath of data. How does one even process insights from the many billions of Youtube videos watched per day?

Why Big Data is Going to Get Even Bigger

The above statistics are already mind-bending, but consider that the global total of internet users is still growing at roughly a 9% clip. This means the current rate of data creation is still just scratching the surface of its ultimate potential.

In fact, as We Are Social’s recent report on internet usage reveals, a staggering 367 million new internet users were added in between January 2018 and January 2019:

Internet user growth

Global internet penetration sits at 57% in 2019, meaning that billions of more people are going to be using the above same services—including many others that don’t even exist yet.

Combine this with more time spent on the internet per user and technologies like 5G, and we are only at the beginning of the big data era.

Full link: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/big-data-keeps-getting-bigger/

Du lịch là để ngắm hay để…

Hàng năm nếu không có gì bất ngờ thì trong ngân sách hữu hạn, tôi vẫn luôn cố để dành ra chút tiền đi chơi; vừa để nghỉ ngơi, vừa cũng là để trải nghiệm văn hoá và ẩm thực nơi xứ người…

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Tránh cái nóng mỗi độ xuân về ở cái Xứ Gia Định này mà cũng chục năm rồi mãi vẫn chưa quen được; và cũng là tránh cái nỗi buồn rơi vãi khi nhìn bạn bè đồng nghiệp mọi người lũ lượt về quê ăn Tết, chỉ có đi xa mới đem lại được cái khuây khỏa cho người xa xứ… Rong ruổi một chuyến xuyên Việt tự lái hoặc một chuyến xuất ngoại đúng vào sau đêm trừ tịch lúc trời đất giao mùa quả thật đầy ý nhị…

Đi rồi mới thấy, đất nước quả là đẹp – không phải cái đẹp tráng lệ mà giản dị, chất phác kiểu như một cô thôn nữ với nụ cười thơm ngát giòn tan sau mỗi buổi đi ruộng; văn hóa phong phú, trải qua mỗi miền, phong tục lại càng thêm nhiều mới lạ mà trong sách dường như chưa xuất hiện… nhưng,

có lẽ điều quan trọng thú vị nhất mà tôi luôn tâm đắc là dù ở vùng miền nào đi chăng nữa thì bà con cũng luôn tốt bụng và sẵn sàng giúp đỡ cho dù họ có cuộc sống khá giả hay còn vô cùng khó khăn… với những người lang thang vô định như tôi thế này thì tình người ở mỗi vùng mỗi miền quê lại như ánh nắng mặt trời khiến cho mọi vật dường như ấm áp thêm nữa trong tiết xuân.

Dịp Tết cũng là dịp lễ hội ở khắp muôn nơi, một chỗ, một lời mời ngọt ngào luôn làm ấm lòng kẻ “vô gia cư”… nhưng cũng là lúc để được hiểu thêm về văn hóa vùng miền và cả những nét ẩm thực đặc biệt nữa. Tuy nói rằng, với tốc độ phát triển và đô thị hóa như hiện nay, đặc sản vùng miền đã hội tụ đầy đủ rồi nhưng có lẽ những yếu tố bản địa thực sự vẫn còn đâu đó vắng bóng và chỉ có ở những nơi làng quê như thế này mới có thể cảm được một cách đầy đủ…

 

Nhưng đó là xuyên Việt; thế còn xuất ngoại thì sao???

Cũng khó có thể nói rằng đi kiểu gì thích hơn, thực ra thì thích cả hai nhưng cũng không thể cùng lúc làm cả hai chuyến đi được nên bắt buộc phải có sự lựa chọn thôi…

Không phải bắt đầu từ sau giao thừa, chuyến lang bạt sẽ thường bắt đầu từ 5am tại sân bay với một vali nhỏ gọn, đấy kỳ nghỉ Tết sẽ luôn được bắt đầu như vậy…

Mấy năm gần đây, cũng có nhiều người đi ra ngoài hưởng thụ kỳ nghỉ dài dịp Tết thay vì ở nhà, nên, sân bay đông nghịt, càng những năm gần đây lại càng đông hơn… Tới sớm cũng có cái hay, vừa nhâm nhi cốc café tuy nhạt nhẽo nhưng có cái mùi, vừa làm quen với mọi người cùng trong đoàn đi – đi tour thích hơn vì chẳng phải nghĩ gì cho mệt, thích đi lang thang thì tối đi, còn ngày muốn ngủ thì ngủ, thích đi thì đi, mà đi cũng vui mà… có  việc gì làm khác hơn đâu; lại được giao lưu với bao người mới…

