Share – Tào Tháo 45 tuổi mới thống nhất được phương Bắc, Tôn Sách 24 tuổi đã thống lĩnh vùng Giang Đông: Các nhà khởi nghiệp trẻ tuổi muốn thành công nên học hỏi — Ngon 24h

Khi liên quân Quan Đông thảo phạt Đổng Trác, Tôn Kiên với thân phận là thái thú Trường Sa đã đến tham gia cùng. Mặc dù Tôn Kiên dũng mãnh nhiều lần đánh bại quân đội của Đổng Trác, nhưng liên quân chư hầu mỗi người mang trong mình một ý riêng, cuối cùng đã […]

via Tào Tháo 45 tuổi mới thống nhất được phương Bắc, Tôn Sách 24 tuổi đã thống lĩnh vùng Giang Đông: Các nhà khởi nghiệp trẻ tuổi muốn thành công nên học hỏi — Ngon 24h

Khi liên quân Quan Đông thảo phạt Đổng Trác, Tôn Kiên với thân phận là thái thú Trường Sa đã đến tham gia cùng. Mặc dù Tôn Kiên dũng mãnh nhiều lần đánh bại quân đội của Đổng Trác, nhưng liên quân chư hầu mỗi người mang trong mình một ý riêng, cuối cùng đã bị chia rẽ. Tôn Kiên sau đó khi đang công kích Lưu Biểu, thủ hạ dưới trướng Hoàng Tổ đã tranh thủ cơ hội, bắn cung ám sát giết chết Tôn Kiên. Tôn Sách thân là trưởng tử họ Tôn, đem cả gia đình tới Giang Đô, tạm thời núp dưới trướng Viên Thuật, bản thân ông đồng thời cũng rất được lòng Viên Thuật.

Tôn Sách mặc dù thân ở doanh trại Viên Thuật, nhưng chưa bao giờ quên đi lý tưởng đại nghiệp. Sau này, ông tìm cách thoát khỏi sự khống chế của Viên Thuật, một mình đem binh Nam hạ, chỉ trong vài năm đã chiếm được 6 quận khu vực Giang Đông như Cối Kê, Đông quận, Lư Lăng… gần như thống nhất vùng Giang Đông, đặt nền móng cho sự phát triển toàn diện của Đông Ngô.

Có thể nói, trong các chư hầu lúc bấy giờ, Tôn Sách là người có tốc độ phát triển nhanh nhất, đồng thời cũng là nhà khởi nghiệp trẻ nhất, khi đó, ông mới chỉ 24 tuổi. Tào Tháo khi cắt cứ Duyện Châu đã 38 tuổi, đánh thắng trận Quan Độ, thống nhất phương Bắc đã là 45 tuổi, Lưu Bị lại càng không cần nói, chiếm được Kinh Châu để có chỗ lập thân yên ổn thì cũng đã sống được gần nửa đời người rồi. Vì sao Tôn Sách còn trẻ vậy mà đã thống lĩnh được Giang Đông, ông làm sao làm được vậy?

Tào Tháo 45 tuổi mới thống nhất được phương Bắc, Tôn Sách 24 tuổi đã thống lĩnh vùng Giang Đông: Các nhà khởi nghiệp trẻ tuổi muốn thành công nên học hỏi - Ảnh 1.

Tạo hình nhân vật Tôn Sách trên màn ảnh nhỏ

Thứ nhất, hoài bão, ý chí lớn, dám mở rộng và phát triển

Năm 20 tuổi, khi Tôn Sách vẫn còn đang nương nhờ Viên Thuật, ông sớm đã mang trong mình những hoài bão lớn, không muốn cứ mãi phải đi theo sau Viên Thuật, hơn nữa, chỉ trong vòng chưa đầy 1 năm, ông đã tìm ra được cơ hội để thoát khỏi Viên Thuật, quyết định tách ra làm riêng.

Bản thân Tôn Sách lúc này “binh tài thiên dư, mã số thập phi, binh khách nguyện tòng giả số bách nhân” (binh lính chỉ có hơn 1000 người, ngựa có 10 con, số người nguyện đi theo khác chỉ vỏn vẹn trăm người), có thể nói, giai đoạn đầu khởi nghiệp của Tôn Sách là vô cùng khó khăn, không giống Viên Thiệu, Viên Thuật, họ gia lớn nghiệp lớn, có thể chiêu mộ được rất nhiều anh tài.

Vì vậy, Tôn Sách chỉ có thể tự lực cánh sinh, từng bước từng bước một đi mở rộng, phát triển. Thứ khiến ông chiếm được phần lớn khu vực Giang Đông, trở thành một trong những thế lực quân sự lớn mạnh thời bấy giờ như vậy chính là nhờ vào tinh thần và ý chí tiến thủ mạnh mẽ.

Tào Tháo 45 tuổi mới thống nhất được phương Bắc, Tôn Sách 24 tuổi đã thống lĩnh vùng Giang Đông: Các nhà khởi nghiệp trẻ tuổi muốn thành công nên học hỏi - Ảnh 2.

Tạo hình nhân vật Tôn Sách trên màn ảnh nhỏ

Thứ hai, dũng mãnh vô địch, mưu lược hơn người

Muốn nên được bá nghiệp, ngoài hoài bão lớn lao, tất nhiên điều kiện vô cùng cần thiết chính là thực lực. Đại chiến với Thải Sử Từ, giết chết Vu Mi, Phàn Năng, phi kiếm giết chết Nghiêm Dư… tất cả đều cho thấy sự dũng mãnh không có đối thủ của Tôn Sách, cũng chính vì vậy mà ông mới có thêm cho mình biệt danh “Tiểu bá vương”.

Nhưng, Tôn Sách lại không giống với “Tây Sở bá vương” Hạng Vũ, Hạng Vũ tuy dũng mãnh, nhưng lại là người chỉ biết đánh nhau, không biết tính toán mưu lược, cuối cùng mới bại dưới tay Lưu Bang.

Còn Tôn Sách lại có dũng có mưu, loan tin giả rằng mình đã chết để đánh bại được Lưu Do, đánh chiếm Cối Kê, Đan Dương, có rất nhiều chiến tích có thể cho thấy Tôn Sách hoàn toàn không phải là một người có sức mạnh mà không có não.

Chính vì sự dũng mãnh và tài trí của mình mà Tôn Sách, từ một người chỉ thống lĩnh hơn ngàn binh lính dần dần trở thành chư hầu một phương, chiếm đóng 6 quận Giang Đông.

Tào Tháo 45 tuổi mới thống nhất được phương Bắc, Tôn Sách 24 tuổi đã thống lĩnh vùng Giang Đông: Các nhà khởi nghiệp trẻ tuổi muốn thành công nên học hỏi - Ảnh 3.

Tạo hình nhân vật Tôn Sách trên màn ảnh nhỏ

Thứ 3, khoan dung độ lượng, giỏi dùng người

Về điểm này, ông hoàn toàn không giống với Hạng Vũ, Hạng Vũ luôn cho mình ở trên cao, coi thường người khác, ngay đến cả một người đối đãi thật tâm thật lòng với Hạng vũ như Á Phụ Phạm Tăng cũng bị ông nghi ngờ mà không trọng dụng, cuối cùng binh bại, mạng cũng mất.

Còn Tôn Sách luôn rất biết cách dùng người tài, ở giai đoạn đầu, ông biết rằng chỉ dựa vào một mình mình sẽ không bao giờ có thể nên nghiệp lớn, vì vậy, ông hết sức khiêm tốn mời Trương Chiêu, Trương Hoành đến trợ giúp mình, ngay cả khi sự nghiệp đã lớn mạnh hơn rất nhiều, ông vẫn luôn tỏ ra tôn trọng, lắng nghe ý kiến của họ.

Khi đánh bại Thái Sử Từ, Tôn Sách không những không giết mà còn tỏ ý ngưỡng mộ muốn chiêu hàng ông, đồng thời phong ông làm Chiết xung trung lang tướng. Còn rất nhiều nhân tài cũng vì sự thiện đãi của Tôn Sách mà đã nguyện ý đi theo ông, chẳng hạn như Chu Thái, Lăng Tháo…

Bất kể một chư hầu nào, nếu muốn lớn mạnh, nhân tố rất quan trọng chính là nhân tài, không có nhân tài thì dù đất có rộng tới đâu, binh mã có nhiều tới đâu thì diệt vong cũng chỉ là chuyện sớm chiều. Còn Tôn Sách, dù chỉ mới hai mấy tuổi nhưng ông đã hiểu ra được đạo lý này, quả thực, có muốn không “nổi lên” cũng khó.

Nhưng hồng nhan thì thường bạc mệnh, ông trời hay đố kị người tài, một thanh niên ưu tú tới vậy lại bị người khác giết hại, khi đó, Tôn Sách mới chỉ 26 tuổi. Cần phải biết rằng, với tài năng của Tôn Sách, nếu như có thể may mắn sống tiếp, vậy thì cục diện vùng Giang Đông nhất định sẽ rất khác.

Mặc dù đệ đệ Tôn Quyền cai trị Đông Ngô cũng không tồi, nhưng luận về khả năng mở rộng biên cương thì Tôn Sách vẫn hơn Tôn Quyền một bậc.

Như Quỳnh – Theo Trí Thức Trẻ

Share – Có 2 việc, biết cách giữ mồm giữ miệng sẽ tránh rước tai họa vào thân: Ai cũng nên ngẫm! — Ngon 24h

Mỗi một người muốn sống tốt trong xã hội này, việc “chung sống” hài hòa với những người xung quanh có một vai trò rất quan trọng và để có thể cân bằng, hài hòa các mối quan hệ thì sự khôn ngoan, khéo léo trong cách ứng xử là vô cùng cần thiết. Thông […]

via Có 2 việc, biết cách giữ mồm giữ miệng sẽ tránh rước tai họa vào thân: Ai cũng nên ngẫm! — Ngon 24h

Mỗi một người muốn sống tốt trong xã hội này, việc “chung sống” hài hòa với những người xung quanh có một vai trò rất quan trọng và để có thể cân bằng, hài hòa các mối quan hệ thì sự khôn ngoan, khéo léo trong cách ứng xử là vô cùng cần thiết.

Thông thường, trong cách ăn nói hằng ngày, những người thông minh sẽ luôn biết cách nói đúng mực, đúng lúc và đúng chỗ.

Họ thường không nói hết những gì mình nghĩ, bởi hơn ai hết, họ hiểu rằng “ngôn bất khả tận”, một khi lỡ miệng nói quá nhiều, việc này có thể dễ ràng gây tai họa, có thể bị những kẻ tiểu nhân lợi dụng…

Rất nhiều người nói nhưng nghĩ quá nông hoặc thậm chí là không nghĩ, vào chuyện là thao thao bất tuyệt chẳng để ý đến người khác, nghĩ gì nói đó, một chút bí mật của bản thân cũng chẳng biết cách giữ lại, thậm chí có những lúc đắc tội với người khác cũng không nhận ra, người như vậy, cho dù không bị lừa cũng dễ dàng bị người khác hãm hại.

Tất nhiên, mỗi người đều có nhu cầu giao lưu, không thể không nói chuyện với người khác, nhưng chúng ta cần phải biết mình đang nói chuyện với ai và nói về chuyện gì.

 Có 2 việc, biết cách giữ mồm giữ miệng sẽ tránh rước tai họa vào thân: Ai cũng nên ngẫm! - Ảnh 1.

Nếu như đó là bạn bè thân thiết, hẳn sẽ không có gì phải đắn đo, nhưng nếu đó là một người không quá thân quen, chúng ta dốc hết ruột gan, giả sử họ là người tốt thì không sao, giả như họ là một kẻ ngụy quân tử, chắc hẳn chúng ta sẽ phải đối mặt với hậu quả khó lường.

Chính vì thế, một người thông minh khi giao lưu với người khác, họ luôn biết cách giữ kín bí mật của mình. Có những thời điểm, áp lực dù có lớn cỡ nào, họ cũng không dễ dàng tìm đến người khác để dốc bầu tâm sự mà thay vào đó, họ sẽ phát huy hết tài năng của bản thân để hoàn thành những việc cần làm.

Đặc biệt, với 2 việc dưới đây, họ không bao giờ cho phép mình “lỡ miệng”.

1. Bí mật của bản thân

Trong xã hội này, kiểu người nào cũng có. Có một số người có thể hôm nay có vẻ họ tử tế với chúng ta nhưng chẳng ai đảm bảo rằng cả đời họ luôn là bạn tốt của mình. Có thể, vào một ngày đẹp trời nào đó, vì một chút lợi ích của bản thân mà họ xem chúng ta chẳng khác nào kẻ thù.

Chính vì thế, nếu là bí mật thầm kín của bản thân, tốt nhất chúng ta nên giữ cho riêng mình.

Người có chuyện gì cũng thao thao thưa thớt với người khác thường chỉ đang tìm kiếm một vùng an toàn cho bản thân, trong khi điều này, chúng ta chẳng thể tìm thấy từ người khác. Chúng ta chỉ có thể dựa vào sự cố gắng của chính mình, nâng cao thực lực của bản thân mới có thể tự tạo ra cho mình một vùng an toàn bền vững, đáng tin cậy.

 Có 2 việc, biết cách giữ mồm giữ miệng sẽ tránh rước tai họa vào thân: Ai cũng nên ngẫm! - Ảnh 2.

2. Thu nhập của bản thân

Có một số người sau khi gặt hái được một chút ít thành công liền trở nên kiêu ngạo, huênh hoang.

Đối với mỗi một người, việc có thể tăng thu nhập cho bản thân là một việc đáng mừng, nó cho thấy sự cố gắng phấn đấu của bạn được ghi nhận.

Nhưng nếu vì vui quá mà đem thu nhập của mình đi khoe khoang khắp nơi, bạn đang mắc sai lầm. Bởi vì việc này chỉ cho thấy lòng hư vinh, thích so sánh của bạn mà thôi.

Trong khi đó, việc so sánh hơn thua với người khác chẳng mang lại ích lợi gì, thậm chí còn gây họa cho bản thân nếu thua kém người khác, vì với mẫu người thích so sánh, sự thua kém sẽ khiến họ khó chịu.

Còn một điều nữa đáng lưu ý, là việc khoe khoang mức thu nhập của mình với người khác có thể sẽ đến tai những người muốn vay mượn tiền. Khi đó, dù cho vay hay không cho vạy, bạn cũng đều khó xử.

Cho vay sẽ ảnh hưởng đến cuộc sống, kế hoạch của bản thân, thậm chí có người cho bạn bè anh em vay tiền xong coi như mất, chẳng thể đòi lại được, không cho vay, tình cảm đôi bên sẽ bị ảnh hưởng ít nhiều. Mà rõ ràng, đây chính là rắc rối được hình thành do chính lời nói của mình, do chính việc mà tự mình nói ra.

Chính vì thế, tốt nhất hãy đừng tiết lộ với người khác thu nhập của bản thân.

Người có gì cũng nói ra hết, có thể vì đầu óc họ quá đơn giản, cũng có thể vì họ luôn muốn được người khác ghi nhận, khen ngợi, đánh giá cao, hoặc họ muốn nhanh chóng có được tình cảm của người khác.

Nhưng bằng cách này, kết quả họ thu lại được thường ngược lại với mong muốn và nó chỉ làm cho họ gặp rắc rối hơn mà thôi.

Bởi thế, với bí mật của bản thân cũng như thu nhập của bản thân, tốt nhất hãy giữ mồm giữ miệng, đây là cách để bảo vệ chính mình cũng như gia đình mình.


Theo Nguyễn Nhung

Trí thức trẻ

Share – Đức Phật chỉ ra 4 kiểu người cơ bản trong đời: Kiểu đầu đáng quý, kiểu cuối đáng thương, bạn thuộc kiểu nào? — Ngon 24h

Thông thường, người đời hay tự đánh giá, so sánh sự giống và khác nhau qua một vài điểm phổ biến như tài sản, học vấn, sự nghiệp,… Tuy nhiên, dưới góc nhìn của mình, Đức Phật Thích Ca lại đánh giá con người qua khả năng cảm ngộ cuộc đời. Theo quan điểm nhà […]

via Đức Phật chỉ ra 4 kiểu người cơ bản trong đời: Kiểu đầu đáng quý, kiểu cuối đáng thương, bạn thuộc kiểu nào? — Ngon 24h

Thông thường, người đời hay tự đánh giá, so sánh sự giống và khác nhau qua một vài điểm phổ biến như tài sản, học vấn, sự nghiệp,… Tuy nhiên, dưới góc nhìn của mình, Đức Phật Thích Ca lại đánh giá con người qua khả năng cảm ngộ cuộc đời. Theo quan điểm nhà Phật, khả năng cảm ngộ cuộc đời chính là yếu tố quyết định hạnh phúc, khổ đau, phú quý, phúc báo, bình an của một con người trong vòng luân hồi sinh tử.

Đức Phật chỉ ra 4 kiểu người cơ bản của cuộc đời, kiểu đầu tiên đáng quý, kiểu cuối cùng đáng thương, bạn thuộc kiểu nào? - Ảnh 1.

Theo đó, có câu chuyện kể rằng, thuở xưa nhân một hôm nọ, Đức Phật Thích Ca gọi tất cả đệ tử của mình đến ngồi xung quanh để nghe Ngài giáo hóa. Ban đầu, Ngài kể về 4 loại ngựa trong nhân gian mà người đời hay sử dụng như sau:

“Loại thứ 1 là loại ngựa thượng phẩm, chúng chạy rất nhanh có khi lên đến cả nghìn dặm một ngày. Ngoài ra, chúng còn rất nghe lời và thông minh, chủ chỉ đưa roi lên là chúng sẽ biết ý, hoặc là chạy hoặc là dừng lại.

Loại thứ 2 là loại ngựa nhất phẩm. Loại này chạy cũng rất nhanh nhưng lại không thông minh lắm, chúng chỉ chạy khi roi của người cưỡi quất trúng thân mình.

Loại thứ 3 là loại ngựa nhị phẩm. Loại này thì tốc độ thường thôi, nhưng đôi khi rất cứng đầu khó thuần hóa. Muốn ra lệnh cho ngựa nhị phẩm chạy, chủ phải điên tiết quất roi thật mạnh.

Loại thứ 4 là loại ngựa tam phẩm, đây là loại kém nhất vì tốc độ đã chậm mà lại rất ngoan cố, thà bị đánh chứ nhất quyết không chạy. Để ngựa tam phẩm nghe lời, người chủ thường phải quất mạnh roi khiến chúng đau thấu xương đến bị thương và rỉ máu thì chúng mới chịu chạy”.

Đức Phật chỉ ra 4 kiểu người cơ bản của cuộc đời, kiểu đầu tiên đáng quý, kiểu cuối cùng đáng thương, bạn thuộc kiểu nào? - Ảnh 2.

Nghe Phật Thích Ca kể tới đây, các đồ đệ của Ngài dường như vẫn chưa hiểu lắm về hàm ý mà Ngài muốn nhắn nhủ. Biết ý, Ngài thong thả nói tiếp: “Con người sống trên đời cũng được chia ra là 4 kiểu như trên:

Kiểu thứ 1 là kiểu người tinh tấn bẩm sinh, thông suốt cuộc đời, biết mình biết ta nên luôn trong tâm thế nỗ lực phấn đấu, không ngừng tiến lên để trở thành một cá nhân được người đời trân trọng.

Kiểu thứ 2 là kiểu người có căn cơ thông tuệ nhưng phải tận mắt chứng kiến tính chất vô thường của cõi hồng trần, hoa nở hoa tàn, trăng tròn trăng khuyết,… mới tự giục mình tiến lên, cố gắng từng chút một.

Kiểu thứ 3 là kiểu người ngộ tính kém cỏi, họ chỉ tỉnh mộng trần gian và thiện đãi sinh mệnh, hiểu mình hiểu đời khi và chỉ khi bản thân trải qua vài kiếp nạn tai ương thống khổ. Nỗi đau là liều thuốc quý giúp họ đến bến bờ an lạc.

Kiểu thứ 4 là kiểu người chấp mê bất ngộ, mãi mãi không chịu quay đầu mà cứ u mê trong giấc mộng không có thật. Để rồi khi bản thân mang nặng nghiệp chướng, bệnh tật đầy mình, trên bờ vực cái chết, họ mới giật mình hối cải. Đáng tiếc, mọi chuyện đã muộn màng”.

Đức Phật chỉ ra 4 kiểu người cơ bản của cuộc đời, kiểu đầu tiên đáng quý, kiểu cuối cùng đáng thương, bạn thuộc kiểu nào? - Ảnh 3.

Cuộc đời là thế đấy, ai đến rồi cũng phải đi, sinh ra ắt có lìa đời, có thành công thì cũng có thất bại, giàu sang phú quý suy cho cùng cũng chỉ là bóng mây qua thềm, nằm xuống rồi một cọng cỏ cũng không thể mang theo – đơn giản nhưng thật chẳng có mấy người ngộ ra.

Người không ngộ được điểm này, cả đời chạy theo tiền tài, hư vinh, ái dục và vô tình khiến cho lục căn (mắt, tai, mũi, lưỡi, thân, ý) nhơ bẩn rồi sinh ra đố kỵ, sân hận, vọng tưởng,… mãi mãi cứ lẩn quẩn trong bể khổ của chính mình, họ sống trong địa ngục trước cả khi nhắm mắt xuôi tay, khổ đau không sao kể xiết. Đến khi ngoảnh mặt nhìn lại, có nuối tiếc cũng rất khó làm lại từ đầu, cuộc đời này họ đã bỏ lỡ.

Trong khi người ngộ được tính vô thường của cuộc đời thì thay vì để tham lam, sân hận, đố kỵ, ganh ghét,… dẫn lối và phá hủy cuộc đời mình, họ chọn làm người thiện lương, tĩnh lặng và tự thân phấn đấu để có trí huệ, có một cuộc đời vừa vặn, phúc báu tràn trề, người đời ngưỡng vọng. An lành mà sống cho đến hết kiếp…

Ẩm thực – The Handy Playing Cards That Taught 17th-Century Cooks to Carve Meat Like a Pro

By JESSICA LEIGH HESTER

Full link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/carving-meat-playing-cards?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=c6b62f3220-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-c6b62f3220-70327933&mc_cid=c6b62f3220&mc_eid=df51e46713

The decks suggested proper technique, and were a path to class mobility.

The cards included diagrams for main courses small and large.

PUSH BACK YOUR CHAIR AND sharpen your knife. It’s dinnertime in 17th-century England, and you happen to be flush enough to get your hands on a plump, juicy turkey. You’ve gathered friends and family, and now it is time to carve the bird. You want to make sure there are enough pieces to go around, but also impress your guests with your dexterity—or, at the very least, not splatter them with grease and bits of skin.

Today, you might watch an instructional video, but then you may have turned to a deck of playing cards.

Dig in!

The genteel house-keeper’s passtime, or the mode of carving at the table represented by a pack of playing cards” was a deck and accompanying booklet first issued by London printer Joseph Moxon in 1677. It had roughly the same dimensions as any other deck, but these cards had a purpose beyond games: to teach people how to carve, hack, and disarticulate any (formerly) living thing they planned to serve. The booklet argued that proper carving can curb waste and buoy appetites. “Methodical cutting,” the anonymous author wrote in a 1693 edition, would protect “weak stomachs” from heaving at the sight of “disorderly mangling a Joynt or Dish of good meat.”

When carving a boar's head, start with the cheek.

Each suit corresponds to a different type of meat. Feeling fishy? Deal the clubs to learn to how to gut a salmon or dismantle a lobster. The diamonds were for fowl, from duck to pheasant to pigeon (which shouldn’t be carved, but simply “cut through the middle from the rump to the neck”). The hearts featured “flesh of beats,” from the “Sir Loyn of Beef” to a haunch of venison—“begun to be cut near the buttock”—and a boars’ head, which “comes to the Table with its Snout standing upward and a sprig of Rosemary tuck[ed] in it.” Coney, or rabbit, was “most times brought to the Table with the Head off” and placed alongside the body. Instructions for carving “baked meats,” such as pies and pasties, were on the spades.

The cards were schematics, but quite vague. The booklet was a useful addition, as it broke down the drawings step by step, describing the process of cleaving wings and thighs and offering tips for adding flourishes to the finished dish. Capon ought to be ringed with thin slices of oranges and lemons around the serving platter, while a goose called for sugary, buttery apples, or maybe some gooseberries or grapes. Lobster meat was best served “mingled or tempered with grated Bread and Vinegar,” and garnished with fennel or a dash of green herbs. The booklet also outlined how the carver should behave and dress. Neatly attired knife-wielders ought to avoid manhandling the meat with their fingers—and if poking couldn’t be avoided, only the thumb or forefinger would do.

Lobster didn't call for much carving at all—just snapping off the claws and tail. Salmon was a little more complicated.

“I would say these were not intended for game play,” according to Timothy Young, the playing-card librarian and curator of modern books and manuscripts at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. They weren’t especially cheap to make—cards called for pasting many leaves of paper together so they would hold up to repeat use—but they were particularly useful for conveying information. Educational decks were fairly common at the time, Young says, covering everything from constellations to the countries of the world and historic kings and queens. Cards were portable and easy to pass around, which made them popular among tutors with multiple pupils. They had obvious appeal for the kitchen or dining room. A card tacked to the wall or leaned against a tray on the table would have been a relief for a harried chef wrist-deep in a roast, who might otherwise leave a trail of unsavory smudges across book pages.

The cards fit in with a trove of domestic manuals and instructional books that had come on the market in England in the 16th century, says Jennifer Park, an assistant professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who works on Renaissance recipes, games, and ephemera. “The idea was that what was [once] in the domain of professionals, you can now do in your household, in your private space,” Park says. “It’s not secret knowledge that’s locked away.” Though this manual and deck were penned by an anonymous writer, the text promises readers that the tips were “set forth by several of the best Masters in the Faculty of Carving, and Published for publick life.”

The rabbit's head would have sat beside the body on the plate.

Beyond teaching useful skills, the cards also helped home chefs reach toward higher status. Young sees the deck as an early example of the middle-class thirst for upward mobility. Moxon’s cards were “designed to aid families who had become wealthy enough to serve meat to guests, but were not yet wealthy enough to hire professional carvers,” writes Edward A. Malone, a professor of technical communication at Missouri University of Science and Technology, in a 2008 paper about playing cards’ history as vehicles for technical know-how and scientific information. The cards would have been indispensable kitchen tools for “people who want to have this mannered, proper way to cook and present food, but don’t depend on people doing it for them,” Young says. The truly wealthy had no need to know how to wield a knife with confidence or elegance, Young adds—their kitchen staff had those skills, and they had little inclination to get their hands dirty. Moneyed diners would think, Young says, “‘I don’t know, I go to dinner and it’s just there.’”

Cutting a pie this elaborate? Yeah, a guide would help.

It’s hard to know for sure how many decks were in circulation—Young says contemporary claims about print runs ought to be taken with a pinch of salt, because they were often inflated to drum up publicity—or exactly when they stopped showing up in English kitchens. (There’s no way to gauge when a shop would have worked through its stock.) Malone writes that they were available for roughly four decades, and “must have been popular at the price of 1 shilling per pack.” (The booklet, he adds, was a half-shilling more.) The Beinecke has some loose cards produced around 1680, plus a version from 1693 that had not been cut from the original printing. Wellesley College has a version from 1717, attributed to a different printer who likely acquired the rights—and maybe even the plates—to reprint Moxon’s designs. Judging by the scarcity of other records, the cards probably didn’t have a shelf life much beyond the early 18th century. After that, Young says, “we assume that they dropped out of circulation because we don’t have anything until much later facsimiles.” For the generations of carvers who followed their lead, though, the cards were much more than just an appetizing novelty.