Một chuyến đi 1-2 tuần của tôi luôn được bắt đầu như vậy…

Háo hức luôn là cảm giác ngập tràn mỗi khi máy bay đáp xuống cho dù thành phố đó đã trở nên quen thuộc với vài chuyến đi trước đấy hoặc chỉ đơn giản là kinh nghiệm đi chơi cho biết cần phải làm những  gì… bên cạnh đó, những bạn hướng dẫn viên du lịch bản xứ và người Việt đều là những người dễ thương và không ít trong số họ đã trở thành bạn nhiều năm với tôi.

Trên đường về khách sạn thường là bằng xe buýt cùng với màn làm quen chào hỏi mà thực ra là đã có giao lưu ở sân bay và một phần trên máy bay – các nhóm đâu đó cũng bắt đầu có những câu chuyện chia sẻ râm ran đây đó trên quãng đường di chuyển…

Trong từng đó ngày vân du nơi xứ người, tuy rằng vui luôn nhiều hơn buồn, dù mới mẻ hay không mới mẻ nhưng rõ ràng chúng ta người Việt hay người Á nói chung thường có những tật xấu nhất định.

 

Đi là để hưởng thụ không khí…

Đi là để ngắm cảnh…

Đi là để trải nghiệm…

Đi là để xem họ khác chúng ta thế nào, cảnh sắc của họ ra sao, cơ bản thì nếu chỉ nhìn những tòa nhà cao tầng, hay những cửa hàng sang trọng thì việc đi xa thế này có lẽ cũng không cần thiết vì với những hãng lớn chuẩn hóa là yếu tố hàng đầu nên dù tới bất cứ nước nào thì cũng sẽ gần gần như nhau thôi…

Tôi luôn thích lang thang đây đó vào những khu đi bộ, những chợ trời (open air market), những thắng cảnh… không phải để selfie mà chỉ đơn giản là để đắm mình vào sinh hoạt thường nhật của người địa phương, nhưng có lẽ đó là sở thích cá nhân, tuy nhiên, điều đó không có nghĩa là tôi phản đối cách làm chương trình của các công ty tổ chức khi họ đưa vào quá nhiều hoạt động đi tới các cửa hàng mua sắm mà tôi biết khá chắc rằng việc mua bán cũng chẳng phải là hứng thú nhiều so với việc ngắm và chụp ảnh tự sướng (selfie) trong các cửa hàng đó hay là những nơi thắng cảnh…

Kể cũng lạ, người nhà mình hay có thói quen tới là chụp ảnh, chụp bất cứ ở đâu, bất cứ ở nơi nào để rồi tôi đồ rằng chắc cũng chỉ xem lại độ một lần mà thôi… và rồi nếu có ai hỏi đi chơi thế nào thì cũng chỉ có thể lấy những tấm ảnh ra làm bằng chứng mà khó có thể kể được nhiều hơn ngoài nhưng tấm ảnh đó…

Tôi đã từng đi Bali – thiên đường nơi hạ giới, luôn được thế giới ngợi khen vì vẻ đẹp thì ngay trong đoàn của tôi, tôi cũng nghe nhiều lời bàn tán, nhiều cái bĩu môi khi cảnh đẹp đôi khi chỉ là một buổi hoàng hôn, cái mái cong cong của Phật giáo nguyên thủy trong buổi chiều tà, cái tĩnh lặng mờ sương của buổi bình minh trên một khoảng ruộng bậc thang xinh xinh mà thôi… Cũng đúng phần nào nếu như du khách đến từ Đồng bằng sông Cửu Long (ĐBSCL), nhưng như thế thì hơi phiến diện vì chúng ta mới chỉ lướt qua cảnh quan, lướt qua để selfie chứ chưa phải đắm chìm trong cái không gian cái thi vị đó cùng văn hóa bản địa để hiểu nền tảng tập quán của họ được xây dựng như thế nào…