Stoic – Be Grateful for Everything—Even the Tough Stuff

On this day of American Thanksgiving, we’re supposed to make time for thanks, to actively think about that word that has become almost cliché in wellness circles: gratitude. But what is gratitude? Some people think of it as being thankful for all the good things you have in your life. Others see it as the act of acknowledging what people have done for you or what you appreciate about others.

While the Stoics would have agreed that was all important, they practiced a slightly different form of gratitude. It was more inclusive and counterintuitive. It wasn’t just about being grateful for the good, but for all of life. “Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods,” was how Marcus Aurelius put it, “that things are good and always will be.” The first key word there is everything. The other key word is convince. Meaning: you have to tell yourself that it’s all good, even the so-called “bad stuff.”

Is it possible to be grateful for that nine-hour travel delay that has you sleeping on a bench in the airport? Is it possible to be grateful for your father’s affair that tore your family apart, and which now means you’re celebrating two Thanksgivings in two houses because your parents can’t be in the same room together? Or that dark period you went through in college, when your grades fell to pieces and you thought about killing yourself? It’s not easy to be grateful for any of this, but it is possible.

In the Discourses, Epictetus says, “It is easy to praise providence for anything that may happen if you have two qualities: a complete view of what has actually happened in each instance, and a sense of gratitude.” On the surface, much of what we’re upset about or wish hadn’t occurred is so objectionable that gratitude seems impossible. But if we can zoom out for that more complete view, understanding and appreciation can emerge. First off, you’re alive. That’s the silver lining of every shitty situation and should not be forgotten. But second, everything that has happened and is happening is bringing you to where you are. It’s contributing to the person you have become. And that’s a good thing. This understanding, Epictetus said, helps you see the world in full color—in the color of gratitude.

The Stoics believed that we should feel gratitude for all the people and events that form our lives. We shouldn’t just be thankful for the gifts we receive, and our relationships with friends and family. We should also be aware of and grateful for the setbacks and annoyances. For the difficult coworkers and the nagging in-laws, for the stress they put on us and whatever other difficulties we might be experiencing. Why? Because it’s all of those things, interconnected and dependent on each other, that made you who and what you are today. It is only by seeing the totality of things, good and bad, that you gain the understanding necessary to be truly grateful.

It could be that terrible relationship that imploded spectacularly, but which led to you meeting the love of your life. It could even be the passing of a relative, something that caused you great sadness but which also spurred you to build stronger relationships with your loved ones. All of these things are sad, and they may not even lead to a happy ending—but they still define the course of your life, and it wouldn’t be you sitting there right now without them.

As you gather around your family and friends this Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other celebration you might partake in, take the time to appreciate the moment and give thanks for all the obvious and bountiful gifts that moment presents. But also, be sure to be thankful for everything in your life, both the good and the bad. Because it’s in seeing all of those things, and understanding their impact, that you gain the ability to express true gratitude.

Collection – Do These Things Before Going to Bed and You’ll Wake up Energized for Tomorrow

By Tim Denning

Full link: https://psiloveyou.xyz/do-these-things-before-going-to-bed-and-youll-wake-up-energized-for-tomorrow-2a552fc9f3ae

Your day really starts the night before.

The time before bed is sacred. What you do before bed determines how well you sleep and whether you will wake up the next day energized.

I often thought that morning routines were key until I realized that a morning routine is useless if you wake up tired and lifeless.

It’s hard to get out of bed and start your day with a bang if you haven’t slept well and set your day up the night before.

Your day starts the night before.

Experiment with doing these things before going to bed:

Empty your cup

The day causes our cup (mind) to overflow with thoughts, ideas, concerns and stories that repeat themselves over and over.

Empty your cup before you go to bed. Let it all spill out so that your cup won’t continue overflowing all through the night and stop you sleeping.

Try these:

  • Write down your thoughts before bed
  • Talk about your day with your partner
  • Watch a mind-numbing show

That last one is my favorite. I often watch a TV show called “Grand Designs” before bed because its simplicity allows me to escape my thoughts and concentrate on the physical structure of a house. I will never be a builder and have no intention of building a house or renovating.

The TV show has no meaning to me, there is nothing for me to learn, and I have no interest in the subject whatsoever. This complete disconnect helps to empty my cup.

Many of my friends cite mind-numbing TV shows as being helpful for them emptying their owns cups before bed. Try it for yourself.

Chill

To prepare for bed, you’ve got to chill out a little. Take a load off, relax, sit on the couch, lie on the floor, sit up in bed, or find your own way to relax.

Part of calming down before bed is getting yourself in a relaxing state of mind. We all have an activity that we find relaxing. Insert that activity right before bed.

Have a warm shower

A shower before bed is an excellent way to relax. There is a lot of mumbo jumbo about your body temperature before bed and while there’s probably some truth to it, the relaxing benefits of a shower can be underestimated.

If you really are worried about the body temperature before bed debate, you can make the shower a warm one rather than a cold one. What matters is that time alone with water pouring down all over your body. The sound and motion of the water has a meditative effect that is hard to explain.

Stop eating at 8 PM

Eating right before bed is a bad idea. Your body needs time to rest and that includes your stomach.

One way I have found to increase my energy levels has been to insert a period of fasting into my day. I stop eating at 8 PM each night and don’t start eating until around 7 AM the next day. This gives my body plenty of time to do its thing and not be bombarded by never-ending calories that it has to work overtime to process.

Try giving your body a rest and not having a late-night snack.

Spend time with your partner

Time with your partner (or your housemates/family if you don’t have a partner) is a way to experience human connection before bed.

We spend so much of our day in front of a phone or computer that we can easily forget that there are these things called human beings that exist too. Asking about someone’s day helps take the focus off your own and that is another way to empty all the thoughts out of your mind.

Try reconnecting with a human before bed.

Let your worries rest

Going to bed with a head full of worries will not help you sleep.

Worry keeps us awake and lets our minds keep ticking. You can’t fix your worries in your sleep. Accepting your worries and letting them rest until tomorrow without the need to come up with action plans is a helpful thought to ponder.

Before bed, the aim is to get out of problem-solving mode and into resting mode.

Contemplate what you have achieved

I find contemplating what I have achieved helps me to switch off.

When you think about what you have achieved, you feel a sense of pride and it puts your day in context. It makes the struggles you endure worth it and that thought is a calming one before bed.

We achieve so much each day and that might help you get ready for tomorrow.

Avoid social media right before bed

Now I am guilty of this one. Being on LinkedIn late at night is tempting for me. But it doesn’t help me sleep.

All it takes is a stray comment or the need to compare my results to someone else’s, and my sleep is disturbed. There’s always one more thing to do when it comes to social media — another post, another comment to leave, another writer to study, another fun fact, another opportunity.

Social media before bed makes your mind go a million miles per hour and that is the enemy of rest. Social media triggers thoughts and plants a huge volume of information in our brain at a rapid pace. This is not good for rest.

Finish up social media early if you can, so that you can focus on relaxing and getting ready for tomorrow. There is always time for social media tomorrow. It’s not going anywhere.

Be appreciative for one thing

You don’t have to get all spiritual and shit and be all #humble.

Appreciating one thing helps you to realize how much you already have. Every day, you get one gift of something going right amongst all the stuff that goes wrong. This gift is a good focus point to reflect on and be at peace with.

Every day, one thing is going right for you. What is it?

Did the car start? Did someone hold the door open? Did the customer do what you wanted them to do? Did you get to read that book?

There are plenty of things that went right today and remembering one of them will help you prepare for tomorrow and wake up energized.

Collection – 6 Sleep Secrets of Peak Performers

By Melody Wilding, LMSW

Full link: https://medium.com/mind-cafe/6-sleep-secrets-of-peak-performers-f6f718db924c

Don’t let anxiety derail you from being your best self.

If you’re like most people, you’ve been affected by stress-related sleep problems at some point or another, lying awake at night filled with anxiety about your career and the future.

Often everyday worries about impending deadlines and your to-do list give way to bigger, more stressful questioning, “Is this job really what I want to be doing with my life? What if I quit? Will I ever discover what I’m truly passionate about?”

Your mental wheels start turning, anxiety builds, and before you know it, you realize an hour has passed since you turned out the lights. You worry that if you don’t sleep now tomorrow will be completely unproductive. Needless to say, this doesn’t relax you any further, and you spin further into the cycle of insomnia.

The crushing exhaustion that hits after only a night or two of sleeplessness is enough to derail anyone. It also makes you more susceptible to emotional outbursts and missed deadlines. Eighty-three per cent of workers say they’re stressed about their jobs and nearly 50 per cent say work-related stress is interfering with their sleep. Sleeping too little — defined as less than six hours each night — is one of the best predictors of burnout.

Sleep is crucial to mental acuity. The amount of quality rest you get has a direct impact on your ability to handle challenges, solve problems, and feel happy throughout the day. It’s important, then, to be sure you’re looking out for your relationship with sleep by establishing healthy, strategic boundaries with work stressors so that they don’t sabotage your rejuvenation time.

If work worries are keeping you up at night, it’s time to implement habits that will keep your stress levels in check and drive lasting impact to ensure sleepless nights become fewer and farther between.


Start With Work Boundaries

Create buffer time between leaving work and going to bed to let stress diffuse. If you’re at the office until 8pm cranking away at a presentation for a big meeting, then rush home to try to be in bed by 10pm, you’re not setting yourself up for sleep success. Because your adrenaline is still pumping, your brain doesn’t have the chance to fully disengage from work mode, leaving you keyed up. Try building in an activity between work and home, such as a Skype date with a friend or a fitness class, that not only helps you leave the office at a reasonable hour, but also calms your mind.

Create Transition Rituals

Flipping our minds into “off” mode is usually easier said than done. Creating transition rituals can help because they build an association between doing certain tasks and shifting to preparing for sleep. For example, your pre-sleep ceremony could include washing the dishes, taking a shower, or journaling for 20 minutes. The more consistently you practice your transition rituals, the more you master the ability to “downshift” into a slower, more relaxed brain state keeping intrusive, stressful thoughts at bay.

Nix The News And Power Down

When it comes to stress, your mind absorbs what it’s exposed to. If you’re exposing it to anxiety-provoking stimuli, like checking on your phone or watching violence on the nightly news, you’re hijacking your mental relaxation state and reinforcing neural pathways that fuel anxiety. While going tech-free before bed may seem impossible, try it for a few nights in a row to see if you fall asleep sooner and rest more soundly.

Make Your Bedroom A Sanctuary

It sounds simplistic, but going to sleep should be something you look forward to. Invest in comfy, breathable sheets, blackout curtains, and a good mattress. Resist the urge to eat or work on your bed to strengthen the association between your bedroom and sleeping.

Empty Your Brain

If your mind races with a million to-dos the minute you lay your head on the pillow, keep a notebook by your bed to jot down thoughts as they come up. By doing this, you know they’ll be there waiting for you in the morning, clearing your mind of clutter and worry. If you’ve developed a habit of staring at the clock and watching sleepless nights tick away, cover up the time and only use it as an alarm.

When All Else Fails, Get Out Of Bed

If you find yourself unable to sleep after lying in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up and move to another room. Tossing and turning only serves to perpetuate worrying thoughts keeping you awake. While it can be tempting to turn on the TV, catch up on emails, or scour Instagram, opt for relaxing, low-stimulus activity such as reading a magazine. This will help take your mind off whatever’s making you anxious and allow you to reset, hopefully making your next sleep attempt successful.

In the end, as important as you know that sleep is for optimal performance, the last thing you want to do is get anxious about sleep itself. These tips should help you develop a healthier attitude with work-related stress, so that you can rest and perform your best.

Landscape – The ACCTS could be a catalyst for transitioning to a circular economy

Author: Giridharan Ramasubramanian, ANU

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/11/29/the-accts-could-be-a-catalyst-for-transitioning-to-a-circular-economy/

On 25 September 2019, five countries — Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway — announced a new initiative, the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) that provides a fresh opportunity to use trade agreements to tackle the challenges of climate change and sustainable development.An aerial of China's first marine wind-driven generation plant at sunrise in Shanghai, China, 4 October 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Imagine China).

The agreement needs to do two things if it wishes to be an influential and effective international grouping. The ACCTS should facilitate the transition to a more circular economy among member countries and successfully shape discussions at the nexus between trade, climate and sustainable development in other international forums and institutions.

Policymakers who wish to mitigate climate change have started thinking about how their countries could make the transition from a linear to a circular economy. In a linear economy, resources are extracted and transformed into goods that are commercially exchanged and used before they are scrapped, leading to large amounts of waste. The circular economy involves using resources more efficiently across their life cycles by closing, extending and narrowing material loops that could decouple primary raw material consumption from economic growth. This will facilitate sustainable development by improving overall resource efficiency and lowering carbon emissions.

Currently, the ACCTS aims to provide legally binding policy action in three specific areas: elimination of tariffs on environmental goods and new commitments on environmental services; disciplinary measures to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies; and the development of guidelines for voluntary eco-labelling programs. This is a tangible start and successful implementation in these areas would show the efficacy of trade agreements in dealing with climate and sustainable development issues.

When the five states commence negotiations in early 2020 it is important for them to pay attention to the design of the ACCTS — an example of concerted open plurilateralism. A central idea behind this concept is that self-reinforcing cooperation can emerge within small groups of self-interested actors and feed into more comprehensive problem solving.

Negotiators working on the ACCTS describe it as a living agreement that could expand in membership, as other countries are brought on board, and expand in scope as new issues at the intersection of trade and climate are brought to the table. They have also characterised the ACCTS as a pathfinder that would provide an institutional template for future agreements that could shape the agendas in other climate and trade forums.