Thế rồi người ta hay so sánh và thích Singapore hơn Malaysia dù hai nước đó chỉ cách nhau có “một gang tay”, họ thích bởi tính hiện đại, những cấu trúc bê tông cao tầng chót vót, hay vì sự “cũ kỹ cổ hủ” của một thành phố cũ… Malaca được so sánh như Hội An về hình thức nhưng mấy ai quan tâm tới dấu ấn của người Tây Ban Nha, Bồ Đào Nha ở đây cũng như của người Hoa, người Nhật ở Hội An vậy… hay ở Nay Pi Tau – thành phố mới ở Myanmar nơi mà có những đại lộ hoành tráng nhưng không có người đi lại trái ngược với Yangon, nơi sầm uất luôn tắc đường với những khu chợ trời đầy màu sắc đan xen nhưng cũng vô cùng lộn xộn và gần gũi…

Tất nhiên là mỗi người một tính, mỗi người một sở thích, một nhu cầu… nhưng thiết nghĩ rằng: đi là để trải nghiệm thăm thú, xem xét, học hỏi những cái mới, cái khác biệt vậy…

Tôi có lẽ là loại cũ kỹ, ưa sự thụ động hơn nên thích đắm chìm vào trong cảnh sắc, lại còn vô cùng ích kỷ nên thường cố gắng để lưu giữ những khoảnh khắc vào não cho riêng mình thay vì lưu trữ trong điện thoại hay máy ảnh – cái thứ mà tôi rất kém cỏi… Thế nên, tôi đồ rằng thay vì chỉ là chụp ảnh để khoe thì nên tận hưởng vào một “câu chuyện” với đầy đủ “mùi vị” nơi xứ người…

 

Lại nói về “mùi vị” thì không thể không nói về chuyện ăn uống… – vốn là một sở thích cuồng của tôi;

có thể nói, chỉ trừ những món sâu bọ côn trùng ở Campuchia thì tôi nghĩ tôi thích ăn tất cả mọi thứ, và đặc biệt nếu mà được là đặc sản địa phương do những người bản địa chế biến thì luôn là niềm cảm hứng của tôi. Mỗi khi tới đâu thì việc đầu tiên của tôi luôn là: có gì lạ… ăn được ở đâu…

Ây vậy nên tôi luôn “dị ứng” với những đòi hỏi về: nước mắm, thịt lợn, thịt bò, trứng rán, và đặc biệt là rau muống… bất biệt là đang ở xứ Hồi giáo hay Ấn Độ giáo, để rồi kết luận rằng công ty chuẩn bị không chu đáo; hay tới những khu phố người Hoa kiều nhưng lại đòi ăn phở hay bất cứ món Việt nào vì rằng đồ ăn Trung Quốc mỡ và gia vị quá nhiều…

Lạp Thái thì không đậm đà như Gỏi Việt, Pạt Thái thì không ngon như Phở xào… – tôi quả thực không đồng tình với những quan điểm hay những đòi hỏi đó; phải biết rằng mỗi dân tộc cùng với đặc điểm phong thổ tự nhiên của họ mà hun đúc nên một nền văn hóa ẩm thực như vậy.

Đi là để thưởng thức…

Đi là để cảm nhận…

Đi là để ông “thần khẩu” được thêm phong phú với những phong vị khác với thường nhật nơi quê nhà, để hiểu rằng cái “ngon” trong nước ở mỗi vùng miền đã là rất khác nhau thì ở nơi xứ bạn định nghĩa còn rộng lớn hơn rất nhiều…

Ngoài ra, cái “ngon” dân gian đường phố cũng khác rất nhiều với cái “ngon” trong nhà hàng tiêu chuẩn 5 sao, tương tự như một bát bún mắm ở chợ nổi Cần Thơ thì khác rất nhiều với bún mắm ở nhà hàng Le Tonlé Sap bên bờ hồ Tonlé Sap cho dù nó có cùng một nguồn gốc văn hóa Khmer… nhưng quan trọng hơn cả là đừng áp đặt cái định nghĩa về “ngon” quen thuộc thường nhật của mình vào ẩm thực nơi xứ người vì như thế sẽ là không công bằng với cả hai… thay vì đó thì nên xem xét nó “khác” như thế nào và “ngon” ra sao…