Two potential issues fall within the scope of the ACCTS: the removal of barriers to trade in secondary materials, goods and waste, and the development of guidelines for eco-design and recyclability standards. Export restrictions are often applied to the trade of secondary materials that prevent their circulation in new products. Environmentally stringent and consistent designs across borders will raise standards in individual countries and positively influence international production value chains that shape the design and manufacturing of many products. Progress in these two areas will help facilitate domestic attempts to transition to a circular economy.

In terms of expanding membership, countries such as Finland and the Netherlands have already started thinking seriously about transitioning to a circular economy and would be interested observers. More broadly, the European Union is seeking to incorporate climate provisions in its trade agreements, making it a ripe candidate to join. While larger developing countries such as China and India are using language associated with the circular economy, they have inhibited progress on climate-trade related issues in other forums in the past. Their eventual inclusion, along with other G20 countries, would have to be carefully negotiated.

The ACCTS could also drive momentum in other institutions. Long-standing efforts to reach an Environmental Goods Agreement in the World Trade Organization (WTO) have stalled but progress within the ACCTS could provide a model for renewed negotiations. Similarly, the G20 and the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform have sought to tackle fossil fuel subsidies with little success. Yet, this small group of countries could provide an alternative pathway in shaping progress on this issue. No intergovernmental agreement has attempted to establish codes and guidelines for eco-labels and the ACCTS offers a chance to do just that.

It is imperative that the ACCTS push the agenda of circular economy policymaking in international forums and institutions such as the G20, OECD and WTO by providing templates for adoption or by nudging those member countries to initiate discussions on rules developed by the agreement. Discussions at that level will then support the many domestic and sub-national initiatives that are taking place.

APEC could take up the mantle in the Asia Pacific given that the Committee on Trade and Investment sponsored a project on ‘Best Practices on Circular Economy’ last year. The Committee could further initiate joint discussions within its various sub-groupings on how to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in Asia. This would drive the ACCTS’s overall agenda on multiple levels.

The ACCTS is a fascinating experimental endeavour at the international level that fits well with domestic efforts to spearhead a circular economy as many of these activities are also experimental in nature. It has a unique potential to act as a catalyst within member countries’ societies and an institutional catalyst that will drive discussions in other international institutions to mitigate climate change and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Landscape – Vietnam’s agricultural sector at a crossroads

Author: Nguyen Van Giap, University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/11/28/vietnams-agricultural-sector-at-a-crossroads/

In 2018, Vietnam’s agriculture sector witnessed its highest growth rate in recent years — 3.76 per cent. Export revenue from the sector was US$40 billion, with a trade surplus of US$8.72 billion. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc expressed expectations for the sector to fulfil the aspirations of the nation, and suggested that Vietnam should strive to join the group of 15 largest agricultural nations in the world.

A farmer harvests rice by a paddy field outside Hanoi, Vietnam 10 June, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

In the 1980s, Vietnam was a country short of food and hungry. Under pressure from food shortages, the government allocated most of its public investment to the agricultural sector — to agricultural research and extension, agricultural irrigation and infrastructure, and agricultural input production facilities. Since then, agricultural productivity has increased rapidly, contributed significantly to national food security and competed successfully in international markets with cheap and raw foods.

Agricultural policies in the 1990s led the sector into several dominant intensive monoculture agricultural systems. Rice monoculture prevailed in the Mekong Delta, and this intensive rice production heavily applied inorganic fertilisers and pesticides that caused water contamination and soil infertility. Vietnam’s Central Highlands became home to intensive production of coffee and pepper — crops that have caused extensive deforestation and groundwater depletion. Expanding shrimp farming along Vietnam’s coast has caused serious destruction of mangrove forests and ecosystems.

In addition, agricultural land is under pressure from rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. Households with small plots of agricultural land of less than 0.2 hectares increased from 26 per cent in 2001 to 35 per cent in 2011.

In the past 30 years, Vietnam has opened to international markets by joining various bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. International market integration is a strong force to lift up the agricultural sector. The old generation of trade agreements focussed on tariff reduction, custom procedures and sanitary and phytosanitary requirements. A recent ‘new generation’ of trade agreements — such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Vietnam–EU Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) — provide even more opportunities to agriculture. But they also require fundamental institutional changes to the sector, particularly regarding labour, social and environmental issues.

Vietnam is now classified as one of the world’s five worst climate change affected countries. Rice production is affected by rising temperatures, water availability, salinity intrusion and inundation in the Delta regions. For regions facing a high risk of inundation, aquaculture is a promising solution in the near-term. Coffee production in the Central Highlands is hit hard by the changes brought by evapotranspiration and frequent and intensive droughts. These climate change challenges will require the sector to innovate with climate-smart agricultural technologies.

Vietnam’s agricultural sector has made excellent progress in terms of productivity, output and exports. But this has come with the problems of resource use inefficiency and unsustainability, farmer welfare losses, and poor quality and unsafe foods. The largest beneficiaries of the sector’s development have not been farmers or domestic consumers, but foreign consumers and large multinational agricultural corporations who benefit from low labour costs and lax environmental regulations. Consequently, resource-exploitative agriculture is widening the income gap between farm and non-farm sectors and within rural areas. Concerns about food safety and environmental degradation in Vietnam are also emerging.

The Vietnamese government is aware of these issues. In response, Hanoi has initiated several policy reforms in the sector — including an agricultural restructuring program, a good agricultural practice (GAP) and certification program, a food safety program, value chain development, land consolidation and automation. These policies are aimed at achieving a diversified, sustainable and high value-added agricultural sector, but so far they have been ineffective and implementation is slow. Hanoi can no longer afford its state-led agricultural sector development strategy due to its limited capacity and the degradation of its land resources.

The first problems persistently faced by Vietnam’s agricultural sector is its institutional failures in regulating production, environment regulations, and agricultural input and output markets. The second problem is the sector’s poor capacity to generate and disseminate information transparently — an information asymmetries problem. A third problem is the sector’s poor human resources due to a lack of young, educated, skilled and entrepreneurial people.

Policies and institutional reforms that drive innovation and increase efficiency — such as reforms directed towards agricultural land, research and food safety — are crucial. Administrative controls on land and poor state management in both input and output markets is delaying the agricultural sector’s transformation, which could be accelerated if the government draws back its direct involvement in the sector and takes on a facilitator role.

At this critical crossroads, the persistent obstacle to the sector is its weakness in technological and management innovation. The state-led development strategy is not flexible enough to help the sector face new challenges arising from international markets, new geopolitical situations and climate change. But the Vietnamese government still believes that it can directly lead the sector’s development. The government is also not ready to relinquish its control over agricultural resources, and the current public agricultural administration system is too big to be broken up. This means the future of Vietnam’s agricultural sector remains uncertain and dependent on whether the government can reform its agricultural administrative system.

Info – The Future of the CFO: From Number Cruncher to Value Driver

Full link: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/future-of-the-cfo/

Future of the CFO

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, a company’s chief financial officer (CFO) is more integral to operations than ever. In fact, about 41% of CFOs spend the majority of their time on non-finance related activities, fueling data-driven decisions across the business.

The only problem? Leaders outside of finance still see CFOs contributing the most value in traditional finance areas, such as accounting and controlling.

Today’s infographic from Raconteur explores the expanding scope of CFO responsibilities, as well as the perception gap between CFOs and non-finance leaders when it comes to the former’s primary value-driving activities.

The CFO’s Expanding Role

Traditionally, the CFO was focused on financial reporting and issues such as compliance, accounts, and taxation. However, the scope of a CFO’s duties has increased dramatically in recent years. Thanks to technological advances, CFOs are now able to access massive amounts of data on their organization’s operational and financial performance.

“This puts the finance function at the heart or, arguably, the mind of the business from the outset, with many now being crowned as the ‘stewards’ of the long-term enterprise vision.”

Robin Bryson, Interim CFO at Impero Software

Armed with data, CFOs can help predict headwinds, forecast performance, and make informed decisions across departments. In a global survey, McKinsey asked finance leaders about the breadth of their responsibilities. Of the CFOs who said they spend they a majority of their time on non-finance tasks, here’s where their attention is focused:

Activity % of CFOs Focused on Activity
Strategic leadership 46%
Organizational transformation 45%
Performance management 35%
Capital allocation 24%
Big data and analytics 20%
Finance capabilities 18%
Technology trends 5%
Other (e.g. risk management) 5%

However, other business leaders remain in the dark about this broader role.

Differing Views

While the CFO’s job description has evolved considerably, outside perceptions of it have not. In a survey of both CFOs and non-finance leaders, there is a clear difference of opinion with regards to where financial leaders create the most value:

Areas in which CFOs have created the most financial value % of CFOs who agree % of others who agree
Performance management 39% 19%
Strategic leadership 39% 25%
Traditional finance roles 33% 47%
Organizational transformation 33% 21%
Finance capabilities 30% 15%
Speciality finance roles 30% 27%
Cost and productivity management 26% 42%
Support for digital capabilities and advanced analytics 15% 10%
Mergers and acquisitions (including post-merger integration) 14% 23%
Capital allocation 10% 22%
Pricing of products and/or services 10% 8%
Management of activist investors 3% 3%

CFOs see their largest contributions in the areas of performance management and strategic leadership, while others still consider the CFO’s value to be derived primarily from traditional finance and cost/productivity management.

How can CFOs demonstrate their increased responsibility to leaders outside of the finance realm?

Closing the Gap

According to McKinsey, CFOs can demonstrate their expanded role in three main ways:

1. Actively head up transformations.

While CFOs are already playing a role in transformations, non-finance leaders are less likely to perceive them as making strategic contributions. CFOs also tend to initiate the most transformations in the finance function alone.

To change perceptions, CFOs can lead enterprise-wide transformations, and communicate their strategic value through activities like high-level goal setting.

2. Lead the charge towards digitization and automation.

Few organizations have initiated the shift in a substantial way, with only ⅓ of finance respondents saying their companies digitized or automated more than 25% of their work in the last year.

However, the payoff is well worth the effort. Among those that have undertaken this level of change, 70% reported modest to substantial returns on investment.

3. Develop talent and capabilities across the organization.

CFOs have begun increasing their value through talent-building, but there is still a significant amount of room for further growth.

For example, CFOs can build capabilities during transformations, teach financial topics to non-finance leaders, and develop top talent across the organization.

Through these various strategies, CFOs can foster collaboration and understanding between departments—and succeed in their broader roles.

Share – Phiên bản thịt kho tàu tan ngay trong miệng, không hề ngán nhờ 2 bí quyết … — Ngon 24h

Món thịt lợn kho tàu sẽ đưa cơm hơn rất nhiều với một vài thao tác vô cùng đơn giản. Chiên thịt ba chỉ trước khi kho sẽ giúp bạn tận dụng mỡ từ trong thịt, đồng thời giúp miếng thịt bớt ngán. Ngoài ra, thay vì đường trắng, sử dụng đường phèn sẽ giúp […]

via Phiên bản thịt kho tàu tan ngay trong miệng, không hề ngán nhờ 2 bí quyết … — Ngon 24h

Món thịt lợn kho tàu sẽ đưa cơm hơn rất nhiều với một vài thao tác vô cùng đơn giản.

Chiên thịt ba chỉ trước khi kho sẽ giúp bạn tận dụng mỡ từ trong thịt, đồng thời giúp miếng thịt bớt ngán. Ngoài ra, thay vì đường trắng, sử dụng đường phèn sẽ giúp món thịt kho tàu mang vị ngọt thanh thanh, không hề ngấy.

Nguyên liệu:

– 7 lạng thịt ba chỉ

– 5 lạng trứng cút

– Rượu vang, rượu trắng, đường phèn

– Dầu hào, xì dầu

– Gia vị

Cách làm:

– Cắt thịt ba chỉ thành từng miếng vừa ăn rồi luộc với chút gừng và rượu trắng. Khi thịt chín thì vớt ra, ngâm vào bát nước lạnh. Thao tác này giúp hương vị của thịt ngon hơn, miếng thịt săn, vuông vức, ngon mắt hơn.

Phien ban thit kho tau tan ngay trong mieng, khong he ngan nho 2 bi quyet rat don gian

– Trút thịt vào chảo chống dính chiên cho vàng 2 mặt với lửa vừa. Lưu ý bạn không cần phải cho dầu ăn vì mỡ từ miếng thịt ba chỉ sẽ tiết ra, đồng thời giúp thịt đỡ ngán hơn.

Phien ban thit kho tau tan ngay trong mieng, khong he ngan nho 2 bi quyet rat don gian

– Khi thịt vàng thì cho chút đường phèn vào đảo đều cho tới khi toàn bộ miếng thịt chuyển sang màu caramen đẹp mắt.

Phien ban thit kho tau tan ngay trong mieng, khong he ngan nho 2 bi quyet rat don gian

– Tiếp theo, đổ chút rượu vang vào đảo cùng thịt.

– Cho thêm một chén nước tương vào đảo đều.

Phien ban thit kho tau tan ngay trong mieng, khong he ngan nho 2 bi quyet rat don gian

– Sau đó, thêm chút dầu hào. Và cuối cùng đổ vào một ít nước sao cho xâm xấp mặt thịt và ninh nhừ với lửa nhỏ trong khoảng 1 giờ.

– Khi thịt mềm thì thêm trứng cút đã luộc chín và bóc vỏ vào.

Phien ban thit kho tau tan ngay trong mieng, khong he ngan nho 2 bi quyet rat don gian

Phien ban thit kho tau tan ngay trong mieng, khong he ngan nho 2 bi quyet rat don gian

Phien ban thit kho tau tan ngay trong mieng, khong he ngan nho 2 bi quyet rat don gian

Sản phẩm cuối cùng có màu vàng đẹp mắt, miếng thịt săn mềm không hề gây ngán

Nguồn: http://khampha.vn/bep/phien-ban-thit-kho-tau-tan-ngay-trong-mieng-khong-he-ngan-nho-2-b…Nguồnhttps://ift.tt/35GuXzp

Phien ban thit kho tau tan ngay trong mieng, khong he ngan nho 2 bi quyet rat don gian

Share – Lẩu cá khoai chua cay phong cách “thuyền chài” cho ngày đông ngon hết nấc! — Ngon 24h

Lẩu cá khoai chua cay kèm thêm mực nhúng, bắp bò tươi, đặc biệt ko thể thiếu rau cần và thì là – chắc chắn là một món ăn ngon hết nấc cho ngày đông! Cá khoai – loại cá ngày xưa các cụ chỉ cho heo ăn, ngày nay lại thành đặc sản, thậm chí nhiều […]

via Lẩu cá khoai chua cay phong cách “thuyền chài” cho ngày đông ngon hết nấc! — Ngon 24h

Lẩu cá khoai chua cay kèm thêm mực nhúng, bắp bò tươi, đặc biệt ko thể thiếu rau cần và thì là – chắc chắn là một món ăn ngon hết nấc cho ngày đông!

Cá khoai – loại cá ngày xưa các cụ chỉ cho heo ăn, ngày nay lại thành đặc sản, thậm chí nhiều ng còn nghiện luôn ấy chứ! Làm lẩu cá khoai chua cay theo công thức của mẹ Nguyễn Thu Thủy (29 tuổi, Hải Phòng) có kèm thêm mực nhúng, bắp bò tươi, đặc biệt ko thể thiếu rau cần và thì là – chắc chắn là một món ăn ngon

hết nấc cho ngày đông!

lau ca khoai chua cay phong cach "thuyen chai" cho ngay dong ngon het nac! - 1

Hiện tại chị Nguyễn Thu Thủy đang sinh sống ở Hải Phòng cùng chồng và hai con. Chị chia sẻ, chị có sở thích nấu ăn từ nhỏ. Ngay từ khi học lớp 4 chị đã biết tự đi chợ về nấu nướng cho bản thân, vì bố mẹ chị bận làm cả ngày đến tối mới về nhà. Lên cấp 3 chị còn mua sách nấu ăn về nghiên cứu, tài nấu ăn của chị cứ thế được bồi dưỡng và rèn luyện. Sau này chị còn có một người mẹ chồng đảm đang, khéo léo giúp chị học hỏi thêm được từ bà khá nhiều.

Chị Thủy thường đi chợ buổi sáng sau khi đã đưa các con đến lớp, để mua được thực phẩm tươi ngon nhất. Chị sơ chế đồ ăn sạch sẽ trước khi bảo quản lạnh, dành đến chiều mới nấu cho tươi mới. Bữa cơm tối chính là bữa cơm quây quần của gia đình chị, vì thế chị đặt vào đó không ít tâm huyết và công sức. “Ngôi nhà không có bàn ăn là một ngôi nhà lạnh lẽo”, chị Thủy bày tỏ quan điểm.

Nguyên liệu(cho 6 người ăn):

2kg cá khoai

0,5 kg thịt bò

0.5kg mực mai

Bún

Rau cần, rau cải đắng hoặc rau cải cúc

Me tươi, ớt, cà chua, sate, gừng, lá gừng, hành, thì là sơ chế sạch sẽ

Hạt tiêu, hạt nêm, mì chính, nước mắm

lau ca khoai chua cay phong cach "thuyen chai" cho ngay dong ngon het nac! - 3

Cách làm nước lẩu: Không cần quá cầu kì ninh xương như các món khác, bởi vì bản thân cá khoai rất ngọt, chưa kể nhúng thêm mực với thịt bò nữa nên ninh xương khá là thừa mà lại khong dậy được mùi cá khoai.

– Đun sôi me với 2 lít nước để có 1 nồi nước chua

– Lấy chảo chưng gừng, ớt cho thơm rồi đổ vào nồi nước vừa đun

– Nêm nếm gia vị sao cho vừa vặn, tiếp đó mới thả cà chua thái múi cau, lá gừng

– Cá rửa sạch, ướp nước mắm + gừng thái chỉ (đặc biệt chỉ ướp nước mắm với gừng, không ướp muối hay súp bột ngọt gì cả)

– Bò ướp hạt nêm, dầu ăn, hạt tiêu, gừng

– Mực cũng ướp như trên nhưng không cho dầu ăn

– Hành, thì là rửa sạch, xắt khúc

lau ca khoai chua cay phong cach "thuyen chai" cho ngay dong ngon het nac! - 4

lau ca khoai chua cay phong cach "thuyen chai" cho ngay dong ngon het nac! - 5

Chúc các bạn thành công mới món lẩu cá khoai mà chính chị Thủy tự nhận là theo phong cách “thuyền chài” đơn giản, dễ làm này nhé!

Share – Biến tấu các món ốc móng tay xào — Ngon 24h

Thứ năm, 28/11/2019, 16:22 (GMT+7) Ốc móng tay dai giòn, xào tỏi ớt, me hay sa tế đều dễ làm và ngon miệng. Ốc móng tay xào me Nguyên liệu: – Ốc móng tay: 0,5 kg– Me: 50 gr– Rau răm, lạc (đậu phộng). >> Cách làm Ốc móng tay xào mỡ hành Nguyên liệu: […]

via Biến tấu các món ốc móng tay xào — Ngon 24h

Thứ năm, 28/11/2019, 16:22 (GMT+7)

Ốc móng tay dai giòn, xào tỏi ớt, me hay sa tế đều dễ làm và ngon miệng.

Ốc móng tay xào me

Ốc móng tay xào me - 1

Nguyên liệu:

– Ốc móng tay: 0,5 kg
– Me: 50 gr
– Rau răm, lạc (đậu phộng).

>> Cách làm

Ốc móng tay xào mỡ hành

oc-mong-tay-xao-mo-hanh

Nguyên liệu:

– 35-40 con ốc móng tay
– 3 muỗng canh dầu ôliu
– 2 muỗng canh nước chanh tươi
– Hành lá thái mỏng
– Tỏi băm nhỏ
– Gừng gọt vỏ băm nhỏ
– Muối.

>> Cách làm

Ốc móng tay xào rau muống

oc-mong-tay-xao-rau-muong

Nguyên liệu:

– 400 gr ốc móng tay
– 1 mớ rau muống
– 2 củ tỏi khô
– Gia vị: dầu ăn, muối, bột ngọt, hạt nêm.

>> Cách làm

Ốc móng tay xào sa tế

Ốc móng tay xào sa tế - 1

Nguyên liệu:

– Ốc móng tay: 0,5 kg
– Sa tế
– Rau quế
– Rau răm
– Sả

>> Cách làm

Ốc móng tay xào tỏi ớt

Nguyên liệu: 

– Ốc mỏng tay: 0,5 kg
– Tỏi
– Nước mắm: 1 thìa
– Tương cà: 1 thìa
– Đường: 2 thìa cà phê
– Ớt
– Sa tế: 1 thìa cà phê

Cách làm

Ốc móng tay xào tỏi ớt

Video: Ngòn Ngon by Dino

Ẩm thực – A South African Couple Has Turned Elephant Dung Into Award-Winning Gin

By

Full link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/gin-elephant-dung-south-africa?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=c6b62f3220-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-c6b62f3220-70327933&mc_cid=c6b62f3220&mc_eid=df51e46713

Bottoms up!

Humans find a new motivation for endangered animal conservation.

A SOUTH AFRICAN COUPLE IS now bottling gin infused with elephant dung. If there’s no easy way to say it, there’s an easier way to drink it. Co-founder Les Ansley recommends it straight, on the rocks.

Liquor stores and restaurants across South Africa and now Europe are selling out of their Indlovu Gin, Zulu for “elephant.” Skeptics may pooh-pooh what comes across as a novelty item, but tasters far and wide are praising a uniquely smoky, woody, earthy flavor that comes from the unlikeliest of ingredients.

The idea came to co-founder Paula Ansley after visiting Botlierskop Game Reserve, home to a herd of majestic African elephants. There, the couple learned that only about 30 percent of the animals’ bush diet of fruits, nuts, flowers, leaves, and bark is actually digested. The animals leave behind an undigested mass of flavorful botanicals in their giant clods of poop.

Paula Ansley saw potential in a fistful of sterilized elephant dung.

“I woke up to an elbow in the back at 6 a.m.,” remembers Les. “Paula said to me, ‘Why don’t we make gin from the elephant dung?’ and I said, ‘Ah, okay, let’s see about it.”

The husband-and-wife team, professors of physiology and immunology respectively, requested a bag of feces from the very reserve that inspired the strange brew in the first place. After much experimenting, they learned that if they dried, washed, sterilized, macerated, and redried the elephantine turds, they were left with an herbaceous smattering of African aromatics that could be safely infused into a base gin. (“Think of it as a teabag,” says Les.) The experiments took place under the watchful eye of South African spirits master Roger Jorgensen. To balance such a counterintuitive flavoring process, the couple needed a truly exceptional product. “If you’re going to make gin from shit, you can’t make a shit gin,” says Les.

The gin is popular in game reserves, restaurants, and liquor stores across South Africa and, recently, Belgium and Germany.

So far, critical reception is united in praise. Gin connoisseur and South African native Christine Perrett has sampled over 220 gins, the world over. “I’ve got 10, 15 staple bottles I always keep in my cabinet,” she tells me over the phone. “Indlovu would absolutely be one of them. They’ve taken African botanicals and balanced it so well. To be able to take a gin neat says a lot.” This year, the Ansleys’ unthinkable gin won Double Gold at South Africa’s Craft Gin Awards.

The gin is enjoying healthy sales across South Africa and breaking into markets in Germany and Belgium, all while wearing the curious infusion on their sleeve. An elephant graces the label of each bottle of Indlovu, framing the phrase “Elephant-Infused Botanicals.”

An amalgamation of rich bush flavor is concealed in each handful of elephant dung, waiting to give Indlovu's base gin its signature earthy, smoky tones.

As a two-person operation, the Ansleys collect their key ingredients from the reserve by hand—the cost of keeping overhead low. The good news is that the raw materials are endless. With each elephant producing 80 kilos of flavor-rich feces daily, “we’re not running out of botanicals any time soon,” says Les.

A perhaps less obviously unique facet of Indlovu comes from the fact that, given the variation in elephants’ regional and seasonal diets, no two batches will taste exactly the same. As such, each bottle will be labelled with the GPS coordinates and date on which the dung was collected.

The couple is careful, however, to repay the animals for their daily deeds. “We can’t just take; there needs to be a symbiotic relationship,” says Les. They donate 15 percent of Indlovu’s profits to the Africa Foundation, an organization dedicated to animal conservation and ranger training—a cause that man and animal alike can get behind.

Collection – Don’t Let Time Surprise You

Queen Elizabeth I was a remarkable woman. She was uncommon and special is so many ways. She was believed to have known nine languages. She was considered one of the best educated women of her time. And she presided over many English battle victories.

And yet in one other way, she was incredibly common—not unlike so many of us: She basically refused to think of her own mortality. Maybe she was too afraid. Maybe she thought she’d live forever. Either way, she refused to plan for a successor in any form. She never got married, despite numerous courtships. She never had children. If she had been an ordinary person, this would have been her prerogative, but she wasn’t. A queen without an heir puts the entire kingdom at risk. A ruler who doesn’t consider what comes after them is bequeathing chaos and carnage on their subjects.

Sir Walter Raleigh, writing late in Queen Elizabeth’s life, saw this happening. He saw the Queen getting older and her options disappearing, as she grew older and grey. She was, he said, “a lady whom time has surprised.” What a great phrase! Because it describes so many of us. It’s the CEO who can’t groom the next generation of leadership in the company. It’s the partier whose twenties have turned into their thirties and can’t see how pathetic they look. It’s the grandma or grandpa who shudders at that word—old—who, me? I’m not old!

We have to remember, as Seneca told us, that old age and death aren’t this thing that lies off in the distant future. It’s a process that’s happening to us always and everywhere. We cannot let time surprise us. We must be thinking of it always. That’s how we make sure we are living for today, that we are leaving nothing unfinished or unresolved. We have a duty to ourselves and others, Seneca said, to live each day like a complete life. To keep our affairs in order because we have no idea what’s going to happen or how much time we will be given.

Don’t delay. Don’t deny. Don’t be surprised. Do your duty. Face your fears…and your mortality. Today and always.

Collection – (Why Millennials are) America’s First Poor Generation

By umair haque

Full link: https://eand.co/why-millennials-are-americas-first-poor-generation-aa91998bc75

The First Generation in America to Live in Poverty and Precarity Since the Great Depression

I read a truly shocking statistic today. Boomers held 21% of American wealth at age 35. Gen X, 8%. Millennials? Just 3%. Think about that for a second. 3%. They’re 25% of the total population. Maybe you’re not surprised. But aren’t you alarmed? You should be. Those are the numbers of social collapse. They’re Soviet numbers. What do they say?

Millennials have borne the brunt of America’s imploded economy and failing society. It’s true that it’s bad for everyone who’s not a Bezos or a Gates — but it’s also true that it’s especially, surreally, unbelievably bad for millennials. America’s failed in three key ways.

First, incomes haven’t risen in half a century. But costs have been skyrocketing since about the late 1980s. Millennials are caught in the pincers of that trap hardest. They earn less, in real terms, than their grandparents did — but somehow, they are asked to pay for education, healthcare, housing, and bills that cost somewhere between 5, 10, or maybe 100 times as much.

The truth is that nobody — nobody can afford to live a decent life on an average American income anymore. $60K doesn’t buy you healthcare, housing, childcare, elderly care, education, bills — it barely even buys you maybe two or three of those things. But millennials aren’t even earning that much. Their average income is $30K, maybe $35K. How are they to afford all those things? Any of them? It’s laughable, isn’t it?

Hence, millennial culture is one of a kind of cynical, ironic fatalism. I don’t mean that in a mean or judgmental way. I mean it only in an explanatory one. You’d be bitter and fatalistic, too, if your society paid you $35K per year — if you were lucky — but only by indebting you to the point that you’d spend much of your life paying it off to begin with. That’s something more like indentured servitude with a polite name than it is freedom. Yes, really. What else does it mean when you spend most of your life paying back debt you incurred just to…live? You’d have to make everything a kind of joke about powerlessness, too.