Mỗi thức đều có những yêu cầu khác nhau, những đòi hỏi khác nhau và cũng đòi hỏi người “thưởng thức” khác nhau… nếu việc so sánh giữa món vịt trong nhà hàng Vịt Vương ở Thượng Hải (nhà hàng độc món thường phải đặt bàn trước 1 tháng bất kể ai và… cấm chụp ảnh – Ahihi) với món gỏi tép (tép sống) sông Mekong trên đất Lào thì sẽ là rất rất khập khiễng nhưng nói về công phu thì cả hai món đều phải rất công phu thì mới ra “đúng vị” được…

Vậy nên, để đủ “phong vị” vào câu chuyên du lịch thì cần phải thật khách quan và hơn cả là “một tấm lòng” với người đầu bếp tận tâm nơi xứ người đã cố gắng gửi gắm trong đó bề dày văn hóa của cả một dân tộc qua từng món ăn dù là phức tạp hay đơn giản…

 

Đi là để hiểu…

Đi là để thách thức…

Đi là để chìm đắm vào trong văn hóa dân gian bản địa, học hỏi được những cái mới, làm phong phú thêm kiến thức và tận cùng, hiểu được bản sắc của nơi mà chúng ta đang tới thăm.

Tôi luôn thích tham gia vào những hoạt động văn hóa như xem văn nghệ dân gian về những giai đoạn lịch sử hào hùng của dân tộc bạn hay những điệu nhạc du dương hay một nét múa truyền thống… nơi nhà hát hay bảo tàng, thay vì ngồi ở trong một bar hay nơi lounge sang trọng… Những hoạt động này luôn đem lại cho tôi sự mới mẻ và cảm nhận sâu sắc…

Nhưng lạ một điều, trong một hoạt động nghệ thuật dân gian, có lẽ chỉ có những du khách châu Âu và người Nhật Bản là tập trung xem, dù là trẻ con hay người lớn tuổi; trong khi đó, du khách Việt, du khách Trung Quốc hay châu Á [trừ Nhật Bản] nói riêng thì phần lớn tập trung vào selfie để “cúng phây” thay vì thưởng thức hoạt động nghệ thuật… Họ cũng thoải mái cười đùa ngay trong lúc các nghệ sĩ đang biểu diễn… Dẫu biết rằng đang trong một môi trường mở với mục đích du lịch nhưng có lẽ như thế là khá “khiếm nhã” và thiếu tôn trọng đối với người nghệ sĩ và những người xung quanh…

Dù rằng, sự phù hợp về cảm nhận, về thẩm mỹ hay nói chung là gu (goûté) có tính cá nhân và thuộc về cảm nhận của mỗi người; tuy nhiên, trong phạm vi của một chuyến đi chơi, thiết nghĩ, nhu cầu trải nghiệm về “cái mới” là điều cốt lõi và là mục tiêu lớn nhất chứ không phải đi để rồi gắn “dấu ấn” đã đi tới bao nhiều nước…

Đi nhiều nước, tôi thường thấy trong các hiệu sách, hay ngay trong các quầy sách ở sân bay đều có những quyển sách giới thiệu về du lịch văn hóa của nhiều nước rất chi tiết cho từng vùng miền tới cả ngàn trang vậy; và, rất… rất nhiều các du khách – thường là châu Âu, Mỹ, luôn cầm theo một quyển nói về nơi họ đang thăm thú, chăm chú đọc trong khi thực sự trải nghiệm văn hóa bản địa một cách sâu sắc thông qua tham gia vào từng hoạt động trong cuộc sống của người bản địa… thậm chí như vào bếp học làm món ăn, ra chợ địa phương hay xuống ao, ra bờ biển cùng bắt cá, cào nghêu với người địa phương… cái mà khó có thể tìm thấy ở những du khách châu Á… Phải chăng du lịch kiểu “been there done that” đã trở thành một đặc trưng của người châu Á?!

Đi là để trải nghiệm và để phong phú hơn cuộc sống, hưởng thụ cái hay cái đẹp khác với những nét đẹp quen thuộc thường ngày nơi xứ mình và cũng là dịp để thư giãn nghỉ ngơi sau những ngày lao động mệt nhọc… vậy, nên làm sao để thực sự có một câu chuyện với đầy đủ “phong vị” nơi xứ người để sẻ chia cùng bạn bè, hay đơn giản là để kể lại với con cháu lúc về già hơn là chỉ qua những bức ảnh đã nhạt màu ố vàng vì thời gian với câu bình cụt lủn “ta đã từng ở đó”…

Xxx – npl