Second, the economy offers people no upward mobility anymore — no real shot at a better life. The average American will live a worse life than his or her grandparents — no matter what they do, how hard they work, whatever they try. That is because upward mobility has all but vanished. That, in turn, is because the middle class imploded. America is now something very much like a caste society of a tiny number of ultra rich, a very large number of new poor, and a smaller number of old poor. The average person lives right at the edge, paycheck to paycheck. What social position or stratum you were born into largely determines your chances and outcomes in life. Born rich? You might become super rich. Born middle class? Welcome to the new poor. Born poor? Welcome to the very bottom.

The disappearance of upward mobility hits millennials hardest. Because there is almost nothing they can do, whatsoever, period, to improve their situations. They are the ones who have had to work “unpaid internships” and take “entry level jobs” that never turn into anything else — just to get a foothold on the ladder. Only there is no ladder anymore. There’s just a foothold, that you cling to, in the desperate hope of not falling off entirely. Maybe it’s no surprise then that millennials are so depressed. Their potential, squandered, sent up in smoke, has been the real price of a society in which snakes have replaced ladders.

Second, real living standards get worse every day. Life expectancy falls. Real income falls. Savings fall — past the zero point. Happiness falls. Anxiety rises. Depression soars. Suicide surges. I could go on, but that’s already a horrifying list — which, though we’ve grown accustomed to, we shouldn’t accept as normal. It’s not. It reflects vast multitudes of lives simply withering away and declining.

The rapid, stunning decline of living standards hits millennials hardest. They’re the ones without anything to cushion them. They don’t have savings or accomplishments or careers yet. They haven’t even forged their relationships yet. Hence, they have no real professional, social. or personal safety nets. Maybe it’s no surprise that so many of them are living in their parents’ homes. Maybe it’s no surprise they’re having less sex, fewer relationships, and putting off getting married and having kids.

If your life seems to be falling apart — no matter what you do, how hard you try — how are you going to have a marriage? Won’t you end up taking some of that despair and rage out on your partner? And who can even think of having kids when nothing you do ever seems to earn you a decent life anyways? Maybe you’d hate to take three anti-depressants, too. Maybe you’d be addicted to your phone, too, if “real” life was that bleak.

Third, the middle class careers and industries of the past have been utterly destroyed, and there’s no real way to make an honest living anymore. What there is is a casino economy — where you either join the house, or take your chances playing the game. Let me explain what I mean. What career options does a millennial really have? One, do a simple, humble, everyday job — be a teacher, farmer, small-town lawyer, accountant, plumber…and watch your life slowly implode, never make ends meet. Two, join the tiny number of massive winners of this economy — angle for a job at a Google, Amazon, or Facebook. But that’s joining the house, because the third choice is the weird panoply of non-careers open to millennials.

Hey! Don’t worry about so much about the future! Just become a YouTube star! Go become an Instafluencer! Maybe you can make a living off those funny, cynical, ironic tweets! Maybe one day you can own your own fleet of Ubers, or become an AirBnB landlord! Do you see what I mean a little? This weird, bizarre collection of not-quite-careers are the only real opportunities for upward mobility millennials really have.

But they are more like winning the lottery than devoting yourself to a career with a stable, secure payoff. Sure, you can try to become a YouTube star or an Influencer or what have you — but the chances of succeeding are exactly like playing the lottery. A tiny, tiny number of people win very, very big — and everybody else is essentially subsidizing them, earning nothing, or maybe a pittance every now and then. And furthermore, none of these are really “careers” in the sense that they don’t come with any kind of security or benefits whatsoever. Even if you do make it big on YouTube…what happens when the algorithm changes?

Consultant-types call these “portfolio careers” or maybe “entrepreneurship.” And don’t get me wrong. It’s nice that these new options exist. But not at the expense of the old ones. It should be not just possible but probable to make a good living as a teacher, civil servant, plumber, accountant, by doing simple, humble work — not just to strike it temporarily and precariously rich by becoming internet famous. A casino is seductive and glamorous — but it’s not a replacement for a functioning economy.

Now there’s a simpler way to put all that. Millennials are America’s first truly poor generation. They are the ones living at the inflection point of American decline and collapse, and so they are its first poor generation, too. Previous generations have had it tough, sure — but they’ve never really lived in the bizarre, gruesome poverty that millennials do. All the things I’ve described to you above are simply the realities of poverty, and that is what millennials really are: poor.

They don’t have money. They don’t have opportunities. They don’t have safety nets. They don’t have cushions. They don’t have mobility. They have to rely on their parents — if they’re lucky — and maybe live at home well into their middle age. They can’t afford things like healthcare, education, housing, and bills — they simply don’t earn enough money, never have, and never will. They can’t even afford to have basic relationships and marriages and partnerships anymore — one of the truest signs of real poverty. What they do have is debt, decline, stagnation, and despair.

Millennials are learning what it means to be poor — and teaching it, too. Genuinely, truly poor. To not be able to afford basics. A house, healthcare, paying off one’s debt, transport, savings, being able to pay the bills on time, a cushion for emergencies, a present or vacation for the loved ones so that relationships stay happy, stable things. Millennials can’t really afford any of those things. And so mostly, they don’t have them.

Now, nobody’s saying millennials live like the Congolese — like old, global poverty. But the deprivation of the basics is what poverty really is —and that applies to modern, stable, middle-class societies, too. Millennials are the first generation whose fortunes have declined in America — and they have declined so sharply and swiftly that millennials are effectively poor, even if their parents might have been prosperous.

So millennials live in a new, weird kind of poverty — the poverty of decline, of downward mobility, of stagnation. They are like the Soviet Union’s last generation, in a sense — only the mirror image: American collapse’s first truly poor generation. The first generation to have to lived in a formerly wealthy country which now has an imploded middle class, no functioning social systems, predatory institutions, failed elites, and broken dream. They are deprived of the things, material and immaterial, of a decent life. And so they make do, with what they can have, which isn’t much — mostly, digital things, that are free, like memes and jokes and tweets and whatnot. (There are other groups of long-standing poor, of course. Blacks, minorities, many kinds of marginalized people. But other generations? Not really — at least for a very, very long time now.)

There are many, many people who’ll find that uncomfortable, or maybe impossible to accept. Older folks will say: “we had it tougher!” Maybe. But they also had it easier, in key ways, too. There were bouts of inflation and unemployment, sure — but the economy hadn’t failed. Politics might not have been stable — but it hadn’t been taken over by extremists, either. Life might have been a struggle — but the dream hadn’t been shattered into pieces yet, either. Millennials are America’s first truly poor generation — or at least it’s first in a very long time, in modern times, since the Great Depression.

Am I asking you to cry for millennials? Not really. I’m asking you to see a cold, hard, brutal truth.

America is the world’s first poor rich country. And millennials are the first generation of new poor in it, the first full generation to experience the terrible, swift, shocking decline from prosperity to precarity. Young people without opportunities, chances, savings, incomes, safety nets, relationships, a future, the dream. They don’t know it perhaps, and no one seems to talk about — but they are learning what it means to live in poverty. And in that way, they are teaching the world, too, about what it really means to be a failed society.

Umair
November 2019

Collection – Fallout: SoftBank’s next big crisis may be brewing in India

By HENNY SENDER, Nikkei Asian Review columnist

Full link: https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Cover-Story/Fallout-SoftBank-s-next-big-crisis-may-be-brewing-in-India?utm_campaign=RN%20Free%20newsletter&utm_medium=daily%20newsletter%20free&utm_source=NAR%20Newsletter&utm_content=article%20link&del_type=1&pub_date=20191127190000&seq_num=2&si=%%user_id%%

Overfunding and bloated valuations have destabilized the country’s startups

NEW DELHI — In 2014, Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, the founders of Delhi-based e-commerce company Snapdeal, boarded a plane to Tokyo. Their company had just struggled through a transition from a Groupon-like discount voucher seller to a full online retail marketplace, and had nearly failed — but Bahl and Bansal had managed to turn it around. They brought in $850 million from major investors, including sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, Ratan Tata, the head of Tata Group, and U.S. chipmaker Intel. EBay even approached Snapdeal with a proposal to acquire the business.

Instead, Bahl and Bansal flew to Japan to meet the global tech sector’s kingmaker — Masayoshi Son, the founder and CEO of SoftBank Group. Even though Snapdeal had pulled in hundreds of millions, investment flows into India were still just a trickle. Chinese giants Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings were yet to enter the market at scale, and there were few local funds investing in technology. SoftBank was just starting to seek out deals in India, in an early display of its now-familiar playbook: offering to inject vast sums of money, and driving valuations higher than any other investor could offer young entrepreneurs.

Warned that Son had a short attention span, Snapdeal’s founders brought only 10 slides to accompany their presentation. They had got through just three when Son cut off their pitch. “I have heard enough,” he told them. “I will give you $1 billion for 49% of your company.”

The amount was far more than the pair sought, or could even use. Ultimately, the two sides agreed on an infusion of $650 million for more than 30% of the company. “It was Snapdeal’s first rodeo with so much capital,” says one insider.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund, with nearly $100 billion of capital, has become perhaps the most powerful funder in global technology. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

Dozens of entrepreneurs all over the world have had a similar experience. No investor has been more obliging than SoftBank’s Son in writing massive checks to young companies, giving them the financial firepower to out-compete their rivals while pumping up their valuations. And that same pattern has played out in India, where, until recently, there was virtually no domestic risk capital, making SoftBank the biggest game in town. “SoftBank did put India on the global map,” says Vinish Kathuria, a Delhi-based venture capitalist.

Since then, SoftBank’s Vision Fund, with nearly $100 billion of capital supplied by major sovereign wealth funds, tech companies and private investors, has become perhaps the most powerful funder in global technology. It has fueled a wave of disruptive companies, from ride-hailers Uber Technologies and Grab to office communication business Slack Technologies.

Now, the wheels are coming off. WeWork, the office rental company into which SoftBank had invested billions, announced in September that it would list in New York, seeking an extraordinary valuation of $47 billion. The company’s prospectus revealed a business model and a highly unusual governance structure that rattled investors. Its valuation dwindled, and eventually the listing was pulled.

SoftBank moved quickly to replace WeWork’s CEO and inject fresh capital, but the damage was already done. Analysts and investors had begun to publicly challenge the models on which SoftBank and the Vision Fund have built their reputation — spending big to buy breakneck growth, and backing charismatic founders who promise transformative change. And valuations driven, in part, by the promise of an unending supply of capital from Tokyo, now look increasingly fragile as SoftBank struggles to raise a second Vision Fund to keep the money flowing.

“Watching SoftBank is like watching a slow-motion car wreck. And then we all remember we are also in the car”

Jason Tan, chief investment officer at Jeneration Capital Management and a former executive at Tiger Global

For the companies that accepted SoftBank’s investments, that raises existential questions. But the impact reverberates even further, affecting the entire venture industry and young startups everywhere. Indeed, SoftBank has become among the biggest risk factors for tech ecosystems worldwide.

“Watching SoftBank is like watching a slow-motion car wreck,” says Jason Tan, chief investment officer at Jeneration Capital Management and a former executive at Tiger Global in Hong Kong, in the wake of WeWork’s implosion. “And then we all remember we are also in the car.”

Nowhere is that more true than in India.

Son rises

For Indian entrepreneurs, SoftBank was the ultimate gift. Even five years ago, there was little local capital for startups. Unlike in the U.S., where the first generation of technology founders became angel investors in subsequent waves, India’s industrialists did not fund startups. U.S. technology businesses still saw India as a way to arbitrage labor costs, rather than as a venture opportunity.

With characteristic hyperbole, Son announced at a Delhi conference in December, 2016, that he was prepared to put $10 billion into the country’s tech sector over the next decade. “India has the best opportunity ahead of us,” he said.

By the following May, SoftBank had its first big deal — a $1.4 billion investment into Paytm, an e-commerce platform based in the state of Uttar Pradesh. More followed: notably, a $2.5 billion stake in online retailer Flipkart, which would prove one of SoftBank’s most successful deals when the stake was sold on to Walmart in 2018.

From the early days of India’s startup scene, a handful of local venture capitalists such as Sanjeev Bikhchandani, a widely respected, Delhi-based entrepreneur-turned-investor, had tried to instill discipline in young founders. They warned inexperienced entrepreneurs that the mark of success lay not in a successful fundraising round, but in generating real cash flow. But it was hard to heed such warnings when SoftBank offered so much money at such heady valuations, and seemed unconcerned by cash burn as long as it generated growth.

An advertisement for online payments company Paytm hangs among vegetables at a roadside market in Mumbai.   © Reuters

Venture capitalists developed a complicated relationship with SoftBank. Even as the Vision Fund threw capital at its portfolio companies in an attempt to out-compete other VC-backed startups, the VCs themselves were beneficiaries of the inflated valuations. They could mark up the value of their own investments, while still appearing more conservative than Son. They also targeted SoftBank as their exit of choice when they were ready to take profits, since the Vision Fund offered higher valuations than any available in the public markets.

But the unusual metrics that SoftBank prioritized at its portfolio companies, such as “gross merchandise value” — a figure which is not recognized by most generally accepted accounting principles — rather than unit economics or cash flow, meant that more disciplined investors looked askance at the balance sheets of many of the startups it backed. Many were under no illusion about what was driving the valuations.

“When SoftBank stops putting money in, nobody else will write a check,” says the Mumbai-based head of India for one of the big international private equity firms.

Snapdeal represents one cautionary tale for what can result when a young tech company takes too much from a single source of capital, particularly one with a divergent model from the rest of the industry.

“[Son] just cares about growth, whatever it takes, so no other investor will step in following SoftBank,” says one entrepreneur in reviewing the Snapdeal story. “You are screwed. The lesson is that you need to show a path to profitability.”

In line with the growth mantra advocated by SoftBank all through 2015, Snapdeal duly focused on its gross merchandise value. But by the end of the year, the company realized that it needed sensible economics, with a sharp focus on reducing its fixed costs, to put the company on a stronger foundation.

“Venture capitalists have many companies in their portfolios, but entrepreneurs have only one in their portfolio,” says one industry insider. “They need to balance between being bold and being conservative. They need to course-correct if the situation so demands.”

Snapdeal made considerable progress in that correction over the following year. But when Son’s deputy, SoftBank president Nikesh Arora, unexpectedly quit in June 2016, it left Snapdeal without an anchor. Because decision-making was both intuitive and centralized at SoftBank, there were none of the processes that were the norm in more institutionalized investment firms to smooth the transition. There was nobody to talk to, nobody familiar with the details of the investment — and nobody to ensure continuity of approach, insiders said.

Then, early in 2017, SoftBank decided it made sense to merge Snapdeal with the Indian e-commerce retailer, Flipkart, in which it later became a large investor. “It was not positioned as an option,” says one person familiar with the matter. “Throughout the year, there were two soap operas in the Indian corporate world. One was the fight over [the helm of] Tata Group — and one was the fate of the deal between Snapdeal and Flipkart.”

“[Snapdeal] had to sell the brass to save the family silver. … [They] don’t want to be on the hamster wheel of fundraising”

A company insider

The merger never happened. By the time it was called off, Snapdeal had a mere four months of cash left. The two founders led a turnaround strategy that they called “Snapdeal 2.0,” which included selling noncore assets, cutting cash burn and sharpening the focus on unbranded products. One insider recalls: “[Snapdeal] had to sell the brass to save the family silver.”

Today, after its near-death experience, Snapdeal has bounced back. Its traffic doubled in the last 12 months, while revenue grew by 70%. In the same period, its losses came down by a similar magnitude. The founders learned a lesson about raising money in the process. They “don’t want to be on the hamster wheel of fundraising,” the insider says.

There are other companies in SoftBank’s India portfolio that have been able to demonstrate discipline and focus.

Bangalore-based Ola Cabs has been subject to the same contagion and valuation pressures as other ride-sharing companies in Asia — including Didi Chuxing in China and Grab and Gojek in Southeast Asia — in the wake of Uber’s less-than-stellar listing. SoftBank has invested at least $250 million in Ola, which has also taken investments from Hyundai Motor, Sequoia Capital and Temasek.

While other ride-hailing companies have fallen to the temptation of strategic drift, buying into adjacent industries as they chase growth, Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal has kept to his lane, resisting the cash-fueled customer acquisition sprees that have contributed to huge losses suffered by his rivals. Aggarwal has said that he believes too much capital makes entrepreneurs inefficient, and that many of his peers have fallen into the trap of viewing fundraising as an end in itself.

Aggarwal says his core India business is already profitable. “In the long term, the only metric that will matter for a business is profitability,” he told the Nikkei Asian Review. “Everything else will just be vanity metrics.”

Perhaps most importantly, the Ola founder has always been careful not to depend on only one source of funding, which has given him leverage to offset Son’s influence. Aggarwal reportedly turned down a check of more than $1 billion from Son earlier this year.

“Ola has always understood that an entrepreneur cannot rely on SoftBank,” says the head of Indian operations for one major growth and private equity firm in Mumbai. “It is too easy to lose control of your company.”

Some of SoftBank’s co-investors say they have experienced a more rational side of Son. The investor Bikhchandani is a backer of Policybazaar, an Indian insurance comparison portal, in which SoftBank also has a stake. “It hasn’t flooded Policybazaar with capital it doesn’t need,” he says.

Even those with mixed experiences of SoftBank have kind words about Son. “He pushes you to think big,” says an insider at Snapdeal.

The other shoe

Big questions still hang over companies that count SoftBank as a dominant investor — particularly those that haven’t yet demonstrated how they will become sustainable operations. One drawing inevitable comparisons with WeWork is the Indian hotel chain, Oyo.

Like WeWork, Oyo is as much a real estate play as a tech story. Founded by 26-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, the business was originally a capital-light franchise model, standardizing the quality of budget hotels in the country and putting its brand on them.

The concept made sense: There was demand for consistency in a market segment targeting cost-conscious business travelers and local tourists, whose only previous alternative might have been to stay with relatives. Son gave him a total of $2.5 billion.

But recently, Oyo’s Agarwal has behaved, in some ways, as the antithesis of Ola founder Aggarwal. He abandoned his previously conservative vision, expanding aggressively in already-intensely competitive markets such as mainland China. Oyo was part of a group that spent $135 million to buy Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas. The company also acquired assets in Europe and Japan and set up unrelated ventures, such as a wedding planning app and a “cloud kitchen” food business.

Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal: The company has grown from a budget hotel aggregator to operating a quasi-franchise model. In July, it claimed to be the third-largest hotel chain worldwide by room count, overtaking InterContinental Hotels Group. (Photo by Shihoko Nakaoka)

Such initiatives suggested the company was increasing the speed at which it burned capital. In the last fiscal year, the Indian operations reported revenues of $61 million, and losses of almost the same magnitude — losses which some venture capitalists believe have only widened.

In November, Reuters reported that Oyo’s own internal projections show that its Indian and Chinese businesses will not be profitable until 2022. Its U.S. arm will remain loss-making until 2023.

Moreover, in recent months, Oyo’s go-for-broke expansion has not gone well at home. In October, the Competition Commission of India announced it was looking into possible anti-competitive behavior. There have been workers’ strikes, from Kochi and Bangalore in the south to the nation’s capital in Delhi, and litigation from hotel owners claiming that they have not been paid fees owed by Oyo. A company spokesperson told Nikkei that regulators have dismissed most of the allegations against it.

As the crisis at WeWork led investors to examine the — apparently artificial — valuations of companies receiving huge injections from SoftBank, Oyo began to behave in a way that seemed to confirm their suspicions.

A few weeks ago, Agarwal borrowed $2 billion against his shares from Japanese financial institutions to buy out early investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital’s Southeast Asian and Indian arm, at a $10 billion valuation — double the previous mark. This kind of related-party transaction was great news for those early investors, but it failed to provide independent verification for what Oyo is actually worth. The deal is yet to close, and is pending final approval.

In recent months, Oyo has seen strikes across the country, and litigation from hotel owners claiming that they have not been paid fees owed to them. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

In recent months, the China arms of Sequoia and Warburg Pincus declined to invest in Oyo’s Chinese operation, Oyo Jiudian, believing that its numbers made no sense, according to people with direct knowledge of both decisions.

An Oyo spokesperson says that “unlike e-commerce businesses, we don’t spend a lot on customer acquisition,” and that the company’s cash is largely spent on capital expenditure, talent acquisition and technology. The company is profitable at a building level, the spokesperson says: “We strongly believe in capital-efficient and sustainable growth.”

Paytm, SoftBank’s first big India investment, is also under scrutiny. The payments company received a major boost three years ago, when the government’s “demonetization” policy wiped out almost 90% of cash in circulation in India. Since then, though, it has faced rising competition while burning through cash — as much as $650 million, according to the head of one e-commerce company who has had dealings with Paytm. The company’s losses multiplied by 2.5 times for the fiscal year ended in March.

“Paytm is stuck between a glorious past that was built on the back of digital payments, and a future that doesn’t look anything like Jack Ma’s Alibaba, one of Paytm’s largest investors and [company founder Vijay Shekhar] Sharma’s inspiration,” wrote business journalist Ashish Mishra in an essay entitled “Paytm is Stuck,” which is making the WhatsApp rounds among venture capitalists in India.

“In the last six months, our revenues have increased 25% and our costs have been reduced 10%; our revenue-to-cost mix is healthy,” says Sharma, founder of Paytm. “We don’t sell a dollar for 90 cents in subsidies. Our payments bank is profitable and has [built] 52 million users in two years. … People say we have lost momentum after demonetization, but the numbers on the ground are better than people believe.”

Paytm announced a $1 billion Series G funding round in November. SoftBank invested $200 million. The deal values Paytm at $16 billion, and stipulates that the company must either go public within five years, or give SoftBank the right to sell its stake.

Sanity returns

A spokesperson for SoftBank says it has “always worked to help the companies we back strike the right balance between growth and profitability. Some of them are already profitable, and we believe that many will be soon.”

The spokesperson says that SoftBank’s valuation process is “robust,” reviewed by independent auditors, and “validated by more than 120 sophisticated investors who’ve invested alongside and after us.”

They added that fundraising for Vision Fund 2 is “progressing as expected.” “We believe our performance is strong,” the spokesperson says. “In just two and a half years, Vision Fund 1 has already had seven initial public offerings, $4.7 billion of realized gains, $11.4 billion in cumulative investment gains and returned $9.9 billion to our limited partners.”

However, analysts say that chances are receding of the second Vision Fund reaching anything like the scale of the first. The first Vision Fund’s investment period is coming to an end. The big IPOs that it hoped would gloss its reputation and provide new capital have not got away. Some of the largest names in Vision Fund 1 — notably Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which invested $45 billion the first time around — are yet to commit to the sequel.

The implicit promise of endless capital from SoftBank’s coffers has supported the valuation of several of its portfolio companies. Now that promise is likely to prove illusionary, those valuations will surely fall, leaving the field more open for companies which are able to clearly articulate their financial sustainability.

“If a startup only has a ‘grow-at-any-cost,’ cash-burning model and a high valuation, there is no longer limitless capital,” says Vishal Mahadevia, head of Warburg Pincus in India. “But for companies that do have attractive unit economics and a path to profitability, this is a much better environment.”

Announcing disastrous earnings in Tokyo in November — including losses of nearly $9 billion from its tech funds — Son himself sounded a warning. “I want to make it clear that firms that accept SoftBank investment must be self-sustaining,” he said.

“A downround is the only choice for SoftBank companies,” says the head of Indian operations in Mumbai for one major international bank, referring to a fundraising at a lower valuation than the last round.

In India, the impact of SoftBank’s curtailed ambitions could be softened by the easy money from the developed world that is pouring into emerging markets and swelling the coffers of venture capital and private equity funds.

In any case, SoftBank’s troubles are already being greeted as an opportunity by other investors. “My team has been chasing the founder of one consumer internet firm that was in talks with SoftBank for months, but he refused to return my calls,” says the head of the Indian office of one New York-based private equity firm. “But now, they are chasing us. Sanity has returned to the market.”

Landscape – Did Vietnam Just Doom the Mekong?

By Tom Fawthrop

Full link: https://thediplomat.com/2019/11/did-vietnam-just-doom-the-mekong/

A policy reversal on Mekong dams has put Hanoi’s credibility – and the river’s fate – on the line.

Did Vietnam Just Doom the Mekong?

The recent decision by a Vietnamese oil company, Petrovietnam, to invest in a huge dam close to the much-loved World Heritage Site in Luang Prabang, Laos, has caused confusion and dismay for many Mekong experts, civil society groups, and some government officials in Hanoi.

A cascade of dam projects on the Lower Mekong in Laos has triggered consistent expressions of critical concern from Vietnam, with its delta highly vulnerable to such dams’ damaging downstream impacts. Back in 2011, the former Vietnamese prime minister publicly called for all construction to stop on the Xayaburi dam. Vietnam has also called upon Laos to rethink all subsequent dams.

Now, however, the Vietnamese government has switched sides and slipped into bed with the dam developers through its promotion of the largest dam yet on the lower Mekong – the 1,410 MW Luang Prabang dam.

“I am very disappointed by this development,” Dr. Le Tuan Anh, vice director of the Institute for Climate Change Research at Can Tho University, told The Diplomat. He pointed out that the government had recently passed resolution 120 to strengthen Hanoi’s sustainable development plan for the delta. The resolution specifically cited efforts to combat to the dual threats of upstream hydropower and climate change

“Already reeling from the impact of upstream Mekong dams, Vietnam actually joining in building one does not make sense.” Vietnamese environmentalists declared in a press release last month.

“If Vietnam participates in the construction of the Luang Prabang Dam, it will also contribute to the negative impact on the Mekong Delta. [The] Vietnam Rivers Network proposes the Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation (PV Power) and authorities to reconsider investing in the Luang Prabang Hydropower Project in Laos.”

The Luang Prabang dam is the fifth hydropower dam submitted by Laos to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) for prior consultation with the other three member states (Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam).

The four previous dam projects came under fire from Vietnam on the grounds that they blocked nutrient-rich sediment from reaching the fragile ecosystem of the delta. 18 million Vietnam citizens are desperately dependent on this delta, the rice-bowl of the nation, for their livelihood and survival.

Dr. Philip Hirsch, the former director of the Mekong Research Center at Sydney University, commented that “the involvement of a major state owned company in developing hydropower on the Mekong mainstream undermines earlier official positions that such development poses great risks to the millions of people living, farming and fishing in the Mekong Delta.”

This astonishing policy reversal caused VN Express, an online newspaper, to refer to the move as “Vietnam shooting itself in the foot” in a post that has since been removed from the website. The change to embrace Luang Prabang dam puts Hanoi’s diplomatic credibility on the line at a time when Southeast Asia’s longest river is still trying to recuperate from the massive drought in July, which led to plummeting fish stocks. Water levels in the Mekong in the current dry season are still alarmingly low, with no monsoon rains expected until June next year. Water shortages have been declared in many provinces in Cambodia and Thailand.

Dam Diplomacy and the Geopolitics of the Mekong

The World Wildlife Fund’s water resources specialist Marc Goichot warns that the costs of going ahead will be very high both for Laos and Vietnam.

“The Luang Prabang dam would have many impacts, notably drowning an amazingly beautiful riverscape, and a mosaic of ecosystems; causing the relocation of communities, whose culture is so intimately linked to the ecology of the river; and changing water flows and river appearance will disfigure the priceless World Heritage site of Luang Prabang,” Goichot said. This huge dam will force the evacuation of 17,700 villagers to make way for the dam’s huge reservoir.

Given that the Luang Prabang dam will also inevitably worsen the suffering of 18 million Vietnamese citizens in their sediment-starved and sinking delta, what mysterious force could have driven Hanoi to apparently act against its own interests?

A well-informed source working inside Vietnam’s energy sector (who requested anonymity) explained to this correspondent the government’s logic over the Lang Prabang dam: “Vietnam had no choice. Yes, it is bad for the delta, but if we don’t develop the dam, then China will. Absolutely sure! And that would be a threat to Vietnam’s sovereignty. It is all about geopolitics.”

Vietnam has long been worried by China’s steady expansion of commercial interests along the Mekong and especially their investment and construction plans for three dams on the lower Mekong in Laos – the Don Sahong (under construction), the Pak Beng, and Pak Lay.

It is this fear of China, a country that already controls so much of the water flow down the Mekong, snapping up another downstream dam project that has triggered Vietnam’s improbable foray into dam-building on the mainstream Mekong.

The prospect of another Chinese dam located at Luang Prabang has caused near-panic in Hanoi’s corridors of power. After pressure from Laos, the Vietnamese government signed on the dotted line a dam contract that virtually threw overboard 19 years of diplomatic efforts to defend the Mekong delta and Vietnam’s bid to curb the damming frenzy on the mainstream.

Many Vietnamese critics of this policy change say that this geopolitical calculation may cost Vietnam dearly in terms of their international credibility. Can Tho University’s Dr. Tuan laments that “this policy contradiction on the Mekong will make Vietnam’s voice in international affairs and forums much weaker.”

Energy Politics

In the government’s energy circles, officials argue that Vietnam “would be better able to regulate the water flow and harm from the dam” with Vietnamese company Petrovietnam playing a key role in regulating running the water flow from the Luang Prabang dam.

This claim is dismissed by Mekong water resource experts. A source from Petrovietnam admitted that, just like any other dam, “it will reduce sediment and water flow to the delta.”

A far greater concern is that, by the time this dam is operational in 2027, the Mekong’s water flow will already be so reduced that the dam might not be able to function at all.

The author of the widely-acclaimed The Last Days of the Mighty Mekong, Brian Eyler, told The Diplomat that “Vietnam should use its economic and diplomatic relationship with Laos to avoid mainstream dams, not build them.” Eyler also argued, “Hydropower technology is becoming obsolete technology,” which he predicts will happen “in five years or less, long before this Luang Prabang will be completed.”

Energy experts now point to clean energy renewables as increasingly more cost effective than hydropower, and both Vietnam and Thailand are rapidly increasing the role of renewables in their national energy mixes.

Dr. Tuan has already raised this question with the Vietnamese government and proposed that Hanoi put pressure on Laos to invest in clean energy and stop dams on the mainstream Mekong.

Vietnam’s Communist Party leaders and government, while always maintaining an appearance of unity in public, are often bitterly divided over water resource issues and their once-close relationship with longtime ally Laos. The old guard conservatives in the politburo are strongly committed to what is left of the special relationship with Vientiane’s communist leaders, in spite of the landlocked nation’s comprehensive dependence and indebtedness to China.

But any attempt to please Laos with investment in this dam at the expense of their own people in the delta is likely to prove extremely controversial at home and could trigger social unrest.

This is the worst of times to be investing in new dams. WWF’s Marc Goichot, a veteran researcher of the Mekong, points out that “six out of the 13 Mekong delta provinces have just either declared emergencies or cordoned off long stretches of land on the Mekong’s edge because of the serious large scale erosion, and it has also just been established that large parts of the delta are sinking under the rising sea much faster than anticipated.”

The dam site is located only 25 kilometers from the World Heritage Site and only 5 km from a popular tourist site, the Pak Ou caves. Experts say it would only take one extreme weather event to contribute to a dam accident and this priceless UNESCO recognized cultural asset, the ancient royal capital of Luang Prabang, could be savagely inundated and destroyed.

On November 20, an earthquake registering 6.1 on the Richter Scale hit western Laos, with the epicenter only 155 km from Luang Prabang. It was a timely reminder of one more among the many risks and dangers of hydropower. Laos is particularly unprepared for preventing dam breaks as the 2018 disaster in Attapeu province demonstrated.

According to the U.S. Stimson Foundation, eight Lao dams are under construction or have been completed within 100 km of the epicenter of this recent earthquake. With extreme weather becoming the new norm, it is time for the CEO of the Mekong River Commission to act responsibly and sound the alarm in public forums, not sit back and wait for member states to come to their senses.

International Rivers, the U.S.-based conservation agency, thinks “It is well past time for a strong and clear call [to halt dams] be made.” Maureen Harris, the regional coordinator for the Mekong region, urged that “for the sake of public safety, for the protection of the Mekong’s priceless ecosystem and for economic reasons – current planned projects must be halted and a moratorium declared on all new dams on the Mekong mainstream.”

Yet Vietnam seems to be moving in the opposite direction. How much worse does the water crisis have to get before regional policymakers wake up to the ecological disaster caused by this frenzied damming of the Mekong?

Landscape – Damage control required for ASEAN–US relations

Author: Kavi Chongkittavorn, Chulalongkorn University

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/11/28/damage-control-required-for-asean-us-relations/

The 35th ASEAN Summit and its related meetings ended on 5 November 2019 with stronger ASEAN solidarity and centrality. This was in part due to US President Donald Trump’s decision not to partake in the summitry and his high-handed manner in responding to the Southeast Asian diplomatic process.

Laos' Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith shakes hands with U.S. National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha at the 7th ASEAN-United States Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, 4 November 2019 (Photo:Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun).

Before the White House issued an official statement on 30 October announcing that Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Robert O’Brien would be Trump’s ‘special envoy’ to the summits in Bangkok, the Thai ASEAN Chair had to do some urgent diplomatic footwork after news broke that neither Vice President Mike Pence nor Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would attend.

Bangkok immediately informed the White House that there had never been such a low-ranking and non-cabinet member assigned to attend the summits. At the summits in Singapore last year, US Vice President Mike Pence replaced Trump at the main summit.

Many were upset that Washington was setting a bad precedent that other nations would follow. One foreign minister urged the Thai Chair to call off the 7th ASEAN–US Summit to send a strong message to Trump. Another minister suggested that ASEAN representatives at the ASEAN–US Summit should be O’Brien’s counterparts. Several ministers were concerned that the White House might even dispatch an even lower-ranking official to future summits if ASEAN remained cowed. Others came to Trump’s defence, citing the domestic troubles facing him and his cabinet back in Washington.

The Thai Chair agreed that the appropriate response to O’Brien’s participation was reforming the ‘troika’ — the trio that would represent ASEAN at the summit with the United States. In the past, the troika consisted of the past, current and incoming ASEAN chairs. This time around, it consisted of the current and incoming ASEAN chairs and the country coordinator for ASEAN–US relations. This was the first time this formula had been used in the ASEAN–US Summit’s history.

This was neither a snub nor an attempt at embarrassment. A senior Thai diplomat referred to the move as ‘a polite ASEAN way’ of responding to Washington’s ‘misguided breach of protocol and diplomatic etiquette’.

At the ASEAN–US Summit, several senior ASEAN officials were reportedly also unhappy that O’Brien had proposed the Blue Dot Network — a new proposal from the Trump administration designed to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative — at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum right before his meeting with ASEAN leaders. O’Brien then surprised the delegates when he read out Trump’s letter inviting ASEAN leaders to a special summit with the US President in early 2020.

ASEAN leaders did not expect such drastic action from Washington. Trump wanted ASEAN leaders to come see him instead — using a marketing strategy akin to a salesman who failed the first pitch.

Interestingly, former US president Barack Obama laid solid groundwork for a special summit in the United States. At the 2015 ASEAN–US Summit in Malaysia, Obama made the unprecedented but welcome move of personally inviting ASEAN leaders for a ASEAN–US Special Summit that was then held at Sunnylands, California in February 2016.

Due to Washington’s disrespectful behaviour, ASEAN leaders are yet to give Trump’s invitation serious thought. In their view, the United States was the biggest loser as other East Asian leaders were focussed on deepening and broadening mutual cooperation with ASEAN.

ASEAN leaders will have to decide whether the trip to the United States should come before or after the 36th ASEAN Summit in Vietnam that will be held in April next year. Some ASEAN leaders want to hold their own talks so that the bloc can come up with a common position on key ASEAN–US matters. That said, given the ongoing impeachment efforts and the start of election campaigning, it is hard to know if Trump will be attending the ASEAN Summit and its related meetings.

Vietnam’s role as the incoming ASEAN chair gives it the advantage of already being considered Washington’s darling. The United States helped Vietnam become a part of the now-defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership. In 2020, the United States and Vietnam will also be celebrating the 25th anniversary of their normalisation of diplomatic ties. Since Trump came to office, he has visited Vietnam twice — first for the APEC summit held in November 2017 and then for his second meeting with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un in February 2019.

ASEAN leaders will also have to agree on the themes to discuss with their US counterparts. Trump failed to directly discuss the Indo-Pacific strategy with ASEAN leaders when he had the chance. And the recently proposed Blue Dot Network is still very vague.

On the ground, the United States has also yet to confirm a US ambassador to ASEAN — a post that has been left vacant for nearly three years like in several other ASEAN capitals. During the Obama years, US ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian was instrumental in organising the first ASEAN–US Special Summit, which propelled ASEAN–US relations to new heights. Obama believed in the potential of the grouping to be a global player with a population of about 655 million people.

ASEAN leaders must also think about the content of the joint statement that will be released after the second ASEAN–US Special Summit. The White House under Obama upgraded the joint statement of the first ASEAN–US Special Summit to a declaration to highlight ASEAN’s position as one of the US’s strategic partners. It remains to be seen if the Trump administration can top the Sunnylands Declaration.

Landscape – The proliferation of free trade disagreements

Author: Jayant Menon, ADB

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/11/27/the-proliferation-of-free-trade-disagreements/

It was not that long ago that trade economists were concerned about the effect that the proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) were having on the multilateral trading system. The number of bilateral FTAs in effect involving at least one country from the Asia-Pacific — the epicentre of FTA proliferation — increased four-fold from 39 in 2000 to 159 in 2019. The pace of proliferation has since slowed dramatically with only three such agreements going into effect in the last two years.

Wang Zhaoxing, Vice Chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), speaks during the 11th Lujiazui Forum 2019, saying the last four decades of the country's economic reforms have shown that ‘openness brings progress, shutting off brings backwardness’ in Shanghai, China, 13 June 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Imagine China/Bai Kelin).While supporters of multilateral free trade may cheer the slowdown, support for the World Trade Organization (WTO) is also waning. At the plurilateral level, the Trans-Pacific Partnership had to be reconstituted after its key proponent — the United States — withdrew and remaining members struggled to bring into effect even a much watered-down version. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has been diminished by India’s decision not to join. Then, of course, there is Brexit and the ongoing US–China trade war.

FTAs are being replaced by the proliferation of free trade disagreements (FTDs). Unlike FTAs, FTDs are not easy to measure or define — they cover a wide range of actions and inactions. They may be difficult to quantify, but they are real. FTDs arise when free or freer trade leads to outcomes that are perceived as being unfair by at least one party. When the benefits (or costs) of freeing up trade are viewed by participants as being disproportionately distributed, tensions can lead to FTDs.

FTDs also arise when there are significant shifts in the distribution of global economic power. As the economic size of rivals catch up to the prevailing hegemon, the risk of conflict also rises sharply. With Japan in the past and China more recently, the response appears to be triggered when their share of the GDP of the United States surpasses the 60 per cent mark.

And when new major economic powers emerge, they generally do so by increasing their commercial relations with existing ones, resulting in greater interdependence. Although greater interdependence theoretically reduces the risk of conflict — as the costs are higher with more at stake — this is rarely observed in practice. This results in a sense of inevitability toward such conflicts and all that can be done is to contain them and manage their consequences. So far, there has been a rather poor job of both.

Why should policymakers be concerned about the proliferation of FTDs?

There is the obvious harm of FTDs reducing the mutually beneficial gains from freer trade and creating costs associated with rising protectionism. Anti-dumping actions and countervailing duties have increased sharply. Developing countries are now also taking actions against developed countries when it used to be mainly the other way around. Other forms of ‘murky protectionism’ are also on the rise — from the use and abuse of sanitary and health regulations to the widespread use of illegal subsidies and restrictive procurement arrangements.

Rising protectionism can be a cause and/or consequence of FTDs and result in retaliatory action that perpetuates the problem.

Responses sometimes involve the removal of a preference rather than the imposition of a punitive measure. If FTAs are more accurately described as preferential trade agreements, then this sometimes applies to FTDs or preferential trade disagreements too. For instance, in 2019, the European Union is reviewing its tariff waiver for Cambodia and Myanmar under the Everything but Arms preference scheme due to concerns over non-economic issues. Not only may tariffs rise, but we may have another case of trade policy being used for purposes unrelated to it. It seems any issue or dispute can now threaten trade.

At a fundamental level, the efficacy of a rules-based order is at risk.

The WTO oversees a rules-based multilateral trading system, yet its role and influence continues to diminish. The United States has been blocking the appointments and reappointments of members to the Appellate Body of its dispute settlement mechanism. With membership down to three, some foresee a crisis in December 2019, when the WTO Appellate Board will stop operating without more appointed members.

The enduring US–China trade war could contribute to a further weakening of the rules-based order by generating a domino-type effect not dissimilar to that of the proliferation of FTAs. The United States has been engaged in much less publicised mini-trade wars with India and the European Union, already affecting trade in steel and aluminium. Japan and South Korea are also engaged in an escalating trade dispute. These trade wars could worsen.

Trade wars are easy to start but hard to end. Not only can they escalate quickly, but they can spread to new issues, sectors and regions, as well as ignite new wars. The proliferation of FTDs is more pernicious than the proliferation of FTAs that preceded it. The phenomenon of FTDs threatens to damage the rules-based order in a way that would take decades to recover, and some of the damage risks being beyond repair.